Mr. Jack McElroy
Knoxville News-Sentinel

Mr. Frank Munger, Senior Reporter
Knoxville News-Sentinel

Mr. Scott Barker
Editor, Editorial Page
Knoxville News-Sentinel

Dear Mr. .Munger and Mr. Barker,

I appreciate the careful, comprehensive coverage of the unprecedented - and frightening - breach of security at Y-12.  Had the intruders had evil intent, we might all be so much radioactive ash now.  Mr. Munger is covering the story with frequent updates in his blog and you have written several related editorials, including one today, August 12, 2012 at

However, the Knoxville News-Sentinel appears to be uncritically accepting the narrative that the causes of the security breach at Y-12 are solely found within DOE, NNSA and its contractors.  This narrative is erroneous and contrary to law - specifically the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 1978.   In the CSRA, Congress assigned indispensable duties for proper functioning of the Department of Energy, as every other federal agency,  to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).  Congress also assigned  the President the duty to oversee the overall - and quite complex - system established by the CSRA for the purpose of ensuring federal agency employee could do their sworn duties to protect the health, safety, welfare and security of Americans per the "merit system principles" because they were adequately protected from reprisal and other types of "prohibited personnel practices."

For all her good intentions, former DOE Secretary Hazel O'Leary just did not "get it" that she simply did not have the autonomy or authority, by the CSRA, to create a policy of  "zero tolerance for reprisal" in DOE, because of the essential roles OSC and MSPB have - under the overall responsibility of the President - by the CSRA.

Here is one specific, which could be quite relevant to why the security vulnerabilities exploited by the intruders existed - by the CSRA, only federal employees could make confidential, classified "whistleblower disclosures" to OSC - an only about their agencies.   In 1989 Congress changed this to allow federal employees to make whistleblower disclosures about other agencies and for  federal government contractor employees and employees of federally licensed facilities to also make confidential whistleblower disclosures of classified information to OSC, by 5 U.S.C. section 1213(g)(1).  For 23 years, OSC has refused to acknowledge its power to receive such disclosures and its never has referred such a disclosure for investigation by the involved agency.  Why?  Because MSPB takes no exception to it, despite its duty to conduct oversight of OSC - something it has never done.  The result?  The President - as Sec. Chu - are "in the dark" about OSC's failures and their impact on DOE security.

This is not just me saying this - attorney Loring Justice, a graduate of Harvard Law School, agrees as the attached correspondence indicates. elaborates on this and has been recently re-written.  I hope Senator Corker, Congressman Duncan and/or Senator Alexander will step in with the President and/or Secretary Chu and request resolution of my concerns.  If the Knoxville News-Sentinel   called for this, particularly in light of this most troubling breach of Y-12 security, it would more likely happen.

Thank you for whatever consideration you give my perceptions and concerns.

Joe Carson, PE