Monday, December 12, 2011

The EMP threat: Newt Gingrich may be right to warn us (but he misses the real problem)

Maybe GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, however polarizing he is (and intellectual as a college professor) reads my blogs.  The New York Times this morning has a front page story about his concern over the possibility of a terrorist or enemy EMP attack with a high altitude blast.  The story, by William J. Btoad, is “Among Gingrich’s Passions, a Doomsday Vision”, link here.

Gringrich made a warning that Iran could bring down our civilization in the debates Saturday night, and not too many noticed. 

The Times article says that if you’re going to the trouble to set off a blast, you’d probably go for nuclear destruction anyway.  

Hawaii actually experienced EMP damage in 1962 after an American thermonuclear test in the Pacific.
It’s true that EMP damage would be “permanent” and take months to repair.

But the greater danger may be, as the Washington Times has pointed out before, terrorists commandeering a boat offshore and launching a medium altitude blast, causing more localized damage, or even the idea that terrorists could commandeer special military microwave hardware and inflict EMP damage on selected areas.  That possibility is implied by an item in the Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and has been discussed here before, as such weapons have been used in Iraq and probably Afghanistan (“Obama’s War”)
A local EMP strike is demonstrated in the movie “Oceans 11” (2001) but the lights could not come right back on, as they do in Las Vegas in the hit movie (right after the “smash and grab job”).   

Popular Science discussed these possibilities in an article that appeared just before 9/11 and curiously can’t be found online today. 

I suppose if hostile alien extraterrestrials existed and wanted to take over, they would start with an EMP blast, and there would be nothing we could do about it!  So even on that count, Hollywood has it wrong. As one friend said one time, “I will accept nothing less.”   Or, “the world ended yesterday and you were too sinful to notice.”

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