The Center for an Informed America

The Internet’s Best Source for Disinformation-Free News and Commentary

 Special Edition: The Pentagon Attack

(For a more thorough, accurate, and up-to-date report on the Pentagon attack, see Newsletter #68, posted in October 2004)

Greetings to all subscribers!
As regular readers are no doubt aware, I have been, from the day of the September 11 attacks, one of the so-called ‘conspiracy theorists’ who have questioned the official version of the events of that fateful day. (
My questioning of what transpired that day was initially based not on the writings or theorizing of any other researchers, who at that time had yet to weigh in on the tragedy, but on my own observations of how the events of that day played out as I, along with the rest of America, watched the entire spectacle unfold on live television.
While I have endorsed a, for lack of a better descriptive term, ‘conspiratorial view’ of what occurred that day, I have also cautioned that some conspiracy theories, or some aspects of some conspiracy theories, are undoubtedly deliberate disinformation put out through ‘strategic writers’ to muddy the waters and make conspiracy theories in general easier to marginalize and discredit.
I have on occasion defended the research efforts of Mike Ruppert, who has done a good job of assembling evidence that challenges some aspects of the official story. But I have not defended his insistence on promoting the alleged forewarning by Delmart “Mike” Vreeland.
Vreeland is, from my perspective, a rather obvious red herring. That’s not to say that he isn’t what he says he is – an asset of U.S. Naval Intelligence. He very likely is.
‘Leftist’ attack dogs like Norman Solomon, Michael Albert and, most strenuously, David Corn, have mercilessly attacked Vreeland’s character, labeling him a liar, a con man, a thief, and a master of identity theft. And he likely is all of that as well.
But that certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility that he is an intelligence operative. What the hell kind of people do Corn and his cronies think the CIA and its brethren recruit? Last time I checked, it was liars, con men, thieves, and people who pretend to be someone that they are not.
Vreeland’s apparently lengthy and murky criminal history – and the fact that he appears to have been consistently handled with kid gloves by the law enforcement community – does not discredit his claims to be working for Uncle Sam, but instead lends credence to those claims.
There is, however, a big difference between being an intelligence asset and being an intelligence asset with specific foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks. And it is far from clear that Vreeland did give specific warnings of the impending attacks.
Even if he did, his story is just one of many examples of foreknowledge and forewarnings that have surfaced in various avenues of the media. And the issue of advance knowledge of the attacks is just one aspect of the official story that has been revealed as a lie.
Vreeland’s contribution to getting at the truth of what really happened on September 11 is, in other words, negligible. And that is why it is troubling that Ruppert insists upon giving Vreeland’s story such prominence, as though he is intentionally setting himself up as an easy target for the conspiracy bashers.
But, then again, it is not always easy to tell where the disinformation ends and the legitimate theorizing begins. Take, for example, the notion that has been put forth by some that the Pentagon was not actually hit by an airplane at all, but by a missile. That initially struck me as a classic case of water-muddying disinformation.
There have, of course, always been problems with the official version of events concerning the attack on the Pentagon. The most obvious question is why that attack came so long after the two attacks on the World Trade Center. American Airlines Flight 77, which is the aircraft that reportedly slammed into the Pentagon, left Dulles International Airport at 8:10 AM, just 11-12 minutes after the two WTC-bound flights left Boston’s Logan Airport.
Those two flights crashed at 8:45 AM and 9:05 AM. Flight 77 though didn’t crash into the Pentagon until 9:40 AM, even though it had a much shorter distance to travel to arrive at its target than did the other two flights. So why did it arrive so late? According to the official story, here illustrated by a graphic from the Washington Post, the plane flew all the way to Kentucky before turning around and returning to nearly the same place that it had begun its journey.

But why would it do that? Wasn’t this supposed to be a very well-planned and coordinated attack? Why would the hijackers wait until the first attack had already been completed before turning the aircraft around to make a nearly 300 mile journey back to their target? And how would they know that, with both of the WTC towers in flames, the nation’s air defense system wouldn’t be on the highest state of alert, with jets scrambled in holding patterns over Washington and New York’s most sensitive targets?
How could the hijackers possibly have known that they would be able to fly unmolested for some 300 miles heading directly into the heart of Washington, D.C.? Wouldn’t it have made far more sense for the Pentagon attack to have been launched first, utilizing the element of surprise, considering that the Pentagon is obviously a more well-defended installation than is the WTC?
The logical way to implement the assault would have been to hit the military target first, then strike the civilian targets while the military command attempted to regroup and secure Washington. You would think a terrorist mastermind like Osama bin Laden would have thought of that.
Another question that has arisen is why there is no known film or videotape depicting an airplane approaching or hitting the Pentagon. As the command center of the U.S. military services, the Pentagon is quite obviously one of the most tightly secured buildings in the world.
It is under constant surveillance, both via satellite and by closed circuit cameras. And yet no footage has been produced that verifies that a commercial airliner crashed there. And no wreckage of any commercial aircraft has ever been produced, nor is anything resembling aircraft debris visible in any photographs that have been released.
Photos do reveal, and Pentagon officials have acknowledged, that the initial penetration into the side of the building was not large enough to account for the wings of a Boeing 757-200 aircraft. In fact, photos reveal that the initial damage to the front facade of the Pentagon was minimal. It was not until a half-hour after the impact that a large portion of the facade collapsed.
The earliest photos, such as these first two, show that the front wall of the Pentagon remained remarkably intact after the initial impact:
This first photo reveals another curious fact: what appears to be a military vehicle can clearly be seen to be in flames in the right foreground of the image. Why is that? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Associated Press initially reported that the Pentagon had been attacked with a truck bomb?
Pentagon officials have claimed that the initially small entry wound made by the plane was due to the fact that the aircraft’s wings were sheared off on impact, and that only the fuselage entered the building — becoming, in effect, a missile.
This would be a plausible claim were it not for the fact that a 757 has very large wings which would be clearly visible in these photos if they had in fact been sheared off. But there quite obviously are no aircraft wings visible in these photos, neither before or after the collapse of the facade.
These next two photos, interestingly enough, depict the nearly perfectly circular exit wound that was made by the projectile that crashed through the Pentagon. It seems clear from these photos that at least a portion of whatever passed through the walls of the structure remained largely intact in doing so.
 And it wasn’t, mind you, just one building that this projectile passed through. No, it actually was an entire series of buildings. The Pentagon is, as most people are now aware, a series of concentric buildings, five rings deep. Whatever plowed into the Pentagon passed through no fewer than three of those rings, and a connecting corridor, as this next series of photos reveals.
 The projectile that hit the Pentagon, in other words, passed through no less than six exterior walls of the structure – six heavily fortified, reinforced masonry walls – in addition to numerous interior walls, likely a few structural support columns, and various other internal obstacles. And yet, after doing so, whatever hit the Pentagon remained intact enough to punch out a neatly circular hole where it exited the third ring of the structure.
Could a Boeing 757, composed primarily of lightweight aviation metals, inflict such damage? Could it punch its way effortlessly through six fortified masonry walls?
Consider that the nose-cone of a Boeing, which houses the aircraft’s electronic navigation system, is composed of carbon. It is designed to minimize wind resistance, not to serve as a missile warhead, and would be destroyed upon the initial impact with the first exterior wall of the building.
The fuselage itself would not likely fare much better. It certainly seems, shall we say, rather unlikely that a commercial aircraft fuselage could maintain the velocity and structural integrity required to punch cleanly through six layers of reinforced masonry.
Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened, according to the official story, as confirmed by this graphic that was used by the Pentagon for a press briefing.
In order to punch out that rather curious exit wound, some significant portion of the projectile, most likely the nose, would have necessarily been among the debris that was left between the building rings. And sure enough, firefighters have reported seeing something resembling an aircraft nose-cone.
According to the National Fire Protection Association’s Online Journal: “Captain Defina and airport Battalion Chief Walter Hood, as well as other jurisdictions’ battalion chiefs, led crews inside with attack lines to fight fires on every floor of the ‘D’ and ‘E’ rings. The aircraft had penetrated all the way to the “C” ring. ‘The only way you could tell that an aircraft was inside was that we saw pieces of the nose gear. The devastation was horrific.'”
Arlington County Fire Chief Ed Plaugher, when asked at a Department of Defense news briefing about the presence of jet fuel, responded: “We have what we believe is a puddle right there that the — what we believe is to be the nose of the aircraft. So — “
The official story now is that the only components of the aircraft to survive were the ‘black boxes’ and a landing light. The remainder of the aircraft was purportedly vaporized. Both witness statements and photographic evidence though clearly indicate that at least a portion of the projectile’s nose-cone survived.
So why has this evidence been suppressed? The most logical explanation would seem to be that the nose gear belonged to something other than a commercial aircraft, whose nose couldn’t possibly survive such a series of impacts. And as for the supposedly surviving ‘black boxes’ – the contents of which could answer any number of questions – they remain, of course, classified.
Another interesting fact about the Pentagon attack that the photos reveal is that whatever cut through multiple rings of the building was traveling in a horizontal fashion. The projectile that pierced the building did not dive-bomb into it. Rather, it approached and hit the building while flying parallel to the ground at an extremely low altitude and at an extremely high rate of speed. It then proceeded to maintain that low-altitude, horizontal trajectory as it cut through three layers of the building.
That is a most remarkable aircraft indeed that could perform such a feat.
We are left then with very little to support the official story of a Boeing 757 crashing into the Pentagon other than, of course, a number of witness statements that authorities have belatedly compiled.
Interestingly enough though, some initial eyewitness accounts that hit the press before the official spin had fully set in tell a somewhat different story than what has become the official mythology. Mike Walter, for instance, told CNN that what he saw “was like a cruise missile with wings, went right there and slammed into the Pentagon. Huge explosion, great ball of fire, smoke started billowing out, and then it was just chaos on the highway.”
Witness Tom Seibert told the Washington Post that he “heard what sounded like a missile, then we heard a loud boom.” The same Post article held that “Ervin Brown, who works at the Pentagon, said he saw pieces of what appeared to be small aircraft on the ground.” Needless to say, a Boeing 757 would hardly be considered a “small aircraft.”
The Post also spoke to a Steve Patterson, who said that he saw the plane from about 150 yards away, “approaching from the west about 20 feet off the ground.” He described the plane as having “the high-pitched squeal of a fighter jet,” and said that it “flew over Arlington cemetery so low that he thought it was going to land on I-385. He said it was flying so fast that he couldn’t read any writing on the side.”
Patterson also said that the aircraft that he saw “appeared to hold about eight to 12 people” — hardly sufficient size to be a 757. And a bulky 757 is hardly the type of aircraft that you would expect to be observed approaching the Pentagon “below treetop level,” as this aircraft was.
The UK’s Guardian began its initial report on the Pentagon attack with the words: “It sounded like a missile at first, the air above Washington filled with the terrifying roar of displaced air.” One witness questioned by the Guardian, strangely enough, “claimed the blast had blown up a helicopter circling overhead.” Of course, since no photographic evidence of the crash has been produced, there is no way to confirm or disprove this claim.
Yet another witness account of the attack, this one from a reporter for Space.Com, reads as follows: “At that moment I heard a very loud, quick whooshing sound that began behind me and stopped suddenly in front of me and to my left. In fractions of a second I heard the impact and an explosion. The next thing I saw was the fireball. I was convinced it was a missile. It came in so fast it sounded nothing like an airplane.”
Air traffic controller Danielle O’Brien, who had earlier that morning cleared Flight 77 for take-off from Dulles, certainly didn’t think it was a Boeing 757 that she was tracking on radar as it approached Washington. What she initially saw was “an unidentified plane to the southwest of Dulles, moving at a very high rate of speed … I had literally a blip and nothing more.”
Her impression of the unidentified craft was that: “The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was a military plane. You don’t fly a 757 in that manner. It’s unsafe.”
The consensus opinion among the controllers, after tracking some of the movements of the projectile, was that: “This must be a fighter. This must be one of our guys sent in, scrambled to patrol our capital, and to protect our president.” Of the final portion of the aircraft’s destructive journey, O’Brien has said: “We lost radar contact with that craft. And we waited. And we waited.”
So what was it that struck the Pentagon that fateful day? Was this, an American Airlines Boeing 757-200, the type of craft that executed those high-speed aeronautic maneuvers, that barreled broadside into the Pentagon below treetop level, that cleanly pierced its way through six layers of reinforced masonry?
Or was it something else? And if so, then what exactly was it?
One likely culprit is exactly what Mike Walter thought that he had seen — “a cruise missile with wings.” Specifically, what the Defense Department refers to as an AGM-86C Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM), which is also manufactured by Boeing and which looks something like this:
Very much resembling a small military jet, it is in fact a cruise missile with wings. How it operates is explained by the Federation of American Scientists: “After launch, the missile’s folded wings, tail surfaces and engine inlet deploy. It is then able to fly complicated routes to a target through the use of an onboard Global Positioning System (GPS) coupled with its Inertial Navigation System (INS). This allows the missile to guide itself to the target with pinpoint accuracy.”
The FAS website also comments on the missile’s “small size and low-altitude flight capability, which makes them difficult to detect on radar.” Hmmm … a low-altitude flight capability and the capacity to evade radar — not unlike whatever it was that hit the Pentagon.
The AGM-86 also can be equipped with a “penetrating” warhead, designed to cut into hardened bunkers. As the FAS describes it: “The AGM-86D Block II program is the Precision Strike variant of CALCM. It incorporates a penetrating warhead, updated state of the art, near-precision, GPS guidance, and a modified terminal area flight profile to maximize the effectiveness of the warhead.”
This warhead is, it can be safely assumed, composed of depleted uranium, an extremely dense, radioactive and pyrophoric material that the U.S. military is fond of using to produce penetrator rounds, despite the fact that its use constitutes waging low-grade nuclear warfare.
The American Scientists also discuss a “feasibility study [which] was concluded in April 1997, in which it was determined the BROACH Warhead on CALCM would offer very significant hard target capabilities … The BROACH multi-warhead system … achieves its results by combining an initial penetrator charge (warhead) with a secondary follow-through bomb, supported by multi-event hard target fuzing.”
To recap then, an AGM-86 equipped with a BROACH Warhead would have the capability of approaching a target at a very low altitude and at a very high rate of speed, making an initial explosive penetration (causing minimal external damage) followed by a secondary blast deployed within the intended target (which could, for instance, cause a massive fire and a portion of the structure to thereafter collapse), and yet still maintain an intact nose-cone capable of making additional penetrations through multiple “hard targets” — like, for example, a series of reinforced masonry walls.
The aerial photographs of the post-attack Pentagon clearly show that the area most heavily damaged is the area within the first ring to be penetrated, which is likely where the “secondary explosions and plumes of smoke” reported by witnesses to Washington Post reporters emanated from.
So what was it that hit the Pentagon on September 11? Is the notion that it was a missile one of those planted bits of disinformation that are offered up in the hopes that the legitimate researchers in the crowd will latch onto them and thereby help to discredit themselves?
Or is it the most logical explanation of the available evidence? The photos seem to speak for themselves.
[Many of the graphics and most of the links for this article were obtained from a French website apparently put up by supporters of French author Thierry Meyssan, who has been slammed unmercifully by the press. You can access the site at the following location:
One obvious question raised by the notion that it was a missile that hit the Pentagon is: what then became of Flight 77? If it didn’t crash into the Pentagon, then what did happen to it? I don’t pretend to have an answer to that question, but neither do I believe that providing a definitive answer is essential in order to debunk the official version of events.]