There is much arguing within 9/11 Truth community about what, if anything, struck the Pentagon’s recently refurbished Wedge One. I am on record supporting the idea the plane overflew the Pentagon, with planted explosives as the explanation for the fireball and internal damage. I stated that opinion on Jesse Ventura’s “Conspiracy Theory” TV show back in December 2010. Since that time, I have mulled over more information, and today, find myself more on the fence if not on the other side.
It is worthwhile to examine that change in viewpoint. Citizen Investigation Team (CIT) is the primary proponent of the overflight hypothesis. They base this on on-camera interviews of about a dozen witnesses who independently attest to the plane flying north of a CitGo service station to the west of the Pentagon. The most crucial interviews are of the witnesses who were at the CitGo station, Sgt. William Lagasse and Sgt. Chadwick Brooks, interviewed by Craig Ranke. Ranke asks Lagasse how confident he is the plane passed to the north, and he answered, “100%, bet my life on it.”
This idea of asking how confident a person is of their answer is a good idea. If the “Conspiracy Theory” interviewer would have asked me how confident I was of my “overflight” explanation, I probably would have said about 80%. The reasoning -- deduct 10% because there might have been a way to pass north of CitGo and still strike the Pentagon at the location of damage, and another 10% as Sgts. Lagasse and Brooks might have been lying.
At the time, one of my reasons in support of the overflight hypothesis was the flight data recorder (FDR) indicated an altitude higher than the Pentagon as the airplane passed across structure’s face [Balsamo].
New information became available with the publication in January 2011 of a new FDR analysis [Legge and Stutt] that decoded 4 additional seconds of data that apparently was on the file released by the NTSB, but had not been decoded. If these additional seconds of data are valid, the radar altitude measurement indicates the airplane did level off at a low enough altitude to strike the Pentagon. There are reasons to be cautious of the FDR, as it has no identifying numbers to authenticate it as having been installed in a particular aircraft, or even that the data came from a plane in flight. All the recorded parameters could have been outputs from of a very complete simulator. Nevertheless, I think these additional 4 seconds of decoded data warrants adjusting my 80% confidence level downward by about 30%, lowering my overall confidence in an overflight to about 50%.
More recently, I have come upon an article reporting on a careful examination of the photographic evidence of damage to the face of the Pentagon. I find it difficult to come up with explanations other than a 757-sized airplane that would cause the damage photographed. With that said, I conclude my 50% confidence should be reduced a bit more, down to 30%. The compliment of this statement, is I now have 70% confidence a medium-size transport airplane struck the Pentagon.
This idea of making probability estimates for something that is unknowable, at least with available evidence, has been used in other areas of science. Most notably, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) makes use of the Drake Equation. That is, it provides a systematic approach to estimating the probability there is intelligent life on another planet close enough to communicate with Earthlings. As applied to the Pentagon question, possibly stated as the “probability a large airplane struck the Pentagon.” Such a percentage (if expressed that way) would be the product of a number of conditional probabilities. An example of a conditional probability related to the FDR would be “probability the data file provided by NTSB is valid, given the FDR came from aircraft debris recovered from the Pentagon.”
If probability numbers were used on this “what struck the Pentagon?” issue, it might loosen the polarization between the two sides that now exist within the 9/11 Truth movement. As it is now, people on the two sides sound as if they have 100% confidence in their respective positions. Maybe they do, but they might be willing to back off these hard-over positions if there was a pattern of dialogue which facilitated taking more moderate views.
If we set aside the polarizing issue of what (if anything) struck the Pentagon, it may be easier to reach agreement on which military organizations had significant numbers of victims, and possibly the implications. Of the 125 deaths, the Army had 78, the Navy and Defense Intelligence Agency combined had 46, and Office of the Secretary of Defense had one [Navy History]. This Army section was primarily a financial management/audit area, and may have been devoted to trying to track the $2.3 Trillion Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld publicly announced as possibly “missing” the day before [Honegger]. The Navy and Defense Intelligence Agency personnel are characterized as being part of the Naval Command Center [ibid]. Part of this unit was the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot (CNO-IP), as described by Washington Post writer Richard Leiby. CNO-IP was responsible for production of daily intelligence briefings and other intelligence materials for the Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary of the Navy, and other senior military and civilian officials, including the Director of the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence). The ONI was also part of the Command Center [Heidner]. The ONI, it was reported, was at odds with Bush and his primary enforcement agencies -- the CIA and NSA.
The possibility emerges these two functions, Army budget auditors and ONI investigators, may have been moved into the first floor of the vacant Wedge One to be “targets” in the larger scheme for 9/11.