In 2001, I was the security strategist for a national wireless telecommunications company. I usually awoke early to read the news online, and on September 11 I was in my home office shortly after 5:00am Pacific Time. I was perusing corporate e-mail and browsing the news, when I saw a story of a plane crashing into a building in New York.
I had a television in the home office, and I reached over to turn it on. I tuned to CNN and watched as smoke poured from one of the two towers in the background, as two commentators droned on about what this could be about. While watching this I saw the second airliner emerge from the background and crash into the second tower.
Like many, I thought I was watching a video loop of the first crash, but soon realized I was watching live TV.
I e-mailed and IM’d members of our national security team to get them aware of these developments. Before 6am Pacific time, we had our national emergency conference bridge up and running (and it would stay on all day). Very soon we understood the gravity of the situation, and wondered what would happen next. We were a nation under attack and needed to take steps to protect our business. Within minutes we had initiated a nationwide lockdown (I cannot divulge details on what that means), and over the next several hours we took more steps to protect the company.
Since being a teen-ager I had a particular interest in World War Two. My father was a bombardier instructor, and his business partner and best friend was a highly decorated air ace.
We are under attack and we are at war, I thought to myself early that morning, and while I don’t remember specifics about our national conference bridge, I’m certain that I or someone else on the bridge said as much. Like the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, we all believed that the 9/11 attacks could have been the opening salvos of a much larger plan. Thankfully that was not the case. But in the moment, there was no way to know for sure.
For many days, I and probably a lot of Americans expected more things to happen. The fact that they didn’t was both a surprise and a relief.