Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger on Wednesday ordered a top-level Pentagon investigation into allegations that hundreds of secret and top-secret documents are missing from a Lockheed plant in California and that audits have been falsified to conceal the loss.
The allegations came to light in letters sent to Weinberger and Lockheed Corp. Chairman Lawrence Kitchen by Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and of its subcommittee on oversight and investigations.
Dingell, writing to Kitchen, said that a Pentagon audit "found hundreds of secret and top-secret documents, tapes, films, photographs and other materials that were missing or unaccounted for" in a major classified program at what he called the "California division of Lockheed Aircraft." That division, official known as Lockheed-California, is headquartered in Burbank.
Tied to F-19 Program
The documents reportedly are tied to Lockheed's highly secretive F-19 fighter program. "Lockheed has clearly lost control of their secret and top-secret information on this sensitive program and possibly others," Dingell wrote.
Pentagon spokesman Robert B. Sims said that Weinberger had received the congressman's letter and had asked the Pentagon inspector general's office to conduct a "prompt" investigation. "We take the allegations quite seriously," Sims said.
"We have no comment," said Bob Slayman, corporate director of public information for Lockheed Corp.
The report on Lockheed follows the discovery last year that classified documents were missing from General Dynamics' Convair Division in San Diego. That unit's Pentagon clearance was temporarily suspended while upgraded security procedures were put into effect.
In his letter to Weinberger, Dingell said that his panel has "seen evidence that official documents are being forged in an effort to 'find' the missing documents and other material."
Detailing the allegations, the congressman wrote:
--Nearly 200 secret blueprints were missing in 1983. Although several eventually were found by the FBI in the home of a Lockheed employee, 183 never were located.
--Last December, Lockheed was unable to provide four of six audits of its top-secret and secret documents sought by a Pentagon plant security representative--a failure that prompted the Pentagon to order Lockheed to conduct a complete audit of its documents within three months.
"The subcommittee has copies of a number of destruction records that have been created in the last couple of months to account for documents allegedly destroyed years ago," Dingell wrote. One of these, he said, carries the assertion that an individual witnessed the destruction of a missing document a year before joining the company.
In his letter to Kitchen, who has been chairman of the corporation since January, Dingell said that although the Lockheed audit was to have been completed in three months, it was only one-quarter finished after six months. The company has sought an additional 18 months to complete the job, Dingell added.
He said the situation was brought to his attention by two Lockheed investigators, whose concerns were verified when members of his investigations subcommittee staff visited Lockheed Corp. headquarters, recently moved from Burbank to Calabasas.
Dingell also was sharply critical of what he said was "abusive treatment" of the subcommittee's sources at Lockheed by company executives. The sources' names were blacked out in a copy of the letter the congressman's office made public.
The congressman said that such terms as "a known liar" and "an incompetent investigator" were used by one company executive to describe the sources.
"We have seen efforts at character assassination in the past," Dingell wrote to Kitchen. "We have never run into a case so thinly veiled. If these investigators were so incompetent and untrustworthy, why were they not fired months ago?"