I never considered myself a fall guy. I know what I did. I know why I did it. I'm not ashamed of it. - Oliver North
It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong. - Jeremy Bentham
The #1206 “fiction” series continues ….
In a well-lit, well-furnished boardroom deep within the Pentagon, the President of the United States sat and listened as one presenter after another gave the status of various projects.
It had been 12 months since the energy and water distributions systems in Los Angeles had been turned off. In the panic and chaos that ensued, over three hundred thousand people had been killed before the National Guard was called in to bring order.
Similar to the delays deploying the National Guard to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, they had been late arriving to help those who needed them.
The only difference was that their delay was intentional this time.
Operation Encouragement was now officially finished according to the presenters and Congress was preparing to pass laws that would force utilities, banks and key infrastructure providers to upgrade their technology and security architecture to a new standard by the end of the year. With the new standard in place, the United States would be much less vulnerable to cyber attack from lone wolves or rogue nations.
The President acknowledged the last presenter, thanked everyone present for their attendance and then strode out of the room, flanked by his advisors.
“There will be hell to pay if anyone finds out what we have done”, he said tersely as he walked down the hallway.
“As we discussed over a year ago, Mr. President, we knew this was the only option”, said his Chief of Staff, hurrying to keep up with him.
“But we killed a lot of people in Los Angeles”, he said, “How can the President of the United States look the American people in the eye and dare to admit that.”
“Well”, said his Chief of Staff, “As we discussed, the utilities, banks and other infrastructure representatives were unwilling to invest in the technology required to keep the nation safe and Congress was unwilling to pass laws mandating them to do so. We used Operation Northwoods as the basis for Operation Encouragement and it appears to have worked as designed.”
“Maybe so”, said the President angrily, “But we’re talking about over three hundred thousand innocent people who had no warning.”
“That is true”, said his Chief of Staff, “But let’s remember the philosopher who said that logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
“That was a character in a science fiction movie, you idiot”, snapped the President, “Where is Congress with the new bill that we need to protect the nation?”
“They are dragging their heels”, noted his Chief of Staff, “It seems that the shock of the Los Angeles event has worn off a little and many in Congress are trying to add pork to the bill. An Executive Directive would have been too complex for something like this which is why we need them to act quickly.”
“How much time do we have before we can expect a catastrophic attack on the nation from a rogue state?”, asked the President.
“We estimate we have two to three years”, replied the Chief of Staff, “And that is why Operation Liberty is ready to commence at your command. That will hasten Congress and force them to pass the bill so that we can bring infrastructure players into compliance quickly. If destroying the two largest cities in America doesn’t motivate them, nothing will.”
The President stopped and turned to face his Chief of Staff.
“You had better be right about this”, he said tersely.
“We have every assurance that all is as it should be”, the Chief of Staff said, meeting the President’s gaze.
The President nodded quietly and began to walk down the hallway.
President Putin eyed the briefing notes on his desk. It seemed that the strategy advisors they had planted within the team of the President of the United States were accomplishing more than they had hoped for.
To be continued.
© 2014 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved
Operation Northwoods was a series of proposals for actions against the Cuban government that originated within the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States government in 1962. The proposals, which called for the CIA or other operatives to commit acts of terrorism in US cities and elsewhere, were rejected by the Kennedy administration. So the United States has established a precedence for deciding that the good of the many outweigh the good of the few.
It is likely that if the President felt that a law needed to be passed immediately, he could theoretically do it via Executive Directive as was done with Executive Directive 51 – The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive. Such power allows the President to pass laws without Congressional / Senate approval should he believe that not creating the law puts the nation at risk.
However, doing it the way I did it makes for a better story and in theory, is entirely plausible based on precedents such as Operation Northwoods.
The FBI, the NSA and other federal agencies have sounded the alarm in recent weeks that a traumatic and potentially catastrophic cyber attack against US infrastructure is imminent and inevitable within the United States. Even as these agencies sound their warnings, Congress, the Senate and the American people seem to be oblivious to the call for action.
Someday we will listen.
Will we have time to react to the warning?
This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.
While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)
This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.