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Despite 9/11 probe, many questions remain

It has been six years since the events of September 11, 2001, and three since the release of the 9/11 commission report.

It has been six years since the events of September 11, 2001, and three since the release of the 9/11 commission report.

Yet the number of questions surrounding this seminal event are growing.

We all heard how 19 Arab hijackers commandeered four airliners and steered three of them into their targets.

The fourth was overtaken by passengers and caused to slam into a field.

We were told that Arab extremists, led by Osama bin Laden, orchestrated these attacks from Afghanistan. We were told they hate Americans because of their freedoms.

This event constituted the grossest breach of national security since Pearl Harbour.  Many wondered how such a massive failure of intelligence was possible.

The American public demanded an official enquiry into the attacks. The Bush Administration waffled for more than a year until, finally, after intense pressure from families of 9/11 victims, it assembled The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. Its budget was $14 million.

It set out to “provide the fullest possible account of the events surrounding 9/11.”

It sought “to be independent, impartial, thorough and non-partisan.”

Its final report was released in July 2004.

It concluded the attacks were able to succeed because of “deep institutional failings,” especially since “no one was firmly in charge.”

Not a single person was identified as being responsible, even in part, for this colossal intelligence breakdown.

To many, the story laid out in the report made sense.

It was plausible that Arab fanatics had dreamed up a plan to hijack four jets and fly them into symbolic targets and cause mass devastation.

The commission report was initially accepted by most North Americans as the definitive account of who perpetrated these attacks and how.

It stuck around for a long time.

However, a US Zogby poll conducted in May 2006 found that 42 per cent believed that “the US government and its 9/11 Commission concealed … critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks.”

An October 2006 Angus Reid/New York Times and CBS News poll of Americans found that 53 per cent believed that members of the Bush Administration were hiding something.

The commission has been criticized for being neither independent, impartial or non-partisan.

In 2005, Dr. David Ray Griffin wrote The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions.

He’s professor emeritus of philosophy of religion and theology at the Claremont Graduate School of Theology in California and the author of 26 books and countless essays.

The commission was undermined by a series of conflicts of interest, says Griffin.

Bush appointed Philip Zelikow to serve as the commission’s executive director. 

Zelikow was a Republican with such close personal, professional, and ideological ties to the Bush White House that he was virtually a member of the administration, says Griffin.

The chairman, most of the commissioners, and at least half of the staff also had serious conflicts of interest.

These conflicts prevented the commission from providing a fair and credible investigation, he says.

And Zelikow’s power to shape the investigation and the final report compromised the entire commission.

“It’s our sense today that they (the commission) decided early on what they wanted the public to know and then they geared the hearings to fit this pre-conceived script,” says 9/11 widow Lorie van Auken, one of four who pushed for the commission, in Griffin’s book.

It’s a common complaint, says Griffin.

The commission had a story to tell and it did everything in its power to exclude anything that did not fit with this story.

Griffin identifies 115 aspects of the report that do not stand up to academic scrutiny.

Let’s look at just four.

One, the commission failed to notice that alleged hijacker Hani Hanjour was too poor a pilot to have flown an airliner.

The report states that Hanjour’s application to become a pilot was repeatedly rejected and that he was a “terrible pilot.”

It states that as late as July 2001, Hanjour was such a poor pilot he was denied a second flight in a Cessna with an instructor.

The report says Hanjour was assigned the difficult task of hitting the Pentagon since he was “the operation’s most experienced pilot.”

The commissioners did not question whether it was possible for someone who had never flown anything larger than a single engine aircraft to command a Boeing 757-200 and execute a 330-degree turn descending 2,200 feet in the space of two and a half minutes and hit the façade of the Pentagon without even marring the front lawn.

The Washington Post reported on September 12, 2001 that the pilot “executed a pivot so tight that it reminded observers of a fighter jet manoeuvre … aviation sources said the plane was flown with extraordinary skill, making it highly likely that a trained pilot was at the helm.”

The commission never questioned this.

Two, Griffin says that the report failed to examine the anomalies in the evidence at the Pentagon crash site.

If a 60-tonne Boeing 757-200 had struck the Pentagon, then there should be ample evidence to suggest this. There isn’t, and the commission neglected to ask why, says Griffin.

The building’s façade did not even collapse until 30 minutes after impact.

Prior to that, a photograph by US Marine Cpl. Jason Ingersoll shows that the entry hole was only about six metres across.

Griffin asks how could this hole have possibly swallowed an airliner with a wingspan of 39 metres and a tail height of 12 metres?

There was no wreckage to speak of.

Ed Plaugher, the county fire chief in charge of putting out the fire at the Pentagon, reported there were “some small pieces… but no large sections … no fuselage sections and that sort of thing.” 

In hundreds of photographs there seems to be no accounting for the lack of debris from engines, wings, fuselage, tail, landing gear, seats, luggage or bodies.

There is a complete lack of evidence to suggest an airliner crash.

The commission failed to examine this. Plaugher’s testimony was not even cited in the report.

Third, the report claims that the core of each of the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers was a “hollow steel shaft” implying that the building design was weak, says Griffin.

It’s a complete falsification, he adds.

The core of each tower was composed “of 47 massive steel columns, between which were elevators and stairwells.

“At its base, each column was 14 by 36 inches, with four-inch-thick walls. It then tapered up to quarter-inch walls in the upper floors, which had far less weight to support.”

If the towers did indeed “pancake” down, as is the official explanation, then these massive steel columns should have remained standing hundreds of feet into the air, says Griffin.

As it was, these core load-bearing members were severed sharply into dump-truck length pieces.

It defies the laws of physics.

The commission did not question this, nor did they note that the destruction of the World Trade Centre Towers was an unprecedented event.

It was the first time in history that a steel-framed skyscraper had ever collapsed due to fire and mechanical damage.

The only other example, before 9/11 or since, was the collapse of WTC Tower 7 later that afternoon.

One would expect that such an apparent catastrophic failure of building design and performance would necessitate a thorough examination of all evidence.

With such a large loss of life, one would expect a comprehensive evaluation to ensure such an event would be avoided in the future.

Instead, the 9/11 Commission was hastily conceived, given a very short deadline and a grossly inadequate budget, says Griffin.

Furthermore, the commissioners were hampered by delays in getting security clearances, a general resistance on the part of federal agencies to provide documents, and the insistence that federal employees have “minders” present when they were testifying.

Fourth, the report failed to mention that there were, in fact three towers that collapsed on 9/11, says  Griffin.

World Trade Centre 7 was a 47-storey steel-framed skyscraper built in 1987.

It sat 100 metres away from the North and South Towers.

It sustained minor damage from flying debris when the Twin Towers collapsed.

There was a small fire burning in an auxiliary diesel generator room and another small fire burning on the 12th floor.

At 5:20 p.m. the building inexplicably collapsed at free-fall speed into its own footprint.

The commission never examined this.

Indeed, the commission never even mentioned the tower collapsed.

Worse, the steel from all three towers was quickly shipped to China as scrap metal before a forensic examination of the wreckage was possible.

The Commission failed to note this, or to mention it is a federal offence to remove evidence from a crime scene, says Griffin.

There is much evidence that contradicts the official story, says Griffin.

None of it was even alluded to in the report.

If any one aspect of the official account is called into question it puts the whole story in jeopardy.

A story is only as strong as its weakest link.

Griffin has identified more than 115 weaknesses and absurdities in the official testimony.

This puts the entire commission report into question.

Millions are calling for a reopening of the 9/11 investigation.

They want to see a full and independent inquiry into what really happened that day in September 2001.

An August 2005 Zogby poll found that 66 per cent of New York City residents want to see a new investigation into the events.

Many professionals from firefighters to scholars to pilots are demanding a new enquiry.

Richard Gage is a member of the American Institute of Architects. He and 150 other architects and engineers have put their names and their credentials behind a public call for a renewed Congressional investigation.

Gage, a practicing architect for 20 years, founded Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth one year ago.

They believe “the available evidence casts grave doubt on the government’s official story of these ‘collapses.’”

They are lobbying Congress to re-open the investigation.

Stephen Badhwar is a writer living in Atlin, BC.

The Numbers

Days until an investigation was ordered into the Pearl Harbour attack: 9

Days until an investigation was ordered into the Kennedy assassination: 7

Days until an investigation was ordered into the Challenger disaster: 7

Number of days until an investigation was ordered into the sinking of the Titanic: 6

Number of days until an investigation was ordered into the 9/11 attacks: 411

Amount of money allocated for the 1986 Challenger disaster investigation: $75 million

Amount allocated for the 2004 Columbia disaster investigation: $50 million

Amount allocated for Clinton-Lewinsky investigation: $40 million

Amount of money allocated for the 9/11 Commission: $14 million

Amount authorized by General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI), to be sent to suicide hijacker Mohamed Atta prior to 9/11: US$100,000.

Number of references in the final report to foreign governments providing funding for al-Qaeda operatives: 0. (SB)