Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 18, 2008

A Future for Nuclear National Labs in Homeland Security?

Filed under: Cybersecurity,Organizational Issues,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 18, 2008

The Stimson Center’s Cooperative Nonproliferation Program (CNP) announced the launch of a new task force charged with leveraging national laboratory S&T for the 21st century security environment. Fran Townsend, President Bush’s former Homeland Security Advisor, and Lieutenant General Donald Kerrick, former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Clinton, will serve as co-chairs. The bipartisan group, composed of national security experts, scientists, and businesspeople, will convene for the first time on June 27th, 2008 in Washington, DC.

The Task Force is led by The Stimson Center’s Libby Turpen, with clear involvement of Ellen Laipson, who was vice-chair at the National Intelligence Council the first time I met her. She was appointed president and CEO at Stimson in 2002. Libby used to be on the Hill before she joined Stimson in 2001 to establish the Security for a New Century congressional study group.

I have the privilege of serving on this taskforce over the next several months. While the proceedings of this Task Force will be private until reporting out to sponsors at DOE and the Lounsbery Foundation, I’ll do my best to keep readers informed of the work. After our first meeting is on the 27th, we’ll be heading out to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California, to visit with the people at Los Alamos National Lab, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia.

The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) ongoing transformation from a Cold War complex to a modern national security enterprise is faced with the distinct challenge of repurposing to some extent the overall mission and focus of the nuclear labs, namely Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore.

The Task Force’s key objective is to develop a strategy to ensure retention of nuclear weapons related core competencies at the national labs while better leveraging their scientific and technological capabilities to serve a broader set of 21st-century national and homeland security needs. This initiative should create a comprehensive R&D strategy to serve this objective. One can anticipate a likely slate of issues to include cybersecurity, climate change modeling, and possibly energy security issues.

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Comment by Arnold

June 18, 2008 @ 9:56 am

Is there a public list of all the task force members? I could not find one on the Stimson website.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 18, 2008 @ 11:27 am

The Labs are DOE. No administration has successfully integrated the lab structure into the Department since it was created as part of the AEC reorganization in 1974. Perhaps time that science & engineering R&D capability of the Labs be fully utilized for national purposes beyond bomb research and maintenance. The tensions between basic science and the military-industrial-academic complex received an interesting analysis in the 1997 bio captioned “Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the Century.” Is also discussed formation of the National Research Council. While not the most brillian biography the book does capture some of the issues confronting Bush and the science establishment from the time of the all-out push to win WWII. My question for the new group is not benefit/cost of the labs or the need for them but instead how can the scientific and engineering resources of the nation be best enhanced by using the labs for broad national purposes including the specific ones identified in its new charter. The task force is a great idea and Jonah glad to have you involved. Perhaps the tension raised between secrecy and the labs and the impact of that tension on performance should also be addressed.

Comment by Jonah Czerwinski

June 19, 2008 @ 7:27 am


I’ve not been given a list of the other Task Force members. Will update here when it becomes available though.


Comment by Steven Proctor

July 5, 2008 @ 6:55 am


I hope Homeland Security, the Co-chairs, the bi-partisan group and the Task Force will assist and support secured access by local, State and Federal Emergency Management (EM) personnel for researching and planning mitigation activities.

Thanks for sharing and stay safe out there

Steven Proctor, FPEM
EM Operations Coordinator

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