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Hold NPR Accountable for Ridiculing EMP Threat from N. Korea

At 5:10AM ET on 27 April 2017, the Morning Edition program at National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast a segment titled “The North Korean Electromagnetic Pulse Threat, Or Lack Thereof.”  An audio recording of this segment can be found here:

The 2 minute 26 second segment was in response to an interview of Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey from 26 April, where Ambassador Woolsey discussed the EMP threat posed by North Korea:

In the 27 April broadcast, NPR’s science editor – Geoff Brumfiel – gave prominent treatment to Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.  Mr. Lewis not only dismissed the North Korean EMP threat but ridiculed it by laughing out loud at the comments of a former Director of the CIA discussing a real, present, and existential threat to the nation.

Mr. Lewis, who claims to be a nuclear expert, has been denigrating EMP for the last 6 years.   Aside from his brief time as an intern the Pentagon, he has never served in the DOD or intelligence community and his formal education is in policy studies and philosophy rather than engineering or nuclear weapons design.  Yet NPR’s editors thought it appropriate to champion not only his “analysis” but his obtuse laughter at a sobering subject that is one of the most important of our time.  It is clear by the way Geoff Brumfiel edited this broadcast that he sought to denigrate not only the topic of EMP, but also James Woolsey, the U.S. Military, and the U.S. Congress – since the Ambassador has warned for years about the EMP threat and the DOD and Congress have appropriated billions of dollars to protect America’s strategic forces against it.

Arms control proponents like Mr. Lewis don’t want to admit that EMP is a threat for a number of reasons, chiefly to prevent the U.S. from spending money on missile defense and because to admit that EMP is an issue is to undermine their claim that nuclear weapons are obsolete.  Relying on the electricity that powers the computers on which they type, these people seem to overlook the fact that major electric utility companies have spent millions of dollars to protect their facilities against the very EMP they consider to be harmless.  A second listen at Lewis’ flamboyant laughter makes it clear that, indeed, “ignorance is bliss.”

Evidently, National Public Radio, an organization whose operating expenses are paid in part by the U.S. taxpayer, considers it appropriate to promote ridicule of anyone concerned with the threat from electromagnetic Pulse, when the nation’s most informed authorities on EMP consider it to be a real, present, and existential threat to the country and it’s population.

In response to this abject failure in journalism, Center for Security Policy founder and president – Frank J. Gaffney Jr. – recently authored a formal letter to Senator Roy Blunt and Congressmen Tom Coles, who serve on their chambers’ respective Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittees.   This letter calls on these men and these subcommittees to hold NPR accountable for dereliction of its public trust.

We encourage all Americans who are concerned about EMP to join Frank, The Center for Security Policy, and The Secure the Grid Coalition in holding to account National Public Radio.  We encourage you to inform your own elected representatives of this journalistic malfeasance and to confront NPR directly through messages to its Ombudsman and Management by submitting your own comments at the following link:

Let us hope and pray that these actions get the attention of NPR now and that this media outlet doesn’t need to be awakened to the dangers of EMP by having, in the future, to report on loss of American lives following an EMP attack.

According to Mr. Lewis, “this is the favorite nightmare scenario of a small group of dedicated people.”  Well, Mr. Lewis, this group is NOT small, and fortunately for you, it IS dedicated.  Like those in the military who secure your right to speak freely, we’ll keep working to secure the grid that keeps the lights on in your office.

We suggest, though, that you find some academic sobriety and fill it with some better reading material.

     Tommy Waller

     U.S. Marine Veteran

     Director, Special Projects

     Center for Security Policy