The Pentagon - Doubletree video footage released!
911debunker
It appears that the release of this video was not much of a big deal. I've only seen multimaster tool mention of it on a few 9/11 forums, but I haven't seen anything from any of the big media outlets. However, thanks to youtube, we can view the video to our heart's content. Check it out here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H285_DWX_bQ

Here's the deal, though. You can't even see the Pentagon in this footage! I thought that maybe this white blob could be the tail of the plane...

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However, that is most likely a car moving along an elevated interstate. Here's the Doubletree hotel in relation to Flight 77's point of impact (courtesy of Google Earth):

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So first of all, the video isn't aimed at the face of the building where the plane did hit. Second of all, you can see from the map that Interstate 395 is in the way. This is an elevated interstate, and like I said, that white blob is probably just a car moving on it. So I'm afraid this video won't help us.

Also, I can't remember if I ever posted the footage from the Citgo nearby, but it also shows nothing. Maybe one of you out there has some clever deduction skills and can figure something out, though, and if you want to give sears credit card it a shot, you can view the Citgo footage here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LJvFjsl6zk

The Doubletree footage does have some good use, though. Some researchers calling themselves the "Citizen Investigation Team" created a film called "The Pentacon", where they claim that Flight 77 actually flew OVER The Pentagon.

http://thepentacon.com/

Watch the Doubletree footage and see with your own eyes that these folks are totally wrong

Operation Northwoods
911debunker
Before I begin to analyze Flight 93 and the various theories revolving around its crash in Shanksville, I have a few miscellaneous topics I wanted to bring up. The first one involves a government operation from the 60s that never actually materialized; it was called Operation Northwoods.

If you ever encounter some hard-core conspiracy theorists out there who claim that the government planned this attack, you're very likely to hear about Operation Northwoods. Take John Conner, for instance, an outspoken advocate for the conspiracy theory. One of his favorite things to do is visit various campuses around the country, interrupt lectures, and hand out copies of Loose Change, the most famous of all conspiracy documentaries (and it has been thoroughly debunked...see the Loose Change Guide on the right). The one fact he always seems to bring up to everyone is Operation Northwoods and the government's role in planning attacks on its own citizens. You can see him in action here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50DyHQZ2llk

So what is Operation Northwoods, you ask? Well back in 1962, the government was trying to come up with a plan that would give them a valid reason to invade Cuba and take Fidel Castro out of power. One of the proposed methods was to stage a variety of events and attacks that would frame Cubans for attacking American citizens, thus giving us a valid reason to fight Cuba and take Castro out of power. This is what is referred to as a "false flag" operation, where our government carries out attacks under the guise that they were actually perpetrated by someone else (in this case, the Cubans).

You can see why people like to bring it up so much. It's an example of the government staging attacks on its own country to give a valid reason for invading other countries. Well, at least that's what it appears to be on the surface!

A more critical look at Operation Northwoods shows that it should never be brought up when talking about 9/11 for a number of reasons. First of all, this document was actually declassified by the government back in 1997. Seems like a silly thing for the government to do if they didn't want anyone to know that they would plan stuff like this, right?

Let's actually take a look at the plan.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20010430/doc1.pdf

This is the official memorandum to the Secretary of Defense that details the various aspects of the operation. The memo states (starting on page 10 of the pdf):

A series of well coordinated incidents will be planned to take place in and around Guantanamo to give genuine appearance of being done by hostile Cuban forces.

Ah yes, we seem to have reached the very core of what we're talking about. Let's take a look at what kind of incidents the government had in mind:

(1) Start rumors (many). Use clandestine radio.
(2) Land friendly Cubans in uniform "over-the-fence" to stage attack on base.
(3) Capture Cuban (friendly) saboteurs inside the base.
(4) Start riots near the base main gate (friendly Cubans)
(5) Blow up ammunition inside the base; start fires.
(6) Burn aircraft on air base (sabotage).
(7) Lob mortar shells from outside of base into base. Some damage to installations.
(8) Capture assault teams approaching from the sea or vicinity of Guantanamo City.
(9) Capture militia group which storms the base.
(10) Sabotage ship in harbor; -- large fires (napthalene).
(11) Sink ship near harbor entrance. Conduct funerals for mock victims (may be lieu of (10)).


Looking at this list of incidents, one has to wonder how a parallel could be drawn between 9/11 and Operation Northwoods. What we see here is a list of incidents that involve doing damage to weapons and installations, as well as the capture of a few supposed bad guys. The most important one here is (11), which specifies funerals for MOCK victims.

Remember, people like John Conner above claim that the government would willingly kill thousands of American citizens, and they are using this operation as proof, this operation that appears to be calling for the avoidance of loss of life.

There's more. Further down the document, it says:

We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anywhere in Cuban waters.

Again, the vessel is specified as unmanned, meaning that the government is taking special care to make sure innocent lives are not lost.

The part of the document that likely gets conspiracy theorists worked up the most is the following quote:

We could develop a communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington.

Yikes! Sounds like these guys are up to no good! But in the absence of context, you may actually believe that this quote is referring to terrorist events on the same scale as 9/11, where jetliners are flown into buildings and thousands of people are recklessly killed. However, since I am not one to take quotes out of context, I will provide you with the rest of the paragraph:

The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans enroute to Florida (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized. Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement also would be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible government.

Notice how I put "wounding" in bold? Take a look at that sentence. It appears that the government does not plan on going much farther than wounding people. The only specific mention of loss of life is the bit about sinking a boatload of Cubans, real or simulated, and even then, the document is not calling for the direct murder of anybody. Yes, there is the bit about plastic bombs in "carefully chosen spots", but if it was as serious as what happened on 9/11, why would this statement be followed by such low-scale things as arresting Cuban agents and releasing damaging documents? So, the government plans on killing thousands of people, and on top of that, they'll even arrest a few people and release some damaging info! Such an interpretation literally makes no sense.

Near the end of the document, you will find a more in-depth operation that calls for a passenger jet to be shot down by a Cuban MIG airplane....the only catch is that the government arranged for the plane to be a drone and devoid of passengers! The passengers of the flight would be landed at a secure location, i.e. allowed to live. Another drone, unempty airplane would be shot down instead. Again, an instance of the government going out of its way to preserve lives.

If anything, it appears that Operation Northwoods is actually an argument AGAINST the government plotting 9/11! Why would they have gone to great lengths to stage attacks, create mock victims, and preserve life as much as possible, then plan an attack like 9/11 where they recklessly murder thousands of people, making no effort whatsoever to preserve human life?

And to be totally fair, Operation Northwoods shouldn't be used on either side of the argument for two reasons:

1) The plan was drawn up by completely different people almost 40 years prior to 9/11...we might as well be talking about the Ming Dynasty
2) The government never even carried this plan out

So there you have it. If only John Conner would read this post and save all these college kids from his dreadfully off-base accusations...

Notes about conspiracy sources
911debunker
A lot of what I have to say here is probably very, very familiar information. However, knowing that anybody could be reading this journal, even those with very limited knowledge of 9/11, I want to make sure we're all on the same page here. Although it pains me to do so, I want to point out to you the various sources out there that offer up evidence that the events of 9/11 were planned by the government and that a grandiose conspiracy was involved.

First and foremost, there is a documentary known as Loose Change. This film was made by the likes of Dylan Avery, Korey Rowe, and Jason Bermas, three people very actively involved in the "9/11 Truth Movement", the name conspiracy theorists use for their cause. The film is on its third version, with a fourth version set to be released quite soon. You can view the most recent one here:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7866929448192753501&q=loose+change&hl=en

Why so many versions, you may ask? Well, in the original version of Loose Change, the filmmakers proposed the idea that a bulge, or "pod", on the bottom of Flight 175 that hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center was some sort of missile, bomb, or piece of some sort of cargo plane. Although I never saw the original version of Loose Change that discusses this, I guess the filmmakers went into great detail with it.

As it turns out, this bulge is merely a fairing on the airplane which houses the landing gear of the plane. It was removed as soon as the next version of Loose Change came out, and conspiracy theorists no longer talk about it. Probably a wise decision! Unfortunately, this is not the only ridiculous claim made in this thrice-revised documentary. A fellow by the name of Mark Roberts wrote a guide to go along with the documentary, which you can access here:

http://www.loosechangeguide.com/LooseChangeGuide.html

Roberts counted a total of 426 flubs in the documentary. If you do watch Loose Change, do read this guide. It is an excellent source.

The film is accompanied by a forum, primarily filled with individuals that quite strongly support the conspiracy theory. If you ever feel bold enough, join the forum and let the members know what you think of their conspiracy beliefs:

http://z10.invisionfree.com/Loose_Change_Forum/index.php

I used to frequent this site until I was banned from it, probably from asking too many questions, I imagine! Perhaps you will have more success there than I did.

One of the most active bloggers amidst the 9/11 Truthers is a guy who goes by "Killtown". His site is found here:

http://www.geocities.com/killtown/

To his credit, he has done substantial research into the issue of 9/11 and seems to know every single discrepancy of that day. However, I find a common theme with his journal is that he doesn't offer a lot of solid theories and often asks questions rather than providing answers. Skepticism is, of course, a healthy thing, but offering answers of your own is necessary too. If you visit his site, I encourage you to do so with an open mind.

In addition to these sources, the following is a running list of conspiracy sources that I am compiling:

http://www.universalseed.org/main.asp
-Many, many hours worth of 9/11 conspiracy documentaries

http://911research.wtc7.net/index.html
-Primarily a pro-conspiracy site, although some evidence is actually helpful to the anti-conspiracy crowd

http://www.911review.com/
-Companion site to 911research

Note: this entry will likely be continually updated with new conspiracy sources that I find. It may be useful to have all these sources in one place.

The Pentagon - Conclusion and good sources
911debunker
I've reached the end of what I have to say about the attack at the Pentagon. I did not analyze every single claim made by conspiracy theorists because, quite frankly, there's no way I could ever hope to finish this journal if I pursued all of them. I mainly focused on the most important points and did not bother with other facts that seem pointless, given all of the evidence I have presented. For example, conspiracy theorists often talk about Jamie McIntyre, the CNN reporter at the Pentagon on 9/11 who said that there was no evidence of a plane crashing at the Pentagon. Of course, he was reporting this ON 9/11, seeing the same things that you have seen here. No, there is no massive plane body sitting out anywhere, but the evidence that points towards plane crash is overwhelming.

You can go here to find a thorough debunking of this whole claim:

http://www.911myths.com/html/jamie_mcintyre_and_the_pentago.html

There are other claims too, such as the fact that the lawn of the Pentagon was covered with sand and gravel immediately after the attack, supposedly to cover up the evidence on the ground...now seriously, think about this. If there was evidence on the ground of a plane crash, wouldn't the government want to NOT cover this stuff up to convince skeptics that there was actually a plane crash there, especially if they did actually fake it? The fact of the matter is that the dirt was needed for trucks hauling dumpsters full of debris out of the Pentagon site because the ground was too soft.

There's more, as always. However, once you have read over the following sources, you should have no doubts about the fact that terrorists DID hijack Flight 77 and slam it into the Pentagon. The only wrongdoing in the matter was that of these terrorists who were, fortunately, brought to swift judgment as soon as they executed their horrendous attacks.

http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build03/PDF/b03017.pdf
-American Society of Civil Engineers report on the Pentagon attack

http://www.911research.wtc7.net/essays/pentagon/index.html
-Thorough article by Jim Hoffman that makes a strong case for a 757 hitting the Pentagon

http://perso.orange.fr/jpdesm/pentagon/english.html
-Article by Jean-Pierre Desmoulins, which analyzes many different aspects of the Pentagon attack

http://911research.wtc7.net/talks/noplane/index.html
-A useful slide show addressing the Pentagon no-plane theory

Other sources (that are equally valuable) can be found throughout this Pentagon section of the journal.

The Pentagon - Motives and coincidences
911debunker
It's important that we look at why the Pentagon was attacked on 9/11. Obviously the attacks on the World Trade Center were devastating, and hitting the Pentagon with a plane won't nearly destroy the building or kill as many people as were killed in the WTC. You could ask why the government would bother with an attack on the Pentagon when the attack on the WTC is clearly a much bigger deal (not to downplay the Pentagon incident, of course) and would have likely accomplished their objective of showing America that we ARE vulnerable, that we need to depend on the government, etc. You could also ask why terrorists would bother doing it, for many of the same reasons. It's a red herring either way, but in either case, an attack is an attack. An attack on our Defense Headquarters is especially devastating.

So if the government did this, why would they? One of the most common motives parroted by conspiracy theorists has to do with the following quote by Donald Rumsfeld:

"According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."

This is an excerpt from a speech he gave on September 10, 2001, just one day before 9/11. Apparently, he intended to make this claim the day before so that people would forget about the fact that he supposedly lost $2.3 trillion after witnessing the horrific events of 9/11, allowing Rumsfeld to get away with this "loss" of money that he possibly "stole". There's also the fact that a lot of accountants, bookkeepers, and budget analysts were housed in the area of the Pentagon that was hit, which has been brought up by Killtown, one of the leaders of the conspiracy theory:

http://killtown.911review.org/flight77/fatalities.html

Of course, there is this whole issue of context. Take a look at the context of the quote:

"The technology revolution has transformed organizations across the private sector, but not ours, not fully, not yet. We are, as they say, tangled in our anchor chain. Our financial systems are decades old. According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. We cannot share information from floor to floor in this building because it's stored on dozens of technological systems that are inaccessible or incompatible."

Better yet, you can read the whole speech:

http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/2001/s20010910-secdef.html

If you read the speech, you'll find that Rumsfeld's speech is about the poor bureaucracy at the Pentagon. One of the major flaws in the bureaucracy appears to be their money-tracking capabilities, and by using decades-old financial systems, they have lost track of $2.3 trillion. This isn't even close to suggesting that Rumsfeld STOLE this money, which some people suggest. Looking at the context of this quote, it's clear that he's saying that over the years, the Pentagon has spent $2.3 trillion and has not kept track of where it went.

You also need to consider the fact that it's impossible to steal $2.3 trillion from the Pentagon's budget, considering that their budget for the 2001 year was only $289 billion. Source: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/289/5485/1662

So what do you think? Do you think Rumsfeld was simply commenting on poor financial systems that have failed to keep track of $2.3 trillion over the years? Or was Rumsfeld actually dumb enough to admit to the public that he essentially stole $2.3 trillion from a budget that is almost 10 times smaller than that amount and then blew up the people who would have found out about this, even though Rumsfeld spilled the beans only a day earlier, rendering such an attack totally pointless? If Rumsfeld's intention was to cover up his "theft" of $2.3 trillion, he sure wouldn't have brought that up in a speech that is, apparently, open to the public.

One of the funniest theories I have found in the conspiracy theory was proposed by Killtown. You can find his list of possible motives on the bottom of this page:

http://thewebfairy.com/killtown/flight77/theories.html

One of this theories for why the Pentagon was hit is as follows:

Test out their new renovated section of the Pentagon (especially if they shot a missile into it) that they where making more "blast resistant".

Indeed, the side of the Pentagon that was hit was coincidentally the section of the building that had recently been renovated and strengthened for an attack. From a USA Today article:

Luck — if it can be called that — had it that the terrorists aimed the Boeing 757 at the only part of the Pentagon that already had been renovated in an 11-year, $1.3 billion project meant to bolster it against attack. That significantly limited the damage and loss of life by slowing the plane as it tore through the building and reducing the explosion's reach.
Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/sept11/2002/01/01/pentagon.htm

Killtown is proposing that the reason for this attack was to conduct a test on the newly renovated wall to see how well it can prevent the loss of life. The only reason they would conduct such a test would be if they were genuinely interested in designing a wall that helps save lives, so when they actually carry out an attack and kill a bunch of people, they are basically nullifying the purpose of the wall. Seriously, without me even offering up an explanation, I think any rational person who reads the proposed theory would probably just burst out laughing. I know I did.

Coincidentally, this wall was the newly renovated wall, and this section of the Pentagon did hold the accountants and bookkeepers that were supposedly taken out to cover up the missing money. Also, Rumsfeld's office is basically on the opposite end of where the attack took place. Is it a coincidence? Or is it something more....*cue brooding hip-hop music*

Actually, no. Here's a quick reality check. Take a look at the path taken by Flight 77 (this picture taken from page 33 of the 9/11 Commission Report, which can be accessed at http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf):

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When the hijackers took control of the plane, it was flown back to Washington on an easterly course. The final leg of the flight was as follows:

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The plane hit the western wall of the Pentagon, which it was facing as soon as Hanjour took over the controls and turned the plane around. If Flight 77 had hit any wall other than the one it was first facing, I would be suspicious. But considering that he hit the first wall he found, I don't see anything beyond a mere coincidence. Even if he hadn't done that final 270-degree loop there at the end, he still would have been facing the same wall he was facing hundreds of miles away, and he still would have hit it in the same spot.

The Pentagon - Light poles
911debunker
I briefly mentioned the light pole damage in one of my previous posts, but I didn't give it the time it deserves. So without further ado, let's take a close look at the damage done to the light poles outside the Pentagon.

The following images show where the light poles were knocked down:

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As you can see, the knocked down light poles do line up exactly with the projected flight path. Now, the official story states that Flight 77 was flying so low near the end of its flight that the wings clipped these light poles and knocked them down. This is, of course, backed up by a number of witness testimonials (note: these quotes come from http://www.geocities.com/someguyyoudontknow33/witnesses.htm and it appears most of the original articles have been moved or purged, but considering that a lot of sources still work, I do not question the validity of the page):

Her commute to the airport took her south on Route 110, in front of the parking lots of the Pentagon. As she approached the parking lots, she saw a low-flying jetliner strike the top of nearby telephone poles. She then heard the plane power up and plunge into the Pentagon.
-Kat Gaines, from the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce website

"There was a huge screaming noise and I got out of the car as the plane came over. Everybody was running away in different directions. It was tilting its wings up and down like it was trying to balance. It hit some lampposts on the way in."
-Afework Hagos, from The Guardian

"I am sorry to rain on your parade, but I saw the plane hit the building. It did not hit the ground first.... It did not hit the roof first... It hit dead center on the side... I was close enough (about 100 feet or so) that I could see the "American Airlines" logo on the tail as it headed towards the building... The plane looked like it was coming in about where you have the "MAX APPROACH" on that picture... I was at about where the "E" in "ANGLE OF CAMERA" is written when the plane hit... It was not completely level, but it was not going straight down, kind of like it was landing with no gear down... It knocked over a few light poles in its way..."
-Steve Riskus, in an e-mail interview with humanunderground.com

In a perfect world, eyewitness testimony is usually enough to prove something true. However, in the realm of 9/11 conspiracy theories, eyewitness testimony never seems to amount to anything. So let's actually look at these light poles, eh?

The first thing I'd like to direct your attention to is a video I posted before, but it is very useful in studying the damage done to the light poles (and from what I understand, the directions taken by the poles upon falling over in this video are the result of the computer's prediction and were not man-made):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVDdjLQkUV8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Flittlegreenfootballs%2Ecom%2Fweblog%2F%3FPHPSESSID%3Da2bd4f2bd9c5a890ba6fedb5a4cb7f4a

The final resting positions of the poles are shown here:

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The first pole knocked down is the most important since this pole actually did damage to someone's car. The man's name is Lloyd England, and you can see him here shortly after the damage was done (notice how the Pentagon has not collapsed yet):

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There is a higher resolution version of this picture. Here's a zoomed-in view of the most important part of that picture:

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According to this source, England claims that the light pole speared into his car and drove the passenger seat to the rear of the car:

http://www.nbc4.com/news/8988021/detail.html

A few conspiracy theorists have questioned the validity of Lloyd England's story. First of all, take a look at this picture I just posted. Take a look at the driver's seat, and compare that to the passenger seat. Notice how the tops of the seats are not parallel? Damage has clearly been done to the passenger seat as Lloyd claimed.

Some folks have also claimed that the event was somehow staged due to the fact that there is almost no damage done to the hood of the car. Indeed, you can see from the picture of Lloyd above that the hood is basically unscathed. So is his account impossible? Well, take a look at the damage done to the glass. You can clearly see that the glass has been matted down along the dashboard, suggesting that the light pole rested on the glass and dashboard, probably in the following manner:

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Do you see how the matted-down glass angles back, as it would if a straight object were matting it down? And do you also see how the glass and dashboard sit higher than the hood? If the pole was resting on the dashboard, it would not be touching the hood. Looking at the car from a farther distance, I imagine the pole (shown here in red) probably looked like this when it sat in Lloyd's car before removal:

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We can't say anything about the final resting position of the pole after being hit by the plane since it would have been moved by Lloyd's car. However, I see nothing out of place with pole 1. To read more about Lloyd's story, you can read the following, which was written by a man named Russell Pickering (who is actually a 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist), and he interviewed Lloyd in person about the event. Even he thinks Lloyd is telling the truth:

http://www.pentagonresearch.com/018.html

(Russell's name is not on this article, but I know from my conversations on the Loose Change Forum that it was written by him)

As a final note on pole 1, you may be wondering why a plane traveling at more than 500 MPH could hit this light pole, causing the pole to supposedly fall over with incredible speed and not do more damage than it did. If I may, allow me to bring some of my physics and engineering expertise into the discussion. If you say that the pole should have fallen down at the same speed as the plane was travelling, then you claim that the collision between the pole and the plane wing was an "elastic" collision, meaning that all the kinetic energy from the wing was transferred to the light pole. However, this is only possible if the wing doesn't slice through the pole. Imagine a baseball bat hitting a baseball dead center....the ball deforms during the collision, but it returns to its full shape after the collision, and all kinetic energy of the bat has perfectly transferred to the ball. Now, imagine a sword that slices through a tall stick of butter...would you expect the butter to fly away as quickly as the sword is moving, as in the case of a baseball being hit by a baseball bat? Of course not. There simply was not enough structural integrity in the butter to hold up against the onslaught of the sword, and it fell apart accordingly. Similarly, when the wing of the plane sliced through the poles (which it did, as you can see from the pictures above), it would not have knocked the poles over at a speed of 500 MPH. It certainly knocked it down at a speed fast enough to do serious damage to the windshield, though.

Pole 2 is shown here:

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Take a look at the end of the pole, and compare that to the poles still standing on the left and right sides of the picture. Clearly the top chunk of this pole has been taken out somehow.

Poles 3 and 4 are shown here in the following picture:

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You can see that both poles have been knocked to the right of the road, but relative to the flight path, they appear to have been knocked straight down (see final resting position picture).

Damage to pole 3:

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Damage to pole 4:

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Admittedly, it is hard to see the extent of damage to pole 3 from the given picture, but clearly pole 4 was clipped pretty good. You can see that some of the light pole's aluminum has been bent down a bit. If these poles were taken down by explosives or some other means, I have to wonder what, other than a direct collision, could mat down this aluminum.

Last but not least, pole 5:

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Compare the length of this pole to pole 1...notice how it's getting shorter? From base to broken spot on top, it has a shorter length than that of pole 1, suggesting that the plane was decreasing in altitude while hitting these poles. And again, notice how the aluminum has been bent way over? Only a serious explosion could actually BEND aluminum, and if some sort of explosive device was planted in these poles to break them at these specific points, the explosion would most definitely have been large enough to be noticed by civilians, of which there were SEVERAL in the area, thus the 100+ eyewitness accounts of what happened at the Pentagon. Not one person said that they saw any sort of explosion coming from any of these light poles.

I bring this up because people who propose that there was no plane that hit the Pentagon have to claim that explosive devices caused these light poles to fall over and lose their top sections. Hopefully by now we've come to the logical conclusion that such an assumption is absolutely ridiculous.

My sources of photos for poles 2 - 5, as well as a few photos of pole 1, came from this source (which also provides a nice summary of information about the light pole damage):

The Pentagon - Fighter jets pursuing Flight 77
911debunker
First of all, let me say thank you to the bloggers over at Screw Loose Change for giving my journal some recognition! I'd like to welcome all of you who are coming, and I hope you'll find this journal to be informative and thorough. I am currently in the process of examining every aspect of the major events on September 11th, and for the moment I am solely focusing on the Pentagon. I will finish this portion soon and will continue onward to Flight 93, the World Trade Center, and anything else that's being talked about a lot these days by conspiracy theorists.

If you aren't familiar with the Screw Loose Change blog, you will find a link to it over on the right side of my journal. I also included a number of other useful sources, including the Loose Change documentary, the guide that goes along with that documentary, the two most popular forums dedicated to discussing 9/11, and a few other excellent conspiracy theory debunking sites.

With that being said, it's important that we talk about why the Pentagon was not defended on 9/11. We know that the Government hoped to defend Washington with fighter jets, not with missile batteries, since they appear not to exist.

So why didn't any fighter jets reach Flight 77 before it hit the Pentagon? First, we should look at who was responsible for putting fighter jets in the air to protect the Pentagon. That would be NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), and more specifically, NEADS, the Northeast Air Defense Sector. Here's a map of the active NEADS locations on the morning of September 11th, from page 15 of the 9/11 Commission Report (which can be accessed here: http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf)

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This map also shows the chain of command and indicates that NEADS directly reports to the Continental Aerospace Command Region, which reports directly to NORAD Headquarters. What's important to see here is that the two active locations that morning were Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and Langley Air Force Base in Langley, Virginia.

NORAD released a news release of their reaction times that morning, which can be found here:

http://www.standdown.net/noradseptember182001pressrelease.htm

Now, Flight 77 was known to be hijacked around 8:56 that morning. By that point, the plane's transponder had been turned off, and flight controllers were getting suspicious. What's important to note here is that the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, is responsible for notifying NEADS of any hijackings, and only at that point can NEADS take any action. As the NORAD press release above indicates, NORAD did not receive official word of Flight 77 being hijacked from the FAA until 9:24, a full 28 minutes after the FAA suspected the flight was hijacked. The conversation between Boston Center, one of the FAA's Air Traffic Control Centers, and NEADS notifying them of the hijacking went like this (as found on page 26 of the 9/11 Commission Report):

FAA: Military, Boston Center. I just had a report that American 11 is still in the air, and it's on its way towards -- heading towards Washington.
NEADS: Okay. American 11 is still in the air?
FAA: Yes.
NEADS: On its way towards Washington?
FAA: That was another -- it was evidently another aircraft that hit the tower. That's the latest report we have.
NEADS: Okay.
FAA: I'm going to try to confirm an ID for you, but I would assume he's somewhere over, uh, either New Jersey or somewhere further south.
NEADS: Okay. So American 11 isn't the hijack at all then, right?
FAA: No, he is a hijack.
NEADS: He -- American 11 is a hijack?
FAA: Yes.
NEADS: And he's heading into washington?
FAA: Yes. This could be a third aircraft.
NEADS: Okay, uh, American Airlines is still airborne. Eleven, the first guy, he's heading towards Washington. Okay? I think we need to scramble Langley right now. And I'm gonna take the fighters from Otis, try to chase this guy down if I can find him.


As you can see, there was a great deal of confusion that morning. FAA told NEADS that Flight 11 was heading to Washington when it had, in fact, already collided with the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Nevertheless, upon hearing this news at 9:24, NEADS mobilized three F-16s in Langley, and they were in the air by 9:30, only six minutes after getting word from the FAA. Those fighters from Otis Air Force Base were left in New York to protect New York airspace, although by that point there was nothing they could do.

Since NEADS only had seven minutes to get their fighters to the Pentagon (the plane crashed at 9:37), you can hardly say that NORAD bears much blame for what happened that day, especially considering how rapidly they responded once they did receive official word of a plane heading to the Pentagon.

It's interesting to note that the F-16 has a top speed of 1,500 MPH (source: http://www.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=103), yet according to the NORAD news release above, the F-16s were 105 miles and 12 minutes from the Pentagon when it hit the building. If these jets could travel 105 miles in 12 minutes, it means they were traveling at 525 MPH (a lot of conspiracy theorists erroneously use the 105 mile distance and subtract that from the distance between Langley Air Force Base and the Pentagon, which is about 130 miles, meaning the plane traveled 25 miles in its first seven minutes of flight. From this, they calculate that the plane must have been traveling at around 225 or 250 MPH...however, this is assuming that the plane reached its cruising speed immediately after takeoff, which is a ridiculous assumption. Don't planes need to at least reach a proper altitude before they speed up to their cruising speed? Don't planes need to accelerate before reaching their desired cruising speed? And doesn't that take a few minutes? (hint: yes, yes, and yes) ).

Still, if an F-16 has a top speed of 1,500 MPH, why were the two F-16s traveling at 525 MPH? Why don't we ask the guys who flew those F-16s? Craig Borgstrom, one of the three pilots, had this to say:

"They (NEADS) [are] giving us the heading and altitude of north-northeast up to 20,000 feet. Then shortly after takeoff they changed our heading more north-westerly and gave us max-subsonic. That’s as fast as you can go without breaking the sound barrier."

This excerpt is taken from the book "Air War over America: September 11th Alters Face of Air Defense Mission" by Leslie Filson, between p. 63 and p. 65. The fact that the pilots were given a bad initial heading is further evidence of the confusion taking place on the ground. The speed of sound is about 760 MPH, so given their speed, they appear to be approaching the sound barrier quite closely. Not knowing how quickly they had to rush to the Pentagon and knowing about the madness taking place around the country that morning, they may not have wanted to cut down their flight time by a few minutes and release a sonic boom that would likely scare the hell out of citizens on the ground, making them all think they were under attack. It should also be noted that the pilots of the F-15s from Otis Air Force Base that headed to New York did actually travel faster than the speed of sound, simply because they wanted to get to New York as fast as they could. It appears that the speed of the fighters was left to the discretion of the pilots, and it makes little sense to assume any sort of conspiracy if one set of pilots disobeyed their orders to fly below the speed of sound and the other set of pilots did not.

So how about the FAA? A good timeline of the day's events can be found here, even though it is laden with unnecessary dialogue:

http://www.911timeline.net/

The plane was hijacked and transponder-less at 8:56. At 9:24, the FAA notified NORAD of Flight 77's hijacking, and six minutes after that, the F-16s were in the air. So ultimately, there was a period of 28 minutes from Flight 77's hijacking to the notification of NORAD that Flight 77 has been hijacked. Why such a long time, you might ask? We should probably take a look at what was happening during that time. Again, let me refer you to the 9/11 Commission Report (http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf), starting on page 24.

The controller who was tracking the flight from the Indianapolis Control Center noticed the flight turn off its transponder and begin a southwesterly course. He tried contacting the flight to no avail, and initially he thought that the flight had suffered mechanical or electrical failure and may have crashed. This controller was not aware of any of the events of the day at that point, especially the other hijackings or Flight 11's fate. Indianapolis Center contacted the Air Force Search and Rescue at Langley Air Force Base, as well as the West Virginia State Police, asking them to look for any downed aircraft. It was not until 9:20 that Indianapolis Center learned of other hijacked aircraft and began to suspect that this wasn't merely a plane with technical difficulties.

To add to the confusion, Flight 77 had disappeared from the radar when it began a southwesterly course and didn't show up again in primary radar coverage until 9:05, and by that point, the flight was taking a direct course to the east. Flight controllers did not see the entire turn-around and only saw it veer to the southwest, so naturally they searched to the south and west of where the flight was when the transponder turned off. With the flight well to the east of where it was when it disappeared from the radar, it was missed by controllers searching in the wrong spot. And as I showed above, when the FAA did contact NORAD about a flight heading to Washington, they said it was Flight 11, not Flight 77.

So, to sum up what happened during those 28 minutes:

  • The controller, unaware of the morning's events, noticed that the flight turned off its transponder and lost communication, leading him to believe that the plane had suffered some sort of electrical or mechanical failure and may have crashed.
  • As a result, controllers spent their time contacting agencies to help them find a downed aircraft rather than contacting NORAD and telling them that the flight was headed to Washington.
  • Controllers looking for the flight lost track of it since they followed its last known direction before losing contact, without knowing that the flight had made a complete 180 degree turn and was in a different area entirely.


These are the reasons why it took 28 minutes to contact NORAD about Flight 77. And when NORAD was contacted, they acted as quickly as they could to respond to the situation. There is no evidence of foul play or of a cover-up. If anything, the morning's events outlined a failure to adequately protect America. The great degree of confusion, while understandable, was ultimately very costly and may have contributed to the success of the attack. The FAA appeared to be entirely unprepared for the event, but with so much confusion in so many areas, it's incredibly hard to believe that these failures had anything to do with conspiring individuals planted in the FAA or NORAD. With multiple flights being tracked and hijacked and with the number of different agencies that needed to be contacted about what was happening, I don't see how anyone can argue that the hijackings should have been handled with pure perfection, especially since America had never seen a terrorist attack of this magnitude before.

The Pentagon - Missile batteries
911debunker
I've covered a lot of material relating to what happened at the Pentagon, but I haven't discussed something that DIDN'T happen at the Pentagon on September 11th: defense! Generally, there are two claims made by conspiracy theorists that relate to the Pentagon's defense:

1) The Pentagon should have been defended by missiles or other anti-aircraft weaponry
2) Fighter jets should have intercepted Flight 77 before it hit the Pentagon

First, let's take a look at the first claim. The idea that the Pentagon should have been defended by missile batteries was first proposed by French author Theirry Meyssan, who wrote the following in his book "9/11: The Big Lie":

We also know that these anti-aircraft defenses include five batteries of missiles installed on top of the Pentagon and fighters at the Presidential airbase of Saint Andrews.

For the record, it's actually Andrews Air Force Base. Saint Andrews is a town in Scotland, not to mention one of the most famous golf courses in the world.

Five missile batteries on the roof, huh? I have a source of my own that analyzes Meyssan's assertion that missile batteries exist at the Pentagon, a very useful source that I encourage you to read:

http://www.jod911.com/There_Are_No_Missile_Defenses_at_the_Pentagon.pdf

According to the author of the above source, Meyssan's source is, in fact, a commercial publication that has no connection to the U.S. Government. How could these people possibly know that these missile batteries exist, unless their existence was actually public knowledge? Well after doing some research of my own, I wasn't able to find any evidence whatsoever of their existence. I was, however, able to dig up a few other things, like this for instance:

This Washington Post article, written on July 8, 2004, involves a security dilemma in Washington where an unidentified plane entered Washington's no-fly-zone and was nearly shot down. Good thing it wasn't, considering that it was carrying Ernie Fletcher, Governor of Kentucky, to Reagan Natioal Airport for Ronald Reagan's funeral! The incident did raise a number of security questions since this plane did travel quite deeply into the no-fly-zone without communicating to the ground. From the article:

The air defense system for Washington is unique, and many of its operations are classified. Unveiled in January 2003, the system was created to track all flights and to intercept aircraft that do not follow strict protocols. It replaced the fighter patrols that guarded the nation's capital beginning Sept. 11, 2001, a defense that was costly and did not provide federal authorities with the tools to investigate whether there were patterns in the violations.

You see that? They relied on fighter patrols on September 11th, not missile batteries. Another excerpt:

A senior federal security official said the process involved in firing ground-based air defenses operated by the Army or Army National Guard is more complex and needs refinement. Some military officials initially questioned the value of installing short-range missile systems, saying the range and reaction time made their use unlikely.

So now we see military officials discussing whether to install short-range missiles, which they wouldn't do if they already existed. And on top of that, they seem to think that these missiles are not an efficient method of protecting Washington's airspace.

Former Chief Counter-Terrorism Advisor for the U.S. National Security Council Richard Clarke had a few things to say about the matter, as well. From page 131 of his book "Against All Enemies":

The Secret Service and Customs had teamed up in Atlanta to provide some rudimentary air defense against an aircraft flying into the Olympic Stadium. They did so again during the subsequent National Security Special Events and they agreed to create a permanent air defense unit to protect Washington. Unfortunately, those two federal law enforcement agencies were housed in the Treasury Department and its leadership did not want to pay for such a mission or run the liability risks of shooting down the wrong aircraft. Treasury nixed the air defense unit, and my attempts within the White House to overrule them came to naught. The idea of aircraft attacking in Washington seemed remote to many people and the risks of shooting down aircraft in a city were thought to be far too high. Moreover, the opponents of our plan argued, the Air Force could always scramble fighter aircraft to protect Washington if there were a problem. On occasions when aircraft were hijacked (and in one case when we erroneously believed a Northwest flight had been seized), the Air Force did intercept the airliners with fighter jets. We succeeded only in getting Secret Service the permission to continue to examine air defense options, including the possibility of placing missile units near the White House. Most people who heard about our efforts to create some air defense system in case terrorists tried to fly aircraft into the Capitol, the White House, or the Pentagon simply thought we were nuts.

Again, we see the argument that protecting Washington with fighter jets would be easier and more intuitive than installing missile batteries to do the job.

It's also interesting to look into Washington's reaction on the 1st anniversary of 9/11. Apparently, the Pentagon arranged for Washington to be defended by missile batteries all over the Capital:

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/09/10/ar911.air.defense/

As you can see, these aren't stationary missile batteries we're talking about here. Washington was being defended by these:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Why would the Pentagon have these missile batteries brought in all over the Capital if they already had missile systems in place? Why would the government make a public deal about defending the Capital with these devices but cover up the existence of missile batteries at the Pentagon, especially if these batteries are meant to deter would-be kamikaze pilots from crashing into our nation's buildings?

It's also important to note that even if these missile batteries existed, there is no way they could be automated. Reagan National Airport is less than two miles from the Pentagon, shown here and called the "landebahn" in this picture:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Do you see the problem? If these missile batteries were supposed to target civilian planes that traveled too close to the Pentagon, these batteries would shoot down every single flight that takes off or lands from Reagan National Airport. If they did exist, there would have to be some sort of human involvement, so you really can't make the argument that the Pentagon should have relied on its own technology to save the day.

Hopefully we can all agree that there were no missile batteries. The Pentagon was supposed to be defended by fighter jets, so why wasn't it? I'll address that in my next post.

The Pentagon - The Flight Data Recorder
911debunker
It is interesting to note that the flight data recorder, or the FDR as it is often called on conspiracy forums (not to be confused with the president), was recovered, and the NTSB made a simulation of the data. That simulation can be viewed here, with a few comments added here and there:


(to address the first question posed by this video, regarding why the plane didn't take a nose dive into the Pentagon, I'd say it's probably because an inexperienced pilot was flying the plane)

The FDR data appears to suggest that the flight path taken by Flight 77 does not match the "official story", nor does it show that the fligth was flying low enough to knock over any light poles. An in-depth discussion of this data can be found here:

The fact of the matter is that the data is not completely reliable, as the main post describes in great detail. But what's more important is why the NTSB, a group that is supposedly also a part of this conspiracy theory, would not release a video that shows the airplane knocking over the light poles and doing exactly what the evidence appears to suggest.

Perhaps the strongest evidence suggesting that there's something very fishy about the FDR data is the footage that we DO have of the Pentagon crash. The five important frames can be viewed here:

Notice how there is white smoke trailing along the ground, smoke that becomes present by the second frame and has begun to dissipate by the last frame? Whatever did hit the Pentagon was trailing along the ground and certainly wasn't 480 feet above the ground two seconds before the collision, as the FDR data appears to suggest. Besides, numerous eyewitnesses have testified to the fact that this plane did knock over light poles, and it was flying very, very low moments before the collision. 480 feet is not low.

The only logical conclusion we can make is the conclusion made by the fellow in the forum who said that there was faulty interpretation of this data. It simply makes no sense for the government to try and sell a story and then release a piece of evidence that blatantly contradicts it.

The Pentagon - Ground Effect
911debunker
I don't have a whole lot to say about this, mainly because I want to direct you to a source that explains this issue much, much better than I can.

http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/conspiracy/q0274.shtml

Let me give you a brief run-down of the issue. During Flight 77's final moments, it flew very close to the ground, close enough to knock down light poles. Generally, when planes fly anywhere, they produce "downwash", a force that pulls the plane downward. These are primarily produced by swirling vortices of air left behind by an airplane's wings, and when planes fly low, the air can't swirl around as much since the ground is blocking it. This decreases the "downwash" acting on a plane and makes the wings produce more lift, which should push it up higher into the air.

Why isn't this a problem? Because ground effect is only substantial when a plane's "angle of attack", the angle of the plane relative to the ground, is high. It's also only substantial when a plane travels slowly. When a plane is landing, for example, it's moving as slow as possible, and its angle of attack is high so that the rear landing gear lands first, before the landing gear in the front. THIS is where ground effect comes into play, and I imagine it's probably one of the biggest difficulties encountered when landing a plane (again, Hani Hanjour didn't have to know how to deal with this since he wasn't landing a plane). But when a plane is travelling at 500+ miles per hour with a negative angle of attack, ground effect isn't important.

That's the quickest summary of the issue. The given source explains the issue in great detail and is very thorough.

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