9-11 conspiracy fact & fiction: an abundance of sensational and irrational conjecture about the September 11 terrorist attacks is being used to discredit any consideration of conspiracy in general.
This is certainly the case regarding the terrorist events of September 11, 2001. Of the four coordinated events--the two attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the attack on the Pentagon, and the crash in rural Pennsylvania--almost every significant official finding presented as fact has been subjected to challenge by a host of critics. The government has invited (even incited, it can be argued) suspicion by refusing to release evidence even to congressional committees and continuing the pattern of secrecy and coverup that we have seen in past administrations concerning such events as the 1991 Ruby Ridge shootout, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and the 1996 downing of TWA Flight 800.
However, many of those disputing the official version of the 9/11 attacks have chosen, oddly enough, to challenge some of the government's most solid evidence and to do so with flimsy evidence of their own, often accompanied with sensational, irrational conjecture. Some of the most popularly disseminated 9/11 scenarios assert, for instance, that the Pentagon and the Twin Towers were not hit by the hijacked commercial airliners, but by missiles and/or military planes.
A mushrooming array of books, videos, and Internet websites devoted to 9/11 presents an ever-multiplying and ever more wild assortment of theories and scenarios concerning virtually every aspect of the attacks. Some of them have gotten almost into the X-Files realm, proposing explanations so outlandish that one might expect to find out that the 9/11 terror attacks were really launched by aliens from outer space. In fact, as we will point out, at least one 9/11 conspiracy theorist argues that some influential human beings directing world events are actually extra-terrestrial shape-shifters.
All of this, of course, is being used to discredit as a "conspiracy theory wacko" anyone who challenges any part of the government's official line on the September 11 attacks, as well as anyone who questions the government's incremental police-state response to 9/11 in the name of "homeland security."
Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 discredits itself by mixing legitimate criticisms of the Bush administration with typical left-wing rants. Moore, an unabashed radical leftist, poisons the political well and makes it easier for the internationalists in the Republican Party to dismiss all principled opposition to the Bush administration's destructive policies as "Bush-bashing" or "Democrat propaganda." Likewise, marly of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are self-discrediting, either because of the absurd nature of their claims or the oddball manner of their presentations--or both. However, they invariably manage to sprinkle their rants with references to the new world order, the United Nations, world government, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Illuminati, etc. Hence, those of us who responsibly expose and oppose the one-world agenda of the Bush administration (as we did also with the Clinton administration, without fear or favor) are more easily marginalized as extremists and "conspiracy nuts."
It is not our purpose in this article to review, analyze, and refute all, or even most, of the bogus 9/11 theories and rumors circulating out there. Our objective is to expose a few of the hoaxes, in the interest of helping all Americans become more "streetwise" about the dangers and pitfalls of uncritically accepting stories from the "alternative media," as well as from the establishment media and official government sources.
Although each of the four terrorist incidents involving aircraft on September 11 is being subjected to vociferous challenges, the official version of the Pentagon attack has been the main target of the critics. The catalyst for most of the Pentagonattack sleuths can be traced back to the incendiary propaganda of French author and radical socialist Thierry Meyssan, president of the virulently anti-American and pro-Communist French think tank Reseau Voltaire. In his best-selling book, L'Effroyable Imposture (The Frightening Deception), Meyssan launched the claim that American Airlines Flight 77 did not hit the Pentagon. It has been translated into English and is sold in the U.S. as 9/11: The Big Lie. Meyssan has followed up with a second book, Pentagate.
Many of the organizations and websites "investigating" the 9/11 attacks promote and/or sell the Meyssan books. Dave vonKleist, narrator and producer of the video 911 In Plane Site, one of the most popular "exposes" of the September 11 events, explains in his video that it was Meyssan's 9/11 website, "Hunt the Boeing," that got him started investigating the matter.
Mr. vonKleist strangely refers repeatedly to Meyssan's books and website as information "released by the French," as though it were released by the French government or the French people collectively. In reality, Meyssan represents only a small fringe on the far left of French politics, and his 9/11 materials have been denounced as disinformation and hucksterism by political and media representatives spanning the spectrum of French political thought, including many of those who strongly oppose U.S. policies in response to the 9/11 terror attacks.
According to vonKleist, when he first saw "Hunt the Boeing," he had only "one goal in mind: to prove the French wrong." However, as he looked into Meyssan's evidence, he says, he became convinced that "the French" were right alter all.
Although critics of the official version of the attack on the Pentagon disagree with the government's version on numerous points, perhaps the main ones, which we will examine here, concern allegations that: the hole in the Pentagon is too small to have been made by a Boeing 757; there is too little aircraft debris for a 757 crash; and flying a 757 into the Pentagon is virtually an impossible feat, especially for an inexperienced pilot like one of the hijackers.
"The impact holes are too small." vonKleist parrots Meyssan's false claim that the plane's entry "hole" in the exterior wall of the Pentagon was only 16 feet in diameter. His In Plane Site web page disingenuously presents a smoke-obscured photo which supposedly verifies this point, claiming: "Upon examining these photographs, one can clearly see a hole, which is only 16 feet in diameter. This begs the question: 'How can a Boeing 757 which is over 44 feet in height and 124 feet in width simply disappear without a trace into a hole that is only 16 feet in diameter? Also, why is there no external damage to the Pentagon where the wings and the tail section would have impacted with the outer wall?'" Like Meyssan, the vonKleist video 911 In Plane Site advances the theory that a missile is the most probable cause of the Pentagon damage.
But what are the facts? The Pentagon is a five-story, five-sided building complex comprised of five concentric rings, running from an interior Ring A to an exterior Ring E. The photo and video evidence support the conclusions of the 2003 Pentagon Building Performance Report produced by the American Society of Civil Engineers that American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon's exterior facade at the ground floor, creating a hole in Ring E approximately 90 feet wide. That's 90 feet--not 16 feet.
A multitude of eyewitnesses saw the 757 swooping down toward the Pentagon, and many actually saw it hit. Dennis Behreandt, in his August 23, 2004 article for The New American, quoted some of these witnesses, so we won't repeat them here. However, an important expert witness whom we will mention in this regard is Allyn Kilsheimer, CEO of KCE Structural Engineers, who arrived at the scene shortly after the blast. "I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of the building," he says. "I picked up parts of the plane with the airline markings on them."
Some have discounted Kilsheimer's testimony because as a contractor for the Defense Department he is considered a "tainted" witness. However, it's difficult to discount on similar grounds Brig. Gen. Benton K. Partin, USAF (retired), an expert witness who has proven his independence and willingness to challenge coverups in the past. One of the world's leading missile and military explosives experts, Gen. Partin was director of the U.S. Air Force Armaments Technology Laboratory, where he designed and tested many types of missiles, warheads, and ordnance against various building structures and armor.
Partin did not personally witness the crash, but he lives near the Pentagon, is very familiar with the building's structure, and began studying the evidence immediately after the event. Does he see any problems with the official Flight 77 crash scenario'? "No, not at all," he told THE NEW AMERICAN. "I've seen the videos claiming that it was a missile, not a 757. that hit the Pentagon," he says, angrily dismissing the claim in scatological terms.
"When you slam an aluminum aircraft at high velocity into a concrete structure, it's going to do exactly what we saw happen at the Pentagon on 9/11," Partin said. "If you look at a frontal mass cross-section of the plane, you see a cylinder of aluminum skin with stringers. When it impacts with the exterior [Pentagon] wall at 700-800 feet per second, much of the kinetic energy of the plane converts to thermal energy, and much of the aluminum converts to vapor, burning to aluminum oxide. That's why on the still photos from Pentagon surveillance camera, you first see the frame with that brilliant white luminescent flash just before the frame of the orange fireball, the jet fuel burning. The aluminum cylinder--the plane fuselage--is acting like a shaped charge penetrating a steel plate. It keeps penetrating until it is consumed. The Boeing 757 is over 150 feet long, so it's going to penetrate quite a ways before it's spent. The wings have a much lower mass cross-section and are loaded with fuel besides, so there is little left of them except small bits and pieces."
"Where's the wreckage?" One of the arguments that appears on the surface to have some merit, is the argument of negative proof: the stunning absence of crash debris. On his "Hunt the Boeing" web page, Meyssan shows a photo of the smoking Pentagon with a long expanse of lawn in the foreground evincing very little wreckage. The accompanying caption asks: "Can you find debris of a Boeing 757-200 in this photograph?" Meyssan's imitators have used a number of variations on this theme, presenting photos and video segments and demanding to know where the 757 wreckage is. Some websites feature a news clip of CNN correspondent Jamie McIntyre standing outside the burning, smoking Pentagon on 9/11 shortly after the crash, telling viewers: "There's no evidence of a plane having crashed anywhere near the Pentagon."
VonKleist says that photographs "raise the question as to WHAT hit the Pentagon and what really happened that morning." He goes on to say:
Many of those who reject this line of inquiry respond with the question: "If the 757 didn't hit the Pentagon, then where did it go?" Answer: "I don't know!" The question should be: "If a 757 hit the Pentagon, then where is it?" As Gen. Partin points out, most of the plane penetrated into the Pentagon, burning and shredding as it went. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers study, the plane cut a diagonal swath 230 feet into the first floor, penetrating Rings E, D, and C. "Under these circumstances, you're just not going to end up with much airplane debris--inside or outside [the building]," says Partin.
Also, while 9/11 skeptics cite the relatively small amount of wreckage as proof that Flight 77 couldn't have hit the Pentagon, many of them ignore what was found at the crash site: Flight 77's "black boxes" and passenger remains. Others claim that the black boxes and remains have been faked. VonKleist acknowledges in his video 911 In Plane Site that "there are those who ... ask the question, 'Well, if the plane didn't hit the Pentagon, where did it go'?'" But he says, "I don't know where it went. For all I know, it could be sitting in 200 feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean."
"The attack required impossible piloting." Some prominent 9/11 skeptics claim that the flight path of the jet that hit the Pentagon would have been humanly impossible in a 757, while others admit it might be possible for an expert pilot, but not for hijacker Hani Hanjour, the inexperienced pilot believed to have commandeered Flight 77.
In Painful Questions: An Analysis of the September 11th Attack, Eric Hufschmid says: "I would say it is absurd to believe an inexperienced pilot could fly such a plane a few millimeters above the ground. The flight path of this plane is enough to convince me that no human was in control of it. I think only a computer is capable of flying an airplane in such a tricky manner. If terrorists flew the plane, they would qualify as the World's Greatest Pilots since they did tricks with a commercial aircraft that I doubt the best Air Force pilots could do."
Ralph Omholt's "skydrifter" website claims: "No pilot will claim to be able to hit such a spot as the Pentagon base--under any conditions--in a 757 doing 300 knots. As to the clearly alleged amateur pilots: IMPOSSIBLE!"
"Impossible"? "No pilot will claim ... ?" Well, we did not have any difficulty finding pilots who disagreed. Ronald D. Bull, a retired United Airlines pilot, in Jupiter, Florida, told THE NEW AMERICAN, "It's not that difficult, and certainly not impossible," noting that it's much easier to crash intentionally into a target than to make a controlled landing. "If you're doing a suicide run, like these guys were doing, you'd just keep the nose down and push like the devil," says Capt. Bull, who flew 727s, 747s, 757s, and 767s for many years, internationally and domestically, including into the Washington, D.C., airports.
George Williams of Waxhaw, North Carolina, piloted 707s, 727s, DC-10s, and 747s for Northwest Airlines for 38 years. "I don't see any merit to those arguments whatsoever," Capt. Williams told us. "The Pentagon is a pretty big target and I'd say hitting it was a fairly easy thing to do."
According to 9/11 "investigator" Dick Eastman, whose wild theories are posted on the American Patriot Friends Network and many other Internet sites, Flight 77 was part of an elaborate deception in which a remote-controlled F-16 "killer jet" actually hit the Pentagon, while the 757 swooped over the Pentagon and landed at Reagan National Airport! "With its engines off," says Eastman, Flight 77 silently "coasted" in to the airport and blended in with other air traffic. "There would be few people to see Flight 77 come through, and those who did would doubtless assume that it was yet another routine flight over Reagan National," he claims.
"That's so far-fetched it's beyond ludicrous," says Capt. Williams. "I've flown into Reagan [National Airport] hundreds of times and you can't just sneak in and 'blend in' without air traffic controllers knowing about it and without other pilots and witnesses noticing."
Besides, as Capt. Ron Bull points out, the Eastman scenario would require piloting skills far beyond what it would take to hit the Pentagon. "I've flown into Reagan National many times and my first trip in a 757 was no picnic," he says. "I had to really work at it, and that was after 25 years of experience flying big jets. Any scenario that has the 757 [Flight 77] taking a flight path over the Pentagon and landing at National unobserved is proposing something that is far more difficult--and far more difficult to believe--than flying the plane into the Pentagon. It's just not credible."
General Partin, an Air Force Command Pilot, sums up the case for Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon: "The alternative explanations just get crazier and crazier. In addition to the physical evidence and the photographic evidence supporting the official story, there are literally hundreds of eyewitnesses--including many people I know personally--who saw the 757. Besides that, there are the light poles that were knocked down--which I saw personally and which are in the photographic record--that can't be accounted for by a missile or small jet wingspan. Then you have the Flight 77 victim remains and the black boxes. If you reject all of that, then I you have to come up with an alternative explanation for what happened to Flight 77. I've seen the alternative explanations and they're absurd!"
But despite all the evidence to the contrary, let's suppose for a moment that Flight 77 did not crash into the Pentagon. Why hijack the plane and then crash it into the Atlantic Ocean, or fly it into Reagan National Airport, or do whatever else was done with it to make it "disappear"? Why hijack the plane to make it appear that it was used against a target and then not use it against any target? Why plant the black boxes and human remains at the Pentagon site? Wouldn't it make more sense, and be much simpler, to actually use the plane against the Pentagon?
As with the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City have spawned a tremendous urban legend industry.
"It's the Flash, Stupid!" In the video 911 In Plane Site, Dave vonKleist claims to have found the smoking gun: a bright flash that can be seen in a slow-motion viewing of video footage at the very moment that the noses of the jetliners crashed into the buildings, or a split-second before impact. In his website essay, "It's the Flash, Stupid!," vonKleist asks, "What caused the flash?" He answers: "There are four possibilities that come to mind: a) a reflection; b) sparks from the fuselage striking the building; c) static discharge; d) some type of incendiary (bomb or missile)." VonKleist quickly disposes of a, b, and c and settles on a missile as the only logical explanation.
General Partin says vonKleist omits the most obvious explanation. "It's very simple," he told THE NEW AMERICAN, "When the noses of the aircraft hit the buildings, you have a bright aluminum flash, the same as we saw at the Pentagon. That's obvious to anyone familiar with physics, chemistry, and what happens when aluminum hits a structure at a high rate of speed." And the proof of that analysis, the general points out, is in vonKleist's own video. "If you watch just a few frames after the nose flash, you'll see two smaller aluminum flashes as each engine strikes the building. That's all it is."
There's another major problem with the "missile flash." According to vonKleist, the missiles were fired from a pod on the belly of each of the jumbo jets. But, if that is the case, where is the flash from the ignition of the missile; why is there no missile exhaust flare seen on the video? Where is that flash?
The "missile pod." This brings us to the "pod" that vonKleist and others claim is visible in a photograph and in video footage of the underside of the fuselage of United Airlines Flight 175 just before it strikes the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The 9/11 conspiracy theorists assert that this "pod" shows that the plane carried either a bomb or a missile. Popular Mechanics asked Dr. Ronald Greeley, director of the Space Photography Laboratory at Arizona State University, to examine the photo in question. Prof. Greeley concluded that the "pod" was merely the play of light on the fairing that houses the Boeing's landing gear. Gen. Benton Partin agreed with Professor Greeley. "There's no 'pod' there," Partin told The New American. "It's a smear from a high-speed target and a low-speed camera. At the instant of impact the film exposure at the nose approaches zero. Without the bright aluminum flash the nose impact wouldn't even be seen."
Demolition charges. "The planes did not bring those towers down; bombs did. So why use planes? It seems they were a diversionary tactic--a grand spectacle." So writes Randy Lavello in an article on www.prisonplanet.com, one of the Internet sites of shortwave radio broadcaster and video producer Alex Jones.
"The World Trade Center was not destroyed by terrorists. It was a controlled demolition, an inside job!" says "Geronimo Jones" in an article on the Internet site letsroll911.org.
"The fact that the towers fell this quickly (essentially at the rate of tree-fall) is conclusive evidence that they were deliberately demolished," he claims.
This is also a major theme of the vonKleist video, 911 In Plane Site, which, like a number of other video productions, attempts to liken the World Trade Center collapses to the 1995 attack on Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Some of these 9/11 productions even cite Gen. Partin as an authority to back their theories about the Twin Towers. General Partin exposed the evidence that the OKC blast included internal demolition charges, in addition to the Ryder truck bomb.
But Partin says the OKC and WTC incidents are completely different. The Murrah building was only nine stories tall and made of heavy steel-reinforced concrete. And, since the Ryder truck was outside the building, the damage it caused was primarily from the shock wave of pressurized air. The Twin Towers. on the other hand, were 110 stories tall, supported by steel columns, and the planes--which served as missiles--dumped large quantities of high-energy, hot fuel.
"The claims that the explosions and fires would not have generated enough heat to cause the building to collapse are nonsense," Partin told THE NEW AMERICAN. "Steel doesn't have to 'melt' as some of these people claim. The yield strength of steel drops very dramatically under heat, and the impact of the airliners would have severely impacted the support columns. When they could no longer support the upper stories and the top started coming down, the dynamic loading caused a very rapid collapse, or 'pancaking,' that would have very nearly approached free-fall rate. No demolition charges were needed to accomplish this."
Edward Peik, vice president of Alpine Environmental, Inc. of Chelmsford, Mass., agrees. Peik, a civil engineer, with 40 years of engineering experience in government and industry, grew up in New York City and is familiar with the structure of the Twin Towers. "I was at home watching all of this unfold on TV" on 9/11, he told THE NEW AMERICAN. "My first reaction was, 'My God, they've got to get everybody out of there right away, because it's going to come down fast!' I called my son Ron, who is also an engineer. We were both beside ourselves because we knew that they wouldn't stay up very long. As soon as fire hits steel, it loses strength fast and those towers had relatively lightweight steel beams spanning large distances. The building was supported by the steel outer walls. When the upper part of the building started coming down, the floors below could not support the weight crashing down on them. It was a vertical domino effect."
The opinions of Partin, Peik, and several other structural experts we consulted agree with the official consensus that the WTC towers collapsed as a result of the severe damage caused by the planes and the ensuing fires, not as a result of controlled demolition. General Partin says that he was contacted by vonKleist, who wanted him to support his position, which Partin was not willing to do.
The cover story of the March 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics is entitled, "Debunking 9/11 Lies: Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Hard Facts." The magazine assembled an impressive lineup of more than 300 experts to examine 16 claims made by 9/11 conspiracy theorists. We think that Popular Mechanics did a credible job regarding the Pentagon attack and the alleged missile pods, but we have not investigated all of the 16 conspiracy theories they dismiss.
We certainly do not agree with Popular Mechanics' rabid editorializing against "conspiracy theory." In the space of a few paragraphs, the magazine's editors use the words "conspiracy," "conspiracy theory," and "conspiracy theorists" over and over again, to harshly ridicule the idea of conspiracy. However, the 9/11 "conspiracy theorists" have made it easy for Popular Mechanics and others to relegate all talk of conspiracy to the loony category. The Popular Mechanics broadside proves our point that we must be careful with/'acts. It proves that the propagation of bad information about conspiracy can be, and will be, used to dismiss the notion of conspiracy in general.
"Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia," says Popular Mechanics. "Wild conspiracy tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in other media." Unfortunately, that is true. David vonKleist, for instance, features on his In Plane Site website a glowing endorsement from David Icke, the New Age guru who peddles fantastic conspiracy theories claiming that George W. Bush and other world leaders are actually reptilian shapeshifters from another galaxy. Some of the other 9/11 "authorities" are only slightly less lurid.
Recently, a colleague told me a tragic story about his sister-in-law, who had succeeded in getting her spouse to attend church occasionally with her (though not as a member of that church), only to have a prominent, visiting church leader spout off from the pulpit as gospel some of the discredited 9/11 conspiracy theories discussed above. The spouse was so incensed by the obvious falsity and ridiculousness of the cleric's statements that he vowed never to attend the church again, or to believe anything anyone connected with the church says. This is not the only example we could cite illustrating why it is so important to be sure of one's facts, as well as one's sources.
It is very difficult to reestablish believability once we have discredited ourselves by promoting information that turns out to be misinformation--or even worse, intentional disinformation. But what is even more tragic is that every time we err in this regard we not only affect our own personal credibility, but the credibility of all of our colleagues in the freedom fight who have labored long and hard to overcome the smears and ridicule of our opponents.
Opinion polls repeatedly have shown that most Americans view the major media as biased and untrustworthy. Similarly, polls show that Americans tend to be suspicious of government. This is healthy skepticism, based on experience and common sense: we have learned firsthand that government officials and the media frequently lie. However, this same skepticism must also be applied to alternative information sources, whether they be talk radio, the Internet, newsletters, magazines, or word of mouth.
One of our first guidelines should be based on the old adage, "Consider the source." What is the track record of the source? Have they been reliable in the past? Do they have a well-earned reputation for truth and getting the facts straight? Or have they been known to sensationalize, censor, ignore, color, crop, or even falsify the facts to advance a hidden agenda?
This publication's agenda is expressed on the front cover of every issue: "That freedom shall not perish." And we recognize that freedom is not possible without a rigorous, continuous search for, and absolute fidelity to, the truth. We are committed to that purpose, and we think it is a worthy goal to which all Americans constantly should recommit themselves.
RELATED ARTICLE: Distorting similes.
In "Getting the Facts Straight" (THE NEW AMERICAN August 23, 2004), Dennis Behreandt notes that although Thierry Meyssan "asserts that the Pentagon was hit by a missile and not an airplane, he does not cite even a single witness claiming to have seen a missile. His only 'evidence' for the missile theory are descriptive similes used by witnesses who attested to seeing a plane but who compared the plane to a missile. For instance, he quotes USA Today reporter Joel Sucherman, who saw the plane as it raced toward its target. According to Sucherman, 'whoever was flying the plane made no attempt to change direction. It was coming in at a high rate of speed, but not at a steep angle--almost like a heat-seeking missile was locked on its target and staying dead on course.'" Likewise, Meyssan played fast and loose with the testimony of other witnesses who spoke metaphorically. Behreandt logically concluded: "Either Meyssan does not understand the use of metaphor in English, or he is being disingenuous."
The same can be said for many of Meyssan's imitators, who repeat his misuse of witness testimony. The same problem has reappeared in the case of the World Trade Center collapse. Witness testimony referring to the way the buildings came down like a controlled demolition have been presented as statements of belief that the collapse was in fact a controlled demolition.
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|Title Annotation:||CONSPIRACY THEORIES|
|Author:||Jasper, William F.|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Article Type:||Cover Story|
|Date:||May 2, 2005|
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