9/11 pager messages reveal how banks responded to attacks
“An Aloha call is starting . This is for a fire at 2WT,” paged a Morgan Stanley employee at 8:50 AM on September 11, 2001, four minutes after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. It was the first pager message about the horrific attacks, according to CBS News.
Over half a million intercepted pager texts from that day are being unveiled by Wikileaks. It’s intended to be a virtual re-enactment of 9/11, as they’re being posted to the organization’s website and Twitter feed between 3 AM Eastern Time today and 3 AM tomorrow, at the same times the pages were sent.
Minutes after Morgan Stanley’s page, banks were in red-alert, initiating evacuation plans.
“SITUATION LOCK DOWN ALL AT&T LOCATIONS HAVE BEEN EVACUATED,” a pager text soon read. Bank of America commanded the evacuation of its “high rise buildings only,” saying there’s a “nation-wide run on cash.” MBNA Corp closed down all offices except for its call centers. Mastercard ordered that its New York and Delaware offices evacuate.
Another firm to evacuate was Fidelity, whose offices were just blocks away from Ground Zero. “Those in the area should meet at the Winter Garden. Our plan is to meet there and (have most employees) work from home,” a message read.
“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,” said Anne Crowley, a Fidelity spokeswoman at the time.
Firms on the opposite end of the country took note, too. “JOHN, DO NOT GO INTO THE OFFICES IN CONCORD NOR SAN FRANCISCO. LIN HAS ASKED US TO WORK FROM HOME. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS CONTACT ME OR LEAVE A VOICEMAIL… RHONDA,” said one message sent around 11 AM.
A reoccurring message from an unknown source read: “No Surveys Today- Do not Go to the Banks today. Stay safe! We’ll call you when we can get through. Thanks- Scott.”
It is unclear how the messages were obtained, but CBS News speculates that it was probably “over-the-air interception.”
While some have praised Wikileaks for unearthing potentially important information from a historic, tumultuous day, others say it’s just wrong. One blogger by the title “Jon Doe” called it “indecent,” saying “to release such information publicly in this fashion seems a little perverse and objectionable.”
Twitter user valejosh said: “…ok, seriously, I don’t think it’s right to release 9/11 text messages. Show some respect. People died.”