September 30, 2013
Southcom: Fiber Optic Cable Contract for Guantanamo Still Not Signed
By Tammy Marie Rose
TMCnet Contributing Writer
Last week, a senior Pentagon official testified that a fiber-optic communications cable that would link Florida to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "would probably be implemented in about two years."
According to a Southern Command spokesman, the contract has yet to be awarded. Work will not begin until after the Defense Department officially agrees to the contract.
Navy Lt. Commander Ronald Flanders, a Southcom spokesman, agreed with the two-year timetable. Flanders says the winning bidder "probably won't start laying the cable until 2015" with a goal of completion "around January 2016."
Flanders did not say how many companies had bid on the project.
Flanders said in an e-mail that "the work will start in January, though, and it will be a long process."
The path along the ocean shore has all ready been mapped by a surveyor ship. Once a bid is accepted and a contract is signed, the company will then build the actual cable and put it on a giant spool. Bechtold described the cable as a "gigantic bundle" big enough to one day serve the entire island.
Ground delivery stations will need to be constructed on both sides of the Florida Straits, where the cable will emerge on land. None of this work can begin until a bidder is chosen.
Bechtold brought up the cable while he spoke about Pentagon efforts to shore up computer security for defense attorneys preparing for the death-penalty trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four accused co-conspirators.
The trial has a purposed date of Sept. 22, 2014. A five man conspiracy prosecution seeks to execute the five men accused of plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed close to 3,000 Americans.
The presiding judge, Judge James L. Pohl, has yet to agree to or set a provisional trial date. Pohl is considering a defense motion to "abate the proceedings to let the alleged terrorists' Pentagon-paid lawyers set up a computer system they consider consistent with their confidentiality obligations."
Edited by Alisen Downey
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