Friday, April 14, 2006

Flight 93

The following extracts come from an article, published on 8 March 2006 by Ted Rall

The Legend of United Flight 93

by Ted Rall

...The legend of Flight 93 had everything a nation caught with its pants down needed to feel better about itself: guts, heroism, self-sacrifice.

Best of all, it was marketable - by Hollywood and by a president willing to surf on a kind of heroism notably absent from his own life. (Theatrical release of the second "United 93" movie is scheduled to open April 28.)

Lisa Beamer, widow of the passenger credited with the call-to-arms "let's roll," wrote a bestselling book by the same name, applied for a trademark on the expression, and is now working the Christianist lecture circuit.

Actually, the 9/11 Commission found, the evidence indicates that what Todd Beamer (or someone else) said was not "let's roll," but "roll it" - possibly referring to an airplane service cart the passengers may have wanted to use to break down the door into the cockpit. Too bad-. "Roll it" sounds less cinematic, and more like a book about cinematography...

Though they studied the cockpit recording, the 9/11 Commission found zero evidence that the passenger revolt succeeded, that they made it into the cockpit and, as Bush claimed, "took the plane into the ground."

Tom Kean & Co. offered only conjecture: "The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them."

"Must have." At a time when war can be justified by waving around a bottle of fake anthrax on TV, "must have" is judged adequate proof.

Another eyebrow-raising portion of the official account of Flight 93 states that "the passengers and flight crew began a series of calls from GTE airphones and cellular phones" after the hijacking.

Ever forgotten to turn off your cellphone during a flight? I have. Try it yourself: Cellular telephone calls tend to drop when you're driving at 60 miles per hour; passenger jets travel up to ten times that speed. Moreover, there's zero signal, and thus no ability to place a call, above 8,000 feet. Flight 93, en route from Newark to San Francisco at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, dropped 700 feet when it was hijacked at 9:28 am. Cell calls? Not likely.

The Bush Administration has alternately claimed that the White House, then the Capitol, and finally the White House again was the target of the Flight 93 hijackers.

Sure, it's possible that the same terrorists who didn't know that New Yorkers don't start work until nine - the World Trade Center was struck at 8:42 - wouldn't have thought to check Bush's schedule to find out whether he'd be home that morning. But if the White House was the objective, why not hit it first? After all, if Bush had been home when the news from New York first broke, he would have been whisked away to Dick Cheney's secret undisclosed location. If the government doesn't know what the target was, they shouldn't say that they do.

What happened to United 93? There was almost certainly a passenger uprising. Did it succeed? Probably not.

The 9/11 Commission Report says that "at some time between 10:10 and 10:15" Dick Cheney ordered the Air Force to shoot down the plane, which had turned east towards Washington. The plane had already crashed at 10:03. But the regional air traffic control center in Cleveland asked the FAA whether military fighter jets should be dispatched at flight at 9:36, giving the Air Force more than enough time to intercept before the fatal plunge into the field at Shanksville. Was United 93 shot down, despite the official story?

Local media accounts offer some evidence of that possibility. The September 13, 2001 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, for example:

"In a morning briefing, State Police Major Lyle Szupinka confirmed that debris from the plane had turned up in relatively far-flung sites, including the residential area of Indian Lake [two and a half miles from the crash site]."

Flight 93 "headed down...rolled onto its back," and crashed, leaving a smoldering crater.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette again: "[Indian Lake marina employee John] Fleegle said he climbed on the roof of an abandoned cabin and tossed down a burning seat cushion that had landed there. By Wednesday morning, crash debris began washing ashore at the marina. Fleegle said there was something that looked like a rib bone amid pieces of seats, small chunks of melted plastic and checks."

Seats and bones don't fly two and a half miles from a crash. Their location could indicate an initial explosion, such as that from a missile hitting a plane.


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