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By rshunter2
August 6, 2001

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Subject: The slow and painful death of an irreplaceable American institution.

It should apparent to anyone, that without outside intervention, very soon whatever remains of Lucent Technologies and Bell Laboratories, a source of pride to many Americans, will soon completely evaporate, and whatever (and whomever) that have not been spun off into child companies, or outsourced to non-US companies will end up with outright closings and layoffs. Where will the funding come from that Bell Laboratories depended on to create its miracles?

Well, I guess the former Secretary of Defense, Mr. Weinberger had it right when he testified back around the early 1980's that messing with the Bell System could endanger National Security. But even at that time, I believe we all thought that Western/Bell Labs was something important to this country, and I doubt even he though this could have happened.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind people in Washington of what an integral part AT&T / Western Electric / Bell Labs and the Bell System have played in peacetime and in war as our part of "being Americans" [Hereafter known as just Phone People.].

Many Phone People gave their lives in service to our country in both times of war and peace.

It is for those that are no longer here, and to honor their memories that I write this, many of whom I had the privilege to know.

Phone People were involved as early as helping start the United States Army Signal Corps, which became the US Army Signal Command, many were just union grunts that volunteered to run wires and set up command posts, risking their lives every moment, from dreadful death due to gas, mines, shells, or just being shot. They did it because they knew no one else could.

In World War II, Phone People (meaning Western Electric and Bell Labs especially) and DuPont were specifically asked for to run and be part of a very secret project that could end the war with Germany, or as it ended up, ending the war with Japan. Phone People and Dupont just wanted 2% above cost, and that's all they were ever paid, or wanted. The project, of course, was the Manhattan Project, and the birth of the nuclear age.

Phone People at Whippany, NJ worked with the British to perfect the secret weapon called RADAR, as well as many other things critical to the War effort.

Phone People also invented the first really nifty electronic scrambling system, (after we found out the Germans were listening in with what had been in use) these were built in record time and put in place; there were only 5 or 6 ever built, each weighed tons, but Churchill and Roosevelt had no worries after that talking across the Atlantic. (Well perhaps it might have made it harder for the enemy to sneak out with one under his coat�)

Phone People continued to operate Sandia National Laboratories after the War, for cost + 2%. (A deal is a deal, after all.)

Phone People participated in the aboveground nuclear tests to make sure the nation had a survivable network; by having mocked-up switching offices and other equipment arrayed around the blast sites. Phone People also designed AUTOVON and AUTODIN; military command and control networks deeply buried in the nation's telephone system, and quietly put them in place, to support the unthinkable.

Phone People and the US Navy feverishly worked, using our expertise in acoustics, undersea cabling and systems to build the formerly secret SOSUS hydrophone network that continues to guard against secret encroachment by enemy submarines.

Around the time that President Kennedy and the world were in suspense over nuclear attack from Cuba, a network of defensive nuclear missiles ringing DC and a handful of other critical sites was already in place, designed and engineered by Western Electric and Bell Labs and tested with 'a little help from our friends' at White Sands, and Kwajelein in the South Pacific. The project was called SAFEGARD and I believe was a lead-to later systems that the ABM treaty kind of dented a bit.

In conclusion, I would ask a simple question of the people in Washington we elected:

Don't you think that Lucent Technologies and Bell Laboratories can call in a few of their chips now? I would think there's a fairly large stack build up and never cashed in.

The idea of a strategic resource and people that has served the United States, in growing the economy, in defending our country, in creating technologies that have changed the face of the world we live in, could be sold to foreign interests, or close its doors outright, sickens me.

Our people treated this as a duty to the customers, to the Company, and our Nation. And that duty was taken very seriously, indeed.

We were there to create and provide for our fellow Americans, the best telephone service any nation ever had; we answered that Call. And few could argue with our success.

We were there for you to help defend our Nation, or our servicemen, and allies, and we answered those Calls too, through wars beyond count and during the 'peacetime' we had when we afraid from minute to minute that the last thing we'd ever see would be a really bright flash of light.

If the Call comes again, I hope the number is still in service.

Apparently rescuing a automobile maker in Detroit was of greater importance then helping someone like Bell Laboratories and Lucent survive. A lot of people have trouble understanding this.

Sincerely,
R. Scott Hunter
Former Manager,
Michigan Bell Telephone Company, and
American Telephone & Telegraph Company