Posted November 16, 2007 in Arts & Culture

While the Bush Administration prefers to sloganize the events of 9/11 (“We Will Not Forget!”—as if anyone could), that’s really as far as they’ve gone, offering up only red herrings of Iraq (and now Iran?) and facades of congressional investigations. Believing, perhaps, in his own personal Lord of the Flies tale, Mr. Bush wants you to know only what he and his wordsmiths tell you, and to act accordingly or be banished from the clan. 

For most of the American public—certainly for most people of the outside world—these tainted crumbs wreak of shadowy motive and insufficient evidence. So felt researcher Paul Thompson, who, after mulling over bits of media reports on that day and other smaller timelines, created the Complete 9/11 Timeline Project, an open-content page on the Center for Cooperative Research site. The site claims to be an experiment in civic journalism that has so far logged information and timelines of around 10,000 events and entities. The information is edited and posted, subject to verification of sources and accuracy, and, like blogs, “further blurs the line between readers and journalists,” allowing the former audience of Big Media to assume the roles of content creators and editors—or, to put it plainly, gives you the stories that regular news outlets don’t think can turn a profit. The CCR doesn’t worry about losing commercial sponsors, see.

With the help of Matt Everett, Thompson’s chronology of the events leading up to 9/11 and what followed is astonishing. Reporting only items that have been released by major news media outlets (he addresses this irony in the About This Project link), most of which were buried or never followed up, Thompson has cobbled together a scenario of the United States and its leadership, allies and enemies, that is so foreign to what you learned in US history and government class (and your own self-created idealistic beliefs about our country), that reading his entries might leave you with an acute case of nausea—and a panic to re-brainwash yourself back into the glassy-eyed inhabitant of a world so built on falsities that cheesy cinema such as The Matrix seems a paradoxical, yet paradisiacal, bliss. But this is no fiction, and it’s mighty hard to swallow. The upside? Americans are getting smarter, it seems—and the Internet has proven an integral key in setting up what might be a forthcoming overhaul of our system (traditionalists might even say “electronic revolution”). Thompson’s motive is for you to read what you’ve missed, and cautions, “we must not remain ignorant and passive when so much is currently at stake.” Now, what forthright and honest Commander in Chief could argue with that? Or should?


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