"Most computers would become inoperable, Graham says.
“Most computers are connected to things that either are antennas or look like antennas,” he says. “Even a mouse cable looks like an antenna to an electromagnetic signal. Certainly power lines, telecommunication lines, all act as antennas to pick up EMP signals and check them in the computers. And we have done tests with computers, and EMP tends to burn out the computer circuits.”
Stock and banking transactions would also be wiped out.
“Most financial records are stored electronically. ATMs, which depend upon both power and telecommunications, would not be available; banks, which try to back up records but in general aren’t strongly aware of the EMP problem, would face the problem of unprotected storage and computer systems,” Graham says. “And so it’s very likely that financial and stock brokerage records would at a minimum not be accessible and might not be available at all.”
An EMP attack could be launched by a country such as North Korea or Iran or by terrorists, Graham says. A severe geomagnetic storm — which will definitely occur one day — could cause nearly as much damage.
“The intelligent way to address this is to look at all of these threats and to develop a protection against all of them, not just against one at a time,” Graham observes.
Unlike protection against a nuclear blast, shielding to protect against EMP is a relative bargain. As noted in the Newsmax story "EMP Attack Could Wipe Out U.S.,"
the 300 transformers that are critical to the power grid could be protected for $200 million to $400 million.
Yet so far, neither power companies nor banks, stock brokerage firms, nor other industries have seen fit to shield their facilities against an EMP strike.
“In talking to the various commercial organizations, they have said, "’Look, it’s not our job to protect the country against a nuclear attack,’” Graham says. “’It’s our job to have the country operate under normal conditions. It’s the military’s job to protect the country in a nuclear attack.’”
Just as the U.S. was unprepared for the 9/11 attack, so is it unprepared for an EMP attack that would be millions of times more devastating.
“Having been confirmed into three different government positions by the Senate, I have some experience in dealing with the bureaucracy,” Graham says. “Bureaucrats never like to deal with a problem before it happens the first time. It’s much easier to ignore a problem that might happen, until it happens.”
The blame rests with both Democrats and Republicans.
“It was a failure in the last administration; it’s a failure in this administration,” Graham notes. “No one has been given the job of marshaling our capabilities — governmental, private, and military — to prepare for this problem.”