I'll be on Air America tomorrow (Thursday) morning on the Morning Sedition program. It should be between 7 and 9 AM, East Coast time. Paul Thompson...
Paul Thompson: One man can change the world. Or at least much of its what, when, where, and how.
by Doug Cantor
December 1, 2004
He never studied, trained, or even had any intention to become an authority on
terrorism. But never underestimate the power of one man's curiosity. Holed up
every night in front of the computer in his San Francisco home, poring over
news on the Internet, Paul Thompson grew increasingly frustrated with how
incomplete the story of September 11 was. Armed with only a broadband
connection, he started to gather every credible fact he could find online. Then
he condensed each point of information and put it in chronological order. His
Terror Timeline quickly became a monster of about fifteen hundred items,
tracing the last quarter century of terrorist activity, incorporating a
detailed trail of intelligence failures, and providing a nearly
minute-by-minute account of the day of the attacks.
What had started as Thompson's hobby soon became his obession. Early this year,
he quit his job with an environmental protection group, moved halfway around
the world to New Zealand, and began dedicating his full attention to a solitary
pursuit that paid nothing and seemed unlikely to be seen by more than a handful
of people. Finally, he found a small audience through the Center for
Cooperative Research, a California-based historical-record-keeping Web site
that shared his philosophy of nonpartisanship, information sharing, and
reliance on mainstream news sources. The marriage was a fruitful one. People
started e-mailing him to point out new information and to make corrections to
his data. Open-source historiography had arrived.
The result is that Thompson has assembled by far the most comprehensive and
detailed record of September 11 and the events surrounding it ever created.
Thompson may have furthered the cause of journalism to a greater degree than if
he worked as a journalist himself. His timeline (cooperativeresearch.org) has
become a trusted resource for reporters and researchers, and this fall it was
published in book form (The Terror Timeline) by HarperCollins. Still, Thompson
continues with his self-imposed labor. "If somebody were to say to me, 'Give me
your one paragraph on who did it on 9/11,' I don't feel I could tell you," he
says. "And I don't want to stop until I know that answer."