A Review of David Ray Griffin's "Debunking 9/11 Debunking"

This is a timely, excellent response to the 'debunkers' of the 9/11 Truth Movement.

The 'debunkers,' of course, are the ones who are on the 9/11 research scene to say: "Everything the 9/11 Truth Movement says about government complicity is wrong. The official story is indeed correct, so please get back to whatever you were doing in your life before you ever heard of these absurd theories."

This is Griffin's thickest technical volume on 9/11. There are four lengthy chapters, totaling 322 pages of text, after which there are 62 pages of endnotes. The fourth chapter, about 100 pages in length, deals exclusively with rebutting the Popular Mechanics book "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts." The first three chapters deal with other publications that emerged in 2006, as the 9/11 Truth Movement was gaining ground. These publications include Michael Broenner's Vanity Fair article "9/11 Live: The Norad Tapes," Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton's "Without Precedent," and finally the NIST report and its attempt to debunk the controlled demolition hypothesis.

I've been toying for awhile about what kind of review to write. If I give an in-depth review of the content for each chapter of this book, the review will be so long people won't want to read it! Several other in-depth reviews have focused on the problems with the NORAD tapes. So I will focus primarily on the Popular Mechanics chapter, since PM is most often cited as the knockout punch which refutes all the movement's claims.

Continued after the jump.

Here, it is important to remember the psychological effect of a book like the Popular Mechanics volume. The publishers of that book know that people do judge books by their covers. Many people will walk past the book at the Barnes & Noble, and will say to themselves: "Ah-ha. Good to know. Conspiracy theories of deliberate US government involvement debunked. Next time someone brings up 9/11 conspiracy theories at work, I'll mention to them that I saw this book."

Fortunately thanks to David Ray Griffin (and others), Popular Mechanics' 9/11 propaganda has not been allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged. Let me just show a few ways in which the PM staff reveal themselves to be deceivers and liars. I'll focus on the Pentagon:

Popular Mechanics claims that "hundreds of witnesses saw a Boeing 757 hit the building." They do not seem to have been to interested in analyzing the believability of some of these statements, as Griffin has done. PM quotes structural engineer Allyn Kilsheimer, who says: "It was absolutely a plane... I picked up parts of the plane with the airline markings on them... I held in my hand the tail section of the plane, and I stood on a pile of debris that we later discovered contained the black box... I held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts. Okay?"

We almost don't need Griffin's help in realizing the absurdity of this statement: "But this is hardly 'okay.' Besides the fact that few people, aside from pathologists, would pick up body parts, the tail section of a Boeing 757 is over 20 feet long and quite heavy." Also, I might add, if he held the tail section in his hand, why didn't we see a tail section in the photographs immediately following the event?

A more disturbing aspect of this eyewitness' account, however, concerns the editing of his words between PM's March 2005 magazine article and the book which appeared in the summer of 2006. In March 2005, Kilsheimer reportedly said "and I found the black box." Researchers, however, noted that the two black boxes were found, according to the official story, by two firefighters three days later. As Griffin says: "At what school of journalistic ethics did the PM authors learn that, if part of a statement you have quoted from one of your star witnesses turns out to be false ('I found the black box'), you may simply change that part of the statement (to 'I stood on a pile of debris that we later discovered contained the black box')?"

Griffin goes on to say: "This modification is especially interesting in light of PM's James Meigs' complaint that few of the documents put out by alternative conspiracy theorists 'handle factual material with enough care to pass muster at a high-school newspaper.' Once again, the official conspiracy theorists are found to illustrate the very sins of which they accuse their opponents."

Although the Truth Movement is internally divided as to what happened at the Pentagon (yay-or-nay-757-on-scene), just about everyone is united in realizing the absurdity of the official story's composite claim: that the Pentagon was struck by AA 77 under the control of Hani Hanjour. Many people, including experienced pilots have rejected this story, by which Hanjour, by all accounts a terrible pilot, executed a 270-degree downward spiral drop in a few minutes, then circled around the Pentagon in a 330-degree turn in order to hit the unoccupied section at ground level, traveling only a few yards above I-395.

Several pilots, like veteran Ralph Omholt, have gone on the record to say that this series of events, especially performed by a terrible amateur, are "too ridiculous to consider." Pilot Russ Wittenberg has also gone on the record with similar remarks, saying that "For a guy to just jump into the cockpit and fly like an ace is impossible."

As Griffin shows us, the PM book does not even attempt to debunk this aspect of the story: "The PM authors like to claim that their case is supported by experts. But for their entire section on the 'hijackers' flying skills,' they quote only one flight instructor, and he speaks only to the issue of whether the hijackers could have pointed their planes towad their targets, not to the issue of whether Hanjour could have flown the trajectory allegedly taken by AA 77 in its final few minutes." They omit testimony like that of Wittenberg and Omholt.

Knowing they can't defend this part of the story, Griffin notes that PM uses straw-man tactics to fill up space: Discussing Thierry Meyssan's missile hypothesis and his misrepresentation of Mike Walters' "cruise missile with wings" statement.

When attempting to explain the physics as to why there doesn't visually appear to be a 757 on the scene, Popular Mechanics appeals to the authority of "senior research scientist" Paul Mlakar, who says that the plane hitting the Pentagon was like "taking a Coke can and smashing it against the wall. The back and front become one." As Griffin retorts: "As a scientist, Mlakar would know that smashing a Coke can does not reduce its weight. So why has no one reported finding a 100,000-pound piece of steel and aluminum in the wreckage?"

I shall address one issue in which the PM authors' desperate lying is exposed by the laser-sharp mind of Griffin. In an attempt to address the charge of a stand-down order by the US military to not intercept the planes, and bolster the 'incompetence' theory, Popular Mechanics says this: "One of the first steps the hijackers took after seizing control of the four aircraft was to turn off the jets' transponders. At the time of the hijackings, there were 4,500 planes in the skies over the continental US. Without transponder data..., controllers were forced to search for the missing aircraft among all the identical radar blips." As Griffin notes, this is a major lie because it paints a picture of 4,500 radar blips being on each ATC's screen. (Indeed the original magazine article explicitly said this.) But in reality, the radar scopes only cover a limited, local region; it is absurd to think that any single controller would be responsible for monitoring a screen with thousands of blips. Also, the four planes that had been hijacked would NOT have looked identical to the other blips, because only the hijacked jets would have been void of transponder data (a 4-digit code number and the plane's altitude). So they would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Finally, as Griffin asks rhetorically, "Was the US military's defense of the homeland during the Cold War based on the assumption that Soviet pilots would have the courtesy to leave their transponders on?"

These are just a few of the NUMEROUS examples of deception Griffin exposes in the Popular Mechanics publication. Anyone genuinely interested in knowing the truth about 9/11 will look at all available material, on all sides, and see the "debunkers" for who they are: people desperately grasping at straws to uphold a myth.


Timely book...right before the History channel documentary


The documentary that will be shown on the History Channel on the 20th of this month bases much of it's refutation of 9/11 conspiracy theories on the 'Popular Mechanics' debunking 9/11 publications. If this book is effective, it will shoot down this documentary as well as Popular Mechanics. We shouldn't underestimate the importance if this documentary for the administration....it is very important indeed. Things are coming to something of a fever-pitch, and this History Channel production was supposed to damp things down, right before the anniversary of 9/11. If that backfires.....

DRG is............

my hero. What an exceptional speaker,and his logic is unsurpased. Thank you Dr Griffin for all you have done for the truth.

Griffin deflates Popular Mechanics's reputation for objectivity

Another thing that Griffin does well is examine the common assumption that Popular Mechanics (hereafter, PM) is an unimpeachably stolid, seasoned, and independent source of science information for the general public.

To the contrary, PM belongs to one of the largest media companies in the world, the Hearst Corporation. (Founded, of course, by William Randolph Hearst of "yellow journalism" fame -- though it might be something of a cheap shot were I to emphasize that latter point.) The present-day Hearst Corporation is nothing if not the embodiment of mainstream media. It's simply inconceivable that it would permit any of its outlets to pronounce favorably about the 9/11 truth movement or 9/11 revisionism.

Moreover, the CEO of the Hearst Magazines division is married to a man well known to have held high-ranking positions at different times with both the CIA and the U.S. Information Agency. In short, he's an old hand at covert operations and at propaganda campaigns directed from within the executive branch of the federal government.

As to PM itself having some tradition of being a reliable old standby, the facts belie that in connection with PM's self-styled debunking of 9/11 revisionism. Beginning a year or so before the 9/11 issue of the magazine was published, the Hearst Magazines president undertook a systematic purging of all the old editorial hands and senior writers for PM. Its institutional memory was effectively wiped clean, and a whole new team of magazine journalists were brought in.

Then there's the whole funny story about Benjamin "Ben" Chertoff, one of the main writers in the 9/11 issue of the magazine. A 9/11 researcher called Ben's mother out of the blue, to ask her if Michael Chertoff, head of Bush's Homeland Security agency, is a cousin of her son. She unhesitatingly answered to the affirmative.

When it later came time to publish the PM book on 9/11, Ben Chertoff's role in the magazine's "investigation" -- so prominent in the 9/11 edition of the magazine -- is inexplicably downplayed. His credit is relegated to a mere mention in the acknowledgments. In the PM book itself, the brief discussion of the kinship of the two Chertoffs is nothing if not coy. It's insinuated without evidence that Ben's mother is confused and only meant that it's possible there's some distant common ancestry that the two men share. PM never does try to clear up just what kinship, or lack thereof, really exists between the two men.

Griffin dashes cold water on this con job. Of course PM, with the professional team of journalists it otherwise boasts of, and with Ben Chertoff himself on the staff, could easily determine exactly what the kinship is. Instead, all PM offers is sly evasion, and -- judging from Ben Chertoff's demoted credit -- coverup.

Notice the pattern

Focus on the Pentagon, lose points. Hmm.

But that was long ago....

Maybe I'm kidding myself. But I think there was a time in the U.S. when work like Griffin's could have sent Bush, Cheney and others to death row.