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Don't Disband EMP Commission as North Korea Threatens Power Grid

Don't Disband EMP Commission as North Korea Threatens Power Grid
This image of the United States of America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. (NASA EO/Rex Features)

Henry F. Cooper By Tuesday, 12 September 2017 04:14 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In 2001, the Congress established The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, generally referred to as the EMP Commission.

After its well qualified commissioners have since served without compensation, it is now under siege from a host of adversaries, including some in places you might least expect — for example in the Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Congress.

Indeed, The Boston Herald’s investigative reporter, Jack Encarnacao, reports it is “being forced to disband, even with North Korea specifically threatening an EMP attack as part of its alarming ramp-up of nuclear tests” in his aptly entitled article “Panel will no longer assess threat to power grid.”

Moreover, he reports an outrage that even the EMP Commission’s webpage, with links to its authoritative 2004 and 2008 reports, has been taken down. In particular, the 2008 report warned that an EMP attack was “one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences.”

Extended power outages pose a threat of food shortages, escalated crime, extended unemployment, and critical loss of light and heat. Commissioners testified that up to 90 percent of all Americans could perish within a year.

So who wants not even the private citizens to know about this existential threat to all we hold dear — and how to counter it? Click here and here for the Commission’s authoritative 2004 and 2008 reports respectively.

Encarnacao quotes the Commission chairman, Dr. William R. Graham, as noting “that the country is going to lose both the experience and the knowledge that the commissioners have brought (and) also the knowledge and support of extremely competent professional staff.”

I have known personally for many years most of the commissioners, who have served without compensation, to be of impeccable character and without equal in their understanding of the EMP threat and how to protect against it.

It is a travesty that this experience is being shut down if the House of Representatives has its way in disestablishing the commission and starting another one — after an inevitable extended delay.

Encarnacao also quotes Dr. Graham as noting that, during the Obama administration, the DoD “wanted to do everything they possibly could to suppress this concern and keep the public’s attention focused elsewhere, while we were making concessions to the Iranians and the North Koreans and others.”

Graham also noted that the same forces still hold sway at the Pentagon, with only Secretary James Mattis and a deputy secretary as Trump appointments approved by the Senate thus far. The DoD did not respond to Encarnacao’s request for comment.

Encarnacao also reports that the House Armed Services Committee has called for a DoD Inspector General’s audit of the Commission and, that the IG indicated its “policy is not to project how long audits will take, or discuss findings until they are completed.”

Meanwhile under the existing mandate, the current Commission’s term expires at the end of this month — and the House’s position is to start all over with a new commission sometime in the future.

Like Nero fiddling while Rome burns?

As Dr. Graham is reported to have said, “To date, I’ve noticed that there is one national leader who takes this [EMP Threat] seriously — and that appears to be Kim Jong Un.”

Indeed, last weekend North Korea released a statement saying it had “a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack.”

Hopefully, the Senate and the Conferees on the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 will rectify this absurd witch hunt — only one aspect of which is briefly discussed above — and re-establish the existing commission, with provisions to move its operations from the Pentagon to the White House with a direct reporting chain to President Trump.

While you would expect the Pentagon to be a good home because of its historic role in protecting our key strategic systems against EMP, it has proven to be otherwise, as alluded to by Mr. Encarnacao and summarized above.

Indeed, the DoD has obstructed progress at numerous steps along the way, perhaps because the DoD authorities do not assume responsibility for protecting the critical civil infrastructure of the nation, most notably the electric power grid and its vulnerabilities.

Indeed, a key problem is that no one is in charge of assuring such critical infrastructure as the electric power gird is protected against the natural or manmade EMP threat. That’s why Congress should re-establish the Commission in the White House to enable a “whole of government” response to this existential threat.

Finally, I want to note that I have known most of the Commissioners for many years while I was actively involved in protecting our strategic systems from nuclear weapons effects and have briefed them on my concerns. I have received no compensation for doing so, even for my expenses. Nor would I take any. I speak for myself and my family — including a new great-grandson born last week.

Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper, Chairman of High Frontier and an acknowledged expert on strategic and space national security issues, was President Ronald Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union and Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Director during the George H.W. Bush administration. Previously, he served as the Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Deputy Assistant USAF Secretary and Science Advisor to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. In the private sector he was Chairman of Applied Research Associates, a high technology company; member of the technical staff of Jaycor, R&D Associates and Bell Telephone Laboratories; a Senior Associate of the National Institute for Public Policy; and Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Clemson and a PhD from New York University, all in Mechanical Engineering. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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In 2001, the Congress established The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, generally referred to as the EMP Commission.
emp commission, department of defense, trump, obama
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 04:14 PM
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