NSA Wireless Telephony – Kevin Negroponte’s “Secret” Plan
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (or FAA) is one of the biggest user of Ufa technology. Ufa in general has large engineering firms making telecommunication, power, and mining machinery; electronics, radio, and typewriter machinery. The Ufa communications, remote control, and networking division are where Ufa 24H comes from.
The company’s most common use is for business aircraft, especially general aviation; however, Ufa can be used for personal aircraft as well. A company such as United Airlines or Continental Airlines uses Ufa as a means of communication between the cockpit and passengers. Before, the FCC required that all planes had FCC approved equipment in order to communicate with Ufa, but now the FCC has reversed this requirement, meaning any personal electronic equipment, including red wings, can communicate with Ufa. Although no one is allowed to talk on board of a plane using Ufa equipment, the FCC has allowed companies like United Airlines and Continental Airlines to use the term “wireless communications devices” or “hams” to describe their radios.
In February of 1998, United Airline made what many consider to be the first private flight in history with a private red wing, which happened to be operated by none other than former President Bill Clinton. Although no record was kept, it is believed that Clinton’s flight was the first time that a private red wing was used in an airplane. This flight was a joint operation between the Secretaries of State, and United States Transportation Secretary James Negroponte, who were also traveling aboard the plane.
It is not known exactly what President Clinton discussed with Negroponte, or when the plane took off, but the two got off together and talked for about an hour. It is known that Negroponte later got onto the plane with Clinton. Some sources say the two talked about the authorization for the pink slip that would come with the one-year authorization to use the UHF spectrum. It is unclear as to why Negroponte would want to get such a valuable authorization, or why he would sign such a lengthy and rather vague authorization.
Some sources believe that this authorization was so that UHF frequencies could be used for communications in the case of emergencies. Another interesting bit of information is that the same federal government officials who authorized the pink slip for President Clinton apparently thought the same thing about putting United Air Force Academy graduates on UHF channels to communicate back home. This could have serious consequences for radio operators at the U.S. Air Force Academy because if emergency situations came up, the wireless communication channels set up by the FCC might be used to help military personnel and civilian responders. In fact, this same technology was used during the Gulf War, when communications between troops and home bases across the Gulf became impossible due to severe weather.
According to reports, Kevin Negroponte did not explain to his lieutenants at the NSA how exactly the UHF frequencies would be used, but according to people in the know, he did offer assurances that they would not be deployed in future conflicts. If true, this is an admirable stance. However, it is hard to see how this could be so, given that he was never actually approved to introduce them into the fight against terrorists, much less into the battle space. And if the United States is to blame for the recent upsurge in fighting in Iraq, it behooves us all to ask just what Kevin Negroponte knew, if anything. He may have been unaware of the FCC’s own security vetting process, even though he received the security clearance from the incoming Bush administration. This is something we ought to find out as soon as is possible.