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  • Writer's pictureJames Massa

This is the White House, please hold.

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

There are so many stories of great losses and great heroes from 9/11/2001. Living in DC and being the VP of Global Govt. Solutions for Cisco Systems at that time, I lost neighbors, co-workers, and valued friends and associates both at the Pentagon and in New York on 9/11. As for my team the call received that fateful morning was from Richard Clarke, then the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism reporting to the President of the United States. His charter to us was two-fold.

  1. Ensure the Internet does not go down.

  2. Ensure that Wall Street was back up and operational by the end of the week.

Both were daunting tasks added to other "continuity of government" assignments which I'm not entirely sure can be discussed even 18 years later. Many talented people responded in many exceptional ways to meet the tasks assigned and did so with heavy hearts and excellent results. As others were evacuating out, my teams were headed into the fray.

What enabled this effective response to occur from my organization and the company I represented lay not just in what occurred that day, but years prior as preparations were made to respond to a "national disaster" the likes of which we clearly did not foresee or imagine. Yet, planning was done. Procedures were designed. People were trained. Operations were practiced. Partnerships were formed. These are the things that allow successful response in the time such is most needed.

I am proud to have served alongside the citizens, elected officials, and military personnel and officers that day. In the years surrounding 9/11 I chaired the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Council's Internet Architecture Task Force advising the President of the United States on cyber related matters. I know those who have continued in this and other roles continue to live into the charter we had which was to "Make the Internet Safe for Democracy".

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