Sunday, October 22, 2006

Daryl Donley's Pentagon Fireballs at the Library of Congress, But No Firebird at the Symphony

With just a tiny bit of digging, the evidence for a 757 American Airlines jetliner’s burrowing sideways into the 1st and 2nd floors of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, crumbles into reality-based dust and blows away in the wind of responsible skepticism.

Take the contribution of Daryl Donley, “a commuter” whose pictures taken in the first minutes after the 9:32 o’clock in the morning “attack” were the first record made by human hand of the fireball aftermath. Alas, unlike the slightly earlier security-camera fireball frames taken from a different angle, Donley’s corpus comes with human baggage, filled with some rather dirty laundry to air.
I first encountered Donley’s four iconic images at the Library of Congress website, which this link will get you to quickest. Being a latecomer to 9-11 studies, the nuances of authenticating the voluminous 9-11-eyewitness record, whether in camera, or as it tripped off tongues and webpages, took me some time—and as we know, timing is everything in life.

But my search didn’t take long--that is, with my beady little eyes already narrowed by prior hours of obsessive scrutiny. Just one article, from Mr. Donley’s hometown newspaper, The Observer-Reporter, of Greene county Pennsylvania, summed up the issues nicely.

It’s dated July 2, 2002, 'Son of Greene Co. man captured indelible moments when hijacked jet hit Pentagon,' by Jon Stevens, and it's well written—at times Donley sounds honest even. Like when he says, "I was looking for the plane. Where is the plane? I thought I saw a plane go into the building. It was gone, completely gone. I was in shock and disbelief."

The article continues, “Donley began shooting and didn't stop until the military police began yelling at him to get in his car and get moving. ‘I was a distraction. They had no idea what had happened and here I was taking photographs. I completely understand why they were yelling,’ he said.” (Aw, sociopathic empathy!)

But then comes the money shot! “Back home, Donley called a friend at Gannett, (oops,) a company that owns newspapers across the country (yes, we know.) He told her his story and that he had taken photos. Gannett bought his photos (how much?) and made them available to 100 papers across the country. ‘I never saw them in print, so I have no idea who used them,’ he said.” (Well actually Daryl, nobody used them. Apparently, Gannett bought and then sat on the biggest 9-11 visual scoop of the nascent century.)

My Algebraic Proof

Google returns 294 hits for “Daryl Donley” in quotation marks. Adding a “+ Pentagon” lowers it to 243. Out of my admittedly rushed search, I found a single newspaper, The Seattle Times, which included just one image, on this page and that was in a fancy special edition, which was produced months afterwards, by which time Donley had begun to become semi-famous.

That occurred because the ever-ready Gannett News Service had used an eyewitness quote of Donley’s, published on September 12, 2001:"’It just was amazingly precise,’ Daryl Donley, a commuter, said of the plane's impact. ‘It completely disappeared into the Pentagon.’"

But that article, U.S. Under Attack, by Larry Wheeler, is so filled with tripe and propaganda, that it's not surprising I find it only turning up once on Google, at the “Gannett Suburban Webpaper, The Journal News,” which serves Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties north of New York City. But at least the official record had begun!

Back to the July 2002 hometown puff piece, it continues: “In April, (seven months later,) he learned from a reporter that some of his photos were published in Paris Match and in the Daily Mail in London,” (although my Google search found only one very early critical piece in French, at dated November 9, 2001)

More puffery: "Then this reporter from Paris Match, who was working in New York, tells me she saw one of my pictures in the book. I asked, 'What book?'" Donley said. “Across two pages in ‘Life's Year in Pictures,’ published last November, is Donley's picture showing the huge fireball.”

Now I can smell big bucks here, so Donley’s story starts to go all fishy. SIPA PRESS markets one of Donley’s images. Even the Library of Congress works to protect his copyright. It's highly unlikely Life used a two-page spread in a commemorative edition without his knowledge.

A final puff-puff from July 2002: “The Library of Congress has five of his pictures in its permanent collection, and some of the photos will be on display on the anniversary this September. No other photos are believed have been taken within the same time frame as Donley's.”

How did Donley’s Pentagon pictures, and his alone I might add, get into the Library of Congress in the first place? Did Donley "have a friend" there? When did he give the FBI the evidence, or did he ever? Donley, who continues in his day job as assistant director of operations for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. makes for a compliant spook--if not a very talented liar. He was well remunerated, I'm sure.

The entirety of Donley’s experience is fabricated, he is a staged stooge, a sell-out, to whom sacred truth was abandoned in favor of a cabal, and given evidence of his guilt, a trial by his peers, and a conviction, he should spend the rest of his life behind bars as a consequence. As for Gannett....

THIS is truth as I see it. Deal, Firebird.

The spooky pointless picture of a smoking man in the median in the mirror. You couldn't get this dumb if you tried.


  1. Actually, you've proven that you can get a whole lot dumber without even trying!

    What do you say to 1 of hundreds of volunteers who spent weeks as part of Operation Noble Eagle in the resuce and recovery efforts, which unfortunately went unsuccessful, and cleaning up the debris and fuselage of an AIRPLANE inside the Pentagon; finding human remains still encrusted into AIRLINE SEATS?

    Let me answer that for you, you say "I'm sorry, I'm a useless eater who doesn't deserve to live much less be allowed to share my pointless drivel on the information highway".

    Thanks, apology accepted.

    1. you expected to find survivors in the rubble WEEKS after 911 !?