The earth barely missed taking a massive solar punch in the teeth two weeks ago, an "electromagnetic pulse" so big that it could have knocked out power, cars and iPhones throughout the United States.
Two EMP experts told Secrets that the EMP flashed through earth's typical orbit around the sun about two weeks before the planet got there.
"The world escaped an EMP catastrophe," said Henry Cooper, who led strategic arms negotiations with the Soviet Union under President Reagan, and who now heads High Frontier, a group pushing for missile defense.
"There had been a near miss about two weeks ago, a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the orbit of the Earth and basically just missed us," said Peter Vincent Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission from 2001-2008. He was referring to the 1859 EMP named after astronomer Richard Carrington that melted telegraph lines in Europe and North America.
"Basically this is a Russian roulette thing," added Pry. "We narrowly escape from a Carrington-class disaster."
Pry, Cooper, and former CIA Director James Woolsey have been recently demanding that Washington prepare the nation's electric grid for an EMP, either from the sun or an enemy's nuclear bomb. They want the 2,000-3,000 transformers in the grid protected with a high-tech metal box and spares ready to rebuild the system. Woolsey said knocking out just 20 would shut down electricity to parts of the nation "for a long time."
But Washington is giving them the cold shoulder, especially the administration. Woolsey told Secrets that some in Congress are interested in the issue, but the administration is just in the "beginnings" of paying attention.
Woolsey said that Air Force One and aircraft used by the Strategic Air Command to control nuclear-tipped missiles are hardened against an EMP.
The EMP effect is not rare. One occurred in Canada in 1989, knocking out Quebec's electric transmission system. And North Korea is reportedly testing a device to attack the U.S. with an EMP attack.
The trio appeared at an event in Washington this week, but Pry said getting the nation's leaders interested in the issue is difficult and educating the public about EMP hard too. "The education curve isn't going up fast enough," he said.
At the event, Cooper suggested that North Korea might already have the capability to launch an EMP against the United States. He said in December, North Korea tested its so-called Space Launch Vehicle which could deliver a stealthy nuclear attack on the United States by orbiting a nuclear weapon over the South Pole where the U.S. has no radar or missile interceptors facing south. North Korea, he said, apparently orbited a satellite over the south polar region on a trajectory and altitude consistent with making a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the United States.
Woolsey and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are the honorary co-chairs of a new EMP Coalition pushing for protections to the electric grid, national security, and civilian infrastructures.
Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.