ACT II: ADDENDUM 2
[Editor’s Note: A popular hobby of late among some 9-11 researchers seems to involve disparaging the efforts of, and questioning the motives of, those researchers who refuse to ignore the fact that the available evidence is entirely inconsistent with the crash of a jetliner at the Pentagon. These individuals generally refer to certain other Pentagon investigators as “no-plane” theorists. For the purposes of this article, I have adopted a name for them as well: Tattoo theorists. This appellation is, of course, an homage to the “Fantasy Island” character best known for the tag line, “Ze plane! Ze plane!”
Two of the most aggressive of the Tattoo theorists, by the way, are Jim Hoffman and Brian Salter, both of whom were on the other side of the fence, so to speak, until fairly recently. If you have ever known someone who quit smoking and thereafter embarked on a mission to browbeat and berate every other smoker on the planet, then you have a pretty good idea of how the Tattoo theorists operate.]
On February 24, Brian Salter (questionsquestions.net) posted a histrionic denunciation of Pentagon “no-plane” theorists that included the bizarre claim that any efforts to “keep the unnecessary no-plane speculation alive just helps to smear 9-11 Truth activists as hateful maniacs. Maybe that’s the idea.”
Well, I guess the jig is up. Mr. Salter, it seems, has figured out our diabolical plot. All along, the real goal has been to cast 9-11 researchers as – dare I say it? – hateful maniacs. In fact, the ‘talking points’ that I receive from my secret CIA backers routinely contain such notations as: “Operation Hateful Maniacs is, as you know, proceeding on schedule; prepare to shift into the next phase of the program, Operation Deranged Psychopaths.”
Of course, it could also be that those of us who continue to focus on the glaring inconsistencies in the official story of what happened at the Pentagon are actually pursuing the truth, which is what a “Truth activist” is supposed to do, rather than peddling entirely speculative drivel about a mythical ‘plane bomb,’ which is what the Tattoo theorists choose to do.
The primary strong-arm tactic of the Tattoo theorists is to cast “no-plane” theorists as part of a Cointelpro-type operation aimed at undermining the 9-11 skeptics’ case. The “no-plane” theories, it is claimed, are “straw man” arguments, propped up specifically so that they can be easily brushed aside by “debunkers,” thus discrediting the 9-11 movement in its entirety by attacking at points of greatest vulnerability.
In his blog, Salter claims “media debunkers have shown maximum enthusiasm for portraying [Pentagon no-plane theories] as the heart and soul of 9/11 skepticism and making it the centerpiece of practically every hit piece.” (http://questionsquestions.net/blog/) Hoffman has written that “the prominence of the no-757-crash theory will damage the cause, particularly as it reaches a wider audience less inclined to research the issue … The mainstream press is casting the no-757-crash theory as a loony construct of conspiracy theorists, and representative of all 9/11 skepticism.” (http://911research.wtc7.net/essays/pentagontrap.html) Mark Robinowitz has joined the chorus by claiming “‘No Planes’ has been the most effective means to discredit issues of complicity inside the Beltway.” (http://www.oilempire.us/pentagon.html)
Obviously then, everyone is in agreement (as if they were all reading the same ‘talking points’) that we must immediately drop all support for the “no-plane” theories, because if we don’t, we will continue to furnish the enemy with useful ammunition with which to attack and discredit us. Sounds like a good plan — except for the fact that it is based on a false premise.
he reality is that there have been almost no mainstream media ‘debunkings’ of the 9-11 skeptics’ case, and there is a very good reason for that: the cumulative case that has been painstakingly compiled is (despite the spirited efforts of people like the Tattoo theorists) a formidable one that major media outlets, along with most so-called ‘alternative’ media outlets, have wisely chosen not to confront.
By far the most ambitious, high-profile media ‘debunking’ of the claims made by 9-11 skeptics has been the hit piece that graced the cover of the March 2005 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1227842.html). Since it is known that this article was co-written by Benjamin Chertoff, reportedly a cousin of our very own Director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, then it is probably safe to assume that a primary objective was to knock down all the ‘straw men’ arguments that had been carefully planted and nurtured by government operatives. That is, after all, how this game is played, as the Tattoo theorists readily acknowledge.
We should, therefore, expect to find that the Popular Mechanics article focuses considerable attention on the Pentagon “no-plane” theories, and on the Pentagon attack in general. But what we find instead is quite the opposite; instead of emphasizing questions about the Pentagon, the issue is downplayed and given very little attention — which isn’t really surprising given that the attack on the Pentagon has always been, from day one, relegated to the status of a relatively insignificant footnote.
The PM article presents what it says are the top sixteen claims made by 9-11 skeptics, coupled with what are supposed to be ‘debunkings’ of each of those claims. The claims are grouped into four categories, which are presented in the following order: “The Planes” (the ones that hit the towers); “The World Trade Center” (the collapse of the towers); “The Pentagon”; and “Flight 93.” Five of the sixteen claims examined concern the collapse of the WTC towers, four concern Flights 11 and 175, four concern Flight 93, and just three concern the Pentagon attack. In terms of word count, the article runs (minus the introduction) about 5,200 words, and it breaks down roughly as follows: collapse of towers – 2,050 words; WTC planes – 1250 words; Flight 93 – 1150 words; and the Pentagon – a paltry 750 words.
So if we are to use the focus of mainstream media attacks to gauge the points of greatest vulnerability in the 9-11 skeptics’ case, then, in terms of both word count and number of claims examined, the collapse of the Twin Towers would be, by far, the weakest leak in the chain (which is kind of ironic, when you think about it, considering that most, if not all of the Tattoo theorists actively promote the theory that the towers were brought down with explosives). As for Pentagon “no-plane” theories, they are, according to the given criteria, the point of least vulnerability.
If we use the criteria of prominence of placement on the list, then the point of greatest vulnerability would be theories concerning the planes that hit the towers. Indeed, the very first claim that is examined concerns the notorious “pod plane” theories, and the third delves into the equally inane issue of ‘windowless jets.’ These are, of course, some of the real areas of vulnerability in the 9-11 skeptics’ case. And though they are frequently linked to Pentagon theories, they are entirely separate issues.
Claims concerning the Pentagon attack don’t make an appearance on the Popular Mechanics list until well into the second half of the article. And once they do appear, they are given very little print space. The three claims ‘debunked’ in the PM piece barely scratch the surface of the cumulative case that has been built to challenge the official version of the Pentagon attack. And the ‘debunking’ of even these cherry-picked ‘claims’ is pathetically inept. The undeniable lack of aircraft debris from the alleged crash, for example, is brushed aside with nothing more than this ludicrous emotional appeal from an alleged blast expert and witness to the aftermath of the attack: “I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of the building. I picked up parts of the plane with the airline markings on them. I held in my hand the tail section of the plane, and I found the black box … I held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts. Okay?”
You would think that if the Pentagon attack theories were the ‘straw men’ that the Tattoo theorists claim, then the ‘debunkers’ would be better prepared to knock those straw men down, and they would devote more print space to doing so. Instead, we find the Pentagon attack being downplayed in a major media attack on the 9-11 skeptics movement — at the very same time, curiously enough, that a number of 9-11 skeptics have begun aggressively demanding that all “unnecessary speculation” about the Pentagon attack be dropped, and at the very same time that a new purported Pentagon skeptics’ site suddenly appeared, professionally designed and complete with new interviews and photos (from insider sources), numerous omissions, copious amounts of spin and disinformation, a new DVD for sale, and, of course, enthusiastic backing from the Tattoo theorists and other 9-11 skeptics.
I have to say, quite frankly, that all of this just seems too well choreographed for my tastes. And, I have to also say that the Tattoo theorists’ recent efforts to bury the Pentagon “no-plane speculation” seem rather desperate and overreaching. Consider, for example, the opening lines of the Salter post that I referenced at the beginning of this rant:
The latest escapade in the frantic effort to “keep the faith” amongst the Pentagon no-plane cult is the announcement of a great new “smoking gun”. It turns out that a key figure in the Gannon scandal, GOPUSA.com president Bobby Eberle, who was a key White House go-between, testified that he witnessed the Pentagon strike on 9/11. Well, there’s only one logical conclusion that anyone could draw from this — that all of the witness testimony supporting the crash of a 757 airliner into the Pentagon is all part of a vast fraudulent conspiracy masterminded by Bobby Eberle! As the Xymphora blog tells it, with breathless drama:
“Forget about Gannon. The only reason he has been interesting is the prurient part of his story. I’m reading more and more about how everyone in the White House, up to and including Rove and Bush, is as gay as Paul Lynde, which just reflects the deep homophobia in the coverage of Gannongate. The gay aspect is a red herring. The deep politics aspect of the story is the connection between the White House, conservative e-mail harvester and fundraiser Bruce W. Eberle, and GOPUSA President Bobby Eberle. Bobby Eberle’s eyewitness testimony of Flight 77 crashing into the Pentagon is the big break we’ve been waiting for, the first tiny window into the American conspiracy behind 9-11.”
While I certainly do not agree with everything that Xymphora has written here concerning the Gannon scandal, it is immediately apparent that Salter is grossly misrepresenting the situation. Specifically, no one that I know of, and certainly no one cited by Salter, has claimed that Bobby Eberle “masterminded” a vast conspiracy. Indeed, Xymphora’s actual position is clearly stated in another excerpt that Salter has thoughtfully posted:
“I have speculated that at least some of the witnesses to the crash of Flight 77 into the Pentagon were ringers planted by the conspirators. What are the chances that Eberle, whose name has come up prominently in Gannongate, was an eyewitness to the crash? Those who are so certain that the testimony of eyewitnesses means that Flight 77 must have crashed into the Pentagon, despite the enormous amount of physical evidence to the contrary, just might want to give their heads a shake and rethink things. If the evidence of the crash of Flight 77 is so goddamn clear, why did the operators in the Republican Party feel the need to gild the lily?”
That is, I must say, a perfectly legitimate question — although Salter dismisses it by proclaiming that “there is no basis to claim that Eberle’s testimony represented an effort to ‘gild the lily.'” Salter’s position might be a valid one if – and this is a very big “if” – Eberle was the only political operative that stepped out of the shadows with an unlikely account of the attack on the Pentagon. But he wasn’t the only one. Not by a long shot.
Of course, that fact might not be immediately apparent to anyone relying upon the witness list assembled by French researcher Eric Bart, which is the witness list that virtually all of the Tattoo theorists routinely cite as the ‘most complete’ list (Salter calls it “the most extensive available,” Robinowitz touts it as “perhaps the best list of eyewitness accounts,” pentagonresearch.com describes it as a “comprehensive witness list,” and Hoffman has paid tribute by re-posting the list). In truth, however, Bart’s list is not by any means a complete list, though it is certainly the most imposingly long list. Most of that length, however, is due to extensive padding. As it turns out, a substantial portion of the entries on the list are not witness accounts at all; instead, they fall into one of the following categories:
- News reports that retell the official story without citing any specific witnesses.
- Statements by official government spokesmen who were not themselves witnesses to the attack.
- Hearsay accounts.
- Reports that have nothing to do with what did or did not hit the Pentagon (such as an air traffic control report, two seismic reports, a Navy report on treating blast injuries, a Federation of American Scientists report on blast effects, an engineer’s report on the reinforcement work done on the Pentagon, and, most bizarrely, a Washington Post report on the creation of the Information Awareness Office).
- Accounts of rescue workers who tended to the wounded.
As for the potential witnesses that are included on the Bart list, roughly half of them offer no information that is useful for determining what really happened at the Pentagon. About three dozen of the cited witnesses were inside the building complex at the time of the attack; their accounts describe only the explosion and/or the smoke and fire, offering no clue as to what caused that explosion and fire (although there are numerous reports of multiple explosions, and a few reports of the smell of cordite, none of which lend much weight to the official legend). Similarly, many of the outside witnesses could be described as ‘earwitnesses’; these individuals heard something fly by, and/or they heard (or felt) an explosion at the Pentagon, but they did not actually see anything. Other witnesses saw the fireball or smoke cloud, but not what caused it.
After editing the Bart list to eliminate all the non-witnesses and all the irrelevant witnesses, what is left is, at most, 70 witnesses who claim to have seen something flying in the vicinity of, approaching, or actually crashing into, the Pentagon. So much for the endlessly cited “hundreds of witnesses” that the Tattoo theorists can’t seem to stop talking about (even the brazen liars at Popular Mechanics, by the way, acknowledge that there were “dozens of witnesses,” not hundreds) …
Something else, by the way, that the Tattoo theorists love to talk about is how the dastardly “no-planers” like to pluck portions of witness statements out of context, particularly in the case of oft-cited USA Today reporter/witness Mike Walter. Given the manner in which Mr. Bart presents the testimony of ‘witnesses’ like Scott Cook, I’m sure that those in the opposing camp will understand why I say: “pot, meet kettle.” According to Bart (and, by extension, all the Tattoo theorists who have endorsed and/or re-posted his list), this is Cook’s account of the Pentagon attack:
It was a 757 out of Dulles, which had come up the river in back of our building, turned sharply over the Capitol, ran past the White House and the Washington Monument, up the river to Rosslyn, then dropped to treetop level and ran down Washington Boulevard to the Pentagon (…) As we watched the black plume gather strength, less than a minute after the explosion …
As presented, Cook’s recollection appears to be a very specific account of the approach and crash of a 757 aircraft into the Pentagon. In fact, it appears to be an impossibly specific account, since no witness at the scene could have know, at the time of the alleged crash, that the plane had flown out of Dulles. But Mr. Cook never actually made such a claim. For the record, here is how Scott Cook’s ‘witness’ account read before it was deceptively (and apparently quite deliberately) edited by Eric Bart:
We didn’t know what kind of plane had hit the Pentagon, or where it had hit. Later, we were told that it was a 757 out of Dulles, which had come up the river in back of our building, turned sharply over the Capitol, ran past the White House and the Washington Monument, up the river to Rosslyn, then dropped to treetop level and ran down Washington Boulevard to the Pentagon. I cannot fathom why neither myself nor Ray, a former Air Force officer, missed a big 757, going 400 miles an hour, as it crossed in front of our window in its last 10 seconds of flight. (The more I’ve thought about it since, the odder the choice of the Pentagon as a target appeared. The Pentagon is a huge pile of concrete, the walls over a foot thick, and no plane is big enough to do more than superficial damage to it. Had the hijackers chosen to dive into the Capitol or the White House, much smaller sandstone buildings with little internal framework, the damage and the death toll would have been infinitely higher. Both houses of Congress were in session, and in addition Laura Bush was in the building, preparing to testify to some committee about school reading programs. I guess the symbolism of the Pentagon was more important to the terrorists, who blamed the US military for everything, much like Chomskyites blame everything on the CIA. As horrible as it sounds, the hit on the Pentagon may have been a blessing.) As we watched the black plume gather strength, less than a minute after the explosion …
It is quite obvious that what Cook actually said was that even though both he and his partner were positioned to witness the alleged plane and the alleged crash, and therefore should have witnessed the alleged plane and the alleged crash, neither one of them actually saw anything of the sort. Far from confirming the official account of the alleged crash, Mr. Cook appears to have been somewhat bewildered by it. Of course, you would never know that from reading through Eric Bart’s ‘witness’ list — which raises the question of why, if the ‘witness’ evidence is so compelling, Eric Bart felt the need to gild the lily.
Scott Cook, by the way, wasn’t the only one who missed seeing the plane that day. One of the non-witnesses on Bart’s list, Tom Hovis, had these thoughts to share: “Strangely, no one at the Reagan Tower noticed the aircraft. Andrews AFB radar should have also picked up the aircraft I would think.” Well … yeah … I would tend to think so as well — but I guess those terr’ists were just real sneaky or something, stealthily flying that large aircraft into Washington without it registering either visually or on radar.
But then again, maybe not, since I see that, according to the very same Tom Hovis, “The plane had been seen making a lazy pattern in the no-fly zone over the White House and US Cap.” According to witness Clyde Vaughn, “There wasn’t anything in the air, except for one airplane, and it looked like it was loitering over Georgetown …” And journalist Bob Hunt claimed that he “talked to a number of average people in route who said they saw the plane hovering over the Washington Mall Area …”
I have to confess my ignorance here, since, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know that it was possible for a passenger plane to hover. Despite the fact that I have the good fortune of living under the approach path of the local airport, and have therefore seen more than my share of airplanes, I have personally never seen one hover, even briefly. But since this information is not only included on Pentagon witness lists, but is attributed to average people, then I know it must be true (just as it must be true that the plane actually dive-bombed into the Pentagon, as at least five witnesses saw it do, and it must simultaneously be true that the plane actually hit or scraped the ground before impacting the building, as at least five other witnesses have claimed, and it must also be true that there was a second plane, since at least nine witnesses saw it).
So, this is apparently the situation that existed at around 9:30 AM the morning of September 11, 2001: both World Trade Center towers had been attacked and hundreds of people were already dead or dying; not just the nation, but the entire world was watching and knew that America was being attacked by hijacked aircraft, some of which were reportedly still in the air and still very much a threat; the nation’s defenses were, presumably, on the highest state of alert; and, in the midst of it all, a hijacked aircraft was – as would be expected, I suppose – leisurely cruising through the most secure airspace in the known world, over the most sensitive political and military installations in the country, with nary a military jet in sight.
Now, some may find this pre-suicide sightseeing by the terr’ists to be somewhat odd, but my guess is that they were probably stalling to allow time for all the news crews to get set up so that they could capture all the nonexistent photographs and video footage that we are still waiting to see. Either that, or those ballsy terr’ists were actually taunting the U.S. military, daring the fighter jets to come out and play, knowing full well that a squadron of F-16s are no match for an unarmed 757. But here I digress …
In the interest of compiling a more complete (and accurate) list of witnesses than that presented by Bart, I went searching elsewhere and found that there are actually many more purported witnesses of the Pentagon attack. Some of the names that Bart has conveniently chosen to leave off are painfully obvious lily-gilders. Others have told stories that are, I have to say, laughably absurd. Consider, for example, the tale told by purported witness Dennis Smith, who was supposedly “smoking a cigarette in the center courtyard [of the Pentagon] when he heard the roar of engines and looked up in time to see the tail of a plane seconds before it exploded into the building.”
Now, I obviously can’t say for sure what was in that ‘cigarette’ that Dennis was smoking, but according to my trusty high school geometry book, it would have been very difficult for him to peer over a structure 77 feet high and 200 feet wide and see something that was, according to legend, some 50 feet off the ground — unless, of course, Mr. Smith happens to be about 100 feet tall, or to have x-ray vision. I’m going to go on record here as saying that neither seems very likely.
In any event, the point here is that Eric Bart has prepared a very selective presentation of the available Pentagon witness testimony. Some of the testimony that Bart has opted to omit from his list can be found here (http://www.geocities.com/someguyyoudontknow33/witnesses.htm), and yet more can be found here (http://mouv4x8.club.fr/11Sept01/A0082_b_They%20saw%20the%20aircraft.htm).
Although these two lists mercifully omit many of the non-witness accounts that Bart has used to pad his list, and include many purported accounts that Bart has left off, both of the additional lists are plagued by problems of their own. Probably the biggest problem is that a good number of entries are credited to what amount to anonymous sources (people identified by only first name, or by initials, or by pseudonym). Some listings are, incredibly enough, unverified pseudonymous postings to internet discussion groups that appeared months, and even years, after the fact. I would hope that we can all agree here that anonymous, belated boasts of having witnessed one of the most significant events in modern American history do not exactly qualify as actual witness accounts.
By combining the three lists, minus all the filler, I came up with a list of roughly 110 named individuals who have claimed, at one time or another, to have witnessed something flying near, headed towards, and/or crashing into the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001. However, nearly three dozen of these individuals held off telling their tales until long after the official version of events had thoroughly penetrated the American psyche, leaving roughly 75 people who claimed, in the hours and days immediately following the attack, that they had witnessed the event. With this more complete witness list in hand, it is time to return to the original question being examined here (as posed by Xymphora): “If the evidence of the crash of Flight 77 is so goddamn clear, why did the operators in the Republican Party feel the need to gild the lily?”
As it turns out, it was actually more of a ‘bipartisan’ affair, with operatives of both alleged political persuasions joining the lily-gilding party. Consider the following list of self-described witnesses: Gary Bauer, Paul Begala, Bobby Eberle, Mike Gerson, Alfred Regnery, and Greta Van Susteren. Many of them need no introduction, but let’s run through the list anyway:
- Gary Bauer: Talking head and former Republican presidential candidate who has been linked to the notorious Project for a New American Century.
- Paul Begala: Democratic Party operative and nominally liberal punching bag on CNN’s “Crossfire.”
- Bobby Eberle: President and CEO of GOPUSA, a portal of right-wing propaganda. \
- Mike Gerson: Director of George W. Bush’s speech writing staff.
- Alfred Regnery: President of Regnery Publishing, another portal of right-wing propaganda — one that has seen fit to bestow upon the world the literary stylings of Ann Coulter, the Swift Boat Veterans, and numerous other accomplished liars.
- Greta Van Susteren: Nominally liberal legal analyst for Fox News.
I don’t know if the Tattoo theorists are aware of this, but all of the people on that list share at least one thing in common: they are all professional liars. It is their job, individually and collectively, to lie to the American people. On a daily basis. They are, by any objective appraisal, propagandists for the state. So if all of them are selling the same story, in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary, it is probably best to assume that they might not be telling the truth.
Let’s take a look now at some of the other people that are hawking the same story: Dennis Clem, Penny Elgas, Albert Hemphill, Lincoln Leibner, Stephen McGraw, Mitch Mitchell, Patty Murray, Rick Renzi, James Robbins, Meseidy Rodriguez, Darb Ryan, Elizabeth Smiley, and Clyde Vaughn. And who are they? Allow me to handle the introductions:
- Dennis Clem is a Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
- Penny Elgas sits on the FDIC Advisory Committee on Banking Policy, alongside of Jean Baker, who just happens to be the Chief of Staff at the Office of President George H.W. Bush.
- Albert Hemphill is a Lt. General with the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
- Captain (now Major) Lincoln Leibner is a communications officer for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
- Stephen McGraw is a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney reborn as an Opus Dei priest.
- Colonel Mitch Mitchell serves as a CBS News
war spinnermilitary consultant.
- Patty Murray is a United States Senator (D-Washington).
- Rick Renzi is a United States Congressman (R-Arizona).
- James Robbins is a contributor to National Review, a national security analyst, and a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council (I, by the way, have decided that I should refer to myself as a Senior Fellow at the Center for an Informed America).
- I’m not sure exactly who Meseidy Rodriguez is, but his name appears in legal filings concerning Dick Cheney’s top-secret energy policy meetings, which probably isn’t a good sign.
- Vice Admiral Darb Ryan is the Chief of U.S. Naval Personnel.
- Elizabeth Smiley is an intelligence operations specialist with Civil Aviation Security at FAA headquarters — which means that she is one of the people who inexplicably failed to perform their jobs on September 11, 2001, possibly because she was busy watching phantom jetliners crashing into the Pentagon.
- Brig. General Clyde A. Vaughn is the deputy director of military support to civil authorities — which means that he is another one of the people who inexplicably failed to perform their jobs on September 11, 2001, possibly because he was also busy watching phantom jetliners crashing into the Pentagon.
Anybody see anyone on that list that they would want to buy a used car from? No? How about Colonel Bruce Elliot or Major Joseph Candelario? Or Lt. Cols. Stuart Artman or Frank “Had I not hit the deck, the plane would have taken off my head” Probst? Still no? Then how about Elaine McCusker, a Co-Chairman of the Coalition for National Security Research? Or retired Naval Commanders Donald Bouchoux or Lesley Kelly? How about Shari Taylor, a finance manager at the Defense Intelligence Agency, or Philip Sheuerman, the Associate General Counsel for the U.S. Air Force?
How about any of the names on this list: Bob Dubill, Mary Ann Owens, Richard Benedetto, Christopher Munsey, Vin Narayanan, Joel Sucherman, Mike Walter, Steve Anderson, Fred Gaskins and Mark Faram? Aside from claiming to have witnessed the attack on the Pentagon, what do these ten people have in common? We’ll get to that in just a moment, but first let’s hear from Mr. Faram, who is, it will be recalled, the gentleman who captured the two famous shots of the alleged aircraft debris that many investigators have inexplicably spent countless hours trying to match up with images of various American Airlines aircraft fuselages:
I hate to disappoint anyone, but here is the story behind the photograph. At the time, I was a senior writer with Navy Times newspaper. It is an independent weekly that is owned by the Gannett Corporation (same owners as USA Today). I was at the Navy Annex, up the hill from the Pentagon when I heard the explosion. I always keep a digital camera in my backpack briefcase just as a matter of habit. When the explosion happened I ran down the hill to the site and arrived there approximately 10 minutes after the explosion. I saw the piece, that was near the heliport pad and had to work around to get a shot of it with the building in the background. Because the situation was still fluid, I was able to get in close and make that image within fifteen minutes of the explosion because security had yet to shut off the area. I photographed it twice, with the newly arrived fire trucks pouring water into the building in the background … Right after photographing that piece of wreckage, I also photographed a triage area where medical personnel were tending to a seriously burned man. A priest knelt in the middle of the area and started to pray. I took that image and left immediately … I was out of the immediate area photographing other things within 20 minutes of the crash.
To say that Mr. Faram’s account of his actions that morning strains credibility would be a gross understatement. Imagine this scenario: you are a reporter for a major news service, and you happen to find yourself, purely by chance, among the first on the scene of the most significant news story in decades — one that would occupy all of the media’s time for weeks to come. Would you be at all surprised to find a triage area already set up and staffed by medical personnel and a priest? And, more importantly, would you just take a quick look around, snap off a few quick photos, and then hurriedly leave the scene, because there was apparently something else to photograph on the other side of town — like maybe a really important dog show?
Despite the dubious nature of Mr. Faram’s account, he did at least provide us with some useful important information — specifically, that USA Today and Navy Times are both part of the Gannett family of news outlets. Actually, if Faram weren’t so modest, he would have noted that Gannett also publishes Air Force Times, Army Times, Marine Corp Times, Armed Forces Journal, Military Market, Military City, and Defense News. In other words, it’s just your typical independent, civilian media organization.
Having established that, let’s now take a look at who our group of mystery witnesses are (or who they were at the time of the Pentagon attack):
- Bob Dubill was the executive editor for USA Today.
- Mary Ann Owens was a journalist for Gannett.
- Richard Benedetto was a reporter for USA Today.
- Christopher Munsey was a reporter for Navy Times.
- Vin Narayanan was a reporter for USA Today.
- Joel Sucherman was a multimedia editor for USA Today.
- Mike Walter was a reporter for USA Today.
- Steve Anderson was the director of communications for USA Today.
- Fred Gaskins was the national editor for USA Today.
- Mark Faram was a reporter for Navy Times.
Is it just me, or does anyone else detect a pattern here?
Now, it is my understanding that the Tattoo theorists claim, for the most part, not to be ‘coincidence theorists.’ So, I guess that the question that I have is this: exactly how many Gannett reporters and editors does it take to make a conspiracy? I could accept that maybe two or three of them might have been, purely by chance, in position to witness the attack on the Pentagon. Hell, being an open-minded kind of guy, I might even be willing to go as high as four or five. But ten?! Ten?! What are the odds that ten of the alleged Pentagon witnesses would be from the same news organization?
Perhaps some readers are thinking that maybe there is a simple explanation for this statistical aberration — like maybe the Gannett building is ideally located to provide a view of the attack, or maybe everyone was riding together on a Gannett ride-sharing bus. But neither of those appear to be the case, since only one of the ten Gannett journalists claims to have witnessed the attack from his office, while all the rest maintain that they just happened to be positioned in various strategic locations near the Pentagon. So unless USA Today staff was holding its annual company picnic on the Pentagon lawn that morning, it seems to me that there is something seriously wrong with this story.
Amazingly enough, no fewer than five of those ten Gannett reporters and editors (Benedetto, Munsey, Narayanan, Sucherman and Walter) were able to specifically identify the plane that they saw as an American Airlines jet, and a sixth (Faram) managed to capture the only known photographic images of something vaguely resembling a twisted piece of wreckage from an American Airlines jet! I have to note here that it’s a damn good thing that we had proactive and incredibly observant reporters like the USA Today staff swarming all over the scene of a pending national tragedy. I guess that when you’re a seasoned professional, you just have a sixth sense about where to be and when to be there. That’s probably why Eugenio Hernandez and Dave Winslow, two Associated Press reporters, were also on the scene to witness the attack. Hernandez, by the way, is a video journalist — but not the kind of video journalist who shot any actual video footage.
According to Dave Winslow, an AP radio reporter, his being on the scene to witness the attack and then quickly call in a report ensured that “AP members were first to know.” I guess he didn’t notice that nearly the entire staff of USA Today was loitering around the scene and calling in reports as well.
According to the ‘witness’ compilations, it wasn’t just major media outlets that knew immediately what had happened at the Pentagon. Witness Mark Bright, a Defense Protective Service officer who was manning a guard booth, claims that, “As soon as it struck the building, I just called in an attack, because I knew it couldn’t be accidental.” If true, then I guess his call must have come in right after that of fellow witness and Defense Protective Service officer William Lagasse, who said on ABC‘s “Nightline” program: “It was close enough that I could see the windows and the blinds had been pulled down. I read American Airlines on it … I got on the radio and broadcast. I said a plane is, is heading toward the Heliport side of the building.”
The Christian Science Monitor reported that Fred Hey, a congressional staff attorney and yet another purported witness, had the following reaction to the attack: “‘I can’t believe it! This plane is going down into the Pentagon!’ he shouted into his cell phone. On the other end of the line was his boss, Rep. Bob Ney (R) of Ohio. Representative Ney immediately phoned the news to House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood, who ordered an immediate evacuation of the Capitol itself.” And according to the Seattle Times, Senator Patty Murray was meeting with other Senate Leaders when, “From a window in the meeting room, she saw a plane hit the Pentagon.”
The Birmington Post Herald held that Pentagon firefighter/witness Alan Wallace “switched on the truck’s radio. ‘Foam 61 to Fort Myer,’ he said. ‘We have had a commercial carrier crash into the west side of the Pentagon at the heliport, Washington Boulevard side. The crew is OK. The airplane was a 757 Boeing or a 320 Airbus.” According to another report, local Engine Company 101 also witnessed the attack and immediately radioed in this report: “Engine 101–emergency traffic, a plane has gone down into the Pentagon.”
According to yet another report, “Barry Frost and Officer Richard Cox, on patrol in south Arlington County, saw a large American Airlines aircraft in steep descent on a collision course with the Pentagon. They immediately radioed the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center. ACPD Headquarters issued a simultaneous page to all members of the ACFD with instructions to report for duty.” In addition, a purported transcription of an Arlington County Police Department log tape reads as follows: “Motor 14, it was an American Airlines plane. Uh. Headed eastbound over the Pike (Columbia Pike highway), possibly toward the Pentagon.”
So what we can safely conclude, after reviewing these various accounts, is that – within mere moments of the attack/explosion – all of the following entities knew exactly what had happened at the Pentagon on the morning of September 11: the Pentagon’s own police force; the Pentagon’s own fire department; the Arlington County Police Department; the Arlington County Fire Department; the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center; the leadership of the United States House of Representatives; the leadership of the United States Senate; the country’s national newspaper; and the nation’s largest newswire service. In addition, there were, according to the Tattoo theorists, literally hundreds of witnesses on the scene who knew exactly what had happened. And according to John Judge (perhaps the least credible of the Tattoo theorists, with the possible exception of Jean-Pierre Desmoulins), “local news immediately interviewed and broadcast eyewitness accounts of the plane going in.”
In other words, there was never any doubt about what hit the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001. From the very moment of impact, it was perfectly clear to everyone exactly what had happened. We know this because the accounts contained on the ‘witness’ lists of various Tattoo theorists tell us that it is so. And we should, I suppose, believe these accounts even though the objective reality is that – despite the alleged presence of hundreds of eyewitnesses, including numerous local and national media figures, prominent politicians, police and fire personnel, and military and intelligence personnel, and despite the fact that it was widely known that hijacked commercial aircraft were being used as weapons that day, and that a hijacked plane had allegedly been heading toward Washington – no one initially seemed to know what had happened at the Pentagon.
According to Assistant Secretary of Defense Torie Clarke, it was none other then Donald Rumsfeld who first determined that the Pentagon had been struck by an airplane — half an hour after the attack had occurred: “[Rumsfeld] was in his office, really not that far away from the side of the building that got hit by the plane. He and another person immediately ran down the hallway and went outside and helped some of the people, some of the casualties getting off the stretchers, etc. When he came back in the building about half an hour later, he was the first one that told us he was quite sure it was a plane. Based on the wreckage and based on the thousands and thousands of pieces of metal. He was the one that told us, the staff that was in the room. So he was really the first one who told us that it was most likely a plane.” (http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2001/t09162001_t0915wbz.html)
It wasn’t until later that it was declared that the alleged aircraft was an American Airlines passenger plane. As David Ray Griffin recounted in The New Pearl Harbor, “At 10:32, ABC News reported that Flight 77 had been hijacked, but there was no suggestion that it had returned to Washington and hit the Pentagon. Indeed, Fox TV shortly thereafter said that the Pentagon had been hit by a US Air Force flight.”
(You can read the relevant chapter from Griffin’s book here, along with some amusing criticism from Jean-Pierre Desmoulins: http://www.earth-citizens.net/pages-en/npp-griffin.html)
So it appears that, nearly a full hour after the attack had occurred, no one had yet begun to flesh out the official story of what happened at the Pentagon. “Only sometime in the afternoon did it become generally accepted that the aircraft that hit the Pentagon was Flight 77,” writes Griffin. “The first move toward the identification was made by a statement on the website of the Pentagon announcing that it had been hit by a ‘commercial airliner, possibly hijacked.'”
That statement, we can safely assume, was likely based on the assessment of Donald Rumsfeld. Griffin continues: “Then that afternoon the story that this airliner was Flight 77 spread quickly through the media. The source of this story, the Los Angeles Times reported, was some military officials speaking on condition of anonymity. The media also started reporting that Flight 77, just before it disappeared from view, had made a U-turn and headed back toward Washington. But, argues Meyssan, since the civilian air controllers were, according to the official account, no longer receiving information from either radar or the transponder, this ‘information must also have come from military sources.'”
There was, of course, one other person who played a key role in fleshing out the official story: Theodore Olson, U.S. Solicitor General and right-wing conspirator extraordinaire. It was Olson, it will be recalled, who single-handedly verified the ‘hijacked by Arabs and flown back to Washington’ story through his inconsistent accounts of unverified cellphone calls that he supposedly received from his wife, yet another right-wing propagandist and talking-head.
The truth of the matter is that the “American Airlines 757 Crashes Into The Pentagon!” story did not spontaneously arise from the eyewitness accounts of rank-and-file citizens. To the contrary, it was a product of the work of Donald Rumsfeld, Ted Olson and unnamed Pentagon officials, and it was reinforced by the media largely through the words of the political operatives and media whores we have already gotten acquainted with — and people like reputed Navy pilot Tim Timmerman, who spoke on the air with CNN correspondent Bob Franken on the afternoon of September 11 (some four-and-a-half hours after the incident at the Pentagon). Timmerman was seemingly on a mission to unequivocally establish what it was that had allegedly struck the Pentagon:
Bob Franken: What can you tell us about the plane itself?
Tim Timmerman: It was a Boeing 757, American Airlines, no question.
Franken: You say it was a Boeing, and you say it was a 757 or 767?
Franken: 757, which, of course …
Timmerman: American Airlines.
Franken: American Airlines …
And who exactly was this witness who was so cocksure of his identification of the plane? No one seems to know. One researcher (Jerry Russell) failed in his efforts to verify that he is an actual person. Maybe he is the Tim Timmerman mentioned in this story out of Michigan (http://clubs.calvin.edu/chimes/2002.02.15/cmm2.html and http://www.detnews.com/2001/metro/0103/05/c08-195512.htm), which seems to carry the distinct stench of black operations. Or maybe he doesn’t even exist at all.
In any event, the American Airlines 757 story was further embellished through the notorious photographs of Mark Faram of the infamous Gannett Ten, and through the fragment of indeterminate metal lovingly and patriotically preserved and donated to the National Museum of American History by a woman who just happens – coincidentally, of course – to sit on a board with George Bush, Sr.’s Chief of Staff, and through various other images of supposed aircraft debris, virtually all of which are credited to “anonymous” or “unknown” photographers. (http://pentagonresearch.com/photographers.html)
* * * * * * * * * *
In the beginning, nobody talked much about the Pentagon attack. Most of the internet chatter was about advance warnings and put options. A few brave souls questioned the collapse of the Twin Towers, the appearance of an air defense stand-down, and the fate of Flight 93, but no one really talked about what happened at the Pentagon.
We never saw any footage that verified the official story, nor did we initially see or hear anything that contradicted that story. And so it was until Thierry Meyssan, working from thousands of miles away, alerted the world to the fact that the official story of what happened at the Pentagon was at serious odds with the available photographic evidence.
In retrospect, it seems odd that we had to look to France for answers to what happened in this nation’s capitol. After all, don’t we have any real investigative journalists of our own? Don’t we have our own ‘conspiracy researchers’? And aren’t many of them based right there in Washington, DC? Weren’t some of them in an ideal position to blow the whistle on the various Pentagon anomalies?
John Judge is one name that immediately comes to mind here. Judge is, as most readers are probably aware, a veteran researcher who is revered in many ‘conspiracy’ circles. He is not only a current resident of the nation’s capitol, but a native son as well. In fact, he literally grew up in the Pentagon, as he is fond of telling people. If any alternative journalist knows his way around the Pentagon, it is John Judge.
Perhaps more so than anyone else, John Judge was in a position to serve as a whistleblower. But John Judge was also ideally positioned to fill another role: upholder of the official story within the so-called ‘truth movement,’ and denouncer of anyone who dared to question the veracity of that official story. Ever since questions first began to arise about what really happened at the Pentagon, John Judge has filled the latter role.
Judge is smart enough to realize that he can’t possibly come out on the winning end of any arguments over the merits of the available evidence, so he has, for some three years now, studiously avoided debating the actual evidence. Instead, he quickly created an apparently fictional entity, in the form of an unidentified, but supposedly dear friend of his who just happens to be a flight attendant for American Airlines, and just happens to regularly fly the route flown by Flight 77 that fateful day, but just happened to have taken that particular day off so that she survived and now has insider information, unavailable to anyone else, that Flight 77 really did crash into the Pentagon that day.
This mythical person has served Judge well for the past three years, enabling him to sidestep any and all substantive questions concerning the evidence anomalies with a pat answer that goes something like this: “Well, you know, there were hundreds of witnesses, and my friend says that it really did happen the way the government says, so it must be true.”
Judge’s phantom friend, it should be noted, is not your average flight attendant. In a post dated February 21, 2004, Judge told the latest fanciful, and unintentionally hilarious, version of his friend’s story, which has grown more and more elaborate, and more and more ridiculous, over the past three years:
A dear friend and fellow researcher had been working as a flight attendant for American for many years, and that was her regular route, several times a week … As it turned out, my friend had not been on Flight 77, having taken the day off work to care for her sick father … When questions arose about Flight 77, I contacted her to raise the issues that concerned me and the speculation of others who denied the plane hit the Pentagon. She was adamant in saying it had, and told me she had been to the crash site and had seen parts of the plane. I asked her about the speculation that the plane would have made a larger hole due to the wingspan. She informed me that the fuel was stored in the wings and that they would have exploded and broken off, as the fuselage slammed through the building walls.
Already we see that not only is this person a flight attendant, but also a fellow researcher and, apparently, an expert on airplane crashes. As we return to the story, Judge’s mystery friend has been “approached by another flight attendant to assist in support work for the rescue crews at the site.” Let’s see what happens next:
The Pentagon was seeking people with security clearances that they could trust to be near the site and all the airline attendants qualified for that level of clearance … [My friend] and her mother signed up for an overnight shift on Friday, September 21st. She and her mother spent the entire night continuously providing drinks to rescuers … At the end of her shift on Saturday morning, September 22nd, she was approached along with other attendants to visit the crash site. One declined, but she and two others took a van driven by the Salvation Army to the area.
I have to interrupt here briefly to ask a couple of silly questions that come to mind. First, how is it that someone who is supposedly a conspiracy researcher, and a dear friend of a very well known conspiracy researcher, obtains a security clearance that allows them to roam about the Pentagon? And second, if the mystery friend had just spent the entire night tending to the rescue teams working at the Pentagon crash site, why did she then have to be driven to the crash site? Where did that Salvation Army van take her — across the Pentagon lawn?
Memo to John Judge: lying isn’t as easy as it may appear to be. If you’re going to completely fabricate a story, you have to be careful that that story is consistent. And with that out of the way, let’s get back to the story, which is about to veer off into bizarro world:
The area was covered with rescue equipment, fire trucks, small carts, and ambulances. They were still hoping to find survivors. Small jeeps with wagons attached were being used to transport workers and others at the site. One flight attendant was driving one of these around the site. Once inside the fence, she was unable to clearly discern where the original wall had been. There was just a gaping hole. She got off the van and walked inside the crash site. The other attendants broke down crying once they were inside. But my friend went in further than the others and kept her emotions in check as she has been trained to do and usually does in emergency situations.
How do I even begin to dissect out all the absurdities present in this one brief passage? I suppose I could begin by pointing out that the mystery friend couldn’t possibly have seen a “gaping hole” since any entry hole was buried in rubble shortly after the alleged crash, when the Pentagon was afflicted with that curious September 11 malady known as Collapsing Building Syndrome. I also have to point out how extremely unlikely it is that a group of flight attendants would be invited to freely tour a site that was: (1) one of the world’s most secure military installations; (2) ground zero of an investigation into what was supposedly the deadliest act of ‘terrorism’ ever on American soil; and (3) a badly damaged, unsafe, partially-collapsed structure that obviously would have been off-limits to anyone who didn’t need to be in there.
I was also going to comment on the scenario of the unnamed flight attendant cruising around the site in a jeep-and-wagon set-up, but, to be perfectly honest, every time the visual flashes through my mind I find myself too convulsed with laughter to think of anything to say.
At this point, you are probably wondering what the phantom stewardess/researcher/crash expert/rescue worker saw when she entered the building. Quite a bit, as it turns out. Certainly far more evidence of a plane crash than anyone else has ever claimed to have seen. And much of what she saw, believe it or not, was wreckage that could be positively identified as wreckage of an American Airlines Boeing 757, which she was, of course, an expert at identifying
She saw parts of the fuselage of an American Airlines plane, a Boeing 757 plane. She identified the charred wreckage in several ways. She recognized the polished aluminum outer shell … and the red and blue trim that is used to decorate the fuselage. She saw parts of the inside of the plane … The soft carpeting and padding of the inner walls had a cloud design and color she recognized … The blue coloring of the drapes and carpet were also specific to the 757 or 767 larger planes … Seating upholstery also matched the AA 757 planes … She saw other parts of the plane and engine parts at a distance but they were familiar to her … One area of fuselage had remaining window sections and the shape of the windows … was also distinct to the 757’s she had flown. She also saw parts with the A/A logo, including parts of the tail of the plane. Smaller A/A logos and “American” logos are also on the planes and she saw parts of those.
Who knew there was so much identifiable aircraft wreckage? Wreckage that was apparently never photographed and never shown to anyone other than John Judge’s friend? Am I the only one here who is wondering whether Mr. Judge has maybe been watching too many reruns of old Saturday Night Live skits featuring Jon Lovitz. “Yeah, John, that’s it … that’s the ticket.”
The anonymous friend “also saw,” we are to believe, “charred human bones but not any flesh or full body parts.” So the bodies were apparently reduced to charred bones, but the upholstery, carpet and drapes were, of course, still looking factory fresh.
In an earlier version of the flight attendant story, posted on October 30, 2002, Judge claimed that his friend was also “shown autopsy photos of her fellow crew members, including the severed arm of her best friend at work, which she recognized from the bracelet she wore.” I have to confess here that I never realized how much access flight attendants have. I now find myself wondering what kind of access commercial pilots must have. I’m guessing they could probably sit in on the President’s morning briefings if they really wanted to.
Anyhow, getting back to the story, we aren’t quite through yet being subjected to outlandish claims. The next one goes something like this:
The crew of Flight 77 who died in the crash included her personal friend Renee May. She had spoken to Renee’s mother after the crash, and Renee had used a cell phone to call her mother during the hijacking.
It sounds like the phantom stewardess has this case all wrapped up. She has, single-handedly, gathered more evidence that AA Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon than the entire federal government and all of its media mouthpieces combined. I, for one, am impressed. She has seen and positively identified wreckage of Flight 77. She has seen and positively identified the remains of actual humans who were supposed to be on the flight. She has seen the gaping entry wound. She has spoken to someone who can personally vouch for the hijacking story.
And that’s not all! Judge has other phantom witnesses as well, and they can verify other portions of the official fairy tale:
Other American ground crew workers saw some of the suspects board American Airlines Flight 77 and recognized them from published photos … My attendant friend knows and has put me in touch with other American Airlines employees and pilots who were at the site and took photographs. We are busy locating these, as well as another attendant who was at the site with her that day.
Well, you keep working on that, John. Let us know just as soon as you can produce a single one of these alleged witnesses, or any of their alleged photographs. But, really, there’s no rush. We understand that these things take time, and you’ve only had three-and-a-half years to locate these witnesses that you claim to have already been in touch with.
By the way, what were they all doing stomping around the Pentagon crash site? Was it open to all American Airlines employees? How about United Airlines employees? Were Boeing employees allowed to tour the site as well? How about employees of Dulles International Airport? How about employees of the company that catered the meals for Flight 77? Did the baggage handlers get to take a peek? I don’t mean to sound snide here; I’m really just trying to determine what the criteria were for deciding who was allowed to tour this very sensitive site, because, truth be told, I would have liked to take a look for myself, but my invite must have gotten lost in the mail or something.
Moving on, it’s time for Mr. Judge to abruptly segue into the conclusion of his formidable case:
My friend is therefore a credible and very knowledgeable eyewitness to the fact that American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. She has been vilified by those who refuse to believe the obvious … My friend is herself a researcher for many years into government misdeeds and cover-ups. If she did not see the parts, she would say so. She has no reason to lie about it. Nor is she confused about what she saw. She is a professional and is used to looking at evidence.
Let it never be said that I participated in the vilification of a nonexistent person. That just wouldn’t be right. For the record, the argument here is not that Judge’s friend is a liar. No, the argument here is that John Judge is a liar. And not a particularly good one — but certainly a very ambitious one. Lest there be any lingering doubt about that, Judge saves his best for last. In the final paragraph of his missive, he actually makes the following claim:
One employee saw the nose of the plane crash through her office wall.
No shit? I hope she didn’t receive any serious injuries.
In that same paragraph, Judge claims that Flight 77 “flew dangerously close to the ground, skidding into the ground floor of the Pentagon.” In yet another Pentagon rant, this one from October 23, 2002, Judge made a similar claim: “the plane bottomed out just short of contact with the building and bounced into it.” That scenario, of course, was long ago discredited, owing to the fact that it is quite apparent that there was no damage to the Pentagon lawn consistent with an airplane crash. And yet, more than three years after the events of September 11, Judge is still hawking the same story.
The bottom line here is that Judge has quite obviously fabricated an elaborate tale – allegedly, but not actually, based on the testimony of unnamed witnesses – and he has used that story to shield himself from having to deal with the very real evidence anomalies uncovered by legitimate researchers. For three years, he has asked that we take him at his word, because he is, after all, the great John Judge. And that, my friends, is what legend building is all about.
After reviewing Judge’s various Pentagon rants, I have a few final questions for the Tattoo theorists: why did the ‘powers that be’ feel the need to call on the services of an established ‘conspiracy theorist’ to further gild this lily? Why is John Judge so obviously lying? Or, if he is isn’t lying, then why do all you Tattoo theorists shy away from referencing his ‘work’? After all, he has obviously presented more evidence in support of your Tattoo theories than anyone else. Isn’t the fact that you choose to ignore his contributions a tacit admission that you know full well that he is lying his ass off?
So, again I must ask: if the evidence of the crash of Flight 77 is so persuasive, then why is John Judge gilding the lily?