The Center for an Informed America

  October 2, 2004
  September 11, 2001 Revisited: Act II

Some websites, however, claim otherwise. Bizarrely enough, some of these same photos are cited elsewhere as evidence that a 757 did crash into the Pentagon. The photo below, for example, supposedly depicts aircraft debris -- and remarkably uncharred aircraft debris at that. If you're having trouble finding it, here's a hint: it's the green stuff. If you're wondering how we can be sure that it is in fact aircraft debris, it's really quite simple: it has to be aircraft debris, you see, because it's green. Such is the level of investigative analysis employed by at least one 'debunker.' Before I learned the proper way to identify aircraft wreckage, I had assumed that the green stuff was probably just broken up office furnishings of some sort. And I also had no idea that a few flimsy pieces of debris could cleanly punch out a large hole in a beefy masonry wall.

As I explained in my first Pentagon rant, it would have been physically impossible for the nosecone, or any other component, of a Boeing 757 to punch out an exit hole in the "C" ring of the Pentagon after plowing through three entire building rings. As the Los Angeles Times noted, five days after the attacks, the Pentagon was “built to be as strong and impenetrable as this country always hoped its military would be … When ground was broken on the building--eerily, on September 11, 1941, exactly 60 years before Tuesday’s attack--it was a state of the art bunker.”

The Pentagon is an immense, and immensely strong, structure. It is composed primarily of thick, steel-reinforced concrete. The exterior walls are a full two feet thick – two feet of solid concrete, brick and limestone (see wall detail, below left). As a pictorial study of the building noted, “the main interior walls above the basement level are of masonry” as well. Throughout the entire complex, spaced roughly fifteen feet apart, in both directions, are thick, steel-reinforced concrete columns (see example, below right). Also throughout the complex are “Transformer vaults and machine rooms … protected by masonry walls and firedoors.” (

The buildings’ floor slabs are composed of 5.5 inches of steel-reinforced concrete. To add further to the total mass of concrete that makes up the Pentagon, “concrete ramps instead of elevators were used to connect the floors,” according to the Department of Defense’s History of the Pentagon. The same source adds that, “By 30 April 1942, about eight months after ground breaking, the contractor completed the first two sections of the building and War Department personnel began to move in.” (

I will leave it to the serious conspiracy theorists in the crowd to ponder the significance of the date of ground-breaking and the date of initial occupation. The point here is to emphasize the number of thick, dense, reinforced concrete obstacles that would hinder the forward progress of any projectile attempting to pass through the Pentagon. To cleanly penetrate just one ring would require blasting through two 24” thick masonry walls, several masonry interior walls (notice the cross-section of "E" ring provided by the post-collapse photos), numerous concrete support columns, and maybe a concrete ramp or a concrete transformer room. Also, since a 757 fuselage (see below -- and notice, in the front view, the 'pods' visible on the underside) would not easily fit between floors, and since the official story claims that the plane entered between the first and second floors, it would have to rip its way horizontally through a considerable amount of steel-reinforced concrete floor slab.

The L.A. Times (and many other sources) added that, in addition to all the reinforced concrete, the portion of the Pentagon that was hit in the attack had recently been “reconstructed with a web of steel columns and bars to withstand bomb blasts.” In other words, the Pentagon in general, and especially the portion affected by the attack, is an extremely well fortified building. An airplane blasting through three rings of the complex would be roughly equivalent to an airplane blasting through a whole series of concrete bunkers.

Another interesting fact about the Pentagon attack that is frequently ignored is that, in order for the official story to be true, the 'airplane' that hit the Pentagon had to be flying in an almost perfectly horizontal trajectory at an extremely low altitude -- mere feet off the ground. And it had to be flying at a rate of speed that would have allowed it to maintain that trajectory, losing almost no altitude, even as it was plowing its way through dozens of reinforced concrete obstacles.


The nosecone of a Boeing passenger plane, pictured below, is composed of carbon. Its function is to serve as an aerodynamic cover for the aircraft's navigation system. It is not designed to be utilized as, and it will not perform well as, a missile warhead. Impact with the very first masonry wall would have completely obliterated the plane's nosecone and enclosed electronics. The plane's fuselage, composed primarily of strong yet lightweight metals, would have fared only slightly better.


If we were to play along with the official story, we might propose that there are two components of a Boeing 757 that might have had sufficient mass and density to punch out such an exit wound: one of the engines, or a portion of the fuselage that had been thoroughly compacted by previous impacts with dense masonry walls and concrete columns. But again, it must be said that while such components might well have punched through multiple walls in one ring of the Pentagon, they certainly could not have punched cleanly through three entire rings.

The official story maintains that, rather then a dense mass of metal, it was the lightweight carbon nose of the aircraft that punched out the exit hole. According to the National Fire Protection Association's Online Journal, "Captain Defina and airport Battalion Chief Walter Hood, as well as other jurisdictions' battalion chiefs, led crews inside with attack lines to fight fires on every floor of the 'D' and 'E' rings. The aircraft had penetrated all the way to the "C" ring. 'The only way you could tell that an aircraft was inside was that we saw pieces of the nose gear. The devastation was horrific.'"

Arlington County Fire Chief Ed Plaugher, when asked at a Department of Defense news briefing about the presence of jet fuel, responded: "We have what we believe is a puddle right there that the -- what we believe is to be the nose of the aircraft. So -- " (


To account for these reports of surviving nose gear, and to account for an alleged exit hole that couldn't possibly have been punched out by a passenger airplane, I suggested in my previous Pentagon rant that the damage was likely caused by a particular type of cruise missile -- specifically, a Boeing AGM-86C Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM) outfitted with a depleted uranium (DU) warhead. Here are excerpts of what I wrote back in June 2002:

How it operates is explained by the Federation of American Scientists: "After launch, the missile's folded wings, tail surfaces and engine inlet deploy. It is then able to fly complicated routes to a target through the use of an onboard Global Positioning System (GPS) coupled with its Inertial Navigation System (INS). This allows the missile to guide itself to the target with pinpoint accuracy." The FAS website also comments on the missile's "small size and low-altitude flight capability, which makes them difficult to detect on radar."

The AGM-86 also can be equipped with a "penetrating" warhead, designed to cut into hardened bunkers. As the FAS describes it: "The AGM-86D Block II program is the Precision Strike variant of CALCM. It incorporates a penetrating warhead, updated state of the art, near-precision, GPS guidance, and a modified terminal area flight profile to maximize the effectiveness of the warhead."

The American Scientists also discuss a "feasibility study [which] was concluded in April 1997, in which it was determined the BROACH Warhead on CALCM would offer very significant hard target capabilities ... The BROACH multi-warhead system ... achieves its results by combining an initial penetrator charge (warhead) with a secondary follow-through bomb, supported by multi-event hard target fuzing."

Everything seemed to fit -- the clean initial penetration, the low altitude flight capability, the ability to evade radar, the ability to penetrate multiple reinforced targets. Other researchers apparently liked the fit as well. As I mentioned in Act I, I recently read portions of an online version of David Ray Griffin's book, The New Pearl Harbor. While doing so, I noticed that Mr. Griffin seems to favor the notion that what hit the Pentagon was "one of the latest generation of AGM-type missiles, armed with a hollow charge and a depleted uranium BLU tip." Griffin credits that theory to Thierry Meyssan.

Last time I checked, Meyssan was selling a truck bomb theory, so I'm not really sure where he and Griffin picked up that crazy AGM missile theory, but after carefully reviewing the photographic evidence, I can now say with considerable confidence that it wasn't a missile warhead that punched out that exit hole. I can say that because it is perfectly obvious that the 'exit' hole wasn't actually an exit hole at all.

First of all, though no one seems to have given it much serious thought, it is not in the right location to be an exit wound. True, the hole is where it should be if a projectile following the alleged trajectory of the alleged plane sliced through the building in a perfectly straight line from the point of entry. But that would never actually happen in this place that we call the 'real world.' In the real world, when a fast-moving projectile strikes a flat, dense, stationary object at an angle (in this case, an angle of approximately 45 degrees, by most accounts), something called deflection comes into play.

It's been a little while since I had a math or physics class, so I am not going to try to impress anyone here with any complicated calculations -- which would be meaningless to most people anyway (including me). Instead, I am going to make the common sense observation that, due to a projectile's tendency to deflect off of an immovable (relatively speaking) flat surface when striking at an angle, it takes considerably more energy to penetrate at an angle than it does to penetrate head on. And when a projectile does penetrate through an angled surface, the trajectory of that projectile will change due to deflection.

The degree of deflection will largely depend upon the speed and mass of the projectile, and the density of the immovable surface being impacted/penetrated. If the projectile is traveling at sufficient speed and has sufficient mass, and the angled surface offers minimal resistance, then the deflection will be minimal. However, as the projectile's speed decreases with each successive penetration, each subsequent obstacle will offer greater resistance, and, due to the cumulative effects of deflection, will be struck at a progressively sharper angle, so that, after a given number of impacts/penetrations, the projectile will have lost sufficient velocity, and/or it will be traveling at such a severe angle, that it will, rather than penetrating, ricochet off the next masonry wall or concrete column in its path. In the case of the Pentagon, this would happen long before a projectile plowed through three entire rings of the complex.

Even if we were to accept that the projectile did manage, miraculously and in violation of various laws of physics, to plow a perfectly straight course through three entire rings of the Pentagon, we would still be left with one rather perplexing question: if whatever punched that hole still had sufficient mass and velocity to blast cleanly through two feet of solid concrete, brick and limestone, then what stopped it from continuing on into the Pentagon's "B" ring? Once it exited "C" ring, after all, there was nothing between it and the next exterior wall but about forty feet of air, which doesn't normally offer much resistance. And yet, according to all reports (and the photo to the left), the damage did not extend beyond "C" ring. So what exactly was it that stopped the forward progress of the alleged projectile after it cleanly exited "C" ring?

Below is what is purported to be the official damage report on the Pentagon. Notice that in "C" ring, none of the structural columns in the alleged path of travel suffered significant damage. Just for fun, take a straightedge and try to map out a path of travel from the entry hole to the exit hole that does not pass through one or more of those largely undamaged columns. Let me know if you succeed.

What are we to conclude happened here? Did the strangely indestructible nosecone of Flight 77 somehow weave its way around those columns on the way out of the building? Or did it careen around as if it were in a giant pinball machine until, magically, it somehow ended up right back on course and with sufficient energy to punch its way out? Perhaps I am just a bit of a skeptic, but somehow I find either of those scenarios rather unlikely.

So there are, it seems, at least three questions raised by the existence of the 'exit' hole; how did the projectile plow through dozens of concrete obstructions and yet still retain enough energy to cut cleanly through a two-foot-thick masonry wall? Once it exited "C" ring, what stopped the projectile's forward progress? And how did the projectile manage to avoid hitting a whole series of columns on its way out the newly created back door?

As the photo to the left reveals, the space between rings "C" and "D," and between rings "D" and "E," is not empty space (as I had erroneously believed when I penned my previous diatribe); rather, those rings are connected, but only for the first two floors. Notice that that there is no visible damage to the second-story roof between "C" and "D" rings, nor is there any visible damage to "C" and "D" rings themselves, with the exception of the blackened 'exit hole' (and two additional blackened openings in "C" ring apparently created by firefighters to gain access to the building). It would seem then that there was no significant damage to the building complex above the second floor, at least beyond "E" ring.

In fact, even in "E" ring, the alleged point of entry, there doesn't appear to have been much significant damage above the second floor. As can be seen in the post-collapse photo above, all the structural columns above the second floor appear to be intact, and, remarkably enough, there doesn't even appear to be a significant amount of fire damage above the second floor. Furniture sitting right next to the point of collapse appears to be unscathed. The same was largely true of the area on the other side of the collapse, as can be seen in the photo to the lower left, which presents a view across the chasm after the clean-up had begun.

There is nothing suspicious or unusual, by the way, about the clean break between the collapsed and standing portions of the building. Some theorists have mistakenly attached significance to the fact that it looks as though the Pentagon was cleanly sliced. The truth is that the building gave way at what is known as an expansion joint (a built-in break to allow for expansion and contraction), which is exactly where a collapse would be expected to occur, if it was to occur at all (it is marked as an expansion joint on the damage report presented previously, and an expansion joint can be clearly seen running along the roofs of the surviving rings in the aerial photos, directly in line with the 'slice' in "E" ring).

The point that I started to make here though is that, with the exception of the collapsed portion of "E" ring, all the structural damage, and nearly all the fire damage, was confined to the first and second floors. It appears as though the fire, from its origins at the point of impact, primarily burned along the roof (until, presumably, firefighters got it under control). As can be seen in the views to the left and upper right, it burned only along the segments of the roof composed of the blue colored material, which doesn't appear to have been very fire retardant. The apparent lack of fire damage to the upper floors of the adjoining buildings tends to indicate that it was primarily the roof, and not the buildings themselves, that suffered significant fire damage.

But if the vast majority of the significant damage was to the first and second floors only, to such an extent that a second-story roof over a portion of the alleged path of travel shows no visible signs of damage, then we are not really being asked to believe that an enormous 757 jumbo jet disappeared without a trace into a five-story building; incredibly enough, we are actually being asked to believe that it essentially disappeared without a trace into a two-story building!