Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Bunning, others want Richardson out

By Derrick DePledge
Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — Sen. Jim Bunning said Tuesday that U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson should resign because of security lapses at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

        A handful of Republican lawmakers have urged the secretary to step down since it was learned that two computer hard drives at the New Mexico lab were missing for weeks. The drives, which contained nuclear secrets, were discovered Friday behind a copier.

        The FBI and the Energy Department are investigating the disappearance, and Mr. Richard son has said that he does not think espionage was involved.

        The Energy Department was criticized over security last year after Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee was indicted for allegedly downloading classified nuclear data to unsecured computers and computer tapes. Mr. Lee has said he is not guilty.

        Mr. Bunning, R-Ky., described Mr. Richardson's leadership as “grossly incompetent.”

        “He ought to resign for the good of the country,” he said.

        Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has asked Mr. Richardson to resign, as has Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. In the House, Rep. Paul Gillmor, R-Ohio, and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., have called for Mr. Richardson's departure.


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