Refuting the lie, a response to Popular Mechanics: debunking 9/11 myths
By Craig Schlanger
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 25, 2006, 00:59

It�s been an exciting year to be a 9/11 Truth Seeker. With each passing month there�s been a trend of continuing revelations and historic events that will break the dam of government deception once and for all. There have been actors, musicians, scientists, engineers, former presidential cabinet members, rescue workers, survivors, historians, and even foreign officials weighing in with their doubts about the official 9/11 narrative.

Recent polls by both Zogby and Scripps Howard show the number of Americans questioning the government about 9/11 to be growing exponentially. When they know you have the truth on your side, those who stand to lose will employ the most underhanded tactics to keep their own conspiracy theory alive.

As if right on cue, Popular Mechanics returns to the arena of 9/11 Truth to present an extension of their March 2005 hit piece, �Debunking 9/11 Lies: Conspiracy Theories Can�t Stand up to the Hard Facts.� Now they�ve taken the original piece and extended it into a book-length format. In view of the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and the 9/11 Truth movement gaining more mainstream coverage than ever, it�s only to be expected that an attack on the movement�s credibility would emerge.

On the inside cover of the book there is a list of endorsements from some well-known talking heads. For example, Glen Reynolds, proprietor of the neocon blog, takes time away from equating the people of Lebanon with Nazis (see, 8/13/06) to endorse this collection of �hard facts.�

However, for the ultimate grand slam, Popular Mechanics (and by association Hearst Publishing) chose to enlist the literary talent of America�s �maverick� Senator John McCain for the book�s forward. Senator McCain tows an extremely Orwellian line, reminding readers that Americans were attacked for their freedoms on 9/11 and that the evidence of al Qaeda�s central role in the attacks is �overwhelming.� (p. xii) The senator explains that over the years many Americans have had trouble accepting such historical occurrences as the �surprise� attack on Pearl Harbor or the murder of a president by a lone gunman in a book depository. Certainly Senator McCain knows better, and I would imagine he has access to the same declassified documents that I do, which prove both claims to be incorrect. But before plucking the reader from the rabbit hole, McCain goes for the grand slam by claiming that anyone who questions the official 9/11 narrative is directly insulting all who tragically perished on that day, as well as �those who have fought in all the wars in our history.� (p. xiv) The suggestion here clearly is that any questioning of the government�s official line is treasonous.

In the interest of time, I will not go through each �myth� and refute it point by point. Since this book contains most of the same information as the original Popular Mechanics article, I would instead recommend that the reader track down Jim Hoffman�s excellent piece in Global Outlook Magazine #10. A more detailed piece by Peter Meyer was also posted on the Serendipity website last year. Other responses have come from Alex Jones, as well from the always resourceful website, Killtown.

It�s important to note from the start that this book is not meant to debunk anything. Its� main purpose is to craft a mindset where anyone who questions the official 9/11 story likely spends their weekends at Roswell. This is a psychological attack on those who dare question their government�s account of a most tragic day in our history; it�s a return fire in an ongoing information war. The purpose is not to answer pressing questions. Instead, the writers choose the path of assassinating the character of anyone who dares ask such questions. Additionally, the book plants a seed in the mind of the reader that all 9/11 Truth seekers agree on every �myth� discussed. To reinforce this, the editors focus on major strawman arguments that I will discuss briefly.

Starting on page 8, a section focuses on an unsupported theory that the planes that hit WTC 1 and 2 were carrying pods that unloaded a cargo upon impact. As both of the pieces cited above (Global Research, and Meyer's) pointed out, this is an argument that has been made by a handful of fringe 9/11 activists and popularized in the widely discredited �In Plane Site� video. It usually goes hand in hand with the �no windows on the plane� theory regarding flights United 175 and American 11. This can be disproved by simply examining video and photographic evidence. These two arguments are analogous to the Umbrella Man theory in the JFK assassination.

The editors don�t do so well in trying to pull together a theory that explains the lack of air defense. Popular Mechanics wants the reader to believe that there was no air response simply because there was no protocol for intercepting domestically hijacked planes previous to 9/11. Some simple background research on NORAD, FAA or Department of Defense regulations should clear this up entirely.

Rather than refute what the book does tell us, it�s important to acknowledge what it does not report. As discussed in numerous arenas, including Capital Hill testimony by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, there were a number of military war games taking place on the morning of 9/11. A consequence of the war games was that instead of seeing four hijacked aircraft on their screen, the honest people at NORAD were looking at nearly 30. Popular Mechanics doesn�t even mention these and the impact they may have had on a successful air defense campaign. This absolutely warrants discussion.

The book then shifts to the question of what exactly hit the Pentagon. This is the most wildly debated and divisive topic in the 9/11 Truth movement. Few people agree on the specifics: some say the building was struck by a missile, some say a commercial plane, while others feel that Flight 77 indeed hit the Pentagon. So while few of us agree completely on what did happen at the Pentagon, almost all skeptics agree that something smells rotten here. Video of the second plane hitting the WTC has become the iconic image of the horrific events of that day. However, we have never seen any photographic evidence of a 757 crashing into the Pentagon. This seems a bit strange when you consider that we�re talking about the most heavily guarded and visually monitored building in the country. The Pentagon has cameras covering it at all angles such that the image of a plane should at least register as a large blur.

But to this day, we have not been given much more than five still video frames. These frames do not show any visual evidence of a 757. Add to that the immediate seizure of videotape from a nearby Citgo Station and Sheraton Hotel and red flags should shoot up. The government has said that they do have multiple videos of Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon. However, when the DOD responded to a FOIA request by the right-wing organization Judicial Watch to release footage that would put �conspiracy theories� to rest, what was released was actually described as �underwhelming� by a Fox News reporter. Indeed, this was the government�s big opportunity to make their case. Instead, we were given no clear evidence of Flight 77, but what looked like still photos taken from almost the same angle as the previously released frames. If there is photographic evidence, which at least one of the 84 other surveillance cameras should have caught, why not release them all and shut us up?

The Pentagon section of the book offers a good example of some of the many inconsistencies present in this book. On page 61, the editors remind the reader that �it was unrealistic to think that the low-quality security camera image would reveal the crystal clear image of a Boeing 757 traveling at 780 feet per second.� Now turn to page 63 under the section titled �Flight 77 Debris.� Here William Kagasse is quoted as saying, �It [Flight 77] was close enough that I could see the windows and the blinds had been pulled down. I read American Airlines on it . . . I saw the aircraft above my head about 80 feet off the ground.� This quote was aired on ABC�s Nightline. According to Mr. Kagasse, the plane was extraordinarily identifiable down to specific details of the position of the window shades.

So which is it? If Mr. Kagasse was able to leave the scene with such detail, how could not one single security camera capture at least the blurry outline of a plane?

When discussing the size of the hole caused by the plane, we run into another psychological tactic frequently employed in the book. As stated previously, the Pentagon is one of the most hotly debated aspects of the official 9/11 narrative. There are hundreds of web sites that explore the events of 9/11 with some entirely dedicated to the incident at the Pentagon. Yet, Popular Mechanics chose to cite as their primary source for their information on the Pentagon. Why do that when sites such as exist to focus solely on this topic?

I can answer that pretty easily. If the reader decided to check the source given, they would find themselves on a web site dedicated to new age topics such as dream catchers and miracles. Information related to 9/11 is something of a footnote in the grand scene of the page. The implication would be that those who question 9/11 typically sit around talking mind control and �The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,� both of which are hot topics on the site. This is pure misrepresentation.

Continuing the trend of misrepresentation, the editors went out of their way to tie as many sources as possible to Holocaust deniers. One example would be their choice to cite an article from, noting afterwards that the site focuses frequently on Zionism and Holocaust denial. The message being that if the reader was starting to empathize with these conspiracy nuts, they should be aware that anti-Semitism dominates the movement. Nothing could be further from the truth. There will always be those who pin every wrongdoing in the world on Jews, Zionists and Israel.

Perhaps the most ludicrous assertion made in the entire book relates to WTC Building 7. Building 7 is often seen as the smoking gun of 9/11 research, based on its classic demolition-style collapse and lack of coverage in the �9/11 Commission Report.� Leaseholder Larry Silverstein also made an infamous confession in a PBS documentary. Mr. Silverstein states that he instructed the fire department commander to �pull� the building at 5:20PM. While some have argued that the first two towers collapsed because of the combination of fire and plane impact, the same could not be said of Building 7. While there were fires (pictured in the book), it was not hit by any aircraft. When combining the fact that the building collapsed at near free fall speed with Mr. Silverstein�s comments, this would seem an open and shut case: World Trade Center Building 7 was demolished. Mr. Silverstein later emerges to explain that by �pull it,� he was referring to removal of the fire fighters from the building. This is troubling when you factor in that the New York Times reported on November 29, 2001, that by 11:30 am all firefighters had been removed from the area due to safety concerns. Further, FEMA�s initial report indicated that there was only light structural damage caused by the fires. In fact, FEMA has all but literally scratched their proverbial heads in trying to explain the building collapse.

The editors also decided to take on the definition of �pull it� once and for all. After speaking with four unnamed demolition and engineering experts, they claim that not one of these individuals have ever heard the term �pull it� to describe controlled demolition. Instead the term is a reference to a procedure where a building is cut at the foundation and literally pulled over. To cover themselves, Popular Mechanics made sure to include a mention that the technique of literally pulling a building over itself was tried unsuccessfully on buildings 5 and 6. However, the aforementioned documentary showed a demolition team announcing that they were about to �pull� one of the other buildings. Once the order is given, the building clearly collapses in perfect symmetry. So it would seem that the attempts to �pull� the buildings were quite successful.

Since the publication of the original Popular Mechanics piece, Brigham Young University Physics Professor Steven Jones has released one of the most vital studies in 9/11 truth. Last year Dr. Jones began to study the possibility of a thermite reaction at both of the main towers of the WTC, thus causing their collapse. Further, Dr. Jones recently obtained a piece of debris from the rubble and was able to positively test it for the existence of compounds that would be consistent with a thermite reaction. As Dr. Jones�s study is very well sourced and thorough, the study must obviously be discredited in some fashion. Popular Mechanics carted out several metallurgic professors who disagree with the Jones hypothesis. They also quote Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Inc.,, who was contracted to remove all debris from ground zero. Mr. Loizeaux explaines that, "Dr. Jones misunderstands the properties of explosive charges.� Other than Mr. Loizeaux�s title, no other credentials are cited for him to make such an assertion. Finally, it�s noted that, �Dr. Jones primary field of study at BYU (Brigham Young University) is metal-catalyzed or cold fusion, a study that is unrelated to engineering or the performance of tall buildings.� The key word here is �primary.� While Dr. Jones may focus on such said issues in his studies at BYU, it does not mean that he hasn�t studied basic physics and metallurgy. So once again, the reader is to rely on assumptions and half-truths in the face of irrefutable evidence and dictates of logic.

Like a jury delivering a verdict, the book ends with a 20-page epilogue that serves as an indictment of the mind of �the conspiracy theorist.� Popular Mechanics Editor-In-Chief James B. Meigs manages to invoke the Illuminati, New World Order, and Zionism in the first sentence. Meigs cites numerous pieces of hate mail he has received, which accuse him of being everything from a government shill to a MOSSAD agent. Ironically, most of the charges leveled against people questioning the official 9/11 story are tactics employed throughout this book. A few examples include, but are not limited to, marginalization of opposing views, guilt by association, slipshod handling of facts, demonization and circular reasoning.

To his credit, Meigs acknowledges the questions some raised about the relationship between Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Benjamin Chertoff, head of the magazine�s research department. Meig�s admits that they are likely related, but have never met and had no contact for the purpose of the 2005 article. This is a great example of the use of circular reasoning. It defies logic to think that, in writing a story like this, any journalist worth his/her weight wouldn�t cover all the bases. In this case, if a member of your staff is related to the head of the very agency that was born out of the ashes of 9/11, why not tap into that resource? It would seem to be as good a time as any for a Chertoff family reunion.

Let me be clear. I do not pretend to know exactly what happened on 9/11: I also have my disagreements with many of the theories that have been put out there over the years. What I do know is that what the people were told happened on 9/11 is not the truth. If Americans are to take any lessons from history, it is that those in power will redefine the truth in a way that bests suits their interests and agenda. Those who stand to profit from an event like 9/11 have no interest in opening themselves up to any line of questioning. They also suffer in that the facts are not on their side. This book tries to serve as the bandage for a gaping wound in the official 9/11 narrative. Unfortunately for those in charge, that wound shows no signs of healing.

You may reach Craig Schlanger at

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