Center for Security Policy Fact Checks the New York Times on EMP Washington, D.C., December 12, 2011 – In response to a New York Times article titled "Among Gingrich's Passions, a Doomsday Vision," the Center for Security Policy offered the following fact check outlining the true threat an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack would pose.
Fallacy: The Times reports "Electromagnetic pulse is a real phenomenon, though many scientists consider it yesteryear's concern."
Fact: The Times failed to mention the fact that a blue-ribbon, congressionally mandated EMP Threat Commission had produced a number of studies confirming the reality of ballistic missile-delivered electro-magnetic pulse attacks and concluding that, should it happen, the effect on this country would be "catastrophic."
Fallacy: Missile defense is the answer to the EMP threat.
Fact: Sources such as Philip Coyle and the Union of Concerned Scientists have been relentlessly hostile to American deployments of anti-missile systems.
The prospect of relatively short-range missiles being used to mount an EMP strike compounds the challenge to our modest anti-missile systems. The determining factor would be primarily the location and readiness of our missile defense-equipped Aegis ships. Our West Coast-deployed, Ground-Based Interceptors will be unable to do the job against short-range missiles fired off our East or Gulf Coasts.
Fallacy: Even if EMP could be a threat, it isn't at the moment since the nations that we might worry about are at the "kindergarten stage" of obtaining the long-range missiles and nuclear arms they would need to engage in such attacks against the United States.
Fact: o Among the nations who understand America's vulnerability to EMP are Russia and China, both of whom possess advanced nuclear arsenals. o An enemy need not have long-range missiles. Short-range missiles launched of a ship would suffice to deliver a strategic EMP attack. Virtually all the world's bad actors - including not only North Korea and Iran but the Islamist terrorist group, Hezbollah - have SCUD missiles that could perform this mission. What is more, Iran has test-launched ballistic missiles off of ships and flown another, the Shahab-3, that simulated a detonation at apogee.
Fallacy: The Times article solely focuses on the EMP threat in light of what the Obama administration calls "man-caused disasters."
Fact: The sun possesses the capability to unleash what amounts to the same thing via cyclically occurring and intense solar flaring that is expected to occur within the next few years. We are overdue for a so-called "Carrington Event," which last happened in the 19th century.
The result will be to expose large swaths of the northern hemisphere to high-levels of electro-magnetic energy. Missile defenses provide no protection against such an effect. Only hardening of our electrical grid and other critical infrastructure will prevent a similar kind of disruption and possible destruction of both – with truly catastrophic consequences for our country and its people.
In closing, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., President of the Center for Security Policy remarked: "The EMP threat to America is real and potentially horrific damaging. Our enemies know it and either have or are working hard to obtain the means to inflict such devastation. Even if they do not execute such a strike, we must be prepared to contend with a naturally occurring phenomenon that may be every bit as devastating. If the Times mischaracterization of this danger contributes to our continued vulnerability, it will represent more than journalistic malpractice. It may help exacerbate a looming disaster."
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