Saturday, May 24, 2008

Griffin's Five (More Or Less) Points on the Pentagon

DRG was on Air America with Richard Greene last week on the show Clout. No surprise, Griffin took no questions from anybody other than the host, who is very Truther-friendly, even though Ron Wieck was on the line from New York. Griffin made five (or so) points on the Pentagon. Again, not surprisingly, after Griffin hung up, Ron was allowed to rebut one of the points. So I thought I'd take a more detailed look at the claims that Griffin made and the real truth:

1. Was there any evidence that it was a 757 that hit the Pentagon? Griffin says that there are 152 people who claimed to have seen the attack, but only 31 of them give "explicit, detailed descriptions. Many of them describe something very different." Out of the 31, 24 either worked for the Federal Government or the mainstream media, and in 21 of them there were substantial errors and contradictions.

2. Griffin claims that there is no evidence that the remains of the passengers that were identified came from the Pentagon rather than added to the remains at the Pentagon.

3. (Griffin says that this is second). Is there evidence that it was not a 757? He claims there was no detectable seismic signal. Griffin adds the claim that there was a seismic signal from Shanksville. Griffin adds a subsidiary point, that there was a lack of debris suggesting that a plane was there.

4. (Griffin says thirdly). If they wanted to prove a 757 hit the Pentagon, they could just release the videos. Griffin makes the usual retarded claim that there were 85 videos and that the Justice Department says these are exempt from disclosure, and that the two (really four) that were released show nothing.

5. (Griffin says fourthly). Griffin says something about "the time changes" but goes on to say that "Almost always, the NTSB when they do a report on a crash, give the serial number for the flight data recorder. Griffin says, "There was another case where they could prove."

6. (Griffin bizarrely now says he's on a third general point). Griffin talks about the phone calls from Barbara Olson. He mentions that the Moussaoui trial evidence only presented one call from Mrs Olson and that it lasted zero seconds.

7. Hole in the C ring. Griffin says that Rumsfeld claimed that the nose of the plane had gone all the way through the C ring and was still there, but that now everybody has disowned that claim.

8. (Griffin says fourth general point). Hani Hanjour couldn't fly, and "Everybody agrees that would have taken an expert pilot."

9. Wedge 1 would have been the least likely spot for a terrorist to attack because a) it's not where Rumsfeld and the top brass had their offices, b) it would have been physically impossible to hit because of obstacles.

10. (Griffin now thinks he's on his fifth point). The Pentagon should have been evacuated. Griffin now takes us to the next level on Mineta, that this indicates foreknowledge of the coming Pentagon attack and that because Mineta's testimony reveals Cheney knew of a plane that was 50 miles out, that the Pentagon should have been evacuated.

11. E-4B was flying over the White House at the time of the Pentagon strike.

Griffin hops off the phone, having now taken up 15 straight minutes with his blather. Ron Wieck is given one minute to respond and the host specifies, "one thing".

Ron does a good job talking about the numerous bits of debris from a 757 that were in fact found at the Pentagon.

But I think tactically he should have gone for the nuclear option, which is to use the "Argument from Increduly" (sic) as Craig Ranke put it a few days ago.

The argument from incredulity here is to quite simply point out that almost all Truthers agree that planes hit the World Trade Center. So, assuming for the moment that the government was indeed behind the attacks, as Professor Griffin clearly does (he often uses the movement's catchphrase "9-11 was an inside job") why would they have used planes at the WTC and not at the Pentagon? The answer of course is that there is no good reason, not with many busy freeways surrounding the Pentagon where somebody might see something else. So why do "Truthers" focus on this? Because they start with the assumption that the government was behind it, and inevitably factions form around each individual incident. Therefore, even though the idea is quite ridiculous to many in the "Truth" movement there is still a subset of Troofers that believes that Flight 77 didn't hit the Pentagon.

It's unsatisfying but rather than tackling one of 11 points, you've swatted the whole thing away.

Now, let's do what Greene did not allow Ron to do and answer all them:

1. No matter how you slice and dice the testimony of the witnesses there are still some left who quite plainly saw a large Boeing hit the Pentagon. According to the claims made by Griffin, seven witnesses with explicit, detailed descriptions did not work for the government or mainstream media. Ten witnesses who gave explicit, detailed descriptions did not make errors or contradictions.

2. This is of course an irrefutable point on the part of Griffin. None of us saw the body parts being tagged, rode along in the vehicle that brought them to the laboratory and saw the actual DNA testing being done and confirmed to our own satisfaction that the DNA matched what was being claimed. By this standard I do not know that the Earth rotates around the Sun, either, or that Queen Elizabeth isn't secretly a shape-shifting lizard.

3. On the seismic argument, Griffin has a point. The seismic reports do not show a signal for the Pentagon, but do for the plane in Shanksville (and for the World Trade Center). However, when you think about this for a moment, it becomes pretty obvious why that would happen. First, the Shanksville plane hit directly into the earth; the angle was not perpendicular but it was very steep. Of course that is going to result in something of a seismic event. Second, the WTC Towers were both anchored to bedrock because of their size and location. They were hit relatively high up, meaning that they would sway more than if hit lower, with all that movement eventually transferred to the ground. They also were fairly close (about 20 miles) to an earthquake observatory. Now consider the Pentagon by contrast. Although immense in size, it is actually a fairly small building in terms of height, with only five stories. Hence, while it certainly has footings and foundations, these do not extend deep into the earth, so the energy of an impact, especially an impact parallel to the ground, would only be transferred to the earth very inefficiently. The nearest observatory to the Pentagon was 39 miles away. Now, I won't deceive you, the nearest observatory to Shanksville was 57 miles. But again, all the energy of the crash at Shanksville was absorbed by the ground, whereas much of the energy of the crash at the Pentagon was dissipated by the building itself and not the ground.

Ron covered the issue of the actual debris rather well, but I would add that David Ray Griffin was the fact-checker for Loose Change Final Cut, which showed in quite interesting detail a large amount of evidence of a plane at the Pentagon. If he really believes there wasn't a lot of evidence of a plane, shouldn't he have corrected that film?

4. At least four videos have been released; the two fisheye camera shots from near the guard shack which are the only ones that show anything, the Doubletree Hotel video and the Citgo video. The 85 videos are just another example of how silly the Truthers are. Do they really imagine that there 85 cameras trained on anyplace in the world? Paris Hilton's butt doesn't have 85 cameras focused on it.

In all probability, Judicial Watch filed an overly broad FOIA request, asking for any videos pertaining to 9-11, the FBI said, that's too broad, we have 85 possible videos, what do you really want, and Judicial Watch said, okay, give us what you've got showing the Pentagon strike. At that point the fisheye videos from the guardshack comes out, which are the only videos that show anything, come out. JW goes back for the known cameras: the Doubletree and the Citgo. The idea that there's any more significant video of that attack is a myth.

5. Another goofy Sacred List argument! I'm going to argue from incredulity here: Does Dr Griffin really mean that if only the government had included the serial number from the black box that he'd accept that Flight 77 indeed crashed into the Pentagon? Of course not, so it's silly for him to claim otherwise.

6. Imagine the stupidity of this argument. The government, while framing Moussaoui for the terrorist attacks he did not have any knowledge of (according to the "Truthers") the FBI supposedly refused to lie about the Barbara Olson phone calls in that same trial. And in fact, as we have gotten tired of pointing out, there are four unattributed phone calls from Flight 77 in the Moussaoui trial evidence, two of which are almost certainly the two connected Barbara Olson phone calls.

7. I dunno, did Rummy really claim the nose went through? This is silly.

8. Although Hanjour was refused a rental airplane at Freeway Airport (as highlighted in Loose Change), he did manage to rent a small plane elsewhere and fly down to Maryland, so the notion that Griffin tries to sell, that Hanjour could not fly at all is obviously wrong. In fact Hanjour had been a pilot for longer than any of the other hijackers. And the idea that Hanjour's flight required some extraordinary skill is silly; a Dutch TV program gave a guy two hours training in a simulator (far less than Hanjour had), and he hit the Pentagon three times straight.

9. The hijackers were smart and organized. They knew they had to execute their attacks rapidly before the US had time to respond. The side of the Pentagon that the hijackers hit was the closest side to where they were coming from. They did not go past the Pentagon and then turn around; it is not hard to imagine why. I don't know why they think the Pentagon was unhittable from that side, and if Rob Balsamo is giving the explanation I'm not sure it's worth the effort.

10. Griffin is (as usual) wrong. We know from the Vanity Fair tapes when NEADS found out about each hijacked plane on 9-11 and the answer in the case of Flight 77 was about 3 minutes before it collided with the Pentagon. In order for that plane to have been 50 miles out and there to have been that short a warning, the plane would have had to have been flying at about 1000 miles per hour.

11. This is that White Plane that the Troofers obsess about. Again, read the Vanity Fair tapes story and you'll realize that even if an E-4B was in the skies over DC that day, that it could not have prevented the attack on the Pentagon.