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1998-05-22 23:05:18


Critical Infrastructure: President's Naval Academy Address



President Clinton's May 22 address to the U.S. Naval Academy warned against our vulnerability to attacks on our infrastructure. What is at risk? He listed them: "our critical infrastructures --our power systems, water supplies, police, fire, and medical services, air traffic control, financial services, telephone systems, and computer networks." In short, everything that is presently threatened by the Millennium Bug.

These attacks are referred to as "cyber." They are almost always discussed in terms of deliberate threats. They are planned attacks.

What is rarely discussed is the reality of y2k and its effects on all computer-interlinked systems. The same kinds of failures that are listed in discussions of cyber warfare will be the effects of the millennium bug. The same kinds of military strategies for one will be applied to the other.

The threat is explained as military in nature. The response is also seen as military. The meaning should be clear: a military response to a civil breakdown is martial law.

The voters are being prepared to accept martial law, no later than January, 2000.

The government's goal is to create a new national order: the ever popular "business-government partnership." President Clinton announced his variation: "Because so many key components of our society are operated by the private sector, we must create a genuine public-private partnership to protect America in the 21st century."

There can be no partnership between business and civil government. The relationship is always hierarchical. The State has the legitimate power of violence; the State is on top. That is why we need business-government suspicion, not a partnership.

Every reason is used to push private citizens into a subordinate alliance with the State. The Year 2000 will be used to justify this move, but it will ultimately destroy it. The welfare/warfare State has less than two years to go. A warfare State may replace it in the cities until it runs out of resources, but the welfare State is doomed. The two missing digits are like two missing eyes.

* * * * * * * *

As we approach the 21st century, our foes have extended the fields of battle -- from physical space to cyberspace; from the world's vast bodies of water to the complex workings of our own human bodies. Rather than invading our beaches or launching bombers, these adversaries may attempt cyberattacks against our critical military systems and our economic base. Or they may deploy compact and relatively cheap weapons of mass destruction -- not just nuclear, but also chemical or biological, to use disease as a weapon of war. Sometimes the terrorists and criminals act alone. But increasingly, they are interconnected, and sometimes supported by hostile countries.

If our children are to grow up safe and free, we must approach these new 21st century threats with the same rigor and determination we applied to the toughest security challenges of this century. We are taking strong steps against these threats today. We've improved antiterrorism cooperation with other countries; tightened security for our troops, our diplomats, our air travelers; strengthened sanctions on nations that support terrorists; given our law enforcement agencies new tools. We broke up terrorist rings before they could attack New York's Holland Tunnel, the United Nations, and our airlines. We have captured and brought to justice many of the offenders.

But we must do more. Last week, I announced America's first comprehensive strategy to control international crime and bring criminals, terrorists and money launderers to justice. Today, I come before you to announce three new initiatives -- the first broadly directed at combatting terrorism; the other two addressing two potential threats from terrorists and hostile nations, attacks on our computer networks and other critical systems upon which our society depends, and attacks using biological weapons. On all of these efforts, we will need the help of the Navy and the Marines. Your service will be critical in combatting these new challenges.

To make these three initiatives work we must have the concerted efforts of a whole range of federal agencies -- from the Armed Forces to law enforcement to intelligence to public health. I am appointing a National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism, to bring the full force of all our resources to bear swiftly and effectively.

First, we will use our new integrated approach to intensify the fight against all forms of terrorism -- to capture terrorists, no matter where they hide; to work with other nations to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries overseas; to respond rapidly and effectively to protect Americans from terrorism at home and abroad.

Second, we will launch a comprehensive plan to detect, deter, and defend against attacks on our critical infrastructures --our power systems, water supplies, police, fire, and medical services, air traffic control, financial services, telephone systems, and computer networks.

Just 15 years ago, these infrastructures -- some within government, some in the private sector -- were separate and distinct. Now, they are linked together over vast computer-electronic networks, greatly increasing our productivity, but also making us much more vulnerable to disruption. Three days ago, we saw the enormous impact of a single failed electronic link when a satellite malfunction disabled pagers, ATMs, credit card systems, and TV and radio networks all around the world. Beyond such accidents, intentional attacks against our critical systems already are underway. Hackers break into government and business computers. They can raid banks, run up credit card charges, extort money by threats to unleash computer viruses.

If we fail to take strong action, then terrorists, criminals and hostile regimes could invade and paralyze these vital systems, disrupting commerce, threatening health, weakening our capacity to function in a crisis. In response to these concerns, I established a commission chaired by Retired General Tom Marsh, to assist the vulnerability of our critical infrastructures. They returned with a pointed conclusion: our vulnerability, particularly to cyberattacks, is real and growing. And they made important recommendations that we will now implement to put us ahead of the danger curve.

We have the best trained, best equipped best prepared Armed Forces in history. But, as ever, we must be ready to fight the next war, not the last one. And our military, as strong as it is, cannot meet these challenges alone. Because so many key components of our society are operated by the private sector, we must create a genuine public-private partnership to protect America in the 21st century. Together, we can find and reduce the vulnerabilities to attack in all critical sectors, develop warning systems including a national center to alert us to attacks, increase our cooperation with friendly nations, and create the means to minimize damage and rapidly recover in the event attacks occur. We can -- and we must -- make these critical systems more secure, so that we can be more secure.


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