Weapons Plant Guards Accused
of Cheating in Terrorist Exercise
February 2, 2004
Security guards who
stopped four simulated terrorist attacks at a Tennessee nuclear weapons
plant had been warned in advance, undermining the results, the Energy
Department's watchdog office said.
The surprising successes by guards at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant last
summer in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, sparked an internal investigation. It
determined that at least two guards defending the mock attacks had been
allowed to look at computer simulations the day before the attacks took
The Energy Department's inspector general, Gregory H. Friedman, declared
the exercises "tainted and unreliable." He said each mock attack
cost as much as $85.000 to stage, and he urged the department to consider
his conclusions when awarding contracting fees for Wackenhut Corp., which
employs guards at Oak Ridge.
The inspector general said guards in another mock attack in late 2000
or early 2001 were improperly told which building would be attacked, the
exact number of attackers and where a diversion was being staged.
Investigators also said managers substituted their best security guards
for others scheduled to work the day of attacks; standby guards would
sometimes be armed and used to bolster existing security guards on duty.
In other cases, security guards disabled laser sensors they wore to determine
whether they received a simulated gunshot. Guards removed batteries, deliberately
installed batteries backward and covered sensors with tape, mud of Vaseline
so they wouldn't operate properly.
Investigators said those claims were based on interviews with current
and former guards, which they described as "credible and compelling."
But they acknowledged they could find no documentary evidence to support
the claims of previous cheating.
"There's no point in doing them if you have people who are going
to cheat," said Richard Clarke, a former senior White House counterterrorism
"Thats ridiculous. It kind of defeats the whole point of having these
A broader investigation
uncovered more evidence of cheating during mock attacks against U.S. nuclear
plants in the past two decades. Results from such simulations are commonly
classified for national security reasons.