Egads! Confidential 9 / 11 Pager Messages Disclosed

Friday, November 27, 2009

As the World Trade Center and Pentagon were Ablaze on September 11, 2001, the U.S. Secret Service's presidential protective detail was informed that a "Korean airliner has been hijacked en route to San Francisco, prompting already-skittish agents to worry about another wave of terrorist attacks.

That morning and afternoon, Secret Service agents assigned to protect the president and his family found their pagers constantly buzzing with both true and false alerts. There was a false alarm about a car bomb in downtown Washington, DC, a report of "two Arab males detained" after asking for directions to the presidential retreat at Camp David, and réassurances that "Twinkle and TURQ" - code names for the Bush daughters - were safe and accounted for.

This unusual glimpse into the events of 9 / 11 comes from messages sent to alphanumeric pagers that were published anonymously on the Internet on Wednesday. The pager transcripts, which total about 573.000 lines and 6.4 million words, include numeric and text messages also sent to private sector and unclassified military pagers.

Whether it's impossible to tell the logs have been faithfully reproduced in their entirety. But there's evidence they have been: I spoke to three journalists working on September 11, 2001 Whose correspondence appeared in the logs or who were familiar with the messages circulated in their news rooms that day. All three say the logs appear to be legitimate.

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