TBR News October 22, 2017

Oct 22 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., October 22, 2017:”It is quite apparent that Yahoo was invaded by outsiders and personal information on all of their subscribers was stolen. When news of this emerged, albeit briefly, many customers quickly abandoned Yahoo. Now this firm was sold to Verizon who hoped, in vain it turned out, to resuscitate it. As more and more Yahoo users shift to other sites, the bet inside the industry is that Yahoo will be toast in less than six months.”


Table of Contents

  • Kurds Face Transformation of Iraq’s Political Map
  • Spain announces intent to sack Catalonia’s government
  • Italy referenda: Richest regions of Veneto & Lombardy go to polls over autonomy
  • Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline sparks fierce war of words from Warsaw
  • RMHIDTA’s Marijuana Reports Are Nothing But Propaganda
  • Some Furious Yahoo Users Close Accounts After Data Breach
  • Yahoo Mail For Windows 10 Shuts Down Next Week
  • Verizon is losing customers like crazy, even with unlimited data plans
  • Donald Trump to allow release of JFK files
  • 9/11: Debunking The Myths


Kurds Face Transformation of Iraq’s Political Map

October 18, 2017

by Patrick Cockburn

The Unz Review

The Kurds may have lost 40 per cent of the territory they previously controlled over the last two days as they withdraw from areas long disputed with Baghdad. Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are pulling back from a great swathe of land in northern Iraq stretching from Syria in the west to Iran in the east.

It is becoming clear that the two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), both agreed at a meeting on Sunday that they had no choice but to withdraw from Kirkuk and other disputed territories. They knew that they were too weak to fight the Iraqi security forces and they had no allies to whom they could appeal for help. Kurdish leaders are now blaming each other for the debacle, which will go down as one of the great disasters in Kurdish history.

The political geography of northern Iraq is be transformed, much to the disadvantage of the Kurds. Kurdish military units have retreated from the Sinjar region close to the Syrian border which is home to the Yazidis who were massacred and enslaved by Isis when they advanced in August 2014. A paramilitary force made up of Yazidis but owing allegiance to Baghdad has taken over. At the other end of the dividing line between Kurd and non-Kurd, Peshmerga have left the towns of Khanaqin, Jaloula and Mandali close to the Iranian border north east of Baghdad. These are all places where the Kurdish parties had exerted themselves to firmly establish their rule in the last few years and are now lost, probably forever.

Peshmerga have also abandoned the last two oilfields they held near Kirkuk city, thus ceding all the gains the Kurds have made territorially since the US invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Possession of the Kirkuk oilfields had been considered essential if the Iraqi Kurds were ever going to achieve economic independence.

Celebrations are widespread in Baghdad at what is seen as a second great victory for Iraq and the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi this year. The first success was the capture of Mosul after a nine-month siege in July and the second is the unexpectedly easy defeat of the Kurds this week in the wake of their self-destructive referendum on independence on 25 September.

“What I fear now is triumphalism in Baghdad where there is talk about enforcing central government authority everywhere in Iraq,” said one Kurdish commentator who did not want his name published. This might mean Baghdad putting heavy political and military pressure on the three Kurdish provinces that make up the Kurdistan Regional Government and which now look vulnerable.

The Iraqi President Fuad Masum, himself a Kurd, has called for dialogue between the central government and the Kurdish leaders to resolve the crisis sparked by the referendum. Mr Abadi referred to the referendum as “finished and a thing of the past” but also called for dialogue “under the constitution”, which would rule out Kurdish independence. There is no doubt that the balance of power has swung dramatically towards Baghdad and away from the Kurdish capital Irbil.

Mr Barzani and his KDP party sought on Monday to blame the PUK Peshmerga for the unopposed advance of the Iraqi security forces, accusing them of betraying the Kurds by reaching a separate deal with Baghdad. But Kurdish sources have told The Independent that both KDP and PUK had agreed that they were too weak to fight for Kirkuk, though orders did not reach all Peshmerga commanders in time. A hospital in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah says that it has received the bodies of 25 dead fighters and treated 44 wounded. Overall, casualties on both sides have been slight which is evidence that a deal on withdrawal had been struck before the Iraqi government advance. KDP Peshmerga withdrew from Sinjar on Monday and from the positions they held in Kirkuk province in what was evidently a prearranged retreat.

Mr Barzani himself is blaming “unilateral decisions taken by Kurdish politicians”, an accusation that presumably does not include himself though his ill-judged decision to hold a referendum brought on a confrontation with Baghdad in which the Kurds held much the weaker hand. The referendum was opposed by all international and regional powers with the exception of Israel and Saudi Arabia, neither of whom was in a position to be of any practical help to the Kurds. Mr Barzani also chose to challenge Mr Abadi just after his armed forces had won a big victory in Mosul and he was unlikely to back down.

The US opposed the referendum and has kept its distance from the crisis. President Trump could not have sounded more disengaged saying: “We don’t like the fact that they’re clashing,” and adding that “we’ve had for many years a very good relationship with the Kurds as you know, and we’ve also been on the side of Iraq.”

Responsibility for the disaster will be debated by Iraqi Kurds for decades to come, but in practice it was the result of Mr Barzani overplaying his hand and divisions between Kurdish parties which meant that they did not have a military option against Baghdad. Thanks to the referendum, the Iraqi Kurds have not only will they have failed to win independence, but will find the autonomy they previously took for granted under threat as Baghdad tightens its control on the Kurdish provinces.

Many Kurds will see the hand of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as manipulating the Baghdad government and the Kurdish parties to produce the present outcome. Iran will be pleased that the Baghdad government has been strengthened and Mr Barzani, who is traditionally close to the US, has been weakened, but there is no need for conspiracy theories to explain what happened. Essentially, Mr Barzani started a confrontation which he could not win.

Spain announces intent to sack Catalonia’s government

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has asked the Senate for the power to sack the Catalan government. Thousands protested in response and Catalan leader Puigedemont compared the move to the Franco dictatorship.

October 21, 2017


Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Saturday announced Madrid would seek to sack Catalonia’s regional government, replace its ministers and call for early elections, marking an unprecedented move to take control of the autonomous region following its threat to secede.

The decision to trigger Article 155, a never-before-invoked part of the constitution, came after Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont failed to back down from threats to declare independence.

“It was not our wish or intention. It never was,” Rajoy said. “But no democratic government can allow the law to be violated.”

Rajoy said he did not seek to dismantle Catalan autonomy, but to “restore democracy” and remove the people who had brought it “outside of the law.”

Rajoy wants to:

– Replace Catalonia’s senior government officials with his ministers

– Call regional elections to be held within six months

– Control the region’s police force, finances and public media

In response, Puigdemont slammed Rajoy in a speech later on Saturday, saying the steps being taken were “the worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.”

During Franco’s 1938-75 rule, Catalan autonomy and identity were suppressed.  The democratic constitution that emerged from dictatorship granted Catalonia a degree of autonomy in 1979.

Puigdemont called on the Catalan parliament to meet immediately to debate how best to counter the national government’s decision.

Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell went so far to accuse Madrid of attempting to carry out a coup.

“Mariano Rajoy has announced a de facto coup d’etat with the goal of ousting a democratically elected government,” Forcadell said, adding that the decision was “an authoritarian blow within a member of the European Union.”

Massive protest

Following the announcement, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Barcelona to protest Rajoy’s plans.

They also called for the release of two activists, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who are in jail awaiting possible sedition charges.

Podemos: ‘In shock’

Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party has a majority in the Senate and most opposition parties support protecting Spanish unity, meaning a vote to invoke Article 155 is likely to pass. A vote is expected by next Friday.

However, the left-wing Podemos party slammed Rajoy’s announcement and vowed to push the prime minister out of power.

“We are in shock about the suspension of democracy in Catalonia,” said Pablo Echenique of Podemos.

‘Return to legality’

The unprecedented step of seizing powers from Catalonia’s separatist government came after Puigdemont claimed a mandate to declare independence earlier this month.

Separatists have urged Puigdemont to declare independence should the government invoke Article 155. But Spain’s chief prosecutor said authorities are prepared to charge Puigdemont if he declares independence.

‘Extreme situation’

Since a disputed independence referendum earlier this month, Madrid and Barcelona have been locked in a political crisis, considered the worst since Spain’s transition to democracy.

“We tried in every way to avoid a difficult situation, but you will understand that … we have arrived at an extreme situation,” Rajoy said at a press conference during an EU summit in Brussels earlier this week.

Catalan leaders’ actions go “directly against the basic principles of the European Union, and this is why nobody should be surprised that the leaders of the European Union are supporting the Spanish position,” he said.

Dreams of independence

Puigdemont’s government has claimed that roughly 90 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of independence. However, turnout was only 43 percent, with many pro-union Catalans saying they stayed away from the controversial vote.

After the vote, Puigdemont offered a symbolic declaration of independence but suspended the divorce process, prompting Rajoy to issue a deadline for clarification on the Catalan government’s position.

Minutes before Thursday’s deadline, Puigdemont refused to depart from his secessionist discourse, instead vowing to advance independence if Rajoy’s government were to dismiss talks and trigger Article 155.

Italy referenda: Richest regions of Veneto & Lombardy go to polls over autonomy

October 22, 2017


Veneto and Lombardy, the two wealthiest regions of Italy, are voting today in a bid for greater autonomy from the center. While non-binding, the twin referenda send a strong message to Rome after the landmark independence vote in Catalonia.

Veneto and Lombardy voters are to decide on Sunday whether to grant regional authorities more control over their taxes, administration, immigration and infrastructure

Veneto and Lombardy, the two wealthiest regions of Italy, are voting today in a bid for greater autonomy from the center. While non-binding, the twin referenda send a strong message to Rome after the landmark independence vote in Catalonia.

Veneto and Lombardy voters are to decide on Sunday whether to grant regional authorities more control over their taxes, administration, immigration and infrastructure

In part, the twin vote has been inspired by the wave of autonomy referenda that has rocked Europe over the past few years, including Scotland in 2014, the whole UK last year and Catalonia in late September.

“Like the Catalans, we have decided to give voice to the people,” Maroni told NYT. “The difference is that what we ask for is allowed by the Italian Constitution.”

Also, there are other precedents at home. Some of Italy’s regions – Sardinia, Sicily and the partly German-speaking Trentino-South Tyrol – have been given a high degree of autonomy from central government under the Italian constitution.

Neither Veneto nor Lombardy is asking people to consider de-facto independence from Italy, in sharp contrast with Catalonia, where local leaders are determined to prevail in their wrestling match with Madrid. Also in contrast to Catalans, people in Veneto and Lombardy lack a distinct culture and officially-recognised language, thereby having a weaker claim to their own national identity, despite regional dialects which people from elsewhere in Italy struggle to understand.

This is not to say that Veneto, home to tourist mecca Venice, and Lombardy, home to Milan, Italy’s capital of fashion and finance, do not have a distinguished history of independence. Venice, for instance, was an independent monarchy until the second half of the 19th century. Even after annexation by Napoleon, Veneto did not join the rest of Italy until 1866, five years after the national unification.


Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline sparks fierce war of words from Warsaw

October 20, 2017


Officials from Poland have again spoken out against the expansion of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

At the EU summit, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a threat to European energy security. She raised the question even though it was not on the summit agenda.

“The continuation of this investment threatens not only the energy independence of the entire Central and Eastern Europe, but also undermines the energy security of the entire region,” Szydlo said.

“During today’s working session, I decided to raise this topic for discussion, I am pleased to say that my voice in the discussion was supported by other heads of governments, and the importance of this topic was supported by Chairman Donald Tusk [former Prime Minister of Poland – ed.],” she added.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will double the 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year of the existing Nord Stream pipeline. The pipeline has faced fierce opposition from the Baltic States and Poland, who call it a political project of the Kremlin. Moscow has insisted the pipeline is strictly about business.

Last week, the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the EU has no legal means to stop the pipeline.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia faces obstacles constructing the new route despite the fact that diversification of gas supplies is cost-effective, beneficial to Europe and serves to enhance the security of supplies.

Proponents of the pipeline claim it will bring gas prices in Europe down. As the EU’s domestic gas production is in decline, Europe needs reliable and affordable gas supplies from Russia, the developers say. They add that natural gas is a lower-carbon fuel that can replace other fossil fuels in Europe.


RMHIDTA’s Marijuana Reports Are Nothing But Propaganda

October 21, 2017

by Paul Armentano


Law enforcement officials recently released volume five of their ongoing series of reports: “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado.” Like past reports on this subject issued by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA), this paper is neither objective nor peer-reviewed. As a result, news media, politicians and others should review these materials with a skeptical eye. Here’s why:

The HIDTA program was created by Congress as part of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and operates in coordination with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The ONDCP publicly opposes marijuana regulatory efforts in Colorado and in other states, and by statute, the agency is explicitly required to do so. Specifically, according to Section 704 of the 1998 Office of National Drug Control Reauthorization Act, part b: Responsibilities of the Director, the office “shall ensure that no federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that – (A) is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812).”Despite the enactment of laws in a total of thirty U.S. states regulating the use, production and distribution of cannabis for either therapeutic or adult social use, the marijuana plant remains categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA, and therefore the ONDCP and HIDTA are mandated to “take such actions necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize” it.

Given this mandate, it should come as no surprise that HIDTA reports are biased in a manner that attempts to undermine support for adult-use marijuana regulation. For example, John Hudak, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., has publicly described RMHIDTA reports as “garbage” – stating that they are “notorious for using data out of context or drawing grand conclusions that data ultimately do not support.”

Forbes columnist Jacob Sullum has publicized specific inaccuracies that have appeared in past RMHIDTA reports, such as authors claiming that the results of a Quinnipiac poll were eight points less than they actually were. In this same RMHIDTA report, authors also misrepresented the findings of a traffic safety study conducted by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), which assessed the risk of motor vehicle accidents associated with the use of marijuana and other substances.

NHTSA’s study concluded that drivers who tested positive for THC possessed an unadjusted odds ratio of accident of 1.25 (or 25 percent); this odds ratio fell to 1.05 (5 percent) after authors adjusted for confounding variables like age and gender. Nonetheless, the RMHIDTA report falsely alleged that the NHTSA study determined: “Marijuana users were 25 times more likely to be in an accident than those who did not use the drug.” Twenty-five times translates to 2,500 percent, not 25 percent. Various journalists, including Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post, acknowledged the report’s egregious error.

Sullum has argued that such errors by the reports’ authors are anything but unintentional. In 2015 he wrote: “Despite its pose as a dispassionate collector of facts, the RMHIDTA…is committed to the position that legalization was a huge mistake, and every piece of information it presents is aimed at supporting that predetermined conclusion.”

Most recently, governors from adult-use marijuana states have publicly criticized HIDTA reports. For example, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson called HIDTA’s allegations “outdated, incorrect and … incomplete.” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said that HIDTA’s data “does not (and frankly does not purport to) reflect the ‘on the ground’ reality of Oregon in 2017.” And in an August 24, 2017, letter to the U.S. Attorney General, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman explicitly took issue with the 2016 RMHIDTA report, opining that “data collection gaps” made it “incomplete.”

In fact, peer-reviewed studies have repeatedly reported that changes in the legal status of cannabis are not associated with adverse effects on teen marijuana use or access, traffic safety, crime rates or workplace safety. This past week the American Journal of Public Health reported: “Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”In short, the RMHIDTA is not a neutral agency and these are not objective reports. Given the agency’s history of publishing statistically inaccurate and prejudicial data, as well the consistent drumbeat of criticism aimed at the substance of these reports by politicians and pundits familiar with the subject, it is time for media outlets and others to begin portraying these papers for what they truly are: propaganda.



Some Furious Yahoo Users Close Accounts After Data Breach

Many customers are shutting their email accounts.


(Reuters) – Many Yahoo users rushed on Friday to close accounts, some of which they had not used in years, after the internet company announced it suffered one of the world’s largest cyber breaches.

After Yahoo disclosed on Thursday that hackers had accessed the encrypted passwords and personal details of more than 500 million accounts in 2014, thousands of users took to social media to express anger that it had taken the company two years to uncover the data breach.

Several users said the hacking was prompting them to close Yahoo email accounts. “We’re probably just going to dump Yahoo altogether,” said Rick Hollister, who owns a private investigation firm in Tallahassee, Florida.

“They should have been more on top of this,” said Hollister, 56. “I’m guessing a lot of people are going to be pissed off because they don’t know what’s out there.”

In a notice sent to customers on Thursday, Yahoo @yahoo (YHOO, +0.00%) urged users to change their passwords and security questions, but some users said it would be easier to give up their accounts altogether because they barely used them.

The company has been losing users, traffic and ad revenue in recent years and over the summer agreed to sell its core internet business for $4.8 billion to Verizon.

Rachel, a 33-year-old from Newcastle, in England, who asked Reuters not to use her last name, said she would be shutting down the Yahoo account she opened in 1999.

Furious that the company had not protected its customers’ data better, she said she thought this could be yet another blow for the email service, which has been overtaken in popularity by Google’s Gmail over the last decade.

“I imagine this will be the end of Yahoo, not that it was thriving to begin with,” she said.

Others said they were scrambling to change log-in information, not just for Yahoo but for multiple internet accounts that used the same passwords.

“I suppose a hacker could make the connection between my Yahoo and Gmail,” said Scott Braun, 47, who created a Yahoo email when he was setting up a shop on online retailer Etsy. “They both use my first and last name.”

Echoing the confusion of many Yahoo users about the ramifications of the data breach, he added: “Not being a hacker, I don’t know what their capabilities are.”

But Cody Littlewood, who owns a start-up incubator in Miami Beach, was one of several users who said that they were not worried about the fallout.

“Both of my NFL fantasy leagues use Yahoo because the only thing that Yahoo does well is the fantasy league. Worst case scenario, they get into my account and drop Jamaal Charles,” he said, making a quip about the star Kansas City running back.

“If this breach was Gmail, that would be a different story because I have my bank accounts, brokerage accounts, Linkedin accounts all connected. But because it is Yahoo, it’s not as serious.”



Yahoo Mail For Windows 10 Shuts Down Next Week

by Adnan Farooqui

In case you were unaware, Yahoo released a native Mail app for Windows 10 quite some time back. Even if you were not aware of its existence, many people have been relying on this app to get their daily email fix. However, they will now have to look elsewhere as the Yahoo Mail app for Windows 10 is going to be shut down next week.

The Yahoo Mail app has been informing users this week that it’s going to be shut down in the near future. The notice that users are being displayed is that the app is going to stop working on May 22nd.

The Windows Store listing for the Yahoo Mail for Windows 10 app is still live but it’s no longer possible to download the app. Those who want to use Yahoo’s service to get their email, they will now have to use it via the web browser as the app will no longer be available.

Instead of using any other email client, and there are many available on the Windows Store, Microsoft would surely want Windows 10 users to rely on the official Windows 10 Mail app.

So anyone who is still using the Yahoo Mail app on Windows 10 should now keep in mind that they will no longer be able to use the app after May 22nd.


Verizon is losing customers like crazy, even with unlimited data plans

April 20, 2017

by Chris Mills

BRG News

In the first six weeks of 2017, Verizon Wireless lost 398,000 on-contract wireless customers. Considering that analysts expected Verizon to add nearly 250,000 customers in the first quarter, that’s dire.

It’s only thanks to Verizon’s launch of unlimited plans that the bloodshed isn’t worse. In the weeks after Verizon launched an unlimited plan, it stopped losing customers and actually gained 109,000 subscribers, bringing the net loss of customers in the first quarter to 289,000.

The obvious thing to blame for Verizon’s plummeting numbers is the recent wave of competition being driven by T-Mobile. The cheap unlimited T-Mobile One plan that it rolled out last year has seen T-Mobile poach customers from the other three big mobile carriers. Growth of postpaid customers (those who get billed every month, the bread-and-butter of the mobile industry) has stagnated at every carrier apart from T-Mobile in recent months.

The most telling number in Verizon’s earnings report is the level of “churn,” which measures turnover in customers. A higher level of churn indicates more customers hopping between different carriers, which is normally indicative of a highly competitive environment. Verizon’s churn increased from 1.03 to 1.15 percent of all customers in the first quarter, a strong sign that the race-to-the-bottom between the carriers is starting to see results.

The good news for Verizon is that since it introduced unlimited data plans, it’s started adding customers again. Long-term, the shift to unlimited is likely to hurt Verizon’s profits, as it’s simply less profitable to sell an unlimited data plan for $80 than it is to sell 10GB of data for $140. But for the people who actually buy wireless plans, Verizon’s earnings today are a round of good news.



Donald Trump to allow release of JFK files

The long-sealed files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are set to be released next week. There are said to be upward of 3,000 documents never seen by the public in the top-secret folder

October 21, 2017


US President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he would not block the release of the long-classified files relating to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Under a 1992 law, the documents were scheduled to be released 25 years later, unless the sitting president felt that their release would harm intelligence, national security or foreign relations.

Pivotal event

The National Archives now has until Thursday to make the more than 3,000-document-thick pile available to the public.

President Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. He later succumbed to his wounds in a local hospital, one of the most pivotal events in US history.

Lee Harvey Oswald has long been considered the lone actor in the assassination, but that has not stopped decades of conspiracy theories — which even made it into the Hollywood mainstream in Oliver Stone’s 1991 film “JFK.”

Public demand for disclosure in the wake of the film prompted Congress to pass a 1992 law releasing millions of classified files.

However, the law placed  25-year hold on an estimated 3,100 secret documents.

Tens of thousands of files that were previously released were heavily redacted. The blacked out portions of those documents are also set to be declassified



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 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 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.


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?”


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.”

3 responses so far

  1. “A plane doesn’t punch a cartoon-like cut out into reinforced concrete”…but yet, that’s exactly what happened with the planes going into the Twin Towers, with what, 3 ft steel beams every 12 feet? Pssh

  2. Popular Mechanics is suffering from severe normalcy bias. What about the BBC reporting WTC 7’s demise when it was behind the reporter intact? What about Larry Silverstein’s “pull it” quote?

    Just like the Warren Commission, they leave out data that does not fit their script, or it gets tweaked to overcome substantive criticism as with the WTC 7 damage report.

  3. An entire culture has been built up around the 911 attacks. Endless stories have been invented and published and not one of them can be proven. A good deal of this obfuscating material is encouraged by the government to keep the public away from genuine information that the attacks were encouraged by elements in the American government to secure tight control over public activities and maintain the Republican party in power. Stories about ‘Nano Thermeet,’ ‘electronic death rays,’ ‘lakes of liquid steel’ and on and on have their relations in the Loch Ness monster, the lost continent of Atlantis, the hollow earth syndrome and the invented battle of Armegeddon.

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