9/11 Changes Everything
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Hagin was in New York at the time at the UN Headquarters with the Deputy Director of the White House military office, a senior secret service agent on the president's detail and one of the president's five military aides -- all people absolutely critical for leadership in such a crisis scenario. As Hagin and the others struggled to help evacuate the city and head west to rendezvous with the president, they found it near impossible to communicate using the clogged cellular networks.
"Here we had this very senior experienced group of people who had a lot of responsibilities in a crises like this and we were, for all intents and purposes, out of touch," he says. "I was so frustrated by it."
Hagin found out later that those on Capitol Hill equipped with BlackBerry devices were able to communicate via e-mail because those messages were being sent over different networks than the overloaded cellular networks.
"It took something like September 11 to really break the log jam. We basically made the executive decision to overrule the security services and get BlackBerries for the White House," Hagin says, explaining that most private sector executives can relate with his thought processes. "Anybody who's working for a large organization, who has a critical role in the operations of that organization, has to make these judgments. What's worse, having some data stolen or being unable to do your job in an emergency or in a crisis?"