Leaked 9/11 Texts a Gold Mine for Historians, Truthers, Voyeurs

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Photo: Getty Images

Throughout the day today, the website Wikileaks will be publishing over half a million messages sent from text pagers on 9/11. According to the website, they range "from Pentagon and New York Police Department exchanges, to computers reporting faults to their operators as the World Trade Center collapsed." It's a little arduous sifting through all the computer gibberish in the documents, but the information contained within can be fascinating. CBS News's Dean McCullagh found messages discussing an evacuation to Mount Weather, "the government's sort-of secret bunker buried under the Virginia mountains west of Washington, D.C." He finds another that warned of a threat to Air Force One, and even one that seemed to celebrate the death of a disliked business executive onboard one of the doomed flights. Other texts refer to a bomb going off in the World Trade Center and military planes forcing down a commercial jet, which, as McCullagh points out, are sure to pique the interest of 9/11 Truthers.

Many other messages are personal, with no bearing on history. Just browsing ourselves, we found one that reads, "the coast is clear,lets go get some indian food right now," and another saying, "Please tell us you drove. Dad just called me about what is going on in the world, very scarey!" Another one highlighted by Wikileaks reads, "Honey wanted to tell you how much i love you. I was alittle worried.I Don’t want to lose you now that I got you back. You mean everything to me. You have my whole heart and life. Ilove you so much."

Obviously, the release of these messages raises questions about privacy. How did Wikileaks get all these texts in the first place? McCullagh says that they were either illegally copied from the archives of the pager companies and then shared with Wikileaks, or, more likely, obtained through "over-the-air interception" using technology which can be be both cheap and readily available. Kind of disturbing, no? Still, though reading these private, sometimes intimate communications might be distasteful or even repulsive to some, the voyeuristic impulse is also hard to resist.

9/11 tragedy pager intercepts. [Wikileaks]
Egads! Confidential 9/11 Pager Messages Disclosed [Taking Liberties/CBS News]
Wikileaks Says It Has Half-a-Million 9/11 Pager Messages [Threat Level/Wired]