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Cyber Meets the Press

Following the London bombings, Meet the Press with Tim Russert on Sunday featured Stephen Flynn, the author of "America the Vulnerable: How Our Government is Failing to Protect Us From Terrorism" and Admiral James Loy, the former number two man at the Homeland Security Department.

During that conversation, Loy specifically noted that cyber-terrorism should be included along with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Here is the transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: Based on everything you have learned and know, do you believe that there will be another major catastrophic terrorist attack in the United States?

MR. FLYNN: I think there almost certainly will be. In fact, there's a heightened risk of the catastrophic attack in the U.S. vis-a-vis what we saw in London and Madrid precisely because the sleeper cell presence is smaller. They're going to husband that resource and use it for something bigger. And I think what everybody's worried about and should be worried about is the weapon of mass destruction scenario. That is the nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. And by the way, they don't even have to import a chemical weapon. We have chemical facilities around this society prepositioned in their population centers, in key assets, like ports, that the U.S. government doesn't even have the authority to go in and inspect their security plans today.

So these are the kinds of gaping holes that remain. This is not for the want of good efforts of people at the Department of Homeland Security are working this issue, but it is a fact that it's a very big challenge and hasn't been treated, I believe, that the standard of a national priority deserves.

MR. RUSSERT: Admiral Loy, do you have any doubt there will be another major catastrophic attack?

ADM. LOY: Well, my sense is that there will be and it comes from two thoughts. I spent most of the decade of the '80s, as did most of my colleagues in the Coast Guard, DEA and other agencies, working against the cartels in Colombia. Our ability to take the head off of that monster, those four or five or six major cartel families, only offered the chance for 20 or 25 lieutenants within those cartels to emerge as leaders of separate entities to deal in that particular death-related product.

I think there's an analogy here that's appropriate for terrorism. To the degree we are able to have successfully cut the head off, not quite, with bin Laden yet, but we're going to get him sooner or later, the cells that are now potentially able to operate on their own offer the chance, as Steve was citing. This risk management thing I mentioned a moment ago is really where the department has to focus. And to the degree they do focus in a risk-based process, WMD--and I would add cyber to the list Steve just described because of how prevalent it is everywhere in our society--we must find a zero-tolerance process attendant to those kind of threats and then deal in a risk-management sense with the rest.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 11, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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