The Mess At Los Alamos

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Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.
With all the news about steroids and the Schiavo case, one story that deserved more attention and got lost last week: the ongoing, ever worsening outrage that the Los Alamos National Weapons Center has become.

Most of what they do there is top secret, but the security has become such a joke, the whole place had to be shut down last year because two computer disks went missing.

Well, Congress got the bill Friday.

It apparently cost $367 million to move research activities to other labs while they searched for the disks. That's $367 million of your tax dollars.

Now the kicker: The disk never existed, and the whole thing could have been avoided if two employees had not falsified inventory records. And, yes, this is the same place that had already wasted many millions more with just sloppy work.

But even as Congress dug into this latest mess, Sharyl Attkisson, our CBS News supersleuth, found some former auditors who said the lab had wasted millions more because they just paid whatever price vendors set, no questions asked. Incredibly, the bosses told these whistle-blowers to keep it quiet because it might prove embarrassing.

An exasperated Congressman Joe Barton, who's been tracking this mess for years, said one solution may be to just close the place down.

Congressman, I think you're on to something.

By Bob Schieffer