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Periodical lauds Bennett on homeland defense

SHARE Periodical lauds Bennett on homeland defense

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Quarterly news organization says Sen. Bob Bennett is among a handful of influential experts in a brand new niche of public policy: homeland defense.

Its weekly magazine, which covers Congress, devoted an entire issue this week to whom the new power players are in post-Sept. 11 politics.

It said Bennett's expertise in how terrorists might use computers to attack utilities, telecommunications, air traffic control, nuclear power plants and other facilities have given him new prominence and influence in homeland defense matters.

Of course, Bennett, R-Utah, has said he learned the intricacies of how vulnerable the nation's computers are as he led the push to fix the "year 2000 bug" in computer programming that many feared could crash systems as the new millennium arrived.

While Bennett's warnings helped that transition move smoothly, he has been constantly warning since then that terrorists could too easily use computer hacking to attack America.

The magazine said, "While hacking, viruses, worms and other computer intrusions may not generate the same kind of alarm as hijackings or bioterrorism, they pose potentially huge problems for the nation's infrastructure."

It noted that Bennett has been pushing legislation to encourage companies in telecommunications, electric power, oil and gas, transportation and finance to share computer security information with the federal government by guaranteeing them confidentiality.

Only when such sensitive information is shared and evaluated, Bennett has said, can holes in security be found and fortified.

When Bennett introduced that legislation on Sept. 25, he said, "We have to think differently about national security, as well as who is responsible for it."

E-MAIL: lee@desnews.com