A View From One Who's Been There

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The tone of the opinions on National Security at Los Alamos National Laboratory is somewhat predictable. These are opinions from indignant Republicans who obviously have little knowledge of what they speak, only yet another chance to take very cheap shots at the Clinton administration.

I feel that I am a bit more qualified than these detractors, as I worked at LANL in 1979 and 1980. I recall hearing about the assassination attempt on President Reagan while I was in Los Alamos.

The security procedures at the Lab were laughable at that time.

The Clinton administration was years in the future. I was a contract engineering employee in the laser fusion energy group. Although I was a contract employee, not directly employed by the Lab, I had pretty much free access to roam where I might.

To be fair, there were certain areas, that, had I tried to enter, I might have been challenged, but for the most part I could roam at will.

Now it seems to me that security problems did not originate with this so-called "cavalier" Clinton administration, but that these problems have existed for at least 20 years. Probably more, but the extent of my actual experiences, unlike the nonexperience of those Republican detractors, cannot confirm this.

In addition, I worked (again on contract) at Lawrence Livermore Labs in California in 1980 (a Reagan year) and found the security amazingly lax. I have worked at both defense-oriented and commercial-oriented "high-tech" companies since 1959, and I've seen tighter security at microchip companies than at the National Labs.

Would I blame the nice old man Reagan for the security policies at the national labs? I might as well blame that last good Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, for the lax security. But I liked Ike and, of course, he was not directly responsible for technical security. Neither is Clinton.

I submit this letter from a man who has been there and has seen it all first-hand.

Herb Bartholomew, Payson

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