Missile defense blueprints found in trash container

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) A television station employee taking out trash last week found something unusual amid the refuse in a commercial bin: a 144-page set of blueprints for the Fort Greely missile defense site.

The documents are not classified and are widely available, but the disposal violates the government contract with companies building the missile site, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Such documents are supposed to be burned or shredded before being tossed, said John Killoran, spokesman for the corps, which is administering the contract.

''Obviously, it was an embarrassment,'' Killoran said. ''I think everyone seems to understand how it happened. The idea now is not to have this happen again.''

Fluor Alaska is constructing six missile silos and associated buildings. The Boeing Co. will install high-tech gear to target enemy missiles. The project is to be completed in 2004.

The blueprints came from H.C. Price, an Anchorage-based construction subcontractor to Fluor, Killoran said. The prints eventually went to Alaska Digital Printing, which has an office next door to KTVF-TV's studio in South Fairbanks.

''We were asked to hold on to them for other contractors to look at,'' said Alaska Digital owner Stephanie Clymer. An improperly scaled copy made for a customer was put in the trash bin, she said.

Clymer told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner she has been copying Fort Greely documents for more than a year and was not aware that the military's contract with Fluor required duplicates of the construction blueprint to be destroyed when discarded.

''We would never get that language unless the contractor told us,'' she said. Clymer said she often copies classified work, and in those cases the contractor specifies the procedures.

Tim Matthews, project manager for H.C. Price in Anchorage, hung up on a reporter after a few words Tuesday.

''I don't have anything to say to you,'' Matthews said when asked about the incident. ''It's already been reported, and what was reported embellished beyond what happened. If you want to talk to someone you have to call Fluor. Thank you.''

Clymer said she has been inundated with questions from officials, including an FBI agent, during the past week. All have concluded she did nothing wrong, she said.

She finds the uproar mystifying, given how available the documents are. They can be viewed at the Associated General Contractors of Alaska plans room in Fairbanks, she said.

''This is so ridiculous,'' she said. ''I'm really beyond angry at this point.''

Jamie Stewart, an employee of KTVF-TV, was cleaning out space the station was vacating when he found the documents, said news director Bob Miller.

Two commercial trash bins are behind the office complex. One is public. Alaska Digital rents the other.

Miller said Stewart saw the papers in the public receptacle, thought they might be important and brought them into the station.

Clymer said the documents were taken from her private bin.

''There's nothing like being in the same building as a TV station, and that's all this boils down to,'' she said.

Miller said the station, in addition to airing a brief story, called ''security agencies.'' An FBI agent took the documents within an hour, he said.

Miller said he bought another copy of the plans at Alaska Digital for $50 that day. The plans appear to describe most of the site's buildings and missile silos, complete with detail on wiring, plumbing and heating ducts, Miller said.

On Friday, Miller tried to buy another copy and was turned down.

The blueprints are not classified as secret but are labeled ''for official use only,'' said Rick Lehner, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency in Arlington, Va. Sometimes such documents can be released, particularly if requested under the terms of the federal Freedom of Information Act, he said.

However, Killoran and Lehner both noted that contracting documents can contain proprietary information that companies do not want revealed to competitors. Such documents cannot be released, Lehner said.

Neither Killoran nor Lehner knew whether the blueprints fit in that category.

Killoran said the FBI has written an ''after-action statement.''

''They did conclude there was no law broken,'' he said.

Public officials and contractors said the availability of such information does not undermine security at Fort Greely, about 100 miles south of Fairbanks, which is best ensured by fencing out intruders.

Dick Cattanach, executive director of Associated General Contractors of Alaska in Anchorage, saw nothing out of the ordinary in how the documents were handled. Most construction plans on military bases are available to a wide variety of people, he said.

''You look at that and say OK, even if terrorists have that, what does that tell them?'' The wiring, plumbing and heating systems are ''commonplace in buildings all across the world, so there's nothing there that's classified.''

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