The head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command admitted Thursday China can shut down the U.S. power grid, Fox News and the Associated Press reported. Admiral Michael Rogers made “the grim forecast” before the House Intelligence Committee, confirming what has been “widely known” but never officially owned up to, the report noted.
“Rogers said he believed China along with ‘one or two’ other countries had the capability to successfully launch a cyber-attack that could shut down the electric grid in parts of the United States,” the report noted. “U.S. adversaries are performing electronic ‘reconnaissance,’ on a regular basis so that they can be in a position to attack the industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants.”
Were wide sections of the nation to lose power for an indefinite period, effects on the infrastructure would become immediately evident. Industrial control systems also control the production and distribution of goods and services, and there is no reason to believe financial transactions would also not grind to a halt.
Under an open-ended shutdown, the population would essentially be on its own until such time as all systems can be brought back up. That could be quite some time. That means those unprepared to sustain themselves for an indefinite period would be faced with urgent decisions of basic survival. Under such circumstances, the prospects for widespread and extended looting and rioting would become near-certainties. For their part, the authorities still on the job — and Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the potential for mass desertions when personal incentives outweigh those of public duty — will be triaged where directed. Outlying areas, or areas ceded to chaos because they’re not deemed absolutely essential to retake and secure, will be on their own.
With that as backdrop, and understanding that the potential for such horror unfolding in the homeland has been formally taken out of the realm of dystopian fiction and now reflects real world concerns of those responsible for overseeing the nation’s first line of defense, activists who demand “common sense gun safety laws” will face a moral choice should officials’ worst fears come to pass.
We see some of those choices being confronted now in a microcosm, as citizens in and around Ferguson are arming up in record numbers. How many of those buyers always considered themselves believers in gun edicts of various degrees remain unknown.
Will those who advocate citizen disarmament change their tune when it is their lives, their family and their property on the line? Will they still reject the need for guns in the home? Will they change their mind on concealed or open carrying? Will any resort to keeping and bearing “assault weapons”? Will they respect “gun free zone” signs ordering them to disarm? Will they insist on background checks before engaging in any firearm transfer? How will they license and register guns (where “required”) if authorities are preoccupied fighting literal and figurative fires?
To whom will they go to seek permission? What will they do if the window is closed?
No fair? In an emergency the rules have to change?
Didn’t Admiral Rogers just testify that we’re already on the event horizon of a catastrophe, and could all get sucked in at any time? Are we supposed to wait until everything implodes before we even begin to think about what we will do, and should anyone who prefers being equipped and prepared be considered paranoid?
If so, shouldn’t those making such judgments be able to demonstrate their superior qualifications and better intel than the officials alerting Congress to the dangers? And why would those who defer to a government monopoly of violence suddenly question the judgment of those administering it? If the gun-grabbers are going to discourage an armed citizenry, wouldn’t it be responsible for them to at least have a reviewable plan in place to tell their followers (and those disarmed by decrees they demanded) what they need to do instead?
If the chances of a directed blackout are so remote we needn’t worry, shouldn’t those who maintain that assurance let the rest of us know how they know? And who says that’s the only man-made or natural catastrophe that can befall the Republic and the wider world?
Might there be a reason the founders considered a well regulated militia to be necessary to the security of a free State, leaving the right of the people to keep and bear arms off limits to infringements, so that when a need arose there would be those capable of answering the call? Rather than disparaging and harassing armed Americans, shouldn’t dutiful civil authority, upholding the oath to the Constitution that is required of its members, be encouraging them and training with them?
Wouldn’t that help those entrusted with power “insure domestic Tranquility [and] provide for the common defence” better than the alternative? Wouldn’t it free up authorities to focus on the hot spots, and actually provide for a stronger free State, one with fortified mutual bonds between government and governed?
In light of how far things have been permitted to stray, expecting the vision of the Founders to be actualized seems more than naive, so let’s put that pipe dream aside for a moment and consider a more realistic potentiality. Let’s focus on one that goes to the heart of Admiral Rogers’ nightmare scenario and the ethical question it poses:
How many anti-gunners — the ones without security details — will maintain the courage of their convictions no matter what?