Daily Archives: November 25, 2009

Cisco Surfaces in Transcribed 9/11 Pager Messages

At CBSNews.com, Declan McCullagh reports that pager transcripts, apparently documenting messages sent during the events of 9/11, have been posted at WikiLeaks.org.

As McCullagh notes, the pager logs seem to represent messages transmitted on September 11, 2001, through the networks of Arch Wireless, Metrocall, Skytel, and Weblink Wireless. It’s not clear how the transcripts were obtained, but over-the-air interception is strongly suspected.

From an information-technology perspective, the most intriguing message is one allegedly sent at 4:18pm by Jim Massa, then Cisco’s director of federal operations, to Charlie Giancarlo, then Cisco’s chief development officer and now with private-equity firm Silver Lake, which recently claimed an ownership stake in Skype.

Here’s an excerpt from McCullagh on the Cisco-related exchange:

Whatever their origin, the logs are likely to raise more questions than they answer. Take this intriguing message that was sent by Jim Massa, then Cisco’s director of federal operations, at 4:18 p.m. It said: “NEED TO DISCUSS FBI TEN THOUSAND UNIT REQUIREMENT ASAP.” The recipient appears to be Cisco Chief Development Officer Charlie Giancarlo, who left the company in 2007 and now works at a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, Calif. called Silver Lake.

A Cisco representative said in e-mail to CBSNews.com: “I know we worked closely with law enforcement after the attacks but I don’t have any specifics.” Massa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One possibility is that the FBI urgently needed routers or other Cisco gear to upgrade its own network. But technical experts that CBSNews.com contacted believed it’s more likely that the FBI was working with Internet service providers to reconfigure their networks with Cisco hardware to allow wiretaps to be conducted more readily. Around that time, Cisco was beginning to develop wiretap capabilities for its routers — a concept that eventually became known as “lawful intercept.”

Jim (or James) Massa now runs Loom Enterprises, a consultancy that allows “synergistic relationships to be formed between individuals, businesses, educational institutions, governments as well as faith-based and non-faith-based non-profit organizations.”

We’ll seen whether McCullagh can learn more about the FBI’s urgent “ten-thousand unit requirement.”