Computers with nuclear secrets missing


Published: Sunday, April 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

WASHINGTON - The office in charge of protecting American technical secrets about nuclear weapons from foreign spies is missing 20 desktop computers, at least 14 of which have been used for classified information, the Energy Department inspector general reported Friday.

This is the 13th time in a little over four years that an audit has found the department, whose national laboratories and factories do most of the work in designing and building nuclear warheads, has lost control over computers used in working on the bombs.

In January, Linton F. Brooks was fired as the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Agency, the Energy Department agency in charge of bombs, because of security problems. The agency was created in the 1990s because of security scandals.

When the most recent audit began, the Counterintelligence Directorate was unable to find 141 desktop computers. In some cases, documents were found indicating that the computers had been taken out of service.

Previous incidents of wayward computers have also involved nuclear weapons information. But the office involved in this breach has a special responsibility, tracking and countering efforts to steal bomb information. Its computers would have material on what the department knew about foreign operatives and efforts to steal sensitive information.

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