Hundreds of thousands of electronic messages from 9/11 — including panicked exchanges from the Pentagon and the NYPD — were released today by a nonprofit activist group.
The riveting pager texts include messages from people at the fiery scene, brave first responders and worried, desperate onlookers just trying to get a word about a loved one.
"We're under another 'terrorist' attack in new york city at the world trade buildings!!!" said one message recorded at 9:11 a.m. "It's horrible. two planes crash into the top floors of each building."
Another message reads: "Please don't leave the building. One of the towers just collapsed! Please, please be careful. Repeat,"
Another was more emotional: "Honey wanted to tell you how much i love you," the sender wrote. "I was a little 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. I love you so much."
According to CBS News, one of the pages indicated that Air Force One was a target, a message that apparently led officials to divert President Bush’s plane, which was en route from Florida to Washington D.C.
Although the messages are sure to stir up a range of emotions among families of the victims — particularly given the holiday timing — the organization that put them out on its Web site said the messages document important history.
"The archive is a completely objective record of the defining moment of our time," said a statement from the group WikiLeaks. "We hope that its revelation will lead to a more nuanced understanding of the event and its tragic consequences."
The organization did not explain how it obtained what it called "intercepts" of text pagers, but Wired notes that unencrypted pager traffic has been subject to interception by hackers for years. The group’s Web site said it advocates transparency in government.
Other pager messages, which range from panicked to the mundane, include:
—"Car bomb explodes outside State Department, senior law enforceement officials say."
—"Your Father just called and sd that you cousin Stuart who works at the trade center has called and is ok"
—"Ben, Im at work and Im fine. Where are you? Please go home. If all else, please go home."
—"The B-Day cakes are in the front. Thank you!"
—"FYI, IT IS A 3+ HOUR WAIT TO DONATE BLOOD AS OF NOW. MIGHT WANT TO THINK ABOUT GOING LATER TONIGHT OR TOMORROW."
—"as soon as possible pls ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas"
—"life is changing - so are our plans - call me when you get a chance"
—"ALL NEW YORK SECRET SERVICES PERSONNEL — DO NOT GO INTO NEW YORK CITY! GO TO THE NEAREST RO!"
—"night coverage. You will not need to come in tonight. The only thing that he asked is that you keep your pager close by"
—"HI MARY. THIS IS SCOTT. JUST CALLING TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU'RE OKAY. WE'VE BEEN PAGING YOU ALL DAY. PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE, AND LET US KNOW THAT YOU'RE ALL RIGHT. THANK YOU."