Department of Homeland Security Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Complete DHS Daily Report for October 21, 2009

Daily Report

Top Stories

 Bloomberg reports that a Maryland scientist, whose work with U.S. defense, space, and energy agencies had given him access to classified information, is under arrest on charges of attempting to spy for Israel. A criminal complaint unsealed on Monday in Washington accuses the man of attempted espionage. (See item 14)

14. October 20, Bloomberg – (National) Maryland scientist accused by U.S. of trying to spy for Israel. A Maryland scientist, whose work with U.S. defense, space, and energy agencies had given him access to classified information, is under arrest on charges of attempting to spy for Israel. A criminal complaint unsealed on October 19 in Washington accuses the man of attempted espionage. He allegedly attempted to deliver U.S. defense secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer in exchange for money, the Justice Department said in a statement. The scientist held security clearances as high as top secret and had access to information related to national defense, according to the Justice Department. He developed a radar experiment that purportedly discovered water on the south pole of the moon and designed “highly advanced” technology at the Energy Department, according to the statement. The Justice Department statement said he is expected to appear today in U.S. District Court in Washington. The government’s complaint does not allege that Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed a crime. The scientist worked at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and did research at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Virginia, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, according to the Justice Department. From November 1998 through January 2008, he worked as a technical consultant for an aerospace company that was owned by the government of Israel. Once a month, he answered questions posed by the company in return for payments totaling about $225,000 over that period, according to a criminal complaint. A Justice Department spokesman declined to name the company. Source:

 According to Bloomberg, Exxon Mobil Corp. was ordered to pay $104.7 million in damages after a federal jury on Monday found the company liable for poisoning five Queens, New York water wells with a gasoline additive meant to improve air quality. (See item 24)

24. October 20, Bloomberg – (New York) Exxon found liable for fouling New York City water with MTBE. Exxon Mobil Corp. was ordered to pay $104.7 million in damages after a jury found the company liable for poisoning New York City water wells with a gasoline additive meant to improve air quality. A federal jury in New York ruled in the city’s favor October 19. New York accused Exxon Mobil, the biggest U.S. oil company, of contaminating five wells in and near the Jamaica area of the borough of Queens with methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE. The Exxon Mobil case is part of larger litigation over the additive. More than 70 lawsuits filed by water providers and state and local governments were consolidated before U.S. District judge in Manhattan for pretrial information-gathering, according to an industry Web site. The Exxon Mobil case was the first of those to go to trial. BP Plc, Chevron Corp.,ConocoPhillips, Hess Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were among 33 companies that settled with New York. Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, was the lone holdout. The city sought $250.5 million to build and operate a facility to purge the water of MTBE for 40 years. The jury ruled that was the amount needed to compensate the city for the damages it suffered. It then subtracted $70 million it said Exxon Mobil showed was due to pre-existing contamination and another 40 percent it ruled was caused by other oil companies that settled with the city. The jury found against Exxon Mobil in two earlier phases of the trial. It ruled that the city intends to build a water- treatment plant for the wells and that MTBE will contaminate the wells’ output at a peak level of 10 parts per billion in 2033. The city said it wants to build a water-treatment plant that will clean 10 million gallons of water per day. Exxon Mobil lawyers argued that the wells were turned off and unusable because of contaminants other than MTBE, including PCE. The city argued that the company could have used ethanol as an oxygenate in New York and instead opted to use MTBE to save 3 cents a gallon. The jury ruled yesterday that the city did not prove there was a safer alternative gas design when gas with MTBE was being marketed. It found Exxon liable for product liability for failing to warn about the possible dangers of gas with MTBE. It also found the company liable for trespass, public nuisance, and negligence. Source:


Banking and Finance Sector

17. October 20, Bloomberg – (California) California to sue bank for overcharging two state pension funds. California’s attorney general said he will sue a “major institutional bank” in an attempt to recover almost $200 million in illegal overcharges and penalties charged to the state’s two largest pension funds. The California attorney general will announce the lawsuit filing and name the bank at a news conference in Oakland on October 20, he said in an e-mailed statement. The unidentified bank assessed the overcharges and penalties against the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. defined-benefit public pension fund, and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, according to the statement. Calpers, which oversees $200 billion, said last week it began a special review of fees investment managers paid to placement agents to win state business. The fund said it informed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the California Attorney General of the review. Source:

18. October 19, USA TODAY – (National) FDIC chief: Small banks can’t compete with bailed-out giants. Community banks are coming under intense pressure from a crumbling commercial real estate market, a weak economy, and lop-sided competition with banking goliaths deemed too big to fail, the FDIC chairman said on October 19. As the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. braces for the 100th bank failure this year, the most since 1992, the chairman warned that small community banks are struggling to compete against behemoths such as Citigroup and Bank of America. The reason: Last year’s $700 billion bank bailout proved that the federal government is willing to spend whatever it takes to keep the biggest banks from going under. “‘Too big to fail’ has become worse,” the chairman told USA TODAY. “It’s become explicit when it was implicit before. It creates competitive disparities between large and small institutions, because everybody knows small institutions can fail. So it’s more expensive for them to raise capital and secure funding.” The left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research last month found that banks with more than $100 billion in assets paid 1.15 percent for funds, and all others paid 1.93 percent late last year and early this year. That amounted to an annual subsidy worth up to $34.1 billion for the 18 biggest bank companies. “They compete against community banks all over the nation,” says the president of the Independent Community Bankers of America. Community banks “didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t cause this train wreck.” Another threat: Commercial real estate, a mainstay of small banks, is deteriorating because of the weak economy. “This is going to be a continued source of stress,” the chairman said. Source:

Information Technology

39. October 20, Network World – (International) Security software protects mobile and remote Mac, Windows users. DeepNines Technologies is unveiling a desktop security agent that works in tandem with its content-filtering and anti-malware gateway to protect mobile and remote workers. The iTrust Agent is lightweight code for either Microsoft Windows or Apple Macintosh computers that works by directing all a user’s browsing activities through a DeepNines Secure Web Gateway, according to the vice president of products and marketing at Dallas company. “It works like a secure tunnel, though it’s not a VPN,” says the vice president, noting the iTrust Agent lets remote end users gain the benefits of the Secure Web Gateway, including URL filtering and antimalware protections, even when they are not in an office environment behind the gateway. The agent forces users to go through the gateway in order to adhere to acceptable-use policies. It also prevents unauthorized applications such as chat or peer-to-peer, and can report on end-user activity. Source:

Communications Sector

40. October 20, Royal Gazette – (International) Lightning strikes cell phone sites. Up to 20,000 CellularOne customers in Bermuda were cut off on October 19 as a lightning strike blew out the company’s main control switch. The chief operating officer said the incident was the first of its kind in CellularOne’s ten year history, and would be “quite an event” for any telecommunications company. The network went down at 12 noon, cutting all cellular phone service and Internet access to customers across the Island. Service was restored by 6.30 on October 19. Although lightning has hit CellularOne’s cell sites (towers and antennae) in the past, the odds of such a strike on a telecommunications nerve center would be “very low”, said the chief operating officer. “We’ve had instances in the past during these types of lightning storms but this is the first time we’ve had lightning affect the main switch,” he said. “We think the lightning strike happened near the building but not directly on it. But it affected the equipment inside and that’s what caused the network outage.” Source: