The possibility of a terrorist attack on the nation's power grid — an assault that would cause coast-to-coast chaos — is a very real one, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen tells Newsmax TV.
"It's possible and whether it's likely to happen soon remains to be seen," Cohen — author of the new thriller, "Collision,"
published by Forge Books — said Monday on "The Steve Malzberg Show."
Story continues below video.
Watch Newsmax TV on DirecTV Ch. 349, DISH Ch. 223
and Verizon FiOS Ch. 115.
Get Newsmax TV on your cable system — Click Here Now
And Cohen, a former GOP senator from Maine and chairman and CEO of The Cohen Group, said it wouldn't even be necessary for terrorists to wreak havoc by way of an EMP attack in which a burst of electromagnetic radiation wipes out most of the nation's power.
"You can do it through cyberattacks and that's the real threat coming up as well.... We have to look at cyberattacks being able to shut down our power grid, which you have to remember is in the private sector's hands, not the governments. And we're vulnerable," he said.
Last month, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a former top CIA analyst told Newsmax TV
that the United States is a sitting duck for a terror attack that could wipe out the nation's power grid and kill as many as nine out of 10 Americans.
Cohen, who served as secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001, said the United States is safer now than it was prior to the 9/11 attacks, but still not that safe.
"That's because the technology continues to expand and terrorism has become democratized. Many, many people across the globe now have access to information which allows them to be able to put together a very destructive means of carrying out their terrorist plans," he said.
"We're better at detecting than we were in the past. We're much more focused in integrating and sharing the information that we have, but we're still vulnerable and we'll continue to be vulnerable as long as groups can operate either on the margins or covertly to build these kind of campaigns of terror."
Cohen's new book, "Collision," follows Sean Falcone, a former national security adviser, who helps take down a gunman during a massacre at an elite Washington law firm. But a second shooter is able to flee with vital information about an asteroid being mined by an American billionaire and his secret Russian partner.
The incident plunges Falcone into a mystery involving the White House, NASA, corrupt U.S. senators, an international crime lord — as well as the possible destruction of all humankind.
"NASA has been very much involved in trying to alert the world and we have many other countries joining us now that we have asteroids that are out there by the thousands," Cohen told Malzberg.
"'Collision' is about asteroid mining because we as a country, along with others, are trying to get in the business of mining asteroids for their minerals."
Appearing later Monday on "Newsmax Prime," Cohen spoke on a variety of issues, from climate change to the Iran nuclear deal and the crisis in the Middle East.
"Climate change is taking place, the question is what can we do about it?" Cohen told host J.D. Hayworth. "Are there things that we have done or are doing that are contributing to it, and if so, what can we do? There are many of the scientists who feel we've already lost that window of opportunity."
Regarding Iraq, Cohen said the U.S. is "taking the right course" by making plans to send more troops and set up a new base in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.
"It was a mistake to have removed our troops from Iraq. We should have had a residual number of troops there," Cohen said. "It may not have prevented what is taking place, but if you're not there, then you don't have a chance to help shape events in ways that are favorable to you."
Cohen added that more American ground troops are necessary to confront the ISIS threat.
In terms of the controversial deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program, Cohen said the U.S. needs to take a page out of the Reagan playbook.
"I would say if there's any hedging on their part, we ought to approach it with what Ronald Reagan said. He said trust, but verify. I say don't trust, verify first, maybe you'll earn our trust. But you can't trust but verify," Cohen said.
Watch video here.
© 2016 Newsmax. All rights reserved.