In early summer, when Rutgers Law Review began an update and redesign of its website, journal editors could not imagine that the new site (www.rutgerslawreview.com) would record more than four million hits in its first 36 hours. That intense interest was due to the Law Review’s unprecedented publication of A New Type of War: The Story of the FAA and NORAD Response to the September 11, 2001 Attacks. A front-page article in the New York Times on September 8 directed readers to the Law Review site, where they found the interactive document, a narrative with audio clips embedded into the text of conversations between key civilian and military aviation personnel related to the hijackings.
|Rutgers Law Review 9/11 monograph project team (l-r): Isabel Chou, Timothy D’Arduini, Andrew Gimigliano, Mark Heinzelmann, and John Burzynski.
A draft of the audio monograph was prepared by the 9/11 Commission, for which Dean John J. Farmer, Jr., was Senior Counsel but was not declassified in time to be included in the Commission’s Final Report. After the Commission’s term expired, staff member Miles Kara worked to have the draft monograph released by the National Archives and transcribed each clip. The Law Review team worked with Kara to validate the transcripts and to determine the best format for presenting this comprehensive account of the day’s events to the public for the very first time. As Dean Farmer writes in the preface, the 9/11 Commission staff believed that the monograph “would be the best way to enable the public to understand what happened on 9/11 – how the day was lived by those responding to the attacks.”
Publication of A New Type of War (the phrase taken from a comment made by a Northeast Air Defense Sector officer after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon) breaks new ground for law school journals, noted editor-in-chief Andrew Gimigliano. The monograph continues a conversation about the adequacy of established legal doctrine and crisis response protocols in responding to global terrorism that the Law Review began with its February 2011 symposium, titled “Unsettled Foundations, Uncertain Results: 9/11 and the Law, Ten Years After,” and will conclude with a series of articles from symposium speakers in the next issue.
Response to A New Type of War was global, immediate, and often quite personal. The Law Review received countless emails from around the world thanking it for making the information public. Gimigliano, senior managing editor Timothy D’Arduini, and articles editor Mark S. Heinzelmann did numerous print and radio interviews; news reports appeared on six continents; and the website received almost seven million hits within five days, with visitors from 173 different countries accessing the site in more than 100 languages.
In the following, Gimigliano and the four Law Review staff members who worked on the project look back with pride on the effort:
When Dean Farmer approached Rutgers Law Review about our potential publication of the audio monograph, senior journal management discussed at length the scope of and rationale for our publishing this compelling account of the events on 9/11.
We eventually decided to publish the material—which certainly had the ability to be sensationalist—because we believed that an academic journal, like Rutgers Law Review, would be ideal for such a neutral retelling of what happened on that day. We hoped that the reader could review the monograph and the audio communications and draw his or her own inferences.
This project also was a unique opportunity for the Law Review to step outside the boundaries of what law journals generally publish. In fact, we have received emails from former journal members at other law schools who found it exciting to see a law journal combining media types and using technology to publish creatively.
Of course, we could not have achieved this success without the guidance of Dean John Farmer, Miles Kara, and Andrea Manna. We are thankful they brought this project to the Law Review and found their long march towards making this information public to be inspiring. We also were fortunate to have a great team of editors working towards the launch of our website and managing the subsequent media and public attention. They each played an integral role in the success the Law Review has enjoyed over the past week, and I feel lucky to have had the chance to work with such a great group of people.
Andrew Gimigliano ’12, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. from the University of Delaware and worked in project management for several years before coming to Rutgers. He is a member of the Moot Court Board and was named Best Oralist in the 2010 Nathan Baker Mock Trial Competition. He has been an Equal Justice America Fellow and this past summer was a summer associate at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP in Morristown.
As part of the website presentation, I worked with Andy to quality check a number of the audio clips against the transcripts that were developed by Miles Kara, Dean Farmer, John Burzynski, and Mark Heinzelmann. Moreover, I drafted the press materials for our redesigned website’s launch with A New Type of War. I also set helped set up Rutgers Law Review’s presence on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to ensure broad awareness of our new website with the audio monograph. Again, it was imperative to us that we not sensationalize or commercialize the content of the monograph, as this really was our presenting to the public the results of the 9/11 Commission members’ truth-seeking exercise.
Beginning less than five minutes after the New York Times article was published online just before 11 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7, and continuing for much of the next 48 hours, Andy and I took press inquiries from around the world. I also provided media outlets with complete access to the audio clips and transcripts, as this information is 100 percent public information.
Timothy D’Arduini ’12, Senior Managing Editor, is a Marsha Wenk Public Interest Law Fellow, Philip J. Levin Scholar, Moot Court Board member, and former co-chair of the Public Interest Law Foundation. In Spring 2011 he was a legal intern for NJ Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia and then was a summer associate at Baker & McKenzie LLP in Washington, D.C. He holds a B.S. from Georgetown University.
My role was originally just to oversee the creation of a new website for Rutgers Law Review. We started the project back in June. I hired a designer and managed the process (i.e., collecting content, developing look/feel of the site, etc.). In August, Andy mentioned that we might be doing something around 9/11 and asked me to look into creating space on the site for the monograph. In mid-August, after learning more specifics about the content, I worked with the designer to develop the most user-friendly way to present it. I provided some parameters and feedback, and the designer worked on the technical aspects and recommended the eventual layout.
We tweaked it a bit, such as making sure the transcript accompanied the individual audio clips so site visitors could read and hear the recordings at the same time in a popup window. The 9/11 section essentially doubled the amount of work that went into the site. We also had to work against the clock, since the New York Times wanted our site to go live before it released the story.
The night of our launch, the designer and I discussed the possibility of the site crashing due to heavy traffic. Our hosting service told us that unless 75,000 people an hour tried to “request” information, our service package could handle the traffic. To my question of how likely it was that something like that would happen, they answered: “highly unlikely.”
The next morning, after hearing of problems logging onto the site, we contacted the hosting company, which was completely taken aback that we were registering far more than 76,000 “requests” an hour. We decided to migrate the site to a cloud service to accommodate the traffic. It was definitely the most stressful part of the whole project. I could just see the millions of users we were losing simply because only a few thousand could get on at any given time. We revived the site just before the evening news hit.
I’ve managed other web design projects, but this has by far been the most exciting. I feel very lucky that I unknowingly volunteered for a project that turned out to be this big.
Isabel D. Chou ’12, Editor, holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a M.P.A. from the University of San Francisco. Her article, “The New Jersey Opportunity Scholarship Act: Another School Choice Solution to Education Reform in New Jersey” is forthcoming this fall in the Rutgers Law Review. A Whitman Family Scholar and participant in the Minority Student Program, she spent her summer as a fellow at Education Pioneers in Newark.
I’ve always been interested in national security law, so when Andy announced the 9/11 audio project to the Law Review I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. Mark and I traveled with Dean Farmer’s assistant, Andrea Manna, to Virginia to meet Miles Kara, a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served with Dean Farmer on the 9/11 Commission. We really can’t give enough credit to Miles, who had already transcribed all of the hours of recorded audio. Our job was to work with him to review the transcripts, verify for accuracy, and make corrections. We gathered in his office with transcripts and pencils and began listening to hours of recorded audio between the hijacked airplanes, the FAA, and NORAD.
It was a grueling two-day project that went long into the night. At times we needed to re-listen to static-filled audio fragments a dozen times before we could agree on the wording. Many of the recordings are very emotionally powerful, and really take you back to the events of September 11th in a way that dry text and analysis simply can’t achieve. I’m very proud of the work we did, and I’m honored to have had an opportunity to contribute to the historical record.
Mark deserves a great deal of credit for his work with the master transcript and his quick annotations and corrections. Andrea did an amazing job creating the final article that integrated the Commission’s analysis, the audio recordings, and the transcripts.
Finally, Isabel’s contribution to the team cannot be overstated. We could not have succeeded without her technical expertise, her flexibility in working with an ever-evolving timetable, and her willingness to work overtime and restore the website after it went down following millions of hits. It really was a privilege to work with such an exceptional team.
John Burzynski ’12, Managing Editor, is a Jack Solomon Scholar and Philip Levin Scholar; a research assistant for the Hon. Deborah Poritz, Vice Dean Ronald Chen, and Professor Penny Venetis; and a member of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program board. Last summer he was the law intern chair at the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Appellate Section. He received his B.A. from Denison University.
On the trip to meet Mr. Kara, I read an advance copy of A New Type of War. To say that this document, in its early form, was illuminating is an understatement. It was fascinating, and at the same time tremendously sobering.
Mr. Kara and his wife were incredibly gracious and, quite literally, opened their entire home to us. Dean Farmer, Mr. Kara, Andrea, John, and I began work on the audio tapes and transcripts the next morning, and, except for a few hours of sleep and some time to eat, we didn’t stop until the following day.
Knowing the gravity of the work and the importance of making sure the transcripts accurately reflected what was said on the tapes, we worked tirelessly to transcribe every word spoken. This meant going through each file at least 10 to 20 times and often repeating a second or less of audio over and over in order to pinpoint what was being said in the foreground as well as the background. There were quite a few occasions when one person was convinced an individual on tape was saying one thing, and another person was convinced that same individual said something entirely different. Needless to say, there was a lot of confusion and emotion on many of these files, in addition to overlapping voices.
This outlines the biggest challenge of my involvement in the project: These transcripts had to be accurate, but they also needed to be done in a very short time. Additionally, listening closely to the tapes, in particular the ones of Mohammed Atta on American Airlines Flight 11, was often distressing. Being from New Jersey and knowing many people who lost family members on 9/11, I immediately flashed back to when I first heard of the incident during high school physics class. However, taking part in adding the transcripts to the world dialogue was also quite gratifying. Mr. Kara never let us forget that what we were doing was important.
Our work done, we said our goodbyes to Mr. and Mrs. Kara, packed up, and headed home. There was not as much reading on the way back, rather, at least for me, there was considerably more reflection.
Mark S. Heinzelmann ’12, Articles Editor, is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International. He received his B.A. from Monmouth University. He has worked as a judicial intern for the Hon. Edward M. Coleman, Presiding Judge, Somerset County, as a legal intern at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, Appellate Division.
Read Metropolitan Corporate Counsel’s interview with Dean Farmer and EIC Gimigliano in its October 2011 issue.