This article originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.
I have had the honor and privilege of serving our country – both as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. In advance of assuming these positions, I was obligated, under law, to take an oath. That oath, in sum and substance, was as follows: I, Timothy J. Pastore, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office of which I am about to enter.
When most people think of protecting our country, they think of defending against foreign threats; however, the oath specifically refers to “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Domestic, of course, means enemies from within – our fellow Americans.
It is sad that we must defend against any enemies, but it is particularly depressing that they would come from within. But this is our reality.
In early February 2023, the U.S. Justice Department announced that the FBI had intercepted the plans of two neo-Nazis allegedly to shoot electric power stations in Baltimore. Thankfully, the hapless couple who allegedly devised the plot failed; otherwise, substantial damage and chaos could have ensued.
This attempted attack came from within, and it is not the only recent example. As of this writing, at least nine attacks on power stations have occurred since late 2022, including six such attacks in Washington state and Oregon, and three in North Carolina. The attack in North Carolina was so substantial that it deprived thousands of residents of power for several days. A year ago, white supremacists from multiple states pleaded guilty to a plot to attack power stations across the United States, with the goal of causing unrest. Unfortunately, because stupid people have been weaponized by misinformation circulated by evil chaos agents, I expect more domestic terrorism in the coming weeks and months.
Preventing these attacks and combating the underlying hate and misinformation that feeds them is not easy. A lot must be done – particularly fixing our information ecosystems and providing law enforcement with the same tools for domestic terrorism that they use to fight foreign terrorism. These are topics for another day.
Meanwhile, security integrators can play an important role. The private security industry has long partnered with federal, state and local law enforcement, and they must continue to do so. As powerful and far-reaching as law enforcement may seem, they cannot be everywhere. Private security must play a role in securing our infrastructure against domestic terrorism, such as the attacks on power stations.
Critical infrastructure – including power stations – should be protected by surveillance cameras with advanced technologies designed to thwart attacks and/or to identify those who perpetrate them. Perimeter security, biometrics, and other monitored security initiatives also must be deployed for this purpose. Private security must serve as an extension of law enforcement and must cooperate fully when arrests and prosecutions result, and evidentiary and other support is required.
Law enforcement keeps us safe. Private security integrators keep us safe. We must protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic – and we need to be serious about these risks and determined to combat them. You do not have to swear an oath to care about your neighbors.
Timothy J. Pastore, Esq., is a Partner in the New York office of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP (www.mmwr.com), where he is Vice-Chair of the Litigation Department. Before entering private practice, Mr. Pastore was an officer and Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the U.S. Air Force and a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. Reach him at (212) 551-7707 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.