Billions have been spent on securing the homeland in the past decade. Apparently, the government forgot about securing one important facility in the homeland, which in my mind calls into question the overall security of the homeland. If the government can’t protect a large facility that houses 100 tons of uranium at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, then I wouldn’t place too much weight on the security of other smaller and less-protected facilities across the United States.
You may wonder who breached the high-tech security system protecting the uranium storage and how they got away with it – surely, they must have been a highly-trained crack team, something akin to the team in a Mission Impossible movie. Obviously, they were equipped with the kind of equipment that enabled them to disable the layers of security that facility boasts.
Yeah, about that…they were anything but a crack team. The facility was broken into by some anti-nuclear folks who were protesting (Catholic workers) from Plowshares – these folks were Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, Michael Walli, 63, and Megan Gillespie Rice, an 82 -year-old nun. The only equipment they had was a bolt cutter.
Okay…but surely the trio had done research and figured out exactly when the security guards changed shifts…surely there is more to this story that can help explain how they managed to access a location that has been touted as one of the most secure facilities in the country. Ummm, no, not really. According to the team they only had a vague notion of the layout of the facility that they had gleaned from Internet searches.
According to Boertje-Obed, the group trudged about a half mile up a hillside (which wore Sister Megan down considerably) and then they easily made it past fences, security cameras, and guard towers. They were sure they would be stopped as soon a they got to the gates in the area known as the “kill-zone” (where security is authorized to use deadly force), but they were not stopped and they kept going until they were at the building that held all that uranium. Once there they began a peaceful protest. No one was more surprised by the success of the mission than the three trespassers themselves.
Unfortunately, the trio’s success left a lot of folks with an awful lot of explaining to do. Alas, there have not been any good explanations to date about how three folks who can order from Denny’s senior menu and who have no security training were able to traipse into an allegedly highly-secured facility. The National Nuclear Security Administration issued an obligatory report about two weeks after the incident detailing the reasons for the multiple security failures (the break-in occurred on July 28, 2012) and calling for those in charge of security at that facility to have their contracts terminated.
Among the findings of the NNSA were the following (according Mike Creger, Forum Communications, INFORUM):
• One camera trained on a fence did not work, something the contractor in charge of security had known about for weeks.
• Motion alarms went ignored because animals near the facility constantly trip them, creating lax review by guards.
• The trio was captured on one security camera but guards were not watching the monitor.
• Guards who did respond were berated for a slow reaction and for not confronting the trio with signs of deadly force. Boertje-Obed said the first guard to approach them was friendly and said he knew the protestors were not a threat. That guard was fired for not drawing his weapon and his union is appealing the dismissal.
• Protocols for alarm response and detainment were not followed.
Members of Congress compared the current security breach to a 2007 incident at the Minot Air Force base. In that incident a B-52 bomber was mistakenly loaded with nuclear warheads and flown across the country. That was news to me – apparently I missed that debacle – uff dah.
The bottom line: the homeland is not as secure as we thought it was and we should be afraid – very afraid. Billions have been spent across the country on a security network that is designed to make us less vulnerable and all that was needed to circumvent it was a few searches on the Internet, a small hike, and a bolt cutter.
I want a refund U.S. Government. You have wasted the taxpayers’ money and sold us a bill of goods. Thank goodness that we learned of your failure at the hands of three peaceful protestors. I shudder to think what other facilities can be as easily penetrated.
Dear readers, write your elected representatives and tell them you are concerned about the security of the homeland and also tell them you want your money back. My guess is that every household could easily receive a $250,000 refund on this failure to perform as promised. Also, say a little prayer in thanks that the three protestors did what they did. Obviously, God works in mysterious ways…and even more obvious is the fact that the government does not.
Day one thousand one hundred and eighty-two of the new forty – obla di obla da