National Press Club Luncheon withOctober 4, 2000
Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson
MODERATOR: Well, we've got a lot of questions, most of them about energy policy. But let me start with this one from the morning's newspapers. At a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday former DOE Intelligence Chief Notra Trulock said he believed you leaked Wen Ho Lee's name to the New York Times. What's your response to that allegation?
SEC. RICHARDSON: I think the words that my spokesman used, that I categorically denied it. Let me say -- (laughs) -- in person, I categorically deny this. This is an individual who two days ago sued me; one day ago he says I leaked the report; today he's probably said that I stole the nuclear secrets myself. So -- I don't take this very seriously.
MODERATOR: As long as we're here in the ballroom of the National Press Club, what Eric Severeid called "this big roll-top desk" that we're inside -- (light laughter) -- could you tell us how you think the press has handled that whole story?
SEC. RICHARDSON: The -- ?
MODERATOR: The Wen Ho Lee story.
SEC. RICHARDSON: I think the press has handled it well. I'm not one of those that join in the criticism of the New York Times. I think that they've done a good job. I think there's been, I think, understandable concern on the part of many in the public and the press and the Congress of the potential loss of our nuclear secrets.
The fact is that our lab security when I came in was not good, regardless of what had happened with warheads and other instances of security lapses. And we went in and imposed polygraphs and a number of security measures that improved the physical and computer security at the labs. We tried to change the culture a little bit. But I think in the end, both the case of this individual at Los Alamos, the loss of the warhead -- we don't know exactly how it was lost and when, but it was -- and then the temporary loss of those hard drives at Los Alamos again, I think, led to enormous concern in the Congress and the public that we had to do something.
I notice how the pendulum swings. I was, I think months ago, criticized for doing too little on security; and today, if you read reports, I've done too much. So I think I'm right in the middle.
But where I think the press -- I think the press has been doing their job. They've been responsible. And I have no complaints.