Source: Sacramento Press
WASHINGTON D.C.—Central Intelligence Agency director Leon Panetta told 300 Sacramento Metro Chamber Cap-to-Cap delegates that the next “Pearl Harbor” is likely to be an
attack on the United States’ power, financial, military and other
Panetta addressed the Sacramento delegation that includes 43 elected officials and hundreds of business and civic leaders who are in
Washington D.C. for the annual program
that advocates for the region’s most pressing policy issues. He spoke
on Monday, April 19, during the Cap-to-Cap opening breakfast.
“Cyber terrorism” is a new area of concern for the CIA, Panetta said. The United States faces thousands of cyber attacks daily on its
Internet networks. The attacks are originating in Russia, China, Iran
and from even hackers.
“The next Pearl Harbor is likely to be a cyber attacking going after our grid…and that can literally cripple this country,” Panetta said. “This is a whole new area of threat.”
But cyber terrorism is just one of four primary missions for Panetta, who took over directing the CIA last year after appointment by
President Obama. The CIA is also focusing on counter-terrorism,
reducing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and fighting
Al Qaeda is becoming a viscous target, and as CIA and military operations tamp it down in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, the
terrorist elements are moving to places like Somalia, Yemen and North
Africa—as well changing its tactics, he said.
“The president’s direction…is we must dismantle and destroy Al Qaeda and its known elements,” he said. “It’s a fundamental mission….The
primary effort takes place in Pakistan and tribal areas. We are now
focused on Afghanistan and have increased our presence there.”
Meanwhile, CIA is working to help Iraqis fight Al Qaeda. “Even as our military draws down in Iraq, we’ll keep our presence there…to
provide intelligence to the Iraqis so they can secure their own
Worrisome, he added, is how Al Qaeda is “coming at us in other ways.” These include using individuals who have clean records and are
not being tracked; individuals who are already in the U.S.A. and in
contact with Al Qaeda; and individuals who decided to “self-radicalize”
and are easily and quickly recruited as terrorists.
Previously, Panetta served as a congressional representative from the Monterey area, rising to the House Budget committee chair, and then
latter as President Clinton’s Director of the Office of Management and