Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Imortal 9/11 Conspiracy

Some conspiracy theories never die. They remain impervious to facts or logic. So deeply enamored are some cynics with their dark fantasies, that all evidence to the contrary is either ignored, or dismissed.

[caption id="attachment_1730" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The E ring of the Pentagon at the 7th Corridor is beginning to fill with a thin haze of smoke, about 20 mins after plane hit the Pentagon. Photo by Jamie McIntyre. © 2001"][/caption]

So it is with the 9/11 deniers who still, nine years later, argue no plane hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. And I know this firsthand, because one of my reports is routinely used, or misused, to perpetuate the myth.

[caption id="attachment_1731" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Outside the River Entrance, waiting for the second plane to hit, 9/11/01 Photo by Jamie McIntyre ©2001"][/caption]

Google “Jamie McIntyre” and “9/11” and this firsthand account from 2001 will pop up, in which I utter the fateful words, “I can tell you from my close-up inspection, there’s no evidence of a plane crashing anywhere NEAR the Pentagon.”
That phrasing – taken out on context – has fueled internet conspiracies for years, and a fresh crop has popped up ahead of the 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
What the 9/11 deniers intentionally misrepresent, is that I was answering a question about an earlier report that the plane crashed SHORT of the Pentagon, nearby. I was explaining there was no sign of a crash anywhere BUT at the Pentagon.

[caption id="attachment_1732" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="A portion of the Pentagon collapses - 9/11/01 - Photo by Jamie McIntyre ©2001"][/caption]

A Google search will also turn up a longer version of the same report, in which you can see the full context of my report, and how it was deliberately distorted by mischief-makers whose motives are frankly unfathomable to me.
Whenever I confront one of these conspiracy promoters, the result is the same: they simply conclude I must be lying, or that the government has "gotten to me" to change my story.
But I was there. I saw the thousands of pieces of the plane scattered over the heliport outside the Pentagon. I photographed pieces of the wreckage, photos you can see here.
As a journalist I understand why some people are willing to believe the worst about the government. Because sometimes the government does lie, and cover up.

[caption id="attachment_1733" align="alignright" width="300" caption="On the heliport thousands of tiny shards of airplane wreckage cover the ground, 9/11/01 - Photo by jamie McIntyre ©2001"][/caption]

But the evidence surrounding the events of the September 11 is overwhelming and incontrovertible. Conspiracy theorists use a very simple devious and disingenuous tactic to sow doubt and promote their dubious conclusions. They simply ignore all the strong links in the chain of evidence, and focus instead on the weakest possible link.
If all you had to go by was the short clip of me saying, "there's no evidence a plane hit anywhere NEAR the Pentagon," you might well debate all day what I meant.
But we have all the evidence we need to know, without any doubt, that American Airlines flight 77 that took off from Dulles Airport was in fact flown into the side of the Pentagon the morning of September 11th.

[caption id="attachment_1734" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="A piece of wreckage that appears to be a cockpit window - 9/11/01 - Photo by Jamie McIntyre ©2001"][/caption]

When it comes to questioning the official version of events, it's good to keep an open mind. But if your mind is too open, your brain can fall out.
And frankly I think that's what's happened to some of these deniers.

[Construction Complete On 9/11 Truther Memorial]

[caption id="attachment_1735" align="alignright" width="300" caption="A piece of American Airlines flight 77, on the grounds of the Pentagon - 9/11/01 - Photo by Jamie McIntyre ©2001"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1736" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The picture I was arrested for taking. A Pentagon Police officer claimed I violated the ban on photography. - 9/11/10 - Photo by Jamie McIntyre ©2001"][/caption]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

All Out War - CNN vs. Fox

CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson was fuming. Accused by the rival Fox network of being an unwitting "human shield" duped by the Gaddafi forces, he was lashing out at his accuser.

"This allegation is outrageous and it's absolutely hypocritical," ranted Robertson, in a rare direct attack on Fox. When you come to someplace like Libya you expect lies from the dictatorship here. You don't expect it from the other journalists."

Strong words.

One problem: Robertson had no information to contradict the central allegation in Fox's report, namely that British planes called off a missile attack on Muammar Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli because a busfull of reporters, including from CNN and Reuters were being given a tour of the damaged building at the time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The "Non-Targeting" of Moammar Gaddafi

"I can guarantee that he's not on a targeting list," Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, director of the Joint Staff, told reporters late Sunday afternoon at the Pentagon.

But does that mean the U.S. and it's allies are not trying to kill the Libyan leader, who is vowing to wage a long war to stay in power?

Uh, not exactly.

Technically, what Adm. Bill Gortney says is true. For one thing it's nearly impossible to kill a single individual with cruise missiles, or airstrikes, so the military is never going to admit they tried a "Hail Mary" shot on the slim hopes of decapitating the regime.

Reporters with longer memories may recall when the U.S. tried to killed Osama bin Laden back in 1998, with a volley of cruise missiles aimed at his mountain redoubt, the Pentagon steadfastly, and with a straight face, insisted bin Laden was not the target. Just "terrorist infrastructure."

The reason for that is simple. Infrastructure, which doesn't move, is infinitely easier to hit than people.

But just like in the opening days of the 2003 Iraq war, when the U.S. tried to killed Saddam Hussein with airstrikes even before the ground invasion began, you have to know that there was at least a hope that the whole messy situation might be resolved with a couple of well-placed cruise missiles, which were fired by a British submarine, by the way.

Adm. Gortney you will note, did not say the coalition was trying to avoid killing him. Gaddafi is fair game if he happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, say inspecting a missile site. Or at his Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, which was destroyed Sunday. Or really anywhere allied forces strike.

And not being specifically "targeted" is a distinction that makes little difference to Gaddafi himself. He's well aware that the U.S. would be perfectly happy to see him dead, and is willing to use lethal force, as it did in 1986.

In this case military actions speak louder than words from a Pentagon briefer. And that message is: We'll kill you if we can, so get out now and save your skin.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Missing the Lessons of Japan

Amateur Night at the Big Three Networks

Could it happen here?

It's a basic question any self-respecting news organization asks itself after a major disaster. And a very legitimate question it is. People want to know, need to know. Should they worry? How much? It's a core function of good journalism to help the public understand the real risks, the real issues that are in dispute.

And in the case of the Japanese nuclear crisis, it's particularly relevant, since there are currently 23 U.S. reactors in service that are based on the same 1960s design as reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi complex.

So this past week, all three major news networks assigned top reporters to answer the question. And they all failed miserably.

Not only did all three television networks fail to answer the key questions, not one of their reporters even raised the key questions!

And keep in mind, these are the pros, at the pinnacle of broadcast journalism, working the top news organizations, the venerable big three: ABC, NBC, and CBS.

So what was wrong with their reports?