The Electronic Pearl Harbor

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Here, too, enemies of the U.S. are making strides. The former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Senate that important computers are routinely hacked into and that cyber attacks are happening on an “unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication.” One government report from November 2008 warned that China’s cyber warfare capabilities had become so advanced that the U.S. “may be unable to counteract or even detect the efforts” and that a successful cyber offensive “could paralyze the United States.”

North Korea is placing a particularly emphasis on cyber warfare and has even carried out cyber attacks on South Korean and American government websites. A study in 2006 concluded that North Korea could potentially disable the Pacific Command’s computers and do major damage to the continental U.S. The North Korean regime’s cyber warfare school trains 100 new hackers for the government every year. The elite unit is said to rival the CIA’s own hackers and operate from a luxury hotel in China.

The U.S. cannot look at a country’s military or economy alone in assessing the threat it poses. The most important factor is intent. New ways of carrying out mass destruction like cyber warfare and EMP detonations means a hostile regime can do incalculable damage with a single nuclear-armed missile or team of hackers. Once such capabilities are acquired, all that stands between the U.S. and paralysis is one directive from a rogue or terrorist leader.

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  • aspacia

    I hope the government is protecting those 300 transformers. Obama had better listen.

    • Fred Dawes

      no no no that is not the plan obama wants this nation under muslim/one world control say it happened the government troopers from places like Red China would attack any American who got out of the death camp line and people should have real trepidation and dread should be the watch word for all of us.
      Evil is coming Ask what side are you on?

  • andres de alamaya

    The only effective defense against such horror is to "Do unto others before they do unto you." If I have a neighbor who beats his wife and children and acts in criminal and violent ways and then threatens me, I'll have all the evidence to realize that, indeed, he may do me major harm and if the law can't help me I'll take him out before he takes me out. But America has far more than EMP detonations to worry about. We have a leader who got early-in-life indoctrination in Islam and he had a twenty year association with a preacher who Damned America.

  • al-Kidya

    We had better take ou their missiles, their ships, subs, and their nuclear incubators before they hit us with the big one.
    Of course we're going to need a new US President before that will ever happen.

  • Ret. Marine

    Let us not miss the entire point of this article. This is a very dangerous threat that appears not to be of concern to those in trusted to resolve this potential threat. As a military minded person, now retired from active service, with extensive thought to the after-effects of this scenario I can only see all too clearly the total chaos, confusion, death, and even an invasion of our lands as the end result of such a scenario.
    And who is it fallen upon to secure our liberties and blessings from our creator?

  • Ultraconservative

    Why the surprise? I knew after I heard one speech this man was unfit to even wash my car. This country elected the dumbest man ever to occupy the White House. I have experienced all presidents since Truman. BO is clearly the most stupid; therefore, we are all in danger. Sarah Palin is severely criticized but there is no way she would or could have done a poorer job. This man can not even tell the truth because he is a cultural Muslim. In fact, most liberals are to a man just plain stupid. I do not and will not dignify their inanities by responding.

  • Dennis

    OK…Want to know how really bad things could get? Read ONE SECOND AFTER. Yes, it's fictional, but it depicts a myriad of things that could be affected, i.e. medicines, vaccinations, medical emergencies, and airplanes in flight. Start researching Faraday Cages, "lead" and aluminum foil, water purification, dehydrated foods, and, of course, weapons. Shortwave radios, crystal radios, and generators are going to be in demand. Basic First Aid books, First Aid kits, and close friends who are in the medical community will be a necessity. As the old IBM slogan goes, "THINK, LOOK IT UP, PLAN, DECIDE, ACT". Good Luck.

  • Reason_For_Life

    The EMP weapon stuff is pure fantasy. Both the US and the Soviets conducted numerous tests in the 1950's and 60's using huge weapons with yields greater than 100 kilotons of TNT. The EMP effects were so small that neither side bothered to develop them further. The US had a monster test with a 1 Megaton weapon yet the effects were questionable.

    The weapons that Iran might be developing would be 20 kilotons at best. They pose no EMP threat of any serious nature. The fields generated by these weapons are equaled every day by lightning strikes, yet losses of power due to lightning are relatively minor and easily fixed. Few computers or other electronics are damaged by nearby lightning strikes.

    This is just BS scare tactics. The Iranians pose no EMP threat. If the US and the Soviets with the best scientists and engineers in the world didn't consider weapons with yields in the megatons to be practical then just how do you expect Iran, with virtually no technical capabilities to create super EMP weapons with devices that could yield at most a few kilotons?

    There are threats in the world but EMP weapons from Iran is not one of them.

    • Stephen_Brady

      I think that it would be well for you to read the following:

      Also, the tests that you're talking about in the 1950's-'60s involve electronic systems that were considerably less sophisticated than today's electronics.

      • Reason_For_Life

        I designed radiation hardened electronics for over 25 years. I'm well aware of the nature of EMP and it is grossly exaggerated in the popular press.

        Sub-committee investigations are notoriously biased in favor of enormous new threats to justify enormous new expenditures. The bottom line is that both the US and the Soviets saw no great potential in these weapons and little investment was made in them. They are useless against military hardware with even the most minimal shielding. The average commercial airliner is protected well enough from lightning to make EMP damage virtually impossible.

        • hrayspitz

          Well, if you don't exaggerate the threat, you can't get your hands on all that lovely taxpayer money (example: "Global Warming").
          That said, it might be better to be save than sorry…

        • shutdownwikileaks

          There's still the cyber attack.which can cripple infrastructure.

    • cjk

      1950's tests? They never fully understood nor appreciated EMP phenomena until the 'starfish Prime' high altitude test brought attention to it on July 9th., 1962 . The 1.4 megaton bomb which wasn't designed for any EMP effect knocked out streetlights about 900 miles away in Hawaii. Not bad for a COMPLETELY accidental effect.
      There was also a congressional task force on the subject about 10 years ago which officially concluded the threat is real.

    • traeh

      Thanks for that input. I had gotten the idea in recent years that EMP was a real threat. After reading your comment, I started googling around, and it seems you are right. Thanks for the heads up. One less thing to worry about.

  • Wesley69

    Reading the comments posted, I would say the US needs to take this threat seriously. Such an attack could come from anywhere and any country possessing nuclear weapons and a delivery capacity. We need to have BOTH offensive and defensive systems in place or we had better take lessons from the Amish. This is how you churn the butter!

  • Guest

    The conflict is, and has been, between Capitalism and Communism. The latter is essentially a religion of fanatics who are willing to do whatever it takes to defeat the Capitalist devil. As DH has written(*) "Both [Fascism and Communism] set out to create their socialist futures by first destroying the bougeois present, then ERECTING THEIR UTOPIAS ON THE SMOLDERING RUINS. (emphasis added). Clear enough?
    (*) "The Politics of Bad Faith" p. 121

  • effinayright

    I have to wonder what the benefit would be to an attacker using EMP. If China or Russia, say, were to utterly destroy the US economy via EMP, they would immediately undergo a massive economic collapse of their own, as the goods and commodities they sell to us and the West would instantly lose a primary market. China holds trillions of our debt — how would they get it back if they killed our economy? Russia's oil reserves would suddenly be worthless, or nearly so, as the oil glut following an EMP attack would cause prices to plummet. If Iran were to use EMP on us, they would surely know that our cruise and ballistic submarines would be shielded against it and would proceed to incinerate their country. Seems to me that would-be EMP attackers would ponder these issues well.

    • gfmucci

      Such an attack is much more likely to come from Islamic inspired nations or groups rather than either Russia or China. Islam has a hate-filled, psychotic, religiously inspired ideology that motivates them to carry out such an attack. And yes, these likely attackers have pondered, are pondering, and will carry out their attack(s) as surely as we carry out McDonald's burgers – the moment they are ready.

    • Polonius

      Do you really think the perps of an EMP attack are going to publicly take credit?!?!
      How are we going to figure out who did it? Even if we did, our country will still be in ruins.
      Terrorists don't give a damn about Russia's oil or China's debt; they will also have the ability to mount the two types of attacks in the near future & will try it as soon as they are able.

  • Reason_For_Life

    I have not studied thorium in any great detail but the very preliminary stuff that I have read does make it look like it has real potential. However, without a knowledge of the development costs it's not possible to give a real estimate of its value. I sure hope that it is practical because it has enormous advantages over uranium and plutonium.

    Energy independence is an absurd myth. We aren't even food independent even though we are a major food exporter. Energy, like food, is a global market. A bad wheat crop in Australia affects wheat prices in the US. We should exploit our resources because it is economically viable not because we want some illusory "independence" from foreign oil. As long as oil is sold on the market the price we pay is affected by production everywhere.

  • muslimpoxbyebye

    Iran must get nuclear weapons. It must start flexing it’s nuclear muscles and when that reaches a tipping point the field will be equal and war will be justified. Right now leveling iran would be foolish because then the islamic excuse would be they weren’t ready and garner pity. Not going to let that happen.
    Let iran start something and then watch what happens. The mushroom clouds will be so big all muslims will be able to see and meet their evil allah in a flash from all over the world. Do not under-estimate the wrath of the common non-muslim people on the planet. Muslims all over the planet will be hunted down and told to either get out of islam or die and meet their evil-allah post haste. This is not some day-dream .this will actually happen when iran and saudi arabia and Libya and all these islamic countries stop funding islamic insurgencies because their source of income is shut down by a war they have started and foolishly do not know how to end. Islam is not known for it’s logic. When the petrol money taps are shut down non muslims will be unforgiving in the bite back to islam.

  • muslimpoxbyebye

    This will happen. Too many non-muslims will take the law into their own hands and will do what needs to be done. Islam will be on the run but will be hunted down and expunged from the planet. For this to happen iran has to have nuclear weapons first. When everything is in place their reactors will be their deaths in the millions. but the real clean-up will start outside Iran. Europe and Russia will lead the west and India and Australia will do the floor-wipe and all small islands and china will do it too. Right now there are muslims gathering in south America. let them gather. south Americans are merciless. they might be drug lords but they know evil is amongst them and will expunge it.
    This planet is fed up of this evil islamic nonsense cult.
    Hence Iran has to get nuclear weapons !!!

  • monica

    All sorts of countries that don't like us are going to get nuclear weapons. Get used to the idea. North Korea and Pakistan already have them. So for that matter do China and Russia. Even a first strike that destroys our nuclear deterrent may be possible, given the advances in Russian anti-missile systems and the fact that the Russians are aggressively following our submarines.
    And if this EMP warning is true, then some small country with one nuke can make us into a mad-max post-apocalyptic society.
    I don't know what the answer is. Technology is changing, and the world is changing.

  • whitehorserider

    Every discussion detailing ultimate dangers to America should always concluded with the words Muslim Terrorists.

  • traeh

    From what I've been reading in various places, it seems EMP is not as significant or real a threat as I'd thought. Looks like it has been hyped for various reasons not to do with reality. More real is the threat of a crude nuclear weapon being smuggled into a city or several such weapons into several cities. Perhaps even more serious a threat will emerge in a couple of years: advances in biotechnology will make it possible for people with relatively modest technical ability and modest financial resources to create deadly diseases that could spread to large numbers before being detected. At any rate, I believe that is what the scientist Martin Rees claimed.

    There are ways to manage that threat, and more attention needs to be paid to them by policy makers.

    But it seems quite possible that, one way or another, at some point perhaps in the next few years, through bioerror or terror, an event will happen in which the death toll will utterly dwarf 9/11. Then expect massive increases in surveillance inconceivable today. People will not only accept huge invasions into private life by surveillance; increased surveillance may be widely demanded. The question may become whether liberal democracies, despite such massive increases in surveillance everywhere, can somehow nevertheless maintain freedom and the right to dissent.

  • traeh

    Maybe the hype is being put out there so that Iran, or other rogue states, if they try to launch a missile from a boat near the U.S., will foolishly fire it into the atmosphere, expecting EMP to do damage.

  • traeh

    William Graham, who testified to Congress on this, may have some financial interests in hyping this. He's connected to the defense industry, isn't he?

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