The National Operations Director for the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security, Glenn Rhoades is an expert in social activism and is currently advocating for grid resiliency with Peter Pry. In the first half, he discussed the importance of protecting the electrical grid from EMP attack and coronal mass ejection. Several years ago, he noted, we just missed a major solar flare by a few days that would have had a similar impact to the Carrington Event of 1859, in which telegraph systems around the world were damaged or fried. While this is an urgent matter, the Congressional EMP Commission, which was started more than 16 years ago, has yet to do anything, he lamented.
For those looking to get more involved, Rhoades cited The Secure the Grid Coalition, co-chaired by Newt Gingrich and James Woolsey. The Coalition serves as an umbrella group to four smaller organizations each with different focuses: the EIS Council-- pursuing a worldwide approach, and sharing technologies, InfraGard-- working with first responders and law enforcement, the Foundation for Resilient Societies-- dealing with governmental policy issues, as well as Rhoades and Peter Pry's group, the EMP Task Force-- working with grassroots organization and leadership.
In the latter half, Eric Burkhart, who was a wartime spy in Iraq, Kosovo, and Africa, provided an insider's look into what the life of a CIA case officer is really like. In contrast to what people hear about CIA "recruitment," he said he applied to the agency, just as one would do with a regular employer. That is how most people get their jobs there, he explained, though there are extensive background checks, and interviews in the hiring process. Since 9-11, espionage and intelligence gathering has changed a great deal, he observed, with a reduction of targeting of diplomats and military and nuclear/defense industry researchers, and an increased focus on terrorist cells.
Tracing the evolution of ISIS, he suggested they began as al Qaeda in Iraq, and after the war there, they resurged in Syria with a new name, Islamic State. The terrorist organization, he added, has shown an ability to regenerate itself, with aggressive efforts to expand and recruit in Africa. He also detailed how he was poisoned by a Russian man, whom he was trying to get intelligence from, when he was stationed in the Balkans back in the 1990s. Now retired from the CIA, Burkhart is currently running for Congress in his home state of Texas.