Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘9/11

9/11 Communication

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I’ve been thinking about the 18th anniversary of 9/11 a number of days in advance. Hard to believe it’s been so many years now — sending thoughts, prayers, and remembrance to all those impacted in the NYC area and beyond.

It was a hard day for any American, and as NYC had been my only second home outside of Texas, it was a particularly hard day. I spent much of it here in Austin scrambling to reach good friends and colleagues any way I could — long distance, AOL IM, the phone. Broadcast news was still king, and Peter Jennings did an epic 60 hours in his anchor chair at ABC News to provide much needed information to the country.

It was a different tech landscape in 2001. There were no iPhones, yet Blackberries were a communications lifeline. The New York Times pulled graphics from its front page to hurry up the page load. Pagers were still relevant, as were pay phones.

To be clear, I remember and write about the technology because, on that fateful day, for many it was all that connected us to the people we cared about.

In this age of big tech skepticism and so-called fake news, it would be good for us to remember that it still does.

WIRED has a full write-up here.

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2019 at 10:06 am

Posted in 2019, blackberry, september 11

Tagged with , ,

9/11 Goodness

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I don’t have a lot to say on the anniversary of September 11th.

Or, I have so much to say, I’m not sure how to bring it all together and make some sense out of it.

Though I had already moved to Austin by the time of the attacks, the New York area was the only other place I had ever lived other than Texas. An attack on New York was like an attack on my person.

I was visiting New York on business just prior to the attacks, and remember sitting at Laguardia just two days prior, on 9/9.

It was a gorgeous day, another of those blue September skies, and I remember noticing the Twin Towers off in the distance, which was a revelation — I knew you could see them from Newark, but never from LaGuardia.

Two weeks later, I remember flying back up to NYC for another business trip, making that turn at the bottom of Manhattan, and seeing the still smoldering ashes and now ghost limb of a skyline.

As so many had said it would, things had changed during those two weeks.

The drumbeats of bloodlust and revenge were pounding. I landed at LaGuardia this time and it was a ghost town, like something out of a Stephen King novel. The only seeming inhabitants were the National Guard patrolling the gates with their assault rifles.

When I went down to the Ground Zero area, I remember passing by Canal Street and seeing the hundreds of missing persons postings, and crayon drawings of planes flying into buildings.

Once at Ground Zero, I remember the troops announcing that you could no longer take photographs, that this was a crime scene.

It was at that moment I knew we were headed for some slippery slope territory.

I was also impacted by all my New York friends’ stories — some who were in or around the Towers that day, some who were on their way there, one who had been scheduled for one of the ill fated flights and cancelled at the last minute, one who lost someone in one of the Towers.

There were too many close calls and coincidences than I cared to count.

On that day, my biggest priority was making sure all my friends and colleagues in the New York I had loved and left were okay.

And, thankfully, they were.

That is what I choose to remember about 9/11 on this, today, the 11th anniversary: The gestures, big and small, that were about reaching out in concern and caring for others.

Whether loved ones or strangers, there was a compassion and outreach expressed during those days and weeks after the Towers fell that revealed an inner kindness normally masked by our tough American exterior.

That was some of the goodness that emerged from the ashes, and that goodness is something I think we’d all like to see more of in our everyday lives.

Though it may have taken great tragedy to bring it about it, there’s no reason we have to wait for another such tragedy to reveal that goodness.

Perhaps the revelation of that potential for good is the one precious gift that rose through the horror and blackness of the ash and soot on that beautiful, blue September day.

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Geronimo Is KIA

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So they finally got Osama Bin Laden.

And they got him in Pakistan.  Down the street from the Pakistani equivalent of West Point.

In a McMansion with twelve foot walls.

Steve Coll, New Yorker writer and author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2011, a great if bulky tome about the roller coaster history of Afghanistan, had this to say: “It stretches credulity to think that a mansion of that scale could have been built and occupied by bin Laden for six years without it coming to the attention of anyone in Pakistan’s Army.”

No matter whom you believe, Coll also points out that the CIA’s Langley-based Bin Laden unit had gone deep and long on trying to understand other long international fugitive hunts, including studying the tracking down of Medelin Cartel leader Pablo Escobar, way back in 1993, to try and arrive at some lessons learned that could be applied in the search for Bin Laden.

Coll writes that the analysts looked for clues from those other manhunts — where did the breakthroughs come from? what were the clues that made the difference and how were the clues discovered?

But they also engaged in pattern recognition, analyzing relationships among terrorists, couriers, and raw data collected in the field, and also piecing together what they found with a breakthrough that came from detainee interrogations, including from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Sounds to me no matter how you add it all up, it was just some dogged, perservering, and good ol’ fashioned intelligence work.

As for how it all went down yesterday in Abottabad, this tick tock, found on the Politico web site, is a heart stopper.

Remember those scenes from all those movies where you’re inside the Situation Room waiting for the raid to go down, and everyone’s on pins and needles, including the President?

I’m guessing it was a little something like those scenes in the White House Situation Room yesterday afternoon.

Me, I’ve also been reading the first hand Twitter accounts from one Sohaib Ahtar, whose Twitter ID is @ReallyVirtual.

Sohaib is an IT consultant who was apparently taking a break from the rat race and hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, blogs TechCrunch Europe’s Mike Butcher.

He unwittingly provided play-by-play action of the raid, which occurred around 1:00 AM local time in Abbottabad, having no idea what was really going down in his new mountain respite:

Sohaib’s first Tweet: “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”

Yeah, more rare than you ever could have known.

Then, not too much later: “A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S”

Guess it depends on how you define nasty.

Finally, NBC’s Chuck Todd informed us via Twitter this morning that Osama’s code name for this raid was “Geronimo,” and that the call came in as “Geronimo is KIA” (killed in action).

There are some parallels between the renowned Apache leader and Bin Laden.

Like Bin Laden, Geronimo was once surrounded by U.S. soldiers in the Robledo Mountains of southwest New Mexico, hidden in a cave from which he seemingly never came out.  But somehow, he escaped, both from the cave, and from the clutches of U.S. soldiers.

A story that is, of course, eerily reminiscent of Bin Laden being similarly trapped in caves in the mountains of Tora Bora in December 2001, from which he also escaped.

But not this time.

This time, making smart, productive use of intelligence on the ground from the field — connecting the dots, if you will —  is finally what did “Geronimo” in.

Written by turbotodd

May 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm

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