Spy-Weary Nuclear Boss Calls in the Cavalry

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: The cows may be gone, but Bill Richardson is closing the barn doors tight. The embattled Department of Energy chief is looking for a "security czar" to batten down the hatches at the nation's research labs and rehabilitate the reputation of a department that, to hear it from the recent raft of reports about legacy codes, warhead specs and submarine-detecting radar, may as well be based in Beijing. "We are looking hopefully for a three- or four-star general with an extensive security background. We want it to be career, not political," Richardson told the Associated Press ahead of an expected announcement of his plans Tuesday.

Certainly the planned measures -- which include streamlining the department's bureaucracy and imposing an 18-month moratorium on declassifying sensitive documents -- are long overdue, even if they're not too little, too late. But to TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson, calling in the military to solve a law-enforcement problem is just the usual Beltway cosmetology. "This is what happens every time there's a snafu -- they say, let's call in the generals," he says. "But stripes and bars do not necessarily a good security person make. The army has incompetents too."