Okay I have tracked this problem to the following issue:
During my upgrade to gnome 2.12 it upgraded my kernel from 53 to 56.
I can no longer connect to wireless networks that require a WEP key.
I can bring up my wireless connection with wpa_supplicant or wlassistant and view available networks.
I can connect to an unprotected "default" someone has left open in my building
as soon as I try to connect to my home network which requires a wep key, there is a segmentation fault and it locks up. It doesn't matter whether I'm using those applications or the Network GUI, they all lock up. The network GUI is the only one that reports the segmentation fault, but they both cause the same lock up and weirdness on restart (yet another restart clears it all up and everything is fine again)
I had reinstalled the firmware, driver and ieee stuff after upgrading the kernel.
The wireless adapter on my laptop is an ipw2200BG.
Somehow, something to do with WEP has gotten mucked up, has this happened to anyone before? and if so how did they solve it?
I'm using 1.0.10 driver off sourceforge, 2.4 firmware, and latest ieee from sourceforge (don't recall the version right off, but I know it was the latest as of yesterday)