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First-Person Account Of Today's Attacks 1084

Posted by timothy
from the add-yours dept.
Vergil Bushnell was on his way to testify in hearings at the Patent Office's headquarters outside Washington, D.C. when a hijacked jetliner slammed into the Pentagon, and arrived just after news of the attack reached the hearing room. He sent in this description of the experience. If you witnessed any of today's attacks, this is the place to add your account.

I was scheduled to testify today at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's "Patent Theatre" in Crystal City, Virginia, on the intellectual property aspects of the proposed Hague Convention on Jurisdiction. I had sweated for days over a prepared oral statement about the treaty's implications for student coders and journalists.

My friend Rob Carlson and I left Baltimore early (shortly after 7:00 a.m.) and deposited ourselves at an outlying Metro stop, intending to take the subway into Crystal City. We arrived without incident.

Upon disembarking at Crystal City, I gave the sounds of various sirens little heed -- even as the municipality's Battalion Chief (fire department) roared past, red and white lights flashing.

"There must be a fire nearby," Rob said, glancing upward as fluffy chunks of ash drifting down into the USPTO's courtyard like huge downy feathers.

The hearing room was uncharacteristically vacant. I sat down next to my former boss, Consumer Project on Technology director Jamie Love, and flipped open my laptop to read over my prepared oral testimony.

"Did you hear? A plane hit the World Trade Center in New York!" Jamie whispered excitedly, ensconced in a pile of laptop peripherals and scattered newspapers. I froze momentarily, floppy disk half inserted into my laptop. Looking up, I noticed most of the hearing's attendees appeared to be in shock. A few sat rigid in their seats, hands folded in their laps, staring ahead in numbed silence. Others milled about, busily discussing the foreign policy ramifications of the morning's events. No one seemed to be concentrating on the hearing.

Federal government officials present -- (I recognized members of the U.S. State Department, Copyright Office and PTO) reacted differently -- receiving the sporadic stream of dispatches and rumors from PTO staffers running in and out of the Theatre with detached contemplation. It appeared that the Feds had discarded their usual mantle of chatty, diplomatic ambiance, and had switched into Crisis Mode.

"If anyone really wants to testify now, they can. At this time, we are not evacuating the building," proclaimed a Patent Office functionary. No one took her up on her offer, and several folks murmured quietly about the inappropriateness of proceeding with the hearing given the context and magnitude of events.

More runners entered the Theater, bearing news of additional disasters -- some alleged, some actual. Rumors about the destruction of various Washington agencies and landmarks whipped throughout the conference room.

I closed my laptop, which had been teetering idle on my lap for several minutes. People started for the door, hesitating in case the unspoken consensus for scrapping the hearing was improbably reversed. Cell phones were whipped out of suit pockets and family members dialed to no effect.

"You can always submit written testimony." declared U.S. delegate to the Hague Conference and PTO attorney-advisor Jennifer Lucas as the long-planned hearing disintegrated.

I felt a mix of emotions: disappointed that I wouldn't have the chance to testify and lock horns with the MPAA and other industry lobbyists, and guilty for having such self-centered thoughts during this crisis.

Rob and I headed out toward the lobby. He decided that we should skip the elevator and go down a flight of stairs to the lobby.

The courtyard of the Patent Office facility (which had been nearly deserted when we arrived) was packed with a milling, chattering crowd. Security guards peered about pensively as if reassuring themselves that the building was indeed still standing. Soon after, a shout went up that the Patent Office was being evacuated.

The head of the U.S. Delegation to the Hague Conference (and State Department legal advisor) Jeff Kovar brushed past me with an associate in tow.

"We're walking to the State Department." Kovar grimly mentioned to no one in particular, and started the long hike back to his office.

Rob and I weaved our way through gridlocked traffic and headed toward the Crystal City Metro station. Several Federal Marshalls stood about -- one wearing a boxy bulletproof vest, another wearing a pink blouse with a lanyard ID. Military personnel huddled together on the sidewalk, segregated according to the hue of their uniforms. Fast moving, thin white clouds rushed overhead. I wasn't sure if they were really smoke pluming from the Pentagon.

We jumped into a Yellow Line train alongside a pair of blue-shirted Air Force officers. I watched as an orange ladybug crawled up the silver-stitched epaulet of the officer closest to me, and informed him of its presence. He stared at me for a silent moment before carefully removing the insect.

"That's the least of my problems," he said. "Thanks anyway."

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First-Person Account Of Today's Attacks

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  • by Nemith (114402) <bennetb@oneMOSCOWwest.net minus city> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:04PM (#2282908) Homepage
    Here is my contribution to the already crowed sites out there. Hopefully the University doesn't get too mad :)

    http://w3.uwyo.edu/~bennetb/attackonamerica [uwyo.edu]

    If you have any articles, movies, or photos. Email them to me @ bennetb@uwyo.edu.NO.SPAM
  • by knightf0x (218696) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:04PM (#2282911)
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:05PM (#2282913)
    September 11, 2001-The Day Innocence Died

    Like most people, I wake up each morning thinking the day will be like any other day. I shower, listen to the radio, have breakfast, and walk the dog. I say "goodbye" or "see you later" to my dad, I set out on my day. I make a mental note of the things I wish to accomplish before the end of the day and tentative plans for the rest of the week. I never stop and think, "what if I don't make it home today?". "What if I never see my family again.
    But today, for thousands of people, their worst nightmares were realized.

    As I walked to work, I saw a crowd of people standing around a car, listening to the radio. I heard " a plane crashed into the World Trade Center". Like most, I thought, "what a horrible accident". I figured a plane had engine failure, got off course and crashed. By the time I reached my office, about five minutes later, I heard that another plane crashed into the second building. By then, we all knew, it was no accident.

    I immediately turned on my radio and noticed that there was no one in my office area. I walked to the lounge and discovered my co-workers huddled around a television. It was then that I saw the awful crashes and explosions. I saw the airplane, deliberately fly into the second building of the World Trade Center. And then, the explosion. It was a sight I will never forget.

    I went to the phone to contact friends and family members who work in the area. After a few hours, I reached my aunt, who actually watched from her job as the plane crashed into the building and saw the people falling and jumping out of the window. I then returned to the television to discover that another airplane had crashed into the Pentagon building in Washington DC. The shock on everyone's face was immeasurable. We all started to wonder
    "who's next"? Where? When? Then, we heard that the Capitol had also been hit and one of the Twin towers collapsed. I wondered what it would be like to visit that area in the future and see just one building there. Of course, they would rebuild, but it would never be the same. And then, we heard. Another explosion caused the second Tower to collapse. The building wouldn't be lonely anymore. It had joined its twin. Gone.....Forever. And
    then, the tears rolled down, not just for the people who died but for the institution itself. I love New York. I love its history and atmosphere. I was just at Brooklyn Bridge a few weeks ago taking pictures. That beautiful New York Skyline that symbolizes so much will never be the same. My home. My life. It all seems different. I keep thinking of all of the people. All of the bodies, lying in the debris. All of those people who started
    their day not knowing they wouldn't return home. All of their loved ones waiting, hoping, praying for a telephone call telling them that everything is ok. Waiting for a phone call that will never come. Today I cry. Not because I lost a friend or family member in this tragedy. But because like so many. I lost a part of myself. I've read about dozens of horrible, tragic incidents in American and Global history. I've seen photographs and
    depictions of wars, conflicts and crimes against humanity. But I don't think anything will ever remain in my mind as vividly as this tragedy. As I sit writing this, there is a cool breeze blowing through my window. But unlike your average summer day, it is filled with smoke.

    As I walked home with dozens of people, some crying, some shaken, some covered in soot, I felt an overwhelming need to be home with my family. Even those I knew were safe at home and no where near the disaster area. I called my father, sister, aunt, grandmother and cousins, and told them I loved them. I embraced co-workers and offered sympathy for those who lost loved-ones. I attempted to donate blood, but they were so overcrowded they turned
    people away. And today, for the first time in ages, of my own freewill, I went into church, and cried. I cried again for those who died. I cried for their loved ones and I cried for all of us who lost a part of ourselves. Our sense of security, our livelihoods, our innocence, forever gone.

    N. Johnson
    Brooklyn, NY
    • by MrEd (60684)
      A well-written tale, to be sure.


      I just get a little miffed by the title - One thing I have not seen at all on any of the network broadcasts yet is someone talking about "Why would someone want to do this?". When you ask that question, you can find many answers, answers that might shock you. The American government has done some pretty gruesome things in the name of "Democracy", and continues to do so. Innocent? The government, the corporations... no.


      Americans are the most genuinely kind people I have ever met. They just seem to be completely oblivious to the world around them, except when wars or terrorists bring it home.


      I'm not defending the terrorist attack. I just think that it needs to be looked at in a greater perspective.

  • by Ghoser777 (113623) <[moc.cam] [ta] [abnerhaf]> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:06PM (#2282922) Homepage
    but watching both buildings collapse on TV was crazy enough as is. I had been laying in bed trying to oversleep for my Poly Sci class, when my roomates mother called. My other roomate (I have 2) answered the phone, half-awake, and mumbled something about a terrorist attack in NY. I'm thinking that it's just one of my friends pulling a practicle joke, but I thought I'd turn on the TV to see. Every other station had a picture of the two WTC buildings on fire.

    Now I'm thinking bombing, although it's kin dof strange that the bombs would go off near the top of the building. It was bad, but it didn't look like a significant number of people were going to be hurt/killed (significant > 300). Then of course, right before my eyes (and the reporter didn't even seem to notice, incidently), one of the towers just collapses, almost in slow motion. That's when it hit me - a lot of people just died.

    Right before I went to my poly sci class, the other tower collapsed too. I had no idea what was going to happen next. Maybe a plane was heading for D.C. and going to hit the white house? Maybe that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was heading for Chicago (where I'm from). I'm just glad this wasn't even better planned out. Think, if they (whoever is behing this) hijacked planes in Chicago, San Fransico, Los Angeles, etc, a whole lot more people would be dead today.

    F-bacher
    • by hotseat (102621) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:48PM (#2283131)
      I was in one of the House of Representatives office buildings near the Capitol this morning, when the reports came in from New York and then from the Pentagon, across the river.

      The place was pretty calm, but our Congressman ordered us to get out and later the whole building was evacuated. It was a fairly bizarre experience being on the Hill surrounded by all kinds of people (aides, politicans, interns like myself, senior officials from various places around for meetings) with us all being moved away from the Capitol (the presumed target of any attack on Capitol Hill itself) and told to get home, whilst simultaneously the entire city was gridlocked and the metro system suspended.

      There wasn't blind panic, but there was a definite feeling in the air that we were a serious target if there were going to be more attacks. Fortunately, there were not, and I managed to get home soon after 12, once Union Station's metro stop had been reopened.

      The scariest thing about the whole experience, though, was not the possibility of attack against Congress, but the certainty that the event will be used as justification both for additional killings ("We must strike back against those responsible for harbouring these terrorists"), probably without taking the time to find out who really did it (just look at the debacles over the Lockerbie bombing and the US missile attack on a Sudanese asprin factory) and also for a forfeiture of even more civil rights in the name of security.

      Speaking as an outsider, but one who has been working within the US political system, I find both prospects deeply scary.

      Tom

  • Passengers on planes (Score:5, Informative)

    by jhaberman (246905) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:09PM (#2282940)
    A lady I work with has a friend that had a daughter on one of the flights. She said that her daughter (the passengers) were allowed to call loved ones and say goodbye before the planes crashed. To think of that just makes me sick to my stomach. My thoughts and prayers are sent to all.


    I'm off to give blood


    Jason

    • by suwain_2 (260792) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:38PM (#2283082) Journal
      According to one of the networks (I don't have any clue which at this point...), one of the stewards/stewardesses was able to call someone (IIRC, it was the airline), and told them teh exact seat number of the hijacker. Let's hope that this will help in figuring out who was responsible.
    • by ScuzzMonkey (208981) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:01PM (#2283219) Homepage
      In some ways I hope that was not true. The thought that the passengers were told what was going to happen and that none of them could find it in themselves to try to stop it (and even if only half, or a quarter, made that decision, they could have against men armed with knives and boxcutters) is disturbing. Although, it's possible that is the reason the fourth plane never made it to its target, wherever that was--if so, I salute whatever brave souls sacrificed themselves to save so many others.

      Forgive me for speculating. In truth, none of us will ever know the complete story of what happened on board those airliners. But for years, everyone has been trained and told to sit tight, don't resist, and let the negotiators do their work. Before, that has always been good advice. As of this morning, it may be the worst thing you could do.

      My heart goes out to the families of all the victims, everywhere.
      • 20/20 hindsight.

        When your on a plane, and it is being hijaked, the standard human response is that of panic. Most people don't think well in panic. The situation these people were placed it was probably almost surreal in their minds. Though it would only require one person to get the uprising against the captors started, it is hard to be that one person. You can never be sure the others will follow, and that is if you can even think clear enough to think about it.
      • by RAruler (11862) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:18PM (#2283338) Homepage
        Correct me if i'm wrong, but the cockpit has a door that locks. Ideally, this door probably is designed to withstand a lot of force, so trying to force your way into the cockpit would be a bad idea mmmkaaay?

        I'd personally like to see the cockpit isolated from the rest of the plane, a big metal shield. If you can't get to the cockpit, hijacking the plane becomes hard, forcing the pilot to do this becomes impossible.
        • by osgeek (239988) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:29PM (#2283710) Homepage Journal
          Correct me if i'm wrong, but the cockpit has a door that locks. Ideally, this door probably is designed to withstand a lot of force, so trying to force your way into the cockpit would be a bad idea mmmkaaay?

          Actually, I was talking with a commercial airline pilot friend of mine today, and he said that those doors are specifically designed to be flimsy. They're supposed to blow out easily in case of explosive cabin depressurization or something.

          I'd personally like to see the cockpit isolated from the rest of the plane, a big metal shield.

          Yeah, my pilot friend mentioned that he'd like to see the same thing.
      • by xant (99438) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:55PM (#2283843) Homepage
        The terrorists onboard manage to swiftly disable/kill the pilots and put their man in the pilot's seat. (This is the most likely explanation; an airline pilot would have to know where the plane was going and what it was going to hit, and would have committed suicide or crashed his plane first since he was going to die anyway.)

        Now, with a terrorist in charge, why wouldn't the passengers simply attack the men with knives and take them out? Simple. The terrorists tell them "We're hijacking this plane and flying it to <middle eastern location of your choice>. If nobody gets out of hand you'll all be let go/kept safe as soon as we land. But we terrorists are not afraid to die! If you resist, we will set this plane on a collision course with the ground." Furthermore, the terrorists can be as friendly as possible to the people on board to calm them.

        In short, they lie to the passengers and make it sound like sitting back is the safe and reasonable thing to do. The terrorists have absolutely no reason to let the passengers know what's really going to happen to them at the end of the flight. And the passengers have very little reason to suspect it. When has this ever happened before?
        • The terrorists have absolutely no reason to let the passengers know what's really going to happen to them at the end of the flight. And the passengers have very little reason to suspect it.

          Except that at least Barbara Olson knew what was happening. She twice talked to her husband, who let her know about the two planes having crashed into the WTC.

          The logical part of me says "Why didn't she just say 'hey, they're going to crash us into a building' and overtake the hijackers." But how can I possibly second guess such a situation?

          And it may well turn out that something similar happened in Pennsylvania.

  • Almost a witness (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alpha_Geek (154209) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:10PM (#2282952) Homepage
    If I had woken up 1/2 hour earlier today I might have been at the Pentagon Bus Depot (other side of the building) when the plane crashed. That scares the hell out of me. I see that helipad every day when the bus is pulling up the the Metro stop at the Pentagon.

    Another interesting thing for everyone. Apparently U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson's wife called him from her cell phone on the plane that crashed into the pentagon. Apparently the hijackers used knife-like weapons. Here is the link [akamaitech.net].
    • Akamai CTO was on one of the planes.

      http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,46710, 00 .html
    • Re:Almost a witness (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kintanon (65528)
      Apparently the hijackers used knife-like weapons

      I would never EVER let someone wielding a bladed weapon hi-jack an airplane. If they have to get close to me to take me out then it gives me a fighting chance, and in my opinion it would be worth the risk, if I can take out eve one of the hi-jackers maybe the other passengers will have the balls to attack as well. There is no way 3 or 4 hijackers can take on 20 or 30 passengers if they only have bladed weapons.

      Kintanon
  • I looked out my apt window this morning and saw guys wearing army fatigues with Colt M4's directing traffic. Once I managed to get my dialup to connect (kept dropping for obvious reasons) I stayed connected long enough to find out that two planes had flown into the WTC. From there, everything seemed to be fake. I mean, shit these are the two symbols of America. Who the hell could knock them down? Several hours later I walked downtown with a friend to see it all for myself. The streets were empty, eminating the feeling of loss. Once we got close enough, there were cars all over that were smashed to varying degrees, covered in dust, papers blowing across the streets. It was a scene out of a movie as many have said. Too bad it isnt. I hope swift justice comes for those who are resposible for this act of disgusting terrorism.
  • by arkham6 (24514) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:15PM (#2282984)
    It was about 8:55 that someone came into the noc, and said 'My mom just called, someone crashed an airplane into the world trade center'. I got up, and went down the hall to our executive conference room, which has a great view of NYC. To my shock, there was huge clouds of smoke billowing around the upper third of the building, and I could see flickers of flame comming from the huge hole. Someone in the office had a pair of binoculars, and I could see even more details. There was a bit of debate over how this happened, and if this was accidental or not. I was on the view that there was no way this could be an accident.

    After looking at this sight for a few minutes, I went back to the NOC, and was informing coworkers of what I saw. Someone came in, and said "Another airplane hit the other building!". I ran down the hallways again, and sure enough, there was the flames and the fires. I felt sick, as I was sure this was not accidental. And one of my first thoughts was 'Bin Laden.'.

    I don't really remember the next few minutes that well, but I do remember standing in an office nearby when the first building went down. Puffs of smoke were comming up from the bottom, and we all thought another bomb had gone off. Remember, at this time we were hearing reports of bombings at the capital, the pentagon, the mall, and the whitehouse. We all stood dumbly as the bulding fell, and I don't think anyone spoke. And a little after that, the other one came down. I did not see that one, for which I am glad. The sight of the first one is going to haunt me as long as I live I fear.

    God help us, God help the victims, and God help those poor bastards who did this. Our revenge will be terrible.
  • by drew_ri (236095) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:16PM (#2282985)
    My little (24 y/o) brother is a federal employee from Boston. He works for the Department of Energy, and was down in DC for work this week.

    When I heard about the attack in DC I immediately freaked out. I tried calling his cell phone, only to find the cell switches flooded. I could only hope he was not near the Pentagon.

    My mother finally did get in touch with him. He basically was told to evacuate the office, which was next to the Capital, and to go home. Unfortunately for him "home" was a hotel across from the Capital building.

    He did call later with an update, he managed to take a train out of town and had to walk a long while to reach Georgetown U. He told mom that it was a completely surreal experience, with crowds running and walking aimlessly, while jet fighters were looming above.

    I never was so scared for anyone's safety. Ironically, this AM my brother was in a seminar in public speaking and dealing with anxiety. I guess they picked the wrong day to run that class :/

    My warmest wishes and prayers go out to those less fortunate.
  • by camusflage (65105) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:16PM (#2282987)
    I know it's just the INTP [ibiblio.org] in me talking, but I have to wonder what kind of civil rights atrocities we're going to be looking at in the days and weeks to come.

    If you thought the FBI wiretapping Little Nicky Scarfo on only a search warrant was horrifying, consider the bully stick that will be bandied about now. Encryption is bad. Terrorists using encryption got past all our intelligence. Outlaw encryption now! If we didn't have to go through all that judicial rigamarole to keep an eye on terrorists, we would have done better. We promise we won't wiretap anyone without a magistrate's approval who doesn't really, really, REALLY deserve it.

    As shocking and horrifying as what happened today is, and as unbelievable that the intelligence community knew nothing about it (or did they? [slashdot.org]), I am scared shitless about what we have ahead of us.
    • I think it's unfortunate that someone modded that as flamebait. One of the first things that popped into my head when I heard about the morning's events, was that we're gonna be trading liberty for security at an amazing rate over the next few months. This time next year you'll probably need to get fingerprinted, DNA-sampled, and background-checked before you're allowed on an airplane.

      If it happens, then the terrorists won.

      Whether someone flames the idea or not, it ain't flamebait.

  • After all that happened today, what I wanted to do was get my ass home and try to find out as much information as I could. No one I know lives around the areas that were hit, but it was a huge event that will be remembered for years. Then I got a call from my aunt. Her daughter's husband was camping in Somerset county. She said he was within about 2 miles of the actual crash site. I coudn't believe it! He said he was going to remain camping there though, knowing him I wasn't surprised. It was quite a strange feeling knowing he was so close. I know him pretty well because I did work for him for a bit last summer. He owns Netsville (www.netsville.com). Today is a very sad day....
  • level heads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niloroth (462586) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:19PM (#2283003) Homepage
    I realize this is slightly off topic, but none the less.

    If anyone remembers after the OKC bombing everyone thought it was Arabs (specificly muslums), and there were instances of violence agains Arabic Americans. We do not know yet who did this, and even if it does turn out to be Arabs, or Muslums, please make it a point to speak out against any type of retaliation agains Arabs and Muslums in the US. No more inocent people need to suffer for the actions of a few extremists. We all need to make sure that freedom in this country survies through this disaster. It almost scares me that things like this need to be writen, but humanity being what it is, I figure it can't hurt.

    Thank you
    Justin
  • by quakeslut (107512) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:23PM (#2283008)
    Here in Manhattan I watched the two towers go down from the street outside my apartment. Unbelievable, what more can you say?

    I ran downtown to be of some use, and made my way deep into the financial district shortly after the second building collapsed. Large groups of us volunteers gathered, waiting for instructions, but unless you were a doctor or CPR certified, there was not much you could do. A few of us volunteered to give blood, and we were put on a bus that led us through the carnage of the area surrounding the towers. Inches of ash and soot. Entire blocks covered in papers, most halfway burnt. Eventually, we were rerouted, and taken to Saint Vincent's medical center to donate, but turned away due to the incredible volume of people willing to donate.

    I'm planning to donate tomorrow, and if you live in Manhattan, please do so as well.

    In the meantime, despite all the horrendous acts of the past 12 hours--all the heartache, all the loss of life--please, let's try to keep a level head about things. If we go off bombing another country, there will most likely be civilian casualties there as well--what more evidence do we need to see that life is precious? I saw too many dying people carted in on stretchers at St. Vincent's today.

    Even if they die in another country, they are still people, and bleed red like you and me.
  • by The Artificial Kid (520277) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:24PM (#2283018)
    I'm from australia. I got up at ten to seven this morning and logged on. I went to penny arcade for a dose of the funny and I found an image that said "We don't feel like talking about computer games right now. Our hearts go out to anyone involved in this God awful tragedy" with a link to CNN.com. I followed the link, expecting a joke, or a hoax page or something. I began reading down a bulleted list of the appalling things that had happened and immediately scanned the page for some sign that it was all made up. Some 'CNN.com@*****' or ANYTHING to tell me that this wasn't real news about the real world. It was off the human scale. It was something you simply couldn't imagine happening. I called my girlfriend into the room to have a look and she said 'bullshit' then began to read the story, our fear growing in unison as we learned of the terrible events. We went directly to a local news site to get some corroboration and there it was, large as life. We had been about to leave for a walk to the beach and back before breakfast. We bought the Sydney Morning Herald on our way down the hill and there was a picture of the World Trade Centre with its guts spraying into the street on the bow of a flowering, orange explosion. There were the faces caked with plaster and concrete dust and the fires. There were the words of desperate fear and shock. There was the disaster. We took the paper to the beach and sat on the steps above the sand for ten minutes holding each other and reading the stories. My eyes filled with tears not for the victims (whose suffering is too distant and unimaginable for me to understand) but for a human race that could do this to itself, that could produce to groups whose only desire was to do the worst possible things to each other. It is something monumentally sad to me, that faced with the beauty of life we could squander it on violence and destruction. Even the world trade centre towers themselves seemed timeless when I visited them two years ago. Now they are simply gone, forever. Unimaginable. A little while after me, my girlfriend's eyes began to water and I held her. Then we dried off, picked up the paper and walked home. This is a terrible thing, and americans should know that their horror and shock is ahared by many around the world.
  • The people who executed this attack are now as dead as the victims. That's one of the worst things about these suicide bombings, who do you blame, who do you retaliate against? Maybe they were the ones that planned the whole thing in the first place, maybe they weren't. As of this moment all we can do is try our best to help the victims who are still alive, and say a prayer for the departed. My condolences go out to those who have lost a loved one.
  • Sincere Condolences (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MarkOShark (254729)
    I'm in New Zealand, and am watching the unfolding events over the Internet. I feel sick in the stomach at what I've seen and the senselessness of it.

    My greatest condolences to all those familys and friends who have lost loved ones, and my prayers and wishes of support for those who don't know yet. I don't have the words to tell you how much compassion I feel towards the people involved - those who have died, survivors, loved ones and emergency providers who have to pick up the pieces.

    I believe that people the world over are equally as shocked and supportive as I am.

    I can only hope that justice and cool heads will prevail in the events to come; that those responsible will receive their punishment; and that further innocent people are not hurt.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:29PM (#2283046)
    From Sahara, in the East Village, NYC.

    I woke up to the sound of the first plane flying overhead. I said to myself "wow that sounds like it is pretty low" then I heard it crash and jumped out of bed.I watched the first building collapse from the roof. Took pictures of it. People were jumping out of the windows of the towers because they could not evacuate in time. My whole neighborhood was on the rooftops. When the buildings collapsed, the whole village screamed all at once. People were up there screaming and yelling and crying. I helped this old woman call her friends that live and work there who she could not reach. She was hysterical. My landlord's brother was in one of the towers. Most of the phone lines are down, including cell phones which have lost their towers. Subways, busses, bridges, tunnels, trains were all closed. Now some of it exiting Manhattan has been opened. Six NYU dorms were evacuated and all the people living in them were herded into a gym.There was an amazing migration of people north through the streets.The area looks like an apocalypse. Everything is grey and cloudy and there is 5 inches of debris on the ground. It looks like it is snowing. City hall looks like it is standing in a desert. Police were going up and down the streets yelling into loudspeakers. I'm so used to hearing sirens now, it is like birds chirping. They are concerned now of biological weapons so hopefully the wind won't shift and blow smoke my way.Third building just fell. They fear more because they are on fire and can't seem to get them out.All schools closed. All hospitals filled. They need more blood. Death toll has been climbing all day.
  • Just to let y'all know, I had a previous post along these lines and figured that it was relevant:
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=21544&cid=2279 948 [slashdot.org]
    When I woke up this morning, I heard sirens going off all over the place. I had no idea what was going on, but as soon as I got up my roommate was running into the room yelling about the Pentagon being bombed. We looked out our window and saw black smoke billowing out across the city, and decided to see what it was.
    There were all manner of different people clustering to see what was going on - there were tourists from Russia, reporters, agents from every conceivable branch of the government en route to the Pentagon. We saw a number of generals standing in the shade outside of it, and there were military personnel all over the place. Most of the streets were blocked off, too. Pennsylvania Avenue was strangely devoid of traffic, and I know that at this point they aren't letting anything remotely near the White House.
    I figured that I'd add that there have been a number of bomb threats going off around the city - most notably to me at the Marvin Center at the George Washington University, because that's where I tend to get food. They evacuated the Center and shut down the entire school for the day - you can see the University's warning message at http://www.gwu.edu/~virtual/message.html [gwu.edu]
    Oh yes, and while I was walking to and from the Pentagon, my friends and I happened to see - or at least we believe we did - Marine 1, the President's personal chopper. Seeing as he wasn't in DC at the time, it was probably Cheney or some other officials checking out the damage. It was a damn sight to see - the chopper was accompanied by a fighter plane, and it is ENOURMOUS. The thing is easily bigger than you'd ever think it could be.
  • by mikers (137971) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:30PM (#2283052)
    This might be important in a while - not right now... But

    The SSSCA seeks to limit our copying and mirroring of copyrighted content. It would have been impossible to mirror news and events (pictures, view, text) from content owners such as ABCNEWS.COM (Disney) and MSNBC.COM (Microsoft) today if all hardware was locked down.

    Seeing as these content owners (ABCNEWS.COM) were not able to keep the information flowing, shouldn't content controls be easily circumventable in times of crisis? Isn't the fact that all these news sites were down testiment to the fact that the SSSCA is a bad idea? Where would we be without individuals mirroring and copying information when the major news portals were down?

    I obtained a lot of my info from mirrors today - not the major sites. Thank goodness for the individuals who mirrored information from the major news sites. I hope that in a few years time they will be able to do the same should another trajedy like this occur.
  • My Neighbor Survived (Score:5, Informative)

    by Royster (16042) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:32PM (#2283057) Homepage
    His office was on the 30th floor of 3 World Trade Center (not one of the towers). His office faced the towers and he saw both planes hit. The explosion from the second blew out all of the windows in his buildings. He saw burning people
    jumping out of the towers and strike the ground. He was outside a few hundred yards from the towers when the first one fell. He dove into a subway entrance as a black clould of ash and debris came rolling across the plaza. His friend broke his ankle in the dive for safety.

    He knows of 10 friends who lost their lives today. Two of those are friends he grew up with.

    His account is horrific. He saw someone dismembered by the falling debris just a few yards from where he was.
  • What a phone call (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AntiFreeze (31247) <antifreeze42 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:33PM (#2283062) Homepage Journal
    At around 9am this morning, I got a frantic phone call from my boss. He said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center, and had taken out fifteen stories. I listened in disbelief. Our office is a mere five blocks north of the trade center, and I am there almost every day. Today, I am in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    Then I heard an explosion over the phone, as my boss excalimed "Oh my God! There was just a second explosion, this has to be a terrorist attack!" He had to run -- for hopefully obvious reasons -- and I have not been able to contact him since.

    This isn't informative in any way, but I simply wanted to put it in writing. If you read this, thanks for hearing me out. Sometimes just writing out what you feel is quite helpful. Most of my family is in New York, and so are most of my business aquiantances. I have no idea how they are all doing, nor how soon I will be able to return. To everyone else going through this uncertainty right now, I wish you the best of luck.

  • I was there (Score:5, Informative)

    by richieb (3277) <richieb.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:38PM (#2283080) Homepage Journal
    I work in a building on Water St, probaby less than a mile from WTC. I was complaining to a coworker about the corporate proxy server being down, when someone said "A plane crashed into the World Trade Center".

    I also thought, what a horrible accident, but I assumed that it was a private airplane. Today was a beautiful day to fly after all(I'm a private pilot).

    From one corner of our floor on 48th floor, we get a clear view of the towers. We all went there. The north tower was on fire and there were papers floating in the air. I was trying to find out what kind of airplane caused the fire.

    While standing there, I caught a sight of another airplane, a twin engine jet, it was banking to right. It came, what seemed like slightly below where we were and smashed straight into the other tower. A huge fire ball went up covering almost the entire upper third of the tower. Then it was gone and the second tower was on fire.

    A second or so later, we heard the explosion and felt out building shake. At this point we all realized that this was no accident and we all ran to get out of the building.

    As the elevators were full we ran down the staircase and then got out on the street.

    Since clearly there would be no further work today, I decided to walk to Brooklyn to my mother-in-laws house. When I was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge we saw F-15s circling high over New York.

    Just as I reached the middle of the bridge we heard a crash. I turned around and saw the huge tower of World Trade Center collapse....

    I feel horrible...

    ...richie

  • what you can do (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RestiffBard (110729) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:40PM (#2283087) Homepage
    if you're wondering what you can do I have a couple of ideas for you.
    1. give blood. the local red cross nationwide will be holding blood drives tomorrow if they haven't managed to start today. Don't bother going to the red cross site its attackdotted. just look up the red cross in your white pages. or go to the mall thats where my local is holding their drive tomorrow (thr first of many)

    2. you can give money if you can't give blood. its easy too. I don't know about other places but hear in southeastern virginia you can go to Food Lion (local big box grocery store) at the register there are 1$, 3$, and 5$ coupons that can be scanned and add the amount to your bill. instantly you've given the red cross money to help.

    I've already given my 5 bucks and tomorrow am heading for the mall to give blood. I suggest we all do the same.

    I'm not military but I work on base. NAS Oceana in va beach VA. my entire community is in shock. we are the largest military town in the world and also a huge target. schools are closed businesses are closed streets are empty as family members say goodbye to sailors, soldiers and airmen as they are called into duty. the aircraft carriers that are underway for new york and D.C. are based here. I've probably served them a hamburger. (yes, mcdonalds) don't know if I'm going to work tomorrow or not.this is all too bizarre.

    3. Lastly. most importantly, we should keep a level head, put aside our differences and back our president no matter how much we may dislike him. (card carrying democrat here) now is not a time for finger pointing and antagonism.
    • Giving Blood (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:14PM (#2283304) Homepage Journal
      Giving blood is a good idea, but it's always a good idea. The blood shortage won't go away for weeks, and the overall need won't go away at all. If you can't make it to a donor center in the next few days, go to beadonor.com [beadonor.com], find a place to donate in your area, and make a reservation. Even if you can't do it until next week, or next month, you might still save somebody's life.
  • by SteveM (11242) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:49PM (#2283135)

    My cousin, Maryann, worked in the WTC for the Port Authority of NY and NJ.

    She was on her way to work, on a bus in NYC, when she saw the first plane hit. She, and the others on the bus thought it was an accident.

    Then she saw the second plane hit and realized it was no accident.

    She got out of the bus and started walking north. She went to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, but it was closed. As she worked for the Port Authority, they let her in to sit a while. She is short and overweight, and not used to all that walking.

    She then heard that trains were leaving from Penn Station. So she walked on down and got on a very crowded train.

    She didn't want to go home and be alone, so she went to my parent's who live a couple of miles from her home.

    She told her story to my mom and dad. And cried and cried. She had worked there for over thirty years. She doesn't know how many of her freinds and coworkers are dead. She does know that her best friend is alive. She can't get the images out of her head.

    Eventually her husband made it home and took Maryann to their house. Other cousins and friends came over to be with her, and a doctor cousin brought her a sedative.

    It turns out one of the planes hit the floor she worked on.

    I have not spoken with Maryann. My parents told me this story, thus it is a third hand story.

    My parents and my cousins live in NJ. I live in NJ. I work in Torrance, CA. I fly out and back ever other week, Philadelphia to LA. My boss flies out every week to LA from Newark. It is possible that he and/or I new some of the flight crew (we've been back and forth for several years now). I'm sure I'll be quite nervous when I fly home, and each time I fly for quite some time to come.

    I am a regular blood donor and last gave blood last Tuesday. Please give blood if you are able. Thanks.

    Steve M

  • I was there (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smartin (942) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:52PM (#2283153)
    My story is here [slashdot.org].

    Have to add content to get past the lameness filter :)
  • As I walked into my third period geometry class today, I noticed everyone standing up and staring at the TV. "Humm, a little unusual" I thought, as I turned to my one friend to begin carrying on a conversation, and noticed a look of pure shock on his face. I looked upward toward the TV and saw a split screen image of the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon billowing out clouds of smoke. My first thought was "This can't be real", followed by "My God..." as people around me began crying. I soon learned from the news reporters as well as my fellow classmates that the building had been hit by civilian airplanes. Within 5 minutes, the priest at our school (I attend a Catholic High School) came on the PA and lead an all school prayer. Not long after, we watched in horror as the buildings collapsed, and the thought went through my mind, "Right now, many people are dying. Why was it them and not, say, me?". Many people were laughing, out of sheer shock. Needless to say, in the rest of my classes, no work was done. Several Alumni of my school were in the WTC as it was hit by the planes, so the teachers were even more concerned than most people (thankfully they all made it out before it collapsed). Throughout the day and during lunch, we continued to watch the TVs throughout the school, wondering "Who next? Why did this happen? What can we do?". As I sit here now and attempt to study for my tests tomarrow with no avail, I can't help almost crying when I think about all the people who lost their lives, and all the children returning from school to discover that their parents will never come home from work; never kiss them goodnight; never tell them they love them. As I realize now, the future for America's youth may be very grim indeed, growing up in a world where unmoral and unnecessary terrorism is a daily fear.
  • by zeno_lee (125322) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @08:53PM (#2283169)
    I worked on the 51st floor of the World Trade Center, tower #1.

    This morning, I took the N/R train to where the subway exit blends into the concourse underneath the WTC. At 8:45 AM I got out and started walking to the basement entrance to my building, but saw billows of smoke rushing towards me. People were screaming to get the hell out.

    After exiting the building, it was snowing office paper and debris. On Church Street, from the street that borders the eastern block, a gaping hole 10 stories high breathed flame and smoke. Mobs of people were trotting away on the street; some were crying, worried about friends and colleagues. Then I witnessed the first few people, plunging to their deaths, apparently to escape the fire that would have painfully scorched them to death.

    By this time most people were gathered around watching the building burn and calling people. I ran into an hysterical colleague who I tried to comfort. We then witnessed more people jumping. Sick of the ghastliness, we went out of sight of the buildings behind Trinity Church on Broadway.

    A few minutes later, a second explosion shook the area, and panicked people ran away. It was complete mayhem. People tripped over each other. Mothers were protecting their baby carriages. In the fray I lost touch with my colleague. I was in complete shock, but I managed to walk home safely to the East Village.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Excuse me -- I don't post much and I've forgotten my password.

    While I'm far from an eyewitness, I thought I'd put my 2 cents in. I was working in downtown Pittsburgh this morning, thinking about an enterprise-wide system I've started on, when I heard about the first plane hitting the WTC. Like a lot of us, I guess, I thought it had to be an accident. When the second one hit, it didn't seem real. When the Pentagon was hit and we heard about a car bomb at the State Department, they started letting people with families go home and we heard they were evacuating people from goverment buildings on one of the main streets a block away. When the plane crashed in Somerset, about 50 miles east of here, they basically evacuated downtown Pittsburgh. There was some concern that it was heading for the USX tower, the tallest building in downtown Pittsburgh, positioned on the street I mentioned earlier between federal, state, and county offices. They also closed river traffic on all three of Pittsburgh's rivers, and they will remain closed for a while.

    Here's what the Pittsburgh media's telling us. The plane was headed from Newark to San Francisco. After the WTC incidents, air traffic control in Pittsburgh and Cleveland lost contact with the plane. Around that time, a 911 call came in to the state police barracks in Westmoreland County from someone on board the plane. He said the plane had been hijacked and that he was calling from the bathroom. A few seconds later, there was what sounded like an explosion. (Westmoreland County is the county between Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is, and Somerset County, where the plane went down.)
    The plane itself first veered north toward Erie, PA, then made a u-turn south and east. There was some concern that it was headed back to Pittsburgh, which is why, I think, they evacuated the USX tower and the air traffic control tower at Pittsburgh airport. It then crashed in Somerset county, "veering back and forth" as one actual eye-witness put it. A small white plane was also spotted near the plane around the time it went down -- I saw it on video myself.

    The area where the 4th plane crashed is gorgeous, Pennsylvania mountain company and, as nearly as I can make out, it's not all that far from a Episcopalean retreat center.

    If anyone from Pittsburgh's Port Authority is reading this, thank you very much for the extra busses and the calm, orderly way you helped us get out of downtown Pittsburgh.

    To all of you who have lost or fear you have lost family, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. For the rest of us, remember -- the people who did this want us to experience fear, pain, and confusion. You slash-dotters are a stubborn bunch. I say let's not give it to them!

    Nolo te bastardes carborundum!
    (Don't let the bastards get you down)
    CJ Howorth
    Not anonymous, and certainly not a coward.
  • by gnovos (447128) <gnovos@@@chipped...net> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:01PM (#2283218) Homepage Journal
    If you have any pictures or video taken at any time today from New York near the WTC, please give a copy to the FBI or the police. They want to see if they can match faces of those in the area with any know terrorists.

    I know how we all feel about facial-matching software, but please don't let your priciples get in the way of brining the terrorists to justice. Despite your fears, the *reality* of this kind of terrorism is far worse than the *possible* loss of privacy you fear.

    PLEASE turn a copy in to the FBI or Police!
    • Not to suggest that helping the authorities out isn't a good idea, but I don't see what the point of this is. No one entered the building and planeted a bomb. They flew a plane into the building. Why would one of the terrorists be in the area at the time of the collision? If they are as organized a group as they appear to be, they wouldn't have risked casualties (assuming they're fundamentalist and not merely suicidal) or the security risks of having a member of the group identified.
  • by FFFish (7567) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:07PM (#2283257) Homepage
    The media reported *ONCE* a possible crash in Colorado. Since then it hasn't been mentioned: no corrections to the original report, and no clarification.

    Colorado is home to NORAD, isn't it? The installation wouldn't be harmed -- it's built to withstand nukes -- but it'd be a natural target for scaring the US.

    Anyone heard anything more about this?
  • by sheetsda (230887) <doug DOT sheets AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:14PM (#2283301)
    Check this [google.com](the first post of the thread) out. The message is general and the date is a few days off, so its likely just a coincidence, but it's spooky nonetheless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:15PM (#2283308)
    I never watch television in the morning because I always wake up with about five minutes to get dressed and run up the hill. I
    first heard the big news on the bus. Some yuppies in the back were talking, obviously taking about six seconds of CNN
    coverage and filling in the gaps with their own conjecture and racism.

    "It must have been Osama Bin Laden," one said. I wonder how much this person knows about Osama Bin Laden other than
    the fact that the State Department made him boogeyman of the year a while back.

    "We need to kick them [Arabs] out of the country. They can't come in any more. Sorry." said a woman.

    After a few minutes I gathered that some planes had been hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center. No one knew who
    did it, but just like the days immediately after the Oklahoma City Bombing, it was assumed to be the Arabs.

    When I got to work things were even uglier. One of my coworkers said, "can't we just beat them to death?"

    We're not even sure who did it yet. Members of various groups have claimed responsibility then other members of the same
    group have denied it. Many folks on the 'net have cited a television broadcast of Palestinians cheering, but that means nothing.
    Some have expressed shock at this, but really, how many of these same people sat patriotically by and watched remote-control
    warfare on CNN when we attacked Iraq or Serbia? I'm not saying it's good that people are cheering, but I am saying it's not
    surprising.

    I'm hearing the usual epithets that one hears when people react to a shocking, violent news event: "sick", "crazy", "coward". At
    the risk of appearing to defend the attacks, I'm really not sure if this is productive. Terrorists aren't necessarily "sick" or
    "cowards". Terrorists are simply soldiers who can't afford uniforms and high tech military hardware. They are not necessarily
    more or less sick and cowardly than the U.S. pilots who bombed a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan a few years ago, or the ones
    who firebombed Tokyo and Dresden in the Second World War.

    It's important to put things in context, keep a cool head, and deal with the situation as it exists. It's important that none of us be
    like the guy who posted to Usenet after the Oklahoma City bombing that we should just randomly attack cities in the Mideast
    (after it turned out to be an American, some folks asked him if he thought we should randomly attack cities in the Midwest).
    We must follow the words of Mother Jones who once told us, "Mourn for the dead, fight like hell for the living."

    That means fighting for living non-White non-Americans, too. Many of us are feeling a compassion for the victims of this attack.
    We must keep this compassion alive if and when we hear calls for random bombings of the Mideast, or for attacks on civilian
    populations in Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan. We must fight like hell against the racism and xenophobia that hides just under the
    surface of our culture, manifesting itself in people who want to kick Arabs out of our country or beat them to death. We must
    safeguard the lives of our fellow human beings and we must be vigilant against those in power who will use this as an excuse to
    destroy our civil liberties the way they did in the anti-German and anti-radical scares around the First World War or the
    Japanese internment during the Second World War.

    We must not get hysterical about this being the beginning of World War III. World War III would require both sides to have a
    military. Those with a military don't hijack planes. We must not allow the anti-Arab violence that shot up dramatically during the
    Gulf War happen again ten years later. We must stop our government from acting like the 800-pound gorilla of the world that
    stifles all peaceful attempts at change (like our actions regarding the recent U.N. conference on racism) and therefore makes
    violent acts of terrorism the only recourse for some.

    We must counter hysteria and paranoia with logic and reason. We must protect our Arab-American brothers and sisters against
    jingoism and hatred. We must remember that a lynching is a lynching whether it's performed by people in klan white, police
    blue, or army green. We must end the bombing and starvation of the people of Iraq started by Bush the Elder and continued
    under Bush the Lesser. This attack was on the centers of American military power and economic domination. Just as we mourn
    for the dead who worked at these institutions, we must fight for the living who are victim of their policies.

    If we don't fight for the living; if we allow hatred, paranoia, and jingoism to determine our actions; if we cheer U.S. military
    superiority as made-for-tv bombing campaigns kill more civilians and destroy more lives; than we are the real cowards.
    • Known Fact (Score:4, Informative)

      by artemis67 (93453) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:51PM (#2283823)
      "It must have been Osama Bin Laden," one said. I wonder how much this person knows about Osama Bin Laden other than the fact that the State Department made him boogeyman of the year a while back.

      Osama Bin-Laden owns an airfield in Afghanistan where pilots are trained on jumbo jets for terrorist acts. Did you see the precision with which those two planes hit the towers? I've never flown a 767, but I used to be a private pilot, and I seriously doubt that Joe Shmoe Terrorist off the streets of Palestine would have been able to take over the controls and fly these planes in like that. These guys had training in commercial aviation, and you're talking some big bucks there. That narrows it down to a select group of terrorist organizations that they could have come from, and Bin Laden is on that list.
  • Self-Centered? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:18PM (#2283337) Homepage Journal

    Yes, indeed it is a crisis. But I hardly think that testifying against unjust legislation is self-centered.

    Among other terrible consequences, the government is likely to use this event to leverage more scary laws which limit our freedom, this time for the sake of intelligence groups. It will also not be self-centered to be a voice of reason in these issues as well, so don't give up!
  • by parabyte (61793) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:23PM (#2283366) Homepage
    It was in the middle of afternoon here in Germany when a colleague came into my office and told me that two planes crashed into the WTC in New York. I did not believe it, it sounded complete absurd and impossible. Maybe one plane, but two - impossible. I tried cnn.com, but it did not respond, however, slashdot responded and also already had the story. So we switched on the a video projector and tuned in CNN and could see towers burning on a 20-foot screen; it was almost like looking out of the window. After a few minutes more and more people silently appeared in the room until almost 30 people were silently watching the large screen. Just when I started to pray for the people trapped in the upper half of building 2, the "Pentagon burning" images came in, and the worst moment was when building 2 collapsed, probably killing a lot of people trapped above the impact floors. And I also felt really bad seeing the replay of impact 2 when I realized that the plane was full of people. I still feel sick when remembering that.

    Driving home took me twice as long because many places like the U.S. Embassy and many Jewish places were heavily guarded and many streets were blocked.

    I myself had my father murdered last year, and I feel with everybody who has lost relatives or friends in this brutal crime, who will live through moments of this day through next months again and again, and who will not enjoy a happy moment for long while. Everybody who has ever lost a loved one as result of criminal violence knows what I am talking about.

    What can help is to find out who did it, why they did it, and what can be done that such a thing will never happen again.

    Jane's has some professional assessment [janes.com] of who might be capable and has a motive for doing such a thing.

    Their analysts say Osama Bin Laden is Nr. 1 on the list of suspects.

    Whoever will turn out to be behind this, it is very probable that he used Know-How that was originally created within some government secret agency like the KGB, the CIA, the Mossad or maybe a dozen other government funded agencies from around the world.

    The USA has it's share in supporting "freedom fighters" against foreign rogue governments. The USA once even supported Osama Bin Laden when he organized the Rebellion in Afghanistan against the Russian occupation. Other examples of former U.S. friends are Sadam Hussein, who was supported in his war against Iran, the Contra in Nicaragua, and the UCK in Yugoslavia fighting against the Serbs. There are probably a few hundred groups and leaders supported worldwide by 'civilized' governments, many of them with the clear intention killing people to reach their political aims.

    In the above and many other cases US agencies helped to spread weapons and guerrilla warfare techniques, and probably more important, it created shady organizations with capable leaders, structures and worldwide contacts with the primary purpose to spread terror and destruction.

    The problem is, that after the war is won and the rogue government overthrown, these people, their weapons, their followers and their state of mind doesn't cease to exist.

    Throw in some areas like Palestina, Afghanistan, Tchechenia, Africa and Middle/South America where children haven't been seen human rights or peace for the last 30 years, and you get a large supply of people who have nothing to loose except their miserable life, and get the chance to become eternal heroes within their society by blowing up themselves and taking as many as possible with them.



    What can be done

    No "civilized" country should sell any weapon to anyone without democratic legitimisation; even better, all international weapon trading should be simply forbidden, including hand guns

    All secret agencies in "civilized" countries must be closer controlled to avoid creation of new guerrilla armies around the world

    Anonymous Transfer and laundry of large sums of money must be controlled to dry up funding of weapon trade and funding of rouge groups

    Every Individual connected with weapon trading or supporting guerrilla in a foreign country should be severely punished

    Human rights must be honoured everywhere in the world, and everyone not honouring them should become outlawed

    Fair International Trade and real substantial development support should help to create a reasonable level of wealth everywhere in the world

    The problem with the above things is not that they require an idealistic world; the problem is, the would put many important and powerful people in the USA and other countries, Israel quite ahead, in the rogue camp.

    The USA e.g. would have to face that killing imprisoned people, even convicted criminals, is not justice, but a crime against humanity.

    And just hearing about some explosions in Kabul, it seems that the US Government has a long way to go, and to learn some more lessons. I do not have any sympathy for those lunatics in Afghanistan, but they are a result of cold war superpower games and did not chose their fate, and the killing of innocent people does not justify the killing other innocent people.

    Another thing from history that many people in the U.S. are not aware of:

    Terrorism works.

    Especially in rich countries where life is highly valued, and people have a lot to loose they are easily scared by terrorist attacks, even if the real danger is statistically marginal compared to tobacco or traffic, the perceived danger is large enough to change a society.

    And you can not stop terrorist attacks by people who are willing to sacrifice their life; just look to Israel these days.

    You can not stop terror by killing people, as you can not cure your AIDS by fucking a virgin, as believed by many people in Africa and Asia.

    Some predictions for the future:

    Someone guilty will be found, probably Ben Ladin

    Bombs will be thrown by the US Military, and more innocent people will be killed

    A lot of annoying and expensive security measures will be taken

    Civil Rights will be restricted in the U.S. and other civilized country

    More innocent people will be killed in the U.S. by terrorist attacks

    Finally, the terrorists will not achieve their ultimate goals and be hunted down and isolated from their environment;

    to achieve this, compromises will be made to dry up the particular terror breeding grounds, like creating more wealth and stability in these regions

    the fear of terrorism will have impact on political decisions, and in the long term US politicians will be more careful because of this fear

    After this bad day I hope that today's events will be a unique experience in my life, and not the begin of a new era of terror and war.

    Lets make this world a better place.

    p.

  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:24PM (#2283368) Homepage Journal
    The Canadian Blood Services are overwhelmed according to TV news services. Please call 1-888-2-donate to arrange a time and place to give in Canada!
  • by FFFish (7567) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:32PM (#2283432) Homepage
    === Report the survivors! [berkeley.edu] === this is a clearinghouse for reporting people you know made it out alive.

    Please report everyone you know of who has survived the attacks.

    U. Berkeley has apparently supported this with a few hundred servers. GO TO IT AND SPREAD THE WORD!
  • by GMontag (42283) <gmontag&guymontag,com> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:39PM (#2283464) Homepage Journal
    Yes, some of you know me as one of the "old" DC2600 guys. A scant few of you know me as a Defense Contractor employee that works on the US Army Aviation Budget as my "real" job.

    The day began slow, was running late for work, showed up moments before the first WTC strike. Checked with boss on anything new since day before and when he is going to the National Guard Readiness Center. Nothing new.

    WTOP is the only radio station that comes in at my cube, in Chantilly, VA, near the NRO (see other posts, other threads). WTOP reports that an airplane has hit WTC 1. I metion it to a co worker, retired 10 days ago Army Aviation instructor and other cool stuff (he was an instructor there when I was in flight school). Both of us sluff it off as just some dope flying in the wrong place.

    A little while later, WTOP reports plane 2 hits WTC 2. I grab a more receptive audience, Larry the retired Command Seargents Major of the National Guard. We listen to the radio, dicuss what is up and start specuating. Yes, we began joking too... I offered a bet that the pilots were Allied students of Mark's from the mid '80s (Aviator mentioned above) from Lebenon... seeinng the MSNBC stream on the net sayig that AC #2 definately had a "PLO control touch"... etc.

    Pentagon gets hit, Larry and others start calling our employees that work in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the area (we work on our firms site, we have people that work on client sites). Everybody is fine...

    Talk ensues of units being mobilized (some of us are sitll reservists), what will happen (check end or this post), etc.

    My family lives in TN, just remembering that mom has said that I work in the Pentagon for 7 years, even though I never have worked there, just visit the building on occasion for work or to impress my son. Call mom, remind her that I am safe and sound in Chantilly, VA, right by the NRO, directly on the approach path to Dulles Airport (yes, the paths of the planes landig orth, right runway, bisect my building) and I STILL do not work in the Pentagon. Concience satisfied.

    News of a hijacked plane around Dulles, with F-16s in persuit gets to the office. 2 of us went outside to look for the chase. All we heard/saw was afterburer noise... went back to the 4th floor to get a better view.

    Got e-mail from mom, aknowledgig my voicemeail. Sister had sent her a message asking if I was at Pentagon today (sorry, I do not work inside the beltway, aka getto), they were glad I was okay. Replied with story of looking for the dogfight (eventually was revealed as false report).

    Folks with families here began going home just after lunch, big bosses begin telling us to go home. I tell them that I will stay, son (18) in TN only knows my work number, doubt that he is that worried about me but I want to be by the phone in case he is worried. Forwarded e-mail between me and mom to him.

    Office gets deserted as I polish up some work and watch whatever web streams of the crashes I can find. Sr. VP comes through and asks if we had accountability of all of our people on client sites "as far as I know, yes, everybody is fine."

    Head out for some dinner, deli is open, not playig radio, relaxing with an Italian Sausage sub. Head back to Reston, VA, cruise into the Town Center to grab a beer. Looks like a Rod Serling TV show, buildings intact, no people. Main drive through the place is closed off, almost everything is closed. Watch MSNBC and CNN in "Bistro! Bistro!", chat about the events with my trusty bartender, Mark Mac, and with others. Create conspiracies "it was the FIRA (French IRA), supported by the un-holy alliance of the Illuminati and the Masons"

    Happy hour ends at 7, I get home to try to call Emmanuel of 2600 Magazine, "Off the Hook" is on soon, he might wat a voice from the DC area. No dice, phones still overloaded (sincerly thought that the phone emergecy was over).

    Since I have been conditioned for over 22 years to be calm in events like this, I still am, but twinges of emotion creep in, anger, sadness, etc. since I am mentally waiting to be ready to do somethig, but in reality i don't have anythig to do in this situation, unless I get a phonecall from the Army.

    My heart goes out to all of you that have experienced a loss today.

    Granted, the intel guys *might* have been able to see this in advance, but these attacks were trivial to plan and conduct. DO NOT LET THE POLICE FORCES TURN THIS INTO AN EXCUSE FOR A POLICE STATE!
  • by Mignon (34109) <satan@programmer.net> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:46PM (#2283493)
    I exited the subway five blocks north of the towers this morning at about 9:20 this morning, with a pretty clear view of the damage caused by the two planes, the second of which had hit about 15 minutes earlier. I hung around a few minutes, stunned, then left for work a few blocks away. There I wrote the following on my Pilot:
    Getting out of subway - "do not go to WTC - there has been an explosion." Wasn't sure I heard right. The scene @ Chambers & W. B'way was incredible: huge crowds spilling onto street. Gaping hole on north side of North tower. Lots of smoke. More spread out hole on East side of north tower. Looks like something went in north side & out on east side. South tower also damaged on lower floor. Looked like whatever came out of north tower hit south tower.


    At work we could see the smoke from the burning buildings, but not the buildings themselves, since there was another building in between. However, when tower two fell, we could see all the dust from that, obscuring all of lower Manhattan from our tenth floor view.


    At that point we were sent home, but I was still in disbelief that the tower had fallen. I thought maybe the top had slid off or something. Another guy thought he'd heard that the radio tower had collapsed, so I walked a couple of blocks north, then headed back west, to the north end of West Broadway.


    Many people were there watching tower one burning as well as the dust from tower two. I glanced away for a moment, but looked back when I heard a gasp from the crowd, only to see tower one collapsing.


    There was a puff of smoke around the top of the building, then the roof began to fall, including the huge transmitting antenna on top, caving into the building below. After a second or two, we could hear the rumble of the building - it sounded like thunder.


    By now the crowd had turned to go north, some running, some walking, but everyone moving with some urgency. I didn't want to run since I didn't want to cause anyone else to panic.


    As we crossed 6th Avenue, we passed Mayor Guiliani, surrounded by aides and reporters, who I found out watching TV later had been forced from his mobile command center near the towers.


    I continued up 6th Avenue, and apparently the Mayor continued up West Broadway, where he tried unsucessfully to set up temporary headquarters at the swank Soho Grand hotel. We were to cross paths again as he ended up back on 6th Avenue, hoping to get into a fire house, however it was locked. Supposedly someone in the entourage tried to break down the door with a fire extinguisher, and they ultimately made it inside.


    I spoke to a friend who works two blocks south of the towers. I'm not too clear on his timeline, but he was engulfed in dust and debris when the first building collapsed and I think he said he took shelter in the building where he works, only to be nearly flattened by the second building falling about half an hour later. He was incredibly fortunate that he had no physical injuries and was able to make it home OK, though rescuers initially wanted to take him to Staten Island.


    He also said he called a friend who'd been working in one of the towers and that they had left the building immediately after the first plane hit and were on the street when the second one hit 18 minutes later.


    That suggests to me that the loss of life will turn out to be a good deal lower than it could have been. In fact, another friend pointed out that the bombing in 1993 may have actually saved lives today, as those who remembered it may have left at the first sign of trouble.


    Now for some personal thoughts: I feel incredibly fortunate that my close friends and family are all unhurt, though I'm sure I'll find out soon enough about acquaintances and friends of friends, etc. who weren't so lucky. I wish everyone could be so lucky.

  • by Brooklyn Bob (132045) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @09:50PM (#2283518)
    She's okay. Here's what happened:


    My wife, Stacy, worked in tower #2, 21st floor. She was in a
    meeting at 8:45 when the first plane crashed into tower #1. She
    heard the plane coming in, loud enough to make her think it was
    flying unusually close to the buildings.


    After the crash, she saw large chunks of burning debris falling
    down. Her office decided to evacuate immediately. Thanks to all
    the fire drills they've done since the '93 bombing, they knew
    exactly what to do, where to go. They got into the staircase
    quickly, and started walking down the 21 floors.


    Stacy didn't hear any alarms or building announcements. There
    were other people in the staircase, heading down, but it wasn't
    crowded.


    When Stacy and her coworkers got to the lobby, security guards
    directed them away from the Liberty St. exit. They used the
    Church St. exit instead. Outside the building, security guards
    told them to move away from the building. One of the guards kept
    shouting, "It was a plane, not a bomb!"


    At first Stacy hesitated, because she saw debris coming down,
    but she realized it was paper from offices. So she crossed Church
    St.


    As Stacy was crossing Church St., she turned and looked back for the
    first time. She saw the flames shooting out of the top of tower #1. She
    stopped in her tracks for a few seconds, stunned.


    Across Church St., Stacy found a bunch of her coworkers in front of
    Century 21. Their boss told them to go home. Stacy turned and starting
    walking down Cortlandt St. towards Broadway.


    Near Broadway, Stacy stopped to look again. She didn't see the
    second plane crash into tower #2, but she saw the enormous
    fireball explode. People started screaming. Everyone on the
    street started running away from the Trade Center.


    I asked her what it sounded like. Oddly, she doesn't remember hearing it.


    There were fire engines and emergency vehicles everywhere.
    Stacy ran about 3 blocks before she felt safe. She walked to the
    entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge and sat down on one of the benches
    to collect herself.


    As Stacy walked across the bridge, she kept looking back at the burning
    towers. They were intact while she walked. On the Brooklyn side, she
    picked up a bus and was home by 11 AM.

  • by little alfalfa (21334) <pootmaster.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:11PM (#2283638)
    I saw the second plane hit the building as I was on the phone with my wife who was staying at her parents with my 3 week old son. I saw debris fly everywhere and a huge fireball. At that time I told my wife I love her and ran to put on some clothes and flee my apartment. After grabbing the first clothes I could see, I ran out into the street where there were thousands of people littering the streets in amazement. Utterly stunned at what had happened. Women were crying and running. Everyone was getting as far away as possible. As I walked I saw people jumping or falling from the building's upper floors. I will never forget that sight for as long as I live. I walked up to my office which was about 25 minutes from the WTC. From there I was able to call family and loved ones to let them know I was ok. Co-workers who had made it into the office were crowded near a radio as our internet service was spotty at that time. From the corner office we all saw both towers collapse. We saw dust covered cars and dust covered people making their way uptown from the financial district. After finally deciding to leave the office and try to get to Queens, I had to walk from Spring Street where my office is to the 59th street bridge and walk across. In Queens I managed to catch the 7 train to Flushing and get my father-in-law's car. I drove a coworker home and then made my way back to my in-law's house where I am staying. I might not be able to go back home for weeks. I am not sure what has happened to my home or my neighborhood. One thing is for certain though. A lot will have changed. Tonight after dinner I went to the nearest hospital to donate blood. I have never done this before and now is when I am ready to start. I am glad that my family and all the people I know are ok. My thoughts go out to those who didn't make it.
  • by selan (234261) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:16PM (#2283674) Journal
    I lived in Israel last year, through several suicide bombings and many other attacks. I'm trying to compare my experience there to what it feels like here today.

    There are some similarities: the grim determination to rescue, clean up, and continue life as normal and not let it affect you. The pulling together of people from all walks of life uniting to help each other. The faith that sustains.

    However, this attack feels very different. I think that the biggest difference is how unbelievable this attack is. I'm still having trouble comprehending that it actually happened in real life. Most suicide bombings are sickeningly real, while this is like a horrible fantasy.

    There is also a freshness to the horror here. This is something that Americans have not really had to face. It is a naivete lost, a bubble burst. Very different from the weariness that Israelis feel at yet another attack.

    Another aspect of this tragedy is that, to me, it is so huge that it's impersonal, faceless. We don't know who did this, have no person to put our finger on. There is no shaheed, his "heroic" face plastered throughout the Palestinian Authority. Nor do we really know why, or even exactly what their target was. The American government? The American people? Bankers? Globalization? Or, as our leaders proclaim, Freedom and democracy?

    And the losses are so massive that it's impossible to get a sense of who the victims are, unless you know someone personally. I think that's the most important thing for us to concentrate on right now: there are real people who are real victims. We can't let the sheer numbers obscure the pain. Unfortunately, this attack will redefine tragedy: from now on, if "only" a hundred people are killed, that will seem like nothing. We must remember that each person is an entire world.

  • by Zoop (59907) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:25PM (#2283693)
    I was having my car serviced on US 1 just south of Crystal City, when the sales guy mentioned that a plane had hit the WTC. I thought it was a terrible accident, but assuming it was a Cessna or some such, I thought little about it.

    Then he said a second one hit, and identified it as a twin-engine passenger jetliner. At that point I began, as everyone else did, to suspect terrorism. It was still a little too new, and all the sites were flooded (there wasn't a TV near).

    Then, as I continued to read Analog, I thought I heard something and then heard some fire engines. I didn't connect it until someone just made a choking sound and pointed out the windows toward the direction of the Pentagon. We could just begin to see white smoke, quickly followed by gray, billow over the PTO buildings and the hill above Crystal City.

    At this point we realized there was something coordinated going on, and people moved from looks of worry to upset. We went to the street to get a better view, but there wasn't much to see. I have a fatalistic bent and decided there wasn't much I could do one way or another at the moment (no EMS or relevant skills) so I went back inside but couldn't begin reading again. At this point my nearly forgotten car was brought out, and the tech, visibly upset, just waved at it.

    "It's running, keys in the ignition. Just...screw the paperwork, you should be set to go." He immediately went to the more important, if less immediate news that was coming from a radio they had.

    I decided it was time to go to my office, which slightly further south and closer to 395, where people were again upset (as I must have looked). Reality clearly hadn't sunk in for some. We heard additional jets but it quickly became clear that they were fighters--one went supersonic and left a boom that had us pouring out onto the street and scanning the horizon for smoke. There were cheers from the 7-11 next door when they realized there were F-16s overhead.

    After that, it was just waiting and worrying and trying to wait until the phone lines were clear enough to call my folks and reassure them.

    Well, I knew this was a possibility when I moved here. It's too bad--there are so many wonderful things here.
  • by UnclePunk (520953) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:31PM (#2283719)
    This day is unfathomable. To sit at home and watch those two towers collapse. There are about 4-5 other buildings which are on the verge of collapse as well. Believe it or not it could've been much worse. When the towers collapsed they fell straight down. If you've ever stood under them it's almost overwhelming how large they were. If they fell to the side God knows how many additional buildings would've been demolished. The collapse literally could've demolished a few blocks.

    My girlfriend lives on John street, about a 5-10 minute walk from the Trade Center. Two times when we were walking around there I specifically stopped my girlfriend and told her to look up and think of how catastrophic it would've been if the towers fell after the bombing a few years ago. How many would've been killed. When I discussed this with her I shook my head and thought to myself how truly terrible it would've been. Now it's come to pass.

    Live shots of Manhattan show one big cloud. You can't even see many of the buildings. The NY skyline is going to be so different now. No World Trade Center! Another things that makes us New Yorkers think for a minute is that most of us likely know someone that works in the building. I know at least two. My next door neighbor is on the maintenance crew for the two towers. Amazingly he stayed home today to catch an appointment with his doctor. He was actually in the first World Trade Center bombing. Two of his friends were killed. Since then he's had a heart attack and can't really run. If he were there this time he might not have been able to breathe with all the dust. He wouldn't have been able to run. He'd likely be dead. Another friend of mine also was at home since he was on paternity leave... his wife just had a baby last thursday. My neighbor had a year until retirement. At this point, he'll likely take an early retirement. My other friend will likely need to look for a new job.

    I live in Queens. I've been hearing the sirens of ambulances and fire trucks all day. It's sickening to think that they're all on their way toward the WTC. I work on 6th avenue in Manhattan, in midtown. I normally work from 10-6, and today was no exception. I also normally listen to the radio in the morning but today I got paged and had to hop on the computer and do a few things. Still have my Unix group's 24 hour on call pager from the first day I had it, which was last week waiting in line for Bjork Riverside Chapel standby tickets. I ate my breakfast and went on my way. Most of the people on the train seemed oblivious to the WTC tragedy. When I got to Queens Plaza while on the E train a few people that got on the train started talking about it. For those unfamiliar with NYC, the E train's last stop is right in the basement of the WTC. The trains stopped running for some time and we were left waiting on the train for about an hour. Finally we started walking from car to car to the front of the train, walked into another train, and yet another until we could finally get out at the 50th street station. Everyone was confused. People got off the train and were looking around, not knowing where to go or what to do. The conductor had no solutions for anyone, telling everyone that the one thing they couldn't do was use the train.

    Once I emerged from the subway and onto the sidewalk there were crowds everywhere, as there normally is in NYC... but it felt different. Everyone was trying to make calls on their cell phone. No one could. There were huge lines at pay phones. Large groups of people were gathered around two cabs that were pulled over to the side of the street with their radios turned up all the way. Many people passing buy stopped to listen for awhile. I tried making a call on my cell phone unsuccessfully. I got in line at one of the payphones. Everyone was talking to everyone. Never in my life have I seen anything like this. New Yorkers are usually so busy, running to this or that. These people that are normally running around were walking slowly, talking to each other about the terrible tragedy. People that would usually pass each other on the street, off to their jobs or meetings, were all stopping to randomly talk with people. I was one of them. I only heard that a plane flew into one of the WTC towers. This was information from someone on the train that hadn't heard about the other plane crash. I just assumed it was one of those small commuter planes. Oh how wrong I was. When I spoke to the woman in the line before me she told me that there were 2 LARGE planes, one of which crashed into each tower. Both towers had collapsed. I got in line with the intention of telling my boss I was going to be late and whether or not I should go to the main office in NYC instead of hopping on a bus to Leonia, NJ (our data center). The moment I found out what actually happened I stepped out of line, took a couple breaths, and walked to my office building. Large groups of people congregated around small 2" screen televisions at delis and fruit stands. A huge crowd was standing outside of Fox News Channel's office, which had large tv's in each window.

    Half of the people I knew in my building were standing outside, many of which approached me immediately to see if I knew about what had happened. I did. I spoke with them for a few minutes, all of us in shock, and then went upstairs. Almost the entire floor was in the lobby, watching the horror on tv. No one said anything. The cafeteria offered food to everyone for free. A nice gesture at such a terrible time. I ate, used the bathroom, and went back downstairs. We were told we could leave whenever we wanted. I left with someone else that lived in my area, fully prepared to WALK home. I never imagined I'd have to walk home. Everyone in the office was looking at maps when I was upstairs, wondering how they'd walk to their homes in Brooklyn and other boroughs. Luckily, someone mentioned that service leaving manhattan was gradually being restored. On the way out I saw my boss, a green card holder from mainland China. Someone that's usually so forceful and tenacious. He ran up to me... "Chris, I've got to get out of here. All these building are making me nervous." I asked him to come with my friend and I but he declined, saying he needed to stick around to speak to his boss first. As my friend and I were walking toward the subway we noticed a lot of people looking up. Not tourists mind you, native New Yorkers. Everyone was looking up. While still in shock my friend and I nervously joked about little things regarding work, often cutting ourselves off to talk more about the tragedy. The small talk about work quickly removed itself from the conversation, quickly to be replaced by more talk of the tragedy.

    Then it happened. A large roaring sound... something that we normally don't pay much attention to, living in a large city and all. No one really pays attention to it. Just another sound to make up all the background noise that is NYC. My friend and I paid attention to it, as did everyone else on the street. It was a plane. Just an ordinary plane. Something we take for granted and use from time to time when we need to go certain places. Something that passes overhead in NYC with great frequency. Something that we normally don't pay any attention to. Today on that street everyone looked up toward the plane nervously.

    The sound of planes is something that I normally don't notice. I don't anticipate feeling that way again for some time...

    --Chris
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:35PM (#2283733)
    I haven't seen much from people who were in the Pentagon (maybe /. is not the most popular website for Pentagon employees.) I was in the Pentagon when the plane hit this morning. About 10 minutes before it hit, I had been in an office on the side of the building where the plane went in watching the news coverage of the WTC attacks. Ironically while we watched, we discussed how vulnerable the Pentagon was to that kind of attack since it was right on the flight path to National Airport (although the plane that hit turned out to have come from Dulles.) I was on the other side of the building by the time it happened and didn't even hear it. I came out of another office and saw a lot of people moving very purposefully down the corridor towards the building exit. I didn't see any signs of panic as mentioned in a few of the news stories. The people in the office that I had left before the crash all got out. They heard the explosion and saw flames over the roof of the next section of the building and evacuated immediately.

    While I was in line at Pentagon City Mall waiting to use the payphone to tell my wife I was alive, several of the other people in line were discussing what had happened. One was a Navy officer whose office was on an upper floor of the D-ring (the second outermost ring) of the side that was struck, and other than noticing how loud the explosion was he hadn't known just how close he was to where the plane went in. Another guy was outside on the side where the plane went in. He said it was so low that it clipped a light pole on the way in. He was the first source where I heard that the plane struck the ground just short of the building (or it might have been much worse.) He also said that a lot of the fire problems were probably because the side hit had an emergency generator with a large diesel tank (thus the thick black smoke early in the fire.) Several people who left the building before I did reported hearing a secondary explosion which might have been the diesel tank going up. I met back up with some other people I knew a bit later. They had been in a snack bar on the A Ring (the innermost ring) of the Pentagon and heard a not very loud bang, looked down the corridor toward the outside of the building, saw smoke, and crossed the courtyard to leave the other side of the building. The only (somewhat) good news was the plane struck on the side of the building where a section that had just been renovated met the next section to be renovated, so not everyone had moved into the renovated section and some people had already been moved out of the other section. That had to have reduced the death toll. Other than that, waiting around looking for a way to get home, I learned a lot less about what was happening than the people at home with TV and internet news.

    As far as the emergency response, I was very impressed. You have about 5 different police jurisdictions around the Pentagon and the police very rapidly arrived to direct cars away from the area to allow emergency vehicles through and weren't getting in each other's way. There were fire trucks arriving on the scene before I got out of the building, but after the nearby units had arrived the traffic snarl up slowed the arrival of more distant units.
  • by syeago (520956) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:49PM (#2283812)
    The two strongest precautions I've seen suggested that could be taken by airlines are firstly, an armed presence on each plane. Secondly, a segregated cockpit. Firstly, if an officer were so trained in the special circumstances of having a firearm in an airplane present, all the cardboard cutters in the world wouldn't have meant the successful capture of a plane. Secondly, a segregated cockpit would indeed leave the pilot with a tough decision, if the lives of his crew and passengers were at risk, and yesterday I would have probably put my mind towards some other solution, however today's events have made an irrefragable fact that the numbers on board, no matter their number, must be risked and sacrificed, if neccesary, if it means avoiding something even shallowly resembling today's Events. The pilot should not have the vulnerability, nor should he have the power to make the choice between a slaughtered cabin and an annihilated ground-target. If you take the choice away from the pilot, as well as make the cockpit impenetrable, hijacking would not have the appeal, no the deathtoll, as it did today. If anyone can point out an inconsistency, don't hesitate to tear me up. -Steve
  • At the WTC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gruber76 (79421) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @10:49PM (#2283815) Homepage

    I was having breakfast at a Cafe just above the PATH station. About three stories underground directly under WTC 1, the "north tower" that was the first one struck. I thought it was a train derailing or hitting a wall and I quickly picked up my juice and walked toward the escalators. As I stood up the fire alarms went off, looking up I saw what I thought was smoke. (There was renovation down there, it was probably just plaster dust kicked up by the impact.) Four cops bolted toward the escalators shouting "out of the way!"

    When I got to the top of the escalators there were at least two cops directing people out of the building, not with "Stay Calm, go slow" but with "Keep it moving, Faster!" I heard another cop, as I got near a side exit I don't normally use, yelling at a security guard, "It wasn't a BOMB! It was an airplane!" I was thinking that was spin control or something. I stepped outside and there was a smattering of debris. It looked like a vacant lot around an abandoned building, cinder block-like debris. It took me five seconds to realize that that meant I probably should be walking faster, it seemed to take other people a lot more time to realize.

    When I got across the street I looked up and saw about 2/3 or the way up the north side that the WTC was on fire, from corner to corner, in an oval reaching two or three stories down and five or six up. Not a lot of smoke, but a wall of fire. I walked around East toward the subway I use, and looked up to see that the East side was almost identically damaged, but with less damage. Sheets of ash were floating down like a hundred giants' notebooks had been ripped apart and thrown to the wind. I got about a block away and stood (next to the cemetary at the oldest church in NYC) looking up. I was thinking that I needed to get to work and start making phone calls that I was okay, but I was rivited. After about five minutes I saw a body falling from the tower and I walked, shaking, to the 4-5 train which I took on the 20 minute trip uptown.

    When I got off at 60th street, 80 blocks away, I could see a dense clouds of smoke. There is a brokerage downstairs from my office, and I stopped to watch some footage. People said "A second plane hit the WTC" on TV, which I didn't believe. They showed the footage and it was horrifying.

    A friend and I were IMing (phones were down, but no problem with the internet, other than to news sites.) At one point she said "You have no idea how strange the skyline looks with only one tower!" She apparently had an amazing view of the scene.

  • by ayden (126539) on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @11:17PM (#2283963) Homepage Journal
    according to CNBC at 11:15 EDT.
    • NBC just reported this as well. They apparently are in the basement of the towers.

      Dear god.

      I'm not sure if this is good or not. I hope it can help some people get saved, but I can't imagine the heart-rendering experience of listening to a man die in rubble over the phone.

  • by ellem (147712) <[ellem52] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @11:50PM (#2284128) Homepage Journal
    I work on 14th and 5th in a corporate travel agency. We know within seconds anytime a plane goes down anywhere.

    I went in very early b/c I was leaving early to pick up my son since my wife was training in NYC and wouldn't be able to get him. I had an 8:30 meeting with my boss. We were discussing things like who we were going to let go and such.

    The building shook a bit. But there has been a lot of construction at Union Square so this was no out of the ordinary.

    Then the door flew open. This does not happen ever. One of the HR guys says the World Financial Center has been hit by a plane.

    I freak my Mother works in the WFC. I am running to my office to get my cell phone. I am going downtown. Someone, I don't know who says go on the roof. We have access to the roof. I went. I don't know why. I saw the gaping hole on the side of the WTC. The WFC is a foot ball throw away from the WTC. I am still extremely concerned.

    The second tower explodes. I do not understand the other tower is on fire not the second tower. Why is this happening?

    I formulate ideas as I run down the stairs to get out of the building. Maybe a wing flew off.

    I get to the stret my assistant NW guy is standing on 14th. He doesn't come this way usually. Usually he is on 15th. He does not understand what is happening. He is concerned becuase he knows my mother is over there. I explain I am going to get her. A large, large NYPD person explains I am not going down there.

    My cell phone does not work. I cannot call anyone.

    I go back to my office an frantically begin calling everyone I know down there. My uncle is on the Brooklyn Bridge. My Father is MIA. My Mother has called but is cut off midsentence.

    Several minutes maybe an hour pass the tower collapses. From 5th Ave it looks very much like it has fallen on the WFC. I am despondent.

    Hours later bruised and bloodied with shoe marks on her face my Mother wanders into my office. I have everyone I know calling her. She just walks in. Sever minutes later my Father walks in the door. and a few minutes after that my wife.

    The 5 of use (Wife, Mother, Father, assistant) leave the building and walk to the 59th street bridge and leave Manhattan.
  • by phipps314 (520993) on Wednesday September 12, 2001 @12:29AM (#2284387)
    To see pics I took as well, go to http://attila.stevens-tech.edu/~mphipps/

    Real Story:

    So I walk out of the WTC Path train at about 8:55am, like I would on any other weekday. Immedidately, the smell of smoke was obvious. I briskly walked outside (instead of heading to the elevator to the 95th floor), and found the streets covered with charred office supplies. Everyone was standing around, staring up at One World Trade, and the flaming hole that had been left by the commercial airliner in the 95th floor. I was standing about a block away from 2 WTC. We all tried our very best to raise our loved ones and bosses on our cell phones, but to no avail. In the midst of that confusion... BOOM!
    A plane had hit the second building. I saw the impact, but could make little sense of it, since it happened so fast. Immediately, everyone ran as fast as they could. I saw a number of people not too far from me get hit by falling debris. It was tough to make out exactly what happened to them, but generally you don't survive being hit by anything that falls from that high. Anyway, I ran into the nearest open building. Turns out it was a high school. A small group of us waited in the auditorium there for a while. We swapped brief stories of how we came to realize that this horrific act of terrorism was happening right above our heads. About 30 minutes later, everything seemed calm, and many of us left the shelter of the high school auditorium. There were crowds of people standing just a few blocks away from the WTC complex. All of them were gazing at the rippling tides of flame and smoke coming out of the former symbol of financial and economic greatness. Then, with little warning, the entire top of one of the buildings (i think 2) began to cruble!
    Everyone immediately realized that this was extremely bad, and a frantic rampage ensued. A massive crowd of people was barreling eastward to get away from the blast and debris. No matter how far any of us got, we were eventually enveloped by an incredibly thick cloud of brownish smoke and concrete. Visibility was quickly cut to zero. I felt around, (I knew I was right next to a building) and found a small inset in the front of some building. A bunch of us, say 10, wound up there, huddling in the darkness and smog. A man next to me noticed a glass door, that we tried to break with our feet. That didn't work, but we quickly found a brick and smashed the door. Once we got inside, the air was much clearer, but obviously, it was thickening in a hurry. One Asian lady had apparently breathed in a large amount of the overpowering cloud, and was not able to breathe. We carried her inside the building, and someone who had medical training took over trying to help her. She coughed up some very horrible things, and then seemed to die.
    Just as this was happening, I realized we couldn't stay in that place any longer. The air had become just as bad as outside (in a total of about 3 minutes). Two of us began exploring and I quickly found a staircase leading to the main lobby of the building. Most of us went up there. I don't exactly know what happened to the people down below, but I believe most of them made it up to the lobby. Once in the lobby, we just hung out for a while. We were very unsure of what would happen next.
    The second building collapsed. This time we were inside, and it barely affected us. We definitely noticed the gross air accumulating in the building, and outside it was as black as night. After that blast subsided, I noticed a small glass room one level above. I went up there and found all the executives of the company sitting around in this nice boardroom-type thing. I promptly used the phone to call my Mom and let her know that I was alright. Then I called my Dad and the House. I stayed there for about another 20 minutes, until I could take these conditions no longer (the smoke was definitely seeping into the building). I walked outside, and the streets were basically deserted. I had no idea whether there would be more terrorist attacks, so I just started running towards the Battery.
    When I arrived there, I quickly noticed a tug-boat at the dock. They said they were going to Jersey City, so I jumped on. They were very nice, and gave me food and drink (I looked pretty bad by this time). I helped a few old ladies and whatnot get on the boat and be comfortable. About 10 minutes later, we left for JC. They dropped us of pretty far south in JC, and I walked back to Hoboken (cell phones not working, of course). I was much relieved to finally get home.

  • I remember I was half-awake listening to the radio in my bed (you know, when you're kind of lying there trying to get the energy to wake up) when the newsman was arguing with someone about the lack of information about a plane crash or something. A few moments later, he said something about "two planes instead of one". That deffinitely got my attention. Then he added, "both World Trade Center towers are in flame right now". That woke me up FAST.

    I ran to the TV and turned it on, trying to find out what had happened, several minutes after the second impact. I told my father, who was getting ready to go to work, and then the rest of my family woke up, too.

    I remember trying to find out what the fsck had happened, and obviously all of the news websites were overloaded... thankfully Slashdot was up and running (although a bit slow at times). I was switching between the TV and the PC, and I recall watching in disbelief as one of the towers collapsed. It really looked as a Hollywood movie. Then we started listening to the rumours: 8 planes hijacked, the Pentagon hit, Camp David attacked, San Francisco and Colorado, a car bomb in the Dept of State. An hour later, the second tower collapsed.

    Me and my friends on ICQ started trading URLs trying to find out what was happening, while my family was trying to contact an uncle whose daughter was in NY on her honeymoon. I spent most of the day glued to the TV and the PC, wondering what was going to happen next.

    Not even the news thay my city (Monterrey) was getting flooded after torrential rains could compare to the disaster in NY and Washington. Even the local stations split the time informing about the floods and the attack.

    Our deepest condolences go out to the american people, from the people of Mexico (at least from everyone I know). I hope we can send you (if we haven't already) the rescue teams that have been in constant training ever since the Mexico City quake in '85.

    Hang in there.

    Scary signature at the bottom of this /. article: Excellent time to become a missing person. *Shiver*
  • by ecnivny (521001) on Wednesday September 12, 2001 @02:18AM (#2284811)

    ...this is my account of what I saw this morning on my way in to work. This whole thing has given me a case of insomnia.

    I woke up to the voice of the bus driver as we came out of the battery tunnel. She said that a small plane had flown into the World Trade Center. As we made the turn onto the West Side Highway, people pressed their faces to the window to stare at the hole near the top of the tower. There was a lot of smoke, and flames deep in the hole left by the plane.

    Okay, so someone flying a small plane lost control, and hit one of the towers. Pretty incredible considering there's water all around the tip of the island, and any pilot worth his salt would probably try to avoid such a target. I just hoped there weren't many people up there...

    The bus door opens. I stop staring at the hole, and get off the bus with most of the other passengers. At this point, we're about 4 blocks from the south tower. Some people were playing it cool, as New Yorkers are wont to do - we'll just walk to the train and get to work. After all, we've seen pretty much all there is to see. Right?

    A few minutes later, another jet roars overhead, and plows into the second tower. It looked kind of like it tried to change course at the last second - the plane sort of banked as it approached the tower. The plane semmed to disappear into the building, and a half second later, a fireball appears in it's place. People who were facing the tower turned and ran screaming in the other direction. I was standing there, like an idiot, totally agape at what I'd just witnessed. It just didn't feel real. How could this happen here? Did some air traffic controller screw up? Nah, couldn't be... Pilots aren't dumb enough to fly into the tallest buildings in the area anyway, besides, LGA and JFK are miles away, and no one could ever confuse lower Manhattan for an airport for christ's sake. Besides, this guy's flying in the wrong direction! What the hell is going on?

    There's a few hundred people running toward Battery Park. Guess I'd better go that way, and avoid getting trampled. So I ran, stopping with some other folks occasionally to look back at the building. We get to the entrance of the park, and workers apparently from the Millenium Hilton right next to the WTC were crying, and shouting for their co-workers. Some people speculated on the types of planes.

    I make my way to an office building on Broadway where I used to work. I sit and chat with some former co-workers for a while, and try . After a while, we head back out to go down to radio shack down the block for a antenna for the TV in the office - there's no cable, and we have no idea what's happening. We get there, and radio shack is closed. Oh well. On the way back to the office, there's the sound of another explosion. I stop, not knowing where the sound came from exactly - my first thought was a bomb in the subway at Cortland St., right under the south tower. Within seconds, smoke billows out onto Broadway, and chases people into the alleys and back toward the park.

    We end up near Whitehall St. The subways are closed, but there's no way I'd get on one now anyway. Remember Tokyo? There's ash and soot everywhere, and I take off my shirt to cover my nose and mouth. It's not really helping much, plus the stuff is getting in my eyes so it's hard to see anything. We duck into a small pizza joint, where a few people are trading stories. One guy had just gotten off the train before the collapse. Lucky guy, because the train he was on stops right underneath the towers. We get some water, and the owner shuts the place down, and we head out toward the Brooklyn Bridge. The FDR was shut down to traffic, and people were packed tight onto one of the ramps. It looked like things were moving pretty slowly, so we took the long way. It's not that much further to the bridge when you walk past the seaport.

    I guess that's the end of the interesting part. From there, I walked home. It's a long walk to Bay Ridge from the bridge. Some people were taking pictures of the scene from the bridge. Some other people were walking in the other direction, _toward the city!_ What the hell were they thinking?

    Right now, I hear an occasional jet flying over. It feels good to know they're there.

    If there was one good aspect of all this, it was the way New Yorkers came together to help each other through it. As we passed the South St. Seaport and Fulton Fish, workers handed out paper towels, napkins and held open water hoses for people passing by. It brought out the best in a lot of people, and it makes me proud to call myself a New Yorker.

    Just the same, it's gonna be hard getting to sleep tonight.

  • by bani (467531) on Wednesday September 12, 2001 @04:36AM (#2284986)
    I wasnt there, but a friend was. His account, with names anonymized... hope he wont be offended by me posting it...

    Tuesday, September 11, 2001 - 11:02 PM

    I don't think I've come to terms with what I have witnessed today. The only thing I can do to try to come to some closure on this is to try and document what I saw on the darkest day in recent history.

    Today started out quite ordinarily. C**** and I were scheduled for Sun Fire training on the 20th floor of the World Trade Center at 9AM. Certainly not very noteworthy in and of itself.

    I got to the office at 7. C**** arrived 15 minutes late. I grumbled to myself about being on time and missing out on 15 minutes of sleep, but I kept to myself. Traffic was horrible, as usual, and we made our way to the Path station in Jersey City.

    We got on the Path to the World Trade Center- probably it was about 8:40 or so. Nothing to comment on. I hate the Path. Its dark, dingy, but C**** swears by it so I didn't complain. We exited in the World Trade Center station and I noticed immediately a strange diesel fuel-like smell and a haze in the air. I jokingly thought maybe someone was running a bus in the station. Now, New Yorkers walk fast, but I noticed that people were moving along quite a bit faster than usual. The transit cops down there said there was a fire, and that everyone needed to quickly exit. I wasn't too panicky, but I expeditiously made my way towards the exit.

    We escaped into daylight into quite a commotion. We turned around and looked up to see a gaping hole in the tower and flames streaming out. Quite a shocking sight. We were forced a few blocks away where C**** and I were staring at the tower bewildered but not overly concerned. We were cracking jokes about the training being cancelled and missing meetings and stuff. I was thinking that I wish I had my camera to take some pictures. All the fun and games came to a halt when people started jumping to their deaths. I don't quite know how to describe what that looks like. It really looks like someone threw a large rag doll- it doesn't look real at all. After watching a few people jump it was then I realized that this was not at all fun and games. I heard in the crowd that a plane had struck the tower. Not surprising to me at all. I've been on the observation deck, everyone knows that you look down on the planes as they fly near the city on landing approach. Surely, this was a tragic and horrific accident. Too many damn planes in the air I remember thinking, it was bound to happen eventually. Of course, I heard the mumblings 'deliberately' and 'terrorists' but I dismissed those. You know how paranoid New Yorkers are.

    It was about that time that tower 2 spontaneously exploded right before our horrified eyes. I?m only 2 or 3 blocks south of the tower and what I saw was like something out of Die Hard or Terminator. Trust me, they got the effect right. As we all stood there staring, it seemed like an eternity as the tower was engulfed in a ball of flame. It wasn't until a few milliseconds later that the massive concussion wave stuck the dumbfounded crowd and I realized in that instant that I was probably going to be killed by falling chunks. Everyone did the worlds fastest 180 degree turn and ran for their lives. I saw C**** slip into the building directly behind us. The door closed and was magnetically locked behind him. I pulled on the handle in a futile attempt to follow, but realized that it wasn't going to budge. Then I really thought that was the end. I ran towards the next building, which I saw had a little cranny behind a 6 or 7 foot tall iron fence. In an instant I saw my shelter from the falling debris. I was over that fence so quickly I don't even know how I did it. I fell to the concrete on the other side, and scrambled into the little masonry
    shield with my back towards the Twin Towers. I waited for gravity to do its magic and bring all the deadly missiles safely to earth. I realized in my hiding spot that I cut my hand and my leg was hurting like nobody's business. I also realized that there was no reason that an accidental crash into tower 1 would cause tower 2 to explode. This was serious- if the intention was to bring down the tower, I would not be in a very good spot to survive such an event. Once it was clear that the immediate danger passed, I walked out of my shelter and turned to see tower 2 burning. Time to go. I continued south, limping all the way to the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.

    I was hurting, but alive and far enough from the Towers to be ok. Next order of business: Get the hell home. How? Terrorists attack buildings, bridges, tunnels? but probably not the ferries. The Water Taxi that docks at the Trade Center was probably blown up, I figured, so I had to head up north to the NY Waterway ferry. I knew it was a hike but the most likely exit from the city to be unaffected. So I licked my wounds and made my way northeast, staying out of collapse radius for the towers. As I crossed the area directly east of the Towers, I saw bits of what was obviously airplane parts and some chunks of building. No doubt about it, it was an airplane. I continued limping my way northeast and then northwest, to catch up with the West Side Highway where the NY Waterway is. I?m not sure how far it was. I couldn't walk very quickly and needed to stop frequently. I tried many times to call home, the office, C****- without success.

    I walked north on the walkway, parallel to the West Side Highway. I don't know how many hundred emergency vehicles I saw- they just kept coming. I walked with countless thousands of the living dead. I remember reading accounts of the Hiroshima survivors, as they made their way, bleeding and burned, to the river. I am the living dead, a ghost, walking silently away from the disaster behind me. I recall hearing a strange whooshing noise, and I turned around and watched the first tower vanish in a cloud of dust. I remember saying out loud something to the effect of 'Well, they finally did it, congratulations!' Not very poetic, I must admit.

    It turns out that the ferry was the way to go. The NY Waterway was totally overloaded. So much to the point that the floating dock became unstable which caused a minor panic. Fortunately the Circle Line and other tour boats began taking on passengers. I managed to get on the second ferry out and made our way back over to Lincoln Harbor back over in Weehawken. I didn't care where it went, as long as it was in New Jersey.

    Half way out in the river, we had to wait as the other ferries unloaded people. We sat dead in the water. The dust of what was the Twin Towers billowing out in the background. The eerie silence of no airplanes in the air. It was as if the world had died and we were in limbo. All I could do was bow my head and think about the countless individuals who were just killed before my eyes. And of course, how grateful I was to be a little beaten up but alive. I was able to eventually get messages to home and the office, I found out that C**** was OK and everyone was worried to death of course.

    I've witnessed The Hindenburg, Pearl Harbor, and Hiroshima in one. It's quite a mind numbing experience. I haven't quite figured out what to feel. I'm not at all a religious man, but today, I prayed for those we lost, and I was thankful for my very life. Certainly, I've managed to clear my schedule- and certainly it puts things into a more realistic perspective.

    September 11, 2001 is certainly a date which will live in infamy. I don't think neither I nor this nation will ever be the same
    again.
  • by wasudeo (201920) on Wednesday September 12, 2001 @07:27AM (#2285284)
    At the outset I want to say that I sympathise with the families of the dead in this attack. I know a lot of you are going to flame me for this but the truth is that the USA had this sort of an attack coming for it. Consider the reasons below...

    1) America now lists Osama Bin Laden in its most wanted list. However in the 70s the US ACTUALLY supplied him and his men with weapons - helicopters, Stinger missiles etc. At that time he was fighting the former USSR occupation of Afghanistan. In fact he was considered to be a friend of the US. In order to fulfil short-terms goals the US always arms merceneries in different parts of the world. Then it has no right to complain if the same nuts turn against it.

    2) Lets face it! Israel treatment of the Palestinians is totally unfair. It has occupied territories which belong to them. When the Palestinians rebel the Israelis use Tanks, gunships etc to mercilessly slaughter them.(In case your wondering, No I'm not Arab)
    But America continues to support the Israelis. Even in the negotiations America tends to side with Israel. In such a scenario its natural for Arabs to be frustrated with the United States and resort to things like this.

    Maybe the American government should re-evalute its own policy before passing judgement on the Intifada
  • by glyneth (47975) on Wednesday September 12, 2001 @09:04AM (#2285576) Homepage
    The author said this was free to pass on:

    ON THE BEACH by M.J. Rose

    Tod's Point - Greenwich CT-. When you are jogging in this 147-acre park there is a spot you pass at the half way mark when you come around a bend and on a clear day - like today - you can see the whole gleaming skyline of Manhattan.

    Except this morning there was something that seemed wrong.

    There were two smokestacks on the horizon in a place there never had been smokes stacks before. And it took a minute - a long minute - to figure out that the smoke was billowing out from the World Trade Towers.

    About twenty yards up ahead a few people had congregated and I stopped to ask what had happened.

    Their news was swift and delivered in short sentences.

    At that point in time both Towers were still standing. And so we stood. All strangers gathered on an outcropping of rock, watching a scene that did not make sense.

    And then a woman ran up and began to climb those rocks. She was crying and her movements were frantic. She could not get close enough to their edge - to the water. She was in tears. A few steps behind her another woman followed who tried to keep the first from climbing down the rocks to the water.

    "But he's in that building," the crying woman said as she fought off her friend.

    The crowd grew as the minutes passed. And some of us stood back to let the war widows past - you could tell who they were - the women and men who came - some alone, others with friends - who had loved ones in those two towers.

    Ashamed to watch their grief, to see their trembling hands and smell their fear, I kept my eyes on the sky.

    "It's collapsing," a man shrieked. And the wailing started.

    In this suburb that sits on the outskirts of NY we watched the Twin Towers fall. But we didn't hear the sirens or the explosions. We only heard the gulls screaming and the widows weeping.

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