Asoka's home turf is an Italian news community http://www.luogocomune.net that has a special focus on 9-11. I'm surprised to find his archive apparently lying fallow since spring, after the enormous effort he expended assembling it. But digging in I realized how revelatory it was to experience these testimonies, coming in as they did in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Viewed in their original context of media manipulation, with eyes opened wide by the six descending years that have followed, the connivance of the media in Arlington in the conspiracy of 9-11 couldn't be more apparent.
We can tell each other apart now, can't we?
Aiming to go in a rough chronological order, the first interview is special--to me at least, in that she triggered my cracked sixth sense, and it's been awhile.
Pentagon Eyewitness Isabel James
This NBC4 clip is timestamped 10:18am. The interview occurs at the Citgo gas station, which became the media center, so already some forethought, if not foreknowledge seems evident. James says she was traveling down Columbia Pike when the plane flew directly overhead, which would leave her conveniently pre-positioned. Columbia Pike and intersecting Joyce St. would be the only way for journalists to get even marginally close to west side of the Pentagon. Several references to journalists getting arrested when they got too pushy are in these tapes. James references a tree line obscuring her view bit, and there is only one to be seen on
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It is doubtful she could have seen the plane actually impacting the building, but she could surely deduce it. How she got so emphatic about the pilot's motive and intent is another matter.
In the clip's first seconds, as the reporter is asking the question, James' has a faint smile on her face as if rising to meet a challenge. This would indicate she's an operative at work and she delights in lying. The reporter, who mentions that they both had been there for awhile already, still hasn't warmed to her story. James doesn't trip up anywhere in her syntax or logic, or breathing, but her unpleasant accent leaves a lot of room to hide behind.
The instant I saw her I thought she was the same women seen here in this picture--a high-level manager shown giving directions to her troupes during a scene change later in the morning.
ON edit: It's interesting that Aldo Marquise of the CIT came to the same conclusion on September 6, 2007, adding, in that inimitable insider-CIT style, the information that Isabel James is married to Mike, a navy info center employee.
The following photo has long intrigued me. A half dozen uniformed service members are digging intently in the unsightly mound of earth sitting in the middle of the cloverleaf. Standing over them is a women dressed similarly in shorts and tee shirt. As much as I'd like to make a positive ID the women are the same, I can't, the color of the tee shirt is too off. She could have changed, but then again, maybe she has a sister.
Pentagon CNN eyewitness Barbara
The way in which this account Pentagon CNN eyewitness Barbara emerges, and the underlying disrespect, both to Barbara and journalism, of an inadequate identification, makes this interviewee start off as suspect and she goes downhill fast. Newsman Dave--last name-- Ensor puffs her credibility at the beginning, using "exactly" three times, but he rapidly losses air. "What did you think was happening?" he asks. No, really. (unidentified, wife of a friend of CNN Newsman Dave Ensor)
Aaron Brown introduces: "David where in the Capital are you now?"
Dave: Well, Aaron, I'm in our bureau but I am on the telephone with 'Barbara' who is the wife of a 'friend' of mine, and who is an eyewitness to exactly what happened at the Pentagon. Barbara can you hear me alright? Yes, I can hear you. Well, what exactly did you see, let's look at the Pentagon now as you describe what exactly happened at the Pentagon this morning. As we were driving into town on 395 there was an exit, we were trying to get off the exit for the Memorial Bridge, and off to the left hand side was a commercial plane that came in and it was coming in too fast, and too low, and the next thing that we saw was it go down below the side of the road and we just saw the fire that came up after that. How large was the explosion? It was large! Was there sound as well? Ah...that I can't verify because the windows were up in the vehicle. But was it clear to you what had happened? Yes, definitely. So you believe it was a commercial airliner that was hitting the Pentagon? Yes, and I'm not sure exactly where the Pentagon, where it was in relationship to where the plane went down, but they are relatively close to one another, whether it hit any part of that Pentagon I'm not sure.
How low was the plane? When it was coming down? Ah....ya, it was coming down on less than a 45 degree angle, and coming down toward the side of the...395. And when it came down it just missed 395 and it went down below it and you could just see the fire come up from it. Were you able to see what kind of plane or what airline it belonged to? No, I did not see what kind of airline, I just assumed because we were so close to the airport that it was just coming in to land. But it seemed awfully low to you? Yes, and fast. How big was the fireball? Umm, I'm spatially challenged at times, and it was pretty big. What did you think was happening? I know that that hit the ground and exploded. Were you frightened yourself?
Barbara almost loses it with an unexpected question about sound, won't go on record as to the size of the fireball, or the plane, and she does lose it when asked the trick math question: "How low was the plane?" But she buys time by asking a question of her own back, "When it was coming down?" Yes dear. She says "less than a 45 degree angle." Wrong dear.
CBS News9 Omar Campos A Spanish speaker, Campos has a friend translating for him whose English is actually worse, but they get across the message "not too big...like a business airplane," and that it was "white on the top, blue color downstairs," meaning underneath. The newscaster Gordon mentions they'd said a 15-20 seat jet before, but the men don't repeat that on air. Gordon asks specifically if it was an American Airlines jet and Campos counters with a clear "United" although his friend mistranslates that into "a United States airplane." But all this talk of a small commuter plane appears to motivate a second newsman to jump in to try and quash the effect it may be having on listeners. He asserts there are conflicting reports, and some "military men" (i.e. read: white men) are saying it was a large plane, like a 757. So obvious!
But Omar Campos is even more fun, because he has always appeared on the witness lists, but as in support of the official Flight 77 American Airlines commercial Boeing jet story. It seems the London Guardian made the mistake, although it sounds more like Diebold. And nobody cross referenced until now. Look, he's done his ESL homework too:
"Omar Campo, a Salvadorean, was cutting the grass on the other side of the road when the plane flew over his head.
It was a passenger plane. I think an American Airways plane," Mr Campo said. "I was cutting the grass and it came in screaming over my head. I felt the impact. The whole ground shook and the whole area was full of fire. I could never imagine I would see anything like that here."
The Guardian, Sep. 12, 2001(Please note the word screaming, it will appear again shortly)
Mark Eastman pentagon eyewitness
"Do we have an eyewitness? Yes, Heather Cabot is bringing one over. We have an eyewitness I think, to what happened here at the Pentagon, if you have a moment. Can you tell me what you saw and where you were." "We were on Columbia Pike, where the shelter is...and I looked out the window and I saw the tail end go." What size plane? "For me it was a big size plane, definitely a passenger plane...everything shook and then a big explosion and then somebody said My God, they hit the Pentagon, they hit the Pentagon."
The "for me" formulation would indicate that a debate rages--pick your side and be prepared to defend it. This fellow is sincere, send back the tumbrel.
Heather Cabot appears to have been the procurer for several of the News9 interviews. More on her coming up later.
CNN Pentagon Reporter Bob Franken
"We now know a plane, which is believed to be a jumbo jet has crashed into the Pentagon, it left a hole, it has collapsed that side of the building. The tragedy of course is that around 9:20 this morning Eastern time a plane crashed into the west side of the Pentagon."
Franken gets with the program, but he sticks with a 9:20am time of arrival, which is 18 minutes ahead of the official time, and ten minutes ahead of a big pack clump around "about 9:30." Franken had an office in the building. That he remains intransigent still (this is at about 1:30 in the afternoon, I believe) means he knows something and is unwilling to give it up.
"I was just casually looking out my window and out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked to be a 20-passenger corporate jet. no markings on the side, coming in at a shallow angle like it was landing right into the side of the Pentagon, then a huge fireball, about perhaps five times the height of the Pentagon, and I was on the fifth floor so we just automatically ran down went to the stairs and ran down the fire escape." "You were where, in the Pentagon?" "No, I was across 395 from the Pentagon, in an office tower, but with a direct view of the Pentagon. "Describe the trajectory, the plane was aimed straight at the building?" "It flew right into the Pentagon and almost immediately a huge fireball."
I hate to say this, because he supports my pet theory, but this guy sounds incredibly over-rehearsed to my ear. What do others think? On edit: Aug. 22 On second thought, he sounds just right.