santa cruz wharf

10 April 2009

hey you…with the clippers

Imagine along with me…

You wake up in the morning and have no internet access.  No big deal…glitches happen.  Ten minutes later you try to text and realize you have no cell phone service…okay….so you pick up the land line…nothing.

You flip on the television and wait through fifteen minutes of fluffy GMA until the local news comes on. At this point you just want to find out what the sam hill is going on.  The familiar morning anchor out of San Francisco has it as his lead story. 

Fiber optic cables have been cut.

Four of ‘em.  Two in San Carlos….two in San Jose.   Beneath manhole covers weighing hundreds of pounds.  Down a couple of ten foot shafts.  In up to four feet of water amid poisonous gases.  Only those four cables were damaged. Nothing else. Someone knew exactly what they were doing. 

Parts of San Jose, all of Santa Cruz county and San Benito counties are without cell and land lines for fourteen to sixteen HOURS.

This is what transpired yesterday.  I am cognizant your initial reaction includes smug acknowledgment of how we have become far too dependent on our cell phones and internet access.  Those who know me got a little laugh imagining me without connectivity.  But there is far more to this story.

What was the result of no cell phone, no land line phone, and no internet service?

Stores, restaurants, gas stations, et cetera could not take credit or debit cards.  Which of course sent people out to withdraw cash…however…

No ATMs were working. (picture 40+ people in line for the teller) Hospitals without their medical records access, pharmacies unable to fill patient prescriptions.

And the kicker….  no 911 service.

All law enforcement and fire service personnel were called in.  Manning every available vehicle they drove around the city….through neighborhoods…up and down streets. People were suppose go outside to flag them down in case of emergency for cryin’ out loud.

So you….with the clippers….what is your deal?
Obviously you KNEW what you were doing.  Two o’clock in the morning. You knew how to gain access…you had right tools.  You chose two specific cables in locations two hours apart from one another.  You did not take down Silicon Valley or San Francisco which would have made national, if not international headlines, immediately.  You cut the cables that are 60-100 miles away from the affected area.  This was not a random act of vandalism.  This was targeted.

I heard the media speculation you are a member of the CWA…the communication UNION…with a not so subtle threat.  I get you all have been working without a contract for over a week.  My step dad tells stories of lines being cut back in the day during negotiations.  But really? Taking out banks and hospitals and 911?  You think the surfers and bohemian artist population of aging hippies in Santa Cruz won’t raise an uproar because we will be sympathetic to your labor union cause?

Was it a test?  Are you part of some nefarious terrorist cell testing what would happen if a couple wires were cut?  Making notes on how long it would take to identify and splice?  Were you monitoring how law enforcement responds to being cut off from the populace?

This little part of the world is pretty small.  Considered rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things. We have very few headquarters of industry.  But being just over the hill from the computing capital of the world provides us with a state of the art infrastructure. 

You hit a day before the spring break tourist crowd arrives. So the panic of visiting extraterrestrials not being able to phone home was avoided.  

You basically took away our ability to communicate out or operate business for the better part of a business day. 

This is where my conspiracy theory imagination kicks in.  I cut my espionage teeth on the likes of Ludlum and Clancy.

Why does this not make the national news?
Four cables strategically cut. No banking, no ability to contact law enforcement or emergency services. No communication out.  We have radio and television getting the message in…but no way to communicate out.  Think about it.

Not to mention the fact our ability to access to our own recourses to acquire goods and services was just about completely severed.

In a related story:
After the initial report by the Wall Street Journal, there hasn’t been much information on the infiltration of our nation’s power grid applications by foreign entities… potentially from China and Russia.  The electrical grid for the entire nation. Not just electricity either….the grid which includes the running of all our water and sewage systems.

Where is the media coverage on these events?

While the death of Natasha Richardson was a tragedy and Farrah Fawcett’s illness is very sad,  does the American public really need to hear about it day after day??  (Travis points out the inappropriate absurdity.)  We heard over a week of posturing from Congress and the Senate and the White House over AIG bonuses.  (Which by the way were paid…as were the ones to Fannie and Freddie and the automakers…) 

Where is all the outrage and demand for investigation over serious threats to our daily existence?  Why is the national main stream media not reporting on the vulnerability? 

I am reminded of a couple posts I read lately from Hammer and Gene about stocking up on supplies and keeping a transistor radio.   

Hostile foreign entities plugging into our electrical grid…communication lines being severed. Maybe I ought to establish a family meeting place if need be. I consider reinstating my gun permit, learning how to operate a ham radio…and burying a bundle of cash in the backyard.  At what point does making contingency plans  start to sound whacko….like Ruby Ridge and Waco?

I dunno. 
But I’m starting to pay close attention.


Hammer said...

Scary stuff.

I read about this through another blogger.

Vandals...blarg! Our media is no better than that of the former USSR.

This is sabotage..and your info on the union makes plenty of sense.

When the teamsters went on strike in 97, union members attacked people they worked alongside for 20 years. My wife was a supervisor and people she had known as friends and co-workers were throwing bricks at her car and she went into work.

The line cutting is more thuggery and I hope they are caught and prosecuted for domestic terrorism.

Mimi Lenox said...

I am so with you on this.
Ever since 9/11 I've had an emergency kit with food, water, blankets, radio, the works. I also made kits for my parents and son.
It is not crazy. It is smart.
Thanks for reminding me to restock and re-evaluate. This is not paranoia.
It's common sense.

And the money? If I hadn't made a beeline to the phone on 9/11 to reroute funds into a safe place, we would have lost a lot in investments. I remember that panicked feeling to this day. Burying cash in the backyard is sounding better and better.

I, Like The View said...

this is quite frightening

and I didn't hear about it on the news here, altho reading your report makes me think their should have been coverage


Mel said...

Ohmygosh...... It was that easy.


Not that moving manhole covers and getting through the gases was 'easy'--but it was obviously easy enough for some.

14-16 hours...I can only imagine the chaos.
And that's an imagining I don't particularly like, lemme assure you.......

Desert Songbird said...

Where does one draw the line between conspiracy paranoia and due diligence and caution? It's difficult to know for sure, but whenever an incident like this takes place, it's easy to start thinking the worst and preparing for it.

Frightening how easy it was. Easy and undetected for hours.

The Teamster said...

as for anyone who bashes unions....this TEAMSTER does NOT condone violence and vandalism. AND like the rest of our justice system, let's blame those union thugs after they are convicted

Travis said...

The imagination of so many thriller writers has described these kinds of scenarios. They make for great fiction, but the real life equivalent is pretty scary.

You raise some great questions. It might be a good idea to put those questions into letters to the editor and to our elected officials.

The CEO said...

I'm not exactly sure where to start. I could start with my lack of faith in the press, but I am far more cynical than you about their ability to do a competent job for over 40 years now. It came from being at events and reading about them in the paper, and wondering if the reporter had been at the same event as I had attended. There's only been one Woodward and Bernstein so far, yet they have removed the Pulitzer Prize from several winners for making up the stories they won for. Integrity, objectivity, balanced.....

Next there's Congress. This country was founded on a concept called 'The Great Compromise'. Since the Clinton Administration, Congress has become more fractious. It hasn't been good enough for one side to simply win over the other side, they had to destroy the other side. The Impeachment of Bill Clinton was a perfect example. The Republicans couldn't muster enough votes, and didn't have the evidence for an impeachment that wasted all of 1998, and lost control of Congress as a result.

Now, Tim Geithener of Treasury had Senator Dodd put the legal language into the Bailout Bill, 1100 pages long, the night before the vote. Many other little changes were 'penciled' into the new bill at the last minute, such as $250 million for the Smithsonian Museums (not a big deal, but not the only one) and the bill passed the next evening. How many people do you think could read an 1100 page legal bill and understand it fully overnight? Why the same people who complained about the bonuses they had legalized the week before.

So write to them about the power grid being attacked, but don't expect much. There was so much dissention about Geithener mentioning the Chinese manipulating their currency, that Obama didn't mention it at the G20 meeting last week. By the way, the Chinese are choking on our debt, so they say. They'd like a new International currency, or a mix. They can see the coming devaluation of the dollar from the coming 4 trillion dollar spending and they don't particularly want to finance it, so they say. So don't expect your Congressperson to comment, n writing about the Chinese attacking the power grid. Not that I have an opinion, naturally.

The power grid....isn't owned by anyone. The different utilities own their own pieces of it. It's a hodgey pogey collection. I once had this idea that I could make my brother-in-law-the ultra-conservative-type speechless by suggesting we nationalize the grid and turn it over to the military. They could bury it, and protect it from attack, take over protecting nuclear power plants, and reduce unemployment, all in one fel swoop. He almost choked at the idea of what it would cost. I was so proud.

You don't hear a lot about the problems because companies don't report the problems. They aren't required to report them, and they don't want to cause a panic. If you want to hear about it, they report on it periodically on CNBC, but you have to listen to the financial press. Sorry about that.

Last, to be safe, depending on the problem, buy a safe for the house, and hide it. Put your cash, and the gold coins in there. If the country goes, the gold coins wil work, the cash won't. Freeze dried food, 1 gal. water (preferably distilled) with a single drop of iodine in it. Power bars store almost forever. Get a good camping knife, exceptionally useful, especially if you've ever been camping, you know what I mean, it's a major tool. Also, a Swiss Army knife.

Otherwise, I'm not sure I have an opinion, or want to express it.

Dana said...

I actually *did* hear about this on the news, although I cannot remember if it was my local news, national news, or an internet source.

I'm a HUGE fan of the expect the best, prepare for the worse camp. Am I fanatical about it? Maybe, but then the 5 years I spent in the Army kind of opened my eyes as to what is REALLY out there and what we as a society are never privy to. Let's just say that North Korea has been a scary place long before their recent test missile.

Off topic there a bit - I was surprised that so many of your readers had not heard about this. That is a bit disconcerting ...

Linda said...

I guess it's not just my imagination that we are living in a scarier and scarier world every single day, is it? What's really scary is the fact that I had not heard a thing about this until I read your blog this morning and trust me, I have had plenty of access to a TV at work with both local and national news.

Just goes to show how easy it is to take down a good chunk of our country and I'm sure that people know exactly where the "right" wires to cut are, too, should they ever want to do this on a full-scale national level.

I'm going to go back to bed now and pull the covers over my head while I try to come up with a plan and mourn for the loss of simpler times that my children and grandchildren will never get to know.

Bond said...

Had not seen this story. You make some incredibly valid points regarding it being more than aunt sally not being able to call timmy on Easter...

Very scary stuff

Sandee said...

Stock up honey. Hear me now. Stock up.

Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)