News you may have missed #639



►►GCHQ will sell cyberdefense tech to private firms. The GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency, is to market some of its security technologies to companies in the private sector, in an attempt to bolster defenses against the foreboding threat of cyberwarfare. The UK government’s “cyber security strategy”, which was unveiled this month, has earmarked £650 million in public funding to set up a four-year National Cyber Security Program, a percentage of which will be used to collaborate with private companies. Click here for an excellent analysis on the public-private cybersecurity collaboration in Britain.
►►Was there a coup attempt in Trinidad? Many in Trinidad and Tobago were expressing skepticism yesterday about an alleged assassination plot, which Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said had been uncovered against her and several of her ministers. Police said nearly a dozen people had been arrested, including members of the army and police, but authorities have not given more details, citing the need to maintain security in operations to dismantle the plot.
►►US Senators resist $7 Billion in spending cuts for spy satellites. The Obama Administration wants to stop incessant spending by Defense Department contractors, especially those who have wasted billions of US taxpayers’ money in failed spy satellite projects. But the contractors’ friends in Congress, including lawmakers on the US Senate Intelligence Committee, are trying to stop the White House from cutting a $7 billion commercial satellite program being developed by GeoEye Inc. and DigitalGlobe Inc. What else is new?

Obama administration approves new spy satellite program

Very few media outlets picked up last week news of an oral approval by Obama administration officials of a new spy satellite program that will further blur the line between private and US Pentagon satellite imagery provision. The new plan, provisionally called “2-plus-2”, is said to replace the fiasco of Boeing Corporation’s delayed and hugely over-budget Future Imagery Architecture reconnaissance project, which the DoD terminated in 2005. The DoD now appears poised to punish Boeing by awarding 2-plus-2 “to Lockheed without a competitive bidding process”, later this year. Under the new plan, whose initial budget Pentagon officials have refused to reveal, includes building from scratch two state-of-the-art satellites for Pentagon use. It also stipulates increased collaboration between the Pentagon and private satellite imagery providers, such as DigitalGlobe and GeoEye, who currently pocket approximately $25 million a month from the Pentagon. Notably, the new contract has a “guaranteed access” stipulation, which gives the Pentagon “top priority and the ability to direct the satellites if there is a war or another emergency”. The contract is subject to Congressional approval, but intelligence officials have said they are “confident it will pass”.

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