October 27, 2013
By Craig McKee
Barbara Honegger calls last month’s “9/11: Advancing the Truth” conference “historic” and a “major triumph for the movement.”
More than that, she thinks it’s a huge step towards that elusive “consensus” about the Pentagon that so many of us have thought was neither possible nor particularly desirable.
But who can blame Honegger for her enthusiasm? It was clearly her show. Not only was she part of the organizing committee for the conference, but she spoke both on Saturday and on Sunday. The latter talk went on for nearly two hours – longer than the other two Pentagon speakers combined (I’ll return to this issue later).
But was the conference historic? Was it a “quantum leap forward” for the movement, as she also said? Not the conference I saw – and certainly not where the Pentagon discussion was concerned. (Other presentations were given by Richard Gage, Webster Tarpley, Barry Kissin, M.D. Alam, Kevin Barrett, Isa Hodge, and Wayne Madsen – but for the purposes of this article I am focusing on the Pentagon part of the event.)
In fact, all the areas that seem to make Honegger so happy with the conference are the very ones where I saw the most reasons for concern. I’m not primarily talking about the things that most obviously went wrong – particularly with the live streaming – I’m talking about things that organizers seem quite happy with.
The most important element of this conference was always going to be the Pentagon, even though the issue of who was responsible for the crimes of 9/11 was another major focus. Let’s face it, the whole event was held in a hotel overlooking the Pentagon for a reason! Unfortunately, it is with the airing of differing “perspectives” on the Pentagon evidence where the event fell most short.
The session was originally conceived as a debate that would contrast what organizers feel are the main positions on what happened at the Pentagon on 9/11: the no-airliner-impact position (which organizers described as the “Citizen Investigation Team position”); the case for an airliner-impact; and Honegger’s contention that a drone painted to look like an American Airlines jet was destroyed right before it would have hit the Pentagon wall.
(The idea of a debate was dropped in favor of three 50-minute presentations followed by a panel discussion featuring questions from the audience. For details concerning why this change was made and other aspects of the conference planning, check out my post on Truth and Shadows as well as the strong statement of condemnation for the event from invitee Craig Ranke of CIT.)
On the monthly 9/11 Truth Teleconference call on Sept. 25 (the Teleconference features participation from conference organizers as well as several who support the position that no airliner hit the Pentagon – and some who fit both descriptions), Honegger not only made the remarks I attributed to her above, but she also elaborated on the nature of the consensus she thinks is now possible. It turns out it bears an uncanny resemblance to her own position!
She said that the three speakers “paved the way for a consensus, a true consensus, which is basically a north path plane that didn’t fly over but, in my opinion, was destroyed before it could hit the wall near the heliport.”
I’m not sure how this can be an area of consensus when Honegger was the only speaker who said she believes it – at least the last part of it. It seems that the only point agreed upon by all three was that the official story is false to one degree or another. But we knew that going in.
It is clear that Honegger was pushing the “happy family” scenario right from the beginning of the event. She noted at one point that all three presenters are “friends” implying that this is in itself a major step forward. During his introduction to the panel discussion, Kevin Barrett said, “Our panel discussion of the contentious issue of what did or did not happen at the Pentagon – well it may not be all that contentious …” at which point Honegger interjected “anymore,” suggesting that something special had indeed happened. But nothing had other than the fact that none of the presenters seemed prepared to challenge each other on much of anything.
Just because there was no one prepared to challenge Honegger concerning her contention that a drone was destroyed just before it would have hit the Pentagon does not mean that her position has emerged or will emerge as the dominant one. I do have to say at this point that a really detailed assessment of her presentation needs to be tackled on this blog in a future article. But before we can get into that, we have to look at what was really going on with this conference. (Organizers Frank Tolopko and George Ripley have said that the conference is a first step in bringing together different Pentagon positions – with more conferences possible in the future to continue the process.)
So let’s look at the question of consensus:
First presenter Dwain Deets contended there was an impact of an airliner with the building even though he once believed the opposite. His talk was entitled “Pentagon 757” with the subheading “Crash evidence, though skimpy, is consistent with high-speed impact into a hardened wall.” Have you ever heard anyone say that they believe a plane crash occurred at a given site even though evidence of the crash was “skimpy”? Only on 9/11 would you see this, when the laws of physics and common sense were both suspended.
Deets bases his reversal of position on, among other things, his increased understanding of remote control technology that may have been employed both at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center (he cites Aidan Monaghan’s book Declassifying 9/11 as an influential source for this). He also points to the “frantic” efforts to reinforce the wall of the Pentagon to withstand a high-speed impact, just in time for 9/11.
Second presenter Matt Sullivan took the “CIT position” that the large plane that approached the Pentagon did so on a path north of the former Citgo gas station, which is irreconcilable with the supposed damage path (Sullivan was the main organizer of the conference, and he took on the job of presenting this position after Craig Ranke of CIT, Shelton Lankford and I declined – again, see my previous conference article).
Sullivan’s talk, entitled “The Pentagon Flyover Theory” supported the idea that the plane flew over all right, but in the panel discussion he listed the flyover as the weakest point in the position attributed to CIT. I don’t recall him pointing to any weaknesses in his fellow presenters’ talks, however. I imagine that he was really saying that there isn’t the same eyewitness support for the plane actually flying over the building as there is for it being north of the gas station. Nevertheless, calling flyover the weakest point is a bit like Richard Gage saying that possible use of explosives at the WTC is the weakest part of the case for controlled demolition – just because we didn’t actually see them being planted.
And finally, Honegger thinks a drone painted to look like an American Airlines airliner approached the Pentagon twice and was destroyed (that’s the fireball we see in the “official” video) just prior to impact on the second approach. She believes this happened several minutes before the official “impact” time and several hundred feet to the north of the hole in the wall. She believes this destruction was “probably” carried out by an assault helicopter that she says witnesses saw hovering near the Pentagon immediately prior to the first external explosive event (which she also contends occurred at 9:32:30 a.m., several minutes earlier than the official time of 9:37:46).
Honegger contends that the white plane was supposed to be heading for the official story impact point but “something went wrong.” She also believes that the plane was destroyed to protect the building and that it could have been Dick Cheney who made this decision.
“Cheney, I believe, or the Secret Service, ordered the destruction of the white plane,” she said.
Calling all of that a basis for consensus is at best wishful thinking and, at worst, blatant spin.
One thing that was good was that the idea of creating a consensus statement (they called it a “conference statement”) was abandoned. I think this is a direct result of opposition to the idea from “no-airliner-impact” advocates, of which I am one. But this is speculation on my part.
The 9/11 Truth Teleconference considered a resolution in August that, had it passed, would have urged the organizers to drop the consensus statement, ensure that the order of Pentagon speakers be drawn strictly by lot, and keep Honegger from using her Saturday presentation as a lead in to her Pentagon one. The resolution did not succeed for reasons for too complex to go into here (any masochists among you can listen to our three-hour August call for all the details).
Honegger did speak last as feared, she did use her Saturday talk to lead in to her Sunday one (quite effectively), and while there was no consensus statement, she seems to have taken it upon herself to push the perception that consensus did at least begin to take hold.
It was, however, the length of the presentations that really dealt a fatal blow to the credibility of the Pentagon session as a mechanism for evaluating the arguments. The fact that Honegger spoke last and went on for nearly two hours almost seems like a deliberate statement on the part of organizers that they would not bow to pressure from the outside. Or maybe everybody was getting along so well they just decided, “What the heck.” Either way, it was a mistake not to even try to present an image of fairness and even-handedness.
On the Sept. 25 Teleconference call, we learned that the 50-minute limit to Pentagon presentations had been tossed out (for some reason) and that presenters had been told that they could continue as long as they wanted to. It just so happened that Deets and Sullivan had had prepared presentations that stayed within the original limits and had no need of any extra time. It all worked out so conveniently for Honegger.
She did get a “wrap it up in five minutes” signal just before the two-hour mark and said to the audience that she would not have enough time to finish all her slides. In fact, she said, it was the most important ones that we didn’t get to see. Another side effect of her long talk was that the panel discussion was kept to just 30 minutes. Of all the things that could have been shortened, the panel discussion was not among them.
On the August Teleconference call, Honegger stated that the order of speakers would either be drawn by lot or by agreement of the three speakers. Tolopko said after the conference that lots had been drawn. Either way, the speaking order ended up exactly as it was listed on the web site in the weeks leading up to the conference.
I can’t help wondering what would have happened if Honegger had drawn the lot to go first. Would she have gone two hours anyway? What if the other two wanted to do the same? (The big plus to this scenario would have been less time for Dick Gregory’s painfully endless talk, which finally had to be interrupted after 90 minutes by a poster auction. I’ve never welcomed a merchandizing effort more than I did this one. Sorry if this seems politically incorrect to say, but was he not given a time limit? And he rarely even mentioned 9/11 in his talk; it was mostly about race and civil rights – extremely important subjects to be sure, but …)
I wasn’t able to attend the conference in person, but I did watch as much as I could live streamed on the conference web site. And while I don’t want to nit-pick about little glitches that can happen at any conference – I do think it’s fair to report them (you might recall that the live streaming of Honegger’s talk at the Vancouver Hearings last summer was not accompanied by sound).
The live streaming appeared to go well on Saturday, the 14th, but Sunday was another matter entirely. For starters, it came on with less than five minutes remaining in Deets’s opening Pentagon presentation, so no one who wasn’t there could see it until it was posted on You Tube in the last few days.
Sullivan showed 17 minutes of excerpts from the CIT film National Security Alert, but while the film was running, a loud buzzing noise made it impossible to hear the soundtrack of the film. The final problem occurred during the 30-minute panel discussion after the lunch break. The sound there was accompanied by loud classical music that made hearing the speakers a strain. Fortunately, the recently posted videos are free of these problems.
Deets’s now viewable presentation uses the Sandia F-4 rocket sled experiment (in which a craft on rocket sled is rammed into a concrete barrier; the plane disintegrates into thousands of small pieces) to account for the lack of large pieces of airplane debris outside the Pentagon.
The thing about the Sandia test that has always struck me (and no, I’m not a physicist or an engineer), is that the plane does turn into thousands of small pieces of debris, but it does not create, and barrel through, a hole in the concrete barrier at the same time. With the Pentagon, we’re supposed to believe that the airliner that is alleged to have hit (as Deets now claims) was not only blasted into small pieces but ALSO penetrated through three rings of the Pentagon, creating a round “exit hole” in the middle ring.
Sullivan gave a basic overview of the position that a plane did not hit the Pentagon. Prior to the conference, I recommended to organizer Elaine Sullivan that this designation be changed since the position that no 757 hit the Pentagon is supported by most truthers and is not exclusively CIT’s. This suggestion was not heeded, and the description of Sullivan as representing CIT’s position has not changed to this day. During her second presentation, Honegger actually referred to Sullivan as “Matt from the Citizen Investigation Team.”
While I won’t criticize Sullivan too much for not having put together a more complex presentation I do have some concerns about his remarks that the flyover evidence is the weakest element of the case and that the main witness to this (Roosevelt Roberts) was “shaky.” It is also worth noting that he did not even mention Lloyde England, who was supposed to have had a light pole plunge through his windshield, according to his completely unbelievable story.
Honegger didn’t offer a weakest point, at least not at first – but then she piped in with the issue of debris. She said that people challenge her on this because there isn’t enough debris near the heliport to account for a 757.
“But it’s not a 757!” she said. So her idea of a weak point is a point that other people claim is weak but that she can explain. No problem.
Honegger links a number of events around that time of the morning on 9/11 to what she claims is the destruction of the white plane outside the Pentagon, including the evacuation of the White House. She also thinks that George W. Bush was rushed out of the Florida school following the alleged 9:32 event and that Andrews Air Force Base went on alert for the same reason.
Honegger made a number of other very interesting comments and claims during her presentations. Among those was her point about those who say we should ignore the Pentagon evidence because of the possibility of being discredited in the future when new evidence is released:
“If you have people in the 9/11 Truth movement who say don’t look at the Pentagon, don’t go there, because the government is going to release all these video tapes to make fools of us, they’re lying,” she said.
“Don’t trust them to be a real investigator.”
Those are strong words. And they seem to be directed at a number of the most vocal critics of CIT and Pilots for 9/11 Truth. In fact, in their “Joint Statement on the Pentagon,” Pentagon pro-planers David Chandler and Jonathan Cole raise the issue of positions that are vulnerable to being discredited at some future date. They don’t mention the Pentagon videos specifically in that paper, but they do appear to qualify for Honegger’s distrust. Jim Hoffman is another plane-impact advocate who has made this statement (he’s the guy who thinks that explosives might have been planted in the tail section of the 757, accounting for the lack of damage to the Pentagon wall where the tail section would have hit).
Honegger criticized Kevin Ryan for his unwillingness to consider the role played by Israel in planning, executing, and covering up the fake “terror attacks.” She also dismissed John Wyndham as not being an authentic 9/11 researcher. Wyndham joins Ryan, Chandler, and Cole in claiming that a large plane did hit the Pentagon. He challenges Honegger’s claim that the initial exterior explosive event occurred at about 9:32 a.m., claiming that the clocks that were stopped at about that time could have had hands fall down to that position as a result of the impact.
Slipping under the radar (no pun intended) was Mark Gaffney’s presentation on “Motive, men and means.” Gaffney, author of Black 9/11: Money, Motive, and Technology and The 9/11 Mystery Plane and the Vanishing of America, started his talk by walking down the aisle and looking out the window of the meeting room at the Pentagon itself. Because the cameraman followed his movements, we have the opportunity on the video to see the view as well.
Gaffney, without acknowledging that what happened at the Pentagon would be the main point of contention for the following morning, ventured outside of his assigned topic and “explained” how from this window you would have been able to see Flight 77 approaching the Pentagon prior to impact.
“Flight 77 came right through here, not very far from the hotel. And see that antenna over there? I think it’s a radio station, a radar tower, it clipped the top of it because it was very low.”
Not only does the north side path exposed by CIT make this impossible, but research by Pilots for 9/11 Truth confirms that it would have been impossible for a 757 to have hit the top of the tower, then the light poles before hitting the first floor of the building while flying parallel to the ground at more than 500 miles per hour. CIT also received confirmation from the Virginia Department of Transportation that the antenna had not been damaged.
While Gaffney is entitled to his opinion, however unfounded, it was inappropriate of him to throw out this comment without at least acknowledging that this point is not supported by most in the Truth movement. In fact, by saying that not only did a 757 hit the building but that it was Flight 77, Gaffney puts himself squarely on the side of the official story.
He goes on to point out that the Navy Annex (several witnesses had the plane flying over the top of the Navy Annex – which is incompatible with the official southern path) has been torn down, continuing the “destruction of evidence.” I’m not sure why this building would provide important evidence to someone who believes that Flight 77 barreled into the Pentagon along the very precise southern path, as claimed by the official story.
While I don’t see this conference as a leap forward of any kind, it does offer lots for us to chew on.
We saw the “skimpy” case made by Dwain Deets for a 757 impact; we saw Matt Sullivan’s “intro to CIT” presentation that scratched the surface of the case that a 757 could not have hit; and we saw Barbara Honegger’s with her head-scratching suggestion that the fireball we have all seen on that Pentagon video is actually a white drone being blasted out of the air by a Marine Corps attack helicopter on the order of Dick Cheney. Or the Secret Service.
That last claim could be an article on its own.