Friday, February 25, 2005

Wikipedia Weirdness

In doing some research on Google, I came across the Wikipedia entry for Cantor Fitzgerald, which ... well, I'll just give you the thing in its entirety:

Cantor Fitzgerald Securities is an investment bank specializing in bond trading. It owns the eSpeed network.

Its New York office, on the 101st-105th floors of One World Trade Center, lost 685 employees in the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack, considerably more than any other employer, including the FDNY. This was about 2/3 of its employees.

eSpeed had sponsored the U.S. Naval War College "NewRuleSets" research program, which used the two towers of the World Trade Center with a lightning bolt through them as its logo. It had been known since an earlier attack on the WTC in 1993 (the World Trade Center bombing) that it was a major target of asymmetric warfare and terrorism.

Sez who? But that's always the question with Wikipedia.

Here's what Cantor's own Web site says about eSpeed:

In 1999, Cantor announced its intentions to migrate the company's robust inter-dealer and voice brokering global fixed income business to the eSpeed electronic trading platform. In December of 1999, eSpeed became a publicly traded, and separately run, business in its own right.

Seems like a straight-up business venture. A faster way to make trades. I found a bit about NewRuleSets here:

The NewRuleSets.Project was a multi-year research effort designed to explore how globalization and the rise of the New Economy are altering the basic “rules of the road” in the international security environment, with special reference to how these changes may redefine the U.S. Navy’s historic role as security enabler of America’s commercial network ties with the world. The project was hosted by the online securities broker-dealer firm, eSpeed (an affiliate of Cantor Fitzgerald LP), and involved personnel from the Decision Strategies Department of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies. Adm. William Flanagan, USN (Ret.), and Philip Ginsberg of Cantor Fitzgerald (then-senior managing director and executive vice president, respectively) served as informal advisers to the project, actively participating in all planning and design. The joint Wall Street-Naval War College workshops in the series involved energy, environmental issues and foreign direct investment in Asia.

And here. It was a once-and-done attempt to learn something to refine the U.S. Navy's role (inherited from the British Navy of old) of policing the high seas and passively protecting international commerce. It was an instance of the military asking a business to help it do a better job of protecting the global economy.

It certainly doesn't seem to rate its dominant position in the Wikipedia entry on this company. Read this, and all you know is 1. they did something in conjunction with the U.S. military; 2. they got hit hard on 9-11.

Yet by clumsy innuendo, the writer of the Wikipedia entry (which is reproduced almost verbatim at some radical sites) suggests the reader connect the dots and make CF part of some shadowy U.S. military cabal, that knew it was a target of terrorists (and, perhaps, deserved to be?).

It all looks like a lot of conspiracy theory hoo-ha. Perhaps someone will step out from the Wikipedia shadows and be brave enough to go the next step and say Osama knew all about this, or that the death pilots were aiming for certain floors of the building because they knew who worked there. Anyone, anyone? Ward?

UPDATE: Conspiracy theories have a place, and they may even have a place in a Wikipedia. But this seems a curiously incomplete full entry for a major company that has been around since 1945.