Communities Against a Radioactive Environment
James Doyle, a 17-year Non-Proliferation Specialist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico, wrote a thought-provoking piece back in February 2013 titled "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?" His article, written for a London-based journal, supports the Obama administrations goals of a nuclear weapons-free future through an analysis of the political theories surrounding nuclear deterrence. The price of publication? His job.
Unbeknownst to Mr. Doyle, his employment at LANL seemingly required that his publically expressed opinions support the Lab and the Energy Department's broad nuclear arms agenda, rather than the President's disarmament agenda. This case sends a message to employees across the nuclear weapons enterprise (Livermore Lab included) that they do not share in the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech when it comes to nuclear weapons policy.
After first receiving approval for his independently researched article, the Lab and DOE retroactively classified Mr. Doyle's article and unceremoniously confiscated his records and research, reduced his pay, and revoked his security clearance before terminating his employment. In his article, Doyle structured an opinion, backed by research into the high risk and limited rewards of possessing nuclear weapons as a means to protect national security and the government policy of nuclear deterrence. The article provides an analysis as to the ineffective use of nuclear deterrence through historical, environment, economic, political, and international cooperation theories.
Doyle's ordeal seems to have set the stage for the Energy Department to take steps that squash Freedom of Speech disguised under the improper application of Classification Procedures. The review process at the Los Alamos Lab for personnel's independent articles amount to an employment policy designed to mold, direct, and in some cases (like Doyle's) squash intellectual independence if the writings veer from, threaten or criticize the Agency's policies. For example, the Agency policy includes reviewing for "message and political content," which would restrict an employee from offering opinion or suggestions on federal policy implementation, and additionally "requesting" that articles be balanced between personal views and that of the laboratory.
Doyle's article, (linked below) holds no information that should merit classification, other than for strictly political reasons. Additionally, the article came with a disclaimer that that the views of the article, "are the author's own and do not represent those of the Los Alamos National Laboratory." Doyle filed a retaliation claim with DOE that was denied. He is now pursuing other avenues to challenge his termination.
It is alarming, when one of the bedrocks of the Nation (Freedom of Speech) can be stifled by with politically motivated use of a Classified Stamp simply because a federal employee dared possess an intellectual understanding of a national debate that was in opposition to the Laboratory's largest budgeted goal (i.e. cash cow), Nuclear Weapons Development.
Click here to read Mr. Doyle's article "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?"
Click here to read a story about Mr. Doyle's ordeal by The Center for Public Integrity.