T Nation

Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Courtesy of Popular Mechanics and its researchers:


Here’s the intro to the article:

From the moment the first airplane crashed into the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, the world has asked one simple and compelling question: How could it happen?

Three and a half years later, not everyone is convinced we know the truth. Go to Google.com, type in the search phrase “World Trade Center conspiracy” and you’ll get links to an estimated 628,000 Web sites. More than 3000 books on 9/11 have been published; many of them reject the official consensus that hijackers associated with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda flew passenger planes into U.S. landmarks.

Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia. Wild conspiracy tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in other media. Blurry photos, quotes taken out of context and sketchy eyewitness accounts have inspired a slew of elaborate theories: The Pentagon was struck by a missile; the World Trade Center was razed by demolition-style bombs; Flight 93 was shot down by a mysterious white jet. As outlandish as these claims may sound, they are increasingly accepted abroad and among extremists here in the United States.

To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70 professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine, including aviation, engineering and the military.

In the end, we were able to debunk each of these assertions with hard evidence and a healthy dose of common sense. We learned that a few theories are based on something as innocent as a reporting error on that chaotic day. Others are the byproducts of cynical imaginations that aim to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate. Only by confronting such poisonous claims with irrefutable facts can we understand what really happened on a day that is forever seared into world history.–THE EDITORS

If you really want to get into it I can show you the PM article is nothing but another smoke screen to avert attention from the real issues surrounding 9/11.

For one, they debunk theories that even 9/11 skeptics know to be disinformation, falsely created to be easily debunked - the “straw man”.

For anyone who doesn’t care to look deeper, the article will at least be enough to help you sleep better convincing you you were right all along.

Like the question I posed in the other post that no one has yet to answer - If this war on terror is so successful, kindly inform us all how many arrests and convictions have been made in connection with the 9/11 attacks.

Surely in this vast array of al Qaeda networks it’s got to be in the hundreds. Being that we’re in a war in Iraq from the consequences of 9/11, is it too much to ask to see the conspirators of 9/11?

I’m counting on you to show me.

The article hits directly on some of the things I’ve actually read that you posted, JTF. While I’m not surprised that you have even more conspiracy-nut stuff – if one believes the stats on how many people buy into this stuff it’s easy to lose faith in people – it should be kept in mind that wacky theories need to be proved, not disproved.

Here’s the article, in case anyone didn’t want to jump the link and still wants to judge for himself:


From the moment the first airplane crashed into the World Trade Center
on the morning of September 11, 2001, the world has asked one simple
and compelling question: How could it happen?

Three and a half years later, not everyone is convinced we know the
truth. Go to Google.com, type in the search phrase “World Trade Center
conspiracy” and you’ll get links to an estimated 628,000 Web sites.
More than 3000 books on 9/11 have been published; many of them reject
the official consensus that hijackers associated with Osama bin Laden
and Al Qaeda flew passenger planes into U.S. landmarks.

Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia. Wild
conspiracy tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in
other media. Blurry photos, quotes taken out of context and sketchy
eyewitness accounts have inspired a slew of elaborate theories: The
Pentagon was struck by a missile; the World Trade Center was razed by
demolition-style bombs; Flight 93 was shot down by a mysterious white
jet. As outlandish as these claims may sound, they are increasingly
accepted abroad and among extremists here in the United States.

To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy
theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and
reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70
professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine,
including aviation, engineering and the military.

In the end, we were able to debunk each of these assertions with hard
evidence and a healthy dose of common sense. We learned that a few
theories are based on something as innocent as a reporting error on
that chaotic day. Others are the byproducts of cynical imaginations
that aim to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate. Only by
confronting such poisonous claims with irrefutable facts can we
understand what really happened on a day that is forever seared into
world history.–THE EDITORS

The widely accepted account that hijackers commandeered and crashed
the four 9/11 planes is supported by reams of evidence, from cockpit
recordings to forensics to the fact that crews and passengers never
returned home. Nonetheless, conspiracy theorists seize on a handful of
“facts” to argue a very different scenario: The jets that struck New
York and Washington, D.C., weren’t commercial planes, they say, but
something else, perhaps refueling tankers or guided missiles. And the
lack of military intervention? Theorists claim it proves the U.S.
government instigated the assault or allowed it to occur in order to
advance oil interests or a war agenda.

Where’s The Pod?
CLAIM: Photographs and video footage shot just before United Airlines
Flight 175 hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) show an
object underneath the fuselage at the base of the right wing. The film
“911 In Plane Site” and the Web site LetsRoll911.org claim that no
such object is found on a stock Boeing 767. They speculate that this
“military pod” is a missile, a bomb or a piece of equipment on an
air-refueling tanker. LetsRoll911.org points to this as evidence that
the attacks were an “inside job” sanctioned by “President George Bush,
who planned and engineered 9/11.”

FACT: One of the clearest, most widely seen pictures of the doomed
jet’s undercarriage was taken by photographer Rob Howard and published
in New York magazine and elsewhere (opening page and at right). PM
sent a digital scan of the original photo to Ronald Greeley, director
of the Space Photography Laboratory at Arizona State University.
Greeley is an expert at analyzing images to determine the shape and
features of geological formations based on shadow and light effects.
After studying the high-resolution image and comparing it to photos of
a Boeing 767-200ER’s undercarriage, Greeley dismissed the notion that
the Howard photo reveals a “pod.” In fact, the photo reveals only the
Boeing’s right fairing, a pronounced bulge that contains the landing
gear. He concludes that sunlight glinting off the fairing gave it an
exaggerated look. “Such a glint causes a blossoming (enlargement) on
film,” he writes in an e-mail to PM, “which tends to be amplified in
digital versions of images–the pixels are saturated and tend to
‘spill over’ to adjacent pixels.” When asked about pods attached to
civilian aircraft, Fred E. Culick, professor of aeronautics at the
California Institute of Technology, gave a blunter response: “That’s
bull. They’re really stretching.”

No Stand-Down Order
CLAIM: No fighter jets were scrambled from any of the 28 Air Force
bases within close range of the four hijacked flights. “On 11
September Andrews had two squadrons of fighter jets with the job of
protecting the skies over Washington D.C.,” says the Web site
emperors-clothes.com. “They failed to do their job.” “There is only
one explanation for this,” writes Mark R. Elsis of StandDown.net. “Our
Air Force was ordered to Stand Down on 9/11.”

FACT: On 9/11 there were only 14 fighter jets on alert in the
contiguous 48 states. No computer network or alarm automatically
alerted the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) of missing
planes. “They [civilian Air Traffic Control, or ATC] had to pick up
the phone and literally dial us,” says Maj. Douglas Martin, public
affairs officer for NORAD. Boston Center, one of 22 Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) regional ATC facilities, called NORAD’s Northeast
Air Defense Sector (NEADS) three times: at 8:37 am EST to inform NEADS
that Flight 11 was hijacked; at 9:21 am to inform the agency,
mistakenly, that Flight 11 was headed for Washington (the plane had
hit the North Tower 35 minutes earlier); and at 9:41 am to
(erroneously) identify Delta Air Lines Flight 1989 from Boston as a
possible hijacking. The New York ATC called NEADS at 9:03 am to report
that United Flight 175 had been hijacked–the same time the plane
slammed into the South Tower. Within minutes of that first call from
Boston Center, NEADS scrambled two F-15s from Otis Air Force Base in
Falmouth, Mass., and three F-16s from Langley Air National Guard Base
in Hampton, Va. None of the fighters got anywhere near the pirated

Why couldn’t ATC find the hijacked flights? When the hijackers turned
off the planes’ transponders, which broadcast identifying signals, ATC
had to search 4500 identical radar blips crisscrossing some of the
country’s busiest air corridors. And NORAD’s sophisticated radar? It
ringed the continent, looking outward for threats, not inward. “It was
like a doughnut,” Martin says. “There was no coverage in the middle.”
Pre-9/11, flights originating in the States were not seen as threats
and NORAD wasn’t prepared to track them.

Flight 175’s Windows
CLAIM: On Sept. 11, FOX News broadcast a live phone interview with FOX
employee Marc Birnbach. 911inplanesite.com states that “Bernback” saw
the plane “crash into the South Tower.” “It definitely did not look
like a commercial plane,” Birnbach said on air. “I didn’t see any
windows on the sides.”

Coupled with photographs and videos of Flight 175 that lack the
resolution to show windows, Birnbach’s statement has fueled one of the
most widely referenced 9/11 conspiracy theories–specifically, that
the South Tower was struck by a military cargo plane or a fuel tanker.

FACT: Birnbach, who was a freelance videographer with FOX News at the
time, tells PM that he was more than 2 miles southeast of the WTC, in
Brooklyn, when he briefly saw a plane fly over. He says that, in fact,
he did not see the plane strike the South Tower; he says he only heard
the explosion.

While heading a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) probe into
the collapse of the towers, W. Gene Corley studied the airplane
wreckage. A licensed structural engineer with Construction Technology
Laboratories, a consulting firm based in Skokie, Ill., Corley and his
team photographed aircraft debris on the roof of WTC 5, including a
chunk of fuselage that clearly had passenger windows. “It’s … from
the United Airlines plane that hit Tower 2,” Corley states flatly. In
reviewing crash footage taken by an ABC news crew, Corley was able to
track the trajectory of the fragments he studied–including a section
of the landing gear and part of an engine–as they tore through the
South Tower, exited from the building’s north side and fell from the

Intercepts Not Routine
CLAIM: “It has been standard operating procedures for decades to
immediately intercept off-course planes that do not respond to
communications from air traffic controllers,” says the Web site
oilempire.us. “When the Air Force ‘scrambles’ a fighter plane to
intercept, they usually reach the plane in question in minutes.”

FACT: In the decade before 9/11, NORAD intercepted only one civilian
plane over North America: golfer Payne Stewart’s Learjet, in October
1999. With passengers and crew unconscious from cabin decompression,
the plane lost radio contact but remained in transponder contact until
it crashed. Even so, it took an F-16 1 hour and 22 minutes to reach
the stricken jet. Rules in effect back then, and on 9/11, prohibited
supersonic flight on intercepts. Prior to 9/11, all other NORAD
interceptions were limited to offshore Air Defense Identification
Zones (ADIZ). “Until 9/11 there was no domestic ADIZ,” FAA spokesman
Bill Schumann tells PM. After 9/11, NORAD and the FAA increased
cooperation, setting up hotlines between ATCs and NORAD command
centers, according to officials from both agencies. NORAD has also
increased its fighter coverage and has installed radar to monitor
airspace over the continent.

The collapse of both World Trade Center towers–and the smaller WTC 7
a few hours later–initially surprised even some experts. But
subsequent studies have shown that the WTC’s structural integrity was
destroyed by intense fire as well as the severe damage inflicted by
the planes. That explanation hasn’t swayed conspiracy theorists, who
contend that all three buildings were wired with explosives in advance
and razed in a series of controlled demolitions.

Widespread Damage
CLAIM: The first hijacked plane crashed through the 94th to the 98th
floors of the World Trade Center’s 110-story North Tower; the second
jet slammed into the 78th to the 84th floors of the 110-story South
Tower. The impact and ensuing fires disrupted elevator service in both
buildings. Plus, the lobbies of both buildings were visibly damaged
before the towers collapsed. “There is NO WAY the impact of the jet
caused such widespread damage 80 stories below,” claims a posting on
the San Diego Independent Media Center Web site
(sandiego.indymedia.org). “It is OBVIOUS and irrefutable that OTHER
EXPLOSIVES (… such as concussion bombs) HAD ALREADY BEEN DETONATED
in the lower levels of tower one at the same time as the plane crash.”

FACT: Following up on a May 2002 preliminary report by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a major study will be released in
spring 2005 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST), a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST shared its
initial findings with PM and made its lead researcher available to our
team of reporters.

The NIST investigation revealed that plane debris sliced through the
utility shafts at the North Tower’s core, creating a conduit for
burning jet fuel–and fiery destruction throughout the building. “It’s
very hard to document where the fuel went,” says Forman Williams, a
NIST adviser and a combustion expert, “but if it’s atomized and
combustible and gets to an ignition source, it’ll go off.”

Burning fuel traveling down the elevator shafts would have disrupted
the elevator systems and caused extensive damage to the lobbies. NIST
heard first-person testimony that “some elevators slammed right down”
to the ground floor. “The doors cracked open on the lobby floor and
flames came out and people died,” says James Quintiere, an engineering
professor at the University of Maryland and a NIST adviser. A similar
observation was made in the French documentary “9/11,” by Jules and
Gedeon Naudet. As Jules Naudet entered the North Tower lobby, minutes
after the first aircraft struck, he saw victims on fire, a scene he
found too horrific to film.

“Melted” Steel
CLAIM: “We have been lied to,” announces the Web site
AttackOnAmerica.net. “The first lie was that the load of fuel from the
aircraft was the cause of structural failure. No kerosene fire can
burn hot enough to melt steel.” The posting is entitled “Proof Of
Controlled Demolition At The WTC.”

FACT:Jet fuel burns at 800? to 1500?F, not hot enough to melt steel
(2750?F). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse,
their steel frames didn’t need to melt, they just had to lose some of
their structural strength–and that required exposure to much less
heat. “I have never seen melted steel in a building fire,” says
retired New York deputy fire chief Vincent Dunn, author of The
Collapse Of Burning Buildings: A Guide To Fireground Safety. “But I’ve
seen a lot of twisted, warped, bent and sagging steel. What happens is
that the steel tries to expand at both ends, but when it can no longer
expand, it sags and the surrounding concrete cracks.”

“Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100?F,” notes senior
engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel
Construction. “And at 1800? it is probably at less than 10 percent.”
NIST also believes that a great deal of the spray-on fireproofing
insulation was likely knocked off the steel beams that were in the
path of the crashing jets, leaving the metal more vulnerable to the

But jet fuel wasn’t the only thing burning, notes Forman Williams, a
professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego,
and one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that PM
consulted. He says that while the jet fuel was the catalyst for the
WTC fires, the resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible
material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and
paper. NIST reports that pockets of fire hit 1832?F.

“The jet fuel was the ignition source,” Williams tells PM. “It burned
for maybe 10 minutes, and [the towers] were still standing in 10
minutes. It was the rest of the stuff burning afterward that was
responsible for the heat transfer that eventually brought them down.”

Puffs Of Dust
CLAIM: As each tower collapsed, clearly visible puffs of dust and
debris were ejected from the sides of the buildings. An advertisement
in The New York Times for the book Painful Questions: An Analysis Of
The September 11th Attack made this claim: “The concrete clouds
shooting out of the buildings are not possible from a mere collapse.
They do occur from explosions.” Numerous conspiracy theorists cite Van
Romero, an explosives expert and vice president of the New Mexico
Institute of Mining and Technology, who was quoted on 9/11 by the
Albuquerque Journal as saying “there were some explosive devices
inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse.” The article
continues, “Romero said the collapse of the structures resembled those
of controlled implosions used to demolish old structures.”

FACT: FACT: Once each tower began to collapse, the weight of all the
floors above the collapsed zone bore down with pulverizing force on
the highest intact floor. Unable to absorb the massive energy, that
floor would fail, transmitting the forces to the floor below, allowing
the collapse to progress downward through the building in a chain
reaction. Engineers call the process “pancaking,” and it does not
require an explosion to begin, according to David Biggs, a structural
engineer at Ryan-Biggs Associates and a member of the American Society
of Civil Engineers (ASCE) team that worked on the FEMA report.

Like all office buildings, the WTC towers contained a huge volume of
air. As they pancaked, all that air–along with the concrete and other
debris pulverized by the force of the collapse–was ejected with
enormous energy. “When you have a significant portion of a floor
collapsing, it’s going to shoot air and concrete dust out the window,”
NIST lead investigator Shyam Sunder tells PM. Those clouds of dust may
create the impression of a controlled demolition, Sunder adds, “but it
is the floor pancaking that leads to that perception.”

Demolition expert Romero regrets that his comments to the Albuquerque
Journal became fodder for conspiracy theorists. “I was misquoted in
saying that I thought it was explosives that brought down the
building,” he tells PM. “I only said that that’s what it looked like.”

Romero, who agrees with the scientific conclusion that fire triggered
the collapses, demanded a retraction from the Journal. It was printed
Sept. 22, 2001. “I felt like my scientific reputation was on the
line.” But emperors-clothes.com saw something else: “The paymaster of
Romero’s research institute is the Pentagon. Directly or indirectly,
pressure was brought to bear, forcing Romero to retract his original
statement.” Romero responds: “Conspiracy theorists came out saying
that the government got to me. That is the farthest thing from the
truth. This has been an albatross around my neck for three years.”

Seismic Spikes
CLAIM: Seismographs at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., 21 miles north of the WTC, recorded
the events of 9/11. “The strongest jolts were all registered at the
beginning of the collapses, well before falling debris struck the
earth,” reports the Web site WhatReallyHappened.com.

A columnist on Prisonplanet.com, a Web site run by radio talk show
host Alex Jones, claims the seismic spikes (boxed area on Graph 1,
inset) are “indisputable proof that massive explosions brought down”
the towers. The Web site says its findings are supported by two
seismologists at the observatory, Won-Young Kim and Arthur Lerner-Lam.
Each “sharp spike of short duration,” says Prisonplanet.com, was
consistent with a “demolition-style implosion.”

FACT: “There is no scientific basis for the conclusion that explosions
brought down the towers,” Lerner-Lam tells PM. “That representation of
our work is categorically incorrect and not in context.”

The report issued by Lamont-Doherty includes various graphs showing
the seismic readings produced by the planes crashing into the two
towers as well as the later collapse of both buildings.
WhatReallyHappened.com chooses to display only one graph (Graph 1),
which shows the readings over a 30-minute time span.

On that graph, the 8- and 10-second collapses appear–misleadingly–as
a pair of sudden spikes. Lamont-Doherty’s 40-second plot of the same
data (Graph 2, above) gives a much more detailed picture: The seismic
waves–blue for the South Tower, red for the North Tower–start small
and then escalate as the buildings rumble to the ground. Translation:
no bombs.

WTC 7 Collapse
CLAIM: Seven hours after the two towers fell, the 47-story WTC 7
collapsed. According to 911review.org: “The video clearly shows that
it was not a collapse subsequent to a fire, but rather a controlled
demolition: amongst the Internet investigators, the jury is in on this

FACT: Many conspiracy theorists point to FEMA’s preliminary report,
which said there was relatively light damage to WTC 7 prior to its
collapse. With the benefit of more time and resources, NIST
researchers now support the working hypothesis that WTC 7 was far more
compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated. “The
most important thing we found was that there was, in fact, physical
damage to the south face of building 7,” NIST’s Sunder tells PM. “On
about a third of the face to the center and to the
bottom–approximately 10 stories–about 25 percent of the depth of the
building was scooped out.” NIST also discovered previously
undocumented damage to WTC 7’s upper stories and its southwest corner.

NIST investigators believe a combination of intense fire and severe
structural damage contributed to the collapse, though assigning the
exact proportion requires more research. But NIST’s analysis suggests
the fall of WTC 7 was an example of “progressive collapse,” a process
in which the failure of parts of a structure ultimately creates
strains that cause the entire building to come down. Videos of the
fall of WTC 7 show cracks, or “kinks,” in the building’s facade just
before the two penthouses disappeared into the structure, one after
the other. The entire building fell in on itself, with the slumping
east side of the structure pulling down the west side in a diagonal

According to NIST, there was one primary reason for the building’s
failure: In an unusual design, the columns near the visible kinks were
carrying exceptionally large loads, roughly 2000 sq. ft. of floor area
for each floor. “What our preliminary analysis has shown is that if
you take out just one column on one of the lower floors,” Sunder
notes, “it could cause a vertical progression of collapse so that the
entire section comes down.”

There are two other possible contributing factors still under
investigation: First, trusses on the fifth and seventh floors were
designed to transfer loads from one set of columns to another. With
columns on the south face apparently damaged, high stresses would
likely have been communicated to columns on the building’s other
faces, thereby exceeding their load-bearing capacities.

Second, a fifth-floor fire burned for up to 7 hours. “There was no
firefighting in WTC 7,” Sunder says. Investigators believe the fire
was fed by tanks of diesel fuel that many tenants used to run
emergency generators. Most tanks throughout the building were fairly
small, but a generator on the fifth floor was connected to a large
tank in the basement via a pressurized line. Says Sunder: “Our current
working hypothesis is that this pressurized line was supplying fuel
[to the fire] for a long period of time.”

WTC 7 might have withstood the physical damage it received, or the
fire that burned for hours, but those combined factors–along with the
building’s unusual construction–were enough to set off the
chain-reaction collapse.

At 9:37 am on 9/11, 51 minutes after the first plane hit the World
Trade Center, the Pentagon was similarly attacked. Though dozens of
witnesses saw a Boeing 757 hit the building, conspiracy advocates
insist there is evidence that a missile or a different type of plane
smashed into the Pentagon.

Big Plane, Small Holes
CLAIM: Two holes were visible in the Pentagon immediately after the
attack: a 75-ft.-wide entry hole in the building’s exterior wall, and
a 16-ft.-wide hole in Ring C, the Pentagon’s middle ring. Conspiracy
theorists claim both holes are far too small to have been made by a
Boeing 757. “How does a plane 125 ft. wide and 155 ft. long fit into a
hole which is only 16 ft. across?” asks reopen911.org, a Web site
“dedicated to discovering the bottom line truth to what really
occurred on September 11, 2001.”

The truth is of even less importance to French author Thierry Meyssan,
whose baseless assertions are fodder for even mainstream European and
Middle Eastern media. In his book The Big Lie, Meyssan concludes that
the Pentagon was struck by a satellite-guided missile–part of an
elaborate U.S. military coup. “This attack,” he writes, “could only be
committed by United States military personnel against other U.S.
military personnel.”

FACT: When American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon’s exterior
wall, Ring E, it created a hole approximately 75 ft. wide, according
to the ASCE Pentagon Building Performance Report. The exterior facade
collapsed about 20 minutes after impact, but ASCE based its
measurements of the original hole on the number of first-floor support
columns that were destroyed or damaged. Computer simulations confirmed
the findings.

Why wasn’t the hole as wide as a 757’s 124-ft.-10-in. wingspan? A
crashing jet doesn’t punch a cartoon-like outline of itself into a
reinforced concrete building, says ASCE team member Mete Sozen, a
professor of structural engineering at Purdue University. In this
case, one wing hit the ground; the other was sheared off by the force
of the impact with the Pentagon’s load-bearing columns, explains
Sozen, who specializes in the behavior of concrete buildings. What was
left of the plane flowed into the structure in a state closer to a
liquid than a solid mass. “If you expected the entire wing to cut into
the building,” Sozen tells PM, “it didn’t happen.”

The tidy hole in Ring C was 12 ft. wide–not 16 ft. ASCE concludes it
was made by the jet’s landing gear, not by the fuselage.

Intact Windows
CLAIM: Many Pentagon windows remained in one piece–even those just
above the point of impact from the Boeing 757 passenger plane.
Pentagonstrike.co.uk, an online animation widely circulated in the
United States and Europe, claims that photographs showing “intact
windows” directly above the crash site prove “a missile” or “a craft
much smaller than a 757” struck the Pentagon.

FACT: Some windows near the impact area did indeed survive the crash.
But that’s what the windows were supposed to do–they’re

“A blast-resistant window must be designed to resist a force
significantly higher than a hurricane that’s hitting instantaneously,”
says Ken Hays, executive vice president of Masonry Arts, the Bessemer,
Ala., company that designed, manufactured and installed the Pentagon
windows. Some were knocked out of the walls by the crash and the outer
ring’s later collapse. “They were not designed to receive wracking
seismic force,” Hays notes. “They were designed to take in inward
pressure from a blast event, which apparently they did: [Before the
collapse] the blinds were still stacked neatly behind the window

Flight 77 Debris
CLAIM: Conspiracy theorists insist there was no plane wreckage at the
Pentagon. “In reality, a Boeing 757 was never found,” claims
pentagonstrike.co.uk, which asks the question, “What hit the Pentagon
on 9/11?”

FACT: Blast expert Allyn E. Kilsheimer was the first structural
engineer to arrive at the Pentagon after the crash and helped
coordinate the emergency response. “It was absolutely a plane, and
I’ll tell you why,” says Kilsheimer, CEO of KCE Structural Engineers
PC, Washington, D.C. “I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of
the building. I picked up parts of the plane with the airline markings
on them. I held in my hand the tail section of the plane, and I found
the black box.” Kilsheimer’s eyewitness account is backed up by photos
of plane wreckage inside and outside the building. Kilsheimer adds: “I
held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body
parts. Okay?”

Cockpit recordings indicate the passengers on United Airlines Flight
93 teamed up to attack their hijackers, forcing down the plane near
Shanksville, in southwestern Pennsylvania. But conspiracy theorists
assert Flight 93 was destroyed by a heat-seeking missile from an F-16
or a mysterious white plane. Some theorists add far-fetched
elaborations: No terrorists were aboard, or the passengers were
drugged. The wildest is the “bumble planes” theory, which holds that
passengers from Flights 11, 175 and 77 were loaded onto Flight 93 so
the U.S. government could kill them.

The White Jet
CLAIM: At least six eyewitnesses say they saw a small white jet flying
low over the crash area almost immediately after Flight 93 went down.
BlogD.com theorizes that the aircraft was downed by “either a missile
fired from an Air Force jet, or via an electronic assault made by a
U.S. Customs airplane reported to have been seen near the site minutes
after Flight 93 crashed.” WorldNetDaily.com weighs in: “Witnesses to
this low-flying jet … told their story to journalists. Shortly
thereafter, the FBI began to attack the witnesses with perhaps the
most inane disinformation ever–alleging the witnesses actually
observed a private jet at 34,000 ft. The FBI says the jet was asked to
come down to 5000 ft. and try to find the crash site. This would
require about 20 minutes to descend.”

FACT: There was such a jet in the vicinity–a Dassault Falcon 20
business jet owned by the VF Corp. of Greensboro, N.C., an apparel
company that markets Wrangler jeans and other brands. The VF plane was
flying into Johnstown-Cambria airport, 20 miles north of Shanksville.
According to David Newell, VF’s director of aviation and travel, the
FAA’s Cleveland Center contacted copilot Yates Gladwell when the
Falcon was at an altitude “in the neighborhood of 3000 to 4000
ft.”–not 34,000 ft. “They were in a descent already going into
Johnstown,” Newell adds. “The FAA asked them to investigate and they
did. They got down within 1500 ft. of the ground when they circled.
They saw a hole in the ground with smoke coming out of it. They
pinpointed the location and then continued on.” Reached by PM,
Gladwell confirmed this account but, concerned about ongoing
harassment by conspiracy theorists, asked not to be quoted directly.

Roving Engine
CLAIM: One of Flight 93’s engines was found “at a considerable
distance from the crash site,” according to Lyle Szupinka, a state
police officer on the scene who was quoted in the Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review. Offering no evidence, a posting on Rense.com claimed:
“The main body of the engine … was found miles away from the main
wreckage site with damage comparable to that which a heat-seeking
missile would do to an airliner.”

FACT: Experts on the scene tell PM that a fan from one of the engines
was recovered in a catchment basin, downhill from the crash site. Jeff
Reinbold, the National Park Service representative responsible for the
Flight 93 National Memorial, confirms the direction and distance from
the crash site to the basin: just over 300 yards south, which means
the fan landed in the direction the jet was traveling. “It’s not
unusual for an engine to move or tumble across the ground,” says
Michael K. Hynes, an airline accident expert who investigated the
crash of TWA Flight 800 out of New York City in 1996. “When you have
very high velocities, 500 mph or more,” Hynes says, “you are talking
about 700 to 800 ft. per second. For something to hit the ground with
that kind of energy, it would only take a few seconds to bounce up and
travel 300 yards.” Numerous crash analysts contacted by PM concur.

Indian Lake
CLAIM: “Residents and workers at businesses outside Shanksville,
Somerset County, reported discovering clothing, books, papers and what
appeared to be human remains,” states a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
article dated Sept. 13, 2001. “Others reported what appeared to be
crash debris floating in Indian Lake, nearly 6 miles from the
immediate crash scene.” Commenting on reports that Indian Lake
residents collected debris, Think AndAsk.com speculates: “On Sept. 10,
2001, a strong cold front pushed through the area, and behind
it–winds blew northerly. Since Flight 93 crashed west-southwest of
Indian Lake, it was impossible for debris to fly perpendicular to wind
direction. … The FBI lied.” And the significance of widespread
debris? Theorists claim the plane was breaking up before it crashed.
TheForbiddenKnowledge.com states bluntly: “Without a doubt, Flight 93
was shot down.”

FACT: Wallace Miller, Somerset County coroner, tells PM no body parts
were found in Indian Lake. Human remains were confined to a 70-acre
area directly surrounding the crash site. Paper and tiny scraps of
sheetmetal, however, did land in the lake. “Very light debris will fly
into the air, because of the concussion,” says former National
Transportation Safety Board investigator Matthew McCormick. Indian
Lake is less than 1.5 miles southeast of the impact crater–not 6
miles–easily within range of debris blasted skyward by the heat of
the explosion from the crash. And the wind that day was northwesterly,
at 9 to 12 mph, which means it was blowing from the northwest–toward
Indian Lake.

F-16 Pilot
CLAIM: In February 2004, retired Army Col. Donn de Grand-Pre said on
“The Alex Jones Show,” a radio talk show broadcast on 42 stations: “It
[Flight 93] was taken out by the North Dakota Air Guard. I know the
pilot who fired those two missiles to take down 93.” LetsRoll911.org,
citing de Grand-Pre, identifies the pilot: “Major Rick Gibney fired
two Sidewinder missiles at the aircraft and destroyed it in midflight
at precisely 0958.”

FACT: Saying he was reluctant to fuel debate by responding to
unsubstantiated charges, Gibney (a lieutenant colonel, not a major)
declined to comment. According to Air National Guard spokesman Master
Sgt. David Somdahl, Gibney flew an F-16 that morning–but nowhere near
Shanksville. He took off from Fargo, N.D., and flew to Bozeman, Mont.,
to pick up Ed Jacoby Jr., the director of the New York State Emergency
Management Office. Gibney then flew Jacoby from Montana to Albany,
N.Y., so Jacoby could coordinate 17,000 rescue workers engaged in the
state’s response to 9/11. Jacoby confirms the day’s events. “I was in
Big Sky for an emergency managers meeting. Someone called to say an
F-16 was landing in Bozeman. From there we flew to Albany.” Jacoby is
outraged by the claim that Gibney shot down Flight 93. “I summarily
dismiss that because Lt. Col. Gibney was with me at that time. It
disgusts me to see this because the public is being misled. More than
anything else it disgusts me because it brings up fears. It brings up
hopes–it brings up all sorts of feelings, not only to the victims’
families but to all the individuals throughout the country, and the
world for that matter. I get angry at the misinformation out there.”

REPORTING: Benjamin Chertoff, Davin Coburn, Michael Connery, David
Enders, Kevin Haynes, Kristin Roth, Tracy Saelinger, Erik Sofge and
the editors of POPULAR MECHANICS.

PM consulted more than 300 experts and organizations in its
investigation into 9/11 conspiracy theories. The following were
particularly helpful.

Air Crash Analysis
Cleveland Center regional air traffic control

Bill Crowley special agent, FBI

Ron Dokell president, Demolition Consultants

Richard Gazarik staff writer, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Yates Gladwell pilot, VF Corp.

Michael K. Hynes, Ed.D.,
ATP, CFI, A&P/IA president, Hynes Aviation Services; expert, aviation crashes

Ed Jacoby Jr. director,
New York State Emergency Management Office (Ret.); chairman, New York
State Disaster Preparedness Commission (Ret.)

Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority

Cindi Lash staff writer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Matthew McCormick manager, survival factors division, National
Transportation Safety Board (Ret.)

Wallace Miller coroner, Somerset County, PA

Robert Nagan meteorological technician, Climate Services Branch,
National Climatic Data Center

Dave Newell director, aviation and travel, VF Corp.

James O’Toole politics editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pennsylvania State Police Public Information Office

Jeff Pillets senior writer,
The Record, Hackensack, NJ

Jeff Rienbold director, Flight 93 National Memorial, National Park Service

Dennis Roddy staff writer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Master Sgt. David Somdahl public affairs officer,
119th Wing, North Dakota
Air National Guard

Mark Stahl photographer; eyewitness, United Airlines Flight 93 crash scene

Air Defense
Lt. Col. Skip Aldous (Ret.) squadron commander,
U.S. Air Force

Tech. Sgt. Laura Bosco public affairs officer,
Tyndall Air Force Base

Boston Center regional air traffic control

Laura Brown spokeswoman,
Federal Aviation Administration

Todd Curtis, Ph.D. founder, Airsafe.com; president, Airsafe.com Foundation

Keith Halloway public affairs officer, National Transportation Safety Board

Ted Lopatkiewicz director, public affairs, National Transportation Safety Board

Maj. Douglas Martin public affairs officer,
North American Aerospace Defense Command

Lt. Herbert McConnell public affairs officer,
Andrews AFB

Michael Perini public affairs officer, North American Aerospace Defense Command

John Pike director, GlobalSecurity.org

Hank Price spokesman, Federal
Aviation Administration

Warren Robak RAND Corp.

Bill Shumann spokesman,
Federal Aviation Administration

Louis Walsh public affairs officer, Eglin AFB

Chris Yates aviation security editor, analyst, Jane’s Transport

Fred E.C. Culick, Ph.D., S.B., S.M. professor of aeronautics,
California Institute of Technology

Robert Everdeen public affairs, Northrop Grumman

Clint Oster professor of public and environmental affairs, Indiana
University; aviation safety expert

Capt. Bill Scott (Ret. USAF) Rocky Mountain bureau chief, Aviation Week

Bill Uher News Media Office, NASA Langley Research Center

Col. Ed Walby (Ret. USAF)
director, business development, HALE Systems Enterprise, Unmanned
Systems, Northrop Grumman

Image Analysis
William F. Baker member, FEMA Probe Team; partner, Skidmore, Owings, Merrill

W. Gene Corley, Ph.D., P.E., S.E. senior vice president, CTL Group; director,
FEMA Probe Team

Bill Daly senior vice president, Control Risks Group

Steve Douglass image analysis consultant, Aviation Week

Thomas R. Edwards, Ph.D. founder, TREC; video forensics expert.

Ronald Greeley, Ph.D. professor of geology, Arizona State University

Rob Howard freelance photographer; WTC eyewitness

Robert L. Parker, Ph.D. professor of geophysics,
University of California, San Diego

Structural Engineering / Building Collapse
Farid Alfawakhiri, Ph.D. senior engineer, American Institute of Steel

David Biggs, P.E. structural engineer, Ryan-Biggs Associates; member,
ASCE team for FEMA report

Robert Clarke structural engineer, Controlled Demolitions Group Ltd.

Glenn Corbett technical editor, Fire Engineering; member, NIST
advisory committee

Vincent Dunn deputy fire chief (Ret.), FDNY; author, The Collapse Of
Burning Buildings: A Guide To Fireground Safety

John Fisher, Ph.D. professor of civil engineering, Lehigh University;
professor emeritus, Center for Advanced Technology; member, FEMA Probe

Ken Hays executive vice president, Masonry Arts

Christoph Hoffmann, Ph.D. professor of computer science, Purdue
University; project director, September 11 Pentagon Attack Simulations
Using LS-Dyna, Purdue University

Allyn E. Kilsheimer, P.E.
CEO, KCE Structural Engineers PC; chief structural engineer, Phoenix
project; expert in blast recovery, concrete structures, emergency

Won-Young Kim, Ph.D. seismologist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory,
Columbia University

William Koplitz photo desk manager, FEMA

John Labriola freelance photographer, WTC survivor

Arthur Lerner-Lam, Ph.D. seismologist; director,
Earth Institute, Center for Hazards and Risk Research, Columbia University

James Quintiere, Ph.D. professor of engineering, University of
Maryland member, NIST advisory committee

Steve Riskus freelance photographer; eyewitness, Pentagon crash

Van Romero, Ph.D. vice president, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Christine Shaffer spokesperson, Viracon

Mete Sozen, Ph.D., S.E. Kettelhut Distinguished Professor of
Structural Engineering, Purdue University; member, Pentagon Building
Performance Report; project conception, September 11 Pentagon Attack
Simulations Using LS-Dyna, Purdue University

Shyam Sunder, Sc.D.
acting deputy director, lead investigator, Building and Fire Research
Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Mary Tobin science writer, media relations, Earth Institute, Columbia University

Forman Williams, Ph.D. professor of engineering, physics, combustion,
University of California,
San Diego; member, advisory committee, National Institute of Standards
and Technology


Read the book Shadow War by Richard Miniter.

It will give you names, places and events. Be prepared however, it will not fit your pre-concieved notion of failure so I am sure you will disagree with it strongly.

Your theory regarding the PM article being a conspiracy is an opinion, not fact.

Battles against Al-Queda and others are fought behind the scenes. If that type of war were fought in the open it would be a little too easy for the enemy don’t you think?

A nice column on the Popular Mechanics article, from Austin Bay:


The Ground Truth About Ground Zero
by Austin Bay
February 16, 2005
Discussion Board on this On Point topic

It’s must reading for Michael Moore: Popular Mechanics Magazine.

The monthly science and engineering digest’s latest issue is also an example of great investigative journalism – a “just the facts, ma’am” dragnet of expert analysis and succinct prose, putting hard cuffs on the most pernicious 9-11 conspiracy theories.

Popular Mechanics details, then debunks, 16 of the worst fever swamp fictions whose malignant emotional, intellectual and political acids compound 9-11’s tragedy . (The online edition is available at www.popularmechanics.com.)

PM’s editors use an effective technique for smacking down the fabrications: “hard evidence and a healthy dose of common sense.” With former Sen. Pat Moynihan’s quip as a guide (“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. He is not entitled to his own facts.”), the editors say they learned “that a few (9-11 conspiracy) theories are based on something as innocent as a reporting error on that chaotic day. Others are the byproducts of cynical imaginations that aim to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate. Only by confronting such poisonous claims with irrefutable facts can we understand what really happened on a day that is forever seared into world history.”

Physics whips foolishness, but physics can be a tough sell. Competent engineering analysis doesn’t shrink to TV sound bites. In two tight paragraphs, however, PM dispenses with one of the more heinous 9-11 lies: the claim that the Pentagon wasn’t hit by an Al Qaeda-hijacked jet, but the U.S. military did the deed with an American missile. (This is the accusation of French provocateur Thierry Meyssan in his bestseller “The Big Lie.”)

Here’s the conspiracy theory’s hook: The hole in the Pentagon was smaller than the plane’s wingspan. The anti-American conspirator’s conclusion: voila, an American missile. PM’s experts point out the obvious: “A crashing jet doesn’t punch a cartoon-like outline of itself into a reinforced concrete building.” As the jet crashed, “one wing hit the ground; the other was sheared off by the force of the impact with the Pentagon’s load-bearing columns. … What was left of the plane flowed into the structure in a state closer to a liquid than a solid mass.”

A decade ago, the conspiracy theorists had black “U.N.” helicopters patrolling the Pacific Northwest. Nevada’s Area 51 was either a space alien landing strip or a storehouse for wrecked alien space ships. For the most part, the paleo-right and their militia brethren saw those mirages. Now, the decadent Left, with Michael Moore as the poster boy, seems to produce the more malicious conspiracies.

Anti-Americanism – of the ilk that the United States is the root source of Earth’s worst depredations – is the common thread linking their Gordian knots of plots. Sample dec-Left humbug: The War on Terror is the witchcraft work of Halliburton.

No doubt the U.S. government has lied. The Johnson administration’s relentless lies about the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon’s Watergate seeded deep distrust. The Clintons’ Whitewater antics and their bumbling behavior after Vince Foster’s suicide fueled right-wing suspicions.

But belief in grand political and historical conspiracies is not a new phenomenon. Three hundred years ago, Europe’s pub-crawlers thrilled to tales of conspiracies run by Freemasons, Jesuits, Jewish bankers and French Protestants. Religion shaped that era’s explanatory conspiracies, rather than technology, space aliens or intense French jealousy of American success.

Some individuals cannot or will not face difficult, history-altering facts. Conspiracy theories provide them with a mind-numbing – if morally degrading – antidote for the difficult. Blaming “Them” snuffs complexity and the responsibility for making tough choices.

But there’s more at stake than individual psyches seeking solace in updated tales of sea monsters and witches. Mass acceptance of conspiratorial allegations can lead to holocausts. This is conspiracy theory as agitprop, to delude so tyrants can gain or retain control. Hitler thrived on racist theories. Marx sold a grand conspiracy theory --apparently still treasured by many lefty academicians – that featured “class warfare” as the engine of history. Blind belief in Hitler’s and Marx’s conspiracy theories produced the 20th century’s two greatest evils, Nazism and communism.

The ground truth about Ground Zero may be hard to face, but – with effort and analysis, like that provided by Popular Mechanics – the truth will out.

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Why I’m completely shocked…

Christopher Bollyn
Exclusive to American Free Press

With high federal offices being given to the wives, sons and daughters of senior members of the Bush administration, the Hearst Corporation executives that publish Popular Mechanics magazine probably didn’t worry about the ethical considerations of hiring a cousin of Michael Chertoff, a former Assistant Attorney General and the new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as senior researcher.

But the March 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics (PM) plumbs new depths of nepotism and Hearst-style “yellow journalism” with its cover story about 9/11. PM’s senior researcher, 25-year-old Benjamin Chertoff, authored a propagandistic cover story entitled “Debunking 9/11 Lies” which seeks to discredit all independent 9/11 research that challenges the official version of events.

“Conspiracy theories can’t stand up to the hard facts,” the cover reads. “After an in-depth investigation, PM answers with the truth,” it says. But the article fails to provide evidence to support its claims and doesn’t answer the key question: What caused the collapses of the twin towers and the 47-story World Trade Center 7?

The lead editorial by James Meigs, Editor-in-Chief of PM carries the title “The Lies Are Out There.” It continues: “As a society we accept the basic premise that a group of Islamist terrorists hijacked four airplanes and turned them into weapons against us.”

But do we, “as a society” accept this basic premise? None of the 19 “Islamist terrorists” were even found on the passenger lists that day.

“Sadly,” Meigs continues, “the noble search for truth is now being hijacked by a growing army of conspiracy theorists.”

What Meigs fails to acknowledge is that while the fact that a conspiracy is behind the 9/11 attacks is obvious, the question being raised by independent researchers is: Who was involved in this conspiracy?

The Meigs’ editorial concludes, “But those who peddle fantasies that this country encouraged, permitted or actually carried out the attacks are libeling the truth ? and disgracing the memories of the thousands who died on that day.”

Nobody says that the United States of America did anything on 9/11, Mr. Meigs. “This country,” the USA doesn’t do anything, Mr. Meigs, people do. In the case of 9/11 we are dealing with a very small group of people, perhaps no more than a dozen or so at the highest “architectural” level, and there is no guarantee that they are from any one country ? most likely they are not.

The Chertoff article goes on to confront the “poisonous claims” of 16 “myths” spun by “extremist” 9/11 researchers like myself with “irrefutable facts,” mostly provided by individuals in the employ of the U.S. government.

But who is Benjamin Chertoff, the “senior researcher” at Popular Mechanics who is behind the article? American Free Press has learned that he is none other than a cousin of Michael Chertoff, the new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

This means that Hearst paid Benjamin Chertoff to write an article supporting the seriously flawed explanation that is based on a practically non-existent investigation of the terror event that directly led to the creation of the massive national security department his “cousin” now heads. This is exactly the kind of “journalism” one would expect to find in a dictatorship like that of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Because the manager of public relations for Popular Mechanics didn’t respond to repeated calls from American Free Press, I called Benjamin Chertoff, the magazine’s “senior researcher,” directly.

Chertoff said he was the “senior researcher” of the piece. When asked if he was related to Michael Chertoff, he said, “I don’t know.” Clearly uncomfortable about discussing the matter further, he told me that all questions about the article should be put to the publicist - the one who never answers the phone.

Benjamin’s mother in Pelham, New York, however, was more willing to talk. Asked if Benjamin was related to the new Secretary of Homeland Security, Judy said, “Yes, of course, he is a cousin.”


NeedstheFacts: I feel for ya, pal. There is help out there:


Deep breath. No one (like Bush, for example) is out to get me.

Good luck.

This would be a classic example of the ad hominem logical fallacy. It would seem that because they find it difficult to actually critique the reasoning of the article, the author of your piece chose to make a laughable charge of nepotism (which would mean that Chrertoff, or some other person related to the nephew hired the nephew, btw – “I don’t think that word means what you think it means”).

Thanks for the laugh though.

I suggest reviewing all the logical fallacies, which may help you with this whole conspiracy thing:


My hyperlinks can beat up your hyperlinks.