“I realize there is skepticism, and I understand it’s easy to dismiss this as something coming from people who might go around wearing tinfoil hats,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., one of the leaders of the little-known bipartisan congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus.
But Franks said that he and other members of the caucus—which has seen its roster grow to at least 18 members from 11 last session—will keep pressing “in a low-key way so as not to try to scare people” to show that the dangers are legitimate. Now is the time to take steps to protect the nation’s electric grid, said Franks, a House Armed Services Committee member who is also cochairman of the 39-member Missile Defense Caucus.
At the top of this effort is the belief that every facet of routine life could be at risk for a short or even long period of time with the disabling of key parts of the nation’s infrastructure. Computers and circuits of homes, hospitals, supermarkets, water-treatment facilities, and banks would be fried; telecommunications and transportation systems would grind to a halt; and public safety and even national security could be compromised.
Some of those concerned envision scenarios in which terrorists or some hostile or rogue state, such as Iran or North Korea, might someday build or acquire and then launch and detonate a nuclear warhead above the United States with the intent of triggering such a devastating electromagnetic pulse.
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