The government remains far behind in its efforts to assess those foreigners who might pose a potential threat. According to a recent General Accounting Office report, a Justice Department task force tried to find 4,112 aliens after Sept. 11 but could only come up with 2,261.
With some 35 million immigrants living in the U.S., the sheer numbers may be overwhelming. Each alien is required by law to submit a change of address form when he or she moves. The Immigration and Naturalization Service receives 30,000 such notices every day, and it can't possibly keep up. What's more, since the law hasn't been enforced, aliens often ignore it.
Think back to Chinese scientist Wen Ho Lee, who was held in solitary confinement for nine months under suspicion of being a spy. The basis of this accusation was that he had transferred classified computer codes from a secure system at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked, to unclassified computers and then to portable cassette tapes—presumably a rare breach of security.
But in a recent report, prepared by the lab's chief financial officer, Los Alamos reveals that its employees seem to play fast and loose with gear from this highly secret nuclear-research lab.
According to the CFO, Los Alamos is missing 141 pieces of equipment worth $1.3 million, including 74 computers. A sampling of the items listed as lost or stolen, some from what one might consider the supersensitive "nuclear materials technology division":