[Work in Progress] Timeline: Flint’s Water Crisis

This is a work in progress. Not all dates and events between the end of 2015 and current date have been added as of publication. This timeline will be updated periodically, as events unfold and as key information is revealed about Flint’s ongoing water crisis. Some information is incomplete or in need of validation. Links to sources will be added over time. If you have content you believe is relevant and should be added, please share in comments.
__________

1974-2002

XX-DEC-1974 — The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) enacted to ensure safe drinking water for the public; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for setting safety standards, monitoring, compliance and enforcement of the same under the SDWA.

07-JUN-1991 — EPA issued the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) limiting the amount of lead and copper in public drinking water, as well limiting the permissible amount of pipe corrosion occurring due to the water itself.

XX-JUL-1998 — The federal Environmental Protection Agency required all large public water systems maintain a program to monitor and control lead in drinking water due to piping corrosion under the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). Cities like Flint must have a state-approved plan to maintain water to regulatory limits for pH, alkalinity, corrosion inhibitor chemicals.

XX-XXX-2002 — [DATE TBD] Genesee County purchased 326 acres of property with 300 feet of Lake Huron waterfront via auction from Detroit Edison, for $2.7 million **How did this purchase affect the city of Flint’s 2002-2004 financial crisis?
__________

2009

28-AUG-2009 — Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued a permit to Genesee County Drain Commission for water withdrawal from Lake Huron (Permit 2009-001), up to 85 million gallons per day. MDEQ director at the time is Steven Chester.
__________

2011

10-MAY-2011 — DTE Energy expressed interest in acquiring 3 million gallons of water from Lake Huron intake for use at the Greenwood electricity generation plant.

07-SEP-2011 — Report to Flint City Council by Rowe Engineering determined buying water from Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) cheaper than continuing to purchase from Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), or using Flint River water as upgrades to Flint treatment equipment required would cost $50 million.

XX-SEP-2011 — (confirm date) City of Flint increase water and sewer rates 35%. Higher water costs due in part to higher-than-expected unmetered water losses. This is the second double-digit rate hike in 2011. The city’s water system once served ~200K residents, now serves half that number and a much smaller manufacturing base.

29-NOV-2011 — Emergency Manager Michael Brown appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to take over management of the city of Flint effective 01-DEC-2011. Democratically elected offices are now subordinate to the EM.

XX-DEC-2011 — (confirm date) Report showed the City of Flint leaking 30 to 40% of its water, well above more typical 15-20 percent loss of unmetered water.

20-DEC-2011 — The City of Detroit sells $500,675,000 in bonds for Water Supply System Revenue funding (pdf). The offering prospectus notes Flint’s desire to migrate to the KWA, but that it might be seven years out before the move. 6% of DWSD water is supplied to Flint.
__________

2012

XX-FEB-2012 — (confirm date) Emergency Manager’s team audited Flint’s water system to identify current rate of unmetered water loss.

23-APR-2012 — EM Michael Brown proposed budget plan includes a 25% average increase in water and sewer rates, with water rates projected to increase 12.5% and sewer 45%. City personnel cuts were also proposed. Water and sewer are the single largest expenditure in the budget. (Proposed budget, PDF) **Did any of the personnel cuts made affect staffing of water and sewer maintenance?

XX-AUG-2012 — [DATE TBD] Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder after Brown steps down. Kurtz has previous experience working in Flint during the 2002-2004 financial emergency.

XX-DEC-2012 — [DATE TBD] Michigan Treasury officials met with Flint city officials to discuss drinking water alternatives, including Flint River. Only two options — remaining on DWSD, or development/switch to new KWA — would be studied.
Continue reading

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

Thursday: Thunder Much

[image: Thor's Battle Against the Jötnar by Mårten Eskil Winge, c. 1872, via Wikimedia]

[image: Thor’s Battle Against the Jötnar by Mårten Eskil Winge, c. 1872, via Wikimedia]

It’s Thor’s Day, the Norse god of thunder’s day. This dude has a really poor selection of images available until the 20th century, and most are commercial. Doesn’t say much about his powers, does it.

Speaking of powers, mine are tapped out. I have a massive, partially-completed timeline on the Flint water crisis scheduled to post at 9:00 a.m. EST. When you see it, you’ll understand why my thunder’s depleted. I’ll throw a couple eye-catching items here for now; use this as an open thread.

In case I forget: Skål!

North Korean military chief executed for corruption
NK’s execution of Army General Ri Yong-Gil seems really oddly timed within a week of NK’s satellite launch. Makes one wonder if the launch and the execution were related. The termination is attributed to Kim Jong-Un’s continued efforts at retaining power.

Hundreds of thousands of stolen Social Security numbers used to attack IRS
Where the heck did hackers get 464,000 Social Security numbers? And how the heck did they use 101,000 of them to hammer away at the IRS to obtain e-pin number for filings? The IRS says no one’s personal taxpayer data has been compromised, nor were any filings messed up in this automated mass attack last month.

Comcast pleads with ISP customers in Atlanta
Looks like somebody’s nervous about Google Fiber coming to Atlanta, cutting into their broadband market. A pity, that, should have offered better customer service and more competitive pricing. If Comcast had already delivered these, there’d be no reason for Google to bother in that market.

Absolut-ly profitable year ahead for Pernod Ricard
Huh. I guess it makes sense, with the world in such upheaval that booze would be profitable. Pernod Ricard’s projections of one to three percent growth this year remain unchanged as the second-largest distiller in the world names a new leader for its North American business.

By Thor’s hammer…it’s tequila time somewhere. What’s the old Norse word for booze?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

District Attorneys Use Spying as Cover To Demand a Law Enforcement Back Door

In response to a question Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr posed during his committee’s Global Threat hearing yesterday, Jim Comey admitted that “going dark” is “overwhelmingly … a problem that local law enforcement sees” as they try to prosecute even things as mundane as a car accident.

Burr: Can you, for the American people, set a percentage of how much of that is terrorism and how much of that fear is law enforcement and prosecutions that take place in every town in America every day?

Comey: Yeah I’d say this problem we call going dark, which as Director Clapper mentioned, is the growing use of encryption, both to lock devices when they sit there and to cover communications as they move over fiber optic cables is actually overwhelmingly affecting law enforcement. Because it affects cops and prosecutors and sheriffs and detectives trying to make murder cases, car accident cases, kidnapping cases, drug cases. It has an impact on our national security work, but overwhelmingly this is a problem that local law enforcement sees.

Much later in the hearing Burr — whose committee oversees the intelligence but not the law enforcement function of FBI, which functions are overseen by the Senate Judiciary Committee — returned to the issue of encryption. Indeed, he seemed to back Comey’s point — that local law enforcement is facing a bigger problem with encryption than intelligence agencies — by describing District Attorneys from big cities and small towns complaining to him about encryption.

I’ve had more District Attorneys come to me that I have the individuals at this table. The District Attorneys have come to me because they’re beginning to get to a situation where they can’t prosecute cases. This is town by town, city by city, county by county, and state by state. And it ranges from Cy Vance in New York to a rural town of 2,000 in North Carolina.

Of course, the needs and concerns of these District Attorneys are the Senate Judiciary Committee’s job to oversee, not Burr’s. But he managed to make it his issue by calling those local law enforcement officials “those who complete the complement of our intelligence community” in promising to take up the issue (though he did make clear he was not speaking for the committee in his determination on the issue).

One of the responsibilities of this committee is to make sure that those of you at at the table and those that comp — complete the complement of our intelligence community have the tools through how we authorize that you need. [sic]

Burr raised ISIS wannabes and earlier in the hearing Comey revealed the FBI still hadn’t been able to crack one of a number of phones owned by the perpetrators of the San Bernardino attack. And it is important for the FBI to understand whether the San Bernardino attack was directed by people in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan that Tashfeen Malik associated with before coming to this country planning to engage in Jihad.

But only an hour before Jim Comey got done explaining that the real urgency here is to investigate drug cases and car accident cases, not that terrorist attack.

The balance between security, intelligence collection, and law enforcement is going to look different if you’re weighing drug investigations against the personal privacy of millions than if you’re discussing terrorist communications, largely behind closed doors.

Yet Richard Burr is not above pretending this about terrorism when it’s really about local law enforcement.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

More Evidence Secret “Tweaks” To Section 702 Coming

Way at the end of yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee Global Threats hearing, Tom Cotton asked his second leading question permitting an intelligence agency head to ask for surveillance, this time asking Admiral Mike Rogers whether he still wanted Section 702 (the first invited Jim Comey to ask for access to Electronic Communications Transactions Records with National Security Letters, as Chuck Grassley had asked before; Comey was just as disingenuous in his response as the last time he asked).

Curiously, Cotton offered Rogers the opportunity to ask for Section 702 to be passed unchanged. Cotton noted that in 2012, James Clapper had asked for a straight reauthorization of Section 702.

Do you believe that Congress should pass a straight reauthorization of Section 702?

But Rogers (as he often does) didn’t answer that question. Instead, he simply asserted that he needed it.

I do believe we need to continue 702.

At this point, SSCI Chair Richard Burr piped up and noted the committee would soon start the preparation process for passing Section 702, “from the standpoint of the education that we need to do in educating and having Admiral Rogers bring us up to speed on the usefulness and any tweaks that may have to be made.”

This seems to parallel what happened in the House Judiciary Committee, where it is clear some discussion about the certification process occurred (see this post and this post).

Note this discussion comes in the wake of a description of some of the changes made in last year’s certification in this year’s PCLOB status report. That report notes that last year’s certification process approved the following changes:

  • NSA added a requirement to explain a foreign intelligence justification in targeting decisions, without fully implementing a recommendation to adopt criteria “for determining the expected foreign intelligence value of a particular target.” NSA is also integrating reviewing written justifications in its auditing process.
  • FBI minimization procedures were revised to reflect how often non-national security investigators could search 702-collected data, and added new limits on how 702 data could be used.
  • NSA and CIA write justifications for conducting back door searches on US person data collected under Section 702, except for CIA’s still largely oversight free searches on 702-collected metadata.
  • NSA and CIA twice (in January and May) provided FISC with a random sampling of its tasking and US person searches, which the court deemed satisfactory in its certification approval.
  • The government submitted a “Summary of Notable Section 702 Requirements” covering the rules governing the program, though this summary was not comprehensive nor integrated into the FISC’s reauthorization.

As the status report implicitly notes, the government has released minimization procedures for all four agencies using Section 702 (in addition to NSA, CIA, and FBI, NCTC has minimization procedures), but it did so by releasing the now-outdated 2014 minimization procedures as the 2015 ones were being authorized. At some point, I expect we’ll see DEA minimization procedures, given that the shutdown of its own dragnet would lead it to rely more on NSA ones, but that’s just a wildarseguess.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

Wednesday Morning: Ashes to Ashes

It’s your second morning-after this week, this one launching the countdown on Christian calendars to Easter. I’m a lapsed Catholic, but we do observe Lent in my household. My agnostic son resists, but I’ve explained this is an opportunity to be mindful about others’ experience of going without. We are privileged to choose to give up, and we consciously recognize it by Lenten observation. Some choices we make, like giving up meat and sugar, are beneficial for us, but it’s still the luxury of choice when others are forced to simply suffer without recourse.

This year we will be mindful of water. We take it for granted every time we turn on the faucet. Yet our brethren go without in nearby Flint, in spite of water’s essential nature to life. I’ll donate the money I would have spent on 46 days of meat-based meals to Flint’s United Way Water Fund and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, as both organizations are helping distribute water and filters to Flint residents. Last night’s Boil Water order issued because of a water main break only underlines the difficulties Flint’s residents will face until the entire water system is replaced.

Dept of Duh: Director of National Intelligence says Internet of Things can be used to spy
NO! Say it isn’t so! Like it never occurred to us that any device attached to the internet, including the growing number of WiFi-enabled household appliances, might be used to spy on us.

Volkswagen recalls cars — and not because of emissions
VW didn’t need more trouble; this time, it’s not the German car makers’ fault. 680,000 VW-branded vehicles are being recalled because of Takata-made airbags which may be defective. TAKE NOTE: Mercedes-Benz models were also recalled yesterday.

Toyota, Honda, Acura, BMW, Nissan, Subaru, GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Daimler also issued recalls over the last two years for the very same reason — defective Takata-made airbags. See this article for a running timeline of events related to the recalls as well as a list of affected vehicles (to date).

Attacking the grid? Try a squirrel first – hacking is much harder
A honeypot mimicking an energy management system demonstrated the challenge to hackers trying to crash a power grid. Dewan Chowdhury, MalCrawler’s founder, spoke at Kaspersky Lab security Analyst Summit about the knowledge set needed to attack energy systems:

“It’s extremely difficult. You’ can’t just be a NSA or FSB hacker; you need an electrical engineer on board to weaponize attacks and figure out what’s going on … When it comes to weaponization, you need a power substation engineering who knows what needs to be done and tested.”

After reading about Chowdhury’s presentation, I have two caveats. The first is the notion that an “electrical engineer” or a “power substation engineer” is required. Many non-degreed workers like electricians and technicians are familiar with computers, networks, and SCADA equipment. The second is this bit:

The groups had access to the HMI, which would allow them to manipulate the grid, but Chinese, U.S., and Russian groups, he said, stick to a gentlemen’s agreement and leave the grid alone. Middle Eastern actors, however, will try to perform control actions to sabotage the grid.

A “gentlemen’s agreement”? When do the gloves come off? When one of these actors align with a Middle Eastern actor?

Global disaster — how would you respond?
In case a mess of squirrels are deployed to take down the world’s power grids, one might need to know how to deal with the inevitable meltdown of services. Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies modeled a global disaster in 2013 by way of a simulation game. The results were predictable:

What they discovered was that the country was ill prepared to cope. Within two weeks there would be enormous civilian casualties, a catastrophic breakdown in essential institutions, and mass civil unrest. Food supplies, electricity and transport infrastructures would all collapse.

International security scholar Dr. Nafeez Ahmed was asked how people should respond; he offered a nifty guide, outlined in six points.

But disaster isn’t always global, and current cases show our gross inability to respond to limited disasters. Flint, for example, already struggles with running water, item number three on Dr. Ahmed’s list. Conveniently, Flint doesn’t necessarily rely on government or law enforcement (item number four) because neither responded appropriately to the ongoing water crisis. What remains to be seen is whether Flint will muster long-term self-sufficiency (item number six) as government and law enforcement continue to let them down.

Speaking of Flint, I wonder how today’s Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on Flint’s water crisis will go, as Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder declined to appear.

“Don’t necessarily trust the government or law enforcement” in global disaster, indeed.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

The Unnamed Network Provider Exposing our Infrastructure

Today was Global Threat day, when James Clapper testifies before various committees in Congress and Ron Wyden asks uncomfortable questions (today, directed exclusively at John Brennan). I’ll have a few posts about the hearings (in Senate Armed Services and Senate Intelligence Committees) and Clapper’s testimony, the SASC version of which is here.

One interesting detail in Clapper’s testimony comes in the several paragraph section on Infrastructure within a larger section on “Protecting Information Resources.” Here’s how the testimony describes the Juniper hack.

A major US network equipment manufacturer acknowledged last December that someone repeatedly gained access to its network to change source code in order to make its products’ default encryption breakable. The intruders also introduced a default password to enable undetected access to some target networks worldwide.

There’s no discussion of how many Federal agencies use Juniper’s VPN, nor of how this must have exposed US businesses (unless the NSA clued them into the problem). And definitely no discussion of the assumption that NSA initially asked for the back door that someone else subsequently exploited.

More importantly, there’s no discussion of the cost of this hack, which I find interesting given that it may be an own goal.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

Tuesday Morning: The Fat One You’ve Awaited

Mardi Gras. The day before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday. In Brazil, it’s Carnival — plenty of parades with costumed dancers and samba. In New Orleans, it means king cake, beads, and more parades, but here in Michigan, it means pączki. No parades in the snow, just an icy trek to the Polish bakery for some decadent sweets we get but once a year.

I’m still drafting this, too much stuff to weed through this morning. I’ll update as I write. Snag a cup of joe and a pączki while you wait. Make mine raspberry filled, please!

Economic indicators say “Maybe, Try Again”
Asian and European stock markets were a mess this morning. There’s no sign of an agreement between OPEC nations on production and pricing, which may lead to yet more floundering in the stock market. Yet one indicator — truck tonnage on the roads — doesn’t show signs of a recession in the U.S.

UK court cases topsy-turvy: LIBOR Six and a secret trial

  • UK can’t hold the LIBOR Six bankers accountable for their part in the 2008 economic crisis because the prosecution was sloppy. It’s pretty bad when a defense attorney asks if the prosecution was “making this up as they go along.”
  • The article’s first graf is a warning:

    Warning: this article omits information that the Guardian and other news organisations are currently prohibited from publishing.

    The case, R v Incedal and Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, continues to look like a star chamber, with very little information available to the public about the case. The accused have been charged and served time, but the media has been unable to freely access information about the case, and their appeal has now been denied. A very ugly precedent for a so-called free country.

Facebook: French trouble, and no free internet in India

  • Shocked, SHOCKED, I am: French regulators told Facebook its handling of users data didn’t sufficiently protect their privacy. The Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) told the social media platform it has three months to stop sharing users’ data with U.S. facilities for processing. CNIL also told Facebook to stop tracking non-Facebook users without warning them.
  • The Indian government told Facebook thanks, but no thanks to its Free Basics offering, a so-called free internet service. The service ran afoul of net neutrality in that country as it implicitly discouraged users from setting up sites outside Facebook’s platform. Many users did not understand there was a difference between Facebook and the internet as a whole. Mr. Zuckerberg really needs to study the meaning of colonialism, and how it might pertain to the internet in emerging markets.

Boy kicked out of school because of his DNA
This is a really sad story not resolved by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The boy has cystic fibrosis; his parents informed the school on his paperwork, as they should in such cases. But because of the risks to the boy or his siblings with similar genes, the boy was asked to leave. GINA, unfortunately, does not protect against discrimination in education, only in healthcare and employment. This is a problem Congress should take up with an amendment to GINA. No child should be discriminated against in education because of their genes over which they have no control, any more than a child should be discriminated against because of their race, gender identity, or sexuality.

All right, get your party on, scarf down the last of your excess sweets, for tomorrow is sackcloth and ashes. I can hardly wait for the sugar hangover to come.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

NSA’s Funny Description of the Job that Required a Controversial Reorganization

The NSA just released its announcement describing the logic behind its new reorganization (I covered the reorg here, here’s a more comprehensive article on it).

A lot of the language sounds like the same kind of McKinsey claptrap we saw in the CIA reorganization, which makes me wonder whether McKinsey got to NSA as well.

NSA21 is the result of an effort by the NSA workforce who, together with the Agency’s leaders at all levels, collectively sought to answer a critical question ADM Rogers asked early in his tenure: “How do we ensure the same or higher level of success five to ten years into the future?” Foreign threats to our national security are complex and evolving. As it has done throughout its history, NSA regularly assesses its processes and structure to make sure the Agency is optimized to defend the nation. In other words, NSA is always dedicated to staying ahead of current and anticipated threats.

The launch of NSA21 is the beginning of a forward-leaning, decisive response. It is a two-year plan to position the Agency to meet increasingly complicated challenges stemming from the proliferation of asymmetric threats to national security, the rapid evolution of the global communications network, fast-growing demand for NSA’s products and services, and the continuing evolution of our cyber mission.

Drawing on the results of workforce surveys, focus groups, and hundreds of interviews with internal and external stakeholders, NSA21 centers on three key themes:

But I’m most struck by the bullets NSA uses to describe its job:

Thwarting terrorists.

Enhancing cybersecurity.

Protecting the warfighter.

Containing, controlling, and protecting strategic weapons.

Note every single bit of offensive action is eliminated here, even for the terrorists that NSA data contributes to drone-killing. Gone, too, is the NSA’s job to develop intelligence to make our “warfighters” more effective in killing our foes, turned into a strictly protective role. Not mentioned at all are some other missions, like learning what foreign officials and key other global players are doing or countering transnational crime.

But I’m most interested in how, in a release explaining the need to merge IAD with NSA’s spying function, NSA describes its cyber function: “enhancing cybersecurity.” It’s not so ambitious to say it will prevent cyber attacks on US networks (which is what it should aspire to, however unrealistic a goal). More importantly, it pretends that everything it does is about enhancing security, when in fact its optimal end state would be exclusive determination of who got to use certain cyber tools.

The point is, the NSA’s job is not enhancing cybersecurity for everyone: it’s about undermining cybersecurity for many many people around the globe. It shouldn’t even be about enhancing the cybersecurity of private corporations (though business entities continue to get the federal government to expand their protection without offering anything in exchange). The NSA’s job isn’t even policing global networks in search of the bad cyberbadguys, because it is a cyberbadguy to much of the world.

Only part of NSA’s job is “enhancing cybersecurity,” and only for some entities. I can understand why you’d want to pretend otherwise in a release about a move that may weaken cybersecurity. But it’s just transparent PR.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

Monday Morning: Taking out the Garbage

Most of the time, I’m here in Michigan and I’m taking out the garbage every Monday. — Bob Seger

Morning-after blues now set in, feeling the weight of too much beer and cheese, doing the Walk of Shame, reeking of regret. Gotta’ love American excess in all things, including sports.

Take out last night’s garbage, pour yourself an herbal tea or a detox smoothie, and let’s get back at it. Speaking of garbage…

VW expected to make appetizing offer to U.S. passenger diesel owners — BUT…

The German car maker has still not decided whether vehicle owners will be offered cash, car buy-backs, repairs or replacement cars, Kenneth Feinberg told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

In other words, everything compensation manager Kenneth Feinberg said on behalf of VW for a German media outlet is vaporware. Best to keep in mind Feinberg has previously represented shining examples of corporate ethics like BP after the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Zika, Zika, Zika…
The virus is now driving some people mad — and they’re not even infected. Like Republican presidential candidates who believe persons traveling to the U.S. should be quarantined if they come to the U.S. from Brazil (Christie), or could be quarantined if they have been infected (Carson). Or scientists pushing to kill all the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, without much thought for what removal of a species of insects will do to the rest of the ecological system which they’ve made home. Viruses are opportunistic; lose one host and they’ll hop to another. Are scientists modeling that next likely host?

Electronic toy maker VTech offers to buy LeapFrog
LeapFrog was popular with my kids 10 years ago; their line of educational toys helped my kids’ grades with spelling test games. But LeapFrog made a strategic error leaving the smaller handheld games for children’s tablets, and is now limping along. VTech has its own problems with technology, like the recent breach of user data, exposing millions of children and their families. Perhaps LeapFrog’s information technology will help shore up VTech’s through this acquisition.

Death from outer space
A bus driver in India may have been the first recorded casualty of a meteorite this weekend. Three others were injured when the meteorite exploded, leaving a small crater and broken windows.

Gong Xi Fa Cai or Gong Hey Fat Choy to you, depending on whether you speak Mandarin or Cantonese, as we enter the Year of the Monkey. Oops, perhaps you shouldn’t take out the trash just yet, especially if it requires sweeping. It’s bad luck to do so on the first new moon of the year — you might sweep your good luck out the door! Oh, your team lost last night? Sweep away. Best wishes for a prosperous new year!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

Superb Owl: Keeping Eye on Fans and More?

If humans could see the full spectrum of radiation, the San Francisco Bay Area shines bright like the sun this evening — not from lighting, but from communications. The Super Bowl concentrates more than 100,000 people, most of whom will have a wireless communications device on their person — cellphone, phablet, or tablet. There are numerous networks conveying information both on the field, the stands and to the fans watching globally on television and the internet.

And all of the communications generates massive amounts of data surely monitored in some way, no matter what our glorious government may tell us to the contrary. The Super Bowl is a National Special Security Event (NSSE), rated with a Special Event Assignment Rating (SEAR) level 1. The designation ensures the advance planning and involvement of all the three-letter federal agencies responsible for intelligence and counterterrorism you can think of, as well as their state and local counterparts. They will be watching physical and electronic behavior closely.

Part of the advance preparation includes establishing a large no-fly zone around the Bay Area. Non-government drones will also be prohibited in this airspace.

What’s not clear to the public: what measures have been taken to assure communications continuity in the same region? Yeah, yeah — we all know they’ll be watching, but how many of the more than one million visitors to the Bay Area for the Super Bowl are aware of the unsolved 15 or 16 telecom cable cuts that happened over the last couple of years? What percentage of local residents have paid or are paying any attention at all to telecommunications infrastructure, or whether crews “working” on infrastructure are legitimate or not?

Planning for a SEAR 1 event begins almost as soon as the venue is announced — perhaps even earlier. In the case of Super Bowl 50, planning began at least as early as the date the game was announced nearly 34 months ago on March 28th, 2014. The Levi’s stadium was still under construction as late as August that same year.

And the first cable cut event happened nearly a year earlier, on April 16, 2013 — six months after Levi’s Stadium was declared one of two finalists to host the 50th Super Bowl, and one month before Levi’s was awarded the slot by NFL owners.

News about a series of 11 cable cuts drew national attention last summer when the FBI asked for the public’s assistance.  These events happened to the east of San Francisco Bay though some of them are surely inside the 32-mile radius no-fly zone observed this evening.

But what about the other cuts which took place after April 2013, and after the last of 11 cuts in June 2015? News reports vary but refer to a total of 15 or 16 cuts about which law enforcement has insufficient information to charge anyone with vandalism or worse. A report last month quotes an FBI spokesperson saying there were 15 attacks against fiber optic cable since 2014. Based on the date, the number of cuts excludes the first event from April 2013, suggesting an additional four cuts have occurred since June 2015.

Where did these cuts occur? Were they located inside tonight’s no-fly zone? Will any disruption to communications services be noticed this evening, when so many users are flooding telecommunications infrastructure? Will residents and visitors alike even notice any unusual technicians at work if there is any disruption?

Keep your eyes peeled, football fans.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on FacebookGoogle+Email to someone

Emptywheel Twitterverse

emptywheel @sbagen The kind of culture change that leads press to join corporate funded firms that will even spin Let them eat cake as a positive
35sreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel .@sbagen Flacking is flacking. It really OUGHT to piss off press in MI, however, seeing big journo layoffs described as "culture change"
2mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Interesting Q: Is Cliven going to stay in OR district or will he be sent back to the pokey in NV?
3mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @AliWatkins That's a story unto itself. WH's been successful at minimizing degree to which CIA obstruction abt protecting WH @Krhawkins5
3mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @jpokeefe Actually @raynetoday did that, but any help is welcome!
10mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Gov's flack points to downsizing of state press & consequent inattention to boss' action as worthy culture change https://t.co/SumgwWaFwT
11mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @Scout_Finch Shush. Let the real FBI informant go! We can totally discredit Fiore here, to everyone's benefit.
13mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @markshefsiek Every time one of these settles @ddayen eventually does a post to show it's really a tax cut. @DanLinden @AaronKatersky
15mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Any claim Rick is changing culture of govt WITHOUT fully backing FOIA to cover his actions is a disgusting mockery. https://t.co/57YX8nkeNW
16mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV Puk Earns USA Baseball International Performance of the Year - Florida Gators https://t.co/uQ3bYijGlR
16mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @normative Hey @Popehat that is an appealable order by Recana I assume?
17mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @Scout_Finch Maybe we can convince the nutters she's an FBI informant?
17mreplyretweetfavorite
February 2016
S M T W T F S
« Jan    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
2829