Tuesday, March 14, 2006

From the Smithsonian: The Phone Ted Answered Barbara's Last Phone Call On

Description: Ted Olson, U.S. solicitor general, received two calls on this office telephone from his wife, Barbara Olson, as her hijacked airplane headed toward the Pentagon.
Context: Telephones affected the way people experienced September 11. Barbara Olson, a well-known political commentator, made two phone calls to her husband while onboard American Airlines Flight 77 after it was hijacked by terrorists. She learned of the other hijacked planes and discussed with her husband what to do. Despite the terror of the situation, she remained cool and focused; her husband could only console her and listen. At 9:38 am, all fifty-three passengers, six crew members, and five hijackers were killed when the plane crashed into the Pentagon. All over the world, telephones mattered to people that day, as families and coworkers connected with each other to verify their safety or express their love.
The “attack” on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 was a private Shock & Awe performance-art piece. It was performed in concert with a nearly simultaneous public Shock & Awe piece held at the World Trade Center in downtown New York, which got the better reviews, and most of the public’s attention. Together with a touring company that closed prematurely in Pennsylvania, the four parts were designed as a single coup de théâtre. Various artists were involved in the project, but sorting out the understudies, walk-ons, voice-overs, and private backers from the claymation holograms will take the academy several years. The New York segment was brilliantly conceived in two acts, meant to play out in real time, with the second act packing the house, as anticipated. The Pentagon portion of the program was occult, as befits a semi-secret venue, and was designed for the public to consume only the media byproducts. All were contrived and orchestrated performances, but the Pentagon portion was burdened by an additional layer of non-reality. The production values were simply not high enough to withstand the scrutiny of modern American skepticism. It may also be pointed out that, it couldn’t have been easy to stage a Shock & Awe event on oneself. Anyone who has ever thrown a surprise-birthday party would appreciate this fact.

My thesis is that a review of the documentary record of the event at the Pentagon will reveal the truth faster than an analysis and review of material in the public domain relating to the New York segment does, although, it is strongly encouraged historians and law-enforcement personnel undertake both. Once our eyes open to the truth of these mock attacks, we awaken from an induced slumber, and the images look more F Troop than Dreamworks. We will study the initial work-product as it was unfolded, as well as review the stages at which other material was released as a response to ongoing criticism—our rubric being: it is always the cover-up, not the crime, that reveals the evil-doer.

We begin this review with an image of the white office telephone that conveyed Barbara Olson’s last two cell-phone calls to her husband, the Solicitor General of the United States, Ted Olson, as Flight 77, with her aboard, sped towards destiny at the Pentagon.

The phone now resides in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. Poor curatorship neglects to inform us of the make, or model number, but we do see that it is white. We hope this color-fact isn’t a benefit that might advantage a terrorist who means to do us harm. Perhaps national security is the reason the final cell-phone bill, which would indicate if roaming charges were in effect that morning, is not on display. One must note here, that the introduction of Mrs. Olson into the narrative of 9-11 was the only brilliant conceptual component of an otherwise flat military production. Perhaps the purge and dismissal of the homosexual element from within the military is regretted now, in hindsight. The practiced eye of the queer, with his abilities for story-telling and myth-making, would have been useful in the 9-11 campaign, since such skills are antithetical to the standard military issue of following orders and keeping secrets.

Someone who knew human nature only too well surmised that just the imaginary picture of Barbara Olson slamming into a limestone wall at 450 miles-per-hour in a fiery explosion would be compensation, provide the perfect cover, as haters of the Bush administration would be occupied with the mental arithmetic, calculating benefit to loss, ultimately to deny the Pentagon portion of 9-11 as truly being a part of the national tragedy.
However, the nation was naïve in the fall of 2001. We had not yet conceptualized extreme rendition as vacation.

All of the phone calls from the stricken airplanes were faked. Film at 11.

Bunker gear worn by fireman Mark Skipper, as he fought the fires at the Pentagon on 9-11. Working title: "A Conservator's Dream! It looks so fresh and clean! Like it just came out of the package!"

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