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U.S. Urged to Rapidly Prepare for Electromagnetic Pulse Attack

World War II-style Manhattan Project needed for electric infrastructure protection.

reports:The United States is vulnerable to a devastating electromagnetic pulse event caused by a high-altitude nuclear blast or solar superstorm, according to a recently published book.

Peter Pry, a former CIA analyst and author of the book EMP Manhattan Project, is urging the government to rapidly harden the U.S. electric power system against EMP similar to the three-year crash program to build the first atomic bomb in 1942.”Today the United States and the world faces another existential threat—from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) catastrophe that can be caused by nature or man, and topple the technological pillars of modern electronic civilization,” said Pry, who served on a congressional EMP commission in the early 2000s.

The book contains fresh assessments of the EMP threat produced by a more recent congressional commission last year that concluded the United States would suffer millions of deaths from a major EMP incident.

EMP was discovered in the 1960s during above-ground nuclear tests. The tests showed a nuclear blast created a pulse capable of disrupting or destroying electronic devices over large areas, in some cases over 1,000 miles away.

The latest EMP commission found the United States is confronted with “a present and continuing existential threat from naturally occurring and manmade electromagnetic pulse assault and related attacks on military and critical national infrastructures.”

panic-betty

An EMP event would produce an electric power outage over large areas of the country that could last for a year or longer.

Emergency systems, such as generators, also are vulnerable to damage from EMP.

EMP events would disable critical supply chains and plunge the entire country into living conditions similar to those of centuries ago prior the use of electric power.

“An extended blackout today could result in the death of a large fraction of the American people through the effects of societal collapse, disease, and starvation,” the commission stated in its July 2017 report. “While national planning and preparation for such events could help mitigate the damage, few such actions are currently underway or even being contemplated.”

William R. Graham, former head of the EMP commission, stated in a preface to the book that a nationwide electrical blackout of one year “could kill millions, perhaps prove fatal to most Americans, by starvation, disease, and societal collapse.”

“EMP is a civilization killer,” Graham said.

The book warns that China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are preparing to use EMP attacks combined with traditional military strikes and new cyber attacks in future conflicts.

The threat was highlighted by North Korea’s announcement in state-run media in September 2017 that the country’s thermonuclear device could be detonated at high altitude and produce “great destructive power … for superpowerful EMP attack.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Oh Yes We Can: NSA-Proof Wallpaper

Patrick Tucker reports: Your next tinfoil hat will won’t be made of tinfoil. A small company called Conductive Composites out of Utah has developed a flexible material — thin and tough enough for wallpaper or woven fabric — that can keep electronic emissions in and electromagnetic pulses out.

"THE  SPOOK SHACK" NSA headquarters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“The material also holds promise for a scalable defense against an electromagnetic pulse weapon. EMPs are a rising concern for the national security community, but not a new one. Soviet research into electromagnetic pulse weapons goes back to 1949, and active experimentation back to the 1970s.”

There are a few ways to snoop on electronic communications. You can hack into a network or you can sniff out radio emissions. If you want to defend against the latter, you can enclose your electronic device or devices within a structure of electrically conductive, (probably metallic) material. The result is something like a force field. The conductive material distributes the electromagnetic energy away from the target in every direction — think of the *splat* you get when you hurl a tomato at a wall. These enclosures are sometimes called Faraday cages after the 18th-century British scientist who discovered electrolysis.

goldeneye

“EMPs entered the public eye via the 2005 James Bond movie GoldenEye, in which an EMP caused massive blackouts and widespread fried electronics.”

Today, Faraday cages are all over the place. In 2013, as the College of Cardinals convened to elect a new Pope, the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel was converted into a Faraday cage so that news of the election couldn’t leak out, no matter how hard the paparazzi tried, and  how eager the cardinals were to tweet the proceedings. The military also uses Faraday cages for secure communications: Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities or SCIFs are Faraday cages. You’ll need to be in one to access the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System, or JWICS, the Defense Department’s top-secret internet.

Conductive Composites has created a method to layer nickel on carbon to form a material that’s light and moldable like plastic yet can disperse energy like a traditional metal cage. Read the rest of this entry »


Could Godzilla Raise Awareness About The Threat of EMP?

godzillal-monster

For The Daily CallerMatt K. Lewis writes: Take it from me: The new Godzilla movie is an utterly forgettable film. Unless you are a huge fan of the genre, don’t waste your time or money. By now, much has been written (pro and con) about this. But if there is one interesting thing left to say, it’s that the movie might (depending on your perspective) either raise awareness — or trivialize — the threat of electromagnetic pulse.76

“More Americans will learn about EMP — even in the flawed sense of being temporary — from Godzilla than from all the RAND studies and panel discussions at CPAC.”

— Grover Norquis

Before we continue, I suppose it’s important to discuss exactly what an EMP — which some believe could cripple civilization, sending us back to the stone age — is:

A few years ago, USA Today put it this way:

Electromagnetic pulses (EMP) are oversized outbursts of atmospheric electricity. Whether powered by geomagnetic storms or by nuclear blasts, their resultant intense magnetic fields can induce ground currents strong enough to burn out power lines and electrical equipment across state lines. Read the rest of this entry »


Experts: Civilians Not Ready for EMP-Caused Blackout

The government testing electromagnetic pulses uses a simulator hanging over an airborne command post.

For Watchdog.orgJosh Peterson writes: The catastrophic effects of an electromagnetic pulse-caused blackout could be preventable, but experts warn the civilian world is still not ready.

Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, said the technology to avoid disaster from electromagnetic pulses exists, and upgrading the nation’s electrical grid is financially viable.

Heathkit-HamRadio

“The problem is not the technology,” Pry said. “We know how to protect against it. It’s not the money, it doesn’t cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way.”

IT’S STOPPABLE: Peter Vincent Pry says technology exists to protect against the damage from electromagnetic pulses.

He said the more officials plan, the lower the estimated cost gets.

“If you do a smart plan — the Congressional EMP Commission estimated that you could protect the whole country for about $2 billion,” Pry told Watchdog.org. “That’s what we give away in foreign aid to Pakistan every year.”

In the first few minutes of an EMP, nearly half a million people would die. That’s the worst-case scenario that author William R. Forstchen estimated in 2011 would be the result of an EMP on the electric grid — whether by an act of God, or a nuclear missile detonating in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

An electromagnetic pulse is a burst of electromagnetic energy strong enough to disable, and even destroy, nearby electronic devices.

The scenario sounds like something in a Hollywood film, but the U.S. military has been preparing its electronic systems for such an event since the Cold War. The protective measures taken to harden facilities against a nuclear attack also help in some cases to protect against EMPs.

The civilian world is another story. Read the rest of this entry »