Friday, April 27, 2012

Shaping Perceptions

 What do you believe?  What you see with your own eyes, or what you are told to see?

I'm reposting below from Jim Hoffman's very fine 9/11 Research site: 

Peter Jennings

Famous ABC Anchor Makes Candid Observation, Is Immediately Corrected

On the day of the attack, ABC News anchor Peter Jennings made a candid observation about planned demolition as the cause of the South Tower's collapse. Although Jennings did not retract his statement, his co-anchor, Don Dahler, quickly stepped in to correct him. The following exchange was broadcast live on the ABC network starting 20 seconds after the onset of the South Tower's destruction.
Let's go to the Trade Tower again, because we now have ...
What do we have?  We don't...

Unknown Voice
It looks like a new plume, a new large plume of smoke.

Now it may be that something fell off the building. It may be
that something has fallen, yet we don't know to be perfectly
honest, but that is what you're looking at is the current ..
that's the scene at this moment at the World Trade Center.
Don Dahler, from ABC's Good Morning America, is down in the
general vicinity. Don, can you tell us what just happened?

Yes, Peter, it's Don Dahler here.  I'm down here four blocks
north of the World Trade Center.  The second building that was
hit by the plane has just completely collapsed.  The entire
building has just collapsed, as if a demolition team set off,
when you see the old demolitions of these old buildings, it
folded down on itself, and it is not there any more.

Unknown Voice:
That should be it.
Thanks very much.

It has completely collapsed.

The whole side has collapsed?

The whole building has collapsed.

The whole building has collapsed?

The building has collapsed.

That's the southern tower you're talking about.

Exactly, the second building that we witnessed the airplane
enter, has been .. the top half had been fully involved in
flame;  It just collapsed.  There is panic on the streets.
Thousands of people running up Church Street, which is what
I'm looking out on, trying to get away, but the entire .. at
least as far as I can see .. the top half of the building ..
at least half of it .. I can't see below that .. half of it ..
just started with a gigantic rumble, folded in on itself and
collapsed in a huge plume of smoke and dust.

We are talking about massive casualties here at the moment,
and we have... Whew.


There is panic on the streets.  There are people screaming
and running from the site.  The gigantic plume of smoke has
reached me probably a quarter of a mile north of there.

Now this is what it looked like moments ago.

My gosh.

The southern .. tower ... 10 o'clock eastern time this morning,
just collapsing on itself.
This is a place where thousands of people work.
We have no idea what caused this.  Um ..
If you wish to bring ah .. anybody who ever watched a building
being demolished on purpose knows  .. that if you're going to
do this you have to get at the .. at the under infrastructure
of a building and bring it down.


Yes, Don.

What appeared to happen from my vantage point ..  the top part
of the building was totally involved in fire, and there was ..
there appeared to be no effort possible to put that fire out.
It looked like the top part of the building was so weakened by
the fire that it just .. the weight of it just collapsed the
rest of the building .. that's what appeared to happen.
I did not see anything happening at the base of the building.
It all appeared to to start at the top and then just collapse
the rest of the building by the sheer weight of the top.

There was no explosion or anything at the base part of it,
but I .. I did see that the top part of it started to collapse,
the walls started to bulge out, bricks, glass, things coming
out, and then it collapsed in on itself, and it appeared to
just fold down from there, from the very top.

Thanks, Don, very much.
Um, just looking at that, I don't know why, but I'm .. when was
the last time the United States was attacked in this fashion it
was Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Dahler's correction of Jennings is notable for several reasons.
  • Dahler's confidence about what he saw is curious, given that he has just watched the first collapse of a large skyscraper in history.
  • His contention that "the top part of the building was totally involved in fire" contrasts with photographs of the event.
  • He states that "it looked like the top part of the building was so weakened by the fire ..." but photographs do not show obvious buckling of columns prior to the collapse.
  • His description that "... it collapsed in on itself, and it appeared to just fold down from there," contrasts with what photographs and videos show: that the building exploded outward.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dust Bitten!

It's been a long time between posts, but the evidence that 9/11 was an inside job only grows over time, thank to the hard work by so many courageous, smart people. Check this essay from Jim Hoffman:

Explosives Found in
World Trade Center Dust

Scientists Discover Both Residues
And Unignited Fragments
Of Nano-Engineered Thermitic Pyrotechnics
In Debris From the Twin Towers

Jim Hoffman
Version 1.00, April 3, 2009
Version 1.01, April 9, 2009
Version 1.02, October 23, 2009
Version 1.03, December 7, 2009


The scientific paper Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe conclusively shows the presence of unignited aluminothermic explosives in dust samples from the Twin Towers, whose chemical signature matches previously documented aluminothermic residues found in the same dust samples. The present review of the paper and related research is intended to summarize those findings for the non-technical reader. To that end, I first provide a short introduction to the subject of aluminothermic explosives, then outline the methods and results of analysis of the dust samples, and finally explore the significance of these findings.


Aluminothermics 101

Image from of a simple thermite reaction involving iron oxide and aluminum. This video shows thermite melting through a car.

Aluminothermic reactions are a class of energy-releasing oxidation-reduction chemical reactions in which elemental aluminum reduces a compound, typically by stealing the oxygen from a metal oxide. Aluminothermics range from low-tech preparations that take seconds to react and therefore release nearly all their energy as heat and light, to advanced engineered materials with accelerated reaction rates that yield explosive powers similar to conventional high explosives.

Backers of the official account of 9/11, including NIST officials, have dismissed evidence that aluminothermics were used to destroy the World Trade Center skyscrapers, claiming that thermite's slow reaction rate makes it an unsuitable tool for demolishing buildings. Despite repeated requests by scientists and researchers to address the potential role of advanced aluminothermic composites with high explosive power, officials have refused to acknowledge such materials.


2 Al + Fe2O3 → Al2O3 + 2 Fe 
The canonical thermite reaction is simple, lacks the aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrogen found in conventional high explosives, and is highly exothermic.

The most familiar aluminothermic material is thermite, a mixture of a powdered metallic fuel such as aluminum, and a powdered oxide of another metal such as iron or copper. The thermite reaction involves the transfer of oxygen from the oxidizer (metal oxide) to the fuel (metal).

Because oxygen atoms bind more tightly to aluminum atoms than to iron or copper atoms, the reaction releases large amounts of energy and is described as highly exothermic. Whereas primitive thermite preparations release most of their energy as heat, modern preparations, such as found in munitions employed by the US military in recent decades, produce a targeted mix of heat and pressure through an accelerated but controlled reaction rate and the addition of pressure-generating compounds such as hydrocarbons.

ABOVE: Relationship of particle size to reaction rate in thermites
BELOW: General relationship of reaction rate to the form of energy released in compositions that have the capacity to be high explosives

Reaction Rate

The reaction rate of a thermitic material determines how quickly its aluminum atoms find oxidizer molecules to react with, and therefore how quickly the energy is released. Whereas the energy density of an explosive is determined by its chemistry, its power density is determined by its reaction rate, which, in the case of a thermitic material, is determined by its physical characteristics. Specifically, the reaction rate increases with the fineness of the metal and oxide powders and the uniformity with which they are mixed.

Because the particle sizes of the reactants must be very small to attain rapid reaction rates, such thermites are often referred to as nano-thermites. Such nano- or "super-thermites" typically have particle diameters on the order of a few hundred nanometers, requiring their synthesis by special methods. The reaction rate in turn determines the destructive character of the material. Whereas a cup of conventional thermite will melt a hole clear through a car's engine block, the same quantity of a nano-thermite composite explosive will blow the car apart.

Nano-thermite composite explosives typically embed the metal and oxide particles within a matrix containing compounds of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and silicon. These additional elements generate high gas pressures upon exposure to the thermite reaction, which may be instrumental in imparting high-explosive properties to such materials.

Energy Density and Power Density

material energy density

by mass:
by volume:
aluminothermic incendiaries
(Al + Fe2O3)
4.13 18.40
Copper Thermite
(Al + CuO)
4.00 20.90
nitro-aromatic explosives
4.61 6.92

In terms of energy density, thermite is roughly comparable to TNT, packing slightly less energy per unit of mass but about three times as much energy per unit of volume. In terms of power density, thermitic preparations range across a wide spectrum, whose upper end appears to be comparable to conventional high explosives. 1 2

Because thermites have historically had much lower power densities than conventional high explosives, they are classified as incendiaries rather than explosives -- a classification that has been exploited to conceal the use of aluminothermics in the World Trade Center attack. Despite the fact that high-tech aluminothermics have existed and been used by the military since the mid-1990s or earlier, methods of identifying explosive residues at crime scenes are frequently limited to analysis of nitro-aromatic explosives. 3

Energetic Nanocomposites

The term 'nano-thermite' applied to the unignited thermitic material discovered in World Trade Center dust, is potentially misleading because it doesn't capture the complexity and sophistication of this material or its known analogs. Perhaps a better term is energetic nanocomposites, a class of materials that has been used by the military for some time in applications spanning propellants, armor-piercing munitions, and reactive armor. In their diverse roles, energetic nanocomposites fulfill a range of requirements including: "high density, good mechanical properties, low sensitiveness, good stability, low cost, ease of manufacturing, and environmental acceptability." 4 To achieve these requirements, scientists developing advanced aluminothermic materials have learned to embed the fine powders in a carbon- and silicon-rich matrix. Kevin Ryan explains:

The mixing [of ultra fine grain (UFG) aluminum and UFG metal oxides] is accomplished by adding these reactants to a liquid solution where they form what are called "sols", and then adding a gelling agent that captures these tiny reactive combinations in their intimately mixed state (LLNL 2000). The resulting "sol-gel" is then dried to form a porous reactive material that can be ignited in a number of ways. 5
Graphic from a DTIC (Defense Technical Information Center) Review publication on advanced energetic materials.

Energetic materials such as aluminothermic sol-gels have been an active area of research in the US national labs since the mid-1990s or earlier, including under the auspices of NIST itself -- a fact documented by Kevin Ryan in his extensively footnoted article The Top Ten Connections Between NIST and Nano-Thermites. Also called "metastable intermolecular composites", "nano-structured energetic materials", or just "nanoenergetics", these materials have been the subject of numerous conferences, research papers, and patents in the past two decades. 6 7 8 9 10 11 It's also not difficult to find recent published papers on methods of reliably igniting such materials with minute low-power devices described as MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) and manufactured much like conventional integrated circuits. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 It requires little imagination to grasp how such techniques could be exploited to implement a covert, all-wireless controlled demolition.

Aluminothermics at the WTC

The discovery of unexploded super-thermite in the WTC dust augments a large body of evidence pointing to the use of aluminothermic materials in the destruction of the skyscrapers. The present review looks only at the evidence of explosives found in the dust and debris expelled from the Twin Towers.

Even before WTC dust was subjected to the kind of microscopic scrutiny described in Active Thermitic Material Discovered, several features of the dust analysis published by the USGS pointed to the use of aluminothermics. For example, the USGS data shows high levels of barium -- a fact that is difficult to explain, barring pyrotechnics. The high levels of iron and aluminum in the dust -- each ranging from 1.3 to 4.1 percent of the dust samples by weight -- also appears anomalous, although prosaic sources of the metals can be imagined.

Aluminothermic Residues: Iron-Rich Spheroids

Micro-spheroidal particles in WTC dust consisting mostly of iron were documented in at least two scientific reports by 2005: a compilation of data by the USGS and a report for the owners of a skyscraper adjacent to the World Trade Center complex that sustained heavy damage in the attack. 19

Two images of iron-rich spheroids from the USGS Particle Atlas of World Trade Center Dust. 20
Illustration from a damage assessment report prepared for Deutsche Bank, the owners of a skyscraper severely damaged by projectiles from the South Tower. The report was commissioned, in part, to determine the nature and extent of contamination of the building, which is slated for demolition.

Although it may be overlooked, the significance of these nearly microscopic iron-rich droplets is not difficult to grasp. Molten iron is one of the two principal products of the thermite reaction, the other being aluminum oxide, which tends to dissipate as an aerosol. The molten iron condenses and solidifies into particles whose size is a function of the thermite's reaction rate. Fast-acting super-thermites produce tiny droplets that become very nearly spherical due to surface tension.

The inescapable fact is that these spheroidal droplets in the WTC dust look exactly like the products of the combustion of nano-thermite explosives, and their discovery in consistently substantial concentrations in diverse samples of dust from the day of the attack weighs heavily against theories that they were generated by something other than the Twin Towers' destruction. Elemental analysis of these droplets described below would show that they are dead ringers for known aluminothermic residues.

In a 2007 paper, Steven Jones described the importance of the iron-rich microspheres. 21

Dr. Steven E. Jones describing molten metal seen at Ground Zero.
As usual, we search for possible prosaic explanations for these metallic spherules in the WTC dust. The most obvious possible source is the melting of large quantities of steel in the buildings followed somehow by formation of tiny droplets of molten steel. As discussed above, however, steel melts at about 1538ºC (2800ºF) – and the temperatures in the buildings were no where near [sic] hot enough to melt steel, and certainly not in large quantities required for the amounts seen in the dust (and pouring out of the South Tower before collapse). Furthermore, we have looked at the chemical compositions of a number of iron-rich spherules as well as that of steel, and the compositions are not the same at all. It should not be surprising, however, as we analyze more spherules to find some that are steel-like in composition, assuming that thermite cutter-charges were in fact used to cut through steel. We should then find both steel- and thermite-residue spherules.

Could these droplets be due to molten aluminum alloy (from the jets) striking rusty steel and/or other office materials to somehow generate the iron-rich spheres? We performed experiments with molten aluminum poured onto rusty steel, then onto crushed gypsum and concrete (on the rusty steel) – and observed no formation of iron-rich droplets at all nor any sign of vigorous chemical reactions.

After addressing arguments that the iron-rich droplets could have been produced by the rubble pile or clean-up operation -- the dust samples were collected too early and were too distant from the site to have been thus contaminated -- Jones makes a rough estimate of the total quantities of reactants involved in the attack based on the fraction of the dust comprising the iron-rich spheres.

One can estimate the implied amount of thermite needed to generate so many iron-rich spheres in the WTC dust. In a sample of 32.1 grams of WTC dust, I observed with the unaided eye two metallic-looking spheres, in addition to the micron-sized spherules collected using a magnet. The mm-size spheres proved to be iron-aluminum rich. The mass of these two larger spheres (0.012g) found in this sample can be used to provide a crude estimate of the fraction of iron-rich spheres in the dust: 0.012g/32.1g = 0.04%. If the mass of the WTC dust was about 30,000 tons, then the iron-rich spherule content would be of the order of ten tons. This is a very rough estimate based on one small sample, and is only provided to give an idea of the amount of thermite-type reactants and products which may be involved here. An investigation well beyond the scope of this paper would look for purchases of aluminum and iron-oxide powders (and sulfur) in multi-ton-quantities prior to 9/11/2001.

A paper published a year earlier than Active Thermitic Material Discovered showed that metal-rich spheroids in WTC dust had iron-to-oxygen ratios indicating abundant elemental iron, such as found in thermite residues. It also pointed out several other features of WTC remains that indicated exposure to temperatures far above what could be produced by fires burning jet fuel and office contents, including: iron-rich and silicate spherules, volatilized lead, a molybdenum spherule, and materials with a "Swiss-cheese appearance". 22 Molybdenum has a very high melting point of 2617ºC.

Unignited Aluminothermics: Bi-Layered Chips

If finding aluminothermic residues in the form of spheroidal micro-droplets was like finding fired bullets at a crime scene, then the discoveries presented in Active Thermitic Material Discovered are like finding the gun loaded with several rounds of unspent ammunition that match the fired bullets.

Fig. 2 from Active Thermitic Material Discovered showing chips from the four different dust samples.
Map of Lower Manhattan showing locations of the four samples (blue points) and the Twin Towers (red points).

First described by Steven Jones in late 2007, distinctive chips found in the dust samples had red and gray layers, were weakly attracted to a magnet, and were composed mostly of iron, oxygen, aluminum, silicon, and carbon. Jones and his colleagues subsequently subjected the chips to detailed analysis using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy-dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and published their results in the Open Chemical Physics Journal.

Provenance of the Samples

The paper's findings are based primarily on the analysis of particles derived from four separate samples of dust generated by the destruction of the Twin Towers, samples whose provenance the paper describes in detail. Each of the samples was collected by a different individual who has described the time, place, and methods of collecting and storing their sample. Each individual collected dust that had settled directly after the fall of one of the Twin Towers, with the one exception, Janette MacKinlay, who collected dust when allowed to re-enter her apartment a week after it was carpeted with shovel-fulls of dust and debris from the South Tower.

Physical Structure of the Chips

Chips having distinctive and similar physical features were found in all four of the dust samples, ranging in length from from about 0.2 to 3 mm. Each chip has stratified layers of two types: a red layer and a lighter gray layer, where each layer is between roughly 10 and 100 microns in thickness. Despite their small size, the chips are readily visible in the samples because of their flat shapes, distinctive color, and layered structure. The chips are tough despite being as thin as eggshells.

Portions of Fig. 4 and Fig. 5: Two scanning electron microscope images of bi-layered chips.

Magnification reveals that the gray layers are composed of an opaque homogeneous material, whereas the red layers have small particles embedded in a matrix of slightly translucent material.

Fig. 9, showing a highly magnified view of the red layer. Note the hexagonal plate-like particles, and the smaller faceted particles, both lighter in color than the porous matrix.

At magnification of 50,000 the structure of the two types of particles is clear: small bright particles having a faceted shape and measuring about 100 nm in diameter, and larger particles having a flat and often hexagonal shape and measuring about 1000 nm across and 40 nm thick.

The particles are held in place and in close proximity to each other by the porous matrix. Soaking the chips in methyl ethyl ketone, a solvent that dissolves paint, caused the red layer to swell while remaining intact.

Up to this point, I have reviewed only characteristics of the chips revealed by macro- and micro-scopic visual examination, but already the implications are stunning: the chips are clearly a nano-engineered material with two types of extremely small particles, each highly consistent in shape and size, held in close stable proximity by a durable matrix which is laminated to a hard homogeneous material. The student of energetic materials will appreciate that this description matches exactly that of a super-thermite in which the reactant particles are suspended in a sol-gel matrix applied to a substrate.

Chemical Composition of the Chips

Chemical analysis of the chips relied primarily on performing elemental analysis of the materials and their components using XEDS, and making inferences about the materials' molecular composition based on the distributions of elements in different structures. The paper first examines the gray and red layers, and then zooms in on the components of the red layers.

XEDS spectra of red and gray layers shows a remarkable similarity across the different samples.

Fig. 7: "XEDS spectra obtained from the gray layers from each of the four WTC dust samples ..." Fig. 6: "XEDS spectra obtained from the red layers from each of the four WTC dust samples ..."

Whereas the gray layers contain mostly iron and oxygen, the red layers have abundant aluminum as well, and the three elements are in the ratio approximating that of Fe2O3 + Al thermite. Thus, the red layers could be active thermitic material, depending on their molecular composition. If active, the material will have much of its aluminum in a metallic state, unbound to oxygen or silicon.

The authors show that the aluminum is indeed mostly in a pure metallic form, and that much of the oxygen is bound to the iron. They ultimately show this conclusively through elemental analysis of the components of the red layers: the thin hexagonal plates, faceted grains, and embedding matrix revealed by microscopic inspection.

Performing accurate elemental analysis of the red layer components would require some ingenuity. Because the XEDS machine steers an electron beam over a sample's surface to gather information about its elemental composition, it can be used to generate maps of the abundance of different elements over the surface of the sample. However, the particles in the red layer are slightly smaller than what can be resolved by XEDS.

Fig. 10, showing the BSE image and accompanying XEDS maps for Fe, Al, O, Si, and C of a portion of an untreated red layer.

Nonetheless, considering the XEDS maps in conjunction with the much higher-resolution SEM images of the corresponding portions of the sample makes clear that the faceted grains are abundant in iron and oxygen and the thin plates are abundant in aluminum. Also, although the distribution of particles in the matrix is precisely homogeneous overall, there are local clumps of grains and of plates, and when the electron beam is focused on these clumps the XEDS detector registers higher concentrations of the constituents of iron oxide and of elemental aluminum, respectively.

To obtain more precise measurements of the elemental compositions of the red layer components using XEDS, those components somehow had to be separated, so that the electron beam could be focused entirely on one component at a time. Perhaps the porous matrix could be dissolved, allowing the particles to be separated by centrifuging. Or better -- as the investigators discovered serendipitously in an earlier experiment to see if the chips dissolved in the paint-dissolving solvent methyl ethyl keytone (MEK) -- the matrix could be expanded by a factor of five while leaving the layer intact, allowing in-situ examination. When the chips were soaked in MEK with periodic agitation for 55 hours, the red layers swelled up but remained intact and attached to their respective gray layers, and the thin plates tended to migrate and aggregate. Because of these structural changes produced by the MEK soaking, it was possible to make much more accurate XEDS measurements of the elemental compositions of the red layers' components.

Fig. 15, showing the BSE image and accompanying XEDS maps of Fe, Al, O, Si, and C for a red-layer sample soaked in MEK.

XEDS maps of a soaked red layers show correlations much more clearly than the untreated material. In particular, oxygen is highly correlated, individually, to iron, silicon, and carbon. Aluminum is inversely correlated to the other elements.

Even more striking are the XEDS spectra found by zooming in on areas having high concentrations of particular elements. The three graphs below show the results of focusing the electron beam on areas with: first, high silicon; second, high aluminum; and third, high iron. The area of high silicon is composed almost entirely of silicon and oxygen, the area of high aluminum has aluminum far out of proportion with the other elements, and the area of high iron is rich in oxygen, where the oxygen and iron atoms are in the same 3-to-2 ratio as in the thermite oxidizer Fe2O3.

A collage of Figs. 16, 17, and 18, whose captions read, in the order of the back- to front-most graphs: "XEDS spectrum from a silicon-rich region on the porous red matrix of the MEK-treated red material" "XEDS spectrum obtained at 10 kV from a probe of the region of high aluminum concentration on the MEK-soaked red chip", and "XEDS spectrum obtained from a probe of the region of high iron concentration on the MEK-soaked red chip acquired with a 15 kV beam", respectively.

The authors draw the obvious conclusions from their elemental analysis of components of the red layers: the aluminum-rich particles are mostly elemental aluminum, with the relatively small quantities of oxygen being accounted for by an oxide layer on the particles' surfaces; the iron-rich particles are primarily oxygen and iron, probably in the form of the oxidizer Fe2O3 which matches the observed 3:2 ratio of oxygen to iron atoms; and the matrix is composed almost entirely of silicon, oxygen, and carbon, where most of the carbon was washed away by the MEK. The matrix also may contain hydrogen, which is not detected by XEDS analysis.

Given the data in Active Thermitic Material Discovered I summarize the composition of the chips as follows:

Thermal Behavior of the Chips

The structural and chemical analysis of the chips shows that, in every relevant aspect, they fit the description of an engineered thermitic nanocomposite. This prompts the obvious question: do the chips have the thermal characteristics of an explosive aluminothermic material?

Although it might be difficult or impossible to measure the explosive power of the chips, given their minute size, it is possible to measure their exothermic behavior and thereby calculate their energy density using a differential scanning calorimeter (DSC), a device that gradually increases the temperature of a sample and records the amount of heat it absorbs or emits as a function of temperature.

Fig. 19 compares the DSC traces of a chip from each of the four samples.

A DSC trace is an approximate graph of energy density with respect to temperature, the height of the trace indicating the rate at which the sample's material absorbs or emits thermal energy. DSC traces of energetic materials such as incendiaries and explosives have a characteristic shape that remains near zero up to a certain temperature range -- the ignition temperature -- and thereafter spikes sharply upward. The energy density of the material can be estimated by calculating the area under the curve.

Chips from each of the four samples, when subjected to thermal analysis using the DSC, clearly show the exothermic behavior of an energetic material. As seen in Fig. 19, the heights of the graphs vary significantly from one chip to the next. The authors attribute this variation to the fact that the chips had different ratios of active red material to inert gray material.

Based on the DSC analysis, the authors estimate the energy density of the four chips at 1.5, 3, 6, and 7.5 kJ/g, respectively. This compares with a maximum yield from conventional thermite of slightly less than 4 kJ/g. In a final section of the paper underscoring the need for further research into the red-gray chips, the authors suggest a possible explanation for the exceptional energy content of the red-layer material: perhaps elements in the porous matrix, such as oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen, contribute to the reaction.

Fig. 29, labeled "DSC trace of sample 1 (blue line) compared with DSC of xerogel Fe2O3/UFG Al nanocomposite (from Tillotson et al. [28]). Both DSC traces show completion of reaction at temperatures below 560ºC".

A comparison of DSC traces of the red-gray chips to a published DSC trace from an xerogel/nano-thermite energetic nanocomposite shows the chips to be more energetic and to have a lower ignition temperature.

Ignition Residue Analysis

Because DSC processing causes the chips to ignite, the investigators studied the residues and found, not surprisingly, minute iron-rich spheroids, as well as silicon-rich spheroids. When subjected to XEDS analysis, the iron-rich spheroids showed iron far in excess of oxygen, as expected in an aluminothermic residue.

The paper contains the following micrographs and corresponding XEDS spectra of spheroids from three different sources: residue from the ignition of commercial thermite, residue from the ignition of the red-gray chips, and World Trade Center dust.

Fig. 24: "Spheres formed during ignition of commercial thermite,
with corresponding typical XDS spectrum"
Fig. 25: "Spheres formed during ignition of red/gray chip in DSC,
with corresponding typical XEDS spectrum ..."
Fig. 27 and 28: "Spheres extracted from WTC dust" and
"XEDS spectrum from a sphere found in the WTC dust"


I hope that my review of Active Thermitic Material Discovered, being summary and somewhat interpretive, will serve as encouragement to read the paper itself, which, as scientific papers go, is remarkably accessible. The paper's conclusions -- a clear and cogent summary of the results -- are reproduced here in their entirety:

We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in significant numbers in dust associated with the World Trade Center destruction. We have applied SEM/XEDS and other methods to characterize the small-scale structure and chemical signature of these chips, especially of their red component. The red material is most interesting and has the following characteristics:

  1. It is composed of intimately mixed aluminum, iron, oxygen, silicon and carbon. Lesser amounts of other potentially reactive elements are sometimes present, such as potassium, sulfur, barium, lead and copper. [4,6]
  2. The primary elements (Al, Fe, O, Si, C) are typically all present in particles at the scale of tens to hundreds of nanometers, and detailed XEDS mapping shows intimate mixing.
  3. On treatment with methyl-ethyl ketone solvent, some segregation of components was observed. Elemental aluminum became sufficiently concentrated to be clearly identified in the pre-ignition material.
  4. Iron oxide appears in faceted grains roughly 100 nm across whereas the aluminum appears in plate-like structures. The small size of the iron oxide particles qualifies the material to be characterized as nano-thermite or super-thermite. Analysis shows that iron and oxygen are present in a ratio consistent with Fe2O3. The red material in all four WTC dust samples was similar in this way. Iron oxide was found in the pre-ignition material whereas elemental iron was not.
  5. From the presence of elemental aluminum and iron oxide in the red material, we conclude that it contains the ingredients of thermite.
  6. As measured using DSC, the material ignites and reacts vigorously at a temperature of approximately 430ºC, with a rather narrow exotherm, matching fairly closely an independent observation on a known super-thermite sample. The low temperature of ignition and the presence of iron-oxide grains less than 120 nm show that the material is not conventional thermite (which ignites at temperatures above 900ºC) but very likely a form of super-thermite.
  7. After igniting several red/gray chips in a differential scanning calorimeter run to 700ºC, we found numerous iron-rich spheres and spheroids in the residue, indicating that a very high-temperature reaction had occurred, since the iron-rich product clearly must have been molten to form these shapes. In several spheres, elemental iron was verified since the iron content significantly exceeded the oxygen content. We conclude that a high-temperature reduction-oxidation reaction has occurred in the heated chips, namely, the thermite reaction.
  8. The spheroids produced by the DSC tests and by the flame test have an XEDS signature (Al, Fe, O, Si, C) which is depleted in carbon and aluminum relative to the original red material. This chemical signature strikingly matches the chemical signature of the spheroids produced by igniting commercial thermite, and of many of the micro-spheres found in the WTC dust. [5]
  9. The presence of an organic substance in the red material is expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive. The nature of this organic material in these chips merits further exploration. We note that it is likely also an energetic material, in that the total energy release sometimes observed in DSC tests exceeds the theoretical maximum energy of the classic thermite reaction.


The implications of the discovery of unspent aluminothermic explosives and matching residues in World Trade Center dust are staggering. There is no conceivable reason for there to have been tons of high explosives in the Towers except to demolish them, and demolition is blatantly incompatible with the official 9/11 narrative that the skyscrapers collapsed as a result of the jetliner impacts and fires.

The discovery of active thermitic materials adds to a vast body of evidence that the total destruction of the Towers were controlled demolitions, and to the subset of that evidence indicating the use of aluminothermic materials to implement those demolitions.

That discovery also undermines the oft-heard claim that no explosives residues were found, a claim that was never compelling, given the apparent lack of evidence that any official agency looked for evidence of explosive residues of any kind. Worse, the public record shows that NIST not only failed to look for such evidence, it repeatedly evaded requests by scientists and researchers to examine numerous facts indicating explosives and incendiaries .

I expect that collapse theory defenders will dismiss the discovery of active thermitic material in the same way that they dismissed the thermite residues: by claiming that the samples were contaminated and/or that there are other explanations for the origin of these artifacts than pyrotechnics in the WTC Towers. "Debunkers" have proposed that the iron-rich spheres were fly ash residues embedded in the Towers' concrete, ignoring that the iron constituents in fly ash are oxides rather than elemental iron. How will they explain away the bi-layered chips, whose red layers have iron oxide and elemental aluminum in the ratio of Fe2O3 thermite as nano-sized particles of uniform shape?

As the work of explaining away the direct evidence of explosives becomes more daunting, we will probably see even more reliance on the mainstay of arguments against controlled demolition: those alleging that insurmountable obstacles would face such a project. Three of the most salient such workability arguments are:

  • That the surreptitious preparation of the Twin Towers was too prone to exposure.
  • That setting up the demolitions to start from the Towers' crash zones was technically unfeasible.
  • That thermite is unsuitable as a tool of controlled demolition.

These arguments have taken on the appearance of straw men with their continued repetition -- including by NIST itself -- after being publicly shown to be based on false assumptions. The 9-11Research FAQ on Demolition addressed the first two starting in 2004, and Steven Jones and others addressed the third starting in 2006 by pointing out the existence of explosive variants of thermite.

FAQ: Controlled Demolition With Aluminothermics

With the publication of Active Thermitic Material Discovered it becomes even easier to imagine plausible scenarios that answer workability arguments. The characteristics of super-thermites and the features of the thermitic fragments described in the paper, combined with a survey of methods for the programmable wireless detonation of energetic materials available in 2001, provides straightforward answers to the most frequently-heard questions about the implementation of controlled demolition of the Twin Towers -- answers that thoroughly undermine assertions that controlled demolitions using aluminothermics was not feasible.

Following are the three arguments listed above re-phrased as questions. I start with the last argument, which is addressed in detail in the discussion section of Active Thermitic Material Discovered.

How Could Thermite, an Incendiary, Demolish the Towers, When Buildings Are Normally Demolished Using High-Explosive Cutter Charges?

As is obvious from a review of the literature on energetic materials, thermite-based pyrotechnics can be engineered to have explosive power similar to conventional high-explosives while providing greater energy density and much greater stability. Thus, aluminothermic cutter charges similar to the shaped charges used in commercial demolitions are entirely feasible. However, a variety of forms of thermite might be used to demolish a steel-framed skyscraper in a way that uses no cutter charges at all, as in this Hypothetical Blasting Scenario, which posits three types of aluminothermic pyrotechnics: a thermate incendiary coating sprayed onto steelwork, nano-thermite kicker charges placed near steelwork, and thin-film nano-composite high-explosives distributed throughout the building. The strategically applied incendiary coatings, ignited several minutes before the building's take-down, weaken the structure; but obvious failures start only when the kicker charges break key supports, and the thin-film high-explosives begin pulverizing the building from the initial failure zone outward.

Why Weren't Demolition Charges Triggered by the Plane Crashes or the Subsequent Fires?

Perhaps the plane crashes did trigger some of the charges. If so, their blasts were lost in the jet-crash fireballs, and their damage was insufficient to budge the Towers' tops. Thermite incendiaries in the core ignited by the crash would not be visible over the fires, unless dislodged to the building's exterior, as apparently happened in the South Tower. However, this probably wasn't an issue because, in contrast to conventional explosives, thermite has a very high ignition temperature -- above 900ºC. Thus, thermitic incendiaries used around the crash zones could have been designed to survive the fires. As for thermitic explosives, they could have been designed to detonate only on exposure to the very extreme conditions of temperature and pressure provided by specialized detonators, and to deflagrate (merely burn) in response to the kinds of pressures and temperatures produced by the plane crashes and fires. As a fail-safe, the demolition sequence could have been programmed to be triggered by premature ignitions of pyrotechnics.

How Could the Demolition Equipment Have Been Installed in the Twin Towers Without Tenants Noticing?

The simple answer is by disguising the equipment as normal building components, so that not even the workers installing the components are aware of the concealed pyrotechnics. Three aspects of the Hypothetical Blasting Scenario that facilitate this are: the stability and specificity of ignition conditions achievable with aluminothermic pyrotechnics, minimization of the required access to steelwork, and the use of a completely wireless ignition control system.

Glossary of Analytical Methods

An electron microscope equipped with an EDAX GENESIS 2000 X-Ray Microanalysis System.
EDS spectrum of a yellow paint sample, from EDS spectra allow the easy identification of the most abundant elements in a sample, while requiring some analysis to estimate relative quantities.

BSE: Backscattered Electron imaging
A method of SEM imaging based on the detection of scattering of the electron beam.

DSC: Differential Scanning Calorimetry
A technique that determines the difference in the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of an experimental sample and reference. A differential scanning calorimeter outputs a DSC trace which shows the relationship of heat flux to temperature, and thereby exothermic or endothermic behavior of the sample.

SEM: Scanning Electron Microscopy
A type of electron microscopy in which a beam of high-energy electrons scans the surface to a sample to image its structure or composition.

XEDS: X-ray Energy-Dispersive Spectroscopy
A technique for determining the elemental composition of a sample using an instrument that analyzes the spectrum of emitted X-rays from a sample as a beam of high energy electrons is directed onto its surface. 24

A single workstation may provide integrated BSE and XEDS capabilities using SEM equipment fitted with specialized BSE and XEDS detectors, where software controls the electron beam, sample positioning, and detector parameters.


Copyright (c) Jim Hoffman and 2009

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Shell Game

We, the undersigned, urge everyone seeking truth, peace and justice, to not only purchase this new novel, "The Shell Game," but also to email out this appeal to all you know who seek truth, peace and justice in the form of 9/11 truth coming out. In turn, please urge them to do the same with all their contacts and urge them to do the same. We can break 9/11 truth open if we work together and focus on this project for the next 30 days.

Yours in 9/11 truth, peace and justice,

Bill Douglas, 911 Visibility Project
Janice Matthews - Executive Director
David Ray Griffin - 9/11 Researcher and Author
Kevin Ryan -former UL chemistry laboratory manager & NIST report whistle blower
Dr. Robert Bowman - Rtd. Colonel US Air Force, 9/11 truth leader;
Cosmos - "The Eleventh Day of Every Month" Campaign
Carol Brouillet - Organizer of 1st National 9/11 Truth Conference in San Francisco
Mike Berger - "Improbable Collapse" Documentary Producer - 911Truth Spokesman
David Kubiak - Board member
Kevin Barrett – Muslim/Christian/Jewish Alliance for 9/11 Truth

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Could Barbara Olson Have Made Those Calls To Her Husband Ted?

Here's the latest truth-telling from David Ray Griffin, co-wrote with Rob Balsamo, co-founder of Pilots for 9/11 Truth:

Could Barbara Olson Have Made Those Calls?

An Analysis of New Evidence about Onboard Phones

David Ray Griffin & Bob Balsamo
{originally published online at Pilots for 9/11 Truth on 6/26/07}

Prefatory Note: When we, in this jointly authored article, need to refer to only one of us, the appropriate initials---DRG or RB--are used.

06/26/07 - Did American Airlines 77---the flight that, according to the official conspiracy theory about 9/11, struck the Pentagon---have onboard phones? This question is relevant to the possible truth of the official theory, because Ted Olson, who was then the US Solicitor General, claimed that his wife, Barbara Olson, called him twice from this flight using an onboard phone.

He did, to be sure, waver on this point. CNN, which mentioned in a story posted just before midnight on 9/11 that Barbara Olson had used a cell phone to call her husband, reported in a more extensive treatment, posted at 2:06 AM (EDT) on September 12, that Ted Olson had told it that his wife “called him twice on a cell phone from American Airlines Flight 77.”1 But on September 14, Olson said on Hannity & Colmes (Fox News) that she had called collect and therefore must have been using the “airplane phone”---because, he surmised, “she somehow didn’t have access to her credit cards.”2 On CNN’s Larry King Show later that same day, however, Olson returned to his first version. After saying that the second call from her suddenly went dead, he surmised that this was perhaps “because the signals from cell phones coming from airplanes don’t work that well.”3 On that same day, moreover, Tony Mauro, the Supreme Court correspondent for American Lawyer Media, published an account saying that Barbara Olson “was calling on her cell phone from aboard the jet.”4 Two months later, however, Ted Olson returned to the second version of his story. In the “Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture” delivered to the Federalist Society, he said that she used “a telephone in the airplane to [make] those two telephone [calls].”5 This second version was repeated in March 2002. “[C]alling collect,” he told the London Daily Telegraph, his wife “us[ed] the phone in the passengers’ seats.” She called collect, he again surmised, because “she didn’t have her purse” and hence her credit card.6

This revised version of his story has evidently gone virtually unnoticed in the American press. A year after 9/11, for example, CNN was still reporting that Barbara Olson used a cell phone.7 Nevertheless, Ted Olson’s statement to the Federalist Society and the Telegraph---that she called collect using a passenger-seat phone---was apparently his final word on the matter.

The claim that she must have called collect because she did not have her credit card, however, does not make any sense, because a credit card is needed in order to activate a passenger-seat phone.8 If she did not have a credit card, therefore, she could not have used a passenger-seat phone, whether to call collect or otherwise.9

By settling on this version of his story, nevertheless, Olson at least appeared to make defensible his claim that the calls occurred. We say this because of the extremely strong evidence that her reported calls could not have been made on a cell phone, given the cell phone technology in 2001. Cell phone calls from an airliner were, as DRG has argued extensively elsewhere, generally possible only if it was flying slowly and low,10 but Barbara Olson’s first call, according to the 9/11 Commission, occurred “[a]t some point between 9:16 and 9:26,”11 when the plane was flying too fast and too high for cell phone calls to have been possible. According to the Flight Data Recorder information released by the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane at 9:16 would have been over 25,000 feet, which is far too high (as well as too fast: 281 knots [324 mph]), while at 9:26 the plane would have been flying at 324 knots (370 mph), which is much too fast (as well as still too high: almost 14,000 feet).12 By settling on the claim that his wife used an onboard phone instead of a cell phone, Ted Olson avoided this problem.

But was a call from an onboard phone even possible? In 2004, Ian Henshall and Rowland Morgan, having asked American Airlines whether their “757s [are] fitted with phones that passengers can use,” received this reply from an AA spokesperson: “American Airlines 757s do not have onboard phones for passenger use.” To check on the possibility that Barbara Olson might have borrowed a phone intended for crew use, they then asked, “[A]re there any onboard phones at all on AA 757s, i.e., that could be used either by passengers or cabin crew?” The response was: “AA 757s do not have any onboard phones, either for passenger or crew use. Crew have other means of communication available.”13

Henshall and Morgan then found this information corroborated on the AA website, which, while informing travelers that telephone calls are possible on AA’s Boeing 767 and 777, does not mention its 757.14 On the assumption that the AA spokesperson and this website were talking about AA 757s as they had been for several years, not simply as they were at the time of the query (2004), Henshall and Morgan concluded that, in the words of an essay written by Morgan, “Barbara Olson’s Call from Flight 77 Never Happened.”15

DRG, interpreting the information in the same way, wrote in the first edition of his book Debunking 9/11 Debunking: “[G]iven the evidence that Barbara Olson could not have called from Flight 77 using either a cell phone or an onboard phone, we have very good evidence that the calls to Ted Olson, like the call to [flight attendant] Renee May’s parents, were fabricated---unless, of course, he simply made up the story.”16

Correcting an “Error”

Later, however, DRG received two items suggesting that, although AA 757s did not have onboard phones in 2004, they probably did in 2001. One item was a 1998 photograph, said to show the inside of an AA 757, revealing that it had seat-back phones. The other was a news report from February 6, 2002, which said: “American Airlines will discontinue its AT&T in-flight phone service by March 31, a spokesman for the airline said Wednesday.”17 This report, DRG realized, did not specifically mention 757s, so this notice did not necessarily imply that AA 757s had had onboard phones up until that date. However, by taking into consideration this article, the photograph, and the realization that the letters from AA in 2004 were couched entirely in the present tense, DRG concluded that the claim that AA 77 had not had onboard phones was probably an error. He published an essay, “Barbara Olson’s Alleged Call from AA 77: A Correction About Onboard Phones,”18 which contained a section entitled “My Error.”

DRG made clear, to be sure, that even if AA 77 did have onboard phones, this did little to make Ted Olson’s story believable, because all the other problems remained. Five such problems were mentioned: (1) The incredible idea that although all the passengers and the crew were herded to the back of the plane, Barbara Olson was the only one to grab a phone from a passenger seat to make a call (an idea that was made even more incredible by the report that flight attendant Renee May was the only person on the flight to make a cell phone call19). (2) The equally incredible idea that three or four short, slight men armed with knives and box-cutters would not have been easily overpowered by these 60-some people---led perhaps by the pilot, Charles “Chic” Burlingame, a former Navy pilot whose brother said, “they would have had to incapacitate him or kill him because he would have done anything to prevent the kind of tragedy that befell that airplane," and whose sister said, "We want to tell his story so that people who had loved ones on that flight will know that he would have sacrificed himself to save them.”20 (3) Ted Olson’s oscillations on whether his wife had used a cell phone or an onboard phone. (4) Rowland Morgan’s point that, having settled on the claim that the calls were collect calls from a passenger-seat phone, “Ted Olson could . . . shut his critics up by simply producing the Department of Justice’s telephone accounts, showing a couple of hefty reverse-charges entries charged from Flight 77’s Airfone number at around about 9:20 AM on 11th September, 2001.”21 (5) Morgan and Henshall’s point that, if the Department of Justice had actually received these calls, the FBI, which is part of the DOJ, could have easily produced the records, and yet, according to The 9/11 Commission Report, the FBI’s report about this issue, which is entitled “American Airlines Airphone Usage,” makes no mention of any DOJ records.22

DRG concluded, however, that although the idea that the calls occurred was highly implausible, they could not be ruled out as strictly impossible, because the claim that AA 77 did not have onboard phones was erroneous in a twofold sense: not only in the sense of being based on inadequate evidence but also in the sense of simply being wrong, at least probably.

Correcting the Correction

The publication of DRG’s retraction, however, set off a process that has led us to correct this correction, because we discovered three new pieces of evidence supporting the contention that AA 77 did not have onboard phones.

The Chad Kinder Email: One piece of evidence was brought to our attention by a member of the Pilots for 9/11 Truth forums who goes by the alias “Kesha.” Using one of these forums, “Kesha” reported that the following email exchange had been posted February 17, 2006, on a German political forum. A person using the alias “the Paradroid” had sent this email to American Airlines:
Hello, on your website . . . there is mentioned that there are no seatback satellite phones on a Boeing 757. Is that info correct? Were there any such seatback satellite phones on any Boeing 757 before or on September 11, 2001 and if so, when were these phones ripped out?

This was the reply received by “the Paradroid” (except that his real name has been crossed out):

Thank you for contacting Customer Relations. I am pleased to have the opportunity to assist you.

That is correct we do not have phones on our Boeing 757. The passengers on flight 77 used their own personal cellular phones to make out calls during the terrorist attack. However, the pilots are able to stay in constant contact with the Air Traffic Control tower.

Mr. XXXXXXXX, I hope this information is helpful. It is a privilege to serve you.

Chad W. Kinder
Customer Relations
American Airlines

This exchange, if authentic, would provide very strong evidence for the conclusion that Barbara Olson could not have called her husband, as he claimed, from a passenger-seat phone. But was the exchange, which came from a second-hand source, authentic? We received three types of confirmation that it was.

In the first place, DRG, after obtaining from RB the email address of “Kesha,” asked the latter if he could “vouch for the authenticity of the letters” to and from Chad Kinder. In an email of June 2 (2007), “Kesha” replied: “I am able to vouch for the authenticity of the mentioned correspondence; the person who initiated it in February 2006 is reliable. I know ‘Paradroid’ from endless debates in our German 911 forum. His opinions are strictly based on facts.”

In the second place, after locating the correspondence between Kinder and “the Paradroid” on the German forum in question,23 DRG read several other contributions by “the Paradroid,” thereby seeing for himself that he is a serious, well-informed student of 9/11.

In the third place, RB, after some difficulty in discovering whether American Airlines actually had an employee named “Chad Kinder,” was able to contact him by telephone on May 31 (2007). After reading the two letters to Kinder, RB asked if he had indeed written the reply. Kinder answered that he could not specifically recall having written it---he writes so many letters, he explained, and this one would have been written over a year earlier. But, he added: “That sounds like an accurate statement.” Kinder indicated, in other words, that it was a letter he might well have written, because what it said---that AA 757s in 2001 did not have onboard phones, so the passengers on AA 77 had to use cell phones---was, to the best of his present knowledge, accurate.

The 757 Aircraft Maintenance Manual: Besides learning about and confirming this letter from Kinder, we also obtained another piece of evidence supporting the conclusion that passengers on AA 77 could not have used onboard phones. One of RB’s colleagues sent him a page from the Boeing 757 Aircraft Maintenance Manual (757 AMM) dated January 28, 2001. This page states that the passenger phone system for the AA 757 fleet had (by that date) been deactivated.24 According to the 757 AMM, in other words, the onboard phones had been deactivated at least seven and a half months prior to 9/11.

This information is relevant to the earlier-cited news report from February 6, 2002, which said: “American Airlines will discontinue its AT&T in-flight phone service by March 31.” As we pointed out earlier, that report did not mention 757s in particular, so it does not necessarily indicate that the 757 fleet had any in-flight phone service to be discontinued; the report may have referred only to other types of AA airplanes. But if American’s 757s did still have passenger-seat phones in September 2001, these phones, according to the information from the 757 AMM, would have been deactivated. If so, one of them could not have been used by Barbara Olson on 9/11 (even if she had a credit card).

A USA Today Report: Henshall and Morgan’s conclusion, to recall, was that although AA 777s and 767s had onboard phones in September of 2001, AA 757s did not. That conclusion is given some support by a 2004 USA Today story that stated: “Several years ago, American installed seatback phones, which could be used with a credit card, on many of its planes but ripped them out except in some Boeing 777s and 767s on international routes.”25 This statement by itself would not show that Flight 77 had no onboard phones, because it does not indicate exactly when the phones were ripped out. But it does show that the previously cited photographic evidence, showing that there were seat-back phones in AA 757s in 1998, does not prove that these phones were still present on September 11, 2001.

This report in USA Today appears, moreover, to have influenced the email sent by “the Paradroid” to American Airlines, which, as we saw, asked: “Were there any . . . seatback satellite phones on any Boeing 757 before or on September 11, 2001 and if so, when were these phones ripped out?” Kinder’s reply did not explicitly respond to the question as to when, if 757s had passenger-seat phones prior to 9/11, they were “ripped out.” Implicitly, however, Kinder’s reply said: With regard, at least, to the 757 that was AA 77, the seatback phones were ripped out prior to September 11, 2001.26

United States v. Ted Olson

In the course of doing research for this article, we learned, to our amazement, that even if, contrary to our evidence, Flight 77 did have functioning onboard phones, the US government has now said, implicitly, that Ted Olson’s claim about receiving two calls from his wife that morning is untrue.

As we mentioned earlier, the FBI report on phone calls from AA planes on 9/11 does not cite records from the DOJ showing that any calls from AA 77 were received that morning. Instead, the FBI report refers merely to four “connected calls to unknown numbers.” The 9/11 Commission, putting the best possible spin on this report, commented: “The records available for the phone calls from American 77 do not allow for a determination of which of [these four calls] represent the two between Barbara and Ted Olson, although the FBI and DOJ believe that all four represent communications between Barbara Olson and her husband’s office.”27 That is, it must be said, a very strange conclusion: If Ted Olson reported receiving only two calls, why would the Commission conclude that the DOJ had received four connected calls from his wife?

That conclusion is, in any case, starkly contradicted by evidence about phone calls from Flight 77 presented by the US government at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006.28 Far from attributing all four of the “connected calls to unknown numbers” to Barbara Olson, as the 9/11 Commission suggested, the government’s evidence here attributes none of them to her, saying instead that each of them was from an “unknown caller.” The only call attributed to Barbara Olson, moreover, is an “unconnected call” to the Department of Justice, which was said to have been attempted at “9:18:58” and to have lasted “0 seconds.” According to the US government in 2006, in other words, Barbara Olson attempted a call to the DOJ, but it did not go through.29 The government itself has presented evidence in a court of law, therefore, that implies that unless its former solicitor general was the victim of two faked phone calls, he was lying.

It may seem beyond belief that the US government would have failed to support Ted Olson’s claim. We ourselves, as we indicated, were amazed at this development. However, it would not be the first time that the FBI---surely the agency that prepared this report about phone calls from the flights30---had failed to support the official story about 9/11. We refer to the fact that when Rex Tomb, the FBI’s chief of investigative publicity, was asked why the bureau’s website on “Usama bin Laden” does not list 9/11 as one of the terrorist acts for which he is wanted, he replied: “[T]he FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”31

In any case, an interesting question about the government’s claim concerning the four “connected calls” from AA 77 is whether they were supposedly made from cell phones or passenger-seat phones. The government’s Moussaoui-trial evidence does not explicitly say. We can, however, make an inference based on its evidence for phone calls made from United Flight 93.

Although it had been generally believed that there had been approximately ten cell phone calls from UA 93---including the four widely publicized calls reported by Deena Burnett from her husband, Tom Burnett---the government’s document on this flight identifies only two calls as cell phone calls: those made at 9:58 by passenger Edward Felt and flight attendant CeeCee Lyles. One might conclude from this information, to be sure, that the government simply remained neutral on some of the other calls that had been thought to be cell phone calls, such as the Burnett calls, leaving open whether they were from cell or onboard phones. But that is not the case. A reporter at the Moussaoui trial wrote:

In the back of the plane, 13 of the terrified passengers and crew members made 35 air phone calls and two cell phone calls to family members and airline dispatchers, a member of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force testified Tuesday.32

The government explicitly said, therefore, that only two of the calls from UA 93---which were identified in the government’s report on this flight as being from Felt and Lyles33---were cell phone calls.

We can infer, therefore, that because these calls from Felt and Lyles are the only two calls from all the flights that are identified as cell phone calls, all the calls from the other flights are now said by the government to have been made from onboard phones.34

The distinctive thing about the calls from Felt and Lyles is that they reportedly occurred at 9:58, after United 93 had descended to about 5,000 feet. By limiting the cell phone calls from all four flights to these two from UA 93, the government is no longer, even implicitly, supporting the view that high-altitude cell phone calls from airliners are possible. The government has thereby implicitly overcome, by conceding the point, one of the 9/11 movement’s main arguments against the government’s conspiracy theory.

This is a rather amazing development. Much of the official story about 9/11 has been based on the assumption that high-altitude cell phone calls were made. The film United 93, for example, portrayed five cell phone conversations. The 9/11 Commission Report, discussing UA 93, said: “Shortly [after 9:32], the passengers and flight crew began a series of calls from GTE airphones and cellular phones.”35

Four cell phone calls from UA 93 were, as mentioned earlier, supposed to have been made by Tom Burnett.36 His wife, Deena Burnett, repeatedly said Tom used his cell phone. She knew this, she said, because the Caller ID identified his cell phone as the source.37 Her testimony has been repeated countless times in the media. For example, a special segment about her on CBS’s Early Show said: “Tom Burnett made four cell phone calls from Flight 93 to Deena Burnett at home, telling her he and some other passengers were going to ‘do something.’” In a letter published in the National Review, Tom’s father spoke of “Tom's four cell-phone calls from Flight 93 to his wife, Deena.”38

The government’s evidence presented in 2006 at the Moussaoui trial, however, implies that she was mistaken, even though, given her statement that she saw her husband’s Caller ID number, the government’s new position means that she was either lying or, as we believe, the victim of a faked call using a device that, besides morphing her husband’s voice, faked his Caller ID number.39

However, although the government has undercut much of the basis for the official and popular accounts of 9/11 by denying the occurrence of any high-altitude cell phone calls, it has, by paying this price, protected itself from the 9/11 truth movement’s charge that the official story is falsified by the fact that such calls are impossible.

We come now, in any case, to the implication of the government’s Moussaoui-trial evidence about phone calls for the government’s position on whether AA 77 had onboard phones. According to this evidence, there were five connected calls from AA 77: one from Renee May and four from “unknown callers.” Given what we have learned from the government’s evidence about calls from UA 93---that all calls not identified as cell phone calls are said to have been made from onboard phones---we can conclude that, by virtue of not identifying any of the five “connected calls” from this flight as cell phone calls, the government is implying that this plane did have onboard phones. It does not, therefore, support our view on this issue.

Nevertheless, whether one accepts our evidence, which indicates that there were not any onboard phones on AA 77 from which calls could have been made, or trusts the government’s evidence presented at the Moussaoui trial, the conclusion is the same: The two conversations reported by Ted Olson did not happen.

Final Reflections

The implications of this conclusion for the credibility of the official narrative about 9/11 are enormous. Surely one of the most well-known elements of this narrative is that Barbara Olson, while on the plane that was soon to hit the Pentagon, called her husband. If people learn that this is a lie---whether because Ted Olson was a victim of faked phone calls or because he deliberately told a false story---most of them will probably be led to wonder if the whole official story is not a fabrication.

The strongest reason for considering false Ted Olson’s claim about two passenger-seat phone calls from his wife would be proof that such calls simply could not have occurred. It is important, therefore, for researchers to continue the quest to determine positively whether Boeing 757s in September 2001 had functioning onboard phones. Although we believe our evidence that they did not have such phones is very strong, we cannot yet claim to have proof; evidence to the contrary might still emerge. Finding proof one way or the other, however, should not be impossible, if others join in the task.

If further investigation should reveal that Flight 77 did, after all, have onboard phones, Ted Olson’s story would still be extremely implausible, for many reasons. Five of those reasons, mentioned in DRG’s previous essay, were summarized above. Three more have been added in this article: the absurdity of Ted Olson’s claim that his wife called collect because she did not have a credit card, the US government’s apparent endorsement of the view that high-altitude cell phone calls from airliners are not possible (thereby foreclosing the possibility that Ted Olson could return to the claim that she called from a cell phone), and the US government’s implicit rejection of his claim that the DOJ received two calls from AA Flight 77 that morning.

For those eight reasons alone, we would be justified in concluding, from simply this aspect of the official story, that the entire official story about 9/11 was a fabrication. This conclusion is greatly strengthened, however, by the almost definitive evidence that, besides the fact that Barbara Olson’s alleged calls could not have been made from a cell phone (which the US government now appears implicitly to have acknowledged), they also could not have been made from an onboard phone.40


David Ray Griffin is the author of five books about 9/11, most recently Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory, a revised edition of which is appearing in July 2007. Rob Balsamo is co-founder of Pilots for 9/11 Truth ( and producer of Pandora’s Black Box (a DVD series).

1 “FBI Targets Florida Sites in Terrorist Search,”, September 11, 2001, 11:56 PM EDT (; Tim O’Brien, “Wife of Solicitor General Alerted Him of Hijacking from Plane,” CNN, September 12, 2001, 2:06 AM (

2 Hannity & Colmes, Fox News, September14, 2001.

3 Larry King Live, CNN, September 14, 2001 (

4 Mauro’s statement is quoted in Rowland Morgan, “Barbara Olson’s Call from Flight 77 Never Happened,” Global Echo, December 2, 2004 (

5 Theodore B. Olson, “Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture,” November 16, 2001, Federalist Society, 15th Annual National Lawyers Convention (

6 Toby Harnden, “She Asked Me How to Stop the Plane,” Daily Telegraph, March 5, 2002 (

7 See “On September 11, Final Words of Love,” CNN, September 10, 2002 (, which says: “Unbeknown to the hijackers, passenger and political commentator Barbara Olson, 45, was able to call her husband---Solicitor General Ted Olson---on her cellular phone.”

8 The American Airlines website entitled “Onboard Technology” says: “Slide your credit card through the side of the phone and then dial 00 + country code + area or city code + number followed by the # key” (

9 Some defenders of the official story have, to be sure, suggested that she reversed the charges because she had borrowed someone else’s credit card. But in that situation, would anyone have been worrying about a few dollars?

10 See David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2007), 87-91, 292-97.

11 The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Authorized Edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004) (available online at, 9.

12 See the National Transportation Safety Board’s flight path study for AA Flight 77 ( This study has been subjected to extensive analysis by Pilots for 9/11 Truth ( Our use of the information from this Flight Data Recorder (FDR) does not imply our acceptance of the NTSB’s claim that it is from AA Flight 77. Our scepticism is made clear in Debunking 9/11 Debunking, 372 n. 217, which quotes an email from RB saying, “The NTSB claims the Flight Data Recorder is from AA77, but it could really be from any type of aircraft.” Our reference to the data from this FDR is simply for the purpose of showing an internal contradiction within the official story.

13 This exchange occurred on December 6, 2004; see Rowland Morgan and Ian Henshall, 9/11 Revealed: The Unanswered Questions (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005), 128-29. Although the letters themselves were not printed in that book or in Morgan’s Flight 93 Revealed: What Really Happened on the 9/11 ‘Let’s Roll’ Flight? (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006), in which they are also mentioned, they were published (with Henshall and Morgan’s permission) in Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, first edition, 267.

14 American Airlines, “Onboard Technology” (, quoted in Morgan, “Barbara Olson’s Call from Flight 77 Never Happened.”

15 See note 4.

16 Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, first edition, 267.

17 Sam Ames, “Airline Grounds In-flight Phone Service,” CNET ( The photograph is at Both items were sent by Elias Davidsson of Iceland.

18 David Ray Griffin, “Barbara Olson’s Alleged Call from AA 77: A Correction About Onboard Phones,” Information Clearing House, May 7, 2007 (

19 It has been widely accepted that the (alleged) call from Renee May was made on a cell phone, because this is what was stated in a story published in her mother’s home town. See Natalie Patton, “Flight Attendant Made Call on Cell Phone to Mom in Las Vegas,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 13, 2001 ( However, the government’s report on calls from this flight, which was presented as evidence at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006, did not indicate that the call was a cell phone call (see United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, Exhibit Number P200054 []; this information is more readily accessible in “Detailed Account of Phone Calls From September 11th Flights” []). However, even if the government is now implying, as we discuss later, that the call from Renee May was from a passenger-seat phone, the idea that only two people availed themselves of these phones would be little more credible than the idea that only one did.

20 “In Memoriam: Charles ‘Chic’ Burlingame, 1949-2001,” USS Saratoga Museum foundation (available at

21 Morgan, “Barbara Olson’s Call from Flight 77 Never Happened.”

22 This FBI report on phone usage from AA 77 refers merely to four “connected calls to unknown numbers.” The 9/11 Commission commented: “The records available for the phone calls from American 77 do not allow for a determination of which of [these four calls] represent the two between Barbara and Ted Olson, although the FBI and DOJ believe that all four represent communications between Barbara Olson and her husband’s office” (The 9/11 Commission Report, 455 n. 57). The fact that the Commission speaks merely about what the FBI and the DOJ “believe” indicates that they produced no records to prove the point.

23 See the submission of February 17, 2006, by “the Paradroid” on the Politik Forum (

24 This document is available at Pilots for 9/11 Truth (

25 “Cell Phones Test Positive on AA Flight,” USA Today, July 16, 2004 (

26 We believe, incidentally, that the statement by the 757 AMM that the phone system was “deactivated” and the statement by USA Today that the phones were “ripped out” refer to two different processes, so that within AA’s records there would be a work order for the phones to be physically removed from the 757 fleet at some point between the time at which they were deactivated, perhaps late in 2000, and September 11, 2001. Locating such a work order would provide the final confirmation of the claim that Flight 77 had no onboard phones.

27 The 9/11 Commission Report, 455 n. 57.

28 United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, Exhibit Number P200054 ( If unable to download this document, see “Detailed Account of Phone Calls From September 11th Flights” (

29 How the government could have concluded that this call was attempted by Barbara Olson is not clear.

30 It would appear that the FBI report referred to above, “American Airlines Airphone Usage,” is simply one portion of the complete report the FBI presented on telephone calls from all four flights at the Moussaoui trial. Note also, as mentioned in the text below, that it was a member of the FBI who stated at the Moussaoui trial that only two calls from UA 93 were cell phone calls.

31 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Most Wanted Terrorists (; Ed Haas, “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11’” Muckraker Report, June 6, 2006 (

32 Greg Gordon, “Prosecutors Play Flight 93 Cockpit Recording,”, April 12, 2006 (; quoted in Morgan, Flight 93 Revealed, 182, n. 87.

33 For graphics about the phone calls from Felt and Lyles, see “United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui: Prosecution Trial Exhibits,” Exhibit P200055

34 For the government’s summary of the phone calls from all four flights, see exhibit P200054 or P200055 (they are identical) under Phase 2 of the Prosecution Trial Exhibits, “United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui” ( or “Detailed Account of Phone Calls From September 11th Flights” (

35 The 9/11 Commission Report, 12. At that time, the plane was reportedly at about 35,000 feet.

36 Surprisingly, however, the film United 93 portrayed Tom Burnett as using a seat-back phone.

37 Greg Gordon, “Widow Tells of Poignant Last Calls,” Sacramento Bee, September 11, 2002 ( See also Deena L. Burnett (with Anthony F. Giombetti), Fighting Back: Living Beyond Ourselves (Longwood, Florida: Advantage Inspirational Books, 2006), 61.

38 “Two Years Later...,” 10 September 2003 (; for the National Review letter, which appeared May 20, 2002, see

39 As DRG reported in Debunking 9/11 Debunking, 297, there is an ad headed “FoneFaker--Call Recorder and Voice Changer Service with Caller ID Spoofing,” which says: “Record any call you make, fake your Caller ID and change your voice, all with one service you can use from any phone” (“Telephone Voice Changers,” Brickhouse Security []).

40 We wish to thank Matthew Everett, Tod Fletcher, Ian Henshall, Rowland Morgan, Elizabeth Woodworth, and Aldo Marquis along with a couple of people who wish to remain anonymous, for help with this essay.

Are We Going to Free Ourselves From Fear & Reclaim the Constitution?

FDR was right. We need only fear fear itself. The Bush Regime and the Military/Industrial/Intelligence/Congressional complex that supports it depend for their power on secrecy, fear, and deception. The antidote is truth; particularly the truth about 9/11 – the origin of the bogus “War on Terror”. My aim is to help disseminate strong evidence of Bush administration complicity in 9-11, evidence that has been kept from public awareness, so that we may recover our democracy, our sanity, our power, and our soul.

"There's fool's gold because there's real gold." -- 13th-century Persian poet Rumi