08.30.11

Cult of EMP Crazy: Infiltrates Times website

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism, War On Terror at 9:38 am by George Smith

Today, the Cult of EMP Crazy infiltrated the New York Times website via Greenwire, a “blog on energy and development.”

Written by Peter Behr, it has all the features common in an electromagnetic pulse crazy plant — sources almost exclusively from the cult lobby.

DD blog has dealt with most of the matters and individuals previously.

Today’s post agains swims under the common cover of protecting the grid from a solar flare, a point the Cult has cynically used to get itself into the news many many times.

Customarily, the Cult is only interested in using electromagnetic pulse doom stories as rationalizations for increased missile defense. The “unquiet angry sun” bits furnish them an extra argument used to publicize the standard agenda on a repeated basis.

Excerpted, the usual rubbish and small circle of sources, including the standard reference to the EMP Commission Report, now almost eight years old:

The electric power industry is challenging an analysis of the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat that was an instrumental part of the 2004 report by the congressional EMP Commission. The commission focused on surges affecting the power grid from a high-altitude nuclear detonation. The same analysis, by prominent researcher John Kappenman and the California-based firm Metatech, also underpins warnings of widespread grid damage from geomagnetic currents triggered by a massive, once-in-a-century solar flare.

The electric power industry, not having been born yesterday, knows exactly where this is coming from — a small lobby with no real political power.

The researcher mentioned is not prominent but, rather, someone from a very small business which has been attached to the EMP lobby for a good long time.

Regular pieces on DD blog have made it impossible to avoid the many valid criticisms of the Cult of EMP Crazy.

The Greenwire blog mentions them, elliptically, giving the lobbyists their opportunities to respond with the usual lame dodges:

There may also be political and ideological differences over the EMP response.

The impetus for action began with concerns by some leading conservatives over the threat of EMP from a terrorist-launched missile. The EMP campaign has stirred opposition from some liberals who see a conservative interest in reviving a Reagan-era missile defense debate, some EMP action advocates say.

“Within the administration and among some of my Democratic friends, there is a willingness to close their eyes to anything that is nuclear generated,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-N.M.), a leading member of the congressional EMP caucus. He said the nuclear scenario is “broader and more dangerous if it occurs” than the solar storm. “I am concerned that terrorists the world over are beginning to dial in to the grid’s vulnerability.”

The “congressional EMP caucus” has always been a small pest group, traditionally led by Roscoe Bartlett, now by Republican Trent Franks. Its members produce no legislation in any other areas of endeavor and it is “bipartisan” only in the sense that its GOP principals usually find one or two trivial Democrats willing to be their pets for cosmetic purposes.

Trent Franks is the very picture of a GOP extremist. He’s a birther and was also the politician who accepted Frank Gaffney’s “Team B” sharia-law-impurifying-the-American-justice-system report, something regarded as a bona fide piece of trash by all reasonable people.

The electromagnetic pulse lobby is defined by the company it keeps with many bad ideas. Traditionally, journalists — perhaps like Greenwire’s — don’t like to deal with the sprawling and odious crackpot nature of all of it.

However, there have been some exceptions. Notably, last week Frank Gaffney, and by association the EMP lobby, were made appropriate fools of on the Alyona show at RT.

Paradoxically, the Alyona Show was mentioning Gaffney in connection with a big Cult of EMP Crazy confab at the Heritage Foundation, one memeant to lobby for a National EMP Awareness Day. (We’ve dogged that previously, here.)

At the EMP Awreness Day “summit” cult members spoke about what they usually like to talk about — Iran attacking the US, terrorists attacking the US with a nuclear missile, or terrorists attacking a United States city with an electromagnetic pulse suitcase of doom.

The electromagnetic pulsing suitcase of doom is another small business pitch from the EMP lobby. Most notably, it’s pushed by Peter Pry who, a long time ago, pushed Russian nuclear suitcases of doom as a threat-du-jour when working as a staffer for ex-GOP pol and wacko, Curt Weldon.

The electromagnetic pulse suitcase story is a common one with the Cult. (There’s a picture here.)

Sometimes the electromagnetic pulse suitcase is souped up into a larger mobile device, said to be easy to get or in the hands of terrorists. The threat scenarios are always peddled by the small number of specialty businesses within the electromagnetic pulse doom lobby.

Pry, for today’s example, is another source in the Times story.

Anyway, as with lobbyists, the Cult of EMP Crazy is no exception, it is considered important to seed various claims into government reports, or — even better — to actually be able to author such reports.

This is where the Times’ Greenwire blog is dishonest.

The story intimates that the electric power industry (NERC) and the Energy Department were formerly “on the same page” concerning the electromagnetic pulse threat.

This was because:

FERC, NERC and the Energy Department appeared to be on the same page. NERC and DOE were sponsors of a workshop on the EMP threat in November 2009. The workshop’s report (pdf), “High-Impact, Low-Frequency Event Risk to the North American Bulk Power System,” was issued in June 2010 by NERC and DOE.

It concluded, “Recent analysis by Metatech and Storm Analysis Consultants suggests … that the potential extremes of the geomagnetic threat environment may be much greater than previously anticipated.” The workshop’s EMP task force was chaired by Kappenman, a principal with Storm Analysis Consultants, and Metatech President William Radasky, and they were instrumental in writing that section of the 2010 report, industry officials say.

DD blog wrote of it this way, last year:

Common sense would seem to dictate that leaders of corporations ought not to be empowered by the US government to provide threat assessments which stand to directly enrich their interests.

But that’s how the US conducts business. From top to bottom, people read of agencies subverted by the businesses they are supposed to regulate.

And sometimes people then come to the conclusion that the US government is only a tool for the accelerated transfer of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of such mentioned businesses.

Which is a pity …

The latest example … comes to you courtesy of the Department of Energy and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (or NERC).

Reads the New York Times, courtesy of Matthew Wald:

A report just issued by the Energy Department and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as Nerc, an industry group that polices the power grid, lists three categories of threats to the grid: coordinated cyber- and physical attacks, pandemic disease and electromagnetic damage.

What Wald does not mention, or perhaps has failed to notice, is the “report” has essentially been written by the small interests which make up the Cult of EMP Crazy, with government workers as their staff.

Three of the report’s authors are part of the bomb Iran/ballistic missile defense lobby. (Follow the link.)

These include John Kappenman — billed as being part of something called Storm Analysis for the report, William Radasky of Metatech and Michael Frankel of Roscoe Bartlett’s old EMP Commission.

For the past couple of years this group has been given short shrift. Under the wing of Roscoe Bartlett, members of the EMP Commission went before Congress repeatedly, only to be appropriately brushed off.

Compared to the businesses in the North American electrical power industry, these authors — members of the EMP lobby — are in very small and insignificant business operations. Metatech, for example, was able to slip into the NERC report a graphic on notional mobile electromagnetic pulse devices attacking the United States. (The report is here — see page 92.)

At one point, the Times’ Greenwire blog addresses the conflict of interest point raised here last year.

Peter Behr writes:

Kappenman said he agreed that the EMP threat should be thoroughly studied but that the complaint that his and Metatech’s analysis is not verifiable is off-base. “Essentially what NERC has decided to do is not allow commercial firms like mine to be a provider of this sort of simulation software. … The fact that I and others would like to be compensated for providing the code isn’t reason to think it is invalid.”

Kappenman said he also hears concerns that his studies are influenced by the opportunities to sell hardware solutions to protect the grid: “We should talk about that elephant in the room, I guess.” He said he has been involved in researching protection against EMP threats since the early 1990s, at EPRI’s request.

“I have never attempted to patent that technology. … It has been in public domain for 20 years. I have no control over it,” he said. While he is involved in commercial solutions to the EMP threat, if utilities begin to buy the safeguards, bigger firms will step into the picture “and will no doubt do a better job than I ever could in competing for the marketplace,” he added.

“We should talk about that elephant in the room, I guess,” concedes Kappenman. Who them proceeds not to actually talk about it, instead changing the subject by saying bigger companies might be able to compete better than his.

If DD were a betting man, he’d wager the electric power industry simply doesn’t want to have to put up with these small businesses. And it considers the electromagnetic pulse lobby a nuisance, one that — in the past — has been fond of hauling it before meetings chaired by Roscoe Bartlett. These are always meetings virtually no one attends but lobby members.

And so it made a tactical error when it originally allowed the EMP lobby to author a report, one then given weight by publication on its website.

Now it legitimately wishes to correct the matter.

NERC can do this by generating a new report, one separated from the EMP lobby and its small businesses. And it has valid arguments for doing so.

The power industry knows the score behind the scenes.

The electromagnetic pulse lobby has no real political power. And it owns an issue that not even half of the Republicans in the House really care about.

Brushing the kooks off once again is eminently doable.

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