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The 2011 Defense Authorization Act, one of the bills still likely to be voted on in the lame duck session, is 981 pages long and spends $725 billion. Buried deep in the bill, and with the innocuous title, "Reduction of supply chain risk in the acquisition of national security systems," is a provision that would empower the Defense Department to secretly blacklist companies from federal contracts that they deem to pose "an unacceptable supply chain risk." Neither Congress nor the public would be allowed to know who is blacklisted and why.

There's no doubt that reducing risk in the Defense supply chain is a necessary and worthy goal, but this particular arrangement seems absurdly ripe for abuse as it would establish a clear path for anticompetitive influence-peddling and bribery while at the same time restricting the public from the tools they need to hold government officials accountable.

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During their markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 this afternoon, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment from Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] to repeal the Clinton-era "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military. The Senate Armed Services Committee, which is much more conservative than the Congress as a whole, is where advocates of the repeal feared their efforts would get hung up, so, for them, this is a huge victory.

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