Federal Drive Interviews — Nov. 21, 2012

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.

Today’s guests:

Audio will be added later today.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.)

Do you plan to shop those holiday deals on Friday? Well, members of Congress have their own version of Black Friday. After the turkey is eaten, they’ve got to get back to the tough task of the federal budget

Anthony Amendoliachief of subsistence for Europe and the Middle East, Defense Logistics Agency

Tens of thousands of service members are overseas this holiday season. But that doesn’t mean they won’t get the comforts of home. Anthony Amendolia is chief of subsistence for Europe and the Middle East at the Defense Logistics Agency. He’s the guy who placed the order for 500 turkeys to Afghanistan.

Alex Boltonsenior staff writer, The Hill

Alex Bolton, a senior staff writer with The Hill newspaper, talks to The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp about how some on Capitol Hill are preparing for the approaching fiscal cliff.

Alexander, Bennet give leaders emergency plan to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’

Sen. Baucus seeks to ensure Finance panel’s involvement in ‘fiscal cliff’ talks

Steve LordDirector of Homeland Security and Justice Issues, GAO

The Transportation Security Administration plans to screen about 3 million travelers this Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a good bet that not everything will go smoothly. Say, the security guard is just a bit too rough with grandma’s pumpkin pie. Well, you could file a complaint with the agency. But don’t hold your breath for a response. The Government Accountability Office has examined TSA’s complaint process.


Cybersecurity Update

  • Most of us won’t get a peek at the secret cybersecurity directive President Barack Obama recently signed. The National Security Agency has said “no” to a Freedom of Information Act request. The group that made the request, Electronic Privacy Information Center, put the rejection letter online. The NSA said: Presidential Policy Directive 20 is properly classified as Top Secret and Secret. The agency said releasing it could harm national security. The policy, first leaked to the Washington Post, sets out how federal agencies should respond and even prevent cyber attacks. It’s a more-aggressive update of an eight-year-old policy.The Center said it wanted to see whether the directive gave the military power to oversee cybersecurity at telecom companies. (EPIC)
  • Millions are expected to continue their Black Friday shopping online on cyber Monday. Service members and families may take advantage of a new technology to get a few more deals. Stores that do business online have been slow to offer the same military discounts that they do in their brick-and-mortar stores. They had no simple way of validating military service until now, according to the White House. It’s praising a new ID-verification tool offered by McLean-based Troop Swap. Clothing maker Under Armour of Baltimore was the first to adopt the technology, known as Troop ID. (Washington Business Journal/White House)

DoD Report

  • Expect more stealth and drones in the military’s future. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said counter-terrorism efforts are taking a new turn. He said the military will go after al-Qaida beyond declared war zones like Afghanistan. The military’s go-to weapon will be its small strike forces. It will work more closely with other countries, through joint missions, training and other assistance. But that doesn’t mean the military will abandon Afghanistan after most troops withdraw in two years. Panetta said the United States has a long-term commitment. Extremist groups cannot wait it out. He spoke at the Center for a New American Security. (Federal News Radio)
  • No matter what happens with the federal budget, next year will be historic for defense contractors. Women will head the three biggest weapons’ makers. Marilyn Hewson will become CEO of Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 1. Phebe Novakovic takes the helm of General Dynamics then too. They’ll join Linda Hudson at the top. The CEO of BAE Systems said it’s not a signal that defense firms offer equal opportunities for men and women. Hudson told Reuters she’ll believe that when more women serve at all levels of management throughout the industry. (Reuters)
  • The U.S. government has filed a lawsuit against a defense contractor it says inflated costs. Houston-based KBR and its Kuwaiti subcontractor provided troops with thousands of live-in trailers to replace tents during the Iraq War. The lawsuit says the companies overcharged for those trailers by nearly $50 million. It also says they misrepresented delays. KBR was once the engineering and construction arm of Halliburton. A spokeswoman for the company called the lawsuit “baseless and without merit.” (Federal News Radio)
  • A staff sergeant faces up to four years and nine months in prison for hazing. The Fayetteville Observer reports, a military jury has found Andrew Van Bockel guilty of maltreatment in the case of Pvt. Danny Chen. Chen allegedly killed himself last year after fellow soldiers called him racial slurs and ordered him to speak Chinese. Van Bockel was his squad sergeant. He said Chen was weak and often fell asleep. He called his actions “corrective training.” Chen was from New York’s Chinatown and his death outraged the city’s Chinese community. They say he was tortured. The jury will deliberate Van Bockel’s sentence today. (Federal News Radio)