Hercule Poirot: we need your little gray cells
Assuming he could qualify for the necessary security clearances, our nation’s next Secretary of Energy should be the famed Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. You see, we have a real mystery down at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory and the current Secretary of Energy, Bill Richardson, hasn’t a clue.
When forest fires (set by the U.S. Government) threatened to consume the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory and some of our most secret nuclear equipment and data along with it, a quick inventory was made to see which secret files and which secret pieces of equipment needed to be evacuated. During that inventory, some of the workers found that two computer hard drives containing highly sensitive data were missing.
For some reason, yet to be explained, the workers did not report the hard drives as missing. Finally, three weeks after the fire threat subsided, the possible loss of the top-secret information was reported up the line. This prompted a supposedly all-out search for the missing hard drives after which the FBI was called in to investigate.
In such cases, the first thing the FBI wants to know is: What security measures were in place at the time the classified information disappeared? The FBI learned that no one is permitted into “X Division,” where our most highly classified information is stored, unless they meet the following conditions:
They must have passed the most exhaustive security background checks the FBI and the Department of Energy can conduct. They must have a need-to-know. They must give a secret password to a security guard. They must display a proper identification badge. They must stick their hands in a fingerprint reader for a fingerprint scan.
Nuclear data is usually classified, or should be classified, as Top Secret Restricted Data (TSRD). That means it cannot be removed from its secure location unless it is taken to the Top Secret Restricted Data Control Officer and signed for by a person with a TSRD clearance. If these hard drives were not classified as TSRD, why not?
Those who work in the field of counterintelligence; know that most secrets simply walk out the doors of the most sophisticated physical security arrangements (like those at Los Alamos) in the heads or the pockets of traitors. More recently, secrets may have been passed to foreign governments by computer modem. The incontrovertible Soviet files now available on the Rosenbergs, Klaus Fuchs, David Greenglass, Alger Hiss, the Walker family, Aldrich Ames and other traitors demonstrate why personnel security measures are actually more important than physical security measures.
Now, back to the Los Alamos mystery: Three weeks after the hard drives were actually reported missing and more searches were conducted, the two hard drives were discovered inside “X Division” on the floor between a copying machine and a wall. So, here is where we need Hercule Poirot to ask a number of questions:
Why were the hard drives outside their normal storage areas? Why would they be on the floor by a copying machine in the first place? Even Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who presides over the MicroSoft® anti-trust law suit and admits he knows nothing about computers, would understand that one cannot copy a computer hard drive with a Xerox® machine.
And, while we have Hercule Poirot on our payroll, we should have him investigate another famous disappearance and reappearance. The Whitewater investigators obtained a subpoena for the billing records of the Rose Law Firm where Hillary Clinton and Webster Hubell were once partners. Kenneth Starr searched and searched for those billing records.
Then, two years after the subpoena was issued, the billing records miraculously appeared on a table inside the family residence in the White House. Hillary Rodham Clinton, like Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, was clueless. How could the White House cleaning staff fail to notice that much-publicized stack of billing records for two years? We need Hercule Poirot to really crack down on those cleaning personnel.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a former counterintelligence officer.