Report: Two Years After Y-12 Break-In, U.S. Nuclear Security Still ‘Chaotic’

A National Nuclear Security Administration technician from the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., inspects casks of highly enriched uranium aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 in February 2012. The Government Accountability Office says NNSA officials do not have a clear vision for how to improve security after a 2012 break-in at the Y-12 facility.
National Journal
Douglas P. Guarino
Add to Briefcase
Douglas P. Guarino
July 2, 2014, 10:52 a.m.

Two years after an 82-year-old nun was able to in­filt­rate a nuc­le­ar weapons site in Ten­ness­ee, the U.S. ap­proach to se­cur­ing such fa­cil­it­ies re­mains “chaot­ic,” a gov­ern­ment re­port re­leased this week sug­gests.

The re­port to Con­gress by the non­par­tis­an Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice quotes un­named Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials de­scrib­ing the agency’s cur­rent ap­proach in this man­ner. “Dys­func­tion­al” is an­oth­er ad­ject­ive the uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cials have used to char­ac­ter­ize the situ­ation, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

For their part, GAO ana­lysts said the agency’s lack of a “clear vis­ion” since the Ju­ly 2012 in­cid­ent — in which the nun and two fel­low peace act­iv­ists went un­detec­ted as they ap­proached stores of bomb-grade urani­um — could prove prob­lem­at­ic.

“After the Y-12 se­cur­ity breach, NNSA took a num­ber of ac­tions de­signed to im­prove its se­cur­ity per­form­ance and over­sight but did so without first de­vel­op­ing a clear vis­ion and path for­ward for its se­cur­ity pro­gram and an im­ple­ment­a­tion strategy, in­clud­ing mile­stones and re­spons­ib­il­it­ies for car­ry­ing them out,” the GAO re­port states.

“For ex­ample, NNSA ini­ti­ated ac­tions to re­in­state [En­ergy De­part­ment] se­cur­ity dir­ect­ives, which it had pre­vi­ously re­placed with its own se­cur­ity po­lices; [and] star­ted, then dis­con­tin­ued, a se­cur­ity in­spec­tion pro­gram and re­or­gan­ized its headquar­ters se­cur­ity of­fice twice,” the re­port says.

However, without a clear “road map,” the agency “risks put­ting in place short-lived or in­ef­fect­ive re­sponses to its se­cur­ity prob­lems, on which GAO and oth­ers have re­por­ted for more than a dec­ade,” the re­port adds.

Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers of the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee on Monday is­sued a state­ment about the GAO re­port, which also ex­am­ines NNSA se­cur­ity ef­forts pri­or to the Y-12 in­cid­ent.

“The re­port con­firms the com­mit­tee’s con­cerns that the 2009 and 2010 se­cur­ity re­form ef­forts, while mak­ing some op­er­a­tion­al and ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments, may also have in­creased se­cur­ity risks,” the law­makers said, adding that com­mit­tee lead­ers share GAO con­cerns about a lack of a clear plan go­ing for­ward.

“We will con­tin­ue our over­sight of DOE and NNSA’s se­cur­ity re­forms, in­clud­ing GAO’s re­com­mend­a­tions, to make sure any se­cur­ity im­prove­ments can be sus­tained,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, is­sued jointly by Rep­res­ent­at­ives Fred Up­ton (R-Mich.) and Tim Murphy (R-Penn.).

Up­ton serves as En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee chair­man, while Murphy heads the pan­el’s Over­sight and In­vest­ig­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee. The pan­el has gen­er­ally differed with fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans on the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee about how best to re­spond to the Y-12 break-in.

NNSA of­fi­cials agree with the GAO re­com­mend­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. They told the study’s au­thors that they have already be­gun an ef­fort to cre­ate a “se­cur­ity road map” for their agency, which they hoped to com­plete by Decem­ber.

The GAO au­thors said the agency re­sponse was “en­cour­aging,” but ad­ded that NNSA should de­vel­op an im­ple­ment­a­tion strategy for the road map and reg­u­larly mon­it­or its pro­gress.

What We're Following See More »
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
3 days ago
THE LATEST
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
4 days ago
BREAKING
MANAFORT AND FLYNN
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
4 days ago
THE DETAILS

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
5 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
BUSINESSES CAN’T PLEAD FIFTH
Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login