[ISN] Hackers enter DOE Computers

From: cult hero (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu May 06 1999 - 13:59:05 PDT

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    GOP Senators: U.S. Bungled Probes of Atomic Spying
    By Walter Pincus and Vernon Loeb
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, May 6, 1999; Page A02
    Senate Republicans unveiled new evidence yesterday that investigations of
    the chief suspect in possible Chinese espionage at nuclear weapons
    laboratories have been marked by repeated bungles over the past 15 years,
    including at one point the loss of his security file. 
    "I think heads should roll," Don Nickles (R-Okla.), the Senate majority
    whip, said at a hearing held by the Energy and Natural Resources
    The panel heard testimony in one of a number of congressional
    investigations into the handling of suspected Chinese espionage at Los
    Alamos National Laboratory and other weapons labs. Adding to charges of
    lax security and improper investigations that have cascaded out over the
    weeks, the revelations provided further fuel for a growing controversy
    pitting Republican lawmakers against the Clinton administration. 
    Senators at yesterday's hearing, however, shifted their focus slightly. 
    After previously aiming their wrath at White House aides who they said
    failed to take the investigations seriously enough, senators looked
    instead at officials at the Justice Department and the Energy Department
    as well as the FBI. 
    Nickles, who made a brief appearance at the hearing, criticized the
    Justice Department for failing to get a warrant to search an unclassified
    computer belonging to the main suspect, Wen Ho Lee, at his lab work space
    in 1996.  That computer became the focus of investigation after it was
    learned Lee downloaded highly secret information into it from a classified
    computer network. 
    "An individual is suspected of being a spy with access to all of our
    warhead information . . . and we did not get into his computer. This is
    total incompetence," Nickles said. 
    Speculating that data on U.S. nuclear weapons in Lee's computer "could
    advance Chinese nuclear weapons programs by decades," Nickles said
    officials at the FBI and the Energy Department should be held responsible
    for what he said qualified as a botched inquiry. 
    Lee's lawyer repeatedly has denied his client committed any crime. And
    according to officials familiar with the inquiry, the major FBI
    investigation begun in early 1998 has failed to turn up evidence that Lee
    gave the Chinese anything. 
    In the summer of 1998, after two years of investigation gave no indication
    Lee had any relationship with Chinese intelligence, the FBI attempted to
    entice Lee into spying using two Chinese American bureau agents. The
    so-called "false flag" operation involved the two agents contacting the
    Los Alamos physicist and saying they were looking for information to help
    their country. Lee listened, according to sources, and later turned them
    Lee, however, does face the possibility of criminal charges for
    transferring classified nuclear computer codes to his unclassified
    computer from 1983 to 1995. And investigators are continuing to study
    whether some other identifiable party gained access to the material with
    or without Lee's six-digit password. 
    The major known indication to date that Beijing gained U.S. nuclear
    secrets is a 1988 Chinese military document that contains data on the
    exact dimensions and shape of the newest American miniaturized warhead and
    the weight and explosive yields of a half-dozen other U.S. systems,
    according to administration and congressional sources. This data, much of
    which was available in scientific and technical journals in the late
    1980s, is still considered classified by U.S. government standards. 
    Feeding the concern of Nickles and others was disclosure by Los Alamos
    director John C. Browne that Lee, like all employees, had signed a waiver
    permitting his e-mail and personal computer to be reviewed without his
    knowledge. Browne said that despite the waiver the FBI and Justice
    Department in 1996 decided a court warrant would be needed before that
    step could be taken. 
    Without a warrant, information taken from Lee's computer under the waiver
    could not be used in any criminal prosecution. 
    While the hearing proceeded on Capitol Hill, computer security officials
    at Los Alamos disclosed that in 792 attempted attacks on Energy Department
    computers in a nine-month period ended in June 1998, hackers penetrated
    the Los Alamos lab's unclassified computer network five times. They could
    not say whether any of those were into Lee's computer. 
    "All of these attacks involved activities intended to gain password files,
    probes and scans, as well as actual compromises of DOE computer systems
    where the intruders gained access," according to an unclassified
    assessment by the CIA's Counterintelligence Center. 
    Defense Department computer networks, by contrast, experience an estimated
    250,000 attacks a year, the General Accounting Office has reported. 
    The overall assessment on cyberattacks, which was mandated by a February
    1998 presidential decision, was done to support a counterintelligence plan
    that began to take effect in January 1999, according to an Energy
    Department chronology. 
    Directors of the three national nuclear laboratories who appeared at
    yesterday's energy committee hearing maintained that computer security has
    been tightened by recent changes and all employee computers are open to
    search. In addition, all e-mail from the labs passes through a central
    point and is also subject to monitoring. 
    Republicans, however, viewed the evidence of security lapses in a
    different light. They maintained that China already has gained access to
    Lee's data in an espionage coup equal to the delivery of secrets of the
    first atom bombs to Moscow by the Rosenberg spy ring. 
    Chairman Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska) opened the session saying "the loss
    of our most sensitive nuclear weapons secrets to the Chinese" was caused
    by officials in the Clinton administration who were "lax, nonresponsive,
    or just plain asleep at the switch." 
    Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), a major supporter of Los Alamos, disclosed
    that in 1984 the FBI gave Lee a second polygraph after he showed deception
    on his first test on questions involving contacts with foreign
    intelligence services and inappropriate sharing of classified information.
    The polygraph came as a result of Lee's having earlier phoned another
    Chinese American scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who
    in the early 1980s was suspected of giving classified information on the
    neutron bomb to China. 
    Domenici said Lee was cleared after he passed the new polygraph but
    information about an FBI and Los Alamos security service probe of him,
    along with the reasons for his deception during the first polygraph, was
    not at that time passed on to senior officials at Los Alamos or the Energy
    It was not until 1989, when Lee's five-year renewal of his special Q
    clearance was up for review, that the Energy Department at the highest
    levels learned of the FBI's inquiry into Lee. But a file put together on
    Lee that was sent to DOE headquarters for security review was lost,
    Domenici said, and it was not until 1992 that the department hired an
    "outside contractor to reconstruct the lost Wen Ho Lee file." 
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