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Oliver North ridicules Spitzer, calls on IT to hire war vets

Security conference attendees get earful from someone who was no stranger to scandal himself

By , Network World
March 11, 2008 05:11 PM ET

Network World - ORLANDO -- At a security conference in Orlando Tuesday, Col. Oliver North mocked the plight of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, caught up in a prostitution-ring scandal that may end his political career.

North, who first gained the national spotlight because of his involvement in the Reagan Administration-era Iran-Contra affair and who is now a news commentator for Fox News, told security managers attending the Infosec World Conference that Spitzer "apparently forgot everything he knows about information security." As has been widely reported, Spitzer is under federal investigation linking him to a high-priced prostitute service called Emperors Club VIP through wiretaps, text messages, e-mail and wired money transfers.

In his keynote address, North said Spitzer -- a zealous investigator as attorney general of New York before becoming governor -- is being investigated by federal authorities using the same technologies he has used to crack crime cases. North poked fun at Spitzer's alleged link to prostitution, saying "it helps to have an electronic warning on your belt before you take off your pants."

North also lambasted newspaper and television media that he thinks portray an inaccurate, negative picture of the War on Terrorism, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chiding in particular Newsweek and the Washington Post, which he called "Washington Compost," North said, "I've made a dozen trips to the war. The information being given to the American people is not fairly presented." He said he knew of instances where networks in America are buying videotape from Arab news media, such as Al-Jazeera, a practice he condemned.

The American troops today are smart, capable and "operate and maintain the most sophisticated weapons ever created. That information hasn't been communicated to the American people," North told attendees at the conference, which has attracted 1,800 people.

Although the American military today displays "competence, courage, integrity, loyalty, tenacity and situational awareness,"  North said, the "unemployment rate for veterans of this war is nearly 20%. This is inconceivable."

He noted the national unemployment rate in general hovers around 5%. North encouraged the information security managers attending Infosec to hire the nation's war veterans. "This is 225,000 young Americans today that served in the military."
"They're coming out, looking for jobs," he said. "For the good of your business and security of this nation, put out the help-wanted signs for veterans."

When asked by an audience member whether he supported the idea voiced by some presidential candidates about a quick withdrawal from Iraq, North replied, "It would be an unmitigated disaster" for several reasons, one being that it would result in the "collapse of what has become one of our best allies in the War on Terror."

He also said the United States needs to find alternatives to petroleum to meet its energy needs because oil money is a big factor in funding "the jihad against America."

Read more about security in Network World's Security section.

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