A senior Energy Department official has requested a special probe of claims by a U.S. nuclear weapons analyst that one of the nuclear weapons laboratories canceled his security clearances and fired him as punishment for publishing a critique of longstanding U.S. weapons policy.
The request by Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz for an inquiry by the DOE Inspector General into the dismissal in July of James E. Doyle by Los Alamos National Laboratory was disclosed in a Sept. 15 letter from another department official to Doyle’s attorney, Mark Zaid.
In the letter, Poli Mamolejos, director of the DOE’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, wrote that DOE’s “senior leadership takes the issue you raise seriously, and will not tolerate retaliation or dismissals of employees or contractors for the views expressed in scholarly publications.”
Doyle, a political scientist, was fired in July, shortly after the Center for Public Integrity inquired about the department’s handling of an article he published in the British journal Survival that challenged the tenets of nuclear deterrence and supported President Obama’s call for movement towards a nuclear weapons-free future.
That message conflicted with the laboratory’s principal work developing nuclear weapons, but the laboratory’s security experts cleared it for publication. Then, after hearing complaints from a Republican staff member of the House Armed Services Committee, more senior laboratory officials opted to classify the article retroactively, dock Doyle’s pay, and cancel his clearances.
In the letter, Marmolejos wrote that Klotz had asked the Inspector General, Gregory H. Friedman, to examine whether Doyle’s termination “resulted, in whole or in part, from the publication in question or the views expressed in it.”