Pentagon Videos a Fiasco, Scholars Conclude

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Reinforces skepticism about official account of 9/11, experts maintain

9/11 videotapes released by the Pentagon in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Judicial Watch raise more questions than they answer, in the opinion of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, a non-partisan society of experts devoted to sorting truth from fiction about those events.

According to James H. Fetzer, the society's founder, "Defenders of the official account have been touting them as refuting 'conspiracy theories' about the Pentagon attack, but they show no signs of any Boeing 757 and only raise more concern about the government's relentless efforts to deny the truth to the American people."

The two clips that have been released, which allegedly show the impact of a plane on the building, are presently archived at the Judicial Watch web site, http://www.judicialwatch.org/flight77.shtml, and at the Scholar's web site, http://www.st911.org. The first runs 3:11, the second 3:22 or just 11 seconds longer.

"A Boeing 757 has a wing span of 125 feet and a tail standing 44 feet above the ground. It's 155 feet long. If a plane of these dimensions had hit the building and these tapes were authentic, then it would have been obvious," Fetzer said. "They should have looked a lot like the simulation at http://www.tinyurl.com/f9nad. But they don't."

The Reception on Fox TV

Steven Jones, co-chair of Scholars for 9/11 truth, observed that the new footage had appeared on Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox TV. After actually viewing the footage, O'Reilly was forced to admit, "I can't see a plane there." Bret Baier of Fox likewise stated, "People looking at this tape would probably be underwhelmed." He added, "After seeing this tape, those conspiracy theories will likely continue."

"It's basically a case of the Emperor's new clothes," Jones said, "where several reporters are spouting the 'official line' that the new footage proves that a Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon. When honest people review these videotapes for themselves, however, many have the courage to acknowledge that they don't see a Boeing 757 hitting the Pentagon. The government has not proven its case at all."

David Ray Griffin, a member of Scholars and author of several books on 9/11, observed that there are reports of more than 80 videos of the Pentagon hit. "One of these videos was taken from a nearby hotel and should show exactly what happened during the crash. The FBI gathered them up almost immediately, which has left a gaping hole in the available evidence."

Jones, a professor of physics and BYU, has observed that Scholars has called for release of the seized surveillance videos, including those taken from the Citgo gas station and several hotels located near the Pentagon. "The release of all of these video tapes is the first of our request that twelve kinds of data be released," he said, "in the petition that we have circulated, which now has over 9,500 signatures." The petition can be found at http://www.st911.org.

Problems at the Pentagon

Serious questions have arisen about the Pentagon attack on multiple grounds. First, the west wing of the Pentagon would have been the least valuable target to attack. Under reconstruction, it was sparsely populated; it was far removed from the east wing, where the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs were situated; and it had been reinforced, so a strike on any other portion of the building, such as plunging though the roof, would have been easier to accomplish and caused more damage.

Second, according to both eyewitnesses and photographs, the strike on the Pentagon produced neither the aircraft debris nor the damage to the building that would have been expected from the impact of a plane with the mass and dimensions of a Boeing 757. A photograph taken before the upper floors fell, which is archived on the resources page of http://www.st911.org, for example, renders the official account highly implausible.

Third, the alleged pilot, Hani Hanjour, was regarded by his own flight instructors as incompetent to fly even small aircraft. It would have been highly improbable for a pilot of his mediocre abilities to have successfully piloted a Boeing 757 or executed the maneuvers that were required to hit the building.

In a press release on 12 March 2006, the Scholars observed that Norman Mineta, Secretary of Transportation, told The 9/11 Commission that, in an underground bunker beneath the White House that morning, he had observed a young aide repeatedly approach the Vice President and inform him of an aircraft approaching the Pentagon, asking if the "orders" still stand. The orders, which Cheney affirmed, appear to have been that the aircraft should not be shot down.

Reinforcing Skepticism

"Skepticism about the official account is actually reinforced by the newly released videos," Fetzer said. "If a Boeing 757 had come across the lawn at low altitude but high speed, it would have brought about extensive damage to the lawn." And both of the videos suggest that the aircraft that hit the Pentagon was skimming just above the ground.

The "smoking gun" at the Pentagon, he observed, is the clear, smooth and unblemished lawn. "It would have been especially unlikely that an inexperienced pilot like Hanjour could have flown a large airplane so close to the ground and not collided with it," Fetzer remarked. "That is a feat even experienced pilots would have found very difficult to accomplish."

"No one watching these clips over and over, focusing on each frame, can find unambiguous support for a large aircraft, much less a Boeing 757," he added. "How much less likely that bypassers in the vicinity, who only had a brief chance to notice this happening, could have figured out what they saw. Nothing here remotely resembles a Boeing 757."

Even the Pentagon itself is covered with cameras. The most serious question raised by the release of these videos may be why other videos, which would provide clearer and far more revealing information, have not been released. "The most plausible explanation for withholding this evidence from the American public," Griffin observed, "is that the American government has a great deal to hide."

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James Fetzer