9/11 Five Years Later

Woke up at 8am today to watch the real-time video stream of CNN's coverage from five years ago that they're showing all day today. 

Here's my own real-time coverage, a chat I had that morning with the person who took over from me at the Sask Publishers Group (which is why she's “Jason” on the chat transcript.  I'm “Hamm” at my home computer).  I'd just been hired by the Writers Guild of Alberta in Calgary, had done a couple days of training but wasn't scheduled to go into the office that day.  Shea and I were woken by a phone call from Shea's mom telling us to turn on the TV.  From only hearing one side of the conversation, I honestly thought there had been some sort of nuclear attack in the US.  Re-reading this chat transcript, it's crazy to see the desperation, speculation and confusion that everyone felt in that day.  Quick guide: Brenda is the SPG boss, Lascha is the other employee, Eric works for the Sask Writers Guild across the hall, Judith and Caroline work for the Sask Library Association, also across the hall.  Oh, and sorry for the formatting and random line breaks – I tired to clean it up as best I could. 

Jason @    9/11/01  9:27 AM  Have you heard?
                                  the World Trade Center is gone…

Hamm       9/11/01  9:28 AM  yeah, shea's mom called and we're watching the news now…frightening, sad stuff.

Jason @    9/11/01  9:35 AM  really. I have family in Boston. I guess Randy (Lascha's Randy) is from Denver,
and he's got family out there too…I'm freaked out that George W is going to completely fly off the handle…
Hamm       9/11/01  9:37 AM  that's what shea and i are debating – what a f'ing idiot to have in charge at the time.  i
HOPE the US Gov't shows some sense and restraint before they go launching nukes at the first country that looks guilty.  the news has been good for reminding people that after oklahoma, everyone said “Iraq!  Middle East!  Foreign Terrorist!” and it turned out to be a  disgruntled American

Jason @    9/11/01  9:39 AM  I found a page on MSNBC (the only news report  I could get online) that quoted George W as saying “I will hunt down the folks that did
this…” Good point about Oklahoma…but I'm  not sure
that American Terrorists would co-ordinate such a huge attack…four crashes so far, and two lost…
Hamm       9/11/01  9:40 AM  the latest word is that the “Palestine Liberation Front” is claiming responsibility.

Jason @    9/11/01  9:40 AM  They've also bombed Camp David in Jerusalem.

Hamm       9/11/01  9:41 AM  how are you guys tracking this – radio?  Net?  (I'm having trouble getting through to all the major news sites)

Jason @    9/11/01  9:41 AM  Well, sort of…the Palestinians claimed responsibility and then took it back…but the fact that someone got Camp David is a pretty big checkmark on their side, I think.

Jason @    9/11/01  10:02 AM cnn is up again – they're on lite. http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/09/11/worldtrade.crsh/story.html
We're listening to cbc radio .

Jason @    9/11/01  10:02 AM you can get some streaming video, maybe audio from bbc:

Hamm       9/11/01  10:03 AM i'm actually at The Australian newspaper right now – it's fast loading and also has a
 slightly different perspective from most of the US/Canada coverage. 

Jason @    9/11/01  10:03 AM url?

Jason @    9/11/01  10:04 AM The Americans still can't find two planes…
Hamm       9/11/01  10:04 AM www.theaustralian.news.com.au

Hamm       9/11/01  10:06 AM i heard one was missing – two now.  jesus. they're focussing on NY and a bit of pentagon. heard anything about the pittsburg  one?  I
heard it was en route from newark to san fran,  maybe possibly just a coincidence crash  (unlikely), maybe a pilot grounded the plane  when he realised what was happening. 

Jason @    9/11/01  10:07 AM From CBC, one reporter said something about the Pittsburgh airplane being *shot down* because it wouldn't land.
Jason @    9/11/01  10:07 AM from CNN:
United Airlines Flight 93 airliner headed from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, crashed near Somerset, Pennsylvania — police said initial reports indicated no survivors. It was not known if this was connected to the attacks. United also said it was “deeply concerned” about Flight l75 from Boston to Los Angeles
Jason @    9/11/01  10:08 AM The two planes that are missing – one is en route to Los Angeles, and there is some concern that George W Bush's hometown is targeted, too.They're evacuating Parliament Hill and 23
 Sussex, although I can't imagine why on earth anyone would target Jean Chretien.

Hamm       9/11/01  10:09 AM the people on TV just keep comparing it to movies, “it's like independence day” etc.
it's so unreal.  have you seen any streaming video of the actual scene?  billowing clouds of smoke across NY, they're constantly repeating the two buildings with holes in
them, a plane hitting one of them, the one tower collapsing.  unreal. surreal.

Jason @    9/11/01  10:10 AM nope – can't actually get any streaming video…just audio. Surreal doesn't even begin to cover it. “It is now believed a fourth hijacked plane is headinhg towards Washington and that fighter jets have been scrambled.” from your Australian site – interesting.

Hamm       9/11/01  10:12 AM thanks for the laugh about jean – i needed that.  shea's mom warned us not to go downtown  today.  i don't think cowtown is a target but why take chances – i mean, we've got the high
est US population in Canada…

Hamm       9/11/01  10:13 AM are you guys all huddled in my office around the radio?  what's the word on the other side – eric sent a dispatch that he was aware of what's going on but judith just sent me a job posting for the sla web site as if nothing's happened.  does she know?

Jason @    9/11/01  10:20 AM Caroline knows, don't know about Judith.  Haven't talked to the other guys yet.  We have been huddled in the office; I absconded with Lascha's radio b/c i couldn't find streaming audio/video.
Brenda is convinced it's an inside job… As for Cowtown being a target, I don't think that any terrorists know that there are any cities in Canada other than Toronto, so you're probably safe.  Besides, the Americans who live in Calgary are probably too literate to target.  You and Shea should be fine.

Hamm       9/11/01  10:21 AM yeah…i think so.  all the flights are being rerouted to TO.  I hope they can handle the influx of people. 

Jason @    9/11/01  10:22 AM Plane went down in Chicago, but nobody's talking about it.  I'm guessing that LA is next, like Lascha says. Saskatoon airports are preparing to take on overflow traffic….

Hamm       9/11/01  10:36 AM here's one for you:

Jason @    9/11/01  10:36 AM <sigh>
freaky Nostradamus people are quoting “a bird of fire will strike the new city and cause the last great war” great.

Jason @    9/11/01  10:39 AM Here are som streaming reports. Not much but could be something…

Jason @    9/11/01  10:40 AM I can't pull up the haartez page…it quits loading halfway through…probably too much

Hamm       9/11/01  10:41 AM it actually doesn't have much different info on the main story but there's a bit about
Palestinians celebrating the attack on the US that I haven't heard/seen much about yet.

Hamm       9/11/01  10:42 AM While Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat condemned the attacks which levelled the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New  York City and struck the Pentagon in Washington, hundreds of Palestinians distributed sweets in Nablus.
“I feel I am in a dream. I never believed that one day the United States would come to pay a price for its support to Israel,” said Mustafa, a 24-year-old Palestinian gunman.
Several dozen Palestinian youths gathered in East Jerusalem to celebrate as well, honking out wedding tunes on their car horns.  “We are so happy that America was hit. America is against us in supporting Israel,” Suleiman, one of the demonstrators, said.  In Nablus, motorists honked their horns and gunmen fired into the air from assault rifles
to cheer on the attacks which unfolded in the space of a few hours.

Jason @    9/11/01  10:42 AM well, that's not surprising.  I think they still have parties celebrating the attack on Pearl Harbour…everyone knows there's no love lost btwn Palestinians and America.

Hamm       9/11/01  10:44 AM there's a former American Airlines pilot on Newsworld right now going through  the
procedure for a highjacking. can't help but visualize a bunch of future terrorists madly scribbling “Oh, code 7077 gets sent to the tower in an emergency.  thanks for the tip,

Jason @    9/11/01  10:46 AM no doubt. That's like all the little kids watching hungrily all of the movies about “how to be a junkie in 10 easy steps”. Lascha and I were talking about how this sounds like something that was planted 25
years ago…planned for decades…to be an apparent “inside job”…

Hamm       9/11/01  10:49 AM shea just said this is exactly what they thought was going to happen on Dec. 31/99 –
chaos, shutdown, terrorism, anarchy

Jason @    9/11/01  10:51 AM I figured it would be sometime in 2000.  My biggest fear is a) what the hell was in those bombs that exploded?  There are so many organisations with biological weapons…
b) how far are we from the nuclear fallout zone?

Hamm       9/11/01  10:52 AM the cdc team has been scrambled in atlanta too.  that's what no one knows – is this a singular “statement” or just the beginning of something bigger, worse.  God, I spent the 80's in fear of nuclear war, i thought that was over (or dormant at least)

Jason @    9/11/01  10:55 AM I spent the 80's in fear of nuclear war too…my mother used to shake her head and
tell me “nobody would be stupid enough to destroy the entire world”, and I would always think, “the Americans are….” I have always lived in fear of war of any kind…my grandfather liberated Bergen Belsen in WWII, so it's a topic pretty close to my conscience.And considering what's *at* the CDC, they'd better be using the “new steel” as their structural elements…why don't they just set all of that stuff on fire, I wonder?  all of their research is documented…they should just destroy the stuff that will kill
us…like the ebola thing…
Jason @    9/11/01  11:02 AM all airports in the country have been shut down…that is so freaky.

Jason @    9/11/01  11:02 AM …and why is it that when something this unreal happens, I start talking like i did in
the 80s? makes me want to talk to some of the people
who were around for Pearl Harbour…

Hamm       9/11/01  11:05 AM the difference of course, is in the instantaneous nature of communication.  that's
why i'm not completely responsive to all your im's – i'm surfing 50 TV channels going, phone calls from relatives and friends, e-mail conversations, ICQ partners – all trying to make some sense and continually updating my info… 
Jason @    9/11/01  11:06 AM yup. puts a bit of a kaibosh on propaganda…one would hope.
Jason @    9/11/01  11:13 AM Pres. Bush is making a statement: met with reporters in Louisiana “US has taken all appropriate security measures…US will hunt down and punish all those responsible for this incident…Military is called out”  CBC – he's talking now.

Jason @    9/11/01  11:17 AM “This is going to have a nasty snowball effect if they don't calm down” – Lascha

Hamm       9/11/01  11:17 AM i hope there i
s a SERIOUS backlash against that idiot.  not just “oh, look how dumb our leader is”.  and there should be a serious reassessment of American values and priorities.  But are Americans capable of such self-criticism?  I mean, bush didn't cause this and it's been a long time coming.  but
what a guy to have in charge at a time like this.  a texan who takes pride in killing more of his citizens than any other state by a LONG shot.  jesus!

Hamm       9/11/01  11:18 AM “a stunning failure of intelligence at the highest level” is brokaw's latest pertient

Jason @    9/11/01  11:23 AM <snicker>
I think he was referring to the CIA, and didn't realise exactly what he meant. The plane from Boston to LA has crashed, but they haven't identified the location, they say. You know, I don't think they *will* criticise Bush.  Americans are such blind followers that I'm sure more of them than not will do the whole “He done good when those <insert racist
title here> attacked us…”…sort of like how Americans take all the credit for winning WWII after they sat out for most of it until Pearl  Harbour bombing.

Jason @    9/11/01  11:43 AM Washinton Post is up…

Hamm       9/11/01  11:44 AM any new word? i'm hitting the numb stage and it's all just blending into one giant lump of info

Jason @    9/11/01  11:45 AM <sigh> i'm getting there, too…right now, there are concerns about biological attachments to the bombs and stuff…mostly just conjecture and trying to save people's lives.  Last i heard there was an unconfirmed crash in Chicago.Nobody would talk about it.

Jason @    9/11/01  11:46 AM I found this quote somehow amusing:”We heard what sounded like a missile, then we heard a loud boom,” said Tom Seibert, 33, of Woodbridge, Va., a network engineer at the Pentagon. “We just hit the dirt. We dived instinctively.

Jason @    9/11/01  11:47 AM He goes on to say: “We were sitting there and watching this thing in New York, and I said,  ‘you know, the next best target would be us.And five minutes later, boom.'
Jason @    9/11/01  11:48 AM At this point, I'm just getting paranoid about where we go from here.

Hamm       9/11/01  11:48 AM unbelievable.  what's sort of similar from a premonition sense (not really) is that okay, a
terrorist attack hits the world trade center then all these rescue personnel go there and THEY get killed in the second attack twenty minutes later.  terrible.

Jason @    9/11/01  11:50 AM The CTV television station has issued orders to lock its doors and step up seecurity…who the hell would try to attack !!!CTV!!!???
I KNOW. That's what's really getting me now…they're talking abou the 250 firefighters who were in the WTC trying to fix things when it collapsed/got hit again.  I can't imagine…I  just can't imagine what kind of people could
do that.
Jason @    9/11/01  11:51 AM <snicker>
I got this from a newsgroup…echoes of what Brenda said earlier: 'I keep pointing out to my co-workers that the last time we “jumped on the towel heads”, it turned out that the
terrorists were from the mid west, not the mid east.'
Hamm       9/11/01  11:52 AM which newsgroup?

Jason @    9/11/01  11:54 AM -urm- it's a webring for gamer geeks…but they've got surprisingly good

Hamm       9/11/01  11:56 AM apparently the latest is that one passenger locked himself in a bathroom and managed to reach the ground with his cell phone (I didn't
know they could do that – anyhow…) and he just kept saying they'd been highjacked and it wasn't a hoax.  not sure what flight he was on…

Jason @    9/11/01  11:57 AM oh THAT's creepy. really disturbing.
Jason @    9/11/01  12:00 PM Jean Chretien is speaking on CBC…

Hamm       9/11/01  12:02 PM i can't imagine what that would be like on those planes.  i doubt we'll ever know the
details but it's probably something like 2-4 people somehow take the plane, kill the pilots then one, trained to fly, directs it to their target while the others keep the passengers subdued. 

Hamm       9/11/01  12:02 PM got it.

Jason @    9/11/01  12:02 PM I don't think anybody needs to be trained to fly; have you ever played those airplane video games? the same simulators that Air Force trainees

Hamm       9/11/01  12:03 PM yeah, the person would probably have SOME familiarity beyond video games.  but i know what you're saying.

Jason @    9/11/01  12:04 PM how much familiarity does one need to drive an airplane into the WTC??

Hamm       9/11/01  12:05 PM i doubt i'd know what to do if you stuck me in the cockpit of a 767 – even with my video game training.

Hamm       9/11/01  12:17 PM one guy managed to get his people out of the second tower's 103th floor amazingly:

<snip long story called “How It Happened” that I pasted from the AP that I found on canoe.ca>
Jason @    9/11/01  1:25 PM  I love the canoe site…i used to have a canoe.ca email address somewhere…i've found
they do good work..

Hamm       9/11/01  1:27 PM  another, more literate and thoughtful site that is good for coverage of what's happened so far is www.salon.com

Jason @    9/11/01  2:12 PM  How the hell did you work in this building? It's so flipping cold I can barely type with
any accuracy…sure am glad that backspace key is handy.

Hamm       9/11/01  2:13 PM  yeah, it sucks.  we complain and complain and bring in temp taker thingies and get heaters installed and still, my hands would sometimes
freeze to the keyboard if i didn't type fast enough! (grin)
off to register Shea's car for AB license.  then i'll decide if i'm going to do mine or risk not changing the plates for the next year.  wish us luck! 

Comments 4

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    That person always thinks of you on the anniversary of 9/11. I thank God that you were online; I think you really helped me make sense of the madness that was going on, and you helped keep me grounded.
    Thanks, Hamm.

    Posted 11 Sep 2006 at 4:30 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    In much the same way that our parents can remember exactly what they were doing when they heard that JFK was shot, or where they watched Armstrong walk on the moon, our generation will look back on September 11 and remember what we were doing, where we were, and how we felt. How cool is it that you actually have a transcript of your experience? I hope you have a hard copy in a scrapbook or journal or shoe box.

    Posted 12 Sep 2006 at 4:37 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Yeah, that was a crazy day. It's kinda funny how the transcript ends though – you complaining about the heating at SPG and me heading out to get a license. Life goes on…ob-la-di, ob-la-da.
    I don't know how many people read the comments on my blog so I'll slip in a very un-PC joke I came across today: “How do you make the official cocktail of 911?” Make a regular Manhattan but put two straws in it and set them on fire. (Comedy = tragedy + time. Is five years enough time? Of course, I was hearing 9/11 jokes on 9/12 so who's to say?)

    Posted 12 Sep 2006 at 4:41 am
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    I'm a bit of a packrat so I pasted the chat transcript directly into my journal (which I keep electronically.) At the time, it was just for my own memory. But it felt appropriate to post it today.
    Speaking of memories and how we filter/remember things, MetaFilter has a thread based on a Salon.com story about “Forbidden 9/11” thoughts (http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/54687) My own forbidden thought isn't as selfish/disturbing/strange as some people's but I always wondered what the target of the fourth plane was – even that day amidst all the other emotions and confusion.

    Posted 12 Sep 2006 at 4:47 am
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