Washington absolutely must save the EMP commission

Washington absolutely must save the EMP commission
© Greg Nash

Only Washington bureaucrats could be so stupid they would terminate the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, also known as the Congressional EMP Commission — just when North Korea threatened to attack the United States with EMP.

On Sept. 2, North Korea tested a thermonuclear H-bomb warhead for their intercontinental missiles capable of striking the United States. North Korea boasted their new warhead can generate “super-powerful EMP against a vast region.”

EMP is like super-energetic lightning. Except instead of striking a point it can cover an entire nation, like the continental United States, with an EMP field.

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A nuclear EMP attack would destroy electronics everywhere, cause planes to crash, stop cars and rail traffic, blackout electric grids and other critical infrastructures that make modern civilization, and life itself, possible. Eventually, millions would die from starvation, disease, and societal collapse.

 

The Congressional EMP Commission warned that a nationwide blackout lasting one year could kill up to 90 percent of the American people.

Thus, a nuclear EMP attack would be far deadlier than a nuclear strike that blasts a city.

North Korea knows this, which is why their state media describes the new thermonuclear warhead as capable of both blasting cities and making an EMP attack: “The H-Bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons, is a multifunctional thermonuclear weapon with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack according to strategic goals.”

The Congressional EMP Commission has been warning for years — and now is obviously proven right — that North Korea knows about EMP and has been developing capabilities to make a nuclear EMP attack.

Indeed, in a recent article (published before North Korea’s Sept. 2 nuclear test), Dr. William Graham, chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission, warned that North Korea’s two satellites orbiting over the U.S. may pose an EMP threat:

After massive intelligence failures grossly underestimating North Korea’s long-range missile capabilities, number of nuclear weapons, warhead miniaturization, and proximity to an H-Bomb, the biggest North Korean threat to the U.S. remains unacknowledged. North Korea has two satellites in orbit, and more to follow, that could be nuclear-armed for high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could blackout North America for months to years, killing millions ... This point appears to be beyond the comprehension of most, including secretaries of Defense, the military leadership, and the usual ‘experts’ who appear in the press.

Stupidly, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security intend to let the EMP Commission terminate on Sept. 30. Despite the ominous and growing EMP threat from North Korea, no one at DOD or DHS has asked Congress to continue the EMP Commission.

The House Armed Services Committee may establish a new EMP Commission and replace the existing EMP commissioners in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). But there is no substitute for the existing EMP Commission, which comprises the greatest body of expertise in the Free World.

The EMP Commissioners have proposed plans to protect the U.S from the existential threat that is EMP—opposed by lobbyists for the electric power industry.

I am one of the founders of the original EMP Commission, along with former Maryland Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. Together, between 1995-2001, we held numerous hearings on the EMP threat, establishing the EMP Commission in the FY2001 NDAA under Title XIV to begin the process of protecting our nation.

Terminating Title XIV, as proposed in the House NDAA, is another stupid idea, as it would reduce the Congressional EMP Commission to the status of a defense contractor and destroy its independence.

I appeal to my colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee to replace the House provision on the EMP Commission with this:

“The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, as described in the FY2001 Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 106-398, Title XIV, with all the powers and authorities invested in the EMP Commission under Title XIV, is hereby re-established. The nine EMP commissioners, including the EMP Commission chairman, originally appointed to serve on the EMP Commission are hereby re-appointed. Any new commissioners to fill vacancies on the EMP Commission shall be appointed by the secretary of Defense, in consultation with the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. The commission shall deliver a report to Congress on threats to the United States from nuclear and non-nuclear EMP attack, natural EMP from solar storms, and other threat vectors to military and civilian critical infrastructures, 18 months from the date that the EMP Commission chairman certifies that the commission has received adequate funding, security clearances, and other support to commence work.”

Hats off to Rob Powelson, my former staffer, newly appointed to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Commissioner Powelson, I am sure, will continue the fight to protect our nation, even if the EMP Commission is destroyed.

Former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) served as vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and of the House Homeland Security Committee. He sponsored the legislation that gave the United States a National Missile Defense, and was co-founder of the Congressional EMP Commission.