09/24/13 - La Alborada (Washington, DC) - Cuba --or a part of it-- will get a second fiber-optic cable
Internet communications in Cuba are not up to date, at least in a part of the country where, ironically, a new fiber-optic line was laid not long ago under the Caribbean Sea all the way from Venezuela. A report of September 20 used phrases like "slow satellite transmissions to the mainland," "cut off from the rest of the country," and "communications backwater with no U.S. cellphone service, limited military-run Wi-Fi and slow Internet service."
The report, from the Miami Herald, concerned the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, a territory run exclusively by the US.
It seems that Internet on the base is a drag, but the Pentagon --Southcom, in particular-- is planning to fix that. According to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagels chief information officer, Ronald Bechtold, the new cable will be fully functioning within two years. This came up in a case before a war court under questioning by the 9/11 case prosecutor Joanna Baltes, a Department of Justice secrecy expert. As reported by the Herald, Bechtold was talking about "efforts to shore up computer security for defense attorneys preparing for the Sept. 11 death-penalty trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four accused co-conspirators."
If that is true, it appears that the trial could last more than two years.
The US continues to impose a blockade on Cuba, making it illegal to sell to Cuba hardware and software made in the US or by US companies --computers, equipment for the Internet backbone, cables, connectors, operating systems, applications, and applets--, while attempting to keep Cuba from having enough money to buy the equipment even if it were legal to do so. It's therefore no surprise to see this:
There is no plan for the Southcom to provide fiber-optic communications support to mainland Cuba, Army Col. Greg Julian said Friday afternoon by email from Southcom in Doral. He said the goal of the enclosed [Department of Defense] fiber-optic node is to improve communications for the workers actually stationed here.
However, Pentagon officials are upbeat about the future of the $40 million of improvements planned. Its going to be for the entire island in anticipation that one day that theyll be able to extend it into mainland Cuba, said Bechtold. That, obviously, assumes a radical change in the government of the island, to be forced some day by the US. Why would Cuba want its Internet signals to arrive through military computers from the US, especially given the massive spying going on by the NSA and other agencies, and of even US citizens on the mainland?
The Herald quoted Bechtold;s testimony in regard to the above:
It would benefit the entire base. And frankly, industry would love to do that, because when they put a cable down here, its not going to be for the base, its going to be for the entire island in anticipation that one day that theyll be able to extend it into mainland Cuba... And Southcom decided that they needed it because they had other people on the island had needs. And I was told that that was a funded project and it would probably be implemented in about two years.
Later, It will be a gigantic bundle. It will be a big cable. And like I said, they will physically drag it all the way here. They will only use some fibers inside for our needs, because, frankly, when they do it, its just not cost effective to do a tiny little fiber link for us.
The testimony includes an interesting statement: "And Southcom decided that they needed it because they had --other people on the island had needs." Other people? It does not sound like the defense attorneys assigned to the defendants in military court. Maybe it's the CIA people. They need to have a functioning "dead" button, operating now from the Washington area, to cut off the sound when a secret word is about to slip out during interrogation. And, surely, the CIA could come up with additional uses.
US taxpayers should be heartened to know that, at $40 million, it's a good investment, or will be, eventually.
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