Woolsey visit evokes awareness of national vulnerabilities

by | Oct 5, 2012 | Uncategorized

Robin Mancoll, CRC director with Jim Woolsey.

Robin Mancoll, CRC director with Jim Woolsey.

Speaking to an audience at the Sandler Family Campus on Sept. 10, R. James Woolsey’s delivery was easygoing and folksy. The message the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency delivered, however, was anything but casual.

“We are on the verge of something as serious as being at a war with Chinese hackers, Russian hackers, terrorists and so forth,” Woolsey said. “I think we have a very serious problem in the vulnerability of the Web and the [electric] grid.”

Woolsey was in Virginia Beach for a special presentation by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. More than 225 people attended the free event, interested in hearing Woolsey’s take on America’s dependence on oil for fuel and electricity, and the control the United States cedes to OPEC.

“Our whole society depends in different ways on oil,” he said. “It’s a subject on which it really helps to have different views represented so you can see why people are doing what they’re doing.”

Woolsey invoked the legacies of three historical figures—environmentalist John Muir, outspoken WWII General George Patton and human rights icon Mahatma Gandhi—to illustrate his belief that, although diverse, all would support his argument that America must find alternative sources of energy to protect the environment and make the United States more secure.

In addition to speaking about oil, Woolsey stressed his concern about North America’s electric grid. Both during his appearance to the general public and at a reception earlier sponsored by the UJFT’s Business & Legal Society, Woolsey cited the susceptibility of the grid’s web-based operating system, and the immediate need for its reformation. He suggested talking to elected officials about the problem.

An energy and foreign policy expert, Woolsey headed the CIA 1993–1995. A self-described “Scoop Jackson democrat”— conservative on defense and foreign policy issues and more liberal on domestic issues—Woolsey served in the Carter, Reagan, Bush, Sr. and Clinton administrations. He is the current chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Prior to his evening appearances, Woolsey spoke to Hebrew Academy of Tidewater fourth and fifth grade students about working in the intelligence field, and gave definitions of spies, agents and operatives.

“I was interested in finding out how dangerous his work was,” says Micah Shachet-Briskin, 10. “I didn’t know that there was much of difference between the FBI and the CIA. He answered that question for us.”

by Laine M. Rutherford