Monday, February 10, 2014

Attacks on US power grid getting more attention

From the Wall Street Journal
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Almost a year after a highly efficient attack destroyed a Pacific Gas and Electric power substation next to California’s Silicon Valley the issue is getting a little more press.  We commented on this previously pointing out that the event has been kept out of the mass media.  But the 1% are extremely concerned about this and the “tens of thousands of cyber attacks” on the nation’s power grid that have occurred so far.

The US mass media is the most censored and controlled of the advanced capitalist economies.  The local news is dominated by murders, petty crime, the weather and sports as maintaining a sense of stability is crucial to containing dissent and the anger that lies beneath the surface of US society.  The idea is to keep ideas simple and people occupied with more mundane matters as US capitalism continues in its efforts to drive US workers down to the conditions that existed prior to rise of the CIO during the 1930’s and the Civil Rights movement that followed.

Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Gordon L Crovitz admits that news of the attack was “suppressed” as PG&E blamed the incident on vandalism.  But what Crovitz refers to as an “old fashioned armed attack” is being taken very seriously by the 1%. This was a “purposeful attack, extremely well planned and executed by professionals who had expert training” Jon Wellinghoff, former head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee said in an interview last week. Wellinghoff tried to raise alarm bells without much success initially.  Pentagon experts determined that the attack was a “professional” job and former CIA director Jim Woolsey said in San Francisco last year that the operation was carried out in a “disciplined military fashion” and was certainly not “hooliganism.”

The authorities now know as the WSJ puts it, that the perpetrators, “Broke in to an underground vault off Highway 101 and cut fiber optic cables.  Then they fired on the substation for almost 20 minutes, apparently using AK 47’s, and wrecked 17 of 23 transformers.”  There are further details here.

That the attack was so surgical and well planned raises the question of domestic terrorism by groups similar to those that bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, as opposed to disgruntled workers, although many of the thousands of other assaults on state property may be due to desperate workers whose lives have been destroyed by market forces either through job or home losses or the failure of the health industry, the poisoning of their water and other disasters.

That the WSJ has had two pieces about this issue in the last week shows the concern the 1% has about attacks on the system in one way or another and we can be sure that the beefing up of state security forces as we have seen with the rise of the Occupy Movement will intensify.  Crovitz points out that the FAA should “legalize commercial use of drones” that can be used as 24/7 surveillance.  Legalizing them for commercial use would speed up their production he says.  Executives at Northrop Grumman, the Carlyle Group, Halliburton and others will like that.

It is not an overstatement to warn of the increased state suppression that is ahead.  The US working class will not sit idly by as the 1% places us on rations.  The ruling class is aware of this and will respond accordingly, we commented on this in a previous blog.

“It will be a hard pill for many Americans to swallow--the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more...Nothing that this nation, or any other nation, has done in modern economic history compares with the selling job that must be done to make people accept this reality.”, 
BusinessWeek wrote back in 1974. They were not kidding.  There have been some serious responses to this bitter medicine prescribed by US capitalism from the strikes of the 1980’s and early nineties to the shutting down of the WTO in Seattle in 1999 and the rise of the Occupy Movement.

But in the absence of a mass movement and the refusal of the heads of organized labor to mobilize the potential power within their ranks to set off an offensive of our own, resistance will not move in a straight line. As we have seen, there have been heroic efforts but also mass confusion and a lack of clear direction and goals.  This is to be expected as the working class finds it feet.  The strikes of the 1980’s were defeated primarily due to a powerful combination of the employers and the heads of organized labor, it was not a lack of resolve or the willingness to sacrifice on the part of the rank and file engaged in them. 

It is this absence of an established force of resistance that leads to all sorts of false starts, acts of sabotage and individual terrorism, as workers lash out at the system that they see more and more as hostile to their interests.

If we give some serious thought to the PG&E substation attack, this was no small operation and it took 20 minutes to execute it. The 1% are not taking it lightly and as always occurs when they respond to events like these, the methods they use will not be restricted to “terrorists” but also workers on strike, youth on campuses and in the urban ghetto’s.  Environmental activists, indigenous activists, tenants fighting slumlords, all those that resist the assault of the market will be targeted.

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