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TBR News November 4, 2019

Nov 04 2019

 

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. November 2, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Commentary for November 4: “ Last week, a cleaning maid accidentally left behind a jar of cleaning liquid she was using on the toilet in Trump’s redecorated private toilet. He found it and said he thought it might be some kind of a poison that the Ukrainians had put there to kill him and on the orders of Hillary Clinton! He had the Secret Service checking on it and when they found out it was harmless (unless you drank it) he suspected that they, too, were in on the sinister plot of the Deep State. At this point, even those on the staff that had admired Trump are getting second thoughts about him. He wants to fire the cleaning lady but the Secret Service won’t tell him who it is. He is screaming about this even as I write.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • How Trump’s Obsession With a Conspiracy Theory Led to the Impeachment Crisis
  • Exclusive: Ukraine to fire prosecutor who discussed Bidens with Giuliani – source
  • Trump must turn over eight years of tax returns, appeals court rules
  • 9/11: Debunking The Myths
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

 

How Trump’s Obsession With a Conspiracy Theory Led to the Impeachment Crisis

October 14, 2019

Time

by Brian Bennett, Tessa Berenson, Massimo Calabresi, Abby Vesoulis and John Walcott/Washington

The warning signs were there. In a tweet or offhand remark, President Donald Trump would touch on what he said Ukraine had done to him during the 2016 election. Top Administration officials got an earful. Foreign leaders were treated to the stories. Occasionally his rants would unspool on live TV. “And Ukraine!” Trump shouted down the line to a Fox News host on June 19, the night after he formally announced his re-election bid. “Take a look at Ukraine!” he went on, as the host tried to move to other subjects.

Few people, even those closest to him in the White House, grasped exactly what the President of the United States seemed to believe: that Ukraine, a nation consumed over the past five years by a crippling armed conflict with Russia, had found a way to conspire against him during the 2016 election, and to collude with his rival, Hillary Clinton, by hiding the Democratic National Committee’s email server and feeding her allies dirt about Trump. It was an idea Tom Bossert, his first homeland-security adviser, described as a “completely debunked” conspiracy theory. Few saw in his Ukraine outbursts anything more than the effusions of a cable-news showman.

It took a complaint from an intelligence-community whistle-blower, released late last month, to reveal the weight of Trump’s Ukraine conspiracy theory and just how far the President has gone to support the notion that a vast network of enemies inside and outside his own government has been working against him. Trump has tried to mobilize the vast resources of his presidency–from Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. Justice Department to America’s national-security apparatus–and a team of investigative irregulars, led by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. This band of conspiracy cops has traveled the globe in a disorderly hunt for proof of the conspiracy Trump says is arrayed against him.

In the past, many of his advisers tried to redirect Trump. They urged the President to accept the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies: the true conspiracy of the 2016 election was that Russia interfered on his side. But those voices are long gone. In their place is a network of far-right Internet denizens, conservative media and members of Trump’s inner circle, advancing theories that have taken shape over the past two years. Those seeds have fallen on fertile ground.

Trump tells aides he is held to a double standard, a White House official tells TIME. Trump sees Joe Biden on tape saying the Obama Administration withheld aid until Ukraine fired its prosecutor, and then feels unfairly criticized for asking Ukraine to help investigate Biden and the origins of the Russia probe. To Trump, the official says, “It feels like people are coming at him over a bunch of bullsh-t while letting all this other stuff slide.” That sense of grievance has helped lead Trump into what Democrats and a handful of Republicans say are potentially impeachable offenses, first among them, using the power of the presidency to try and stay in office.

Trump’s focus on Ukraine turned into an invitation, an open call for a cast of sleuths to deliver the thing he craves: evidence, no matter how thin in substance or dubious in provenance, that he is right about his enemies, that he is the victim of a grand conspiracy and not in fact the purveyor of one. Tracing the origins of the Ukraine conspiracy theory and the President’s efforts to pursue it is central to understanding the political crisis consuming Washington.

TIME journalists, from Washington to Ukraine, have found a tangled mix of fact and fiction. Barr has launched a formal Justice Department investigation of the origins of the Mueller probe. Meanwhile, Giuliani has drawn on a network of sources, including a former prosecutor in Kiev, a wanted fugitive in Vienna and a pair of Russian-speaking businessmen in Miami in pursuit of Trump’s theories.

Trump and Giuliani–egged on by supporters chanting “Investigate the investigators!”–may still believe they will find enough proof to chasten their enemies. But so far their efforts have mostly hurt Trump, his Administration and the country. Barr is frustrated with Giuliani’s role in the unorthodox investigation. The White House counsel’s office is at loggerheads with some more politically minded White House aides over how to respond to the whistle-blower’s revelations. Democrats on the Hill are licking their lips at the opportunity to put Trump up for an impeachment trial. And the nation is struggling to understand where the truth actually lies.

It is perhaps not surprising that one of the first sources of the Ukraine conspiracy theory that has so captured the President’s imagination was the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. As questions mounted over Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential race, a ministry spokesperson suggested that Ukraine had “seriously complicated the work of Trump’s election-campaign headquarters by planting information” about its chairman, Paul Manafort. “All of you have heard this remarkable story,” the spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, told reporters in November 2016.

Like any good conspiracy theory, this one contained a sliver of truth. The leak that forced Manafort to leave the Trump campaign did come from Ukraine, and one of the people who publicized it was a lawmaker named Serhiy Leshchenko. Before he went into politics, Leshchenko worked as an investigative journalist and an activist against corruption. One focus of his research had been Manafort’s work for a Kremlin ally in Ukraine accused of siphoning at least $37 billion in government money into offshore bank accounts. “I’ve never made a secret of my anger at Manafort,” Leshchenko says. “He helped bring a regime to power that robbed my country.”

In August 2016, the New York Times revealed that Manafort had received more than $12 million in payments from that regime, and he was forced to resign from the Trump campaign. Days later, Leshchenko held a press conference in Kiev calling for Manafort to be investigated. That kindling–a wounded Trump campaign, the New York Times and an obscure Ukrainian lawmaker–would soon start a fire on the Internet, conflating events both real and imagined.

Leshchenko’s calls to investigate Manafort became part of a Ukrainian scheme with Democrats to smear the chairman of the Trump campaign. CrowdStrike, the security firm hired to investigate the hacking of emails from the DNC, was said to have covered up Ukraine’s role and framed Russia instead. And starting soon after his Inauguration, Trump piled on. “I heard [CrowdStrike is] owned by a very rich Ukrainian, that’s what I heard,” Trump told the Associated Press in April 2017. He would continue to repeat in other interviews that the firm was owned by Ukrainians or based there, despite the fact that it is a U.S. company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., with no known ties to Ukraine. Three months later, he cryptically tweeted about “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign” that had been “quietly working to boost Clinton.”

Whenever new allegations of Trump’s Russia ties emerged, his allies would revive the Ukraine theory. As the Mueller probe gained steam in the summer of 2017, Fox News host Sean Hannity devoted segments of his show to the allegations that the Clinton campaign had received help from Ukrainian officials, with a banner of the country’s blue-and-yellow flag reading in all-caps Ukrainian election interference? Trump’s son Donald Jr. amplified the Ukraine theories after his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer became public in July 2017, retweeting that “DNC operatives actively worked with Ukrainian government officials to dig up oppo research,” asking, “No outrage???” Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow ran with this message on CNN a few days later, referring to “the situation with the Ukrainians and the DNC and the Clinton campaign, where information actually was shared.” Trump’s allies pointed to reporting by Politico and the New York Times that a DNC outreach coordinator had met with Ukrainian officials in Washington and shared information about Manafort’s work in Ukraine with reporters and the DNC.

As the Mueller probe drew to a close in the spring of this year, the President and Giuliani began to speak out more frequently about these theories. “As Russia Collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges,” Trump tweeted on March 20, two days before Mueller delivered his final report to the Attorney General.

All along, the pied piper of the Ukraine narrative was Giuliani. On the morning of May 11, a few days after a Senate committee called Trump’s eldest son to testify, Ukraine’s new government awoke to news footage of Giuliani declaring that there were “enemies of the United States” among them. Raising his voice over the anchor’s attempts to interrupt him, Trump’s lawyer even name-checked Leshchenko, the former journalist. He had been in line to join the Cabinet of President Volodymyr Zelensky, but Trump’s lawyer got in the way. “We knew Giuliani is the hand of Trump,” Leshchenko tells TIME. “Once he called me an enemy, it was clear I had to step aside.”

Trump soon took the theories about Ukraine straight to the country’s President. In a phone call on July 25–the day after Mueller’s testimony before Congress–Trump urged Zelensky to do him a favor. “I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people” about this alleged collusion, Trump said. “And I would like you to get to the bottom of it.”

When the White House released a declassified summary of that call on Sept. 25, it showed just how aggressive Trump had been in pursuit of the matter, and just how varied a team he had enlisted in the effort. While Giuliani is a central player, Barr is second only to Trump in the power he wields in its execution. But when he first learned that Trump had raised his name on the call with Zelensky, the Attorney General was “angry and surprised to be lumped in together with the President’s personal attorney,” not least because Barr has never spoken about Ukraine to Giuliani, a person familiar with Barr’s thinking tells TIME.

But Barr’s role in this story has drawn plenty of attention, and criticism. While Trump publicly mused that Barr’s predecessor, Jeff Sessions, should investigate Ukraine’s role in the events that led to the Mueller probe, one former official who worked under Sessions does not recall the topic ever coming up inside the Justice Department. Barr, by contrast, dived right in.

Shortly after being confirmed to the job in February, Barr instructed the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, John Durham, to look at “the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election,” according to a Justice Department statement in September. Asked what the basis for the investigation was, a Justice Department official says, “the Attorney General just saw enough things that weren’t adding up that he knew he needed to look into it.”

Barr himself has taken up the task of digging into the matter. In London this summer, he asked British authorities how much credence they gave former British spy Christopher Steele and a dossier he compiled on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, two British officials briefed on Barr’s visit tell TIME. British intelligence officials found Barr’s request for information in the probe “rather unusual, coming as it did from the Attorney General instead of the usual channels,” one of the officials tells TIME.

Barr has also enlisted Trump. “At Attorney General Barr’s request, the President has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the Attorney General and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement on Sept. 30. Trump has spoken to Australia and possibly other leaders at Barr’s behest.

One troubling question is whether Barr, like Trump, crossed a line from pursuing a suspected conspiracy perpetrated during the last election into investigating Trump’s political rivals in the coming one. The whistle-blower alleged Barr appeared to be “involved” in the effort to “solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” Pressed on whether Barr and Trump had discussed former Vice President Biden in connection with Ukraine, the Justice Department official reported no awareness of any conversations between the Attorney General and the President about Biden and Ukraine.

If Barr is trying to be discreet, Giuliani has been anything but. His pursuit of parallel investigations has triggered alarm at the highest levels of the White House. “The most dangerous stuff is Rudy flying around the world fixing sh-t,” a person close to Trump told TIME.

From Vienna and Kiev to Florida, Giuliani has recruited a cast of helpers in his effort to confirm Trump’s suspicions about Biden, Clinton and Ukraine. Among them was a pair of businessmen from Miami, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, who volunteered to be his eyes and ears in Kiev, they have said. Born in the Soviet Union and still connected in Ukraine to businessmen and politicians, the duo have made generous donations to Republican causes since 2016. With their assistance, Giuliani spoke to three politicians in Ukraine who had overseen investigations related to the Biden family. Parnas, Fruman and Giuliani have all spoken publicly about their efforts. “I was doing it because I felt as a U.S. citizen it was my patriotic duty,” Parnas told NPR in September.

So far, the most valuable source for Giuliani in Ukraine has been Viktor Shokin, a former prosecutor general, who spoke to Giuliani over Skype in late 2018. Shokin later wrote a damning 12-page statement accusing Biden of abuse of power during his tenure as Vice President. “I was forced to leave office, under direct and intense pressure from Joe Biden and the U.S. Administration,” in order to stop an investigation of the company where Hunter Biden worked, Shokin wrote.

That account has not stood up to scrutiny. Top officials in the U.S. and Ukraine, as well as independent experts and investigative journalists, have confirmed that Shokin was fired for his alleged corruption, and the investigation of Hunter Biden’s company was dormant at the time.

A parallel track in Giuliani’s efforts has been entrusted to a pair of American lawyers and Fox News regulars, Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, who have worked with Giuliani for years and, according to a recent profile of them in Politico, “enjoy an open line to Trump.” This summer, they went to work for Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian tycoon who is wanted in Chicago for alleged corruption. In a legal filing in 2017, the DOJ referred to Firtash as an “upper-echelon associate of Russian organized crime.” He has strongly denied having links to the mafia and is fighting extradition to the U.S. on the bribery charges, which he also denies.

But the Firtash case has become a rich pool of material for Giuliani’s effort to discredit the Mueller investigation. In a legal filing in Vienna in July, lawyers for Firtash claimed that one of Mueller’s top investigators had offered to drop the bribery case against Firtash in exchange for damning testimony on Trump, Toensing and DiGenova tell TIME. “The oligarch,” Giuliani told Fox News on July 22, “basically said, ‘I’m not going to lie to get out of the case.’” (Mueller’s prosecutors have denied ever inappropriately pressuring witnesses to testify against Trump.)

For Trump’s critics, the scariest thing about his efforts to discredit the Mueller probe is the impact it will have on the 2020 election. U.S. intelligence agencies have warned repeatedly that Russia has again set out to influence the vote. “They’re doing it as we sit here,” Mueller told Congress in July.

Trump’s refusal to credit such warnings, and his attempts to cast them as a plot against his presidency, is going to make the Kremlin’s work much easier this time around, says Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow. “That is my prediction for what is going to happen in electoral politics in America moving forward,” McFaul tells TIME. Thanks to Trump’s “disinformation campaign,” he says, “Ukraine is going to become the focus of the 2020 elections. And that means Russia is off the hook.”

 

Exclusive: Ukraine to fire prosecutor who discussed Bidens with Giuliani – source

by Polina Ivanova, Ilya Zhegulev

November 4, 2019

Reuters

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine plans to fire the prosecutor who led investigations into the firm where Joe Biden’s son served on the board, a central figure in the activity at the heart of impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump, a source told Reuters.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has acknowledged meeting the prosecutor, Kostiantyn Kulyk, to discuss accusations against the Bidens.

The decision to sideline someone who played an important role in Giuliani’s efforts to find out damaging information about the Bidens comes as Ukraine has tried to avoid getting drawn into a partisan fight in Washington.

Trump’s Democratic opponents have launched impeachment proceedings, arguing that Trump abused his power by pressing Ukraine to investigate the Bidens to hurt the former vice president, front-runner to challenge him in the 2020 election.

The source said a decision had been taken to fire Kulyk for failing to show up for an exam that all employees of the General Prosecutor’s Office have been ordered to pass to keep their jobs during a clean-up of the prosecution service.

Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka has already fired more than 400 prosecutors, or around a third of all staff.

Some prosecutors have told Reuters that many of those sacked had refused to sit the exam in protest at what they see as a purge designed to cement new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s political control of the service.

Zelenskiy has said the overhaul is essential because the office is widely distrusted by Ukrainians and had been seen as a political tool for the well-connected to punish their enemies.

Trump discussed investigating the Bidens during a July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy. Trump’s Democratic opponents have launched impeachment proceedings, arguing that Trump abused power to press Ukraine to hurt a political foe. Trump calls the investigation a witch hunt and denies wrongdoing.

Reuters was unable to reach Kulyk for comment. He was not present at a home address where Reuters has spoken to him in the past.

Kulyk did not show up for the mandatory exam, which was imposed last month, the source said.

He also did not file an official justification for missing it, as other prosecutors have done, and will consequently be dismissed, the source said. His dismissal will take place by Dec. 31, if not earlier.

Earlier this year, Kulyk compiled a seven-page dossier on the business activities of Hunter Biden in Ukraine, two sources told Reuters.

Reuters could not independently verify the existence of such a dossier but Kulyk detailed his investigations into areas of interest to Trump and Giuliani in an interview with a pro-Trump columnist for The Hill newspaper in April.

Kulyk has been responsible for formally investigating a criminal case related to the founder of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Biden’s son sat on the company’s board from 2014-2019.

In a recent interview, Giuliani told Reuters he met Kulyk in Paris. He said at that meeting Kulyk echoed allegations that in 2016 Biden had tried to have Ukraine’s then-chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, fired to stop him investigating Burisma. Biden has accused Giuliani of peddling “false, debunked conspiracy theories” for repeating these allegations

“(Kulyk) was another prosecutor somewhat lower level who told me the same thing: that there was collusion and Biden had (the) prosecutor fired to kill case on (his) son and Burisma,” Giuliani told Reuters.

Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment on the decision to fire Kulyk. A spokesman for Joe Biden declined comment.

Kulyk told Reuters in October that he had been investigating Burisma’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, for around two years.

Reuters could not independently verify the extent of Kulyk’s involvement, but a source close to the energy company saw a spike in activity by Kulyk in regards to Burisma after Giuliani’s interest in the company and the Bidens had been conveyed to Kulyk’s then superior, Lutsenko.

In late January, Kulyk sent Zlochevsky the first of several summons for questioning, documents seen by Reuters showed.

Zlochevsky has not commented on the summons or an announcement by Ryaboshapka in October that his office was reviewing a series of investigations linked to Zlochevsky.

In April, Kulyk gave an interview to the columnist John Solomon at The Hill newspaper in Washington. In that article, Kulyk said he and other prosecutors were investigating allegations concerning Shokin’s dismissal.

Kulyk told The Hill that Ukrainian officials had unsuccessfully tried to pass on evidence on this and other probes to the U.S. authorities before looking for other people, including Giuliani, to present their findings.

Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Karen Freifeld in Washington and Maria Tsvetkova in Kiev; Writing by Matthias Williams and Polina Ivanova; Editing by Peter Graff

 

Trump must turn over eight years of tax returns, appeals court rules

Setback for president in his attempts to keep his finances secret as lawyer says ‘we’ll be taking this case to the supreme court’

November 4, 2019

The Guardian

Donald Trump’s accounting firm must hand over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors, a US appeals court ruled on Monday in the latest setback for Trump in his attempts to keep his finances secret.

The ruling by the New York-based second US circuit court of appeals backed the ability of prosecutors to enforce a subpoena for the returns against accounting firm Mazars.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement: “We will be taking this case to the supreme court.”

That will preclude the immediate release of the information.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr sought the records in an investigation that includes payments made to buy the silence of two women, adult film actor and director Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, who claim they had affairs with the president before the 2016 election. Trump has denied them.

Vance has agreed not to enforce the subpoena while Trump petitions the supreme court. Under the agreement, Trump now has 10 business days to file that petition.

The highest court has a 5-4 conservative majority including two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who were appointed by Trump.

Last month, a lower-court judge ruled that the president’s claim to immunity while in office was “repugnant”.

US district judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan described the immunity argument as “extraordinary” and “an overreach of executive power [that was] repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values”.

He added: “The court cannot square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the president above the law.”

On Monday, Sekulow added: “The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our Republic. The constitutional issues are significant.”

In the written appeals court decision, the judges said they only decided whether a state prosecutor can demand the president’s personal financial records while he is in office.

The court did not consider whether the president is immune from indictment and prosecution while in office or whether the president may be ordered to produce documents in a state criminal proceeding.

“We hold that any presidential immunity from state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such a subpoena,” wrote chief judge Robert A Katzmann.

Trump’s lawyers have said the investigation by Vance, a Democrat, is politically motivated. A spokesman for Vance declined to comment.

Since Richard Nixon, presidential candidates have released their tax records by precedent rather than legal compulsion.

Since announcing his run for the White House in 2015, Trump has often said he will release his information after the completion of an audit. An audit does not preclude the release of such information.

As well as attempts to obtain financial information, Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led House, over his attempts to get Ukraine’s leader to investigate his political rivals.

 

9/11: Debunking The Myths

PM examines the evidence and consults the experts to refute the most persistent conspiracy theories of September 11.

Published in the March, 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics

FROM THE MOMENT the first airplane crashed into the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, the world has asked one simple and compelling question: How could it happen?

Three and a half years later, not everyone is convinced we know the truth. Go to Google.com, type in the search phrase “World Trade Center conspiracy” and you’ll get links to an estimated 628,000 Web sites. More than 3000 books on 9/11 have been published; many of them reject the official consensus that hijackers associated with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda flew passenger planes into U.S. landmarks.

Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia. Wild conspiracy tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in other media. Blurry photos, quotes taken out of context and sketchy eyewitness accounts have inspired a slew of elaborate theories: The Pentagon was struck by a missile; the World Trade Center was razed by demolition-style bombs; Flight 93 was shot down by a mysterious white jet. As outlandish as these claims may sound, they are increasingly accepted abroad and among extremists here in the United States.

To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70 professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine, including aviation, engineering and the military.

In the end, we were able to debunk each of these assertions with hard evidence and a healthy dose of common sense. We learned that a few theories are based on something as innocent as a reporting error on that chaotic day. Others are the byproducts of cynical imaginations that aim to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate. Only by confronting such poisonous claims with irrefutable facts can we understand what really happened on a day that is forever seared into world history.–THE EDITORS

THE PLANES

The widely accepted account that hijackers commandeered and crashed the four 9/11 planes is supported by reams of evidence, from cockpit recordings to forensics to the fact that crews and passengers never returned home. Nonetheless, conspiracy theorists seize on a handful of “facts” to argue a very different scenario: The jets that struck New York and Washington, D.C., weren’t commercial planes, they say, but something else, perhaps refueling tankers or guided missiles. And the lack of military intervention? Theorists claim it proves the U.S. government instigated the assault or allowed it to occur in order to advance oil interests or a war agenda.

Where’s The Pod?

CLAIM: Photographs and video footage shot just before United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) show an object underneath the fuselage at the base of the right wing. The film “911 In Plane Site” and the Web site LetsRoll911.org claim that no such object is found on a stock Boeing 767. They speculate that this “military pod” is a missile, a bomb or a piece of equipment on an air-refueling tanker. LetsRoll911.org points to this as evidence that the attacks were an “inside job” sanctioned by “President George Bush, who planned and engineered 9/11.”

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

No Stand-Down Order

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

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

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

Flight 175’s Windows

CLAIM: On Sept. 11, FOX News broadcast a live phone interview with FOX employee Marc Birnbach. 911inplanesite.com states that “Bernback” saw the plane “crash into the South Tower.” “It definitely did not look like a commercial plane,” Birnbach said on air. “I didn’t see any windows on the sides.”

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

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

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

Intercepts Not Routine

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

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

THE WORLD TRADE CENTER

The collapse of both World Trade Center towers–and the smaller WTC 7 a few hours later–initially surprised even some experts. But subsequent studies have shown that the WTC’s structural integrity was destroyed by intense fire as well as the severe damage inflicted by the planes. That explanation hasn’t swayed conspiracy theorists, who contend that all three buildings were wired with explosives in advance and razed in a series of controlled demolitions.

Widespread Damage

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

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

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

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

“Melted” Steel

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

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

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

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

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

Puffs Of Dust

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

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

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

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

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

Seismic Spikes

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

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

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

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

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

WTC 7 Collapse

CLAIM: Seven hours after the two towers fell, the 47-story WTC 7 collapsed. According to 911review.org: “The video clearly shows that it was not a collapse subsequent to a fire, but rather a controlled demolition: amongst the Internet investigators, the jury is in on this one.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PENTAGON

At 9:37 am on 9/11, 51 minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, the Pentagon was similarly attacked. Though dozens of witnesses saw a Boeing 757 hit the building, conspiracy advocates insist there is evidence that a missile or a different type of plane smashed into the Pentagon

Big Plane, Small Holes

CLAIM: Two holes were visible in the Pentagon immediately after the attack: a 75-ft.-wide entry hole in the building’s exterior wall, and a 16-ft.-wide hole in Ring C, the Pentagon’s middle ring. Conspiracy theorists claim both holes are far too small to have been made by a Boeing 757. “How does a plane 125 ft. wide and 155 ft. long fit into a hole which is only 16 ft. across?” asks reopen911.org, a Web site “dedicated to discovering the bottom line truth to what really occurred on September 11, 2001.”

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

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

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

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

Intact Windows

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

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

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

Flight 77 Debris

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

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

FLIGHT 93

Cockpit recordings indicate the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 teamed up to attack their hijackers, forcing down the plane near Shanksville, in southwestern Pennsylvania. But conspiracy theorists assert Flight 93 was destroyed by a heat-seeking missile from an F-16 or a mysterious white plane. Some theorists add far-fetched elaborations: No terrorists were aboard, or the passengers were drugged. The wildest is the “bumble planes” theory, which holds that passengers from Flights 11, 175 and 77 were loaded onto Flight 93 so the U.S. government could kill them.

The White Jet

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

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

Roving Engine

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

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

Indian Lake

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

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

F-16 Pilot

CLAIM: In February 2004, retired Army Col. Donn de Grand-Pre said on “The Alex Jones Show,” a radio talk show broadcast on 42 stations: “It [Flight 93] was taken out by the North Dakota Air Guard. I know the pilot who fired those two missiles to take down 93.” LetsRoll911.org, citing de Grand-Pre, identifies the pilot: “Major Rick Gibney fired two Sidewinder missiles at the aircraft and destroyed it in midflight at precisely 0958.”

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

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

November 4, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

 

Conversation No. 13

Date:  Wednesday, May 8, 1996

Commenced:  9:54 AM CST

Concluded: 10:32 AM CST

Conversation No. 117

 

Date: Sunday , December 14, 1997

Commenced: 11:15 AM CST

Concluded: 11:38 AM CST

 

GD: I think Mueller’s real strength lay in his professional detachment and his organizing ability. You rarely, if ever saw his picture anywhere. He rarely attended official functions and when he was in his office, he wore civilian clothes and wished to be called ‘Herr Mueller’ instead of ‘General.’ Most of the Party officials loved to strut around in fancy uniforms but not Heini. They strutted and he worked. At the end, he had enormous power which he rarely showed off. He would issue orders to Himmler and, earlier, Heydrich and no one ever contradicted him. He set up an early computer system to keep card files on as many citizens as he could locate and so on. But he said his worst problem was not the systems he devised but the people who worked in these systems. You ran the clandestine services branch and just out of interest, did you have problems with your underlings?

RTC: Oh, yes, always. We are, were, so compartmentized that our right hand did not know what the left hand was doing. Official policy concerning a country was one thing but no one seemed to realize that the top level depended on those below them for input. And therein lay a real problem. Curious to know how your friend handled it.

GD: Name the problem and I will search for an answer.

RTC: Rigid bureaucracy works but only barely. For instance, let’s take Egypt. We have an Egypt desk. It has nothing to do with, and certainly no connection with, the South American desk. I’m sitting in my office and have no real idea what the hell is going on downstairs or down the hall either. A field agent in Cairo uncovers very important information about some official policy. Fine. He sends us a full report. Do I see it? No, I do not. The agent sends this to Langley where it goes, oddly enough, to the Egypt desk. Ah, but in this area, there is a blood feud going on between two top people so this vital report gets into the hands of one party who deliberately hides it from the other out of spite. Why? Because the two of them are at odds over some matter so one hides material that could support the theories of the other. And, of course, we never see something that is actually very important.

GD: And what happens later if some disaster occurs and…

RTC: I’ll just tell you that the vital information goes into a shredder and later, a burn bag. And no one knows about it, even if they did. Backstabbing and finger pointing are rampant and no one can do anything about it. In the beginning, we were much smaller and more of us cooperated but cooperation is a thing of the past. A larger office, a more important parking space take the place of cooperation. But I cannot exculpate the top brass, either. Say the ruling party in the White House wants this or that to be the case in aid of their foreign policy. Do our senior people forward real and important information to them over there that would make that case not only wrong but a disaster? No, let’s protect our jobs and send a report over by an unproven and dead-wrong source that supports whatever the ruling claque is looking for. A disaster follows, imperial fingers are pointed and some minor official is let go because he wants to spend more time with his family. How did Mueller handle this?

GD: By hiring genuine professionals and watching everything. Copies of all important reports were sent to him, personally, so he spent much of his time looking at incoming gen. But Mueller was quite the exception, I believe. That’s why the Swiss government hired him after the war, and this in spite of the frantic searchings for him. Here we have the head of the Gestapo, a top wanted man, living in great comfort just down the line and all of this well-known to some Americans. Hell, Critchfield and Gehlen both knew where Heini was and, shit, Critchfield actually hired him to work for your people. I can understand why the Langley people hate me. If the self-important Jews who think they run the government ever came to grips with this, there would be pure hell to pay. I can just see the editorial page of the New York times on this.

RTC: Actually, you would never see a reference to Mueller or other top Gestapo people we hired anywhere in the American media. They would not print this because we would tell them not to. And they would do as they were told, believe me. You know I met Mueller once, why I had dinner with him over at the Metropolitan once, and I was somewhat in awe of him. A very pleasant man but you could tell he was looking around inside you while he was enjoying the lunch. How did you cope with this?

GD: I know what you mean but it never bothered me. I liked him and I respected him (the two are not always the same, you know) so if he wanted to poke around in my psyche, let him do it. We got on well and I used to poke around inside him once in a while. Fouché was very effective but he was very cold and very cruel and Mueller was detached but quite decent. Joseph changed sides, betrayed one set of associates to facilitate his acceptance by more successful ones and became the richest man in Europe. Heini got quite rich selling off the CIA’s looted Nazi art. He kept most of the money and when you realize that a Monet sells for ten millions and he had twenty of them, you can see what I mean. I saw paintings in Piedmont which he could never sell. A Signorelli that was supposed to have been burnt at the end of the war and a Raphael picture of some fag in a white shirt that the Polacks are still screaming about. Ah, well, such is the way of the world.

RTC: Yes, so it is. But I do miss it, Gregory. Life is too peaceful and I am finding myself forgetting so many odd bits and pieces of my life. Well, I don’t know about where it will all end but it will end.

GD: Yes, we can all be sure of that. But the play is not over yet, Robert.

RTC: When it ends, I’ll be dead and forgotten. You can enjoy the final scenes.

GD: I only hope so, Robert.

(Concluded at 11:30 AM CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Sharon Slater

Family Watch International (FWI) is a hate organization that lobbies the United Nations for pro-life and anti-gay causes, including the imprisonment of gay people around the world. Sharon Slater, its president, is apparently opposed to the death penalty for gay people, but she is fine with imprisonment. The FWI for instance arranges an annual, invitation-only global policy forum for UN delegates to promote their policy objectives, where Slater has particularly emphasized ex-gay messages, including “the personal testimony of a patient who is successfully reorienting from homosexuality to heterosexuality” and a speech from an alleged expert Slater conspicuously refused to name. According to FWI literature, “so-called ‘homosexual rights’ are driving much of the current worldwide assault on marriage, the family and family related issues.” There is a good, if old, portrait of Slater, the FWI, and their efforts here.

Like many anti-gay groups, Slater and the FWI focus much of their attention on Africa. After all, their ideas for how to treat gay people probably won’t fly in the US anymore (not that they’ve entirely stopped trying), but fanatic bigots still have some clout in certain African nations that makes it possible to turn their bigotry into policy; by claiming that the West is imposing its corrupt, “anti-family” values on the rest of the world, and that the “developing world” is the last holdout against the “homosexual agenda” (Slater is no stranger to lying, of course), these groups often do find favor with people who otherwise find themselves struggling under the weight of a global economy designed to exploit and indebt.

And as long as gay people get to suffer, these organizations – FWI included – are not above creating alliances e.g. with Islamist extremists, for instance in developing a UN “Declaration on the Rights of Children and Their Families”, which is basically an anti-marriage-equality statement: It calls upon the UN to recognize a “family with a married mother and father” as the preferred family organization, and “call upon States Parties and the United Nations system to discourage sexual relations and childbearing outside of the marital bond”. The effort was at least in part set in motion by Slater’s and the FWI’s “Protect the Family” petition, which is not really about protecting families but attacking families organized in ways different from the one Slater fancies (i.e. those led by grandparents, single parents, same-sex parents, and countless other configurations of people caring for people – Slater is, in fact, explicit about this goal – family values™ are not about family values). Slater is also a frequent participant and keynote speaker at the World Congress of Families, which is not about families either.

FWI has been deeply involved in promoting abstinence-and fidelity-only initiatives in Uganda, and has praised Nigeria – where same-sex couples can face up to 14 years in prison or stoning at the hands of Sharia courts – as “a strong role model” for other regional governments “on how to hold on to their family values despite intense international pressure.”

As mentioned, Slater and the FWI are also opposed to sex education: “It’s destructive. It’s pornographic. It’s designed to change all the sexual and gender norms of society by sexualizing children everywhere. It’s probably one of the most insidious attacks on the health and innocence of children ever imagined,” says Slater. In a radio interview, she also said that sex education is a plot by Planned Parenthood to turn your kids into sexual deviants so they can make more money on condoms, STD tests and abortions. There is, Slater asserted, “an intentional, targeted effort to get to your children and change the way they think about sexuality, to encourage them to engage in sexual activity, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual or self-stimulation, because if they can recruit children into this worldview and this sexual ideology, then they’ll have the future, if they can train up the next generation in all these radical ideas. And that’s what they’re after. In fact, even Hitler said, ‘He who owns the minds of the children owns the future.’” Because whenever organizations or people disagree with you, it is always because they are in a greed-motivated nefarious conspiracy against you, the US and Jesus.

Diagnosis: Deranged bigot. But Slater and her organization are not mere fringe lunatics with Internet access – their power and influence is frighteningly real, if mostly realized abroad: Slater is genuinely knowledgeable of the workings of the UN, and possesses enough political skills to exploit that knowledge; few loons covered in our Encyclopedia rival Slater and her organization for harm and suffering caused.

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