April 21 The White House has not asked Congress for the money that
the Energy Department needs to harden nuclear weapons plants against
terrorist attack, a high-ranking Energy Department official
complained in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget.
The Energy Department's budget for security and safeguards,
meaning protection against theft of nuclear material or information,
is "not sufficient to implement the security posture requirements
that appropriately respond to the September 11th attacks," the
Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who has
long been critical of nuclear security arrangements, plans to
release the letter on Monday.
The letter, dated March 28, was sent by Bruce M. Carnes, director
of the Energy Department's Office of Management, Budget and
Evaluation, to Marcus Peacock, an associate program director at the
Office of Management and Budget, a White House agency.
Mr. Carnes wrote that he had been told that the department's
request had been turned down because the government was still
rewriting the "design basis threat," the document that describes how
many attackers the plants must be prepared to repulse and what
information and equipment they will have available.
"This isn't a tenable position for you to take, in my view," Mr.
Carnes wrote. "We are not operating, and cannot operate, under the
pre-September 11 Design Basis Threat. Until that is revised, we must
operate under Interim Implementing Guidance, and you have not
provided resources to enable us to do so."
Mr. Markey said he feared that terrorists could break into a
weapons plant and use conventional explosives to disperse
radioactive material, or even assemble a nuclear bomb and explode
One of the plants is in the San Francisco Bay area and another is
in a Denver suburb.
"The administration has requested almost $8 billion for missile
defense, which won't do anything to prevent suicidal terrorists from
attacking nuclear facilities and blowing up dirty bombs or homemade
nuclear weapons," he said in a statement. "But when the Department
of Energy finally admits that security is not what it should be, the
Office of Management and Budget refuses to help."
A spokeswoman for the Energy Department, Lisa Cutler, asked about
the letter, said on Friday: "The weapons complex is among the most
secure facilities in the world, and would present a very formidable
challenge to any terrorist organization.
"We took immediate steps in the week of Sept. 11 to improve site
security and define our priorities for long-term improvement."
Ms. Cutler said a first request for a budget supplement had been
approved, allowing the department to meet its highest
"If we find we need additional funds to meet our security needs
this year, we'll make funds available to meet those needs," she
The department could do that by redirecting money, or by having
the White House ask Congress for an additional appropriation, she
"We are going to meet our security needs, period," Ms. Cutler