The 9/11 records

It was very hard driving home yesterday, listening to the 9/11 tapes just released under the Freedom of Information Act.

When they came out, I went to The Times site and read some of the interviews with the heroes who were there and read some of the transcripts of their radio calls from that day. There are moments of bravery and generosity and fear there, moments of essential humanity. As inspiring as that is, it is also hard to read, hard to remember.

But the sounds were so much harder. NPR played moments from the tapes with firefighters calling dispatch, reporting the events. And so I heard the sounds of the day again. The day had a look: from its bright sunshine and white clouds to the frightening orange of the jet fuel exploding to the black of the cloud of destruction to the white of the dust of the aftermath. The day had a smell, too: flat, like an electrical spark. The day even had a taste, of the dust. And the day had a sound and these tapes dredged that sound up from a still-raw corner of my memory: The sound was sirens everywhere… and adrenalin (I did not recognize my own voice on the message I left my wife after the first plane hit; some of these emergency workers were also talking as if they had no time left to talk)… and an absence of all the normal sounds of the city… and even the sound of air thick with the dust. The tapes brought that back, they erased the time and distance and made the day real again and it was hard again.

: Most people here know that I started this blog because I was at the World Trade Center that day. But some don’t and because I haven’t written about September 11 in sometime, I’m mentioning it again, to give context to what might seem to some to be my emotional response. Here are my taped recollections of the day, recorded some weeks afterward.

  • It’s good for people to listen again. It’s a reminder of what we are up against. It reminds us of how easy it was for them do it.

    I watched some coverage on CNN. In the portion I saw, not one mention of the terrorists themselves or their ’cause’ was ever mentioned. The whole story was framed with a ‘chaos caused by bad radio communication’ and ‘have they made sufficient improvements’ narrative. As if that horrific day was the result of bad radio communication equipment!!! Unbelievable.

  • Duneview

    I remember being riveted by your moving account. Your finest hour.

  • Faramin

    essential humanity

    I’m not sure if you really belive in that. Or may be you just mean selective humanity. Otherwise, as sad as and as criminal as the 9/11 attacks against the innocent were, so is the attack on a sovereign nation that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths of THE INNOCENT and ruining of a country based on lies that you and journalists like you’ve been and still are part of.

    I am sure the stories of thousands of suffering Iraqis are as sad if not even sadder. But you don’t see that. Rather, you choose not to see that.

  • Faramin:
    I am not talking about Iraq… or World War II… or Korea…. or the London bombings… or the scores of Palestinian suicide murderers…. or famines in Africa… or the bombings in Saudi Arabia… or the bombings in India…. or the Crusades…
    I am talking about that day. You are the one who chooses not to see.

  • Faramin

    No, I see very well.
    I have no doubt that September 11 attacks were nothing but crimes against humanity and is worth mentioning and remembering everyday. Any taking of the innocent lives is crime against humanity. But “That day”, that crime, is re-occuring in Iraq EVERYDAY; the continuing crime against humanity that has too major representatives; Bu$hCo and its ultra-rich and the hardline Christian/Zionist fundamentalist backers as well as the stupid Islamic religious fundamentalists. They are all causing September 11s EVERYDAY. They are all hateful criminals.

  • lyn1360

    This was making the internet “email rounds” not long ago:

    “Regardless of your political views, this certainly
    gives us all food for thought.

    Sen. Glenn was so quick on his feet.

    When you speak from the heart and with passion, you never know what
    comes out.


    Things that make you think a little…….

    1. There were 39 combat related killings in Iraq
    during the month of January…..

    In the fair city of Detroit there were 35 murders in the month of

    That’s just one American City, about as deadly as the entire war torn country of Iraq.

    2. When some claim President Bush shouldn’t have
    started this war, state the following

    FDR…led us into World War II.

    Germany never attacked us:

    Japan did.

    From 1941-1945,
    450,000 lives were lost, an average of 112,500 per year.

    Truman…finished that war and started one in Korea.

    North Korea never attacked us.

    From 1950-1953,
    55,000 lives were lost, an average of 18,334 per year.

    John F. Kennedy….started the Vietnam conflict in

    Vietnam never attacked us.

    Johnson…turned Vietnam into a quagmire.
    From 1965-1975,

    58,000 lives were lost, an average of 5,800 per year.

    Clinton…went to war in Bosnia without UN or French consent,

    Bosnia never attacked us.

    He was offered Osama bin Laden’s head on a platter three
    times by Sudan and did nothing.

    Osama has attacked us on multiple occasions. .

    3,000 people died in ONE of them.

    3. In the two years since terrorists attacked us
    President Bush has:

    liberated two countries,

    crushed the Taliban,

    crippled al-Qaida,

    put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran and North Korea without
    firing a shot,

    and captured a terrorist who slaughtered 300,000 of his own people.

    The Democrats are complaining about how long the war
    is taking, but…

    It took less time to take Iraq
    than it took Janet Reno to take the Branch Davidian compound.

    That was a 51-day operation.

    We’ve been looking for evidence of chemical weapons
    in Iraq for less time

    than it took Hillary Clinton
    to find the Rose Law Firm billing records.

    It took less time for the 3rd Infantry Division and
    the Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard

    than it took Ted Kennedy to call the police after his Oldsmobile sank at Chappaquiddick killing a woman.

    Wait, there’s more………………….

    Some people still don’t understand why military
    personnel do what they do for a living.

    This exchange between Senators John Glenn and Senator
    Howard Metzenbaum is worth reading.

    Not only is it a pretty impressive impromptu speech, but it’s also a
    good example of one man’s explanation of why men and
    women in the armed services do what they do for a living.

    This is a typical, though sad, example of what some who have never served think of our military.

    JOHN GLENN ON THE SENATE FLOOR Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004


    Senator Howard Metzenbaum to Senator Glenn:

    “How can you run for Senate when you’ve never held a real job?”

    Senator Glenn:

    “I served 23 years in the United
    States Marine Corps. I served through two wars. I flew 149

    My plane was hit by antiaircraft fire on 12 different

    I was in the space program.

    It wasn’t my checkbook, Howard; it was my life on the

    It was not a nine-to-five job, where I took time off
    to take the daily cash receipts to the bank.

    I ask you to go with me … as I went the other day… to a veteran’s
    hospital and look those men – with their mangled bodies – in
    the eye, and tell THEM they didn’t hold a job!

    You go with me to the Space Program at NASA and go, as I have gone, to
    the widows and orphans of Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger
    Chaffee… and you look those kids in the eye and tell them that
    their Dads didn’t hold a job.

    You go with me on Memorial Day and you stand in
    Arlington National Cemetery, where I have more friends buried
    than I’d like to remember, and you watch those waving flags.

    You stand there, and you think about this nation, and
    you tell ME that those people didn’t have a job? I’ll tell

    Howard Metzenbaum; you should be on your knees every
    day of your life thanking God that there were some men – SOME
    MEN – who held REAL jobs.

    And they required a dedication to
    a purpose – and a love of country and a dedication to
    duty that was more important than life itself. And their
    self-sacrifice is what made this country possible.

    I HAVE held a job, Howard! What about you?”

    For those who don’t remember – During W.W.II, Howard
    Metzenbaum was an attorney representing the Communist Party in
    the USA.

    If you can read this, thank a teacher….
    If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.”

  • Faramin

    There is one simple answer to all said in the previous comment:

    This war was based on lies and deception and those who started it are of the least credible people (leaders) of the US’s history.


    3. In the two years since terrorists attacked us
    President Bush has:

    liberated two countries,

    crushed the Taliban,

    crippled al-Qaida,

    put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran and North Korea without
    firing a shot,

    Liberated? Crushed? Criplled? Put nuclear Inspectors in Iran and N Korea? You obviuously don’t live on planet earth.

  • Faramin

    That is intersting that the comment so easily ignors the lost lives of so many thousands of Iraqis and only talks about the number of combat deaths.

    Iraq is in complete chaos and ruin and is “crippled”.

    Crushed the Taliban?
    Taliban continue harrassing Afghanis only from outside of power.

    Crippled the al-Qaeda?
    They have grown substantially and have become much more suffusticated.

    Inspectors in Iran?
    There is no inspector in Iran.

    Inspectors in N. Korea?
    N. Korea manged to make its nuclear weapons during Bush’s regime. UN inspection was effectively demonished as a result of Bush’s policies.

    I would have agreed if one of your points was:
    Cheney’s former emplyer, Halliburton made billions of dollars as a result of Iraq war. That was also the case with many more large and greedy corporations.

    Oh, I’m sorry. Perhaps, that’s not worth mentioning. ;-)

  • lyn1360

    Faramin, I will be the first to admit my ignorance on the situation in Iraq,..or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, those of us here are mostly all armchair generals….for none (or darn few) of us are privy to the inside of this war.

    As mentioned in the first sentence, the above composition does NOT come from me, but is a memo making the rounds on the internet, as part of a conversation from a former US senator. It had no date on it.

    Most of us only know what we read, and what we hear from those actually serving in Iraq. None of us here can know it all….certainly not I.

    The majority of those actually serving in Iraq seem to be of the opinion that the media can no longer be trusted to tell of the good things being done in Iraq.

    A commenter from here wrote recently:

    ….my wife grew up there. My sister-in-law works there. Both are American. I have Middle Eastern friends. The “vast majority” of Iraqis I’m reliably informed are grateful Hussein is gone and optimistic about their country’s future, despite the terrorists streaming into their country and blowing themselves up. This positive outlook from people on the ground is not reflected in the US media.

    When you add in that Saddam killed hundreds of thousands, it would seem the death toll of innocents has gone DOWN?

  • Faramin


    Thank you for your humble reply.

    Only one point I have to emphesise on and that is the fact that in what Saddam did, he didn’t do it alone.

  • lyn1360

    ….read the info, Faramin…wow

    …can’t believe the cruelty of that regiem was forseen in advance tho.

    Would you have left Saddam there to do infinitely more damage, thus ultimately compounding those earlier errors?

  • Faramin

    Did you notice Rumsfeld there? Did you notice the role of the American big corporate lobby groups? Saddam was just expired. There was no use of him anymore. That’s why he is gone. But the rest; the master criminals are still ther. Rumsfled is there, Cheney is there and so are the corporations who effectively helped Saddam kill thousands of people. They are all still there. Alive and powerful more than ever. Thanks to Bu$hCo.

  • tonynoboloney

    Jeff, your a better man than I. If this were my site I would be deleting comments like crazy. I’m just biting my tongue as I hate to feed the trolls.

  • Faramin

    Ahha, a good example of those whohate freedom of speech. What is it? Can’t stand civil discussions? Can’t stand opposite points of view? Can’t stand democracy?
    You are not the first one on this site who expressed his/her extreme desire of not letting me speak my mind. You are not the fist one, but are certainly as undemocratic as the other likemindeds of yours.
    Instead of giving me boloney, why don’t you discuss things? Not much to say? I didn’t think otherwise.
    And with that attitude, YOU are calling ME troll?

  • One quick scan of the comments tells me to ignore them and just post what I was going to post anyway:

    God bless you, Jeff Jarvis, your family, and New York City.

  • Have you noticed, Faramin, that you’re screaming and shouting and ranting and spitting your bile … and no one gives a damn. We’ve heard all of it from you before. This is a post about one thing: about the records of 9/11. But you use any excuse you can to spew your bile and try to engage in shouting matches. Yes, I could kill your posts — or as I could others or comment on each one — but the message here is clearer: No one cares.

  • Faramin

    You tried to find the justification to delet my posts before, many times. But you couldn’t justify it. Because, you could not find anything to justify that.

    Your harsh messages have always been directed towards me, at least me first and you ignored those who talk of mass killings.

    You say nobody gives a damn? Fine. because I don’t give a damn about what some of your anti-democratic readers think either.

    Just look at you. You picked on me again.

    You say this post is about 9/11. And I said the same thing. Why are you so afraid that I am saying that those who you admire so much are creating 9/11s EVERYDAY? MAY BE not for the US, but 9/11s nevertheless, for other countries. See? My posts ARE about 9/11 as well. So you can’t claim otherwise.

    Your site has room for some well known fascist commenters with tones of comments spewing on all humanity, and has no room for ME who has never NEVER condoned violence? And is that how you “cherish” freedom of expression?

    I keep a copy of what I write, but go ahead, if you don’t give a damn, let me write to those who do, and if you are afraid of my comments, show how much you hate democracy and freedom of speech. You can’t have it both ways Jeff.

  • whodat

    The problem, as I see it anyway, is that there are those who see the positives going on in Iraq and the long term ramifications of more stability in the ME. And there are those who will harp on the premise of the war itself and the loss of innocent lives. Rarely, on this site anyway, will you find any middle ground. There is both good and bad to come out of the war. Much like there would have been good and bad by leaving Saddam there in power. But for those who demand that troops come home now, if you care about the innocent Iraqis is it not best to see this through?

  • Roth

    I just want to comment on Faramin’s response about Halliburton. That one is a little overplayed. Just a little bit of background with Halliburton getting that job… There were maybe 5 companies in the world capable of performing that job… only TWO were big enough to pull it off… one was French, the other was Halliburton. Who do you want there now? give it to the French?? good idea, lets send more jobs away from US countries. I am neither democrat nor republican, but the Halliburton excuse has got to go. Find something else.

  • Reluctant Crusader

    I want to applaud Faramin for speaking her mind. That is what the US is about. As for the Iraq war being unwise I’ll say this. ‘Muslim’ terrorists have been attacking us for at least 26 years. To assume they operate independly from muslim governements is to be naive at best. My pet theory is that this is a war by the Saudis against us for supporting Isreal. I would think the Saudis could get rid of OBL at any time since all ME states are police states.

    So, if we follow your advice we should leave Iraq and stop supporting Isreal. This would eventually lead to their destruction and either death, exile or second class status there. The Kurds and Shite Iraqis have been experiencing all 3 during Saddam’s reign.

    We can’t attack Saudi Arabia so we go after a regime that no nation can defend on humaritarian grounds. We save more lives than have been perishing there. We give hope to the oppressed there that the future will be better. The Sunnis in the region don’t like that. They have issued Fatwas that shites are not muslims and deserve to be killed for cooperating with the US. So, we can leave and fel good about ourselves that we are not responsible for killing guiltys and some innocents but how many more will die than if we stay. And what type of nation will emerge there regardless of which side wins a civil war? There are always cost and benefits to this type of situation. Our leaders have to make dificult decisions. It is not a simple moral issue.

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  • Ohio Righty

    In response to whether or not the 9/11 tapes should be released to the public, I believe this historical moment should be documented and available to the public. Although we’ve moved on, we will never (and should never) forget that tragic day. It’s important that we remember what these terrorists have done and continue to fight the War on Terror. I commend President Bush for the challenges he has faced during his presidency and the fact that he is working to secure a safer society regardless of criticism. I certainly want my own children to grow up in a safe society and be proud to be an American. We must defend our country and stop allowing thugs to control our standard of living.