Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Eleventh Fail: The BBC & 9/11 Truth ... Four and a Half Years On

Written by Scootle Royale, with help from John-Michael Talboo.

Shortly before the BBC Conspiracy Files hitpiece aired on Monday, I published a blog listing my top ten debunker fails. After seeing watching the piece, I think the entire program deserves to be considered the eleventh fail.

The program was basically an updated version of their first 9/11 program that aired in 2007. It started the same way, with the shaky-cam walk around Hangar 17 set to sentimental music and shocking images of the day. Once again Alex Jones, Jim Fetzer and Dylan Avery represented 9/11 truth, except this time with Neils Harrit. New footage of AJ and Fetzer was shot, but for Dylan they simply reused footage from the 2007 version. To sum up the program in one word: strawman!

First of all, who in the 9/11 truth movement takes Jim Fetzer seriously anymore?! No one! Why the hell would the BBC interview him for a 2011 documentary on the 9/11 truth movement? They would have been better off interviewing CIT! It seems the BBC still thinks it's 2007.

The alternative theories they investigated were:
  1. NORAD standdown claims
  2. The demoliton theory for the towers
  3. Pentagon no-plane claims
  4. Claims that the C-130 was involved in the conspiracy
  5. The demolition theory for WTC 7 / Red-Gray Chips
  6. Flight 93 no-plane / shootdown claims
  7. Speculation that Flight 93 landed in Cleveland
  8. The Lone Gumen Pilot
  9. Skepticism surrounding Bin Laden's Death
  10. 9/11 Foreknowledge, Dick Clark, two Hijackers living with an FBI informant etc.
Now regular readers of this blog will know that we only endorse about four or five of these claims. The 9/11 truth movement has abandoned alot of these theories. The sections on the C-130 and Flight 93 were essentially identical to the 2007 version of the program. Footage of interviews with the Dylan, the C-130 pilot, the passenger of Delta 1989, Wally Miller and the former Mayor of Indian Lake was reused for this version. About three minutes were spent on the C-130 claims and almost ten minutes were spent on the Flight 93 claims. The section on WTC7 and the red/gray chips was only 7 minutes. So the program essentially was one hour-long straw man attack.

Unlike their previous 9/11 programs there was no token family member saying we're horrible this time. Although at the very end the narrator did say "The 9/11 conspiracy file seems certain to remain open for a long time to come, however distressing and painful that will be for the families of those who died that day". Once again, the BBC did not interview family members who support 9/11 truth or even acknowledge their existence. Their continued ignorance of these people is probably the most despicable thing about these Conspiracy Files programs.

The stuff about the Pentagon was actually pretty good. They interviewed engineer Allyn Kilsheimer and FBI special agent Jean O'Connor. Allyn discussed how the damage he saw matches the Perdue animation of the Pentagon impact. He also mentioned how he saw dead bodies, including bodies with airline uniforms. Jean discussed how they used large wooden crates that were built specifically to hold the airplane parts. Immediately after she says that the program cuts to a shaky-cam shot of a piece of debris (image above). The narrator says "The FBI retains this section of the plane in its distinctive American Airlines livery". Jean then discussed how she personally collected remains, DNA etc.

Like most of the program, this is a fairly rational critique of a fringe theory that do not endorse, so I agree with this. It's not so much what was in the program, it's what WASN'T in the program that pisses me off!

The stuff about the air defence was basically the same as the 2007 version. Except instead of Davin Coburn telling us the official story, the BBC interviewed Colin Scoggins of the FAA. Scoggins was the source of one of the claims in the Popular Mechanics article.

Scoggins was interviewed at length for David Ray Griffin's book Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory. Both he and former Former FAA Air Traffic Controller Robin Hordon (who believes 9/11 was an inside job) were interviewed, and through their combined testimonies and research it is shown that the FAA's supposed slow response to the hijacked flights is not only inherently unbelievable, but also "in tension with several other reports."

The excuses were the same as the 2007 version:
The program mentions that it is alleged that Dick Cheney ordered a stand down but does not present any of the evidence for why many believe there was a stand down and why people suspect Cheney. For example, ignored was the fact that no shoot-down orders were issued until after the attacks were already over; a timespan of over two hours, and Norman Mineta's testimony possibly indicating the opposite, a stand-down order from Cheney.

For much more info on the lack of air defence stuff, see here.

Their section on the demolition of the towers was also basically the same as 2007 version. The only feature of destruction they point out is the squibs, and Leslie Robertson repeats the old chestnut that they're just puffs of air escaping from the pancaking floors, addressed here. I've always seen the squibs as a distraction from other features of the destruction that are much stronger evidence for demolition. In fact, I suspect they may even have been intentionally mistimed for that purpose. It's worth noting though that measurements by David Chandler and others have shown that even at the begining of the collapses, the speed of the ejections exceeded 100 miles per hour. It is unlikely that the pancaking of floors, especially so early on the collapse, could push out air so fast. We also have video of what appears to be a 'squib', before the collapse even happened.

Robertson also attacks the straw man version of the 'Fire can't melt steel' argument, saying the steel didn't need to melt, only weaken. The problem is, steel did melt! There was molten steel at ground zero, which Leslie Robertson himself confirmed!

Next, the BBC interviews a structural engineer who rejects the demolition theory and thinks it distracts from a debate about the safety of the twin towers. After saying the conspiracy debate tends to go round in circles, he claims the twin towers weren't up to code. Leslie Robertson says this is ridiculous. I'm not sure why this was included in the program. They spent more time on this irrelevant debate than they did on the case for demolition.

The only interesting segment of this hour long program was the seven minutes they spent on WTC7 and the red/grey chips. The program acknowledges that NIST found that WTC7 fell in virtual free fall for two seconds but doesn't make much of a big deal out of it. Neils Harrit then discusses the red-grey chips. He says the red side shows all the characteristics of being thermitic and mentions how they react when heated.

The person interviewing him then asks what sort of reaction his paper has received from the scientific community. Harrit says, "none!". He says it's without a doubt the best peer-reviewed paper he's ever published (of nealy 60 as of 04/10/2009) because its findings have remained unchallenged for over two years.

Next we are introduced to two scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, who the BBC contacted to whitewash Harrit's findings. One of the Carnegie scientists says the chips release less energy per kilogram than paper. I don't know what he's on about here because the paper says they release more energy per unit mass than conventional thermite and conventional explosives. Case in point, blog contributor Adam Taylor recently asked Neils Harrit to address the argument from debunker, er, make that respectful rebuttaler Chris Mohr, that the "sample 1 in figure 29 doesn't match the comparison with the known thermitic reaction," Harrit replied, "IT IS BETTER - FASTER."

The narrator then says something like "USGS studied 38 dust samples, RJ Lee studied thousands, Jones and Harrit studied only four" and essentially accuses them of cherry-picking dust. How can you cherry-pick when you've only collected four samples? It can only be cherry-picking if you collect thousands but only select the four you want for your study.

The scientists collected only four samples. And these chips were present in all four samples. This tells us something about how prevalent these red chips were in the dust.

Imagine a city-sized haystack that has a few needles hidden in it. If you were to take say a random binbag-sized sample of hay from that haystack, the likelihood of one of those small number of needles being in the sample that you collected is extremely small. On the other hand, if you took four random samples of hay from a city-sized haystack, and each of the samples contained several needles. What that would tell you is that the city-sized haystack was most probably full of needles. The fact that red chips are present in the four relatively tiny samples obtained by Jones and his colleagues suggests that these red chips were everywhere.

The other Carnegie scientist repeats the claim that we have heard so many times before from debunkers. That's right, they've once again gone with the primer paint claim.


The Debunking the Debunkers Exploding Paint Archive - 46 posts from our archive that tear to shreds their ludicrous paint claims, hypocritical peer-review arguments and conspiratorial chain of custody suggestions.

When I heard experts would be addressing Neils Harrit's findings I was expecting more than this.

The narrator then acknowledges that Jones and Harrit studied a primer paint sample and found it to be different from the red chips. The program doesn't really respond to this though. The Carnegie scientist just keeps on talking about how there would likely be several coats of paint and the red-chips were likely primer from the structural steel. That's what they studied! It's ironic that as they're talking about paint there's footage of someone painting across the screen with white paint, coz this really is a whitewash!

The program then cuts to a shot of the Manhatten bridge and the narrator says that this type of primer is painted all over it. She then says that the temperature the red-grey chips react at is what we would expect if it was primer paint.

Really? So is the chemical reaction aluminothermic?! Are droplets of molten iron produced in the reaction? Are you gonna do any experiments?!

During a radio interview with chemical engineer Mark Basile (who independently confirmed Harrit's paper and only became a full-fledged truther after doing so), the host George Corrette asked:

Now one of the things that we've heard; these kind of crude critiques of this study is: 'Well all these red and gray chips, well how do you know they're just not paint chips'. What would one expect with Sherman-Williams exterior coat paint if you were to do the exact same thing with this: take those paint chips, put them on this quarter inch resistance heater that you have, and ignite it if you will, heat it up to a point of ignition...
Basile responds:

...If I have a thermite fire and I were to put that rod in there it would melt, be.. you know, if I had sufficient material there to do that, so... it's just the level of energy release, so, yep, there'd be an energy release, but I wouldn't expect say if within that paint chip there was iron oxide as one of the pigments that they put in there, I wouldn't expect to open that paint chip afterwards and find, you know, molten iron has been produced and now there would be iron droplets inside the residue of that chip.
For more on the aluminothermic nano-'paint', see:

Thermitic Pyrotechnics in the WTC Made Simple

Until these 'scientists' publish a peer-reviewed rebuttal, the findings of Harrit, Jones et al are still valid. When asked why no one has attempted to publish a rebuttal, one of the Carnegie scientists laughably claims that, while it would be fairly easy to disprove Harrit's claims, it would be a waste of time. Most scientists are busy doing more interesting things! Apparently the defining moment of the 21st century isn't interesting enough for most scientists!

Once again, the BBC interviewed the X-Files guy who again basically called 9/11 truth a religion. Clips of the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen are shown and the narrator mentions how people believe that the show was predictive programming for the real thing. It's worth noting that the star of the show, Dean Haglund, believes this to be the case. In 2004, he revealed how the government officials often attend Hollywood parties and submit ideas for film and TV show plots.

As for the foreknowledge stuff at the end, there is much more evidence than what was included in the program. (Again, for more on this, see here). But could it all be due to incompetence? Well, as Sibel Edmonds once said on a radio show:
You know, it is very easy to write off things when you have one or two slip-ups, and you attribute certain things to bureaucratic bungling - but it goes beyond that... Now, what is that? As I said, I wont be able to answer the question, but what I can answer is, yes, we had this 911 Commission that was formed (laughs) and first we had Henry Kissinger appointed to be the Chairman, this tells you what kind of Commission they had in mind, which was going to be cosmetic. It was pretty obvious. Then we had the final Commission, with a bunch of people with conflicts of interest, and we didn't get anything.

As you see, people have been gagged, a lot of things have been classified... And you think 'Why would they go so far to cover up bureaucratic bungling?' Again, that doesn't mean that this was an inside job, but what it tells you is that there are a lot of things that we don't know, there are a lot of things that our government doesn’t want us to know.
All in all this BBC program was perhaps even worse than the 2007 version. Because at least back then we could forgive them for thinking things like the Pentagon, C-130 and Flight 93 stuff were important issues for 9/11 truth. But now after four and a half years of evolution no serious truther really cares that much about these issues anymore. As I said earlier, it's not so much what was in the program, it's what WASN'T in the program that pisses me off!