Certain national infrastructures are so vital that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on the defense or economic security of the United States. These critical infrastructures include telecommunications, electrical power systems, gas and oil storage and transportation, banking and finance, transportation, water supply systems, emergency services (including medical, police, fire, and rescue), and continuity of government. Threats to these critical infrastructures fall into two categories: physical threats to tangible property (‘‘physical threats’’), and threats of electronic, radio-frequency, or computer-based attacks on the information or communications components that control critical infrastructures (‘‘cyber threats’’). ~ Introduction to 1996 Executive Order Establishing the Critical Infrastructure Commission
These two introductory sentences were followed by an important elaboration that:
Threats to these critical infrastructures fall into two categories: physical threats to tangible property (‘‘physical threats’’), and threats of electronic, radio-frequency, or computer-based attacks on the information or communications components that control critical infrastructures (‘‘cyber threats’’). Because many of these critical infrastructures are owned and operated by the private sector, it is essential that the government and private sector work together to develop a strategy for protecting them and assuring their continued operation.
Click here for the complete 1996 Executive Order, which led to the so-called Marsh Commission, after Retired USAF General Robert T. Marsh who chaired the resulting President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection. Click here for their October 1997 report, Critical Foundations: Protecting America’s Infrastructures, which set the stage of much innovation over the two decades, particularly highlighting the need to prepare for and counter the threat of cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructures.
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack focused the American mind on our vulnerability to a new framework of threats, though in that case not particularly high technology threats. But the subsequent seemingly unending conflicts have increasingly involved high-technology components.
In any case, neither the Marsh Commission nor related post-9/11 efforts focused on the 16 critical infrastructure areas (usually followed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)) considered the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks among the threats of “electronic” and “radio frequency” attacks that were included — no doubt because the EMP was such a highly classified subject.
Thanks to the leadership of then Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and Curt Weldon (R-PA), a Congressional Commission was established — the so-called EMP Commission — to bring into the public domain an understanding of the EMP threat and how to counter it. That advance was expected to be based on highly classified work since the 1960s, primarily in the Department of Defense (DoD), to protect our strategic systems and their supporting command, control and communications. Click here and here for the EMP Commission’s 2004 and 2008 unclassified reports.
For whatever the reasons, the government did not respond to this well established sobering information from the EMP Commission. Click here for President Obama’s February 12, 2013 Presidential Directive, PD21 Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, that includes no reference to the existential EMP threat.
Thus, Congress again called the EMP Commission back into service to provide even more information to the public — and especially the electric power companies that are working to improve their critical infrastructure. But the Commission’s service has been incomprehensively terminated, and we still await the DoD’s security review of their reports.
So far, there is no sign that the Trump administration is paying the serious attention needed to counter this existential threat. Indeed, its agents, perhaps controlled by “deep state” holdovers from the Obama administration, have been withholding key information needed by the private sector to protect critical civil infrastructure against EMP effects — most importantly, by those seeking to protect the electric power grid.
The federal government’s top priority should be assigned to assuring the viability of the electric power grid that is essential for operation of all other critical infrastructures — and if there are failures from Cyber, electromagnetic, and/or physical attacks, to assure rapid recovery to avoid long-term outages. Alas, the federal government is failing to meet this top priority objective.
Click here for my High Frontier message immediately after my May 8, 2017 related testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that also provides my conclusion that we must address this urgent problem from the bottom-up because the dysfunctional federal government is so badly broken.
And congress has further frustrated such needed progress by terminating the EMP Commission that served without compensation for the past 17 years. Click here for a couple of videos of recent talks by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry and your truly at the South Carolina Tea Party Convention, discussing these issues and what we are doing in South Carolina to protect our citizens, while the federal establishment dithers.
Finally, I want to draw briefly from my Newsmax Article urging President Trump to issue an Executive Order to establish a “new” Marsh Commission to examine the full complement of threats to our critical infrastructure, this time including EMP.
Click here for my January 25th Newsmax article, which began by noting an important disconnect between the President’s National Security Strategy and Defense Secretary James Mattis’ National Defense Strategy.
On page 12, the December 19 National Security Strategy acknowledged most urgent threats to our critical infrastructure, including the electric power grid:
“Critical infrastructure keeps our food fresh, our houses warm, our trade flowing, and our citizens productive and safe. The vulnerability of U.S. critical infrastructure to cyber, physical, and electromagnetic attacks means that adversaries could disrupt military command and control, banking and financial operations, the electrical grid, and means of communication.”
But the National Defense Strategy summary released a month later gave not even a nod to the EMP threat to all we hold dear. At least USAF General John E. Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, recognizes the importance of the EMP threat. Click here for my previous discussion of his recent speech to the Air Force Association, in which he stated in response to a question:
“[O]ur nation as a whole has not looked at EMP, we have not looked at the critical infrastructure that could be damaged by EMP, and we need to take a step back and look at that entire threat because it is a realistic threat.”
Yet many in DoD and the rest of the federal establishment continue to ignore this “realistic,” I say “existential,” threat.
The National Defense Strategy acknowledges cyber attack threats, but seems not to understand that Nuclear EMP is the ultimate cyber weapon in the military doctrines and plans of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for Combined Arms Cyber Warfare that they see as a decisive new Revolution in Military Affairs, as noted in an April 20, 2017, letter to the Secretary of Energy from Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman for 17 years of the Congressional EMP Commission — now disbanded, thanks to the ineptness if not collusion of Defense Department officials.
Click here for a recent comprehensive briefing by Dr. Graham that elaborates this concern and an additional number of his concerns, well worth your time to review. In particular, he discusses how the DoD has been unhelpful in withholding important information from important private sector participants who need it — particularly engineers working to assure the viability of the portion of the electric power grid they are charged to protect.
Too bad that the congress terminated his and the other EMP Commissioners’ efforts at this time when their help is so urgently needed. Click here for an article in The Hill by former Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Curt Weldon (R-PA) and a founder of the EMP Commission around the turn of the century, in vain seeking to head off this terrible mistake,
“Only Washington bureaucrats could be so stupid they would terminate the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack . . . the Congressional EMP Commission — just when North Korea threatened to attack the United States with EMP.”
So now, we find ourselves on the heels of recent North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests and the false alarm in Hawaii that demonstrated we are completely unprepared to respond to a real, now possible ICBM attack — which could also produce an existential EMP threat to the entire United States.
In my Newsmax article, I urged President Trump to ignore the Congressional initiatives instituted by the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 that call for a brand new EMP Commission through a process guaranteed to turn into an unconstructive political food-fight with half of the Commissioners to be appointed by Democrats and half by Republicans.
Given the serious existing threat, I urge the President to follow the precedent set by President Clinton and issue an Executive Order establishing under direct White House authorities a “new Marsh Commission” urgently to include the full complement of the threats to our critical infrastructure — especially the existential EMP threat that was still so highly classified at the time of the original Marsh report and since ignored by the “powers that be.”
This new Commission should immediately review what has transpired since the Original Marsh Commission and then integrate its efforts with related activities of the Homeland Security Council and the National Security Council. This Critical Infrastructure Commission should serve in the Executive Office of the President, and not in one of the executive departments/agencies with whom it should surely work to reduce unnecessary conflicts. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and perhaps the Council on Economic Advisors may need to have important roles in assuring appropriate cost-recovery measures and to attract private capital to help provide needed funding.
I want to make clear that some important work has been done by the Federal Government that draws its heritage from the Marsh Commission and subsequent activities. For example, I’ve previously pointed to the efforts of those considering the water-wastewater critical infrastructure — which I consider to be second only to electricity in importance. Click here for my High Frontier August 16, 2016 message that discussed the critical role of this important sector.
Consider the situation described by the June 2016 National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) report on “Water Sector Resilience.” Click here for the full report and at least read the Executive Summary.
The NIAC advises the President on the security and resilience of the critical infrastructure sectors and their functional systems, physical assets and cyber networks. These sectors span the U.S. economy, including Water; Chemical; Communications; Critical Manufacturing; Dams; Defense Industrial Base; Emergency Services; Energy; Financial; Food and Agriculture; Government Facilities; Healthcare and Public Health; Information Technology; Nuclear Reactors, Materials and Waste; and Transportation Systems.
As highlighted below in a figure from the Executive Summary of the NIAC report on water sector resilience, many of these sectors could be significantly degraded within a few hours after the loss of water, which could occur following a major loss of electricity — e.g., after an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event and when diesel fuel used to power emergency generators runs out.
Focus briefly on the hospitals, which are degraded by 67-99-percent within two hours after the loss of water services. And consider that patients start dying within hours with the loss of water. Also, notice that our electric power generating plants are dependent on water — also degraded by 67-99-percent within four hours after the loss of water. So our sources of water depend on electricity — and vice versa.
It’s very hard to miss the clear message of our dependence on water and electricity, don’t you think?
Can the “powers that be” not see it’s time for a “do-over” of the Marsh Commission — this time including the existential EMP threat?
Such a new Critical Infrastructure Protection Commission should begin with a rapid assessment of progress and shortfalls since the Marsh Commission and as soon as possible thereafter provide recommendations to the President for expediting fully funded initiatives to assure viable critical infrastructures to support the American people.
President Trump can do it with the stroke of his pen in an appropriate Executive Order, much faster than a new EMP Commission can be formed and most likely with more consequential effectiveness.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org, for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them. I hope you will help us with our urgently needed efforts, which I will be discussing in future messages.
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