Murrel. Org Updated 12/20/2003  

  Freedom, Security & Demarcs
   by Murrel,
   December 20, 2003

Freedom and security go together like guns and butter. In America we have to have both.

Many of us have wrestled with the issues of personal freedoms versus the needs for security. As readers here may have noted, we tend to come down on the side of civil freedoms when there is a conflict between these two needs.

But while we believe that civil liberties are our highest priority, we do not see the polarization between the two camps as either necessary or desireable. Like most things in life, a balance is needed.

The Homeland Security office has recenlty issued new orders to protect the nation's vital infrastructures in view of continuing terrorists threats and is now trying to determine new priorities and all Americans should be glad that they are doing so.

One of the things they are doing is trying to determine the weaknesses of our national infrastructure. We can't know what to protect or how to go about that without knowing what its weaknesses are. I am sure that they will find many.

We, as a country, have been so free of terrorists and enemy armies on our soil for so long that many important things have been left unattended and could be attacked with relative ease. Certainly they have been trying to close the security gap in those areas which have already been compromised and taken advantage by foreign terrorists on 9/11.

For example, we see many changes being made in our rules for flying. Though the years terrorists have have slowly made flying more arduous and tedious. First they were attacked by individual terrorist hijacking planes to Cuba, then by organized arab terrorists overseas trying to get attention to their causes and finally here on 9/11/2001. I appreciate that we must have inconvenience for the safety of travel.

However I have always been against giving up essential freedoms to secure a tenuous and indefinate advantage against the mere possibility of attack. We must all do our part to help society to remain safe and secure while insuring that our freedoms remain in tact.

All of this is, I guess, a long winded way of stating where I stand on the security v freedom issues that threatens to divide our country as the Democrats preferring to remain in denial of the great conflict of our day while the Republicans want to exchange freedom for security. It is necessary to make such statements, in a way, because in this polarized society, few in the main stream of politics seem to understand the need for both balance and civil tolerance while we pursue the great war of our age.

Having thought and felt and said the above, it is now necessary for me to point out a serious area which requires Homeland Security attention.

Our telecommunications is the backbone of many modern conveniences that support our national backbone. Telecommunications is the telephone and Internet backbone of our country. Telecommuncations is, of course, also my area of work and expertise.

Everyday telco workers are installing phone systems and Internet services in every area of the country. And when they install those communication lines, the connections are made in public areas or on the outsides of buildings at what the telephone company calls a "demarc".

It is bad enough that this process, which exposes business assests and public services, routinely takes place. But over the past two years, as Ameritech gave way to SBC in Peoria, we have now found that SBC is now unwilling to even accept customer requests to place the demarc in secure areas within the customers place of business.

Upon questioning low level SBC workmen and middle mangers, they tell me that this is so that management can quickly review installtion work and so that workmen can get to these points without having to notify the customer.

In fact, one installer told me it was because SBC didn't want to be responsible for "inside wiring" if someone wanted to just cut the lines with a pocket knife.

It seems to me that as the work of evaluating our infrastructure security goes forward, SBC should be asked to review their procedures. As things stand now, it would take anyone with a pocket knife just a few short seconds to take out the communications of any target business or building.

-Murrel Rhodes