INTERVIEW with John Koskinen : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

My recent interview with John Koskinen is available by clicking here.

Scott Johnson
Editor, y2ktoday

-- Scott Johnson (, August 13, 1999


Ahhhhhhh, couldn't even read the whole thing. BS was going off so loud it was giving me a headache.

-- Bill (, August 13, 1999.


I appreciate your efforts, but why do we even listen to this man? He is in charge of prepareness supposedly and HE HAS NOT PREPARED HIMSELF! Obviously the agenda is to lull the public into not doing anything to disturb those precious markets. I'm sorry that you wasted your valuable time.

. icte

-- PJC (, August 13, 1999.

But please, in spite of the BS alert, go down near the end to his response to the State Department IG's report. I think it's interesting...

Also: with all due respect, I think the comments of someone like John Koskinen matter immensely. They represent the position of the government of the most powerful country in the world, and eventually could influence large numbers of people. Accountability will hopefully not be a complete casualty of this Y2K fiasco.


-- Scott Johnson (, August 13, 1999.

Scott, Good work on the interview. Kosky is a strange sort of genius. He's like "The Opposite of Excitement." He's the black hole of concern. I'm surprised you did not have to self-administer smelling salts during the interview.

Here's the main thing that gets me Scott. Kosky uses over and over the concept of "we see no evidence" of potential failure. By all appearances, he is simply the "see no evil" monkey. He sees none, BUT THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT HE IS LOOKING FOR IT!

How about considering an interview with Kosky and focusing on Exxon. Exactly what inquiry has been made into Exxon's ability to pump, transport, refine and distribute oil at rollover.

Is Kosky using "trust but verify" or just "trust and pray"? I mean exactly what has been required of Exxon? Have they been grilled by systems experts on behalf of the government? Has due diligence been done? Or are Kosky's reassurances nothing but hollow echoes of some Exxon pr flak who honed his skills talking about the invincibility of the Alaskan supertankers?

-- Puddintame (, August 13, 1999.


Thank you so much for your efforts and for going through what must have been a difficult interview.

I was very impressed with K's ability to move from the general to the specific and back again, as if they were the same thing -- and to change tenses when referring to how ready the fed gov is/will be -- and to glad hand all those eager fed gov workers who have/will defied the way IT works and gotten all that stuff done already/very soon.

From a personal point of view, Scott, what were your impressions of John Koskinen, the man? In your opinion, was he being as honest as he knew how? Did he seem to feel a sense of confidence in his ability to sway you? Did he expect you to *believe*?

Thanks, again, for your work.

Anita Evangelista

-- Anita Evangelista (, August 13, 1999.

By the way Scott, I'm an Exxon shareholder. I've tried to investigate their readiness. You know the only answer I can get? "We're ready." That's it. "We're ready." Arguably the most important business entity in the world and that's it. So what do I do in response? Buy a can of Dinty Moore and get $20 of cash?

-- Puddintame (, August 13, 1999.

Thanks Puddintame and Anita for your kind comments. With regards to Anita's question:

"From a personal point of view, Scott, what were your impressions of John Koskinen, the man? In your opinion, was he being as honest as he knew how? Did he seem to feel a sense of confidence in his ability to sway you? Did he expect you to *believe*?"

It's difficult for me to say too much about this, for several reasons. One is that I am trying to maintain as much objectivity as I can, and I am extremely spin-averse. Another is that I want to separate my personal opinions about personalities from their message.

Having said that, Mr. Koskinen impresses me as a person who is decent, incredibly intelligent, and extraordinarily dedicated to his job as he sees it. This assessment is shared by several people I know who have had dealings with him. I think he has been given probably the most difficult government job in U.S. history (aside from the Apollo 13 crew and mission controllers, perhaps). I'm a bit disappointed in people who attack him on a personal level, because I think anyone should be able to see the difficulty of his position.

As far as what he expected, I think he know that I ask tough questions but that I don't dismiss answers simply because they aren't the ones I was looking for. I used to work at OMB also, right around the corner from his office (same floor), and I told him that. Don't know if that softened him up at all (I doubt it), haha.

That's probably all I should say. I suspect his heart is in the right place. That does *not* mean I agree with all of his assessments, nor does it mean that I think he is being 100% truthful in each and every one of his statements. But then, I'm a journalist, so I rarely believe that anyway. :)


-- Scott Johnson (, August 13, 1999.

Thanks Scott

John K. seems to have committed himself with this document.

I would like to point out though that there is no preparedness document on how to deal with a Ice Storm with effects that can last a week or so. One of the things that I have noticed is that the management types and many others are the last folk that should be telling others how to prepare as they are unlikely to have experianced really disasterous weather conditions. Then they say "oh just a few cans of food and flashlights.

Well that will not cut it. I would like to see a definitive winter disaster manual for both rural and urban centers. Such an animal doesn't exist from what I have seen.

Just this point alone throws their arguement to hell. 3 days prep. Ignorance runs rampant on the speculation of what could happen but there is one thing I do know is that in the winter a person can die in less than 3 days. Cans of food and flashlights is just so stupid.

You presented some hard hitting questions and John dutifully stuck to the party line. One has to hope that he is right but if he is wrong there is going to be more than his reputation at stake.

One thing is for sure he is wrong about the minimalist preps, what else is he wrong about?

-- Brian (, August 13, 1999.

Thanks, Scott...

overall, i thought it was a good interview.-- I think the points that were covered, didn't ooze with b/s that *I saw, but everyone has a different take. Only thing is, the scope of y2k extends much much further than he touched on, or has "control" over.

i especially liked this gem from the interview: >>>"But in telecommunications, we know that 1500 small telephone companies  we increasingly have evidence that their problem will be, not that you wont be able to get dial tone, but that they wont be able to bill you if they havent done [the remediation] right. And at some point that may put them out of business, but it wont affect you"<<<

so, what if you WORK for that company that goes out of business? won't affect you?

so anyway, guess we're still in a holding pattern till december....

-- Super (, August 13, 1999.

Am sorry but I have to say at this point. That Mr Koskinen is doing a very good job. He is after all doing the job he was hiried to do, and that job obviously is to make folks feel OK. Nothing from his side of the fence will ever be so negitive as to cause panic. He has nothing to do with the issuwence of real infomation even if he was prevey to it, and no one will make the mistake of putting him in situation he cant talk his way out. Our Government does not want to be ever charged with the crime of causing a panic, they will always want to be charged with the duty of cleaning it up,,,you no the right way, the wrong way, the army way..... everything is right on track. and as a bonus the Gov. gets a fall guy come Jan....

-- Les (, August 13, 1999.


Regarding Exxon's readiness, the only thing you have to know to about is that 80% of their revenue comes from foreign lands. Yes. 80%.

From Forbes Magazine....

Spanning the World

Very, very high percentage of business for many multinationals is foreign!

Kosky would say: There'll be minor glitches. We've had a tremendous increase in awareness.

Sell that stock NOW

-- PJC (, August 13, 1999.

Thank you very much, Scott.

"But are problems in the U.S. going to affect the U.S. economy? Absolutely not. Are German glitches going to affect the German economy? Theres no evidence of that."

His use of "absolutely" speaks volumes....... considering that he says:

"But in telecommunications, we know that 1500 small telephone companies  we increasingly have evidence that their problem will be, not that you wont be able to get dial tone, but that they wont be able to bill you if they havent done [the remediation] right. And at some point that may put them out of business, but it wont affect you."

Also: "...And it does not mean that we dont have a problem thats going to have an impact on a whole lot of people."

".. I sat in a meeting with the Deputy Secretary, the head of the FAA and the head of the projects, who were concerned that their chance to actually demonstrate they could produce a project on time was now going to be put off, because they were going to have to delay implementation of that part of their modernization by 69 months, so that they could get the Y2K work done..."

69 months from now is 5 1/2 years - 2005. He couldn't have had this conversation more than a year and a half ago. If the FAA is ready .... why the 69 month delay? Strange figures....

(you should hear the polly and doomer voices in my head shrieking at each other....)


-- lisa (, August 13, 1999.

Germany's problems won't effect you... We're not in a global economy....

LOL a thousand times...

A liar like his boss

-- PJC (, August 13, 1999.

"The problem then will be, in fact, dealing with whatever the emergency is, because the nature of the failure will be obvious. The problem with overreaction is the problem before you get to that time, where you can aggravate or create problems. You can create spot shortages or other difficulties in advance, as people get more anxious."

It seems the government is taking a "fix on failure" stance with people, too. Seems a little dangerous to me! Thanks, Scott!

-- Gayla (, August 13, 1999.

Scott, If an expert is not willing to subject the basis of his opinions to scrutiny, then his opinions should carry no weight.

The argument that he's just doing his job really carries no weight. First you must define the job. A job assignment is not a moral imperative.

I'm sure it is NOT his job to fully investigate the status of compliancy and then fully and honestly report the results to the American public. I don't think it is. I think his job is to manage perceptions on behalf of a corrupt executive. If it's ABITR, then Kosky will be nothing but lucky.

Right now neither you nor any other writer has the Machiavellian power to truly cross-examine Kosky and survive with his reputation in tact. Unfortunately, that power shift will not occur unless it's >ABITR. In that case, the Inquisitors of the Fourth Estate will be falling all over themselves to get to Kosky. You know it, I know it, the American public knows it. Hey, it's just one of those strange things.

-- Puddintame (, August 13, 1999.

Yeah, Koskinen "is just doing his job." Just like Joseph Goebbels was just doing his job for the Third Reich...

-- Nabi Davidson (, August 13, 1999.

Nabi ~ I think your comparison of John Koskinen to Joseph Goebbels is irresponsible. Perhaps "libelous" is a better word.

If my memory is correct, you claim to be a bank examiner. I now question the veracity of everything you have posted here.

-- PNG (Peter Gauthier) (, August 13, 1999.

Good interview, Scott. There were a few sections that immediately caught my eye:

"Our analysis is that we don't expect national failures; we don't expect catastrophic failures anywhere. But our scenario is that there may be a number of communities that have otherwise manageable problems, but their normal response is to call the state. And we've told them, you should not have that as your normal response, because if there are ten or twenty communities in the state [having problems], the state may not be able to show up everywhere. And certainly FEMA is not going to be able to show up in 200 or 300 communities."

This statement confirms that communities with problems are probably going to have to go it alone. Note that first Koskinen says a "number" of communities, then increases to twenty or thirty in a state, then says 200 or 300, although it is not clear in the latter case if he is talking about statewide or nationwide. I think he means nationwide, which says to me he expects around 10 states to have problems in an average of 20-30 communities.

"So who are at risk? We've said that the people at risk are the ones who aren't doing anything, who think that they can fix it later. They're lkely to find a long line of people. And the people who are at risk are the ones who will be done in December, because they won't have time. They're going to catch their problems in the middle of real time, in the Year 2000."

This statement is very clear. Fix on failure means those companies are at risk; December completion, the same.

"What I think people ought to be doing is saying, in light of that progress, what remains to be done? We need to make sure that every 911 system at the local level is done. . . we need to see what our educational and health care systems at the local level are doing. . . and we need to make sure that small- to medium-sized chemical plants, operating locally, have done the right amount to work. Spending a lot of time arguing about whether the federal government has done its work aptly or not is diverting attention away from what really needs to be done."

Koskinen's message is clear: concentrate on 911 systems, schools and health, and small- to medium-sized chemical plants. I don't believe Koskinen is attempting to deflect attention from the feds, per se, I think he's trying to tell us, best he can, that these are areas at serious risk of disruption.

Koskinen's words serve to confirm what many of us have been saying recently.

-- Old Git (, August 13, 1999.


I've questioned the veracity of everything you've had to say since you "guaranteed" that Yeltsin was going to be thrown out of office some months ago.

So I guess we can both safely ignore any posts by the other from this point forward. I can live with that...

-- Nabi Davidson (, August 13, 1999.


Witness the marvel of instantaneous communication in cyberspace.

Witness the spin of governmental pawns.

Witness the brainwashing of the masses.

Witness the fear you feel when you realize how this will backfire!

Prepare, prepare, prepare...

-- Randolph (, August 14, 1999.

To the top; Scott, you still have Koskinen's ear? Can you get his take/spin on Jim Lord's recent article?

-- lisa (, August 19, 1999.

Maybe in the weeks to come... -scott

-- Scptt Johnson (, August 19, 1999.

In my White Paper on Y2K, I take a somewhat different approach to assessing how the President and Mr. Koskinen have been doing (or not doing) to address the Y2K and embedded systems crisis ( The President and Mr. Koskinen appear to have based their efforts on a partial definition of the problem. They have neglected or failed to comprehend the serious threats posed by malfunctioning embedded systems along with connectivity and interdependency issues. They have not focused their efforts first and foremost on protecting and preserving the public interest.

They do not subscribe to the IEEE's view that the problems we face cannot be solved and that we are in a crisis situation. And they certainly do not subscribe to IEEE's view that the government's approach has been an inadequate one. The critique in my White Paper complements these perspectives that have been expressed in IEEE's June 9, 1999 Open Letter to Congress.

Recommendations regarding what the government should be doing are to be found there as well. See especially Part 3 of the White Paper.

Part 4 was posted August 18 and deals with the question: Why the President has thus far failed to take appropriate action.

Part 5 is about to be posted. It will consider three different scenarios that could unfold between now and the rollover, one being a status quo approach. This approach fails to focus adequately on minimizing technological disasters and infrastructure disruptions. It also fails to focus adequately on raising public awareness of the seriousness of the situation and of the steps that can taken to prepare.

Material from the July 26 -30 Y2K Conference at George Washington University in Washington, DC focused on additional steps that need too be taken locally, nationally, and globally. The Conference is alluded to in Part 4 of the White Paper, and in Appendix A to Part 4. Appendix A is a transcript of remarks made by Congressman Kucinich at the Conference regarding the President's current strategy.

Videos from the conference will soon be posted at the following RealVideo website: A selection of other Y2K and embedded systems panels and press briefings can be viewed there presently. They will remain available for viewing.

-- Paula Gordon (, August 30, 1999.


"The President and Mr. Koskinen appear to have based their efforts on a partial definition of the problem. They have neglected or failed to comprehend the serious threats posed by malfunctioning embedded systems along with connectivity and interdependency issues. They have not focused their efforts first and foremost on protecting and preserving the public interest."

The question one has to ask is WHY?

Neither of them are dumb... what does this say to you, in light of the fact that Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand - even the German Intelligence Service - are being quite open about disruptions/potential severity/martial law situations...

Again... WHY?

I could give you a host of reasons, but let's just use Occams' Razor.

Clinton wants, above all else, POWER.

He and his puppet-masters see an opportunity to CONSOLIDATE a POWER GRAB.

FEMA and the EO's are all in place - the military have been preparing and practising urban warfare, the Militias are well infiltrated, the markets are being positioned for a crash, gold is being manipulated down so that people do not WANT this "barbarous relic"...

Paula - you are a researcher - why don't you follow up on my research - do yourself a favour...

Elections - year 2000 - not gonna happen if Clinton declares martial law... the signs are there for all to see...

Comments Paula???

-- Andy (, August 30, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ