June 28, 2008
The Wisdom Fund

Book Review: 'Firefight -- Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11'

A gripping account of the courage and humanity of firefighters at the Pentagon on 9/11, marred by flawed account of American Airlines Flight 77

by Enver Masud

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"Firefight: Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11," by Patrick Creed and Rick Newman, is a gripping account of the courage and humanity of firefighters, and their heroic efforts at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. But it is marred by a highly flawed account of American Airlines Flight 77 that contradicts the physical evidence, witness testimony, and the views of pilots and engineers.

Creed and Newman write:

- "The plane crossed Washington Boulevard, . . . traveling more than 500 miles per hour and was less than 30 feet off the ground."

- "the planes wings knocked over several light poles that line the road."

- "As the Flight 77 flew nearly to ground level, its right wing sliced into a 750 kilowatt generator . . . The plane's right engine ripped a hole in a fence near the generator . . . the left engine grazed the grass . . . Both wings began to break apart, hurling metal fragments into the air."

- "The nose of the plane hit the facade, . . . about 14 feet above the ground, going 530 miles per hour."

- "The airplane's tail, 45 feet tall, was still attached to the plane as it plowed into the Pentagon."

- "Along the outer wall, 21-inch-wide concrete columns, . . . stood every ten feet, . . . The impact of the plane knocked out eight of them completely, and severely damaged two others."

- "The body of the hijacker who had been flying the plane ended up in the D Ring about 107 feet from the point of impact."

- "The punch-out hole . . . was created by explosive energy".

Creed and Newman's account, based on statements by unverified witnesses, is contradicted by more qualified witnesses.

Standing in front of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Jamie McIntyre, CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent since November 1992, reported: "From my close up inspection there's no evidence of a plane having crashed anywhere near the Pentagon. . . . . The only pieces left that you can see are small enough that you could pick up in your hand. There are no large tail sections, wing sections, fuselage - nothing like that anywhere around which would indicate that the entire plane crashed into the side of the Pentagon. . . . It wasn't till about 45 minutes later . . . that all of the floors collapsed."

Arlington County Fire Chief Ed Plaugher, incident commander at the Pentagon on September 11, corroborates Jamie McIntyre's report. At the September 12, 2001, DoD briefing, when asked: "Is there anything left of the aircraft at all?" said: "there are some small pieces of aircraft ... there's no fuselage sections and that sort of thing."

Victoria Clarke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs - "presenter" of the DoD briefing, did not contradict Chief Plaugher. American Airlines, Flight 77, Boeing, Dulles, and passengers were not mentioned at the briefing.

Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who from her fifth-floor, B Ring office at the Pentagon, witnessed "an unforgettable fireball, 20 to 30 feet in diameter," was called for stretcher duty. She describes "a strange absence of airliner debris, there was no sign of the kind of damage to the Pentagon structure one would expect from the impact of a large airliner. This visible evidence or lack thereof may also have been apparent to the secretary of defense, who in an unfortunate slip of the tongue referred to the aircraft that slammed into the Pentagon as a 'missile'."

Barbara Honegger, military affairs journalist at the Naval Postgraduate School, writes that NORAD's: "Gen. Larry Arnold, revealed that he ordered one of his jets to fly down low over the Pentagon shortly after the attack that morning, and that his pilot reported back that there was no evidence that a plane had hit the building."

In an earlier article, "What really happened at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001," I go into greater detail about American Airlines Flight 77, and what struck the Pentagon.

Doubts among the firefighters as to what struck the Pentagon are noted by Creed and Newman.

They write: "Denis Griffin . . . had been working in the aftermath of the attack all day, and seen wreckage that looked like it could be from an airplane, but there were so many wild stories going around that he wasn't sure what to believe."

Two statements in the book by Creed and Newman are striking:

- "FBI photographer Jennifer Combs (formerly Jennifer Farmer) went far out of her way to pull hundreds of photographs from archives and narrate all of them".

How did they get access to these photographs, when others have Freedom of Information Act requests pending for these photographs and Pentagon videos?

- "Plaugher came by . . . 'We think it's al Qaeda,' he said, citing a villain many of them had never heard of."

What would cause Plaugher, Fire Chief of Arlington County, to make such a statement so soon after 9/11? Plaugher now serves as "a key member of the IAFC Terrorism Committee."

Creed is an amateur historian, volunteer firefighter, and U.S. Army Reserve officer who recently returned from a tour in Iraq as civil affairs officer with the Army's Special Operation's Command. Newman is an award-winning journalist and staff writer for U.S. News & World Report.

It should be noted, that to this day, Bin Laden is not wanted for 9/11 at the FBI's Most Wanted, and the only evidence offered by the government to substantiate their claim of Flight 77 having struck the Pentagon is a fuzzy video that proves nothing - indeed the flight recorder data released by the government shows that a plane flew about 400 feet above the Pentagon.

Enver Masud, "Pentagon: What Really Happened on September 11," The Wisdom Fund, March 7, 2005

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