A Bang Followed by Whimpering… and Silence

Gotta love The Swamp. Now that North Korea (probably) has the capability to fire a missile into our airspace, TPTB have shut down the one governmental organization with the ability to do anything testicular to deter the Fat Boy driving the looming disaster.

Did you think NoKo is going to do something fissionable with its missiles and is going to simply try to “bomb” us? Well, it would seem that’s the intention, but the real problem is the payload on their missiles. All they need is one EMP detonated in our skies (over the East Coast, where lies most of our outdated electrical infrastructure) to send the continent back to say, 1850…and that will mean ninety percent of our population gone within six months or less. One can envision the follow-up: a leisurely walk-through by China. It would be easy-peasy to sort through the pieces of what remained of Canada and the United States.

From The Center for Security Policy [with my emphases — D]:

Inexplicably, just when we need the country’s most knowledgeable and influential minds advising about how to protect against a potentially imminent, nation-ending peril, the Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Threat Commission is being shut down.

For seventeen years under the leadership of President Reagan’s Science Advisor, Dr. William Graham, this blue-ribbon panel has warned that we had to protect our electric grid from just the sorts of EMP attacks North Korea is now threatening to unleash upon us. Successive administrations and the electric utilities have shamefully failed to heed those warnings and take corrective action.

Consequently, we could experience on a national scale the sort of devastating, protracted blackouts now afflicting Puerto Rico. President Trump should give Dr. Graham and his team a new mandate as a presidential commission to oversee the immediate implementation of their recommendations.

This disaster happened at the end of September, while the MSM dithered away on their fiddles about the eeevil Trump. Meanwhile, two men who served on the panel appeared in front of this subcommittee to get the views of the panel into the permanent record, i.e. the Congressional Record. If/when it all goes down, their warnings will still exist, if anyone can access them after an EMP explosion:

STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD

DR. WILLIAM R. GRAHAM, CHAIRMAN
DR. PETER VINCENT PRY, CHIEF OF STAFF
COMMISSION TO ASSESS THE THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES FROM
ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) ATTACK
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND MANAGEMENT EFFICIENCY HEARING
“EMPTY THREAT OR SERIOUS DANGER:
ASSESSING NORTH KOREA’S RISK TO THE HOMELAND”

Here is an excerpt from that “Statement For the Record” [any emphases are mine — D. The footnotes, which have been omitted here, can be found in the pdf linked at the end of this post]:

During the Cold War, major efforts were undertaken by the Department of Defense to assure that the U.S. national command authority and U.S. strategic forces could survive and operate after an EMP attack. However, no major efforts were then thought necessary to protect critical national infrastructures, relying on nuclear deterrence to protect them. With the development of small nuclear arsenals and long-range missiles by new, radical U.S. adversaries, beginning with North Korea, the threat of a nuclear EMP attack against the U.S. becomes one of the few ways that such a country could inflict devastating damage to the United States. It is critical, therefore, that the U.S. national leadership address the EMP threat as a critical and existential issue, and give a high priority to assuring the leadership is engaged and the necessary steps are taken to protect the country from EMP.

By way of background, the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack was established by Congress in 2001 to advise the Congress, the President, Department of Defense and other departments and agencies of the U.S. Government on the nuclear EMP threat to military systems and civilian critical infrastructures.The EMP Commission was re-established in 2015 with its charter broadened to include natural EMP from solar storms, all manmade EMP threats, cyber-attack, sabotage and Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare. The EMP Commission charter gives it access to all relevant classified and unclassified data and the power to levy analysis upon the Department of Defense.

On September 30, 2017, the Department of Defense, after withholding a significant part of the monies allocated by Congress to support the work of the EMP Commission for the entirety of 2016, terminated funding the EMP Commission. In the same month, North Korea detonated an H-Bomb that it plausibly describes as capable of “super-powerful EMP” attack and released a technical report “The EMP Might of Nuclear Weapons” accurately describing what Russia and China call a “Super-EMP” weapon.

Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Homeland Security has asked Congress to continue the EMP Commission. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would replace the existing EMP Commission with new Commissioners. Yet the existing EMP Commission comprises the nation’s foremost experts who have been officially or unofficially continuously engaged trying to advance national EMP preparedness for 17 years.

And today, as the EMP Commission has long warned, the nation faces a potentially imminent and existential threat of nuclear EMP attack from North Korea. Recent events have proven the EMP Commission’s critics wrong about other highly important aspects of the nuclear missile threat from North Korea:

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Clare Lopez: There Must Be Regime Change in Iran

Earlier this month Clare Lopez was one of the participants on a panel sponsored by the Center for Security Policy at the annual CPAC conference in Washington D.C. In this talk she discusses the strategic danger that the Islamic Republic of Iran poses to the United States and the rest of the Middle East, and the disastrous consequences brought on by the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Tehran.

Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this video:

Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on national defense, Islam, Iran, and counterterrorism issues. Currently a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, she was formerly a career operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee from 2005-2006, and has served as a consultant, intelligence analyst, and researcher for a variety of defense firms. She is the author of an acclaimed paper for the Center, The Rise of the Iran Lobby and co-author/editor of the Center’s Team B II study, “Shariah: The Threat to America”.

Ms. Lopez received a B.A. in Communications and French from Notre Dame College of Ohio and an M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She completed Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia before declining a commission, in favor of joining the CIA.

The Iowa National Security Action Summit

I asked the Baron to format and publish the following notice about this upcoming conference.

The other day I mentioned my own slow move to the right side of the political spectrum. Reading Frank Gaffney was one of my ‘metanoia’ experiences. The man was/is sharp and insightful. And now his foundation is sponsoring an important conference.

Reading Mr. Gaffney as the beginning of my move rightwards was so very many years ago, decades, in fact. At the time, in order to read his newspaper columns we had to wait for friends to bring in newspapers from the Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy. Back then, the nearest places that sold out-of-town papers certainly didn’t besmirch their premises with The Washington Times. My, how the ‘times’ have changed. In the following decades came online news, and The Drudge Report. Back then I could never have anticipated such deeply revolutionary changes in our lives — i.e., not only the proliferation of news outlets, but that the Baron would become personally acquainted with staff at Mr. Gaffney’s foundation. Had you produced a crystal ball and showed me the coming changes in the production and dispersal of news, much less what we’d be doing, I’d never have believed you… and now here we are plugging Mr. Gaffney’s conference.

I wanted you to see it primarily for the subjects they will be covering:

  • The Hollowing Out of The U.S. Military
  • America’s Electrical Power Grid and Threats to Critical Infrastructure
  • The Threat from Iran, Shariah and The Global Jihad Movement
  • Border Insecurity and Illegal Immigration

It is both the subjects and the fact that they will all be discussed in one place by people with the expertise to explain them which makes this conference so important. The second subject, our power grid, is utterly crucial. Is anyone besides Mr. Gaffney repeatedly warning us about the threat this weakness poses to our daily lives? If this goes down, America will drop back to the 1800s (and with the same population) while the world moves on without us.

That is the primary threat Iran brings to you and me — i.e., basic questions about shelter and food and fuel.

The Iowa National Security Action Summit

Des Moines, IA— On Saturday May 16th, Secure Freedom (formerly Center for Security Policy), in partnership with The Family Leader Foundation and High Frontier, will host The Iowa National Security Action Summit. The conference will feature many of the most influential national security practitioners of our day addressing the current state of U.S. foreign and defense policy in an increasingly perilous world. Specifically, the event will cover four key topics of interest to both our nation and the state of Iowa:

  • The Hollowing Out of The U.S. Military
  • America’s Electrical Power Grid and Threats to Critical Infrastructure
  • The Threat from Iran, Shariah and The Global Jihad Movement
  • Border Insecurity and Illegal Immigration

Among the noteworthy policy experts and national leaders who have been invited, the following speakers have been confirmed:

  • Dr. Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr.
  • Ambassador Henry (Hank) F. Cooper, Chairman, High Frontier
  • Ann Corcoran, Refugee Resettlement Watch
  • Frank Gaffney, President, Center for Security Policy
  • Dan Goure, Vice President, Lexington Institute
  • Peter Huessy, President, GeoStrategic Analysis
  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
  • Iowa Congressman Arnold “Steve” King
  • Admiral James “Ace” Lyons (U.S. Navy, Ret.)
  • Rick Manning, Americans for Limited Government
  • Iowa State Representative Zach Nunn
  • Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Executive Director, Task Force on National and Homeland Security
  • Colonel (Ret.) Al Ringgenberg
  • Senator Rick Santorum
  • Phyllis Schlafley, Founder, Eagle Forum
  • Bob Vanderplaats, President, The FAMiLY Leader Foundation

The Iowa National Security Action Summit is designed to ensure that our national security receives the attention it requires from elected officials and their constituents, alike — both at the federal level, AND the state level. The Center’s last National Security Action Summit was hosted in South Carolina on 14 March and drew hundreds of participants, lots of media coverage, and an impactful group of national security leaders. Footage from that summit can be found at this link.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., President of Secure Freedom said:

“Americans are increasingly aware that the world is becoming an ever-more-dangerous place. They expect their leaders to protect them and our vital interests around the world. The National Security Action Summit is a place where the best minds convene to lay out the best ideas for doing that. At the state-level, these summits are an invaluable method of connecting a concerned citizenry to the forefront of policymaking at both the state and federal levels. This weekend’s program could not be more timely, more content-rich or more important.”

Media Event Details:

TOPIC:   The Iowa National Security Action Summit
DATE:   Saturday, May 16, 2015
TIME:   8:00 a.m. ET – 4 p.m. CST
LOCATION:   Point of Grace Church
305 Northeast Dartmoor Drive,
Waukee, IA 50263
MEDIA RSVP:   Samantha Nerove
sam@anelisgroup.com
(202) 714-3150
TICKET INFO:   The Iowa National Security Action Summit
 

Big Goings On in South Carolina

The death of historian M. Stanton Evans last week was a blow for those who study genuine history, and for the brave students he mentored during their own search for truth. Evan’s truth about 20th century history skillfully excised the proud flesh of the more commonly accepted ersatz “history” on sale in academia. Perhaps you experienced it, that unyielding “narrative” Leftist Communists pedaled in university classrooms for several generations now. For thousands of students who were given no other view to consider, it seemed plausible. Where else could they look if not to their mandarin scholars’ lecture halls?

Follow the yellow brick road to consensus and no matter what your field of study, even science, that’s the safe path. But with Evans and a few others (and the next generation of students these few historians worked with) you get right down to the bone of what is true and verifiable about past events, versus what is self-serving perfidious untruth. It is we, their readers, who benefit from this lonely work.

At the time of that post I mentioned the integrity of Frank Gaffney’s long-standing and principled efforts to call to our attention the clear and present dangers facing the West now, particularly America. Mr. Gaffney is not a historian; he is a newspaper columnist. It was in this guise that the Baron and I first read his work years ago when he wrote for the then-brand-new Washington Times. Recall that time, before the internet, when alternative news sources were scarce; it was consensus or nothing. Here in the middle of nowhere, all we had was NPR for our information. No, we didn’t buy their world view; in fact their slant was so obvious that we played an entertaining game in which we’d guess ahead of time what spin National Public Radio (or, as my second son called it when he lived with us, “National Palestinian Radio”) would put on a given story.

Back then but we had no other choices in news sources [you should have seen us in the first Gulf War with a shortwave radio and a copper antenna stuck on a tree outside the window] until one day when college friends of the Baron’s came to visit for the weekend. They brought with them a copy of the new “Moonie paper”, The Washington Times and it was there we found Gaffney, Democrat “Scoop” Jackson’s aide and a member of the Reagan administration. We’d known of him before and were so pleased to see both him and Bill Gertz on the printed page. [Scoop Jackson, along with Daniel Moynihan, was one of the few old-fashioned — i.e., genuine — liberals.]

One of the things Mr. Gaffney has pursued is pointing out the Muslim Brotherhood affiliations of Grover Norquist and the latter’s extensive and malign influence on the Republican Party. Mr. Norquist is an important figure in Washington; one does not tread on his toes with impunity. That Frank Gaffney displays this kind of courage is most heartening; it cannot be an easy thing to do. His principles were also evident in his support for Diana West during the attempted trashing and take-down of her book, American Betrayal. He could have kept quiet. Instead, she was the recipient of The Center for Security Policy’s 2013 Mightier Pen Award.

Yes, when we read a newspaper, it’s the Washington Times and often read its columns on line. And, yes, we’ve heard liberals repeatedly voice the hope that the paper will fail. Like any other printed matter, it no doubt faces financial struggles but then so does The New York Times; The Washington Post was recently bought by the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.

Below is the latest endeavor of Frank Gaffney’s organization. If I were well, I’d try to go. But then if wishes were horses, I’d be riding to this affair. That’s much of the cream of conservatism there, with a few right-wing ringers thrown in for good measure:

Columbia, SC— TOMORROW, Saturday March 14th, Secure Freedom (formerly known as the Center for Security Policy), in partnership with Breitbart News and High Frontier, will host The South Carolina National Security Action Summit. The conference will feature many of the most influential national security practitioners of our day addressing the current state of U.S. foreign and defense policy in an increasingly perilous world. Specifically, the event will cover four key topics of interest to both our nation and the state of South Carolina:

  • The Hollowing Out of The U.S. Military
  • America’s Electrical Power Grid and Threats to Critical Infrastructure
  • The Threat from Shariah and The Global Jihad Movement
  • Border Insecurity and Illegal Immigration

The noteworthy participants in this summit include:

  • Dr. George H. Baker
  • Ambassador John R. Bolton
  • LTG (Ret). William G. “Jerry” Boykin
  • LTC (Ret.) David Bores
  • Bill Connor
  • Ambassador Henry (Hank) F. Cooper
  • Scott Cooper
  • U.S. Senator Ted Cruz
  • Frank Gaffney
  • John Guandolo
  • Peter Huessy
  • Van Hipp Jr.
  • Rosemary Jenks
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
  • Rick Joyner
  • Admiral James “Ace” Lyons (U.S. Navy, Ret.)
  • Javier Manjarres
  • Dr. Peter Vincent Pry
  • Senator Rick Santorum
  • Phyllis Schlafly
  • Michael S. Smith II
  • Danny Strickland
  • Ann Corcoran

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The Future Cyberwar

The following article about the implications of the cyber attack on Sony — regardless of who the real perpetrators turn out to be — was published recently by the Center for Security Policy.

Warnings of Post-Sony Cyber Attacks on U.S. Grid Underscored by Penetration of South Korean Nuclear Plants’ Computers

(Washington, DC): In the aftermath of the devastating attacks on Sony Pictures computers, there is a heightened recognition that other information technology systems may be at risk of what President Obama last week depicted as “cyber vandalism.” Others call it an act of war in the new domain known as the cyberbattlespace.

Increasingly, national leaders are recognizing that one of the prime targets for such attacks in the future may be the control systems of the U.S. electric bulk power distribution system, better known as the electrical grid. The salience of those concerns has only been intensified by today’s news that computers have been hacked at the company that runs South Korea’s nuclear power plants.

A report from Reuters quotes a South Korean specialist in nuclear designs, South Korea University’s Su Kune-yull, as saying: “This demonstrated that, if anyone is intent with malice to infiltrate the system, it would be impossible to say with confidence that such an effort would be blocked completely. And a compromise of nuclear reactors’ safety pretty clearly means there is a gaping hole in national security.”

The Secure the Grid Coalition — a group of American national security practitioners, scientists and engineers co-chaired by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Clinton Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey — has long believed that the vulnerabilities of the U.S. grid pose an existential threat to the United States. That is a finding confirmed by no fewer than eleven different studies performed or commissioned by the federal government over the past decade.

Unfortunately, cyber attacks are not the only manner in which large regions of the country could be subjected to disruption or destruction of the electric grid. These include: physical sabotage of the kind seen notably at the PG&E Metcalf Substation outside of San Jose, California on April 16, 2013; the danger of strategic electromagnetic pulse (EMP) strikes involving the detonation of one or more nuclear weapons high above the United States; the use of radio frequency weapons (RFW) to do locally what an EMP would do over large areas, weapons that can be built using readily available hardware or adapted from commercial technology; and naturally occurring intense geomagnetic disturbances (GMD) that produce potentially devastating electromagnetic solar storms.

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The Effects of Solar Weather on the Grid

A recent FOIA request revealed that FEMA has acknowledged the extent to which the electrical grid is vulnerable to the effects of intense solar storms. The following press release from the Center for Security Policy describes the risks the United States is facing from natural as well as man-made damage to the grid.

F.E.M.A. Document Reveals 130 Million Americans Could Suffer Extended Blackouts Due to Intense Solar Storm

(Washington, DC): In the latest official confirmation about the acute vulnerability of the U.S. electric grid, the Washington Free Beacon has revealed that a Freedom of Information Act request produced a fact sheet describing a 2012 Federal Emergency Management Agency interagency plan for severe space weather. The FEMA document refers to a 2010 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that “an extreme solar storm could leave 130 million people without power for years, and destroy or damage more than 300 hard-to-replace electrical grid transformers.”

According to Dr. William Graham, President Reagan’s Science Advisor and chairman of the congressionally mandated Electromagnetic Pulse Threat Commission, in the wake of widespread and prolonged blackouts, nine out of ten Americans could perish.

Importantly, the level of damage described by FEMA and NOAA could be caused by what is known as a G5 class storm, the last of which hit the earth in 1921. That geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) is estimated to have been roughly one-tenth the power of an 1859 solar storm known as a Carrington Event. Congressional testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this year established that the likelihood of another Carrington-class solar storm, to say nothing of less powerful ones, striking our planet in the foreseeable future is one hundred percent.

In fact, on December 5, Robert Rutledge, who directs NOAA’s Space Weather Forecast Office, advised the DuPont Summit — a conference in Washington, D.C. on grid vulnerability and steps needed to mitigate it — that such storms are as certain as earthquakes and hurricanes, and should be planned for accordingly.

NOAA’s 2010 Strategic Plan was performed for the National Research Council and drew upon a study by well-known experts in the field of geo-magnetically induced currents (GIC) and their impact on the grid, Drs. William Radasky and John Kappenman.

FEMA’s fact-sheet notes, however, that unnamed engineers from the electrical industry downplay the severity of predictions in the NOAA Strategic Plan. Unfortunately, the industry has long withheld data on geo-magnetically induced current flows that could shed light on the magnitude of the impact of even normal solar weather on the nation’s bulk power distribution system.

Dr. Kappenman, who is a member of the Secure the Grid Coalition, responded to the Free Beacon report:

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Targeting the Grid

An EMP isn’t the only way to take down the grid. Simultaneous, coordinated, distributed attacks on multiple transformer substations could be very effective at causing mass blackouts, if enough transformers were seriously damaged or disabled.

I remember rumors about a sniper attack on a California substation last year. But now the attack is more than just a rumor: the details of what happened last April 16 at the PG&E Metcalf transmission substation in Silicon Valley have just been publicly revealed.

According to Business Insider:

The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.

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

A blackout was avoided thanks to quick-thinking utility workers, who rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But the substation was knocked out for a month.

The FBI says it doesn’t believe a terrorist organization caused the attack but that it continues to investigate the incident.

Smith and colleague Tom McGinty assembled a detailed chronology of the attack that includes some amazing details, including more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings similar to ones used by AK-47s that were found at the site and small piles of rocks that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.

Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal article:

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 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 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.

[…]

Mr. Wellinghoff said a FERC analysis found that if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once, that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S.

It turns out that low-tech attacks are more of a concern than cyberattacks:

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When the Lights Go Out and Your Phone is Dead

What follows is a press release from the Center for Security Policy, addressing the urgent issue of EMPs – that’s Electro-Magnetic Pulse(s) for short. It is an issue far more important than the purported news the MSM reports so breathlessly. The average American’s lack of awareness can be laid on the doorstep of our mendacious MSM. These are things a responsible press headlines, not which famous personality is going into drug treatment, or where the First Family is vactioning at the moment.

Our vulnerability vis-a-vis an instant return to 1840 may well be one of those urgencies which helps to accelerate America’s return to a confederation as understanding spreads and states grow impatient with the colossus in Washington. One very liberal state, Maine, is going ahead on its own to “harden” the skies above its Downeasters. [No, I don’t know why ‘down east’ is used for a state way far north from most of us. That’s Maine for you.]

The electric industry ought to be leading the way on this almost-emergency-right-now but it’s not. Our “system” is a hodgepdge of Rube Goldberg contraptions that, like Tospy, “just growed” through the course of the 20th century, ff. No one in the beginning could have foreseen asymmetrical warfare or the way it is chockablock with irrational actors – Iran, for starters, and North Korea salivating at the idea of our destruction.

This will be updated later with a video (if I can find Vlad Tepes). Meanwhile, CSP’s take on the potential crisis is thorough and measured. Frank Gaffney, the Center’s director, has studied our security vulnerabilities for decades. His work has gravitas; he is also a man of great integrity and courage. So I’m listening to him though I’d far rather be reading Jane Austen and eating blanc mange…sigh.

******************************

WILL ELECTRIC INDUSTRY ‘COOK THE BOOKS’ ON GRID EXERCISE
TO CONCEAL, NOT ILLUMINATE, DANGEROUS NATIONAL VULNERABILITIES?

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 this question may be hindered – not advanced – by a test slated for 13-14 Novemberthat 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 and 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 [a letter to the Florida utility]:

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 (chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee) H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, has asked the electric industry leaders pointedly:
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