Thanks to G.W. Bush your Government has the Right to Jam Cell Phones

Posted on May 17, 2012

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That good ol’boy G. W. Bush believed he was being very patriotic when he took away our rights with the ill named Patriot Act after the 9/11  attacks. He was very up front about it. But, after some terrorist bombings in London in 2005, he and his security advisors decided in secret that they needed the right to take away more of our rights when they established Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 303. This SOP allows our government to jam cell phone signals or shut down cell towers when they determine there is a national emergency or a threat to public safety.

I came across this story at Questions and Observations which was reporting on an article at The Daily Beast. From the Daily Beast article we learn

The protocols were developed after the 2005 London bombings in a process that calls to mind an M.C. Escher work. First, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) formed a task force— composed of anonymous government officials and executives from Cingular, Microsoft, Motorola, Sprint, and Verizon—that issued a private report to President Bush. Another acronym-dragging committee, also meeting in secret, then approved the task force’s recommendations. Thus, according to NSTAC’s 2006–07 annual issue review, SOP 303 was born.

“In time of national emergency,” the review says, SOP 303 gives “State Homeland Security Advisors, their designees, or representatives of the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center” the power to call for “the termination of private wireless network connections… within an entire metropolitan area.” The decision is subject to review by the National Coordinating Center, a government-industry group responsible for the actual mechanics of the shutdown. The NCC is supposed to “authenticate” the shutdown via “a series of questions.” But SOP 303 does not specify, at least not publicly, what would constitute a “national emergency,” or what questions the NCC then asks “to determine if the shutdown is a necessary action.”

I hope you will read this article. Among other things, it talks about the ACLU and some state legislator attempting to pass legislation that would make the federal government get a judges approval first and/or narrow the definition of the emergencies that would trigger interruptions to cell phone service. No, we don’t need to modify the government’s power to do this. We need to take this power away from them. I agree with Bruce McQuain at Questions and Observations when he says:

No.  That agrees to the premise that government should have that power and then tries to define it “narrowly”.  I don’t agree with the premise of government’s right to do this.  If they want to talk about an exceptional power in time of a declared National Emergency, I’m willing to listen.  But we all know how wide “narrowly” becomes when law enforcement is given an ability to use such a power.  They’ll use it for their convenience, screw your rights.

Think about it, folks. How does it make sense for the federal government to shut down cell phone service in the name of protecting the public when doing so prevents that same public from the ability to communicate any emergency they might have? It’s insane!

Once upon a time, when there was an emergency, a natural disaster or riots, governors would call up their National Guards to help deal with the emergency. If appropriate, the federal government would make low-interest funds available to the governor to aid with the emergency. Then the feds invented FEMA and now the feds posh the governors aside and take charge of dealing with the emergency. Then FEMA was militarized with powers to arrest and detain. Now FEMA is contracting to build camps for what purpose we do not know. DHS is buying tonnes of hollow point ammunition. Why? And, now we are going to have 30,000 drones flying overhead to keep an eye on us. Are you as worried as I am? A government that fears its own citizens will become more and more dictatorial.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

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