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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Mother of All Blackouts

August 12, 2004
[I]magine a blackout that lasts for months, or years. That was the job of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the U.S. from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. ...

An EMP attack occurs when an enemy sets off a nuclear explosion high in the Earth's atmosphere. The electromagnetic pulse generated by the blast destroys the electronics and satellites in its field of vision. For a detonation above the Midwest, that could mean the entire continental U.S.

No American would necessarily die in the initial attack, but what comes next is potentially catastrophic. The pulse would wipe out most electronics and telecommunications, including the power grid. Millions could die for want of modern medical care or even of starvation since farmers wouldn't be able to harvest crops and distributors wouldn't be able to get food to supermarkets. Commissioner Lowell Wood calls EMP attack a "giant continental time machine" that would move us back more than a century in technology to the late 1800s. ...

China and Russia have the capability to launch an EMP weapon -- and have let us know it. ... But it's a relatively unsophisticated EMP weapon in the hands of terrorists that really scares the Commission. All it would take is one nuclear warhead attached to a Scud missile launched from a barge off the U.S. coast to shut down much of the country. ... FR Reprint.

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