December 29, 2017
He claims CIT’s ‘entire process’ is invalidated because of one interview – and he gets that spectacularly wrong
“Okay, well that makes, you know, I mean I don’t know it just makes whatever you say, like any, I don’t know how to say it, I guess that makes it, I don’t even know what to say, like from what you’re saying it could easily have hit the light poles and smashed into the Pentagon from where you saw it.” –CIT opponent Jeff Hill, who receives no criticism from Chandler, helping Albert Hemphill “clarify” what he saw on 9/11
By Craig McKee
Much of the supposed “division” about what happened at the Pentagon on 9/11 involves research carried out by Citizen Investigation Team – or, more to the point, attacks on that research.
Some say this is because the research itself is “controversial.” But, by and large, for more than a decade now, it is the attacks on CIT that generate the controversy. The attackers then decry this result as being responsible for splitting the 9/11 Truth Movement.
David Chandler’s latest unwarranted assault on CIT illustrates this scenario and process. The article, called “Why the CIT Analysis of the Pentagon Event on 9/11 Should Be Rejected Outright,” begins cloaked in seemingly objective garb, but its substance comprises exaggerated and inaccurate claims. It is yet another attempt to demonize CIT’s essential findings – that a 757 or similar plane approached the building but did not hit as explosives were detonated inside.
After doing valuable work on the World Trade Center evidence, Chandler has turned his focus to rescuing the Pentagon official story from almost any challenge. Yes, we know he says he doesn’t support all the official story (he doesn’t think Hani Hanjour flew the plane), but he only ever talks about the parts of the story he agrees with. And those, he never stops talking about.
He is determined to convince everyone inside and outside the Truth Movement that the government’s 757-crash scenario at the Pentagon is true and that virtually all the government evidence is authentic and accurate. If there is any compelling evidence that contradicts the official claim of a 757 impact, Chandler and a small group will be right there to attack it. He claims he is just following the evidence where it leads and that he is only protecting the movement’s “credibility.” But his relentless support for one element of the official story after another should prompt any reasonable person to ask what it is he thinks he is trying to accomplish.
Chandler’s latest effort, perhaps his weakest yet, reveals that it is his “methodology,” not that of CIT, that is misleading and unscientific. I say “perhaps” his weakest yet because one would have to go some distance to find something worse than a paper he co-wrote with Jonathan Cole in 2011 called “Joint Statement on the Pentagon: David Chandler and Jonathan Cole.” In this ill-conceived piece of work, the authors call the position that no 757 hit the Pentagon both “absurd” and “foolish” as well as likely being planted to divide the movement and make it look “ridiculous.” The authors appear more concerned with ridiculing the no-impact position than with assessing what the evidence actually shows. To some in the Truth Movement, it is unthinkable to criticize Chandler’s work but apparently fine to accuse CIT of being agents without a shred of proof. Under the heading “CIT (Citizen Investigation Team),” Chandler and Cole do just that when they write: “It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between simply foolish theories and intentionally planted foolish theories. The difference is generally speculative. The wisest policy is to avoid foolish theories altogether.”
In addition to insinuations like the above, it is standard for Chandler and his pro-impact colleagues to talk about using “the scientific method” to arrive at their conclusion that big planes can enter buildings through too-small holes without leaving any large pieces of broken plane on the outside (or the inside, for that matter). But claiming to be scientific is not the same as being scientific, especially when they venture into speculation, name-calling, and unscientific opinionating.
No one denies that science is one of the essential tools for assessing what did and did not happen at the Pentagon. But listening to Chandler and his teammates, you would think they were the only ones adhering to the scientific method and that there is no such thing as investigative journalism. You would think that only “scientists” are in a position to tell us what is true and what isn’t. Chandler doesn’t engage in science when he addresses the Pentagon so much as he engages in spin dressed up as science.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in this new article. It purports to reveal the flaws in the “methodology” used in interviews by CIT. Chandler bases his claims on a “case study” of a single interview (pdf transcript here) that CIT’s Craig Ranke did with Pentagon witness Albert Hemphill in 2010. Chandler claims he shines a light on manipulative tactics used by CIT that invalidate their “entire process,” but it is his own process that is shown to be wanting.
To support his claims, Chandler contrasts Ranke’s interview with two interviews that “independent researcher” Jeff Hill did with Hemphill. Listening to Ranke’s interview, a reasonable person can agree that while it may not be perfect, it is reasonable, fair, and does not involve pushing the subject to say anything he doesn’t want to say. Ranke does lay out all the evidence CIT unearthed in its investigation to show Hemphill the contradictions between what he is reporting and the official story, but he does this after having asked Hemphill the bulk of the pertinent questions.
Hill’s interviews, on the other hand, are intermittently incoherent and manipulative, which the listener can discern with no effort at all. That Chandler offers no criticism of Hill’s “methodology” whatsoever (in fact, he finds no fault with him at all in his article) is absolutely astonishing.
The timing of Chandler’s article seems more than coincidence given that it comes just a few days after the publication on Dec. 11 of the “No 757 hit the Pentagon on 9/11” list on Truth and Shadows. The list, which is an effort to find common ground on a fundamental statement that contradicts the official story, surpassed 700 names from 46 countries on Dec. 24. It has certainly gotten Chandler’s attention. He is regularly engaging in discussion on Truth and Shadows since the list was posted, which he never did before. He is doing the same on Facebook. And now this article.
We’ll take a look at some of Chandler’s new claims along with the interview he bases his article on. Finally, we’ll have a look at the embarrassing Hill interviews. (Chandler refers to Hill’s interviews as allowing Hemphill “to express himself fully” about the Ranke interview and to “clarify his testimony.”)
Before getting into the Ranke interview, let’s make some things clear. Hemphill says he believes that the plane he saw did hit the Pentagon. He is emphatic about this. He also says he believes the plane hit one of the light poles because he saw a “flash.” He did not see any pole fall, however. He also says the plane hit on the second floor, which he contends means it would not have had time to pull up and go over the building. He describes the speed of the plane as being much slower than the official 530 miles per hour and says the plane dove into the Pentagon.
It is clear as you listen to the interview that Ranke is trying to establish where Hemphill saw the plane and what path it took towards the Pentagon. Before getting to this, Ranke carefully goes over where, exactly, Hemphill was in the Navy Annex. We learn that he was in the 8th wing (the one closest to the Pentagon, with a clear view of the Pentagon) and that this wing had been torn down by the time of the interview to make room for the Air Force Memorial. (Since then, the rest of the Navy Annex has also been torn down.) Hemphill was closer to the Arlington Cemetery side of the end of the building (the north side) and farther from the Columbia Pike (south) side.
Hemphill clearly explains that the plane was over the Navy Annex and over the gas station. He repeats this several times throughout the three interviews. He also specifies that the plane flew over his right shoulder, which it could obviously do while still being over the building, since Hemphill was standing near its north end. Chandler tries to spin this into Hemphill claiming the plane was on the south path. More on this later.
It is essential to note that a plane on the official path, which is south of the Navy Annex, south of the Citgo gas station, and south of Columbia Pike (until it curves around the Navy Annex) is required to account for the damage. A plane over the Navy Annex and the gas station is north of the official one and is irreconcilable with the damage.
Chandler alleges ‘badgering’
Chandler takes great offense to one question Ranke asks. After hearing that the plane flew over the gas station, Ranke asks Hemphill to specify whether the plane might have been more over the north end of the station, the south end, or directly over the middle. Chandler objects to this because he thinks Ranke is trying to push his subject into saying the plane was north of the gas station. Here is the exchange:
Ranke: Now when you saw it, let’s back up a little bit. When you saw it pass the gas station, what side of the gas station was it on? Was it on the, again, on the Arlington cemetery or north side, or else perhaps the south side, the other side?
Hemphill: You know it’s hard to say, it looked like it went right over the top to me, you know, because of the way its flight path was, but you know you would have come pretty much right smack over the top of it, right over the bridge there, it takes you over to I think on the right if I did all those years ago, I said 110, I meant 27.
Hemphill: But he went right over there towards where the old heliport was, so if you go from where the old heliport was and you draw a line straight back over the Navy Annex, it’s going to take you pretty much over the gas station.
Ranke: OK, but would you say if you had to say if it was leaning towards one side or the other of the gas station, perhaps a portion of the plane, or did it look directly over the top? Or what do you think?
Hemphill: Yeah, I would say more towards the cemetery side.
Ranke: A little more towards the cemetery side, OK.
In his complaint, Chandler treats Hemphill as if he is a child being pushed to recall abuse that never happened. But he is not a child. And he isn’t being tricked into reporting something he didn’t see.
Chandler writes: “It is troubling that Ranke ignores Hemphill’s first answer and persists in digging for another answer.” He also writes: “He is clearly telling Hemphill he is unsatisfied with his previous answer.”
But this is clearly not what Ranke is doing. He asked if the plane was more to the north, the south, or just over the top. Hemphill said north. Not north of the station, just over the north end of it. No one made him say that. Hemphill could have repeated that it was just over the station and that he could not be sure whether it was slightly to the north or to the south. But, instead, he said it was to the cemetery side (the north side). Even if he was mistaken about this, he still puts the plane well north of the official path.
But this distortion by Chandler only worsens when he writes: “This is leading the witness, if not badgering the witness. Such questioning is bad practice because it distorts the testimony. It has no place in scientific data gathering interviews since the goal is to get at true memories uninfluenced by the questioner.”
Badgering the witness? This is absurd. Ranke asks a simple follow-up question. There is no badgering. And this rubbish about “scientific data gathering interviews” is just more jargon that Chandler is throwing around in an attempt to lend weight to his blatantly false statement about this portion of Ranke’s interview.
As you’ll see, the manipulation, witness-leading, and memory influencing comes later, when Hill gets involved. (By the way, Hill’s main claim to fame in the Truth Movement comes from his sickening 1 a.m. drunken phone call to 9/11 WTC witness Jay Maisel. Hill is so abusive on the call, including swearing at Maisel and telling him to “Shut up!” more than once, that Maisel repeatedly hangs up on him, only to have Hill keep calling back. This is actual “badgering,” unlike anything Ranke could be accused of doing. )
Before going further, it is worth looking at the rest of the exchanges between Ranke and Hemphill that involve the question of where the plane was (the ones that involved discussion of what Hemphill saw):
Hemphill: … and then I hear a roar and I looked at the window, airplane, I mean that guy missed the Navy Annex by 15, 20 feet.
Ranke: So what do you mean, are you saying it was off to the side of the Navy Annex? Or…
Hemphill: No he would have been to my… over my right shoulder
Ranke: But you, so you saw the fuselage appear from over was it directly over the top of the Navy Annex? Or…
Hemphill: Right over the top. Right over the top.
Hemphill: You know I, you could see him go right over the, about where the gas station is, he clipped a street light …
Hemphill: You could hear the spooling of the engines, the distinctive whine of those things being wound up. And he kicked in, in my opinion, like he kicked in a little bit of right rudder and threw in some aileron because he hit the Pentagon at about the second window level. He did not hit the ground. He did not touch the ground. It smacked right into the building.
Ranke: OK, Did you see it actually hit light poles or did you just hear about that afterwards?
Hemphill: I saw him clip it.
Ranke: Saw it clip a light pole.
Ranke: But you say you’re absolutely certain that you did see it clip a light pole?
Hemphill: Yeah, because it was like a flash with it, you know.
Ranke: A flash? Did you see a light pole go flying or anything like that?
Hemphill: No. No, no, no. You just, you see the kinda a glance or something, a flash of a wing catching it or something.
Ranke: Yeah, in fact your account certainly does corroborate [Terry Morin’s], he also describes the plane as being right over the top of the Navy Annex. How sure are you that it was directly over the Navy Annex as opposed to being on the complete south end of Columbia Pike, in fact I mean on the south side of the VDOT building. You know where that communications antenna tower that there is on the other side of Columbia Pike there?
Hemphill: Yeah. I know where it is.
Ranke: What are the chances that it was on the south side of that, between that and the highway?
Hemphill: I think that’s over a little bit far. I mean I could, from my vantage point I could, it … you know, Terry’s probably correct, as to where he was, that it probably went more over the center of the gas station then, but he definitely was to my right shoulder, so that would correspond to what Terry has always said.
Ranke: Well yeah, no, Terry describes it as being absolutely directly over the Navy Annex, like he looked up, he was between the wings, and he said he looked up and saw the belly only.
Ranke: After he ran out is when he saw the plane caught again, and caught the tail of it, but that it was directly over the Navy Annex, and that seems to correspond with what you’re saying here.
Hemphill: Yeah, Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty accurate.
Ranke: … They all drew the flight path for me right there on video, and it’s rather compelling watching all these accounts match, over and over and over, and all describing the plane flying in the exact same place. Now they all describe it as being between the gas station and Arlington Cemetery, in that little area right there, so you know after…
Ranke: …after Columbia Pike turns around, goes in front of the Navy Annex and starts, before it goes underneath the bridge, that’s basically where they describe it, between, on the north side of the gas station, just south of Arlington Cemetery.
Hemphill: I would say that’s pretty accurate.
Ranke : OK. Now the problem with this
Hemphill: But I’m shu…. Go ahead I’m sorry.
Ranke: Well I’m sorry, what were you going to say?
Hemphill: I was just going to say they, … anybody who was out and about right then in that area would have had a great vantage point if they were at that gas station
Ranke: Precisely. There’s zero room for perspective error because they’re sitting there on the property. And they’re just telling us hey, you know, what’s, where’s this plane in relation to the gas station, and they all said it was on the north side. If it was on the south side it would have been pretty difficult for them to make that mistake if not impossible, let alone all three of them to make that mistake.
Hemphill: Right, right.
Ranke: And it’s not just them. We’re actually, now with your account we’re actually up to 15 witnesses who corroborate this approach of the plane as flying directly over the Navy Annex and then north of the gas station, as you described.
As the discussion continues, Ranke explains what CIT has learned from multiple witnesses and how this contradicts the south path/impact scenario. He does this in considerable detail. Would I have felt the need to offer such detail? I don’t think so. I would have more succinctly summarized the problems with the story to get Hemphill’s reaction. But that’s a judgment call, and I don’t think it had any effect on Hemphill’s account.
The key thing to note is that all the relevant questions had been asked, and Hemphill’s account ascertained, before Ranke really begins laying out the case. One can’t point to examples of Hemphill saying something he has been pushed into saying. In fact, for the second half of the discussion, it is more Ranke talking than Hemphill.
Until Hill got involved…
So, let’s summarize. Hemphill is clearly of the opinion that the plane hit the building and that it hit at least one light pole because he saw a flash. He is also clear that the plane flew directly over the Navy Annex and directly over the Citgo gas station. He says both on multiple occasions. And, as Ranke explains in the later part of the conversation, a north path approach is not compatible with an impact.
Chandler can argue that Ranke’s conclusions are not valid (he can try, anyway), but he can’t honestly claim that Hemphill was manipulated.
At least not until Hill got involved. That’s when all reason, professionalism, and fairness were tossed out the window. And this is when Chandler’s bias is fully revealed. The two Hill interviews are simply atrocious, and yet, they are accepted uncritically by Chandler, who fails to accuse Hill of manipulating or trying to elicit a desired answer.
Chandler’s treatment of Ranke is very different. In his article, you’ll find phrases like, “Ranke tried to persuade him…” and “Ranke pushed him to concede…” and “…Ranke induces Hemphill to contradict himself” and “Once Ranke had maneuvered Hemphill into stating….”
Chandler suggests Hemphill is easily “maneuvered” into saying what he does not believe. But it’s Hill who gets Hemphill to contradict himself, as we’ll see.
But before we get to Hill, let’s go over some contradictions and inaccuracies Chandler presents in his article as he “summarizes” Hemphill’s account.
He writes: “The plane came in over his right shoulder, i.e. to his south, therefore to the south of the Citgo station.”
NO! As I’ve already shown, over his right shoulder does NOT mean south of the station. In fact, Hemphill already made it clear the plane flew over the station. Why does Chandler make such a misstatement?
It gets worse. His next point, as the two are discussing the account of witness Terry Morin:
“The VDOT tower is south of the Navy Annex. [Hemphill] estimates that the plane was not that far south. i.e. south but probably not that far south. This statement would not make sense if the plane were to his north, so this answer confirms that the plane was on a south path.”
NO! Absolutely false! Hemphill has already said the plane flew over the building. He keeps saying that even to Hill. When Chandler writes “a south path” he means the official path. Hemphill is saying the plane was slightly to his south because he was near the north end of the building.
Chandler calls Hemphill an exceptional witness, and Hemphill does sound sincere and firm in his recollections. But his account becomes much more problematic when Hill starts yanking him towards the official story. If you read the transcript or listen to the interview you realize that Hemphill is trying to make what he saw fit with the official account, in response to Hill’s manipulations.
Chandler makes these two outrageous statements concerning Ranke telling Hemphill what other witnesses said:
“Ranke is not asking Hemphill for his own memories as an independent eyewitness, but rather urging him to go along with what others had supposedly said.” And: “Ranke is explicitly asking Hemphill to step back from his eyewitness role and accept a belief based on hearsay.”
But Ranke isn’t. Ranke explained (in great detail) how eyewitness accounts don’t line up with an impact on the official flight path. He was not trying to get Hemphill to change his statement.
Now, to the interview stylings of Jeff Hill.
Hill: Oh yeah, was his name Craig Ranke?
Hemphill: That was the guy.
Hill: That was the guy, and he sounded like he was an interrogator or something?
Hemphill: Sounded like a reporter, just asking questions wanting to…
Hill: Oh wow, that’s strange, ’cause that’s the guy that I’m arguing with (laughs).
Ah, yes, let the science happen. Hill has already referred to Ranke as an “interrogator” and we’ve barely gotten started. Hemphill sounds like he’s defending Ranke at this point when he says he sounded like a reporter.
But Hill has more up his sleeve to twist Hemphill’s perceptions.
Hemphill repeats his position that the plane flew directly over the Annex and gas station, and that it was over his right shoulder when it passed.
“… so the aircraft would have been kinda over my right shoulder as it came over and it, because where I was it meant it just came directly over the Annex, over the gas station and boom into the building.”
Sounds pretty clear to me. But Hill then explains how Ranke’s theory can’t work with Hemphill’s account of a plane impact. He is clearly pushing Hemphill to disagree with Ranke here.
Hill: I don’t know if he explained to you how they’re saying about how they say it must have flew over the Pentagon, they talked to a bunch of people and they said it came in north of the CITGO gas station. And they say that it wouldn’t have been able to hit where it did if it came over the north of the CITGO gas station.
Now the stage is set for what is to follow. First, Hill helps Hemphill to reinforce that the plane did fly over the Annex by asking him about the Morin account.
Hill: Oh, okay, yeah. He said he was at the Navy Annex, and he saw like the belly of the plane fly over his head or something.”
Hemphill: Yeah, that sounds about right.
Unlike Ranke, Hill proceeds to “maneuver” Hemphill into getting angry and rejecting Ranke’s position, even though he continues to corroborate a path north of the official one.
Hill: … they’re saying is that if it came in north of the CITGO gas station, it wouldn’t have been able to hit any of the light poles in the path, and it wouldn’t have been able to do the damage to the Pentagon, and then they’re saying that it flew over the Pentagon and it was like a flyover and something else, that was either bombs in the Pentagon or something.
Hemphill: No way. I told this guy the same thing. No way. I saw an airplane hit, I saw a big yellow fire ball and a gigantic puff of black sooty smoke, like happens when something that is filled with jet 1-A blows. And I believe that because the guy they’d taken off from Dulles, and had not flown that far, you’re talking about an aircraft capable of doing a transcontinental flight he was loaded, with thousands and thousands of pounds of fuel and unless he vented that meant, you still had, even a flight to Kentucky and back, if he was fully loaded, you’re not going to burn off that much fuel. So he was a flying bomb. And that’s what caused him to disintegrate.
Hill: Yeah, OK, well like, what about like after it hit? Like OK, so you already told me like 100% you saw it hit the building with your own eyes. Right?
Hemphill: It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen. It did not happen that way. That is not what I saw from my vantage point where I was in one of the windows looking down the hill towards the Pentagon from the Navy Annex. It hit the building.
At this point, Hill is already getting Hemphill annoyed with Ranke. Hemphill even indicates (as mentioned above) that he thought Ranke was trying to push the idea of the plane being over Columbia Pike – the opposite of what Ranke contends happened.
Hemphill: So, you know, he was trying to make a fine point with me of well could it have been more over Columbia Pike or was it directly over the Annex and I said I don’t know, I said look. I believe it came right over the Annex from what I could tell for the approximate 3 to 4 seconds that I saw this, ok.
I must remind the reader at this point that Chandler is accusing Ranke of leading the witness to make statements he would not otherwise make. But it is Hill doing exactly this:
Hill: Well basically anybody that doesn’t think a plane hit the Pentagon is, well I can’t say really an idiot, but they’re wrong. They’re wrong. And…
No, nothing leading there!
Hill pushes Hemphill ‘south’
For this follow-up, Hill has sent Hemphill a photo of the scene so he can see the implications of his statements. Now, thanks to Hill, Hemphill is given a clear choice: Stand by your repeated statements of the plane flying over the Annex and the gas station or move away from that so that his claim of an impact can work.
Hill: So when I was looking at a picture like where you were in the Navy Annex, if you were looking over your right shoulder it seems to me that the plane would have been more closer to Columbia Pike?
Closer than what? Hemphill is already clear that the plane was somewhat to his right (over his right shoulder). So it is on the “Columbia Pike side” of his body. But that does not mean it is over Columbia Pike or that it is even close to the official path, which is south of Columbia Pike almost entirely.
Hill: So from the way it looks with all those lines that those guys were drawing that doesn’t seem right to you.
Hemphill: No, the lines that they’ve got with it coming way over as I’m looking at the Pentagon from my office with it way over to, which would have been my left, no way, it just didn’t happen that way. Didn’t happen that way.
How about this effort to push a conclusion:
Hill: I had someone call me today and like some guy I didn’t even know he’s like, yeah I noticed you’re looking in the Pentagon and I just wanted to tell you that I, I saw a, in 2002 I saw an interview with a guy from, that was in Afghanistan talking about how he was in the Pentagon and saw an F-16 fighter flying right towards him. And so that guy is like well so that’s proof of a missile. And I’m like wow, I don’t think so cause I’ve talked to a lot of people who saw the plane hit. So I don’t know how…
Then he turns to attacking Ranke while rushing to establish himself as Hemphill’s buddy:
Hill: Well they got their forum, CIT, Citizen Investigation Team, I think it’s dot org or dot com, I’m not sure exactly which one it is, but there’s like a few different forums where they’re posting the same nonsense. And it’s just it’s aggravating, actually to see that, that there’s people defending this nonsense and there’s other people buying into the flyover of the plane when there’s like, as far as I, well no evidence, and you guys, like you yourself and like every other witness says it hit, and like, it’s just ridiculous.
You can tell in the tone of the discussion as it goes along that Hemphill is getting more and more hostile to Ranke as he is manipulated by Hill.
Hill then plays the “conspiracy theory” card:
Hill: I guess some people just like a good conspiracy theory, I don’t know, the stranger it is the better the more, the more interesting, more people latch onto it I guess, I don’t know. Like I guess that’s why so many people, it deters them away from even looking into any of the stuff because they hear all these stupid ideas, and they just, you know like even to the fact of aliens blowing up their own trade center, or whatever, I guess it’s just as odd to say a plane flew over the Pentagon.
He guesses, he doesn’t know. He’s just throwin’ it out there. And aliens blowing up “their own” trade center is just as odd as saying a plane flew over the Pentagon? What was Chandler saying about methodology, again?
Hill’s colorful take on conspiracy theories fits well with a statement from the Chandler/Cole paper that indicates how the authors feel about the majority position in the 9/11 Truth Movement that no 757 hit the Pentagon:
“On the other hand the mystery that surrounds the Pentagon makes it an attractive target of speculation and the subject of truly wild conspiracy theories. (This kind of attractive diversion is sometimes called a “honey pot,” a “setup” to be discredited at a later time.) This is not the only instance of theories that seem designed to be easily discredited. There are groups that insist the towers at the World Trade Center were taken down by space lasers. Others claim no planes hit the Twin Towers at all: they were just holograms. What better way to tar the movement than to seed it with absurdly false theories that fuel a media circus, while making the Movement look ridiculous?”
Then this word salad from Hill:
Hill: OK, well that makes, you know, I mean I don’t know it just makes whatever you say, like any, I don’t know how to say it, I guess that makes it, I don’t even know what to say, like from what you’re saying it could easily have hit the light poles and smashed into the Pentagon from where you saw it.
Hill mentions Hemphill’s statement that the plane flew over the gas station, slightly to the north side, and Hemphill responds:
Hemphill: No, absolutely wrong. It flew over the gas station more to the Columbia Pike side.
He has changed his account, while not acknowledging that it was a change. Nevertheless, he still puts the plane north of the official path, which doesn’t match the damage. But he is trying to reconcile his account with the contradiction Ranke exposed. He has been consistent through all three interviews that the plane was to his right, but he does not put it far from himself since he describes it as going over his right shoulder. As the discussion goes on with Hill, Hemphill makes more and more attempts to align his story with the official one:
Hemphill: OK, if you see the edge of the gas station where the gas station parking lot is, for the CITGO station, it was right over in that area, then it hit the Pentagon. Could it have been a little further over? Yeah, hell, I don’ t know. I only saw it for 3 to 5 seconds. But, the key point is what I saw was the left hand side of the aircraft. That’s what I drew for special agent Heidi Messerschmitt of the FBI.
Hill: Um hum.
Hemphill: OK, so that, what I’ve just described, is consistent, or more consistent with the official story produced by the government as to the flight path of the aircraft. And is not consistent with what this guy Craig is saying. Because the aircraft did not fly directly over my head. It was to my right.
Another attempt to align with the official story:
Hemphill: … if I had to predict and look at the flight path there based on this picture, I would guess that the guy probably was lining up on Columbia Pike and used the hotel that’s up the street from the Annex as his initial point in order to line this sucker up, and then he dove the aircraft right down Columbia Pike, down the hill and it hit the Pentagon, which meant that probably his wing or so probably was over the Pentagon, uh over the Navy Annex…
Hill: So like I guess when you told Craig that it was slightly more toward the Arlington Cemetery side you were just like mistaken in the moment?
Hemphill: No I didn’t say that. I said my office is more toward the Arlington Cemetery side. The aircraft was not more toward the cemetery. It’s more toward Columbia Pike.
But he did say that, as shown above. He was led into being annoyed with the Ranke interview by Hill’s not-so-subtle manipulation. He also had a photo in front of him that led him to have to change his story somewhat so he could continue to claim his account lined up with the official one.
Chandler says that Ranke telling Hemphill about what other witnesses saw brings to mind the Asch Conformity Experiment, in which subjects changed their perception of something because of what others said. In yet another irony, it is Hill who feeds Hemphill information to get him to doubt what he clearly told Ranke in the first interview.
While Hemphill was clear about the plane being over the Navy Annex and over the gas station, Hill manipulates him into describing the path he saw as being closer to the official, south path. But even as he is doing this, Hemphill sticks to the key part of the story: that the plane flew directly over both buildings.
A ‘minor’ detail?
The core of Chandler’s “argument” seems to be that people’s belief that the plane hit the Pentagon trumps their descriptions of the flight path, no matter how specific those descriptions are. Chandler describes the flight path as being of little importance.
“Elevating the significance of a memory of a seemingly minor detail, many years after the fact, is a common thread in nearly all of the Ranke interviews.”
But the flight path of a large aircraft on 9/11 headed toward the Pentagon, as established by many un-manipulated eyewitnesses, including Hemphill, is NOT “a minor detail” nor a “seemingly” minor detail, whatever the time frame.
Chandler writes: “An unbiased interviewer would recognize a memory that the plane hit the building as more likely true than any memories of a path inconsistent with that direct observation, especially when the eyewitness expresses certainty that it actually hit.”
NO! First of all, the mention of bias is more than a little disingenuous. Also, some of the eyewitnesses were not even in a position to see a large aircraft hit the Pentagon. They were in a position to see a large aircraft fly low toward the Pentagon and then in a position to hear a loud explosion and see black smoke billow up from the Pentagon. Chandler seems to be saying we should accept what some witnesses said about an impact because they “express certainty,” but they also expressed certainty about the path the plane took, and it wasn’t in line with the official one.
Chandler concludes with a bizarre and entirely irrelevant story about falling and knocking himself out in 8th grade PE class and how he was left with two contradictory memories of what had happened. This can be deconstructed along the lines of my italicized insertions:
“The circumstances surrounding my jumping over the net were mental reconstructions, equally as vivid as the undeniable memories, but in reality, not memories at all,” he writes.
“Our minds flesh out the details surrounding distant memories, as my own experience illustrates. The methodology at work in the CIT interviews is to distract a witnesses [sic] from an actual, vivid memory of a plane impacting a building, [Several, if not most, of the CIT eyewitnesses were not in a position, because of the lay of the land, to see the ground floor of the Pentagon, where the plane is alleged to have hit.] and soliciting, [No, quite straightforward asking, and then repeating the ask for even more clarity and certainty.] or even planting by suggestion, [No, straightforward asking. The only “planting by suggestion” going on is by Chandler himself and by his fellow researcher, Jeff Hill.] a minor secondary detail. [No, not minor, not secondary. Rather major and highly significant, pointing to an elaborate deception.] This sets the stage for the witness to reconstruct or elaborate on the actual memories to “fill in the gaps” or to satisfy the questioner [Again, he treats Hemphill like he’s an impressionable child.]. That detail [Now actual significant memories are being downgraded by Chandler to a “detail.”] is then elevated to be considered the single most significant element of the testimony, and used to discount both the primary memory [Here, “primary memory” is elevated to mean the explosion and smoke, which most of the eyewitnesses in and around the Citgo station and the Navy Annex heard and then saw in the air above the Pentagon.] and the physical evidence. [“Physical evidence” is introduced as meaning evidence of a large plane hitting the Pentagon but without saying so. Such evidence is severely lacking but is introduced here as a given.] The witnesses themselves are then declared [No, they are quoted as to what they are sure they saw.] to have been deceived about the discordant elements of their testimony. [The witnesses interviewed by CIT, almost all of them, did not recognize their testimony as “discordant.”] The witnesses may come back and protest loudly that the one thing they know for certain is that the plane actually hit the building, but such protestations are ignored. [No, they were not ignored. Their eyewitness reports, when seen as anomalous in light of the totality of other evidence and especially lacking proof a large jet impact, are treated with understanding and respect.] When interviews are conducted in this manner, whatever the reason, the conclusions have no claim to any validity and should be dismissed.” [In a properly run court of law, CIT’s witnesses would be heard out and their testimony weighed within the larger framework of all evidence concerning events at the Pentagon that day. All evidence that can be brought forward will be the best indication of what actually happened and did not happen. “Interviews conducted in this manner” is a putdown phrase grossly misrepresenting the nature of CIT’s interviews, which, in a properly conducted court of law, would carry considerable weight for the judge and jury.]
What Chandler doesn’t even consider is that those who “saw” a large plane hit the Pentagon could have been fooled about what happened – or, more to the point, that fooling them could have been the intention of the perpetrators. That’s not the same as saying their memory was faulty. Several “impact” witnesses who described a north path could not even see the alleged impact point from where they were. They saw the explosion, and they heard the media repeat over and over that a plane hit. Of course they would be influenced by that. But the flight path is something they wouldn’t have been told about. They would just remember where they were and where the plane was relative to that.
In Hemphill’s case, it seems pretty clear that he saw the plane fly over the Navy Annex and the gas station. This doesn’t line up with the damage. Other witnesses, like Robert Turcios, William Lagasse, and Chadwick Brooks, were in an even better position to see whether the plane was north of the gas station, because they were at the gas station.
There are those in the movement who consider Chandler to be above reproach, if not above criticism altogether, and some of them may feel that this article is “fueling controversy.” But I would argue that whether it is his statement with Jonathan Cole in 2011, the “Going Beyond Speculation” talk he gave at the 9/11 Film Festival in Oakland, CA, in 2015 (my response to that here), or this most recent effort, it is Chandler who is repeatedly fueling this fire. I would urge anyone, particularly those who think Chandler can do no wrong, to read his new article, listen to the three interviews (or at least read the transcripts) and truly assess whether his attempt to trash CIT’s entire body of research is either scientific or fair.
The opinions in this article are my own and are separate from the “No 757 hit the Pentagon on 9/11” list, which is a group effort.–Craig McKee