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Rebutting "Pentagon 9/11 Getting the Facts Straight"

Eyewitnesses and the Plane-Bomb Theory

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Debris eyewitnesses

Fourteen eyewitnesses claim to have seen debris from the "757 impact".  If there really had been any debris from the "757 impact" we would think that the evidence would be clear and uncontrovertible, but this is hardly the case.

 
Members of Congress have been shuttled to the site to inspect the damage. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) made the trip on Thursday. She saw remnants of the airplane. ''There was a seat from a plane, there was part of the tail and then there was a part of green metal, I could not tell what it was, a part of the outside of the plane,'' she said. ''It smelled like it was still burning.''
This testimony contradicts Terry Mitchell, who went through the Pentagon with a video camera and did not capture any evidence of an airliner, certainly nothing as identifiable as a seat, or part of the tail.  Biggert is a Republican congresswoman.
Donald R. Bouchoux, 53, a retired Naval officer, a Great Falls resident, a Vietnam veteran and former commanding officer of a Navy fighter squadron, was driving west from Tysons Corner to the Pentagon for a 10am meeting. He wrote: At 9:40 a.m. I was driving down Washington Boulevard (Route 27) along the side of the Pentagon when the aircraft crossed about 200 yards [should be more than 150 yards from the impact] in front of me and impacted the side of the building. There was an enormous fireball, followed about two seconds later by debris raining down. The car moved about a foot to the right when the shock wave hit. I had what must have been an emergency oxygen bottle from the airplane go flying down across the front of my Explorer and then a second piece of jagged metal come down on the right side of the car. Washington Post, Sept. 20, 2001
http://web.lexis-nexis.com...
Bouchoux is a former Naval commanding officer, so he met our "insider" criterion.

Photographs of Washington Blvd. do not show any debris whatsoever, certainly nothing as large as an emergency oxygen bottle.  While pieces of light aluminum sheet metal should have reflected off the wall of the Pentagon, we are surprised that anything as heavy as an oxygen bottle would do so. A broken neck on a pressurized gas bottle could turn it into a missile, but this is rather unlikely.

Staff Sgt. Chris Braman : The lawn was littered with twisted pieces of aluminum. He saw one chunk painted with the letter ``A,'' another with a ``C.'' It didn't occur to Braman what the letters signified until a man in the crowd stooped to pick up one of the smaller metal shards. He examined it for a moment, then announced: ``This was a jet.''
Odd that these two pieces of debris (the "A" and "C") were not saved or photographed.  Although of course they might have come from a helicopter.  We are not told what it was about the small metal shards, that convinced the "man in the crowd" that the debris was from a jet.
At the Pentagon, employees had heard about or seen footage of the World Trade Centre attack when they felt their own building shake. Ervin Brown, who works at the Pentagon, said he saw pieces of what appeared to be small aircraft on the ground, and the part of the building by the heliport had collapsed.
These might have been pieces of the Pentagon facade, or pieces of the construction trailers that were blown up, or even pieces of a helicopter (which would be a type of small aircraft...)
Damoose said the worst part was leaving the Pentagon and walking along Fort Meyer Drive, a bike trail, "you could see pieces of the plane."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/daily/sep01/attack.html
We have no way of knowing what Damoose was looking at.  No information is provided about Damoose's affiliations or background.  No photographs at any significant distance from the crash scene, show any debris at all.
I hate to disappoint anyone, but here is the story behind the photograph. At the time, I was a senior writer with Navy Times newspaper. It is an independent weekly that is owned by the Gannett Corporation (same owners as USA Today). I was at the Navy Annex, up the hill from the Pentagon when I heard the explosion. I always keep a digital camera in my backpack briefcase just as a matter of habit. When the explosion happened I ran down the hill to the site and arrived there approximately 10 minutes after the explosion. I saw the piece, that was near the heliport pad and had to work around to get a shot if it with the building in the background. Because the situation was still fluid, I was able to get in close and make that image within fifteen minutes of the explosion because security had yet to shut off the area. I photographed it twice, with the newly arrived fire trucks pouring water into the building in the background. The collapse of the building above area happened long after I left the scene. I was not even aware that that had happened until that evening when I watched the news. My photos were on the wire by noon. That was the only piece of wreckage of any SIZE that I saw, but was by no means the ONLY piece. Right after photographing that piece of wreckage, I also photographed a triage area where medical personnel were tending to a seriously burned man. A priest knelt in the middle of the area and started to pray. I took that image and left immediately. As I stepped onto the highway next to the triage area, I knelt down to tie my shoe and all over the highway were small pieces of aircraft skin, none bigger than a half-dollar. Anyone familiar with aircraft has seen the greenish primer paint that covers many interior metal surfaces - that is what these shards were covered with. I was out of the immediate area photographing other things within 20 minutes of the crash.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/frameup/message/1254
Faram's statement that he arrived at the scene ten minutes after the explosion, contradicts the account that Faram saw Father Stephen McGraw leap out of his car and go to help the victims moments after the crash. Faram's photographs do not show any half-dollar sized pieces of aircraft skin.  

Faram is a Gannett employee.  

"Traffic was at a standstill, so I parked on the shoulder, not far from the scene and ran to the site. Next to me was a cab from D.C., its windshield smashed out by pieces of lampposts. There were pieces of the plane all over the highway, pieces of wing, I think. (...) "There were a lot of people with severe burns, severe contusions, severe lacerations, in shock and emotional distress"
http://www.msnbc.com/news/635293.asp
High resolution photographs of the taxi don't show any chunks of aluminum on the highway at all, certainly not anything big enough to be identified as a piece of the wing.
From time spent on military aircraft as part of his job at the Pentagon, Will Jarvis (who graduated with a bachelor of applied science in 1987 while attending New College) knows what aviation fuel smells like. That smell was his only clue that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon, where he works as an operations research analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Jarvis, who was around the corner from the disaster, tried but failed to see the plane when he left the building. "There was just nothing left. It was incinerated. We couldn't see a tail or a wing or anything," he says. "Just a big black hole in the building with smoke pouring out of it." For someone sitting only 300 metres away from the carnage of American Airlines Flight 77, Jarvis and his officemates were surprisingly well insulated from it. "We thought the plane was a dump truck backing into the building, because there was a lot of construction going on," he says. The group noticed that the sky was darker than normal, but still didn't think much of it. "Then I saw little bits of silver falling from the sky," says Jarvis.
http://www.magazine.utoronto.ca/02winter/f02.htm#jarvis
With all the explosions going on, who knows where those little silvery bits came from.  It's not clear where Jarvis was when he saw this.  Jarvis doesn't mention even seeing anything as large as a half dollar.
One of the aircraft's engines somehow ricocheted out of the building and arched into the Pentagon's mall parking area between the main building and the new loading dock facility, said Charles H. Krohn, the Army's deputy chief of public affairs. Those fleeing the building heard a loud secondary explosion about 10 min. after the initial impact.
http://www.aviationnow.com/content/publication/awst/20010917/aw48.htm
We thought that the engines were supposed to have been destroyed when they hit the electrical trailer or the concrete exhaust vent.  Probst said that he watched one of the engines "vaporize".  At any rate, we simply can't imagine how an engine could bounce intact off the building and into the parking lot, especially when there were holes punched in the Pentagon facade where both engines should have gone in.  Unless of course one engine bounced off of a broken, bent-out column?
Lt Col (ret) Tom McClain : I saw the remains of the engines in the North parking lot of the Pentagon as well as melted aluminum and other debris left from the aircraft.
[email] http://www.geoffmetcalf.com/pentagon/pentagon-email_20020316.html
Somebody sent this as an email to a website.  The author might be Lt. Col. McClain, and then again it might be a high school student from Chicago.  

Why didn't anybody take any photographs of the engines as they were sitting in the parking lot?  What about the engine that Probst said was vaporized, was it there in the parking lot too?

Naval officer Clyde Ragland, who works near the Pentagon, was stuck in his office because the streets outside were clogged with traffic. He and his co-workers were watching television reports of the disaster in New York when "we gazed out our own windows and, to our horror and disbelief, saw huge billows of black smoke rising from the northeast, in the direction of D.C. and the river . . . and the Pentagon." Ragland described billowing black smoke and "what looked like white confetti raining down everywhere." He said it soon became apparent "that the 'confetti' was little bits of airplane, falling down after being flung high into the bright, blue sky."
http://bernie.house.gov/documents/articles/20010912170838.asp
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la%2D091201main.story
There was no confetti visible on the highway or the lawn.  The article does not provide much information about the location of Ragland's office.
USAToday.com Multimedia Editor, saw it all: an American Airlines jetliner fly left to right across his field of vision as he commuted to work Tuesday morning. It was highly unusual. The large plane was 20 feet off the ground and a mere 50 to 75 yards from his windshield. Two seconds later and before he could see if the landing gear was down or any of the horror- struck faces inside, the plane slammed into the west wall of the Pentagon 100 yards away. My first thought was he's not going to make it across the river to National Airport. But whoever was flying the plane made no attempt to change direction. It was coming in at a high rate of speed, but not at a steep angle--almost like a heat-seeking missile was locked onto its target and staying dead on course... "I didn't feel anything coming out of the Pentagon [in terms of debris]," he said. "A couple of minutes later, police cars and fire trucks headed to the scene." Ironically, the passage of emergency vehicles got traffic moving again, which was now crunching over twisted metal Sucherman guessed was the skin of the plane.
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,9306,00.asp
 
it came screaming across the highway, route 110 - Was it a commercial jet? Do you know how many engines? - I did not see the engines, I saw the body and the tail; it was a silver jet with the markings along the windows that spoke to me as an American Airlines jet, it was not a commercial, excuse me, a business jet, it was not a lear jet, ... it was a bigger plane than that.. (Video)
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/day.video.09.html
http://play.rbn.com/?url=usat/usat/g2demand/010911_joel.rm&proto=rtsp
 
I heard a sonic boom and then the impact, the explosion. ... There were light poles down. There was what appeared to be the outside covering of the jet strewn about. ... Within about two minutes there were firetucks on the scene. Within a minute another plane started veering up and to the side. At that point it wasn't clear if that plane was trying to manouver out of the air space or if that plane was coming round for another hit. (Audio)
http://play.rbn.com/?url=usat/usat/g2demand/010911sucherman.ra&
Gerard Holmgren carefully parsed the eweek article, and noted that Sucherman was not actually quoted as having seen the impact -- he may have only seen the 757 pass in front of his windshield.  Like Holmgren, we have been unable to access the video files. 

We would make our usual remarks that the high-resolution photographs did not show chunks of twisted metal on the highway, other eyewitnesses specifically mentioned that there was no debris on the highway, and Sucherman is yet another member of the USA Today editorial staff.  

FBI evidence teams combing the area of impact along the building's perimeter found parts of the fuselage from the Boeing 757, said Michael Tamillow, a battalion chief and search and rescue expert for the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire Department. No large pieces apparently survived.
http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/09/12/pentagon.terrorism/
The piece of wreckage that Mark Faram allegedly photographed, should have been large enough to mention as a result of the FBI team searching the area.
Around 9:40 a.m. I reached the heliport area (beside the Pentagon). So I got about 100 yards or so past the heliport and then all of the sudden I heard this loud screeching sound that just came out of nowhere and it intensified. This huge WHOOSH! And something made me look in my rearview mirror and by the time I looked up I saw the side of the Pentagon explode. I was stunned. It was just so surreal, like something out of a movie, like Die Hard. The side of a building just exploded! As the fireball got higher and higher, you saw this debris go up in the air. I am watching this in my rearview mirror, and then I thought, Oh my God, there is debris coming toward me! So my reaction was, I ducked into my passenger seat and I heard the pitter-patter of pebbles and concrete bouncing off my car. And the next thing you know, I heard this big crash come from somewhere. It sounded like glass being shattered and I thought maybe, at first, it was one of my windows so I popped up to look but everything was fine. But when I looked to the car next to me I realized that something went through (the drivers) rear windshield and shattered it. There was a hole where you could see that something went through it. I put the car in park - it is amazing how instinct takes over because I will never know how it is I kept my foot on the brake when I ducked at the same time. I should have rammed right into the guy in front of me. I got out of the car and the guy in front of me, he and I just looked at each other. It seemed like everybody who was on the road got out of their cars and just looked in disbelief as the fireball just kept getting bigger and bigger. My jaw was dropped, his jaw was dropped, and then, at that point, something about trying to make sure people were OK overtook me and I started going around to the people in the other cars to see if they were all right.I and the guy in front of me went to the car next to me and asked the driver if he was all right and if he was OK to drive. He was in shock, you could tell. He just kept looking straight ahead. He didn't even look back, he was so fixated on looking north. He didn't want to look south at the Pentagon. And it took a couple of times for me and the other guy to say, Can you drive? Hello? Are you OK? Are you OK? And he said, Yeah, I think I can drive. We asked him again, Can you drive? and that time he was more sure and said, Yes, yes, I can drive. Then both I and the guy in front of me looked at his rear windshield and saw what was about a four-inch hole in it and the rest of the window was shattered as if someone took a baseball bat to it. At that point I realized - you see at that point I didn't know it was a plane, I thought it was a missile strike - how dangerous things were. And I just started yelling, We gotta get out of here, to the guy in front of me - and he agreed - and we started yelling at people, Get back in your cars! We gotta get the f--- out of here! And I just kept repeating, Get in your cars! Let's go, let's go! Get the f--- out of here. Go! Go! Go! And people must have listened because down the road you heard more people telling everyone to get in their cars and go. Cars were going over the median on Route 27 because there wasn't any traffic coming southbound toward the Pentagon. People were hopping over it any way they could, on the grass, anything. It was a little scary at that point. Pulling away from the Pentagon there was tons of stuff on the ground, big pieces of metal, concrete, everything. We got up to a certain point and there was this huge piece of something - I mean it was big, it looked like a piece of an engine or something - in the road. And there was somebody, definitely a security guard or maybe a military person, with his car in front of it making sure no one touched it. (...) I looked back and I saw the fire, it was just huge and just incredible. I still cannot believe it. At that point in time, I remembered I had a camera in my trunk. I got off an off-ramp beside the Pentagon and parked my car in the grass and started taking pictures. The whole time I was taking pictures it was so detailed. I could this huge piece of a wheel on fire through the black smoke, but I could not see into the Pentagon itself.
http://www.counseling.org/ctonline/news/amazing1001.htm
Terronez mentions that he is in a "surreal" situation, "like Die-Hard".   However, in general, he seems to be a credible witness.  Terronez does not claim to have seen the impact.  We aren't clear on which direction Terronez went after the crash -- since he was in a hurry to get out, and traffic ahead was blocked, did he also turn around and go south?  The Riskus photos of the southgoing highway don't show any guards parked in front of huge chunks of debris, and neither do any other sources mention this.
Alan Wallace usually worked out of the Fort Myer fire station, but on Sept. 11 he was one of three firefighters assigned to the Pentagon's heliport. Along with crew members Mark Skipper and Dennis Young, Wallace arrived around 7:30 in the morning. After a quick breakfast, the 55-year-old firefighter moved the station's firetruck out of the firehouse. President Bush had used the heliport the day before: he'd motorcaded to the Pentagon, then flown to Andrews Air Force Base for a trip to Florida. Bush was scheduled to return to the Pentagon helipad later on Tuesday, Wallace says. So Wallace wanted the firetruck out of the station before Secret Service vehicles arrived and blocked its way. He parked it perpendicular to the west wall of the Pentagon. Wallace and Skipper were walking along the right side of the truck (Young was in the station) when the two looked up and saw an airplane. It was about 25 feet off the ground and just 200 yards away-the length of two football fields. They had heard about the WTC disaster and had little doubt what was coming next. "Let's go," Wallace yelled. Both men ran. Wallace ran back toward the west side of the station, toward a nine-passenger Ford van. "My plans were to run until I caught on fire," he says. He didn't know how long he'd have or whether he could outrun the oncoming plane. Skipper ran north into an open field. Wallace hadn't gotten far when the plane hit. "I hadn't even reached the back of the van when I felt the fireball. I felt the blast," he says. He hit the blacktop near the left rear tire of the van and quickly shimmied underneath. "I remember feeling pressure, a lot of heat," he says. He crawled toward the front of the van, then emerged to see Skipper out in the field, still standing. "Everything is on fire. The grass is on fire. The building is on fire. The firehouse is on fire," Wallace recalls. "There was fire everywhere. Areas of the blacktop were on fire." Wallace ran over to Skipper, who said he was OK, too. They compared injuries-burned arms, minor cuts, scraped skin. He ran back into the station to try to suit up. But he found debris everywhere. The ceiling had crumbled, there were broken lights and drywall everywhere. His boots were on fire. His fire pants filled with debris. The fire alarm was blaring.Then Wallace heard someone call from outside. "We need help over here," someone yelled. He ran back outside over to the Pentagon building and helped lower people out of a first-floor window, still some six feet off the ground. He helped 10 to 15 people to safety. Most could walk, though he helped carry one badly burned man. "He wasn't too responsive," Wallace recalls. He helped two other men drag him to the other side of the heliport then he turned around. "I've got to go back," he said. Working with a civilian, Wallace headed back to the building. He could hear more cries for help from inside. There was trash and debris everywhere. The trees were on fire. Wallace headed into the building through an open door, but couldn't find anyone else to save. "After a while I didn't hear anybody calling anymore," he says. "They probably found another way out."
http://www.msnbc.com/news/635293.asp
 
About 9:40, Alan Wallace had finished fixing the foam metering valve on the back of his fire truck parked in the Pentagon fire station and walked to the front of the station. He looked up and saw a jetliner coming straight at him. It was about 25 feet off the ground, no landing wheels visible, a few hundred yards away and closing fast. "Runnnnn!" he yelled to a pal. There was no time to look back, barely time to scramble. He made it about 30 feet, heard a terrible roar, felt the heat, and dove underneath a van, skinning his stomach as he slid along the blacktop, sailing under it as though he were riding a luge. The van protected him against burning metal that was flying around. A few seconds later he was sliding back out to check on his friend and then race back to the firetruck. He jumped in, threw it into gear, but the accelerator was dead. The entire back of the truck was destroyed, the cab on fire. He grabbed the radio headset and called the main station at Fort Myer to report the unimaginable. The sun was still low in the sky, obscured by the Pentagon and the enormous billowing clouds of acrid smoke, making it hauntingly dark. The ground was on fire. Trees were on fire. Hot slices of aluminum were everywhere. Wallace could hear voices crying for help and moved toward them. People were coming out a window head first, landing on him. He had faced incoming fire before -- he was with the hospital corps in Vietnam when mortars and rocket shells dropped on the operating room near Da Nang -- but he had never witnessed anything of this devastating intensity.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A38407-2001Sep15
 
The morning of Sept. 11 was crystal clear in Washington, still summer warm. It would be easy to relax on a morning like that, but outside the Pentagon, firefighter Alan Wallace and the safety crew at the Pentagon's heliport pad already were too busy. President Bush was scheduled to fly from Florida that afternoon, and his helicopter, Marine One, would carry him to the Pentagon. Secret Service was everywhere and their cars blocked the driveway. So the meticulous Wallace moved the fire truck out of the way, parking it about 15 feet from the Pentagon. That's when Wallace got a call from his chief at nearby Fort Myer telling him of the attacks in New York and to be on alert. Minutes later, Wallace and his buddy Mark Skipper looked up and saw the gleam of a silver jetliner. But it was flying too low. Maybe less than 25 feet off the ground. And it was heading right at them. "I yelled to Mark, 'Let's go!' " He bolted to the right, and a second later felt the searing heat of the blast behind him. He hit the ground and rolled under a parked van as a fire engulfed his fire truck, then blew through the firehouse. Wallace got back to his feet, saw Skipper had escaped, then rushed to the scorched fire truck to see if it would run, but the truck only belched fire. It wouldn't move. So Wallace switched on the truck's radio. "Foam 61 to Fort Myer," he said. "We have had a commercial carrier crash into the west side of the Pentagon at the heliport, Washington Boulevard side. The crew is OK. The airplane was a 757 Boeing or a 320 Airbus." Although he was still frantic and shaken, Wallace's report turned out to be painfully accurate. (...) With bits of cloth and fiberglass still raining down outside the blackened section of the Pentagon, Alan Wallace's instincts focused on trying to help somehow. The truck was useless. So he dashed for his gear inside the torched firehouse. His boots were filled with debris. His suspenders were on fire. Wallace and two other firefighters rushed to a window, where Pentagon employees were crammed together, frantic to escape the darkness. Fire burst through the windows above them. The ground burned near Wallace with heat so hot he thought several times that his pants were on fire. They began grabbing arms and pulling people out - 15 in all. " They were all burned," Wallace said. But there wasn't time for Wallace and the other firefighters to get emotional. "We just seemed to stay in one mode there until we ran out of people coming out," Wallace said. And no one was sure how many more remained inside.
www.gosanangelo.com...
Wallace supposedly was able yell at his companion and then to outrun the oncoming plane, at least for the distance from his firetruck to a passenger van, although the jet would have taken about one second to traverse the last 200 yards.  Perhaps Wallace saw the oncoming plane a little earlier than he says, and perhaps it was a little higher in altitude than that 25-foot estimate.  At any rate, once Wallace had dived for cover, he was hardly in a position to see exactly what transpired.

The firehouse was supposedly on fire, but photographs show it in nearly pristine condition.  The photographs also show that the fire truck was not melted or useless or destroyed, but rather its firehoses proved quite useful in extinguishing the Pentagon fire.

The only debris mentioned here is "bits of cloth and fiberglass" and "Hot slices of aluminum" (which might describe the chunks of aluminum siding that came off the Pentagon walls, or perhaps pieces of the construction trailers that were blown up.)