Cult of EMP Crazy: Boffin insulted

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism at 2:03 pm by George Smith

The Cult of EMP Crazy can’t let a week go by without getting into print.

Anything will do — stories in major newspapers and magazines, opinion pieces or long letters. Even when a journalist writes a weakly critical piece for something like Foreign Policy, as Sharon Weinberger did about a month ago (see here), the Cult uses it as an opportunity to thunder back with an article just as long.

So Foreign Policy lays out the red carpet for Peter Pry, one of the original floggers of electromagnetic pulse doom.

Pry is mad as hell and won’t abide it. “The Boogeyman Bomb” article wounds him deeply. And he goes through the usual arguments, delivering the claims of which the Cult has grown so fond.

Say such things often enough, or turn up the volume sufficiently, and that will do it. This works partly under the assumption that Americans judge the rightness of something by the number of people who can be convinced to chant it in unison.

“Weinberger accuses the EMP Commission of deliberately ‘exaggerating the capabilities of a potential EMP attack,'” complains Pry. “This is a serious allegation, as deliberately misrepresenting the facts about the EMP threat would constitute an ethical and legal violation.”

Perish forbid anyone would have done such a thing from the Cult of EMP Crazy.

Now let’s count the number of scripts Pry delivers.

One scenario of particular concern is a nuclear-armed Iran transferring a short- or medium-range nuclear missile to terrorist groups that could perform a ship-launched “anonymous” EMP attack against the United States. Iranian military strategists have written about EMP attacks against the United States, and Iran has successfully practiced launching a ballistic missile off a ship and flight-tested its Shahab-3 medium-range missile to detonate at high altitude, as if practicing an EMP attack.

The Bomb Iran script, beloved by the missile defense lobby, the Heritage Foundation, and anyone in the GOP far right who wants to, well, just bomb Iran.

There will always be individuals who disagree with any commission’s findings — no matter that the methodology, research, and analysis are excellent — just as there are those who disagree with the 9/11 Commission, the weapons-of-mass-destruction commission, the Warren Commission, or any other commission.

This is a uniquely new script, one exhibiting a bit of megalomania. It compares the EMP Commission, which few Americans have heard of or give a shit about, to the Warren Commission — set up to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the 9/11 Commission, which many, many, many Americans did know of and give shits about, for obvious reasons. So much so that books issued by both were best-sellers.

How’s that EMP Commission book doing, by the way?

Weinberger alleges that the EMP Commission and concern about the EMP threat is strictly partisan. But the EMP Commission’s bipartisan credentials are impeccable. It was established by a Republican-dominated Congress in 2001 and re-established by a Democrat-dominated Congress in 2006. Commissioners were appointed on a bipartisan basis. The EMP threat, and the necessity to do something about it, is one of the few issues on which Democrats and Republicans in Congress are working together.

The ‘bipartisan’ script. This one omits that the Cult of EMP Crazy has always been the exclusive property of the GOP far right. From ex-Congressman Curt Weldon, to EMP doom eminence grise Newt Gingrich, to hawk/birther Frank Gaffney, to birther Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, to Fox News star Mike Huckabee, to everyone at the Heritage Foundation ever, to the old white guys club listed down the side of the EMPAct America booster page here.

This only proves that Foreign Policy editors are weak, being unable to make Pry tell the entire story in favor of just the sole item that, yes, occasionally the Cult of EMP Crazy gets to appear before Congressional meetings attended by both Democrats and Republicans. And that sometimes Democrats make polite noises and nod their heads at these things.

As to Weinberger’s complaints that Newt Gingrich and others concerned about the EMP threat sometimes recommend to popular audiences the novel One Second After, which describes a hypothetical EMP attack on the United States: Since Uncle Tom’s Cabin there has been a venerable tradition in U.S. democracy of educating and building popular support for causes through novels.

Script which must mention William Forstchen’s not really famous novel. This time accompanied by implied comparison, in terms of importance, to famous novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe. See megalomania reference, above.

An EMP attack is the only option for a single nuclear weapon that offers terrorists or rogue states any realistic chance of defeating the United States, perhaps eliminating the United States as an actor from the world stage, permanently.

The total destruction of American civilization script. In this case, not accompanied by the standard statistic of almost the entire population starving or passing away in the year following attack due to absence of basic amenities.

And here — right on time — another dose of stock Cult of EMP Crazy from Heritage Foundation central casting at Fox News Video.


A reader writes: “A (non-nuclear) EMP device was employed by terrorists at the end of this week’s episode of 24 — which no sensible person watches anymore.”

This marks the second time an EMP bomb was used in the series, at least. One was deployed in Los Angeles a couple seasons back.

In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Terrorists,” someone at New York magazine writes of the latest 24 episode:

Yup, everything was coming up roses for the good-until-proven-otherwise guys. That is, until Kayla unknowingly drove an electromagnetic pulse bomb into the office and short-circuited CTU. This looks like a job for Absurd-o-Meter.

In an only slightly related note, the 24 character, the snivelling Dana, could prove crippling to Katee Sackhoff’s career.

Sadly, Sackhoff has been in a number of roles ranging from dreadful to merely bummerish, including that of a publc sex-crazed anethesiologist in Nip/Tuck, since Battlestar Galactica.


  1. Jason said,

    March 22, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Honestly, I think fame must have gone to Sackhoff’s head. She doesn’t get that we loved seasons 1-2 Starbuck who was raunchy and didn’t give a damn, as opposed to religiousily confused Starbuck in seasons 3-4.

    Hey Katee, it’s the writers who make you a star, and your talents can’t stand on their own when you get a lousy role. Figure it out.

  2. Dick Destiny » Cult of EMP Crazy: Catastrophism story as tool of narrow special interest group said,

    July 6, 2010 at 9:29 am

    […] have Roscoe Bartlett , Peter Pry — the president of EMPAct, the CEO of Steuben Foods, William Forstchen and a few others, driving the narrative. And no one […]