Pentagon releases 9-11 footage; conspiranoiacs appeased?

From BBC, May 16. Maybe this will finally shut up the conspiranoiacs. (Yeah, as if…)

Why Pentagon released 9/11 tape

A non-profit government watchdog has succeeded in getting the US to release videotapes of a plane striking the Pentagon on 11 September 2001.

The conservative group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request in December 2004, which was denied a month later, the group says.

The Pentagon said it could not release the videos in question because they were part of an ongoing investigation against al-Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui, according to Judicial Watch.

Judicial Watch sued the government over its refusal, saying there was “no legal basis” for it.

Government resistance collapsed after a court sentenced Moussaoui to life in prison for his role in the 9/11 attacks, and they agreed to release the video, a Judicial Watch spokeswoman told the BBC.

Conspiracy theories

Judicial Watch describes itself as a conservative, non-partisan foundation that fights government corruption.

The organisation’s president, Tom Fitton, said in a statement he hoped the release of the footage would “put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines 77”, the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11.

His remark was apparently a reference to ideas aired in books such as Thierry Meyssan’s The Pentagate, which argues that a missile, not a plane, struck the headquarters of the US defence department.

The French journalist and left-wing activist claims the US government itself was behind the attacks.

Two books he published on the subject were worldwide bestsellers.

A Pentagon spokesman, Glen Flood, said in 2002 Mr Meyssan’s first book was “a slap in the face and real offence to the American people”.

But, as The Guardian, points out:

The airplane is a thin white blur on the video as it slams into the Pentagon at ground level. Almost instantly a white flash and a huge orange fireball appear on the video, followed by a tower of gray-black smoke. One of the videos shows a Pentagon police car driving in the direction of the impact point shortly after the plane hit.

Traveling at an estimated 530 mph, the hijacked plane plowed into the southwest side of the Pentagon at 9:38 a.m. EDT, shortly after two other hijacked airlines were flown into the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York. The attack set off fires in a portion of the Pentagon and killed 125 people inside, in addition to the 59 passengers and crew and the five men who hijacked the plane after it took off from nearby Dulles International Airport.

Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was the pilot of the American Airlines plane, said in a telephone interview that she realized Pentagon officials were compelled to release the videos under the Freedom of Information Act. But she said the images provide no new information about what happened that day.

Ms. Burlingame said she doubted that release of the videos would do anything to dispel the many conspiracy theories, including the claim by some that the Pentagon was hit by a missile. The Pentagon videos provide only the briefest glimpse of the plane as it hits the building; the images were recorded on cameras designed to record license plates of vehicles entering the Pentagon grounds and were too slow to capture the airplane’s approach.

We guess it won’t shut the conspiranoiacs up after all.

See our last post on the legacy of 9-11.