Originally created 08/05/99

SRS upgrade -- finally



Just five months ago, after the shocking news broke over the Communist Chinese theft of vital U.S. Department of Energy nuclear secrets, DOE spokesman Jim Giusti blithely declared the scandal wouldn't cause security to increase at the Savannah River Site.

"We ... have a strong program to safeguard national se-curity information," he falsely bragged.

Soon afterward, this editorial page exposed what was contained in a rare copy of the DOE's own Status of Safeguards and Security for 1996. It contained scathing criticism of the SRS Operations Office, which manages classified national security information.

But DOE Secretary Bill Richardson and DOE officials at SRS remained smug -- until the past two months.

Richardson, after congressional prodding in the aftermath of the Cox espionage report, ordered security reviews and shakeups at most DOE sites -- and thankfully included the SRS.

A front-page Chronicle story Wednesday listed many key security upgrades, including subjecting about 800 SRS employees to mandatory lie detector tests. Employees will also receive new color-coded badges easily identifying their level of access. (Former Clinton Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary dismantled the previous badge program, which allowed incredible security lapses at Los Alamos and other laboratories.)

Five months ago, one SRS official told us that there were fears of unauthorized employee e-mails (such as occurred at Los Alamos) being sent to who knows where. This was officially, and hotly, denied at the time. Giusti again claimed security was fine. But it is in-teresting to note that, on Tuesday, it was announced that SRS computers would be monitored "more tightly."

There's still one major area, though, where Richardson is far too lax: The continued permission for Red Chinese, anti-American Russians and other foreign military personnel to visit our highly-classified sites. (One visiting Chinese "scientist" was caught dipping his necktie into a secret solution so he could have it analyzed later.)

Communist China is sending officials from all its services involved in logistics -- activities to arm and equip its army -- as well as military acquisition, which would be helpful in building more weapons to threaten Taiwan and even the United States!

Why are dozens of red carpet tours for the Chinese still planned at DOE facilities this year?

Fawning over the bloody dictators in Beijing who point their missiles at our cities, threaten the free Chinese government on Taiwan and steal our secrets is unconscionable.