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Nuclear weapons agency chief quits over lapses
Yahoo News/Reuters
By David Morgan
January 4, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. nuclear weapons program resigned under pressure on Thursday following repeated security lapses at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Linton Brooks, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, was asked to tender his resignation to President George W. Bush after administration officials concluded he was unable to adequately address a series of management and security issues.

"These management and security issues can have serious implications for the security of the United States," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said in a statement announcing Brooks' departure. "I have decided it is time for new leadership at the

NNSA."

Bush was expected to name an acting director shortly.

The NNSA, an Energy Department agency, is responsible for maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and reducing the global threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.

It was established 2000 after the Wen Ho Lee espionage scandal at the Los Alamos lab in New Mexico, birthplace of the atomic bomb and the site of U.S. nuclear weapons research.

A Taiwanese-American scientist, Lee was accused of stealing secrets about the U.S. nuclear arsenal for China in December 1999 but the charges were dropped. He later pleaded guilty to improperly handling of sensitive data.

Brooks' departure followed two other incidents at the lab.

Last June, word surfaced that a security breach at Los Alamos had led to the theft of files containing personal information on more than 1,000 workers. The breach had gone unreported for months.

Then in October, a drug raid on a Los Alamos trailer park turned up secret data taken from the lab by a female employee. The discovery raised concerns that the woman might have tried to sell the information to support a drug habit.

Brooks, 68, who has led the agency since 2003, said in a statement that his resignation came after NNSA failed over a period of years to deal with recurring problems that it had been set up to address.

"I accept the decision," he said. "Our task now is to minimize the inevitable disruption of such a transition and to continue the vital national security work on which we are engaged."

He was expected to leave the agency within three weeks.

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