Political Terrorism and Energy: The Threat and Response

Political Terrorism and Energy: The Threat and Response

Political Terrorism and Energy: The Threat and Response

Political Terrorism and Energy: The Threat and Response

Excerpt

The 1980s promise to be replete with political violence, the frequency and magnitude of which is already increasing substantially.

Though relatively few episodes of intense civil strife and even fewer incidents of terrorism have plagued U.S. history, it is time that the United States government recognize not only the potential for such violence but also that certain components of the nation's basic industrial infrastructures are extremely vulnerable to sabotage.

Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the energy industry. As the contributors to this book demonstrate, oil, gas, hydroelectric, coal, and nuclear power operations, comprising production, distribution, upgrading, and storage facilities, are prime targets for any disaffected group possessing knowledge of a particular system and the motivation and will to act. Skill and weaponry are to an extent less important elements in the equation once the saboteurs understand the system's pressure and access points. To a degree unappreciated by most of the U.S. public, a relatively untrained band of terrorists using sophisticated means could, with appropriate structural knowledge of a given system, cripple it in a manner that would significantly affect the domestic economy.

To date, the U.S. government has been singularly reticent to release sensitive information regarding past and current terrorist activities. As a result of the lack of forceful government policies, many energy executives have paid far too little attention to the degree of vulnerability of their energy operations. While there is clearly a danger that confidential information could be made public during oversight hearings analyzing the possibilities for terrorist attacks, energy officials in government and in industry are beginning to realize that the lack of analysis and the postponement of effective contingency planning may be potentially more dangerous than calling attention to the nature and magnitude of the problem.

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