UPDATE: NNSA chief fired for Los Alamos security lapses

Published 5 January 2007

Linton Brooks gets the axe after a series of breaches expose the weakness of lab cyber-security; failure to do away with removable storage devices in weapons-related computers cited; Energy Department starts the hunt for a replacement

Going nuclear. This week, less than a month after Department of Energy (DoE) Inspector General Gregory Friedman severely criticized security procedures at Los Alamos, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman shook things up by firing the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In addition to monitoring the nuclear weapons stockpile, Linton Brooks oversaw the nation’s weapons research laboratories — a task at which it seems he was unprepared or unable to manage. “I have decided it is time for new leadership at the NNSA,” Bodman said in announcing that Brooks would “resign” within the month.

In addition to a number of institutional failures involving Los Alamos— in particular the loss of hundreds of pages of classified documents later found in an employee’s home — Brooks was cited for leadership delinquencies as well. In June he was reprimanded for failing to inform Bodman about a major theft of computer files that contained the Social Security numbers of 1,500 employees; and in November, the Project on Government Oversight urged that Brooks be fired for failing to implement a two-year-old policy to do away with removable storage devices in weapons-related computers. Other critics noted that many of the problems occured after tens of millions of dollars had been spent to increase cybersecurity at Los Alamos and a new management group installed.

-read more in H. Josef Hebert’s AP report