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Early Edition

President Clinton to Propose National Cyber-Security Center

Aired February 15, 2000 - 7:04 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The invasion and disruption of the Internet has President Clinton's attention this morning. He wants to prevent hackers from getting the upper hand. The problem is coming up with a plan to do just that.

Kathleen Koch is at the White House this morning. She joins us now live.

Good morning, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon.

Well, this is a president who, by his own admission, isn't very computer literate. These recent attacks are forcing Mr. Clinton to become cyber savvy. At a meeting here at the White House with some 20 computer executives, the president will propose a national cyber- security center. The $9 million private-sector facility would be a place where Internet and e-commerce companies could come together to try to thwart attacks like last week's. Mr. Clinton in an online interview with CNN said that attacks like those must be kept in perspective.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's important that the American people not overreact to this; that is, we're into a whole new world with the Internet and whenever we sort of cross another plateau in our development, there are those who seek to take advantage of it. So there -- this is a replay of things that have happened throughout our history, and we'll figure out how to do it and go forward. But I think, on balance, no one can dispute what a great thing the Internet has been for our country and for the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: At the meeting, computer executives will also discuss the president's $2 billion proposal to protect the nation's digital -- digitalized infrastructure from sabotage.

Now, congressional Republicans are somewhat skeptical, worried that that may not be enough to protect government computer systems.

An interesting note, one participant in this morning's meeting is a hacker named "Mudge," said to be a think-tank hacker who does security consulting. The White House won't say much about what his role will be in the meeting.

Reporting live at the White House, I'm Kathleen Koch.

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