Chancellor of The Institute of World Politics and former Director of Central Intelligence Ambassador James Woolsey spoke on the topic of Energy Security in the 21st Century on Friday, February 5. His lecture was the third in the Brian Kelley Memorial Lecture series, sponsored by the IWP Alumni Association.
One of Amb. Woolsey’s main points was that the United States has remained vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices. Those vulnerabilities can not only affect national security but can also affect individuals who sometimes have to make tough financial decisions based on prices at the pump.
He also spoke about how susceptible electric grids are to attack in the United States. On every level, from local governments to the federal government, our electric grids have very weak protection, he asserted, and very few people seem to care enough to promote any kind of change. One jarring example that Ambassador Woolsey gave was that of a power outage in 2003. In Cleveland, there was a software bug that was triggered by some tree branches falling on power lines. What should have been a localized outage at worst quickly affected tens of millions of people, including New York City, Toronto, Detroit, and Newark. The main electricity lobby in the U.S. was commissioned by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study what went wrong and how to mitigate risk. The lobby took 3 years and 8 months to complete the study. They found that the largest risk was tree branches.
Examples like the one above contributed to Ambassador Woolsey’s argument that the U.S. needs to think more seriously about electric grid security.
Brian Kelley Memorial Lectures: The passing of Professor Brian Kelley was a grave loss to the Institute and to our country. His knowledge, experiences and dedication were at a level that is hard to match. In his time at IWP, he brought his own knowledge, as well as the knowledge of experts in the intelligence community, to help the students gain as much as they possibly could during their time at IWP. This lecture is meant to honor his memory and continue his tradition of providing students with the opportunity to hear comments from experts in their given careers within the intelligence community.
The first Brian Kelley Memorial Lecture was given by Michelle Van Cleave in 2012 on the topic of “Foreign Spies and the US Response” and the second was given by William M. Nolte on the topic of “Counterintelligence After Snowden.“