Asking Questions at the Flight 93 Crash Site


[Part I] — [Part II] — [Part III] — [Part IV]

By: Devvy Kidd
September 11, 2005

This four part series is copyrighted.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, questions began to surface about that horrible day. Questions about explosives inside the World Trade Center Towers, Flight 77 did not crash into the Pentagon, that Flight 93 was shot down or that it never crashed outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Three separate crime scenes and many, many unanswered questions.

Regarding the Pentagon, all speculation would end if the Department of Justice (DOJ) would release all the videos they confiscated that morning immediately following the "event.” That would be video from the Pentagon gas station, from the nearby Sheraton and video from cameras maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The feds refuse to release any of these videos, which in the minds of many, screams cover up. However, there may be a reason that has come to my attention. Scott Bingham filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against DOJ and other defendants. The following is the only information available at this time regarding this FOIA lawsuit:


"Tired of what plaintiff's complaint calls "outlandish conspiracy theories" about the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, plaintiff made a Freedom of Information Act ('FOIA") request for any videotapes in the possession of the FBI that may have captured the impact. Plaintiff seeks to correct what he describes as "a vertitable culture of misinformation," and to this end has created an internet website on which to disseminate what information he obtains. Defendant responded to plaintiff's request that, although a record had been located that was responsive to his request, the record was exempt from disclosure. Plaintiff subsequently filed this lawsuit.

"Release of the document responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request would threaten to interfere with the criminal prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person to be brought to trial in the United States for the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The process of selecting prospective jurors for the penalty phase of Moussaoui's trial is expected to begin in late 2005. Therefore, the FBI withheld the responsive record, a CD-ROM of time lapse images from Pentagon security cameras, pursuant to Exemption 7(A) because its release could reasonably be expected to interfere with that law enforcement proceeding. Federal prosecutors may ask the Court to impose the death penalty. Widespread dissemination of this record could present significant harm to the government's criminal case.

"This information should not be released to plaintiff until the risk to the Moussaoui prosecurtion has passed. Defendant therefore seeks summary judgment in favor of its assertion of Exemption 7(A) and dismissal of plaintiff's lawsuit with prejudice."

Of course, I am not buying the feds reason for fighting to keep these videos out of the public's eye. Zacarias Moussaoui has been in custody for years as a “material witness.” According to one story from CNN, "He was indicted two years ago this month. He faces six charges, including conspiracy to commit terrorism and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction." Moussaoui is the only defendant ever to be charged for the events of 9-11. Anyone following his legal battles has seen little more than an embarrassing circus with nothing to show for the millions of dollars spent on this one individual. Just when will Moussaoui ever get to trial? Another four years? Twenty years?

Would any legal prosecution of Moussaoui be jeopardized by the release of these videos? Hardly. How many acts of violence have been caught on video, i.e. Rodney King, in the end, did not hinder prosecution? As a matter of fact, those videos would definitively prove the event, which would help prosecution of any defendants. The sympathy factor alone would bolster the government’s case. I'm surprised the feds didn't use their usual cover up tool, "national security" as the reason they refuse to release those videos.

It has been a full four years since that awful day. Releasing all videos showing what hit the Pentagon that day would bring the American people the truth, not endless speculation or conspiracy theories. The fact that the feds are fighting so hard to keep all those videos from the American people raises the same red flags as their refusing, to this day, to release the video film they have showing the exact moment the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was blown. DOJ has all that film. If that video showed Timothy McVeigh getting out of the Ryder truck, we would have already seen it a thousand times on the tube. The fact that DOJ has fought for almost a decade to keep that video secret, again, raises red flags that have ugly implications.

Families who lost loved ones on 9-11 also must be questioning the refusal to release those videos of the Pentagon attack. On July 22, 2005, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney held a day long briefing on 9-11 and the official commission report. The issue of those videos was raised during this briefing and one of the speakers who represents the 911 Family Steering Committee told the panel and audience that the families pushed hard to get the official 9-11 Commission to subpoena those videos because they want to see them. The committee basically refused to do so, which once again, raises very uncomfortable questions and does continue charges of cover up. It is an outrage that the families of those murdered on 9-11 are being denied the right to view any and all video recordings of the historic events of that awful day.

Theories about Flight 93

Having said all that, two of the most popular and persistent theories about Flight 93 is that (1) it never crashed outside Shanksville, PA, but rather landed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport or other destinations unknown; (2) rampant rumors that Flight 93 was shot down by our military in an effort to keep it from heading to the Washington, DC area. Growing numbers believe Flight 93 was shot down by F-16s dogging the plane before the crash. What is the truth? The Internet is an amazing tool. Unfortunately, it has also become the biggest delivery system for filth and porn on the face of the earth and a treasure trove for conspiracy theories, bad journalism, outright lies and massive disinformation.

The "no plane crashed" theory about Flight 93 originated, as far as I can tell from countless hours surfing the Internet, from a story written on September 17, 2004, by Christopher Bollyn of the American Free Press. In this column, he makes these statements:

  1. "Some local residents here are deeply offended by the official explanation of what supposedly happened to United Airlines Flight 93, calling it a patriotic pack of lies."

  2. "American Free Press visited Somerset County to look into some of the questions surrounding United Airlines Flight 93, which allegedly turned over and crashed in a refilled strip mine between Lambertsville and Shanksville, Pa., taking 44 lives with it."

  3. "One question, “is what happened to the physical wreckage of the plane?”

  4. "There was no plane,” Ernie Stull, mayor of Shanksville, told German television in March 2003: "My sister and a good friend of mine were the first ones there,” Stull said. “They were standing on a street corner in Shanksville talking. Their car was nearby, so they were the first here—and the fire department came. Everyone was puzzled, because the call had been that a plane had crashed. But there was no plane.”

“They had been sent here because of a crash, but there was no plane?” the reporter asked.”

“No. Nothing. Only this hole.”

The statements in item 4 appear to be attributed completely to this "German television" which is unidentified.

"When AFP asked Stull about his comments, he disagreed about when he had gone to the crash site. “A day or two later,” Stull said, was about when he went to the site. But he reiterated the fact that they saw little evidence of a plane crash."

There is more text which you can read here. The Flight 93 text in that story has been lifted, spread around the world and now taken as the final truth. On another site, we find this quote: "Clearly the hole in the ground, which is confirmed by the very few pictures of investigators at the "crash" site, is not from a plane crash of any kind. It could be the result of a warhead from a missile fired into the ground, but if so, it appears to be a small warhead, like an air-to-air missile, not an air-to-to-surface missile or bomb with a larger explosive payload."

Most of the quotes above and those from the original Bollyn story are also repeated here along with many others, including many photos. This site also carries a reproduction of part of a press release from the Mayor of Cleveland that Flight 93 made an emergency landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. That press release was pulled a couple of hours later because it was deemed incorrect due to the mass confusion and urgency that morning at airports all around the country and poor communication between agencies and nervous politicians.

Another web site picked up the comments above and added new rhetoric: No Plane at Shankesville, Pennsylvania. No Crash, No Shootdown, No Flight 93. No 'Lets Roll' Hunt the Boeing in Shanskville, PA, and see if you can spot it!"

When one reads the quotes above and visits the links for more information, speculation that no plane crashed in the identified location seems credible. As a matter of fact, it's so convincing that untold numbers of Americans believe it to be the absolute truth. It is especially difficult to make any kind of informed judgment as to the credibility of reporting on any event or issue without actually being there, so most people must rely on the source of information and whether or not the reporting is accurate and unbiased.

As former Shanksville Mayor, Ernest Stull, is mentioned above, the following is from The Tribune Democrat newspaper filed September 12, 2001:

"Shanksville Mayor Ernest Stull, a resident for 77 years, didn't see the crash. But he felt it. "The house shook," Stull said in a telephone interview. "I went through the house trying to find what exploded." Outside, just over a nearby hill, what Stull described as a "cloud that looked like a mushroom cloud from an A-bomb" was rising over the quiet borough. "It was probably several minutes before anybody realized what it was," he said."

"In Shanksville, crash scene neighbor Paula Pluta, 33, said that moments before she witnessed the plane go down, she heard a loud noise outside her home. She speculated that the sound had come from the aircraft's jet engines as it passeed overhead."It sounded kind of screechy - - like something was wrong," she said in an interview on her front porch....A second later, she said she spotted the low-flier pass by outside her living room window headed in the direction of nearby Shanksville-Stonycreek School before it disappeared behind a row of trees. "By that time I saw the jet falling from the sky," she said."

Citing the same local newspaper, published in Somerset, Pennsylvania and personally given to me by the Bureau Chief, Kirk Swauger on August 2, 2005, the following was their release on September 13, 2001:

"The search for evidence as to why the Boeing 757 went down and the recovery of human remains could take up to five weeks. The crash was so decimating that many victims will be identified for burial only through DNA testing of bone pieces.....Speculation has run rampant concerning the cause of the crash, but agents at the site refused to comment on theories that passengers or crew tried to wrest control of their plane from unidentified hijackers....Officials also said Wednesday that they have not discovered any evidence of bombs or military-style weapons at the site. The larges items found so far "appears to be the remains of an engine," said state police Lt. Col. Robert Hickes."

”Bob Blair, 39, of Stoystown said he was driving a coal truck on Route 30, listening to radio accounts of the plane attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, when he saw the low-flying jetliner. Blair said he told another trucker, “Look ahead of you. There’s a plane going down. When it hit, it actually shook our machines,” Blair said he and a co-worker, Doug Miller of Somerset, were among the first three passerbys to arrive at the crash. “There was nothing left,” he said. “The biggest thing there was a tire on fire.”

You can listen to audio of the cockpit voice recordings here.

Here are three photographs for you to view. Photograph number one was taken by David Hess head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. When I contacted Mr. Hess to get permission to use this photo, he declined saying he wanted it to remain "private." I subsequently found out it had been released to the media. See here. This photo is two weeks into the recovery process and I will discuss what strip mining does to the ground in part three. Please be mindful that these are pdf and image files and load slowly for those on dial up systems.

Photo number two, seen here, was released by the FBI; it is a shot of the crash site.

Photo number three is an aerial released by the USGS; seen here.

Part II: Flight 93 shot down by our military
Part III: A visit to Shanksville, Pennsylvania and interviews
Part IV: Photos