I am reposting this earlier blog post due to the interest lately in Hanford problems.  GFS

by G. Florence Scott

My comments are referenced to the situation ably described by the Project on Government Oversight’s (POGO) Beth Daley in her testimony at the Office of Special Council (OSC)/Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) hearing July 12, 2007.  (http://www.pogo.org/p/government/gt-070712-osc.html)

It is good that talk and dialogue continues regarding the OSC and MSPB and the environment for whistleblowers in the federal government.  However it is important to realize that the sum total effect of the inactivity of real accomplishment means that real people’s lives are being affected, and in some cases, ruined and families torn apart.  One federal employee over the course of his/her career conducted a number of serious investigations with regard to the inappropriate handling and mishandling of classified national security information and technology.

In one investigation, the Investigator was called in by a Security Specialist from the Dept. of Energy (DOE), to investigate the refusal of DOE management to take their investigative findings seriously.  The Department of Defense (DOD) Investigator was dispatched along with a second Investigator, to investigate the allegations.  The DOD Investigators met with a DOE scientist, and the DOE Security Specialist, making the allegations.  The DOE scientist, and Security Specialist provided sworn statements and documented evidence was provided to the DOD investigators.

Upon return to the DOD field office, the Investigators wrote a classified report of findings.  What had been shared with the DOD was a DOE security program out of control.  The evidence documented critical nuclear weapons design information (CNWDI), and fissionable nuclear material being improperly stored at a DOE facility.  The report was appropriately classified, and appropriately forwarded through channels to the DOD headquarters.  Several weeks later, the DOD field office received a telephone call from one of the DOD headquarters personnel who had read the report.  The comment made to the DOD investigators was:  “And what do you expect me to do with this?”

The field personnel said that they expected it to be briefed to the DOE Director, believing that the problem was extremely serious, and when disclosed, would be addressed and fixed by the DOE Director.   At that point, the DOD headquarters individual said:  “If you think that DOD headquarters is gonna walk over to the director of the DOE and brief her on the fact that she has fissionable nuclear material being improperly stored, you’re out of your God damned mind!”

The effect of this DOD management level person’s refusal to do his job was that good people within the DOE that wanted to do the right thing were left swinging in the wind.  For the past 10 years, these people’s lives have been Hell.  The scientist was forced to relocate to another DOE facility; one much more remote to his/her family, by DOE and commutes back to his/her home several times a year, time permitting.  The DOE Security Specialist that tried to do the right thing, and when all appropriate channels failed within the DOE, then reported it to the DOD, found that DOD miserably failed them also.  For the past 10 plus years, that person’s career has been lost and their life has been ruined.  They have lost almost everything they owned. 

And nothing has changed.  It’s time to get past just talking about this.  It is time to DO something!