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When Your Backhoe Cuts "Black" Fiber

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the careful-with-that-thing dept.

The Internet 385

bernieS writes "The Washington Post describes what happens when a construction backhoe accidentally cuts buried fiber so secret that it doesn't appear on public maps — and what happens when the Men in Black SUVs appear out of nowhere. Apparently, the numerous secret fiber and utility lines used by government intelligence agencies are being dug up with increasing frequency with all the increased construction projects in the DC area. It's amazing how quickly they get repaired!"

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385 comments

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Wow... (-1, Offtopic)

True Vox (841523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162795)

Pretty crazy. Makes me happy I don't live near there. Oh, and first post, I guess.

Re:Wow... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162815)

That's what they want you to believe, the original posters have all been deleted.

Re:Wow... (-1, Troll)

bigblacknigger (1440657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163037)

Or better yet, how about you suck the snotty end of my fuck-stick while I squish out a brown loaf into your wife's mouth. I hate you.

Re:Wow... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163107)

lollercoasters and chicken penises

Re:Wow... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163247)

Pretty crazy. Makes me happy I don't live near there.

Why? Because you'd somehow be inconvenienced when the NSA's fiber optic cable gets accidentally severed?

Jeez... if you're going to try for a first post without being a troll, at least have something intelligent to say.

Obligatory slurs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162811)

My back ho's will cut black fiber, but it costs extra.

Re:Obligatory slurs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162821)

my black hos suck dick like they need the crack money. which they do.

Re:Obligatory slurs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162845)

Why don't you just pay them in crack and save a step?

Re:Obligatory slurs (-1, Troll)

bigblacknigger (1440657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162935)

I don't know, but would you like a free iPod Touch, no strings attached*? If so, then boy, do I have an offer for you. For more information, go here [nimp.org] , complete six special offers and get twelve other people to sign up and complete six special offers each. Then, put your dick in a drill press while Malda slides an iPod up your ass. Pyramid schemes are fun, you faggots.

*Strings may be attached

Oh, for christ's sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163219)

Parent's link leads to horrible malicious shock site, avoid at all costs. Yeah, I know I'm an idiot for clicking, shut up.

Re:Obligatory slurs (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162929)

Why dont they just pay with double cheesebugers? [youtube.com]

Oh, wait.

Our tax dollars at work. (5, Insightful)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162817)

There are reasons why it's important that public records are kept.

If they wanted to keep people from knowing where or what exactly it was, they could simply have marked it as something it wasn't.. and beyond that, they could encrypt what goes on that fiber.

They aren't without options; and ultimately they're currently fighting the system, and putting our tax dollars to work in ways that could be prevented.

It's understandable that they want to keep secrets secret, but isn't covering it up going to draw more attention than fudging the paperwork?

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (5, Funny)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162847)

They probably "fudge" the paperwork on their important wires, these are just decoys *Puts on tinfoil hat*

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (5, Interesting)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162903)

Oh, and I have to wonder a little: there's very little infrastructure terrorism, instead there's much more information terrorism at work. (i.e. the Pentagon hack that lost us the plans to the next air superiority fighter).

The government does a half-assed job securing its own computers, but they'll lock down what's between the computers... that's like having a convoy that's well protected, then having that same convoy deliver without any security detail.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (1, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163025)

Oh, and I have to wonder a little: there's very little infrastructure terrorism, instead there's much more information terrorism at work. (i.e. the Pentagon hack that lost us the plans to the next air superiority fighter).

WTF does stealing plans [wikipedia.org] have to do with scaring people [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163123)

WTF does stealing plans have to do with scaring people?

The government can use plans being stolen [wikipedia.org] as an excuse to scare their people with the threat of scaring people [wikipedia.org] ? :)

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (5, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163145)

The Rebel Alliance steals the plans to the Death Star. Darth Vader blows up a planet. People get scared that their planet is next. You don't need to be a Jedi to figure that one out. :P

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (3, Informative)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163445)

To be completely fair, Vader did not blow up Alderaan, Tarkin was responsible for that little example of state terrorism...

Vader did not voice any objection to the plan, though

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (2, Interesting)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163201)

Terrorism is totally relative, but it does scare me that someone else can now make the things that has won wars for us in the past, especially with things being at a less than peaceful state worldwide. (N Korea, Iran, etc)

If we can't protect ourselves sufficiently in any sense, doesn't it warrant a word to describe it? Is the lack of protection intellectually always going to be so naive as to assume that it's not going to be used against us?

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (-1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163253)

A stack of paper is a long way from air superiority.. Military secrecy isn't as effective as the trillion dollar cost of entry for competing in the air.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163031)

That wasn't terrorism. That was good old fashioned espionage. Spies and saboteurs are related to terrorists, in that they're all tools of "total warfare" doctrine, but it's not the same thing.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162973)

The solution I would use, since they know there's a big dig in that area.. these agencies should have:
          1) gotten someone with the clearance to map out these classified lines.
          2) Give some foremen etc. working on the dig just a block-by-block set of overlays to show their secret fiber. That way it won't reveal where it's going to or coming from, no actual information leak, but they know line exists in order to move it.

          Although... if they can withstand these unplanned outages OK, I suppose running out the SUVs post-cut works *shrug*.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (5, Interesting)

fuego451 (958976) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163015)

Really! Just mark it as a 4" natural gas line. Any backhoe operator worth his salt knows that cooked backhoe guy isn't a pretty sight.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163041)

Until somebody goes to fix the natural gas line and can't figure out which one to work on. Or worse can't figure out which one to tap when rebuilding the home.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (5, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163089)

Sewage line then, it's probably full of shit anyway.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163225)

then people would want to put more shit in it. just mark it as private cable, setup a fake local cable company and if anyone asks give them vague answers like we only serve certain customers or some BS like that.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (4, Interesting)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163291)

Hell, just put the fiber in a 4" gas line! Valves become a little problem, but you could have some cast with a bypass for the fiber to pass through.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (5, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163187)

The reality is more likely laziness and ego, of believing they are above the law. They just couldn't be bothered doing the appropriate paper work and now as a result are spending tens of thousands of dollars repairing no longer secret cables, which have now been identified as bring emphatically secret by the cables being hidden and subject to high risk of being accidentally dug up. Of course as a contractor you could sue the government for any delays caused by the government delaying access while they repair the undeclared cable.

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (5, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163285)

This is the first things I thought of - mark it as something else.

"Fibre cable x21-45. Carries: CCT footage of parking lots A-F in Sector 7."

Make two physically separate redundant feeds. The other one is marked with something like "Library Interconnect".

Then if either line gets cut at some point, have a couple of guys in a van show up, act like a regular repair crew, and fix the line quickly. Trust me, I've worked as a Civil Engineering Assistant, and they don't care what's in the line, just that there's a line. If you hit something that isn't on the map, they are going to find it and trace it no matter how long it takes. It'll be in a pipe. You can run a 60Hz powerline into the pipe and read the path from the surface. Maybe it's fibre this time -- maybe it's the water main or black water, or WCS -- both at the same time. The point is if you don't file your plans the town will send a poor fucking co-op student out there to mark the fucking thing on the map.

Then - bam - your secret line is on the maps in the Town Hall marked as "unknown line".

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163409)

There are reasons why it's important that public records are kept.

And there are reasons secret records are kept... It's not a perfect either-or.

If they wanted to keep people from knowing where or what exactly it was, they could simply have marked it as something it wasn't.. and beyond that, they could encrypt what goes on that fiber.

Take map. Place ruler and draw the lines. Oh, it's something important connecting building A to building B, you can't hide that unless you run markers so wide it's meaningless and you know it's not their super secret sewage system. You can bet it's all well encrypted, but there's more to it than wiretapping, there are these little things called reconnaissance and chain of command. Imagine a real state of war, unlikely as it might seem right now. Cut the right wires, jam anything wireless and you got generals looking at blank screens with no information of what's going on and no way to command their troops. Now I'm no military expert but that sounds to me like a rather serious threat to national security. Don't you think so too?

Re:Our tax dollars at work. (4, Informative)

gdtau (1053676) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163503)

Australia has a "dial before you dig" system. The builder submits *their* plans. These are run against registrations of interest in particular streets, and the builders plans copied out to the registered parties. It it then up to the holder of the underground asset to directly contact the builder. The staff of the dial before you dig agency is vetted by the security agencies. This retains the privacy of installations -- even the dial before you dig agency doesn't know the path of your underground asset in any detail which wouldn't be apparent from physical inspection. The assets holders commit not to sue if the builder has lodged plans and the asset holder didn't list the locality of the asset in the database or didn't contact the builder. As a result, all builders send in their plans, since no one wants a huge fiber/water/sewage/electricity/gas repair and compensation bill. The result is a system which leads to Australia having much less backhoe incidents than the US.

Ok... (4, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162819)

So who you supposed to notify when you dig? If the fiber is secret, nobody's going to tell you where it's at, and nobody's going to 'fess up about the ownership of said fiber.

And who do you make the check out to when you do cut it? Or would a 'Hey, how the hell can we know when we cut a top secret fiber? How we supposed to know it's there if it's top secret and we don't have clearance???' defense work in court when the other guy's lawyers come at you for damages?

Re:Ok... (3, Insightful)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162851)

I'm going to guess that they don't come at you for damages, as that would only make their little "secret" more public.

and on an unrelated side note, ianal.

Re:Ok... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163431)

I'm going to guess that they don't come at you for damages, as that would only make their little "secret" more public.

If you bothered to read the article, you would see they tried to bill one contractor for $300,000.

and on an unrelated side note, ianal.

Well, I AM anal. I read the article before posting.

Re:Ok... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162893)

Many states have a requirement to call a locater service X days before you dig. You call one number and all the utilities come out and mark their stuff. Then, when you dig if you cut something that wasn't marked, it isn't your problem. Cut something marked and you pay.

I can only guess why super-duper secret fiber wasn't buried a little deeper than usual to avoid this kind of thing.

Re:Ok... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163227)

Many states have a requirement to call a locater service X days before you dig. You call one number and all the utilities come out and mark their stuff. Then, when you dig if you cut something that wasn't marked, it isn't your problem. Cut something marked and you pay.

But who's gonna mark it, what's it gonna get marked as, and who you gonna call? It's a secret, remember?

Re:Ok... (2, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163281)

That's the point. Read his post a bit more carefully.

They call the "white" utilities, who come and mark their shit. You've covered your ass. If any of the "black" utilities' stuff gets damaged, it's not your problem.

Re:Ok... (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162911)

How we supposed to know it's there if it's top secret and we don't have clearance?

Well, all you have to do is read the cable. It says "Top Secret Cable. Do Not Cut" right on it.

Re:Ok... (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162997)

In my experience the easiest and least costly to find out who owns a cable (or for that matter, if it is used at all) is to cut it then wait for the repair guy/police/black helicopters to show up.

Its much easier than dialing 1100 [dialbeforeyoudig.com.au] from a mobile phone in the air conditioned comfort of your digging machine.

And yes, I used to work in a job where we put a lot of cables in the ground around road construction sites, and had a lot of them dug up.

Re:Ok... (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163003)

So who you supposed to notify when you dig? If the fiber is secret, nobody's going to tell you where it's at, and nobody's going to 'fess up about the ownership of said fiber.

And who do you make the check out to when you do cut it? Or would a 'Hey, how the hell can we know when we cut a top secret fiber? How we supposed to know it's there if it's top secret and we don't have clearance???' defense work in court when the other guy's lawyers come at you for damages?

Considering how often they cut fiber that is on the map and get away with it, I doubt this would be a problem.

Re:Ok... (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163035)

So who you supposed to notify when you dig?

Notification is easy: You go into the bathroom, turn on the water, and quietly whisper where you are planning to dig. They'll hear. :)

Re:Ok... (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163385)

I heard you just have to think about digging up top secret fiber and they get the black SUVs ready.

Re:Ok... (5, Funny)

Todd Fisher (680265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163103)

So who you supposed to notify when you dig? You're not. That's the secret part of it.

If the fiber is secret, nobody's going to tell you where it's at, and nobody's going to 'fess up about the ownership of said fiber. Correct, that's why the serious men who pull up to the site and get busy fixing it don't tell you who they are.

And who do you make the check out to when you do cut it? The serious men will not ask for payment

Or would a 'Hey, how the hell can we know when we cut a top secret fiber? Rule #1 of accidentally cutting "black" fiber: Do not talk smack to the serious men.

How we supposed to know it's there if it's top secret and we don't have clearance??? See Rule #1.

defense work in court when the other guy's lawyers come at you for damages?There will be nothing to go to court about.

Marked Range to determine fault and payee (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163319)

In most states the contractor is only liable if the line is marked properly and within a reasonable distance from the mark. The utility will bill the contractor for repairs if the cable/pipe/line is cut within 3 feet (in my state anyway) of the mark. The biggest problem is utilities unable to mark their buried lines within 3' (they don't know exactly were it is either).

Re:Ok... (1)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163363)

If you call 811 and have the underground utilities marked, it's my understanding that you're good to go. If you hit something you weren't told about, not your problem.

If you *don't* call to have them located and you dig something up, you're pretty much on the hook for the whole shebang.

Two Ends of the Cable (1)

superid (46543) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162825)

I see that ONE end of the cable is the NSA's, but I wonder where the other one goes....

Re:Two Ends of the Cable (5, Insightful)

Roskolnikov (68772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162881)

At&t

Re:Two Ends of the Cable (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162985)

Up the tax payers ass, naturally.

Re:Two Ends of the Cable (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163059)

But what IEEE spec covers that? It's IEEE1394, isn't it?

Re:Two Ends of the Cable (5, Funny)

kv9 (697238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163085)

But what IEEE spec covers that? It's IEEE1984, isn't it?

fixed that for you.

Under pressure... (4, Insightful)

Roskolnikov (68772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162827)

Having seen lines ran in pressurized pipes (pressure drop... alarms) and break location by reflection it doesn't shock me at all to see this; being spooks you would think they would use easements or dig deeper than usual
to secure such things, but like most work I bet it was contracted out to the cheapest labor they could trust.

I will say though, not listing the location suggests much; if they are afraid that someone could tap into fiber without detection it most likely means they are already doing so, sometimes the thing you fear the most reveals much about your current state.

Re:Under pressure... (1)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162859)

I think they'd be more worried about somebody cutting all of their fiber at once and knocking an office off the network when something critical was happening.

The NSA probably encrypts all their traffic over-the-wire.

Re:Under pressure... (1)

bgerlich (1035008) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163175)

Maybe the reason the location of the cable was "secret" is because the cable was laid without proper procedures and paperwork.

Maybe there were no fancy detection systems, just a couple of guys waiting in an empty lot around the corner and a middle management guy in a murky office somewhere praying for the cable not to get cut and hoping that he will avoid the shitstorm coming his way. It's not like the construction site was a secret and it's not like those things pop up overnight.

Re:Under pressure... (5, Informative)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163299)

I hate to say it, but no, not really. My podunk base in podunk, minnesota applies the same security and cryptography. For example one of our systems that contains NO secret information, NO C&C abilities, and NO administrative rights requires an *18 character* password that must be changed monthly. One each: letter, upper case letter, number, special character, no words, nothing similar to your last 6 passwords etc. And this is behind our secure two-factor login system and on a secure network. And yet, when the base upgraded to fiber, it was done by 3 guys working out of a rented U-Haul truck. Watched it with my own eyes.

This is just the gov't doing what it does best.

-b

My Dad (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162839)

My dad cut through a cell phone line about a month ago with his bulldozer (he lives on a farm) when we was clearing some soil for his rhubarb. About 30 minutes later a helicopter was circling overhead. Soon there after he met with a FBI agent who showed up on scene. The Verizon workers showed up after that and about 12 hours later the line was patched. This wasnt a fiber line, just a normal cell line, but they took it pretty seriously. We havent gotten a bill in the mail yet, but we are expecting one any day.

Re:My Dad (1)

HeavyD14 (898751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162895)

What the hell is a cell phone line?

Re:My Dad (1)

blue l0g1c (1007517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163007)

A line that runs to the cell phone tower?

Re:My Dad (4, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163013)

A back haul line that runs from the tower to a CLEC. You didn't think they operated on a mesh configuration, did you? They are essentially big access points.

T-1s used to be common, as are bonded T-1s for rural areas. DS-3s and OC-3 fiber beyond that.

Re:My Dad (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162915)

That better be some damn tasty rhubarb.

Re:My Dad (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163065)

Was it on his property? How deep was it? If Verizon ran a shallow cable across his land they should be liable. One farmer here in Victoria, Australia sued Telstra (a big telco) because they ran twisted pair inside his boundary. His equipment dug it up and now that land is useless for farming because his produce is full if little bits of copper wire. It took a while but he won the case.

Re:My Dad (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163255)

My dad cut through a cell phone line about a month ago with his bulldozer (he lives on a farm) when we was clearing some soil for his rhubarb.

One assumes he was doing this on his own land, and that he didn't know the line was there... so that suggests it was put down without his knowledge or consent?

Re:My Dad (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163287)

Or it was placed there before he owned the property

Re:My Dad (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163381)

I actually have planted rhubarb many times in my life and may I ask why in THE HELL your old man used a bulldozer to plant rhubarb? You guys 'bored' on the farm and need to find a reason to bring out the big toys to play?

Nothing to see here ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162867)

... move along, please.

Re:Nothing to see here ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163011)

Behold! The infamous NSA mind trick at display here.

fiber? (0)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162917)

Where in TFA does it mention fiber? It says line over and over again. For all we know it could have been Cat 3

Re:fiber? (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162955)

The first sentence.

This part happens all the time: A construction crew putting up an office building in the heart of Tysons Corner a few years ago hit a fiber optic cable no one knew was there.

CAT 3? Nope. It was fishing line. (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162959)

For all the help the article has, it could very well be nylon fishing wire stretched tightly between some tin cans on opposite sides of DC.

Re:fiber? (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162987)

The first sentence.

I can imagine the conversation (5, Funny)

blue l0g1c (1007517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162937)

MiB: Pardon me, you seem to have cut our wire. Contractor: Who are you? MiB: Oh us, uh, we're nobody. Contractor: Well, whose wire is this and why hasn't it been documented? MiB: What wire? Contractor: This wire right here! Whose wire is this? MiB: That? That's nobody's Contractor: Ah HA! So it is yours! MiB: What's whose now?

Re:I can imagine the conversation (1)

blue l0g1c (1007517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162963)

What you submitted appears below. If there is a mistake...well, you should have used the 'Preview' button!

*facepalm*

Re:I can imagine the conversation (1)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163199)

You missed the end, where they explain that it was just some swamp gas.

Re:I can imagine the conversation (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163419)

It's just the line that connects the swamp gas sensor to the weather balloon feedback loop.

Nothing to see here.

President's personal porn link (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162951)

No president wants to go back to browsing the Internet on a slow link y'all. By taking out the line you're now responsible for $100 worth of that other kind of cable bill.

Already on site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162961)

The reason the "men in black" SUV's arrive so soon, is because they are already know where their lines run, and are already close to the site, and have been monitoring all radio traffic on site (and likely all other communications), and even have a visual link to the work site close to their black utilities.

Story from the year 2000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28162967)

Read TFA. .."Georgelas, the developer whose company was overseeing the work in 2000"..

That's nearly a decade ago!

Not a new problem (5, Interesting)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28162991)

I worked with a civil engineer who was on the Washington Metro construction for a while. One day the unearthed a concrete ductbank that wasn't on any maps, etc. SOP was that, if it's not accounted for, cut it, so they did.

Within 5 minutes the Secret Service was down in the hole, had stopped work and kicked everybody out of the tunnel - apparently, the ductbank housed the "nuclear hotline" and losing contact with the other side could have been interpreted as a prelude to an attack.

Puckered assholes all around, that day.

Re:Not a new problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163083)

Sounds like bullshit to me.

Re:Not a new problem (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163241)

Sounds like FUD to me. :P

Re:Not a new problem (5, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163113)

If that is really what the line was for, then nobody would have told you that's what it was for.

Re:Not a new problem (4, Insightful)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163197)

With all this, wouldn't Washington have some sort of department that all construction plans have to be submitted to, and the lone guy with security clearance compares the construction zones with secret lines/locations? I would think this would save a lot of time and hassle and, considering how the government likes to create useless jobs, am surprised that it doesn't seem to exist (but not surprised if it does exist and they just don't do their job right).

Re:Not a new problem (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163387)

look up SCIF. Security is all about compartmentalization. Make sure no one person knows all the secrets.

With the cost of tunnel boring machines now, you would think anything really critical would be far too deep for things like this.

Doesn't surprise me (5, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163017)

There is a lot of cable in the ground even for civil use that isn't really on the plans. But the government and it's agencies really have a thing for not documenting anything for whatever reason.

I work in a building that was commissioned by the Atomic Energy Commission for the Manhattan Project. It should've been torn down a long time ago but it was more expensive to do that than to renovate it. Right now we're inheriting the 2nd floor of the building where they have been empty since the end of the Cold War (I recently found a stash of unopened era software) but nobody has any plans to the original layout (they went missing somewhere in the 50's) so the DoE did a (nuclear and structural) survey of the site and mapped it out. However the contractors started working and found a room with a lead door, 15" concrete walls, a chair and a small observation window. Needed to do a whole new nuclear survey and remap the whole thing by an internal team. The architect recreated his plans with the new data and found out that there is a bunch of space missing on the (currently empty) 3rd floor. We're not yet renovating there but for some or another reason the decision was made from higher up to leave the 3rd floor untouched until we really need that space.

Re:Doesn't surprise me (1)

Mr680x0 (1116783) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163189)

What is this Cold War era software? It sounds interesting.

Re:Doesn't surprise me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163215)

Would you like to play Global Thermonuclear War?

(Y/N?)

No surprise here... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163055)

A former roommate of mine works for the FBI as a network technician and carries a gun when goes to a location. He would neither confirm nor deny that some network issues deserve to be shot on sight.

Re:No surprise here... (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163137)

I've had networking issues like that before, one of them never did figure out where to order "IR cables".

Re:No surprise here... (1)

Gen. Malaise (530798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163271)

Im a private sector tech who does the same thing..... parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx require a similar response....

Re:No surprise here... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163491)

A former roommate of mine works for the FBI as a network technician and carries a gun when goes to a location. He would neither confirm nor deny that some network issues deserve to be shot on sight.

The gun is for issues flagged as PEBKAC right?

Happens in business also (2, Interesting)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163117)

Way back when I graduated college and started work for a major USA oil company.

The IT department had a neat graphics printer. Oil companies generally have a lot of money resulting in great toys. One of the experienced IT developers said; "Watch, this graphics printer prints the coolest maps!". That map had printed just an interesting six inches on its way to 30". Then security showed up. Confiscated the map. Shut down the terminal and printer. And wrote everyone up. Security said about ten words. Then left. We looked at each other mystified and shrugged.

Oh yes, the oil company could and did hire all sorts of experts. Those security folks likely had serious experience.

Thanks,
The J

Re:Happens in business also (1)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163399)

Maybe it was a map of where they stored all the secret over-unity motors and prototypes of 100-MPG, 200 horsepower engines that they are trying to keep hidden.

My guess? They got tired of employees wasting ink printing out highway maps of the eastern seaboard so they called in the professionals.

-b

Dark black fiber? (1)

blake182 (619410) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163119)

It makes me wonder if there's dark black fiber. Or is it black dark fiber... Either way, it's fiber that you don't know is there, and doesn't transmit any data.

So if you cut it, does it make a noise?

Re:Dark black fiber? (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163207)

Black fiber belongs to the government. Dark fiber belongs to Google. ;)

Interesting story, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163221)

but I think it would have been fun to see the MIB faces if instead of a construction crew there was a ships anchor sticking out of the hole.

Mysterious fibres, government conspiracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163351)

Must be morgellons!

Security by obscurity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163353)

Ahh yes, the ultimate in security by obscurity, kind of like making Google blur sensitive areas: "Attention terrorists! This here blurred area is super-secret!"

In this case? "Attention terrorists! The black fiber is here!"

If their crypto was truly secure, they should feel comfortable blasting that stuff down "white fiber"--whether dedicated, leased, or even across the Internet.

And if they must have "dark" fiber, what's the best response if it gets cut during construction? Probably to let it go and quietly repair it. Making a scene about it just makes it worse.

My home burglar alarm uses GSM, and is impervious to someone accidentally or intentionally cutting lines to my house. So don't tell me the feds rely on hard wiring for anything really crucial.

Security Through Obscurity is not security (2, Interesting)

gavron (1300111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163379)

It's a shame that the agencies entrusted with our country's security don't have the training in real security. Security through obscurity is not security; it's a sham. If these "black cables" were properly identified as "fiber optic conduits" they would be as much of a nontarget as any other.

On another note, fiber optic bundles have a copper core so they can be found by magnetic detectors (and the "blue stake people") to avoid being hit by a backhoe strike. It's more unlikely that the contractor failed to check for the cable than the Federal Government has special backhoe-attracting cable.

E

Tysons Metro is a boondoggle (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163405)

I live on the west end of Tysons and expect the Metro will increase my property value. But the $5.2B($900M is federal) cost of this project will never come close to being financially justifiable. As with most government projects I expect that price tag to double before completion.

origin of the mistake (1)

omi5cron (1455851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28163451)

someone put it there to begin with. are there stealth ninja line crews/ backhoe operators? if so, their creds need to be revoked or pulled!! maybe its like the mob-- have them install it, then make them "disappear". color me flabbergasted that the gov. screwed up!!

Talk to the hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28163471)

I worked with a construction company a couple of years back and we had these guys turn up one day when we cut a cable. They started with their intimidation and he told them if you want me to sort this out give me some details and I'll give you a quote otherwise get out of my space. They wouldn't give any details so he said fine and turned his back on them and walked away. They stood there for a while and then jumped back into their cars and left.

In the end we didn't fix the cable and weren't aware that anyone else did either. We just kept on going and back filled the hole a day or two later.

Still don't know who they were, what the cable did and whether it was fixed but on that day it seems like if you ignore them they go away.

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