Former CIA Director: We're Not Doing Nearly Enough To Protect Against The EMP Threat

The irony for NERC and its Utility constituents is that if the public ever truly comes to understand all this it should hasten the move towards more competitive Distributed Generation & Microgrids as people recognize that resilience means we can't afford to have all our eggs in the Utility/Centralized grid basket.  As a minimum NERC should be forced to remove the word "Reliability" from their name.  For anyone wondering who the Senator was who impeded the EMP provisions of the GRID act, it was Alaska R. Sen Lisa Murkowski (and Chairman Jeff Bingaman D-N.M.) so it was bipartisan.  Also even the Edison Electric Institute EMP Rebuttal does not dispute that a high level nuclear EMP device would be catastrophic to the US but avoids responsibility by saying this is the purview of the military/defense industry and not their problem.  Thanks for shining the light on this Chris (and incredible how MIA our media is on this), I will make sure my Congressman is fully aware of this but not sure what he could do about it either since the political system itself is so broken (maybe focusing on our own State of TX might be more productive). This is truly a wakeup call for finally moving ahead with buying that backup generator and hopefully getting some type of solar as well.

…so it's not going to be an issue in the post peak future because there will be nothing travelling through the grid anyway, and the internet and electronics industry will have collapsed too.  In a "world made by hand" (as they say) what do solar flares matter ?

You'll want to protect those too. I'm not sure if solar panels will get fried but the electronics managing them will. Look into making a Faraday Cage, they are easy. Basically you need a metal container with no gaps greater than 1 mm. That will stop the waves from going through. An easy one is a metal garbage can with steel wool stuffed in the lid crack, or the lid taped on with conductive tape. Line the inside with insulating material to keep your electronics out of electrical contact with the metal.

Seeing the proximity of potential nuclear fallout from nearby reactors is sobering.  And seeing the number of nuclear reactors, and how condensed they are in nearby regions, is downright disturbing.  I wonder how much more the fallout could travel depending on weather…

Hello Pinecarr,
Yeah, I had no idea the coverage of those reactors was so thick. The end results would be a lot less catastrophic than those 50 mile circles everywhere since that is the 'potential' contamination area, not the actual one. I thought it was interesting that in the US we actually use a 10 mile zone but we told Americans near Fukushima to use a 50 mile radius… If you zoom in you will see the actual estimated plumes for differing levels of radiation dosage if the meltdown had occurred on the same days as Fukushima. They used the actual weather on those days for each location. You can see quite a wide variation in the patterning if you look at different reactors to get a feel for what the range of outcomes might look like. Actual results would be different depending on the weather at the time when things went bad. So, if you are in the 50 mile zone then it is a bit of Russian roulette if they do blow. Good chance you will do ok, but a definite chance of a bad outcome.


You'd sort of think the NERC would be in favour of hardening the grid - their profits will certainly drop when we all go offline and they have no way to deliver their product.

Good to see a realization of how the atomic reactors add to the existential risk of the grid failing. If Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) lose their cooling pumps for any period of time - the reactors blow up - baked in the design - and that's what happened at Fukushima. Back when these GE reactors were being designed several GE engineers resigned in protest over the implementation - an interesting story.
So, to add to the topic: one bullet dodged at Fukushima was that TEPCO managed (barely) to keep the "spent" fuel pools cooled - they had to compromise big time by spraying in unfiltered sea water using fire hoses. If they hadn't, the pools would have boiled dry, continued to heat, and finally melted down and caught fire. Now THAT would have been major contamination. And if the wind had been from the North East - result: the end of Tokyo and I assume Japan as a useful country. Oh well, a miss is as good as a mile.

So, due to the inability of the US Gov't to agree on where to ship and store all the US reactors' hundreds of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel - the fuel is currently all stored in or near the reactors themselves, outside of any containment vessel - and you can see on the map just where the reactors, and their planet killing waste, are located -


A couple of interesting links:

The lack of EMP protection planning is more than suspicious. I'm like others on this thread who believe there is always a reason behind the reason given by .gov. But, to have what came across as a brigade of neocons as the experts in this area was a little surprising to me as a fan of Peak Prosperity. The constant references to "terrorism" made me think that either this was a panel of propagandists or fools. Is it really possible for the former CIA official to NOT know how entangled the US is in almost EVERY terrorist event. As I see it - if we are not spending a couple of billion$ to protect us from such a catastrophic event, there is a reason the elites want us to remain vulnerable.
So while I can really appreciate Chris' further attempts to bring this important issue to light, the panel of neo-con warmonger, finger-pointers was very disappointing.

Mike,  I'm in complete agreement with you and understand the feeling of disappointment.

My role and approach to these sorts of interviews is to try and unearth something of interest and then understand the mindset of the people involved.  Confrontation can also reveal interesting things, but it will cause defensive reactions in the guests shutting out some things.

With a deferential approach I believe I 'get more' even if that's an uncomfortable peek inside the minds of neocons.

My interview style is explained by the wisdom in this quote.

'It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'

~Upton Sinclair

My job then is not to confront these people to try and change their minds, because that will never be possible as long as there is a monetary or political conflict of interest, which we all know has to be the case here.

Looked at another way, I truly believe these people are genuinely concerned about this threat and that they know better than anybody that the only way to gain the political traction they desire is to spout the centrist "terrorist" garbage that is all the rage in DC these days.  I also would be surprised if they were not angling to be compensated for these efforts in some way, either directly via product/consulting sales, or indirectly via enhanced political connections and prestige.

If they had to do all this a few hundred years ago they'd be spouting the threat we all face from heretics or whatever the bogeyman of the times was.  "Nothing new under the sun" and all that, eh?

However, once we get our chance to react to and chew on the interviews I count on the fact that we get to bring our own data and conclusions to the table, such as your correct observation that virtually every 'terrorist' threat the US faces is actually an outgrowth of prior US actions and inveiglements.  Further, they are not 'terrorists' but just military actions…at least that's what we used to call it when people picked up arms and shot at each other.

We will be moving to Maui this summer. I'm curious about the EMP threat is for the Hawaiian islands.

  • Easy target for adversaries.
  • Heavy military presence and protection on Oahu.
  • Each island generates its own power so there is no "gird" like on the mainland.
  • There's near constant sun for personal solar power.
  • However most people would not have any power self-sufficiency so even if we were covered, the zombies would not be.
  • Climate supports food production year-round so we could pull a Cuba and start growing food everywhere.
  • 140K people on Maui compared to 9.8M on Oahu.
  • It seems like if an enemy wants to inflict the most harm on the United States, they wouldn't waste their toys on a few small lumps of land in the middle of the ocean…but I guess that's a big gamble…and of course all bets are off in the event of a natural disaster.
    If just about everywhere on the mainland, especially urban areas, would be screwed, how do you feel Maui's population's survivability would compare?

Good observations and questions.

To those I would add:


  • What is the native carrying capacity of the island on which you plan to live?  
  • Now, how does that compare to the 140k currently live on Maui?
  • What's your confidence that the re-supply ships will be servicing Maui during an event which might include the targeting of the Hawaiian islands for EMP attack?
If it turns out that Maui cannot support 140k then it really won't matter if people have working solar systems or not.  Famine will set in, and that will only be alleviated by the return of the resupply ships or a rebalancing of population and resources.

That's as politely as I can put it.

I do know of a few individuals on the Big Island that are actively planting Breadfruit all over the place in the wild specifically to blunt the impact of which you write.  

I've met plenty of Hawaiians who are quite aware of the issues and risks involved.  There's something about living on an island that grounds people in the reality of life more so than mainlanders.  Kudos to that.

But…that doesn't change the basic math.

Were I to commit to living on an Island, I would commit to creating edible forests and maximizing plant-based abundance with a passion bordering on zeal.  Plus it would be fun and the other people invovled worth knowing.  That's my theory.  :)

Thank you for your response and thought provoking questions.
I believe, as with most states, the large population center will consume all relief efforts if and when they arrive. Oahu has 980K population so everything would probably go there and the other islands would be on their own. After all, everyone coordinating the relief lives on Oahu. In the case of a natural or man-made EMP event, the ramifications are global so I wouldn't expect help any time soon.
I'm guessing Maui currently could only sustainably support 10% of it's population, and my current plan would be to figure out how to be in that 10% through food forestry and other high density production methods…though that requires space and space requires more money than we have currently.
We have friends there with whom we plan to co-op some sort of survival strategy.

A massive rebalancing would occur and the cold reality of my goal would be to make it into that 10% by whatever means was necessary. I plan to try to suck other people into permaculture and prepping in an attempt to expand the survivability of those around me.
I guess the next question is…could there still be better than most places in the CONTUS?
i.e. I was born and raised North of Seattle where there is much vegetation, some hunting, plenty of water etc. but if you don't start your tomatoes in a greenhouse in May, they may not ripen in the summer…and you can forget about solar panels and just invest in more fire wood.

We have been full-time RVing since May, 2014 and we've crossed the Southwest half of the US a few times…not retired…Website developer.
Every place seems to have it's survivability pros and cons. EVERY place we go we ask:

  1. Could we survive here?
    – There are some big chunks of the country where that would be tough without technology.
  2. Do we want to live here?
    – My wife really hates the cold. I think it's mostly a matter of cold, wet and short days in Western WA, but in general we would like to be further South and warmer in the winter than Idaho, but then you get cooked in the summer.
  3. Could we love living here?
    – So far nothing has really turned our crank.
    So, rather than strategically relocating for risk management, we seem to be leaning toward the idea of living where we really want to live, Hawaii, and take aggressive steps to reduce the risk factors.
    It's a very challenging and exciting position to be in.

Just another reason why my move from Southern NH to rural Western TN will be a good one! Now we just gotta last until springtime to make the move. The lack of snow will be welcomed too, that's for sure.