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The U.S. Gov't accidentally posted documents revealing that its new building in Virginia's Mark Center is not bomb-proof. The building will house 6,400+ workers when it opens later this year.  (Source: An Engineer In DC)

A blast like that which occurred in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing would likely destroy or seriously damage the new building. And the new building houses far more people.  (Source: Google Images)

The document detailing the building's weaknesses was freely accessible from Google. The U.S. Gov't had trouble removing it from its own webpage, let alone from Google's cache.
Department of Defense can't figure out how to get document off the internet

The latest leak coming from the U.S. government may not be what you think.  No, Wikileaks hasn't found some shadowy new source to pass it government secrets.  Rather it is the U.S. government itself that unintentionally exposed itself.

I. Government Leaks Plans for New Defense Building

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has been hard at work on a large office complex located in the Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia, the building is almost complete and will house 6,400 DOD personnel by the end of the year.

The Reuters news organization was surprised to discover a document detailing the building's bomb resistance posted on the Army Corps of Engineers website.  The Corps is responsible for designing a variety of government buildings as well as combating natural disasters like flooding.

The document bore the stamp "For Official Use Only", meaning that it was an unclassified document, but not meant for the public or government officials not involved in the project. The 424-page document open with a 30-page narrative, followed by hundreds of pages of technical material.

Reuters warned the DOD about the document.  But the DOD struggled to figure out how to remove its own document it posted.

Reuters recalls:

The report could be found on the Corps' public website nearly 24 hours after Reuters advised the Corps and top Pentagon officials that it had been publicly posted. Even after the Pentagon said the document had been taken down from the public website, a version could still be accessed in a Google cache.

Curry Graham, a spokesperson for the Army Corps commented, "You can pretty well tell it's an official document, 'for official use only,' from a contractor back to Corps officials. It looks like it was inadvertently published or put on our public site."

II.  New Building -- Apparently Not Very Bomb Proof

Why is the leak troublesome?

Well the document reveals that the new building is designed to withstand up to the equivalent blast of 220 pounds (100 kg) of TNT, detonated on the building's perimeter.  

While this might sound impressive it really isn’t.  In fact, bombers in the U.S. have used far bigger payloads in the past.  For example, the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center used a 1,336 lb (606 kg) urea nitrate–hydrogen gas enhanced device.  The power of urea nitrate bombs is similar to that of trinitrotoluene (TNT) [source; PDF].  In other words, the Mark Center's tolerance would be overwhelmed by a factor of approximately 6 in a similar bombing.

Another famous U.S. attack, the 1995 bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City used a mixed explosive bomb that was equivalent to almost 5,000 tons of TNT [source; PDF].

An attack of either magnitude would likely destroy or seriously damage the crucial new Department of Defense office building.  In other words, the building isn't very bomb-proof.

It is unclear why the DOD opted for this particular design, but the department is quite upset that the secret is out.  Ken Wells, Army Corps spokesperson, states, "This should not have happened. We take it very seriously."

Michael Greenberger, a former Justice Department lawyer who heads a Homeland Security institute at the University of Maryland, stated in the Reuters interview, "[The document is a] recipe for an attack. It should not be on the Internet."

Tom Thurman, a former FBI bomb disposal expert who now teaches security and emergency management at Eastern Kentucky University says that not only does the document let would-be attackers know that the center isn't overly-bomb resistant.  It also contains explicit details about the bomb-proofing measures that attackers could use to pinpoint the weakest spots in the defenses.

He states, "If you know what all the defenses are, you plan the attack around those defenses. It's not something that should be on any unsecure government website whatsoever."

He called the leak "inexcusable".

Inexcusable, perhaps, but the leak is hardly surprising.  After all, the U.S. government has shown a shocking lack of capability and preparedness when it comes to properly maintaining its presence online and defending the nation from cyberthreats.





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Unclear?
By DougF on 4/20/2011 9:42:53 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
It is unclear why the DOD opted for this particular design


Perhaps because designing a building capable of withstanding a 5,000lb blast would cost 100's of times more and/or take 5 times as long to build? Maybe?




RE: Unclear?
By Pessimism on 4/20/11, Rating: 0
RE: Unclear?
By bah12 on 4/20/2011 11:28:50 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Too cheap to put in the time and money on quality construction.
Wow you are nuts, it is far to expensive to build a general office building that will survive and that kind of bomb. It is FAR more cost beneficial to put that money toward securing the perimeter so said bomb has little to no means of getting anywhere near the facility.

It isn't like this a vital command structure. The DOD has lots of office buildings, expecting them to build them to that standard is asinine. In other words, another DT "nothing to see here move along" article. 220lbs is about the max a person could carry in, the days of sneaking a van full of explosives in is over.


RE: Unclear?
By nafhan on 4/20/2011 1:24:54 PM , Rating: 2
The building is fairly close to the interstate (I-395). My guesstimate (based on looking at Google Earth) is roughly 150ft. Not sure if that's close enough to be an issue or not.


RE: Unclear?
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 4/20/2011 6:29:33 PM , Rating: 4
The 150ft distance between building and explosive center would dampen the blast considerably. Air pressure would get knocked back and the windows would blow out, but structurally the building would be relatively unscathed. Now if you detonated right next to it (pretty darn difficult to do these days) then the blast doesn't have as much air between it and the building thus adding a much higher impact to the structure itself.

Kind of like the hand grenade killing anyone within 5ft by the explosion alone, but if you dropped it into a lake where there isn't air to compress, the shock transmits through liquids (water) a lot better than air. That would result in the immediate death of anything within about 30-50ft.


RE: Unclear?
By FaceMaster on 4/20/2011 4:07:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
220lbs is about the max a person could carry in


Your MUM could carry more.


RE: Unclear?
By The Raven on 4/20/2011 4:55:48 PM , Rating: 3
So what you are saying is that we should replace the TSA with something useful? ;-)


RE: Unclear?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2011 12:15:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
^ This. Too cheap to put in the time and money on quality construction.


There's no construction on the planet that can make a building "bomb proof". At BEST you can make one bomb RESISTANT.


RE: Unclear?
By bsimons on 4/20/2011 9:52:16 AM , Rating: 1
Why is a DOD building built so close to the road?
Looks pretty stupid, As if they are setting up a false-flag attack.


RE: Unclear?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 4/20/2011 9:52:48 AM , Rating: 2
I think the bigger takeaway is that without this leak, we wouldn't be thinking twice about the bomb-proofing of this building. It's not something that anyone outside the DOD would likely even question.

I just can't wait for the fatcats in Washington to start holding hearings talking about this "travesty" and how Congress should demand to see the bomb-proofing specs of other government buildings...


RE: Unclear?
By The Raven on 4/20/2011 11:23:44 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I think the bigger takeaway is that without this leak, we wouldn't be thinking twice about the bomb-proofing of this building . It's not something that anyone outside the DOD would likely even question.

Do you know how many things there are like this? No one does. That is part of the reason why I distrust such a large gov't.

Is it something we all should even be questioning? I mean the public complaining about this is like me complaining about how your car won't run. It is your job to have it fixed and it is in your best interest. This is both the DoD's job and it is in their best interest to fix it. Not mine.

I mean has the "won't the gov't protect us?" mentality spread so badly in this country that the gov't itself is asking that question?

This story just goes to show that we can't depend on the gov't to adequately protect themselves so why should I trust them to protect me (even though I have to, to a certain extent. I just don't want to ask for more by way of nanny laws, etc. lol.)

Can we just stop pissing people off so they won't even bother bombing us so much. We need a strong defensive military but it seems like most of what we've been doing has been offensive as of late. It all makes something as noble as what we are trying to accomplish in Libya sound like a bad idea when you take it all into account. I'm not down on our troops or anything. Quite to the contrary, I'm concerned about the seemingly wanton (ab)use of them while we all argue puny political points 1-2 degrees left or right (mostly left) of the status quo. All the while as a result extremist/crazy people are set off inside and out of the country and take up bombs against us putting those very people who have signed up to protect us in harms way because of some perceived/actual loss of freedom (e.g. McVeigh, Loughner, etc.).

And to think some people think a nut burning Korans is dangerous!

We should be thinking twice. But not about this building.


RE: Unclear?
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 4/20/2011 6:40:36 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I mean has the "won't the gov't protect us?" mentality spread so badly in this country that the gov't itself is asking that question?

The question was probably asked and mitigated by perimeter security and the status/profile of the building. The question was would anyone realistically want to hit this building with a large car bomb? The answer was probably not, it isn't high profile.

quote:
Can we just stop pissing people off so they won't even bother bombing us so much.

That ship has sailed, long ago. At this point the fuel of hatred is pretty much limitless. There are quite a few of these nuts that sit around thinking of new ways to kill the white imperialists of america.

quote:
We need a strong defensive military but it seems like most of what we've been doing has been offensive as of late.

What we are doing is indeed quite defensive. The american public is not accustomed to having shit blow up on their home turf. Not since the Civil War has there been a war faught on American soil. With any luck there won't be anytime soon either. Right now we fight in their countries where all the damage, intentional or collateral is on their turf and is a problem they have to deal with. If we faught defensively here and annually 1 bomb went off somewhere in the USA, the general public would go nuts. Americans simply can't handle that insecurity. That is why we will continue to prefer fighting on foreign soil, it provides them with large visible targets close to them and they put their resources into attacking that rather than launching large expensive operations against the US homeland.

quote:
All the while as a result extremist/crazy people are set off inside and out of the country and take up bombs against us putting those very people who have signed up to protect us in harms way because of some perceived/actual loss of freedom (e.g. McVeigh, Loughner, etc.).

That's the FBI and Homeland Securities problem really, US Military and Intelligence activities are largely restricted to foreign theatres. Within the USA, The Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security are the guys that make the calls for home grown exremism and terrorism.


RE: Unclear?
By croc on 4/20/2011 7:37:07 PM , Rating: 3
"That ship has sailed, long ago. At this point the fuel of hatred is pretty much limitless. There are quite a few of these nuts that sit around thinking of new ways to kill the white imperialists of america."

And some of them are white people....


RE: Unclear?
By The Raven on 4/21/2011 12:36:35 PM , Rating: 2
I don't follow you at all on the "defensive" stance of this country's military. It makes no sense whatsoever so I hope you don't support that thinking. That is like after we hit our head and say "ouch!" we cut out leg open so we don't notice the lingering pain in our head. Neither action is defensive.
quote:
That's the FBI and Homeland Securities problem really, US Military and Intelligence activities are largely restricted to foreign theatres. Within the USA, The Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security are the guys that make the calls for home grown exremism and terrorism.

I used a couple of local boys, but my focus was on people inside and out of the country. I don't care who is who as far as gov't departments go. They are all the gov't and they have a responsibility that we entrust them with. They should be better. But we just let these idiot politicians create new agencies to further confuse and invalidate our protections (like the DHS) just to make it sound like they are doing something. As if we didn't have someone from the military or FBI (or even the local and state police) protecting us before?


RE: Unclear?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/20/2011 10:07:59 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Perhaps because designing a building capable of withstanding a 5,000lb blast would cost 100's of times more and/or take 5 times as long to build? Maybe?


That's true, but most buildings could withstand small blasts so a resistance to 220 lb explosions means they did practically nothing.

You comment fails to capture that there's a whole lot in between steps between no protections and massive protections (say against a 5,000 pound charge).

Such intermediate efforts could increase the likelihood that if an incident like the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, that at least a majority of the occupants would be able to evacuate.

For example, if the building was built with some resistance -- say, up to 1,500 pounds -- even if a 5,000 pound bomb hit, it would do respectively a whole lot less damage than the current design, likely leaving the structure largely intact, allowing an evacuation.

The building is quickly and easily accessed from the highway, which makes the situation that much worse.

When you consider that this building is housing 6,400 (!) people, this seems like gross negligence. That'd be an awful feeling to be reading this and knowing you were going to work there in the fall.

Our country deserves to do better for those who serve it, budget be damned.

And anyone who wants to talk about the values of cost savings over engineering a proper design that is safe, look at the effects of engineering negligence at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, China's Banqiao Dam, Japan's Fukushima nuclear plants, or Ukraine's Chernobyl.


RE: Unclear?
By MrTeal on 4/20/2011 11:36:00 AM , Rating: 2
Now, I haven't read the document, and after your comment about it starting with a thirty page narrative I'm not likely to. That being said, I'm curious in what context "withstand" is being used. Would that indicate that it's able to withstand 100kg of TNT without significant damage to the exterior? Damage to the exterior but without a breach of the walls? An exterior wall breached but without major damage to the structure?


RE: Unclear?
By bah12 on 4/20/2011 11:37:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's true, but most buildings could withstand small blasts so a resistance to 220 lb explosions means they did practically nothing.
Per my other quote...so?

Securing a building is much more cost effective if done a the perimeter. Who the hell builds a bomb proof, general use, non vital command structure. WTF you guys are all nuts if you think this type of building needs to be bomb proof. The examples given in the article are flawed as they could MUCH easier and MUCH MUCH more effectively be address by securing the perimeter rather than fortifying the building.

Are you seriously suggesting that a van full of explosives has a remote change of coming anywhere near this building like in OKC? Although I'm not one to claim our government is perfect, I think we've learned a fair bit. Last few government buildings I've seen have all be retrofitted with very strong perimeter defenses to prevent a vehicle from getting close.

220lb is enough for what one person could strap too them, addressing a larger blast is more effectively done at the perimeter is all I'm saying.


RE: Unclear?
By bah12 on 4/20/2011 12:01:59 PM , Rating: 3
Wow the grammar, sorry.
quote:
When you consider that this building is housing 6,400 (!) people, this seems like gross negligence. That'd be an awful feeling to be reading this and knowing you were going to work there in the fall.

To add one more point Jason, you are looking at one aspect of an entire facility and making quite a leap to the conclusion that the engineering is some how insufficent. You cannot just look a the structure, and jump to the conclusion that it is at risk. You have to look at the entire facility. If you have any evidence to suggest that no other preventative steps are being taken then I would agree with you, but you don't. You just assume because of this one design aspect that the facility as a whole is unsafe. Sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism pure and simple.


RE: Unclear?
By nolisi on 4/20/2011 12:05:52 PM , Rating: 2
Not that I'm actually invested in whether or not this particular building should have better bomb proofing- I just wanted to add a little to the perspective of cost:

Creating a more secure perimeter represents an increased ongoing, persistent cost versus the increased initial cost of extra bomb proofing. And if a bomb does break through, the extra bomb proofing will help to ensure you don't have to rebuild an entire building...

And with the extra bomb proofing, a threat is less likely to attack a target if they need a bigger bomb to attack with.


RE: Unclear?
By bah12 on 4/20/2011 1:32:04 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Creating a more secure perimeter represents an increased ongoing, persistent cost versus the increased initial cost of extra bomb proofing. And if a bomb does break through, the extra bomb proofing will help to ensure you don't have to rebuild an entire building... And with the extra bomb proofing, a threat is less likely to attack a target if they need a bigger bomb to attack with.
Thanks, that is exactly my point. This type of analysis has most likely been done at great length when designing the facility as a whole. But in true Jason Mick style he has taken one bit of information completely out of context, and condemned the facility unfit or unsafe. Sorry but that just isn't the way engineering works, and it should not be the way journalism works.

The leak was shameful, yes. Newsworthy, yes. His spin on the facility being a huge risk, completely and unterlly unsubstantiated as usual. Latching onto one stat "220lb of TNT", and citing extreme examples without any insight into the big picture, and publishing it as news. UG. Oh and if pressed he will defend it to the grave as unbiased.

Take this as an analogy, airplanes can't structurally withstand much of a blast either, so guess what they design an infrastructure around them so getting a bomb on board is pretty freaking hard. And they do this very effectively I'd say, given the vast number of flights and very low % of bombs. Impressive given the rather large amount of individuals/groups that would love to find a way.


RE: Unclear?
By The Raven on 4/20/2011 11:42:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And anyone who wants to talk about the values of cost savings over engineering a proper design that is safe, look at the effects of engineering negligence at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, China's Banqiao Dam, Japan's Fukushima nuclear plants, or Ukraine's Chernobyl.

While I whole heartedly agree with you on the cost savings here, I wouldn't go so far to say...
quote:
budget be damned

Have the budget to build a safe building, dam, etc. or don't build at all. I think you were sending the wrong message there. It should be more like, "ivory backscratchers be damned" ;-)


RE: Unclear?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2011 12:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When you consider that this building is housing 6,400 (!) people, this seems like gross negligence. That'd be an awful feeling to be reading this and knowing you were going to work there in the fall.


Negligent?

Am I the only one that thinks it's REALLY sad that we're arguing over bomb proofing buildings on our own soil?

I thought Obama and the Administration said 9/11 was an "isolated incident" and that we did NOT need to be concerned about terrorist attacks in the United States. Am I mistaken?

quote:
Our country deserves to do better for those who serve it, budget be damned.


Well you certainly changed your tune...


5000 tons?
By bob1029384 on 4/20/2011 11:57:30 AM , Rating: 5
"a mixed explosive bomb that was equivalent to almost 5,000 tons of TNT "

I didn't realize McVeigh had a degree in nuclear engineering...




RE: 5000 tons?
By AstroCreep on 4/20/2011 2:07:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah a slight typo, huh? ;)

I did go through the linked .PDF and it was equivalent to (a mere) 5000 pounds of TNT (page 32).


RE: 5000 tons?
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/20/2011 2:36:23 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, no nuke involved.
He just rolled in with a fleet of 18-wheelers ;)


RE: 5000 tons?
By PitViper007 on 4/20/2011 2:40:23 PM , Rating: 3
Yea, I saw 5000 tons and thought that had to be a typo one way or another. It's 5000 lbs.


Silly
By Flunk on 4/20/2011 9:52:33 AM , Rating: 2
Putting the emphasis on the leak itself is silly. The fact that this was leaked is irrelevant. The real issue is that they would build a building only capable of withstanding very weak explosives.

Simply not revealing that the building was poorly constructed doesn't change the realistic threat. The building was poor anyway and shifting the blame is totally ridiculous.




RE: Silly
By The Raven on 4/20/2011 11:33:28 AM , Rating: 2
I think the headline focuses on the fact that "the DoD is soft on bomb defense" but the subheading does as you say.

But I think that the fact that they are incapable of making sound decisions re: building choices and also incapable of keeping their docs straight both point to the fact that the gov't is beyond retarded at this point. So both points are relevant IMO. Also both points are tech related.


Stupid article
By hiscross on 4/20/2011 10:44:33 AM , Rating: 2
This article is stupid. Commercial building used by Federal agencies, including DoD, are used as offices. The buildings that need special security are located on military bases that limit access. DC is loaded with government leased office space and none of them are bomb proof. To solve your bomb issue, then I suggest DOD build more bases, raise taxes to pay for them, expand the military to eliminate DOD civilian and contractors. Yea, that will fix your little bomb proof building hang-up. "Who is John Galt?"




RE: Stupid article
By mmatis on 4/20/2011 9:06:34 PM , Rating: 2
But the Muslim in Chief would never go for that.


math problem?
By Ammohunt on 4/20/2011 2:28:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The power of urea nitrate bombs is similar to that of trinitrotoluene (TNT)


quote:
Another famous U.S. attack, the 1995 bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City used a mixed explosive bomb that was equivalent to almost 5,000 tons of TNT


So what you are saying is that Tim Mcveigh fit 5,000 tons of equivalent explosive (ammonium nitrate and light fuel oil) by weight as compared to TNT in into a rental truck designed to carry maybe 2 tons? What an amazing feat! he must have masterd Edward Leedskalnin's techniques.




RE: math problem?
By SilthDraeth on 4/20/2011 7:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
5000 tons would be 10 million pounds of explosives.

Amazing feat.

No wonder Timothy had to be executed, if the secret of being able to deliver 10 million pounds of equipment in a vehicle that could haul four to six thousand pounds was ever made publicly available... the repercussions would be unfathomable.


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