Over the last few days, I find myself constantly drifting back to WikiLeaks recent release of more than half a million pager intercepts from September 11, 2001. Since text pagers are usually carried by persons operating in an official capacity, many of these messages were sent by individuals who played an instrumental role in the response to the attacks. 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, to ordinary citizens.
I find the transcript of these messages absolutely fascinating. And with half a million to peruse, you’d be shocked at what a time-suck this database can become.
Read at your own risk.
Here’s just a few of the more interesting messages from these pagers:
Signs that despite the tragedy of the day, life goes on:
2001-09-11 09:30:54 Skytel  ALPHA THE WORLD TRADE CENTER WAS HIT BY TWO PLANES. TURN ON THE T.V. IF CAN. PS… THE FURNITURE ARRIVED AND LOOKS GREAT. IRIS
2001-09-11 09:15:38 Arch  ALPHA Hey Honey! Can you bring some bagels when you get back? The pork chop is now crying about the World Trade Center plane crash. Geez! It is scary but no reason to cry. Talk to you later! I love you! (I assume “the pork chop” is a nickname for their child)
The next three pages were sent by the same person. It’s an interesting reaction to the possibility that her husband was dead. Humor has always been a good shield from terror. I just wish I knew if he survived.
2001-09-11 10:55:08 Arch  A ALPHA I am going to collect from your life insurance policies because if you don’t call me now!! To tell me you’re not dead, I am going to kill you!
2001-09-11 11:13:17 Arch  A ALPHA Please call me I am panicking. I am starting to make your funeral arrangements. 508-548-7302
2001-09-11 11:32:56 Arch  A ALPHA If I do not hear from you by High Noon, I am going to pick Laura up at school and tell her that her Father is dead.
And finally, a reminder that crazy people have pagers too:
2001-09-11 03:38:34 Skytel  ALPHA CALL MY CELL PHONE INSTEAD OF MY HOUSE PHONE CAUSE I DON’T WANT IT TO RING, AND CRYSTALS BEEN GOING AROUND SAYING STUFF ABOUT YOU AND ME. I LOVE YOU.