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Lab continues to close off discussion

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By Ralph Damiani

A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Steve Pearce came to Los Alamos to talk to local residents and address LANL employees.This week, Rep. Tom Udall was here to do the same. In both cases, the press was flatly denied access and just shut out, with the lab making claims that “confidential” information would be discussed.Well, that is simply disingenuous and misleading.There was no legitimate reason to keep the media away from these talks – save for the simple fact that lab officials could and their growing arrogance pushed them to it.It used to be that accommodations were made for such events and the press was allowed to cover them. Even under the dark days of Pete Nanos, the press was allowed in.Not any more.More and more a bigger and bigger wall is going up around Los Alamos National Laboratory. And it is such a shame.What are they hiding? If you say nothing, then the question is begged: Why all the secrecy?It is an unacceptable answer to say that proprietary information may be discussed. We are not asking to be included in the boardroom discussions. That we understand.But when you tell the public – and like it or not, the press represents the public – that they cannot hear what our elected representatives have to say on a facility that we, the taxpayers, pay for, it smacks of such conceit that one can hardly understand the logic of it all.And in both cases, the representatives came to us after the meetings with the lab, gave us context of their speeches, answered questions on what happened and reported on their visit. They never once said that any “secret” or “confidential” material was covered.So why the exclusion? As we stated above, the only answer we can see is the simple egotism of “we do it because we can.”Some people do not seem to care if the press is excluded. But the press only has the rights of each and every citizen. And if government can take away those rights, then each and everyone of us is in danger.LANL is Los Alamos. The economic hardships endured by this community last year are completely related to issues at the lab. Completely.It is not enough for them to sit behind their growing wall and say we are a private company, what happens here is not your business.It is our business and it is tragic that lab management seems more and more to think – and act like – it is not.