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 Egads! Confidential 9/11 Pager Messages Disclosed

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Autor/icaPoruka
Tony Soprano

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Posts : 27
Join date : 04.08.2010
Age : 38

PostajNaslov: Egads! Confidential 9/11 Pager Messages Disclosed   čet kol 05, 2010 10:31 pm

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 alerts both true and false. There was a false alarm about
a car bomb in downtown Washington, D.C., a report of "two Arab males
detained" after asking for directions to the presidential retreat at
Camp David, and reassurances 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 anonymously published 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.
It's impossible to tell whether 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 newsrooms that day. All three say the logs
appear to be legitimate.
This trove of messages is likely to become a boon for
historians, a new source of concern for privacy advocates, and,
depending on the details, a point of embarrassment or pride for the
government agencies and corporations whose internal conversations have
been divulged. The files were posted on WikiLeaks.org, which has made a
speciality of disclosing confidential documents and boasts that it is
"uncensorable."
One string of messages hints at how federal agencies scrambled
to evacuate to Mount Weather, the government's sort-of secret bunker
buried under the Virginia mountains west of Washington, D.C. One
message says, "Jim: DEPLOY TO MT. WEATHER NOW!," and another says "CALL
OFICE (sic) AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. 4145 URGENT." That's the phone number
for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Continuity
Programs Directorate -- which is charged with "the preservation of our
constitutional form of government at all times," even during a nuclear
war. (A 2006 article in the U.K. Guardian newspaper mentioned a "a
traffic jam of limos carrying Washington and government license plates"
heading to Mount Weather that day.)
FEMA's response seemed less than organized. One message at
12:37 p.m., four hours after the attacks, says: "We have no mission
statements yet." Bill Prusch, FEMA's project officer for the National
Emergency Management Information System at the time, apparently
announced at 2 p.m. that the Continuity of Operations plan was
activated and that certain employees should report to Mt. Weather; a
few minutes later he sent out another note saying the activation was
cancelled.
The first pager message reporting the attacks on the World
Trade Center appears to have been sent by Morgan Stanley at 8:50 a.m.
ET, saying that "an Aloha call is starting" due to a fire in the
complex's south tower. Morgan Stanley leased 840,000 square feet in
that building, on over 20 floors.
As the fires spread, and as police and firefighters rushed to
the scene, Wall Street firms activated their emergency response plans.
Shortly after 9 a.m., Fidelity evacuated its nearby offices at 200
Liberty Street, and sent out a messaging saying: "Those in the area
should meet at the Winter Garden. Our plan is to meet there and (have
most employees) work from home." (The Winter Garden is a glass-enclosed
atrium that was damaged later in the day when the towers collapsed.)
"On that particular day, literally within minutes of the first
attack, we already had one of our security people... lining up space
outside the New York area for some of our employees," Anne Crowley, a
spokeswoman for Fidelity who was with the company in September 2001,
told CBSNews.com in a telephone interview.
By 10:29 a.m., Fidelity's Boston offices on Summer St. had been
closed, and an alert went out: "National Master Console has been
re-routed to Merrimack." It was followed by: "The FBSI war room is
operational," referring to Fidelity Brokerage Services Inc.
"That quick thinking led us to be able to move hundreds of New
York employees to backup locations (and) enabled us to continue to
operate some of our important functions," Crowley said. Even with U.S.
equity markets closed, Fidelity's phone centers continued to take
orders and could even process some international ones. Crowley said she
didn't know what Fidelity's war room referred to, but said the National
Master Console is the firm's main phone operation that was shifted to
Merrimack, N.H.
Similarly, Bank of America ordered the evacuation of all bank
"high rise buildings only," while noting that there is a "nation-wide
run on cash." Mastercard evacuated its new York and Delaware offices;
MBNA decided to shutter everything but inbound call centers. Another
message says: "SITUATION LOCK DOWN ALL AT&T LOCATIONS HAVE BEEN
EVACUATED." How the messages were captured
The pager logs seem to represent messages transmitted on
September 11, 2001 through the networks of Arch Wireless, Metrocall,
Skytel, and Weblink Wireless.
It's not clear how they were obtained in the first place. One
possibility is that they were illegally compiled from the records of
archived messages maintained by pager companies, and then eventually
forwarded to WikiLeaks.
The second possibility is more likely: Over-the-air
interception. Each digital pager is assigned a unique Channel Access
Protocol code, or capcode, that tells it to pay attention to what
immediately follows. In what amounts to a gentlemen's agreement, no
encryption is used, and properly-designed pagers politely ignore what's
not addressed to them.
But an electronic snoop lacking that same sense of etiquette
might hook up a sufficiently sophisticated scanner to a Windows
computer with lots of disk space -- and record, without much effort,
gobs and gobs of over-the-air conversations.
Existing products do precisely this. Australia's WiPath
Communications offers Interceptor 3.0 (there's even a free download).
Maryland-based SWS Security Products sells something called a "Beeper
Buster" that it says let police "watch up to 2500 targets at the same
time." And if you're frugal, there's a video showing you how to take a
$10 pager and modify it to capture everything on that network.
Law enforcement agencies knew of the benefits of monitoring
pagers long ago. A 1997 FBI bulletin describes the "use of a clone
pager to simultaneously receive the transmission emitted from the
pager's service provider to the pager," and the federal courts have a
standard form for judges to use when approving interceptions. (The
American Association of Paging Carriers has, helpfully, provided its
members with a list of how to comply.)
Whatever their origin, the logs are likely to raise more
questions than they answer. Take this intriguing message that was sent
by Jim Massa, then Cisco's director of federal operations, at 4:18 p.m.
It said: "NEED TO DISCUSS FBI TEN THOUSAND UNIT REQUIREMENT ASAP." The
recipient appears to be Cisco Chief Development Officer Charlie
Giancarlo, who left the company in 2007 and now works at a venture
capital firm in Menlo Park, Calif. called Silver Lake.
A Cisco representative said in e-mail to CBSNews.com: "I know
we worked closely with law enforcement after the attacks but I don't
have any specifics." Massa did not immediately respond to a request for
comment.
One possibility is that the FBI urgently needed routers or
other Cisco gear to upgrade its own network. But technical experts that
CBSNews.com contacted believed it's more likely that the FBI was
working with Internet service providers to reconfigure their networks
with Cisco hardware to allow wiretaps to be conducted more readily.
Around that time, Cisco was beginning to develop wiretap capabilities
for its routers -- a concept that eventually became known as "lawful
intercept."
The logs are silent on precisely that point. They do show,
however, how U.S. network providers scrambled to respond to one of the
most unexpected and extensive disruptions in recent memory.
After 7 World Trade Center collapsed (it had been damaged by
debris earlier), Sprint lost its payment-processing system called
SpeedPay. A subsequent note said: "SpeedPay is down. Site lost power
with further collapse of building around 5PM. They are mobilizing to
relocate equipment to New Jersey site." A Sprint spokeswoman said that
the executives who were with the company on 9/11 are on holiday break
and unavailable for comment.
The major telecommunications hub at 60 Hudson Street, about
eight blocks from the World Trade Center, was evacuated around 9:20
a.m. About four hours later, it was starting to show signs of
overheating, with temperatures reaching the 80s. A WorldCom message
worried that New York City might cut power to 60 Hudson, saying, "NYC1
has 4 to 8 hours of battery power if main power was to be cut." A
relieved followup said that the company's network operations center had
learned that the power would remain on. Air Force One reportedly threatened
Other tidbits from the logs include:


  • A Secret Service page at 10:32 a.m. warned: "ANONYMOUS CALL TO
    JOC REPORTING ANGEL IS TARGET." Angel is the Secret Service codeword
    for Air Force One; JOC means Joint Operations Center. When the
    president's plane had departed Florida about half an hour earlier, it
    was en route to D.C. That anonymous threat seems to be what diverted
    President Bush on a high-speed flight across the country, first to
    Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, and then to an underground
    command center in Nebraska.




  • Amidst the confusion that day, the Secret Service's New York
    field office gave contradictory instructions to agents. At 9:06 a.m.,
    their pagers lit up with these orders: "MEET AT THE BASEBALL FIELD
    BEHIND THE EMBASSY SUITES HOTEL ON WEST STREET NY." Ninety minutes
    later: "ALL NEW YORK FIELD OFFICE PERSONNEL RESPOND TO STUYVESANT HIGH
    SCHOOL AT THE CORNER OF CHAMBERS AND WEST STREET ASAP." Later: "ALL
    NYFO PERSONNEL ARE TO DISREGARD THE LAST PAGE REGARDING STUVYSANT HIGH
    SCHOOL."


  • One message said: "#2 MCLL EXEC WAS ABOARD ONE OF THE PLANES.
    1 OF THE ONES WHO BETRAYED HARRY. NO TEARS HERE." Metrocall founder
    Harry Brock had been ousted as president six years earlier. Metrocall
    chief operating officer Steven Jacoby died on Flight 77 that day.


  • Brinks, the armored car operator, received a series of
    requests for immediate deliveries from banks running low on cash after
    Americans rushed to withdraw currency: "Micheal, branch officer, is
    requesting a same day cash delivery. His branch is low on cash. The
    charge will be $50.00. Please respond to confirm."


  • A press aide for then-California governor Gray Davis spent the
    day fending off requests for interviews and updates from KABC, the
    Oakland Tribune, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the National Guard,
    KTTV, Fox News, and someone who wanted to know, "Are the schools going
    to be closed for the rest of the week?"

What's unclear is what the impact of the release of the 9/11 data
will be. Nothing immediately apparent in the 573,000-or-so lines of
text suggests a rethinking of how we view the events of that day
(although conspiracy fanciers are sure to highlight excerpts such as
the message suggesting "military planes" forced down a commercial jet,
and one saying there was an "explosion and fire at Pentagon").
We've seen something like this before. A few years ago, AOL
published the mostly-anonymized search histories of over 650,000 of its
users, which gave rise to the kind of data excavation that's currently
taking place in connection with the disclosure of the 9/11 pager
traffic. In the last few days, the same kind of collective analysis of
thousands of files has accompanied the leaked global warming e-mail
messages.
This should be a lesson to anyone who would prefer their
personal details not go on public display: Without end-to-end
encryption, and perhaps even with it, your correspondence is vulnerable
to interception and publication. And if you're the Secret Service
responding to threats against the president, or FEMA organizing an
evacuation to an underground bunker, why are you letting anyone with a
$10 pager and a Windows laptop watch what you're doing?

WikiLeaks


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