I like to come up with fresh stuff for this blog, but sometimes it’s more convenient for me to fall back on something I previously covered elsewhere. This first ran in the September 2004 issue of The North Texas Skeptic.
Forget about the hapless “tourist guy” of 9/11, the rigged photo of a parka-clad sightseer atop the World Trade Center, with his back toward the oncoming airliner. Forget about the four thousand Jews who didn’t show up for work that day. French author Thierry Meyssan spins a yarn that shades both these tall tales. According to Meyssan’s book L’Effroyable Imposture (The Frightening Fraud), American Airlines flight 77 did not crash into the Pentagon building. Instead, a crafty plot by the U.S. government employed a truck bomb or a missile strike to further the pretense of the Twin Towers attack.
There’s a lot of wild stuff in the book, but chapter 1, “The Pentagon’s Phantom Plane,” is the best part. Here Meyssan describes the attack on the Pentagon, essentially going over the official account. Then, barely pausing for a breath, he explains why the official account is a bunch of lies. In the process, he spins a yarn that would make a Minnesota fisherman blush.
The first and most audacious assertion of Meyssan’s is that photographic evidence demonstrates an airplane could not have done the damage shown. Incredibly, he superimposes the outline of a Boeing 757 over an aerial view of the impact site and says “…it can be seen that only the nose of the Boeing entered the building. The fuselage and the wings remained outside.”1
He also refers to the Associated Press photo on the front of his book. The photo was taken shortly after the impact and shows the firefighters and ambulances, shortly before the roof of the damaged area collapsed. “[Y]ou will clearly observe that there is no plane,” he writes.
One wonders. Would an airliner, traveling at the speed this one was, come to rest on the Pentagon lawn after impacting the side of the building? It may be that left wing radicals skip high school physics, because the absurdity of the proposition seems to have escaped him. Furthermore, Meyssan claims no wreckage of the jet was found.
So, although officials, members of Congress and military personnel all claimed to have seen the aircraft fall, no one saw the smallest piece of the plane, not even from the landing gear: there were only unidentifiable metal fragments.
Meyssan pretends to be unaware of the vast body of evidence and eye witness accounts that contradict this statement. An on-line account titled “The Pentagon Attack and American Airlines Flight 77″ by John Judge includes statements by a number of witnesses.
I have spoken to dozens of other witnesses to the event, and to others who know the reports. Wayne Madsen, a respected local journalist, spoke to a camera person at WJLA-TV 7 who had been driving to the Pentagon on instructions from his office, expecting a public statement from authorities there in response to the events in New York City. Shortly after the crash he saw a woman standing by the road at the edge of the Pentagon, next to her car, and apparently in shock. He stopped to help her and found she could not speak. But she pointed him to the far side of her car. The passenger side had been sheared off in part and sections of the landing gear from the plane were on the ground nearby. Others I have spoken to, including pilots, either saw the crash happen and identified the plane, or saw parts of the plane in the wreckage days afterwards.2
Others who were in the Pentagon at the time of the crash describe finding aircraft parts, including landing gear, within the building.
After trying to convince us the aircraft only partially penetrated the building, Meyssan seems to contradict himself later in the book.
The Aircraft penetrated the building without causing major damage to the façade. It traversed several rings of the Pentagon, opening successively wider holes in each partition as it passed.
For this absurdity Meyssan has a ready explanation that takes a long pull on my credulity.
All of this testimony and these observations could correspond with the firing of one of the latest generation of AGM-type missiles, armed with a hollow charge and a depleted uranium BLU tip, and guided by GPS.
Oliver Stone, take a hike.
So, what kind of researcher is Thierry Meyssan, who so carefully loads his weapon (206 references cited in the back of the book) and discharges it into the ground? He has been characterized by National Review Online contributing editor James S. Robbins as a left wing radical (apparently with no love for the United States).3 Vasily Bubnov, writing for the on-line edition of Pravda, hints that Meyssan is “craving for glory.”4 I do not hasten to dispute these worthies.
And the book? The English translation is “9/11 The Big Lie.” It’s available from Amazon through the NTS Web site, but I will not feel slighted if you put off the purchase. I will even let you read my copy.5
Meyssan obviously had access to the same information as the rest of us. So, is he a liar or a fool? I will allow the possibility the answer is more subtle. A famous song by Paul Simon contains the advice “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”
If this is mere self-deception, then Meyssan is not alone. It only took me a few seconds to turn up another source devoted to debunking the official account of the Pentagon attack.6 The “Killtown” Web site pushes high-profile conspiracy theories related to 9/11 and the Bush administration. Its page titled Did Flight 77 really crash into the Pentagon? has many photos of Flight 77 wreckage along with arguments against their authenticity.7 Obviously, 9/11 conspiracy stories are going to be a thriving cottage industry for years to come.
1. The original photo is from the Defense Department at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Sep2001/010914-F-8006R-006.html.
6. The 9/11 Commission Report is available at http://www.ntskeptics.org/books/books.htm.