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Today's News

QinetiQ North America's offers SPO-7 standoff passive object detection system

McLean, VA-based QinetiQ North America characterizes its SPO-7 standoff passive object detection system as the kind called for by President Obama in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day airliner bombing.

QinetiQ says SPO-7 is an integral part of achieving a sustained, layered mix of systems that addresses threats before they reach screening checkpoints.

The sensor is a real-time, non-emitting, non-imaging system that detects concealed objects using passive millimeter wave technology, without raising the kind of privacy concerns that can be an issue for full-image scanners.

SPO-7 does not impede or slow the flow of pedestrian traffic and is capable of scanning a moving person in under three seconds, according to the company.

So far, TSA has purchased 22 units, QinetiQ adds.

FCC eyes first-ever test for the nationwide Emergency Alert System

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to perform for the first time a nationwide test of the country’s Emergency Alert System, which is designed to enable the President to communicate with the American public during a national crisis.

Under the existing warning system, FEMA, on behalf of the President, would initiate an alert message that would deliver a specially encoded message to a broadcast station-based transmission network that would, in turn, deliver the message to individual broadcasters, cable operators and other participants, who in turn, would deliver it to broadcast listeners, as well as subscribers to cable and other services.

Neither the nation’s original warning system, known as Control of Electromagnetic Radiation, or CONELRAD, which was established in 1951, nor its follow-on warning system, known as the Emergency Broadcast System, or EBS, which was established in 1963, were ever subjected to comprehensive nationwide testing.

“The EAS is intended to provide a reliable mechanism for the President to communicate with the country during emergencies,” explained a notice of proposed rulemaking published by the FCC in the Federal Register on January 29. “Yet the EAS has never been tested nationally in a systematic way, i.e., by use of a national test methodology that can identify system flaws and failures comprehensively and on a nationwide basis.”

The national EAS is commonly referred to as a “daisy chain,” because a message that originated with the President would be passed to FEMA-designated radio stations, known as “Primary Entry Point” (PEP) stations, which would pass the message to “State Primary” stations, which in turn, would pass the message to “Local Primary” stations. Currently, the U.S. is divided into approximately 550 EAS local areas, each of which contains at least two Primary Local stations, said the FCC notice.

“Because of its daisy chain structure, the EAS is potentially vulnerable to ‘single point of failure’ problems, i.e., where failure of a participating station results in system-wide failure for all points below that station on the daisy chain,” said the FCC, in citing potential EAS vulnerabilities.

The FCC’s planned nationwide testing program would involve more than 3.5 million respondents, it estimated, at an annual cost that would exceed $3 million.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed testing methodology by visiting www.regulations.gov and citing docket number FCC 10-11, or by contacting Lisa Fowlkes, deputy bureau chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at [email protected] or at 202-418-7452. The comment period ends on March 1 and the reply comment period ends on March 30.

State Dept. seeks help in monitoring its employees’ computer usage

The State Department intends to monitor more closely its employees’ use of the department’s computers and other IT resources, and has just added $174,000 to an existing task order it has with Systems Research & Applications Corp. to develop privacy policies and an employee awareness program related to this enhanced data loss prevention campaign.

In an award notice published online on January 26, the State Department’s Office of Logistics Management acknowledged that it is planning a new form of “workplace monitoring.”

The notice indicated that the department plans “targeted surveillance of a specific employee’s use of IT resources based on evidence assembled using data loss prevention.”

Systems Research & Applications Corp., widely known as SRA and headquartered in Fairfax, VA, will be expected to review existing State Department privacy policies, enhance those policies, develop new privacy policies, prepare departmental notices describing the new monitoring program and create computer-generated text warning messages to heighten awareness of potential data breaches.

For these efforts, SRA will receive a $174,000 modification to an existing task order it landed earlier under the department’s Security Assurance Services and Innovation (SASI) Blanket Purchase Agreement.

SRA is no stranger to such work. The company already supports the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s office of computer security with a full suite a cyber-security capabilities in defense of the department’s unclassified and collateral global networks.

Last December, SRA won a $50 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to support the department’s National Cyber Security Division. “That mission set includes activities required to improve information systems security across the entire federal government enterprise from software assurance, critical infrastructure protection and global supply chain security to cyber education, exercises and workforce development, said a prepared statement issued by SRA at the time.

Secret Service wants to ‘light up’ its adversaries at night

ATPIAL illuminator

The U.S. Secret Service, which protects the President, Vice President, various dignitaries and VIPs, is planning to purchase an additional 24 laser pointer / illuminators, designed to be used with (or without) night vision devices, to engage adversaries at night.

The Secret Service will purchase two dozen Advanced Target Pointer/Illuminator/Aiming Lights, or ATPIALs, which are manufactured by Insight Technology, of Londonderry, NH.

The ATPIAL device is currently being offered on eBay for $5,995 each.

“As the next generation of the AN/PEQ-2A, the ATPIAL offers more functionality at almost ½ the size and weight,” says a product description posted on the Web site of a night vision equipment supplier, www.ownthenight.com. “Insight’s successful fielding at ATPIALs into multiple branches of the military, as well as federal law enforcement agencies, establishes a rock-solid foundation to now make ATPIAL available to qualified state, municipal and local law enforcement agencies.”

The Secret Service is also planning to procure 24 M3X tactical lights, also from Insight Technology, and assorted accessories. “The M3X is a powerful handheld or weapon mounted white light illuminator used for target identification and area illumination,” explains the Insight Technology’s Web site.

The solicitation was posted online by the Secret Service on January 27, and quotations are due from prospective suppliers by February 3.

Further information is available from Kimberly Spangler, a contract specialist, at [email protected] or 202-406-6820.

‘Unclear’ whether advanced imaging technology could have stopped Underwear Bomber, says GAO

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes that it is presently “unclear whether the AIT [Advanced Imaging Technology] or other technologies would have detected the weapon used in the December 25 attempted attack.”

The AIT to which GAO refers specifically is the so-called “whole body imager.” GAO also reiterated its findings from last October that TSA “had not yet conducted” an assessment of the technology’s effectiveness, “to determine the extent to which a terrorist could employ tactics that would evade detection.”

Nonetheless, according to GAO, TSA plans to install “almost” 200 of the new detectors by the end of the year and a “total of 878 units” by end of fiscal year 2014.

GAO also has seconded the new, post-Underwear Bomber consensus that “better use of terrorist watchlist information and improvements in deployment of passenger checkpoint technologies could further strengthen security.”

In its recent “statement for the record” to the House Committee on Homeland Security, GAO also noted that TSA is “implementing an advanced airline passenger prescreening program -- known as Secure Flight -- that could potentially result in the federal government checking passengers against the entire watchlist under certain security conditions.”

Princeton Security Technologies signs a new distribution agreement in Saudi Arabia

Princeton Security Technologies, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary, Princeton Gamma-Tech Instruments (PGT), has signed a distribution agreement with Technology Experts Co. in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

PGT is a supplier of X-ray and gamma-ray detectors and spectroscopy systems, and portable radioisotope identifiers.

In addition, PGT reports that it has received purchase orders with a total value of in excess of $500 000 from Technology Experts Co.

According to PGT, the recent orders include 60 handheld isotopic identifiers; training and service equipment to be set up locally in Riyadh; and some high-purity Germanium detector systems. Deliveries start immediately, PGT said.

MetaCarta releases version 4.5 of geographic search software

Cambridge, MA-based MetaCarta, Inc., a provider of geographic search solutions, has announced the launch of MetaCarta Geographic Search and Referencing Platform (GSRP) version 4.5.  

This software upgrade includes Geographic Data Module (GDM) upgrades, tagging enhancements, connector enhancements, custom gazetteer enhancements, Javascript software-development-kit enhancements and OpenSearch support, MetaCarta says.
GeoTagging enhancements include improvements in recognizing university and higher education institution names, superior natural language processing to disambiguate human names from place names, support for additional coordinate variations, and improved neighborhood and partial street address tagging, the company adds.  
“MetaCarta has been helping its public sector, oil and gas, and digital publishing clients build enterprise local search solutions for more than ten years,” Don Zereski, MetaCarta CEO, said in a statement. “With the rapid growth of location-aware devices, MetaCarta’s products and expertise are in more demand than ever, and we continue to enhance our product through valued customer feedback.”

RISCO Group introduces Industrial LuNAR ceiling-mount detector

Melville, NY-based RISCO Group USA, a provider of integrated security systems, has unveiled the Industrial LuNAR addressable dual-technology ceiling-mount intrusion detector.

According to RISCO, it combines detection accuracy with false alarm immunity.

The detector can be installed up to 28 feet high and has anti-cloak technology (ACT) to detect intruder camouflage attempts, the company says, noting that it incorporates three independently adjustable photo infrared (PIR) channels for customized coverage, along with a microwave channel.

The company points out that the detector is suitable for warehouses with high ceilings as well as mall applications and can operate in higher temperatures common in warehouse settings.

Offshore might mean off the payroll tax books, GAO finds

Are major DoD defense contractors using offshore subsidiaries to reduce their U.S. tax burdens, including the burden of payroll tax?

The fiscal year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on the “rationales, implications, and costs and benefits of defense contractors’ use of offshore subsidiaries.”

As part of its mandated research, GAO “reviewed data for the 29 U.S. publicly traded contractors with at least $1 billion in DOD spending in fiscal year 2008” and examined “several illustrative contracts.”

According to GAO, “many of the top 29 U.S. publicly traded defense contractors—those with $1 billion or more in DOD contracts in fiscal year 2008—have created offshore subsidiaries to facilitate global operations. Between fiscal years 2003 and 2008, they increased their use of these subsidiaries by 26 percent, maintaining at least 1,194 in 2008.”

The overseas subsidiaries, GAO found, “helped the 29 contractors reduce taxes, with about one-third decreasing their effective U.S. corporate tax rates in 2008.”

Moreover, in five of the DOD contracts GAO examined, “companies principally used offshore subsidiaries to hire U.S. workers providing services overseas on U.S. government contracts in order to avoid Social Security, Medicare—known as Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)—and other payroll taxes.”

That system also “allowed contractors to offer lower bids when competing for certain services,” which resulted in reduced costs to DoD, GAO noted.

For one subsidiary’s employees, the result was not so happy: GAO found that approximately 140 former employees of “several” contractors were denied unemployment benefits in 2009.

GAO’s bottom-line suggestion to Congress is to “consider whether further legislative action is needed to address contractor avoidance of unemployment taxes for U.S. workers.”

Tamil arms smugglers sentenced in Brooklyn

Two more would-be terrorist arms smugglers, looking to buy SAMs and AK-47s, have paid the price for falling afoul of an FBI sting.

Sathajhan Sarachandran, 30, and Nadarasa Yogarasa, 55, were sentenced last week in a Brooklyn federal courthouse to 26 and 14 years in prison, respectively, in connection with their efforts to purchase $1 million worth of high-powered weaponry for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The Sri Lankan rebel group, widely regarded as the innovators of suicide bombing, is designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

They were first arrested in 2006, after negotiating with an undercover FBI agent to purchase and export 20 SA-18 heat-seeking missiles, ten missile launchers, 500 AK-47s, and other military equipment for the LTTE. The defendants were acting at the direction of senior LTTE leadership in Sri Lanka, and the LTTE intended to use the SA-18 missiles to shoot down Kfir aircraft used by the Sri Lankan military.

Both men had previously pleaded guilty to various charges stemming from those arrests.



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