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WASHINGTON – As the nation observes the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, experts are warning that the U.S. effectively is defenseless against an electro-magnetic pulse attack or a far less expensive radio frequency attack on the nation’s critical military and civilian electric and electronic infrastructure, according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Two experts – one a communications systems engineer involved in classified programs who works on EMP vulnerabilities and the other a U.S. Defense Department analyst knowledgeable of their impact – said that the nation’s sensitive telecommunications and the electronic systems embedded in its financial and banking institutions can be “fried” by a “turn of the switch.”
The result could be a chaos that could allow terrorists to attack virtually at will.
They both pointed out that relatively cheap over-the-counter technology embedded not only in sensitive U.S. military equipment but also civilian electronic systems has not been protected from such attacks, a development that could create complete panic throughout the U.S. if they were subject either to an EMP or RF attack.
The two experts who spoke to G2Bulletin asked that their names not be divulged due to the sensitivity of their positions.
An electromagnetic pulse from a high energy explosion, such as from a nuclear device, produces radiation that rapidly changes electric and magnetic fields and produces a destructive current and voltage surge.
Experts have warned the after-effects of an EMP attack could kill tens of millions of people. They say an attack from a radio frequency weapon can knock out electronics everywhere from sophisticated financial systems to the electronics in automobiles, elevators or even medical devices. However, it is assessed that RF weapons do not kill people directly, although the after-effects of such an attack also could produce devastating results.
That would be because without the electronics deeply embedded in systems to provide food, goods, products, fuel and finances, the parts of the nation hit effectively could be returned to an agricultural age, with citizens depending on local production for food and fuel for heat and transportation.
Previous concern centered on an attack from the former Soviet Union or China. That concern persists with the Chinese who claim to be developing an EMP bomb for their DF-21 “carrier killer” missile.
Concern also includes Iran and North Korea, both of which are producing missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could explode high in the atmosphere, destroying sensitive electronic systems across a wide area of the nation.
The experts agreed that not only is action long past due but they don’t see a concerted effort by Congress or policy makers to guard such sensitive infrastructure systems nationally from either an EMP or RF attack.
These experts pointed out that the blast doesn’t have to be from a nuclear explosion. It also can happen from a solar storm that could knock out electrical grid systems. Yet, electric utilities have not taken steps to protect against such a natural phenomenon and, as another source pointed out, “there is no sign that it will be done.”
Their warning comes despite prior conclusions by at least two congressional commissions – the EMP Commission and the Strategic Posture Commission – on the impact of an EMP attack on critical civilian infrastructure to include electric power, telecommunications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water. In addition, the House Joint Economic Committee has held hearings on the threat from an EMP and RF attack, but as the Defense Department source said, nothing came of the warnings.
With RF weapons, the Defense Department official said that terrorists already have knowledge of such technology and can readily apply it cheaply and unnoticed. He added that the technology is available from Radio Shack to make an RF weapon that could be mounted in a pickup truck.
One scenario he gave was that an RF weapon could be used to “fry” the electronics on vehicles that cross the four major bridges and travel the main thoroughfares to bring federal workers each day into Washington, D.C., from neighboring Virginia and Maryland.
Except for an odd coincidence, outward appearances would suggest vehicles were stalled on the bridges and thoroughfares due to mechanical problems, creating almost instant chaotic traffic jams. However, with bridges blocked and congestion on the boulevards inside the District of Columbia, emergency vehicles similarly would be blocked from responding to an actual terrorist attack within the city.
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