EMP Expert: ‘We Are Still Vulnerable; Frightfully Vulnerable’

My name is Bill Forstchen and I’m an historian and author.  One of my books that many of you might recognize is “One Second After.

I wrote this book in 2009 to send a warning about the threat of an Electro-Magnetic Pulse, or EMP attack on our country.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A quick definition: a high energy EMP is generated by detonating a relatively low-yield nuclear weapon above the earth’s atmosphere. The gamma ray burst at the instant of detonation creates a cascading electrical disturbance in the atmosphere which races down to the earth’s surface. Every wire that crisscrosses our nation – be it the line from the power pole to your house, up to the large high tension lines radiating out from generating plants – will act like antennas, pick up this electrical overload and take out the transmission and generating systems connect to those wires. In many cases the wires themselves will melt down due to the energy overload, while a significant percentage of vehicles will short circuit as well.

The result? The electrical power, computer and transportation grid of America goes down.

Who would initiate such an attack and why?

Consider North Korea which earlier this month successfully launched an alleged satellite into orbit. Do they really need that satellite? No. What we saw was the testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile; a missile which carried a third-rate satellite  into orbit and can deliver a first-rate nuclear warhead over the United States.

Why would North Korea be so insane as to launch weapons against us, when  facing full retaliation by our forces (if we have a leader who actually would order retaliation)?

Hitting America with several bombs approximately three to four times as powerful as the weapons we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would indeed be devastating to downtown San Francisco, Seattle, or Denver, a horrific attack that could claim hundreds of thousands of lives, but would that “knock us out?”

Most certainly not.

But it is time to rethink the paradigm of warfare when it comes to nuclear weapons. Three bombs, busting three cities is a nightmare to be certain, but instead of taking out a city, why not take out an entire nation in one second? That is exactly what an EMP strike will achieve. It is a new definition of what the military calls a “first strike weapon,” designed to paralyze an enemy in the opening seconds of a war.

One to three such weapons, detonated in space above the United States would knock out our entire power grid; not for an hour, a day, or a week. It would take it down for years. Even if we then pummeled what is above ground in North Korea into radioactive dust, (while their leaders survived deep underground and congratulated themselves on their success) their goal of humbling and even destroying America would be achieved.

The same stands true for Iran with its nuclear weapons program and their already existing launch and delivery capability. Even if a terrorist group, like Islamic State, were handed several nuclear warheads could launch such an attack with low-tech rockets fired from a container ship parked in the Gulf of Mexico.

We are absolutely vulnerable and nearly defenseless against such an attack.

Two little known Congressional studies, chaired by former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), about the threat of EMP, published in 2004 and 2008, were the motivation for my writing “One Second After.”  These well documented studies estimated that upwards of 90 percent of all Americans would die within a year after such an attack.

How can this be and why is nothing being done to protect our country?

It is why Glenn Beck’s team decided to create a documentary about EMP which will air Wednesday February 17 at 9 p.m. ET on TheBlaze TV program “For the Record.” It will explain the hows and the whys of an EMP attack, and how it can directly affect your life, your family’s life and how you and your loved one’s are in the cross hairs of a potentially annihilating assault.

My participation in the documentary is based on what I describe in my book “One Second After.” In the novel, I present a scenario of what would happen in my small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina and the college I teach at, Montreat College, in the wake of such an attack.

In addition to myself, Dr. Peter Pry, a gentleman I consider to be the “godfather” of this issue of EMP and who has dedicated himself tirelessly to getting the facts out and lobbying for political action in Washington, D.C. will be interviewed. Along with Dr. Pry, the team also sought out former Rep. Bartlett who I can only define as a true genius, with a stunning scientific mind and professional experience prior to his going on to serve 20 years in Congress.

It was Rep. Bartlett who nearly single-handedly pushed through funding for a congressional study of the subject of EMP, chaired the committees and went on vainly for years to try and arouse awareness and action to properly harden our national infrastructure before it is hit.

Sadly he was essentially gerrymandered out of his district in 2012, his goal of over 20 years yet to be fulfilled.

We are still vulnerable; frightfully vulnerable. The efforts of men like Bartlett, Pry, and Woolsey have yet to be fulfilled. I pray that the efforts of Glenn Beck’s team with “For the Record,” helps to raise awareness with citizens such as yourself who are reading this, and who will demand the issue of EMP take center stage in the presidential campaigns, and demand action before it is too late for all of us.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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