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Sunday, August 28, 2005

This Week's Imprimis

EMP: America’s Achilles’ Heel

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
President, Center for Security Policy

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, holds an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a B.S. from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He acted in the Reagan administration as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, following four years of service as deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear forces and arms control policy. Prior to that he was a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by the late Senator John Tower (R-Texas) and an aide to the late Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (D-Washington). He is a columnist for the Washington Times, Jewish World Review and TownHall.com, a contributing editor to National Review Online and a featured weekly contributor to Hugh Hewitt’s nationally syndicated radio program. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New Republic, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. Mr. Gaffney resides in Washington, D.C.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on May 24, 2005, in Dallas, Texas, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar on the topic, “America’s War Against Islamic Terrorism.”

If Osama bin Laden—or the dictators of North Korea or Iran—could destroy America as a twenty-first century society and superpower, would they be tempted to try? Given their track records and stated hostility to the United States, we have to operate on the assumption that they would. That assumption would be especially frightening if this destruction could be accomplished with a single attack involving just one relatively small-yield nuclear weapon—and if the nature of the attack would mean that its perpetrator might not be immediately or easily identified.

Unfortunately, such a scenario is not far-fetched. According to a report issued last summer by a blue-ribbon, Congressionally-mandated commission, a single specialized nuclear weapon delivered to an altitude of a few hundred miles over the United States by a ballistic missile would be “capable of causing catastrophe for the nation.” The source of such a cataclysm might be considered the ultimate “weapon of mass destruction” (WMD)—yet it is hardly ever mentioned in the litany of dangerous WMDs we face today. It is known as electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

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