Feb 26 2007

Is It Company Over Country?

Published by at 5:22 pm under All General Discussions

I am a proponent of private industry, but I am not naive to the matter lunacy and larceny can infect the private sector quite easily. In an very eye-opening trial (which I had not heard of but which deserves broader reporting) an employee was terminated for helping the FBI track down spies trying to gather up our nation’s secrets. Yep, you got that right. An employee was terminated for following the law over corporate policy:

A jury awarded nearly $5 million to a worker at a top secret research laboratory who was fired after trying to catch foreign hackers stealing sensitive information from U.S. computers.

Sandia National Laboratory develops nuclear weapons for the American military, among other functions. Since 1993, it has been managed by government contracting giant Lockheed Martin.

After discovering the lab’s computers had been broken into, Carpenter retraced the hacker’s steps, eventually “backhacking” into machines they controlled, where he discovered the sensitive data.

Carpenter refused to obey his bosses’ orders to end his efforts and keep the information within Sandia; he instead contacted the FBI and worked for months with counterintelligence agents, who told him his information was aiding numerous ongoing investigations. Soon after his bosses found out, they fired Carpenter.

Actually, the ‘executives’ who ordered what has to be seen as some form of cover up need to be fired. Corporate desires, spelled out as policy, do no trump our nation’s laws. And when it comes to nuclear weapons technology, nobody’s behind is valued high enough to trade our security for some CYA activity. Now I am sure these people have come up with some compelling rationalizations as to why they did not screw up – but they did. Sandia, like most labs, is not a law enforcement agency and doesn’t have the tools to investigate, the processes in place to gaurantee trial level quality of evidence handling, and the authority to prosecute. So there are not good excuses for basically hiding a serious crime, and then punishing the one person who kept their head on.

If people need an example of a good whistle blower and a proper rebuke for covering up a crime, this is a pretty darn good one.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Is It Company Over Country?”

  1. Carol_Herman says:

    Oh, well. Except for its headline value, I’ll bet Sandia pays to APPEAL. And, eventually, this case will sail up to the Supremes.

    Even if guilty, it’s possible the supremes will slice and dice this cash award.

    Why wouldn’t a company be able to fire people who are working from within to do harm?

    And, why think this “whistleblower” was an honest broker? And, not a “set up” man? You think the FBI is as clean as a whistle?

    Seems to me you can break into a man’s home, but you better “still” have a signed warrant.

  2. pagar says:

    I’d say the jury thought he was an honest broker. Wonder if the people that gave the orders still have security clearances?