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Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 05/18/2012

House puts squeeze on military’s ‘musical arsenal’


Members of the United States Marine Corps Band from Quantico, Va. (Matt McClain for The Washington Post)
Drum roll, please.

The House, for a second year in a row, has approved a measure limiting Pentagon spending on military bands next year to only $200 million.

An amendment by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, was approved as part of the fiscal 2013 Defense Authorization Bill and could save $188 million if it makes it through Congress. A similar amendment passed by the House last year, however, was dropped by the House-Senate conference.

In a statement placed in the Congressional Record, McCollum said: “Over the past four years, taxpayers have spent $1.55 billion for the Pentagon’s 150 military bands and more than 5,000 full-time, professional military musicians.... At a time of fiscal crisis the Pentagon will have to get by spending only $200 million for their musical arsenal.”

The military has plans to spend $388 million on military bands in fiscal 2013 — roughly $10 million less than this year.

But, when it comes to reining in spending, only the Air Force had plans to do so, dropping eight of its 23 bands next year. The other services are increasing funding.

In 2010, former defense secretary Robert M. Gates first directed public attention to spending on military bands, noting that more money was spent on them than on the State Department’s Foreign Service Officers. Gates, however, never formally proposed reducing band spending.

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By  |  12:33 PM ET, 05/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:23 PM ET, 05/16/2012

Survey: Critical sectors less attuned to cyber threat

A new survey out Wednesday finds that the energy and utilities industries rank the lowest when it comes to computer and information security risk management.

The third biennial survey by the Carnegie Mellon University CyLab comes as Congress is considering legislation to mandate cybersecurity measures in critical industries.

The survey of 108 global companies also found that the financial sector had the best risk management practices.

Overall, the statistics are grim.

For instance, although 91 percent of the respondents — all executive board or senior executive officials — indicated that risk management was being actively addressed, only 29 percent said they were paying attention to information technology operations, 33 percent to computer and information security and only 13 percent to management of vendors who provide software and other crucial services, the study found.

The lack of attention paid to security risk management by the energy and utility sectors is disturbing given the degree to which operations and processes are controlled by information technology systems, the report said.

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By  |  08:23 PM ET, 05/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 05/08/2012

U.N. nuclear inspector dies in Iran

A member of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s inspection team died and a second official was injured in a car crash as the two were carrying out inspections inside Iran on Tuesday, U.N. officials and diplomats said.

The two, veteran inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency, were traveling in Iran’s Khondab region when their vehicle skidded off the road, diplomats briefed on the incident said. The region is near the partly constructed Arak nuclear reactor, which is visited regularly by agency teams as part of Iran’s nuclear safeguards agreements.

The IAEA confirmed the incident in a statement, identifying the fatally injured man only as a South Korean national and his colleague as a Slovenian. No further details of the accident were given, and details about the victims were being withheld while the agency notified the men’s relatives.

“The Agency is in touch with the inspectors’ families and with the Iranian authorities,” the IAEA statement read.

A former colleague of the South Korean described him as a “good, reliable and experienced inspector and friend who we are missing.” He insisted on anonymity while the notification process was underway.

The crash occurred at a sensitive time in the agency’s relations with the Iran, which is scheduled to meet with the United States and five other world powers later this month for a second round of talks on curbs to Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA has been prodding Iran to account for past nuclear research that agency officials say appears related to the design and testing of nuclear warheads. Iran contends that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

More national security coverage:

- House GOP wants more for Pentagon

- U.S. disrupts airline bomb plot

- Militants storm Yemen military base

- Read more national security news

By  |  12:02 PM ET, 05/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:40 PM ET, 05/04/2012

NSA’s Gen. Alexander: Companies should be required to fortify networks against cyberattack

Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the nation’s largest spy agency and its cyberwarfare command, is urging adoption of legislation to require companies providing critical services such as power and transportation to fortify their computer networks against cyber attacks.


In this April 21, 2009 file photo, U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, speaks at a security convention in San Francisco. (Jeff Chiu - AP)

Though he did not specify a particular bill, Alexander, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, said in a letter Friday to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that “recent events have shown that a purely voluntary and market driven system is not sufficient” to protect such networks.

The words are likely to disappoint GOP opponents of government regulation and in particular of legislation pending in the Senate that would authorize the Department of Homeland Security to ensure certain critical networks meet minimum security requirements.

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By  |  01:40 PM ET, 05/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Cybersecurity, Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency, Cyber Command

Posted at 06:36 PM ET, 04/20/2012

Iran’s supreme leader embraced concept of nuclear arms, archival document suggests


Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, delivers a speech in Tehran. (Associated Press via Office of the Supreme Leader)
In a speech three months ago, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated his religious edict against nuclear weapons, insisting that his country would never build them. But a newly published document suggests that Khamenei hasn’t always viewed the bomb as a “great sin.”

According to an internal U.N. document, Khamenei embraced the concept of an Iranian nuclear bomb during a meeting of the country’s top leadership more than two decades ago, saying nuclear weapons were essential for preserving Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

The 2009 document, prepared for the International Atomic Energy Agency, is a collection of statements made by Iranian leaders about nuclear weapons, as gleaned from the nuclear watchdog’s intelligence sources. It cites an April 1984 meeting in which Khamenei allegedly endorsed a decision by then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to launch a secret nuclear weapons program.

“According to Ayatollah Khamenei, this was the only way to secure the very essence of the Islamic Revolution from the schemes of its enemies ... and to prepare it for the emergence of Imam Mahdi,” states the IAEA document, which was obtained by the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based nonprofit group that analyzes nuclear weapons programs. In Shiite Islam, “Imam Mahdi” is the prophesied 12th Imam who will purge the world of evil in humanity’s last days.

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By  |  06:36 PM ET, 04/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

 

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