Thursday, May 1, 2008

DHS Martial Law, U.S. Defense Consolidation, + News

At a speech before the Heritage Foundation this week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the U.S. needs to have a “nonpoliticized, serious discussion” while writing new laws to define the best way to combat terrorism.
Chertoff said that once laws are written, the public should not second-guess government actions and claim that federal officials are overstepping their authority. He decried critics who make such accusations, despite the widespread pubic calls after the September 11, 2001 attacks for the U.S. government to do more to protect the country. Chertoff further said U.S. society needs to come to a determination as to what are acceptable authorities for the U.S. government versus what violates people’s rights.
If the public limits what the government can do, it must accept that the risk of terrorist attacks may increase, he said. If the public gives the government greater authorities, it should not criticize the government for using those authorities at a later date.
Chertoff called U.S. laws “woefully inadequate” in the context of current technology. He said the most significant step American society needs to take is adapting laws to the 21st Century challenge of fighting terrorism. Changes in technology have created unique challenges for the government when it comes to intercepting communications, as well as collecting and analyzing information found in the public domain according to Chertoff.

Defense Industry Consolidation in the USA

The US GAO’s 2008 Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs is proving to have a longer tail than usual. Booz Allen Hamilton is an strategic/ I.T/ program assistance consultancy with strong representation in the government and defense sectors. This May Day, we refer readers to the recent Washington Post article “One-Stop Defense Shopping,” wherein Booz Allen Hamilton VPs Dov S. Zakheim and Ronald T. Kadish discuss the state of competition in the American defense industry, and some of its consequences.

“The GAO report lays bare a festering problem in our nation’s military procurement system: Competition barely exists in the defense industry and is growing weaker by the day.
It was a different story just two decades ago. In the 1980s, 20 or more prime contractors competed for most defense contracts. Today, the Pentagon relies primarily on six main contractors to build our nation’s aircraft, missiles, ships and other weapons systems. It is a system that largely forgoes competition on price, delivery and performance and replaces it with a kind of “design bureau” competition, similar to what the Soviet Union used—hardly a recipe for success….”
America is certainly not the only country facing these pressures: Britain is even farther down this road, and Europe is aggressively moving to restructure its own industry into a very few global competitors. Ultimately, the policy implications described here will be played out on a near-global basis, with the possible exception of China.

D.C. Forging Surveillance Network

The D.C. government is launching a system today that would tie together thousands of city-owned video cameras, but authorities don't yet have the money to complete the high-tech network or privacy rules in place to guide it.
The system will feature round-the-clock monitoring of the closed-circuit video systems run by nine city agencies. In the first phase, about 4,500 cameras trained on schools, public housing, traffic and government buildings will feed into a central office at the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. Hundreds more will be added this year...

U.S., Russia need to reverse arms race
In November 1997, the highly respected journal “Scientific American” published an article “Taking Nuclear Weapons Off Hair-Trigger” (pp.74-81), which included a “Nuclear Weapons on Hair-trigger Timeline for Catastrophe.” The following are the various time elements for U.S. and Russian nuclear attacks on each other’s homelands:
• Amount of time the Russian military has to decide that U.S. missiles are headed for Russia — three minutes;..... *Why doesn't this "professor of peace studies" talk about 9/11 and the road to WWIV?

Faux terrorist exercise proves fruitful (update)
Simulated crisis stimulates variety of responses from former government officials

On Dec. 21, 2009, a hijacked ship rammed and sank a freighter in the Bosporus Strait, blocking the strategic shipping channel that brings Russian oil from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and beyond.
It was the first strike in a wave of terrorist attacks on the world’s vital oil infrastructure.
Within minutes, coordinated attacks hit Saudi Arabia, including fatal bombings of residential complexes for the oil nation’s critical expatriate labor force. As the violence went up, so did the price of oil and the level of political concern. A cascade of events threatened to suddenly tumble the world energy market...

New Ultrasensitive Assay Detects Most Poisonous Substance Known

ScienceDaily (May 1, 2008) — Scientists at City of Hope and the California Department of Public Health have developed a new ultrasensitive assay to detect botulinum neurotoxin. The toxin is one of the most poisonous substances known that can cause life-threatening disease, and is considered a major potential bioterrorism threat agent....

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