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Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons, generating waves of fear in America for 20 years

9 November 2011

Summary:  We are afraid of so many things.  That makes us so easy to control.  A brave and skeptical citizenry would be our rulers’ greatest fear, if we were likely to change.

The Long War requires a constant bombardment of the Homeland by exaggerated threats in order to produce a state of low-level fear in the people.  This allows us to be easily controlled — funding the vast military-intel-security apparatus and allowing slow but steady erosion of our liberty.

Continuous information operations rain upon us, describing a bewilderingly large array of threats — which we passively accept. An individual might find the first dozen unconvincing, but the 13th might hit home — striking fear in his heart.

The vast size of the DoD-intel-Homeland Security apparatus can generate this propaganda.  They overwhelm America’s critical facilities, especially the organizations able to critically review the government’s assertions.

This post looks at one of the more bizarre threats, but one structurally similar to most of them:  Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons.  Note that rebuttals appeared from the beginning, puncturing the threats.  To no avail, of course.  In America faux threats never die, so long as people are paid to propagate them.

Archive of articles about EMP weapons

(a)  Evaluation of Methodologies for Estimating Vulnerability to Electromagnetic Pulse Effects, National Academy of Sciences, 1984

(b) Effect of the Fast Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse on the Electric Power Grid Nationwide: A Different View“, Mario Rabinowitz (physicist, see Wikipedia), Power Engineering Review (IEEE), October 1987 — Abstract (red emphasis added):

This paper primarily considers the potential effects of a single high-altitude nuclear burst on the U.S. power grid.  A comparison is made between EMP and natural phenomena such as lightning.  This paper concludes that EMP is no more harmful to the power grid than its counterparts in nature.  An upper limit of the electric field of the very fast, high-amplitude EMP is derived from first principles.  The resulting values are significantly lower than the commonly presented values.  Additional calculations show that the ionization produced by a nuclear burst severely attenuates the EMP.

(c) E-BOMB“, Jim Wilson, Popular Mechanics, September 2001 — A masterpiece of speculative fantasy.

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“In the blink of an eye, electromagnetic bombs could throw civilization back 200 years. And terrorists can build them for $400.”

(d) The Next Fake Threat“, Nick Schwellenbach, AlterNet, 21 September 2005

“A congressionally-mandated commission with ties to the defense industry is pushing a fake threat — electromagnetic pulse attacks — when the Pentagon can hardly conduct one itself.”

(e) EMPtyThreat?“, Nick Schwellenbach, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Sept/Oct 2005 — Subscription only.  See a summary here.

“The latest doomsday threat to emerge from Washington envisions terrorists unleashing an EMP to produce the mother of all blackouts. Don’t be afraid of the dark.”

(f)  Commission to Assess the Threat from High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), 2008

(g) Aircraft could be brought down by DIY ‘E-bombs’“, Paul Marks, New Scientist, 01 April 2009

“EMP weapons capable of frying the electronics in civil airliners can be built using information and components available on the net, warn counterterrorism analysts. All it would take to bring a plane down would be a single but highly energetic microwave radio pulse blasted from a device inside a plane, or on the ground and trained at an aircraft coming in to land.”

(h)  Excellent summary:  “An Endless Bounty of EMP Crazies”, George Smith (aka Dick Destiny), 6 April 2009 — Part One, Part Two.

(i) The Newt Bomb: How a pulp-fiction fantasy became a GOP weapons craze“, The New Republic, 3 June 2009

(j) Neocons Salivating Over Their Next Great Exaggerated ‘Threat’: Electromagnetic Pulse Attack“, Robert Farley, AlterNet, 22 October 2009 — “A diverse array of rightwing factions have united behind the effort to promote the EMP threat thesis.”

(k) The EMP threat: fact, fiction, and response“, Yousaf M. Butt (staff scientist at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard), The Space Review, January 2010 — Part One, Part Two, Rebuttal

(l)  Nuclear Weapon EMP Effects, Federation of American Scientists

(m)  For more references see the Wikpedia entry

For More Information

For all posts about this topic see the FM Reference Page on Information & disinformation, the new media & the old

About propaganda and info warfare:

  1. News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!, 2 September 2009
  2. 4GW at work in a community near you , 19 October 2007 — Propaganda warming us up for war with Iran.
  3. Successful info ops, but who are the targets?, 1 May 2008
  4. Psywar, a core skill of the US Military (used most often on us), 26 November 2008
  5. How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped – and what we can learn from this, 13 October 2009
  6. Successful propaganda as a characteristic of 21st century America, 1 February 2010

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 November 2011 4:04 am

    There is a popular piece of hackwork on this topic, One Second After by Bill Forstchen, which has gotten considerable attention among right-wing survivalist wingnuts. Its premise is that an “unknown attacker” launches a “unattributable” nuke airburst that crashes the US electronically. This kind of thing gets the survivalists extremely excited because they apparently only read “research” from other nutty survivalists and prefer to ignore the fact that near-space airbursts were a regular experiment in the 70s and, well, nothing happened.

    EMP is a usable weapon but only when you are within range of the target to use a real weapon, anyway. If you can get explosives near enough to an airplane to fire off an explosive-pumped EMP bomb, you might prefer to just blow the wing off the plane with your explosives. If you’ve got a nuke and the ability to loft it, why not hit New York or LA and, sure, people on the other side of the country will hear an electronic ‘click’ but I don’t think the click’ll be what everyone will be worried about.

    If you search on youtube for Forstchen’s talks, they are available and they’re, uh, wretched. But what’s worse is that there’s an army of rabid suvivalists hoping for disaster who delete any comments attempting to inject a little bit of sense. There’s something about these eschaton-loving nutcases that makes them long for the end of days, doom and gloom, and an opportunity to revert to cannibalism. And they vote.

    Like

  2. Robin permalink
    9 November 2011 4:17 am

    Fear is based on belief which is composed of Undifferentiated emotion allowing powerful suggestability among groups of people who collectively reinforce, amplify and perpetuate the irrational.

    I appreciate your blog so much. Thank you.

    Like

  3. William R Hunteman, Chief Petty Officer USN Retired, Small business owner. permalink
    9 November 2011 4:56 am

    I will be the FIRST to agree that the department of homeland propaganda is hard at work on this and other topics, and has gone WELL beyond, well reality I guess. And I will be the first to admit that there are a LOT of people who have gone, well over the top worrying about the MANY THREATS they have been introduced to. It’s easy to get caught up in it. I mean, there are so many problems and issues and threats and problems etc etc ad infinitum. How can ANYONE stay sane with all the white noise out there?

    BUT.

    I would like to make a couple of points. 1. Just because so many threats have been overblown, over killed and even manufactured, DOES NOT MEAN that there are no threats out there.So I would really hesitate to automatically ‘poo poo’ everything that comes out. I would suggest that instead of perjorative invective being the usual and not the exception as to how to describe things, shift to a more constructive and deliberative approach.

    2. The debate, if one chooses to be charitable enough to call it that, has descended to the “Politics of Poopy Heads”. A disagrees with B. B disagrees with A. Ok, fair enough. A disagrees SO MUCH with B, that A feels it MUST WIN, because EVERYTHING HINGES ON IT! IT;S FUCKING IMPORTANT!!!! B MUST ACKNOWLEDGE THAT A IS RIGHT! ERROR MUST BE ELIMINATED. B, of course, really doesn’t see it that way. B may get a little irritated at A becoming more and more strident in A’s presentation. B may just get a little tired of A asserting that if only B would OPEN their mind, and USE IT, then B would SEE THE LIGHT!!. Finally, B just has had enough and says “Hey, A, If you’d pull your head out of your ass, you’d see that you are intellectually bankrupt, and only someone with a room temperature IQ would see THAT position as viable.” A retorts, and then back and forth it goes, until the dialog becomes “Well, you are a poopy head” “No, YOU ARE A POOPY HEAD” and so forth. Pointless.

    Terms like ‘Neocons’ are semantically empty, any useful defining characteristics being strained out as the term becomes a synonym for “Evil Conservative Republican Mother Fucker who rapes babies and laughs while doing so.” What purpose does THAT serve? It WILL ensure that ANY debate remains one sided, which is rather unfortunate, because in my time on this vale of earthly dumbassedness, every time, and I mean EVERY TIME that one side of an issue believes that it a) HAS THE ONE AND ONLY ANSWER and b) CAN LEARN NOTHING FROM THE OTHER SIDE, then nothing useful gets accomplished, and everything just tends to get even worse.

    I am a morose worried Reform Caucus Libertarian. I see what the left and the right are doing and how they are shaping the debate. It’s being done in such a way that they are so hemmed in by the whackos on each end of the spectrum, that NOTHING appears to be able to be done. But we can call each other poopy heads, so I guess that’s something. it’s much easier to fix blame on the other guy, than to actually ignore the white noise and fix the problem.

    3. A final and technological point. I remember when I was in the Navy in the 90′s. I worked on shipboard Tomahawk. We were getting a hardware and software upgrade which would allow GPS only missions – missions that only needed the GPS to navigate, instead of what had been in place previously. This was sold as a major improvement, and it did have some advantages. But me, being the, well smartass, that I was, I asked a question during the brief. “What happens when potential enemies are able to jam GPS signals?” I was told that “That could NEVER HAPPEN” and that the engineers and scientists were CERTAIN that that could never happen, and that I didn’t need to worry about it. That was 1997. In 2000, I was back in the fleet and we were preparing for a med deployment and GUESS what we were training for…effects of GPS jamming. Open source literature stated that GPS area and theater jammers were being shown at the Arms Shows.

    The point here is that when there is a benefit to being able to do something, some smart little johnnie will FIND A WAY TO DO IT. Pure economics. Is there currently an effective EMP weapon? Don’t know. I’m retired and no longer in the field. Don’t have access to intel briefs. I do know that I saw open source literature that seemed to indicate that a) the CHICOMMs (and do not forget, they are STILL AVOWED COMMUNISTS) thought it was possible 6 years ago and b) They were actively training to an what appeared to be EMP based counter CVBG strategy and tactics.In 1960 we could NOT consistently launch a rocket. 9 years later we were on the moon. Draw your own conclusions.

    Like

    • 9 November 2011 5:27 am

      Thank you for your comment. However I am unsure how it applies to this post. This post listed specific technological reasons why the threat of EMP weapons is exaggerated. Here are a few other points.

      (1) “DOES NOT MEAN that there are no threats out there.”

      The material on the FM website attempts to distinguish between real and fake threats. To give just one example there are many articles about the dangers of 4GW (from insurgencies to sophisticated criminal organizations).

      (2) “The debate, if one chooses to be charitable enough to call it that, has descended to the “Politics of Poopy Heads”. ”

      Quite so in many places. I doubt you can find anything on the FM website of that nature.

      (3) “The point here is that when there is a benefit to being able to do something, some smart little johnnie will FIND A WAY TO DO IT. Pure economics. … In 1960 we could NOT consistently launch a rocket. 9 years later we were on the moon. ”

      Perhaps over long periods of time. Not over the time horizons that we live in. We do not have atomic-powered aircraft (despite Project Pluto in the late 1950s) or fusion power (despite vast sums spent during the past 40 years)

      (4) “they are STILL AVOWED COMMUNISTS {in China}”

      No they’re not. They retain the outward forms, as the Roman Empire retained the Senate — and the US retains the forms setup under the Constitution.. .

      Like

  4. Mikyo permalink
    9 November 2011 9:43 am

    Pulse me, baby! Pulse me long, pulse me hard!

    Introduction to the Dark Angel video game:

    Like

  5. William R Hunteman, Chief Petty Officer USN Retired, Small business owner. permalink
    9 November 2011 4:11 pm

    My thoughts were directed mostly at the comments such as “…But what’s worse is that there’s an army of rabid suvivalists hoping for disaster who delete any comments attempting to inject a little bit of sense. There’s something about these eschaton-loving nutcases that makes them long for the end of days, doom and gloom, and an opportunity to revert to cannibalism. And they vote….”, and “… “Neocons Salivating Over Their Next Great Exaggerated ‘Threat’: Electromagnetic Pulse Attack“, …”
    Neither of those statements add any value to the debate, and in fact detract from it to the point of making debate pointless (debating in the middle of a riot). and by virtue of the comments and articles I cited, understanding that these were NOT YOUR comments, such nature of comments ARE on the FM website. Not suggestion that you censor out such, trying to hint that the authors might wish to rethink their invective and its cause.

    Point I was making about real viz fake threats (and I do hope you do not assume that I am attacking the veracity of your website, I am not, I was addressing a more general concept) is an appreciable about of the time, today’s ‘fake’ threat becomes tomorrows’ ‘real’ one – i.e. potential becomes reality. Of course, the crux is how to differentiate ahead of time, and that is always problematic. The ‘hawks” (Not sure if that is the best term) seem to equate all threats as equally valid, whilst the ‘doves’ seem to feel all threats are all equally invalid. What’s the right answer? Somewhere in the middle.

    I must disagree with you in re the ‘over long periods of time’ comment. The GPS issue I mentioned occurred over a 3 year period. EMP susceptability/capability/weaponization has been under discussion for at least 30 years that I personally know of. Only took 40ish years from no planes to supersonic planes; took only 22 years from first supersonic plane to man on the moon. Gotta watch out for long term payoffs – they tend to come out apparently all of a sudden, when actually they were the result of a long period of work in the shadows. I am told that there is a whole security stratum/program akin to SCI that is solely concerned with how things are made/constructed. Things like “Keyhole” which are discussed in open source now, were words not even uttered outside of secure spaces not all that long ago. If that type of discipline and control were applied to R and D work (and it is), there is no telling what may suddenly ‘pop up’.

    Now granted, the MIC that Eisenhower warned us about has a VESTED interest in PREPARING TO DEFEND THE HOMELAND AGAINST THE NEXT BIG THREAT, and tends to influence JUST a LITTLE BIT to the worst case interpretation.They are driving the propaganda storm….BUT always to remember that in every rumor, there is usually a grain of truth. Dunno, I leave to wiser heads than mine to divine the truth or reasonableness of a lot of this.

    As to the CHICOMS. I suspect that it comes down to defining your terms. Communist, Socialist etc have always been poorly defined and even more poorly understood, as have the governments that claim them. I fell victim to my cold war roots a labeled them with my historically used referent, which actually does not refer to government but to economic system. They are a repressive oligarchy that seeks to control a wide range and scope of area and activities that they define as within their national security interests, using a wide spectrum of tools that includes capitalistic economic policies processes and methods, including a somewhat open market. But CHICOM conveys their sinister nature so much more clearly. They are bad guys at the core.

    I do appreciate and enjoy your blog, and agree with much of your POV. Keep up the good work! And thank you for allowing me to consume so many of your bytes with my thoughts!

    Like

  6. whirlwind21 permalink
    9 November 2011 7:43 pm

    I still think that we should be hardening our infastructure against EMP attack whether from rogue nations or the sun. I think some 90% of the country would be dead within a year if such an attack took place. We need more missile defense in our own country. Ie airborne and ground based lasers.

    Like

    • 9 November 2011 8:34 pm

      We need lots of things. Fix our existing rotting infrastrcture. Prepare for the inevitable earthquakes in the west and midwest, and the hurricanes hitting vulnerable cities along the se coast. It’s a long list.

      But saying “we need this!” and “we need that!” — looking at these shockwaves in isolation, as if our resources were infinite, accomplishes nothing. Worse that that, it’s chaff that clutters our thinking.

      Like

    • 10 November 2011 12:36 am

      Defense against WHAT missile threats? ICBMs? From WHO????? . There is NO credible missile threat.North Korea? They cannot a) keep the power on consistently and b) feed their people (Can you say grass soup?). Iran? I just don’t see it. They MIGHT be able to pull it off, but abadabababababad, while being crazy, just ain’t stupid. He and the rest of those in power over there KNOW, and they know in NO uncertain terms that if they are VERY lucky, they might get one shot off….and then, no more Iran. Ever. Because Israel will NOT screw around. And Iran is just not good enough to eliminate Israel with one salvo.

      Who else does that leave? Russia? No profit in it for them….China, same thing but more so. So what do we need missile defense for? I would much rather see effort and resources being put into space travel (Has always paid off, about $7 for each dollar put into it) and asteroid detection, tracking and defense.
      JMHO

      Like

  7. 10 November 2011 12:21 am

    FABIUS
    EXCELLENT POINT! Too many ‘TO DO NOW’s’ What would be a better approach is to look at what problems have the most commonalities in weak points…i.e. what NEEDS to be fixed REGARDLESS of the nature of the specific threats.

    Like

  8. whirlwind21 permalink
    10 November 2011 7:35 pm

    Well I believe the whole missile launched from a freighter was in the novel so that is a possible threat.

    Like

    • 11 November 2011 2:32 pm

      The missile part is semi-plausible. The freighter part is fairly plausible. The “unattributed nuke” part is extremely implausible if not outright ridiculous. Nuclear forensics is advanced to the point where IAEA can tell you what enrichment facility, and what cascade run produced which batch of plutonium. The source would be known within a very short time. Additionally, the yield and byproducts of any nuke are specific signatures that reveal a tremendous amount about the design. So a nuke might be “unattributed” until a week or two after it went off at most.

      More importantly, the EMP threat is way overblown. During the 70s there were a lot of atmospheric nuclear tests including hardtack orange, which was a 3mt h-bomb – that’s a seriously big-ass explosion. And, you’ll notice… the disco balls didn’t stop spinning even for a second.

      FM is right; this is simple fear-mongering.

      Like

  9. 11 November 2011 2:36 pm

    BTW, not that wikipedia is the arbiter of all facts, there’s an explanation here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-altitude_nuclear_explosion
    that seems pretty accurate, to me.

    Why would anyone who was willing to die and had a nuke and something to loft it bother with attempting an EMP attack that wouldn’t work, when they hit NYC, or LA?

    Like

  10. 11 November 2011 7:43 pm

    Hardtack orange, argus et al were in the late 50′s not the 70s. Also, they were conducted a) at 330+ miles altitude, and they were conducted WELL away from the populated areas. Comparing those tests (Of weapons that were not Engineered to maximize EMP Effects) against weapons that are DESIGNED to maximize EMP effects, and detonating such weapons that the 25 -100 NM altitude is comparing apples and matzoballs. Also, there is a WORLD of difference between the infrastructure of the 50s, 70s and today. As probably the only person commenting here that has actually WORKED around EMP detection and defense equipment, I would proffer up the following. EMP attacks are POSSIBLE, although being an end effect in and of themselves, such attacks are not very PROBABLE. The threat level (Possibility AND Probability) associated with EMPA (EMP Attacks) is WAY overblown – but not so much so that we should ignore it.

    Should we ignore Counter Bacteriological warfare operations, simply because there is little possibility or probability of such attacks occurring on large scale? No. A) the ramifications of such an attack could be VERY serious. B) The high likelihood of serendipidous payoff – that is spin off benefits from the CBWO research. Vaccines, and an increased understanding of how bacteria and virii work. Would I advocate a HUGE spool up of CBWO research? No, just keep doing what we are doing and don’t try to cause panic.

    There IS spin off research benefit possibilities associated with EMPD (EMP Defense). If nothing else, it could lead to increased understanding of particle physics, or who knows. But we don’;t need to make it an Apollo level priority.

    As to why use Straight nuke attack vs EMP? Lots of reasons for that. Universal revulsion against the nuke attacker. If someone attacked NYC with a Nuke, we could literally do what ever we wanted to to the perpetrator. Who would seriously demand we stay our hand? No one. BUT, use an EMPA, then it’s a whole nother story, A, you would most likely get MUCH more EFFECT with an EMPA than with a nuke B, the difference between EMPA and Nuke attack is so abstruse and esoteric, that the average man on the street would pretty much just say “whatever, there aint no mushroom cloud or fallout” Outrage would be difficult to generate.

    Think about 9/11. Where did the REAL SIGNIFICANT damage come from? It wasn’t from two or three buildings falling down, it was from the impact on the DATA. The ELECTRONIC DATA in the computers of the companies in the twin towers.

    Imagine if just 75% or even just 50% of ALL microprocessors in NYC went away. What would be impacted?
    Power – DOWN
    Telephone, landline – DOWN
    Telephone, CELL – DOWN
    Internet DOWN
    Commercial/Emergency Radio – DOWN
    Hospitals, hi tech services – DOWN
    Financial services – DOWN
    Traffic control – DOWN
    Emergency dispatch -DOWN
    Command and control -DOWN
    Banks -DOWN
    Stock exchange -DOWN
    But ALL the people would still be there….panicing. Getting in the way of triage and emergency management. As an operations guy, I’d rather do the EMPA. You’d cause more damage, long term. I suspect that the directly affected region, as a result of an attack against NYC would stretch to DC.

    Like

    • 11 November 2011 8:49 pm

      From memory, US policy — firmly and repeatedly stated — is that all WMD attacks will be met with atomic reprisals. In practice, that means a nation must expect to die unless they have some form of hard counterforce capability (such as a second strike).

      We probably mean it. There were people advocating a nuke attack after 9-11 (dead = one month of traffic deaths). As it is we attacked Iraq and Afghanistan, inflicting civilian deaths many times our own in 9-11 (30x?).

      That suggests that most of the EMP scenarios require insane national leadership (as the articles cited above show, no terrorists can build such a thing with current tech). Suicidally insane. That’s extraordinarily rare other than in movies (although sometimes found at the end of wars). For example, Hitler’s generals almost staged a coup d’etat before his successful invasion of Poland, which didn’t risk national extermination.

      Please, readers, don’t bother posting the “Iranian leaders are insane” gibberish. Iran’s actions since the revolution have been cautious and rational. Their leaders, like ours, have a fondness for apocalyptic language (we’re both among the more religious nations around today). Many of the speeches during the Cold War by our generals and politicans seem insane today. (The transcripts of their discussions during the Cuban Missile Crisis suggest that some were insane, in a layman’s but not a clinical sense. That’s a story for another day).

      Like

    • 12 November 2011 1:57 am

      Hardtack orange, argus et al were in the late 50′s not the 70s. Also, they were conducted a) at 330+ miles altitude, and they were conducted WELL away from the populated areas.

      I stand corrected on the dates, though it’s irrelevant. The results are timeless. One of the reasons those tests were performed was to measure exactly the phenomena we’re talking about and the results appear to indicate that EMP is not that big a deal, and that for an adversary to make it a big deal, they’d need enough weapons to effectively win a nuclear war anyway. (Which, BTW, is at least part of why the nuclear triad includes submarines that, when submerged, are basically EMP proof)

      Why do you choose to raise the red herring of biowar as if I’d be equally dismissive of it? The USSR biopreparat developed some very real nasty stuff and the US did some unspecified things to try to lessen the threat (though we don’t know if it was sufficient) Like most who went through basic in the early 1980s I got the massive compound shot that included immunity for a heck of a lot of weird things that none of us would ever expect to actually encounter, anywhere…

      Further, why do you assume that I am opposed to basic research, conducted rationally? There’s no reason to conjure imaginary threats and then demand that we spend money to defeat them – why not argue for whatever basic research we should be engaging in, without the fear-sell? Put differently, which do you think is more strategic, hardening the country against an imagined EMP attack or working on sustainable fusion power?

      Confusingly, you’re arguing out of both sides of your mouth when you claim that an EMP attack would have more “effect” than a straight-up nuke – but that people probably wouldn’t get as angry. Yet at the same time you appear to be buying the EMP-scare party line that an EMP attack would pitch the US into a new dark ages and millions would die, etc – in other words you appear to be saying the EMP attack would be both vastly worse and nowhere near as bad as a nuclear attack. Why don’t you make up your mind which it is?

      Finally, you rather neatly sidestepped the problem of how attributable a nuke used for an EMP bomb would be, I noticed. If you’re willing to be intellectually dishonest in a blog posting, what does that say about your ability to do a rational risk assessment?

      Like

  11. Newt's EMP fear-mongering - NYT: "Among Gingrich’s Passions, a Doomsday Vision" permalink
    12 December 2011 2:37 pm

    Among Gingrich’s Passions, a Doomsday Vision“, New York Times, 11 December 2011

    As usual when the news media report on crackpot statements by major political figures, the article cites a wide range of experts contradicting Newt — but it ends on a “opinions differ on the shape of the Earth” note.

    Excerpt:

    Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential hopeful, wants you to know that as commander in chief he is ready to confront one of the most nightmarish of doomsday scenarios: a nuclear blast high above the United States that would instantly throw the nation into a dark age.

    In debates and speeches, interviews and a popular book, he is ringing alarm bells over what experts call the electromagnetic pulse, or EMP — a poorly understood phenomenon of the nuclear age.

    … But it is to the risk of an EMP attack that Mr. Gingrich has repeatedly returned. And while the message may play well to hawkish audiences, who might warm to the candidate’s suggestion that the United States engage in pre-emptive military strikes against Iran and North Korea, many nuclear experts dismiss the threat. America’s current missile defense system would thwart such an attack, these experts say, and the nations in question are at the kindergarten stage of developing nuclear arms.

    The Missile Defense Agency, an arm of the Pentagon that maintains an arsenal of ground-based interceptors ready to fly into space and smash enemy warheads, says that defeating such an attack would be as straightforward as any other defense of the continental United States.

    “It doesn’t matter if the target is Chicago or 100 miles over Nebraska,” said Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman. “For the interceptor, it’s the same thing.” He called the potential damage from a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack “pretty theoretical.”

    Yousaf M. Butt, a nuclear physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who last year did a lengthy analysis of EMP for The Space Review, a weekly online journal, said, “If terrorists want to do something serious, they’ll use a weapon of mass destruction — not mass disruption.” He said, “They don’t want to depend on complicated secondary effects in which the physics is not very clear.”

    … As the alarms grew, critics voiced skepticism. In 2004, Philip E. Coyle III, a former head of Pentagon arms testing, wrote that the EMP lobby seemed to “extrapolate calculations of extreme weapons effects as if they were a proven fact” and “puff up rogue nations and terrorists with the capabilities of giants.”

    Like

  12. 9 January 2012 4:10 pm

    No matter what your opinion and what your thoughts are, I think that you should go to EMPact Radio to listen to former Chairman Pete Hoekstra of the HPSCI talk about EMP’s and other global threats this Wednesday the 11th. It should be an extremely informative and interesting show to listen to; here’s the link.
    .
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    FM note: From their “About” page:

    EMPact America, the foremost electromagnetic pulse (EMP) education and advocacy organization in the world, presents a weekly radio show dedicated to EMP and national security.

    Like

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