I wanted to bring this to your attention.
U.S. prepares for Y2K violence
Officials fear cyber attacks
Web posted August 31,
1999 by Reuters Limited, © 1999.
Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening talks to Lt. General James F. Fretterd, of the
Maryland National Guard, during a meeting of the governor's Year 2000 Readiness Task Force
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 The U.S. government is preparing for possible violence from
cults, guerrillas, hate groups and end-of-world-fearing zealots as 2000 approaches. Law
enforcement officials are working on contingency plans to cope with everything from cyber
attacks to bombs at New Years Eve parties, though they say they lack knowledge of
specific, credible threats.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation "expects to see increased and possibly violent
activities among certain domestic groups related to the millennium," a top FBI
official, Michael Vatis warned Congress in July. Michael Vatis, head of a new
FBI-led interagency center to protect critical U.S. infrastructure, cited in particular a
fringe view among white supremacists that the world is on the verge of a final apocalyptic
This requires the faithful "to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ by taking
violent action against their enemies," Vatis told a special Senate panel in July on
the Y2K technology glitch.
The panel is looking into pitfalls of the Y2K problem, a coding glitch that could cause
ill-prepared computers to misread 2000 as 1900 and trigger system-wide shutdowns.
Vatis did not cite possible targets but FBI Director Louis Freeh has said they included
Jews, non-whites and their "establishment allies, i.e. the federal government."
The FBI counter-terrorism section "has been planning for any violent activity
by such groups," said Vatis, who is leading a separate drive to thwart cyber attacks
that could disrupt the economy or government. At issue is the fear that Jan. 1,
2000, may seem like a watershed date for fanatics ready to put end-of-world rhetoric into
Robert Blitzer, who retired last November as head of the FBIs domestic
counter-terrorism arm, cited the case of Buford Furrow Jr., the white supremacist who
pleaded not guilty Monday to killing a Filipino-American letter carrier after shooting up
a Jewish community center in the Los Angeles area. Furrow turned himself in to the
FBI after the Aug. 10 attacks. He allegedly told authorities the shooting was a "wake
up call to America to kill Jews."
Groups with similar views or apocalyptic cults like Heavens Gate, 30 of whose
members committed mass suicide in 1997, may deem the rollover to 2000 "a good time
for them to make their mark on history," said Blitzer.
"I know there are still continuing to be serious threats from abroad," added
Blitzer, who now consults on counter-terrorism at the Science Applications International
Corporation in McLean, Virginia. He was unaware of any specific credible threats but
said foreign foes had already shown what they were capable of in the 1993 World Trade
Center bombing in New York.
Freeh has warned Congress that white supremacist extremists may stage armed robberies
to finance what some view as the coming "Battle of Armageddon" between the
forces of good and evil. Some of these extremists believe that this entails whites
fighting "Satans heirs," the FBI chief told a Senate Appropriations panel
on Feb. 4. In such a world view, he said, "Satans heirs" were defined as
Jews, non whites and their supposed allies in the federal government.
John Gordon, deputy director of the U.S. intelligence community, said the CIA and its 12
sister spy outfits were tightening their drills to monitor events at the date change.
"We are strengthening the communications processes between centers," he
told a Senate Armed Services panel on Feb. 24. "We are preparing for the potential
that there may be situations erupting worldwide and within our own systems
In addition to the perceived threat from within, U.S. officials fear anti-Western
guerrilla groups and others may try to take advantage of the federal stretch to keep tabs
on any Y2K related failures. The White House is setting up a $40 million information
coordination center to help policymakers with Year 2000 issues and coordinate any
"In some instances, it may not be immediately apparent whether a service outage is
the result of the millennium bug or a computer intrusion," Vatis
testified. Such uncertainty could make Y2K an inviting date for malicious strikes,
Together with a Pentagon task force for computer network defense, Vatis National
Infrastructure Protection Center will hold a classified, two-day conference called
"Preparing for Cyberwar," including Y2K contingencies, in early October.