Morning Security Brief: Bio-Defense Lab, Judges Threatened, Full Body Scanner Lobby, CT Cruise, & DHS IT Contract Rebid

By Matthew Harwood


♦ The National Research Council has called the  Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) risk assessment on building a bio-defense lab in the heartland "not entirely adequate or valid." According to the Associated Press, "the National Research Council's report notes that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security itself has estimated that there is a 70 percent chance a pathogen could be released from the lab within 50 years, and that it could cause up to $50 billion in damages." DHS's risk assessment, however, concluded building the facility at Kansas State University would be safe.

♦ It's not easy being a Social Security judge. "Judges who hear Social Security disability cases are facing a growing number of violent threats from claimants angry over being denied benefits or frustrated at lengthy delays in processing claims," reports The Washington Post. "There were at least 80 threats to kill or harm administrative law judges or staff over the past year - an 18 percent increase over the previous reporting period, according to data collected by the Social Security Administration."

♦ Timothy P. Carney from The Washington Examiner argues full body scanners weren't deployed because they make air passengers safe. "But this is government we're talking about. A program or product doesn't need to be effective, it only needs to have a good lobby," writes Carney. "And the naked-scanner lobby is small but well-connected." He then goes on to list the former government and congressional figures now working for the two biggest full body scanner contractors, L-3 Communications and Rapiscan. Carney also reminds readers not to forget about former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, who has also touted full body scanners on behalf of Rapiscan.

The Toronto Star reports on a vacation cruise involving former heavy counterterrorism hitters.  "But this week, aboard the Caribbean 'SpyCruise' where former CIA agent and organizer Bart Bechtel is our 'SpySkipper,' and speakers include former NSA director Michael Hayden and CIA director Porter Goss, the point is not about keeping secrets, but starting a discussion on national security," writes national security reporter Michelle Shephard. "It is an incongruous setting for talk about homegrown radicalism, drone attacks and whether the West has become complacent about terrorism."

♦ The General Services Administration will rebid a $2.63 billion contract it originally gave to Northop Grumman to build the IT infrastructure at the new headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security. "[C]competitors Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Serco and L-3 Communications all filed protests with the Government Accountability Office," reports The Washington Post. "Among the complaints was a dispute over the way the government evaluated the trade-off between the price and the strength of the offerings."


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