Activist group posting 573,000 9/11 pager messages
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – An activist group has begun posting 573,000 pager messages purportedly sent on Sept. 11, 2001, from “Second World Trade Center tower collapses” to “I’m ok & love you..xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox.”
The group, Wikileaks, says some of the messages were sent by federal and local officials, but most appear to be from regular people, including frantic New Yorkers trying to reach loved ones in and around the World Trade Center.
Wikileaks was posting the messages for most of the day Wednesday and expected to finish early Thursday.
The messages range from “DO NOT GET ON THE PATH TRAIN…THE WORLD TRADE CENTER IS ON FIRE” to “President has been rerouted wont be returning to washington but not sure where he will go.”
One says, “THIS IS MYRNA, I WILL NOT REST UNTIL YOU GO HOME, THE SECOND TOWER IS DOWN, I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO KEEP CALLING YOU AFTER EVERY EVENT. PLS JUST GO HOME.”
Some are unrelated to the terrorist attacks: “Paul, Jerry and I feel that we can expect around 200 people for the Pig Picking. Call if you want to. Keith”
Wikileaks says its goal is to promote transparency by putting leaked documents online. Its repository includes manuals, lawsuits and numerous government documents.
Daniel Schmitt, a Wikileaks spokesman from Berlin, said the pager messages were submitted to the site anonymously several weeks ago.
“From the context information that the source provided we have strong reasons to believe that this is valid data,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt said publishing the messages “is one more building block to getting a full picture of what happened on that day.” He noted that none of the messages appear to lend credence to conspiracy theories that suggest the U.S. government was behind the attacks or had advance knowledge of them.
New York City’s police and fire departments said they could not confirm that any of the messages were actual department communications. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Administration declined to comment on the messages.
Most of the pages come from three companies, Metrocall, Skytel and Arch.
USA Mobility Inc., which merged Arch and Metrocall systems in 2004, issued a statement Wednesday saying it was “troubled to learn that paging messages, including communications involving government officials, appear to have been intercepted and publicly disclosed in clear violation of federal criminal law.”
“We hope and expect that persons who engage in unlawful electronic surveillance will be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the statement said.
Skytel did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Many messages show New Yorkers desperately trying to connect on a day when phone service was spotty.
“CALL YOUR WIFE AT HOME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.”
“PLEASE CALL STAN AT HOM.”
“PLEASE CALL YOUR MOTHER.”
Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.