A fork in the road!

by AMBASSADOR HENRY F. COOPER December 7, 2017

You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there . . . When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" ~ Yogi Berra

Meetings in the Washington swamp last week reminded me of these words from my favorite philosopher, the renowned catcher of the New York Yankees. They in a humorous sense depict our current situation in the disaggregated, dysfunctional government efforts to protect the electric power grid, especially from electromagnetic pulse (EMP). 

In particular, my close friend since the 1960s, Dr. William R. Graham, briefed our Dupont Summit session on some of his conclusions from his uncompensated service as Chairman of the EMP Commission over the past 17 years. 

Regrettably, congress, in unparalleled and potential disastrous stupidity - worthy of Yogi Berra's wisdom - has abolished the EMP Commission and seeks to start over even as North Korea is undeniably ramping up its efforts to achieve Kim Jong-un's announced "strategic goal" of gaining an ability to attack the United States and/or our allies with EMP. Such an attack could send us back to the eighteenth century without the benefits of that agrarian society, and most Americans without electricity would likely die from starvation, disease and societal collapse within a few months.

Click here for my November 14, 2017 message summarizing this situation, including a very clear telling statement by General John E. Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), that

"[O]ur nation as a whole has not looked at EMP, we have not looked at the critical infrastructure that could be damaged by EMP, and we need to take a step back and look at that entire threat because it is a realistic threat."

It also includes references and links to other pertinent information, including congressional testimony by Dr. Graham and myself.

The EMP Commission has been the single most important independent voice seeking to protect the public's interests, while the institutions of government flail and fail to address a truly existential threat. Dr. Graham's poignant briefing last week laid several of these issues bare, as discussed bellow. 

Bill began by discussing the only high altitude test data available as benchmarks to guide our understanding of EMP. He is most familiar with that data as one of the original technical investigators in the 1960s, seeking to understand the "surprise" from our 1962 high altitude tests in the South Pacific.

In particular, Starfish Prime was our sole source of information that demonstrated damage/destruction of our satellites and even electric systems about 900 miles away in Hawaii. (That era's vacuum tube electronics was relatively hard to those EMP effects - today's electronics would have suffered much greater damage.)

This result was a surprise to our nation's best scientists at the time - and the theory explaining the result was developed by scientists at Los Alamos, the Air Force Weapons Laboratory (where Bill and I were heavily involved in studying nuclear weapons effects and how to protect against them), the Physics Division of the RAND Corporation and subsequently R&D Associates (RDA), where I again joined Bill in continuing to help the Defense Department protect our strategic forces from nuclear weapons effects.   

In those days, the vulnerabilities of our strategic systems to EMP - and our efforts to rectify those vulnerabilities were highly classified, unavailable to the private sector - including to those supporting critical civil infrastructure such as the electric power grid.

The legacy of such secrecy persists even today. Though it has been declassified, key information is still being withheld (irresponsibly so in my opinion) from those in the private sector seeking to harden the electric power grid (and other critical infrastructure) to EMP. Bill made this point explicitly clear by including the following chart in his briefing.   

This almost 35 year old report by Gerry Schlegel, another colleague from the Air Force Weapons Laboratory and R&D Associates, was published on 31 March 1983 and declassified on September 12, 2017.  However, most pertinent is "Distribution Statement C," authorizing distribution to "U.S. Government Agencies and their contractors," but requiring other requests to be "referred" to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which has been withholding that information from many who need it to protect the electric power grid.

Note the associated date, September 12, 2017, was slightly before expiration of the EMP Commission that had requested this security review and sought to make this key information available to engineers responsible for maintaining our critical civil infrastructure.

Dr. Graham suggested that private sector officials request copies via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

One has to wonder about the disposition of related EMP Commission reports now undergoing classification reviews.  In his briefing, Bill emphasized two reports employing U.S. and Russian unclassified data and intended to provide useful guidance to the critical infrastructure community. Will they also be withheld from industrial engineers charged with protecting critical civil infrastructure? 

Bill recounted key lessons learned during the Cold War, below. Note his bottom line that many more lessons-learned are being withheld from the critical national infrastructure community. This is a very disturbing observation.

Next, consider the "peace dividend" consequences after the "end of the Cold War," most notably that the Department of Defense's primary focal point for nuclear weapons research and testing essentially went out of business, while focusing on conventional weapons effects and other weapons of mass destruction.

While threats, especially re. EMP, have grown, nuclear weapons effects research and testing has been ignored - while obviously uninformed so-called experts have dismissed their importance to the survival of the American people.

Meanwhile, Bill notes our current situation is threatening indeed!

And he offers key question to the Defense Department on the current situation.

Bottom Lines.

I believe that the following chart from Bill's briefing correctly describes our present unacceptable situation.

Bill offered alternative ways to deal with this unsettling condition - a fork in the road, worthy of a Yogi Berra comment.

The best fork in the road is obviously the "fast effective way" - but in my opinion success with it requires a major change in leadership. The past stewardship of the Department of Defense has been so irresponsible that I currently would not trust the nation's survivability to continued DoD leadership - at least as it recently has been constituted.

Among the first things that should be accomplished is to direct the Defense Department to provide appropriately declassified information to the private sector, especially the energy companies around the nation, so they can take necessary engineering steps to protect the American people from the consequences of an EMP attack.

Moreover, something is needed beyond reconstituting an EMP Commission formed as directed by the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018. The best "fork in the road" is obviously the "fast effective way" - but in my opinion it requires a major change in leadership. 

Because of the urgent importance of the existential EMP threat and the disaggregated, dysfunctional nature of the  current federal interagency process, I urge that all interagency activities be integrated under competent leadership in the White House - with an unfettered direct reporting chain of command to the President.

Specifically, I recommend that President Trump establish by Executive Order a reinvigorated (with an updated expanded charter) Critical Infrastructure Commission to include dealing with EMP threat, whatever comes of the NDAA 2018. 

As a model, click here for the October 1997 Report of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, led by Retired USAF General Robert T. Marsh.

Stay tuned . . .  

What can you do?

Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.

Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all "powers that be" to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.

Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org, for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.

Ambassador Henry F. Cooper is Chairman of High Frontier and a former Acquisition Executive for all U.S. ballistic missile defenses.  He also served in several other senior USG acquisition and policy positions, including as President Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union. He is currently focused on helping local, state and federal authorities protect against the natural and manmade EMP threat by building effective ballistic missile defenses and hardening the electric grid. Otherwise, loss of the electric grid would freeze America's "just in time" economy, leaving most Americans without means for survival.


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