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

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?

18 thoughts on “Thanks to G.W. Bush your Government has the Right to Jam Cell Phones

  1. Got an answer for those Drones. It’s called 3 inch magnum 12 gauge shotgun shell loaded with no. 4 bird shot…or if your aim is good enough, a rifled slug. 😉

      1. Well, we could do like the state of Maine does with Moose hunting tags and hold a lottery for Drone hunting permits. Of course, we’d have to have bag limits in order to give every hunter a chance to get a drone for their trophy wall.

      2. We’re not talking about Predator type drones here. the drones law enforcement will be using are small quadrotor type drones about twice the size of a kid’s RC helecopter. They will be unarmed, although I saw a video where a guy made one with a machine gun mounted on it along with a hundred rnds of ammo. They also have height restrictions supposedly.

  2. I am very worried about what I see happening and I am coming to realize more and more that while Obama is grabbing more and more power Bush is guilty of making it possible for him to do so. I supported the Partiot Act when it was passed, but now I understand how wrong I was and I will never blindly follow one party or the other when it comes to this type of legislation.

    1. Sadly, Steve, Americans do have to worry about terrorist; but they also have to worry about their own government. We didn’t need the Patriot Act, or DHS or FEMA and we don’t need drones patrolling our skys and spying on us. I don’t know if it is even possible to get our rights back as things are today. Sometimes I am glad I am old and won’t be around to see the worst of what is coming.

  3. Jim:

    I spent most of my working life in radio communications in one form or another. Getting my Amateur Radio (ham) license at age 15, and a Commercial Radio Telephone license at age 17, I pretty well grew up in that industry. I worked my way through college as a radio/tv station engineer.

    The Federal Government has always reserved the power to interrupt civil radio communications during times of war, or other danger. This goes back to the Communications Act of 1934, that golden age of regulatory enablement. I don’t believe the Communications Act of 1996 changed anything, there. The US Government shut down all Amateur Radio activity during World War II, and had their fingers on all international, and most domestic, telegram and telephone traffic, too.

    With the advent of universal radio communications devices, it becomes even more important to be able to use that medium to track down terrorists. Prepaid cell phones are a popular tool of terrorists and criminals.

    I, too, am concerned that the Government ability to do all these things can be easily abused. I see the importance of being able to control radio communications during emergencies, but I don’t see how the Government can do that without harming the economy. Then again, on 9/11, they grounded all the air traffic for a while.

    Scary stuff anyway you look at it.

    1. Hi, Bob. The point you make is well taken. The proplem that I am sure you are aware of is how easily this type of thing could be abused. Like when the transit authority in SF decided to interrupt cell service because they were afraid that a police shooting that happened might cause civil disturbances. The Emergency Broadcast system is supposed to provide imformation to people in an emergency. What this SOP does is to prevent people from getting information.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s