The congressional committee tasked with evaluating the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States is being forced to disband even as North Korea directly signals it intent to cripple America's power grid with an EMP attack.
The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, organized by Congress in 2001 and reauthorized several times since then, was funded with $2 million under the 2016 Federal Defense Authorization Act - with the stipulation it would sunset on July 30, 2017. The commission was allowed to lapse, with a few months granted to draft and submit its final report to Congress.
The commission's website was formally taken down over the weekend.
"I'm concerned that the country is going to lose both the experience and the knowledge that the commissioners have brought (and) also the knowledge and support of extremely competent support staff," said William Graham, the 16-year chairman of the commission. "To date, I've noticed that there is one national leader who takes this seriously - and that appears to be Kim Jung Un."
After conducting a test of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb capable of being mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korean state media noted the device "is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack according to strategic goals.
Graham claimed the Obama administration was always hostile to the commission because its findings conflicted with the administration's policy of nuclear disarmament.
The House Armed Services Committee has a approved a bill moving the ability to make appointments to the commission from the Defense Department to the House itself, while also limiting the commission's focus. Texas Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, initiated a Department of Defense Inspector General's audit of the commission - an audit still ongoing.
"The Congressional EMP Commission has warned that an EMP from man or nature, from a nuclear attack or a solar super-storm, could black out the nation's electrical grid for over a year and kill 90 percent of Americans," said Doctor Peter Vincent Pry, the commission's chief of staff. "The threat is non-trivial, and public policy should not be guided by the ignorant."
"With such a gift for always being wrong, let us hope that the naysayers do not thwart the EMP Commission's efforts to protect our nation."