Trish Regan: We actually have real threats out there. I know everybody gets so bogged down in the political nonsense that is at the surface that is Washington, D.C., but there’s actually real threats. Colonial Pipeline proved it. We had the SolarWinds attack. We had a hurricane. Remember that hurricane last winter down in Texas which caused the grid to go offline?
We need to protect our infrastructure. We need to protect specifically and harden our electrical grid against the threat of an EMP attack. An electromagnetic pulse attack. I am so happy to have with me here today the guy who knows all about this. It’s a little scary. Full disclosure, I’ll just warn you. I don’t like thinking about this stuff. None of us like thinking about this stuff.
But we have to, because if we don’t actually address the real challenges, the real threats out there, then we may not be here to have the luxury of debating the nonsense that D.C. likes to talk about. So I am really, really pleased to have with me here today the head of the EMP Task Force, the Presidential Task Force put in place by President Trump. He is the former chief of staff to the EMP Commission, none other than Dr. Peter Pry. Dr. Pry, welcome.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Thank you so much for having me.
Trish Regan: So, one of the things, just really quickly, to clear up. You were telling me that the commission is no longer, that right now it’s the task force. But the commission after 17 years does not exist?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Yes. That’s right. In fact, I wrote a book about this in 2020 called The Power and the Light: The Congressional EMP Commission’s War to Save America, 2001-2020. It was stupidly terminated in 2017. And you know, commissions typically only last 18 months anyway, because of the extraordinary powers they have. So the EMP Commission had a long run.
But, the fact that the threat to the United States was never resolved, you know. We never protected the electric grids or other critical infrastructures. And given that President Trump wisely followed the advice of the EMP Commission and issued an executive order to protect our electric grids and critical infrastructures, it was really madness for Congress and the Department of Defense not to continue the EMP Commission, which was the, well, they were the foremost experts in the free world on how to protect our critical infrastructures.
And so they no longer exist to advise the U.S. government on how to proceed, except in the form of my little EMP Task Force, which is, you know, not a commission. It’s just a Congressional advisory board and a nonprofit, you know?
Trish Regan: This is actually, and I’ve done a lot of reporting on this. I know we’re not spending nearly the amount of time on the issue as we should. I knew that this was of concern to the previous administration, that the President was focused on this. And I was under the impression that we had ramped up this effort in a pretty significant way. But you’re telling me, we don’t even have the commission anymore. That was dissolved in 2017. You’re blaming Congress, not the President. What the heck happened?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Well, I blame the Obama administration. The commission was established by Congress in 2015. It was, you know, to continue in 2015. And during most of its life, operating under the Obama administration. And the Obama administration did everything they could to stonewall the commission, merely because it had been, well, it was not just authorized by Republicans. It was reestablished by unanimous consent by Republicans and Democrats alike.
Nonetheless, they basically broke the law. The Obama administration wouldn’t give us our funding, they held up our security clearances. They, you know, it was a tremendous fight to just get office space. You know, we were denied office space. But that didn’t stop us. They were trying to run out the clock on the commission, which was supposed to terminate in 2017, unless it was extended again.
And Dr. William Graham who was the chairman. He was my boss on the EMP Commission. He’s the, literally the free world’s foremost expert on EMP. When I was in kindergarten, he was a defense scientist at the Starfish Prime High Altitude Nuclear Test where we discovered the EMP phenomenon. But anyway, Dr. Graham said we’ve got to take advantage of the existence of this commission and work unpaid.
So the commissioners and staff did what we could, doing research, writing our reports. In the end, we produced 12 reports all on our own, without support from our budget until the very last, the last six months, when Trump came into power. You see, Obama’s Department of Defense didn’t expect Trump to win. They thought they were going to be able to get away with breaking the law and holding up our clearances and holding up our money.
But when Trump came into power, for the last six months of the commission, we finally got our resources. But, they then made false accusations, the Obama holdovers, of corruption. You know, they claimed that the, well, I can’t remember what the law is. But there’s some federal law that federal employees can’t work without money.
So it was considered corruption that the commission and staff worked unpaid to produce our 12 reports in record time. Because we were violating, which turned out not to be true. You know, because we weren’t federal employees. We were members of a congressional commission. We weren’t part of the Executive Branch. We were part of the Congress.
I’m also disappointed in Congress, because the Department of Defense inspector general, who was later fired by President Trump, conducted an investigation of this so-called scandal. You know, that the EMP Commission had perpetrated. And anyway, the story about the destruction of the EMP Commission is a whole chapter in my book. And if people are interested in those nitty-gritty details.
But in the end of the day, the scandal was enough to, so that Mac Thornberry, who’s the head of the House Armed Services Committee, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in my view the worst chairman that ever prevailed. Because he let them get away with that. You know, congressional commission should not have been investigated by Obama holdovers from the Department of Defense. That’s a violation of the Constitution.
Trish Regan: Yeah. It sounds to me, and this is tragic. It is wrong. It makes me angry. It makes me fully disgusted, really, in where we are as a nation right now, that you as a scientist – who is doing everything he can to protect the country – are somehow getting trapped in this political nonsense. That’s just, it’s just wrong. And I want to circle back to that.
But you know, I have you here for a reason, sir. And that’s because we’ve been dealing with lots of problems as of late, whether it was the blackout in Texas. Whether it was my little storm up in the northeast last summer, which actually got me very interested in the threat of an EMP attack. Because the whole town was down, 98% of it. And I thought, gosh, what if the entire nation went down?
And that’s how I stumbled across you and William Graham and all your writings. But you know, we just went through the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline. So obviously it’s different. But nonetheless, it’s exposing us in terms of our vulnerability, right? To this big world that’s out there that apparently some politicians just want to cover their ears and pretend doesn’t exist, because they want to use the money for who knows what else. Affordable housing or critical race theory, don’t get me started.
I mean, I don’t know what they want to do with the money, but it seems to be pretty obvious. If you’re going to do something with infrastructure, you ought to be looking at protecting our nation from an EMP attack. What is an EMP attack, Dr. Pry? And what could it actually do to the country?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Well, first of all, going beyond EMP, because actually, the Colonial Pipeline event is related to this, as are some other events that are being treated as unrelated stories in Washington. Like, a directed energy weapon attack on a dog walker, who was out in front of the White House. And directed energy weapon attacks on our embassies.
If one understood and read works of the EMP Commission, you know, we discovered on the EMP Commission that there is a new way of warfare, a revolutionary concept for waging warfare that’s been invented first by the Russians but copied by the Chinese and the North Koreans, and the Iranians aspire to do it.
And this combines, it’s a combined arms operation that would include cyberattacks… physical sabotage including the use of directed energy weapons, which is a non-nuclear form of EMP… and the ultimate cyber weapon, in their military doctrine, is a nuclear EMP attack. That’s not like Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
What happens with a nuclear EMP attack is you detonate a weapon. In the case of the Russians and Chinese and North Koreans, it would be a weapon of special design. It’s not designed to make a big explosion. It’s designed to generate gamma rays. And it’s detonated above the atmosphere in outer space.
So for example, at an altitude of 300 kilometers, if you were standing on the ground directly beneath the explosion, you wouldn’t even hear it, you know. Because it’s happening in the vacuum of space. And the yield of these super EMP weapons is extremely low. It can be as low as a kiloton or a few kilotons, because it’s not designed to make an explosion but to put out gamma rays, which is what makes the EMP effect.
There wouldn’t be any radioactive fallout on the ground. No blast would reach the ground. You wouldn’t even be aware that the country was under attack until you tried to start your car. And then you’d find the car wouldn’t start because the electronics had been fried. That’s because the EMP, what it is, is basically a super-energetic radio wave. It will pass harmlessly through your body, so you wouldn’t even know about it. But it will destroy electronics, and across a vast region.
For example, in this scenario I was describing at 300 kilometers above the center of the United States… Most of North America, much of Canada, all 48 contiguous United States, and a good chunk of Mexico would be exposed to this extremely destructive EMP field that would destroy electronics across the whole area. It’d take down the electric grid.
All the other critical infrastructures depend upon electricity, so there’d be no communications. No transportation. Cars wouldn’t start. Planes wouldn’t fly. You know, industry would stop. The banking and finance, none of that stuff would work. In effect, it’s a high-tech way of subtracting from the equation of modern electronic civilization that which makes modern electronic civilization possible: electronics. It’s taken away.
And while initially, you know, it’s not as bad as a Hiroshima or Nagasaki in terms of a weapon destroying cities, in the long run, it’s far more deadly. Because with one weapon, this shuts down your electronic civilization. We cannot sustain a population of 330 million people without our electric infrastructure. The commission calculated that we could lose up to 90% of our population in a year from starvation, disease, and societal collapse. A high-tech way of killing people the old-fashioned way, through starvation, disease, and societal collapse.
The main reason for this kind of an attack, the thing that would make it so revolutionary, the combination of cyber sabotage, use of non-nuclear EMP weapons and ultimately a nuclear EMP attack, and the military doctrines of all of our adversaries, is that this way you can win basically without traditional warfare. You’re attacking the technological Achilles’ heel of your adversary.
And in fact, Vladimir Slipchenko’s book, General Vladimir Slipchenko who basically introduced this idea. His book is called No Contact Wars. And what that means is, you can win at war. You can win World War III, without even having to have contact with the adversary’s navy or air force or the marines. Because they all depend upon our civilian electric grid and critical infrastructures too, and they would all be paralyzed as well.
In fact, the super EMP weapon that I’m describing will generate field strengths that are above the hardening standard. You know, we have hardened, we’ve tried to harden some of our most crucial command control systems. The president, so he can issue it. Emergency action messages to our nuclear deterrent. The nuclear deterrent themselves. But these are hardened only to 50,000 volts per meter, which is what we thought the maximum EMP field strength would be during the Cold War. These super EMP weapons can generate 100,000 volts or more per meter, which exceeds our hardening standard.
And that is the problem. And that is why it may ultimately prove to have been suicidal for this country to have stopped the EMP Commission just three years before we got a presidential executive order. And to the Biden administration’s credit, they are continuing that EMP executive order. But the expertise is not there to really implement that executive order.
Trish Regan: Oh my gosh. Let me ask you this. Why do you think people don’t want to focus on this? You know, I’m a little frustrated right now, because I feel like people are more focused on, shall we call it Happy Mother’s Day or Happy Birthing People’s Day, instead of actually focusing on real threats that we need to focus on. But, I’m seeing it myself. I’ll tell you, a lot of my viewers and listeners, they care. They care very, very much, Dr. Pry.
But when I posted a clip on this actually just reading from your reports, sir. Just reading from what you said with the nine out of 10 Americans, Facebook wouldn’t allow me to load the video onto my private page. When I tried to put it publicly, it said it was demonetizing it and was suppressing views, because, you know, for whatever reason this was not, quote, appropriate content. Now, I don’t know, you know.
Look, I’m in the news business. This kind of seems like news to me. It seems like the kind of content we ought to be discussing right now. But I clearly ran into something with Facebook not wanting this story out there. You’ve clearly run into something with some people in Congress not really wanting to devote resources to this. You know, they’re trying to effectively say, well, this is just crazy stuff, right? This is conspiracy theory, nutty, crazy stuff. What do you say about that attitude? And what do you think we need to be doing?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Well, I don’t want to tar with a broad brush all of Congress for the actions of one bad chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. In fact, the White House and Congress deserve great credit for trying to do everything possible to protect our country from EMP insofar as lawmakers and presidents can. You know, we have for example, Senator Ron Johnson is a hero in this story. And by the way, it’s outrageous that they would suppress your story because this is just science. This has got nothing to do with politics.
And Republicans and Democrats on a bipartisan basis have… Some of the best people in terms of being activists toward EMP are Democrats, like Senator Edward Markey, who introduced the first bill, it was called The Grid Act, to try to protect the nation’s electric grid from EMP. Senator Benjamin Thompson, you know. No conservative or Democrat, he tried to protect the country when he was the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
Yvette Clarke, you know, who is a liberal minority Democrat from New York City, is the co-chair of the Congressional EMP Caucus. This is a bipartisan, it’s a bipartisan thing. Moreover, Congress on a, after President Trump, well. Senator Ron Johnson passed a Critical Infrastructure Protection Act which provided legal authorities and direction to the Department of Homeland Security to protect the country.
President Trump, we mentioned how he passed the EMP executive order. And you know, the EMP Commission helped draft that. It gave us almost everything we wanted. So it’s an excellent EMP executive order. And after the president passed that EMP executive order, Congress, on a bipartisan basis, by unanimous consent, incorporated the essence of the executive order into the National Defense Authorization Act. That’s the Defense Bill, it’s probably the most important bill Congress passes.
So, I think it was unprecedented that a presidential executive order was taken and given the force of law, so that it’s not just an executive order, but it has the support of Congress. So in effect what you have is the President of the United States and Congress, on a bipartisan basis. telling the Federal Government, go forth and protect the electric grid and all the civilian critical infrastructures from this EMP threat.
Yes, that is an existential threat. So, you know, it’s not controversial, OK? In that respect. But, I think the problem is that we are facing a civilizational crisis here because the system isn’t working the way the founders intended it to work. You know, the federal bureaucracy has become a power unto itself. And it thinks it knows better than Congress. It thinks it knows better than the White House. It thinks it knows better than multiple congressional commissions.
There has been more than one congressional commission by the way, which has urged that the critical infrastructures need to be protected from EMP and cyber warfare. And now they pretend to obey the law, you know, by doing endless studies and endless conferences. But in the end of the day, we don’t have any EHV transformers actually technically protected with Faraday cages and blocking devices. That hasn’t happened.
It’s endless studying of the problem. And part of the problem, why is the federal bureaucracy so incompetent and why doesn’t it work so well? I think when it comes to critical matters of national and homeland security, I don’t think you want a lawyer in charge. You know, what you want is your best technical experts. And this too is what I consider part of our civilizational crisis, taking a look at the broad view.
You know, there was a time in the America I grew up in, when it seemed the federal government was capable of working miracles. During World War II, they build in the Manhattan Project, you know, the atomic bomb went from being a gleam in Albert Einstein’s eye to reality in just three years. And why is that? That’s because we had guys like Edward Teller and Oppenheimer, our top nuclear physicists, in charge of the Manhattan Project. Not a lawyer, OK?
We built the National Highway System under Eisenhower. Amazing. You know, did what the Romans did, more than 50,000 miles in a few years, because people who knew what they were doing, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, provided the leadership. Not lawyers. You know, we sent a man to the moon and developed the space program, because Wernher von Braun, probably the world’s top rocket scientist, was in charge of all that.
You know, if NASA had been run by a lawyer, I wonder if we ever would have gotten a man to the moon. The nuclear navy was built by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, you know, who was himself an expert in nuclear reactors. So, we have nuclear reactor aircraft, powered aircraft carriers today, and nuclear-powered submarines.
Who’s in charge of protecting America today from EMP and cyber warfare? Well, during the Obama administration and through the Trump administration, there was a guy named Christopher Krebs. And his, he ran the Critical Infrastructure and Security Agency, called CISA, that was responsible for protecting our electric grids and other critical infrastructures from EMP and cyber warfare. Krebs was a lobbyist for Microsoft and a lawyer.
He did not have any deep technical expertise in EMP or cyber warfare. He’s been replaced. The acting director today, a guy named Brandon Wales, all right? I know and I like him. He’s a nice guy. But he’s basically a former congressional staffer and he has no deep technical expertise on this stuff either.
For the first time, Congress, in their frustration, because they share our frustration about the fact that nothing is getting done. So they created an EMP czar to operate in the White House right under the president to try to push this stuff forward. Well, we don’t have exactly an EMP czar, but Congress did create a cyber czar. It’s the national security adviser for cyber and emergent technology.
So, arguably, it’s for cyber and EMP people, OK? And her name is Anne Neuberger. And I’m not going to make any friends in this administration as a consequence of this, but who is Anne Neuberger? You know, before the Obama administration, she ran a bookstore. Did get a law degree from George Washington University. And was a friend of the Obama administration. And they put her into the policy shop in cyber command at the National Security Agency, where she has worked for several years, but as a lawyer, OK? Not as a deep technical expert in cyber warfare. But she is our cyber czar.
So, I have nothing against lawyers, you know, as people. But they’re not the appropriate choice when it comes to urgent national security missions. The culture that lawyers come out of is not a national security culture. It’s more along the lines of how our domestic democratic culture is supposed to work. Lawyers believe in compromise and getting the stakeholders together and trying to have a meeting of minds, so to say.
And that can, and when you have industries that are very resistant to doing anything because they don’t want to spend a penny on this, they can successfully manage to have negotiations with lawyers go on and on and on for years so nothing ever gets done. You know, when you’re dealing with national security issues, you want somebody who has a national security background. Comes from the defense or intelligence culture, where urgency is necessary.
And you’re going to bulldoze the opposition and get to your objective, like building an atomic bomb. Like building nuclear aircraft carriers and missile submarines, and working technological miracles that are necessary to protect 330 million American lives in a big hurry.
Trish Regan: So are we doing anything? I mean, it sounds to me like what you’re saying, you get the wrong people in charge. You get all these individual vested interests, and like the glaring, you know, to me, if you’re going to spend any money on infrastructure, the one thing you ought to be spending it on is making sure that that infrastructure is secure and safe and is going to last you for many, many, many more centuries, and that we’re doing the right things to keep up with this changing warfare. Are you convinced we’re doing any of that?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: No. I’m convinced we’re not. And you know, if I thought we were, I’d fold my tent. I’d shut down the EMP task force and go do something else. I wish I could do that. My object is to put myself out of business here, so that the system does the right thing. And I keep hoping that some shock will be enough to shock the Washington culture into realizing that we are facing an emergency, a crisis. I hope the Colonial Pipeline might have done that.
Trish Regan: No, it didn’t, though. I’ll tell you, you know, I mean you mentioned Anne Neuberger. I was shocked at how they were like well, you know, it’s business’s problem. And by the way, I believe in a small, limited government. I don’t want any more government than we need.
But when it comes to our safety and security, that’s one place where I think this is what our taxpayer dollars should be going to. Yes, businesses should and must and can do whatever they are capable of, on their own. But I don’t think I’d be leaving it to business to protect all this. I’d be working on some kind of pretty serious partnership with business. What about you, Dr. Pry?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Well, that’s exactly the strategic problem, for multiple administrations. Ever since 9/11, ever since the George W. Bush administration, they have had this flawed grand strategy for trying to protect critical infrastructures, which is the public-private partnership, where the private-sector industries are the dominant partner, and government is the junior partner. And that is not why we have government.
You know, government is supposed to be the senior partner when it comes to national security issues. You know, this just becomes a way and this is, you know, the lawyer mentality favors this. It becomes a way of shoving the national security task off onto the shoulders of the private sector where it does not belong. They don’t have a national security culture. They have a culture and their culture should be one for free enterprise and making profits… and maximizing efficiency and service to their customers on a day-to-day basis.
You don’t have to take the long view about, well, what if there’s a war? That’s the job of government. You know, the way this should work is that the government should be the senior partner. The government should take responsibility. Our best warriors in cyber and EMP, guys from the Department of Defense. The Defense contractors who harden our ICBMs and our command and control systems, for example. The government should be sending them into our electric utilities, coming up with a plan, and actually doing the hardening.
And the government should pay for it if necessary. And you know, this is the trillion, you know, they’re investing I think out of all these trillions of dollars, they’re investing a hundred billion into electric-grid modernization. And almost all of that is going into climate change. You know, solar-and-wind-type things. Not into cyber and EMP preparedness. So, the government is not doing its job.
Trish Regan: Oh my gosh. I mean, this is, you’d think that we, I mean, you had the SolarWinds attack. You had the Colonial Pipeline attack. You had, you know, the grid going down in Texas. I’ve certainly experienced it in my small town. We were out of power for two, three weeks. I know what that can do.
You couldn’t get gas. You couldn’t go to the bank. You couldn’t operate anything, right? It needed that electricity. And this is not something that we could withstand as a country. You’re right. I think the consequences would be just devastating. And where’s China on it? Where’s Russia on it? Where’s Iran? Where are all our enemies in comparison to us, Dr. Pry?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Well, Russia and China, during the Cold War, hardened their electric grids and other critical infrastructures against these threats. They rely on one of their defenses as what we call retro technologies. They use electromechanical systems, for example, that are basically invulnerable to cyberattack and much less vulnerable to EMP.
It’s not an accident that Russia is still the world’s leading manufacturer of vacuum-tube electronics. Because those old-fashioned 1950s vacuum-tube electronics are a million times less vulnerable to EMP. They also have the high-tech, cutting-edge microelectronics that we have.
But they are either backed up with systems that can survive EMP and cyberattack, or are used selectively in systems that are not likely to be exposed to those things. Another thing they have is, in effect, they basically have a civil army, you know. Back in the 1970s when the microelectronics revolution was beginning, we had hundreds of thousands of skilled blue-collar workers whose job it was to run our electric grids and our other critical infrastructures.
They would use these electromechanical devices and gauges and things like that to regulate the way electricity would flow into a transformer or the way water would flow through a pipeline. And these people were, we didn’t realize it at the time, but these people were like our army. They, if we didn’t think of our critical infrastructures as a target back in that era, but if anything went wrong, you know, you had these intelligent, well-trained, competent blue-collar technical people who could fix anything.
And we don’t have them anymore. The microelectronics revolution basically made them unemployed. And now you can run a whole city with 12 people because we have these things called SCADAs, supervisory control and data acquisition systems. They’re little computers that we rely upon to run everything. But if anything goes wrong with the SCADAs, then we’re in huge trouble.
And we have SCADAs everywhere. They, not only do they run the electric grid and all the other critical infrastructures, but even traffic control systems, like the stoplights are all run by SCADAs. And you know, they, the bad guys, Russia and China, you know, they still have that blue-collar army there running their critical infrastructures. Because their national security, these totalitarian military dictatorships, the first thing they always think about is the national security implications of what I’m doing.
For us, you know, a free democratic system that worships at the altar of free enterprise, as we should, because it makes for the most prosperous kind of a civilization. But oftentimes for us, the last thing we think about is national security. And the first thing we think about is oh, I can do this faster or cheaply, and I don’t have to employ all these hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers if I transfer over to the SCADA.
It doesn’t occur to us until 20 or 30 years later that, gee, from a national security standpoint, that might have been a big mistake. And this is a disadvantage that free democratic systems have when they’re competing with other cultures – authoritarian, totalitarian cultures – who think almost only about World War III and how do they win it, and how do they posture themselves to compete and win it.
One of the things most disturbing to me about the Colonial Pipeline incident, by the way, is the denial behavior by the Obama, excuse me, the Biden administration, where after the Democrats have been warning about Russia, Russia, Russia, now they want the American people to believe the Colonial Pipeline wasn’t really shut down by the Russian government, but it was by Russian criminal entities that have nothing to do with the government. And that is just transparently false, because the Russian mafia is a tool of the Russian government.
These criminal enterprises act at the behest of the Russian government to provide cover and plausible deniability. Even the ransomware thing, they’re not really interested in the money. The money just provides a cover for them to practice this new way of warfare against us. And the other thing that’s so disturbing. I mean, surely they’re aware. I wrote an article about this. Just three weeks ago, in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis, Russia as much as threatened that they were going to do something like this.
There was a Russian unofficial spokesman named Margarita Simonyan. She is the director of the Russian media giants RT and Sputnik and a close personal friend of Putin, who has received many medals of honor from him. She went on the air and did a TV interview that, where she said it was inevitable that there was going to be a war between the United States and Russia, that the war would be a cyber war, and that Russia would win it because they had a huge advantage over us when it came to cyber capabilities, and that they could do things like very limited attacks.
For example, making, blacking out Harlem in New York City. Or they could black out the whole state of Florida. Or they could black out the whole United States. That was three weeks ago. And now we have the Colonial Pipeline basically paralyzed by a Russian hack, right? I mean, what an extraordinary coincidence.
Trish Regan: I mean, couldn’t we return the favor? If they’re taking out our pipelines, do we have the capability, or are you confident enough in whatever, you know, activities or CIA and NSA and whoever knows who else, what their capabilities, could they do something similar?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Well, you know, there was a time in the Cold War when we took out one of their natural gas pipelines. And caused it to explode. I’m sure that we can do some harm to them by means of our cyberattack. But I’m equally certain that they can hit us back a lot harder. You know, for the reasons that I explained earlier, their critical infrastructures are deliberately designed, are already hardened against most of these kinds of attacks.
So the vulnerabilities they have are much fewer than ours. And I would also add, it’s, I don’t think it’s wise to get in a game of, right now our people think of cyber warfare and even EMP warfare as gray-zone warfare. That it’s something short of a shooting war. These are really the next-generation weapons of mass destruction, you know, where you can starve to death whole continents if you shut down somebody’s electric grid.
Nuclear-armed superpowers shouldn’t be waging cyber warfare against each other. I think the more prudent course for us, instead of trying to retaliate ineffectually against Russia, who would then hit us back even harder, OK? That can begin an escalation scenario that might even lead into a nuclear war, if we were successful. I think a priority should be on defending ourselves. On hardening our critical infrastructures so that they can’t do this to us.
And I would also urge that the Space Force, you know, realize Ronald Reagan’s dream of a strategic defense initiative. You know, space-based missile defenses, to neutralize the nuclear threat that China, Russia, North Korea, and the others can pose to us, so that if things did get out of hand, if we did end up with some kind of a gray-zone war that’s involved cyber weapons which, you know, I even hate that characterization of it.
Because, like I, as I said, these are the new-generation weapons of mass destruction that could even exceed nuclear weapons in what they can actually do to a society. So, it’s a case of the technology being way beyond the understanding and wisdom and political leaders perhaps on both sides, in terms of how to use these new weapons.
Trish Regan: I mean, is there a political realist theory that could be employed that, you know, if these countries have the capability to do these things? Well, then they won’t because they know that, well, I mean I think you’ve outlined it well. We actually don’t have first-strike capability. So if they did strike us, we wouldn’t really be in a position to strike back.
But they have to know that taking us out means really destroying the world. Is that, do you think that some people in Washington see that as enough of a deterrent? And I guess, do you see it as a deterrent? Do you think that there are other sort of signals? It sounds like you do. Like the Colonial attack and other things that they do along the way to kind of let us know, “Hey, hey, hey, be careful… We have some pretty insane capabilities.”
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: I don’t think, yes, I think they’re saying to us to be careful. But not for peacekeeping purposes. You know, all of us knew, when, and have been predicting, you know, that there would be a test of the Biden administration, when it came into office, to see how they would react. And I think this is their test of the Biden administration. You know, Russia’s test of the Biden administration.
There will be another test from China and another one from North Korea. And Iran is perhaps doing the test right now with the war in the Middle East, all right? And you know, if, I think Russia’s game plan is to take back, to conquer, Ukraine and maybe even to invade NATO and to take out at least the frontline NATO states. You know, which they feel never should have joined NATO.
And to change the world order, so that Russia is now the dominant power in the world, even though their economy is like that of Venezuela. That doesn’t matter. If you are the dominant military power in the world, then you are the dominant power in the world. And I think the Russians want to see, you know, how far is the United States going to weaken itself with our internal divisions and with the Biden administration’s, in places grossly responsible destruction of our military posture.
For example, it’s currently being debated right now in Congress whether the United States should unilaterally ban ICBMs and give up our ICBM force. You know, which is really the only part of the triad to protect us against a surprise attack. Because the bombers are not on alert, and most of the ballistic missile submarines are usually at port. And there’s only five targets to strike, once you get rid of the 400 ICBMs.
So, if I were in the Russian general staff, I’d say, you know, let’s wait and see how far is the United States going to fall in terms of its military and nuclear posture, and wait until they hit rock bottom before we actually commit aggression. And in the meantime, we’ll do something like Colonial Pipeline, to let them know that we can shut them down, you know? That we can shut the whole country down. I mean, the next time, it might not just be a demonstration.
It might be attending an invasion of Ukraine and even the NATO member states, if we do something really stupid like get rid of our ICBM force especially. So, I don’t think that the, you know, what people are talking about and maybe what you were alluding to, was establishing a mutual assured-destruction relationship in the cyber realm, all right, that will maintain strategic stability and peace. The bad guys invented this new way of warfare exactly to get around that concept of assured destruction. And it won’t work, because the vulnerability is not mutual. It’s all on our side right now.
Trish Regan: Yeah. No, and you can have these rogue actors and small states and terrorists that want to do bad things to us, because they don’t like us. And they increasingly have that capability. It’s really alarming. Dr. Pry, I’d like to invite you back on the show. I hope you come back, because I think that this needs to be a wake-up call for everyone.
I think Colonial was the wake-up call among other factors, and I really would like to see more attention placed on this issue. If we don’t have more attention placed on it, do you worry that the end of the United States might be something like this? I mean, not to be too dramatic. This will probably get me banned from Facebook too. Just quoting, by the way. Quoting from your report, nine out of 10 Americans, was enough to make Facebook nervous. But what’s your real fear here?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Well, that is my fear, that, my fear, you know, it happens that civilizations fall catastrophically. And when that happens, and sometimes, you know, a Dark Ages, you know, occurs where civilization doesn’t recover from it for centuries. I mean, before I got into all of this. I mean, by dint of fate or chance, I was originally trained as a historian and archaeologist, OK?
And you know, Western Civilization has fallen twice before and gone into a protracted Dark Ages. Once in the late Bronze Age, about 12 centuries before Christ, we were invaded by somebody called the Sea People. And it created a Dark Ages that lasted about seven centuries, before Ancient Greece crawled out of those Dark Ages and they started laying the foundations of what became our civilization. And then Rome, in 476 A.D., you know, collapsed.
And we had another Dark Ages that lasted about a thousand years because of the barbarians of that time, figured out that if they could make the roads unsafe to travel and knock down the aqueducts, which were the critical infrastructures of that time, that they could basically defeat Rome and starve the cities into submission. And that’s what happened.
And one of the, we could be on the threshold. It could be some of a new Dark Ages here. Because if you knock out the props of modern technological civilization. I mean, one of the lessons of history is that the, not only the bigger you are and the harder you fall, but the longer it takes to come back, you know?
The critical infrastructures that we have today are the fruit of centuries of science and industrial capabilities that would no longer exist for us, you know, in the aftermath of the kind of conflict that we’re talking about. Would we ever be able to come back from it? So not only just the fall of our society, but the fall of Western Civilization and the things that have made our civilization great and free could disappear in seconds in this kind of a warfare, which can be prosecuted basically at close to the speed of light.
And that’s not just what I’m concerned about. It was the EMP Commission’s concern, the concern of some of the foremost scientists and strategic thinkers who won the Cold War, and who thankfully President Trump listened to and got behind with the EMP executive order. But guys like Dr. Graham, who not only was he the free world’s foremost EMP expert, but he was also President Reagan’s White House science adviser, and he ran NASA.
Dr. John Foster was one of the EMP Commissioners and still engaged in the Task Force. He invented all the nuclear weapons, or most of them, that are in our current inventory. Jim Woolsey, former director of the CIA and my boss at the CIA – [Inaudible, crosstalk] professional life.
Trish Regan: Oh, he’s a good friend of mine. I – he was involved in the EMP as well? That’s interesting.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: That’s right, he was adviser of the EMP Commission. Jim’s been very passionate. And I could call him up and he would be there, you know, to talk to people about the EMP threat. You know, some of our best and brightest, are still, you know, connected to the EMP Task Force and trying to fight from this modest platform to advance our national preparedness against EMP.
Yeah, I’m, I wish I could go into retirement and not worry about this. But I think our situation is analogous to 1938, 1939, you know, when Nazi Germany came up with a new way of warfare called the Blitzkrieg. And Imperial Japan came up with a new way of warfare based on carrier aviation, that would make battleships obsolete.
And almost nobody in the West understood that, and understood the peril that we were in, except for a handful of people like Winston Churchill and J.F.C. Fuller and a handful of strategic thinkers who surrounded him. But 99% of Western elites thought oh, a World War II is impossible. Nobody after World War I, and the bombers will always get through. It would be so catastrophic, no one would dare do it.
The Axis powers, you know, had this new way of warfare and they very nearly won World War II because of our unpreparedness. And I, so I think, you know, so that’s why we’re doing this. Call it guilty knowledge, you know?
Trish Regan: Yeah, it is gloomy. Let me just ask you this final thing. People aren’t spending enough time on it, and you mentioned sort of the breakdown in society. And you get lawyers that are running cyber things and they don’t know what they’re doing, and we don’t have the right people in the right places.
Do you think that some people care, but it’s just that there’s so many other distractions in this environment that we’re kind of losing, I mean, it’s kind of like making sure your water supply’s OK, right? Which by the way, speaking of cyberattacks, they got into a water supply down in Florida. I mean, there’s just so many things, so many hints out there that should be a wake-up call. Why don’t people care more?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: People do care. I mean, as I explained before, Congress cares. The White House cares. Even the Biden White House cares. They are continuing to try to implement President Trump’s EMP executive order. The, and there are people in the bureaucracy, too. Good people who care and are trying to do something. Unfortunately, they’re in a minority.
And part of the problem we have with our federal bureaucracy too is corruption. For example, the Department of Energy. One of the main obstacles to getting the electric grid protected is called NERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. And it’s basically, it’s supposed to be a partner with the U.S. government to protect the electric grid.
But what it is in effect is an enormous lobby, with hundreds of millions of dollars a year to spread around, and a rotating door into the Department of Energy. So you can go from the Department of Energy and get a big job in NERC afterward, OK? And this is an unhealthy – the EMP Commission wrote about this. This isn’t just my opinion.
By the way, anyone who wants to get more detail on this can go to www.firstempcommission.org. All our unclassified reports are there, and it will describe the corrupt relationship between these regulatory agencies, like the Department of Energy, like the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. You know, where regulatory capture has happened. That’s a political-science phrase that’s used when the industry that’s supposed to be regulated captures control of the federal agency that’s regulating it.
And that’s one of the reasons nothing gets done. But the military is the best-protected part of our country. You know, they know about EMP. They care about it. I don’t, you think even they have done enough because their standard, the hardening standard, is still the 50,000 volts per meter. It should be increased to 100,000 volts per meter to take into account the new super EMP weapons. There are even non-nuclear EMP weapons that go over 50,000 volts.
But, the Department of Defense understands that their EMP threat is real and does try to protect, you know, its, the nuclear retaliatory forces against it. They are not sufficiently aggressive, though. In fact, they’re not aggressive at all. You know, they see their job as fighting foreign wars. And they don’t see it as their job at all to protect the electric grid or the water system or any of the other civilian critical infrastructures.
Even though they can’t do their job, they cannot project power if these things fall. And they will be neutralized by this. So they’re hoping the Department of Homeland Security will do that job for them. And then, the Defense Department has many lawyers who will say, you know, it’s questionable constitutional legality whether the Department of Defense can even talk to the private sector utilities about this stuff.
And that’s, you know, that’s where we need the real leadership coming out of the White House and Congress to, you know, to regulate these critical infrastructures and get the job done. You know the way we got the, I wrote a whole book called the EMP Manhattan Project, that says that’s what we need for this country. You know, we need a Manhattan Project for EMP and cyber warfare. You know, with top experts running it.
With the kinds of authorities coming out of the White House that the original Manhattan Project had, to ramrod through and get it done, get the job done, about protecting our electric grids. Even at the expense of these legal questions, you know. Get them out there. Get them hardening the transformers and the SCADA systems, and then we can quibble about the legal niceties afterward and spend decades arguing afterward. But let’s get the country protected first.
Trish Regan: That kind of matters. Because otherwise, you won’t have a country left. Dr. Peter Pry, thank you so much. Thank you so much for all you’re doing. Thank you for calling attention to this. I look forward to talking to you again. I think we need to keep visiting this issue, because this stuff, it matters. Thank you again, Dr. Pry.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Well, thank you for having me. I look forward to coming back after the next time we’re attacked by cyber or an EMP event.
Trish Regan: Don’t say that. Don’t say that. I’ve got to still be able to sleep at night. Thank you, sir.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: Thank you.
Trish Regan: OK. Scary stuff. But important stuff. And I hope everyone’s listening. I hope you’re reading my articles on American Consequences as well as on Trish Intel. We are very concerned about this issue. We should be, as Dr. Pry so well articulated. So thank you again for listening. Go to americanconsequences.com for more and I’ll see you right back here next week.
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