Washington Extra – Major breach

April 19, 2011

pentagonIn this post-9/11, ultra-high security era, it is hard to believe that the bomb-proofing specs of a new Defense Department building in the DC area would be on public view. Then again, the Internet is a tough beast to manage.

Reuters reporters Mark Hosenball and Missy Ryan discovered the sensitive information about Mark Center — where 6,400 Defense Department personnel are scheduled to move later this year — on a public website maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Out of concern for the security of personnel who will work there, Reuters is not disclosing most of the details in the 424-page document stamped “For Official Use Only.”

But Hosenball and Ryan found an alarming detail on Mark Center: It is designed to resist threats posed by vehicle bombs detonated outside the building’s security perimeter carrying the equivalent of 220 pounds of TNT. That is far less than the amount of explosive used in the 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center and 1995 bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City.

A Corps spokesman said the public posting was a mistake and that the government was working to take it down. But he acknowledged that it might have been sitting there since the document’s date -2009. Little comfort to 6,400 employees.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Anti-bomb plan for Pentagon annex posted online

In what officials admit is a major breach of security, a document describing design features intended to make a new Defense Department building bomb-resistant has been posted on a public government website. One of the document’s key points is raising eyebrows — the building’s level of bomb resistance.

For more of this story by Mark Hosenball and Missy Ryan, read here.

Obama defends US deficit plan, sees common ground

President Obama drew a sharp line between plans to cut the U.S. deficit, but said a deal could be reached despite big ideological differences between the two parties. Obama said both Democrats and Republicans understand that $4 trillion needs to be slashed over roughly a decade. How to do that, however, remains a major sticking point, and Obama did not indicate any greater flexibility over his demands that taxes go up for the wealthiest Americans while investments continue in education and infrastructure.

For more of this story by Jeff Mason and Alister Bull, read here.

Geithner says ‘no risk’ U.S. will lose AAA rating

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, going on the offensive one day after Standard & Poor’s threatened to lower its top-tier rating on U.S. government debt, said there was “no risk” of a downgrade. Prospects for a deficit-reduction deal were improving, Geithner said. He said in one television appearance that he did not have to reassure foreign buyers of U.S. debt in the wake of S&P’s warning.

For more of this story by David Lawder, read here.

Republicans attack Trump as he mulls 2012 run

Leading Republicans are mounting an attack on Donald Trump, worried that his flirtation with a 2012 presidential run hurts their chances to field a serious challenge to President Obama. Many officials doubt the billionaire and celebrity TV star actually wants the pain and suffering that comes with a presidential campaign. They see him as a self-promoting publicity hound and his talk of a White House bid as a stunt. But polls show Trump getting a bounce from his public consideration of a campaign and his foray into “birther” politics.

For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

US top court questions global warming lawsuit

The Supreme Court questioned whether a global warming lawsuit against five big power companies can proceed, with several justices saying the EPA, not federal judges, should deal with the issue. Justices sounded a skeptical note during arguments when they asked whether complicated environmental issues, such as how much greenhouse gas pollution is allowable and how it should be curbed, should be left to federal judges.

For more of this story by Deborah Zabarenko and James Vicini, read here.

What we are blogging…

Obama doesn’t drive, but he feels your pain at the pump

President Obama says he sympathizes with the frustration over high gas prices — even though it’s been a while since he’s had to fill a tank. “I’ll admit to you, it’s been a while since I … filled up at the pump,” Obama joked during a townhall-style event. “Secret Service doesn’t let me get out, and they don’t let me drive anymore.”

For Emily Stephenson’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

RIM launches PlayBook, fans don’t play along

Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet computer launched in almost empty stores, in a far cry from the frenzy that accompanies the debut of anything from rival Apple. At an Office Depot in Midtown New York, just three PlayBooks, RIM’s answer to the Apple iPad, left the shelves in the 20 minutes after the store opened, a store employee said. “It’s going to be a tough sell to the consumer,” BGC Partner analyst Colin Gillis said of the sleek but flawed gadget that doesn’t yet offer the secure email that is the trademark of RIM’s ubiquitous BlackBerry.

For more of this story, click here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/Jason Reed (Aerial view of the Pentagon)

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Anti-bomb buildings don’t exist, what it exist are bombs no sufficiently powerful. But this problem can also be solved by the technology. If I have to bet I prefer to bet in the bomb and not in the building.

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