Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Amendments to S 1867 – DOD Authorization

I finally had a chance to go through the large volume of amendments proposed for S 1867, the DOD FY 2012 Authorization Act. There are two additional amendments (in addition to the one I mentioned in my post on the introduction of S 1867); both were found in the November 17th edition of the Congressional Record. One deals with control system security and the other addresses IED precursor chemicals.

Control System Security

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Leahy (D,VT) has proposed Senate Amendment 1085, that would add a new Division to the bill entitled “Identity Theft And Data Privacy”. As one would sort of expect this deals mainly with IT security issues, but if you scan down to §106 you find a fairly section entitled: “Damage To Critical Infrastructure Computers”.

This section would add ‘‘Sec. 1030a. Aggravated Damage To A Critical Infrastructure Computer” to 18 USC 47. The term ‘critical infrastructure computer’ clearly includes certain SCADA systems in that it is defined as “computer that manages or controls systems or assets vital to national defense, national security, national economic security, public health or safety, or any combination of those matters, whether publicly or privately owned or operated” in §1030a(a)(2). It then provides a non-exclusive list of areas where such computers might be found:

‘‘(A) gas and oil production, storage, and delivery systems;

‘‘(B) water supply systems;

‘‘(C) telecommunication networks;

‘‘(D) electrical power delivery systems;

‘‘(E) finance and banking systems;

‘‘(F) emergency services;

‘‘(G) transportation systems and services; and

‘‘(H) government operations that provide essential services to the public.”

I personally find it disappointing that chemical manufacturing, storage and transport systems are not included in the list, but many of those facilities would fall under the general description that precedes the list; so they should be covered.

This section would make it an offense to intentionally cause, or attempt to cause damage to a critical infrastructure computer that would result in substantial impairment {§1030a(b)}:

“(1) of the operation of the critical infrastructure computer; or

“(2) of the critical infrastructure associated with the computer.”

There is a major flaw in this amendment though. Section 107 provides some pretty strict guidelines for the sentencing of violators of the new rules contained in this amendment. Unfortunately the definition of the covered offenses only applies to IT systems not control systems as it only deals with theft of information.

IED Precursors

Senate Amendment 1215 has been proposed by Sen. Casey (D,PA) and it deals with certification that the Pakistani government is continuing to make progress in controlling the production of improvised explosive devices by controlling the use of important precursor chemicals. What is unusual here is that the only precursor chemical that it lists by name is ‘calcium ammonium nitrate’.

According to Ask.com ‘calcium ammonium nitrate’ is 5Ca(NO3)2.NH4NO3.10H20. This would give a Nitrogen percentage of 15.5%. That number is important because the DHS Chemical of Interest (COI) list (Appendix A, 6 CFR 27) defines ammonium nitrate (the precursor not the explosive; two separate listings) as having a nitrogen content of 23% or greater.

So it would seem that the military considers calcium ammonium nitrate to be an IED precursor chemical in Pakistan (we pressured Pakistan to outlaw it in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan), but DHS does not consider it to be an IED precursor chemical in the United States. This is obviously explained by the fact that the chemical reaction is more energetic in Pakistan because of local political conditions (pardon the sarcasm).

Consideration of Amendments

Not every amendment proposed will make it to the discussion phase in the Senate and fewer still actually make it to a vote. Two of the three amendments that I have discussed so far (1085, 1215, and 1229) were listed on the ‘pending’ list of amendments to be considered for this bill. Interestingly it is the Levin amendment that has apparently (it could just be an oversight with so many amendments to list) not made the initial cut.

With Congress out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend (the Senate has pro forma sessions scheduled for today and Friday) the next day of debate on S 1867 is scheduled for Monday. This could be a long, drawn out process.

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