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