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Why An Underreported, ‘Significant Incident of Domestic Terrorism’ Might Not Be a Failed Attack at All

  • On April 16, 2013 six men launched an attack on a critical power station in California.
  • The attack consisted of hundreds of AK-47 rounds being unleashed on 10 large transformers — and it was first called “vandalism.”
  • But the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission calls it “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”
  • It has largely gone unreported, although TheBlaze did cover it last December.
  • Dr. Peter Vincent Pry tells TheBlaze, “If it was a terrorist attack, the electric power industry and the media are almost certainly in error to describe it as a ‘failed attack.’”
  • Former CIA director James Woolsey adds, “Without electricity we aren’t a civilization, and this is a major societal vulnerability.”

One week ago, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told the Wall Street Journal the sabotage of a California transformer substation was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.” The words of warning ignited a flurry of news reports across the nation about the potential terrorism dry run.

The shocking details of the event — in the middle of the night six men fired hundreds of AK-47 rounds at critical energy grid components after purposely disabling emergency call systems — rightly piqued the collective curiosity.

But the concerned coverage is dangerously delayed. While TheBlaze reported on it last December, only last week did the  brazen Silicon Valley attack gain more attention because of the WSJ story — nearly ten months later.

Image via WSJ.com

Image via WSJ.com

The lag in attention could be linked to the initial assessment by the Santa Clara County’s sheriff department and Pacific Gas & Electric, who owns the station that was attacked near San Jose. According to the Sheriff’s press release and a PG&E spokesman, both the local law enforcement agency and the company dubbed the act “vandalism.”

“[Vandalism] is how we typically categorize incidents where other people damage our facilities,” Brian Swanson, a PG&E spokesman told TheBlaze. “We are required to submit a report right after an incident, and with limited information that’s how we categorized it.”

When then-FERC Chairman Wellinghoff heard about the attack on the Metcalf substation, he flew to Silicon Valley to assess the situation, not just with energy grid experts, but with criminal experts, according to the Wall Street Journal:

“He flew to California, bringing with him experts from the U.S. Navy’s Dahlgren Surface Warfare Center in Virginia, which trains Navy SEALs. After walking the site with PG&E officials and FBI agents, Mr. Wellinghoff said, the military experts told him it looked like a professional job.

In addition to fingerprint-free shell casings, they pointed out small piles of rocks, which they said could have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.

“They said it was a targeting package just like they would put together for an attack,” Mr. Wellinghoff said.

PG&E retired vice president of transmission Mark Johnson agreed with Wellinghoff’s assessment.

“This wasn’t an incident where Billy-Bob and Joe decided, after a few brewskis, to come in and shoot up a substation,” Johnson said during a utility security conference, according to the WSJ. “This was an event that was well thought out, well planned and they targeted certain components.”

Read the rest at http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/02/12/how-has-the-most-significant-incident-of-domestic-terrorism-involving-the-enery-grid-gone-largely-unreported-for-10-months/

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