Energy Dept. Names Security Czar
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today named a four-star Air Force general as ``security czar″ with broad responsibility over the nuclear weapons program, including research labs that have been a major target of espionage for years.
Retired Air Force Gen. Eugene Habiger, former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, will take over as the energy department’s top security official July 6 and report directly to the energy secretary. The command has responsibility over all Air Force and Navy nuclear forces.
Richardson, who last month said he was looking for a senior military officer to head security, said that Habiger would have authority to ``rebuild the entire department’s security and cybersecurity apparatus.″
In a separate action, Richardson said he was ordering a two-day ``security standdown″ at the department’s three nuclear weapons labs _ Los Alamos, Livermore and Sandia _ later this month to examine security activities and ``deal with some of the problems″ that have been highlighted in two recent critical reviews of the department’s anti-espionage and security system.
Richardson said all activities at the three labs would halt on June 21-22.
Earlier this week a panel of intelligence experts said the energy department had a ``culture of arrogance″ and was ``incapable of reforming itself″ when it came to security.
The panel of the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board urged creation of a largely autonomous agency within the department to deal with nuclear weapons programs.
Richardson reiterated his opposition to such a proposal and said it was ``not good logic″ to insulate the defense programs.
Habiger spent 35 years in the Air Force beginning as an enlisted man and retiring as a full general. As commander of the Strategic Air Command he had control over all of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. He also was a former B-52 bomber pilot during the Vietnam War.