Thursday, November 26, 2009

The 9/11 pages

WikiLeaks has got themselves a gold mine: 573,000 intercepted pager messages from 9/11. They're releasing them in real time throughout the day, as they were sent on 9/11.

Why is this interesting? As they note,

Text pagers are usualy [sic] carried by persons operating in an official capacity. Messages in the archive range from Pentagon, FBI, FEMA and New York Police Department exchanges, to computers reporting faults at investment banks inside the World Trade Center
The pager archive is thus an invaluable historical resource of the government reaction to one of the defining moments of our era.

The big question though is how the hell did they get them? They're quoted in Wired as saying "the information comes from an organization which has been intercepting and archiving national US telecommunications since prior to 9/11" - which means the NSA, GCHQ, or equivalent organisation. So the big story here isn't what it reveals about the panic, confusion and terror on the morning of September 11, 2001 - but the widespread warrantless and illegal surveillance which has allowed that story to be told.

[Hat-tip: Kevin Drum]