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Panetta Spreads ‘Cyber-Pearl Harbor’ Fear

October 15, 2012 by  

Panetta Spreads ‘Cyber-Pearl Harbor’ Fear

The term “Cyber-Pearl Harbor” conjures up some ridiculous imagery, but the fateful military attack that led the United States full force into World War II is what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta invoked last week to make a case for passing online security bills like the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which has been widely criticized by privacy advocates.

Panetta, during a speech at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, said that America is in a “pre-9/11 moment” and should do everything in its power to secure its “national interests in cyberspace.”

Panetta said that in order to avoid a “Cyber-Pearl Harbor that would cause physical destruction and the loss of life, an attack that would paralyze and shock the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability” Congress must pass a bill that enables the Federal government to freely obtain personal online information about Americans from businesses. CISPA, which does just that, was voted down by Congress after complaints from online freedom and privacy advocates who said it violated the 1st and 4th Amendments. The Barack Obama Administration, however, has not ruled out passing the legislation via executive order.

Panetta pinpointed China, Russia and Iran as the nations most likely to launch a damaging cyberattack against the United States. Panetta said (emphasis is the author’s own):

An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches. They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.

Panetta also argued that the U.S. government needs the ability to launch offense operations against cyber-actors it deems as threats to national security.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Buster the Anatolian

    “…derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals.”

    HELLO Panetta passenger trains do not carry lethal chemicals they carry passengers. I suppose if the train had only passengers that had eaten a feast of bean tacos and boiled cabbage it might be considered lerthal though.

    • Vicki

      or “…, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”

      Isn’t that the Y2K scare all over again?

      • Robert Smith

        Nope. Ask Iran how their nuclear inclinations were going after they suffered a CYBER attack.

        It’s entirely possible.


      • ArkansasRebel

        As far as the comment about shutting down the power grid, he was likely referring to the use of and EMP, or electro magnetic pulse, which employs a nuclear device exploded in the atmosphere creating a pulse which can knock out the grid & disable vehicles causing failure of water supply systems, sewage systems, food delivery systems, etc.

        The military assessed the potential for use of an EMP on the U.S. and concluded that if one were successfully used against us it could cause wide spread death, not from the bomb blast nor from radiation, but from starvation.

      • The Big Easy

        @viicki——-Much like the ‘patriot act’ ! ! ! ! It’s all about ‘CONTROL OF THE AMERICAN CITIZENS’.

      • Buster the Anatolian

        Since thr grid is largely run by computers (adjusting the power flow thru major transmission lines as needed to cover regional spikes in usage) then it would be possible to disrupt the power grid by hacking the computers. That would make the grid only as safe as protection provided by the firewalls and virus protection in the computers.

    • eddie47d

      Are you sure Buster? Could be like that Russian passenger plane that was forced down by the Turkey government. It had military spy equipment on board so anything is possible. Actually Panetta is right and wrong. He has to protect American civil liberties and keep communications up and running. There is almost no one who doesn’t depend on our electrical grid and Internet highway. Our economy could indeed be knocked out with a one two punch. If you think unemployment is high now what until something like that happens.I believe Panetta has a serious balancing act to contend with in keeping our economy safe and our civil liberties strong.

      • Andy

        Yeah–the boogeman cometh…run, hide. Once again, we are being led and ruled by “fear”.

      • Hedgehog

        You’re right Eddie! Panetta is only trying to find a way to get at all that secret information Obama has hidden away. Information that is certainly relevant to the security of the nation. Hey! Wait a minute! Isn’t Panetta a democrat?

      • DaveH

        Yep. Fear is a powerful weapon that is used on the sheeple:

    • The Big Easy

      @–rubert and eddy———COMRADES ——–This goes to show such as yourselves that this flea-infested flea-bagger food-stamp pink-slip giving occupier what ‘s in charge in the white house SHOULD be INCREASING the budget for OUR MILITARY,NOT cutting it down,so what ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS and all those ILLEGAL ALIEN INVADERS that going to vote,should vote for ‘THE ROMNEY/RYAN ‘ticket.

  • Keith

    Sounds like the beginning of propaganda to justify an Internet Kill-Switch as proposed by the Obama Regime to be used on the surface for the innocent sounding purpose of USA Cyber-Security, but the real purpose will be population control. If things get out of hand, i.e. too many people protesting the illegitimate actions of the Federal government, then bam you are disconnected. This brings up similar concerns of various departments of the Federal government purchasing millions of hollow-point bullets. What does the Social Security Administration group need with hollow-point bullets?

    • The Big Easy

      @keith——Think about it for a minute—–HALLOW POINT BULLETS—-This is just another democrap form of ‘LATE TERM ABORTIONS’ —————–The question I always come up with is,why so many ( 450 MILLION ROUNDS OF .40 CAL. AND 500 MILLION ROUNDS OF M-1 ) when there are ONLY some 310 MILLION AMERICAN CITIZENS here ????????? The only conclusion I come up with,is that they are VERY bad shots.

    • Robert Smith

      “Sounds like the beginning of propaganda to justify an Internet Kill-Switch”

      Simply can’t be done.


      • DaveH

        All they need is an excuse to shut down websites that don’t please them. Given that, the website owners would self-censor to avoid Government shutdown. It doesn’t take much more than dumbed-down sheeple to give Big Government that ability.

  • TML

    I believe it was the CIA Director John Deutch in 1996 who warned that hackers “could launch ‘electronic Pearl Harbor’ cyber attacks on vital U.S. information systems.” – that was over 15 years ago.

    This is nothing but more of the same; an attempt to expand the limits of censorship under the auspices of national security.

    So, even though it’s the United States that actually utilizes cyber weapons (Flame and Stuxnet worms) he would like us to fear for our lives saying a cyber attack could “contaminate the water supply in major cities or shutdown the power grid” or “derail passenger trains or even more dangerous, derail trains loaded with lethal chemicals.”, and even that it would cause “physical destruction and the loss of life”.

    Don’t fall for this crap people. Not from the same man that tells us he doesn’t need congressional approval for war, and takes marching orders from the U.N.
    No doubt they already have security systems. This is just an attempt to justify a cyber “patriot act”.

    • Robert Smith

      “derail trains loaded with lethal chemicals.”, and even that it would cause “physical destruction and the loss of life”. ”

      You haven’t seen “Atlas Shrugged II” yet have you? Those trains were directed by computer connections.


      • DaveH

        They could protect any critical and vulnerable systems as robustly as they please. Cyber Security bills are nothing more than an excuse for Government to censor the Internet which has become their worst enemy. It’s that pesky Freedom of Speech thing, which Liberal Progressive Trolls enjoy every day on this site.

      • TML

        You do understand that movies are dramatized Hollywood fiction, right?

  • Steve E

    Just another fabricated fear to convince fools to give up more of their liberties. Nothing else.

  • DaveH

    It’s fitting that they call it a Pearl Harbor Cyber attack since the surprise of the original attacks was nothing but a lie promoted by FDR to have an excuse to enter WWII.,%20Jr/Pearl%20Harbor%20The%20Seeds%20and%20Fruits%20of%20Infamy.pdf


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