Tag Archives: electromagnetic pulse

Hold NPR Accountable for Ridiculing the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Threat from North Korea

At 5:10AM ET on 27 April 2017, the Morning Edition program at National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast a segment titled “The North Korean Electromagnetic Pulse Threat, Or Lack Thereof.”  An audio recording of this segment can be found here:   http://www.npr.org/2017/04/27/525833275/the-north-korean-electromagnetic-pulse-threat-or-lack-thereof

The 2 minute 26 second segment was in response to an interview of Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey from 26 April, where Ambassador Woolsey discussed the EMP threat posed by North Korea:  http://www.npr.org/2017/04/26/525675203/former-cia-director-james-woolsey-on-trumps-first-100-days)

In the 27 April broadcast, NPR’s science editor – Geoff Brumfiel – gave prominent treatment to Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.  Mr. Lewis not only dismissed the North Korean EMP threat but ridiculed it by laughing out loud at the comments of a former Director of the CIA discussing a real, present, and existential threat to the nation.

Mr. Lewis, who claims to be a nuclear expert, has been denigrating EMP for the last 6 years.   Aside from his brief time as an intern the Pentagon, he has never served in the DOD or intelligence community and his formal education is in policy studies and philosophy rather than engineering or nuclear weapons design.  Yet NPR’s editors thought it appropriate to champion not only his “analysis” but his obtuse laughter at a sobering subject that is one of the most important of our time.  It is clear by the way Geoff Brumfiel edited this broadcast that he sought to denigrate not only the topic of EMP, but also James Woolsey, the U.S. Military, and the U.S. Congress – since the Ambassador has warned for years about the EMP threat and the DOD and Congress have appropriated billions of dollars to protect America’s strategic forces against it.

Arms control proponents like Mr. Lewis don’t want to admit that EMP is a threat for a number of reasons, chiefly to prevent the U.S. from spending money on missile defense and because to admit that EMP is an issue is to undermine their claim that nuclear weapons are obsolete.  Relying on the electricity that powers the computers on which they type, these people seem to overlook the fact that major electric utility companies have spent millions of dollars to protect their facilities against the very EMP they consider to be harmless.  A second listen at Lewis’ flamboyant laughter makes it clear that, indeed, “ignorance is bliss.”

Evidently, National Public Radio, an organization whose operating expenses are paid in part by the U.S. taxpayer, considers it appropriate to promote ridicule of anyone concerned with the threat from Elecromagnetic Pulse, when the nation’s most informed authorities on EMP consider it to be a real, present, and existential threat to the country and it’s population.

In response to this abject failure in journalism, Center for Security Policy founder and president – Frank J. Gaffney Jr. – recently authored a formal letter to Senator Roy Blunt and Congressmen Tom Coles, who serve on their chambers’ respective Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittees.   This letter calls on these men and these subcommittees to hold NPR accountable for dereliction of its public trust.

We encourage all Americans who are concerned about EMP to join Frank, The Center for Security Policy, and The Secure the Grid Coalition in holding to account National Public Radio.  We encourage you to inform your own elected representatives of this journalistic malfeasance and to confront NPR directly through messages to its Ombudsman and Management by submitting your own comments at the following link:


Let us hope and pray that these actions get the attention of NPR now and that this media outlet doesn’t need to be awakened to the dangers of EMP by having, in the future, to report on loss of American lives following an EMP attack.

According to Mr. Lewis, “this is the favorite nightmare scenario of a small group of dedicated people.”  Well, Mr. Lewis, this group is NOT small, and fortunately for you, it IS dedicated.  Like those in the military who secure your right to speak freely, we’ll keep working to secure the grid that keeps the lights on in your office.

We suggest, though, that you find some academic sobriety and fill it with some better reading material.

     Tommy Waller

     U.S. Marine Veteran

     Director, Special Projects

     Center for Security Policy



Dr. Peter Vincent Pry Highlights America’s Present Failure of Imagination in “The Long Sunday”

November 29, 2016
For More Information Contact:
Tommy Waller twaller@centerforsecuritypolicy.org

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry Highlights America’s Present Failure of Imagination in “The Long Sunday”
(Election Day 2016 – Inauguration Day 2017)

In the opening paragraphs of the 9/11 Commission Report published in the wake of the attacks of September 11th 2001, the term “failure of imagination” is repeated three times. Specifically, “Across the government, there were failures of imagination, policy, capabilities, and management.”

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Director of the EMP Task Force and the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, has served in the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA. His new book will help policymakers better imagine the most dangerous threat to our survival – nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) – and how our nation’s adversaries have demonstrated capability and intent to use EMP against the U.S. and our allies.

The Long Sunday–Election Day 2016 – Inauguration Day 2017–Nuclear EMP Attack Scenarios warns that the EMP threat is not merely theoretical, but real, and could be upon us as soon as the 74-days between Election Day and Inauguration Day, which period Dr. Pry describes as “The Long Sunday.” The short monograph does not predict that a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack is likely to occur between the national elections on November 8 and the next presidential inauguration on January 20. But it is a sign of just how deeply troubled and unpredictable are the times in which we now live, when almost every day brings another unpleasant surprise, that any or all of the scenarios this report shall describe are entirely plausible.


The “unpleasant surprise” is a high-altitude nuclear EMP attack that could permanently blackout the nation’s electric grid and kill 90 percent of Americans through starvation and societal collapse, warns the Congressional EMP Commission and The Long Sunday.

A true Paul Revere of our generation, Dr. Pry warns that EMP is a threat unique in history, empowering failed states and terrorists to destroy Western Civilization. Ambassador R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence, applauds this warning: “Churchill in the 1930’s stared across the Channel at the growing threat of a Blitzkrieg and condemned his countrymen’s blindness. So too Peter Pry sounds the alarm today, except that those who deny the danger of the North Koreans and others turning toward preparation of an EMP attack make Neville Chamberlain look like George S. Patton.”

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on a Sunday, when they knew our guard was down. We hope that Dr. Pry’s book will correct the failure of imagination about the existential threat from EMP, and avert an electronic Pearl Harbor against entire nations. We believe the survival of America and our allies depends upon it.

Additional praise for The Long Sunday comes from numerous national security experts, such as the former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency:

“In many ways, electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is the single greatest threat America faces. One basic nuclear weapon, detonated in space above the U.S., can destroy much of the nation’s electric power grid, leaving us without electricity for months or years. Without electricity for communications, transportation, food, water, and medical, financial, and management services, millions will perish. Dr. Peter Pry is the nation’s most knowledgeable EMP expert, and his short, readable booklet on EMP should be read by every citizen.”

Robert R. Monroe
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Former Director, Defense Nuclear Agency”

….and the former Senior U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations:

“I encourage policymakers and defense professionals alike to read the works of Dr. Peter Vincent Pry to gain an important understanding about EMP and how our enemies might use this weapon against our nation and its allies. “The Long Sunday” is the most recent of his excellent works and it demonstrates just how serious a threat we face from EMP. Our nation can’t afford to re-learn the lessons of Sunday 7 December 1941 or 11 September 2001. Dr. Pry shows us just how much we’ve lowered our guard to this threat and what policymakers must do to address it.”

James “Ace” Lyons, Jr.
Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Former Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet
Father of the U.S. Navy’s “Red Cell”

….as well as the Former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative:

“Peter Pry spins a compelling and regrettably all too possible tale of how our entire way of life could come to an abrupt end within a few weeks, without the electricity upon which most Americans depend for their essential life support. Wake up America!”

Ambassador Henry F. “Hank” Cooper,
Chairman, High Frontier
Former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative

The Long Sunday–Election Day 2016 – Inauguration Day 2017–Nuclear EMP Attack Scenarios is available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats, and can be downloaded for free in PDF format below: 


Resilient Societies Files Appeal at FERC of Defective Standard For Solar Storms; Electric Utilities Not Required to Spend Ten Cents Per American to Protect Nation

“Ninety percent of utilities are exempted from compliance with the NERC solar storm standard, including operators of 102 nuclear power reactors and all other electricity generation plants.”


Find Docket Filing Here

NASHUA, NH—July 22, 2014—Late on July 21, the Foundation for Resilient Societies filed an administrative appeal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), asking its Commissioners to reverse a defective reliability standard that will not protect the nation’s electrical grid against catastrophic solar storms. FERC is the lead federal agency charged with ensuring electric grid reliability and security.
The FERC-approved standard had been written by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), an industry-dominated group selected by FERC to set and enforce electric grid reliability and security standards. Previous FERC studies had indicated that major solar storms are capable of causing long-term blackouts over large regions of the continent.
Under the defective standard, no instrumentation of vulnerable high voltage transformers during solar storms would be required. Instead, grid operators would be “flying blind” as harmful currents vibrate and burn out hard-to-replace equipment. Resilient Societies estimates appropriate protective instrumentation would cost only ten cents per American.
Instead of requiring meters that would allow grid operators to detect harmful currents and proactively shut down vulnerable equipment, the NERC-drafted and FERC-approved standard requires only that electric utilities monitor space weather, have paper plans to protect against solar storms, and document self-determined actions during storms. No practice drills or tests of solar storm protection plans would be required.
In a 2010 report sponsored by FERC, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory concluded that a severe solar storm could leave 130 million Americans without power for several years. In the event of a severe solar storm, Resilient Societies estimates economic losses of $6.4 trillion, in addition to the deaths of millions of Americans. In March 1989, a moderate solar storm blacked out the province of Quebec, Canada, causing economic losses of $2 billion.
Of those voting on the NERC solar storm protection standard before its submission to FERC for final approval, 92% were in favor, an unusually high percentage for NERC-drafted standards. NERC regulates approximately 2,000 electric utilities nationwide. Ninety percent of utilities are exempted from compliance with the NERC solar storm standard, including operators of 102 nuclear power reactors and all other electricity generation plants.
Under the approved standard, electric utilities need to monitor space weather reports from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration but not harmful currents induced in their equipment. Protective plans would be self-determined by the utilities. Utilities would not be required to compare generation plants at risk during solar storms to reserve generation capacity. By complying with the standard, electric utilities would get liability protection from solar storm-caused grid outages.
Foundation for Resilient Societies is a Nashua, New Hampshire based non-profit research group. For interviews, contact William Harris at williamh@resilientsocieties.org, 978-255-2203.

What If All the Lights Go Out?

Californians may be inured to rolling blackouts that cut off their power for hours at a time, but imagine an outage that darkens the entire country — for more than a year. That nightmare scenario could happen if just a handful of crucial, heavy-duty electrical transformers are taken down, according to a confidential federal report disclosed last week by the Wall Street Journal. Federal regulators and the utilities’ trade association were outraged that the report was leaked, but the real outrage is that this vulnerability persists even though policymakers and industry executives have known about it for years.

The transformers at issue raise the voltage of the power generated so it can be transmitted across long distances. The size of overfed dumpsters, they are custom fitted into arrays in utility substations, often industrial or remote areas. Last April, unidentified snipers shot holes in 17 transformers at a Pacific Gas & Electric substation near San Jose, forcing PG&E to scramble to reroute power. The utility averted a blackout, but the attack — which authorities have been investigating as vandalism, not terrorism — highlighted how susceptible substations could be.

Given that there are tens of thousands of substations on the national grid, PG&E’s experience may not seem so alarming. But according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission study disclosed by the Journal, a few dozen of the substations are so important to the flow of energy that knocking out just nine of them would cause a metastasizing blackout that stretched from coast to coast. And replacement transformers for these substations can take more than a year to build, deliver and install, in part because most are made overseas.

Industry officials downplayed the FERC study and said they’ve been preparing for attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, developing a system to share spare transformers. But that’s not very reassuring, considering that heavy-duty transformers aren’t interchangeable. Acting FERC Chairwoman Cheryl A. LaFleur also noted that the commission had just ordered the development of new mandates for keeping “critical” utility assets safe from physical attack.

But why did it take almost a year after snipers used a PG&E substation for target practice, and more than 12 years after the 9/11 terrorists showed their affinity for unconventional assaults, before FERC acted? Instead, the commission left its rules unchanged until the news media reported the previously unheralded PG&E attack. The revelations in February prompted Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and three other Senate Democrats to press FERC to upgrade its regulations for physical security.

Regardless, the commission’s effort to improve security is a welcome development. But as part of that work, FERC should also address the frightening challenges posed by the grid’s reliance on custom-fitted equipment that can take months, if not years, to replace.

Originally posted at the Los Angeles Times


Report: U.S. Electric Grid ‘Inherently Vulnerable’ to Sabotage

Electric grid compounds across the country have faced an uptick in unauthorized intrusions by unknown individuals, causing concern that the U.S. grid is “inherently vulnerable” to widespread sabotage, according to a recent oversight report issued by New Jersey’s Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC), which monitors the threat level.

Following at least eight “reports of intrusions at electrical grid facilities in New Jersey” from October 2013 until January 2014, the ROIC’s Intelligence & Analysis Threat Unit issued a report warning that the U.S. electrical grid is “inherently vulnerable” to attacks that could wipe out power across large swaths of the country.

The ROIC report, released in late February, is marked as “unclassified” but designated “for official use only.” New Jersey State Police Spokesman Trooper Jeff Flynn confirmed that a report of this nature had been commissioned by ROIC when contacted by the Washington Free Beacon.

The multiple incidents of “sabotage” and crime outlined in the report “highlight the grid’s vulnerabilities to potential threats,” according to a copy of the report obtained by the Free Beacon.

U.S. officials and experts have increasingly warned over the years that the electrical grid could be a prime target for terrorists or others seeking to damage the country’s infrastructure and disrupt daily life.

The concern is that many of the incidents outlined in the ROIC report could be a sign that preparations are under away for a larger, coordinated attack on the grid.

Highly sensitive areas of the electrical grid were found to be lightly monitored, leaving them vulnerable to attack, according to the report.

“The electrical grid—a network of power generating plants, transmission lines, substations, and distribution lines—is inherently vulnerable,” the report said.

“Transmission substations are critical links in the electrical grid, making it possible for electricity to move long distances and serving as hubs for intersecting power lines,” according to the report. “Many of the grid’s important components sit out in the open, often in remote locations, protected by little more than cameras and chain-link fences.”

While the incidents are greatly concerning to security officials—and remain mostly unresolved—the ROIC “currently does not have enough information to classify the New Jersey incidents listed [in the report] as indicative of pre-operational activity or connect them to a pattern,” according to the report, which does not discount this possibility.

However, the incidents of grid tampering are not isolated to New Jersey.

An unidentified individual in Tucson, Ariz., in January, “removed multiple bolts from an electric tower’s support structure, increasing the potential for collapse and electrical service interruption.”

Authorities suspect that the goal was “sabotage rather than vandalism” due to the “deliberate manner of the bolt removal, including probable acquisition of the requisite tools,” the report said.

In April 2013, “unknown subject(s) fired multiple shots at an electrical transmission substation” in San Jose, Calif., “damaging several transformers,” the report notes.

Surveillance video of the incident shows sparks flying across the compound as bullets strike the substation.

“Authorities subsequently discovered intentionally cut fiber optic cables in a manhole,” according to the report. “No motive or suspects have been identified.”

Sabotage has also been reported in Jacksonville, Ark., where in August 2013, “an identified suspect … removed bolts from the base of a high-voltage transmission line tower and tried to bring down the 100-foot tower with a moving train,” according to the report

One month later, “the subject reportedly set a fire at a substation control house.”

In October of that year, “the subject cut into two electrical poles and used a tractor to pull them down, cutting power to thousands of customers,” according to the report.

While the incidents in San Jose received widespread media attention, several of the others did not.

New Jersey has experienced eight separate incidents of a similar nature since last year.

On Jan. 26, for instance, “employees found a hole, approximately three-foot high by two-foot wide, in the perimeter fence of an electric switching and substation in East Rutherford,” according to the report.

Several days before that incident, on Jan. 22, “an identified subject entered a Burlington generating station using false identification,” according to the report. “The subject claimed he had a gun (none found) and a bomb (package cleared).”

Other incidents include break-ins at certain electrical stations and the theft of various on-site materials.

The ROIC concluded that while “the incidents more likely involve vandalism and theft, rather than sabotage,” any type of “intrusion or damage to substations is a critical concern to the power supply and public safety.”

Counterterrorism expert Patrick Poole warned that these attacks could be a “test-run” for a larger act of sabotage.

“While some of these incidents involving substations can be attributed to metal scavenging, it’s planned attacks, much like the one in San Jose, that have officials worried the most and raises a number of questions,” Poole told the Free Beacon. “Why was this substation targeted? What were they trying to accomplish with this attack? Was this a test-run for something larger?”

“What the New Jersey ROIC report shows is that this fits into a larger pattern of incidents, which should be keeping someone at Homeland Security up at night,” Poole said. “The other big question is how many more of these incidents are going unreported?”

The ROIC report outlines several types of suspicious behavior that authorities should be on the lookout for.

These include “photographing objects or facilities that would not normally be photographed,” instances of individuals “loitering in sensitive areas,” and other types of atypical behavior such as “unfamiliar or out of place persons posing as panhandlers, protesters, vendors, [or] news agents.”

Flynn told the Free Beacon that ROIC aims to analyze and codify various grid incidents across the country in order to “learn from those incidents and apply them to situations here in New Jersey.”

The goal is to reach “potential conclusions to solve potential problems we have in state,” Flynn said in response to questions about the report.

Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism

SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.

Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.

To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.

Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack at PG&E Corp.’s PCG -0.56% Metcalf transmission substation. It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country.

The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time.

The Wall Street Journal assembled a chronology of the Metcalf attack from filings PG&E made to state and federal regulators; from other documents including a video released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department; and from interviews, including with Mr. Wellinghoff.

The 64-year-old Nevadan, who was appointed to FERC in 2006 by President George W. Bush and stepped down in November, said he gave closed-door, high-level briefings to federal agencies, Congress and the White House last year. As months have passed without arrests, he said, he has grown increasingly concerned that an even larger attack could be in the works. He said he was going public about the incident out of concern that national security is at risk and critical electric-grid sites aren’t adequately protected.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t think a terrorist organization caused the Metcalf attack, said a spokesman for the FBI in San Francisco. Investigators are “continuing to sift through the evidence,” he said.

Some people in the utility industry share Mr. Wellinghoff’s concerns, including a former official at PG&E, Metcalf’s owner, who told an industry gathering in November he feared the incident could have been a dress rehearsal for a larger event.

“This wasn’t an incident where Billy-Bob and Joe decided, after a few brewskis, to come in and shoot up a substation,” Mark Johnson, retired vice president of transmission for PG&E, told the utility security conference, according to a video of his presentation. “This was an event that was well thought out, well planned and they targeted certain components.” When reached, Mr. Johnson declined to comment further.

A spokesman for PG&E said the company takes all incidents seriously but declined to discuss the Metcalf event in detail for fear of giving information to potential copycats. “We won’t speculate about the motives” of the attackers, added the spokesman, Brian Swanson. He said PG&E has increased security measures.

Originally published at the Wall Street Journal

Will electric industry ‘cook the books’ on grid exercise to conceal vulnerabilities?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               

CONTACT: Emily Cashel




November 7, 2013                                                                                 




Rep. Trent Franks Calls on NERC to Disavow Utility That Lowballs the Blackout Threat

Washington, DC:  Few public policy issues are of greater import to the future security of the United States and its people than whether the nation’s electric grid is sufficiently resilient to withstand serious, and possibly enduring, disruption from man-caused or naturally occurring events. 

Yesterday, however, a congressional warning was sounded that the needed, honest evaluation of that question may be hindered – not advanced – by a test slated for 13-14 November that is billed by its chief sponsor as a “biennial international grid security exercise” designed to evaluate “crisis response plans and identify actionable improvement recommendations for plans, security programs, and skills” in the face of cyber and physical attacks on the grid.

In the attached letter to the leaders of the electric industry’s trade association/regulator, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) expressed concern about the public response of a Florida utility, the Kissimmee Utility Authority, to a National Geographic feature film entitled, “American Blackout” that aired on 27 October 2013.  As Rep. Franks wrote:




“[The docudrama] showed what our countrymen and nation would experience in the event of a cyber attack on the U.S. bulk power distribution system that shut down the grid for ten days.  If anything, the serious hardships, dislocation, physical destruction, deaths and societal breakdown portrayed in this docudrama are likely understated.

“Yet…the Kissimmee Utility Authority saw fit to issue a press release after ‘American Blackout’ was broadcast that downplayed the dangers associated with the sort of disruption portrayed in the film.  It was headlined, ‘No Need for Panic.’”

Mr. Franks, the Co-Chairman of the House Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Caucus, observed:  “We note that the industry has often issued such casual assurances when confronted with evidence – including that contained in no fewer than five different federal government studies in recent years – that a sustained blackout would be catastrophic.  Rather than address this conclusion forthrightly and ensure that corrective actions are taken to prevent such an event, or at least minimize its likelihood, NERC and many of the utilities it represents have historically tried to deflect attention and trivialize the threat.”

Rep. Franks, who introduced last week with Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, asked the electric industry leaders pointedly:  “In light of these dangers, we want to establish whether you and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation share the view of the utility in Kissimmee?  Or do you believe the public should be concerned that the grid may be offline for extended periods?”

In conclusion, Rep. Franks served notice on those responsible for GridEx II:  “If…NERC and others involved in planning and executing GridEx II are dismissive of those who believe such vulnerabilities exist – and if the planners are intent on using the exercise to hide, rather than expose, these shortcomings – GridEx may actually be a grave disservice to the consumer, to the public more generally and perhaps to America’s vital national security.” (Emphasis added.)

A new video (“The Real American Blackout” at www.StopEMP.org) was unveiled last week by the EMP Coalition – an ad hoc group made up of many of the nation’s leading experts and organizations committed to protecting the bulk power distribution grid and the critical infrastructures that depends upon it from the terrible consequences of a long-duration loss of power, raises similar concerns.

As described in a Washington Times column (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/5/gaffney-keeping-americans-in-the-dark//)

published yesterday by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., a leader of the EMP Coalition, Dr. Peter Pry, has offered four litmus tests that will determine the validity and usefulness of the GridEx II drill:

  • Is the simulated blackout one that affects the entire continental United States, or is it a regional one?
  • Are just a few millions of Americans affected by the blackout, or the whole population of the Lower 48?
  • Are there nuclear and industrial accidents precipitated by the grid going down?
  • Is the power outage of short duration, or is it protracted?  In the latter case, large numbers of us will die, not just be inconvenienced.  Will GridEx II model that danger in order to show what the stakes really are in having a non-resilient grid?

As Mr. Gaffney, another EMP Coalition participant, put it: “If GridEx II fails to exercise such daunting – yet all-too-realistic – scenarios, NERC and the participating utilities must be held accountable for not only keeping the American people in the dark, but possibly for condemning them to that condition indefinitely.”

– 30 –

The Real American Blackout: Will the electric industry really examine the grid’s vulnerability?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         
October 29, 2013
CONTACT: Emily Cashel
Shirley & Banister Public Affairs
National Geographic Film, New Video Suggest the Costs of Failure to Do So
Washington, DC:  On Sunday night, National Geographic aired an alarming, and most timely, new docu-drama entitled, “American Blackout.”  It explores the trauma that would be experienced by the United States and its people should there be a prolonged nationwide blackout caused by a major disruption to the nation’s power grid.


In mid-November, the real test of the grid will take place when 100 electric utilities and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) participate in a nationwide exercise dubbed GridEx II that is supposed to demonstrate how well the grid can cope with significant disruptions.


A new video produced by the EMP Coalition, however, raises questions about whether GridEx II will actually test the nation’s bulk power distribution system – or be conducted in a manner calculated to obscure the grid’s actual vulnerabilities.


The electric utilities and their trade association/regulatory organization –NERC – have, to date, proven resistant to examining rigorously, let alone remediating, the grid’s vulnerabilities to various threats (including physical attack, cyberwarfare and electromagnetic pulse (EMP)).


The National Geographic film describes how a cyber attack could leave the nation without the critical infrastructures that provide everything necessary to life in 21st Century America, including: food, water, fuel, transportation, medicine, communications and finance.


The horrific consequences of such privation – even for the ten-day period explored in the film, let alone a much more protracted period – are such that, if the grid is vulnerable in the way shown in “American Blackout.” everything possible must be done to eliminate such weaknesses.


The EMP Coalition (an ad hoc group made up of many of the nation’s leading experts and organizations committed to preventing the grid and critical infrastructures from the terrible consequences of a long-duration loss of power) encourages every American to view the video “The Real American Blackout” and join in insisting that Grid Ex II be an honest examination of the state of the nation’s electric infrastructure, and a catalyst to the corrective actions needed to protect it against all threats – man-caused and naturally occurring.


For more information about the video and the work of the EMP Coalition, visit www.StopEMP.org.



Symposium on Law, Policy and Innovative Technologies in National Security

On the morning of the Keeper of the Flame Award Dinner – paying tribute to the life of Congressman Bill Young – the Center convened two expert panels to discuss two areas of technological development in the field of national security: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the phenomenon of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP).  Video of the event follows.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): Legal, Policy and Innovation Trends

Moderator — Frank J. Gaffney Jr, CSP


  • Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), Chairman, Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Member, House Armed Services Committee; Member, UAV Caucus
  • Dr. Michael Keegan, President of the DC Capitol Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Dr. Keegan has worked on numerous high profile programs within Northrop-Grumman including Global Hawk and Triton. He currently works within the Ground Systems Business Unit in the Intelligence Systems Division.
  • Col. Bill Tart, director, RPA Capabilities Division (AF/A2CU), U.S. Air Force
  • Ben Lerner, Esq., Center for Security Policy

For the past several years, both the Bush and Obama administrations have deployed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with increasing technological sophistication to eliminate terrorist leaders and operatives abroad, with substantial success. This use of UAVs for both surveillance and lethal force continues to be threatened by international legal and political efforts to eliminate their use. If successful, these efforts could have serious ramifications for the use of UAVs for the remainder of the Obama administration and beyond.

In parallel to the release of its forthcoming study exploring the technology, legal and policy landscape informing this debate, the panel’s experts from government and industry will discuss trends in international law, policies and politics for UAVs, the national security impacts of stricter rules governing the use of UAVs abroad, the extent to which advances in UAV technology may drive changes in law and policy, and related topics.


Securing America from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP): Technical and Policy Challenges

Moderator — Frank J. Gaffney Jr., CSP


  • Brigadier General (ret.) Ken Chrosniak, Member of EMPact America, a firefighter with Carlisle Fire Rescue, VP of Cumberland Goodwill Ambulance (EMS) Company, and member of the FBI vetted InfraGard EMP Special Interest Group. Ken is an instructor at the Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership Development.
  • Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Chair, Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus; Member, Intelligence, Emerging Threats, and Capabilities Subcommittee; Member, Strategic Forces Subcommittee.
  • Major General (ret.) Robert Newman, Former Adjutant General of Virginia; Deputy Assistant to the Governor, Virginia; Vice Director of Operations & Logistics at US Joint Forces Command ; Deputy Director of Homeland Security at National Guard Bureau.

The backbone of the United States and its 21st Century society is our electric grid. Without it, every critical infrastructure — including food, water, medicine, telecommunications, finance and transportation — would be inoperable, with catastrophic consequences for many millions of Americans whose lives would be imperiled by the loss of such services.

Unfortunately, the U.S. bulk power system is presently vulnerable to widespread damage and possible destruction from a variety of sources. Arguably, the most serious of these is electromagoetic pulse (EMP), whether induced by natural phenomena (i.e., solar flaring and the resultant space weather) or enemy actions (e.g., localized attacks on the grid’s critical nodes- roughly 1,000 transformers- involving radio frequency weapons or strategic attacks utilizing exoatmospheric detonations of nuclear weapons). Either could have the effect of blacking out large parts of the United States for protracted periods of time.

This panel will consider the emerging consensus that such threats are real and must be remediated; examine how best to make the present and future grids resilient against these and related dangers (including cyber-warfare); and address the necessary federal-and state-level legislative and executive branch actions required to effect such changes.