October 3, 2015
By Craig McKee with Adam Syed and Adam Ruff
With truthers like this, who needs debunkers?
David Chandler, who has received well-deserved praise for his research on the destruction of the World Trade Center, has once again turned his attention to muddying the waters of Pentagon research, delivering a presentation at the recent 9/11 Truth Film Festival in Oakland, CA, ironically called “Going Beyond Speculation: A Scientific Look at the Pentagon Evidence.”
If the presentation was Chandler’s audition for a staff job at Popular Mechanics then I think he must have made a very good impression. But as a supposed attempt to resolve the contrived “controversy” about what happened at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, it is one of the lowest points yet in the 14-year history of the 9/11 Truth Movement.
In fact, there is so much wrong with this presentation it’s hard to know where to start. But one place might be the arrogance of its title: It suggests to us that for 14 years now, researchers who make the case that the Pentagon was not hit by a large airliner have just been speculating and not addressing actual evidence. This is not the case.
Chandler and his Team of intrepid Pentagon researchers (among them Frank Legge, Jonathan Cole, John Wyndham, Jim Hoffman, Ken Jenkins, Kevin Ryan, John Farmer, and assorted supporting members) claim they are the ones introducing “science” into the discussion and that they are alone in using the “scientific method.” They use that term a lot.
The implication is that anyone who doesn’t agree with the Team’s conclusions is not using science. It’s not enough that they claim to be using the scientific method to assess the evidence, they have to tell everyone that this is what they are doing, over and over, so that the concept sticks in your head like an annoying radio commercial. At the Oakland event, Jenkins used it four times in a six-minute introduction to a preview of his unfinished film The Pentagon Plane Puzzle, which he intends to premiere at next year’s film festival.
But more on the Team later.
After some introductory remarks, Chandler spent all but a few seconds of his talk reinforcing
element after element of the official story. It seems there is very little evidence put forward by the government to back up its version of events at the Pentagon that he doesn’t find genuine and completely convincing. With the exception of a couple of sentences, you wouldn’t know you weren’t listening to a “debunker” trying to set straight a group of “conspiracy theorists.”
There is a great deal that is disingenuous in the talk. He repeatedly refers to the “no-plane theories” about the Pentagon when no one that I am aware of has suggested that no planes were involved in the event. He does concede at one point that he really should refer to it as the “no-impact theory,” but then he goes back to calling it “no planes” several more times. Clearly, “no planes” has a connotation in the Truth Movement that most don’t want to be associated with. So, if you don’t want to be called a “no-planer” you’d better rally around Chandler and the Team.
Not only does Chandler claim that a 757 hit the building, but he says it was likely Flight 77. He believes there were really bodies of plane passengers found inside the Pentagon. He believes the C ring “exit hole” was actually an exit hole. He also believes that the scattering of bits of debris on the Pentagon lawn was what was left of the wings and tail section of a 757. He says nothing about the illegal contamination of the crime scene by unidentified men in dress shirts and ties walking around the lawn right after the event picking up (or putting down) pieces of metal.
Chandler wants to convince us that the bulk of witnesses who support an impact are genuine and reliable but those who contradict the official flight path are not credible—and not worth mentioning. He thinks all physical evidence is exactly what it appears to be. He doesn’t seem to entertain the possibility that those who perpetrated 9/11 might have staged evidence and planted witnesses to deceive us about what really happened.
No one in the Movement questions that the perpetrators went to the trouble of rigging three towers in New York City with explosives to “stage” a scene that is supposed to have been caused by two plane impacts. We have no problem believing that the “crash” scene in Shanksville did not really involve a plane crash. But, Chandler would have us believe that a crucial element of proving 9/11 was an inside job—the Pentagon—could not have been staged.
He claims that the fact that the fallen light poles, the alleged entrance hole, and the alleged exit hole all “align perfectly” is evidence that a plane crashed into the building. Once again, he seems not to even consider that deception might have been involved.
He claims he is pushing this position because he doesn’t want the Truth Movement to look ridiculous. And this will happen, he seems to suggest, if we depart too much from the official government account. In his conclusion, he says:
“With all the new information we now have, the question of what hit the Pentagon has essentially been answered. It’s a large plane, consistent with a 757, probably AA77 itself. Continuing to insist that it’s something else makes us look foolish and paranoid in the eyes of the world.”
Apart from the fact that the question has never been “what hit the Pentagon” but rather “did something hit,” I think he was saying that the majority of 9/11 truthers look foolish and paranoid. Actually, I think he’s really saying that if you don’t believe a plane hit the Pentagon you are foolish and paranoid.
Chandler and Cole, in their 2011 Joint Statement on the Pentagon, try to convince us we should forget about Pentagon research because it is a “dead end.” And yet ever since they published it, Chandler and the Team have been busy doing the opposite, supposedly because of “new information.”
Foolish and paranoid is just how “debunkers” would describe us. And the common ground between Chandler and the “debunkers” doesn’t end there. Here he is talking about the “flow” of material through the Pentagon after the alleged plane impact:
“Columns are bowed and abraded showing evidence of a flow of material in line with the flight path. The plane would have been shredded by this time, but the momentum of the debris carried it forward past the interior columns in a manner similar to the flow of a fluid.”
Here is Popular Mechanics editor James Meigs as shown in Massimo Mazzucco’s film September 11: The New Pearl Harbor: “The mass of this plane penetrated the building with enormous energy and continued into the building in a state almost more like a liquid than a solid.”
I’ll let readers draw their own conclusions about this.
Damaging the Truth Movement
Does Chandler not see that he is weakening the Truth Movement’s case by making this statement about us looking “foolish and paranoid”? Do he and his Team not see that by spending most of their Pentagon research time opposing the majority of the Truth Movement instead of opposing the perpetrators of 9/11 that they are doing damage?
They have convinced some people that we should abandon the Pentagon because it’s too “divisive.” Well, they are the ones making it appear divisive. In truth, the Pentagon evidence is an essential element of the case against the official story.
Why would this small group want to remove this evidence from consideration? Why would they so clearly want to act against the interests of the Movement? Why would they want to rally everyone behind evidence that backs up important elements of the official story, particularly when the case they make is so weak?
They are quick to point out that not everything about the official story has to be false. I agree. They also say that it’s not necessary to claim there was no plane impact to show that 9/11 was an inside job. That’s true also, but if you eliminate the evidence of a faked plane crash then you have a much weaker case. Chandler wants us to stick with the much weaker case as if telling the world that Hani Hanjour wasn’t really flying the plane will bust the case wide open.
He suggests that “no-plane theories at the Pentagon” are among what he called in his talk “implausible claims based on speculation and sloppy analysis,” right alongside holograms, video fakery, energy beams and pods under planes. He and Cole make this link even more overtly their Joint Statement.
He talks like a “debunker” again in suggesting that the no-impact position is something that just started, in the absence of any credible evidence, with the publication of French researcher Thierry Meyssan’s books 9/11: The Big Lie and Le Pentagate.
Ignoring inconvenient evidence
Chandler is fond of citing a paper by Team member John Wyndham called “The Pentagon Attack: Problems with Theories Alternative to Large Plane Impact.” In the article, Wyndham talks about what it means to apply the scientific method to evaluation of a theory.
“The scientific method requires that a theory address all or most of the available relevant evidence. This is particularly true for competing theories. Any theory that fails to address the evidence and explain it is discarded in favor of one that does address and explain the evidence.”
Chandler himself falls far short of this standard. The main part of his talk is remarkable both for what he claims as “scientific” evidence and for what he completely ignores.
Over the past several years, Chandler and his Team have done everything possible to brush aside the very credible witnesses interviewed by Citizen Investigation Team in their presentation National Security Alert. These witnesses state very clearly that the plane they saw flew to the North of the Citgo gas station, a flight path that is irreconcilable with all the “damage” (the five downed light poles, the alleged entry hole, the interior damage, and the alleged exit hole).
In his Oakland presentation Chandler went beyond dismissing these witnesses, he ignored them entirely. The dozen or so witnesses interviewed on camera by CIT were very credible, and the interviews were thorough and transparent. They describe an almost identical flight path, which was to the north of the gas station. They also all described a right bank by the plane (the official flight path in the approach to the Pentagon is straight and requires the plane to be south of the gas station and south of Columbia Pike at all times).
Yes, it is true that they also believe the plane hit, but when you watch the film you see how they could have been fooled and why it is impossible for the plane to have hit the Pentagon from the north of Citgo trajectory.
Chandler ignored evidence that the radar data is fraudulent, (among other things, C-130 pilot Steve O’Brien’s description of the flight path he took contradicts the radar data as does his description of the path of the plane believed to be Flight 77). Chandler prefers to take government controlled evidence as valid even when it was released years after the fact.
Pilots for 9/11 Truth have also revealed evidence that the 9/11 flights were still airborne after they are supposed to have crashed and that the plane depicted in the FDR data could not have descended rapidly enough to level out and hit the building at ground level.
Chandler ignored the stunning revelation in Massimo Mazzucco’s film September 11: The New Pearl Harbor (at 18:30 of DVD #2) that the video footage released by the government purporting to show Flight 77 crossing the Pentagon lawn was doctored. Mazzucco showed that the synchronized video from the two similar perspectives were identical frame by frame except for the frames where we see the white blur that is supposed to be a plane.
He ignored the serious inconsistencies and outright impossibilities in the account of taxi driver Lloyde England, whose cab supposedly was impaled by a light pole hit by the plane. One important piece of evidence he also ignores is a photograph showing the cab and the downed pole along with a scratch mark on the road surface that appears to have been made by the pole being dragged into the roadway.
Also ignored was the fact that the animation released by the National Transportation Safety Board, supposedly based on the Flight Data Recorder of Flight 77, showed the plane to be on the north side of the Citgo gas station and too high to have hit the Pentagon.
Further ignored was the fact that there were no time-change plane parts found at the Pentagon that could be linked to Flight 77 through serial numbers. This includes the alleged Flight Data Recorder itself. As Mazzucco shows in New Pearl Harbor, the NTSB aircraft accident report, which always lists the serial numbers of the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder, does not in the case of flights 77 and 93. The government has denied Freedom of Information Access requests for an explanation.
Focus on clocks, missing foliage
Instead of addressing all of this evidence, Chandler spent time rebutting Barbara Honegger’s theory that stopped clocks in the Pentagon and the heliport indicate that the event took place at 9:32 a.m., almost six minutes before the official story says. He cites a study done by Team member John Wyndham, who dropped a number of battery-operated clocks to see what would happen to the minute hand and found that it could fall towards the “6.”
“He did this repeatedly, and recorded the results in great detail,” Chandler explained.
He also said the clock issue is part of the “current theory” touted by no-impact researchers, but that’s not true; it’s part of Honegger’s theory. This can be argued on its merits, but it hasn’t supplanted any other theories. While Chandler and Honegger can duke it out over battery-operated clocks, the evidence that no plane impact took place remains as strong as ever.
But that wasn’t the last side trip in Chandler’s talk. There was the mysterious case of the missing foliage.
“So a fraction of a second later the starboard engine appears to have cut a circular notch out of the top of the foliage of a tree standing beside the roadway. These events have lower certainty than the following events but they are consistent with these other events. If the starboard engine actually clipped and ingested the foliage from the top of the tree it could account for the smoke cloud seen in the Pentagon security camera video.”
Are you following this? There was a circular notch in the top of a tree that might have been caused by a plane’s engine. He doesn’t really know, but he thinks it might have happened. He thinks it might have “ingested” the foliage. He thinks this might have caused the smoke cloud that was seen.
Is this what he means by “going beyond speculation”?
Fortunately, the scientific method comes to the rescue. Chandler cites another study by another member of the Team. This time it’s Jonathan Cole, who calculated the speed of the blades in his heavy power mower at home and found that they would cut the foliage even if the blades were dull. Chandler explains how this is relevant:
“The power takeoff rotates at 550 rpm based on the gear ratio on the length of the blade. He calculated the tip of the blade moves at about 175 miles per hour. Even with a dull blade it will easily trim brush. The Pentagon plane was moving at about 550 mph in the last seconds; it was accelerating as it went into the Pentagon, so despite the relatively dull edge of the engine wall it would trim foliage at least as easily as the mower.”
The speculation keeps coming.
Another study was done by Cole about the alleged exit hole in the wall of the C ring. Refuting the idea that it is a round hole, Chandler says that Cole found that “only the surface bricks have the rounded appearance, more like a rounded cornered rectangle really.”
“The appearance suggests that something broke through from the inside out and tension forces pulled the surface bricks away giving the rounded look.”
I don’t know, but that kind of sounds like speculation, too.
He also points out that the distance between a damaged concrete barrier on the Pentagon lawn and damage to the generator trailer is roughly equivalent to the distance between the two engines of a 757. So, he concludes, that damage is “consistent” with a plane impact.
Notice that anything he and the Team choose to study is aimed at challenging claims by truthers and supporting elements of the official story? In studies, papers, presentations, and films in the last several years, this group has done more to push critical parts of the Pentagon official story than the government has.
Chandler said that the fact that the wings were full of fuel when they hit the light poles added to the likelihood the poles would be knocked over. In case you’re wondering whether the fuel in the wings should have exploded when they hit the light poles, he offers this:
“… the wings were full of fuel; that just adds to their inertia and makes them more able to make a substantial impact. Liquids have mass. I just wanted to throw that in.”
Chandler departs from the official story on one point. He says that flying at high speed and low altitude is not likely to have been possible for a human pilot, which would mean that Hani Hanjour was not behind the controls.
“One does not have to postulate a no-plane scenario to find evidence of insider involvement. The extremely difficult high-speed, low-altitude approach is evidence in itself of external control hence insider involvement.”
Chandler cites the Sandia National Laboratories test done in 1988 where an F4 Phantom fighter was propelled on a rocket sled at 480 miles per hour into a 10-foot-thick concrete barrier. The result, it appeared, was that the plane was blown into bits as it collided with the wall, which sustained little damage. We never see the aftermath, however, so we cannot verify what the wreckage looked like.
Chandler uses this test to justify his position that the wings, tail section, and rear stabilizers were similarly turned into “confetti” when they hit the Pentagon’s two-foot-thick reinforced wall while the fuselage, the weakest part of the plane’s frame, was able to penetrate the building along with the “heavy parts” of the plane. By this, I guess he primarily means the engines. But where is the evidence that the engines entered the building? If they did, why didn’t they keep going and create two exit holes? They certainly would have been more likely to do that than the fuselage would have been.
The Sandia F4 test is not comparable on many levels: the aircraft are completely different, the F4 had water in its fuel tanks instead of fuel, and the F4 hit the wall straight on, not at an angle. But the most important difference is that the F4 did not penetrate the barrier, which is not what Chandler claimed happened at the Pentagon. He does not explain how the plane could both penetrate 300 feet into the Pentagon while very large parts of it were turned to confetti outside. Let’s not forget that the tail section would have had to turn to confetti without breaking windows right in its path.
Does anyone really believe that no recognizable part of the wings, tail section, and rear stabilizers would have been left outside the building?
Chandler likes to talk about things being “consistent” with a 757 plane impact. But whether it was a real crash or staged to look like one, it would have to appear consistent otherwise it would not fool anyone. This doesn’t mean that we don’t consider the evidence that appears consistent with a crash, but we do have to factor in all the evidence.
But Chandler likes to tie things up as if he has provided all the proof necessary, as demonstrated by this statement:
“It turns out that the size of the hole and other damage to the façade is consistent with a high speed 757 impact.”
Chandler and the ‘Team’
This small group has devoted a puzzling and disturbing amount of time and effort to convincing us that most of the Pentagon official story is true. I think we should ask ourselves why they are doing that.
These researchers are clearly co-ordinating their efforts and have made it their mission to convince the Truth Movement that it should abandon Pentagon research because the evidence we have all points to a large airliner crashing into the Pentagon, just as the official story says. And all this to keep us all from embarrassing ourselves in the eyes of the world.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with researchers working together and following a co-ordinated strategy, but they should be honest that this is what they are doing. These researchers don’t really say they are collaborating as a group (although they often co-author papers and statements), but instead they leave the false impression that they are acting independently but that they just respect each other’s work.
The all-too-familiar divisions that we see on the question of the Pentagon are, I believe, a direct result of what this Team and its supporters have been doing. The Team behaves like a secret political party that is very good at staying “on message” and repeating talking points that serve as doublespeak like: speculation, credibility, scientific method, consistent with, scholarly papers, and foolish and paranoid.
Chandler isn’t taking us “beyond speculation” at all. He is taking us backward. He is telling we should abandon all the incredible research that has been done over 14 years to establish that the official story of the Pentagon event is filled with lies, deception, and misdirection.
To give you an idea of how much damage this group has done to the 9/11 Truth Movement, many people are now hesitant to say out loud that they don’t believe a plane hit the Pentagon even though they’ll admit privately that this is what they think. It has become “controversial” to say so even though the vast majority of truthers clearly believe it. Some are afraid their strong position on controlled demolition at the World Trade Center will be compromised if they say anything about the Pentagon. They’ve been conditioned to believe that the subject leads to endless infighting and that they should avoid it.
This must change.
The effort by this Team is not about the scientific method or going beyond speculation, it’s about trying to neutralize some of the strongest evidence the Truth Movement has that 9/11 was an inside job. And it has done enormous damage.
When I read what they write or listen to what they say, I have the feeling I’m being marketed to, that I’m being manipulated. They claim they are trying to protect the Truth Movement from losing credibility, but what they are doing is undermining the effort to prove the official story false. It is this group—not the movement as a whole—that is promoting and perpetuating the perceived divisions over the Pentagon.
I think it’s time that the quiet majority of 9/11 truthers—who understand how strong the evidence is that a plane did not hit the Pentagon and why it is so important—stand up to this group and not be afraid to state loudly and clearly that we aren’t buying what they’re selling.