Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Napolitano, ElBaradei,and Pentagon Brass Give a National Security Update

I attended the ASIS convention, which is one of the nation's foremost security conferences. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano gave the keynote address on Monday, the day before the 11th anniversary of 9/11. She pointedly did not try to convinced this crowd, which is very knowledgeable about national security, that the country is safer than it was before 9/11. The only major improvement in national security that she noted was more sharing of information between the federal agencies.

She devoted the majority of her pedestrian speech to talking about the threat of cyber-attacks. She is most concerned about attacks on critical infrastructure such as nuclear facilities, water plants, and natural gas pipelines.

The former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, was grouchy during his 8 am speech.The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who recently lost the Egyptian presidential election to Mohamed Morsi, started out defending his previous relationship with former Egyptian president Mubarak.

'I tried to persuade Mubarak to make peaceful changes, but he always resisted. Mubarak would respond, with a faint smile on his face, my potential opponents can't be trusted. It did not have to end the way it did," said ElBaradei.

He rebuked the American habit of supporting dictators because the government thinks it will increase stability and further Western interests. The real recipe for security, using its broadest definition, is to raise the standard of living of the poor.

He argued, "Poverty is the real weapon of mass destruction."

He blamed the American appeasement of North Korea's nuclear ambitions for Iran's rapid acceleration of their nuclear program.

"North Korea has demonstrated that they have nuclear capabilities and they are invited to the negotiating table." ElBaradei explained. "Iran wants the same thing. They want to be a regional power."

With the recent war of words between Israel and this administration, I asked the Pentagon brass attending ASIS about Iran.

One colonel, who recently served at Strategic Command, said, "We are not only concerned that Iran will conduct a nuclear attack against Israel, but also worried that Iran will give the nuclear material to state funded terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah."

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