[Paleopsych] Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.: EMP: Americas Achilles Heel

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Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.: EMP: Americas Achilles Heel

[This is G o o g l e's cache of http://www.hillsdale.edu/imprimis/default.htm 
as retrieved on Jun 17, 2005 04:04:16 GMT. I do not know why I had to retrieve 
this from Google's cache. I get Hillsdale College's Imprimus and thought to 
look it up online. Lucky I used Google first.

[Okay, I've wondered about whether the threat from an Electromagnetic Pulse is 
actually serious and not just something used for dramatic effect in the teevee 
series, "Dark Angel," which was pitched for an audience of above average 
intelligence and was pulled because of abysmal ratings.

[I cannot contest Gaffney that the threat is serious, provided the nuclear 
material can be found. I'm not worried about North Korea but about religious 
fanatics, who, happily enough, come from countries where the average IQ is 90 
or lower, and so may not be able to pull such an attack off.

[But--I fear the consequences to our liberties of cranking up the National 
Security State to the level Gaffney wants. I just can't trust our government.]

    Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., the founder and president of the Center for
    Security Policy, holds an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University
    School of Advanced International Studies and a B.S. from the
    Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He acted in the
    Reagan administration as assistant secretary of defense for
    international security policy, following four years of service as
    deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear forces and arms
    control policy. Prior to that he was a professional staff member on
    the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by the late Senator
    John Tower (R-Texas) and an aide to the late Senator Henry M. Scoop
    Jackson (D-Washington). He is a columnist for the Washington Times,
    Jewish World Review and TownHall.com, a contributing editor to
    National Review Online and a featured weekly contributor to Hugh
    Hewitts nationally syndicated radio program. He has written for the
    Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New Republic, the Washington Post,
    the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles
    Times and Newsday. Mr. Gaffney resides in Washington, D.C.

                The following is adapted from a speech delivered on May
    24, 2005, in Dallas, Texas, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership
    Seminar on the topic, Americas War Against Islamic Terrorism.

    If Osama bin Ladenor the dictators of North Korea or Irancould destroy
    America as a twenty-first century society and superpower, would they
    be tempted to try?  Given their track records and stated hostility to
    the United States, we have to operate on the assumption that they
    would.  That assumption would be especially frightening if this
    destruction could be accomplished with a single attack involving just
    one relatively small-yield nuclear weaponand if the nature of the
    attack would mean that its perpetrator might not be immediately or
    easily identified.

                Unfortunately, such a scenario is not far-fetched.
    According to a report issued last summer by a blue-ribbon,
    Congressionally-mandated commission, a single specialized nuclear
    weapon delivered to an altitude of a few hundred miles over the United
    States by a ballistic missile would be capable of causing catastrophe
    for the nation.  The source of such a cataclysm might be considered
    the ultimate weapon of mass destruction (WMD)yet it is hardly ever
    mentioned in the litany of dangerous WMDs we face today.  It is known
    as electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

    How EMP Works

                A nuclear weapon produces several different effects.  The
    best known, of course, are the intense heat and overpressures
    associated with the fireball and accompanying blast.  But a nuclear
    explosion also generates intense outputs of energy in the form of x-
    and gamma-rays.  If the latter are unleashed outside the Earths
    atmosphere, some portion of them will interact with the upper
    atmospheres air molecules.  This in turn will generate an enormous
    pulsed current of high-energy electrons that will interact with the
    Earths magnetic field.  The result is the instantaneous creation of an
    invisible radio-frequency wave of uniquely great intensity roughly a
    million-fold greater than that of the most powerful radio station.

                The energy of this pulse would reach everything in
    line-of-sight of the explosions center point at the speed of light.
    The higher the altitude of the weapons detonation, the larger the
    affected terrestrial area would be.  For example, at a height of 300
    miles, the entire continental United States, some of its offshore
    areas and parts of Canada and Mexico would be affected.  What is more,
    as the nuclear explosions fireball expands in space, it would generate
    additional electrical currents in the Earth below and in extended
    electrical conductors, such as electricity transmission lines.  If the
    electrical wiring of things like computers, microchips and power grids
    is exposed to these effects, they may be temporarily or permanently

                Estimates of the combined direct and indirect effects of
    an EMP attack prompted the Commission to Assess the Threat to the
    United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack to state the following
    in its report to Congress1:

    The electromagnetic fields produced by weapons designed and deployed
    with the intent to produce EMP have a high likelihood of damaging
    electrical power systems, electronics, and information systems upon
    which American society depends. Their effects on dependent systems and
    infrastructures could be sufficient to qualify as catastrophic to the

                If it seems incredible that a single weapon could have
    such an extraordinarily destructive effect, consider the nature and
    repercussions of the three distinct components of an electromagnetic
    pulse: fast, medium and slow. The fast component is essentially an
    electromagnetic shock-wave that can temporarily or permanently disrupt
    the functioning of electronic devices.  In twenty-first century
    America, such devices are virtually everywhere, including in controls,
    sensors, communications equipment, protective systems, computers, cell
    phones, cars and airplanes.  The extent of the damage induced by this
    component of EMP, which occurs virtually simultaneously over a very
    large area, is determined by the altitude of the explosion.

                The medium-speed component of EMP covers roughly the same
    geographic area as the fast one, although the peak power level of its
    electrical shock would be far lower.  Since it follows the fast
    component by a small fraction of a second, however, the medium-speed
    component has the potential to do extensive damage to systems whose
    protective and control features have been impaired or destroyed by the
    first onslaught.

                If the first two EMP components were not bad enough, there
    is a third onea slow component resulting from the expansion of the
    explosions fireball in the Earths magnetic field.  It is this slow
    componenta pulse that lasts tens of seconds to minuteswhich creates
    disruptive currents in electricity transmission lines, resulting in
    damage to electrical supply and distribution systems connected to such
    lines.  Just as the second component compounds the destructive impact
    of the first, the fact that the third follows on the first two ensures
    significantly greater damage to power grids and related

                The EMP Threat Commission estimates that, all other things
    being equal, it may take months to years to bring such systems fully
    back online. Here is how it depicts the horrifying ripple effect of
    the sustained loss of electricity on contemporary American society:

    Depending on the specific characteristics of the attacks,
    unprecedented cascading failures of our major infrastructures could
    result. In that event, a regional or national recovery would be long
    and difficult and would seriously degrade the safety and overall
    viability of our nation. The primary avenues for catastrophic damage
    to the nation are through our electric power infrastructure and thence
    into our telecommunications, energy, and other infrastructures. These,
    in turn, can seriously impact other important aspects of our nations
    life, including the financial system; means of getting food, water,
    and medical care to the citizenry; trade; and production of goods and

                The recovery of any one of the key national
    infrastructures is dependent on the recovery of others. The longer the
    outage, the more problematic and uncertain the recovery will be.  It
    is possible for the functional outages to become mutually reinforcing
    until at some point the degradation of infrastructure could have
    irreversible effects on the countrys ability to support its

    The EMP Threat Today

                The destructive power of electromagnetic pulses has been
    recognized by the United States national security community for some
    time.  The EMP Threat Commission noted that

    EMP effects from nuclear bursts are not new threats to our nation.
    Historically, [however,] this application of nuclear weaponry was
    mixed with a much larger population of nuclear devices that were the
    primary source of destruction, and thus EMP as a weapons effect was
    not the primary focus.

                As long as the Cold War threat arose principally from the
    prospect of tens, hundreds or even thousands of nuclear weapons
    detonating on American soil, such attention as was given to protecting
    against EMP effects was confined to shielding critical components of
    our strategic forces.  The militarys conventional forces were
    generally not systematically hardened against such effects.  And
    little, if any, effort was made even to assesslet alone to mitigatethe
    vulnerabilities of our civilian infrastructure.  As the theory went,
    as long as our nuclear deterrent worked, there was no need to worry
    about everything else.  If, on the other hand, deterrence failed, the
    disruptions caused by EMP would be pretty far down the list of things
    about which we would have to worry.

                Unfortunately, todays strategic environment has changed
    dramatically from that of the Cold War, when only the Soviet Union and
    Communist China could realistically threaten an EMP attack on the
    United States.  In particular, as the EMP Threat Commission put it:

    The emerging threat environment, characterized by a wide spectrum of
    actors that include near-peers, established nuclear powers, rogue
    nations, sub-national groups, and terrorist organizations that either
    now have access to nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles or may have
    such access over the next 15 years, have combined to raise the risk of
    EMP attack and adverse consequences on the U.S. to a level that is not

                Worse yet, the Commission observed that some potential
    sources of EMP threats are difficult to deter.  This is particularly
    true of terrorist groups that have no state identity, have only one or
    a few weapons, and are motivated to attack the U.S. without regard for
    their own safety. The same might be said of rogue states, such as
    North Korea and Iran.  They may also be developing the capability to
    pose an EMP threat to the United States, and may also be unpredictable
    and difficult to deter.  Indeed, professionals associated with the
    former Soviet nuclear weapons complex are said to have told the
    Commission that some of their ex-colleagues who worked on advanced
    nuclear weaponry programs for the USSR are now working in North

                Even more troubling, the Iranian military has reportedly
    tested its Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile in a manner
    consistent with an EMP attack scenario.  The launches are said to have
    taken place from aboard a shipan approach that would enable even
    short-range missiles to be employed in a strike against the Great
    Satan.  Ship-launched ballistic missiles have another advantage:  The
    return address of the attacker may not be confidently fixed,
    especially if the missile is a generic Scud-type weapon available in
    many arsenals around the world.  As just one example, in December
    2002, North Korea got away with delivering twelve such missiles to
    Osama bin Ladens native Yemen.  And Al Qaeda is estimated to have a
    score or more of sea-going vessels, any of which could readily be
    fitted with a Scud launcher and could try to steam undetected within
    range of our shores.

                The EMP Threat Commission found that even nations with
    whom the United States is supposed to have friendly relations, China
    and Russia, are said to have considered limited nuclear attack options
    that, unlike their Cold War plans, employ EMP as the primary or sole
    means of attack.  Indeed, as recently as May 1999, during the NATO
    bombing of the former Yugoslavia, high-ranking members of the Russian
    Duma, meeting with a U.S. congressional delegation to discuss the
    Balkans conflict, raised the specter of a Russian EMP attack that
    would paralyze the United States.

    America the Vulnerable

                What makes the growing EMP attack capabilities of hostile
    (and potentially hostile) nations a particular problem for America is
    that, in the words of the EMP Threat Commission, the U.S. has
    developed more than most other nations as a modern society heavily
    dependent on electronics, telecommunications, energy, information
    networks, and a rich set of financial and transportation systems that
    leverage modern technology.  Given our acute national dependence on
    such technologies, it is astonishingand alarmingto realize that:

    ·           Very little redundancy has been built into Americas
    critical infrastructure.  There is, for example, no parallel national
    security power grid built to enjoy greater resiliency than the
    civilian grid.

    ·           Americas critical infrastructure has scarcely any capacity
    to spare in the event of disruptioneven in one part of the country
    (recall the electrical blackout that crippled the northeastern U.S.
    for just a few days in 2003), let alone nationwide.

    ·           America is generally ill-prepared to reconstitute damaged
    or destroyed electrical and electricity-dependent systems upon which
    we rely so heavily.

                These conditions are not entirely surprising. America in
    peacetime has not traditionally given thought to military
    preparedness, given our highly efficient economy and its ability to
    respond quickly when a threat or attack arises. But EMP threatens to
    strip our economy of that ability, by rendering the infrastructure on
    which it relies impotent.

                In short, the attributes that make us a military and
    economic superpower without peer are also our potential Achilles
    heel.  In todays world, wracked by terrorists and their state
    sponsors, it must be asked:  Might not the opportunity to exploit the
    essence of Americas strengththe managed flow of electrons and all they
    make possiblein order to undo that strength prove irresistible to our
    foes?  This line of thinking seems especially likely among our
    Islamofascist enemies, who disdain such man-made sources of power and
    the sorts of democratic, humane and secular societies which they help
    make possible.  These enemies believe it to be their God-given
    responsibility to wage jihad against Western societies in general and
    the United States in particular.

                Calculations that might lead some to contemplate an EMP
    attack on the United States can only be further encouraged by the fact
    that our ability to retaliate could be severely degraded by such a
    strike.  In all likelihood, so would our ability to assess against
    whom to retaliate.  Even if forward-deployed U.S. forces were
    unaffected by the devastation wrought on the homeland by such an
    attack, many of the systems that transmit their orders and the
    industrial base necessary to sustain their operations would almost
    certainly be seriously disrupted.

                The impact on the American militarys offensive operations
    would be even further diminished should units based outside the
    continental United States also be subjected to EMP.  Particularly with
    the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon has been reluctant to pay the
    costs associated with shielding much of its equipment from
    electromagnetic pulses.  Even if it had been more willing to do so,
    the end of underground nuclear testing in 1992 denied our armed forces
    their most reliable means of assessing and correcting the EMP
    vulnerabilities of weapon systems, sensors, telecommunications gear
    and satellites.

                The military should also be concerned that although the
    sorts of shielding it has done in the past may be sufficient to
    protect against the EMP effects of traditional nuclear weapons
    designs, weapons optimized for such effects may well be able to defeat
    those measures.  Without a robust program for assessing and testing
    advanced designs, we are unlikely to be able to quantify such
    threatslet alone protect our military hardware and capabilities
    against them.

    What is to be Done?

                If the EMP Threat Commission is correct about the
    phenomenon of electromagnetic pulse attacks, the capabilities of our
    enemies to engage in these attacks and the effects of such attacks on
    our national security, cosmopolitan society and democratic way of
    life, we have no choice but to take urgent action to mitigate this
    danger.  To do so, we must immediately engage in three focused

                First, we must do everything possible to deter EMP attacks
    against the United States.  The EMP Threat Commission described a
    comprehensive approach:

    We must make it difficult and dangerous to acquire the materials to
    make a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver them. We must hold at
    risk of capture or destruction anyone who has such weaponry, wherever
    they are in the world.  Those who engage in or support these
    activities must be made to understand that they do so at the risk of
    everything they value. Those who harbor or help those who conspire to
    create these weapons must suffer serious consequences as well.

                To be effective, these measures will require vastly
    improved intelligence, the capacity to perform clandestine operations
    the world over, and the assured means of retaliating with devastating
    effect.  The latter, in turn, will require not only forces capable of
    carrying out such retaliation in the aftermath of an EMP attack, but
    also the certain ability to command and control those forces.  It may
    also require the communication, at least through private if not public
    channels, of the targets that will be subjected to
    retaliationirrespective of whether a definitive determination can be
    made of culpability.

                Second, we must protect to the best of our ability our
    critical military capabilities and civilian infrastructure from the
    effects of EMP attacks. This will require a comprehensive assessment
    of our vulnerabilities and proof of the effectiveness of corrective
    measures.  Both of these may require, among other things, periodic
    underground nuclear testing.

                The EMP Threat Commission judged that, given the sorry
    state of EMP-preparedness on the part of the tactical forces of the
    United States and its coalition partners, It is not possible to
    protect [all of them] from EMP in a regional conflict.  But it
    recommended that priority be given to protecting satellite navigation
    systems, satellite and airborne intelligence and targeting systems
    [and] an adequate communications infrastructure.

                Particularly noteworthy was the Commissions recommendation
    that America build a ballistic missile defense system.  Given that a
    catastrophic EMP attack can be mounted only by putting a nuclear
    weapon into space over the United States and that, as a practical
    matter, this can only be done via a ballistic missile, it is
    imperative that the United States deploy as quickly as possible a
    comprehensive defense against such delivery systems.  In particular,
    every effort should be made to give the Navys existing fleet of some
    65 AEGIS air defense ships the capability to shoot down short- to
    medium-range missiles of the kind that might well be used to carry out
    ship-launched EMP strikes.

                Third, an aggressive and sustained effort must be made to
    plan and otherwise prepare for the consequences of an EMP attack in
    the event all else fails.  This will require close collaboration
    between government at all levels and the private sector, which owns,
    designs, builds, and operates most of the nations critical
    infrastructure.  Among other things, we will need to do a far better
    job of monitoring that infrastructure and remediating events that
    could ensue if EMP attacks are made on it.  We must also ensure that
    we have on hand, and properly protected, the equipment and
    partsespecially those that are difficult or time-consuming to
    produceneeded to repair EMP-damaged systems.  The EMP Threat
    Commission identified the latter as including large turbines,
    generators, and high-voltage transformers in electrical power systems,
    and electronic switching systems in telecommunications systems.


                We have been warned.  The members of the EMP Threat
    Commissionwho are among the nations most eminent experts with respect
    to nuclear weapons designs and effectshave rendered a real and timely
    public service.  In the aftermath of their report and in the face of
    the dire warnings they have issued, there is no excuse for our
    continued inaction.  Yet this report and these warnings continue to
    receive inadequate attention from the executive branch, Congress and
    the media. If Americans remain ignorant of the EMP danger and the need
    for urgent and sustained effort to address it, the United States will
    continue to remain woefully unprepared for one of the most serious
    dangers we have ever faced.  And by remaining unprepared for such an
    attack, we will invite it.

                The good news is that steps can be taken to mitigate this
    dangerand perhaps to prevent an EMP attack altogether. The bad news is
    that there will be significant costs associated with those steps, in
    terms of controversial policy changes and considerable expenditures.
    We have no choice but to bear such costs, however. The price of
    continued inaction could be a disaster of infinitely greater cost and
    unimaginable hardship for our generation and generations of Americans
    to come.

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