The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security International published my online Threatcon column on the late Peter Earnest.
While covering the opening of the Spy Museum’s “Weapons of Mass Disruption” exhibit in Washington D.C. for the Journal in 2010, Peter Earnest introduced me to a good number of current and former intelligence officials, including former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Mike Mullen, former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, former KGB General Oleg Kalugin, former senior FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence executive David Major, and former Director-General of the British MI5 Stella Rimington. There was a lot of history in that room that day.
Earnest introduced the speakers and explained that exhibit imagines what a cyber-attack on America’s power gris would do the country. Police and military communication systems would be crippled. There would be an uncontrollable spread of epidemic diseases, a near-total cessation of economic activity and wide-spread civil unrest.
Through the use of multi-media, the exhibit illustrated the devastating impact of a coordinated attack. The exhibit showed how terrorists, spies and criminals could turn power lines into battle lines.
I met Peter Earnest again 2011 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia at the press opening of the “Spies, Traitors & Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America” exhibition. The exhibit was created by the International Spy Museum in 2006 and then went on the road.
“Through artifacts, multimedia elements, and interactive exhibits, visitors will uncover stories of espionage, treason, and deception in the United States from 1776 to today,” the center announced. “Visitors will discover little-known accounts of foreign agents, militias, and radicals, and learn how responses to domestic attacks have driven counterintelligence measures that continue to affect our everyday lives.”
“Our purpose in doing the exhibit was primarily educational,” Earnest told the reporters. “We want to have people visit this exhibit, and for those who might be older, remind them of our past, remind them of what has gone on before us. And for those who are younger, we wanted to say that these are the things that have happened and now it is your generation that will deal with today’s threats. History has a way of repeating.”
In my dealings with Peter Earnest, I always found him to be intelligent, interesting, gracious and knowledgeable about espionage, terrorism, crime and other national security issues. He shall be missed.