The swan song of the Electromagnetic Pulse Commission is the music of risk
By Dr. William R. Graham and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry
Bureaucracies know how to deal with really challenging problems that affect the survival of our country: Kill the messenger.
The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack terminated on September 30, ironically, the same month North Korea tested an H-bomb it described as “a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for superpowerful EMP attack.”
For 17 years, the EMP Commission warned about the existential EMP threat.
Rogue states or terrorists can blackout national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, topple electronic civilization, and kill millions from sea to shining sea, with a single high-altitude nuclear detonation, generating an EMP field covering North America. Natural EMP from a solar superstorm could blackout the whole world. EMP is considered a cyber weapon, not a nuclear weapon, in the military doctrines of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
On October 12, before a House Homeland Security Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Scott Perry, the EMP Commissionstaff delivered a final testimony, lamenting Washington bureaucrats are still oblivious to EMP.
The Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Energy (DOE), still largely staffed by Obama-holdovers, did not ask Congress to continue the EMP Commission.
The Secretaries of DOD and DOE ignored repeated requests to meet with the EMP Commission. DOE thinks the EMP threat is unproven and plans to partner with the electric power industry on studying EMP until 2020 and beyond.
DOD is letting DOE waste millions of dollars on unnecessary studies while DOD sits on a mountain of classified studies proving the EMP threat is real — which is why DOD has spent billions EMP hardening military systems.
Experts who have worked on protecting military systems from EMP for decades know how to harden our critical national infrastructure, but electric power organizations such as the Electric Power Research Institute and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation are not asking them for help.
A senior DHS official, speaking anonymously, recently told Fox News that EMP is a “theoretical” threat and lower priority than “real” threats, like cyber-attacks and sabotage.
Yet the empirical basis for the EMP threat to electric grids and civilization is far deeper and broader than for cyber-attacks or sabotage.
We know for certain EMP will damage electronics and cause protracted blackout of unprotected electric grids and other critical infrastructures from:
The 1962 U.S. STARFISH PRIME high-altitude nuclear test that generated an EMP field over the Hawaiian Islands, over 1,300 kilometers away, causing widespread damage to electronic systems.
Six Russian high altitude nuclear tests 1961-1962 over Kazakhstan that with a single weapon destroyed electric grids over an area larger than Western Europe.
30 years (1962-1992) of U.S. underground nuclear testing. (Contrary to another government “expert” cited by Fox News, underground nuclear tests can tell a lot about the EMP threat from the weapon yield, gamma ray output, and other effects. Indeed, nuclear weapons specialized for EMP, what Russia and China call “Super-EMP” weapons, can be made without testing.)
Over 50 years of testing using EMP simulators, including tests by the EMP Commission(2001-2008), proving modern semiconductor electronics are far more vulnerable to EMP than 1950-60s era electronics.
Moreover, hard data proving the threat from nuclear EMP is available from natural EMP generated by geomagnetic storms, accidental damage caused by electromagnetic transients, and non-nuclear EMP weapons. All these produce field strengths much less powerful than nuclear EMP.
Electromagnetic attack is well known to North Korea. It used a non-nuclear EMP weapon to attack airliners and impose an “electromagnetic blockade” on air traffic to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, disrupting communications and operation of automobiles in several South Korean cities in December 2010; March 2011; and April-May 2012.
Real world failures of electric grids from various causes indicate nuclear EMP attack would have catastrophic consequences. Big blackouts have been caused by small failures cascading into system-wide failures:
The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 — that put 50 million people in the dark for a day, contributed to at least 11 deaths and cost an estimated $6 billion — happened when a power line contacted a tree branch, damaging less than 0.0000001 (0.00001 percent) of the system.
The New York City Blackout of 1977, that resulted in the arrest of 4,500 looters and injury of 550 police officers, was caused by a lightning strike on a substation that tripped two circuit breakers.
The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965, that effected 30 million people, happened because a protective relay on a transmission line was improperly set.
India’s nationwide blackout of July 30-31, 2012 — the largest blackout in history, effecting 670 million people, 9 percent of the world population — was caused by overload of a single high-voltage power line.
In contrast to the above blackouts caused by small-scale failures, nuclear EMP attack would inflict massive widespread damage to electric grids.
A protracted blackout endangering millions will be the inevitable result of the EMP attack described by the North Koreans.
But the EMP Commission won’t be around anymore to help prevent electronic Armageddon.
Dr. William Graham is Chairman of the congressional EMP Commission and served as White House Science Advisor to President Reagan; Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is chief of staff of the congressional EMP Commissionand served in the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.
Full transcript of White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly’s statement concerning President Donald Trump’s call to the widow of a U.S. Army soldier recently killed during a counter terror operation in Niger:
JOHN F. KELLY, White House chief of staff: Well, thanks a lot. And it is a more serious note, so I just wanted to perhaps make more of a statement than an — give more of an explanation in what amounts to be a traditional press interaction.
Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our Coast Guardsmen in combat. So let me tell you what happens:
Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud, puts them on a helicopter as a routine, and sends them home. Their first stop along the way is when they’re packed in ice, typically at the airhead. And then they’re flown to, usually, Europe where they’re then packed in ice again and flown to Dover Air Force Base, where Dover takes care of the remains, embalms them, meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the medals that they’ve earned, the emblems of their service, and then puts them on another airplane linked up with a casualty officer escort that takes them home.
A very, very good movie to watch, if you haven’t ever seen it, is “Taking Chance,” where this is done in a movie — HBO setting. Chance Phelps was killed under my command right next to me, and it’s worth seeing that if you’ve never seen it.
So that’s the process. While that’s happening, a casualty officer typically goes to the home very early in the morning and waits for the first lights to come on. And then he knocks on the door; typically a mom and dad will answer, a wife. And if there is a wife, this is happening in two different places; if the parents are divorced, three different places. And the casualty officer proceeds to break the heart of a family member and stays with that family until — well, for a long, long time, even after the internment. So that’s what happens.
Who are these young men and women? They are the best 1 percent this country produces. Most of you, as Americans, don’t know them. Many of you don’t know anyone who knows any one of them. But they are the very best this country produces, and they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required. But that’s all right.
Who writes letters to the families? Typically, the company commander — in my case, as a Marine — the company commander, battalion commander, regimental commander, division commander, Secretary of Defense, typically the service chief, commandant of the Marine Corps, and the President typically writes a letter.
Typically, the only phone calls a family receives are the most important phone calls they could imagine, and that is from their buddies. In my case, hours after my son was killed, his friends were calling us from Afghanistan, telling us what a great guy he was. Those are the only phone calls that really mattered.
And yeah, the letters count, to a degree, but there’s not much that really can take the edge off what a family member is going through.
So some Presidents have elected to call. All Presidents, I believe, have elected to send letters. If you elect to call a family like this, it is about the most difficult thing you could imagine. There’s no perfect way to make that phone call.
When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it because it’s not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to. It’s nice to do, in my opinion, in any event.
He asked me about previous Presidents, and I said, I can tell you that President Obama, who was my Commander-in-Chief when I was on active duty, did not call my family. That was not a criticism. That was just to simply say, I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing. I don’t believe President Bush called in all cases. I don’t believe any President, particularly when the casualty rates are very, very high — that Presidents call. But I believe they all write.
So when I gave that explanation to our President three days ago, he elected to make phone calls in the cases of four young men who we lost in Niger at the earlier part of this month. But then he said, how do you make these calls? If you’re not in the family, if you’ve never worn the uniform, if you’ve never been in combat, you can’t even imagine how to make that call. I think he very bravely does make those calls.
The call in question that he made yesterday — or day before yesterday now — were to four family members, the four fallen. And remember, there’s a next-of-kin designated by the individual. If he’s married, that’s typically the spouse. If he’s not married, that’s typically the parents unless the parents are divorced, and then he selects one of them. If he didn’t get along with his parents, he’ll select a sibling. But the point is, the phone call is made to the next-of-kin only if the next-of-kin agrees to take the phone call. Sometimes they don’t.
So a pre-call is made: The President of the United States or the commandant of the Marine Corps, or someone would like to call, will you accept the call? And typically, they all accept the call.
So he called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way that he could. And he said to me, what do I say? I said to him, sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families.
Well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.
That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day. I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing. A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion — that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist; he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.
That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted.
It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.
Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.
And when I listened to this woman and what she was saying, and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this Earth. And you can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery. I went over there for an hour-and-a-half, walked among the stones, some of whom I put there because they were doing what I told them to do when they were killed.
I’ll end with this: In October — April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 — a guy by the name of Grogan and Duke. Grogan almost retired, 53 years old; Duke, I think less than a year on the job. (Editor’s note: The F.B.I. agent for which the building is named was named Jerry L. Dove, not Duke.)
Anyways, they got in a gunfight and they were killed. Three other FBI agents were there, were wounded, and now retired. So we go down — Jim Comey gave an absolutely brilliant memorial speech to those fallen men and to all of the men and women of the FBI who serve our country so well, and law enforcement so well.
There were family members there. Some of the children that were there were three or four years old when their dads were killed on that street in Miami-Dade. Three of the men that survived the fight were there, and gave a rendition of how brave those men were and how they gave their lives.
And a congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.
But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, O.K., fine.
So I still hope, as you write your stories, and I appeal to America, that let’s not let this maybe last thing that’s held sacred in our society — a young man, young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country — let’s try to somehow keep that sacred. But it eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of Congress.
So I’m willing to take a question or two on this topic. Let me ask you this: Is anyone here a Gold Star parent or sibling? Does anyone here know a Gold Star parent or sibling?
O.K., you get the question.
Q Well, thank you, General Kelly. First of all, we have a great deal of respect — Semper Fi — for everything that you’ve ever done. But if we could take this a bit further. Why were they in Niger? We were told they weren’t in armored vehicles and there was no air cover. So what are the specifics about this particular incident? And why were we there? And why are we there?
GENERAL KELLY: Well, I would start by saying there is an investigation. Let me back up and say, the fact of the matter is, young men and women that wear our uniform are deployed around the world and there are tens of thousands, near the DMZ in North Korea [sic], in Okinawa, waiting to go — in South Korea — in Okinawa, ready to go. All over the United States, training, ready to go. They’re all over Latin America. Down there, they do mostly drug and addiction, working with our partners — our great partners — the Colombians, the Central Americans, the Mexicans.
You know, there’s thousands. My own son, right now, back in the fight for his fifth tour against ISIS. There’s thousands of them in Europe acting as a deterrent. And they’re throughout Africa. And they’re doing the nation’s work there, and not making a lot of money, by the way, doing it. They love what they do.
So why were they there? They’re there working with partners, local — all across Africa — in this case, Niger — working with partners, teaching them how to be better soldiers; teaching them how to respect human rights; teaching them how to fight ISIS so that we don’t have to send our soldiers and Marines there in their thousands. That’s what they were doing there.
Now, there is an investigation. There’s always an — unless it’s a very, very conventional death in a conventional war, there’s always an investigation. Of course, that operation is conducted by AFRICOM that, of course, works directly for the Secretary of Defense.
There is a — and I talked to Jim Mattis this morning. I think he made statements this afternoon. There’s an investigation ongoing. An investigation doesn’t mean anything was wrong. An investigation doesn’t mean people’s heads are going to roll. The fact is they need to find out what happened and why it happened.
But at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, you have to understand that these young people — sometimes old guys — put on the uniform, go to where we send them to protect our country. Sometimes they go in large numbers to invade Iraq and invade Afghanistan. Sometimes they’re working in small units, working with our partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, helping them be better.
But at the end of the day, they’re helping those partners be better at fighting ISIS in North Africa to protect our country so that we don’t have to send large numbers of troops.
Any other — someone who knows a Gold Star fallen person.
Q General, thank you for being here today and thank you for your service and for your family’s sacrifice. There has been some talk about the timetable of the release of the statement about the — I think at that point it was three soldiers who were killed in Niger. Can you walk us through the timetable of the release of that information? And what part did the fact that a beacon was pinging during that time have to do with the release of the statement? And were you concerned that divulging information early might jeopardize the soldiers’ attempt to be (inaudible)?
GENERAL KELLY: First of all, that’s a — you know, we are at the highest level of the U.S. government. The people that will answer those questions will be the people at the other end of the military pyramid.
I’m sure the Special Forces group is conducting it. I know they’re conducting an investigation. That investigation, of course, under the auspices of AFRICOM, ultimately will go to the Pentagon. I’ve read the same stories you have. I actually know a lot more than I’m letting on, but I’m not going to tell you.
There is an investigation being done. But as I say, the men and women of our country that are serving all around the world — I mean, what the hell is my son doing back in the fight? He’s back in the fight because — working with Iraqi soldiers who are infinitely better than they were a few years ago to take ISIS on directly so that we don’t have to do it. Small numbers of Marines where he is working alongside those guys. That’s why they’re out there, whether it’s Niger, Iraq, or whatever. We don’t want to send tens of thousands of American soldiers and Marines, in particular, to go fight.
I’ll take one more, but it’s got to be from someone who knows — all right.
Q General, when you talk about Niger, sir, what does your intelligence tell you about the Russian connection with them? And the stories that are coming out now, they’re —
GENERAL KELLY: I have no knowledge of any Russian connection, but I was not, in my position, to know that. That’s a question for NORTHCOM or for — not NORTHCOM — for AFRICOM or DOD.
Thanks very much, everybody.
As I walk off the stage, understand there’s tens of thousands of American kids, mostly, doing their nation’s bidding all around the world. They don’t have to be in uniform. You know, when I was a kid, every man in my life was a veteran — World War II, Korea, and there was the draft. These young people today, they don’t do it for any other reason than their selfless — sense of selfless devotion to this great nation.
We don’t look down upon those of you who that haven’t served. In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll have never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our service men and women do — not for any other reason than they love this country. So just think of that.
Looks like General Caslen and others are missing the 5 9’s reliability.
A letter to:
Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr.
U.S. Military Academy, West Point
Dear General Caslen,
I have just read your long letter prompted by the Rapone affair. I have
also a lot to write about the situation.
First, I am not pleased with LTC Heffington’s story in his affidavit. In my
day no officer would have deigned to argue with a cadet, even a First
Classman. He would have simply told the cadet to return to his room. If
the cadet disobeyed he would have called the Officer of the Day to have the
cadet physically moved to his room. And he would have written up the cadet
for disobeying the direct order of a superior officer, plus disrespect to an
officer and being out of uniform. LTC Heffington may well lament the rot in
the administration and training of cadets, but he obviously was a part of
Second, why was no investigation begun in November 2015 based upon LTC
Heffington’s affidavit? Regardless of what the investigation would have
concluded, the fact that none was initiated is another example of the rot
that is permeating the USMA. Somebody simply decided to pass the problem
along to the Army. In addition, why was he allowed to graduate? As a
professed Communist he could not truthfully have sworn allegiance to the
Constitution of the United States. Yet he apparently lied and did. His
views were known and yet he was permitted to commit perjury.
Third, you write “While we do not compromise standards, we are a
developmental institution.” When did West Point become a “developmental
institution? What does that even mean? West Point was created in order to
furnish standard-setting, career officers for the United States Army. And
it did that job well until the latter half of the twentieth century. And it
accomplished its mission on an “attritional” and a “zero tolerance” basis.
What does “developmental” mean? Maybe it means that a cadet can be caught
lying twice, but if he is caught lying a third time, i.e., he has not
“developed”, he will be sent before the Honor Board, that may even decide
the cadet needs a little more “development” and gives him three more
chances. I remember that when I was a plebe, and maybe even my first day, I
was made to understand that lying or quibbling was not allowed and would
mean rapid dismissal. Maybe “development” means being able to discuss an
order given by a superior officer. Rot! Maybe “developmental” means that
an upper classman inspecting a plebe in ranks (if such a thing is still
tolerated) says “Mister, your shoeshine looks better today than yesterday,
but it still needs some work. So, try to do better tomorrow.” Rot!
Fourth, you write, “These changes have increased the realism, toughness, and
challenge of our developmental programs, resulting in the most capable and
confident young leaders of character that we have ever produced”. This is
gratuitously denigrating all previous graduates. Do I need to remind you
that previous classes produced leaders that saved this country more than
once. Your statement is pure PR. How can you possibly know that the
present generation of cadets are “the most capable and confident”? Have you
conducted any objective survey? Furthermore, the mission of West Point is
not to produce capable and confident second lieutenants. Its mission is to
produce the men and women who will lead the Army in the future. They should
be trained not to be second lieutenants, but future colonels and general
officers. At the 70th Reunion of my class last May you addressed all the
reunion classes. I took the opportunity to ask you what was the average
recent percentage of graduates who remain in the Army beyond their 5 year
commitment. You evaded replying to my question by stating that it was as
high as that of ROTC graduates. You seemed to be satisfied with that level.
It is not good enough. Graduates of the USMA are meant to set the standards
for the discipline and conduct of the personnel in the United States Army.
But if a graduate serves only his/her five years, his/her impact on the
standards of the Army is minimal to nil.
Fifth, you make a big deal of the ratings various publications give West
Point as a university. West Point is not a university. It is a school to
train standard-setting, career U.S. Army officers. Incidentally, cadets
receive a university-level education. You should care more about how many
of the graduates remain for a career in the Army than that such-and such a
publication ranks the USMA #? as a liberal arts/engineering/whatever
university. The same goes for athletics. Can you tell me that the
standards for admission are not today warped/waived in order to bring in a
star athlete? Can you tell me that special academic assistance is not given
to members of Corps Squads, particularly football. Can you tell me that
every prospective cadet must take a written exam and, good athlete or not,
must pass it in order to be allowed to enter?
Sixth, you make a big deal of having intercollegiate athletic teams with an
overall record of .590. So what! West Point was never supposed to be an
athletic powerhouse. I don’t believe the MacArthur quote that used to be
engraved over the entrance to the gym meant intercollegiate athletics, in
which only a small minority of the cadets participate. I believe it
referred to intramural athletics. I am all for intramural athletics. I
firmly believe that there is too much emphasis placed today on
intercollegiate athletics at West Point.
Seventh, you make a big deal about decorations recent graduates have
received. What about second lieutenants out of OCS or ROTC? Didn’t they
get any? Did they get less ? Maybe, because they weren’t “developed”.
Maybe, because they performed less well. Heroism is not a virtue exclusive
to West Point. What was once upon a time exclusive was the commitment to
graduate standard-setting career officers. This OCS and ROTC do not and
cannot do. OCS and ROTC base their standards, or at least they used to, on
those of graduates of West Point.
Eighth, you make a big deal that some recent graduates have been assigned to
divisions overseas. Where have you been? What’s so uplifting about that?
Every member of my class after finishing his branch Officers Basic Course
was assigned overseas-everyone. No big deal.
Ninth, I graduated under the previous so-called “attritional” and “zero
tolerance” system (as did all classes up to at least 1966. See Rick
Atkinson’s “The Long Gray Line”, the story of the Class of 1966). I
“developed” from a boy to a man on my own. Nobody gave a damn whether I
“developed”. I was expected from the first day to live up to the standards
of the Military Academy. It was up to me in meeting them to “develop”
myself. I seriously doubt that any of your “best and brightest” could even
have lasted through my plebe year.
Lastly, this letter started because of Second Lieutenant Rapone. Obviously
he didn’t “develop” as well as he should have.. How many more cadets are
being graduated under the “developmental” system who do not come up to what
have been the traditional standards of West Point: Duty, Honor, Country?
How many cadets are being graduated who have no intention, and never had any
intention, of being career Army officers / I doubt seriously that the
American taxpayer would be overjoyed to realize that he/she is paying,
what?, a half million dollars to give somebody a university education so
that he/she can leave the Army as quickly as possible and go into a
money-making civilian career. Although if there are a number of Rapones
whom you allow to graduate, it’s in the Army’s interest that they get out
Benjamin L. Landis
“Benjamin L. Landis retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel after a 27-year career that included service with the Military Assistance Advisory Group at the U.S. embassy in Paris and as Senior U.S. Liaison Officer with the French Forces in Germany. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and the French Army Ecole d’ Etat-Major, and has an MSA from The George Washington University. After retirement, he was Director of Administration and Finance for several major law firms in Washington. He is the author of Searching For Stability: The World in the Twenty-First Century.”
“How are people graduating from West Point so radicalized? Users on /pol/ think they may have found the answer: Professor Rasheed Hosein,” they tweeted.
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On average, a family of three would have to earn a six-figure salary—or $110,823.32—for coverage to be affordable.