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Report Rips Government Wireless Network Effort

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the effort-is-kind-of-a-strong-word-for-it dept.

Wireless Networking 54

coondoggie writes with this excerpt from NetworkWorld: "Like a bunch of children in a sandbox unable and perhaps unwilling to share their toys, multiple key government agencies cannot or will not cooperate to build a collaborative wireless network. The Government Accountability Office report (PDF) issued today took aim at the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and the Treasury which had intended what's known as The Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) to be a joint radio communications system to improve communication among law enforcement agencies. However IWN, which has already cost millions of dollars, is no longer being pursued as a joint development project, the GAO said. By abandoning collaboration on a joint implementation, the departments risk duplication of effort and inefficient use of resources as they continue to invest significant resources in independent solutions. Further, these efforts will not ensure the interoperability needed to serve day-to-day law enforcement operations or a coordinated response to terrorist or other events, the GAO said."

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Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (2, Insightful)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098349)

See title. Basically like the GPS, you can access the internet from anywhere using special technology. Security is obviously going to be the biggest issue however.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (3, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098397)

See title. Basically like the GPS, you can access the internet from anywhere using special technology. Security is obviously going to be the biggest issue however.

This is not a technological problem. This is a problem with differing agencies fighting over turf. Agencies, I might add, that are all part of the Executive branch of Government. So, there is also a horrible lack of or incompetent leadership that is allowing this non-sense to happen. Apparently, the leader of this branch of government is out to lunch or just going to let his successor deal with it.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098677)

That you think the President has absolute control over the alphabet agencies is laughable.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (5, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099367)

why the hell do they even need their own wireless network? if Homeland security wants anywhere wireless access, then they'll need to get in line like everyone else. either set up a public wireless broadband network that we can all use or stop whining. if they're worried about security they can use encryption.

i mean, $195 million and 6 years of work and they still don't have a network up? that's pathetic. that money would have been better spent given to local governments to set up their own municipal wireless networks, which if a Homeland security agent happens to be in range of, they're free to use like everyone else.

wireless broadband access is already slowly becoming a basic component of public infrastructure. it's something that benefits everyone, and increasingly vital to the technological progress of a society. the task of building such vital communications infrastructure should have been given to a science/technology-oriented government agency--something like Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (which would be more useful than the Homeland Security Department).

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099653)

"something like Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (which would be more useful than the Homeland Security Department"

Because THAT is such a high bar to clear. The only thing the DHS is good (and I use that word loosely) for is cramming the Constitution through a paper shredder and harassing anyone who makes the unforgiveable mistake of saying things on the phone that set off their stupid red flags. We'd be better off with a Bureau of Fluffy Bunnies than that useless heap of shit.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

Jannie Ogg (1207912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26111737)

But a Bureau of Fluffy Bunnies is a wonderful idea!

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100351)

If you read TFA you would see that the IWN is "a joint radio communications solution" and that is already used for law enforcement communication in the Pacific Northwest. Think the radios that your local police use, but over a large geographic area. It is a wireless system like the cell system, not like WiFi/WiMax.

I agree that municipal broadband would be a great thing, but that is a completely different debate.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26101889)

How about police and ambulance vehicles "line up like everybody else" too? I'm sure your corpse will appreciate it.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103835)

i don't believe the Justice Department/Treasury Department/Homeland Security operate any ambulances or police vehicles.

police officers/vehicles are usually hooked up to their station. and each station can then be hooked up (via a wired connection) to other police departments. ambulances are connected to dispatchers as well. why would they need a nation-wide wireless network?

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 5 years ago | (#26110899)

I'm guessing in the case of a widespread attack.

For example, if a biological agent is released in New York, LA, Miami, Houston, Chicago and Seattle, all of those local agencies can have access to the experts who would be at the CDC and USAMRIID. Also, if something unusual starts happening in Miami, they can quickly notify any other agencies being affected by the same thing.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26111081)

i think that would still be better handled through hospitals/police stations rather than with field personnel trying to communicate with each other across the country. if you communicate information about the emergency to a hospital/police station, their dispatchers can then relay that info to all the appropriate field personnel. it just doesn't make sense to have a paramedic or police officer sitting in their ambulance/patrol vehicle trying to coordinate a nation-wide relief effort.

the only kind of wireless communication those professions require is with their dispatch office and other personnel in their area. beyond that, it would be more beneficial/useful to have a public wireless network that is accessible to everyone. frankly, a civilian would have more use for a nation-wide wireless network than an on-duty police officer or paramedic. even if you want to pose an incredibly unlikely Hollywood-action-movie-type scenario where, say an on-duty paramedic is the only person at the scene of a bioweapon outbreak, and he/she need to receive instructions on how to counter this threat from a CDC specialist on this bioweapon who's in Washington D.C., it would still make more sense for the 9-11 emergency dispatcher to patch the CDC specialist through to that on-scene paramedic.

i mean, what are you going to do, create a national database with the number/extension for every single paramedic & police officer so that they can be contacted, or contact each other, directly? that's just not an efficient way of coordinating large-scale law enforcement or medical operations.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (4, Informative)

sanpitch (9206) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098451)

See title. Basically like the GPS, you can access the internet from anywhere using special technology. Security is obviously going to be the biggest issue however.

GPS is not a two-way system. It is transmit only, and you need to use some other system to get your data back 'up' to the satellite. This 'uplink' part of a satellite nework requires special antennas or lotsa power; it's not an option.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098875)

They do make satellite phones, and they don't require a generator and a parabolic dish to use. They do have huge antennas but not out of line given the purpose.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (3, Informative)

schnell (163007) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099679)

They do make satellite phones, and they don't require a generator and a parabolic dish to use.

True, but satellite networks present a lot of problems for networks like this that are used for government public safety/emergencies, such as:

  1. Higher latency than terrestrial radio (GEO satellites have ~500 ms of round trip latency and LEO satellites still have 100+ ms in most systems). Bad for real-time applications and a killer for push-to-talk voice in "shoot or don't shoot" scenarios like this might be used for
  2. With satellite you choose between big (2+ feet) high power (1-4 watt transmitter) dishes that can be used for broadband, or portable/handheld devices that can't squeak out much more than 9.6 kbps data rates
  3. You're talking about $150-$300M per satellite for a private (government only) network ... this is the cost structure that bankrupted Iridium and many other folks as well.

There are lots of needs in the government emergency network space that make it more complicated and difficult than it seems at first blush ... of course that still doesn't entirely excuse the bungle that was made with IWN, though.

Besides, satellite has too much latency. (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098505)

Satellite internet systems are and have been available to the public. But it is usually used by people who are in rural areas, because of the signal delays (latency) involved. A packet has to get from your computer up to the satellite, relayed back to a ground station where it is put on the Internet, then the returning packets have to go up to the satellite, then back to your computer...

I worked as a tech in a store that sold some of the first Satellite internet systems. It was broadband... the overall speed was good, and better than dialup (not may people had access to cable internet yet at the time). But that latency was a killer. Type in a URL and hit "go", and you waited. And waited. 3 seconds, 4 seconds, 6 seconds... then WHAM! Your page displayed all at once.

It works, but it is not ideal.

Oops... I miswrote. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098531)

Those first systems did not have uplink. Your outgoing packets went over the phone line. It was only incoming data that went over the satellite.

However, the newer systems with uplink are not all that much better. The outgoing data rate is certainly faster than the telephone was, but you still have the delays.

Re:Besides, satellite has too much latency. (2, Insightful)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098579)

Do these agencies need low-latency communications, or just access to the data? From my (in no way involved with any of the agencies) viewpoint, it seems more like simple access to the data is more important than getting it at shockingly quick speeds.

Re:Besides, satellite has too much latency. (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098965)

Um... I think that's good enough if it's free in my opinion, like GPS. If you order the equipment, you get free internet for the life of the equipment.

You can order premium by going for a more land based connection.

Re:Besides, satellite has too much latency. (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099463)

This 'speed of light' thing really sucks :(

Actually, it is mostly the electronics. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099733)

Figure up and back, about 25,000 mi. each way (maybe exaggerated), that is still less than 1/3 of a second.

But once a satellite receives a signal, it gets multiplexed with other data (adding delays), then sent to the ground, demultiplexed (adding delays), converted to internet-ready packets (adding delays), switched onto the internet (adding delays)... then all the same on the way back. And I have probably omitted a few steps.

Re:Actually, it is mostly the electronics. (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099811)

Can all those be fixed in theory? If not now, then in the future maybe?

Re:Actually, it is mostly the electronics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100255)

In the future, we'll have time machines, so you can just go back and send your packet a little earlier.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098627)

GPS is one way. You could easily set up a "Push" technology. It's the way the Atomic clocks work along with some areas that have weather delivered by a certain frequency.

Problem is everyone would have to be watching the SAME thing all the time.

And as far as "Pull" technologies, look how much satellite phones cost.

Re:Why not a satellite internet network, like GPS? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099591)

1. Expensive as all hell. Check out the pricing on some satellite internet connections. Also take notes of the extreme transfer caps. They make New Zealand internet connections look positively limitless.

2. Difficult to upgrade/repair/etc. equipment. You try sending a service tech up to fix a broken satellite.

3. Extremely wide area network (lots of people per satellite), which results in very little bandwidth available per user.

4. Latency. Even at the speed of light, it takes a long time (computationally speaking) to get up to geosynchronous orbit and back down.

I'm personally a fan of terrestrial wireless. Sasktel here has a system based on an interesting hack of DOCSIS (Standard cable modems and CTMS gear, but add an interface box to transmit it over the 2.6ghz band and some high gain antennas). Works quite well and I have maximum spec signal strength (+15dBmV) from about 30 miles away.

The speed is not exactly blazing (it's DOCSIS 1.X set for 2.0Mb/256Kb for $60/month. or 3.0Mb/640Kb if you pay the large dollars ($300/month, IIRC) for a business connection, which includes SLAs and all that.), but it provides a good solution for rural areas, especially anywhere relatively flat.

This just in: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098421)

Government fails to accomplish something. Also, we'll tell you which soda can kill you. After news, weather and sports.

Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098461)

This sure puts a dent in the idea that government is all about sharing and cooperation. All I see here is evidence of self-interest.

not all their fault (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098489)

From articles I've read in the past, the work is contracted out and so a huge problem was the incompetence of the contractor that won the project that never finished on deadlines and kept milking more and more money. Typical government contract really.

Re:not all their fault (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26101521)

No, the problem is that the government is incompetent. Your argument fails because if the government people were competent they would stop using incompetent contractors.

But I don't think the competence of the contractors even matters. The GAO specifically said the project was failing because the different government agencies weren't cooperating with each other and were duplicating effort. How can you possibly blame that on the contractor(s)?

p2p (1)

unit8765 (1411141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098509)

Why not just make a new radio band for a huge peer to peer wifi like system?

Good intentions, terrible idea. (4, Interesting)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098535)

When I first heard of the FCC's plans for a free wireless network, I was concerned that the filtering mandate might eventually be applied to adults as well as minors. I was accused of making a "slippery slope" argument, but after reading about other countries expanding their own filtering efforts after initially limiting the filters to illegal content, I am quite convinced that the FCC's plan is a very bad idea indeed. Filtered internet and the potential displacement of commercial alternatives? No thanks. I want my Internet without filters of any kind.

Let the spectrum go to unlicensed devices and have a network grow organically around that.

Damn... wrong story. (3, Funny)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098565)

I should at least read the summary before posting, no?


Re:Damn... wrong story. (3, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098917)

NO! You don't want to go down that path my friend! First it's just the summary, then maybe you read the first comment, sooner or later you RTFA and things go downhill from there

Re:Damn... wrong story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26102957)

Right, but you got modded "interesting" anyway. That's what's important.

Re:Good intentions, terrible idea. (2, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098703)

The FCC already has 'filtered' frequencies, that doesn't prevent alternatives to operate nearly everywhere. It's called broadcast TV. It's free. It's limited (4-5 channels per locale). It's filtered (7 words you can't say on TV). You still have 2 Satellite companies and Cable.

I would STILL pay for cable internet, as would a large portion of who do right now. But free internet would be wonderful for my parents or when I'm on the road. I'm not asking for 10Mb connections to every house, but 512K would be useful. Filter it, I don't care. But I'd be able to actually send my parents pictures of the newborn or almost anything else. It would also force 'paid for' alternatives to actually have competition. My cable bill for JUST cable is $65 a month. That's stupid, but dial-up is not an alternative. A good portion of the people on 'high speed' lines today could easily get by with 512Kb/s. Cable/DSL companies would have to do something to get those customers back.

56K is absolutely worthless now days. You can't even call what you're doing surfing. Back when I first got internet at my parents home most sites were designed for modems.

There is already an interoperable network out ther (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098651)

There is already an interoperable network out there. It is called Amateur Radio. Millions of individuals are able to communicate around the world for recreation and when neccessary under disaster situations. The network can handle voice, image and data communications. Not only that it doesn't cost the goverment a dime.
The problem with the goverment's effort, is that some salesman from a big corporation tried to sell them a gold plated overly complicated solution.
A good example is the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Auxiliary relies on amateur radio operators to provide emergency search and rescue support. The goverment's interoperability efforts resulted in regulations that prevented amateur participation unless the operators purchased special (read expensive)radios that supported the non standard specifications endorsed by the goverment.
The simple solution is for the FCC to define the block of frequencies to be used for interoperable communications. Then the FCC needs to mandate standard comercially available modulation standards and insist that all radios used by the goverment include those frequencies and modes. This is not high technology here. Most of the equipment is available commercially to buisness and amateurs. Once thr frequencies and operating modes are set, the incident commander (or his communications officer) can assign and enforce operating frequencies as needed.

Re:There is already an interoperable network out t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100493)

Because the governments done such a good job with management of the rest of the wireless spectrum. In fact,that's why everyone uses 802.11b, but cellphones still have dead zones *in major metropolitan areas* I know Obamaman will fix that for you, because he stands for change.

Re:There is already an interoperable network out t (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102313)

One thing to remember when dealing with Amateur operators is that certain pieces of information, (read Hippa restricted) are not allowed to be transmitted in a manner that leaves that communication open for unauthorized people to monitor. At the same time, Amateur service operators (Hams) are not allowed to use encryption or other means of 'hiding' information in what they communicate on Amateur bands.

Part of this can be alleviated by authorizing Amateur operators to use frequencies and technology in support of emergency communications on bands allocated for the appropriate encryption, however at that point you eliminate the need for an amateur operator to be in the loop at all.

Acknowledged Amateur operators are authorized to use whatever radio and or technologies are available to them to communicate emergency traffic in the case of an emergency. However that tends to exclude the variety of information or traffic that supports operations in an emergency situation. The specific exclusion is designed to allow an amateur operator to pass traffic to the appropriate rescue agency to save lives and in some cases (not all) property. While it may be argued that traffic to request supply replenishment for the local shelter will save lives, it is not emergency traffic in nature.

Amateurs can and will continue to support emergency operations, however we know that we have limitations imposed on us by the license we hold, that are in contradiction to regulations regarding traffic that many of the agencies we are willing to support would like us to handle.

As far as the idea of a single system that supports all of the agencies, I don't have any idea when that is going to be pulled together. I doubt that it will be within the next year or four.

This brings back memories ... (4, Interesting)

spisska (796395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098757)

Wow. I worked on IWN in a very limited capacity for one of the bidders back in early 2005. It was pretty clear then that the whole thing was going to be a huge cluster-fuck, but it was exciting to be a part of it for a while.

If the process continued the way it was going when I left, it is almost surely the Feds' fault. They were demanding certain requirements that were nearly impossible to engineer and didn't make much sense anyway. And the whole RFP described technology in ways that made it clear that the government folks running it were completely out of touch with the technology.

Essentially, the Feds wanted a device or devices that were a combination of tricorders, mobile phones, and walkie-talkies, as well as a national network to run them on.

They envisioned devices and a network that would allow primarily federal agents but also emergency first-responders to call anyone a-la a phone, push-to-talk to anyone a-la a walkie-talkie, take mug shots/scan fingerprints and get an instant identification, and pull whatever data from whatever government sources. Nationally, instantly, wirelessly, seamlessly.

I was just a lowly proposal writer and I suspected the whole thing was impossible. The engineers I worked with knew it was impossible, but it was really impressive to watch them try to build it anyway.

For the $10 billion the government was offering, you could understand why.

The bidder I was contracted to, via a small consultancy, wanted to call their team the National Wireless Alliance, or NWA. We thought that was a pretty ironic name for something to be used by cops. I suggested the Intra-Continental Emergency Telenetwork, or ICE-T. My buddy proposed the Wireless Universal Telephone And Network Group.

Among the many things I learned was that the government, and the extremely big companies that go for $10B deals with them, are utterly humorless.

But my hat was and is definitely off to the engineers, who were putting together some really great ideas.

Re:This brings back memories ... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098893)

why was it impossible? the sending of images, phone, push to talk and data has been around for years - it's called cell technology and i hear it's already in use....

This sounds like a classic case of reinventing the wheel - if they didn't want to use the existing cell phone network they could just use P25 radio kit that does voice/data and have someone build them a radio handset with built in camera (not easy but certainly possible). P25 is already in use by police fire and ambo's in many states so you could build on existing infrastructure.

granted doing this nation wide would require some beefy data and voice routing along with some impressive backend processing power, but for 10 billion using existing technology it would be achievable. of course i'm assuming they were willing to listen to reasonable technical limitations, such as not being able to get signal 50miles out of a city and some data having to be newtered due to it being impracitcle to display on such a small screen.

Re:This brings back memories ... (2, Informative)

spisska (796395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099229)

why was it impossible? the sending of images, phone, push to talk and data has been around for years - it's called cell technology and i hear it's already in use....

It's not that any one thing they wanted was impossible. It's that doing all of it more or less at once, in the same place, with the same device fitting their size and power requirements, supporting as many simultaneous users per tower, and covering as large an area per tower as they wanted was impossible.

That's speaking purely about the end-user devices and towers. Add to that the necessary complexity of allowing fast and seamless access to government data repositories, but only the right repositories for the right people at the right time, over a network that is available wirelessly everywhere in the US.

Just because someone is an agent at one federal agency doesn't mean they get access to all federal data. You really don't want a passport-stamper at the US border to take your fingerprint on this thing and instantly have access to all your (or someone who shares your name) tax records, for example. Let alone driving record, library record, bank details (if you file online), school transcripts (if you attended public schools), employment history, Social Security contributions, medical history (if you use Medicaid or Medicare), and so on. Unless your name happens to be John Ashcroft.

And what happens when an agent forgets his device at a hotel bar or leaves it in a cab?

And none of that even begins to address the person-to-person and person-to-group push-to-talk capability they wanted on a national network with tens of thousands of simultaneous users.

It's not the specific tasks that are impossible, it's the package that is impossible.

Re:This brings back memories ... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099873)

I know there are serious access control requirements hence i said you'd need some serious backend processing handling all the data requests. granted its stupid to think you could just roll it all out at once - a project like this would have a 5 year roll out plan.

I can see them demanding impossible radio coverage and battery life - i manage my work places radio equipment, i get drivel like "i can hear my AM radio fine at 20km (from no where), whats wrong with you why can't you make my cell phone work as well" all the time so i know where you are coming from. but any firm bidding on this -should- have the sales savy to manage such expectations.

I think the issue of leaving the pda's behind should be obvious enough - automatic logout, and built in gps to pin point the location of excess invalid attempts so you can send men with shotguns.

so in short, it sounds like as much the company's failure to be realistic in their own promises than any failure of technology to deliever.

Re:This brings back memories ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26101349)

So they wanted a smart phone with slightly better than average feature set (most of which is just software).

I really don't see the problem. My smart phone does most of that already.

It doesn't have push to talk, but it will take pictures, scan documents and fingerprints (if you have a use for that). It connects to various networks and has VPN software that allows for remote desktop execution.

I imagine push to talk would simply be a matter of software, unless you really wanted shortwave radio inclusion. Which then it's not such a big deal to include in the radio module. My phone already has 2 cell network radios, WIFI, Bluetooth and IRdA.

What is so hard?

Not news. (0, Flamebait)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098947)

When you asked government to take on this project, you asked for bureaucracy, in-fighting, and inefficiency.

Re:Not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100101)

Exactly. Government as usual.

But according to the tin-foil hat crowd, these are the same folks who implement secret, well-coordinated, highly effective, steal-my-rights conspiracies.

Re:Not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103305)

that;s exactly what they want you to think!! don't you see!!

Re:Not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100441)

Why is this flamebait? It's damn true, and I don't hear anyone arguing

Hmmm (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098987)

Management called for instant everything, unlimited bandwidth, universally interoperable devices, handheld portables with infinite range and a long battery life. Then they act disppointed when, $10 billion dollars later, they still got nothin'. It's like those job advertisements asking for "5+ years Vista programming experience." Oh wait, ha ha, those don't exist either!

Frist st_op.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26099011)

Re:Frist st_op.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26111201)

Well played friend. Another source that verifies that is

9iu11ani's Security State (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099893)

That total fiasco in Bush's Republican paradise reminds me [] of Rudolph Giuliani's Republican rule of NYC. In 1993, terrorists tried to blow up the World Trade Center with a truckbomb in the basement (it almost toppled the building). The cops, firemen and ambulances that arrived were plagued by radio chaos that made it much harder to rescue the people from the buildings (about 110,000 people used to fill the towers on a typical busy day). That fiasco was just the worst example of the radio conflicts that those first responders had been reporting for years. But the 1993 WTC bombings were supposed to be a wake up call. Rudy Giuliani was the mayor. And for the next 8 years, Giuliani's office claimed it was working out all the problems, making a unified radio system that would avoid such a problem in the future. Giuliani spent years and many millions of dollars on outside contractors to make it work.

Then on September 11, 2001, it happened again. The World Trade Center was bombed (by planes this time), the first responders showed up, their radios didnt' work together. Hundreds of those first responders were killed in the collapsing buildings, 3000 civilians were killed. Who knows how many of them, especially the first responders, might have survived if Giuliani had actually done his job as he said he was doing.

I note that Michael Chertoff [] has been running "Homeland Security" the past 4 years, picked by Giuliani for the post from Giuliani's cronies in NYC. Bringing his NYC expertise to New Orleans and the entire nation.

Giuliani had tried to install Bernard Kerik, but Keriks mob connections and mistress at a Ground Zero "HQ" apartment smokescreened Kerik's previous couple years as Iraq's first Interior Minister [] : responsible for [] the national police, border patrol and oil operations which he got set up as the worst travesties in that catastrophic state. I bet their radios don't work either.

Rudy 9ui11ani is already running for 2012. Maybe he'll promise to bring telecom reform this time.

If they can't do this... (1)

fuego451 (958976) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100169)

...I wonder how they expect to secure the Internet [] .

Don't wish for more effective government (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100583)

What an effective government could do with the resources given them is not to be wished. It were better if government were divided and ineffective.

Imagine (0)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100775)

Imagine if you will, a national government in which the inappropriate law enforcement concerns were promoted across a national network.

Now imagine that Cletus the LEO volunteer in North Georgia were able to broadcast his tinfoil hat aryan fantasies.

Now imagine that you were part of the problem.

That's enough imagining. Sleep well.

I'm a GAO fanboy. (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102567)

God, I love the GAO. No matter how idiotic the federal government gets, the Government Accountability Office is always there to point out the insanity with respectful but absolutely devastating bluntness. Somehow they seem to be immune to the groupthink and pigheadedness that fills the rest of Washington -- and as the government's official internal critics, that's a very good sign.

I think the existence of the GAO is the surest proof that the U.S. hasn't completely gone down the tubes yet. We won't set off on the road to "1984" until the federal government stops honestly criticizing itself.

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