Cyber-Terror; The Most SeriousThreat To National Security

Cyber-terror and Cyber-attacks are the most serious threats to National Security.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of sitting with Senator Diane Feinstein and enjoying her perspective on a broad range of issues impacting America. The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, CONNECT, and the SD Regional Economic Development Corporation regularly collaborate to bring elected representatives together with business leaders to discuss issues of great important to our industries, our economy, and our citizens. These intimate opportunities
are an important ingredient in the “secret sauce” of San Diego – an efficiently-aligned, private-sector business community that works well with our elected leaders and the public sector. This is how San Diego maintains a diverse and successful economy.

As the recent past Chairman of the Chamber Board and the incoming Chair of the San Diego Economic Development Corporation, I have the opportunity to spend time with elected officials who’s votes can dramatically affect my specific business, the region, our nation, and the entire economy. Therefore, part of my job on these boards is to listen without partisanship or prejudice and make sure we are offering actionable solutions to elected officials while insuring they are also listening to us.

Today, Senator Feinstein spent a large chunk-of-time meeting with us and then spending an hour giving us her candid views on our national/international challenges and opportunities. I will not go into everything she covered at my table but when she rose to speak to the group, she had a number of very insightful comments which I would like to share with all of you.

First, the Senator discussed the true size of the end-of-year “Fiscal Cliff”. [In an earlier post I described this as the “Self-Inflicted Wound” we foisted upon our nation.].

1. Unemployment Extension End
2. Education Credits End
3. Payroll-Tax holiday Ends
4. Sequestration goes into effect
5. Bush/Obama Tax Cuts End
6. Capital Gain/Inheritance Rate Cuts End

Estimated impact if all of these were to hit at once ? 3% negative GDP growth in 2013/14. Millions of jobs nationwide and a loss of 250,000 jobs in California. It is simply unacceptable to allow this madness to happen to all of America.

We also discussed the 4 distinct elements of the budget; defense, entitlements, interest, domestic.
We discussed the concept of compromise and problem-solving that would be required of a new 2013 Administration and Congress because the current partisan-gridlock is only fulfilling someone’s sick chaos-theory fantasy ( sick chaos-theory fantasy are my words, not hers).

We covered a lot of ground and the conversation was meaty and rich in content. She is a very capable representative of the people. She had a clear grasp on many specifics related to US security.

One thing she discussed was the fact that the right spending is good for America. For example, she discussed the fact that in 2009/10, the FBI added 10,000 agents to create a new group focused on interdiction of terrorist plots within the US. Many derided the spending increase as bloated government spending and adding to the debt. However, the administration pushed through the resistance and the FBI expanded.

The result?

The Senate is releasing a non-classified report today that details how just in 2012, the FBI has already thwarted 20 planned attacks on the US homeland from – in many cases – home-grown bad-guys attempting to do the US harm. These were not attacks in the theory or inspirational stage. In many cases the bad guys thought they were actually pulling the trigger or taking the shot at their bad deed. You have heard of some of theses instances in the news. In every case, the FBI had already infiltrated the groups and foiled the plots. With a combination of human and electronic intelligence, the modern FBI is on the job. The FBI s stronger than it has ever been. The bad guys are in prison and the country safer as a result. The country is safer because we invested in our security.

However, our ears really perked up when the Senator addressed what really keeps her, and fellow members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, up at night. Cyber-Security.

This is how Senator Feinstein so appropriately responded when asked how she would answer the most important question asked at last night’s debate:

“What is the greatest threat to National security?”

Cyber-Terror.

If you recall:
The President answered terrorism in its many forms.
Governor Romney answered a nuclear armed Iran.

Both are correct in their own ways; however what got missed is the real-time threat that could cripple our entire national infrastructure, leave us defenseless, strike without warning, wreck our national economy, and send us back to the 50’s in terms of infrastructure.

Senator Feinstein’s response:

Cyber-threats. Cyber-warfare. Cyber-terrorism.

She is right on point.

It was revealed that the Royal Bank of Scotland was robbed of millions a few years back as were a number of other large financial institutions. Bank robbers armed with a mouse.

Numerous attacks on Pentagon computers, the electrical grid and threats too classified to discuss are going on daily. Nations are fighting virtual-wars over the net; probing for weakness and often finding back-door opportunities via weak private-sector network infrastructure. All of us in the private-sector need to take cyber-terrorism much more seriously or we’re going to look back and wonder: “what the hell happened while we were digitally sleeping?”

Our national government has been fighting back -with vigor. Although no one will confirm it, someone successfully stopped, damaged, sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program without firing a shot. Cyber-warfare is real and our country seeks to dominate the playing field. We just need to make sure our State’s, Counties, Cities, Public Infrastructure systems, and private-enterprises are doing everything they can to secure their network infrastructure. Now is the time for public-private partnerships to solidify their focus on a long-term cyber-strategy.

San Diego is fortunate to have the SPAWAR (Space Warfare) Command in our back-yard. It is a well known concept that in many circles, the Pentagon considers Cyber-Warfare the most important branch of the service. SPAWAR is the government’s flagship operation and conducts the most dynamic threat-mitigation and combats Cyber-attacks. Many of the best-and-brightest Americans work at SPAWAR. Cyber-security is that important to our country.

We are also fortunate that San Diego is home to many of the most dynamic, bleeding-edge organizations focused on hardening our National Cyber-Infrastructure. This is why the Senator’s timely comments mean so much to our nation and specifically for San Diego. If the brain-trust defending the nation from cyber-threats is already in San Diego, the bad guys can’t be too far away. We must all be vigilant.

America is going to need to get back to smart investing (spending). Expanding our Cyber-Security infrastructure will mitigate the greatest threat to our National Security. Our country knows how to do it and San Diego is ready to play an important role.

Terrorism and a nuclear-armed Iran are real threats to National Security. Cyber-Threats and Cyber -Terrorism is the most serious threat to National Security.

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7 Responses to Cyber-Terror; The Most SeriousThreat To National Security

  1. btg5885 says:

    Vincent, this is well written on an important topic. I am pleased that Senator Feinstein has a good grasp of this complex and scary topic. I know I need to learn more myself, so it is very helpful for me to read this kind of post. I think we average joes would say it is important, but not fully comprehend the severity of damage it could cause. Thanks for enlightening us. BTG

    • vincentmudd says:

      Thanx4 the comment. Yes, she is all over this cyber issue because you do not have 2b a super-power … just a crew of super-nerds , and you can put a real dent in the world while everyone is asleep. Scary stuff. It’s an alarm we have to sound because if we do, we can dominate the industry ala a Man-On-The-Moon level scientific effort. Serious job creation.

  2. Michael12 says:

    Hi Vince,

    It’s Mike I have to disagree on the character of Senator Diane Feinstein or her grasp on the topic. Take the release by the NYT David Sanger(the Jane Mayor for the promotion of a war with Iran). Instead of condemning the use of drones to kill people without due process or the White House use of labeling all males 16 or older killed in a strike zone as militants she overreacted and at first went on a crusade of calling for even tougher laws against leakers and laws that would further place Americans in the dark on what our government is doing. It than later turn out she herself was one of the people who leaked to David Sanger. Her previous calls for arrest would using her own logic require for her to be charged but clearly this wouldn’t happen.

    • vincentmudd says:

      Thank u4 the reply. I can only speak intelligently about the things I know so I can’t confirm or dispute anything you are saying about the Senator. What I do know is what I have written because I have had the opportunity to speak directly with the Senator on multiple occassions. If she has broken any US laws, she shoud be subject to the same scrutiny as you or I.

      I will say one thing about war, drones, military aggression, covert warfare, the broad war against terror, and all of the other justifications humans use in order to take the lives of others …. they all suck. War sucks. Enemies suck. Needing to defend oneself from a perceived threat or taking revenge for the murderous acts of another sucks. Death and war suck.

      Yet countries fight , wound and kill based on the moral ground they force themselves to accecpt. I am not justifying why and how drones are used however count me among the people that will strike at people who have decided to strike at America. I know it sucks and my justification goes against my Christian beliefs, yet that is how I feel and aparantly how far too many feel as well. Nothing about war and conflict makes sense other than doing all you can to avoid war and conflict in the first place.

      One more thing on the Senator. She became Mayor because the Mayor of San Francisco was murdered by a member of the County/City legislature. She took over that city in a time of crisis and death matched only by the event that shook the city as well -the Jonestwn massacre. Those killed were all San Francsco residents of Jim Jobes’ church. This lady unfortunately knows death, pain and it’s impact on the innocent. I’m sure her support of drones cones with much consternation.

      On the Iran issue, from what she has said, she appears to believe in sanctions and immense pressure. She did not speak of war with Iran.

  3. Michael12 says:

    “The Senate is releasing a non-classified report today that details how just in 2012, the FBI has already thwarted 20 planned attacks on the US homeland from – in many cases – home-grown bad-guys attempting to do the US harm”

    My question would be how many of these arrest were people who the FBI found and pushed to do such actions, I have read multiple cases of the FBI finding people(some cases mentally challenged) Set in people to actually push and promote anti-Americanism in Muslim communities than report back to the police on them, others were people were convicted of translating radical Muslims speeches to English, other were the FBI provided the money,arms, plans and details to people who would normally never have the capacity to do so on there own and some cases have even pushed people after they said no. The NYPD is currently being sued for paying people to spy on Muslims and attempt to incite Muslims not only in New York but across the country.

    Also worth pointing out that even with those 20 cited cases Mrs Feinstein gave is still a small percentage total terrorism in the U.S. as a whole.

    ” The FBI s stronger than it has ever been. The bad guys are in prison and the country safer as a result. The country is safer because we invested in our security.”

    How many Americans civil rights were violated to get these 20 people? Currently in Boston and New York Fusion Centers are being sued for violations of people rights who protest wars and Israeli Aggression in the West Bank (http://www.aclu.org/national-security-technology-and-liberty/aclu-seeks-privacy-records-secretive-state-police-fusion-ce) not only mislabeling them as serious threats but also keeping records by law should have been deleted.

    ““What is the greatest threat to National security?”

    Cyber-Terror.”

    It’s wildly believed that the Stuxnet virus (thanks to David Sanger) was the work of the U.S. and Israel and has now been study not only be Iran but by China which one would think increase the chance of a cyber attack against the U.S. by something similar to Stuxnet(which if done to the U.S. our Defense department would considered a act of war) She was also one of the first to call for hearing against the person who leaked the U.S. involvement with Stuxnet(which the U.S. itself would considered a act of war)

    My question if the U.S. is involved in secert cyber attacks that per the Pentagon would be considered a act of war wouldn’t not informing the public make us less safer not more? Since a country that was/were being attacked and responded in kind the american public would be in the dark about on the reason or rationale if we were attacked by an destructive virus like Stuxnet. This will also have the unintended effect of causing other countries to beef up there viruses as well which will increase the cyber threats to Americans in the long run.

    Also per the NPT Iran is legally allowed to enrich at those cites and according to both the 2007 and 2011 CIA report is believed not to be seeking a nuclear weapon. Juan Cole has a great piece on what is or is not considered terrorist or terrorism http://www.juancole.com/2012/08/top-ten-differences-between-white-terrorists-and-others.html , Gleen Greenwald has another piece on how meaningless the use of terrorism is http://www.salon.com/2010/02/19/terrorism_19/ and another on Mrs. Feinsteian attacks against press freedom http://www.salon.com/2012/07/02/dianne_feinstein_targets_press_freedom/

    I find many of her actions more harmful than helpful to Americans and she engages. Didn’t comment on the other pieces you work because I mostly agree with you.

    • vincentmudd says:

      Michael, all of your points are well reasoned. Our country seems capable of incredible darkness when we live in fear, however, as any parent will tell you, a arenas job is to protect their family. For whatever reason, our democracy and our republic has seen fit to have an FBI, CIA, Seal Team, US Military, NSA, Secret Service, Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Courts, Congress, and Executive Branch. They all do things I would disagree with. I do my very best to force as much transparency as I can. I do my best to read everything I can about the Senate Intelligence Committee, I seal directly to as many elected officials and appointed officials as I can, I troll blogs looking for data on National Security, I have friends in the Innocence Project.

      I try to stay informed as it appears you do as well.

      You did say one thing which I find curious about entrapment . I’m sure law enforcement can entrap innocent people. I am also sure law enforcement catches people in the act of doing something not so innocent as well. However, ether you believe or do not believe in our court systems because the folks arrested by the FBI will have a day in court.

      As a minority myself, I know the legal system is never completely fair but I would rather be on trial in this country than anywhere else. The folks that have been arrested by the FBI have not all been convicted. Before we assume their complete innocence or guilt, let’s wait for the trial. At least they will be tried in a US court of law and not the deep-dark prisons used during the crappy Iraq war period.

      I do not disagree with your pessimism and your concerns about justice. Stay on top of these folks and keep shining your light on the dark-acts. Our government should always be held to account.

      • Michael12 says:

        Hi Vince,

        Thanks for the thoughtful response when I talk about entrapment I talk about cases like this(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/16/fbi-entrapment-fake-terror-plots)

        That tipster was quickly hired as a well-paid informant. If suitable suspects are identified, FBI agents then run a sting, often creating a fake terror plot in which it helps supply weapons and targets. Then, dramatic arrests are made, press conferences held and lengthy convictions secured.

        But what is not clear is if many real, actual terrorists are involved.

        As well as the case in the Supreme court which even attempt’s to peacefully solve conflicts where the U.S. has listed a group as a terrorist group would find one in jail for material support this supposedly applies to all Americans(http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/supreme-court-ruling-criminalizes-speech-material-support-law-case) and (http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/supreme-court-ruling-criminalizes-speech-material-support-law-case) but recently a clear violation(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/21/iran-mek-group-removed-us-terrorism-list) and (http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientbills.php?id=D000064841&year=2012 was done by both Republicans and Democrats who were paid to lobby for the MEK which is a direct violation and people have been sent to jail for the same thing(Based on witness and secret information (http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/holy-land-five-appeal-could-set-precedent-on-using-secret-evidence-in-u-s-courts.html)

        As for the court system I have very little to no faith when the court are charging people with secret information, no faith in the Fusion Center who Mrs. Feinstein had to admit it’s not producing useful intelligence instead of focusing on the abuse of such centers the focus was instead about not cutting funding to the center(http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/10/05/the-risks-homeland-security-fusion-centers-pose-to-americans-civil-liberties/)

        The investigation found state and local agencies had used federal grant money to purchase “hidden ‘shirt button’ cameras, cell phone tracking devices, and other surveillance equipment unrelated to the analytical mission of a fusion center.”

        A grant was awarded to the Arizona Department of Public Safety in 2009. Money went to the fusion center in Arizona, the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC), which purchased “equipment for a surveillance monitoring room.” A new laptop, software, two monitors and two 42” flat screen televisions were bought. This occurred despite guidelines that do not consider surveillance a part of fusion center operations.

        The Office of General Counsel reminded Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) employees in April 2008 that DHS personnel “are prohibited from collecting or maintaining information on US persons solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the US Constitution, such as the First Amendment protected freedoms of religion, speech, press, and peaceful assembly and protest.”.

        To add the police are now/had been using Fusion centers to spy on peaceful protesters(http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty-free-speech/when-boston-police-spy-free-speech) This is even worst in New York

        I take the often quoted Ben Franklin line

        hose who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

        So anytime a politician wants to tell me how there going to keep us safe by creating secret and non-transparent programs that has very little or no accountability red flags go up, And it’s not as if Mrs. Feinstein has pushed for more transparency on the contrary she has pushed for less, pushed to arrest leakers and shield abusers in the name of safety and security .

        Though I take your points both on a parent wanting the utmost safety of one child and the death and despair that Mrs. Feinstein must to have felt after becoming mayor and how such would color her views and may push her to take the view of “Better safe than sorry”.

        though I disagree with the below comment though your correct on the vast majority of americans.

        “US court of law and not the deep-dark prisons used during the crappy Iraq war period.”

        We still have Gitmo, the U.S. run prison(bagram prison http://article.wn.com/view/2012/09/12/Who_controls_Afghanistans_Bagram_prison/) and (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagram_torture_and_prisoner_abuse) in Afghanistan could be considered deep-dark prison(handed over to the Afgans)Obama has expanded Drone warfare(Due Process free kill list) to the point that even a deep-dark prison would be a promotion. Though of course some of the people killed or housed or arrested are clearly sick,disturbed,bad or even evil people but without the american public knowing on what our government is doing alot of neutral or good people maybe killed,arrested,spied on in the name of security which not only will create a “Chickens coming home to roaster” effect but maybe used on US or fellow Americans, since if the government can use secret evidences against someone it can use it against everyone.

        P.S.

        You have my email if you can respond to it with what email you want me to contact you about Dec.

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