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Tags: emp | north korea | nuclear

Threat From EMP Attack Ratchets Up

By    |   Tuesday, 10 May 2016 02:03 PM EDT

Historians note that one of the signs of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire was the rise of walled cities.

Rome was no longer capable of defending its far-flung borders from invading barbarians. So cities had to defend themselves by erecting fortifications, becoming fortresses that are popular tourist attractions today, but that then signified the collapse of Roman civilization and the advent of the Dark Ages.

Now Washington under the leadership of President Barack Obama lacks the political will to defeat or deter the new barbarians that threaten Western civilization:
  • Islamist terrorism is raiding Europe and America, pouring hundreds of fighters and thousands of new recruits, mixed with refugees from the Middle East, across the West's undefended borders.
  • North Korea repeatedly threatens nuclear missile strikes. On Feb. 7, Pyongyang orbited a second satellite over the U.S. on the optimum trajectory to evade National Missile Defenses and make a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could blackout the U.S. electric grid and kill millions of Americans, if the satellite is nuclear armed.
  • Iran may also be capable of making a nuclear EMP attack on the U.S. Iran is allied to North Korea and has orbited satellites on similar trajectories. President Obama's Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal) is unverifiable, and failed to verify the past and present status of Iran's nuclear weapons program, as promised to Congress.
  • Russia and China are on the march in Europe and Asia, testing the resolve of the U.S. to defend NATO and its Pacific allies, and waging cyberwarfare against the U.S. homeland.
The greatest threat to the U.S. and Western civilization is an EMP that blacks-out the electric grid for months or years, thereby collapsing all the life-sustaining critical infrastructures, including communications, transportation, business and manufacturing, food and water.

Nuclear EMP attack is the worst threat, because it would cause the deepest damage to electronics and critical infrastructures. But a protracted nation-wide blackout threatening the existence of civilization can also be caused by natural EMP from a rare geomagnetic superstorm, by non-nuclear EMP from radio frequency weapons, by cyberattack, and even by terrorists armed with small arms attacking key nodes in the electric grid.

The Congressional EMP Commission, recently re-established by Congress, warns that a nationwide blackout lasting one year could kill up to 90 percent of the American people by starvation, industrial and environmental catastrophes (like firestorms from natural gas pipelines and radioactive plumes from nuclear reactors), and societal collapse.

The good news is that the EMP Commission proposed a plan in 2008 to protect the national electric grid and the lives of the American people for about $2 billion, or what the U.S. gives away every year in foreign aid to Pakistan.

More bad news is that in the 8 years since the EMP Commission submitted its plan to protect the nation's electric grid and other critical infrastructures, the federal bureaucracy has done little or nothing.

Washington's failure to protect the American people from EMP and other potentially catastrophic threats to the electric grid is symptomatic of a general decline in federal competence such that the central government now seems incapable of accomplishing anything. For example:
  • The Defense Department wasted $500 million training an "army" of 50 Syrian rebels, who mostly defected to ISIS.
  • Health and Human Services wasted millions of dollars on a website for Obamacare that does not work.
  • The federal bureaucracy cannot protect itself from cyber attacks from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.
Fortunately, some states have noticed federal incompetency, and growing threats to the grid, and are moving to protect themselves. Maine, Virginia, Florida, and Arizona have passed legislation or taken other measures to protect their grids and peoples from the catastrophic consequences of a protracted blackout.

Most recently, under the leadership of Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott and state Sen. Bob Hall, a "Texas Grid Security Summit" convened in Austin (April 28-29). The summit responded to a petition from 23 members of the Texas delegation to the U.S. Congress urging Gov. Abbott to protect the Texas grid from EMP and other threats.

The EMP Commission recommended that the national grid be "islanded" — individual states can protect transformers, generators, and control systems within their borders so their "lights will stay on" even if the rest of the nation goes into blackout.

Can the states compensate for the incompetence and lethargy of Washington, and act in time? When the states must "build walls" against EMP attack by the new barbarians, does it portend the advent of a new Dark Ages? Or is it an opportunity to reform federalism, so that governance is again mostly by the states, as was intended by the founders?

Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served in the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of "Blackout Wars." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Nuclear EMP attack is the worst threat, because it would cause the deepest damage to electronics and critical infrastructures.
emp, north korea, nuclear
Tuesday, 10 May 2016 02:03 PM
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