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9-11Research essays

NOTE: This critique served as a mockup for an print article that appeared in Issue 10 of Global Outlook magazine.
It examines the feature article in the March 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics: 'DEBUNKING 9/11 LIES'. The Global
Outlook article based on this is more detailed than this early version. See these related documents:

Popular Mechanics Attacks Its "9/11 LIES" Straw Man: The original critique of the Popular Mechanics article, first
published on 911Research on February 7, 2005. The current critique grew out of this much shorter critiqe.
Popular Mechanics' Deceptive Smear Against 9/11 Truth: A more detailed critique of the article, including the entire
text of the original.
Popular Mechanics' Assault on 9/11 Truth: Sharing the same name as this critique, this longer version served as the
final prototype ofr the Global Outlook article.

Popular Mechanics' Assault on 9/11 Truth


by Jim Hoffman
created 4/12/05; published 6/15/05

The Hearst-owned Popular Mechanics targeted the 9/11 Truth


Movement (without ever acknowledging it by that name) with a cover
story in its March 2005 edition. [1] Sandwiched between ads and features
for monster trucks, NASCAR paraphernalia, and off-road racing are
twelve dense and brilliantly designed pages purporting to debunk the
myths of 9/11.

The article's approach is to identify and attack a series of claims which


it asserts represent the whole of 9/11 skepticism. It gives the false
impression that these claims, several of which are clearly absurd,
represent the breadth of challenges to the official account of the flights,
the World Trade Center attack, and the Pentagon attack. Thus it purports
to debunk conspiracy theorists' physical-evidence-based claims, without
even acknowledging that there are other grounds on which to question
the official story. Indeed many 9/11 researchers don't even address the
physical evidence, preferring instead to focus on who had the the means, The eye-catching headline on the issue's
cover is "9/11 LIES", with "DEBUNKING"
motive, and opportunity to carry out the attack. I summarize some of and "Conspiracy Theorists" being much
this evidence at the end of this article. smaller. Is this a subconscious appeal to
peoples' suspicions that the official story is
a lie?
While ignoring these and many other facts belying the official story, PM
attacks a mere 16 claims of its choosing, which it asserts are the most prevalent among conspiracy
theorists. PM groups these claims into four topics, each of which is given a richly illustrated two- or four-
page spread. Since nearly all the physical-evidence-based challenges to the official story fall within one or
another of these topics, the article gives the impression that it addresses the breadth of these challenges.
However, for each topic, the article presents specious claims to divert the reader from understanding the
issue. For example, the three pages devoted to attacking the Twin Towers' demolition present three red-
issue. For example, the three pages devoted to attacking the Twin Towers' demolition present three red-
herring claims and avoid the dozens of points I feature in my presentations, such as The Twin Towers'
Demolition [2]

The article brackets its distortion of the issues highlighted by 9/11 skeptics with smears against the
skeptics themselves, whom it dehumanizes and accuses of disgracing the memories of the victims, and
repeatedly accuses of harassing individuals who responded to the attack. More important, it misrepresents
skeptics' views by implying that the skeptics' community is an undifferentiated army that wholly embraces
the article's sixteen poisonous claims, which it asserts are at the root of virtually every 9/11 alternative
scenario. In fact much of the 9/11 truth community has been working to expose many of these claims as
disinformation.
Besides trashing the skeptics, and conflating this
The Lies Are Out There country with its corrupt leaders, Meig's attempts to
legitimate PM's investigation, saying:
This article has a page of We assembled a team of reporters and
Editor's Notes, The Lies researchers, including professional fact checkers
Are Out There, written by and the editors of PM, and methodically analyzed
James Meigs, whose all 16 conspiracy claims. We interviewed scores
previous columns have of engineers, aviation experts, military officials,
praised military eyewitnesses and members of the investigative
technology (such as the teams who have held the wreckage of the attacks
UAVs used in Fallujah). in their own hands. We pored over photography,
Meigs places outside of maps, blueprints, aviation logs and transcripts. In
society anyone who every single instance, we found that the facts used
questions the official James Meigs, appointed editor
by the conspiracy theorists to support their
of Popular Mechanics in May
version of events of 2004, trashes skeptics of the fantasies were mistaken, misunderstood, or
9/11/01: official story of 9/11/01 as
deliberately falsified.
irresponsible disgracers of the
We as a society accept memories of victims, apart from
This sounds impressive, but the article provides no
"we as a society."
the basic premise that a evidence to back up these claims. It provides no
group of Islamist footnotes to source its many assertions, and despite
terrorists hijacked four airplanes and turned them the scores of experts listed in its final section the
into weapons against us. ... Sadly, the noble article cites only a handful of them, and mostly to
search for truth is now being hijacked by a refute its straw-man claims.
growing army of conspiracy theorists.
Meigs throws a series of insults at the conspiracy Moreover, bold unsubstantiated claims in the article
theorists, saying they ignore the facts and engage in -- such as PM's assertion that there was only a
elaborate, shadowy theorizing, and concludes his single interception in the decade before 9/11/01 --
diatribe by saying: don't inspire confidence in PM's professional fact
checkers. It echoes the discredited assertions of
Those who peddle fantasies that this country
official reports such as FEMA's World Trade Center
encouraged, permitted or actually carried out the
Building Performance Study and the 9/11
attacks are libeling the truth -- and disgracing the
Commission Report. It provides no evidence PM
memories of the thousands who died that day.
investigated the attack -- only evidence that it
investigated the 9/11 Truth movement in order to
determine how best to discredit it through
misrepresentation.
9/11: DEBUNKING the MYTHS
Superficially, the four topics appear to address the
major physical evidence issues brought up by the
skeptics (while ignoring the mountains of evidence
of foreknowledge, motive, and unique means
possessed by insiders). However, the sixteen most
prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists
which it attacks are mostly specious claims, many
of which were probably invented to discredit
skepticism of the official story in the first place. The
article debunks the more specious claims, and uses
distortion and falsehoods to counter serious claims.

Thus the approach of the article is to set up and


attack a straw man of claims that it pretends
represent the entirety of the skeptics' movement.
The list includes many of the same claims that were
debunked in 2004 by the websites 911review.com,
oilempire.us, and questionsquestions.net.
PM provides no evidence for its assertion that the
PM devotes an entire page to this dramatic photograph by claims it attacks are representative of the army of
Rob Howard showing Flight 175 approaching the South
Tower. Unsupported claims that the plane was not a jetliner conspiracy theorists. It cites at least one website for
have been the staple of efforts to discredit the 9/11 Truth each of its claims, but the websites are not
movement for over a year. The selection of this as the
centerpiece image is one of an array of techniques Popular representative of the 9/11 Truth Movement. It
Mechanics uses to falsely identify the 9/11 Truth movement makes no mention of 911Research.wtc7.net, the
with a campaign cleverly used to discredit it through
associating it with claims for which there is no evidence, highest-ranking 9/11 Truth website returned by a
such as the claim that this plane carried a missile-firing Google search using "9/11". Several references are
pod.
anonymous posts to sites that don't exercise editorial
The main article consists of an introduction and four control. To my mind, the 17 websites PM mentions
sections, each devoted to a topic, spanning six two- fall into four categories:
page spreads. The topics contain a total of sixteen
poisonous claims, which PM purports to refute Sites with a high profile in the 9/11 Truth
while it identifies them as the beliefs of all in the Movement that maintain a high standard of factual
growing army of conspiracy theorists. The four accuracy: emperors-clothes.com, OilEmpire.us, and
sections are: StandDown.net.
Sites with a high profile in the 9/11 Truth
THE PLANES, in which PM uses nonsensical Movement that post a wide range of articles or
claims about the jet that crashed into the South endorse positions without carefully vetting their
Tower to bury the incredible lack of military accuracy: Prisonplanet.com, Rense.com,
response to the attack. WhatReallyHappened.com, reopen911.org, and
THE WORLD TRADE CENTER, in which PM AttackOnAmerica.net.
pretends to debunk the controlled demolition of the Sites that I've never heard of or don't focus on
9/11: sandiego.indymedia.org, BlogD.com,
Twin Towers and Building 7 by advancing a series 9/11: sandiego.indymedia.org, BlogD.com,
of red-herring claims and misrepresenting the case ThinkAndAsk.com, ForbiddenKnowledge.com, and
for demolition. WorldNetDaily.com.
THE PENTAGON, in which PM attacks the claim Sites that have actively promoted hoaxes:
of conspiracy advocates that the Pentagon was hit 911inplanesite.com, LetsRoll911.org,
by an object other than a jetliner, while hiding the 911review.org, and PentagonStrike.co.uk.
position of respected 9/11 Truth activists that this
claim is a hoax. While entirely avoiding the most prominent 9/11
FLIGHT 93, in which PM attacks the claim that Truth sites, PM repeatedly mentions the least
Flight 93 was shot down with transparently credible. For example, it repeats LetsRoll911.org
specious arguments. three times.

Before proceeding to its 16 points, the article's


introduction levels more insults at the skeptics --
extremists, some of whose theories are byproducts
of cynical imaginations that aim to inject suspicion
and animosity into public debate. It begins by
asking you to type "World Trade Center conspiracy"
into Google.com, and claims that More than 3000
books on 9/11 have been published -- an incredible
claim.

The sixteen "claims" attacked by the article are


described here under the headings taken from the
article, which indicate either the claim, the counter-
claim, or a broader issue.

Intercepts Not Routine


THE
CLAIM: It has been standard operating procedures
PLANES for decades to immediately intercept off-course
CLAIMS ATTACKED BY POPULAR planes that do not respond to communications from
MECHANICS air traffic controllers. ...
In this section PM attacks four claims, two of PM dismisses this "claim," excerpted from
which are valid points about the lack of military OilEmpire.us with the following sweeping 'fact':
response, and two of which are hoaxes about the In the decade before 9/11 NORAD intercepted only
the plane that crashed into the South Tower. The one civilian plane over North America: golfer
hoaxes bracket the valid claims, which PM Payne Stewart's Learjet, in October 1999.
dismisses with 9/11-Commission-like denials.
This bold assertion flies in the face of an Associated
Press report of scramble frequencies that quotes the
Press report of scramble frequencies that quotes the
Where's The same Maj. Douglas Martin that is one of PM's cited
Pod experts, Maj. Douglas Martin, [3]

From Sept. 11 to June, NORAD scrambled jets or


CLAIM: diverted combat air patrols 462 times, almost
Photographs and seven times as often as the 67 scrambles from
video footage show September 2000 to June 2001, Martin said.
... an object
underneath the It is safe to assume that a significant fraction of
fuselage at the base scrambles lead to intercepts, so the fact that there
of the right wing. ... were 67 scrambles in a 9-month period before
9/11/01 suggests that there are dozens of intercepts
The pod-plane idea
This image, which appears in the per year. To its assertion that there was only one
has been used for article, is found (with the same red
oval) on a pod-debunking page of
intercept in a decade, the article adds, without
over a year to
QuestionsQuestions.net, yet the evidence, that rules in effect ... prohibited supersonic
discredit skepticism article contains no mention of the
flight on intercepts and the suggestion that there were
of the official story. site.
no hotlines between ATCs and NORAD.
It's not surprising
that it leads the 16 claims. The article mentions the
site LetsRoll911.org and the video In Plane Site, Flight 175's Windows
both of which feature the pod theory. It is absent
any mention of sites debunking the pod claims, CLAIM: ... [Flight 175] definitely did not look like a
such as OilEmpire.us, QuestionsQuestions.net, commercial plane ... I didn't see any windows on the
and 911Review.com. sides.
That the South Tower plane had no windows is one
No Stand-Down Order of several ludicrous claims made by the In Plane Site
video, and, like the pod-planes claim, is dismissed by
the simplest analysis.
CLAIM: No fighter jets were scrambled from any
of the 28 Air Force bases within close range of
the four hijacked flights. ... Our Air Force was
ordered to Stand Down on 9/11.
Here, the article falsely implies that emperors-
clothes.com and StandDown.net both claim that
no jets were scrambled to pursue any of the four
commandeered jets. It then attacks this straw man
by relating some details of the Commission's
timeline (without sourcing the Commission's
Report) to suggest that interceptors were
scrambled, but that ATC couldn't find the hijacked
flights because there were too many radar blips.
The article makes no mention of the many Like the other image in the article's pages on the flights, this one can
problems with NORAD's account of the failed be found on of QuestionsQuestions.net. PM needed look no further
intercepts, but relates the following incredible than the analysis long available on the websites of "conspiracy
theorists" to attack the straw man claims it dishonestly associates with
assertion by NORAD public affairs officer Maj. the same researchers.
Douglas Martin that there was a hole in NORAD's
radar coverage:
It was like a doughnut. There was no coverage
in the middle.
in the middle.
This absurd idea that NORAD had no radar
coverage over much of the continental US is
distilled from the 9/11 Commission Report.
Predictably, the article makes no mention of
evidence that war games were being conducted on
9/11/01 and that false radar blips were deliberately
inserted onto FAA radar screens.

FACTS IGNORED BY POPULAR Failures in Depth


MECHANICS
The official timeline of the military response to the
The Hijacker Evidence Void attack went through several revisions, all of which
are unbelievable. According to both the 2001
There is no known evidence placing the alleged NORAD timeline and the 2004 9/11 Commission's
hijackers on the planes: timeline:

Six of the alleged suicide hijackers turned up alive NORAD learned of the hijackings only after long
after the attack -- a fact that the 9/11 Commission and inexplicable delays. For example, NORAD's
failed to even acknowledge. [4] [5] [6] [7] timeline blames the FAA for 18 and 39-minute
There is no public evidence that the remains of any delays in reporting the deviations and transponder
of the alleged hijackers was recovered. shut-offs of Flights 11 and 77.
None of the flight crews on the targeted aircraft Once it learned that Flights 11 and 175 were
headed to New York City, NORAD failed to
reported hijackings to Air Traffic Control, either by
radio or the 4-digit hijacking codes. scramble interceptors from nearby Fort Dix or
None of the contents of recovered voice data Laguardia, choosing instead the distant Otis base
in Falmouth, MA.
recorder black boxes has been made public, even
though the 9/11 Commission has closed its doors. Once it learned that Flights 77 and 175 were
headed to the Captial NORAD failed to scramble
interceptors from Andrews Air Force base (just 11
miles from the Pentagon), choosing instead the
distant base in Langley, VA.
Fighters already in the air were not redeployed to
pursue the jetliners. For example, two F-15s
The FBI released its list of hijacking suspects within three days of the
attack. Five of the named suspects proclaimed their aliveness and flying off the coast of Long Island were not
innocence after seeing their mug shots on news reports. Yet the 9/11 ordered to fly cover over Manhattan until after the
Commission repeated the same list of suspects without even
acknowledging that there were any problems with their identities.
second tower was hit. [10] The F-15s from Otis
supposedly reached Manhattan a few minutes
after the second tower hit, but were not
Chain of Miracles
redeployed to pursue Flight 77, which was headed
toward the capital.
The hijacking scenario alleged by the official story is
F-15s and F-16s scrambled to intercept the attack
virtually impossible:
jetliners were flown at less than one-third of their
Several of the alleged hijackers frequented strip top speeds.
bars, consumed alcohol and pork, were rude in
bars, consumed alcohol and pork, were rude in
public, and left copies of the Koran behind; yet they Stand-Down Implementation
supposedly committed suicide out of fanatical
devotion to Allah. [8] PM's rehashing of the 9/11 Commission's
The takeovers of the four jetliners were staggered incompetence theory is absent any mention of the
over a one-hour period; yet any rational planner two methods likely used to freeze the air defenses:
would have executed the takeovers simultaneously.
[9]
A June 1st order consolidated intercept authority
The hijackers supposedly enjoyed 100% success in in the Secretary of Defense, requiring its approval
taking over the flights with "box cutters" in spite of for any intercepts that might involve deadly force.
the crews of the remaining flights having knowledge This order stripped commanders in the field of
of the first takeover. autonomy in responding to crises such as 9/11/01.
[11]
None of the alleged hijackers had flown jets before.
Multiple war games were conducted on the day of
9/11/01. While one exercise, Northern Vigilance,
involved the redeployment of interceptors far
from the northeast corridor, other exercises,
Vigilant Guardian and Vigilant Warrier likely
confused the coordination of response to the
attack.
The site OilEmpire.us provides evidence of five
war games right after the passage quoted by PM,
so the omission of this information is likely
intentional. [12]

Investigation Prevention
Each of the four flights commandeered for the attack either originated
from airports far from their targets or flew hundreds of miles west The crashes were not seriously investigated:
before turning around.

The NTSB was not allowed to study the crashes.


[13]
Recordings of interviews with air traffic
controllers were destroyed. [14]
The 9/11 Commission repeated the FBI's original
list of suicide hijackers, without even
acknowledging that six of them reported
themselves alive after the attack. [15]

PM goes to lengths
THE to explain the
"puffs". It quotes
WORLD TRADE NIST lead
investigator Shyam
CENTER Sunder saying
When you have a
CLAIMS ATTACKED BY POPULAR significant portion
MECHANICS of of a floor
MECHANICS of of a floor
collapsing it's
In this section, PM attacks five claims of which only
going to shoot air
two are valid: that the Twin Tower collapses ejected
and concrete dust
clouds of concrete dust, and that Building 7 was
out the window At about seven seconds after the South
destroyed through controlled demolition. The other Tower's top stated to plunge, the event
without explaining
three claims are red herrings and are used to has become quite explosive. The red
where the concrete arrow points to puffs of dust emerging
overshadow the valid claims. PM dismisses the valid from the mechanical floor, about ten
dust came from, or
claims -- which are only the tip of the iceberg of floors below the zone of total
even attempting to destruction. If those puffs are due to
evidence of controlled demolition -- with the floors pancaking, then what is
quantify the amount
misdirection, omissions, and hand-waving. producing all of the dust in the
of dust that should explosion above, the floors containing
be expected in the the only concrete in the tower?
Widespread Damage absence of
explosives.
CLAIM: ... OTHER EXPLOSIVES (... such as
concussion bombs) HAD ALREADY BEEN PM fails to acknowledge any of the global collapse
DETONATED in the lower levels of tower one at the features that researchers often cite as proving
same time as the plane crash. demolition, such as verticallity, explosiveness,
The article's lead point in the World Trade Center pulverization and rapidity -- features abundantly
topic is an obscure idea that explosives in the documented in the extensive body of surviving
basements of the towers damaged the lobbies at photographs and videos. [16] [17] Instead it implies
about the time the planes hit. This claim is difficult that conspiracy theorists rely on the opinion of
to find in 9/11 skeptics' literature, and is entirely expert Van Romero:
distinct -- in both the support that exists for it, and Numerous conspiracy theorists cite Van Romero,
the support that it provides for "conspiracy theories" - an explosives expert and vice president of the
- from the contention that explosives brought down New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology,
the towers (56 and 102 minutes after the plane who was quoted on 9/11 by the Albuquerque
crashes). Journal as saying "there were some explosive
devices inside the buildings that caused the
Puffs Of Dust towers to collapse."

"I was misquoted in saying that I thought it was


CLAIM: ... The concrete clouds shooting out of the explosives that brought down the building," he
buildings are not possible from a mere collapse. tells PM. "I only said that that's what it looked
They do occur from explosions. ... like."
Here PM takes its claim -- the only valid one among
the four relating to the Twin Tower collapses -- from The following excerpts from the Albuquerque
an advertisement in the New York Times for the book Journal article make it difficult to accept the
Painful Questions. By titling this section Puffs Of explanation that Romero was misquoted.
Dust rather than "Explosions of Concrete", and by The collapse of the buildings appears "too
showing only a photograph of the early part of a methodical" to be a chance result of airplanes
collapse, the article minimizes the explosiveness of colliding with the structures. ... "My opinion is,
the event. based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes
hit the World Trade Center there were some
hit the World Trade Center there were some
explosive devices inside the buildings that
caused the towers to collapse." ... "It would be
difficult for something from the plane to trigger
an event like that." [18]

PM quotes Romero denying that his retraction was


bought:

"Conspiracy theorists came out saying that the


government got to me. That is the farthest thing
from the truth. This has been an albatross around
my neck for three years."
The article features this image of the South Tower's collapse, taken
about 2.5 seconds after the top started to plunge. It was taken by PM fails to mention that Van Romero was named
Gulnara Samoilova, who risked her life to take the photograph from a chairman of the Domestic Preparedness
vantage point that would be engulfed by thick toxic dust in under 20
seconds. Consortium in January 2001, that his Institute
received $15 million for an anti-terrorism program
in 2002, or that Influence Magazine tapped him as
one of six top lobbyists in 2003, having secured
$56 million for New Mexico Tech. [19] [20] [21] [22]

"Melted Steel" PM reproduced two sets of charts from the Palisades


station with different time scales, falsely accusing
revisionists of misleading by showing only the
CLAIM: ... The first lie was that the load of fuel charts with the compressed time scales:
from the aircraft was the cause of structural
failure. No kerosene fire can burn hot enough to On that graph, the 8- and 10-second collapses
melt steel. ... appear--misleadingly--as a pair of sudden spikes.
The article implies that skeptics' criticism of the Lamont-Doherty's 40-second plot of the same
official account that fires weakened the towers' data (Graph 2, above) gives a much more
structures is based on the erroneous assumption that detailed picture: ...
the official story requires that the fires melted the Incidentally, the claim that that the towers collapsed
steel. in 8 and 10 seconds is contradicted by video
recordings, which show that both collapses took
In fact, the fire-melts-steel claim was first between 14 and 16 seconds. [27]
introduced by apologists for the official story within
days of the attack. On September 13, the BBC
quoted "structural engineer" Chris Wise as saying:

It was the fire that killed the buildings. There's


nothing on earth that could survive those
temperatures with that amount of fuel burning.
The columns would have melted, the floors would PM reproduces these two different charts of the same events. The
have melted and eventually they would have graph on the left represents 30-minute time spans, whereas the
graph on the right represents 40-second time spans. PM accuses
collapsed one on top of each other. [23] WhatReallyHappened.com of selectively displaying only the chart
on the left to falsely imply that the seismic signals were sudden
The more sophisticated column failure and truss spikes. In fact, that website reproduced the following graphic from
Lamont-Doherty that combined charts with both time scales.
failure theories, advanced in subsequent days and
Lamont-Doherty that combined charts with both time scales.
failure theories, advanced in subsequent days and
weeks, are the subject of detailed analysis and
debunking in my talk The World Trade Center
Demolition. [24]

Even in attacking this straw-man claim, PM


misrepresents the physics of fires, claiming Jet fuel
burns at 800 to 1500F ... Steel loses about 50
percent of its strength at 1100F ... And at 1800 it is
probably at less than 10 percent. Here the article
implies that flame temperatures and steel
temperatures are synonymous, ignoring the thermal
conductivity and thermal mass of steel, which wicks
away heat. In actual tests of uninsulated steel
structures subjected to prolonged hydrocarbon- [28] PM fraudulently accuses
fueled fires conducted by Corus Construction Co. WhatReallyHappened.com of misleadingly
the highest recorded steel temperatures were 680F. displaying a chart that it does not. However, that site
[25] is nonetheless incorrect in asserting that the
strongest signals were at the beginning of the
Seismic Spikes collapses. If one magnifies the amplitude scales of
the charts, as in the graphics below, it becomes
CLAIM: ... The strongest jolts were all registered apparent that a signal several times the magnitude of
at the beginning of the collapses, well before the baseline signal begins about ten seconds before
falling debris struck the earth. ... the large spikes in each case.
This claim -- widespread among websites attacking
the official story -- was refuted in 2003 by
911Research.wtc7.net. [26] Instead of simply
refuting this straw-man claim, PM makes its own
specious claim that the seismic records prove that
Here are zoomed-up portions of the Palisades charts for the South
the towers were not destroyed with explosives: and North Tower collapses, showing 20-second intervals during
which the collapses started.
The seismic waves--blue for the South Tower, red
for the North Tower--start small and then
escalate as the buildings rumble to the ground.
Translation: no bombs.
That the strongest spikes recorded the rubble hitting
the ground proves nothing about the presence or
absence of explosives, whose seismic signature
would be minimal.

The collapse of each of the Twin Towers on 9/11/01


generated small earthquakes which were observed
by seismologists up to 265 miles away from Lower
Manhattan, and recorded by half a dozen seismic
recording stations within 25 miles. The most widely
referenced seismic charts were produced by the
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Palisades.
WTC 7 Collapse Features of the Twin Towers' Collapses
Beyond
CLAIM: ... the video clearly shows that it was not Puffs of Dust
a collapse subsequent to fire, but rather a
controlled demolition. ... The collapses of the Twin Towers exhibited many
PM excerpts this claim from 911review.org, a features that can be explained only by controlled
website that promoted pod-plane and other no-plane demolition:
hoaxes before vanishing about the time the PM
The towers fell straight down through themselves
article was published. The article simply repeats the
maintaining radial symmetry,
site's claim without directing the reader to where
The towers' tops mushroomed into vast clouds of
they can see videos, such as on wtc7.net. [29]
pulverized concrete and shattered steel.
"progressive collapse" of Building 7:
The collapses exhibited demolition squibs shooting
What our preliminary analysis has shown is that out of the towers well below the zones of total
if you take out just one column on one of the destruction.
lower floors, it could cause a vertical The collapses generated vast dust clouds that
progression of collapse so that the entire section expanded to many times the towers' volumes --
comes down. more than occurs in typical controlled demolitions.
Note the guarded language Sunder uses to describe The towers came down suddenly and completely, at
the extent of the collapse. The reader is led to a rate only slightly slower than free fall in a
believe that the collapse of a "section" could lead to vacuum. The flat top of the North Tower's rubble
the total collapse of the building, when in fact there cloud revealed in the above photo show the rubble
are no examples of total progressive collapse of falling at the same speed inside and outside the
steel-framed buildings outside of the alleged cases former building's profile, an impossibility unless
of the Twin Towers and Building 7. [30] demolition charges were removing the building's
structure ahead of the falling rubble.
The explosions of the towers were characterized by
FACTS IGNORED BY POPULAR
intense blast waves that shattered windows in
MECHANICS buildings 400 feet away.
The steel skeletons were consistently shredded into
The (Short) History of Fires Downing short pieces which could be carried easily by the
Steel-Frame Buildings equipment used to dispose of the evidence.
Eyewitnesses reported explosions before and at the
Fires have never outset of the collapses.
caused the total
collapse of a steel- Features of WTC 7's Collapse Avoided by
framed high-rise PM
building. There are a
number of examples PM mentions none of the physical features of
of severe fires in WTC7's collapse that are signatures of controlled
high-rise buildings, demolition:
and none caused total
collapses. Several of The building collapsed in a precisely vertical
these fires were fashion.
apparently more The building collapsed at almost the rate of free-
severe than the fires fall.
severe than the fires fall.
in the three World The building collapsed into a tidy pile of rubble.
Trade Center
This photo shows the First Interstate
buildings on 9/11/01, Bank Building fire in Los Angeles.
exhibiting ongoing
window-breakage, large emergent flames, light
smoke, and spreading areas of fire. In contrast the
fires in the South Tower did not spread, and
showed diminishing flames and black smoke. The
fires in Building Seven remained limited to small
portions of single floors.
These photos show the verticality of Building 7's collapse -- a
signature feature of controlled demolition. The skyscraper was
The following table gives a rundown on the extent transformed from an erect structure to a tidy pile of rubble in about
6.2 seconds -- only a fraction of a second slower than the speed of
and duration of other high-rise fires compared to free-fall in a vacuum.
the 9/11/01 fires.

Who Controlled the World Trade Center?


building year duration floors burned

Facts about the ownership, insurance, and security


One Meridian Plaza 1991 18 hours 8
of the World Trade Center show that insiders had
First Interstate Bank 1988 4 hours 4 the means, motive, and opportunity to demolish the
Caracas Tower 2004 17 hours 26
buildings:

The World Trade Center passed into private control


North Tower 2001 1.8 hours ~6
on July 24, 2001 via a 99-year lease to a consortium
South Tower 2001 0.9 hours ~3 headed by Silverstein Properties. [31]
Silverstein promptly secured an insurance policy
Building 7 2001 3 hours ?
covering "terrorist attacks". [32]
In the wake of the attack, Silverstein sued the
insurance companies to obtain twice the value of
the policies, based on the two jet impacts being
"two occurrences", and eventually won. [33]
Security for the WTC was provided by Securacom,
a company with ties to the Bush family. [34]
Bomb-sniffing dogs were pulled from the WTC the
week before the attack. [35]

THE
THE
PENTAGON
CLAIMS ATTACKED BY POPULAR
MECHANICS
In this section, PM attacks three often-repeated
claims by proponents of the theory that no jetliner
crashed into the Pentagon. Like other mainstream
media attacks on 9/11 Truth, the article gives no
hint that many skeptics consider this theory a hoax,
and avoids the persuasive arguments against it. [36]
Instead, PM backhandedly promotes the theory It is counterintuitive to think that an aircraft could be reduced to
thorough sloppy and implausible refutations of the confetti by an impact with a reinforced barrier, but that is exactly what
this crash test demonstrated.
three claims. Meanwhile, PM totally ignores the
many facts about the Pentagon attack that point to
FACTS IGNORED BY POPULAR
an inside job.
MECHANICS

Big Plane, Small Holes The Undefended Pentagon


CLAIM: ... How does a plane 125 ft. wide and 155 The Pentagon is the headquarters of the most
ft. long fit into a hole which is only 16 ft. across? powerful military machine in world history:
...
Here the article cites the claim on reopen911.org The Pentagon was hit at around 9:40 AM, over an
that the hole in the Pentagon was "only 16ft. hour into the attack and over a half hour after the
across", and mentions French author Thierry second tower was hit. [40]
Meyssan, who asserted that a truck bomb or The Pentagon is surrounded by restricted airspace,
missile -- not an aircraft -- hit the Pentagon. The and presumably has missile batteries that would fire
article again implies that this idea is gospel among on any approaching aircraft failing to identify itself
9/11 skeptics, giving no clue that there is as friendly.
controversy about the issue in 9/11 skeptics' The Pentagon is 11 miles from Andrews Air Force
circles. [37] The errors section of 911review.com Base, which housed two combat-ready fighter
and pages on other 9/11 skeptics' sites have long wings. The website of the D.C. Air National Guard
debunked Meyssan's wildly inaccurate description had boasted that its mission was "To provide
of a 16-foot-diameter entry hole. [38] combat units in the highest possible state of
readiness." Despite scramble times of under five
PM cites the ACSE's estimate of the entry hole's minutes, we are told no interceptors made it into the
width as 75 ft based on analysis of column air before the attack. [41]
damage, while avoiding the more accessible
photographic evidence that a 90-foot expanse of If You Have to Hit Us ...
the facade was breached. [39]
The attack targeted the nearly empty portion of the
Pentagon:
Intact Windows
The west wing of the Pentagon was undergoing
CLAIM: ... photographs showing "intact renovation, and was sparsely occupied. [42]
windows" directly above the crash site prove "a Most of those killed in the attack were in the Naval
missile" or "a craft much smaller than a 757" Operations Center, which housed the Office of
missile" or "a craft much smaller than a 757" Operations Center, which housed the Office of
struck the Pentagon. Naval intelligence, a rival of the CIA. [43]
Here the article misrepresents an argument by The attack killed only one general and no admirals.
skeptics of the official account of Flight 77's crash The top brass, including Donald Rumsfeld, occupied
by stating that the issue is intact windows "near the the opposite side of the sprawling building.
impact area," when the skeptics point to unbroken
windows in the trajectory of portions of the Boeing Top-Gun Piloting by an Incompetent
757.
The attack plane executed extreme maneuvers to
PM uses this part to backhandedly promote the attack the west wing:
Pentagon Strike flash animation, which appears to
serve the same function as this article: discrediting The plane made a spiral dive, turning 270 degrees
skepticism by associating it with sloppy research and losing 7000 feet in two minutes, to crash into
and easily disproven ideas. the west wing.
The plane flew in at such a shallow angle that it
clipped lamp posts on the highway over 500 feet
Flight 77 Debris from the building, and plowed into the first floor of
the facade.
CLAIM: ... In reality, a Boeing 757 was never The alleged pilot of Flight 77, Hani Hanjour, was so
found ... incompetent that he was refused rental of a single-
Here the article drops a URL for Pentagon Strike a engine Cessna, yet he supposedly executed
second time, in case the reader missed the first one. maneuvers that many pilots think are beyond the
The lack of aircraft debris following the Pentagon skill of any human pilot. [44]
crash has been noted by many people as
suspicious, but it is not surprising, considering the
nature of the crash. In 1988 Sandia National
Laboratories conducted a crash test in which an F-
4 Phantom was crashed into a concrete barrier at
480 mph -- similar to the estimated speed of the
Pentagon attack plane. The test impact resulted the
entire aircraft being reduced to small pieces no
more than a few inches long. PM avoids any
evidence as compelling as the Sandia crash test to
explain the lack of large debris, but cites the
incredible statement of blast expert Allyn E.
Kilsheimer that "I held in my hand the tail section
of the plane, and I found the black box."

This explanation for


FLIGHT the far-flung debris
has the same problem
93 as PM's explanation
for the roving engine:
CLAIMS ATTACKED BY POPULAR a jetliner flying
MECHANICS straight into the
In this section, PM attacks four claims pointing to ground fast enough to
the shoot-down of Flight 93. In contrast to the bury itself in a large
the shoot-down of Flight 93. In contrast to the bury itself in a large Whereas PM displays a map showing
previous section, most of these claims are valid, yet impact crater would only a corner of Indian Lake to claim
PM's refutations are once again unconvincing. Why not be likely to fling itcrash
is less than 1.5 miles from the
site, this map shows the entire
does Chertoff backhandedly validate the skeptics on debris skyward. Even lake, which is up to three miles away.
this issue when he demonstrates such masterful use if it did, a light breeze
of the straw-man technique in the first two sections? would have to transport the debris through the air
Perhaps because this section is designed as a two miles to Indian Lake Marina, and more than six
distraction from the core facts that prove that the miles to New Baltimore, where eyewitnesses
attack was an inside job: the shoot-down of Flight reported descending confetti, according to the Post-
93 is entirely consistent with the rest of the official Gazette. [45]
story, and is thus a safe "limited hangout".
F-16 Pilot
The White Jet
CLAIM ... Major Rick Gibney fired two Sidewinder
CLAIM: ... [Flight 93] was downed by "either a missiles at the aircraft and destroyed it in midflight
missile fired from an Air Force jet, or via an at precisely 0958
electronic assault made by a U.S. Customs airplane In the final point, the article takes on the allegation
reported to have been seen near the site minutes by retired Army Col. Donn de Grand-Pre that the
after Flight 93 crashed. ... pilot who shot down Flight 93 was Major Rick
Here the article counters the idea that a small white Gibney. The article states that Gibney was flying an
jet reported by eyewitnesses had anything to do with F-16 that day, but it was not on an intercept
the crash by relating a detailed account by the mission; rather it was to pick up Ed Jacoby Jr., the
aviation director of the company that owned the director of the New York State's Emergency
business jet, David Newell. According to Newell, Management Office, and fly him from Montana to
the co-pilot of the jet, Yates Gladwell, was Albany, NY.
contacted by FAA's Cleveland Center to investigate
the crash immediately after it happened. According PM delivers its closing ad hominem attack on
to PM: skeptics in the voice of Ed Jacoby:
Gladwell confirmed the account but, concerned I summarily dismiss [allegations that Gibney shot
about ongoing harassment by conspiracy down Flight 93] because Lt. Col. Gibney was
theorists, asked not to be quoted directly. with me at the time. It disgusts me to see this
because the public is being misled. More than
anything else it disgusts me because it brings up
Roving Engine fears. It brings up hopes -- it brings up all sorts
of feelings, not only to the victims' families but to
CLAIM ... The main body of the engine ... was all individuals throughout the country, and the
found miles away from the main wreckage site with world for that matter. I get angry at the
damage comparable to that which a heat-seeking misinformation out there.
missile would do to an airliner.
Here PM cites an exaggeration found in a story on FACTS IGNORED BY POPULAR
Rense.com, a site that specializes in UFOs. The far- MECHANICS
flung debris field of the Flight 93 crash site along
PM completely ignores eyewitness accounts that
with the eyewitness accounts make a strong case
describe the trajectory of the plane into the ground.
that the plane was shot down. PM argues that
engine parts being found 300 yards from the main
site is reasonable for a simple crash, because airline unnamed witness: Says he hears two loud bangs
accident expert Michael K. Hynes, who investigated before watching the plane take a downward turn
of nearly 90 degrees. [46]
the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996, states parts of nearly 90 degrees. [46]
could bounce that far "when you have high Terry Butler: "It dropped out of the clouds." The
velocities, 500 mph or more." This theory is at odds plane rose slightly, trying to gain altitude, then
with the eyewitness reports that the plane "it just went flip to the right and then straight
plummeted almost straight down. down." [47]
unnamed witness: It makes a high-pitched,
screeching sound. The plane then makes a sharp,
Indian Lake
90-degree downward turn and crashes. [48]
Tim Thornsberg "It came in low over the trees
CLAIM ... [Residents] reported what appeared to and started wobbling. Then it just rolled over
be crash debris floating in Indian Lake, nearly 6 and was flying upside down for a few seconds ...
miles from the immediate crash scene. ... and then it kind of stalled and did a nose dive
The article devotes this point to the confetti seen over the trees." [49]
over Indian Lake, which it asserts is less than 1.5 Tom Fritz: He hears a sound that "wasn't quite
miles southeast of the impact crater , explaining that right" and looks up in the sky. "It dropped all of
this distance is easily within range of debris blasted a sudden, like a stone." [50]
skyward by the heat of the explosion from the blast .

9/11 MYTHS DEBUNKED


Having slain the conspiracy theory army's poison-spewing 16-headed dragon of 9/11 LIES -- PM declares
the enemy vanquished, titling its final section 9/11 MYTHS DEBUNKED. On page 128, PM reveals its suit
of armor -- a list of over 70 experts that it found particularly helpful. The titles and names on this page are
supposed to back the many assertions the article makes in the main section, but the article gives no
indication of what experts or reports back up many of its key assertions. In fact, only two of PM's experts
attempt to directly refute claims I consider valid:

Maj. Douglas Martin defends the incompetence theory of the failure of military response.
Shyam Sunder attempts to explain the "puffs of dust" shooting out of the South Tower as the result of
floor "pancaking", and attempts to explain the collapse of Building 7 by likening it like a house of cards.

PM cites other experts to counter valid claims without it being clear that they are addressing the issue at
hand. For example PM cites airline accident expert Michael K. Hynes as asserting that aircraft parts can
bounce over 300 yards in high-speed crashes, without clarifying whether he is addressing the crash of
Flight 93: a vertical plunge into soft ground.

MORE FACTS IGNORED BY POPULAR MECHANICS

Foreknowledge Investigation Obstruction

A privileged group acted as if they had The Bush administration thwarted any genuine
foreknowledge of the attack. investigation of the attack.

Several people received warnings not to fly Not a single official was demoted or reprimanded
canceled plans to fly on 9/11/01, including John for the failure of the military to defend New York
Ashcroft then-San-Francisco-mayor Willie Brown, City and Washington DC on 9/11/01.
Ashcroft then-San-Francisco-mayor Willie Brown, City and Washington DC on 9/11/01.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, author Salman NORAD head Richard Eberhart and JCS Chairman
Rushdie, and a group of top Pentagon officials. Myers were promoted after the attack.
Over tenfold increases in put options on the stocks The Bush administration stalled the creation of a
of the two airlines used in the attack -- American special commission for over 400 days. [54]
Airlines and United Airlines -- were recorded in George W. Bush initially named as head of the
the week before the attack. [51] commission coup and cover-up architect Henry
CEOs from the World Trade Center attended a Kissinger, but he declined to serve to maintain the
breakfast meeting hosted by billionaire Warren secrecy of his client list. [55] The figurehead chairs
Buffett at Ofutt Air Force Base in Nebraska on the of the commission would be Thomas Kean and Lee
day of the attack. Hamilton, both with ties to the Dept. of Homeland
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld disclosed on Security, but the actual work of the Commission
the eve of the attack that $2.3 trillion in was directed by Philip Zelikow, a Bush
transactions was unaccounted for, burying the administration insider.
scandal in the shadow of 9/11.
No Evidence Against Suspects
Complicit Behavior
Officials have produced no evidence linking the
Top officials behaved in a complicit manner during supposed perpetrators to the attack.
the attack.
The December 2001 bin Laden confession video is
President Bush remained seated in a televised, an obvious fraud. [56]
known location (reading "My Pet Goat" with Not a single suspect has been convicted for
second-graders) long after being informed that the involvement in the attack either in the United
country was under attack. States or abroad. [57] FBI director Mueller admitted
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers that "not a single piece of paper" linked the
remained in a meeting with Max Cleland as the officially named suspects to the attack. [58]
attack unfolded. [52]
Brig. Gen. Montague Winfield reported that "For
30 minutes we couldn't find" Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld. [53]
Montague Winfield, National Military Command
Center commander, arranged for Capt. Leidig, a
rookie on the job, to relieve him of duty at 8:30
The Osama in the video released on 12/7/01 by the
AM on 9/11/01. Winfield returned to his command Pentagon (left) has a different facial structure that
post after the attack was over. the Osama pictured in earlier media reports (right).

Conclusion
Others have pointed out that the Popular Mechanics article is full of errors and sloppy analysis. While I
agree, I believe that the article's shoddiness is engineered to achieve certain ends -- such as drawing
attention toward red-herring issues. For example, PM is unpersuasive in debunking the Pentagon no-
jetliner theories and the Flight 93 shoot-down claim. The sloppiness is apparently part of PM's strategy of
setting up and attacking straw-man arguments: It leaves some its straw men relatively unmolested,
presumably because they have value in distracting from the facts that conclusively refute the official story.
presumably because they have value in distracting from the facts that conclusively refute the official story.

Popular Mechanics may have elevated the straw-man argument to a sophistication never before seen,
wherein specious arguments are nested within specious claims. The entire article is a kind of straw man
because it addresses only physical evidence topics while ignoring other bodies of evidence. Of the four
topics, one is a likely a hoax, and the other is incidential to the falsity of the official story. The other two
topics contain a mix of valid and specious claims, and the valid claims are attacked with false, deceptive,
and straw-man arguments.

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