The 911 Pentagon Conspiracy Theory - Final Round

Editor's Note: Following publication of J.R. Dunn's article 'Conspiracy Theories and Media Ignorance', American Thinker published a response one of the principal conspiracy theorists, Prof. James H. Fetzer, and a rejoinder from Mr. Dunn.

Today,we present a second and concluding round of response and rejoinder from the two authors.

Professor Fetzer

9/11: Bias and Ignorance in AMERICAN THINKER

James H. Fetzer

Thanks to the editors for extending an invitation to respond to the new heap of intellectual rubbish that J.R. Dunn is shoveling ('9/11 a Hoax? J.R. Dunn responds', American Thinker, 18 September 2006). While I appreciated their publishing my reply (and catching two trivial mistakes), I would have appreciated it more if they had noticed that they had divided the second of three paragraphs I was citing from an earlier study of mine and not made the third appear to be new material (compare st911.org). I think it should have been obvious, since the first two included references to notes 50 and 51, while the third included notes 52 and 53. But it may be that I inadvertently left a 'return' that the editors did not realize did not belong there. [editor's note: the paragraph has been indented in our archive copy]

The theme of Dunn's original was that the media has fallen short of its duties by its own ignorance as well as bias. Since a lot of what he has said in that piece and this one reeks of hostility and venom, massive bias permeates what he has written. It might have been a good idea if he had actually read the study I cited, "Thinking about 'Conspiracy Theories'", archived at st911.org, but that apparently would have been too much bother. The editors did no better or they might have had reservations about rushing more drivel into print. Here I divide my comments by negative arguments against a Boeing 757 having hit the Pentagon, positive arguments that it may have been an A--3 Sky Warrior, and concluding reflections.

The Negative Arguments

Dunn maintains, in response to my first bullet, that the impact point was seventy--five feet wide, large enough to accommodate a 757's fuselage, which is only twelve feet wide. A photograph of the initial point of impact, before the upper floors collapsed, is archived here. The opening appears to be about 10 feet high and roughly 16 or 17 feet wide, or not much larger than the double--doors on a mansion. It is rather difficult to see how a Boeing 757 could have fit through that hole.

Another photograph suggests that the width may even have been considerably less than 16 or17 feet, perhaps much closer to 10 feet, but it appears to be of two windows that were blown out of the second floor instead of the actual impact point on the ground floor. Notice several unbroken windows in the impact area and the lack of collateral damage. But this second floor window was not where it hit.

According to A. K. Dewdney and G. W. Longspaugh, the maximum diameter of the fuselage is about 12 feet, 4 inches, with a wingspan of 125 feet. They found,

"The initial (pre--collapse) hole made by the alleged impact on the ground floor of Wedge One of the building is too small to admit an entire Boeing 757" and "Wings that should have been sheered off by the impact are entirely absent."

Dewdney is a mathematician and computer scientist from Canada, while Longspaugh is an aerospace engineer who makes his home in Fort Worth. They also found,

"There is also substantial debris from a much smaller jet--powered aircraft inside the building." They conclude with a "high degree" of certainty that no Boeing 757 struck the Pentagon and with a "substantial degree" of certainty that it was struck by a small jet, like an F--16."

Dunn, apparently oblivious of the research I have cited, says,

"The wings, tailplane (sic), and rudder are irrelevant, being merely sheet metal that sheered off on impact, as is clearly revealed by photos of the site, which are readily available to anyone who cares to look. This point has been made dozens of times, in the 9--11 Commission Report and elsewhere, and you have no excuse for not knowing it."

"As for luggage, bodies, seats...be serious. Do you have any idea what happens when an object strikes six feet of reinforced concrete at 500 mph+? They were crushed, shredded, and then incinerated, within a matter of seconds. How much do you think was left?"

Dunn thus embraces the (very convenient) "vaporization" hypothesis, which alleges that the plane simply disappeared upon impact.

Dewdney and Longspaugh discuss the damage to support columns within the Pentagon and conclude that it is consistent with a smaller aircraft but not a Boeing 757. They comment on another study by a group of Purdue engineers, for example, in passing. In conducting their study, the Purdue group left out consideration of the engines, which is a curious omission. With or without engines, it is difficult to imagine how this kind of damage would have been possible if the plane had vaporized upon impact.

The photos Dunn claims to be "readily available" certainly do not show parts that could be unambiguously identified as having come from a Boeing 757. On the contrary, as Colonel George Nelson, USAF (retired), an air crash expert, has observed in "Impossible to Prove a Falsehood True" on st911.org, these planes have many time--sensitive and uniquely identifiable parts that could readily provide proof of the specific plane that hit the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville. None of them has ever been produced.

The Positive Arguments

Dunn appears to acknowledge that a Boeing 757, at 155 feet long, which makes it twice as long as the building is tall, is not apparent on the videotape and offers the counterargument that, since an A--3 is 78 feet long, a little over half that size, it should have appeared on the video, too. He claims this is a contradiction:

"The A--3 should have showed up too -- and not as a scarcely--visible 'outline' owing more to the imagination than anything else, either."

This might be forceful against the A--3 alternative, if it were true, but it does nothing to diminish the video's impact on the official account.

The first of the five frames that the Pentagon originally released, which has the time stamp 17:32:19, shows what appears to be the silhouette of an aircraft just above the gate mechanism as well as a plume of white smoke that seems to be coming from a missile it is in the process of launching. Dunn seems to know he is on thin ice here, since he says it should have been more distinct. But what is striking is that even the Pentagon identified it as a plane. Indeed, the word "plane" occurs on the frame itself! It is quite evident that this 'plane' does not approximate the dimensions of a Boeing 757.

Dunn suggests that the A--3 is not a small fighter jet but a twin--engine bomber, a criticism for which there is support. (See this, for example, .) But the key point is that it is much smaller than any Boeing 757. I am hardly the first person to observe that the absence of debris from a 757 provides proof that a 757 never hit the building. Check out "Hunt the Boeing", for example, or the books by Thierry Meyssan, Pentagate and 9/11: The Big Lie, which Dunn probably hasn't read.

Dunn is convinced that I have confused the A--3 Sky Warrior with the A--4 Skyhawk, which had a similar name and designation, the same manufacturer, and was rather small for a modern military aircraft.

"But it's too late now -- you've constructed your case around the A--3, and you'll have to live with it.'

What he doesn't understand is that, if what hit the Pentagon was either an A--3 Sky Warrior or an A--4 Sky Hawk, it wasn't a Boeing 757! Our negative critique of what the government has claimed stands even if our positive account of what may have hit instead requires revision. If it was an A--4, that's fine with me. Anyone who is rational in their beliefs accepts, rejects, and suspends beliefs on the basis of the available relevant evidence. As new evidence becomes available, revisions may be appropriate.

A lot of his objections derive from his failure to read the study on which my position is based. If he had, he would have found the answers to his questions about the engine part and the argument from dimensions, which derives from the study by Dewdney and Longspaugh cited above. He disputes what I report about A--3s being retrofitted with updated missiles, Raytheon's Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) remote control systems, and new engines, which could have been of the same type as the originals. His thinking here, as elsewhere, is sloppy and affected by emotion.

Personally, if I had seen numbers that corresponded to footnotes, when I was drafting an assault of this kind, I would have made an effort to track them down. Then he would have at least understood that I was not making this up out of whole cloth but reporting what had been previously published elsewhere. Note 51, for example, explained the following point, 'The workers' reports about these activities may be read at "Secret Global Hawk Refit for Sky Warrior!".

The point I make about aerodynamic impossibility must have been too much for him to handle. Certainly, attacking the phrase, 'the aerodynamics of flight', on the ground that it is redundant is silly in the extreme. Has he never heard of 'the experience of flight', 'the aesthetics of flight', or 'the joy of flight'? For a former editor of the International Military Encyclopedia, he appears not only to have a severely limited grasp of language but to be seriously uninformed.

The point I was making, which he did not understand, is that when a plane is in flight, it builds up a body of compressed gas beneath its wings and fuselage. The dimensions of this compressed gas, a pocket of air, depends upon the speed of the aircraft. Even a small plane, such as a Cessna, at full throttle would be unable to come as close to skimming the ground as the Boeing is said to have traveled. Indeed, it is so close that the engines might be expected to have plowed massive furrows in the lawn, which remained unblemished.

A pilot and aeronautical engineer has explained to me that, at full throttle, a Cessna could not fly lower than 15 feet to the ground and that a Boeing 757, at around 500 miles per hour, would be unable to get closer than about 60 feet from the ground. This means that it would have been aerodynamically impossible for the alleged plane to have taken the alleged flight trajectory. And there is no evidence of the kind of crater that would have been created by any trajectory that was not parallel to the ground. There is nothing to support it. The government has no sustainable alternatives.

Dunn tries to shrug this point off, as though the discovery that the official account violates laws of aerodynamics is unimportant. He says that, if this argument were valid (he means 'sound), then 'no airplane has ever successfully landed.' But of course the size of the air pocket diminishes as the speed of the aircraft drops, which is an important reason why aircraft must slow down as they descend for it to be possible for them to land. Dunn's ignorance is showing.

Concluding Reflections

If the Pentagon is not one of the, if not the, most heavily defended buildings in the world, I'll eat my hat. This guy even appears to be oblivious of the sworn testimony of Norman Mineta, Secretary of Transportation, to the 9/11 Commission about observing a young aide approach the Vice President, in command at an underground bunker beneath the White House.

'Sir, it's fifty miles out.'

'Sir, its thirty miles out.'

'Sir, its ten miles out. Do the orders still stand?'

Cheney, he testified, nearly bit off his head.

'Of course the orders still stand', he said. 'Have you heard anything different?'

But the order had to have been to not shoot down the approaching aircraft. Shooting it down would be the obvious thing to do. You would lose all the passengers and the plane, but you would not also lose the personnel and property at the target. And if the order had been to shoot it down, it would have been shot down. But it was not. His testimony was so explosive that the 9/11 Commission buried it.

(It was taped and can be readily downloaded from st911.org.)

Dunn wants to know

'what kind of lunatic purpose is served by firing a missile at a target and then crashing a plane into it',

an interesting question I am glad to address. The day before 9/11, Donald Rumsfeld had reported to Congress that the Pentagon had lost track of $2.3 trillion. It was a Monday, which was odd, since experienced politicians learn to release bad news on Fridays in the expectation they will be lost over the weekend. But that did not happen in this case. Indeed, most of us still don't know about it.

The West Wing was a peculiar choice for a terrorist attack, since it was in the final stages of reconstruction and was largely bereft of personnel and records. But one team that occupied that space was a group of accountants, auditors, and budget experts who were, I would surmise, attempting to track that missing $2.3 trillion. The impact of the plane could not be guaranteed to kill them. Sending a missile would take them by surprise and could be more carefully targeted. So maybe there is a rational explanation, after all.

Colonel Nelson has observed that, under federal law, the NTSB has an obligation to investigate crashes involving commercial airliners. Four allegedly occurred on 9/11, yet the NTSB has investigated none. Photos abound of commercial airplane crashes around the globe, which can be found via google. Both the Pentagon site and the Shanksville site appear to be distinctive by the almost complete absence of debris of appropriate kinds and quantities. Neither of the massive engines was recovered at the Pentagon. Perhaps Dunn will reassure us that they, too, were simply vaporized!

During the L.A. 'American Scholars Symposium' held on 24--25 June 2006, Dylan Avery showed me the FAA raw data on the planes from all four locations. There was a series of blank spaces where that data should have been recorded. Perhaps Dunn finds this absence of evidence further "proof" that the official account is correct. More could be said by way of response, but perhaps I have said enough. It should be apparent that bias and ignorance are indeed thematic in what he has written, but perhaps not quite the way he intended.

James H. Fetzer, Ph.D.

Founder and Co--Chair
Scholars for 9/11 Truth

 

J.R. Dunn


At the end of my first response I set certain conditions. Any commentary was to be a logical, succinct, and coherent analysis of every statement I have made here, and in my article as well, following the example I have given you. I have no interest in any more factoids, none of this 'I saw it someplace on the Net' stuff. Fully sourced, fully researched material -- that is the minimum acceptable response.

That's not what we have here, needless to say. I admit I wasn't really expecting it either.

Because that's not the way James H. Fetzer, Ph.D, McKnight University Professor Emeritus, Founder and Co--chair of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth, does things. What he does, and what we have been presented with, is repetition. A repetition of his first response, with the pedal jammed to the floor. A response in which the factoid storm, already thick enough in the first place, has increased to blizzard strength.

But it's not a complete repetition. There are several obvious omissions:

* Flight controller Danielle O'Brien -- The Professor argued that O'Brien had identified Flight 77 as a military aircraft. Her own testimony (linked in my previous entry) reveals she did no such thing. Out in toto.

* Ft. Collins--Loveland Municipal airport -- the airport, characterized as an isolated field suitable as the setting for a conspiracy, turned out to be smack dab in the middle of a metropolitan area with a population of 250,000+. Unmentioned.

*Flight 77's engine dimensions -- The dimensions of the wrecked engines found in the Pentagon were claimed to be too small for a 757's turbofans, ignoring the fact that they'd just been rammed though a six--foot thick reinforced concrete wall at 500 mph+. Out. (Dave Runyan settles this question to my satisfaction is his superb 'Some Basics About Jet Engines and 9/11 Conspiracy Theories")

As they say in the legal profession, silence implies acquiescence. If the Endowed Chair can't answer those points, he has to accept them. Even if in accepting them, he's effectively blowing holes in the rest of his argument.

But that, needless to say, is why we're here. So let's strap on the plow, put the four--wheel in gear, and roll on into the blizzard.

*The Professor Emeritus once again kicks things off by questioning the size of the hole in the Pentagon, which has been transformed this time into an 'impact point'. The 9/11 Commission Report puts the hole's size at seventy--five feet. Not so, insists the Chair. He saw a photo somewhere or other that suggested it was only sixteen feet wide.

The 757 fuselage is twelve feet wide, which I believe would fit into a sixteen--foot hole without too much of a stretch. So what point he's trying to make here, I am not at all sure. I know he's not agreeing, but beyond that, I cannot say.

He goes on to discuss another hole somewhere else in the building, along with a paragraph concerning internal building supports, all of which is pure blizzardry, having precisely nothing at to do with the original question. His source for much of this material is a study by A.K. Dewdney and G.W. Longspaugh. Now, A.K. Dewdney is a distinctive name. He himself says as much on his personal web site, pointing out that the 'K' stands for 'Keewatin', Ojibway for 'North Wind'. (My middle initial stands for 'Richard', which is ancient Celtic for 'Chastiser of Academic Poseurs'.)

So this must be the same A.K. Dewdney who was ripped up, down, and sideways by Mark Steyn in his Macleans review,  'Call me Crazy. I Blame the Terrorists' to a point where Dewdney began bleating about 'consulting with legal authorities'. I'm not going to try to surpass the master here; read it and see how the pompous are dealt with in the Great White North.

I don't know anything about Longspaugh, but if he's hooked up with Dewdney, maybe he needs a lawyer too.

* Next we return to the bodies, luggage, seats, etc., which the Founder and Co--Chair insists would have been scattered here and there around the crash site. Not after a 500+ impact with reinforced concrete, said I, to which he now answers, 'Dunn thus embraces the (very convenient) "vaporization" hypothesis, which alleges that the plane simply disappeared upon impact.'

Well, very conveniently enough, here's a incredible video of a test in which an F--4 Phantom is rammed, at exactly 500 mph, into a reinforced concrete wall representing the containment shell of a nuclear reactor. The Phantom utterly disintegrates -- there's nothing but small pieces left. While that may not quite be vaporization, it will do.

And that, my friends, is what happened to Flight 77. I await the esteemed Chair's comment.

* The wings, tailplane, rudder and so forth would have peeled off on impact. But no pieces were found, the Co--Chair contends. Not in Washington, not in Skanksville, PA, not in Manhattan. (Sounds like he's saying no planes crashed anywhere on 9/11, doesn't it?)

All this despite being confronted with a photograph of a recognizable piece of sheet metal in American Airlines colors within a stone's throw of the Pentagon, one of hundreds available on the Net. No, we're instead supposed to rely on the word of Colonel George Nelson, USAF (retired), an air crash expert who insists no parts were found even though he wasn't on the spot and never visited the site. If he had, he might have come across fellow investigator Allyn Kilsheimer who was on site, and who said,

"I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of the building. I picked up parts of the plane with the airline markings on them. I held in my hand the tail section of the plane, and I found the black box...  I held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts. Okay?"

Over to you, Colonel.

* Now here's the claim that kicked things off in the first place: the ineffable nature of the A--3 Skywarrior: tiny fighter plane, or thirty--five ton twin--engine strategic bomber? It's hard to tell sometimes. I mean, have you ever been confused between a eighteen--wheel semi and a Volvo? Sure you have. They can fool you.

This, according to the Chair, is  'a criticism for which there is support', which is a weaselly academic method of saying 'I was wrong.' 'A--3, fighter or bomber' is a true or false, yes or no, 1 or 0 question. There is no ambiguity involved. We are not living in a quantum universe where a thing can be a 78--foot bomber and small fighter at the same time, a la Schrodinger's Cat. The McKnight Professor was wrong, and he doesn't want to admit it.

He doesn't want to admit it because if the A--3 goes, so does most of his argument. With the A--3 gone, then there was no tiny silhouette of an airplane on the video, no missile was ever fired, there are no anomalous engine parts, no radar contradictions, no sinister doings at Western airports. In fact we have nothing at all, since with the A--3 vanished, the rest of the nonsense blows away like so much tinsel. There was never any purpose for any of it except as a frame in which the place the central element.

Without the A--3, the conspiracy falls apart, which is why the Professor Emeritus lapses into a paragraph of doubletalk about the A--4, which was brought up in the first place only to underline how confused the 9/11 Scholars actually are. They're still confused.

* Thierry Meyssan, brought up to lend weight to the Chair's contentions,  is the French left--wing activist (media claims that he's a philosophy professor are false) responsible for triggering 9/11 conspiracy fever in the first place. Within days of the attack, he had accused the U.S. government of complicity. His book, L'effroyable--imposture (The Frightening Fraud, published in the U.S. as 9/11: The Big Lie) is a pioneering 9/11 conspiracy text which has of course been superseded by the thoroughgoing and professional work of the 9/11 Scholars.

But before that, he had a web site setting forth his thesis. It was an interesting site, with each page featuring a bold--faced question about the attack beneath a usually unrelated photograph (Thierry Meyssan's version of the Socratic Method, I assume). I never did get through the whole thing, after encountering a page where the question read: WHY WAS THERE NO SIGN OF JET FUEL AT THE CRASH SITE?

Fair question, I thought, until I went on two or three pages and came across this: WHY DID TRUCKS DUMP LARGE LOADS OF SAND AT THE SITE WITHIN HOURS OF THE CRASH?

So much for the French contribution. I'm certain the Chair would admit this 'has some support'. So we'll move on.

* Throughout this response, the Founder and Co--Chair calls my attention to numerous studies and sources, which if read would cause the scales to fall from my eyes. With 'Note 51", he gives us an example of what he means. 'Note 51"sources one of his arguments. And what does it refer us to? The American Journal of Metallurgy? Jane's World Weapon Systems? Kant's Critique of Pure Reason? No -- it sends us to http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/05/318250.shtml

Now, when you access Portland Indymedia, you find the typical Internet nut site devoted in large part to conspiracy theories just like this one. When I wrote, '...none of this 'I saw it someplace on the Net' stuff,' in my original response, this is exactly what I was talking about.

Academic sourcing has been a mature system for well over a century. You are required to refer the reader to an acknowledged authority, someone with unquestioned stature in a particular field. Not Arthur Bell, Michael Savage, or Paris Hilton. (Leopold von Ranke, the father of modern historiography, is even stricter -- in his system, sources are limited to documents, and not individuals with possible agendas or faulty memories. It's a mercy von Ranke died in 1886. If he'd ever encountered the Net, he'd have thrown himself off a bridge.)

Note 51, if it's at all typical, is an indictment of the McKnight Professor's method, procedures, and results. I don't read the Tattler. I don't read the Enquirer, and I'm not going to read any of those studies either.

* The Chair contends that aerodynamic forces (or as he so poetically put it, the 'aerodynamics of flight') render it impossible to fly at high speed at low levels. How does he explain this? He gives us a bubble of gas. This 'gas bubble' (by which I'm sure he means the wave front of compressed air preceding an aircraft in its flight path) prevents an airplane from settling close to the ground -- 15 feet or so for a Cessna, 60 feet for an sizable airliner.

Anybody who has ever seen a cropduster zipping around 5 or 6 feet above the ground will view this explanation with skepticism. Compression at low altitudes may have some effect on performance, but does not render flight impossible. The notorious F--111,  no small aircraft, was in fact designed to operate at high speed at low levels, through use of a terrain--following radar which kept it at a steady twenty--odd feet above the ground. Though it had its drawbacks, the F--111 had no problems with gas that I'm aware of.

Eyewitness testimony states that the plane attacking the Pentagon nearly clipped the roof of a nearby Sheraton coming in. This puts its altitude at a good hundred--twenty feet+ in the last moments of approach. The 757 was at extreme low altitude only during the final fleeting seconds of flight, moving far too quickly for aerodynamic forces to take effect. So much for the Professor's gas attack.

In fact, what the Chair's aerodynamicist has proven is that no aircraft of any kind, 757 or A--3, could have crashed into the Pentagon. The aerodynamic forces on either jet would be the same, and so would the result. If the 757 couldn't quite make it to the Pentagon without being brought down by gas, neither could the A--3. This is yet another serious contradiction to add to the two in his previous effort -- the implication that the A--3 wouldn't shed its wings the same as the 757, and the puzzle as to how the A--3 was rendered nearly invisible to the Pentagon parking lot camera. Neither of these contradictions has ever been answered, or even so much as addressed. I don't anticipate this one will be either.

* 'If the Pentagon is not one of the, if not the, most heavily defended buildings in the world, I'll eat my hat.' Well, you all heard him.

In my previous response, I gave a reasonably detailed short history as to why the U.S. has lacked comprehensive air defenses for 28 years. Instead of repeating that, I'll go into the reasons why it happened.

In the late 1950s, the U.S. had complete radar coverage of northern and coastal approaches. All major metro areas were ringed by Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules  missile batteries. The country's northen tier was dotted with Air Defense Command bases equipped with thousands of fast interceptors. All this was coordinated by a nationwide data exchange system, one of the first military computer networks, an early ancestor of the Internet.

Today this structure has vanished, and has never been replaced, due in large part to reliance on a theory of nuclear strategy called Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), which contended that the way to maintain a stable nuclear balance was to eschew defenses and accept the fact that a nuclear strike would result in complete annihilation of both sides. Fear of destruction would then militate against a strike by either side (In truth, the USSR never accepted MAD, and even today, Russia's air defenses remain formidable.)

Readers who find this strategy utterly insane will not be surprised to learn that it was overseen by Robert S. McNamara, who also gave us the Edsel and Vietnam. It was instituted all the same, and the expensive defense systems were allowed to deteriorate until today little is left other than part--time Air National Guard units.

How do we know that it went into effect at the Pentagon? Easy -- that was where McNamara worked.

The Chair ignores all this history in favor of giving us a conversation between Richard Cheney and an aide overheard by Norman Mineta, author of our current anti--profiling policy. The exchange took place at the White House, not the Pentagon, does not mention aircraft, or defenses, or anything related, and, knowing the Founder's way with a quote, may well have been somewhat different that what's presented here.

In any case, it's irrelevant to the issue, and would amount to simply another worthless factoid, except for one curious little slip.

'Shooting it [the airliner] down,' writes the McKnight Professor, 'would be the obvious thing to do. You would lose all the passengers and the plane, but you would not also lose the personnel and property at the target.'

An odd statement coming from a man whose case all along is that no passengers were ever involved. That's what a police detective would call a 'tell'. The Professor's lucky I'm not a detective, don't you agree?

* The resurrected accountant marks another example of the Founder going off on a tangent, but that's fine, because it gives him one more opportunity to shoot himself in the foot. What I asked about was the irrationality of firing a missile at a target and then crashing a plane into it, as opposed to firing two missiles or crashing one plane. The answer turns out to be the Chair's explanation for the entire conspiracy.

It seems that the day before, Monday September 10th, Donald Rumsfeld announced that the DoD had lost track of $2.6 trillion in appropriations, and that he intended to find out where it had gone. But then, the next day....

So obviously, as the Chair 'surmises', the entire conspiracy was carried out to kill the accounting team trying to track down that money. They were the targets, the sole reason the Pentagon was attacked. He's almost certain it happened that way.

Except that when I checked the story, to see if I could find anything at all that wasn't sourced from Portland Indymedia, the first item in the queue was this:  a CBS interview with Jack Minnerty, the accountant who blew the whistle on the DoD losses. An interview made in February 2002, nearly six months after 9/11.

Now how can this be? How can this man, the supposed prime target of the greatest conspiracy ever carried out this country, be out walking around, much less giving interviews to an alphabet network? How could they have missed him? Was he out getting coffee?

It's at points like this that you realize that the conspiracy impulse, the force that drives these people, cannot be countered by rational means. A conspiracy in which the whistleblower is killed is one thing. A conspiracy in which hundreds of others are killed, and the intended victim continues blithely on as if it had nothing at all to do with him.... There's no rational explanation for that. And there's no point in asking the Professor, the Colonel, or the staff of Portland Indymedia about it. They'll just start telling you about a screw that was found on the sidewalk in front of the Pentagon, that was used only in a single model of the Stearman 43 Biplane, made in one particular plant in 1938, and that proves....

(So why bother? Why put in the time and effort to refute all this? As a form of prophylaxis, in the hope that at least some of the gullible, naive, or ill--informed may encounter this critique before they're infected.)

The rest is anticlimax. 'Neither of the massive engines was recovered at the Pentagon,' the Chair tells us. This photo says otherwise. A correspondent has pointed out that the Flight 77 aircraft was not powered by either a Pratt & Whitney PW2037 or the PW2040,  but by Rolls Royce RB211--535E4Bs, the turbine disk of which is a close match, as exhaustive research confirms, for the part in the photograph, the same possibility suggested by Dave Runyan. (This is also an opportunity to thank another reader, who pointed out that the A--3 was actually powered by Pratt & Whitney J--57 P.10s, and not JT--8Ds, as the Professor asserts.)

Colonel Nelson is once more trotted onstage to deliver the valediction in the form of an ominous contention that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) obligated 'under federal law' to investigate all commercial air crashes, has failed to do so with the 9/11 disasters. The NTSB website carries a table of all major recent investigations. Halfway down we find four marked '9/11'. When we click on those, we see this statement: 

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Safety Board provided requested technical assistance to the FBI, and any material generated by the NTSB is under the control of the FBI.

In other words, the NTSB was in fact involved in the investigation of these events. Not quite a lie perhaps, but very much the reason words like 'prevarication' were coined. 

But that's the case with all of Prof. James H. Fetzer, Ph.D's claims. Once you follow them back to a reputable source, you discover they're not what you were told. The words are different, the content unrelated. The flight controller said no such thing. The missing parts were in plain sight. The secret airport is a thriving metropolitan hub. The murder victim is up and walking around and talking to CBS. After awhile you get used to it. You stop thinking, 'Uh--oh -- this doesn't look good,' and start looking forward with glee, eager to learn what little twist has been added this time. And it's a good thing you can view it that way, because otherwise you'd get sick to your stomach.

One of the first messages I received after my response was posted was from a serving naval officer who was present at the Pentagon on 9/11. He was in the lobby of an adjacent building and he clearly saw the attack take place. Saw the plane approach, saw it brush the antennas atop a nearby Sheraton, and continue on to plunge into the Pentagon.

What he was saw was an American Airlines 757. Just like hundreds of other witnesses across the District -- air crewmen, reporters, secretaries, commuters. It's the testimony of these people, living, breathing eyewitnesses, that the conspiracy hounds seek to obscure with their showers of irrelevant, distorted, and bogus information.

And beyond them, there is yet another group. The officer told me of an acquaintance of his, a woman who married an old military friend, a friend who died in the attack. She has never quite gotten over it, and nobody has the right to add any form of doubt to her burden of loss.

And beyond them are the highest group of all: the dead, to whom we owe all honor and respect. That's what they received from the unparalleled forensic investigation by more than a hundred specialists that identified all but one passenger from the scraps that remained. That investigation should close the book on James Fetzer's claims. It won't, of course. Such an investigation is carried out for one purpose above all: to demonstrate that the eternal chain binding the living and the dead cannot be severed even by an event such as 9/11.

But the 9/11scholars have no interest in such bonds, only in piling ever more malicious trivia on the memory of the dead. That's how far we've fallen. The first step back up lies in recognizing -- and accepting -- that a fact is a fact, whether we like it or not.

Editor's Note: Following publication of J.R. Dunn's article 'Conspiracy Theories and Media Ignorance', American Thinker published a response one of the principal conspiracy theorists, Prof. James H. Fetzer, and a rejoinder from Mr. Dunn.

Today,we present a second and concluding round of response and rejoinder from the two authors.

Professor Fetzer

9/11: Bias and Ignorance in AMERICAN THINKER

James H. Fetzer

Thanks to the editors for extending an invitation to respond to the new heap of intellectual rubbish that J.R. Dunn is shoveling ('9/11 a Hoax? J.R. Dunn responds', American Thinker, 18 September 2006). While I appreciated their publishing my reply (and catching two trivial mistakes), I would have appreciated it more if they had noticed that they had divided the second of three paragraphs I was citing from an earlier study of mine and not made the third appear to be new material (compare st911.org). I think it should have been obvious, since the first two included references to notes 50 and 51, while the third included notes 52 and 53. But it may be that I inadvertently left a 'return' that the editors did not realize did not belong there. [editor's note: the paragraph has been indented in our archive copy]

The theme of Dunn's original was that the media has fallen short of its duties by its own ignorance as well as bias. Since a lot of what he has said in that piece and this one reeks of hostility and venom, massive bias permeates what he has written. It might have been a good idea if he had actually read the study I cited, "Thinking about 'Conspiracy Theories'", archived at st911.org, but that apparently would have been too much bother. The editors did no better or they might have had reservations about rushing more drivel into print. Here I divide my comments by negative arguments against a Boeing 757 having hit the Pentagon, positive arguments that it may have been an A--3 Sky Warrior, and concluding reflections.

The Negative Arguments

Dunn maintains, in response to my first bullet, that the impact point was seventy--five feet wide, large enough to accommodate a 757's fuselage, which is only twelve feet wide. A photograph of the initial point of impact, before the upper floors collapsed, is archived here. The opening appears to be about 10 feet high and roughly 16 or 17 feet wide, or not much larger than the double--doors on a mansion. It is rather difficult to see how a Boeing 757 could have fit through that hole.

Another photograph suggests that the width may even have been considerably less than 16 or17 feet, perhaps much closer to 10 feet, but it appears to be of two windows that were blown out of the second floor instead of the actual impact point on the ground floor. Notice several unbroken windows in the impact area and the lack of collateral damage. But this second floor window was not where it hit.

According to A. K. Dewdney and G. W. Longspaugh, the maximum diameter of the fuselage is about 12 feet, 4 inches, with a wingspan of 125 feet. They found,

"The initial (pre--collapse) hole made by the alleged impact on the ground floor of Wedge One of the building is too small to admit an entire Boeing 757" and "Wings that should have been sheered off by the impact are entirely absent."

Dewdney is a mathematician and computer scientist from Canada, while Longspaugh is an aerospace engineer who makes his home in Fort Worth. They also found,

"There is also substantial debris from a much smaller jet--powered aircraft inside the building." They conclude with a "high degree" of certainty that no Boeing 757 struck the Pentagon and with a "substantial degree" of certainty that it was struck by a small jet, like an F--16."

Dunn, apparently oblivious of the research I have cited, says,

"The wings, tailplane (sic), and rudder are irrelevant, being merely sheet metal that sheered off on impact, as is clearly revealed by photos of the site, which are readily available to anyone who cares to look. This point has been made dozens of times, in the 9--11 Commission Report and elsewhere, and you have no excuse for not knowing it."

"As for luggage, bodies, seats...be serious. Do you have any idea what happens when an object strikes six feet of reinforced concrete at 500 mph+? They were crushed, shredded, and then incinerated, within a matter of seconds. How much do you think was left?"

Dunn thus embraces the (very convenient) "vaporization" hypothesis, which alleges that the plane simply disappeared upon impact.

Dewdney and Longspaugh discuss the damage to support columns within the Pentagon and conclude that it is consistent with a smaller aircraft but not a Boeing 757. They comment on another study by a group of Purdue engineers, for example, in passing. In conducting their study, the Purdue group left out consideration of the engines, which is a curious omission. With or without engines, it is difficult to imagine how this kind of damage would have been possible if the plane had vaporized upon impact.

The photos Dunn claims to be "readily available" certainly do not show parts that could be unambiguously identified as having come from a Boeing 757. On the contrary, as Colonel George Nelson, USAF (retired), an air crash expert, has observed in "Impossible to Prove a Falsehood True" on st911.org, these planes have many time--sensitive and uniquely identifiable parts that could readily provide proof of the specific plane that hit the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville. None of them has ever been produced.

The Positive Arguments

Dunn appears to acknowledge that a Boeing 757, at 155 feet long, which makes it twice as long as the building is tall, is not apparent on the videotape and offers the counterargument that, since an A--3 is 78 feet long, a little over half that size, it should have appeared on the video, too. He claims this is a contradiction:

"The A--3 should have showed up too -- and not as a scarcely--visible 'outline' owing more to the imagination than anything else, either."

This might be forceful against the A--3 alternative, if it were true, but it does nothing to diminish the video's impact on the official account.

The first of the five frames that the Pentagon originally released, which has the time stamp 17:32:19, shows what appears to be the silhouette of an aircraft just above the gate mechanism as well as a plume of white smoke that seems to be coming from a missile it is in the process of launching. Dunn seems to know he is on thin ice here, since he says it should have been more distinct. But what is striking is that even the Pentagon identified it as a plane. Indeed, the word "plane" occurs on the frame itself! It is quite evident that this 'plane' does not approximate the dimensions of a Boeing 757.

Dunn suggests that the A--3 is not a small fighter jet but a twin--engine bomber, a criticism for which there is support. (See this, for example, .) But the key point is that it is much smaller than any Boeing 757. I am hardly the first person to observe that the absence of debris from a 757 provides proof that a 757 never hit the building. Check out "Hunt the Boeing", for example, or the books by Thierry Meyssan, Pentagate and 9/11: The Big Lie, which Dunn probably hasn't read.

Dunn is convinced that I have confused the A--3 Sky Warrior with the A--4 Skyhawk, which had a similar name and designation, the same manufacturer, and was rather small for a modern military aircraft.

"But it's too late now -- you've constructed your case around the A--3, and you'll have to live with it.'

What he doesn't understand is that, if what hit the Pentagon was either an A--3 Sky Warrior or an A--4 Sky Hawk, it wasn't a Boeing 757! Our negative critique of what the government has claimed stands even if our positive account of what may have hit instead requires revision. If it was an A--4, that's fine with me. Anyone who is rational in their beliefs accepts, rejects, and suspends beliefs on the basis of the available relevant evidence. As new evidence becomes available, revisions may be appropriate.

A lot of his objections derive from his failure to read the study on which my position is based. If he had, he would have found the answers to his questions about the engine part and the argument from dimensions, which derives from the study by Dewdney and Longspaugh cited above. He disputes what I report about A--3s being retrofitted with updated missiles, Raytheon's Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) remote control systems, and new engines, which could have been of the same type as the originals. His thinking here, as elsewhere, is sloppy and affected by emotion.

Personally, if I had seen numbers that corresponded to footnotes, when I was drafting an assault of this kind, I would have made an effort to track them down. Then he would have at least understood that I was not making this up out of whole cloth but reporting what had been previously published elsewhere. Note 51, for example, explained the following point, 'The workers' reports about these activities may be read at "Secret Global Hawk Refit for Sky Warrior!".

The point I make about aerodynamic impossibility must have been too much for him to handle. Certainly, attacking the phrase, 'the aerodynamics of flight', on the ground that it is redundant is silly in the extreme. Has he never heard of 'the experience of flight', 'the aesthetics of flight', or 'the joy of flight'? For a former editor of the International Military Encyclopedia, he appears not only to have a severely limited grasp of language but to be seriously uninformed.

The point I was making, which he did not understand, is that when a plane is in flight, it builds up a body of compressed gas beneath its wings and fuselage. The dimensions of this compressed gas, a pocket of air, depends upon the speed of the aircraft. Even a small plane, such as a Cessna, at full throttle would be unable to come as close to skimming the ground as the Boeing is said to have traveled. Indeed, it is so close that the engines might be expected to have plowed massive furrows in the lawn, which remained unblemished.

A pilot and aeronautical engineer has explained to me that, at full throttle, a Cessna could not fly lower than 15 feet to the ground and that a Boeing 757, at around 500 miles per hour, would be unable to get closer than about 60 feet from the ground. This means that it would have been aerodynamically impossible for the alleged plane to have taken the alleged flight trajectory. And there is no evidence of the kind of crater that would have been created by any trajectory that was not parallel to the ground. There is nothing to support it. The government has no sustainable alternatives.

Dunn tries to shrug this point off, as though the discovery that the official account violates laws of aerodynamics is unimportant. He says that, if this argument were valid (he means 'sound), then 'no airplane has ever successfully landed.' But of course the size of the air pocket diminishes as the speed of the aircraft drops, which is an important reason why aircraft must slow down as they descend for it to be possible for them to land. Dunn's ignorance is showing.

Concluding Reflections

If the Pentagon is not one of the, if not the, most heavily defended buildings in the world, I'll eat my hat. This guy even appears to be oblivious of the sworn testimony of Norman Mineta, Secretary of Transportation, to the 9/11 Commission about observing a young aide approach the Vice President, in command at an underground bunker beneath the White House.

'Sir, it's fifty miles out.'

'Sir, its thirty miles out.'

'Sir, its ten miles out. Do the orders still stand?'

Cheney, he testified, nearly bit off his head.

'Of course the orders still stand', he said. 'Have you heard anything different?'

But the order had to have been to not shoot down the approaching aircraft. Shooting it down would be the obvious thing to do. You would lose all the passengers and the plane, but you would not also lose the personnel and property at the target. And if the order had been to shoot it down, it would have been shot down. But it was not. His testimony was so explosive that the 9/11 Commission buried it.

(It was taped and can be readily downloaded from st911.org.)

Dunn wants to know

'what kind of lunatic purpose is served by firing a missile at a target and then crashing a plane into it',

an interesting question I am glad to address. The day before 9/11, Donald Rumsfeld had reported to Congress that the Pentagon had lost track of $2.3 trillion. It was a Monday, which was odd, since experienced politicians learn to release bad news on Fridays in the expectation they will be lost over the weekend. But that did not happen in this case. Indeed, most of us still don't know about it.

The West Wing was a peculiar choice for a terrorist attack, since it was in the final stages of reconstruction and was largely bereft of personnel and records. But one team that occupied that space was a group of accountants, auditors, and budget experts who were, I would surmise, attempting to track that missing $2.3 trillion. The impact of the plane could not be guaranteed to kill them. Sending a missile would take them by surprise and could be more carefully targeted. So maybe there is a rational explanation, after all.

Colonel Nelson has observed that, under federal law, the NTSB has an obligation to investigate crashes involving commercial airliners. Four allegedly occurred on 9/11, yet the NTSB has investigated none. Photos abound of commercial airplane crashes around the globe, which can be found via google. Both the Pentagon site and the Shanksville site appear to be distinctive by the almost complete absence of debris of appropriate kinds and quantities. Neither of the massive engines was recovered at the Pentagon. Perhaps Dunn will reassure us that they, too, were simply vaporized!

During the L.A. 'American Scholars Symposium' held on 24--25 June 2006, Dylan Avery showed me the FAA raw data on the planes from all four locations. There was a series of blank spaces where that data should have been recorded. Perhaps Dunn finds this absence of evidence further "proof" that the official account is correct. More could be said by way of response, but perhaps I have said enough. It should be apparent that bias and ignorance are indeed thematic in what he has written, but perhaps not quite the way he intended.

James H. Fetzer, Ph.D.

Founder and Co--Chair
Scholars for 9/11 Truth

 

J.R. Dunn


At the end of my first response I set certain conditions. Any commentary was to be a logical, succinct, and coherent analysis of every statement I have made here, and in my article as well, following the example I have given you. I have no interest in any more factoids, none of this 'I saw it someplace on the Net' stuff. Fully sourced, fully researched material -- that is the minimum acceptable response.

That's not what we have here, needless to say. I admit I wasn't really expecting it either.

Because that's not the way James H. Fetzer, Ph.D, McKnight University Professor Emeritus, Founder and Co--chair of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth, does things. What he does, and what we have been presented with, is repetition. A repetition of his first response, with the pedal jammed to the floor. A response in which the factoid storm, already thick enough in the first place, has increased to blizzard strength.

But it's not a complete repetition. There are several obvious omissions:

* Flight controller Danielle O'Brien -- The Professor argued that O'Brien had identified Flight 77 as a military aircraft. Her own testimony (linked in my previous entry) reveals she did no such thing. Out in toto.

* Ft. Collins--Loveland Municipal airport -- the airport, characterized as an isolated field suitable as the setting for a conspiracy, turned out to be smack dab in the middle of a metropolitan area with a population of 250,000+. Unmentioned.

*Flight 77's engine dimensions -- The dimensions of the wrecked engines found in the Pentagon were claimed to be too small for a 757's turbofans, ignoring the fact that they'd just been rammed though a six--foot thick reinforced concrete wall at 500 mph+. Out. (Dave Runyan settles this question to my satisfaction is his superb 'Some Basics About Jet Engines and 9/11 Conspiracy Theories")

As they say in the legal profession, silence implies acquiescence. If the Endowed Chair can't answer those points, he has to accept them. Even if in accepting them, he's effectively blowing holes in the rest of his argument.

But that, needless to say, is why we're here. So let's strap on the plow, put the four--wheel in gear, and roll on into the blizzard.

*The Professor Emeritus once again kicks things off by questioning the size of the hole in the Pentagon, which has been transformed this time into an 'impact point'. The 9/11 Commission Report puts the hole's size at seventy--five feet. Not so, insists the Chair. He saw a photo somewhere or other that suggested it was only sixteen feet wide.

The 757 fuselage is twelve feet wide, which I believe would fit into a sixteen--foot hole without too much of a stretch. So what point he's trying to make here, I am not at all sure. I know he's not agreeing, but beyond that, I cannot say.

He goes on to discuss another hole somewhere else in the building, along with a paragraph concerning internal building supports, all of which is pure blizzardry, having precisely nothing at to do with the original question. His source for much of this material is a study by A.K. Dewdney and G.W. Longspaugh. Now, A.K. Dewdney is a distinctive name. He himself says as much on his personal web site, pointing out that the 'K' stands for 'Keewatin', Ojibway for 'North Wind'. (My middle initial stands for 'Richard', which is ancient Celtic for 'Chastiser of Academic Poseurs'.)

So this must be the same A.K. Dewdney who was ripped up, down, and sideways by Mark Steyn in his Macleans review,  'Call me Crazy. I Blame the Terrorists' to a point where Dewdney began bleating about 'consulting with legal authorities'. I'm not going to try to surpass the master here; read it and see how the pompous are dealt with in the Great White North.

I don't know anything about Longspaugh, but if he's hooked up with Dewdney, maybe he needs a lawyer too.

* Next we return to the bodies, luggage, seats, etc., which the Founder and Co--Chair insists would have been scattered here and there around the crash site. Not after a 500+ impact with reinforced concrete, said I, to which he now answers, 'Dunn thus embraces the (very convenient) "vaporization" hypothesis, which alleges that the plane simply disappeared upon impact.'

Well, very conveniently enough, here's a incredible video of a test in which an F--4 Phantom is rammed, at exactly 500 mph, into a reinforced concrete wall representing the containment shell of a nuclear reactor. The Phantom utterly disintegrates -- there's nothing but small pieces left. While that may not quite be vaporization, it will do.

And that, my friends, is what happened to Flight 77. I await the esteemed Chair's comment.

* The wings, tailplane, rudder and so forth would have peeled off on impact. But no pieces were found, the Co--Chair contends. Not in Washington, not in Skanksville, PA, not in Manhattan. (Sounds like he's saying no planes crashed anywhere on 9/11, doesn't it?)

All this despite being confronted with a photograph of a recognizable piece of sheet metal in American Airlines colors within a stone's throw of the Pentagon, one of hundreds available on the Net. No, we're instead supposed to rely on the word of Colonel George Nelson, USAF (retired), an air crash expert who insists no parts were found even though he wasn't on the spot and never visited the site. If he had, he might have come across fellow investigator Allyn Kilsheimer who was on site, and who said,

"I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of the building. I picked up parts of the plane with the airline markings on them. I held in my hand the tail section of the plane, and I found the black box...  I held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts. Okay?"

Over to you, Colonel.

* Now here's the claim that kicked things off in the first place: the ineffable nature of the A--3 Skywarrior: tiny fighter plane, or thirty--five ton twin--engine strategic bomber? It's hard to tell sometimes. I mean, have you ever been confused between a eighteen--wheel semi and a Volvo? Sure you have. They can fool you.

This, according to the Chair, is  'a criticism for which there is support', which is a weaselly academic method of saying 'I was wrong.' 'A--3, fighter or bomber' is a true or false, yes or no, 1 or 0 question. There is no ambiguity involved. We are not living in a quantum universe where a thing can be a 78--foot bomber and small fighter at the same time, a la Schrodinger's Cat. The McKnight Professor was wrong, and he doesn't want to admit it.

He doesn't want to admit it because if the A--3 goes, so does most of his argument. With the A--3 gone, then there was no tiny silhouette of an airplane on the video, no missile was ever fired, there are no anomalous engine parts, no radar contradictions, no sinister doings at Western airports. In fact we have nothing at all, since with the A--3 vanished, the rest of the nonsense blows away like so much tinsel. There was never any purpose for any of it except as a frame in which the place the central element.

Without the A--3, the conspiracy falls apart, which is why the Professor Emeritus lapses into a paragraph of doubletalk about the A--4, which was brought up in the first place only to underline how confused the 9/11 Scholars actually are. They're still confused.

* Thierry Meyssan, brought up to lend weight to the Chair's contentions,  is the French left--wing activist (media claims that he's a philosophy professor are false) responsible for triggering 9/11 conspiracy fever in the first place. Within days of the attack, he had accused the U.S. government of complicity. His book, L'effroyable--imposture (The Frightening Fraud, published in the U.S. as 9/11: The Big Lie) is a pioneering 9/11 conspiracy text which has of course been superseded by the thoroughgoing and professional work of the 9/11 Scholars.

But before that, he had a web site setting forth his thesis. It was an interesting site, with each page featuring a bold--faced question about the attack beneath a usually unrelated photograph (Thierry Meyssan's version of the Socratic Method, I assume). I never did get through the whole thing, after encountering a page where the question read: WHY WAS THERE NO SIGN OF JET FUEL AT THE CRASH SITE?

Fair question, I thought, until I went on two or three pages and came across this: WHY DID TRUCKS DUMP LARGE LOADS OF SAND AT THE SITE WITHIN HOURS OF THE CRASH?

So much for the French contribution. I'm certain the Chair would admit this 'has some support'. So we'll move on.

* Throughout this response, the Founder and Co--Chair calls my attention to numerous studies and sources, which if read would cause the scales to fall from my eyes. With 'Note 51", he gives us an example of what he means. 'Note 51"sources one of his arguments. And what does it refer us to? The American Journal of Metallurgy? Jane's World Weapon Systems? Kant's Critique of Pure Reason? No -- it sends us to http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/05/318250.shtml

Now, when you access Portland Indymedia, you find the typical Internet nut site devoted in large part to conspiracy theories just like this one. When I wrote, '...none of this 'I saw it someplace on the Net' stuff,' in my original response, this is exactly what I was talking about.

Academic sourcing has been a mature system for well over a century. You are required to refer the reader to an acknowledged authority, someone with unquestioned stature in a particular field. Not Arthur Bell, Michael Savage, or Paris Hilton. (Leopold von Ranke, the father of modern historiography, is even stricter -- in his system, sources are limited to documents, and not individuals with possible agendas or faulty memories. It's a mercy von Ranke died in 1886. If he'd ever encountered the Net, he'd have thrown himself off a bridge.)

Note 51, if it's at all typical, is an indictment of the McKnight Professor's method, procedures, and results. I don't read the Tattler. I don't read the Enquirer, and I'm not going to read any of those studies either.

* The Chair contends that aerodynamic forces (or as he so poetically put it, the 'aerodynamics of flight') render it impossible to fly at high speed at low levels. How does he explain this? He gives us a bubble of gas. This 'gas bubble' (by which I'm sure he means the wave front of compressed air preceding an aircraft in its flight path) prevents an airplane from settling close to the ground -- 15 feet or so for a Cessna, 60 feet for an sizable airliner.

Anybody who has ever seen a cropduster zipping around 5 or 6 feet above the ground will view this explanation with skepticism. Compression at low altitudes may have some effect on performance, but does not render flight impossible. The notorious F--111,  no small aircraft, was in fact designed to operate at high speed at low levels, through use of a terrain--following radar which kept it at a steady twenty--odd feet above the ground. Though it had its drawbacks, the F--111 had no problems with gas that I'm aware of.

Eyewitness testimony states that the plane attacking the Pentagon nearly clipped the roof of a nearby Sheraton coming in. This puts its altitude at a good hundred--twenty feet+ in the last moments of approach. The 757 was at extreme low altitude only during the final fleeting seconds of flight, moving far too quickly for aerodynamic forces to take effect. So much for the Professor's gas attack.

In fact, what the Chair's aerodynamicist has proven is that no aircraft of any kind, 757 or A--3, could have crashed into the Pentagon. The aerodynamic forces on either jet would be the same, and so would the result. If the 757 couldn't quite make it to the Pentagon without being brought down by gas, neither could the A--3. This is yet another serious contradiction to add to the two in his previous effort -- the implication that the A--3 wouldn't shed its wings the same as the 757, and the puzzle as to how the A--3 was rendered nearly invisible to the Pentagon parking lot camera. Neither of these contradictions has ever been answered, or even so much as addressed. I don't anticipate this one will be either.

* 'If the Pentagon is not one of the, if not the, most heavily defended buildings in the world, I'll eat my hat.' Well, you all heard him.

In my previous response, I gave a reasonably detailed short history as to why the U.S. has lacked comprehensive air defenses for 28 years. Instead of repeating that, I'll go into the reasons why it happened.

In the late 1950s, the U.S. had complete radar coverage of northern and coastal approaches. All major metro areas were ringed by Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules  missile batteries. The country's northen tier was dotted with Air Defense Command bases equipped with thousands of fast interceptors. All this was coordinated by a nationwide data exchange system, one of the first military computer networks, an early ancestor of the Internet.

Today this structure has vanished, and has never been replaced, due in large part to reliance on a theory of nuclear strategy called Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), which contended that the way to maintain a stable nuclear balance was to eschew defenses and accept the fact that a nuclear strike would result in complete annihilation of both sides. Fear of destruction would then militate against a strike by either side (In truth, the USSR never accepted MAD, and even today, Russia's air defenses remain formidable.)

Readers who find this strategy utterly insane will not be surprised to learn that it was overseen by Robert S. McNamara, who also gave us the Edsel and Vietnam. It was instituted all the same, and the expensive defense systems were allowed to deteriorate until today little is left other than part--time Air National Guard units.

How do we know that it went into effect at the Pentagon? Easy -- that was where McNamara worked.

The Chair ignores all this history in favor of giving us a conversation between Richard Cheney and an aide overheard by Norman Mineta, author of our current anti--profiling policy. The exchange took place at the White House, not the Pentagon, does not mention aircraft, or defenses, or anything related, and, knowing the Founder's way with a quote, may well have been somewhat different that what's presented here.

In any case, it's irrelevant to the issue, and would amount to simply another worthless factoid, except for one curious little slip.

'Shooting it [the airliner] down,' writes the McKnight Professor, 'would be the obvious thing to do. You would lose all the passengers and the plane, but you would not also lose the personnel and property at the target.'

An odd statement coming from a man whose case all along is that no passengers were ever involved. That's what a police detective would call a 'tell'. The Professor's lucky I'm not a detective, don't you agree?

* The resurrected accountant marks another example of the Founder going off on a tangent, but that's fine, because it gives him one more opportunity to shoot himself in the foot. What I asked about was the irrationality of firing a missile at a target and then crashing a plane into it, as opposed to firing two missiles or crashing one plane. The answer turns out to be the Chair's explanation for the entire conspiracy.

It seems that the day before, Monday September 10th, Donald Rumsfeld announced that the DoD had lost track of $2.6 trillion in appropriations, and that he intended to find out where it had gone. But then, the next day....

So obviously, as the Chair 'surmises', the entire conspiracy was carried out to kill the accounting team trying to track down that money. They were the targets, the sole reason the Pentagon was attacked. He's almost certain it happened that way.

Except that when I checked the story, to see if I could find anything at all that wasn't sourced from Portland Indymedia, the first item in the queue was this:  a CBS interview with Jack Minnerty, the accountant who blew the whistle on the DoD losses. An interview made in February 2002, nearly six months after 9/11.

Now how can this be? How can this man, the supposed prime target of the greatest conspiracy ever carried out this country, be out walking around, much less giving interviews to an alphabet network? How could they have missed him? Was he out getting coffee?

It's at points like this that you realize that the conspiracy impulse, the force that drives these people, cannot be countered by rational means. A conspiracy in which the whistleblower is killed is one thing. A conspiracy in which hundreds of others are killed, and the intended victim continues blithely on as if it had nothing at all to do with him.... There's no rational explanation for that. And there's no point in asking the Professor, the Colonel, or the staff of Portland Indymedia about it. They'll just start telling you about a screw that was found on the sidewalk in front of the Pentagon, that was used only in a single model of the Stearman 43 Biplane, made in one particular plant in 1938, and that proves....

(So why bother? Why put in the time and effort to refute all this? As a form of prophylaxis, in the hope that at least some of the gullible, naive, or ill--informed may encounter this critique before they're infected.)

The rest is anticlimax. 'Neither of the massive engines was recovered at the Pentagon,' the Chair tells us. This photo says otherwise. A correspondent has pointed out that the Flight 77 aircraft was not powered by either a Pratt & Whitney PW2037 or the PW2040,  but by Rolls Royce RB211--535E4Bs, the turbine disk of which is a close match, as exhaustive research confirms, for the part in the photograph, the same possibility suggested by Dave Runyan. (This is also an opportunity to thank another reader, who pointed out that the A--3 was actually powered by Pratt & Whitney J--57 P.10s, and not JT--8Ds, as the Professor asserts.)

Colonel Nelson is once more trotted onstage to deliver the valediction in the form of an ominous contention that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) obligated 'under federal law' to investigate all commercial air crashes, has failed to do so with the 9/11 disasters. The NTSB website carries a table of all major recent investigations. Halfway down we find four marked '9/11'. When we click on those, we see this statement: 

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Safety Board provided requested technical assistance to the FBI, and any material generated by the NTSB is under the control of the FBI.

In other words, the NTSB was in fact involved in the investigation of these events. Not quite a lie perhaps, but very much the reason words like 'prevarication' were coined. 

But that's the case with all of Prof. James H. Fetzer, Ph.D's claims. Once you follow them back to a reputable source, you discover they're not what you were told. The words are different, the content unrelated. The flight controller said no such thing. The missing parts were in plain sight. The secret airport is a thriving metropolitan hub. The murder victim is up and walking around and talking to CBS. After awhile you get used to it. You stop thinking, 'Uh--oh -- this doesn't look good,' and start looking forward with glee, eager to learn what little twist has been added this time. And it's a good thing you can view it that way, because otherwise you'd get sick to your stomach.

One of the first messages I received after my response was posted was from a serving naval officer who was present at the Pentagon on 9/11. He was in the lobby of an adjacent building and he clearly saw the attack take place. Saw the plane approach, saw it brush the antennas atop a nearby Sheraton, and continue on to plunge into the Pentagon.

What he was saw was an American Airlines 757. Just like hundreds of other witnesses across the District -- air crewmen, reporters, secretaries, commuters. It's the testimony of these people, living, breathing eyewitnesses, that the conspiracy hounds seek to obscure with their showers of irrelevant, distorted, and bogus information.

And beyond them, there is yet another group. The officer told me of an acquaintance of his, a woman who married an old military friend, a friend who died in the attack. She has never quite gotten over it, and nobody has the right to add any form of doubt to her burden of loss.

And beyond them are the highest group of all: the dead, to whom we owe all honor and respect. That's what they received from the unparalleled forensic investigation by more than a hundred specialists that identified all but one passenger from the scraps that remained. That investigation should close the book on James Fetzer's claims. It won't, of course. Such an investigation is carried out for one purpose above all: to demonstrate that the eternal chain binding the living and the dead cannot be severed even by an event such as 9/11.

But the 9/11scholars have no interest in such bonds, only in piling ever more malicious trivia on the memory of the dead. That's how far we've fallen. The first step back up lies in recognizing -- and accepting -- that a fact is a fact, whether we like it or not.