Letter to President Barack Obama

Letter to President Obama FINAL May 21st, 2015

President Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,
We need your personal intervention to provide for the protection of the American people against an existential threat posed by natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The consequent failure of critical infrastructure that sustain our lives is a major national security threat and would be catastrophic to our people and our nation.

The national Intelligence Council, which speaks for the entire U.S. Intelligence Community, published in its 2012 unclassified Global Trends 2030 report that an EMP is one of only eight Black Swan events that could change the course of global civilization by or before 2030. No official study denies the view that an EMP is a potentially catastrophic societal threat that needs to be addressed urgently. America is not prepared to be without water, electricity, telephones, computer networks, heating, air conditioning, transportation (cars, subways, buses, airplanes), and banking.

All the benefits of our just-in-time ecomony would come to a deadly halt, including the production of petroleum products, clothing, groceries and medicine. Think about cities without electricity to pump water to their residents.

Some signatures to this letter are from people who-like a growing number of Americans-have only recently learned about the EMP threat and find it hard to believe that our government has permitted it to continue. They joined in signing because they, in representing those same Americans, wish to show broad support for qualified experts ending this vulnerability as quickly as possible.

An EMP is like a super-energetic radio wave from natural or manmade causes that can damage and destroy electronic systems across vast regions, potentially across the entire continental United States, across Europe, or any other country that has not hardened its electric power grid. Russia and China have substantially hardened their electric grids. Other nations are beginning to harden theirs. But the United States has done little or nothing to counter this threat.

We urge you immediately to issue a Presidential Study Directive (PSD) directing your National Security Advisor to lead a focused interagency effort to provide, in connection with your current budget execution activities and future budget requests, a specific program to address this natural and manmade threat. In particular, this PSD should direct that hardening technology, well known in the Department of Defense, be exploited by all agencies with responsibility for maintaining the electric power grid. It is imperative that plans are immediately implemented to protect America’s at least 100 nuclear reactors and their co-located spent fuel storage facilities from an EMP. It should also take into account bipartisan congressional initiatives, such as the Secure High-Voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage (SHIELD) Act and the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA).

A coronal mass ejection from the Sun can generate a natural EMP with catastrophic consequences. A geomagnetic super-storm in 1859 called the Carrington Event caused worldwide damage and fires in telegraph stations and other primitive electronics, which at the time were not necessary for societal survival. In contrast, today a Carrington-class geomagnetic super-storm-expected every century or so-could collapse electric grids and destroy critical infrastructure everywhere on Earth.

We know it will happen; we just don’t know when, but we know humanity can’t risk being unprepared. In July 2012, we missed a repeat by only a few days when a major solar emission passed through the Earth’s orbit just after planet Earth passed. NASA recently warned that the likelihood of such a geomagnetic super-storm is 12 percent per decade; so it is virtually certain that a natural EMP catastrophe shall occur within our lifetime or that of our children.

As we have known for over a half-century from actual test date, even more damaging EMP effects would be produced by any nuclear weapon exploded a hundred miles or so above the United States, possibly disabling everything that depends on electronics for control or operations within a line of sight from the explosion. Electricity networks could be shut down indefinitely until major repairs could be made, and this could take months, even years. Cascading failures from even a lower altitude nuclear burst over the northeastern U.S. could indefinitely shut down the electric grid that produces three quarters of the U.S. electric power. Computers would be incapacitated. Supply chains would shut down. Imagine Hurricane Sandy affecting a much larger area without the immediate physical damage but also without any hope for relief supplies.

Russia and China have already developed nuclear EMP weapons and many believe others possess EMP weapons including North Korea and soon Iran-and likely their terrorist surrogates. For example, they could launch nuclear-armed short or medium range missiles from near our coasts, possibly hiding the actual sponsor from retaliation. North Korea and Iran have tested their missiles in ways that can execute EMP attacks from ships or from satellites that approach the U.S. from the couth where our ballistic missile warning systems are minimal.

The technology to mitigate these effects is well known and used by the Department of Defense for decades to harden our strategic nuclear systems to assure that the U.S. has the ability to retaliate should we be attacked. But such technology and commitment to ongoing maintenance have not been used to harden our critical infrastructure. In addition, our ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems have not yet been focused on this problem. For example, you could reinforce your recent Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines by jointly installing an Aegis Ashore BMD site in the Philippines-like those being placed in Romania and Poland-to support the defense of the Philippines and to provide advanced warning and information to support our homeland defense.

We urge that the above mentioned PSD assure funding to harden the critical elements of our electric power grid and especially our nuclear facilities to assure their recovery from either a natural or manmade EMP event. These efforts can be guided by a mainstream scientific consensus, first established by the congressionally mandated EMP Commission, which examined nuclear and natural EMP and delivered its first classified report to Congress in 2004 and its final unclassified report in 2008.

The National Academy of Sciences subsequently independently re-examined the EMP Commission’s warnings about the consequences of a geomagnetic super-storm and arrived at the same conclusion and endorsed the recommendations of the EMP Commission. Several other nonpartisan reviews have also concurred. The EMP Commission recommended a cost-effective plan, endorsed by all subsequent U.S. government studies, to protect, within a few years, U.S. critical infrastructures from the worst effects of EMP. The Commission estimated a one-time cost of $2 billion for EMP protection of the national electric grid, which is about what the U.S. gives to Pakistan every year in foreign aid.

In addition, we urge that you PSD include near-term improvements to our operating ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems to assure they can defend against the manmade EMP threats as quickly as possible-before the electric grid can be hardened. Our already operating Aegis BMD systems (over 30 ships at sea and Aegis Ashore Sites in Hawaii and being deployed in Romania and Poland) and Ground-Based Interceptors (on Vandenberg Air Force Base, California) can be used to counter the threats from the South and from vessels off our coasts, with minor modifications and if their crews are trained to do so. No additional development costs are necessary and deployment costs would be less than approved for our overseas deployments to defend our European allies against Iranian ballistic missiles.

Mr. President, both Republicans and Democrats have known how to deal with this issue for at least thirty years but have done nothing about it. Bipartisan efforts in Congress have failed in spite of the fact that neither technology nor expense should be an issue. Dealing effectively with this issue is a matter of achieving the needed political leadership and will. The American people need you to lead the efforts to protect our nation from an EMP catastrophe. We urge you to pursue our request.

 

Sincerely yours,

Dr. George Baker – Former U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency EMP Program Director, Professor Emeritus on Critical Infrastructure Protection, James Madison University

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) (Rtd.) – Father of the Congressional EMP Commission

Jen Bawden – Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Member of the Steering Committee of the Secure the Grid Coalition

Senator Rudy Boschwitz  (R-MN) (Rtd.) – Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, President G.H.W. Bush’s Emissary to Ethiopia (1991)

Ambassador Henry F. Cooper – Former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative, Chief U.S. Negotiator in the Geneva Defense and Space Talks, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Strategic and Space Systems

Thomas Donnelly – Co-Director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies and AEI

Fritz Ermarth – Former Chairman National Intelligence Council, Director of National Security Programs, Nixon Center

Frank Gaffney, Jr. – Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy

Jerry Goodwin – President of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) New York Metropolitan Chapter

Dr. William R. Graham – Former Chair of the EMP Commission, Science Advisor to President Reagan, Director of White House Science and Technology Policy, and NASA Administrator

Professor Sam Hayes (Rtd.) – Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking, Emeritus, Harvard Business School

David Hunt – Former CIA Senior Clandestine Officer and Former FBI Chief of Station, NYC

John Kappenman – Space Weather Consultant to Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and EMP Commission; Designer ACE Satellite and EMP Blocking Devices; President, Storm Analysis Consultants

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) (Rtd.) – Co-chair of AEI’s American Internationalism Project

Robert Laidley – President, The Atlantic and Conservation Institute

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) (Rtd.) – Co-chair of AEI’s American Internationalism Project

Herb London – President of the London Center for Policy Research, New York

Vice Admiral Robert Monroe (Rtd.) – Former Director U.S. DEfense Nuclear Agency

Major General Robert Newman (Rtd.) – Former Adjunct General of Virginia

Michael O’Hanlon – Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, specializing in defense and foreign policy issues

Dr. Robert L. Pfaltzgraff – President of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis Inc. and Shelby Cullom Devis Professor of International Security Studies, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

Danielle Pletka – Senior Vice President for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry – Former Congressional EMP Commission, Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, House Armed Services Committee, CIA, Executive Director Task Force on National and Homeland Security

Dr. Gary J. Schmitt – Co-Director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI

Dr. George Schwab – President of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy

Admiral James Stavridis (Rtd.) – Dean of the Fletcher School, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander (2009-2013)

Ambassador Kurt Volker – Former United States Ambassador to NATO

The Hon. David M. Walker – Former U.S. Comptroller General

Rep. Curtis Weldon (R-PA) (Rtd.) – Former Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee; and Co-chair of the Duma-Congress Study Group, the official inter-parliamentary relationship between the United States and Russia; Sponsor of the 1998 EMP Commission Legislation

John Whitehead – Former Senior Partner and Co-Chairman Goldman Sachs, Chairman Emeritus Brookings Institution, Former Deputy Secretary of State, Former Chairman AEA Investors, Former Chairman The International Rescue Committee, Former Chairman The Asia Society, Director of the Nature Conservancy, and Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Died February 7th, 2015

Ambassador James Woolsey – Former Director of Central Intelligence

Copies to Administration Officials:

The Hon. Joseph Biden, Vice President of the United States

The Hon. John Kerry, Secretary of State

The Hon. Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense

The Hon. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy

The Hon. Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security

40 thoughts on “Letter to President Barack Obama

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  1. I presume he has not responded to this letter? Once again the King as put his ego first and the protection of America at the back of the bus.

  2. It is unconscionable that most of our so called leaders of our country do not see fit to to go all out to shed light and educate the American people on EMPs ,natural or man made. An EMP is arguably the greatest potential disaster that has or could befall our country since its inception. It’s unfortunate that no one had the presence of mind to ask the presidential candidates in any of the debates if they were aware of the real and present danger of an EMP and if so, would they be willing to prioritize and institute the recommendations of the SHIELD AND CIPA ACTS to help protect the American people of this catastrophe waiting to happen? Larry Tax

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  5. A. EMP Protection Plan
    1. Congress shall within 2 weeks of receiving this document, pass an EMP Protection Plan. The plan shall include a brief OVERVIEW of actions needed to begin engineering studies, design, manufacture and installation of EMP protection software and hardware and a target completion date for completing key protection actions, preferably within 2 years.
    2. The EMP Protection Plan shall require a timeline for completion of More Detailed Plans for protection the electric grid and other related key assets with a priority on the protection of highest risk equipment. The More Detailed Plans shall be completed within 3 to 6 months and shall be a high government and industry priority.
    3. More Detailed Plans shall identify key assets and organizations, available commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment, time required to complete engineering design and drawings, manufacture and delivery dates and an overall time table for installation.
    B. The EMP Protection Plan shall not exceed 5 pages in length
    C. No technical information concerning specifications, drawings and capabilities shall be transmitted over the internet or via telecommunications. NOTE: The EMP Protection Plan and Implementation will be high priority target for hackers.
    D. A Design Engineering Firm (DEF) shall be selected to oversee the EMP Protection Plan and all work performed during the project. The DEF shall have a minimum 10 year proven track record for managing a project of this size, for setting and meeting deadlines and for cost control. Technical performance and budget reports shall be issued monthly and cost performance shall be tracked in the Risk Management Plan (RMP). NERK, which has consistently shown gross disregard for national security and national survival, shall hold no key management position in the EMP Protection Plan. However, their knowledge may utilized provided it does not inhibit the project.
    E. A Risk Management Plan (RMP) and database shall be established to document and track keys aspects of the project that shall be identified as high, medium or low risk. Parts of the RMP may require security classifications such as Top Secret, Secret and Confidential or other security markings according to their importance. The RMP shall be frequently reviewed by management to identify critical areas in need of additional management attention.
    F. Funding the EMP Protection Plan
    Funding could be accomplished by diverting dollars from the extra fees added to the cost of generation and distribution. Or it could be obtained by ALL users (No Exceptions) of electricity in the U.S. paying a $5 EMP Protection Plan monthly fee not to exceed 24 months. This is a small price to pay to help insure the safety of our electric grid and would be deposited in an EMP Protection Plan fund and used for no other purpose.

  6. 2015 United States EMP Protection Plan Proposal

    A. EMP Protection Plan
    1. Congress shall within 2 weeks of receiving this document, pass an EMP Protection Plan. The plan shall include a brief OVERVIEW of actions needed to begin engineering studies, design, manufacture and installation of EMP protection software and hardware and a target completion date for completing key protection actions, preferably within 2 years.
    2. The EMP Protection Plan shall require a timeline for completion of More Detailed Plans for protection the electric grid and other related key assets with a priority on the protection of highest risk equipment. The More Detailed Plans shall be completed within 3 to 6 months and shall be a high government and industry priority.
    3. More Detailed Plans shall identify key assets and organizations, available commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment, time required to complete engineering design and drawings, manufacture and delivery dates and an overall time table for installation.
    B. The EMP Protection Plan shall not exceed 5 pages in length
    C. No technical information concerning specifications, drawings and capabilities shall be transmitted over the internet or via telecommunications. NOTE: The EMP Protection Plan and Implementation will be high priority target for hackers.
    D. A Design Engineering Firm (DEF) shall be selected to oversee the EMP Protection Plan and all work performed during the project. The DEF shall have a minimum 10 year proven track record for managing a project of this size, for setting and meeting deadlines and for cost control. Technical performance and budget reports shall be issued monthly and cost performance shall be tracked in the Risk Management Plan (RMP). NERK, which has consistently shown gross disregard for national security and national survival, shall hold no key management position in the EMP Protection Plan. However, their knowledge may utilized provided it does not inhibit the project.
    E. A Risk Management Plan (RMP) and database shall be established to document and track keys aspects of the project that shall be identified as high, medium or low risk. Parts of the RMP may require security classifications such as Top Secret, Secret and Confidential or other security markings according to their importance. The RMP shall be frequently reviewed by management to identify critical areas in need of additional management attention.
    F. Funding the EMP Protection Plan
    A huge problem exists in the U.S. for government and private leaders failing to respond to major risks to our country and taking responsibility. In order for them to have some “skin” in the game, the EMP Protection Plan shall be funded as follows:
    1. President Obama’s travel account shall be immediately “bailed-in” for the rest of his administration and used to finance the EMP Protection Plan.
    2. Three months pay of the President, Vice President, Congressional and Senator Salaries shall be bailed-in, forfeited and placed in the fund.
    3. Three months pay of Senior NERK Executives, shall be bailed-in for showing their long term disregard for the safety and security of the United States.
    4. ALL users (No Exceptions) of electricity in the U.S. shall pay a $5 EMP Protection Plan monthly fee not to exceed 24 month to help insure a safety of our electric grid which shall deposited in the EMP Protection Plan fund and used for no other purpose.

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  13. In all my research, I have found that Russia has completed an EMP that can be detonated at 20 miles above the earth completely throwing us back into the 1920’s. The scary thing, is that Putin has decided to detonate this device this year. He really hates us. No matter what, no matter how much money you have, you will not be safe from this attack. What are you going to do about this . It’s all in your hands now.
    God bless us all!!

  14. We lived with the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction throughout the years of the Cold War, and that balance of terror kept the peace. We no longer have that luxury. An EMP attack would neutralize much of our defensive retaliatory capability and reduce much of American society to a pre-electric age Russia, China, North Korea, and soon Iran will have the capability to execute an EMP attack on the US. Even ISIS is now bragging that it will introduce a nuclear weapon into a major US city. A nuclear detonation would not only generate mass casualties from blast, fire and radiation, but would also negate much first responder capabilities because of the EMP effects.

    The current inability or unwillingness of our elected political leadership to deal with this potential disaster, man-made or natural, is appalling. We seem to be caught in in a never ending political campaign season with fund-raising, political posturing and self-aggrandizement by politicians far outweighing any priority on our national survival.

    Thank you for your letter and efforts to generate focus on an existential challenge facing our society. It is of course very difficult to compete with Caitlyn Jenner for media attention, but perhaps with continued effort groups by such as yours, leading think tanks and major foundations we may be able to generate enough attention to force some coherent government action toward preserving our society.

    Best Wishes for Your Success!

  15. This is one of those times the Pearl Harbor Syndrome will have to kick in, unless some courageous; forward thinking leadership starts WORKING to use an ounce of prevention, rather than a pound of cure, to ameliorate the problem. I really hope that leadership is out there.

  16. If everything in this letter is factual them I am at a complete loss as to why we are not already prepared for such an event and if not why we are not preparing for it as we speak. The country deserves no less.

  17. I was a child in Canada during the 1989 mangetic event that crashed the power grid in Quebec, and it’s only a matter of time before we are hit with another one, potentially strong enough to knock out power in the commercially-dense northeast or Minneapolis area, We need to invest massively in upgrading the electrical grid, to support scalably networked solar and energy storage to support the transition to electric veicles already underway, and private sector does not have the long-term focus to make such investment.

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