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Feinstein: Obama and Romney Both Wrong on Greatest Threat to America

The longtime senator and Intelligence Committee member notes U.S. vulnerability to cyber-attacks.

Contrary to what Barack Obama and Mitt Romney said in Monday night’s debate, the greatest threat to America is cyber-attack, says Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The 79-year-old senator—who visited San Diego on Tuesday—told a group of about 200 business and community leaders that it’s “imperative” Congress pass a cyber-security bill.

“The greatest threat is a major cyber attack,” said Feinstein, who chairs the Intelligence Committee. “We have major cyber problems. We know that it is quite possible to take down the electric grid. The problem is these attacks are kept silent.”

In the final presidential debate Monday, the president suggested the greatest threat to the country is terrorist networks while Gov. Mitt Romney indicated it’s a nuclear Iran.

Feinstein—who spoke at a downtown luncheon hosted by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and CONNECT—said though the country is safer than it was pre-9/11, a cyber-security bill that requires certain information be shared needs to pass.

Although audience members paid $75 a ticket—or $700 for a table of 10—the groups said the Westin Hotel event was not a political fundraiser.

Democrat Feinstein—running for re-election against Republican Elizabeth Emken—touched on a number of other issues, including the economy.

She said though the economy is improving—it’s moving at a slow rate. She also recalled the fourth quarter of President George W. Bush’s last term and being told the country faced a “crash worse than the Great Depression.”

“We see some positive signs that the recession is coming to an end,” she said. “It looks like we’re coming out, but we’re not coming out with a boom.”

She noted that 1.7 million homes are under water—having mortgage payoffs higher than their value, with 165,000 in San Diego County, or 28 percent.

She also said California was “very hard hit” with six of the 10 cities hardest hit in America being in California.

Still, she said consumer confidence is higher since the crash of the market, noting the unemployment rate of 7.8 percent is the lowest since January 2009, and foreclosures are down by 30 percent compared to this time last year.

Despite that, threats of sequestration loom—the mandatory federal cuts in defense and other programs that grew out of the failure of Congress to act.

Feinstein said if the $1 trillion in cuts take effect, “California is the Number 1 loser” with 220,000 jobs to be cut in the state—170,000 of which will be in the defense industry.

“These cuts are not being made with discretion,” she said. “It is made arbitrarily. It is bad and will take out 3 percent of the GDP.”

She said she believes that House and Senate Appropriation Committees should determine where cuts can be made to get the country back on track.

“Do it with a scalpel and not a meat-ax,” she said repeatedly.

The popular politician ended her speech by telling attendees how the U.S. Senate has changed since she entered in 1993. She noted that 157 cloture votes have stopped bills or appointments during the Obama administration and that “regardless of who is president,” she hopes the “atmosphere” will change.

“In many respects, it was a better place,” she said. “Today, everything is a fight.”

Thughunter October 25, 2012 at 04:19 PM
This woman, and people of similar ilk are the greatest threat to this country.
Jay Berman October 26, 2012 at 12:37 AM
OMG this is freightning .. I agree with Libi too !!
Jay Berman October 26, 2012 at 12:42 AM
David, you are correct that it is a big threat ... the infection of the Iranian centrifuges was done from the inside, probably with a thumb drive that infected their network. We should have a federal directive that no critical infrastructure system touch the public Internet. All federal computers must go through a secure proxy, no direct internet connections whatsoever. I think we should be prepared with food and water .. be prepared to live with no running water or electricity for a few days ... We should also be prepared for an EMP device, an airburst nuclear explosion would generate a pulse that would take out the grid and most things connected to it ..
Libi Uremovic October 26, 2012 at 01:11 AM
David B Secor: 'I believe that there should be a constitutional amendment for term limits in Congress....,' i believe there should be a sense of decency for term limits... i don't understand why the state party doesn't retire her themselves...surely the dems have someone under 50 that can sell us out to the highest bidder ...
Jay Berman October 26, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I think we should repeal the 17th amendment .. the senate is out of control, senators were appointed by states assemblies to alternating 6 year terms to represnt the will of the state ... the 17th amendment made senators popularly elected, making them politicians with 6 years to raise money to stay in office ... they die in office, you can't get them out of office, some no longer even live in their states, they live in Washington .. thats why states rights are walked all over since we eliminated this important check and balance ..

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