Sunday, September 17, 2006

James S. Robbins: Objective Pentagon Eyewitness?

Only two “proofs” have ever been offered by defenders of the official explanation as to what happened at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001—that American Airlines, Flight 77 flew at 530 miles per hour into the side of the building. One proof consists of the presence of bodies of the airplane passengers supposedly found within the Pentagon wreckage, a point eminently debatable despite the shroud of secrecy surrounding even the smallest details of the official version. The other proof is said to be provided by the “hundreds” of eyewitnesses who claim to have seen the plane strike the building.

This blog specializes in debunking those eyewitnesses. I think I’ve made fairly convincing arguments in previous posts about several of the central characters—that they were all co-conspirators, rewarded to fabricate testimony—in on the plot in other words. Liars. But today’s debunkee hasn’t any official role to fall back on. He is entirely self-generated. A gratuitous latecomer to the eyewitness game, a noisome interjector, an insufferably snarky and utterly predictable conservative apologist, and it delights me to show up the egg on his face.

He is James S. Robbins, Contributing Editor of the National Review, Professor of International Relations at the so-called National Defense University, senior fellow in national-security affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council, a trustee for the Leaders for Liberty Foundation, and author of Last in Their Class: Custer, Picket and the Goats of West Point.

Which is enough of a resumé without owning up to being an avid Ayn Rand fan, which apparently he is. At least, in the period before September 11, 2001 he wrote an interesting Op-Ed piece for The Atlas Society & The Objectivist Center Online, an organization that says its aim is “to help create a new culture in our society, a culture in tune with the entrepreneurial spirit of the new economy, a culture that affirms the core Objectivist values of reason, individualism, freedom, and achievement.” (How about a wee touch of honesty and sincerity, hmmmm?)

I thought his opinion piece, published on February 22, 2001, and titled, “The Moral Necessity of Missile Defense:” was a good jumping off place for my purposes. There he writes,
“We have a very sophisticated and robust intelligence and counter-intelligence capability to intercept attacks by so-called “suitcase bombs” carried by terrorists.”

Given that view, how does he toe the Neo-Con line about 19 Arab hijackers with box cutters taking over four airplanes? In a piece published in the National Review on April 9, 2002 called, 9/11 Denial The French bestseller and its company,” in which he ridicules Thierry Meyssan's book, “L'Effroyable Imposture,” the first published account to modestly doubt the Pentagon story, Robbins provides a link to an eyewitness list, which doesn’t have his name on it. He corrects matters shortly.

After first equating that “Meyssan's theory fits neatly with those of the Holocaust deniers,” in something of a stretch, he revels dramatic first-person testimony of his own hitherto unknown and unheralded role as a central witness.

In it, even Robbins’ fenestration is superlative! He tells us he
“was standing, looking out my large office window, which faces west and from six stories up has a commanding view of the Potomac and the Virginia heights. (When I hired on my boss said we had the best view in town…)

“The Pentagon is about a mile and half distant in the center of the tableau. I was looking directly at it when the aircraft struck. The sight of the 757 diving in at an unrecoverable angle is frozen in my memory, but at the time, I did not immediately comprehend what I was witnessing. There was a silvery flash, an explosion, and a dark, mushroom shaped cloud rose over the building. I froze, gaping for a second until the sound of the detonation, a sharp pop at that distance, shook me out of it.”
Another 16 words that could haunt a man: “The sight of the 757 diving in at an unrecoverable angle is frozen in my memory.”

I guess Robbins missed the 5 frames of video that were “leaked” from the Pentagon a month prior, which along with numerous corroborating testimonies, (that he himself touts,) show a level ground-hugging approach, completely irreconcilable with “diving in at an unrecoverable angle.” Maybe eyewitnesses aren’t such a trustworthy source after all. Robbins may prefer the impartiality of the Pentagon Building Performance Report:
"At 9:38 a.m. on September 11 an airliner was flown into the first story of the Pentagon." [pg. 4]

"Two photographs (figures 3.3 and 3.7), when compared, seem to show that the top of the fuselage of the aircraft was no more than approximately 20 ft above the ground when the first photograph of this series was taken." [pg. 14]

"The Boeing 757 approached the west wall of the Pentagon from the southwest at approximately 780 ft/s. As it approached the Pentagon site it was so low to the ground that it reportedly clipped an antenna on a vehicle on an adjacent road and severed light posts. When it was approximately 320 ft from the west wall of the building (0.42 second before impact,) it was flying nearly level, only a few feet above the ground." [pg. 18]

"Eyewitness accounts and photographs taken by a security camera suggest that the aircraft was flying on nearly a level path essentially at grade level for several hundred feet immediately prior to impact." [pg. 35] –

How about the Virginia Department of Transportation, whose offices sat next to the Navy Annex and were directly under the flight path,
“Then, at 9:37 a.m., Chu and other STC employees heard the window-rattling noise of a fast-approaching aircraft. It was close --much too close! The hijacked plane was coming up Columbia Pike, unbelievably low. It exploded into the Pentagon seconds after nearly skimming the rooftop of the Smart Traffic Center. Madelyn Zakhem, executive secretary at the STC, had just stepped outside for a break and was seated on a bench when she heard what she thought was a jet fighter directly overhead. It wasn't. It was an airliner coming straight up Columbia Pike at treetop level. "It was huge! It was silver. It was low -- unbelievable! I could see the cockpit. I fell to the ground.... I was crying and scared," Zakhem recalls. Two seconds later, perhaps three, as Chu looked out his office window, he saw a hijacked plane explode into the fortress-like walls of the Pentagon on the plain just below him. STC staffers remember a loud thud, then a terrible explosion, and then a fireball burgeoning from the core of America's military power.
Now that’s dramatic writing that still gives you room to back out of! “Sounded like a fighter jet,” is so much more unburdened a statement than, “he saw a hijacked plane.” What, Chu saw the hijackers? The VDOT report is refreshing in its honesty:
While everyone in or near the center heard the plane, not everyone saw it, and some thought the plane was the first missile in a missile attack.
They even include the minority reports!
At the same time, rumors were every where that another terrorist's
plane was only 30 minutes away and headed for the area -- then 20 minutes...
then 10 minutes.
(This would have been the period when Rummy was out elbowing in on a photo-opt carrying a victim on a stretcher. Not too safe, Rummy.)
"If I had been on top of our building, I would have been close enough
to reach up and catch it," Madelyn Zakhem, an executive secretary in the Smart Traffic Center (STC) in Arlington, said two days after the terrorist plane rocketed directly over her.

"In the final few seconds before the terrorist-commandeered plane exploded into the Pentagon, the plane roared down on Columbia Pike, almost skimming the roof of the STC after barely missing the Sheraton Hotel. The noise, VDOT team members said, was unbelievably loud, and most felt the hijacker was nosing down the plane at full throttle.

"It was so close the building was shaking," recalls Jimmy Chu, STC manager. Some VDOTers were sure the plane had shifted its direction slightly to avoid a 100-foot-tall cellular tower adjacent to the STC building. As the plane went over the STC, the hijacker banked the plane, lifting the right wing up, in order to swoop down the hill into the target. Just before impact, the plane clipped off two VDOT light poles on Washington Boulevard, a football field or two away from the Pentagon.

"In the same area, the blast from the plane's impact damaged the lenses of one of VDOT's traffic monitoring cameras and knocked the camera sideways.”

Yes, but what about the pictures? Robbins continues:
The adrenaline of the initial shock had worn off a bit, and I was I took the elevator down and walked to the edge of the greensward, in easy view of the able to take in the enormity of the event. Even more than witnessing the plane crash, I remember those long helpless minutes standing in the grass. So, of course, I take it personally when a half-wit like Meyssan comes along saying it did not happen. And he is so evidently at war with reality that one is tempted not to waste time with him. His ideas are obviously foolish, easily disproved, an affront to any reasoning person. It would be easy to ignore him. But that would be a mistake. This is another front in what President Bush called "the war to save civilization itself."

The history of the 20th century should show that no idea is so absurd that it cannot take destructive hold and play havoc with societies, even to the point of sanctioning mass murder. Allowing the extremists to go unchallenged only encourages them. People like Lenin, Hitler, Pol Pot and other millennial criminals were just like Meyssan at one point in their careers. If they had been opposed more vigorously sooner, perhaps they never would have attained power. When such ideas are allowed to stand, they take root among the impressionable or those predisposed to think the worst. And especially now that communications technology has made it possible to give global reach to the bizarre and archive it forever, it is essential for men and women of reason resolutely to counter the delusions of the fringe element.

I was there. I saw it. That is my entire rebuttal.”
Mr. James S. Robbins, you asshole, there was no “unrecoverable angle,” there was no “dive.” You are a pompous lying sack of shit, just like all your other ideological brethren, willing to say anything to further your cause, and you banked on a truly awful horse in George W. Bush.

I can hear the tumbrels creaking as I speak.

And frankly, I think Ayn Rand would be appalled at your behavior!


  1. Those 16 words will come to haunt him and I'm sure they do now. I just wish more people would talk about this. At the time (4-9-02) I'm sure it seemed like a pretty good idea to write this article. Not so anymore. Poor guy, does he actually think he's "in" with the losers who concepted this? Hang in there, Jimmy. It won't be long now.

  2. Robbins has fouled up.
    He denies the lightpoles, the generator and the low cement wall
    impacts of the Notional jet. He will have no friends on any side.
    He was self serving, that was all.