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Post-9/11 DOJ Tech Project Dying After 10 Years?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the time-to-give-up dept.

Government 115

gManZboy writes "A secure, interoperable radio network that the Department of Justice has been working on for more than a decade and that has cost the agency $356 million may be headed for failure, according to a new report by the agency's inspector general. Called for in the wake of 9/11, the Integrated Wireless Network (IWS) project has already been repeatedly scaled back. Today, the Department of Justice continues to rely on several separate land mobile radio systems, some of which are unreliable, obsolete, and fail to interoperate with one another. Agents often have to swap radios, share channels, or refer to a book of radio frequencies and manually switch between those frequencies to stay online. Radios remain insecure, as much of the current equipment fails to meet encryption requirements. Much of the agency's equipment is more than 15 years old and is no longer even supported by the manufacturer."

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The point was to employ contractors (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756426)

The point was NOT to create a secure, interoperable radio network. The purpose of the plan was to create legions of (somehow) "successful" project managers and government hangers-on with quasi-governmental authority, and pump money into those organizations in return for future favors. Whether or not it produced anything was irrelevant. Around 9/11 there's so much fearmongering that nobody will say no.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756580)

Even if it were, I'm not convinced that a secure network for this sort of thing is appropriate. Imagine a world in which the media do not arrive until an hour after the police because they can no longer use scanners to monitor the chatter. That significantly impacts the press's ability to serve as a guardian of freedom.

Imagine a world in which home burglars sneak into an occupied house at night. They don't hear the police call on the radio, so they don't know that the police are on their way. Instead of the burglars cutting their losses and running away at the first sign of trouble, the police arrive silently while they are still in the house. Now you have a hostage standoff in which there's a good chance that everybody dies.

In probably 99% of situations, it is better for the public to have access to police communications. Sure, there are occasionally situations where the use of secure communications is warranted and helpful. These situations are by far the exception, rather than the rule, however, and the potential for abuse of a secure system exceeds its utility by a sizable margin.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756766)

By and large, the 'public' doesn't have access to police communications; you must hang out with a different class of people. And which burglars DO you know? They aren't the ones doing most of crime in most of the cities where it's smash and grab.

Oh, and guardians of freedom, the press? Give me a break. $356M is a lot of money to me, but to those who perpetrated the largest transfer of wealth in history, that would be Bush/Cheney Inc., $356M is mice nutz, and the press did everything but crawl in bed with the bastards. We don't have a Congress, much less a 4th estate, that qualifies, in general, as guardians of freedom.

Hey, send some of whatever you're smokin' to my hood, and I'll see if I can pass it out to all the police scanner wielding guardians of freedom I meet up with after they've attributed the latest National Intelligence Assessment to sources who can't be named.

BTW I worked on a partnership/proposal with Northrop Grumman to deliver hardware for the secure, private 1st responder network that was supposed to blanket Manhattan with a 2.4 Ghz Wifi based mobile communications network. 'We' came, we spoke, we left... I've spoken w/ people in several technical camps who believe that the biggest impediment are entrenched contractors, like Motorola, but I'm convinced that only satellite based system makes any sense, anyway. Because in the event of a large scale disaster, there's no way to ensure the integrity of enough of the infrastructure so that the communications load would be reliable. On top of which, you'd still have to have the means by which each of the various groups would be able to take turns speaking without stepping on each other... who's gonna lead/follow or get out of the way?

There's no AWAC in the sky or central command, and there's no way to practice for the 'big one.' So it's no surprise there's been -0.0- progress on this Applepeye-in-the-Sky project. Besides, if we wait long enough, the Chinese will implement a system that we can buy from Walmart.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#38757570)

"By and large, the 'public' doesn't have access to police communications;"

Really, so Radio Shack is a place that sells thief tools? They sell scanners that in most towns let you listen to police communications.
Some cities have switched to digital, but most still have analog unencrypted clear voice communications and the list of the frequencies is readily available everywhere.

Potential energy is not energy (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#38761342)

The people who do not have a scanner do not have "access" to those channels. They could get a scanner, but have no desire to. Mostly because the police log is published in the newspaper, and they take that at face value. And without one, they cannot listen in.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (3, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#38757726)

356 Million over how many years is chump change to both (D) and (R) parties. Hell, even your revered Obama managed to send 500 Million to Solyndra only to have it go bankrupt MONTHS later. BOTH parties are raiding the public treasure chest for their own goals.

To blame Bush only, as you have, is simply ignoring the other 1/2 the problem, and short sighted on your part. Bush and crew are exactly Obama and crew, only you like Obama and will ignore his malfeasance. Both parties are responsible for where we are right now, 15 TRILLION in debt, and will be MUCH closer to 20 by the time we have elections with no slowing down in sight. We are unsustainable economically, something GREEN liberals should understand. And no, taxing 100% of the income of the top 20% of earners won't solve the problem either, it won't even put a dent in it.

If you want my opinion, the solution would be to find several midwestern citys of similar size and give each contractor a set budget and time limit to build out competing infrastructure of their complete choosing. The one contractor that meets the goals of the project in the budget and time constraints gets the specs to build out the rest of the country. In addition, those specs become OPEN in ten years (or whatever) for interoperability and competition, meaning the buildout needs to be complete by then by the awarded contract or tough shit. Lets use COMPETITION, real competition, to accelerate innovation.

THAT kind of approach will put America back to work. We're Americans, stop the whining and get to building shit and kicking ass.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 2 years ago | (#38757762)

It's not one half of the problem. Obama can't cut spending right now as that would just put us back in the recession. He can't raise taxes either as the GOP won't allow tax raises because of their fealty pledge to Norquist.

What's more Obama has taken a lot of the spending that had been off the books and placed it on the books. When you consider that the national debt was $10.6tn when Obama was inaugerated and consequently it's a bit odd to suggest that President Obama is half responsible, unless of course I missed the debt hitting $20tn. Plus, he's been cutting back on the out of control military spending that Bush used to run up the debt. $500m while notable, is hardly going to break the bank compared with the DoD spending even after the Iraq operations ceased.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#38757896)

I agree, we don't need military ... gut it, bring the troops home from everywhere. We can't be the worlds police men. At the same time, lets gut Social Programs that can't prove they are worth anything. And for every "but" you give to gutting social programs, I get one "but" on military budget, and see how that goes.

Which, is the heart of the problem, nobody want to cut THAT program because it servers THAT constituency. So it doesn't get cut, and neither does the other thing. Which proves my point.

You realize you changed the subject of the anti Bush rant of the AC, who was pointing to Bush and Co raiding treasury on behalf of his cronies, while ignoring the exact same thing going on by Obama and his cronies? From where I stand (Libertarian) Obama is no different than Bush, and quite possibly worse. NDAA makes Patriot Act look tame by comparison. I mean have you LISTENED to Obama's explanation? You guys are starting to make Hannity look brilliant.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

dave420 (699308) | about 2 years ago | (#38758126)

You must be fun at parties. Your logic is absolutely childish.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#38762696)

He Mr 420, go back to your dope smoking.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#38761512)

If you want to make a decent point, leave Solyndra out of it. There are lots of people who believe that the role of government is to spend money developing things that are not yet commercially viable, but should be. Create a market and then let private companies enter when they can.

Like spacecraft, from which we now benefit in advanced understandings of our galaxy and universe. Or cancer research, which many big pharma companies don't want to investigate because it is an umbrella of thousands of different diseases leading to the same outcome.

Or solar energy, which eliminates the need to find natural resources. It was not a donation, it was a loan guarantee. A lot like investing in an IPO, but one that could not get enough private investors. And the reason it fell apart is because Chinese companies, heavily subsidized by China, were able to undercut them on price. Should we just give up and say let's get our solar panels from China? I don't want that, China gets too much of our money already.

We can argue about whether it was a good idea all you want, but there are a lot of people who see nothing wrong in this sort of thing, and there are plenty of other bad examples of mismanaged money that both sides can agree on.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#38758632)

I'm convinced that only satellite based system makes any sense, anyway.

So you don't need any in-building coverage, then?

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38760800)

Aaaaand that's why we don't have a working communications system.

CONTRACTOR 1: "We have a communications system that can do This."
CONTRACTOR 2: "Ours can do This AND That."
CONTRACTOR 3: "Wait. Our does This, That, and THE OTHER. You really need THE OTHER."
FEDS: "We need everyone to have access to the same system and it needs to do VERY WIDE SCOPE."
CONTRACTOR (ALL): "We can't really do that."
CONTRACTOR 1: "But This is a lot like VERY WIDE SCOPE."
CONTRACTOR 2: "That is more like it."
CONTRACTOR 3: "You can modify The Other to be just like it, sort of."
LOCAL GUYS: "We were told we needed one system. Just sell us...."
CONTRACTORS (ALL) AND FEDS: "Shut up! You don't know anything."
LOCAL GUYS (TO FIRE & POLICE CHEIFS): ">sigh Okay guys, break out the duct tape and the tin cans. It's back to the old stuff."

Opt for both. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756846)

For day to day police operations, the system should be able to handle unencrypted traffic.

Because adding encryption means an additional layer that can go wrong and thus necessitates a 2nd channel for the support people to use to try to fix the primary (encrypted) channel.

And have encryption an option for the times when you REALLY need it. And have frequent tests of it to make sure that everyone knows how to enable it.

But I'm more in agreement with the GP post. This wasn't really about a working radio system. It was about moving public money to private businesses. The WTC attack and the fear were just the excuses used. IF a working product was delivered ... wow! If not, at least your buddies collected their share of the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in this project.

Re:Opt for both. (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#38757738)

This wasn't really about a working radio system. It was about moving public money to private businesses.

Of course.

In fact it'd be much better for everybody, including emergency services, if everybody switched over to mesh communications (like the Serval project http://www.servalproject.org/about/how-it-works [servalproject.org] ). It'll never happen though, because decentralised systems don't allow for ongoing billing.

Re:Opt for both. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#38758642)

Because adding encryption means an additional layer that can go wrong and thus necessitates a 2nd channel for the support people to use to try to fix the primary (encrypted) channel.

Is that why you still use unencrypted wifi? Obviously it's too complex to encrypt your wifi traffic, and it's an additional layer that can go wrong...

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 2 years ago | (#38757240)

It's unlikely burglars carry scanners on their rounds. Maybe before and after, but during might get kind of cumbersome and noisy.

The DC police chief had this to say about it: [dcist.com]

"Lanier stressed that new mobile technologies like scanner apps for phones made the move even more vital, and cited a number of cases where police suspected that criminals used scanners to stay ahead of police. A rash of carjackings in Capitol Hill in 2010 was facilitated by mobile scanners, she said, as was an alleged drug operation run out of a laundromat in the Seventh District, which covers Ward 8.

"When a potential criminal can ask how they can evade capture and there's an app for that, it's time to change our practices," she told Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who chaired the hearing."

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#38758362)

It's unlikely burglars carry scanners on their rounds. Maybe before and after, but during might get kind of cumbersome and noisy.

Don't forget the guy in the getaway car honking the horn.

Lanier stressed that new mobile technologies like scanner apps for phones made the move even more vital, and cited a number of cases where police suspected that criminals used scanners to stay ahead of police. A rash of carjackings in Capitol Hill in 2010 was facilitated by mobile scanners, she said, as was an alleged drug operation run out of a laundromat in the Seventh District, which covers Ward 8.

If carjackers are staying ahead of police, then the police are incompetent. They're in a stolen car. We have D.O.T. cameras at nearly every major intersections in most cities. Point them and use them to track the carjackers. Even if they jumped out of the car and jacked somebody else at every block, the police should be able to figure out what's going on and keep up with them pretty handily. That's one crime that should be damn near impossible these days.

As for the alleged drug operation, undercover cops usually aren't dispatched. If they seem to be staying one step ahead of your plainclothes cops, that means one of two things: you have the wrong laundromat, or they have somebody working on the inside feeding them information. Either way, crypto won't help.

"When a potential criminal can ask how they can evade capture and there's an app for that, it's time to change our practices," she told Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who chaired the hearing."

Yup. If "there's an app for that", it almost invariably means that what you are doing is causing enough collateral damage to piss off most of the people in your jurisdiction (DUI checkpoints, for example), which means whatever you're doing, you need to stop, take a step back, and find a better way to solve the problem that doesn't cause so many headaches for the innocent bystanders.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38759252)

It's unlikely burglars carry scanners on their rounds. Maybe before and after, but during might get kind of cumbersome and noisy.

As an urban explorer who sometimes, um, "rescues" equipment from abandoned and rotting buildings for hobby purposes (amongst other things, a decommissioned civil defense siren, a seventy-year-old, 3/4 ton, 70,000 volt transformer, and a 5-ton chain hoist, for moving said transformer down 12 floors*), I can tell you that yes, we did in fact use scanners on-site, as well as look-outs. If we had been into burgling homes, I doubt we would have, but a scanner in the room being worked, along with radio-equipeed lookouts for patrols or pedestrians works wonders.

Amusing anecdote - on one of the two nights we were removing the siren, there was a guy stealing engine parts out of the heavy equipment lot across the street. He had a better angle on the street than we did, so whenever he would shut his light off, we knew to pause operations, since he could see the approaching cars from a half-mile away. It was really convenient! ;-)

That being said, this was early 2000s, before my scanner became obsolete from the new encryption protocols. As we started to marry off and have families, we dropped that aspect of the hobby - if you get caught, it's not that hard to talk your way out of a trespassing charge, but it's a lot more difficult if you're loading a transformer into the back of a beat-up white work van. I didn't realize that there were scanner apps for smartphones - I just got my first one on Monday, and I've been a bit saddened by the lack of change it has brought to my life. I'm definitely going to have to check those out!

*Yes, we have strange hobbies.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757304)

It has been a long, long time since the mainstream press has been a guardian of freedom.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0, Troll)

benjamindees (441808) | about 2 years ago | (#38757600)

Imagine a world in which the US government blew up the Twin Towers and there was no record of it because all the recordings of them telling people that they were about to blow them up didn't exist because their communication was encrypted.

Imagine a world in which all the neo-con morons in the Bush administration got the "new Pearl Harbor" that they wanted in order to launch us into WWIII so that they could profit from the resulting war spending and rise in oil prices.

Imagine a world in which the entire DOJ was a bunch of drug and gun-running criminals who spent their entire careers covering up torture and murders and false-flag attacks that they perpetrated.

Imagine a world where you could never know anything about this, because everyone who said it in public were either quietly censored or secretly detained indefinitely in gulag prison camps.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (2, Insightful)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | about 2 years ago | (#38757908)

Imagine a world where those suffering from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) spin absolutely preposterous "theories", like the US Gov't blowing up the twin towers. Forget radios - how many people would need be involved? How likely is it that NONE of them will talk? And none of them took pictures of the explosives being planted in the WTC? Oh, wait, maybe those who were about to talk were quietly censored (how exactly does that work) or were detained indefinitely in gulags. Maybe it was those hundreds of Blackwater contractors who went missing right around 9/11... oh wait, no one ever reported any such thing... OK, so their entire families were hauled off, too. That would explain those hundreds of families that simply disappeared from neighborhoods and schools and spousal jobs, etc. Wait, no one ever heard about that either? I guess those evil bastards kidnapped everyone who knew anyone in the families - and everyone THEY knew, too. Oh, and what about the hauler-offers? You can't have them telling embarrassing tales - best to tell THEM to report to the gulag as soon as they're done kidnapping tens of thousands of people.

Look, I'll give you "evil" if you want. Fine, Bush is the devil himself. But no way in hell is the US gov't competent enough to pull off a stunt like that. Believing that "neo-con MORONS" could somehow do all that - and leave no real evidence of their actions - takes "cognitive dissonance" to a whole new level.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38758380)

If you thought Bush Derangement Syndrome was fun, you should try version 2.0: Obama Derangement Syndrome. Bigger, stronger, crazier, and well-seasoned by Fox News .....

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#38758402)

Forget radios - how many people would need be involved? How likely is it that NONE of them will talk?

If you do it right, pretty close to a 100% chance. You tell them that they're installing HVAC equipment or something. You send them all in a few minutes apart, and make sure it takes at least an hour to do the job. Then you set them off remotely before the first worker leaves the building. For the higher-ups, you promise that if they talk, they will be "disappeared".

I'm not in any way insinuating that this was what happened on 9/11. I'm just saying that you need a better argument against such a conspiracy than the assumption that someone would have said something by now....

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38759492)

You tell them that they're installing HVAC equipment or something.

"Marvin Bush sat on the Board of Directors for Stratasec/Securacom which ran electronic security at the World Trade Center during the 9 month elevator renovation that was done on the buildings by Ace Elevator Co."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YaFGSPErKU [youtube.com]

"On Sept. 11, ACE Elevator of Palisades Park, N.J., had 80 elevator mechanics inside the World Trade Center."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/sept11/2002-09-04-elevator-usat_x.htm [usatoday.com]

"When the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, Otis Elevator's mechanics led the rescue of 500 people trapped in elevators. Some mechanics were dropped onto the roofs of the twin towers by helicopter. Others, carrying 50-pound oxygen tanks on their backs, climbed through smoke to machine rooms high in the towers. On Sept. 11, the elevator mechanics — many of the same men involved in the rescues in 1993 — left the buildings after the second jet struck, nearly an hour before the first building collapsed."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/sept11/2001/12/19/usat-mechanics.htm [usatoday.com]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH_TVcqREeQ [youtube.com]

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#38761786)

I have no idea what your point is. A huge a complicated elevator system requires a lot of maintenance. I don't know if 80 people is normal for 198 elevators, but considering they travel a huge distance and there were over a hundred floors, it probably makes sense.

The same people were on duty because that's where they work. Their job since 1993 and before, was to maintain these elevators. Why wouldn't many of the same people be there?

Are you suggesting that elevator mechanics were somehow up to no good, despite them having daily things to do for their job which they have been at without incident since at least 1993?

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38759334)

How likely is it that NONE of them will talk?

"They got away with it."

-Richard Clarke, chief counterterrorism adviser on Bush's National Security Council

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEQKbYo5EC8 [youtube.com]

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38761650)

10+ years later, and that's the best evidence you've been able to find for this supposed conspiracy? What a pathetic waste of time.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#38762042)

So Clarke's point is that the CIA covered up facts in order to get 2 operatives inside Al Qaeda? And that CIA accidentally got a double agent instead? Then in August CIA told the FBI about it?

"They" apparently is CIA and "it" apparently is covering their asses. According to the video you posted. Did you have another point?

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 2 years ago | (#38762472)

Forget radios - how many people would need be involved? How likely is it that NONE of them will talk? And none of them took pictures of the explosives being planted in the WTC? Oh, wait, maybe those who were about to talk were quietly censored (how exactly does that work) or were detained indefinitely in gulags. Maybe it was those hundreds of Blackwater contractors who went missing right around 9/11... oh wait, no one ever reported any such thing... OK, so their entire families were hauled off, too. That would explain those hundreds of families that simply disappeared from neighborhoods and schools and spousal jobs, etc. Wait, no one ever heard about that either? I guess those evil bastards kidnapped everyone who knew anyone in the families - and everyone THEY knew, too. Oh, and what about the hauler-offers? You can't have them telling embarrassing tales - best to tell THEM to report to the gulag as soon as they're done kidnapping tens of thousands of people.

What possible reason could someone with inside knowledge of such a plot have for coming forward? What's the upside? That you make an unprovable claim about something most people consider to be impossible? You would be a laughing stock, or worse lose your job and standing. Ever heard of Kevin Ryan from Underwriters Laboratories? See what happened to him.

Let's say someone did come forward, and was actually believed by anyone. What do you think one person could do against people who allegedly rigged three buildings to collapse, orchestrated a silent stand down of the military, and manipulated the media and investigative agencies to effectively cover it up? What possible hope could that person have of prevailing? I'm sorry to burst your bubble about how good and moral and altruistic you think people are. But if anyone had any actual inside knowledge of such a plot they would keep their fool mouth shut.

One more thing: Hundreds if not thousands of murders go unsolved in this country every year. To suggest that if witnesses were being knocked off you would hear about it is completely unrealistic.

I don't know what did or did not happen that day. But I do know that the roof line of WTC Building 7 achieved free-fall acceleration for 2.2 seconds as it collapsed. That implies that during that time all of the building's potential energy was being used for acceleration, and not for crushing the rest of the building below. Therefore the energy needed to crush the building must have come from somewhere else. Can you explain to me how that's possible?

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38758606)

"Imagine a world in which the media do not arrive until an hour after the police because they can no longer use scanners to monitor the chatter. "

Besides the US, 97% of the _world_ is exactly like that, so no problem to imagine.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#38758828)

Imagine a world in which home burglars sneak into an occupied house at night.

In many places, this world already exists.

More and more police departments are turning to encrypted communications largely because of the existence of scanners. Moreover, those lovely little computers that sit in their cruisers are also often equipped with a silent instant-messaging program that is also secure and encrypted.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#38762824)

The one burglary I experienced, a guy tried to climb through a high window into the kitchen. I heard him struggle, woke up, went to see what is going on, and hit him over the head with a plastic bottle of Coca Cola that was standing on the counter. The police were very amused at having to revive him and drag him out. I didn't even have to go to court about that - the poor sod really didn't know what hit him...

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

AJH16 (940784) | about 2 years ago | (#38760350)

Or... Perhaps knowing that they won't have the warning, burglars get the hell out of dodge faster and are less likely to go burglarizing. There is a far cry difference from taking somebodies stuff and holding hostages. There is also a lot of comfort in being able to know that someone is coming. But hey, don't let reality get in the way of your painting a good thing as a bad one.

As for the press, I don't think it would cripple them as much as you think, but if it was going to be an issue, then some type of notification requirement would work or simply give them a radio with access to the dispatch channel.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756592)

You got that right, if somebody wanted to solve the issue, a relatively simple process would be able to solve it.

Instead of effective government though, we get committees and contractors.

And the anarcho-libertarians among us will declare it a failure of government, and get the syndo-capitalists to agree as they siphon more money into their coffers.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757482)

Oh, nonsense. I am a government contractor and let me tell you firsthand they don't care one bit about keeping you employed.

Most likely n agencies spent years not cooperating with each others while contractors had their hands tied.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757808)

I think you're thinking of it in terms of somebody doing the work.

The contractor-level I'm talking about is the selling of somebodies to allegedly do work.

You may think your hands are tied, but it's not by the government, but by the people influencing the government.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (2)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756918)

The project also seems to have suffered from scope creep.

Initially, the original project was about making the communication systems more inter-operable and easier to use between agencies, departments, and jurisdictions.

Then, somehow it also became about making the systems more secure and encrypted (which in my mind is a completely opposite constraint than making a system more inter-operable and easier to use).

And now, the system is being criticized for not being able to withstand natural disasters, since it relies too much on 3G or 4G towers (which is a fine idea of course, but that requirement seems to have been tacked on just now). It's kind of late to change the requirements so late in the game.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 2 years ago | (#38757446)

One standard that emerged and is in use is the APCO-25 digital radio standards. Its still not all that widespread though. Departments don't have the budget to upgrade their radio equipment all that much, so older analog equipment still rules the airwaves.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38759866)

Departments were given Federal funds to upgrade to APCO25 radio systems ... many simply decided to spend those funds on military style weapons and vehicles instead. Learning to use a new radio isn't fun, but toys are.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38757046)

The purpose of the plan was to create legions of (somehow) "successful" project managers and government hangers-on with quasi-governmental authority, and pump money into those organizations in return for future favors.

In that case, the project failed, because it was originally planned at $5BN, and only 1/15th of that was spent on it. And of that, according to the article, "Much of the funding for IWN at the time went instead to maintain creaky legacy systems."

In other words, they backed down from the plan, and fell back on supporting the status quo. Which is kind of sad, but maybe it wasn't worth $5BN and we should be glad support was withdrawn.

Not a failure at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38759796)

Every dollar that passes through their hands is leverage. At the top of the pyramid, it doesn't matter whether you "succeed" or "fail", or even if you bother to define success and failure. What matters is that the money passes through your hands, giving you a chance to leverage that cash flow for personal gain. The $5 billion target was probably a hail mary, and they were actually hoping for only a fraction of that. Again, these people aren't spending their own money. They could care less about the exact amount; they merely want to rake as much cash as they can through their hands before their time is up. $300 million isn't exactly chump change.

Did I just imply that the people who run the business of government are there purely for personal gain, the exact opposite of the age-old politician's cry? You're god damn right I did.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757138)

It's much darker than that, with secure and useful communication they could stop things like 9/11... (adjust tinfoil hat)

Re:The point was to employ contractors (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#38758146)

Back then I worked for a small company that was involved with public health technology consulting, and of course there was the anthrax scare shortly after 9/11. Oh, yes, and there was West Nile Virus. The legislative response to those things was a bonanza for big-time contractors and small-time ones willing to sell their soul. There were huge money bombs being set off all over the place.

Forget bureaucratic empire building -- there wasn't time for that. The money was flying out the door faster than anyone could possibly control. Often it was spent on total vaporware projects; you didn't have to have a product or experience to grab a pile of dough, as long as you had a lobbyist with legislative connections.

The lobbying thing wasn't new, of course, but I don't think it was so open and brazen before that. I saw a lot of post 9/11 projects, but I can't think of *one* of them that had any value at all. Now I know a lot of state and federal bureaucrats in public health, and they're honest people who believe in the mission and do valuable, practical work. But *they* didn't get any money bombs dropped on them (possibly they'd have inconveniently independent ideas about what to do with it). For example the West Nile money was largely spent through the CDC's Atlanta HQ, even though Ft. Collins does all the mosquito borne disease stuff.

On the local level the money didn't go to state agencies that had significant capabilities to put it to use in fieldwork; in fact they got practically none of the money so far as I could see. The money went to state agencies that didn't know how to spend the money, and they couldn't learn because they had to spend the money *immediately* or lose it. The vendors with connections in Atlanta were standing by to take the money off their hands.

A cynical person would look at a situation like that and conclude the system was rigged to maximize the money going to vendors by preventing its application to useful things.

Re:The point was to employ contractors (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#38761214)

Incorrect. Not the bureaucracy isn't to blame for much, if not most of the mistakes made, but interagency communications has been a hassle for emergency services since they adopted the second new radio technology. The demands of police, fire, and EMS communications are different, so it's not surprising that disparate systems are spec'd, bid, and purchased. As someone who has worked in two of those roles for many years, I will say that there were times that it would have been nice to be able to talk with units from one of the other branches directly, but they were rare indeed. And on none of those occasions was the lack of a common radio channel a show-stopper.
Much worse is the mess you get when you really do have inter-agency communication on a large event, and those in the command structure are not trained or disciplined enough to utilize it effectively. Cops giving orders to fire units. Fire chiefs giving orders to EMS units. And none are familiar enough with the others' role to give, or effective act upon, orders given. Large scale operations are, from a comms standpoint, usually a mess. Better radios, by themselves, usually won't make it better.

Is it sad (4, Interesting)

ticker47 (954580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756432)

that the government spending $356 million on a failed project doesn't sound like that much money anymore?

Re:Is it sad (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756558)

$356m isn't much money which is why it doesn't sound like much money any more. That's basically a little over $1 for every person that resides in the US. The problem is that unless it's really obvious up front it's typically not worth looking for these sorts of expenditures when the DoD alone represents more wasted money than pretty much all these small potatoes altogether.

Re:Is it sad (1)

Dr Fro (169927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756842)

I'll take my dollar back, if they don't mind...

Re:Is it sad (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756920)

And if you add that dollar to the $1.33 for Solyndra, and the dollars for all the other failures, pretty soon you have enough money for a nice bottle of Scotch for every man, woman and child, which is a good thing because this pissing away my money is definitely driving me to drinking.

Re:Is it sad (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 2 years ago | (#38762056)

And if we didn't throw away so much money on the DoD and pointless war we could all have free cars. It's important to keep these things in perspective.

Re:Is it sad (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756566)

Since that is only like 4 hours worth of military spending it is really not all that surprising.

To the Hamfest! (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756452)

More goodies for the Swap n' Shop in Dayton!

Re:To the Hamfest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756814)

Assuming they don't steal our bands like they're still trying to do with 430MHz. Not that ATV sees much use, but still...

73

Funding (0)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756456)

Well, I'm glad at least a portion of their budget seems to be coming from the MAFIAA.

This just in! Government wastes nearly a half bil (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756482)

and nothing to show for it

shocking ... really ... it ... is (yawn)

Re:This just in! Government wastes nearly a half b (1, Redundant)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756536)

As we all know, no private business ever wastes money. They have a 100% success rate on all investments.

Re:This just in! Government wastes nearly a half b (0)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756802)

Yeah, like that Solyndra place! They wasted half a billion dollars of investors...shit...

Re:This just in! Government wastes nearly a half b (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756880)

The difference being, when a private business does so they go away. When the feds do so they raise your taxes and throw you in jail if you don't comply. I don't see Kodak on the news telling me if I just paid more taxes everything would be great.

Re:This just in! Government wastes nearly a half b (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#38757132)

And you think they want to go away? Of course not. They try their best, and still occasionally fail. But when the government does the same, we're supposed to view it as this evil thing that needs to be torn down.

People who want the government to shrivel up and die hold it to an impossibly high standard, all so that they have a pretense to bring it down.

Re:This just in! Government wastes nearly a half b (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757226)

paid government shill

Re:This just in! Government wastes nearly a half b (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757642)

Nobody wants to government to shrivel up and die. Some of us are just tired of seeing 5000% as much time and money spent solving a problem as was needed.

Re:This just in! Government wastes nearly a half b (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 2 years ago | (#38762566)

The difference being, when a private business does so they go away.

Not if they're a politically connected Wall Street firm.

Why aren't BOXCUTTERS illegal? Are they WMD? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756576)

Carlin - The Real Owners Of America

"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying  lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else."

"But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

"You know what they want? Obedient workers  people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club."

"This country is finished."

suck the SOPA soap but don't drop it!
have you seen the SOPA commercials where they depict an American flag falling apart? Clever brainwashing bitches!

Re:Why aren't BOXCUTTERS illegal? Are they WMD? (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 2 years ago | (#38762608)

Best Carlin Rant Ever

Do the mods ever get tight wet slits? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756616)

"A secure, interoperable radio network that the Department of Justice has been working on for more than a decade and that has cost the agency $356 million may be headed for failure,"

Don't you mean COST THE TAXPAYERS?

Surprised? (5, Insightful)

ks*nut (985334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756622)

And how is this any different than any of the programs that followed 9/11? TSA is trampling roughshod over travelers' rights, the Department of Homeland Security is a bloated farce, and the individual's basic rights under the Constitution have been eroded. To say nothing of the years of rendition flights, wars, and torture. I'm certainly glad that we're the "good guys." I wonder what the "bad guys" have been up to.

Re:Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756748)

I'd like to think that some of the humongous increase in military spending has been successful...and some of the spending for the DHS has been more successful than taking off our shoes at airports. Boy, I'd be in favor of removing most of the funding from the TSA until they clean up their airline passenger act.

Re:Surprised? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#38757606)

the TSA has not stopped ANY terrorists. They have been 100% ineffective and are 100% useless.

Yes nobody points this out, but the love to point at a business failure, which is a very common thing when the economy is imploding. Solyndra was competing with China solar panels that are selling Retail for 1/2 the price of their raw materials. It's the CEO's fault for trying to start a business in a field that is racing for the lowest price.

Solyndra was doomed the day the CEO opened the doors.

Re:Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38758460)

the TSA has not stopped ANY terrorists. They have been 100% ineffective and are 100% useless.

[[Citation needed]]
 
And in reality, there's no way you can produce one - because there's no way to measure or detect incidents that didn't occur or individuals/organizations that were deterred. It's one of the paradoxes of security.
 
Not that I like the TSA all that much, but I like ignorant comments and childish logic even less.

Re:Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38760378)

However, we do know that incidents have occurred (e.g. underwear bomber, shoe bomber), but they have happened on the plane. They were stopped by passengers without any help from the TSA.

Re:Surprised? (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 2 years ago | (#38762630)

Really? So there is absolutely no metric by which to gauge the effectiveness of the TSA? Wow, sign me up for that! I'll do a great job, I swear!

Re:Surprised? (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#38760150)

And how is this any different than any of the programs that followed 9/11?

Ooh, ooh, ooh [raises hand] I know! At least this program is apparently being scrapped, while TSA is getting increased funding and building US-border scanners and releasing VIPR teams outside of the damn airports now.

Project 25 is still alive and kicking (4, Informative)

ScottBob (244972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756850)

There is another interoperable radio network called Project 25 (www.project25.org) which sprung up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina because none of the agencies involved in rescue operations could communicate with each other, mainly because the vendors that sold equipment to the agencies had competing technologies, different frequency bands and encryption algorithms (or lack thereof), etc. AFIK, Project 25 is alive and kicking, all modern two-way radios sold these days that adhere to the standards set forth by Prohect 25 can communicate with each other, share the same bands, use the same encryption, etc.

Re:Project 25 is still alive and kicking (2)

weav (158099) | about 2 years ago | (#38757218)

P25 also had its issues, like not all radios use the same CODECs (I'm looking at YOU, Motorola), all digital voice codecs do badly in the presence of lots of noise (next to a fire engine pumping hard, in a K9 cop car with the dog excited, sirens blaring, low-air-pressure warning going off inside the resipirator). Also from what i hear, I believe the encryption has been cracked.
Not a panacea, P25.

Re:Project 25 is still alive and kicking (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#38758660)

all digital voice codecs do badly in the presence of lots of noise (next to a fire engine pumping hard, in a K9 cop car with the dog excited, sirens blaring, low-air-pressure warning going off inside the resipirator

Which is weird because the horrible evil proprietary AMBE2+ codec used in DMR as used for Mototrbo (and related to the codecs used for P25, TETRA and D-Star) is extremely effective at cancelling environmental noise.

It still sounds like an angry duck in a tin shithouse, though.

Re:Project 25 is still alive and kicking (5, Informative)

Nethead (1563) | about 2 years ago | (#38757232)

Not modding you down but rather informing: APCO P25 come in to existence October of 1989. It had nothing to do with Katrina.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_25 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Project 25 is still alive and kicking (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#38757498)

Encryption really does seem like a bad idea for these types of systems though. There's a very narrow slice of emergencies when it's going to be needed (an active, hostile force is present) and in those cases the type of response we're talking about is more suited to the military then civilian responders.

Whereas making sure that their are multiple redundant ways to get people connected together seems way more important.

Re:Project 25 is still alive and kicking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757824)

p25 and c4fm modulation method is only better at using less bandwidth, less power, and encryption compared to analog.

at all else it fails miserably, in multipath resistance, in non or near line of sight communications, in buildings, in selective fading..

therefore for infrastructure, P25 repeaters are not a 1:1 replacement for old analog repeaters. You need a lot more signal strength than analog to resolve a signal. Period.

Re:Project 25 is still alive and kicking (2)

WA8LMF (2556936) | about 2 years ago | (#38758112)

1) Project 25 a.k.a "P25" long predated Katrina. P25 is a (supposedly) open-standard "design-by-committee" digital mobile radio standard still incomplete after 25 years of effort.

2) An incredible amount of mis-information about P25 floats around among non-technical managers, politicians and government officials that keep repeating the post-911/post-Katrina mantra of "interoperability". The most egregious lack-of-understanding is that somehow merely owning and operating a "P25-compatible" network will "automagically" make you "interoperable" with other agencies. They fail to understand that P25 only defines a transmission protocol. P25-format transmission can be used on any of 4 or 5 different frequency bands from 30 MHz to over 900 MHz. Most radios and antenna systems only operate on one of these bands. The 30,000+ public-safety entities (federal, state, county and local) in the U.S. are scattered across all of of these bands. Or that IF several agencies that, by luck, do operate in the same frequency band show up at a disaster, that they still won't be able to talk to each other until considerable software tweaking and radio re-programming is done to make the digital addressing of various groups' radios match, in a manner somewhat similar to making LAN subnets mesh. (Unless of course, mutual-aid common shared channels are agreed upon in advance. This is common in adjacent jurisdictions such neighboring counties, or city police-vs-county sheriff in a given county, or counties-vs-state-patrol in a given state. However it all falls apart in scenarios like Katrina where diverse public safety groups from several states away show up to help.)

3) In fact, a brand-new P25 statewide public safety network had been turned on in Louisiana only months before Katrina, but failed massively due to the ravenous power demands of the complex P25 base-station and network-controller infrastructure. The modest power demands of classic "dumb" analog two-way radio base stations (10s of watts/channel on standby/hundreds of watts on transmit) can be backed up by battery banks at remote sites for days or even weeks at a time, possibly supplemented by solar or wind power.. The massive power demands of P25 systems with dozens (or even hundreds) of racks of power-hogging computer controllers, routers, servers and always-on-and-transmitting control-channel transmitters at each site means a continuous standby drain of 10's OF KILOWATTS. Typical battery backups can only provide a few minutes run time with this kind of drain, until fossil-fueled generators can (hopefully) start up. Typically the on-site fuel supply (usually diesel or propane) is good for 72 hours or so. However, the extensive flooding and general chaos made it impossible for fuel tankers to get to the sites for the first week or so. One-by-one the sites just ran out of fuel and shut down.

4) The sorry history of P25 in (more or less brief) :

Over two decades ago, digital systems first started being proposed as a replacement for 50+ years of analog FM radio in commercial & public-safety mobile communications. Numerous proprietary digital protocols were pitched by manufacturers and basically went nowhere because each protocol was available from only a single manufacturer, eager to lock-in customers like police and fire departments to a single supplier for the life of the system.

Project 25 was undertaken by APCO (Associated Public Safety Communications Officials -- essentially the police and fire radio lobby) to define an open digital comms standard beholden to no one manufacturer.. It was grossly complex, as the result of being the typical design-by-committee responding to an endless stream of "It would be really nice if it could do ...." requests from APCO members. Thousands and thousands of pages of documentation was issued. It not only covered the actual over-the-air data format for simplex, repeater and trunked radio systems down to the individual bits, but also defined standard dispatch-center console-to-base-station interfaces (highly proprietary at the time), standardized ways to interconnect multiple systems from different agencies (such as city PDs to county sheriffs to state patrols to even the FEDs via TCP/IP.), and ways for multiple entities to transparently share a common network and move between their respective sites with a switching and hand-off system somewhat based on cell-phone-system site-to-site switching.

For nearly a decade, many vendors played lip service to offering P25 hardware at trade shows and conferences (at least on paper!) but didn't really push it -- they really didn't want an open system, where like analog FM, you could buy compatible hardware from multiple vendors. To make things worse, APCO turned over the publication, maintenance and ratification of updates of the standard to the TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association). TIA is the trade association and lobby of the land mobile radio manufacturers, who (surprise!) had little incentive to revise and update the standard in a timely manner. Each TIA member had the vested interest in promoting their proprietary protocol.

It wasn't until the FCC "narrow-banding" mandate for land-mobile channel splitting from 25 to 12.5 KHz channels (the drop-dead date for the switch is supposed to be Jan 1, 2013) that P25 took off at all. Users were faced with either turning down deviation on analog FM radios to 2.5 KHz (to cut the occupied bandwidth in half) yielding radically poorer audio recovery on existing equipment. Or replacing ALL their hardware with newer radios, repeaters, trunking controllers, etc so why not go digital as well. Using agencies responded by typically adopting a wait-and-see attitude and stopped buying anything since the narrowband drop-dead date seemed so far in the future. Under pressure largely from federal land-mobile users such as the FBI, Border Patrol and the U.S. Forest Service, vendors were finally forced into offering REAL P25 hardware. This was largely achieved by the feds offering substantial funding for new radio networks, but ONLY if they were "P25-compliant".

The problem is that, as of the mid 2000's, "P25-compliant" was still a mushy ill-defined mess with many mfrs offering "P25-compatible" radios not fully compatible with other mfrs models. The DOJ charged NTIA to do an evaluation of then-existing P25 radio offerings to identify ones that were "interoperable". The idea was to give those that were a sort of "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" that would make them eligible for federal funding for purchase by federal, state and local public safety agencies. The whole process fell apart due to political infighting in Washington.

5) After nearly 20 years, P25 is STILL an incomplete work-in-progress quasi-standard grudgingly accepted by the major radio vendors who would STILL rather lock you into a proprietary digital protocal for life. By the way, nearly ALL radio manufacturers, outside of Motorola and "the company formerly known as GE in Lynchburg, VA" that is now part of Harris, (i.e. the second-tier land-mobile vendors like Icom, Kenwood, BK Radio, Johnson, etc) offer P25 radios by incorporating modules made by Motorola.

Re:Project 25 is still alive and kicking (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38758284)

Given that P25 is my day job, I have some comments. Many base stations do P25 by running a software stack from a company called "Etherstack", not Motorola. I've got a feeling that Motorola might even use Etherstack. The company I work for (not Etherstack) has it's own P25 stack, written internally from scratch. It's in the base stations, which we OEM for some of the names you mentioned.

Also, speaking for our own gear, the P25 infrastructure uses about the same power as the old FM gear (my company does both). The Base station uses about 5W when receiving. On transmit, power dissipation is dominated by the power amplifier, which is identical to the PA used by FM gear.

The majors will always erect barriers to entry, such as tweaking protocols to minimise interoperability. As a smaller player, part of our job is to reverse engineer and counter such moves.

Why don't you use TETRA? (2)

toopok4k3 (809683) | more than 2 years ago | (#38756866)

Europe has a seemingly good standard called TETRA [wikipedia.org] . Finland uses it in it's own VIRVE [wikipedia.org] network. Why are you wasting money to implement a new standard?

Re:Why don't you use TETRA? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757318)

Because Motorola, effectively the only supplier of P25 equipment in North America and the largest TETRA supplier worldwide has no competition for these installations. It also hold numerous patents for TETRA, and has licensed to other suppliers for all areas other than North America. The Key patents are now expired and are expiring so you will see TETRA in North America

Re:Why don't you use TETRA? (1)

toopok4k3 (809683) | about 2 years ago | (#38757380)

Interesting. Finland has mainly Nokia equipment in use for it's VIRVE.

Re:Why don't you use TETRA? (1)

toopok4k3 (809683) | about 2 years ago | (#38757432)

Pardon me everybody. I just noticed I have used "it's" instead of "its" in my posts.

I have to wonder... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756874)

The slashdot groupthink is to not trust the government, so why do you all believe their explanation of events on Sept. 11, 2001 without question?

Re:I have to wonder... (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 2 years ago | (#38762788)

The slashdot groupthink is to not trust the government, so why do you all believe their explanation of events on Sept. 11, 2001 without question?

Because to not believe the official account of an event of such magnitude would shake the very foundations of what they believe to be true. It would raise many, many uncomfortable questions about how we know what we know, and who is actually running the show, and imply that a mass manipulation is going on to sell the world on something that isn't true. Most people are not ready for that.

It has been shown that most people will ignore information that threatens their preconceived notions. This is no different. Most people, including most in the /. community, would rather be comfortable in their own heads than know the hard truth.

mod 3own (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38756984)

to say there have Bought the farm.... lube is wi*ped off

Was this what we gave up analog TV for? (2)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38757016)

Didn't they tell us TV had to go from analog to digital to free up contiguous blocks of spectrum for first responders?

Are they actually getting that spectrum, or is it all going to cell phone companies and such?

700MHz Radio Spectrum battle continues (1)

HongPong (226840) | about 2 years ago | (#38757110)

I heard last year that first responders are trying to hang onto a chunk of radio spectrum that the telecoms want. I don't think it was really about encryption so much as making sure that it could do trunking correctly - units could bring in radios across the country and have working interoperability. Encryption is its own ball of crazy. I for one would rather have the fire fighters have better radios, the fuzz can generally get good radios if they want them.

This is apparently the "D Block" which is next to existing 700MHz public safety frequencies.
http://gcn.com/articles/2011/03/31/first-responders-public-safety-d-block-spectrum.aspx [gcn.com]
later: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dc/2011/06/911-first-responder-radio-bill-clears-committee [nydailynews.com]

Re:700MHz Radio Spectrum battle continues (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 2 years ago | (#38757710)

Trunking also has an issue called blocking factor. In essence too many radios sharing the same set of frequencies. And one of the features of trunking is the ability to prioritize traffic. Causes many headaches!

P25 does not exceed analog in perfomance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757780)

No in any of the metrics you can measure it in, except that it is more secure and uses less bandwidth. other than that it fails miserably where analog would work.

prove it to me otherwise

350 milion for a open source pub domain project... (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | about 2 years ago | (#38757904)

Imagine if they had just endowed a couple open source/hardware BSD companies to generate competing projects. Two companies could hire a dozen programmers each to work year round for ten years. It would produce something everyone could use, the public, private companies, and the government itself would actually get a working system. And it would have only cost them around 35 million. 24 programmers x 100,000 x 10 years = $24mil. So another 11 million for overhead.

If the companies were designed from the get go to be BSD open sourced then there would be competition to actually be hired into the projects... you would get even more work than what you paid for...

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757916)

Killing is Good.

miNus 2, Troll) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38757944)

Flame me (1, Offtopic)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | about 2 years ago | (#38758058)

Ok this is going to piss a lot of people off and it's barely related to the story but fuck it, I'm just going to say it. The US is a fucking shadow of what it once was and it's now a big corrupt joke. See that story about Asia overtaking the US in innovation? Yeah, it already happened 20 years ago, you're in denial. Your education sucks, you get worse scores on math tests than chirlden from countries where they don't own shirts and do their homework on slates. Your goverment fails at every project they undertake - after it goes overbudget and funds dissapear with no accountability. Your medical system is a fucking joke - you turn down the sick because they don't have the right type of insurance and maulpractice is rampant. Your distrobution of wealth does nothing but show how your system is owned by greed and your politicians don't even bother trying to hide the fact they're sellouts (SOPA/PIPA anyone?). And how about the next election? Here are your choices: a man who covers the fact he's running you poor and selling you out by giving charged speaches about vaguely positive ideas and a greedy idiot who belongs to a religion where you are required to wear "magic underwear".

A Russian friend of mine said this to me: "Russians aren't waiting for the rise of the East, they ware waiting for the decline of the West". It feels like that day has come. Flame me, mod me down, do whatever - I'm not even going to respond. I just wanted to get that out. The dream of America is dead.

I could build this easily (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#38758294)

... and for just a small fraction of what they paid. Just give me a waiver of all patent and copyright laws.

Didn't Fox's "Fringe" propose a solution? (1)

killfixx (148785) | about 2 years ago | (#38758372)

They called it a "Ghost Network [wikipedia.org] ".

Of course it involved manipulating the biology of the transceivers, but, hey, "eggs...scramble...break...", right?

Seriously though, WTF!? These are the agencies that we "rely" on to protect us and they can't figure out how to fix the blinking 12:00 on the VCR? Yes, I purposely used an antiquated term for technical incompetence, because the tech is 15 years old!!

"15 years ago" perspective:

Just to name a few...

Ham Radio (5, Insightful)

thephydes (727739) | about 2 years ago | (#38758488)

Thank God for Ham Radio - all volunteers, most likely all patriots in time of great need, all providing gear of various levels of sophistication at no cost to the public.

Re:Ham Radio (2)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#38758676)

Emcomm is the cancer that is killing ham radio.

They need professionals (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38758850)

They should get in touch with these guy in Mexico who build communication networks, tunnels and submarines. They would set it all up real quick.
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