Michael Hayden, the retired Air Force general who ran the National Security Agency and the CIA, revealed on Tuesday that the administration has no plan to defend against an electromagnetic pulse — and isn't doing much to come up with one.
At a conference to discuss threats to the U.S. electrical grid, especially from a cyber attack, Hayden said that there isn't a solution to handling an EMP attack, which can come from a solar eruption or nuclear bomb.
Asked about EMP defense at the conference hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, Hayden said that while he was a government official there was agreement that the issue is a serious one, but is also too difficult to solve quickly.
"We had good meetings, realize that this is a really hard problem, and finally decide that we need to meet again on this in two or three months," he said.
"I don't mean to be so flippant, but there really aren't any ... solutions to this so I will just leave it at that," added Hayden.
His comments challenged a plan from another former CIA director, James Woolsey, and other former federal officials who are seeking funds to protect the electric grid from an EMP attack by reinforcing the 2,000-3,000 transformers in metal boxes.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz last week said that the administration is worried more about a cyber attack shutting down the U.S. electric grid than EMP.
"What I have to say is that the whole set of issues that could disrupt the grid are ones that we do look at. But our biggest focus, not surprisingly, is on cyber security in terms of disruption of the grid," Moniz said.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.