(AP) – NEW YORK # Security at the nation’s nuclear weapons labs is so lax that the facilities have repeatedly failed drills in which mock terrorists captured radioactive material and escaped, according to an article in Vanity Fair magazine.
“Some of the facilities would fail year after year,” said Rich Levernier, who spent six years running war games for the U.S. government. “In more than 50 percent of our tests at the Los Alamos facility, we got in, captured the plutonium, got out again, and in some cases didn’t fire a shot, because we didn’t encounter any guards.”
These failures occurred despite security forces at the Los Alamos National Laboratories and other nuclear facilities knowing the dates of the drills months in advance, according to the story in next month’s Vanity Fair.
Anson Franklin, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, an arm of the DOE that oversees nuclear-weapons security, denied that nuclear-weapons facilities are vulnerable to attack.
“The impression has been given that these tests are staged like football games, with winners and losers,” he said. “But the whole idea of these exercises is to test for weaknesses # we want to find them before any adversaries could # and then make adjustments.”
The report says Levernier, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Energy, was stripped of his security clearance in 2001 after he faxed an unclassified document to The Washington Post.
Levernier has filed a whistleblower lawsuit arguing that he was illegally removed from his duties. Franklin told the magazine he could not comment on the allegations because the lawsuit is pending.