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Chris Field- Contributor
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Has the Left Been on Nuclear Security?
Why take the threat seriously?...
[Chris Field] 3/7/05
Over the last several weeks, the mainstream media have been
increasing their coverage of China and the potential threat it
poses to the security of the United States -- with a particular
attention being paid to the possibility of nuclear threats. It's
good to know that the media are reporting this increasingly important
issue, but my question is: Where have they been?
Where were they, say, during the Clinton Administration when
not only were our nuclear secrets being stolen, but our technology
was being given away to the Communist Chinese?
The potential nuclear threats against the U.S. from China and
other nations are not new, but have developed over several years.
Yet somehow the liberal media continue to miss the point that
under the not-so-discerning eye of the Clinton White House, and
a large portion of the Democratic Party, our nuclear technology
was making its way to the bad guys without much apparent hindrance.
For example, here's a little bit of history which you might
not have heard or you may well have forgotten.
following the revelation of Chinese espionage as documented
in the Cox
Report, two major actions were taken. The first was
the creation of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory
Board (PFIAB), led by former Sen. Warren Rudman (R.-N.H.), to
investigate the security needs at our nuclear laboratories. The
Rudman Report, "Science at its Best; Security at its Worst," stated
that the Board had found numerous problems in security and overall
safety of our nuclear secrets. Upon the conclusion of the Board's
investigation, two major recommendations were made: 1) the report
recommended a new, semi-autonomous agency to oversee all Department
of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons-related matters; 2) the report
recommended streamlining the "dysfunctional" DoE weapons
labs' management structure by abolishing ties between the weapons
labs and all DoE regional, field, and site offices, and all contractor
The second major action taken by Congress was the creation of
the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which was
adapted to comply directly with the PFIAB's recommendations,
but it did not happen without delays from the Clinton White House
and Democratic congressmen. Despite the fact that our most sensitive
nuclear secrets were stolen by China, that continued espionage
was still very possible, and that the need for a new security
entity was something for which the President's own advisory board
specifically called, Democrats refused to support it. In May
1999, Republicans introduced an amendment to reorganize the DoE
to fix its security problems. Democrats filibustered that amendment
with the assistance of Madelyn Creedon. At the time, they seemed
to be more concerned with deflecting blame from the Clinton team
than they were with fixing the problems. They were also intent
upon getting concessions on a few items in the Defense Authorization
bill at the time -- in other words, they attempted to barter
with our nation's security. Thankfully, in June 1999, Republicans
were finally able to convince Democrats to stop making excuses
and cooperate in enacting the needed structural reforms necessary
to protect national nuclear secrets.
President Clinton then took until May of 2000 to submit the
name of General John A. Gordon (USAF) to become Under Secretary
for Nuclear Security. But the Senate did not vote to confirm
him until a month later, after another breach of nuclear security
was reported. On Monday, June 12, 2000, it was reported that
two computer hard drives containing valuable nuclear weapons
data and other highly sensitive information were missing from
the Los Alamos National Laboratories and had likely been missing
for several months. Press reports at the time indicated that
those hard drives contained American nuclear weapons data that
the Nuclear Emergency Search Team needs to disarm nuclear devices
during emergencies and intelligence information on the Russian
nuclear weapons program.
In early May 2000, a giant fire was moving toward the laboratories.
The 26 members of the DoE team that had access to the hard drives
were told to remove them so that if the laboratires were to fall
victim to the fire, the information would not be lost. On May
7, employees from that team entered the secured area to remove
the two hard drives, which were supposed to be stored in locked
containers in a vault at the X-Division at the laboratories.
The containers were found but the hard drives were gone. What
the team members did after their discovery is interesting. They
chose not to notify senior officials. They simply moved to another
shelf where duplicates of these hard drives were available, and
they took those. To make matters worse, they did not even begin
an intensive search until May 24 and did not inform DoE headquarters
until June 11. Why was there an additional delay between the
nomination of General Gordon and the vote on his confirmation?
Because Senate Democrats, to appease Energy Secretary Richardson,
were still trying to change the underlying law, an effort in
which Madelyn Creedon was a major player. It was not until the
embarrassment of the recent security breach that they at last
agreed to vote.
What is so significant about Madelyn Creedon? She was Clinton's
nominee to be the Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs at
the NNSA. This Deputy Administrator is responsible for managing
the programs related to research and development, production,
and maintenance of U.S. nuclear weapons. The office has direct
authority over the Directors of the three national laboratories
(Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia), the head of the
Nevada Test Site, and the heads of the four nuclear weapons production
facilities. Though she was confirmed by the Senate on July 10,
2000, by a vote of 54-30, a majority of Republicans opposed Creedon's
nomination to head such a demanding position, citing her lack
of experience and concerns about the fact that she was a major
player in assisting Democratic senators in blocking the full
implementation of NNSA. Republicans rightly noted that such actions
would seem to be at odds with the position to which she had been
And that's just one example of the Democrats' lack of seriousness
when it comes to our national security, particularly our nuclear
security. There's much more out there. In fact, for those of
you interested (and those of you not-so-interested), I plan to
cover this issue a bit more extensively next week.
Stay tuned. tOR
[This piece is adapted from a paper I wrote for the Senate Republican
Policy Committee in July 2000.]
2005 Human Events