The Free World’s foremost expert on electromagnetic pulse (EMP), Dr. William Graham, and former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, warn that America faces an existential threat from EMP in part because of disinformation from the liberal mainstream media (“Prepare For The Worst” RealClearDefense.com October 21, 2019):
“Not only has the EMP Commission faced a long uphill battle advancing national EMP preparedness against a resistant federal bureaucracy, but against an irresponsible press that often misinforms the public with absurd claims…”
The latest soldier in the ignorant army of liberal reporters disinforming the public, belittling the EMP threat, is POLITICO’s Sarah Cammarata in “Is It Lights Out for Trump’s EMP Push” (November 12, 2019). A sample of Ms. Cammarata’s erroneous assertions:
--“Warnings about electromagnetic pulse attacks have long inspired eye-rolls or outright guffaws among national security experts…”
--“Talks of an EMP threat first came from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a 1983 report, over two decades after the first widely recognized EMP event occurred during the Cold War.”
--“A consensus among most in the scientific community is that EMP attacks are nothing to worry about and even a laughable subject.”
--“…the actual effect of such an [EMP] attack is untested.”
In fact, the Department of Defense (DOD) has understood the potentially catastrophic consequences of an EMP attack since effects were demonstrated in several high-altitude nuclear tests, including the 1962 STARFISH PRIME test over Johnston Island, that damaged and destroyed electronic systems in Hawaii, some 1,000 kilometers away.
For decades, DOD has employed EMP simulators to test effects and to develop protection for military aircraft, missiles, communications and other vital military systems.
Scientific and strategic consensus on the EMP threat can be found in the joint DOD and Energy Research and Development Administration landmark book “The Effects of Nuclear Weapons” (1977). “The Effects of Nuclear Weapons” declassified much research and warned EMP can inflict “severe damage” and the “consequences could be serious for any system that relies on…commercial electric power generation and distribution systems, telecommunications…radio, radar, television, telephone, and telegraph systems, and electronic computers.”
The congressionally mandated EMP Commission during 2001-2008 used EMP simulators to perform the most comprehensive testing of effects on modern electronic systems vital to the operation of electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures—including communications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water.
EMP testing proves modern microelectronics are some one million times more vulnerable than vacuum tubes and electronics prevalent in the early 1960s. Moreover, as modern electronics improve, becoming ever smaller and more efficient, so too their vulnerability to EMP increases.
Since 1963, a scientific and strategic consensus among EMP experts moved Republican and Democrat administrations and congresses to invest billions of dollars to protect the most important U.S. Government and DOD assets. Even President Obama invested nearly $1 billion to improve EMP protection for NORAD against the threat from North Korea.
Cammarata relies on ignorant non-experts to pepper her article with uninformed opinions dismissive of EMP, such as an unnamed “former chief cybersecurity risk officer for Connecticut” and the Middlebury Institute’s Jeffrey Lewis.
Contrary to Cammarata, Lewis is not a “nuclear weapons expert” but merely an opinionated political scientist with no expertise in EMP. Cammarata alludes to a 2017 interview of Lewis by National Public Radio (NPR), where he laughed hysterically at warnings from the EMP Commission and former CIA Director Woolsey that North Korea poses a potential EMP threat to the United States.
Just one week after Lewis laughingly dismissed the North Korean EMP threat, reports from South Korea and Japan both expressed alarm over a high-altitude missile fusing test by Pyongyang that they correctly interpreted as practicing an EMP attack.
Cammarata cites such non-experts to assert “it would make little sense for a nation to launch an EMP attack on the United States.” They, and Cammarata, are obviously ignorant of the military doctrines of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran that describe EMP as potentially decisive in a war against the U.S.
An EMP attack could be executed anonymously, blind radars and satellites needed to identify the attacker, and paralyze retaliatory forces—thereby defeating deterrence and achieving victory with a single blow. For the view of EMP from Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, and Tehran see “Nuclear EMP Attack Scenarios and Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare” (and all the unclassified EMP Commission reports) at www.firstempcommission.org
The EMP threat is far greater now than during the Cold War:
--EMP threats have greatly multiplied, including potentially nuclear terrorists, with the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
--Super-EMP nuclear weapons exceed U.S. military protection standards.
--Increasingly powerful non-nuclear EMP weapons are proliferating.
--Natural EMP from a solar superstorm is inevitable, likelihood 12% per decade, and could collapse electric grids worldwide, threatening billions of lives.
All of this makes urgent the competent implementation of President Trump’s excellent “Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses” (March 26, 2019).
Tragically, and perhaps someday fatally for millions, President Trump’s EMP Executive Order is being “implemented” by bureaucrats who have long opposed national EMP preparedness--and who are little better informed than Ms. Cammarata.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of "Blackout Wars" and “EMP Manhattan Project”.
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