A Warning from Russia

by CYNTHIA E AYERS December 30, 2011
On the 15th of December, the English version of the Russian newspaper Pravda published a stunningly accurate portrayal of the results of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack and included a frightening warning:  Does that [an EMP attack] seem like science fiction? It's not. In fact, it may be right around the corner.”
The article proceeded to explain who the target would most likely be:
“. . . it's almost a given that some power or group might get put out with the behavior of the U.S.A. and decide to go this route. . . . If Americans knew about this very real possibility, they might utterly panic. It is up to them to make their government stop angering others, tell the government to mind their own business, take care of the home front and stop interfering all over the globe. . . . Perhaps they ought to close the bases, dismantle NATO and bring the troops home where they belong before they have nothing to come home to and no way to get there.”
In other words, if the U.S. continues in its attempts to fight terrorists and provide support to our NATO partners, we will "provoke" an EMP attack that will kill many millions, potentially end civilization as we know it, and ultimately result in the loss of our sovereignty. This warning is not the first to have emanated from Russia. One of the most notable was described in testimony before a House Armed Services Committee Hearing held on July 22, 2004—a high-level Russian official (Chairman of the International Affairs Committee) had issued a similar threat to two sitting Congressmen while discussing U.S. involvement in the former Yugoslavia.
The Russians are not alone. An EMP attack against the United States has been written about and discussed openly within China, North Korea, and Iran, as well as Russia, and is contained within the military doctrine of all four countries. Iran has even practiced launching a missile from a ship in the Caspian Sea, and detonated Shahab-III MRBMs at high-altitude.
These are real threats, from entities who know exactly what our country’s vulnerabilities are.  Indeed, the members of our House of Representatives know exactly how destructive an EMP attack on our country would be, as evidenced by the unanimous passage of the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act in 2010, the establishment of a bipartisan Congressional EMP Caucus, the proceedings of the Congressional EMP Commission (2004 and 2008), and the report of the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission. The National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have additionally released reports warning of the need to protect our electric grid. Most recently, the FY12 National Defense Authorization Bill noted a “continued vulnerability of the United States homeland to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events, both man-made and naturally occurring.” 
It is therefore baffling that the New York Times would take an obviously partisan stance to a major threat which has been readily acknowledged as such by both parties. Nevertheless, after a recent Republican Primary debate in which former Speaker Newt Gingrich stated that an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the United States was one of the three national security threats that concerned him most, the New York Times ran a highly biased front page story about EMP, authored by William Broad. 
After claiming that “a number of scientists” believe Speaker Gingrich's warnings to be “far-fetched” (without naming any, other than Yousaf Butt, who is not an expert on EMP issues, intelligence matters, or terrorism, and whose views were thoroughly rebutted in Space Review [August 2010]), Mr. Broad proceeded to portray Gingrich as pandering to “hawkish audiences.” The unsubstantiated allegations by Mr. Broad’s mostly unnamed “experts” remained unchallenged within the article by facts or evidence—any efforts to locate and consult source material (such as the aforementioned Commission reports) were conspicuously absent from the discussion within the text.  
It is equally baffling—and extremely disturbing—to be told that the New York Times refused—that’s right, refused—to print a rebuttal, authored and signed by former Presidential Science Advisor Dr. William R. Graham, former CIA Director James Woolsey, several scientists of world renown and prominent national security experts.  Is it considered good journalistic ethics to dismiss the results of scientific studies, as well as the views and support of leaders on both sides of the political spectrum, out of purely partisan considerations? Is it acceptable to mislead and misinform the public on the nature of a truly devastating threat to national security in order to facilitate the character assassination of a presidential candidate? I think not. 
In truth, when Speaker Gingrich brought up the danger of an EMP attack, he was speaking of an event that could bring about our collective demise—one that would remove the United States as an actor on the world stage instantaneously and long-term (months to years—in fact, 4 to 10 years, according to the National Academy of Sciences Report for similar grid damage resulting from a great geomagnetic storm). Within the first year following such an event, at least two-thirds of the population would be decimated. Some experts consider a more realistic death rate to be as high as 90%.
Is it any wonder, then, that the Subcomittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities has stated: 
“The committee believes that the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the U.S. Military has the appropriate authorities, capabilities, procedures, protections, and force structure to defend against any threats posed by EMP generated by a high altitude nuclear or by a naturally occurring event. As well as response plans for dealing with the aftermath of an EMP event.”
To that end, the committee directed the Secretary of Defense to provide a report to both the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services “on efforts to prepare for and defend against, and remediate after an EMP event, whether natural or manmade.” I, for one, find it hard to believe that a “far-fetched” notion of threat would warrant Congressional and military action to such a degree. The New York Times may want to pretend otherwise for the sake of political expediency, but the American public could end up paying dearly for their intransigence. Please—access the reports, read the rebuttal to William Broad’s article, and read the warning issued by Pravda; then pay head to what Speaker Gingrich said during the debate—EMP is most definitely a national security threat that we should all be gravely concerned about.        
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Cynthia E. Ayers is currently Vice President of EMPact Amercia. She recently retired from the National Security Agency after over 38 years of federal service, including 8 years at the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership.

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Cynthia E. Ayers is currently Deputy to the Executive Director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security. Prior to accepting the Task Force position, she served as Vice President of EMPact Amercia, having retired from the National Security Agency after over 38 years of federal service.


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