by Peter Vincent Pry

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during a military parade in Pyongyang. Some are concerned that the nation, which is seeking nuclear capabilities, poses a possible EMP threat to the United States. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during a military parade in Pyongyang. Some are concerned that the nation, which is seeking nuclear capabilities, poses a possible EMP threat to the United States. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

EMP non-expert Gregory Kiley recently slandered former CIA Director James Woolsey and myself in a Washington Examiner op-ed.

Kiley claims our warnings that an EMP attack is an existential threat that could kill up to 90 percent of Americans is bogus, derived from the novel One Second After (2009).

This is completely false.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on July 10, 2008, Dr. William R. Graham, chairman of the EMP Commission, responding to a question by Congressman Bartlett if 90 percent of America could perish from EMP, replied:

We think that is in the correct range. We don’t have experience with losing the infrastructure in a country with 300 million people, most of whom don’t live in a way that provides for their own food and other needs. We can go back to an era when people did live like that. That would be — 10 percent would be 30 million people, and that is probably the range where we could survive as a basically rural economy.

Dr. Graham, still chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission, repeated this exact warning in an article published the day before Kiley’s.

If Kiley wants to be taken seriously as a national security expert on EMP, he should know what real experts are saying. A former Senate staffer, Kiley should know to check the congressional record.

Kiley’s article says nothing about the Congressional EMP Commission. He implies rising concerns about EMP are due only to “alarmist” articles written by former DCI Woolsey and myself.

As a former Senate staffer, Kiley should know the purpose of congressional commissions, like the EMP Commission, is to focus the nation’s top experts on technically complex subjects to provide the best possible guidance for making public policy.

But what the Congressional EMP Commission has to say does not support Kiley’s narrative that there is nothing new about EMP, that EMP is not a top priority, and that the nation should do nothing.

Perchance, is that why Kiley fails to mention the EMP Commission?

The Congressional EMP Commission continues to stand by these assessments from its 2004 Executive Report:

What is different now is that some potential sources of EMP threats are difficult to deter — they can be terrorist groups that have no state identity … and are motivated to attack the U.S. without regard for their own safety. Rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran, may also be developing the capability to pose an EMP threat to the United States, and may also be unpredictable and difficult to deter.
China and Russia have considered limited nuclear attack options that, unlike their Cold War plans, employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack …
Another key difference from the past is that the U.S. has developed more than most other nations as a modern society heavily dependent on electronics … This asymmetry is a source of substantial economic … and societal advantages, but it creates vulnerabilities and critical interdependencies that are potentially disastrous to the United States.
The current vulnerability of U.S. critical infrastructures can both invite and reward attack if not corrected; however, correction is feasible and well within the nation’s means and resources to accomplish.

Absurdly, Kiley asserts Woolsey’s interest in EMP has to do with his business dealings as an independent consultant on cyber- and energy security. Kiley fails to mention Woolsey is also a senior adviser to the EMP Commission.

But, in fact, Jim Woolsey has been worried about EMP ever since he served as DCI, when I briefed him as CIA’s senior EMP analyst.

Kiley is complacent that the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has done nothing to protect the nation from EMP, urging us to trust the FERC, which comprises former electric power industry lawyers and lobbyists. If he’s going to question the motives of others who warn about the EMP threat, it might be worthwhile to examine his own motives.

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is Chief of Staff of the Congressional EMP Commission and served in the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.