9/11 commission chair: We're not prepared for cyber attack

What should gov't be doing?


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 11, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, forget these ISIS militants. Reports today the terror group is forming an army of hackers to attack us, something 9/11 Commission Chair Tom Kean says we better get ready for.

You have been way ahead of a lot of folks, Governor, saying, look, this could be the sweet spot for them, nothing like jarring Americans and them waking up one morning and seeing nothing in their ATMs.

GOV. TOM KEAN, R - NJ: That`s absolutely right. That`s one of our weaknesses.

We have not prepared for a cyber-attack. And we...


CAVUTO: What would it involve, Governor?

KEAN: Well, it could involve attack on our utilities. It could involve attack on our computers. It could involve attack on anything. It could be on the private sector, the public sector.

We already have got attacks right now which is sucking information out of our ingenuity, out of our private sector inventions. And that is going to cost jobs in at the future. And we already have -- we know that people have already gotten secrets out of the U.S. Defense Department on our weapons system.

CAVUTO: Do you always think -- you`re far more reasoned than I am -- I get paranoid when I see all these incidents of cyber-attacks, whether it at Home Depot and all that, find out months after the fact, whatever, but that they`re leading up to something, that they`re almost practice runs.

KEAN: Yes.

Well, look, I have talked to almost every intelligence specialist in the Obama administration over the past six months.

They all bring up cyber. And one of them said, it`s the day before 9/11 as far as cyber goes. Another said it`s the biggest transfer of information from to us somebody else in the world`s history. And they`re scared because...

CAVUTO: What are they scared about? Because we all upload stuff to the cloud, our financial stuff, our personal stuff.

KEAN: Yes. Yes.


KEAN: Everything on there, our whole banking system, our whole grid for power sources. Everything is on there.

And it`s just -- it`s enormously worrisome because we have not set up a defense system.

CAVUTO: Well, you have said we`re all kind of over the map on this.

KEAN: Yeah. The Congress has not been able to pass a bill yet, so there isn`t even a...


CAVUTO: Well, what would a bill do? A bill to do what?


KEAN: A bill would really allow the private sector to work together with NSA, experts in the federal government, so you could have some kind of a plan where you took the expertise of NSA, give some of it to the private sector.


CAVUTO: See, I get worried about the creepy factor there, that in building this wall or whatever, they`re spying on my stuff.

KEAN: They`re not interested in you on this one.


CAVUTO: Really?

KEAN: Maybe on something else. Yes.

They`re only interested in you as part of a vague network. And if your cell phone is talking to somebody who is on the terrorist network, they want to be able to pick that up...

CAVUTO: I see.

KEAN: ... so they can trace who you`re talking to and why. And that`s the only thing they`re interested in.

CAVUTO: What do they -- when I hear, Governor, they`re talking about hearing increased chatter lately, what does that mean?

KEAN: Well, that`s what we heard before 9/11.


KEAN: It means an awful lot of talk among terrorists where we try to interfere and try to hear what they`re saying. A lot of chatter.

Now, often, it`s not definite. Before 9/11, we never found out they were going to try to planes into buildings, but we did know there were a lot of terrorist talk going on, and that they were talking to each other about something big. And some of the intelligence people said at the time, their hair was on fire because they knew something was going on. They just couldn`t figure out what it was.

That kind of chatter is going on now.

CAVUTO: But I talk to some who have got that feeling again. I don`t mean to overdo this, but that something is happening, or whether it`s pegged to a date or something, but it`s increasing.

Or maybe there are such sophisticated devices today, that we can track this at levels we didn`t used to, but that they`re worried. Are they worried of a cyber attack, something akin to what we saw on 9/11? What?

KEAN: They`re not worried -- I don`t think they should be worried about a 9/11-type attack, because that took three years to plan.

CAVUTO: Right.

KEAN: It takes a safe place, and it takes training of terrorists. It takes...


CAVUTO: But it only cost half-a-million dollars.

KEAN: It only cost half-a-million.


KEAN: But it took three years to prepare.

CAVUTO: Interesting.

KEAN: And they haven`t had a safe place to do that.

One of the things we`re worried about ISIS is, if they succeeded, they will create a safe place to plan two or three years if necessary for another major attack on the United States. Without that capability to plan an attack, what we`re worried about is one-off attacks.

We`re worried about people who are radicalized on the Internet, people like the so-called Times Square bomber or people like the underpants bomber or that kind of person or the bombers certainly up in Boston.

CAVUTO: Right.

KEAN: Those kind of people who are lone wolf terrorists, that`s what we are worried about right now. But we don`t do something about ISIS and some of these other threats in the world, we could a year or so from now be worried about a bigger threat.

CAVUTO: Yes. To your point, they`re talking to each other. I don`t know what the heck they`re saying.

KEAN: Yes.

CAVUTO: Tom Kean, chair of the 9/11 Commission, former governor, thank you, sir.

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