The U.S. military has decided to scrap nearly half a billion dollars worth of aircraft purchased for Afghanistan’s air force because the planes couldn’t handle the climate, among other problems.
A total of 16 cargo planes, the G222 manufactured by Italy’s Finmeccanica, now sit at Kabul International Airport. They were flown only 200 of the 4,500 hours scheduled for flight training by Afghan pilots before the U.S. decided to shut them down.
The Obama administration spent $486 million to purchase the aircraft, which were supposed to comprise 15% of the Afghan Air Force.
“We need answers to this huge waste of U.S. taxpayer money,” John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction who is investigating the matter, said in an email to Bloomberg. “Who made the decision to purchase these planes, and why? We need to get to the bottom of this, and that’s why we’re opening this inquiry.”
A January 31 Pentagon Inspector General report, marked “For Official Use Only,” criticized NATO and U.S. training commands for “hav[ing] not effectively managed the program.”
Lieutenant General Charles Davis, the U.S. Air Force’s top military acquisition official, told Bloomberg: “Just about everything you can think of was wrong for it other than the airplane was built for the size of cargo and mission they needed.”
“Other than that, it didn’t really meet any of the requirements,” he added.
A key problem was that the planes couldn’t handle the heat and dust of Afghanistan’s environment, which caused numerous maintenance troubles and prevented them from flying.
Davis said the Air Force tried to sell the aircraft to another country, but couldn’t locate any buyers. So now they will be dismantled for parts.
The U.S. decided to replace the G222s with American-made C-130H transports for the Afghan Air Force to use. But the replacements won’t be available until 2016.
To Learn More:
- Planes Parked in Weeds in Kabul After $486 Million Spent (by Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg)
- Notification of Special Project: Lessons Learned Review of the G222 (C-27A) Aircraft Program (Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction)
- Fleet of Planes from $486 Million Program for Afghan Security Forces Scheduled to Be Destroyed (by Hanqing Chen, Daily Beast)
- U.S.-Led Military Unit in Afghanistan Lost $230 Million in Spare Parts, Then Spent $138 Million for More (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
- U.S. Military Builds $34-Million High-Tech Operations Complex in Afghanistan…and Will Never Use It (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
- U.S. Military to Shred Thousands of Million-Dollar Armored Vehicles in Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
RT | July 20, 2009
The real reason why the U.S. continues its presence in Afghanistan is Iran the country which is an annoyance for Israel, said Karen Kwiatkowski, a writer and former U.S. Air Force officer.
BISHKEK – A group of Kyrgyzstan youth called for the withdrawal of American troops from the Manas airport on Tuesday to protest against the U.S. transit center in their country.
The “Jon element” (Just like) group wanted to attract public attention to the work of a U.S. military base that “carries a direct threat to the security of Kyrgyzstan,” said group leader Atay Beishenbek.
“The crash of a U.S. Air Force tanker in the country is one more proof that military aircraft should not place next to civilian aircraft at the international airport,” he said.
A U.S. military aircraft crashed on May 3 near the border with Kazakhstan shortly after taking off from a base used for flying troops into and out of Afghanistan and dispatching tankers to refuel warplanes in flight.
The U.S. transit center is adjacent to the Manas international airport 24 kilometers from the capital Bishkek.
President Almazbek Atambayev has repeatedly stated that when the agreement to use the base expires in 2014, the U.S. must withdraw unconditionally from the base, or in conjunction with a Russian Civic Center of traffic.
History Commons Project: Loss of US Civil Liberties
Open-Content project managed by Paul, KJF, PDevlinBuckley, blackmax
A B-29 bomber similar to the one that crashed in Georgia. [Source: Global Security (.org)]
A test flight for the Air Force’s Project Banshee, located at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, is set for 8:30 a.m. Banshee is an attempt begun in 1946 to develop and deploy a long-range missile ahead of both the Soviet Union and rival US military branches. The airplane used in the test flight crashes less than an hour into its flight, killing 9 of the 13 aboard.
Maintenance Problems – The plane assigned for the flight is a B-29 Stratofortress, a bomber made famous by its delivery of the atomic bombs to Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. B-29s are notoriously difficult to fly and maintain: their four wing-mounted engines almost routinely overheat and catch fire, causing engine shutdowns, sudden drops in altitude, and, often, crashes. The engines’ eighteen cylinders lack sufficient airflow to keep them cool, and the overheating often causes the crankcases, made of light but highly flammable magnesium, to burst into flames. Like so many of its brethren, the plane has suffered its share of maintenance issues, and is flying without numerous recommended maintenance and repair tasks being performed. Just five days before, it had been designated “red cross”—grounded and unfit for service. It was allowed to fly through an “exceptional release” signed by the squadron commander.
Crew Difficulties – The flight is moved back to the afternoon after some crew members fail to show up on time, and to allow last-minute repairs to be made. By takeoff, the flight crew is assembled: Captain Ralph Erwin; co-pilot Herbert W. Moore; flight engineer Earl Murrhee; First Lieutenant Lawrence Pence, Jr, the navigator; Sergeant Walter Peny, the left scanner; Sergeant Jack York, the right scanner; Sergeant Melvin Walker, the radio operator; and Sergeant Derwood Irvin, manning the bombsight and autopilot. The crew is joined by civilian engineers assigned to Banshee: Al Palya and Robert Reynolds from RCA, William Brauner and Eugene Mechler from the Franklin Institute, and Richard Cox from the Air Force’s Air Materiel Command. In violation of standard procedure, none of the crew or the civilians are briefed on emergency procedures, though Murrhee will later say that the crew were all familiar with the procedures; he is not so sure about the civilians, though he knows Palya and Reynolds have flown numerous test flights before. In another violation of Air Force regulations, none of the flight crew have worked together before. As author Barry Siegel will note in 2008, “The pilot, copilot, and engineer had never shared the same cockpit before.”
Engine Fire and Crash – Less than an hour into the flight, one engine catches fire and two others lose power, due to a combination of maintenance failures and pilot errors. The civilians have some difficulty getting into their parachutes as Erwin and Moore attempt to regain control of the aircraft. Four of the crew and civilians manage to parachute from the plane, but most remain on board as the airplane spirals into the ground on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp, near Waycross, Georgia. Crew members Moore, Murrhee, and Peny survive, as does a single civilian, Mechler. Four others either jump at too low an altitude or die when their chutes foul the airplane; the other five never manage to leave the plane and die on impact.
Widows File Suit – Several of the civilians’ widows will file suit against the US Air Force, asserting that their husbands died because of Air Force negligence (see June 21, 1949). Their lawsuit will eventually become US v. Reynolds, a landmark Supreme Court case and the underpinning for the government’s claims of state secrets privilege (see March 9, 1953). [Siegel, 2008, pp. 3, 14-17, 33-49]
Initial Associated Press reports of a crash in Georgia of a B-29 that had been on a test flight for the Air Force’s secret Project Banshee (see October 6, 1948) acknowledge that “the plane had been on a mission testing secret electronic equipment which RCA developed and built under an Air Force contract… Full details of the plane’s mission were not disclosed.… The Air Force would say only that the bomber was engaged in ‘electronic research on different types of radar…’” Local papers have a bit more detail, with survivor accounts hinting at confusion and some contradictions between their versions of events and that being given out by official Air Force spokesmen. Later reports from the Air Force will downplay the B-29’s involvement in Project Banshee. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 56-58]
The Army Air Force’s Air Materiel Command receives the initial report on an investigation of a B-29 crash in Georgia (see October 6, 1948). Perceptions of the crash are colored by the fact that the bomber was carrying equipment from Project Banshee, a secret Air Force missile development initiative. The initial report is meticulously factual, providing an almost minute-by-minute account of the events preceding the crash as told by the four survivors and intensive examination of the debris. The report concludes that it would benefit future B-29 pilots to have more training on flying the plane when it has lost both engines on one wing, and a general recommendation that the pilot and crew should give civilian passengers better instruction in emergency procedures. Though the report is circumspect in the extreme in finding fault with the pilot and military personnel for the crash, and gives only vague and generalized recommendations to help prevent future crashes, the Air Force will heatedly deny that the pilots or crew could have been in any way responsible for the crash. In 2008, reporter Barry Siegel will write, “Years later, this particular claim, in fact Air Materiel Command’s entire position, would cause various veteran aviators to hoot.” Pilot error causing the crash is obvious, they will conclude. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 62-65]
Frank Folsom, the executive vice president of the Radio Corporation of America’s RCA Victor Division, writes a letter to General Hoyt Vandenberg, the commander of the US Air Force. Folsom is inquiring about the deaths of two RCA employees in a recent B-29 crash in Georgia (see October 6, 1948). The plane had been on a secret test mission for the Air Force’s Project Banshee, a missile development project in which RCA is heavily involved. Folsom believes that the Air Force is downplaying the likelihood that pilot error caused the crash (see October 18, 1948), and tells Vandenberg that “certain steps will [need to be taken] if we are to participate in the future in Air Force flight test programs.” Folsom wants more pay and compensation for RCA employees participating in Air Force test programs, as well as newer and safer airplanes to be used in the test flights and a higher caliber of test pilots and crew members. Perhaps the portion of the letter that causes the most consternation among Air Force officials is Folsom’s request to read over the official accident reports. “When a crash has occurred, a copy of the official report… must be made available promptly to us,” he writes. “Needless to say, the report will not be disclosed except to those who are directly concerned.” Folsom’s letter will spark a new round of Air Force investigations into the crash, in hopes of mollifying Folsom. However, the report from this investigation will be classified at the highest level of security and not provided to RCA. Additionally, though the second investigation will find a strong likelihood of pilot error causing the crash, the Air Force will not admit any such findings to RCA. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 65-80] These accident reports will play a key role in the lawsuit filed against the US government by three widows of killed crew members (see June 21, 1949 and August 7-8, 1950).
Phyllis Brauner and Elizabeth Palya, who both lost their husbands in the “Project Banshee” B-29 crash (see October 6, 1948), file a civil action lawsuit against the US government in regards to the crash. The lawsuit claims that the US Air Force, in the person of the pilot and military crew members of the B-29, caused the deaths of their civilian husbands by “the negligence and wrongful acts and omissions of the officers and employees” of the US. The widows’ lawyer, Charles Biddle, asks the government for $300,000 per family. A third widow, Patricia Reynolds, will join the lawsuit in September 1949. One of the biggest issues surrounding the case is the lawsuit’s request that Biddle and his lawyers be given access to the official accident reports, which the government will claim cannot be revealed because they may contain classified information (see October 18, 1948 and August 7-8, 1950). Biddle’s promise that no one else will see the reports makes no impression on the government’s lawyers. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 100-101]
A federal judge orders the Air Force to turn over copies of its classified accident reports about a B-29 crash (see October 6, 1948) as part of a lawsuit filed by three of the widows of crew members killed in the crash (see June 21, 1949). Claiming that the reports may contain classified information about a secret missile development project, Project Banshee, the Air Force not only refuses to turn over the accident reports to the widows’ lawyer, it refuses to allow even the attorney general to view the documents (see August 7-8, 1950). The lawyer for the widows, Charles Biddle, will continue to press for the release of the accident reports. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 120-123]
The Air Force refuses to meet the court-imposed deadline to turn over accident reports of a 1948 B-29 crash in Georgia (see October 6, 1948) to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the government (see July 26, 1950). Instead, the Justice Department argues before the court that because the accident reports might contain “state secrets” that might imperil “national security” if made available to anyone outside the Air Force, the reports cannot be made available. “[T]he aircraft in question, together with the personnel on board, were engaged in a highly secret mission of the Air Force,” the government lawyers argue. “The airplane likewise carried confidential equipment on board and any disclosure of its mission or information concerning its operation or performance would be prejudicial to this department and would not be in the public interest.” Such a claim—that the production of the reports would “seriously hamper national security”—renders the reports “beyond judicial authority,” the Justice Department lawyers claim. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 124-126]
Weeks after the Justice Department refused to make accident reports of a 1948 B-29 crash (see October 6, 1948) available to the plaintiffs in an ongoing wrongful death lawsuit against the government (see July 26, 1950) because the reports are so highly classified that their disclosure might “seriously hamper national security” (see July 26, 1950 and August 7-8, 1950), the Air Force, in a routine review, drastically lowers the classification of the accident reports from top-level “Secret” to third-level “Restricted.” Whereas “Secret” documents supposedly contain information that “might endanger national security” if revealed, “Restricted” documents are “for official use only” and should not be disclosed “for reasons of administrative privacy.” The Air Force apparently no longer considers the documents a threat to national security. However, neither the plaintiffs’ lawyers, the judge hearing the lawsuit, or even the Justice Department lawyers are aware of the reports’ reduction in status. They continue to argue the merits of releasing the reports as if they are still highly classified. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 133]
Federal judge William H. Kirkpatrick rules that the US government must turn over the disputed, and supposedly highly classified (see September 14, 1950), accident reports from a 1948 B-29 crash (see October 6, 1948)—not to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit over the crash (see July 26, 1950), but to Kirkpatrick himself. He wishes to review the reports to determine if they contain any information that might threaten national security, and, before turning the documents over to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, will personally remove that information. In mid-October, when the government again refuses to turn over the documents, Kirkpatrick will find in favor of the plaintiffs (see October 12, 1950). [Siegel, 2008, pp. 133-134]
Federal judge William H. Kirkpatrick rules in favor of the plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit against the US government (see October 6, 1948, June 21, 1949, and July 26, 1950), after the government refuses to turn over classified accident reports that have a direct bearing on the plaintiffs’ case (see September 21, 1950). Judge Kirkpatrick orders the government to pay the plaintiffs, three widows who lost their husbands in a 1948 plane crash, a total of $225,000. The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Charles Biddle, expects the government to balk at paying out the money, and to instead continue to challenge the court’s attempt to compel it to turn over the accident reports (see October 19, 1951). [Siegel, 2008, pp. 134-139]
The government, represented by a team of Justice Department lawyers, appeals the recent ruling against it in the ‘Banshee’ B-29 plane crash lawsuit (see June 21, 1949). In the Third US Circuit Appeals Court, the government argues that the lower court had no business demanding that the Air Force turn over classified accident reports about the crash, because the reports may contain information that would potentially compromise national security (see October 12-18, 1948 and September 14, 1950). The government had twice defied court orders to produce the documents, and as a result had lost the lawsuit (see October 12, 1950). The Justice Department’s arguments come down to the assertion that the judiciary has no constitutional right to compel the executive branch to turn over documents it considers privileged. In 2008, author Barry Siegel will write, “For the first time in the B-29 litigation, the government directly argued that the judiciary could not review [the government’s] claim of privilege.” The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Charles Biddle, counters that the executive branch has no such sweeping claim of privilege, and that a judge should be allowed to review documents in dispute to determine both their bearing on a case and the possibility that releasing those documents could jeopardize national security (see September 21, 1950). Three weeks later, the appeals court will rule unanimously against the government (see December 11, 1951). [Siegel, 2008, pp. 149-153]
A three-judge federal appeals court unanimously rejects the government’s claim of unfettered executive privilege and secrecy in regards to classified documents (see October 19, 1951). In an opinion written by Judge Albert Maris, the court finds that the government’s claim that the judiciary can never compel the executive branch to turn over classified documents to be without legal merit. The plaintiffs in the case, three widows who lost their husbands in the crash of a B-29 bomber carrying classified materials (see June 21, 1949), had a compelling need for the documents in question, the downed B-29 accident reports, to further their case, Maris writes (see October 12, 1950).
No Legal Basis for Claim of Privilege – Maris goes further than the parameters of the single lawsuit, writing: “[W]e regard the recognition of such a sweeping privilege… as contrary to a sound public policy. The present cases themselves indicate the breadth of the claim of immunity from disclosure which one government department head has already made. It is but a small step to assert a privilege against any disclosure of records merely because they might prove embarrassing to government officials. Indeed, it requires no great flight of imagination to realize that if the government’s contentions in these cases were affirmed, the privilege against disclosure might gradually be enlarged… until as is the case in some nations today, it embraced the whole range of government activities.… We need to recall in this connection the words of [Revolution-era jurist] Edward Livingston: ‘No nation ever yet found any inconvenience from too close an inspection into the conduct of its officers, but many have been brought to ruin, and reduced to slavery, by suffering gradual imposition and abuses, which were imperceptible, only because the means of publicity had not been secured.’” He also quotes Revolutionary War figure Patrick Henry, who said, “[T]o cover with the veil of secrecy the common routine of business is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man and every friend to his country.”
Rejecting Claim of ‘State Secrets’ – Maris is even less respectful of the government’s claim of a “state secrets” privilege. He notes that the government did not make that claim until well into the lawsuit proceedings (see October 19, 1951), indicating that it was a “fallback” argument used after the original government arguments had failed. Maris is also troubled, as author Barry Siegel later writes, in the government’s “assertion of unilateral executive power, free from judicial review, to decide what qualified as secret.” The lower court judge’s ruling that he alone should be given the documents for review adequately protected the government’s security interests, Maris writes: “[But] the government contends that it is within the sole province of the secretary of the Air Force to determine whether any privileged material is contained in the documents and that his determination of this question must be accepted by the district court without any independent consideration.… We cannot accede to this proposition. On the contrary, we are satisfied that a claim of privilege against disclosing evidence… involves a justiciable question, traditionally within the competence of the courts.… To hold that the head of an executive department of the government in a [law]suit to which the United States is a party may conclusively determine the government’s claim of privilege is to abdicate the judicial function to infringe the independent province of the judiciary as laid down by the Constitution.”
Fundamental Principle of Checks and Balances – Maris continues: “The government of the United States is one of checks and balances. One of the principal checks is furnished by the independent judiciary which the Constitution established. Neither the executive nor the legislative branch of the government may constitutionally encroach upon the field which the Constitution has reserved for the judiciary.… Nor is there any danger to the public interest in submitting the question of privilege to the decision of the courts. The judges of the United States are public officers whose responsibilities under the Constitution is just as great as that of the heads of the executive departments.”
Government Appeal – The Justice Department will appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court (see March 1952 and March 9, 1953). [Siegel, 2008, pp. 153-156]
The Justice Department appeals the ruling of the US Appeals Court in the B-29 “Banshee” case (see December 11, 1951). The appellate judges found that the executive branch of government could not unilaterally refuse to hand over classified documents requested during the course of a trial, and justify its decision merely by its own say-so (see October 12, 1950). Solicitor General Philip Perlman argues that the appellate ruling erroneously interprets the law “so as to permit encroachments by the judiciary on an area committed by the Constitution to executive discretion.” The claim of “state secrets,” “executive privilege,” and, ultimately, “national security” must trump judicial concerns, Perlman argues, and he goes on to say that the judiciary should not be allowed to “substitute its judgment for the judgment of the executive.” The case will be labeled United States of America v. Patricia Reynolds, Phyllis Brauner, and Elizabeth Palya, and will usually be shortened to the more colloquial US v. Reynolds.
The Vinson Court – In 2008, author Barry Siegel, in his book Claim of Privilege, will note that the recent ascension of Fred Vinson as the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice does not bode well for the plaintiffs in the case. President Truman placed Vinson, whom Siegel calls Truman’s “poker and drinking buddy,” as Chief Justice to try to achieve consensus between the two contentious blocs of justices on the Court. Siegel notes that Vinson is widely considered an intellectual and legal lightweight, with a tendency to take the side of the government on issues in which he lacks a full understanding. Siegel will write that in many instances, Vinson functions “as part of the executive branch.”
‘Dennis’ Case Preview of Court’s Tendency to Favor Executive Branch – Vinson had written the opinion in a 1951 ruling, Dennis et al v. United States, where the Court had upheld a lower court ruling that twelve acknowledged American Communists were sent to jail under the Smith Act—not for breaking the law, but for “teaching and advocating,” in the words of the original indictment. Siegel will call that ruling “the nadir of the Vinson Court.” According to Siegel, the Dennis ruling showed the Court’s predisposition to give the government, and particularly the executive branch, plenty of leeway in its findings in subsequent cases such as Reynolds. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 157-162]
Lawyers make their opening arguments before the Supreme Court in the case of US v Reynolds, the lawsuit that finds the government had no overarching right to unilaterally refuse to deliver classified documents in the course of a wrongful death lawsuit against the government (see December 11, 1951). The government has appealed the appellate court ruling to the Supreme Court (see March 1952). Because four of the nine justices had voted not to hear the case—in essence to let the appellate court ruling stand—the defense is cautiously optimistic about the Court’s decision.
Judiciary Has No Right to Interfere with Powers of the Executive, Government Argues – Acting Solicitor General Robert Stern tells the Court that the appellate judges’ decision, written by Judge Albert Maris, “is an unwarranted interference with the powers of the executive,” and that the decision forced the government to choose “whether to disclose public documents contrary to the public interest [or] to suffer the public treasury to be penalized” (a reference to the decision to award the plaintiffs monetary damages—see October 12, 1950). The judiciary “lack[s] power to compel disclosure by means of a direct demand [as well as] by the indirect method of an order against the United States, resulting in judgment when compliance is not forthcoming.”
Executive Has No Right to Unilaterally Withhold Information, Defense Counters – Stern’s arguments are countered by those of the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Charles Biddle, who writes, “We could rest our case with confidence on the clear opinion of Judge Maris,” but continues by arguing that if the government asserts a claim of executive privilege on the basis of national security, it must make the documents available to the Court for adjudication, or at least provide enough information for the Court to judge whether the documents present in fact a threat to national security if disclosed. This is particularly true, Biddle argues, “where there is no showing that the documents in question contain any military secret” (Biddle is unaware that the documents’ classification status had been reduced two years before—see September 14, 1950). “The basic question here is whether those in charge of the various departments of the government may refuse to produce documents properly demanded… in a case where the government is a party (see June 21, 1949), simply because the officials themselves think it would be better to keep them secret, and this without the Courts having any power to question the propriety of such decision.… In other words, say the officials, we will tell you only what we think it is in the public interest that you should know. And furthermore, we may withhold information not only about military or diplomatic secrets, but we may also suppress documents which concern merely the operation of the particular department if we believe it would be best, for purposes of efficiency or morale, that no one outside of the department, not even the Court, should see them.”
No Basis for Claims of Military Secrets – Biddle argues that because of responses he has received to his demands over the course of this lawsuit, he is relatively sure there are no military secrets contained within them. “[T]he proof is to the contrary,” he says, and goes on to say that had the Air Force disclosed from the outset that the plane crash, the fatal accident that sparked the original lawsuit (see October 6, 1948), was probably caused by pilot error and not by random chance, the plaintiffs may have never needed to ask for the disclosure of the documents in question, the accident reports on the crash (see October 18, 1948). “The secretary [of the Air Force]‘s formal claim of privilege said that the plane at the time was engaged in a secret mission and that it carried confidential equipment,” Biddle says, “but nowhere was it asserted that either had anything to do with the accident. The whole purpose of the demand by the respondents was for the purpose of finding out what caused the accident.… They were not in the least interested in the secret mission or equipment.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 165-170]
In their regular Saturday conference, the nine Supreme Court justices discuss the issues and arguments surrounding US v Reynolds (see October 21, 1952). According to the notes from the discussion, Chief Justice Fred Vinson, a strong advocate for expansive executive powers (see March 1952), says the case “boils down to Executive Branch determine privilege.” Other notes by Justice William O. Douglas suggest that Vinson isn’t convinced that the US must “be forced to pay for exercising its privilege” (see October 12, 1950). A straw vote taken at the end of the discussion shows five justices in favor of the government’s position to unilaterally withhold classified documents—overturning the appellate court decision (see December 11, 1951), and four in favor of allowing the decision to stand. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 171]
Chief Justice Fred Vinson. [Source: Kansas State Historical Society]
The US Supreme Court upholds the power of the federal government’s executive branch to withhold documents from a civil suit on the basis of executive privilege and national security (see October 25, 1952). The case, US v Reynolds, overturns an appellate court decision that found against the government (see December 11, 1951). Originally split 5-4 on the decision, the Court goes to 6-3 when Justice William O. Douglas joins the majority. The three dissenters, Justices Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, and Robert Jackson, refuse to write a dissenting opinion, instead adopting the decision of the appellate court as their dissent.
‘State Secrets’ a Valid Reason for Keeping Documents out of Judicial, Public Eye – Chief Justice Fred Vinson writes the majority opinion. Vinson refuses to grant the executive branch the near-unlimited power to withhold documents from judicial review, as the government’s arguments before the court implied (see October 21, 1952), but instead finds what he calls a “narrower ground for defense” in the Tort Claims Act, which compels the production of documents before a court only if they are designated “not privileged.” The government’s claim of privilege in the Reynolds case was valid, Vinson writes. But the ruling goes farther; Vinson upholds the claim of “state secrets” as a reason for withholding documents from judicial review or public scrutiny. In 2008, author Barry Siegel will write: “In truth, only now was the Supreme Court formally recognizing the privilege, giving the government the precedent it sought, a precedent binding on all courts throughout the nation. Most important, the Court was also—for the first time—spelling out how the privilege should be applied.” Siegel will call the Reynolds ruling “an effort to weigh competing legitimate interests,” but the ruling does not allow judges to see the documents in order to make a decision about their applicability in a court case: “By instructing judges not to insist upon examining documents if the government can satisfy that ‘a reasonable danger’ to national security exists, Vinson was asking jurists to fly blind.” Siegel will mark the decision as “an act of faith. We must believe the government,” he will write, “when it claims [the accident] would reveal state secrets. We must trust that the government is telling the truth.”
Time of Heightened Tensions Drives Need for Secrecy – Vinson goes on to note, “[W]e cannot escape judicial notice that this is a time of vigorous preparation for the national defense.” Locked in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and fighting a war in Korea, the US is, Vinson writes, in a time of crisis, and one where military secrets must be kept and even encouraged. [U. S. v. Reynolds, 3/9/1953; Siegel, 2008, pp. 171-176]
Future Ramifications – Reflecting on the decision in 2008, Siegel will write that while the case will not become as well known as many other Court decisions, it will wield significant influence. The ruling “formally recognized and established the framework for the government’s ‘state secrets’ privilege—a privilege that for decades had enabled federal agencies to conceal conduct, withhold documents, and block civil litigation, all in the name of national secrecy.… By encouraging judicial deference when the government claimed national security secrets, Reynolds had empowered the Executive Branch in myriad ways. Among other things, it had provided a fundamental legal argument for much of the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Enemy combatants such as Yaser Esam Hamdi (see December 2001) and Jose Padilla (see June 10, 2002), for many months confined without access to lawyers, had felt the breath of Reynolds. So had the accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui when federal prosecutors defied a court order allowing him access to other accused terrorists (see March 22, 2005). So had the Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar (see September 26, 2002), like dozens of others the subject of a CIA extraordinary rendition to a secret foreign prison (see After September 11, 2001). So had hundreds of detainees at the US Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, held without charges or judicial review (see September 27, 2001). So had millions of American citizens, when President Bush, without judicial knowledge or approval, authorized domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency (see Early 2002). US v. Reynolds made all this possible. The bedrock of national security law, it had provided a way for the Executive Branch to formalize an unprecedented power and immunity, to pull a veil of secrecy over its actions.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. ix-x]
A federal court rules that because of the government’s “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953), a civilian plaintiff suing the US Navy over a contractual agreement cannot even access “non-privileged,” or unclassified, information from the Navy because to do so might “threaten disclosure” of material that goes against “the overriding interest of the United States… preservation of its state secrets privilege precludes any further attempt to pursue litigation.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 196-197]
In the second of two rulings in the case of Halkin v Helms, the judiciary comes down squarely on the side of the US government against charges of illegal surveillance and wiretapping leveled against American anti-war protesters. The district and appellate courts uphold the federal government’s “state secrets” claim as codified in US v Reynolds (see March 9, 1953), thereby denying the plaintiffs the right to see government information that they claim would prove their case. The DC Court of Appeals writes that the federal courts do not have any constitutional role as “continuing monitors of the wisdom and soundness of Executive action,” and instead the courts “should accord utmost deference to executive assertions of privilege on grounds of military or diplomatic secrets… courts need only be satisfied that there is a reasonable danger” that military secrets might be exposed. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 196-196]
The DC Court of Appeals rejects a claim by civilian plaintiffs to force the government to disclose classified information as part of a lawsuit, citing the “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953). Furthermore, the court broadens the definition of “state secrets” to include “disclosure of intelligence-gathering methods or capabilities and disruption of diplomatic relations.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 197]
A lawsuit against the FBI’s investigation of a sixth-grade boy and his school project to create an “encyclopedia of the world” is stopped when an appeals court rules that the agency is shielded by the “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953). Unable to secure information from the FBI as to why it investigated him, the child had therefore “failed to sustain his burden of proof [and] the cause of action was properly dismissed.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 197]
A US appellate court refuses to find a number of military contractors liable in the death of Earl Patton Ryals, who died with 36 of his fellow crewmen in the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark (see May 17, 1987 and After). Ryals’s estate claims that he and his fellows died in part because of negligence on the part of the contractors who designed, manufactured, tested, and marketed the weapons system on board the Stark, including the Phalanx anti-missile system. In turning down the estate’s claim, the court cites the government’s “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953), saying that the facts of the issue could not be resolved without examining classified Navy documents. And even without this reason, the court rules, Ryals’s estate cannot see the documents because the case presents “a political question” about military decision-making that is not subject to judicial review. [Zuckerbraun v. General Dynamics Corp., 6/13/1991; Siegel, 2008, pp. 197-198] A year later, a similar case will be dismissed on the grounds that a trial might conceivably reveal “state secrets” (see September 16, 1992).
A federal appeals court upholds the dismissal of a lawsuit filed on behalf of 23 Navy sailors killed in the attack on the USS Stark (see May 17, 1987 and After) against a number of defense contractors. A similar lawsuit on behalf of one of the sailors killed in the attack was dismissed a year before (see June 13, 1991). This time the plaintiffs file over 2,500 pages of unclassified documentary evidence supporting their claims that the contractors were negligent in their design and implementation of the weapons systems aboard the Stark. The appeals court finds that regardless of the amount of evidence entered, to allow the trial would be to potentially infringe on the US government’s “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953). “[N]o amount of effort could safeguard the privileged information,” the court rules. The court adds that “classified and unclassified information cannot always be separated, and therefore courts must restrict access not only to classified material, but to “those pieces of evidence” that “press so closely upon highly sensitive material that they create a hgh risk of inadvertent or indirect disclosures.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 198]
Sheila E. Witnall, the secretary of the Air Force, declassifies all Air Force accident reports prior to January 25, 1956. The declassification includes the 1948 crash of the B-29 bomber that killed nine of 13 crew members during a secret “Project Banshee” mission (see October 6, 1948). The formerly classified reports had been at the heart of the case of US v Reynolds (see March 9, 1953) that sparked the so-called “state secrets” privilege. Four years after the declassification, the daughter of one of the slain civilians on board, Judy Palya Loether, finds the accident report on the Internet; the discovery spurs her to begin looking into the circumstances of her father’s death, and ultimately will result in a second lawsuit being filed on behalf of the families of the slain crewmen (see February 26, 2003). [Siegel, 2008, pp. 205-208]
Judy Palya Loether, the daughter of a civilian engineer killed in a 1948 plane crash while on a secret government mission (see October 6, 1948), reads over the voluminous reports of the accident that claimed her father’s life. The reports, now declassified (see January 1996), had been at the heart of a landmark lawsuit that gave judicial recognition to the government’s “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953). Loether is shocked to find that the reports contain nothing that could be construed as military or tactical secrets of any kind, though for decades the government has insisted that they could not be revealed, even to a judge (see October 18, 1948, July 26, 1950, August 7-8, 1950, September 21, 1950, and October 19, 1951). What they do contain is a compendium of witness statements and expert findings that indicate a number of mistakes and errors led to the crash. Loether begins contacting the families of the widows who had filed the original lawsuit against the government (seeJune 21, 1949) to share her findings. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 210-211] Loether is confused and angered over the contents of the reports, and the government’s response to the lawsuit. She cannot understand why the government pressed so hard to keep the reports classified, knowing that they contained no sensitive information about the secret missile program, and is particularly troubled by the fact that at least two senior government officials signed affidavits affirming the reports’ inclusion of such information while knowing that the reports contained nothing of the sort. She wonders if government officials had perhaps decided to lie about the reports in order to establish some sort of state secrets privilege. In September 2002, lawyers Wilson Brown and Jeff Almeida, retained by Loether and others who lost family members in the crash, come to the same conclusion. As Almeida will say to Brown: “I’ve read this report. There’s nothing in there.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 219] As time goes on, Loether and her colleagues files a second lawsuit seeking to overturn the first Supreme Court verdict (see February 26, 2003).
Lawyers Wilson Brown and Jeff Almeida file a request with the Supreme Court, asking it to reconsider its landmark 1953 case, US v Reynolds (see March 9, 1953). The lawyers are representing several family members who lost fathers (and, in one case, a husband) in the airplane crash that led to the original case (see October 6, 1948). The lawyers note that the government’s original claim that the accident reports could not be released due to the inclusion of “military secrets” (see July 26, 1950) is false, as the accident reports have been declassified and examined for such secrets (see February 2000). “Indeed,” the lawyers write, “they are no more than accounts of a flight that, due to the Air Force’s negligence, went tragically awry. In telling the Court otherwise, the Air Force lied. In reliance upon that lie, the Court deprived the widows [the three original plaintiffs] of their judgments. It is for this Court, through issuance of a writ of error coram nobis and in exercise of its inherent power to remedy fraud, to put things right… United States v. Reynolds stands as a classic ‘fraud on the court,’ one that is most remarkable because it succeeded in tainting a decision of our nation’s highest tribunal.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 249-251] On July 26, 2002, one of the plaintiffs, Judy Palya Loether, wrote in an e-mail to Brown: ”US v Reynolds has come to be a landmark case that is used by the government when it claims that documents cannot be turned over to the courts because of national security. Yet this very case is now proven, in my mind, to be based on a lie that did injury to 3 widows and 5 little children (see February 2000)… It allowed the government an area of no checks and balances (see December 11, 1951). How many times has the government used this decision, not to protect national security, but for its own purposes?” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 237-238]
Wilson Brown, who has filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking that it reconsider its landmark 1953 US v Reynolds case (see March 9, 1953), receives an e-mail from Alison Massagli of the White House’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Massagli, who learned of the petition from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, wants a copy of Brown’s petition. Brown notices that Massagli sent a copy of the e-mail to Catherine Lotrionete of the National Security Council. Brown is pleased that the case has garnered some attention. He e-mails the plaintiffs he is representing, saying, “I thought you would find it interesting that at least one arm of the Executive Branch is interested in our case.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 257]
Solicitor General Theodore Olson submits a response to the request that the Supreme Court reopen the 1953 state secrets case US v Reynolds (see February 26, 2003). Olson argues that once a decision has been made, it should be respected—“the law favors finality,” he writes. More surprisingly to the plaintiffs and their lawyers, Olson argues that there was no fraud perpetuated in the original case, a position hard to defend in the face of the declassified accident reports that were the heart of that case (see February 2000 and February 26, 2003). The accident reports never contained military secrets or secret information of any kind, a claim that the Court’s 1953 decision hinged on, but Olson argues that because of the wording of the claims—releasing the reports to the original plaintiffs “might lead to disclosure” of classified information—then the old claims of protecting state secrets are still technically valid (see March 9, 1953). Olson echoes the author of the original Supreme Court opinion, Fred Vinson, by reminding the Court that “[t]he claim of privilege in this case was made in 1950, at a time in the nation’s history—during the twilight of World War II and the dawn of the Cold War—when the country, and especially the military, was uniquely sensitive to need for ‘vigorous preparation for national defense.‘… The allegations of fraud made by the petition in this case… must be viewed in that light.” The lawyer for the plaintiffs in the petition, Wilson Brown, is both angered and impressed by what he calls Olson’s “remarkable obfuscation.” By hiding behind the vague wording of the original claims of state secrets, Olson is implying that this case must turn on factual issues—and therefore should be heard in a lower court, not the Supreme Court. Brown, in his response co-written by colleague Jeff Almeida, calls Olson’s arguments “disingenuous” and insists that the plaintiffs’ original case “had been vitiated through fraud.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 261-264]
Constitutional lawyers and experts believe that the Supreme Court will not accept the petition to reopen the landmark US v Reynolds case (see February 26, 2003 and May 30, 2003). Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies says that the petition is essentially frivolous, and says of the claim that Reynolds was decided on the basis of a fraudulent government presentation: “That the facts of the original case are not true is irrelevant to the state secrets privilege (see March 9, 1953). The idea that it undercuts the privilege is ridiculous. Often in cases, after they’re decided, the facts are proven not to be true. That’s the nature of the legal system. Sometimes people lie. Sometimes there’s new information.” Law professor Jonathan Turley is more sympathetic to the petition, but agrees that the Supreme Court will probably not hear it: “For the Supreme Court to address the fact clearly that it had been lied to would open difficult issues.… The Court used the facts of Reynolds to say the government could be trusted.… Reynolds was based on trust, on willful blinders. There’s much danger in going back now, in recognizing that the government routinely lies. They’re not going to face that. They won’t reopen this. I think Reynolds is like discovering an unfaithful wife after fifty years of marriage. You’re hurt by the betrayal, but you can’t turn back half a century. You preserve the marriage for the children’s sake” (see December 1980, September 1982, November 1984, January 1990, June 13, 1991, and September 16, 1992). [Siegel, 2008, pp. 266-267]
The Supreme Court refuses to hear a petition to reopen the 1953 state secrets case US v Reynolds (see February 26, 2003). It issues a one-sentence ruling: “The motion for leave to file a writ of error coram nobis is denied.” Plaintiff Judy Palya Loether says: “Maybe the law isn’t about right or wrong. The concept that the government lied to the Supreme Court (see February 2000) seemed to me a terrible thing to do. It appears that the justices were not as appalled as I was.” Further attempts to reopen the case in lower courts will also fail. [Siegel, 2008, pp. 267-298]
Lawyers for accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, battling to force the US government to allow them to depose other accused terrorists as part of their defense (see May 14, 2003), contact Jeff Almeida, the lawyer for the plaintiffs who sought to reopen the 1953 state secrets case US v Reynolds. They ask how his petition for coram nobis—a request for the court to “right a wrong”—went. Almeida tells them that the Court turned the petition down without comment (see June 23, 2003). Moussaoui’s lawyers tell Almeida that the government prosecutors were so reliant on Reynolds that “they had been waving it around the courtroom any chance they got.” Plaintiff Susan Brauner later says that she is glad Moussaoui’s lawyers contacted Almeida, and says she finds their interest “most encouraging.” She will add, “If we eventually walk away with nothing more than one concrete example where the case was of possible use to someone else… then I will believe we have done some good in impacting or at least raising the issue.” [Siegel, 2008, pp. 272-273]
The Bush administration submits a legal brief arguing that the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against AT&T, alleging that firm cooperated with the NSA’s domestic surveillance program (see January 31, 2006), should be thrown out of court because of the government’s “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953). Justice Department lawyers want Judge Vaughn Walker to examine classified documents that they say will convince him to dismiss the lawsuit. However, the government does not want the defense lawyers to see that material. “No aspect of this case can be litigated without disclosing state secrets,” the government argues. “The United States has not lightly invoked the state secrets privilege, and the weighty reasons for asserting the privilege are apparent from the classified material submitted in support of its assertion.” [CNET News, 5/26/2006]
Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder says that if he is confirmed, he intends to review current litigation in which the Bush administration asserted the so-called “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953), and that he intends to minimize the use of the privilege during his tenure. “I will review significant pending cases in which DOJ [the Justice Department] has invoked the state secrets privilege, and will work with leaders in other agencies and professionals at the Department of Justice to ensure that the United States invokes the state secrets privilege only in legally appropriate situations,” he writes in a response to pre-confirmation questions. (Shortly after Holder’s testimony, the Justice Department again asserts the “state secrets” privilege in a case involving a Guantanamo detainee—see February 9, 2009). Holder adds: “I firmly believe that transparency is a key to good government. Openness allows the public to have faith that its government obeys the law.” To a related question, he asserts his belief that the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) must disclose as many of the opinions it generates as possible: “Once the new assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel is confirmed, I plan to instruct that official to review the OLC’s policies relating to publication of its opinions with the [objective] of making its opinions available to the maximum extent consistent with sound practice and competing concerns.” [Federation of American Scientists, 2/2/2009; Senate Judiciary Committee, 2/2/2009] Weeks later, the Justice Department will release nine controversial OLC memos from the Bush administration (see March 2, 2009).
A Justice Department official says that the Obama administration will continue to assert the so-called “state secrets privilege” (see March 9, 1953) in a lawsuit filed by Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed (see February 8, 2009). In the case Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc, Mohamed and four former detainees are suing a Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen Dataplan, for cooperating with the CIA in subjecting them to “extraordinary rendition,” flying them to foreign countries and secret overseas CIA prisons where, they say, they were tortured. The case was thrown out a year ago, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has appealed it. According to a source inside the Ninth US District Court, a Justice Department lawyer tells the presiding judge that its position has not changed, that the new administration stands behind arguments that the previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The lawyer says the entire subject matter remains a state secret. According to Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller, “It is the policy of this administration to invoke the state secrets privilege only when necessary and in the most appropriate cases, consistent with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Reynolds that the privilege not ‘be lightly invoked.’” Miller adds that Attorney General Eric Holder is conducting a review of all state secret privilege matters. “The Attorney General has directed that senior Justice Department officials review all assertions of the State Secrets privilege to ensure that the privilege is being invoked only in legally appropriate situations,” Miller says. “It is vital that we protect information that, if released, could jeopardize national security. The Justice Department will ensure the privilege is not invoked to hide from the American people information about their government’s actions that they have a right to know. This administration will be transparent and open, consistent with our national security obligations.” The ACLU’s Anthony Romero says that the Obama administration is doing little besides offering “more of the same.” He continues: “Eric Holder’s Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition, and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama’s Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue. If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again.” ACLU attorney Ben Wizner, who argued the case for Mohamed and the other plaintiffs, adds: “We are shocked and deeply disappointed that the Justice Department has chosen to continue the Bush administration’s practice of dodging judicial scrutiny of extraordinary rendition and torture. This was an opportunity for the new administration to act on its condemnation of torture and rendition, but instead it has chosen to stay the course. Now we must hope that the court will assert its independence by rejecting the government’s false claims of state secrets and allowing the victims of torture and rendition their day in court.” [ABC News, 2/9/2009]
A federal appeals court rejects the Obama administration’s assertion that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government’s warrantless wiretapping program. The Justice Department had requested an emergency stay in a case brought by a defunct Islamic charity, the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation (see February 28, 2006). Al Haramain has asked that classified information be made available to the court to prove its case that the electronic surveillance brought to bear against it by the government was illegal; Justice Department lawyers contend that the information needs to remain classified and unavailable to the court, and cite the “state secrets” privilege (see March 9, 1953) as legal justification. Although the court rejects the request for the stay, Justice Department lawyers say they will continue fighting to keep the information secret. “The government respectfully requests that the court refrain from further actions to provide plaintiffs with access to classified information,” says a filing made by the Justice Department in regards to the ruling. A lawyer for Al Haramain, Steven Goldberg, says: “All we wanted was our day in court and it looks like we’re finally going to get our day in court. This case is all about challenging an assertion of power by the executive branch which is extraordinary.” The American Civil Liberties Union’s Ann Brick says the court has now crafted a way to review the issue in which “national security isn’t put at risk, but the rule of law can still be observed.” [Associated Press, 2/27/2009] Days later, the Justice Department will file a brief announcing its intention to refuse to honor the appeals court’s decision (see March 2, 2009).
The Justice Department defies a recent court order (see February 27, 2009) and refuses to provide a document that might prove the Bush administration conducted illegal wiretaps on a now-defunct Islamic charity. The Justice Department files a brief with a California federal district court challenging the court’s right to carry out its own decision to make that evidence available in a pending lawsuit. Even though the document is critical to the lawsuit, the lawyers can obtain the necessary top-secret clearances, and the document would not be made public, the Justice Department claims that the document cannot be entered into evidence. The lawyers for Al Haramain, the Islamic charity and the plaintiffs in the suit, calls the Justice Department’s decision “mind-boggling.”
Government’s Position – For its part, the Justice Department writes in a brief that the decision to release the document “is committed to the discretion of the executive branch, and is not subject to judicial review.” The document has been in the possession of the court since 2004, when the government inadvertently released it to the plaintiffs. In the same brief, the Justice Department writes: “If the Court intends to itself grant access to classified information directly to the plaintiffs’ counsel, the government requests that the Court again provide advance notice of any such order, as well as an ex parte, in camera description of the information it intends to disclose, to enable the government to either make its own determination about whether counsel has a need to know, or to withdraw that information from submission to the Court and use in this case. If the Court rejects either action by the government, the government again requests that the Court stay proceedings while the government considers whether to appeal any such order.” The statement is an implied threat that the Justice Department lawyers will themselves physically remove the document from the court files if the judge says he has the right to allow Al Haramain’s lawyers to see it.
Response from Plaintiff’s Attorney – Jon Eisenberg, a lawyer for Al-Haramain, says in an e-mail: “It’s a not-so-thinly veiled threat to send executive branch authorities (the FBI? the Army?) to Judge [Virginia] Walker’s chambers to seize the classified material from his files! In my view, that would be an unprecedented violation of the constitutional separation of powers. I doubt anything like it has happened in the history of this country.” Eisenberg says that the Obama administration, through the Justice Department, “seems to be provoking a separation-of-powers confrontation with Judge Walker.”
Administration’s Second Use of State Secrets – This is the second time the Obama administration has invoked the “state secrets” privilege to keep information secret (see February 9, 2009). Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) says: “In the Bush administration, the state secrets doctrine was used to buttress the power of the president and make it difficult if not impossible to contest such issues as presidential authority to conduct warrantless wiretapping in the United States. We would think that when such disagreements occur, it’s properly before the judiciary to resolve them. But the Bush administration asserted the state secrets doctrine for the purpose of making it effectively impossible for courts to review the matter.” The Al Haramain case is significant because of “the apparent willingness of the Obama administration’s Justice Department to carry further that same argument in federal court. It is of great concern.” [Washington Independent, 3/2/2009]
9/11 was the day steel-framed buildings fell like sandcastles, the law of physics worked in reverse and the United States Air Force went missing in action. So what is the real story?
Before attempting to identify “nine hundred and eleven reasons why 9/11 was an inside job”, I would like to briefly mention my own “where-were-you-on-9/11-moment” since it has a lot to do with my reasons for rejecting the official version of events that fateful day.
On the evening of September 11, 2001, as fate would have it, I was sitting inside of Uncle Sam’s restaurant in the heart of Moscow, enjoying dinner with a Russian friend. In the middle of our now-forgotten conversation, some commotion on the overhead television caught my friend’s attention. I turned around just in time to see an airplane careening into the World Trade Center in a magnificent ball of fire.
And that was it: in that split second, a dividing line had been crudely carved down the middle of the world’s mind between “Before 9/11” and “After 9/11.” For the majority of people who saw those horrific images from various time zones around the planet, the world suddenly felt like a very different, even unrecognizable place. But thanks to the availability of those raw video images, as well as new-found physical and chemical evidence, the truth may finally rise up from the ashes of Ground Zero.
A group of diners that had gathered around the television heard the CNN anchor say that “the South Tower has just collapsed.” I asked one of the people standing close to the screen: “How much of the building is still standing?” He responded with barely a trace of emotion, “Nothing. It’s completely gone.”
In hindsight, news of the total collapse of the South Tower represented the first seed of doubt in my mind concerning 9/11. It seemed unfathomable that the seemingly indestructible North and South Towers, which I had just toured the summer before, had been reduced to a pile of dust and rubble level with the horizon line. Surely at least part of the building was left standing!
For many “9/11 truthers” that seed of doubt has grown into an oak tree that can no longer be ignored. If Internet traffic is any real indication, the movement is quickly outgrowing its electronic borders and eventually some serious questions will have to be answered by some serious people in the real world.
I excused myself from my dinner companion, who somehow failed to appreciate the global ramifications of two commercial jets slamming into America’s financial heart, and headed to yet another popular hangout for Moscow expatriates. I took a seat at the corner of the bar at the American Bar & Grill and watched until well past midnight as one analyst after another tried to make some sense of the wreckage still smoldering on the ground in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Not surprisingly, the only suspect that was mentioned, before any investigation had begun, was Osama bin Laden. This announcement, predictable though it may have been, sparked a heated bar stool debate between me and my neighbor, who couldn’t understand how I could question the news that bin Laden was the culprit. “It’s too early to say anything with certainty,” was my only reply. The premature blame that was heaped on this admittedly evil guy (bin Laden) represented the second seed of doubt.
As it turned out, those red flags that popped up in my mind concerning the events as explained by “the experts” in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 were shared by many other individuals around the world. In fact, the only things that really added up on 9/11, for those who were keeping score, were the incredible number of inconsistencies.
Today, researchers from various walks of life are demonstrating that it was highly improbable that the upper sections of the North and South Towers were able to topple the massive, largely undamaged structures below without some sort of other variables in the equation. Meanwhile, large traces of thermite, an extremely rare and dangerous material used by the military and professional demolitionists, have been found in dust samples taken from the WTC buildings. This discovery itself warrants a criminal investigation.
But this is undoubtedly the greatest irony of them all: Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, does not even appear on the FBI’s most wanted list. Why? Officials at the Bureau admit that there is simply not enough evidence to arrest him! So if the FBI is not satisfied with the US government’s explanation for the events that transpired on 9/11, why should the public be satisfied?
The 9/11 Omission Commission
In short, 9/11 represented the world’s largest crime scene of modern times, but was never treated as one. In fact, the crime scenes at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and a patch of woods in Pennsylvania were cordoned off and scrubbed clean before any forensic work could occur. The steel from the WTC towers was quickly hauled to Asia and melted down, while photographs show workers hauling away large crates from the Pentagon site, the contents of which were never revealed to the public.
Meanwhile, US politicians assumed that by simply uttering the name “Osama bin Laden” 9/11 was a shut and closed case. After all, who would dare defend such a villainous creature? Not a criminal lawyer in the entire world, that’s for sure, especially given the paranoid, code-orange mindset that gripped the United States in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, which precluded any hope for investigating other plausible explanations.
Given the information as we have collected it, and researched by various parties, we can only conclude that the “investigative work” conducted on this crime scene – performed by government agencies, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), as well as the 9/11 Commission – seems to have actually obstructed and derailed any real efforts at unraveling the true story behind 9/11. That is the real purpose of this article: to assist in the efforts to open a real criminal investigation and eventual trial for the culprits who were responsible for 9/11.
For those who think that such an article is a waste of time, or some sort of propaganda aimed at the United States, you need only consider the following: The 9/11 Commission (a government investigative committee that George W. Bush was forced to assemble) told reporters during their deliberations that the individuals who were responsible for protecting America continually provided false information.
According to an article in The Washington Post, “For more than two years after the attacks, officials with NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) provided inaccurate information about the response to the hijackings in media and testimony appearances.”
“Some of the panel’s staff members,” the paper continued, “believe that authorities sought to mislead the Commission and the public about what happened on Sept. 11.”
“To this day we don’t know why NORAD told us what they told us,” said Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the Commission. “It was just so far from the truth… It’s one of those loose ends that never got tied.”
Meanwhile, senior officials at the FAA deliberately destroyed air traffic controllers’ tapes made just hours after 9/11.
According to the Washington Post, “Six air traffic controllers provided accounts of their communications with hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001, on a tape recording that was later destroyed by a Federal Aviation Administration manager…But months after the recording was made… another FAA manager decided on his own to destroy the tape, crushing it with his hands, cutting it into small pieces and depositing the pieces into several trash cans.”
The article, which was published on May 7, 2004, went on to say that the manager who had the initiative to record the air traffic controllers, one Mike McCormick, had been reassigned to Iraq where he is “helping to set up an air traffic control system.” So much for contacting Mr. McCormick.
Finally, the families of the 9/11 victims called for the resignation of Executive Director Philip Zelikow, a Bush insider, and were duly snubbed. Commission member Max Cleland resigned, calling the entire exercise a “scam” and a “whitewash.”
If everything was so straightforward and transparent on 9/11, why would anybody need to twist the truth and destroy all of the available evidence? This is called obstruction of justice, which ranks as a federal offense in the United States. It should be little wonder, then, that the esteemed members of the 9/11 Commission wanted to wrap up their proceedings as fast as possible because, to quote a Republican senator participant, “the system needs fixed and another terrorist attack could happen at any moment.”
The bottom line is, if the public cannot place its trust in the very 9/11 Commission that was supposed to investigate the attacks, then how is it supposed to trust the official version of 9/11? But for most individuals, expressing any sort of doubt about the official version as to what occurred on 9/11 would mean confronting demons that few people are prepared for.
The Neoconservatives get their “Pearl Harbor”
Any discussion about the events of 9/11 must include those individuals who were responsible for preventing those attacks from occurring in the first place, namely, the neoconservatives who served under former president George W. Bush.
The neoconservative faction of the Republican Party, which believes it is America’s duty to police the planet and spread its own democratic values, out of the barrel of a gun if necessary, is a radical new political animal in the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11, that philosophy achieved a stranglehold on US politics that will be very hard to shake off in the years to come.
Based largely on the philosophy of a Washington-based neoconservative think tank known as the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), more than one commentator has made a direct link between 9/11 and the administration of George W. Bush
PNAC, which was in existence from 1997 to 2006, enthusiastically trumpeted the idea that “American leadership is both good for America and the world.”
William Kristol, one of the founding fathers of PNAC, betrayed the zeal and passion that his group had for the use of military force in resolving foreign policy problems in his numerous publications.
“Saddam Hussein must go,” was the blunt opening line of Kristol’s op-ed piece in The New York Times (“Bombing Iraq Isn’t Enough,” Jan. 30, 1998, co-written with Robert Kagan).
“This imperative may seem too simple for some experts and too daunting for the Clinton administration,” Kristol continued. “But if the United States is committed… to insuring that the Iraqi leader never again uses weapons of mass destruction, the only way to achieve that goal is to remove Mr. Hussein and his regime from power. Any policy short of that will fail.”
It should be remembered that, following Operation Desert Storm (a military campaign by coalition forces to oust Iraq from Kuwait, opened by Bush the Elder on August 2, 1990 and lasting until February 28, 1991) Iraq went from being one of the most advanced Arab nations to one of the most primitive.
In the course of that war, massive Allied bombing campaigns inflicted severe damage on the country, destroying power stations, major dams, even sewage treatment facilities. Indeed, Iraqi fighter pilots and troops, understanding that engaging “the enemy” meant certain death, abandoned their positions and fled to Iran. In other words, there were many more threshold nations to worry about than one that had already been pulverized several years earlier.
Despite overwhelming evidence (supported by UN weapons inspectors on the ground) that Iraq was not stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, the PNAC continued to beat the war drum for the use of military force against Saddam Hussein. Eventually the PNAC, whose members went on to fill top positions in the Bush administration (Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld, to name just a few), got exactly what it wanted with 9/11 when the “if you aren’t with us, you’re against us” mentality kicked in full throttle and “full spectrum dominance” was given a chance.
In fact, the PNAC prior to 9/11 actually seemed to be anticipating another catastrophic event when it wrote in a treatise (Rebuilding America’s Defenses) that “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
Many commentators point to this passage, as well as the inexplicable attack on Iraq, as proof that the neoconservatives must have had their fingerprints all over the events that transpired on 9/11. This article will not go that far. With that said, however, it is suggestive, at the very least, that the very individuals who fantasized over “another Pearl Harbor” just happened to find themselves in power when that once-in-a-lifetime event broke on 9/11.
Furthermore, the Bush administration will never win accolades for its outstanding moral behavior. Indeed, the crimes it has been found guilty of committing while pursuing its “war on terror” had the actual effect of creating some degree of sympathy for the enemy – no small task when we are talking about Osama bin Laden. Although it is reasonable to expect that the American military would be a bit overenthusiastic after what occurred on 9/11, this cannot excuse the transgressions of international law that followed in its wake.
America and the world are still grappling with the consequences of: attacking Iraq without a UN mandate; hauling suspected terrorists off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the detainees were “sensorily deprived” and stripped of all legal rights; black hole prisons that the US secret services operated somewhere in Eastern Europe (interesting that the locations of concentration camps and GULAGs are well known, but the site of these democratic dungeons remain veiled in a shroud of total secrecy) with the purpose of torturing prisoners shattered America’s hard-earned reputation as a country that stands for human rights and decency. Finally, the pure breakdown of discipline that was revealed inside the walls of Abu Ghraib prison at the hands of the US guardians appeared to be so systemic that some suggested it was reflective of the new atmosphere of immorality and decadence “that reigns in ‘The West.’”
With the events of 9/11 as the great justifier for anything and everything that follows, members of the Bush administration began to dream up the most deranged Orwellian schemes for “protecting America,” at the same time they were actually destroying civil rights and freedom. The Patriot Act, for example, rammed through by the Bush administration on October 26, 2001 after America blinked, greatly increases the power of the law enforcement agencies to search telephone, e-mails, and even library book withdrawals.
But this blatant disregard for any sort of limits to power cut in the other direction too. According to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, an “executive assassination ring,” called the Joint Special Operations Command, was cooked up by the Bush administration.
“It’s a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently,” Hersh said. “They do not report to anybody. Except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office.”
And then there was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s Office of Strategic Influence, which “was created,” according to a report by the American Forces Press Service … “to aid U.S. efforts to influence countries overseas to help or at least support the war against global terrorism.”
Rumsfeld decided to ax the program after a report in The New York Times discovered evidence that the office was designed to “plant false press releases in foreign media outlets to manipulate public opinion.” So much for spreading democracy.
None of the above-mentioned things, however, proves that the Bush administration was somehow complicit with what occurred on 9/11. But it does provide us a strong clue as to their thought processes: how they responded to a crisis, how they craved secrecy, and how they managed to condone some of the most inhumane military practices – in complete violation of the Geneva Convention – in American history.
Pre-9/11, the neoconservatives were silently hoping for some kind of “Pearl Harbor”, while post-9/11, they managed quickly to forfeit the global support and sympathy that the world had awarded the United States by ushering in an epoch of fear, arrogance and incredibly poor judgment. Despite a growing mountain of evidence that suggests the public has been deceived as to the true nature of events on 9/11, politicians are now expending a lot of time and energy debating whether or not it was morally ethical or strategically expedient for the United States to authorize the use of torture against suspected terrorists. This debate only camouflages the real debate: The real debate and investigation should focus on 9/11, that watershed event that is responsible for getting our troops mixed up in the Middle East to begin with.
Getting back to PNAC, that shady organization eventually fell by the wayside, but the ideas that it nurtured and promoted continue to this day. Indeed, it is too early to say whether irreversible damage has been inflicted on the central tenets of the Republican Party.
Finally, individuals who reject alternative versions of events to the official one are accused of either “distorting the memory of the victims of 9/11,” or being “conspiracy theorists”. Personally, had I been a passenger on one of those ill-fated airplanes, I would probably be sitting in some faraway place, anxiously waiting for an honest investigation that would finally put my soul to rest; after all, there can be no greater tribute to the memory of the deceased than the truth.
As far as accusations of being “conspiracy theorists” goes, it seems that the real conspiracy, given the emerging facts, was concocted on the other side of the debate. Even the FBI has found no reason to arrest Osama bin Laden, yet our military is now fighting on two bloody fronts as a result of his purported crime.
I would like briefly to mention two individuals who have given me permission to quote and cite their exhaustive research for this article: First, Giulietto Chiesa, an Italian journalist and politician who produced the unmatched documentary film on 9/11 entitled Zero, which has thus far failed to reach large audiences in the United States; Niels Harrit, a Professor from the University of Copenhagen whose patient emails helped me to understand chemistry a bit better. Finally, special thanks to the courageous work of David Chandler, a physics teacher who could certainly teach the government a lesson on how to construct viable mathematical models on a shoestring budget.
Never before or after 9/11 have steel-framed skyscrapers collapsed due to fire.
In February 2005, the 32-storey Windsor Building in the financial district of Madrid, Spain was completely engulfed by flames for 20 consecutive hours. I repeat: 20 consecutive hours. The structure did not collapse. In fact, after the fire was finally extinguished, a huge construction crane was seen perched on the roof of the building as raw testimony to the practical indestructibility of steel as a construction material.
Now compare the fire in Madrid that burned continuously for 20 hours, without compromising the structure, to two relatively low-temperature fires inside the formidably constructed WTC buildings. As the investigators would have us believe, those fires caused both structures to disappear, in mirror-image collapses, into their own footprints in less than one hour.
On October 18, 2004, an inferno gutted the top 20 floors of the 50-storey Parque Central Tower in Caracas, Venezuela. The fire burned for 17 consecutive hours, but the steel structure did not collapse.
By contrast, the fires burning inside of the World Trade Center buildings were textbook examples of oxygen-starved fires, visible by the dark gray smoke that emitted from both structures. Indeed, very few flames were visible at all. Furthermore, many tenants of the stricken buildings were able to walk down the emergency steps past the point of impact where the planes had struck.
Brian Clark, a South Tower survivor, was working in his office at Euro Brokers Inc. when, at 9:03am, United Airlines 175 crashed into the 78th Floor. Euro Brokers’ office was situated on the 84th floor, 6 storeys above the impact of the jetliner. Yet Clark, together with other fellow employees, managed to escape from the South Tower, walking down the building’s inside stairwell and past the point of impact.
“When I looked down there, I didn’t see flames,” Clark said in an interview for the film Zero. “We decided to go as far as we could until we would be stopped by flames. When we came to the 78th floor (the point of impact), there were flames licking up the other side of the wall… It wasn’t a roaring inferno. I sensed that the flames were maybe starved for oxygen right there. We kept going, and when we got to the 74th floor… normal conditions: the lights were on, and there was fresh air coming up from below.”
Another indication that the WTC fires were far below the temperatures needed for a catastrophic collapse was evident by the tragic image of office workers who were filmed standing inside the gaping mouth of the airplanes’ point of entry, desperately waiting to be rescued. Indeed, much of the jet fuel that both airplanes were carrying was immediately blown out of the buildings upon impact in magnificent orange fireballs.
Kevin Ryan is a former engineer from Underwriters Laboratory (UL), a highly reputable company that was subcontracted to test the hypothesis of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as to how the WTC towers collapsed. Ryan and his colleagues used model replicas of the WTC towers to test the ability of the structures to remain standing in the event of a fire.
“We did test the floor models in August 2004,” Ryan said, “and those tests disproved the primary theory behind the collapse of the buildings.”
“The floor models didn’t collapse in the tests,” Ryan said, “and these (models) were in furnaces in much hotter temperatures, for a longer period of time (as compared with the temperature and endurance of the fires on 9-11). Yet, they still did not collapse.”
According to Ryan, in order for NIST to get the results they were looking for, they “manipulated the test parameters. They doubled one thing, and cut something else in half. They doubled the time their computer model exposed the columns to fire – 90 minutes, as opposed to 50 minutes.”
Eventually, NIST was forced to substitute the “pancake theory” (which wrongly hypothesized that the combined force of the upper floors began a domino effect downward) for the “inward bowing theory,” which argues that the floors and walls of the WTC buildings buckled to the point where they could no longer support the weight of the structure – an equally implausible explanation for the collapses, given the low temperatures inside the structures.
Ryan was fired from his job with Underwriters Laboratory one week after he challenged the results of the NIST report, the US government’s official version of the reasons for the WTC collapses.
It is important to remember that the WTC was specifically designed to withstand the impact of not one, but several airplanes crashing into it, as well as powerful winds that the architects understood would regularly pummel the structure.
The inner “core” of the World Trade Center towers, a mixture of steel and concrete that housed the elevator shafts and stairwells, can best be described as formidable. This inner supporting section, which measured an area of 87 by 135 feet (27 by 41 m), was composed of 47 steel columns packed in cement that ran the entire length of the structures. If left untouched, the towers were constructed to “outlive the pyramids,” as one engineer told me.
“We designed the buildings to resist the impact of one or more airliners,” said Frank De Martini, WTC construction manager.
Free-fall collapse time of the structures
One of the most perplexing aspects about the collapse of the WTC structures is that they tumbled to the ground in almost free-fall time. Researchers say this is a physical impossibility.
“One of the things that particularly struck me was the incredible speed in which the towers came down,” said Paolo Marini, a metallurgy researcher at the Italian Center for Materials Development.
“There was something truly inexplicable about the speed of the collapse. If we drop a weight from a height of around 400 meters, which was the height of the towers, the time it would take to reach the ground… would take approximately 9 seconds.”
“The impact (of the airliner) was about two-thirds of the way up the tower,” Marini continued. “But even if the section above collapsed suddenly due to the structure giving way, and even considering that the impact of the section above was enormous, and therefore somewhat weakened the resistance of the structure below, it’s clear that, due to the resistance of the undamaged part below, this tower should not have fallen at such a speed. But it fell as if there was nothing below it.”
David Chandler, a member of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, has created a video presentation that blows a gaping in hole in the official version of events.
Chandler focuses on the top 32 meters (equivalent to eight floors) of World Trade Center I, also known as the North Tower, which collapses and drops on top of the massive undamaged section below. It has been argued that the downward force of the upper section onto the lower section was what brought down the entire building into a mountain of dust and rubble.
Chandler tracks the rate of fall of the upper 32 meters at 64 per cent of free fall speed. In other words, once the upper structure begins to fall, the upward resistive force (that is, the undamaged section below) must be only 36 per cent of the weight of the falling section of the building, i.e. the difference in percentage (if the math seems fuzzy to some readers, you may want to find Chandler’s visual models, which are easily accessible over the Internet).
“So far, so good,” says Chandler, who has a knack for making physics sound simple. “But… Newton’s Third Law says that interaction between objects work both ways. The forces that two objects exert on each other are always equal and opposite. If the upward force acting on the falling block is 36 percent of the weight of the falling block, the downward force exerted by the falling block must be exactly the same: 36 percent of the weight of the falling block.”
“In other words,” Chandlers continues, “the top section of the building is exerting less force on the lower, stronger, undamaged structure than it would if it were simply sitting motionless.”
Chandler’s scientific conclusion: “The top section of the building, whatever its condition, cannot possibly be destroying the lower section of the building. The destruction of the building must be caused by something else.”
To summarize: Even if we accept the official explanation that fires from the jet fuel weakened the steel girders to the point that made the upper section collapse on to the bottom section, the free-fall speed that is clear for all to see cannot have happened by itself; something else must have been destroying the lower floors at the same time that the upper “block” was coming down. The force of the smaller 8-storey section of building above was not significant enough to bring down the entire North and South Towers as it allegedly did.
The inexplicable (and ignored) collapse of WTC 7
If the destruction of the World Trade Center’s North and South towers was nothing more than magicians pulling fluffy white rabbits out of silk black hats, World Trade Center 7 is where the cards tumbled out of their sleeves, revealing the invisible strings that brought this great illusion to life.
The horrifying images of two commercial jets slamming into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center largely dominate our memories of 9/11. Yet many people forget about, or never heard of, World Trade Center 7, which was a 47-storey, 200-meter-high skyscraper that was never hit by a jet, yet crumpled to the ground like a house of cards a full 7 hours after the collapse of the North Tower. So let us reiterate: there were three destroyed skyscrapers on 9/11, but just two commercial jets.
And just like the first two towers, WTC 7 dropped at almost free-fall speed. Although this building was damaged by falling debris from the collapse of WTC North tower (a large gash was visible on the building’s exposed side), and was on fire in isolated sections for several hours, the extent of the physical damage seems entirely inconsistent with the final catastrophic result.
An increasing number of researchers are arriving at the conclusion that Building 7, like the towers, was brought down with thermitic material. Indeed, at the base of the WTC 7 towers, as was the case with the North and South towers, the presence of molten metal in large quantities was found. But more on that “theory” later.
David Chandler, a humble physics teacher armed with nothing more than inexpensive software and a zero budget, provided a far more realistic analysis of the collapse of the WTC 7 building than NIST did with its multimillion-dollar government budget.
Basically, Chandler accuses NIST of not only doing a “sloppy job” in its analysis of the collapse of WTC 7, but goes so far as calling it “beyond incompetence; it is a… blatant lie.”
“NIST’s method tells us nothing about the nature of the motion itself,” says the physicist. “They merely assume uniform acceleration over a time interval in which it is clear that the acceleration is not uniform. Mislabeling their assumption to be constant speed indicates sloppy work. But asserting uniform acceleration for an interval where the building sits nearly motionless for several seconds and then drops for several seconds in free fall is beyond incompetence, it is a… blatant lie.”
“The average acceleration is a meaningless quantity,” Chandler explains. “It is the instantaneous acceleration that is significant because the acceleration at any moment is an indication of the forces at work. To measure and publish a meaningless average acceleration, when sufficient data and a multimillion dollar budget are available… constitutes either gross incompetence or an attempt to obfuscate the issue.”
But even if we accept the official version, which says that WTC 7 was “compromised by falling debris” from the North and South Towers, as Popular Mechanics mechanically argued, how is it possible that the building came down in “elegant” (as one demolition expert put it to me) controlled-demolition fashion?
Demolishing a building is a veritable science that requires the precise placement of explosive charges at carefully selected points so that the targeted structure drops into its own footprint without damaging any other buildings in the vicinity. This is exactly what WTC 7, as well as the monstrous North and South towers, politely did with tremendous respect for their surroundings.
Having a large building drop in textbook fashion without the assistance of professionals must be to demolitionists what a monkey that sat down to a typewriter and hammered out perfect Shakespeare in a fortnight would be to literary agents. In other words, highly unlikely.
Compounding the mystery behind the inexplicable collapse of the 47-storey WTC 7 building, which housed Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Office of Emergency Management, this major event (the collapse) is never mentioned once in the government’s 9/11 Commission report.
If anybody holds out hope that somebody someday will analyze the steel columns from the collapse for evidence of explosives, better not hold your breath: the wreckage was quickly whisked out of the United States to Asia where it was melted down. Indeed, we are probably buying Chinese-made toys made out of WTC evidence without even knowing it. Thus, NIST’s threadbare investigative efforts have been compared to “conducting an autopsy without the corpse.”
“Anyone serious about solving a crime,” comments Chandler, “knows the importance of physical evidence. Yet here (at Ground Zero), the crime scene has been scrubbed, the evidence destroyed, and the investigation delayed for years.”
“Destroying a crime scene is itself a criminal act,” Chandler concludes. “Destroying the steel has absolutely no justification except to cover up the cause of the collapse.”
The presence of molten metal
According to numerous witnesses, molten metal was clearly visible on the salvaged steel girders, as well as at Ground Zero. These claims are supported by video footage of the burning towers on 9/11, which clearly shows images of white-hot metal oozing out of the towers like volcanic lava shortly before catastrophic collapse occurs.
In the weeks and months after 9/11, there were many reports of “pools of molten metal” in the remains of the World Trade Center. In fact, the presence of these intensely hot pockets hampered the cleanup efforts until December 20 – over three months after the collapses!
“As of 21 days after the attack,” said Leslie Robertson, structural engineer responsible for the design of the WTC, speaking at the National Conference of Structural Engineers on Oct. 5, 2001, “the fires were still burning and the molten steel was still running.”
“The fires got very intense down there,” Richard Riggs, a debris removal specialist, told the History Channel. “It was actually melted beams, molten steel that was being dug up.”
Ken Holden, who was involved with the organizing of demolition, excavation and debris removal operations at Ground Zero told the 9/11 Investigative Committee, “Underground, it was still so hot that molten metal dripped down the sides of the walls from the (WTC) buildings.”
To the uninitiated in the murky field of chemistry, such phenomena (intensely burning fires that continue to burn for weeks and months) may seem somehow plausible given the extent of the damage at Ground Zero. But for (some) trained chemists and engineers, such physical phenomena are nothing short of a scientific impossibility without some degree of human trifling. Why? Because steel must be heated to 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit before it will melt, simple as that. Not even the planet Venus gets that hot. Yet researchers are practically unanimous in their belief that the temperatures inside of the buildings never got above 800 degrees.
So what was responsible for slicing through the steel columns like a hot knife through butter?
One of the unforgettable images of 9/11 was the amount of white soot that covered everything, making the stunned survivors resemble a menagerie of lost ghosts walking down the streets of New York City in the middle of a snowstorm.
Thousands of pounds of this dust clogged every nook and cranny of the Big Apple for weeks. And for the residents of New York, who were forced to cope with tiny mountains of white ash throughout their downtown apartments, this dust became a morbid keepsake, a grim souvenir of the day that shook the world. New Yorkers scooped up the fine powder and saved it, not knowing how important this act would turn out to be, because what researchers discovered in that dust has proven to be the single most disturbing discovery to date about 9/11.
The devil is in… the dust
“At the microscopic level, if you examine the granular structure of the steel, one can detect the presence of an element that is not normally present,” said Marini. “And it is there in substantial qualities. It is sulfur.”
Professor Steven Jones, a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, after examining samples of the dust collected from residents (from different locations around the city), provided the shocking reason for the high levels of sulfur found in the steel beams: the existence of thermite, a powerful material that is often employed in detonations.
“We are quite certain where this molten metal comes from,” the physicist explained in the documentary film Zero. “It comes from a material called thermite, which is made up of aluminum powder, iron oxide and sulfur.”
According to Jones, “the presence of thermite in the dust samples implies that someone had to place the thermite near the steel columns in order to cut through them.”
In other words, Jones is describing what is commonly known as a controlled demolition.
In addition to thermite, Jones said that his team detected large amounts of barium in the dust particles as well.
“This is very interesting,” he said, “because barium nitrate and sulfur are part of the military patent on what is known as thermate (thermite with sulfur and barium nitrate added). Barium is a very toxic metal, so one would not expect it to be present in the large concentrations that we see.”
In several of the available photos from Ground Zero, some of the protruding steel columns that survived the collapse have straight downward cuts that seem to lend credence to Jones’s chilling theory.
Danish scientists confirm presence of nano-thermite
In a separate study, Neils Harrit from the University of Copenhagen, together with eight of his fellow colleagues, provides conclusive evidence for the prevalence of explosive material in dust samples from 9/11.
The study (entitled “Active Thermite Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe”), draws the conclusion that “the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nano-technology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material.”
During an interview with RT in July, Harrit said he also believed that “conventional explosives were used in abundance” in the collapse of the buildings.
“We suggested… to the National Institute of Standards and Technology that they should look for traces of explosives and they have refused to do so every time,” said Harrit. “They have not investigated it.”
The simple question must be: why? After all, 9/11 represented the largest crime scene in modern history; should not all of the possibilities be thoroughly examined? Why is NIST not interested in knowing if explosives were used in combination with the suicide missions of the hijackers? After all, is it not plausible that the terrorists rigged the building with explosives just in case the airliners missed, or failed, to bring down their targets? Rigging a building with explosives, although certainly no simple feat, would not have been any more challenging than hijacking four aircraft with worse than amateur pilots suddenly in charge of navigating the aircraft.
Moreover, conventional explosives were tried once before. It could not have escaped NIST’s attention that on February 26, 1993, a 1,500 lb (680 kg) bomb was detonated in the underground garage section of the North Tower. The terrorists had anticipated that the force of the bomb would topple the North Tower onto the South Tower. The crude attempt failed, of course, but given the testimony of hundreds of witnesses who reported feeling explosions below the buildings during the attacks of 9/11, it seems incredible, and even suspicious, that this angle was never explored by the government agency.
Harrit then goes on to discuss the presence of molten iron in the collapse site.
“The thermite reaction produced molten iron. Now the molten iron was pouring out of one of the towers. Molten iron was in pools in the rubble after 9/11. For weeks and months the surface temperature was 735 degrees after three days of showers. It took them three months to put out the fire, which was declared officially extinguished on December 20. Now this is some kind of fire. This was a witch’s brew of nano-thermite chemistry for three months!”
Meanwhile, eyewitness accounts of pre-crash explosions inside of the buildings seems to lend credence to the theory that nano-thermite, perhaps, mixed with other explosives, may have been used to bring down both structures.
“It turns out that literally dozens of firefighters and emergency medical workers had given testimony that they had heard one, two, three, seven, eight, some said 10 explosions going off in the building,” said Professor David Ray Griffin, the author of “9-11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions.”
“Some of the people inside the buildings reported that they were banged around, knocked downstairs by explosions. Other people testified to seeing flashes. And many of them said: ‘It looked just like on TV when we see them bring down buildings with explosions.’”
RT asked Professor Niels Harrit in an exclusive interview (in fact, his first for an English-language media syndicate) what motivated him to research the collapse of the WTC buildings.
“I accidentally saw Building 7,” Harrit began. “And for those who do not know this… there were two airliners, but there were three skyscrapers (that were destroyed). Most people associate the World Trade Center with the twin towers… but Building 7 was a huge building, close to 200 meters high, 47 stories, with a footprint the size of a soccer field. And it came down 20 minutes after 5 in the afternoon; this was 7 hours after the North tower had collapsed.
“I saw this accidentally, and I said, ‘What is this?‘ “This is World Trade Center 7,’ I was told. ‘What?!’
“And it’s going down completely symmetrically, in 6.5 seconds,” says Harrit, gesticulating with his hands to demonstrate the movement. “It’s going down – zoop! And as a scientist, you are trained to watch your environment in an analytical fashion. You are always thinking ‘how does this happen, how does this happen.’ And this, I just could not understand it.
“It took me weeks actually to digest this… But once you have realized this, there is no way back. So you can either speak out, or you can live in shame. And from then on, I got more and more interested, and I found that the evidence for controlled demolition is overwhelming… ‘“
Andrews Air Force Base is a mere 10 miles away from the Pentagon, yet 1 hour and 20 minutes after the attacks began not a single fighter jet had been activated to intercept American Airlines Flight 77.
Consider the following: On October 25, 1999, a tiny Learjet 35 departed from Orlando, Florida that was carrying Payne Stewart, a professional American golfer. About 14 minutes after departing from the airport, the control tower lost contact with his plane. The air-traffic controllers, following rigid protocol regarding lost aircraft, immediately notified the US Air Force.
According to FAA official transcripts, “At 9:52 a U.S. Air Force F-16 from the 40th Flight Test Squadron at the Englin Air Force was vectored toward the aircraft.”
At 9:54 – just two minutes after the command to intercept had been ordered – the fighter jet had already spotted Payne Stewart’s wayward aircraft.
The pilot of the F-16 reported that both engines on the plane were working, but the cockpit windows were covered with condensation or frost, a sign that the cabin had depressurized without the necessary oxygen reserves. Things looked very bad for the occupants of the aircraft.
Both the Learjet and the F-16 were now over the state of Illinois, many miles from the departing point. The F-16 from Englin stopped pursuing the Learjet and landed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois for refueling and probably a cigarette.
At this point, two Oklahoma F-16s (Codenamed, TULSA 13) were then vectored to intercept the “accident airplane” by the Minneapolis ARTCC (Air Route Traffic Control Center). Neither pilots of those two planes, which flew within meters of the disabled aircraft, noticed anything mechanically wrong with the tiny aircraft. But still the pilot of the Learjet did not respond.
Minutes later, the TULSA 13 jets handed off the plane to two F-16s stationed in North Dakota (Codenamed, NODAK 32). One of the pilots from this new sortie reported, “We’ve got two visuals on it… the cockpit window is iced over and there’s no displacement in any of the control surfaces…”
Twenty minutes later, one of the jets from the NODAK 32 team remained to the west of the Learjet, while the TULSA 13 F-16 followed the Learjet down.
“The target is descending and he is doing multiple aileron rolls, looks like he is out of control,” the TULSA 13 pilot radioed back to his command station. “It’s soon to impact the ground he is in a descending spiral.”
The plane crashes and all of the passengers, who probably died long before the plane had hit the ground, were killed.
Compare: On Sept. 11 at 9:37 a.m., one hour and twenty minutes after the hijackings were reported, American Airlines Flight 77 slams into the west wall of the Pentagon without ever being followed, intercepted or shot down by US fighter jets.
How does NORAD account for the fact that five (5) state-of-the-art F-16 fighter jets, activated from various air force bases, trailed a tiny wayward Learjet halfway across the United States, yet failed to vector a single aircraft to inspect four commercial jets that were carrying hundreds of passengers across many miles of heavily populated, strategically sensitive territory? It does not compute.
Despite possessing highly sophisticated aircraft that can fly faster than the speed of sound (2,400 km per hour), and shoot down targets from many miles away, the U.S. Air Force opted not to activate a single fighter jet to intercept, tag, or at least investigate, four lumbering commercial jets that had wandered off their courses for periods ranging from 20 to 90 minutes.
“Anytime an airliner goes off course,” says Robert Bowman, a pilot and decorated Vietnam veteran, “or loses radio communication, or loses its transponder signal – anytime any one of those three things happen, the aircraft is supposed to be intercepted.”
“On 9/11, all three of those things happen,” continues Bowman in the film Zero, “and still there was no intercept. Those planes flew for 20 minutes to an hour-and-a-half without ever being intercepted.”
But there was no shortage of fighter jets available, we must assume, since there are sixteen (16) Air Force bases located in the northeast of the United States. So why weren’t the large, slow-moving Boeing jets intercepted?
The official version of the story says that NORAD was notified too late; in other words, the air traffic controllers were not on the ball on 9/11. This argument seems equally implausible. John Judge, a 9/11 investigator for former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, said that 9/11 was the first time in the year 2001 that an air emergency went ignored.
“Sixty-seven times in that year, 2001,” says Judge, “there had been air emergencies. They can get a plane up in 6 to 10 minutes, and scrambled 67 times that year in air emergencies, but there was not an instance where an air emergency went ignored for long periods of time – until 9/11.”
One good explanation for the eerily empty skies over New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 9/11 had a lot to do with a bizarre memorandum (entitled “Aircraft Piracy and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects”) that former Vice President Dick Cheney rammed through the Defense Department on June 1, 2001, exactly three months before 9/11.
Despite warnings from intelligence-collecting agencies that a terrorist strike was becoming an increasing threat (a presidential brief, for example, entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” landed on George W. Bush’s desk from the FBI on August 6 that makes direct mention of the Al-Qaeda leader wanting to “hijack a US aircraft to… gain release of US-held extremists”), Cheney inexplicably relieves NORAD of its long-standing responsibility to intercept and shoot down hijacked airplanes that pose a major threat on the ground.
In other words, the U.S. generals had their hands tied on 9/11, and could not even scramble jets without a direct order from the Pentagon. That command, of course, never came.
It should be no surprise as to who failed to pick up the telephone at the Pentagon on the morning of Sept. 11. Yes, Donald Rumsfeld. Where was he? Strangely, nobody could find him. Indeed, the official 9/11 Commission report states that the Defense Secretary “was untraceable until 10:30a.m.”
Eventually, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was caught on film shortly after the crash of Flight 77, assisting with the rescue efforts on the lawn of the Pentagon. Although this humanly gesture must be commended, it seems to be completely at odds with Rumsfeld’s most critical job duty, which was to give clearance for NORAD to shoot down or intercept hijacked aircraft according to Cheney’s updated (and short-lived) memorandum mentioned above.
On the lawn of the Pentagon, tending to the wounded was not the right place for the Defense Secretary who should have been sitting near the phone, coordinating our national defenses. And how did Rumsfeld know for certain that another plane might not drop out of the sky, indeed as had been wildly rumored? Wouldn’t his expertise and command have been much more helpful inside of the Pentagon?
Or maybe the absence of any aircraft in America’s skies besides hijacked ones had something to do with a secret exercise that was based upon “the fiction” of a hijacked plane crashing into a building. When did that military exercise occur? Yes, on the very morning of Sept. 11.
“In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence,” reports the Associated Press exactly one year after 9/11, “one US intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into one of its buildings”
“Officials at the… National Reconnaissance Office had scheduled an exercise that morning in which a small corporate jet would crash into one of the four towers at the agency’s headquarters…,” the AP article revealed.
Is what follows just another coincidence? You be the judge: The National Reconnaissance Office, which operates many of the nation’s spy satellites, sits just four miles away from Washington’s Dulles International Airport. And it was from Dulles Airport where American Airlines Flight 77 – the Boeing 757 that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon – departed at 8:10 a.m. on Sept. 11, fifty minutes before the crash exercise at the intelligence agency was scheduled to begin.
If there was a better way to obfuscate the already high level of pandemonium that existed on Sept. 11 than to plan a terrorist hijacking exercise similar to the “real-world” one in progress, I personally cannot imagine it. Indeed, precious minutes were wasted as the agency and the air traffic controllers debated if it was the exercise they were witnessing on their radar screens, or “the real thing.”
Alright, so one of the most elite air forces in the world allowed a large, lumbering commercial jet to strike one of the world’s best protected military installations in the world. Fine, mistakes happen, even impossible mistakes, we could say with a shrug. But what about the batteries of surface-to-air missiles that reportedly surround the Pentagon? Surely the Pentagon’s defense ring would have intercepted American Airlines Flight 77 (Thierry Meyssan, the French journalist who caused a sensation with his book entitled “9/11: The Big Lie,” stated that the Pentagon is protected by “five missile batteries.” Some commentators refute that claim, saying there are no such batteries on the grounds of the Pentagon. Meyssan, however, defends his source of information: “The presence of these anti-missile batteries was testified to me by French officers to whom they were shown during an official visit to the Pentagon. This was later confirmed to me by a Saudi officer”).
April Gallop, a US Army administrative specialist, was working inside the Pentagon on 9/11. In response to a question presented by George Washington’s blog, Gallop responded that the real question is, “what is the probability or likelihood that no anti-aircraft defense, warning alarms or additional security mechanism functioned on that particular day?”
Gallop has since retired from the Pentagon due to her injuries sustained on 9/11.
Missing-in-action video camera footage
Although we may never know for sure if the Pentagon is surrounded with a surface-to-air missile defense system, we do know that the building employs a small contingency of video cameras – 85 to be exact – that dutifully capture every conceivable angle of the hallowed grounds. And according to a senior journalist from the US Department of Defense, the FBI collected all of the footage from these cameras shortly after the attacks.
“The FBI was immediately at the scene and took the surveillance tapes and confiscated 85 videotapes,” said Barbara Honegger, a senior journalist with the Department of Defense (DoD).
Although collecting the videos may be considered “routine intelligence gathering,” failing to share the footage with your fellow citizens for no apparent reason seems a bit odd, if not outright scandalous. But in yet another inexplicable move, that is exactly what the FBI did. Not until 2006 did the Department of Defense (DoD) back down to freedom of information requests, handing over four tapes from their stash of 85 available. Isn’t that being a bit stingy with the vintage video collection? Beggars can’t be choosers, apparently.
Anyways, two of the tapes released by the DoD show only a vague plume of smoke in the distance and so are of absolutely no use to researchers. The remaining two tapes, taken from the Pentagon’s parking lot entrance, show what appears to be the tip of some sort of approaching vehicle – and that is all – before a huge fireball is seen erupting against the wall of the building. Nothing remotely resembling a Boeing 757, or even the smallest airplane for that matter, is evident in the released video clip.
“Quite frankly, there’s not enough in those photographs to tell exactly what it was,” says Captain Russ Wittemberg, a pilot with 30 years experience in military and civilian aviation. “But you can tell what it wasn’t. It didn’t have the size… If it was a real 757-200 it would be much bigger than the vehicle we do see in the picture.”
The Pentagon explained that the lack of an airplane in the video clip was due to the speed of the aircraft; the lumbering commercial aircraft somehow managed to squeeze its formidable proportions right between the frames of the video! Yes, the Boeing 757-200 was just too tiny a target, it seems, to have been captured on those sophisticated surveillance cameras.
According to an affidavit by Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent Counterterrorism Division of the FBI, “fifty-six (56) of these videotapes did not show either the Pentagon building, the Pentagon crash site, or the impact of Flight 77 into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Maguire goes on to explain that “I personally viewed the remaining twenty-nine (29) videotapes.” Yet she concluded that there was “nothing of interest” for the public to gain from having access to those tapes.
Again, we are reduced to asking more silly “why” questions, which should have been provided from the beginning: If the Pentagon perimeter was ringed with security cameras, why were approximately three-fourths of the devices not aimed at the building itself? And if they were aimed away from the complex, as alleged, how could a Boeing 757-200 commercial jet fail to get captured by all of the video cameras? Finally, why did Maguire “personally view” just 29 of the available 85 tapes? Why did she not have privilege to all of them? Certainly she must have been curious. And if it was not Maguire who viewed the other 56 tapes, who did view them?
Boeing 757s (and amateur pilots) cannot perform acrobatic maneuvers
Perhaps the reason that the Pentagon’s army of video cameras failed to catch any sign of a commercial jet was because the hulking Boeing 757 was up in the air performing graceful acrobatic maneuvers before its final descent and crash. At least this is what the official version of the Pentagon crash would have us believe.
Before plowing into the Pentagon building, the Boeing 757 seems to have performed a death defying 270-degree turn at the speed of approximately 88 kilometers per hour, official data says. Experienced flight personnel, however, say “no way.”
“That is a really difficult maneuver,” commented Robin Hordon, a flight controller for 11 years at Boston Center. “And what I will say to you is that an experienced pilot with thousands of hours probably would have to take between 10 and 20 attempts… before they would be able to pull off that maneuver.”
“A 757 is not designed to do that,” Hordon continued. “The 757 is designed to be a cruise ship in the sky. It’s not acrobatic. So you just can’t do that with one of those big airplanes.”
“The speed, the maneuverability, the way that it turned,” commented Danielle O’Brien, air traffic controller from Dulles airport, “we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was a military plane.”
Then there is the assertion that the aircraft was flying at 6 meters above the ground at 580 kilometers per hour for one kilometer before hitting its target.
“The story is Flight 77 was going 530 miles per hour, 460 knots… it can’t go that fast down that low,” says Wittemberg. “The air is too dense at such low altitudes.”
“I challenge any pilot,” says Nila Sagadevan, a pilot and aeronautical engineer, “give him a Boeing 757 and tell him to do 400 knots 20 feet above the ground for half a mile. You can’t do it. It’s aerodynamically impossible.”
So given the extreme unlikelihood that even a seasoned pilot would be able to pull off such a maneuver, how could Hani Hanjour, who could not even negotiate a tiny Cessna 172, be the man who performed these next-to-impossible flying maneuvers before zeroing in on the Pentagon.
“I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon,” said one of Hanjour’s past flight instructors in an interview with The New York Times. “He could not fly at all.”
“His instructor described him as a terrible pilot,” admitted the 9/11 Commission report, quoting an FBI memorandum. Another flight instructor went so far as to call Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Al-Omari, the alleged hijackers of Flight 11, “dumb and dumber in an airplane.”
“For a guy to just jump into the cockpit and fly like an ace is impossible,” says Wittenberg, in an interview with Lewis News. “There is not one chance in a thousand.”
The ex-commercial pilot then recalled that when he made the jump from Boeing’s 727 to the much more sophisticated 737’s and then on to the 767’s it took him “considerable time” to feel comfortable with the changes.
So it is little wonder that the 9/11 commission report says that “the President (George W. Bush) was struck by the apparent sophistication of the operation and some of the piloting, especially Hanjour’s high-speed dive into the Pentagon.”
Yes, almost unbelievable.
Disappearance of Flight 77 after hitting the Pentagon
Whenever an airplane crashes, we are only too familiar with grim television news reports that show close-up footage of physical wreckage, including engines, seats, luggage, and wheel assemblies. But this is the truly inexplicable thing about the crash of Flight 77 into the Pentagon: there is practically no sign of a wrecked aircraft after the crash. All that remains of Flight 77 is about a dozen small pieces, most of which can be lifted by hand.
On September 9, 1994, US Air Flight 427 crashed into a wooded area outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to data retrieved from the plane’s black box, the plane went into a vertical roll at a height of 3,600 feet just after the captain announced an emergency. Witnesses at the scene told investigators that the plane “dove into the ground at full speed.”
Despite slamming into the ground at a great speed and distance and exploding, large remains of the aircraft were nevertheless discovered over a wide area.
“The largest part of the plane… believed to be the tail,” reported the EmergencyNet news Service. “Bits of baggage, shredded parts of the plane, and severed limbs are reportedly strewn over a large area.”
Compare this routine crash scene with that reported (once) by a CNN anchor from his “close-up inspection” at the Pentagon:
“From my close-up inspection, there’s no evidence of a plane having crashed anywhere near the Pentagon,” he commented live from the scene. “The only pieces left that you can see are small enough that you can pick up in your hand. There are no large tail sections, wing sections, a fuselage, nothing like that anywhere around which would indicate that the entire plane crashed into the side of the Pentagon.”
There was also a firsthand report from a fighter pilot who was ordered by Major General Larry Arnold, the commander of NORAD, the agency that is charged with protecting the airspace over North America.
According to Honegger, the senior journalist with the U.S. Department of Defense, the pilot made an overpass of the crash zone and reported back to command center that “there was no evidence, zero evidence, of an impact of a plane at the Pentagon.”
As questions over the whereabouts of the mysteriously disappearing aircraft began to mount, the Department of the Defense began to support the theory that Flight 77 simply “vaporized” due to the speed that it was traveling.
So, in addition to being forced to accept the new science that steel buildings collapse due to fire, we are also expected to swallow yet another “unprecedented event” that happened on that truly mysterious morning of September 11: all those practically indestructible components of an aircraft – engines, landing gear, tail and wings – just vaporized into thin air.
The engines of a Boeing 757-200 are about 9 feet long and composed of titanium, the strongest of metals that resists melting even at 3,000 degrees Celsius. So why was there no evidence of these engines against the wall of the Pentagon? The two big holes that we would expect to see are not there. There should have been a line of complete destruction before the collapse of the building’s external wall. It’s simply not there. Instead, where the wings of the aircraft should have struck the building, in cooperation with the mighty engines, there are unbroken windows clearly visible.
Only a small hole, 16 foot (5 meters) in diameter, was visible in the side of the Pentagon 45 minutes before the wall collapsed. Certainly, a Boeing 757-200, which weighs over 100 tons, carries a much larger footprint.
Boeing 757’s are 150 feet long. The engines of these monster aircraft are 9 feet long. The landing gear also contains huge metal components, made of titanium, that are virtually indestructible. How can 60 tons of airplane vanish into thin air with barely a trace?
“There’s no indication of the wings hitting anything at the Pentagon,” says Capt. Russ Wittemberg, a 30-year veteran of military and civilian aviation.
“Perhaps at a certain moment,” quipped Dario Fo, a Nobel Prize winner, “the airplane somehow closed up its wings, just as dragon flies do, and the plane entered the hole!”
“I look at the hole in the Pentagon,” said Maj. General Albert Stubblebine, whose former job was to measure pieces of Soviet equipment taken from photographs during the Cold War, “and I look at the size of the airplane that was supposed to have hit the Pentagon, and the plane does not fit in that hole.”
Stubblebine then asked, with no lack of emotion: “So what did hit the Pentagon? What’s going on?”
Whatever it was that hit the Pentagon on 9/11, it slammed through 6 massive walls before leaving a nearly perfect circular exit hole deep inside the military complex that measured approximately 12 feet across. In other words, nothing remotely resembling an airplane.
“With all the evidence readily available at the Pentagon crash site,” concludes Col. George Nelson, an aircraft accident investigator with the US Air Force, “any unbiased, rational investigator could only conclude that a Boeing 757 did not fly into the Pentagon.”
Not a single individual lost their job following the worst terrorist attacks to strike the United States; in fact, the military personnel directly responsible for protecting America’s skies all received promotions shortly after 9/11.
Osama bin Laden was suspect number one on 9/11, yet the U.S. authorities commit yet another inexplicable act: they release all members of the bin Laden family who were residing at the time in the US.
Let’s imagine that a mass murder has been committed in Smalltown, America and the suspect is at large. Where is the first place the investigators will invariably go to search for clues as to either the whereabouts of the killer or his or her motives? Yes, to the immediate families of the suspected killer.
So why did the US authorities let the immediate kin of bin Laden escape on planes out of Dodge?
“Even though American airspace had been shut down,” Sky News reported, “the Bush administration allowed a jet to fly around the US picking up family members from 10 cities, including Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston and Houston.”
“Two dozen members of Osama bin Laden’s family were urgently evacuated from the United States in the first days following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington,” CBS reported.
“Most of bin Laden’s relatives were attending high school and college,” the article continued. “Many were terrified, fearing they would be lynched after hearing reports of violence against Muslims and Arab-Americans.”
The skies over America in the days following 9/11 were in lock-down mode yet the entire family of America’s number one enemy is released without due question. Furthermore, not only are these individuals duly released, they are released on commercial jets, the very mode of transport that bin Laden allegedly used to wreak havoc on the northeastern United States.
This is truly amazing, and bears repeating: not a single American citizen could fly after 9/11, yet we give permission to the family of the evil mastermind who allegedly used commercial jets to damage four buildings to escape from the United States on commercial jets! This sort of irrational behavior on the part of the authorities almost makes it look as if the Bush administration knew that Osama bin Laden was not responsible for the attacks so releasing the bin Ladens would not mean much. Or maybe we are missing something here?
Let’s briefly imagine a reversal of roles: an American, who is believed to be hiding out in enemy territory overseas, is accused of killing thousands of innocent people in Jeddah one Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, dozens of his American relatives are attending university in Jeddah. How would the Saudi government, or any government for that matter, respond to that predicament? I think it would be a safe bet that the Saudi government might, at the very least, ask those Americans, who are probably innocent, of course, not to leave town until further notice. If nothing else, it seems to be normal protocol for any investigation, whatever the size. But the sheer size and brutal surprise of 9/11 allowed us to set aside our common sense and accept any explanation, however asinine.
Is there a better way to sabotage an in-depth investigation against the world’s premier evil mastermind than to release all of his family members before any in-depth question-and-answer session had taken place? Personally, I cannot imagine it. Think about it. What about possible phone calls to ( or from) bin Laden from family members that should have been examined? Or emails? (After all, bin Laden, despite spending most of his time in caves, is an allegedly tech-savvy guy). These take weeks to fully examine. Perhaps there was an incriminating clue somewhere, a hint, a code? There is even the possibility, despite the fact that the bin Ladens have apparently ostracized Osama, that at least one of them was sympathetic to his cause. But it would only have taken one to get mountains of valuable information. Finally, the decision seemed to be politically unattractive. Still, even that did not deter the authorities from giving the bin Ladens yet more frequent flier miles.
Moreover, the United States has proven itself to be somewhat adept at using “intense interrogation” techniques to extract information from co-conspirators. Did any official float the idea of applying a little bit of pressure, you know, in classic good cop, bad cop routines that we’ve seen a million times in Hollywood films, to one or two bin Laden family members in order to get one of the others to spill the beans? Apparently not.
Instead, former White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, who was supposedly one of the only individuals on the ball when it came to recognizing the terror threat sitting like a burning pile of manure on America’s doorstep, gave his stamp of approval to the White House initiative.
“Somebody brought to us for approval the decision to let an airplane filled with Saudis, including members of the bin laden family, leave the country,” Clarke told Vanity Fair magazine in an interview. “So I said, ‘Fine, let it happen.’”
Maybe this was simply Clarke’s last straw in attempting to focus the Bush administration’s attention on what appeared to be a major domestic threat. Clarke soon said his goodbyes to the dirty world of espionage and anti-terrorism to write books dedicated to the blundering Beltway.
So many videos, so little time
Another inexplicable thing about the morning of 9/11 involves yet more missing videotape evidence, this time involving the alleged leaders of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Al-Omari.
But in order to appreciate the full scenario, we must back up to Sept. 10 when Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Al-Omari depart from sunny Florida in a rental car and drive all the way to distant Portland, Maine. This in itself makes no sense. Why not drive straight to Boston, if you really must drive 1,500 miles, where the hijacking would take place? Once in Portland, investigators tell us that the two men (Islamic fundamentalists, remember, who are about to commit suicide) go wild at a night club, attract attention to themselves with their revelry, and pay with credit cards in their name. In short, they do everything possible to leave behind proof of their presence in Portland.
At 6 a.m. on Sept. 11, the two men fly from Portland to Boston. This is really cutting things close, since the plane they are accused of hijacking departs just 30 minutes after their connecting flight lands.
In the nervous days after 9/11, the public is presented CCTV photos of Atta and al-Omari passing through a security check before boarding the plane. This is the authorities’ definitive evidence that the two men were on board ill-fated America Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to strike the WTC. The only problem is that the famous CCTV video shows the two men boarding at Portland, not Boston. In fact, there is no physical proof anywhere that Atta and al-Omari ever boarded the doomed planes from Dulles Airport.
“The Dulles airport video is unlike the Portland video in every way,” writes Paul Zarembka in his book, The Hidden History of 9-11-2001. “While the Portland video has sharp, clear resolution, the Dulles video’s resolution is poor and grainy. While the Portland video was released soon after 9/11, only heavily edited versions of the Dulles video with segments missing were not made available to the American public until almost three years later, on July 24, 2004, one day before the Commissions Report’s release. It took a lawsuit by families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to pry the video loose from the government’s grip…”
Just like the military exercises involving a hijacked plane that were staged to occur at the same time as the real attacks on 9/11, it could be argued that having these two men fly out of Portland, Maine only served to cloud the picture. Indeed, it strongly suggests that Atta and Al-Omari never boarded Flight 11.
“These missing data,” Zarembka says, “are just one of five major problems identifiable in the Dulles video.” For those interested in reading further on this particular subject, and others, may click here.
Perhaps the biggest hole in the fairy tale of the 19 terrorists, who were “armed with nothing more than box cutters,” involves the not-insignificant fact that at least 10 of them are still walking the earth today.
“After at least ten named on the FBI’s final list of 19 have been verified to be alive,” writes Zarembka, “with proof that least one other, Ziad Jarrah, had his identity doubled and therefore fabricated, the FBI has nevertheless refused to make the necessary corrections to exonerate those falsely accused.”
Of the 11 individuals who had “stolen identities,” most of them are pilots or work in some capacity for the airlines.
For example. On Sept. 17, 2001, The Independent reported that a ‘suicide hijacker’ is really an airline pilot “alive and well in Jeddah.”
“Abdulrahman al-Omari, a pilot with Saudi Airlines,” the British newspaper reported, “was astonished to find himself accused of hijacking as well as being dead and has visited the US consulate in Jeddah to demand an explanation.”
Then, five days later, another Saudi Arabian pilot, Waleed Al Shehri, protests his innocence from his home in Casablanca, Morocco.
Saudi Airlines was reported saying it is considering legal action against the FBI for seriously damaging its reputation.
Yet the incredible revelations of alleged hijackers turning up alive continue unabated.
“Saudi Airlines pilot Saeed Al-Ghamdi and Abdulaziz Al-Omari, an engineer from Riyadh, are furious that the hijackers’ “personal details” – including name, place, date of birth and occupation – matched their own,” the Telegraph reported.
Al-Ghamdi faced further humiliation when CNN, the American television news agency, flashed a photograph of him around the world, calling him a hijack suspect.
But perhaps the wildest pretense of proof to fall from the skies like manna post-9/11 was the miraculous discovery of hijacker Satam Al-Suqami’s passport, lying a few blocks away from the crash site. The World Trace Center fires were fierce enough, we are told, to melt steel and destroy both virtually indestructible black boxes from the airplanes. Yet a flimsy passport from one of the terrorists survives the inferno and lands gently on a side street for all to behold.
As The Guardian put it best: “The idea that (the) passport had escaped from the inferno unsinged (tests) the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI’s crackdown on terrorism.”
“We never saw this coming”
Finally, members of the Bush administration passionately defend themselves after 9/11, saying that the attacks had taken them completely by surprise. This is patently false.
“I don’t think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile,” national security advisor Condeleezza Rice told reporters.
Yet an attack involving hijacked airplanes is precisely what NORAD, the agency that failed to protect America’s skies on 9/11, was practicing for in 1999.
“In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks,” reported USA Today (April, 2004), “the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.”
“NORAD, in a written statement, confirmed that such hijacking exercises occurred. It said the scenarios outlined were regional drills, not regularly scheduled continent-wide exercises,” the daily continued.
But there is no need to go all the way back to 1999 for proof that at least some individuals were preparing for an attack against highly sensitive strategic targets in the United States.
First, there is the already-mentioned presidential brief (“Bin Laden Determined to strike in US”) that had landed on George W. Bush’s desk on August 6, 2001.
Here is one part from that brief:
“We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a (—) service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of… U.S. held extremists.
“Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.”
In addition to this red-hot potato that even Dan Quayle could have handled, members of the intelligence community had plans to hold a hijacking exercise on the very morning of 9/11, hosted by the National Reconnaissance Office.
“In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence,” reported the Associated Press, “one U.S. intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into one of its buildings.”
Ultimately, as discussed elsewhere in this story, that mission was cancelled when news of 9/11 broke. Yet given the fact that the exercise was “coincidentally” held on 9/11 added much unnecessary fuel to a September morning that was already smoking in overload.
Despite public declarations to the opposite, certain individuals were certainly aware about the possibility of a terrorist attack against the United States using commercial jets as weapons, yet claimed nothing could have prepared them for such a thing. We “never could have imagined it!” After all, we are inherently good, the script seemed to scream, and they are inherently bad.
Moreover, despite numerous such exercises, allegedly to thwart a terrorist hijacking, the US Air Force, which US taxpayers spend billions a year slush-funding, remained landlocked on the second day in American history that will live in infamy.
Although we could easily write a thousand more pages on the “coincidences” and inconsistencies involving the official version of events of 9/11, perhaps we should end this story on that note, before forwarding a question tailor-made for the likes of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes: “Who did it?”
- The Bin Laden Delusion Continues… (alethonews.wordpress.com)