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July 28 2012

July 30, 2012

28July2012

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Cutting Washington could hit Main Street

By Jeanne Sahadi @CNNMoney July 23, 2012: 5:02 AM ET

 

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The push to slash federal spending in the name of curbing deficits and getting rid of “big government” could hit the private sector.

The reason: The federal government now spends more than $500 billion a year — or roughly 14% of the federal budget — on private-sector contractors.

That’s more than double what it spent in 2000, said Dan Gordon, a government contracts expert who oversaw federal procurement policy for the White House from 2009 to 2011.

Spending on contractors rose fairly steadily over the past dozen years as government agencies became “dramatically more dependent” on them, Gordon said.

About 80% of all IT functions at federal agencies are done by contractors, said Paul Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University.

And some agencies are more dependent than others. The Department of Energy, for instance, now spends 90% of its budget on contractors that manage the department’s sites and carry out its missions, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

“[The contractors] also provide sites’ support functions such as procuring needed goods and services; recruiting and hiring workers, managing health and retirement benefits; and maintaining facilities and infrastructure,” the GAO said.

The fierce debate over how to replace the so-called sequester — a rash of automatic, mostly across-the-board spending cuts that will take $110 billion out of the economy next year — has raised concerns over the potential job loss. Defense contractors, which are the biggest recipient of government funds, are at the top of the list.

The Department of the Defense awarded $374 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2011, according to USASpending.gov. That was nearly 15 times the second largest amount awarded by a federal agency, in this case the Department of Energy. Near the bottom of the list was the Federal Maritime Commission, which awarded a mere $840,000.

But behemoth companies like Lockheed Martin (LMT, Fortune 500) — the country’s biggest contractor — aren’t the only ones to receive federal contracts.

In fiscal year 2010, for instance, the government gave close to $100 billion in contracts — or nearly 23% of eligible dollars — to small businesses, according to testimony Dan Gordon gave before a House subcommittee.

And small businesses often serve as subcontractors to companies like Lockheed, which uses 40,000 suppliers.

By one estimate, 7.5 million workers are supported by federal contract dollars. Said Light: “It’s a pretty big hidden workforce.”

 

Indeed, even if his estimate is on the high side, it still would dwarf the number of actual federal workers employed directly by the government. There were 2.1 million full-time federal civilian workers at the end of fiscal year 2011, not including members of the military or the postal service, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

When politicians call for smaller government and lower federal spending, they often focus on reducing federal workforce costs, including headcount.

“What they usually mean is fewer civil servants. They don’t mean have the government do less,” Gordon said.

And until they do, that assures private contractors will continue to play a central role in government.

 

Agencies to dole out new hardware keys for secret networks


By Aliya Sternstein

July 20, 2012

The Pentagon is helping civilian agencies block access to federal classified networks by anyone who does not have a new smart card, military officials announced Thursday night, in the wake of recent information leaks.

During a closed-door House committee hearing earlier in the day, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta briefed lawmakers on the action — part of a new top-down agenda to prevent the exposure of government secrets.

Defense Department officials already had announced the ongoing distribution of the new tokens that military employees will need to enter the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, which handles the military’s classified data.

Thursday’s policy states, “department personnel are working with other federal departments and agencies to help them issue the same cyber identity credential to all employees who need to access any of the government’s secret networks.”

Both political parties have expressed outrage over news reports, presumably informed by insiders, about U.S. involvement in a cyberassault on Iran, drone targeting and an airline bomb plot stopped by a covert agent.

Much of the other technology in Defense’s new plan already was in the works, including a threat-detection system, following a soldier’s alleged massive disclosure of sensitive information to the anti-secrets website WikiLeaks.

SIPRNET is the system that Pfc. Bradley Manning is alleged to have abused to funnel out documents he was not authorized to view. The new Defense token is separate from existing badges and smart card credentials — and does not display personal information or photos, Pentagon officials have said.

Panetta’s strategy marks the first talk of extending this type of lockdown to non-Defense agencies. The State Department became part of the WikiLeaks saga when embarrassing diplomatic cables popped up on the rogue site.

According to Defense officials, Panetta reiterated to lawmakers guidance issued by his predecessor Robert Gates that the assistant secretary for public affairs is the “sole release authority for all DoD information to news media in Washington.”

 

Federal personnel, since 2004, have been required to carry smart cards to access government computers, but the expense of card readers has kept most agencies from activating them.


http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2012/07/agencies-dole-out-new-hardware-keys-secret-networks/56907/

 

Future astronauts may rely on made-in-space parts


By Leonard David

7/23/2012 12:13:10 AM ET

NBCNews.com

Say you’re hunkered down inside Mars Base-1 and a vital piece of life-support gear breaks down. A hurried search in supply bins proves futile. The next cycler spaceship with equipment is months away. Time is running out.

This disaster scenario could be short-circuited by what’s tagged as “additive manufacturing” — a process to fabricate or 3-D print a critical widget layer by layer. Using additive manufacturing equipment, items can be cranked out on the spot, whether they’re made of hard plastics or certain metals.

Work is now in progress to demonstrate this possibility — and the International Space Station may be the ideal spot for perfecting the scheme. [10 Incredible 3-D Printed Products]

 

Cutting the umbilical

In a televised call to the space station in February, NASA chief Charles Bolden asked two onboard residents at the time, U.S. astronauts Dan Burbank and Don Pettit, to discuss what astronauts need 20 to 30 years from now, based on what they have seen and experienced in their space travels.

“Onboard space station right now, astronauts have to be essentially jacks of all trade,” Burbank said. “We need to be able to fix anything and everything that happens.”

As people depart from low Earth orbit, Burbank said that one of the key things needed is to essentially cut the umbilical from Earth and be able to maintain spacecraft to the degree “that if something breaks, you can replace a part outright … you need to be able to fabricate a part.”

Crews can’t bring along all the pieces and parts that may or may not suffer a breakdown over the course of a long mission, Burbank added.

 

Field center activity

NASA has a team of researchers from four different space agency centers working on demonstrating the full concept, said Karen Taminger, materials research engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

Taminger told Space.com that the research is geared toward identifying a mechanical component needing to be repaired or replaced, designing the replacement part, fabricating it — with additive manufacturing — finishing and inspecting it, and working to demonstrate remote control of the additive manufacturing process.

 

Currently, all of this work is being done in labs on the ground, at NASA’s Langley, Glenn, Marshall and Johnson space centers, Taminger said, “but we are working towards demonstrating this capability on ISS.”

 

Growing support

A demonstration of NASA’s concept of an additive manufacturing process, Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3, was done in simulated microgravity on parabolic aircraft flights back in 2007.

“We’re now pursuing hardware and procedural changes to make the system more robust and astronaut-friendly,” Taminger said.

Similarly, an enterprising team from Singularity University, a non-profit institution in California’s Silicon Valley that works on forward-thinking technologies, has formed a “Made in Space” company, carrying out parabolic flights last year to showcase their 3D printing initiative.

With the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, there has been increased national focus on 3D printing and additive manufacturing in the past six months, Taminger said. “In addition to helping create manufacturing jobs in the United States, we are pushing to demonstrate this on the ISS, in preparation for longer-duration space exploration.”

Although these experiments have yet to be funded or scheduled to go to the ISS, “that is certainly where we would like to go,” Taminger added.

 

On-demand demo

Space-based, on-demand fabrication of metallic parts using additive manufacturing was outlined last month during the 1st Annual International Space Station Research & Development Conference, held in Denver.

The space station is an “ideal platform” for testing the value of on-demand additive manufacturing in the space environment, said some experts present.

According to a research paper on the initiative, the EBF3 process NASA is exploring uses an electron beam and wire to fabricate metallic structures. The process efficiencies of the electron beam and the solid wire feedstock make the EBF3 process attractive for use in space, say researchers engaged in studying the manufacturing idea.

 

Reducing inventory

One technology highlighted by NASA is solid freeform fabrication, a process that could be used to support fabrication and repair of large space structures, spacecraft primary structure and replacement components.

Production of replacement components by solid freeform fabrication processes during a mission could reduce or eliminate the need to carry a complete inventory of premanufactured spares. Rather, replacement components would be generated as needed from feedstock material.

As a result, only the total mass of replacements would need to be estimated instead of a prediction of which specific components might be needed. Attempting to predict which components will fail and require replacement will inherently be an inaccurate process and is likely to result in stashing away numerous components that will never be used — which is wasted mass — while “under-provisioning” other components, experts said.

“Just as Christopher Columbus brought tools with him to help explore the New World,” Taminger concluded,”NASA is developing an on-demand additive manufacturing tool that will allow space explorers to build what they want, when and where they need it.”

Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is a winner of last year’s National Space Club Press Award and a past editor-in-chief of the National Space Society’s Ad Astra and Space World magazines. He has written for Space.com since 1999.

 

Even with Reduction, House Defense Bill Set to Exceed Funding Caps

Defense News

Jul. 20, 2012 – 04:19PM |

By KATE BRANNEN | Comments

 

In a surprise move, 89 Republicans joined 158 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to vote in favor of reducing the Pentagon’s budget by $1.1 billion for 2013.

The vote was held during debate of the defense appropriations bill, which the House passed July 19.

The decline in spending was brought about through an amendment co-sponsored by Tea Party Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., one of the House’s most liberal members.

The amendment froze the Pentagon’s base budget at 2012’s level of $518 billion, which is $1.1 billion lower than the House Appropriations Committee recommended for 2013.

“Austerity to me means spending less,” Mulvaney said during the House debate, adding that he would not be offering the amendment if he thought it put a single member of the military at risk.

To many observers, the bipartisan support for the legislation proved that reducing spending at the Pentagon is not a straightforward partisan issue. Instead, there appears to be support in both parties to cut the Pentagon’s budget to reduce the deficit.

However, even with the reduction, the House bill includes $1.8 billion more for DoD’s base budget than the Pentagon requested. It is also on a path to exceed the Budget Control Act’s 2013 spending cap for defense.

To reach these conclusions, a bit of math is needed.

For its 2013 base budget, the Pentagon requested $525.4 billion, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recalibrated to $526.9 billion. This number includes funding for military construction, which is not included in the defense appropriations bill.

The House has approved $518.1 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget. In a separate funding bill, it provided $10.6 billion for military construction. Together, these represent $1.8 billion more than CBO’s estimate of the Pentagon’s request.

In last summer’s Budget Control Act, Congress included a provision that would revise the caps for defense spending if the congressional supercommittee failed.

 

Under this new cap, the budget function for national defense, known as 050, is limited to $546 billion in 2013. The 050 account is predominantly funding for the Pentagon, but also includes nuclear weapons programs at the Department of Energy, plus spending at other agencies.

According to Russell Rumbaugh, a defense analyst at the Stimson Center in Washington, the House has already passed $552.3 billion in funding that would fall under the 050 category.

“If these amounts became law, the House would need the Budget Control Act revised not just to avoid the sequester stemming from the supercommittee failure, but because they face sequester for breaching these Budget Control Act caps,” Rumbaugh said.

 

Pre-election deal to avert looming sequestration cuts looks unlikely

The Hill

By Jeremy Herb – 07/22/12 06:00 AM ET

 

The rhetoric on pending cuts to the Pentagon intensified this week, but the chances of a pre-election deal to avert those spending reductions and others appear unlikely.

Both parties are digging into their positions on the across-the-board cuts ahead of the November election, as the cuts are poised to play an increasingly visible role in congressional and the presidential campaigns.

But all the messaging and campaigning on sequestration is quickly evaporating what little chance may have existed for a deal to avert some of the cuts before the election, something defense-minded lawmakers in both parties have called on Congress to do.

“All the heated and increasingly bitter rhetoric means everybody is digging in their heels deeper, which does not bode well for a grand or even mini-bargain in the lame duck,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. “It definitely means nothing will happen before [the election].”

Most Republicans and Democrats do not want the cuts through sequestration, roughly $500 billion to both defense and non-defense spending over the next decade, to occur. Yet, they have generated little movement in the past 11 months toward finding alternative deficit reduction since sequestration was included in the Budget Control Act last year as a punitive measure.

The week’s events in Congress only entrenched the parties’ ideological disagreements.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who is in charge of retaining the Democrats’ majority in the upper chamber, suggested on Monday that Democrats should go over the “fiscal cliff” — letting the Bush-era tax rates expire and the sequestration cuts occur —if Republicans refuse to raise taxes on upper-income earners.

“Unless Republicans end their commitment to protecting the rich above all else, our country is going to have to face the consequences of Republican intransigence,” Murray said at the Brookings Institution.

Her position was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this week, and President Obama has threatened to veto attempts to undo sequestration without a “balanced” approach to alternate deficit reduction.

 

GOP leaders responded by accusing Democrats threatening to hold the economy hostage in order to raise taxes.

Republicans in Congress turned their fire on Obama. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said this week in an interview with The Hill that blame for sequestration lies with the president for being AWOL.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also pinned the cuts on Obama.

“Remember one thing, we have this sequester because the president of the United States, for his own convenience, only wanted to deal with the debt limit once before the election,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly press conference Thursday.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has turned the sequester into a campaign issue, as he and his surrogates attacked Obama for cutting the military last week while the president was making a campaign stop in Virginia, a key swing state and military hub.

The GOP rhetoric was backed up by a House bill Republicans passed that would force the White House to explain the cuts to Congress, and with a hearing in the Armed Services Committee where defense executives testified about how bad the cuts would be for the defense industry.

The GOP message was boosted with a new study from the Aerospace Industries Association that found 2 million jobs could be lost from sequestration in the defense and domestic sectors.

Democrats didn’t take the attacks lying down, responding to the accusations by pointing out that many Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act that set sequestration in motion.

They’ve argued that Republicans care more about protecting tax cuts for millionaires than about the cuts to domestic and defense spending.

“The way to avoid the fiscal cliff is to do what we’ve been trying to do now for more than a year, and that is get a small amount of revenue by the way that the American people agree should happen,” Reid said Tuesday. “We have to have a balanced deal.”

Defense analysts say that Democrats hold an advantage in the leverage game going into the lame-duck session because the defense cuts will occur and the Bush tax-rates will expire if Congress does nothing, two outcomes Republicans are more concerned with stopping.

That gives Democrats little incentive to act on sequestration before November unless Republicans are willing to increase taxes.

However, Obama and congressional Democrats agreed to extend all the Bush-era tax rates in 2010, despite tough talk to the contrary.

Regardless, with Republicans accusing Democrats of harming the military and national security and Democrats accusing Republicans of protecting the wealthy, both sides have a message with sequestration they can campaign on into the election.

While defense-focused lawmakers like McKeon, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) have said repeatedly that the cuts must be dealt with before the election.

There have been calls to find a one-year deal — or even something shorter — to give businesses certainty that the cuts won’t be coming Jan. 2 when sequestration hits in.

But the sequester cuts have been coupled with the Bush-era tax rates, analysts say, making a short term fix difficult to achieve.

 

House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said he agreed with Murray not to extend any of the Bush tax rates when given the choice between “all or nothing.”

He was less willing to commit when it came to the sequestration cuts.

“I think that’s a more flexible thing,” Smith said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program that will air Sunday.

“We’re reaching the point where one of the wise courses of action is saying, ‘No, we’re not going to do this,'” he said. “We still have to deal with the deficit, but we’re not going to put a gun to head of economy.”

Source:

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/budget-appropriations/239329-pre-election-deal-to-avert-sequestration-cuts-looks-unlikely

 

 

CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS

July 20, 2012 – 10:18 p.m.

To Get More Cuts Later, Conservatives Dealing Now

By Kerry Young and Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff

Some conservatives are bargaining with GOP leaders on Congress’ next big spending decision, with an offer to temporarily support a small spending bump and possibly even interim funding for the health care overhaul in exchange for their support on an agreement to punt final fiscal 2013 budget decisions into next year.

The negotiations suggest that Congress is more likely than ever to try to pass a continuing resolution well before Oct. 1, the start of the next fiscal year, sidestepping major issues until after the November elections and perhaps until early next year.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois said senior Democrats are working to expedite the completion of a deal on the stopgap measure well before funding (PL 112-74, PL 112-55) expires Sept. 30. “There’s even talk of trying to work out a spending agreement before we leave in August. That would be a breakthrough,” Durbin said, referring to Congress’ five-week summer recess.

But an agreement to get a stopgap measure through the House will probably need support from conservative Republicans, and they say they may go along with a plan that would give ground now on spending in the first months of the fiscal year in the hope of deeper cuts later. “The media and the Democrats keep trying to say that Republicans are not willing to compromise. This would be a compromise position,” said Raúl Labrador, a GOP freshman who was elected with tea party support.

Betting on Republican gains in the November elections, conservatives in both chambers want to delay the completion of fiscal 2013 appropriations until the next session of Congress. Before conservatives last week began making this push, Congress had been expected to clear a stopgap fiscal 2013 continuing resolution that would last perhaps into December. That would give the appropriators in both chambers a chance to complete all 12 unfinished annual bills and give Congress a chance to clear final fiscal 2013 spending law during the lame-duck session.

It seems that leaders in both parties and both chambers want to get the fiscal 2013 stopgap funding in place without much fuss and also want to avoid the near-shutdown of government that loomed last year, unnerving many Americans.

 

“What I don’t want is to be in a lame duck, with a government-shutdown threat,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., “And I don’t want a government-shutdown threat in September, which I think [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid is choreographing right now. It’s not so much the funding level, while certainly that is an issue.”

Although a three-month CR remains possible, the most conservative House members are pressing for a six-month measure, which probably would encounter Democratic resistance.

Reid, of Nevada, said he had not yet made a decision on the duration and cost of the CR and would be open to discussing a number of proposals that are being developed. “Any reasonable proposal they have, I’ll review it very closely,” he said in an interview.

 

An Assist From Democrats?

Democrats may have an incentive to take the six-month funding measure if it comes in at the spending level they have been using for appropriations measures in the Senate, which is higher than the House level.

It has long been apparent that Congress could easily clear a CR that reflected the $1.047 trillion cap on discretionary spending set in last year’s debt-limit law (PL 112-25), which represents an increase of about $4 billion from the current level.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., has said Democrats would help Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, pass stopgap funding, as long as it was kept free of controversial provisions. Democrats in both chambers, for example, would reject a CR if it carried out two aims of the House GOP: cutting discretionary spending by $15 billion and blocking funds for the implementation of the health care overhaul (PL 111-148, PL 111-152).

On several occasions, conservative resistance has forced Boehner to seek Democrats’ help to move spending bills whose enactment the Senate and White House would allow.

Labrador last week offered a sweetener of sorts for GOP House leadership. He was one of the more than 120 Republicans who signed a letter to Boehner asking him not to put forward any legislation that would allow continued funding of the health care overhaul. But Labrador said Boehner might persuade conservatives to vote for a measure that continued health care funding if he is willing to push its expiration date into March.

“A lot of these issues will be off the table if that is what we do,” Labrador said.

Tim Huelskamp, a GOP freshman from Kansas, suggested he could vote for such a measure even though he was among the few House Republicans who believed that the GOP plan to slice fiscal 2013 discretionary spending by $15 billion, to $1.028 trillion, did not go far enough. Huelskamp rejected the House’s fiscal 2013 budget resolution (H Con Res 112) both at markup and on the House floor.

“The No. 1 goal is to have a short-term CR into next year,” said Huelskamp said. “The rest is negotiable.”

Another GOP conservative, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, said he could grudgingly support the $1.047 trillion level in a six-month CR.

“If we can figure a way to get 219 or so Republicans to vote for a six-month CR, I think that is by far the best way to empower leadership to deal with the Senate,” Mulvaney said.

He said Congress is leaving too much work to be tackled during the lame-duck session, including the expiring tax cuts (PL 107-16, PL 108-27) and the looming automatic budget reductions under the sequester, and that a longer-term CR would at least take the completion of annual appropriations out of the mix.

“It’s such poor governance to move more and more issues into a lame duck that I could almost bite the bullet just to prevent really, really bad things from happening,” Mulvaney said.

 

Pre-election deal to avert looming sequestration cuts looks unlikely

The Hill

By Jeremy Herb 07/22/12 06:00 AM ET


The rhetoric on pending cuts to the Pentagon intensified this week, but the chances of a pre-election deal to avert those spending reductions and others appear unlikely.

Both parties are digging into their positions on the across-the-board cuts ahead of the November election, as the cuts are poised to play an increasingly visible role in congressional and the presidential campaigns.

But all the messaging and campaigning on sequestration is quickly evaporating what little chance may have existed for a deal to avert some of the cuts before the election, something defense-minded lawmakers in both parties have called on Congress to do.

“All the heated and increasingly bitter rhetoric means everybody is digging in their heels deeper, which does not bode well for a grand or even mini-bargain in the lame duck,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. “It definitely means nothing will happen before [the election].”

Most Republicans and Democrats do not want the cuts through sequestration, roughly $500 billion to both defense and non-defense spending over the next decade, to occur. Yet, they have generated little movement in the past 11 months toward finding alternative deficit reduction since sequestration was included in the Budget Control Act last year as a punitive measure.

The week’s events in Congress only entrenched the parties’ ideological disagreements.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who is in charge of retaining the Democrats’ majority in the upper chamber, suggested on Monday that Democrats should go over the “fiscal cliff” — letting the Bush-era tax rates expire and the sequestration cuts occur —if Republicans refuse to raise taxes on upper-income earners.

“Unless Republicans end their commitment to protecting the rich above all else, our country is going to have to face the consequences of Republican intransigence,” Murray said at the Brookings Institution.

Her position was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this week, and President Obama has threatened to veto attempts to undo sequestration without a “balanced” approach to alternate deficit reduction.

GOP leaders responded by accusing Democrats threatening to hold the economy hostage in order to raise taxes.

Republicans in Congress turned their fire on Obama. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said this week in an interview with The Hill that blame for sequestration lies with the president for being AWOL.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also pinned the cuts on Obama.

“Remember one thing, we have this sequester because the president of the United States, for his own convenience, only wanted to deal with the debt limit once before the election,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly press conference Thursday.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has turned the sequester into a campaign issue, as he and his surrogates attacked Obama for cutting the military last week while the president was making a campaign stop in Virginia, a key swing state and military hub.

The GOP rhetoric was backed up by a House bill Republicans passed that would force the White House to explain the cuts to Congress, and with a hearing in the Armed Services Committee where defense executives testified about how bad the cuts would be for the defense industry.

The GOP message was boosted with a new study from the Aerospace Industries Association that found 2 million jobs could be lost from sequestration in the defense and domestic sectors.

Democrats didn’t take the attacks lying down, responding to the accusations by pointing out that many Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act that set sequestration in motion.

They’ve argued that Republicans care more about protecting tax cuts for millionaires than about the cuts to domestic and defense spending.

“The way to avoid the fiscal cliff is to do what we’ve been trying to do now for more than a year, and that is get a small amount of revenue by the way that the American people agree should happen,” Reid said Tuesday. “We have to have a balanced deal.”

Defense analysts say that Democrats hold an advantage in the leverage game going into the lame-duck session because the defense cuts will occur and the Bush tax-rates will expire if Congress does nothing, two outcomes Republicans are more concerned with stopping.

That gives Democrats little incentive to act on sequestration before November unless Republicans are willing to increase taxes.

However, Obama and congressional Democrats agreed to extend all the Bush-era tax rates in 2010, despite tough talk to the contrary.

Regardless, with Republicans accusing Democrats of harming the military and national security and Democrats accusing Republicans of protecting the wealthy, both sides have a message with sequestration they can campaign on into the election.

While defense-focused lawmakers like McKeon, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) have said repeatedly that the cuts must be dealt with before the election.

There have been calls to find a one-year deal — or even something shorter — to give businesses certainty that the cuts won’t be coming Jan. 2 when sequestration hits in.

But the sequester cuts have been coupled with the Bush-era tax rates, analysts say, making a short term fix difficult to achieve.

House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said he agreed with Murray not to extend any of the Bush tax rates when given the choice between “all or nothing.”

He was less willing to commit when it came to the sequestration cuts.

“I think that’s a more flexible thing,” Smith said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program that will air Sunday.

“We’re reaching the point where one of the wise courses of action is saying, ‘No, we’re not going to do this,'” he said. “We still have to deal with the deficit, but we’re not going to put a gun to head of economy.”

 

Source:
http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/budget-appropriations/239329-pre-election-deal-to-avert-sequestration-cuts-looks-unlikely

 

Cyber is Not Yet the Answer

airforce-magazine.com

John A. Tirpak

7/24/2012

 

Cyber is Not Yet the Answer: It’s far too early to make the case that cyber weapons—such as the so-called “Stuxnet” worm that reportedly derailed Iran’s nuclear weapons program—can substitute for kinetic force structure, said outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.

The shift from kinetic to cyber weapons is “not like major transitions in weaponry in the past,” such as from horse-drawn to motorized artillery, or the change from “piston to turbojet,” he said in a mid July exit interview. There is “a transition under way,” acknowledged Schwartz, but “it is not yet clear, I don’t think, even to those who are most knowledgeable, where the cyber capabilities will ultimately end up.”

Just as in the transition from manned to remotely piloted aircraft, there will be “an indefinite period” when kinetic and cyber weapons will operate side by side, “because there are advantages and disadvantages to both” as well as “complications in terms of employment of both,” said Schwartz.

The consequences of using kinetic weapons is well understood, but cyber is “nascent in that regard,” said Schwartz. He added, “We’re far from a point where we’re going to rely on cyber as a principal means of securing US national interests.”

 

 

Panetta, Defense Industry Leaders Meet to Discuss Sequestration

Jul. 24, 2012 – 10:21PM |

Defense News

By MARCUS WEISGERBER

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and a diverse group of more than two-dozen CEOs continued discussions of how $500 billion in cuts to military spending would impact the defense industry and DoD and potential courses of action Congress might take to avert the reductions.

The Aerospace Industries Association, National Defense Industrial Association and Professional Services Council sponsored the meeting, one of the largest gatherings to date between DoD leadership and industry on the subject.

Panetta was joined by Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief; Bob Hale, comptroller; and Brett Lambert, the industrial policy chief.

In all, 27 top industry officials — including Lockheed Martin’s Robert Stevens, SAIC’s John Jumper, Boeing’s Jim Albaugh, CACI’s Dan Allen, Northrop Grumman’s Wes Bush, General Dynamics’ Jay Johnson and Textron’s Scott Donnelley — attended the meeting.

The number of attendees and broad range of areas they represent — such as prime contractors, subcontractors, hardware manufacturers and service contractors — is significant, defense observers said.

“It really was representative of the entire industrial base that supports the Department of Defense,” said one source who attended the meeting.

With sequestration — $500 billion in mandatory defense spending cuts over the next decade set to begin in January — looming, the group discussed four possible scenarios that might play out in the coming months. They are:

• Congress does not act and sequestration happens;

• During the lame duck session of Congress after the November elections, a plan is constructed to thwart sequestration;

• Members of the congressional supercommittee come up with a $1.2 trillion cut to avert sequestration; and

• Congress inserts language into a continuing resolution that delays sequestration another year or two when there is a less-heated political environment.

No decisions were made about which option the group should support, but there was solid agreement to apply pressure on Congress that sequestration would be damaging to DoD and the defense industry, defense and industry sources said.

Attendees also discussed how sequestration could result in massive job cuts and how other “domestic cabinet agencies” could apply pressure on Congress to modify the Budget Control Act of 2011, the law that mandates sequestration to lower the U.S. deficit, should lawmakers not be able to agree on alternate ways to reduce the country’s debt.

“Panetta is right now the only cabinet official that is doing anything to try to ward off what is going to be a total disaster for all industries, not just the defense industry,” the official who attended the meeting said.

“Secretary Panetta and industry are 100 percent on the same sheet of music on the fact that everybody’s got to do everything we can to basically put pressure on the Congress to fix the problem,” the official added.

Panetta was adamant that he wants to keep “the dialog going” with industry, the official said.

Panetta has been routinely meeting with top industry leaders over several months to discuss the impact of sequestration.

“Secretary Panetta believes it is critical Congress act to avoid sequestration,” said Carl Woog, assistant Pentagon press secretary.

 

Pentagon still grapping with cyberwarfare rules

Marine Corps Times

By Lolita C. Baldor – The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 25, 2012 20:05:36 EDT

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is still grappling with how to write the rules of cyberwarfare, such as when and how to fire back against a computer-based attack, senior military leaders told Congress on Wednesday.

Four months ago the military’s top cyberwarrior predicted the rules would be ironed out in a “month or two” and sent to other federal agencies for discussion. But the complex world of cyberspace, which has no real boundaries and operates at the speed of light, has proven to be a difficult battlefield for the military to map out.

House members said that working out the rules of cyberwar is critical so that the military will be able to respond quickly when U.S. networks are attacked or threatened. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, told military leaders that there likely won’t be time for Congress to pass a declaration of war if or when a computer-based attack happens.

So, consultation with lawmakers beforehand would smooth things over, said Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services emerging threats subcommittee.

“The devil is in the details,” acknowledged Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command. He said it has been an issue for some time, and that he expects there will be some developments “at some point in the near term.”

During hearings in March, members of Congress pressed Army Gen. Keith Alexander, head of U.S. Cyber Command, for details on the military rules of engagement for offensive cyberoperations, particularly so that U.S. forces have the proper authority to act quickly when an attack is discovered or a network is breached. Alexander, who also heads the National Security Agency, said at the time that U.S. officials were reaching some agreement on the rules.

The military has longstanding rules of engagement for conventional warfare that lay out the appropriate response to a particular act or attack by another country or faction. And last year President Obama signed executive orders that detailed how far military commanders can go in using cyberattacks against enemies and laid out when the military must seek presidential approval for a specific cyberassault.

The current ground rules for cyberoperations were written in 2005 but are not adequate for the current technologies. The new rules, Alexander said in March, would allow the military to stop breaches as they were happening and would detail the conditions necessary to take those actions.

Senior officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who are responsible for cyberoperations testified before the subcommittee. They said that the armed services are using bonuses and other enticements to recruit and retain cyberwarriors, while competing with private industry for candidates.

But lawmakers wondered about funding shortfalls that could stifle the increase in cyberpersonnel the Pentagon is bringing on.

“We are facing significant fiscal challenges in the coming years,” said Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. “Cyberrelated activities are faring reasonably well so far, but nothing is immune, and even noncyberspecific cuts could have an impact on your commands as personnel resources are reduced or research and development funding decreased.”

Rogers said that attracting and keeping his cyberworkforce is a “significant challenge, given the rapidly evolving nature of cyberspace and the intense competition from industry for top talent.”

And other said that dramatic budget cuts, which will become necessary early next year if Congress can’t agree on funding, would be a problem.

Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, commander of Air Forces Cyber, said the cuts would be devastating and cause the Air Force to lose ground.

As to the size of their cyberworkforce, the Air Force has about 17,000, the Army has about 11,000; the Navy has about 14,000; and the Marines have about 700. Cyber has been one defense area where spending has increased, even as budget cuts hit other places.

Vautrinot also said that the Air Force has been working to make sure that key drone operations are protected against cyberattacks, focusing on the highest priority missions. Last year, a computer virus infected the Pentagon’s drone program, but it did not get into flight controls.

 

Donley: New Bunker-Busting Bomb Ready To Use

Defense News

Jul. 25, 2012 – 11:14AM |

By JEFF SCHOGOL | Comments

 

The Air Force’s 30,000-pound behemoth bunker buster is ready to be used if needed, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said Wednesday.

The Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, is designed to destroy deeply buried bunkers that protect chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year that the bomb needed more development to be able to take out Iranian bunkers.

Since then, Syria has disintegrated into full civil war, making the U.S. government worried about the Syrian regime’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

“The Syrian regime needs to protect these weapons,” Defense Department spokesman George Little said Tuesday. “And I think I’ve been very clear, as have others in the U.S. government, that it would be unacceptable not to secure them.”

After speaking at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Wednesday, Donley was asked if the MOP was available to be used. He was not asked where it might be used.

“If it needed to go today, we would be ready to do that,” he said. “We continue to do testing on the bomb to refine its capabilities, and that is ongoing. We also have the capability to go with existing configuration today.”

 

 

Declarations of Cyberwar

IEEE Spectrum

What the revelations about the U.S.-Israeli origin of Stuxnet mean for warfare

By Willie D. Jones / August 2012

 

Mouths went agape when New York Times reporter David Sanger wrote in June that anonymous sources within the United States government admitted that the United States and Israel were indeed the authors of the Stuxnet worm and related malware. Those two countries had long been suspected of creating the code that wrecked centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility. But never before had a government come so close to claiming responsibility for a cyberattack.

The origins of the most sophisticated cyberattacks ever undertaken may now be clear, but exactly where such attacks fit in the universe of war and foreign policy—and what the international community would consider a proper response to them—is still the subject of debate.

A particularly important question is what sort of cyberattack is the equivalent of a traditional armed attack. Efforts to answer that question have culminated in the Manual on International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare (also known as the Tallinn Manual), which will be published later this year.

The Tallinn Manual is a nonbinding yet authoritative restatement of the law of armed conflict as it relates to cyberwar. It offers attackers, defenders, and legal experts guidance on how cyberattacks can be classified as actions covered under the law, such as armed attacks. “The term ‘armed attack’ has a precise meaning in international law: Not all ‘cyberattacks’ rise to the level of an armed attack,” says Bret Michael, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, who has been serving as a technical expert to the group drafting the Tallinn Manual.

Despite this progress, the international community is just at the beginning of what could be a long process, says Charles Barry, a senior research fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies, in Washington, D.C. He predicts that it will take “another 20 to 50 years to get traction on cyberrules.”

What is certain, say observers, is that going forward, conventional warfare will almost always be complemented by cyberwarfare aimed at knocking out an opponent’s communications and intelligence-gathering capabilities. “Actually, that’s already being done,” says Michael.

Cyberattacks can aid in military campaigns, but can the threat of a military response serve as a cyberdeterrent? “That’s downright silly, because it’s difficult, bordering on impossible, to identify a cyberattacker beyond a shadow of a doubt,” says Larry Constantine, a professor in the mathematics and engineering department at the University of Madeira, in Portugal.

However, identification beyond a shadow of a doubt might not really be needed to escalate a cyberattack into an armed conflict. In June at CyCon 2012, a NATO-sponsored cyberconflict conference in Tallinn, Estonia, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Forrest Hare told attendees that attribution is a political, not a legal, concept. The three standards of proof used in criminal law—”beyond a reasonable doubt,” “clear and compelling,” and “preponderance of the evidence”—don’t apply to military and intelligence operations. Michael adds that the difficulty of reliably tracing an attack to its source does not preclude the use of other sources to weave together what he calls “a clear mosaic of responsibility.” Showing who funded the activity or provided the actors with guidance may be enough.

And there is already a deterrent in the form of the law of armed conflict, says Michael. It holds military commanders or their civilian superiors who order attacks that amount to a war crime as criminally responsible.

In the meantime, governments can try to take heart in the belief that there are few nations capable of fielding a cyberweapon with the sophistication of Stuxnet. But Jeffrey Voas, a computer scientist in the computer security division at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, in Gaithersburg, Md., notes that if an attack doesn’t require stealth, the code doesn’t have to be nearly as artful. And there are tens of thousands of people who could pull off a less sophisticated strike, says Constantine, who designed his own Stuxnet-like malware in 2003 as the basis for a novel. In other words, powerful cyberattacks are within the range of many states, so long as they don’t care if they get caught.

This article was modified on 26 July 2012.

 

FAA’s New Flight Control System Has Security Holes: Researcher

At the Black Hat conference, a computer scientist demonstrates how ‘fake airplanes’ can be inserted into FAA’s upcoming air traffic control system.

By John Foley, InformationWeek

July 26, 2012

URL: http://www.informationweek.com//news/security/government/240004424

A key component of the FAA’s emerging “Next Gen” air traffic control system is fundamentally insecure and ripe for manipulation and attack, security researcher Andrei Costin said in a presentation Wednesday at Black Hat 2012 in Las Vegas.

Costin, a computer scientist and graduate student at Eurecom, outlined a series of issues related to the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system, which is being installed as a replacement to the decades-old ground radar system used to guide airplanes through the sky and on the ground at airports.

Among the threats to ADS-B is that the system lacks a capability for message authentication. “Any attacker can pretend to be an aircraft” by injecting a message into the system, Costin said.

There’s also no mechanism in ADS-B for encrypting messages, so messages related to air traffic–including the ability to identify aircraft, their location, and altitude–can be read by virtually anyone, Costin said. He displayed an air traffic screen capture, taken this year, which ostensibly showed the in-flight location of Air Force One, the Boeing 747 used to transport President Obama.

If the aircraft was in fact Air Force One, the easy availability of that information would have national security implications. “It’s a very high-profile target,” said Costin. On the other hand, it’s possible that the aircraft represented in the screen capture wasn’t Air Force One, but another plane identified within ADS-B using Air Force One’s registration code. “If the data is false, somebody is spoofing the system,” said Costin.

Costin did not provide evidence of any known attacks on ADS-B. Rather, he presented a theoretical scenario in which someone injected the system with data on “fake planes,” forcing the air traffic control system to adjust to aircraft that weren’t actually in flight. He characterized such an attack at scale–with one million fake planes, for example—as comparable to a denial-of-service attack on the air traffic control system. Air traffic controllers might be forced to block off air space while they sorted out the mess, he said.

Costin demonstrated how an attack on ADS-B could be mounted using inexpensive software-defined radios. He took airplane data that was publicly available from the system, modified the data, and “replayed” the data back to a commercial receiver. “The possibility of injecting fake airplanes is quite easy, just by taking a real message and crafting it to your needs,” he said.

 

There are also privacy issues, because data on private planes can be culled from ADS-B as well. By matching that data with aircraft registration databases, Costin explained, it would be possible to track non-commercial aircraft from city to city.

In a whitepaper accompanying his presentation, Costin wrote that the types of potential attacks on ADS-B range from passive attacks such as eavesdropping to active attacks, including message jamming and injections of the type he demonstrated.

In addition to the lack of encryption in ADS-B, the whitepaper identifies the following security weaknesses: no use of entity authentication as a way of protecting against message injection, or of message signatures to deter tampering; no challenge-response mechanisms to protect against replay attacks; and lack of “ephemeral identifiers” for privacy protection.

Questions over the security of the ADS-B system aren’t new. Aviation experts have warned of vulnerabilities in the past, but the FAA has been reluctant to discuss them. In response to InformationWeek, the FAA, in a prepared statement, said it has “a thorough process in place” to identify possible risks to ADS-B, such as intentional jamming, and that it has taken steps to mitigate risks uncovered as part of an ADS-B security action plan. The agency declined to identify the risks it has identified or addressed, calling them “security-sensitive.”

“The agency conducts ongoing assessments of ADS-B signal vulnerabilities,” according to the statement. The FAA said the contract for the ADS-B ground station network requires ongoing independent validation of the accuracy and reliability of ADS-B and aircraft avionics signals. As a backup to ADS-B, the FAA plans to maintain about half of the current network of secondary radars “in the unlikely event it is needed.”

Security information and event monitoring technology has been available for years, but the information can be hard to mine. In our SIEM Success report, we provide a step-by-step guide to make the most of your SIEM system. (Free registration required.)

 

Many senators express concerns over arms treaty

ArmyTimes

By Donna Cassata – The Associated Press

Posted : Thursday Jul 26, 2012 19:00:03 EDT

 

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of 51 senators on Thursday threatened to oppose a global treaty regulating international weapons trade if it falls short in protecting the constitutional right to bear arms.

In a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the senators expressed serious concerns with the draft treaty that has circulated at the United Nations, saying that it signals an expansion of gun control that would be unacceptable.

The world’s nations are pressing to complete the first legally binding treaty dealing with arms trade and preventing the transfer of weapons to armed groups and terrorists. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly is expected to approve the treaty this month.
The senators said as the negotiations continue, “we strongly encourage your administration not only to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership, but to ensure — if necessary, by breaking consensus at the July conference — that the treaty will explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful activities associated with firearms, including but not limited to the right of self-defense.

“As members of the United States Senate, we will oppose the ratification of any Arms Trade Treaty that falls short of this standard,” they wrote.

The lawmakers insisted that the treaty should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of hunting, sport shooting and other lawful activities.

They also raised concerns that the draft defines international arms transfers as including transport across national territory while requiring the monitor and control of arms in transit.

The National Rifle Association opposes the treaty, saying its members will never surrender the right to bear arms to the United Nations.

The treaty has been in the works since 2006. Abandoning the Bush administration opposition, the Obama supported an assembly resolution to hold this year’s four-week conference on the treaty.

In April, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, Thomas Countryman, reiterated U.S. support for a treaty.

“We want any treaty to make it more difficult and expensive to conduct illicit, illegal and destabilizing transfers of arms,” he said. “But we do not want something that would make legitimate international arms trade more cumbersome than the hurdles United States exporters already face.”

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