Lawrence Korb — senior fellow, Center for American Progress
Sequestration and its automatic budget cuts may not be the doomsday scenario that Pentagon leaders fear. That’s one finding in a new report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress. The think tank says the Defense Department can afford the cuts. But it’s going to have to make some tough calls, like trimming military pay and benefits.
Buddy Bland — project director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
While millions of people scarf up tiny tablets and smartphones, a lucky few scientists get to play with computers with power almost beyond comprehension. The biggest and most powerful of them all is called Titan. It’s operated by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, part of the Energy Department.
Mark Russo — coordinator, Incident Management Group, FDA
It’s hard to imagine widespread food shortages occuring in a place like metropolitan New York. But that’s what’s happened thanks to Hurricane Sandy. Part of the problem is the threat to sanitation and food safety. The Food and Drug Administration has been working around the clock to mitigate the situation.
The Pentagon has given its biggest contractor approval to sell missiles to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The two Persian Gulf countries want to buy Lockheed Martin Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense weapon systems. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Capitol Hill, saying the sale could help the United States by improving the security of friendly countries that help stabilize the Middle East. It said the sale would not alter the basic military balance in the region. Reuters reports UAE placed its first order with Lockheed in December. Lockheed Martin could make up to $7.6 billion on the sales. Subcontractor Raytheon stands to gain too. By law, Congress has 30 days to block sales, but lawmakers rarely use that power.
For one state with a heavy military presence, sequestration has become a bigger threat than the base realignment and closure commission. The News Herald reports, Florida is taking steps to keep and even expand its military assets. The Florida Defense Support Task Force has released a 900-page report outlining steps the state can take locally and in Washington to preserve its bases. Among key recommendations are preventing development from encroaching on military property. Also, lobbying the Pentagon to assign more tasks to places like Tyndall Air Force Base.
The Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab has developed a Master Block List to alert other labs and plants about cyber threats and block them in real time. For that, the lab is receiving a National Cybersecurity Innovation Award. Judges said the tool proved sharing cyber-threat information does not have to be complicated. They said it was helping to bring Energy Department components together to fight cyber attacks. Ten components use the list to share data on malicious websites, hashes and spear phishers. The awards program seeks to honor organizations that find new, creative and cost-effective ways to use existing technology to strengthen their cyber defenses. Former White House Cyber Coordinator Howard Schmidt launched it last year. It’s run by the Sans Institute, which trains organizations in information security.