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Los Alamos docs turn up in meth lab bust

Another security debacle for nuke researchers

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A search of a suspected meth lab turned up classified documents from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where, among other things, nuclear weapons research is conducted. According to the Associated Press, a researcher at the lab was under investigation for methamphetamine related offences, and the documents were discovered when police executed an arrest warrant against her.

Police contacted the FBI, which has said only that the documents in question "appear to contain classified material," the AP reports.

Los Alamos has developed a reputation for shoddy security, with a series of high-profile blunders over the past few years. These range from the bizarre case of Wen Ho Lee, who was either perfectly innocent and slightly careless, or a Red Chinese spy. After years of investigation, no one can say. Then there was the case of the missing hard disk drives with sensitive data that the lab reported missing, then claimed had never existed in the first place.

The University of California, which guided the institution through these and other snafus, has since lost its contract to manage the labs, which are now in the hands of a private consortium called Los Alamos National Security (LANS) LLC.

It had been hoped that private sector management might prove more effective than its academic predecessor, but today's news suggests that more will be needed to bring the labs up to snuff in terms of security. ®

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