July 30, 2010
Issue #35


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22. Bubblegate Case Inspector General Leaves

By Steven B. Krivit

Holly Adams, the Office of Naval Research inspector general who handled the Rusi Taleyarkhan (Bubblegate) case at ONR, is no longer at her post.

On Nov. 20, 2009, New Energy Times published a special edition on our continuing investigation of scientific work of six researchers* on a team led by Rusi Taleyarkhan, a professor in the Purdue University School of Nuclear Engineering, and the politics surrounding their research.

Adams was a key player in the still-unresolved Bubblegate controversy so naturally we sent her e-mail announcements to alert her to the news story. Adams did not respond. Instead, we received a letter from her attorney, Adam Augustine Carter of Employment Law Group, accusing us of publishing inaccurate statements.

Holly Adams
Photo: Carol Guzy, Washington Post

Adam Augustine Carter

We take such accusations very seriously and responded to Carter promptly. After he confirmed the specific e-mails he had alluded to, we asked him to identify any of the alleged inaccuracies or misrepresentations within them. His response did not name a single instance of inaccuracy or misrepresentation. The full exchange is here.

Why such an aggressive effort to keep New Energy Times from having any contact with Adams? Why the apparent attempt to intimidate? Even more important, why a response from an attorney, an employment attorney at that? 

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Warren Worth, special investigator with the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Marine Corps, came to California on May 7, 2009, to interview me about Adams. Worth's office apparently had some oversight responsibility with Adams.

I had not known specifically what Worth wanted from me before the interview, aside from questions about Holly Adams, as he told me, but I figured he wanted to know the facts about the Taleyarkhan case, so I agreed to talk with him.

During the interview, Worth seemed very interested in the information that Adams had leaked to me in the prior months. He also seemed interested in personal issues about Adams that could have had a bearing on her employment status. I was disappointed to learn that he seemed uninterested in the facts of the Taleyarkhan case.

On Jan. 4, 2010, I called the ONR inspector general’s office to find out whether Adams was still there. She wasn't. Debra Arnold picked up the phone and introduced herself as the acting inspector general.

Meanwhile, the investigation by the Navy's inspector general, directed by the Department of Defense's inspector general, into ONR's handling of the Taleyarkhan matter remains open and active after more than one year.

The Department of Defense inspector general has oversight responsibility on all the other military inspectors general. I wonder whether the Department of Defense inspector general will be more interested in seeking the truth about the Taleyarkhan matter than helping another federal agency cover up its mess.

Taleyarkhan has stopped his bubble fusion research and remains an active professor at Purdue. The Navy's decision to punish Taleyarkhan by blocking his federal research funding until September 2011 has caused Taleyarkhan and his group to forfeit a hard-won multiyear National Science Foundation/ Department of Homeland Security collaborative grant that would have benefited research professors and students at Purdue, Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M and Jefferson High School. Also, if he cannot secure other sources of funding, the Purdue Metastable Fluids Research Lab, which he manages in leased space off-campus, will have to be abandoned. 
* JaeSeon Cho (formerly with Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Robert C. Block (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Richard T. Lahey Jr. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Robert I. Nigmatulin (Russian Academy of Sciences) and Colin West (formerly with Oak Ridge National Laboratory)


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