Reply to Popular Mechanics re 9/11
by Peter Meyer

Some people, who suppose themselves to be both "intelligent" and "rational", dismiss any denial of the official story of September 11th as "conspiracy theory". This not only reveals an absence of (or at least a curious suspension of) thinking ability but also fails to address the fundamental questions: Who planned and carried out the attacks of 9/11? And exactly how did they do it? Articles on this website and on many others present convincing evidence (to those whose minds are not closed) that what happened on 9/11 (a crime which has never been subjected to a criminal investigation) could not have happened as the Bush administration claims it did. If so then why should we believe the claim that the operation was planned and carried out by a cabal consisting of a couple of dozen Arabs (armed only with boxcutters)? Given all the holes in the official story, there is no reason to believe this claim. And if Arabs did not plan and carry out the attacks of 9/11, then who did? This is the question that those who accept the official story are desperately trying to avoid facing, because to do so threatens their entire set of beliefs about the current nature of American society and the U.S. government. Faith in the official story is ultimately based on one thing: Fear of the consequences, should it be proven false.

This page censored at Wikipedia This article, by way of rebuttal of the deceptive straw-man tactics of Popular Mechanics, examines the evidence for and against the official story (which is itself a conspiracy theory) of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and concludes that there is no evidence to support the official story, and in fact that it cannot be true. This was also the conclusion reached in the author's earlier article on this subject, The World Trade Center Demolition and the So-Called War on Terrorism.  Read, think about it, and decide for yourself.  Don't allow yourself to be deceived by the complicity of the mainstream media in the cover-up and by the trolls in the online forums and on Wikipedia (all references to this article in Wikipedia articles are quickly deleted).

Here is a shorter URL for this article:

Note added 2012-02-18: In the seven years since this article was written more than half of the pages on other websites to which it linked (to provide supporting evidence) have disappeared. In some cases this may be due to simple link rot (websites come and go) and in some cases it may be due to suppression of information. Whatever — almost all of the disappeared pages are still available via the Wayback Machine, and so many of the links in this article now lead to copies of those pages archived on that site. As pages continue to disappear it may be possible to find them in this way.

Popular Mechanics recently came out with an issue in which the main story was called 9/11: Debunking The Myths: "PM examines the evidence and consults the experts to refute the most persistent conspiracy theories of September 11." Really? Upon examination it turns out to be a shoddy piece of disinfo produced in a desperate attempt to defend against the fact that Americans are finally waking up and realizing that 9/11 was an inside job, that about 3000 people died at the hands of elements within their own government.

Popular Mechanics presented sixteen "Claims", which it attributed to 9/11 "conspiracy theorists", and to each one added its "Fact", which it intended to be a debunking of the "Claim". These "Claims" and "Facts" are reproduced verbatim in the boxes below, followed by a reply to Popular Mechanics' "debunking". The section headings are the titles used by Popular Mechanics, and the order of the sixteen items follows their order in the magazine.

It is not the intention of this article to defend all of the "Claims" given by Popular Mechanics. Some of them may in fact be ludicrous. This is the "straw man" tactic, where an intellectually dishonest proponent sets up some ridiculous claim, which he attributes to "conspiracy theorists", and then proceeds to knock it down. This tactic is well-known to intelligent people, though apparently Popular Mechanics does not regard its readership as belonging to that class.

When thinking about the attacks on the World Trade Center one should keep in mind the layout of the complex. Here is a diagram showing WTC 1 (the North Tower), WTC 2 (the South Tower) and WTC 7, and the impact points.

  1. Where's The Pod?
  2. No Stand-Down Order
  3. Flight 175's Windows
  4. Intercepts Not Routine
  5. Widespread Damage
  6. "Melted" Steel
  7. Puffs Of Dust
  8. Seismic Spikes
  1. WTC 7 Collapse
  2. Big Plane, Small Holes
  3. Intact Windows
  4. Flight 77 Debris
  5. The White Jet
  6. Roving Engine
  7. Indian Lake
  8. F-16 Pilot

Where's The Pod?

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

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

US 175This website was the first to draw attention to the anomaly revealed in photos of the alleged Boeing 757 flying into the South Tower. This was done in Leonard Spencer's article The Incredible 9-11 Evidence We've All been Overlooking, in early November 2002, when 9/11 research was still at a comparatively early stage. (This anomaly was subsequently picked up by others and became the main emphasis of websites such as Spencer drew attention to the anomaly, clearly visible in videos and images, as in the image at right (click on it to see it fullsize).

Spencer suggested that the anomaly might be an ignition device which was designed to ensure that the inflammable material (either within the plane or previously planted at that level in the South Tower) would explode in the huge fireball that was captured by so many cameras and resulted in worldwide "shock and awe". This hypothesis is not unreasonable. At no time did Spencer claim (though some others may have) that 9/11 was an inside job sanctioned by "President George Bush, who planned and engineered 9/11", since clearly Bush is too stupid to have planned and engineered such an operation.

Popular Mechanics ignored the image above. Instead it chose an image precisely because the anomaly is not visible (and they combine this choice with the lie that "Conspiracy theorists claim this photo 'proves' the 9/11 attacks were a U.S. military operation"). Having chosen an image in which the plane is just a black silhouette against the sky they then sent this image to some "expert", who reported that no anomaly was visible. Gee — we're impressed!

Actually the question of whether or not some anomalous object is attached to this alleged Boeing 767 is interesting but an affirmative answer is not necessary to show that 9/11 was an inside job. It is a well-known tactic of disinfo artists to draw attention to controversial issues (and to create endless debate about them) so as to distract attention from the real smoking guns.

No Stand-Down Order

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

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

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

Popular Mechanics cites no sources for its assertions (except a list of people at the end of the article who are claimed to be "experts") — but see here for some relevant data. We are expected simply to believe what the magazine says, just as the Bush administration believed (correctly, as it turned out) that almost everyone (in the US at least) would simply believe what it said about what happened on 9/11. Fortunately some people, even from day 1, did not believe what it said, and set out to show that it was lying (and why it was lying).

But if we believe Popular Mechanics' "Fact" it points to an amazing degree of laxity and incompetence on the part of NORAD, whose mission is not just (as Popular Mechanics suggests) to monitor the airspace surrounding the US but to ensure the security of all US airspace. At the website of the Homeland Security/Defense Education Consortium (, a front organization for NORAD/USNORTHCOM, we read (emphasis added):

North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command Mission Statements

NORAD Mission Statement

NORAD continuously provides worldwide detection, validation and warning of an aerospace attack on North America and maintains continental aerospace control, to include peacetime air sovereignty alert and appropriate aerospace defense measures in response to hostile actions against North America

USNORTHCOM Mission Statement

United States Northern Command conducts operations to deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories and interests within assigned areas of responsibility; as directed by the President or Secretary of Defense, provides military assistance to civil authorities, including consequence management operations

But incompetence is what the Bush administration can live with, since this accusation deflects attention from the much more serious accusation that elements within the US government (perhaps going back before the usurper Bush came to power in 2001) were involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks. (See Cheryl Seal's Smoking Gun The 9/11 Evidence that May Hang George W. Bush.)

In fact, of course, the US Air Force has (and had) well-defined procedures for dealing with such suspicious events in the skies over the US (that's part of what they are paid to do), in particular, with suspected hijackings. The procedures were stated in DoD Directive Number 3025.15 (local copy here), dated 1997-02-18, with the title "Military Assistance to Civil Authorities". This document includes the following:

4.7. Requests for military assistance should be made and approved in the following ways:

4.7.1. Immediate Response. Requests for an immediate response (i.e., any form of immediate action taken by a DoD Component or military commander to save lives, prevent human suffering, or mitigate great property damage under imminently serious conditions) may be made to any Component or Command. The DoD Components that receive verbal requests from civil authorities for support in an exigent emergency may initiate informal planning and, if required, immediately respond as authorized in DoD Directive 3025.1 (reference (g)).

In other words, in response to a request for assistance from a civil authority, such as the FAA, that "component" of the military to which the request is directed may respond immediately with appropriate action, such as scrambling a jet fighter (or diverting one already in the air) for the purpose of interception.

This directive was to some extent superseded by an Instruction (document CJCSI 3610.01A, local copy here) from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dated 2001-06-01, with the title "Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects" (such as unmanned free balloons, etc.). According to this, only the FAA can request military assistance in the event of a hijacking, and they must notify the National Military Command Center (NMCC), which must, in most cases, obtain the approval of the Secretary of Defense.

This document has been used as the basis for the claim that the military could not have shot down any hijacked airliner on 9/11 because prior approval was required from the Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld), who, on the morning of 9/11, was nowhere to be found.

Jim Hoffman has discovered a document which I believe may be very important to the 911 skeptic movement. This document superseded earlier DOD procedures for dealing with hijacked aircraft, and it requires that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is personally responsible for issuing intercept orders. Commanders in the field are stripped of all authority to act. — Jerry Russell, 'Stand Down Order'?

This claim is false.

In an article posted under the pseudonym "D. Rumsfeld" and entitled Criminal Mastermind: Donald Rumsfeld (an article reproduced almost entirely by Jim Hoffman on his website) we read:

There is a set of procedures for responding to hijackings. In particular, these procedures were changed on June 1, 2001 while Rumsfeld was in power as our Secretary of Defense, in a document called: "CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF INSTRUCTION, J-3 CJCSI 3610.01A" (


These are the standing orders to the military as to how to respond to hijackings over United States territory. The June 1 '01 document deliberately changed the existing policies. Previous directives were issued in 1997, 1986 and before.

What is shocking about this entire sordid episode is the total disconnect between what Donald Rumsfeld's story alleges (ignorance of inbound hijacked aircraft), and what these Chief of Staff Instructions require of the Secretary of Defense:

"b. Support.
When notified that military assistance is needed in conjunction with an aircraft piracy (hijacking) emergency, the DDO, NMCC, will:

(1) Determine whether or not the assistance needed is reasonably available from police or commercial sources. If not, the DDO, NMCC, will notify the appropriate unified command or NORAD to determine if suitable assets are available and will forward the request to the Secretary of Defense for approval in accordance with DODD 3025.15, paragraph D.7 (reference d)."


The usage of the word "approval" is the major change here to the existing hijacking response procedures. While the text of the document tries to link this "approval" to the previous orders "DODD 3025.15," the approval is now required BEFORE providing any assistance at all. Previously, approval would be required to respond to a situation with lethal force.

This June 1st update to the orders stopped all military assistance in its tracks UNTIL approval from Donald Rumsfeld (the "Secretary of Defense") could be granted -- which, by his own admission, it was not. Rumsfeld claimed total ignorance of the inbound aircraft that attacked the Pentagon (on the opposite side of the building complex, where a construction project had been underway).

In this manner, fighter planes were held up from immediately responding to the hijacked commercial jets on September the 11th.

It is not true, as the writer here asserts, that "approval is now required BEFORE providing any assistance at all." DoD Directive Number 3610.01A states (emphasis added):

4. Policy

   a. Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) of Civil and Military Aircraft. Pursuant to references a and b, the Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has exclusive responsibility to direct law enforcement activity related to actual or attempted aircraft piracy (hijacking) in the "special aircraft jurisdiction" of the United States. When requested by the Administrator, Department of Defense will provide assistance to these law enforcement efforts. Pursuant to reference c, the NMCC is the focal point within Department of Defense for providing assistance. In the event of a hijacking, the NMCC will be notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will, with the exception of immediate responses as authorized by reference d, forward requests for DOD assistance to the Secretary of Defense for approval.

When we check to see what "reference d" is we find that it is:

"Military Assistance to Civil Authorities"

In other words, whatever change the new directive introduces, the directive of 1997-02-18 still applies in the case of the need for an immediate response in order "to save lives, prevent human suffering, or mitigate great property damage under imminently serious conditions". In such a case it is not required before initiating military action to obtain the prior approval of the Secretary of Defense.

This is an example of the kind of subtle disinfo which so often muddies the waters in 9/11 research. An interesting claim is made which (a) seems to explain something (in this case, the 9/11 stand-down) and (b) suggests that a particularly obnoxious government official (in this case Donald Rumsfeld) is implicated in some crime. Naturally many people will be inclined believe the claim. But if the claim is seriously investigated it turns out to be based on a mistaken (deliberately mistaken?) interpretation of some evidence (in this case the Directive of 2001-06-01).

For more on the 9/11 stand-down see 9/11 Review's AirForceStanddown.

Flight 175's Windows

CLAIM: On Sept. 11, FOX News broadcast a live phone interview with FOX employee Marc Birnbach. states that "Bernback" saw the plane "crash into the South Tower." "It definitely did not look like a commercial plane," Birnbach said on air. "I didn't see any windows on the sides."

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

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

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

This website, at least, has never made the claim that "the South Tower was struck by a military cargo plane or a fuel tanker." Perhaps this claim appears on some 9/11 website — quite likely, since there are thousands of them, and not all their webmasters are careful to make only claims which can be supported by evidence. But, as stated above, the determination of the exact nature of the objects which struck the Twin Towers, although of interest, is not required in order to show that 9/11 was an inside job. In fact, the loud debate as to what hit the Twin Towers distracts attention from the really incriminating evidence. One can adduce evidence and arguments in favor of various hypotheses (Boeing 767s, Boeing 737s, military aircraft such as the KC-767 fuel tanker, cruise missiles, cruise missiles with jetliner-superstructure, cruise missiles with on-board holographic projectors, etc.), but this debate has, at present, no chance of resolution, because there is insufficient evidence to come to a firm conclusion. It serves only to demonstrate the reasoning powers (or lack thereof) of the participants and to aid disinfo artists in their attempts to distract attention from the evidence that the official story is a lie.

The role of FEMA in the 9/11 investigation raises many questions. Tom Kenny was a member of the Massachusetts Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, which took orders from FEMA. In an interview on September 12th (Wednesday) with Dan Rather on CBS, Tom Kenny said "We arrived on, uh, late Monday night and went into action on Tuesday morning; and not until today did we get a full opportunity to work, uh, the entire site." Since Kenny's team arrived on Monday evening and the WTC was attacked on Tuesday morning it would seem that FEMA had prior knowledge of the impending attack.

FEMA's report on the collapse of the Twin Towers ( is full of holes, as demonstrated in this annotated version of Chapter 2 from the report (a good internet connection is needed to view this in full).

Leonard Spencer has shown that one of the photos which appears in this FEMA report is a fake.

As regards the point about "the trajectory of the fragments ... as they tore through the South Tower, exited from the building's north side and fell from the sky", producing "aircraft debris", it is interesting to examine the actual video evidence of that event. Leonard Spencer has done this and after considering the evidence writes:

I would suggest that the object that emerged from the NE corner of the South Tower was in fact a canister containing items of appropriate 'debris', which was propelled from the building to lend credence to the notion that a regular passenger jet hit WTC 2. And if this canister did not originate from the plane we must conclude that it was already planted in the corner section of the tower before the attack, to be fired out at the requisite moment. That it was a pre-planted device is strongly suggested both by its pristine condition when it emerges and its exit from the exact corner of the building. — What Hit WTC2?  Another Look at the Second Plane

Intercepts Not Routine

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

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

In an Associated Press article a NORAD spokesman, Maj. Douglas Martin, is reported as saying that from September 2000 to June 2001 (just ten months) NORAD scrambled jets (or diverted combat air patrols) 67 times to investigate aircraft going off-course or other suspicious events, and presumably many of these resulted in intercepts.

Apart from the general question of normal procedures for the detection of hijacked and/or threatening aircraft over the continental US (discussed in the reply to Claim #2 above) there is the specific question of normal procedures for the defense of the airspace surrounding the WTC complex. On this point we have the evidence of someone who was a tenant in one of the buildings, and who states that not only was interception routine but also that the airspace surrounding the Twin Towers was a no-fly zone. In an email message to John Kaminski (cc'd to a mailing list) sent in November 2003 Walter Burien wrote:


I was a tenant at WTC1 in 1979-81.

The only concern anyone had 20 years ago was a hijacked plane being flown into the towers.

Here is the "Key" to unlock the door: The extensive flight logs for 20 years from the 3 military bases in the area and Port Authority responding to air threats is exemplary.

Thousands of sorties run in response to threats, practice runs, false alarms, done weekly or daily over 20 years. Back in the late seventies the NY Post ran an article about the Port Authority bragging how their manned 24/7 response helicopter would be in the air within 4 minutes of an alert call going out per possible air threat to the WTC towers.

There is [only] one occasion that I am aware of, or in most probabilities that any one else is aware of, in this exemplary record of response to air threats covering a period of over twenty years that the intercepts did not launch and were told to stand down, after going on high alert within a minute or two of the threat, not from just one threat but then two. That date was 9/11/01.

This in itself is the most condemning fact of them all when that 20 year record is brought to light. The motive then becomes crystal clear in review of that exemplary response record to threats from the air against the WTC towers.

No off course or negligent air craft came close. They were always intercepted and told to change their course or they would be blown out of the sky. It was a no fly zone and this happened to many pilots that intentionally or unintentionally flew too close to the WTC towers over those 20 years.

Widespread Damage

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

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

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

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

Popular Mechanics' "Fact" tries to arouse horror in the reader at the thought of people in the lobbies being burned by flaming jet fuel, but the only "factual" claim here is that (a) the elevator shafts were damaged and (b) burning jet fuel "travelled" down them and caused damage to the lobbies and killed people. We already know that people died, close to 3000 of them, in an act of mass murder, with those who perpetrated this remaining unidentified (the perps were certainly not the 19 Arabs whom the FBI tried to pin the blame on).

We are asked to believe that the jet fuel remained liquid, "traveling down the elevator shafts". But jet fuel (kerosene) combined with air is, at high temperature, highly combustible, as Popular Mechanics' "Fact" says. The impacts were accompanied by huge explosions, which produced high temperatures. But somehow the jet fuel did not ignite, but remained liquid so as to flow down the elevator shafts? Really?

Popular Mechanics states in its "Claim" that "EXPLOSIVES ... HAD ALREADY BEEN DETONATED in the lower levels of tower one at the same time as the plane crash" but in its reply it completely ignores the question of whether the collapse of the Twin Towers is better explained by explosives than by the plane impacts and fires. This question is addressed in detail in Evidence for Explosives in the Twin Towers.

"Melted" Steel

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

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

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

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

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

The claim that the steel "melted" was not due to "conspiracy theorists" but rather was part of the initial version of the official story, rushed into print by the mainstream media. At How the World Trade Center fell, a page on the BBC's website, dated 2001-09-13, the following claims are made:

The following appeared on a page of the website of Scientific American, a page ( which has since disappeared (but a copy of which may be found here):

Eduardo Kausel proposed an alternative failure explanation that he acknowledged was independently developed by Zdenek Bazant, a professor at Northwestern University. "I believe that the intense heat softened or melted the structural elements — floor trusses and columns — so that they became like chewing gum, and that was enough to trigger the collapse," he said.

Popular Mechanics states that "Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F". Jet fuel is basically kerosene, and kerosene ignites at 444°F (229°C) according to the Journal of Australian Fire Investigators (see The temperature then reached depends on the combustion rate (which depends on the oxygen supply) and the rate at which the heat generated can be dispersed. Videos of the Twin Towers show that the fires were moderate (certainly not of the "raging inferno" type) and the large volumes of black, sooty, smoke show that the fires were oxygen-deprived, not the sort of combustion that will generate high temperatures. Moreover, the jet fuel burnt itself out in about ten minutes (see below), and both buildings stood for over forty minutes thereafter.

A fire never burns hot enough to melt steel except under exceptional and controlled conditions, such as (i) in a blast furnace, where preheated air is pumped into the fire under pressure, and (ii) in an oxyacetylene torch, where oxygen is mixed with acetylene. This is why you can cook food in a steel pot over a gas flame and why jet engines can be made of steel.

The question of whether the fires provided sufficient explanation for the collapse of the Twin Towers was addressed by several people soon after the event, and it was shown that this was not a sufficient explanation, but Popular Mechanics ignored these analyses (if it was ever aware of them). For example, over three years ago, on 2001-11-25 Carol Valentine published J. McMichael's Muslims Suspend Laws of Physics (also available on this website: Part I and Part II). Popular Mechanics' "experts" were apparently unaware of the points to which J. McMichael drew attention (or perhaps they were aware but Popular Mechanics chose to ignore things like this):

However we do not have to establish exactly what temperature was reached, or could have been reached, by the burning jet fuel, since Dr. Shyam Sunder, Chief of the NIST Materials and Construction Systems Division, has stated:

Now, several of you have heard about or thought about the fact that the jet fuel would have burned, caused the building to burn, and probably think the jet fuel played the sole role in the fires. The jet fuel acted much like a matchstick. It was something that spread throughout the building in those affected floors and caused ignition of the fires. But the jet fuel itself burnt in a matter of minutes, within less than ten minutes. So what burned over the next hour, or hour and a half, was really the contents of the buildings, the everyday contents of the buildings. — Transcript of NIST Public Meeting in New York City — February 12, 2004  [Note added 2012-02-18: "Transcript of ..." used to be a link to a 381 Kb PDF file which could be recovered via the Wayback Machine, but the WM replaced that archived page with a copy of a current NIST page:, so it seems that transcript has been consigned to the memory hole, and only the preceding brief quote survives.)

So the jet fuel burned for maybe ten minutes, and thereafter it was not jet fuel that was burning but rather, as Popular Mechanics' "Fact" says, "the combustible material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper". Since both WTC 1 and WTC 2 were still standing 50 minutes after the impacts, the alleged weakening of the steel had to be due to the previous 40 minutes of burning of "rugs, curtains, furniture and paper". Popular Mechanics states (erroneously, and completely ignoring the safety margins that architects use when designing buildings) that "Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100°F". So we are expected to believe that burning "rugs, curtains, furniture and paper" can produce temperatures of 1100°F. But according to the Journal of Australian Fire Investigators (see paper, wood and leather ignite at 475°F (246°C) or less, far below the temperature required to weaken steel significantly. It is thus ludicrous to attempt to attribute the collapse of the Twin Towers to the weakening of its steel supports due to the combustion of "rugs, curtains, furniture and paper".

An interesting message was sent by Kevin Ryan (site manager of the Environmental Health Laboratories, owned by Underwriters Laboratories, the company who certified the steel used in the Twin Towers) to NIST regarding the temperature reached by the burning jet fuel, stating that

The results of your recently published metallurgical tests seem to clear things up ...  Your comments suggest that the steel was probably exposed to temperatures of only about 500F (250C), which is what one might expect from a thermodynamic analysis of the situation.

However the summary of the new NIST report seems to ignore your findings, as it suggests that these low temperatures caused exposed bits of the building's steel core to "soften and buckle." Additionally this summary states that the perimeter columns softened, yet your findings make clear that "most perimeter panels (157 of 160) saw no temperature above 250C." ...  If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I'm sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers.

There are only three cases of a steel-structure high-rise building collapsing (allegedly) as a result of fires, namely, WTC 1, WTC 2 and WTC 7, all on the same day, 9/11. A strange coincidence, no? In all other cases of fires in high-rise steel-structure buildings the buildings did not collapse. For details see Other Fires in Steel-Structure Buildings.

Puffs Of Dust

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

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

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

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

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

In 1994 Dr. Van D. Romero, with strong ties to the the defense establishment, became director of the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (prior to 1991 named TERA, the Terminal Effects Research and Analysis group) at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMTech). In 1999 he was appointed (and remains) NMTech's Vice President for Research.

According to PsyOpNews (in a web page which appeared on 2001-10-04, but disappeared a few weeks later):

On the morning of the attacks, Romero and Tech's finance vice president Denny Peterson, were near the Pentagon.

They had come to Washington to discuss defense-funded research programs at Tech, leaving them very conveniently located to grab NMTech's slice of the imminent cleanup operation. Because New Mexico Tech offers counter-terrorism training of police and fire first responders to terrorism attacks in the United States!

Within hours Romero was telling the Albuquerque Journal that the collapse of the twin towers could have been caused by a small amount of explosive put in more than two points in each of the towers.

You can read the rest of the PsyopNews story here. Rather than pursue this, let's stay with what Van Romero is reported to have told the Albuquerque Journal. You can read the entire text of the original article here. Here are some extracts:

"My opinion is, based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes hit the World Trade Center there were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse," Romero said. ...

Romero said the collapse of the structures resembled those of controlled implosions used to demolish old structures.

"It would be difficult for something from the plane to trigger an event like that," Romero said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. ...

If explosions did cause the towers to collapse, the detonations could have been caused by a small amount of explosive, he said.

"It could have been a relatively small amount of explosives placed in strategic points," Romero said.

Whether Van Romero "was misquoted in saying that [he] thought it was explosives that brought down the building" is known only by himself and the journalist, but it sure reads as if he said exactly that.

No doubt the publication of his views was not received well in certain circles in Washington D.C., nor at NMTech, heavily dependent upon funding from the Pentagon. It is not surprising that within two weeks he had publicly renounced his former views, and continues to do so.

Now let us turn to a consideration of what Popular Mechanics calls the "pancake theory". This theory was examined already over three years ago in the article by J. McMichael mentioned above. This article should be read for the full examination, but here are some extracts:

I think of the floors of each tower like a stack of LP (33-1/3 RPM) records, except that the floors were square instead of circular. They were stacked around a central spindle that consisted of multiple steel columns interspersed with dozens of elevator shafts.

The outside shape of the towers was almost square, but the inner core was more rectangular. With the central core bearing the weight of the building, the platters were tied together and stabilized by another set of steel columns at the outside rim, closely spaced and completely surrounding the structure.

Where the radial trusses connected with the central columns, I imagine the joints looked like the big bolted flanges where girders meet on a bridge — inches thick bolts tying the beams into the columns. In order to weaken those joints, a fire would have to heat the bolts or the flanges to the point where the bolts fell apart or tore through the steel. But ... all the joints between the platter and the central columns would have to be heated at the same rate in order to collapse at the same time.

But there were no irregularities in the fall of those buildings. They fell almost as perfectly as a deck of cards in the hands of a magician doing an aerial shuffle.

This is particularly worrisome since the first plane struck one side of the north tower, causing (you would think) a weakening on that side where the exterior columns were struck, and a more intense fire on that side than on the other side. And the second plane struck near the corner of the south tower at an angle that caused much of the fuel to spew out the windows on the adjacent side. Yet the south tower also collapsed in perfect symmetry, spewing dust in all directions like a Fourth of July sparkler burning to the ground.

I would like to find a picture of all those platters piled up on the ground, just as they fell ... I am told it was cumulative weight of those platters falling on each other that caused the collapse, but I don't see the platters piled up like flapjacks on the ground floor. Instead, the satellite pictures show the WTC ruins like an ash pit.

I have just one other point I need help with — the steel columns in the center. When the platters fell, those quarter-mile high central steel columns (at least from the ground to the fire) should have been left standing naked and unsupported in the air, and then they should have fallen intact or in sections to the ground below, clobbering buildings hundreds of feet from the WTC site like giant trees falling in the forest. But I haven't seen any pictures showing those columns standing, falling, or lying on the ground.

The "pancake" (or "domino" or "flapjack") theory has it that the towers collapsed because (a) the only connection between the outer perimeter wall and the central core were flimsy lightweight trusses, (b) the plane impact weakened these trusses and the heat of the fires caused them to buckle until (c) the trusses at the impact floors gave way and (d) the floors above lost their support and fell upon the lower floors causing all floors to pancake. That this theory is false has been demonstrated (by an anonymous author) in The World Trade Center Demolition. For more on this see this part of The Official Story: The Twin Towers.

As regards what Popular Mechanics calls the "puffs of dust", the most interesting ones are those that are very similar to ones that occur in controlled demolitions. For more on this see this part of Evidence for Explosives in the Twin Towers.

Seismic Spikes

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

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

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

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

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


The full title of the Lamont-Doherty report is "Seismic Waves Generated by Aircraft Impacts and Building Collapses at World Trade Center, New York City" available from the Lamont-Doherty website as a 754 Kb PDF file here. This report contains neither of the images displayed by Popular Mechanics, though it does show similar images, the principal one being the following:

A seismographic record simply records the degree of earth-shaking over some period of time. It does not in itself reveal the cause of that earth-shaking. The question here is, what caused the seismic events recorded at Lamont-Doherty. The authors of the report beg the question in the very title of the paper, assuming that the major events were caused wholly and solely by "Aircraft Impacts and Building Collapses". Nowhere in their report is any other possibility considered, and especially not the possibility that explosions at the WTC might have been, at least in part, the cause of the seismographic readings.

Christopher Bollyn was one of the first (perhaps the first) person to point out that the seismic readings suggest that explosives were used to bring down the Twin Towers. See his Seismic Evidence Points to Underground Explosions Causing WTC Collapse for more details.

Bollyn also drew attention to the fact that pockets of extremely hot material, in excess of 1292°F (700°C), persisted beneath the rubble of the WTC for weeks after 9/11. Such extreme temperatures cannot have been produced simply as the effects of steel falling from great heights, but rather suggests that explosions occurred in the basement of the WTC. High temperatures such as this can result from the use of thermite (see Thermite and the WTC Collapses). Christopher Bollyn suggested that perhaps small nuclear devices were employed — not the type that produce mushroom clouds, but small nuclear devices of the kind that the Pentagon has developed in recent decades for "bunker busting". The use of high-explosives at the base of the central steel columns supporting the Twin Towers, combined with explosives at various levels in the towers, would explain the nature of the collapse: as if all the rigidity normally provided by steel supporting structure within the towers was suddenly removed.

But to return to the actual seismic record ...  The question is, what sort of event best explains the readings: Explosions? Or the impact upon the ground of debris falling from great height (steel girders mostly, since the concrete was pulverized and dissipated in great clouds)? In the latter case we might expect a fairly uniform earth-shaking over a period of ten seconds or so as the steel hit the ground. This is what appears in the "expanded view" of "the first collapse" in the Lamont-Doherty image (the second red graph in the image above). But this is not what appears in the black graph, which shows spikes occurring toward the start of the seismic events. This is indicative of explosions, in which there is a sudden release of energy at the start of the events followed by residual effects, tapering off to zero (or rather, to the usual background noise).

Some might say that the "spikes" do not show the effects of explosions because their amplitude (in the black graph) is the result simply of the scale used, an expanded scale on the vertical axis which allows the large maximum amplitude of the event to be compared visually to the small amplitude of the background noise), so the appearance of massive spikes is an artefact of the graphical representation. But while it is true that the amplitude of the spikes is a result of the vertical scale used, and a compression of the vertical axis scale would bring the maximum amplitude down to what is seen in the red graph, this objection misses the point, which is the position of the spikes in the context of the entire seismic event.

Lamont-Doherty's red graph for "the first collapse" shows no spike. But what part of the total "first collapse" event have the authors of the article chosen to expand to produce their red graph? Could it be that they have chosen just a part of the overall event in such a way that the position of the spike in the context of the total event is concealed?

See also Steve Davis's Forensic Seismology of 911 — Update.

WTC 7 Collapse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mini-video below has been borrowed from the website of What Really Happened, which says:

Take a close look at the manner in which WTC 7 collapses straight down. For the building to collapse in this fashion, all of the load bearing supports would have had to fail at exactly the same time.

The claim that the collapse was the result of a fire requires the fire be equally distributed throughout the entire floor of the building, providing equal heat for an equal amount of time, so that all the load bearings members would fail at the exact same moment.

Do you find this plausible?

This is the same point that was made in connection with WTC 1 and WTC 2. All three steel-structure buildings collapsed in the manner of a controlled demolition. WTC 7, however, did not collapse until about six hours after the Twin Towers came down, during which time only minor fires within the building were visible. Popular Mechanics quotes chief WTC 7 investigator Shyam Sunder: "There was no firefighting in WTC 7". Why not? Were firefighters ordered to stay out of the building?

The FEMA report on the collapse of WTC 7, together with a critical commentary, may be found at The FEMA Report on World Trade Center 7 Collapse is a Total Joke. The commentary reveals that the report is full of holes. FEMA could only make vague guesses at why the building collapsed (but, of course, demolition was not one of their guesses).

Popular Mechanics says: "With the benefit of more time and resources, NIST researchers now support the working hypothesis that WTC 7 was far more compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated." Since the building was totally destroyed (and the debris removed and shipped overseas to blast furnaces), what evidence is available to NIST that was not available to FEMA? Or does NIST really mean that it has now had time to fabricate the "evidence" that it needs? And note that NIST researchers do not say that "WTC 7 was far more compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated", merely that this is a "working hypothesis" that they "support" (by means of their fabricated evidence?). That WTC 7 was brought down in a controlled demolition is obviously not a hypothesis, working or otherwise, that those who pay their salaries could "support".

"What our preliminary analysis has shown is that if you take out just one column on one of the lower floors," Sunder notes, "it could cause a vertical progression of collapse so that the entire section comes down."

Oh, really? So the architects of WTC 7 designed it like a house of cards. Goodness gracious! Did they never consider the possibility of "a vertical progression of collapse"? Such idiots! But how convenient for NIST.

The Mayor of New York on 9/11, Rudolph Giuliani, had created a "disaster control center" on the 23rd floor of WTC 7 (it was completed in 1997). Some say that this was the place from which the disaster of 9/11 was controlled. If so, all physical evidence relating to it was destroyed as a result of the collapse of the building. Giuliani was there on the morning of 9/11, but left after the South Tower collapsed.

Larry Silverstein, the owner of WTC 7 (and insurance beneficiary) is reported to have admitted in a PBS video that a decision was made to "pull" (demolish?) the building (see Silverstein, FDNY Razed WTC 7).

Also see Other WTC Building "Collapses": WTC 6 and WTC 7 and its links to other web pages concerning the destruction of WTC 7 .

Big Plane, Small Holes

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

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

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

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

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

Landing gear has a very irregular shape. Hardly the sort of object to have punched a nice circular hole while exiting Ring C. Remember that this is an exit hole in the C-Ring, implying that (assuming that the object entered the Pentagon from outside) it had to pass through Rings E, D and C before producing the exit hole. Such a hole is unlikely to have been made by landing gear, but might well have been made by a missile travelling at high speed.

The Report by ASCE (the American Society of Civil Engineers), issued in January 2003, and including among its six authors (two of whom were among the authors of a report on the Oklahoma City Bombing) a US Army engineer and a "fire protection engineer" from BATF (of Waco infamy), is available here (it's a 2,477 Kb PDF file). The word "missile" does not occur in it, so it seems the authors never even considered this as a possible explanation for "the tidy hole in Ring C", apparently (as one gathers from Popular Mechanics) restricting themselves to a choice between landing gear and fuselage. But in fact the Report does not say (as Popular Mechanics says it does) that the hole in the C-Ring "was made by the jet's landing gear".

One has to wonder whether the editors of Popular Mechanics invented the claim that ASCE concluded that the hole was made by the jet's landing gear. They did not obtain this from the Report. In fact, had the editors of Popular Mechanics downloaded the Report and searched for the term "landing gear" they would have found that it is nowhere used in connection with the hole in the C-Ring. On what basis, then, did they make their claim?

It is interesting to note that the ASCE Report comes with a disclaimer (on page 4): "asce makes no representation or warranty of any kind, whether express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or utility of any information, apparatus, product, or process discussed in this publication, and assumes no liability therefore." The authors appear to be saying: Here is our report but we don't vouch for the accuracy of what it says.

It is curious that Popular Mechanics chose to draw attention to this Report, because it has been completely discredited in an article by by Sami Yli-Karjanmaa (published in September 2004) entitled The ASCE's Pentagon Building Performance Report: Arrogant Deception — Or an Attempt to Expose a Cover-up?. The abstract of this article is available on this website here.

hole in c-ring of pentagon The author notes that, apart from a short description, there is not a word in the Report about the hole in the C-Ring (contrary to what Popular Mechanics would have us believe), and he goes on to say:

Why would a Pentagon building performance report be silent on the cause of this "failure?" One could imagine the hole to be claimed caused by an engine, but as a matter of fact there is no mention in the report on what happened to the aircraft's engines inside the building. On the spot, it must of course have been visible what had emerged from the hole. Why are there no photographs depicting this (round) object? Why is the official story silent about the matter? A natural explanation is that the truth is not told because it cannot be told.

See also:

Intact Windows

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

FACT: Some windows near the impact area did indeed survive the crash. But that's what the windows were supposed to do--they're blast-resistant.

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

The following picture of the impact point is from the ASCE Report; note "Upgraded windows in place":

more unbroken windows

Here's a picture of the entry hole with windows "just above the point of impact" which are intact. You can see that they are unbroken because you can see the foam sprayed on them by the firemen:

unbroken windows at pentagon

And here's a simulation of a Boeing 757 flying into the Pentagon.

757 approach

While it is true that the Pentagon's windows were designed to resist the effects of blast waves, they were not designed to remain unbroken when physical objects passed through them. It is absurd to suggest that the debris from a 757 supposedly travelling at hundreds of miles per hour would bounce off the windows of the Pentagon, leaving them intact for firefighters to spray foam on them. But intact windows there were, so there was no 757.

Flight 77 Debris

CLAIM: Conspiracy theorists insist there was no plane wreckage at the Pentagon. "In reality, a Boeing 757 was never found," claims, which asks the question, "What hit the Pentagon on 9/11?"

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

The picture displayed by Popular Mechanics, which it labels "Wreckage from Flight 77 on the Pentagon's lawn — proof that a passenger plane, not a missile, hit the building", is simply ludicrous. It is obviously a plant. The alleged Boeing 757 was supposed to have been vaporized in a fiery explosion and this thing has not a single scorch mark on it. In contrast, the picture at right shows what real plane crash wreckage looks like.

A hundred tons of metal were mostly vaporized but "parts of uniforms" and "body parts" survived? Puh-leaze!

global hawk It's true there was some debris — scraps of metal and other stuff — on the Pentagon lawn. Not surprising, considering that a huge explosion occurred. But the presence of scraps of metal shows only that something metallic was destroyed. It could have been anything — a plane (other than a 757), a cruise missile, maybe even a Global Hawk (pictured at left) dressed up in American Airlines livery (these things are remotely controlled; more details in Carol Valentine's Operation 911: NO SUICIDE PILOTS). Leonard Spencer has suggested that what approached the Pentagon was a missile with a 757-mock-up superstructure (what some witnesses saw as a 757), which superstructure was wired to explode into small fragments just before the missile struck the Pentagon (see his The Attack on the Pentagon).

predator Or maybe it was an AGM-86C cruise missile, or perhaps a Predator (pictured at left) painted up in AA colors. Both of these are remote-controlled, and either of them could have been programmed to hit the Pentagon exactly where it was hit. But whatever it was that hit the Pentagon it was definitely not a Boeing 757 jetliner, and so it was not AA 77 (assuming that flight ever existed), and so the official story is false.

The White Jet

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

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

But nevertheless Popular Mechanics quoted him directly. Perhaps wishing that he would then be "harassed" by "conspiracy theorists"? Popular Mechanics is as amusing as a trashy dime novel, and (if we can judge by its "Debunking the Myths") just as reliable.

So what exactly is Popular Mechanics saying here? That the pilot of a private jet (possibly white) was asked by the FAA to investigate? And even assuming that the FAA requested a private jet to investigate something, rather than asking the National Military Command Center to investigate (in accordance with DoD Directive Number 3610.01A, as noted above), what relevance has this to the question of whether some other jet might have shot down UA 175?

The explanation furnished by the FBI for the mystery plane, whose existence it initially denied, serves less to reassure than to reinforce suspicions that a cover-up of sorts is under way, that the government is manipulating the truth in a manner it considers to be palatable to the broader US public. The FBI has said, on the record, that the plane was a civilian business jet, a Falcon, that had been flying within 20 miles of Flight 93 and was asked by the authorities to descend from 37,000ft to 5,000ft to survey and transmit the co-ordinates of the crash site "for responding emergency crews". The reason, as numerous people have observed, why this seems so implausible is that, first, by 10.06am on 11 September, all non-military aircraft in US airspace had received loud and clear orders more than half an hour earlier to land at the nearest airport; second, such was the density of 911 phone calls from people on the ground, in the Shanksville area, as to the location of the crash site that aerial co-ordinates would have been completely unnecessary; and, third, with F-16s supposedly in the vicinity, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that, at a time of tremendous national uncertainty when no one knew for sure whether there might be any more hijacked aircraft still in the sky, the military would ask a civilian aircraft that just happened to be in the area for help. — John Carlin: Unanswered Questions: The Mystery of Flight 93

Much of the witness evidence concerning the Shanksville crash (allegedly the crash of United Airlines Flight 93) was reported in an article by Richard Wallace entitled What Did Happen to Flight 93?, published in September 2002. This mentions a white jet, seen by Susan Mcelwain: "It came right over me ... It was so low I ducked instinctively. It was travelling real fast ..." Wallace writes: "The FBI's later explanation for the white jet was that a passing civilian Fairchild Falcon 20 jet was asked to descend from 34,000ft to 5,000ft some minutes after the crash to give co-ordinates for the site. ... Susan Mcelwain says a Falcon 20 was not the plane she saw."

So what was the white jet? Susan Mcelwain said:

The plane I saw was heading right to the point where Flight 93 crashed and must have been there at the very moment it came down.

There's no way I imagined this plane — it was so low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was definitely military, it just had that look.

It had two rear engines, a big fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright fins at the side.

a-10 warthogLessee now ... here's a picture of a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt. More or less white, with two rear engines and two upright fins at the side. Hmmm ...

On a BBC web page we read that the A-10 Thunderbolt

has a seven-barrel, 30 mm Gatling gun under its nose that can fire 65 rounds per second ... Slung beneath the fuselage and wings it can also carry up to 16,000 lbs (7,200 kg) of other weapons, including high explosive and cluster bombs, laser-guided bombs and Maverick missiles, rockets and air-to-air missiles.

Hmmm ...  But we can't conclude that the plane seen by Susan Mcelwain shot down UA 93. It has been reported that at least one USAF F-16 fighter jet was close to the plane when it fell from the sky. And, since it has also been reported that (except for the engines) the plane disintegrated into small pieces, the possible presence of a huge bomb on board (detonated by one of the nearby USAF jets?) must also be considered.

Roving Engine

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

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

The Pittsburg Tribune-Review for 2001-09-14 had an article by Richard Gazarik and Robin Acton entitled Black box recovered at Shanksville site, in which we read:

State police Maj. Lyle Szupinka said ... searchers found one of the large engines from the aircraft "at a considerable distance from the crash site."

"It appears to be the whole engine," he added.

Szupinka said most of the remaining debris, scattered over a perimeter that stretches for several miles, are in pieces no bigger than a "briefcase."

Popular Mechanics quotes someone else saying that "a fan from one of the engines" was found 300 yards from the crash site. So what are we expected to conclude from this? That UA 93 did not explode in mid-air and was not shot down? That does not follow. We certainly cannot conclude that the engine that Lyle Szupinka mentions was not found at least a mile from the crash site. Popular Mechanics' "Fact" provides absolutely no evidence to counter the hypothesis that UA 93 disintegrated in mid-air.

Actually, the more you look into the story of UA 93 allegedly crashing at Shanksville the stranger it gets.

Two German filmmakers visited Shanksville and interviewed the mayor. Here's a translation from their German-language documentary:

However, the testimony of the earliest witnesses of flight 93's crash is still a mystery today.

Ernie Stull, mayor of the nearby village of Shanksville recalls

[Ernie Stull:] Yes — my sister and a good friend of mine were the first ones here. They were standing on a street corner in Shanksville talking. Their car was nearby, so they were the first here — and the fire department came. Everyone was puzzled, because the call had been that a plane had crashed. But there was no plane ...

[Question] They had been sent here because of a crash but there was no plane?

[Ernie Stull:] No. Nothing. Only this hole.

ernie stull
shanksville hole

As at the Pentagon, the amount of debris seems inconsistent with the crash of a Boeing 757. The picture at right shows no evidence of any large chunks of fuselage, such as pictured above. The picture under it shows the "impact crater" — looks more like what you'd get if you buried a bomb ten feet under and exploded it. Moreover, there are reports stating, along with Lyle Szupinka's observation quoted above, that, apart from one engine, none of the debris was more than about 2 ft in size. So either UA 93 disintegrated into small parts — hardly possible even if an on-board explosion is posited — or UA 93 did not in fact crash at Shanksville (but rather some other plane did, for the purpose of providing some kind of plane wreckage which could be passed off as the remains of UA 93).

If UA 93 did not crash at Shanksville, what happened to it? The article entitled The Cleveland Airport Mystery presents evidence that an unidentified plane landed between 10 and 11 a.m. and that its passengers were taken to a NASA facility located next to the airport, after which nothing more is heard of them. The evidence, however, is inconclusive. But in the confusion and chaos reigning on the morning of 9/11 it might not have been difficult to make UA 93 disappear. Could it be that the event at Shanksville was a hoax? It is not beyond the realm of possibility that no Boeing passenger jet crashed at Shanksville and that the appearance of a crash was fabricated so as to support a concocted story about doomed passengers making cellphone calls and plucky passengers overpowering evil Arab hijackers and sacrificing themselves, thereby becoming American heroes — at least within the official 9/11 myth.

In addition to the pages mentioned above, here are a few others concerning UA 93:

Indian Lake

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

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

shanksville mapIt was reported by the Post-Gazette that "workers at Indian Lake Marina said that they saw a cloud of confetti-like debris descend on the lake and nearby farms minutes after hearing the explosion that signaled the crash at 10:06 a.m. Tuesday." Indian Lake town is about three miles from the crash site, but the Marina is closer, about two miles from the crash site.

On the web page at Official story of UA 93 is a big lie we read:

And watching the video from webfairy one realizes that also the direction of the wind wasn't east, southeast as officially claimed (and as necessary to somehow explain the raining debris). Watch this video. The forest behind the crater is west. The camera is east of the crater. Does the smoke blow towards the camera or slightly left of the camera??

The video referred to is at If it is true that the video was filmed from the east then the wind is blowing more-or-less south. Thus it could not have blown debris to the Indian Lake Marina, which is east of the crash site.

F-16 Pilot

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

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

A transcript of the Alex Jones interview (2004-02-25) with Col. Donn de Grand-Pre is here. The Colonel does not mention Rick Gibney, but says:

DGP: ... the aircraft [UA 93], you see, had totally unconscious people on board. There were no hijackers. At 9:35, the Happy Hooligans, the [North Dakota] Air [National] Guard flying the F-16s, were ordered to take that plane out. And they took it out from 9:35 to 10:00. ... They came off base in Langley and it was just a few minutes out from Langley to the intercept over Pennsylvania. It was just a matter of minutes.

AJ: Colonel, how did you get in touch with the pilot who shot the plane down?

DGP: It turned out to be an old friend of mine from the Air National Guard and this is my home state of North Dakota. And I attended the ceremony in North Dakota and watched ... the pilot being decorated a year later for this activity that happened on 911 with Flight 93.

On 2004-06-28 claimed to reveal the name of the F-16 pilot:

At precisely 0938 hours, an alarm was sounded at Langely Air Force Base, and those whom were on call, drinking coffee, were scrambled. Thus the 119th Fighter Wing was off for an intercept.

They, the Happy Hooligans, a unit of 3 F-16 aircraft, were ordered to head toward Pennsylvania. At 0957 they spotted their target; After confirmation orders were received, A one Major Rick Gibney fired two sidewinder missiles at the aircraft and destroyed it in mid flight at precisely 0958.

He was awarded a medal from the Governor one year later for his heroic actions. As well as Decorated by Congress on 9/13/2001. does not mention which particular congressional decoration was awarded to the Major two days after 9/11.

It's true that a 9/11 commemoration ceremony took place on 2002-09-11 at the North Dakota state capital, Bismark, presided over by the Governor, and that representatives of the Happy Hooligans were present. But if Rick Gibney were present, how likely is it that, in chatting with the Colonel, he would have informed him that he had shot down UA 93? Imagine the conversation:

DGP: You guys did a great job on 9/11. Oh, by the way, I suppose you've heard the rumors that UA 93 was shot down?

RG: Sure! Did it myself. Two sidewinder missiles up the kazoo. Blam! Man, ya shoulda seen that big jet go straight down!

So maybe Popular Mechanics is quite correct that this Rick Gibney story is false. It would not be the first time that a false claim relating to 9/11 has been made. False claims were made right from the beginning, when the corporate-controlled mainstream media began putting out the story that jetliners had been hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers, and that the most likely culprit was someone most Americans had never heard of before — Arab terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The various contentions that UA 93 was shot down, disintegrated in mid-air as the result of an on-board explosion, had its electronics jammed by a nearby AWACS or C-130 aircraft or (as the official story has it) plummeted to the ground as a result of a fight between the "hijackers" and the "heroes" all have one thing in common: that the plane scheduled as UA 93 out of Newark was in the skies over Shanksville at around 10 a.m. on 9/11, and somehow was destroyed. As noted above, this seems not to have been the case, and the purpose of all the debate in the internet forums, as regards how UA 93 met its end at Shanksville, may simply be intended to distract attention from this.


Let's briefly run over the matters that Popular Mechanics raised in its "debunking":

  1. Where's The Pod?
    Popular Mechanics presents a carefully-selected picture where the anomaly, visible in other pictures, is not visible, then asks "Where is it?". The anomaly is interesting, but is not required to show that 9/11 was an inside job.
  2. No Stand-Down Order
    Popular Mechanics attempts to relieve NORAD and the US Air Force of any responsibility for protecting the airspace over the continental US, and does not explain how AA 77 could fly around the country for an hour (after first going off course at 08:46) without any action on the part of the USAF.
  3. Flight 175's Windows
    Whether or not the South Tower was struck by a plane which had windows is of interest, but the video evidence may be unreliable, and the case for 9/11's being an inside job does not depend on demonstrating exactly what sort of objects hit the Twin Towers.
  4. Intercepts Not Routine
    Popular Mechanics falsely claims that intercepts of planes suspected of being hijacked and of planes entering no-fly zones (such as around the WTC and the Pentagon) were not standard practice.
  5. Widespread Damage
    Popular Mechanics claims that lower stories of the Twin Towers were damaged by burning jet fuel (part of which somehow remained liquid and unignited while flowing down elevator shafts even though the rest ignited to produce huge explosions) and ignores evidence that damage to lower stories, and the collapse of the Twin Towers, was caused by bombs planted in the buildings.
  6. "Melted" Steel
    Popular Mechanics repeats the official story that the towers collapsed because the fires heated the steel so that it became like hot toffee, whereas it is demonstrable that the fires never burned hot enough to cause the steel to get anywhere near the point of failure.
  7. Puffs Of Dust
    Popular Mechanics repeats the official story that the towers collapsed because one floor collapsed on to a lower floor, producing a "pancake" (or "flapjack" or "domino") effect, but this theory does not stand up to critical examination.
  8. Seismic Spikes
    Popular Mechanics repeats the claim put out by members of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory that recorded earth-shaking was due to steel from the Twin Towers hitting the ground, and ignores the possibility that these seismic effects were at least in part due to massive underground explosions.
  9. WTC 7 Collapse
    Popular Mechanics (citing recent, possibly fabricated, NIST studies) claims that the collapse of WTC 7, which looks very much like a controlled demolition, was due to fires and flaws in the architectural design of the building, but ignores the holes in FEMA's report on this matter.
  10. Big Plane, Small Holes
    Popular Mechanics repeats the official story that a Boeing 757, flying a few feet above the ground, smashed into the Pentagon, a story which has been shown to be false by consideration of the available evidence.
  11. Intact Windows
    Popular Mechanics makes the ridiculous claim that intact windows near the main damage to the outer wall of the Pentagon are consistent with an impact by a 757 jetliner.
  12. Flight 77 Debris
    Popular Mechanics displays a photo of false, planted, evidence, claiming that this is proof that a passenger plane hit the Pentagon.
  13. The White Jet
    Popular Mechanics attempts to explain witness reports of a "white jet" in the skies over Shanksville by claiming that this was a private plane investigating the crash of UA 93 at the request of the FAA, whereas that jet was likely a USAF A-10 Thunderbolt.
  14. Roving Engine
    Popular Mechanics dismisses reports of an engine (from UA 93?) said to have been found a mile from the crash site — suggesting that UA 93 exploded in mid-air, but ignores the nature of the crash site itself, which appears to be a crater caused by a bomb buried underground and then detonated so as to provide fabricated evidence of a "crash site".
  15. Indian Lake
    Popular Mechanics attempts to explain debris raining down on Indian Lake Marina as consisting of "paper and tiny scraps of sheetmetal" wafted by the breeze, but it seems that the wind at the crash site was blowing south, not east, as would be required to carry debris to Indian Lake Marina.
  16. F-16 Pilot
    Popular Mechanics makes one valid claim, out of sixteen, that the story that a pilot with the Happy Hooligans shot down UA 93 is very likely false, yet it implicitly supports the official story (probably false) that a Boeing 757 (said to be UA 93) was in fact in the skies above Shanksville on the morning of 9/11.

Further Considerations

Let's briefly run over some 9/11 matters that Popular Mechanics did not raise in its "debunking":

  1. The time the Twin Towers took to fall. This was about 14-15 seconds — not much more than the time of the free fall of an object from their height, about 9-10 seconds. This shows that there was practically no resistance offered by the lower stories to the material collapsing from above. Even if one accepts the "pancake" theory, the lower stories would have offered plenty of resistance (they were intact and not damaged by fire), and the collapse would have taken a lot longer than 15 seconds. (More on this at The Time the Towers Took to Fall.)

  2. The 'Power Down' Condition at the WTC on the Weekend Preceding 9/11.

  3. George W. Bush's statement that he saw the first impact on TV. Impossible, because no network TV station had its cameras on the North Tower when it was hit. See Bush Flubs it Again for Bush's words, and Bush's Behavior on 9/11 for more discussion of this.

  4. The suspicious stock trades. Michael Ruppert has been criticized for largely ignoring the 9/11 physical evidence revealing holes in the official story (though he took notice of it belatedly), but at least he was one of the first to draw attention to the fact that in the days preceding 9/11 someone had bought put options on shares likely to fall as a result of the use of American Airlines and United Airlines planes in the attacks (not just the shares of the airlines themselves but also of parent companies). Someone had prior knowledge of 9/11 and planned to make a killing, so to speak, on the stock market. After 9/11 the SEC investigated who might have bought these put options. The identity of the buyers has never been revealed. See Ruppert's Suppressed Details of Criminal Insider Trading Lead Directly into the CIA's Highest Ranks and this article (published four days earlier) by Barry Grey.

  5. The black boxes. Every Boeing passenger jet carries two "black boxes", the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR). These are designed to be indestructible, and Boeing Corp. tells us that in the event of a crash "these two units tell the story of the flight. Actually painted bright orange, these recorders are equipped with 'pingers' or radio and acoustic beacons that aid in their retrieval." According to the official story four Boeing jets were destroyed. According to the ASCE Report, the Kean Commission and various news reports (see here and here) the CVR and the FDR from both AA 77 and UA 93 were recovered. Why has the data from the FDRs (supposedly) from AA 77 and UA 93 not been released for public examination (as happened, e.g., in the case of TWA Flight 800)? Is it because they don't exist (and the CVRs are bogus)? The black boxes from the planes which allegedly hit the Twin Towers conveniently disappeared completely, in contrast to the passport of Mohammed Atta, which (according to the official 9/11 myth) miraculously survived the first impact to waft down and be discovered two blocks away by someone unknown and turned into the FBI. It seems those Saudi passports are more indestructible than black boxes.

  6. The videotapes confiscated by the FBI. There were at least three video surveillance cameras recording events in the alleged flight path of whatever allegedly crashed into the Pentagon. Karl Schwartz comments:

    After the Pentagon attack, the video cameras and tapes at a nearby CITGO, the Sheraton Hotel along I-395 and Virginia DOT cameras were all confiscated by the FBI and they have yet to disclose any of the contents that were recorded by those cameras. Those cameras would have recorded what came in to hit the Pentagon and if viewed by the public, all the world would know that it was not a Boeing 757, American Airlines Flight 77, as we were told. All the world would know that Bush's assertion is in fact a huge lie.

  7. The Bush administration's resistance to any 9/11 inquiry. After the February 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster (in which seven people died) three official investigations were initiated within days. In contrast, the Bush administration fought tooth and nail for a year to avoid any official investigation of an event in which about 3000 people died. Bush and Cheney initially refused to testify before the Kean Commission. When they finally did agree they did so only after obtaining assurances that they would be allowed to testify together, that they would not have to testify under oath, that their testimony would not be recorded electronically or transcribed and that the only record would be notes taken by one of the commission staffers (which would not be made public). Clearly Bush and Cheney were very concerned about the possibility that one of them (probably Bush) might say something that could later be used in criminal proceedings against them.

  8. The insurance angle. This was summed up nicely by Walter Burien (a tenant in WTC1 in 1979-8), who wrote (private communication):

    1. The WTC did not have insurance coverage for terrorism. Silverstein took out the policy for terrorism with a double indemnity clause. The ink was not dry on the contract when the towers fell.

    2. The lease for the Trade Center was a 99 year lease for 3.5 billion dollars. The Press gives the false impression Silverstein paid 3.5 billion for the lease. This is outright false. The lease was just uncured by Silverstein and just the first payments were made which would have been a cash outlay of maybe 100 or 200 million.

    So here, we have days old insurance coverage for a max of 7 billion dollars with a cash outlay of less than 200 million and poof goes the towers and in goes a 6.5 billion dollar claim. Go figure?

  9. The studies concerning the demolition of the Twin Towers. Walter Burien wrote (private communication):

    Port Authority had commissioned several companies over ten years prior to 2000 to do studies per demolishing the towers as to expense. There were some inherent problems and the towers were under review for being taken down by Port Authority. The exact reasons why, I am not clear on. Along comes Silverstein, then the insurance, down comes the towers, in goes the lock-down of the population, and then 8 trillion dollars changes hands in four years just from the Federal coffers. Go figure?

    According to Gerard Holmgren:

    Why would they want to demolish the WTC? It had been losing money for years. It's the most valuable piece of real estate in the world, but the buildings themselves were a disaster. Under-tenanted and beset by asbestos problems, the owner, the NY Port Authority had received warnings that it was sitting on a legal and financial time bomb. And of course, they couldn't be demolished because of all the asbestos dust that would go into the air of NY. The NYPA had been trying to sell the buildings for years, and understandably, nobody was interested. In early 2001, the NYPA went to court in a test case, and tried to get its insurance company to pay for asbestos renovations. The case was thrown out. This should have made the buildings even more unsaleable. However, immediately after this, Manhattan property developer Larry Silverstein, who sits on the board of Westfield America, stepped in with a consortium worth $US3.2 billion for a 99 year lease on the site. Westfield Australia directly contributed $A840 million for control of the shopping plaza. Silverstein insured himself for $US3.5 billion per terrorist attack, and Westfield insured itself against terrorism and loss of rental income.

    Not long after, when the WTC conveniently disappeared in a terrorist attack — along with building 7 of the complex — it solved the asbestos problem, leaving Silverstein with a clean building site on the best real estate in the world, and Westfield with a rental income which probably would have been unsustainable in a real trading environment, and no law suits over all the asbestos dust released into the air of Manhattan. Silverstein's insurer has agreed to the $3.5 billion pay out, but Silverstein is claiming that it was two terrorist attacks and wants $7 billion, which is currently the subject of a court case. [page removed]

    As they say, follow the money.

  10. According to the official story Flight 93 plummeted into the ground at Shanksville, with only a smoking crater to show where it buried itself. That implies that the remains of the passengers lie buried with the plane. But if this were the case then surely the wreckage of the plane would have been dug out immediately, so as to give the passengers a proper funeral. To leave them all under the ground there is surely an insult to their relatives. Why haven't the remains of the passengers been recovered? The answer is simple: There are no such remains because there is no buried plane. The "smoking crater", like the rest of the official story, is a hoax.

This article has pointed out many holes in the official story, which (as a result of the investigations of many people) is now totally discredited (along with those who continue to insist on its validity). So, as with any major unsolved crime, we have a major puzzle: What really happened?

A forensic investigator proceeds in a scientific manner, by accumulating data, formulating hypotheses as to what might have happened and testing those hypotheses against the data, discarding or modifying hypotheses which do not fit the data. Unfortunately, in the case of 9/11, the data is sparse and much of it may be unreliable. The steel from the WTC was removed (on the orders of Mayor Giuliani) and shipped overseas to blast furnaces. The video evidence shows curious anomalies and it has been suggested that much of the video evidence has been systematically tampered with. So in addition to trying to find hypotheses which fit the data, we have to decide which data is reliable.

It is not too difficult to account for the observed physical damage to the various physical structures involved, indeed, one can account for this in many ways. The Twin Towers may have been hit by remote-controlled Boeing jets, there were likely explosives placed inside the buildings, the foundations may have been blasted. The Pentagon may have been hit by a cruise missile. The crater at Shanksville seems to have been produced by a bomb buried in the ground and then detonated.

The central unanswered questions are: (a) What happened to the planes? (b) What happened to the passengers on the planes?

As regards the planes, we must first note that the terms "AA 77", "UA 93", etc., do not denote planes, they denote flights. The statement "AA 77 hit the Pentagon" really means "the plane which departed (assuming it did) from Dulles Airport at 08:10 on 9/11 bound for Los Angeles hit the Pentagon."

The official story posits four planes, associated with four flight numbers, namely, AA 11, AA 77, UA 175 and UA 93. But we have no physical evidence of the existence of any of those four planes. According to the official story, the planes which departed as AA 11 and UA 175 completely disappeared as a result of the collapse of the Twin Towers, the plane which departed as AA 77 completely disappeared when it hit the Pentagon, and the plane which departed as UA 93 completely disappeared when it hit the ground at Shanksville. All four Boeing jets, big 757s and 767s, completely disappeared, with not one single piece of metal which can be proven to have come from any of those planes. Isn't this a bit odd?

So no physical evidence. But how about evidence from records of those flights? Records concerning domestic flights within the US are maintained online by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. When 9/11 researcher Gerard Holmgren checked those records he discovered that flights AA 11 and AA 77 were not scheduled to fly on 9/11. He published his discovery on 2003-11-13 and it was confirmed by others, including the author of this article (who saved the BTS web pages). Late in 2004 as Holmgren reports [page removed], BTS doctored their database so that now when one tries to confirm the original observation one reaches a web page (local copy here) stating:

On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight #11 and #77 and United Airlines #93 and #175 were hijacked by terrorists. Therefore, these flights are not included in the on-time summary statistics.

But there were originally records confirming that UA 93 and UA 175 departed (see the BTS web pages), so apparently these flights did exist. BTS removed those records to conceal the fact that there were never any records for AA 11 and AA 77.

If flights AA 11 and AA 77 never existed, then there are only two planes, not four, to be accounted for. Investigators who have checked the tail numbers for the planes which departed as UA 93 and UA 175 on 9/11 (namely N591UA and N612UA respectively) believe that these planes are still in service (page as at 2005-03-11 here). If so, and if AA 11 and AA 77 never existed, then the number of Boeing 757s and 767s destroyed on 9/11 was not four, as the US government maintains, but rather zero.

As regards the passengers on the planes which actually departed on 9/11 (perhaps just the two UA flights), when one looks into this matter there are also anomalies. See Media Published Fake Passenger Lists and 9/11 and the Neo-Cons. Attempts to locate social security numbers for numerous alleged passengers have produced no result. The published passenger lists put the occupancy at an average of about 27%, unusually low for early morning flights from the East Coast to L.A. and San Francisco. While some passengers may have been totally fictitious and some may have been government operatives travelling under fake names, those passengers who were listed under their real names may have been either (a) in on the plot and now either terminated or hidden away, (b) government agents (or relatives of government agents, e.g., Barbara Olson) who for some reason (e.g., knowing too much and deemed a security risk) were marked for elimination or (c) totally innocent people who were there to provide body parts for grieving relatives or in the case that DNA tests were to be performed. The body parts might well have been obtained when UA 93 or UA 175 landed somewhere, with all innocent passengers on those flights being killed by some quick method (such as a nerve gas introduced into the cabin).

Cui Bono?

As with any major crime, one should ask: Who stood to benefit? Certainly not any "Arab terrorists" (who "hate our freedoms"). Some people might point to the 1993 WTC bombing as evidence that "Arab terrorists" tried once and so tried again in 2001. But the 1993 WTC bombing would not have occurred except for the work of an FBI agent provocateur, Emad Salem.

What riles Arabs most is (a) US political and financial support for the despised state of Israel and (b) US support for corrupt regimes such as those in Saudia Arabia and in Egypt, and the preferred targets of those few Arabs who happen to be terrorists are US installations on Arab soil (such as the attacks on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and on the Khobar Towers housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1996). To strike the WTC and the Pentagon might have symbolic value, but strategically it would be pointless.

The real beneficiaries of the 9/11 attacks were the US government itself and the government of Israel. For quite some time the US had been planning to attack Afghanistan and to replace the Taliban with a US-controlled puppet government. The 9/11 atrocity, blamed on "Arab terrorists" provided the US government with an excuse to launch a "War on Terrorism", the first act of which was to bomb Afghanistan (even though the Afghanis are not Arabs), shortly after threatening to do this unless the Taliban handed over the person blamed by the US for 9/11 — a clear case of a terrorist act perpetrated by the US. The US motive in attacking both Afghanistan and (in March 2003) Iraq was a desire to control the oil and mineral reserves of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Israel benefitted from 9/11 because (a) the US declaration of its "War on Terrorism" appeared to give legitimacy to Israel's brutal treatment of the Palestinians (whom Israel never ceases to label as "terrorists", even though it is itself a terrorist state) and (b) it is to Israel's advantage to have the US attack Israel's enemies in the Middle East — in particular Iraq, which was the main threat to Israel (that threat has now been eliminated) and which Israel wishes to see plunged into civil war or dismembered into antagonistic statelets. (It has the same plan for both Lebanon and Syria.)

Many decent but none-too-bright Americans instinctively reject the idea that the US government would ever stage a fake Attack upon America in order to advance some political or economic goal. But in 1962 the US government had a plan to do precisely that. It was called Operation Northwoods. It was a plan to justify a military invasion of Cuba by such means as (i) blowing up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blaming Cuba, (ii) faking a Cuban attack on a US ship near Cuban waters, pretending to rescue crew members and publishing fake casualty lists in US newspapers, (iii) staging terrorist attacks against Cuban refugees in Miami and releasing fake documents implicating Cuba, (iv) sinking boatloads of Cuban refugees en route to Florida (and blaming it on Cuba), (v) manufacturing a MIG-like plane ("properly painted") to be flown by a US pilot to harass civilian airliners and to shoot down a US military drone, (vi) creating a shoot-down hoax by having a civilian plane (whose passengers were in on the plot) take off and rendezvous with a military drone painted up in the same colors, with the civilian plane covertly returning to Florida while the drone flew on, emitting a distress signal and then being destroyed by an on-board bomb and (vii) having a pilot, while engaged in routine military exercises near Cuba, radio that he had been attacked by MIGs, whereupon he would secretly return to Florida and the world would be informed that Cuba had shot down a US plane; a US submarine would release debris in the area as "evidence" that a plane had crashed into the sea. You can read all this in the PDF file which can be downloaded from the Operation Northwoods page.

Although Operation Northwoods was never put into effect this kind of thinking continued in the back rooms of the NSA, the CIA and the Pentagon. It was brought to a high point in the thinking of the neo-cons at the Pentagon — Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and their co-conspirators — authors of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The strategic "transformation" of the U.S. military into an imperialistic force of global domination would require a huge increase in defense spending to "a minimum level of 3.5 to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually," the PNAC plan said.

"The process of transformation," the plan said, "is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor."

American Free Press asked Christopher Maletz, assistant director of the PNAC about what was meant by the need for "a new Pearl Harbor."

"They needed more money to up the defense budget for raises, new arms, and future capabilities," Maletz said. "Without some disaster or catastrophic event" neither the politicians nor the military would have approved, Maletz said.

The "new Pearl Harbor," in the form of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, provided the necessary catalyst to put the global war plan into effect. Congress quickly allocated $40 billion to fund the "war on terrorism" shortly after 9-11.

— Christopher Bollyn, America 'Pearl Harbored'

The evidence that 9/11 was an inside job is conclusive. The motives for the crime have been revealed, the details of what actually happened are starting to emerge, and we now have a fairly good idea of who was behind it. It's taken over three years, but fortunately there is no statute of limitations on murder, especially not on the kind of mass murder that took place on 9/11.

Concluding Remarks

This article was written by Peter Meyer from 2005-02-23 to 2005-03-14 (with some small additions and corrections up to 2005-03-31). Thanks to the researchers and editors of Popular Mechanics for publishing their "9/11: Debunking The Myths", without which this Reply would not have been written. One has to wonder about such attempts to defend the official story. Several writers have expressed the suspicion that these accounts are so ludicrous and so full of holes that either their authors are joking or they are surreptitiously trying to expose the crime (e.g., here and here). In which case it behooves the intelligent reader to understand what is really being said, namely, that those who planned and carried out the attack on the Pentagon, the demolition of the WTC buildings, the disappearance of UA 93, etc., were really bunglers, and that all that is required to see through their clumsy attempts to cover up their crimes is a critical examination of the official story and the relevant evidence.

Having realized that the official story is a lie, and (something that many people desperately do not want to acknowledge) that the mass murder of 9/11 was perpetrated, not by "Arab terrorists", but rather by elements within the US government — acting in cooperation with agents of a foreign government — the question is: What to do about it?

One thing that you can do is to make people aware of this article (send them the URL, or a printed copy of this article or the CD containing it, or link to this article from your website). Only when a sufficient proportion of the citizenry of the United States (5% should be enough) are aware that 9/11 was a hoax (and know that they are not alone in being aware of this) will there be the basis for an effective popular demand, not just for a toothless "citizens' inquiry", but for a real criminal investigation, one preferably carried out, not by the FBI (itself obviously complicit in the crime), not by some cover-up congressional committee appointed by the perps themselves and stacked with their accomplices, but by an international body such as Interpol (since 9/11 was a crime which harmed everyone in all countries). Only then will there be a chance that those who planned and carried out the atrocity of 9/11 will be brought to justice (or, if you prefer, that vengeance will be exacted) and that perhaps some semblance of honor will be restored to the United States, which now (for many reasons) stands disgraced in the eyes of the world.

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The World Trade Center Demolition and the So-Called War on Terrorism
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