As we watch the prosecutions of all the people swept up with Blagojevich the fundamental question obsessing every Chicagoan becomes:
-Why were all these people talking on the phone?
We are perfectly willing to write off Rob himself as a hopeless mouth with his skirt over his head, in the middle of Madison and State. But some of these people are connected. They sit on the right hand. They’re not supposed to get caught, even in their seventies, even as window dressing. What’s going on?
I believe these people were victims of technological change.
To understand let us go back to when everything started: the sixties. Some poor telephone line man in Hyde Park was coming down from the pole with all these gadgets he’d taken off the line. Ma Bell had enough. It wasn’t that they were patriotic; they had to protect their equipment. They purchased these fancy switches from a German company that recorded all the calls that passed through them. From then on any agency with a warrant, or at least the budget to pay for it, could have surveillance calls routed through this switch.
The switch was designed in the fifties. When new features, like voice mail, came through the switch didn’t handle them correctly. In particular, if you had a cheap phone, the voice mail light wouldn’t turn off after you deleted the voice mail. People in the know didn’t mind this feature. You might say they came to depend on it.
Then in the zeds, when all the old lists got reactivated, the government dumped a lot more people on the switches. It got to the point where the agencies got behind on the money they owed to the phone companies for the surveillance. Some of the new enrollees complained about the service. In the negotiations it came up that the switch didn’t really work and an upgrade was installed.
Unfortunately, it appears that, some of the wise guys weren’t in the loop. They must not have realized that their phones were being routed through an upgraded switch.
I propose that people being monitored should get a rebate from the phone company since they are bringing in government business.