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National experts discuss imminent, existential threat and need for urgent action

At a National Press Club conference on Wednesday, the issue of ISIS and America’s weakness was presented as a clear and present danger to America’s electric grid that could inflict existential damage upon this country by attacking its vulnerable electric grid, presenting a dire situation never seen before in American history.

The Center for Security Policy sent out the press conference notice through email communications to the media stating that the Secure the Grid Coalition convened an expert panel to examine the danger, the possibility that the Islamic State, either directly or through proxies like the Knights Templar drug cartel, or other enemies of the United States could in-fact inflict existential damage upon this country by attacking its vulnerable electric grid.

The Secure the Grid Coalition is an ad hoc group of policy, energy, and national security experts, legislators, scientists, engineers, and industry insiders working to raise awareness about the grid's vulnerability and to ensure its resiliency against all hazards.

The panel discussion took place at the National Press Club and was moderated by Center for Security Policy President and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (Acting) Frank Gaffney, Jr.

The national security panelists consisted of Michael Maloof, former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, with nearly 30 years of federal service in the U.S. Defense Department, a specialized trainer for border guards and Special Forces, and author of A Nation Forsaken; Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a former career CIA analyst, a member of the staff of the congressionally mandated Electromagnetic Pulse Threat (EMP) Commission, Executive Director of the Congressional Task Force on National and Homeland Security and author of "Apocalypse Unknown".

Another attendee was Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, PhD, a mechanical engineer who formerly served as the Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Research, Development, and Logistics. In those capacities, Cooper oversaw steps taken by the Defense Department to ensure the resiliency of critical weapon systems against EMP effects.

Also in attendance was Kelly Carlson, an accomplished Hollywood actor who has been active on national and maritime security issues and serves as member of the Secure the Grid Coalition. Carlson is a licensed security professional trained in critical facility protection including nuclear and biological facilities.

At the conference, Michael Maloof gave an overview of several vulnerabilities including the al Qaeda presence in Latin America and the U.S. and their working relationship with cartels and gangs like MS 13, which gives them proxy capabilities to carry out attacks in the US. This capability juxtaposed to the recent physical attack on the Metcalf substation and recent chatter picked up of ISIS intentions to penetrate the southern border constitutes an established strike capability.

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry detailed known intentions by hostile powers to attack electrical infrastructure by EMP, cyber, and/or physical attack in the war doctrines of Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, and Al Qaeda. He cited the Al Qaeda attack on the Yemen power grid earlier this summer, which blacked out the entire country as well as the Knights Templar cartel attack which blacked out an entire province of Mexico in 2013. Dr. Pry pointed out that to carry out stated intentions; ISIS need only exchange cash to trigger a proxy group that has shown such a capability.

Amb. Henry Cooper described how the Defense Department has for decades understood the EMP threat and have successfully taken extensive actions to protect its key assets from such threats. Amb. Cooper also explored why the civilian grid has not been similarly protected and the various impediments to doing so, including notably, industry opposition, inadequate regulatory controls and the absence of anyone responsible for grid resilience. And actress Kelly Carlson described gaping security deficiencies at critical electrical substations in California and Arizona.

Carlson and her camera crew went to several critical substations upon which large sectors of the border and other strategically and economically important parts of the country rely. “It's amazing to me how you can spend more than an hour standing right at the fence pointing a camera right at the transformers and not one guard will approach you and ask you what you are doing, ”Carlson said.

Moderator Gaffney noted the trans-partisan nature of the grid resiliency issue by saying, “People on both sides of the aisle recognize that this is an issue that transcends partisan politics. We’ve all had our fill of it I’m sure. It’s refreshing to have an opportunity for people to come together both in political life and across the country without regard for political philosophy or party affiliation to fix this potentially existential danger.”