Thursday, April 16, 2009

Xtra Files 8: How Many Vandals Does it Take to Screw Up California's Communications Networks?

Last week, there was an attack on the communications networks in California and most of the country didn't even know about it. For me, it began early Thursday morning, sometime in the hour of 3:00 AM, when my cell phone's low battery indicator beeped and woke me from my slumber. I turned off the phone and robotically plugged it into the charger. It was strange to me that the battery had died so quickly. I had taken the phone off the charger before going to bed, therefore there should have been ample power remaining. I thought nothing more of it, and returned to my warm bed.

When my alarm clock radio woke me at 6:30 AM, there was talk on KSCO about the situation that had everyone baffled. Apparently, early in the morning of April 9, sometime after 2 AM, someone accessed at least one utility vault near San Jose and sawed through communication cables, which effectively brought down nearly all internet, cellular phones, land lines, credit cards, ATM's and even 911 emergency services throughout the greater Bay Area. No banks opened, and the few business that did, reverted to a cash-only policy for the day, and creatively adapted to the unprecedented situation.

As cellular service was lost, phones went into roaming mode, causing batteries to quickly drain, and die within a few hours. Many people who relied upon their cell phone alarms to wake them, were sorely disappointed to find that they were dead, and had failed to awake them.*

A $100,000 reward is being offered by authorities who officially blame vandals for the disruption in service that lasted most of Thursday's business day. However, the sophistication of the crime suggests to me to be the work of more than a vandal or two. It seems unlikely that a vandal could successfully bring down Central California's communications for an entire day? But who is responsible? That's the hundred-thousand dollar question.

Authorities are careful not to use the T word in this situation, but the possibility exists that terrorists pulled it off, and didn't receive credit or recognition for exposing how vulnerable we really are because we prefer to play the T card on our own terms. However, if terrorists were behind the event, surely they would have boasted responsibility. Recently, it was revealed that China has acquired detailed mapping of the power grid in the US, so why not our communications networks as well? But why the disruption? What really happened on Thursday, April 9, 2009?

It is Rhetro Zenberg's opinion that during this disruption of services, something big happened that may not be revealed for years to come... if ever. Some authorities may already know, and are keeping quiet about it. The fact that there was so little reported on the situation is suspicious to me. One would think that California's communications being taken out by vandals would have been a big story, especially on a slow news day like Thursday, April 9, 2009.

* "And when they arose in the morning, they were all dead" Isaiah

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