“Journalists and commentators mainly on the political right, prompted partly by a government report in March, have been seeking to keep public attention on the possibility of a society-devastating electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. They focus mainly on a nuclear bomb as the cause.” ~ Steven T Corneliussen, Physics Today, 23 June 2016
I’m resisting my inclination to join the reviews of the implications of Brexit to focus on the mischaracterizations of Mr. Corneliussen, a media analyst for The American Institute of Physics, as implied above. He apparently thinks concern about electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is just a reflection of another “vast right wing conspiracy.”
Too bad, because he quotes liberally from the writings of many of my friends (and me) in our efforts to awaken the American people to a truly existential threat to the electric power grid posed by physical attacks, cyber attacks, and EMP — from both manmade attacks and natural (solar) events that will for certain occur. Personally, I don’t mind being identified with the “political right,” especially when I am technically right!
You’d think being technically thorough and correct also would matter to the American Institute of Physics. But its banner magazine, Physics Today, published Corneliussen’s article (Click here.), which masquerades as a critical review of the findings of a March 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report titled CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION — Federal Agencies Have Taken Actions to Address Electromagnetic Risks, But Opportunities Exist to Further Address Risks and Strengthen Collaboration. (Click here and judge the full report for yourself.)
Mr. Corneliussen begins by claiming that this GAO report has prompted journalists and commentators, mainly on the political right, to seek to keep public attention on the possibility of a society-devastating electromagnetic pulse (EMP) mainly from a nuclear bomb. He then briefly challenges the GAO findings as being “an old concern” — mentioning, presumably as justification, Newt Gingrich’s stated concerns in 2011 about both manmade and natural (solar) EMP.
As if 2011 makes it an old concern? We, who were so liberally quoted, have been raising this concern for much longer. Indeed, some of us have been involved in EMP issues since the 1962 Starfish Prime nuclear test ushered in the EMP era over a half century ago. Click here for my July 7, 2015 message celebrating the 53rd anniversary of this important event and discussing a number of public misrepresentations — not unlike Mr. Corneliussen’s obvious bias.
The threat and the nation’s response was highly classified throughout the Cold War as we hardened our strategic systems against EMP effects. In discussing these issue a few weeks ago with Louisiana’s Governor James Bel Edwards, he wanted to know why (since he was a West Point Graduate and an Airborne Ranger) he had never until recently heard about EMP. I told him that it was because during that period he simply was not cleared to know.
The Governor, a Democrat by the way, has learned enough now to be sufficiently concerned to seek a plan for Louisiana to deal with the problem. A little research might have informed Mr. Corneliussen that my friends and I are not just concerned about issues of the “political right.”
Moreover, minor review would have revealed to him that, not surprisingly, our Cold War programs were led by the Department of Defense rather than the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, whose programs were the subject of the GAO report — and Corneliusssen’s review. That omission of such important background is another criticism of his poorly researched critique of the GAO report. But observing this dysfunctionality would have been contrary to his chosen theme that concern about EMP is just another issue of the “political right.”
Notably, Corneliussen never mentions the EMP Commission’s reports of 2004 and especially 2008, which made public many important details of EMP effects and how to harden against them. (Click here for links to these important reports.) The members of the EMP Commission were highly qualified and non-partisan, by the way, and certainly not members of the traditional “vast right wing.”
Notably, the EMP Commission has been reinstated by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, NDAA(16) — and all Commissioners have agreed to resume their participation. Corneliussen’s poorly researched review also failed to mention that important fact. Note the NDAA guides the programs of the Department of Defense.
The Commission’s 2008 report amply exposed the vulnerability of our critical civil infrastructure, particularly the electric power grid upon which so much of our modern society depends. Hopefully, the reinstated Commission will drive home the failed technical merits of the nation’s lethargic response so far — and hopefully recommend a total integrated government response to this truly existential threat.
If Corneliussen had noticed the GAO’s omission of considering the DoD’s important role in hardening our military systems for a half-century, he might have observed that the security of the electric power grid is not the responsibility of the DoD, though perhaps it should be.
Indeed, getting at the dysfunctionality of the federal government in dealing with EMP would have been a public service that could have aided the reinstated EMP Commission — but Corneliussen did not get to that important observation.
Rather, he chose to criticize a much more prescient June 13, 2016 Wall Street Journal article by Joe Colangelo, a former US Navy officer and Executive Director of Consumers’ Research, titled “EMP: A Threat We’re Not Ready For.” (Click here for this important article.)
After reviewing the GAO Report and noting the importance of the EMP Commission, Colangelo made several important observations and conclusions which I have rearranged slightly:
“An electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear device or solar storm would be catastrophic, yet the U.S. remains unprepared . . . Though complexity contributes to the sorry state of preparedness, a major factor is bureaucratic ambiguity about who owns the problem . . . The departments of Homeland Security and Energy are not protecting Americans from these threats. They are not doing their jobs . . . Though complexity contributes to the sorry state of preparedness, a major factor is bureaucratic ambiguity about who owns the problem. Worse, the recommendations of the EMP commission carry no legislative or executive mandate.”
Colangelo also reported that at a May 17 hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, a GAO official explained that there had not been a “comprehensive, holistic effort to address” the EMP Commission’s recommendations and “no designated lead for coordinating all these efforts.”
Hopefully, the reinstated EMP Commission will rectify this criticism.
But as I have argued for several years, it is very important that our local and state authorities should not wait on the Federal Government eventually to get it right. We need to address the threats to the electric power grid (and our other critical civil infrastructure) from the bottom-up.
Consider the summary from July 10, 2008 testimony by EMP Commission Chairman Dr. William R. Graham (Click here for his full prepared testimony.):
“It is the consensus of the EMP Commission that the Nation need not be vulnerable to catastrophic consequences of an EMP attack. As detailed in the Commission report provided today to the Congress, the Nation’s vulnerability to EMP that gives rise to potentially large-scale, long-term consequences can be reasonably reduced below the level of a potentially catastrophic national problem by coordinated and focused effort between the private and public sectors of our country. The cost for such improved security in the next 3 to 5 years is modest by any standard — and extremely so in relation to both the war on terror and the value of the national infrastructures threatened.
“The appropriate response to the EMP threat is a balance of prevention, planning, training, maintaining situational awareness, protection, and preparations for recovery. Such actions are both feasible and well within the Nation’s means and resources to accomplish, and would provide further benefits to the U.S. by increasing the reliability of our critical national infrastructures and preparing them to manage the effects of other large-scale, widespread threats, both man-made, such as cyber attack, and naturally caused, such as very large-scale hurricanes and geomagnetic storms. However, if the EMP threat is unaddressed, the current status of U.S. critical national infrastructures can both invite and reward attack.”
Regrettably, this assessment is as valid today as it was eight years ago. And it bodes ill that we have done so little to address these concerns.
There is absolutely no doubt that the EMP threat is real, and I believe initiatives to deal with it it warrant urgency. Not least among the reasons for urgency is that, as noted in one of our articles quoted by Corneliussen (Click here.), several authorities and I believe we should consider that Iran may already have nuclear weapons — whatever is the formal view of the Intelligence Community. If so, Iran could place a nuclear weapon on one of its satellites launched over the South Polar regions and detonate it over the United States to create an existential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could kill most Americans within a year.
Iran’s military writings indicate they well understand and include plans to do just that to bring “the Great Satan” to its knees. Alternatively, Iran might provide one to ISIS, which is reportedly seeking nuclear weapons, to send our way via a ship that detonates it in one of our harbors — or launches it on a SCUD (They might purchase one for a few million dollars.) to create an EMP that could kill most Americans within a year.
Time’s a wastin’ — click here for a musical rendition from an earlier era that allows me to end on lighter note than my above recounting of our current disgusting situation!
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.
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