9/11 and the Internet

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As we observe the fifth anniversary of 9/11 – the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the United States and the toppling of the World Trade Center – we note some related Internet legacies and resources.

The first is the phenomena of terrorist organizations openly creating terrorist recruitment and hate-mongering sites, and the tandem phenomena of hackers starting to target and take down those sites. Where government agencies – particularly U.S. government agencies – are hamstrung by rules and regulations and the protection of freedom of speech, hackers are not. Hackers have started to take down terror sites as quickly as they go up. (Read more about hackers taking down terror sites here.)

As the Iraq war waged, and concurrently more and more people began to use the Internet to disseminate news and to share first person accounts, pictures and accounts of attrocities ricocheted around the globe at Internet speed – faster even than television news speed. But now it’s no longer just news sites and blogs that are utilizing the Internet to get the word and the picture out. Official sites are now taking the war on terror to the people using the Internet. As an example, the Army Times posts footage of a sniper attack in which a soldier is wounded.

In addition to hackers and official sites using the Internet, the people themselves are now taking matters more into their own hands, increasingly using Internet tools to dig up the truth, and get to the bottom of things, and making that information available to others. What really happened leading up to 9/11? What does our government know, and when did it know it? Internet archives such as those of the National Security Agency (NSA) now offer a lot of information and a great deal of insight into 9/11. In fact a vast wealth of information is now available the click of a mouse. Through the NSA archive site, for example, you can find documents such as the flight path studies for the 9/11 airliners, the “Specialist’s Factual Report of Investigation-Digital Flight Data Recorder” for United Airlines Flight 93 (this is the one which crashed in Pennsylvania), and the transcripts of the air traffic control tranmissions with each 9/11 flight.

Through the NSA site, which is hosted by George Washington University, you can also access their 9/11 compilation known as the “9/11 Sourcebook”, a vast collection of NSA and other government documents all related to 9/11, including CIA biographic sketches of Usama Bin Laden and Taliban leader Mohammad Omar, reports from the Pentagon and the Senate Intelligence Committee on previous terrorist attacks, “The Hunt for Bin Laden” (which is described as “background on the Role of Special Forces in U.S. Strategy”), and the Bush administration’s first memo on Al Qaeda. (Read more about web resources for information and documents related to 9/11.)

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Finally, of course, the Internet has been used for many pleas for peace, both following and related to the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the U.S. response to the attacks, and to other hostile actions going on around the world, all of which are in some way or other interconnected.

My own plea for peace is a video montage which I call be the change, and which you can see here.

However you remember and observe 9/11, and however you use the Internet in that rememberance, please above all, take a moment to take your hands away from the keyboard, close your eyes, and remember those whose lives were taken, and those who gave their own lives to try to help them.

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