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GAO Finds Flaws in DOE's Nuclear Security
The Government Accounting Office recently issued a report on the Department of Energy's security forces at sites containing nuclear weapons material. The GAO report questions whether DOE will meet its October 2008 deadline for implementing measures necessary to protect against terrorist attacks.

DOE manages five sites that contain weapons-grade nuclear material. The GAO report points out that "a successful terrorist attack on a Department of Energy (DOE) site containing nuclear weapons material could have devastating effects for the site and nearby communities." The sites are protected by, in GAO's words, "a heavily armed paramilitary force equipped with such items weapons as automatic weapons."

GAO found some problems with this protective force. For example, while DOE provides training for defense against terrorist attack, the defenders are not required to participate in the training exercises.

As another example, over half of the protective force officers GAO interviewed said their radios often don't work. In other words, if the bad guys do attack, the good guys have less than a 50% chance of getting the message.

In sum, the GAO concludes that the DOE protective forces have a long way to go before they become truly special forces. Let's hope they get there before it is too late.

  • Click for read GAO report.

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