You didn’t build that

On Friday, July 6, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order that revamped and reassigned responsibilities ...

From the August, 2012 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

On Friday, July 6, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order that revamped and reassigned responsibilities concerning the country’s communication functions during times of national emergency. Entitled “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions,” the order revokes Executive Order 12472, which was issued in 1984 and defined the National Communication System.

To those not very familiar with the internal workings of government committees, subcommittees, panels, and the like (including me), the order signed on July 6 is a laborious read. To those who have had the fortune (or misfortune) of reading many legal and legislative documents, it’s probably a proverbial piece of cake.

The order establishes a National Security and Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) Communications Executive Committee, made up of high-ranking representatives from government agencies including the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Commerce and Homeland Security, as well as the office of the Director of National Security and the General Services Administration. The Federal Communications Commission has also been invited/assigned to be part of the NS/EP Communications Executive Committee.

I’ve read some critiques of the executive order that label it an example of government overreach, saying that somewhere among the legalese it broadens the circumstances under which the order’s provisions can take effect. But what really intrigued me was the criticism that the order allows, or actually, requires, the Secretary of Homeland Security to “satisfy priority communications requirements through the use of commercial, [g]overnment, and privately owned communications resources, when appropriate.” In other words, if the government decides it needs to take over your network in order to ensure it can continue to communicate during a time of crisis, it will do so. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security is on the clock to identify such commercial and private networks for that purpose.

Interesting.

Exactly one week after the executive order was put in place, President Obama served up to Republican SuperPACs a doozy of a quote while speaking in Roanoke, VA.

My humble plea, Mr. President, is that should the need ever arise for the government to take over private communications networks, you remember your own words: “You didn’t build that. Someone else made that happen.” ::

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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