Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eric Gundersen

Russell Pickering's list of 49 photographers whose work at the Pentagon on 9/11 can be found in the public record, includes this name, along with an obscure credential, the National Security News Service. A two-step Google established that to be an offshoot of the Public Education Center, a District of Columbia public interest not-for-profit, whose web publication is called storiesthatmatter.org

The single image in the public record attributed to Gundersen was published on 9/12/01 on A M Costa Rico, an English language daily carrying a strong retired-services and ex-pat American flavor. The picture is especially narratively rich compared with the rest of the record. We see a Bobcat at work demolishing guard rails and safety barriers. The mixed-dress crew is variously seen talking on cell phones, holding crime-scene tape aloft or putting their hands on their hips in an expression of concern. No firemen can be seen in the picture, or fire for that matter, but a roof turret spray appears to be drenching everyone in Whiteout.

Establishing on Google a legitimate public profile for a professional with credibility and cause to come away from the Pentagon that morning with a single snap isn't possible. However, it is the news aggregator/generator/diseminator service that is revealing. Active in the areas of
  • weapons of mass destruction
  • nuclear issues
  • conventional arms
  • intelligence community
  • government waste, fraud, and secrecy
  • terrorism
they have this to say about their own work

"Our reporters work relatively far “upstream” in the news business. We locate and interview sources, find relevant scientific and government information, and piece together ground-breaking public interest stories. Then, we offer our work on an exclusive basis to the commercial media’s best reporters and producers, who shepherd the stories through their own organizations’ production processes. These reporters write and produce the final stories themselves, but without our help, they may never have reached the public."
The wonderful---and potentially hangout-limited---Greg Palast, puts that in a slightly different way:
"On November 9, 2001, BBC Television Centre in London received a call from a phone booth just outside Washington. The call to our Newsnight team was part of a complex prearranged dance coordinated with the National Security News Service a conduit for unhappy spooks at the CIA and FBI to unburden themselves of disturbing information and documents. The top-level U.S. intelligence agent on the line had much to be unhappy and disturbed about: a "back-off" directive."
while Warran Ellis calls them "a steam vent for pissed-off spooks."

What role exactly this organization plays in the balance of power known as the United States system of government, isn't clear to me. Taking them at face value as good-government advocates (they certainly know how to write a great FOIL,) might explain the photograph's intent, as being a coded breadcrumb left for some future Hansel or Gretel on a trek back the path of truth. Conversely, perhaps it was meant to say to a foreign readership heavy on retired Company employees and insiders---here's our calling card. Yeats would ask of them: are they the dancer or the dance?

Whichever way the inside turns, it implicates CIA involvement, in ways heretofore only known of the FBI and DoD, in the active participation, or at minimum the passive dereliction of duty, we saw of Americans on September 11th, 2001.

Is it me, or does StoriesThatMatter remind you of GirlsWithWings?

Gunderson's Flickr and his Twitter.

The man in the short-sleeved, white knit shirt and black pants is the same in both of these pictures.

Warran Ellis2

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