Mark Zaccaria: Closing the Deal

Recently Rhode Island Congressman James Langevin has been quoted as saying “We’re way behind where we need to be now” in terms of our preparedness to withstand and resist Cyber Terrorism attacks.
Going beyond the purely defensive posture of his initial position, Congressman Langevin also told United Press International “The best defense is a good offense and an offensive [cyberwar] capability is essential to our national defense.”
In fact, just before Christmas, the Congressman was quoted by Reuters as saying, “This is equivalent in my mind to before September 11 … we were awakened to the threat on the morning after September 11.”
During his recent campaign for re-election Mr. Langevin made much of the fact that his committee assignments required him to observe tight security restrictions. Candidate Langevin allowed as how his inability to publicly debate these sensitive matters had much to do with his extremely low effectiveness ratings in Congress. Those who know ranked Langevin 217th out of 235 Democrats in the House in the last Session. That puts him well behind many of his more junior colleagues, including some who were in their Freshman Term.
So here we are. Mr. Langevin was returned to the House for a fifth term. No one would suggest that he reveal any of the details of the sensitive briefings he receives. Still, his comments about our nation’s lack of readiness do indicate that he now publicly wishes to be considered an authority on these matters and one who is ringing alarm bells.
So what’s your next move, Congressman?
I earnestly hope that since he has now released himself from the veil of secrecy that has restricted him in the past he will be free to do what we have hired him to do. I trust he will now introduce legislation that will correct the inequities he has cited in his recent comments to the press.
Even the Vice President Elect has suggested that he has some knowledge of impending terrorist activity that will be timed to test the new Administration. While no legislation of any kind will prevent a physical attack, James Langevin heads a subcommittee on Cybersecurity. From that chair he is well positioned to suggest incentives, if not actual regulations, to increase the levels of existing Public Key Encryption schemes that now offer some level of protection to every wireless digital device in the world. Such legislation need not increase the costs of government in these difficult economic times. There’s no need for new bureaucracies to oversee the implementation of detailed regulations that first have to be written by someone before they can be implemented. Existing industry standards can be used with more complex key structures to make the cyber communications we all depend on even more secure than they are today.
If you and I know that, it’s a cinch Mr. Langevin does.
So what we need from our Representative now is not simply a clarion call telling us there is a problem and that the Government ought to do something about it. He is the Government. We need to see him initiate corrective action to neutralize the problem that he, himself, has highlighted in his recent public comments.
We all know there are challenges facing America. Any casual observer of current events could give us quite a list of them. We look to Congress, and those we elect, not for a more detailed listing of problems but for one or two real solutions. As the head of the Committee we should reasonably expect more from Representative Langevin than just an attempt to fill the air with commentary, but no real ideas.
Years ago an advertising campaign asked all of us the question, “Where’s the Beef?” Now a campaign for better representation here in Rhode Island is asking James Langevin the question, “Where’s the Bill?”
Mark Zaccaria is a small businessman and former elected official who was Congressman Langevin’s GOP Opponent in the recent election.

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