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  • Lately, I’ve been reviewing the news coverage of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I am ashamed to say it, but I had forgotten the excruciating horror of that day. I forgot that I vowed to “Never Forget” the events of 9/11.

    Almost from the beginning, I was suspicious of the official story. Those suspicions were re-energized as I viewed an online archive the day’s news coverage. I found that almost immediately, Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network were linked to the coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the crash site near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The news reports offered no other possible culprits. The news media had focused on Al Qaeda as the most likely suspects from the git-go.

    The pain of watching the magnificent twin towers collapse into Ground Zero - again, was palpable. Almost unbearable. The visceral reactions that I had that day revisited me. The shock, the awe, the anger, the despair had all come back like schoolyard bullies. Watching the events unfold in tiny minute-by-minute segments was like experiencing a dreaded emotional beatdown.

    They say that “time heals all wounds” and that it dulls the pain of tragic loss. I’ve come to the conclusion that those aphorisms are true. With the benefit of eleven years of healing, I can reflect on that day with a sober logic. Additionally, I was fortunate. The attacks did not touch me personally. None of my friends and family were killed that day.

    Armored with a sense of cool detachment, my mind revisited the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

    This is what I know: The United States Air Defense system was woefully inadequate. I served in the Air Force as a radar operator from 1965 to 1968. It was simply unimaginable to me that our nation’s capital was not defended. I had a general knowledge of how long it would take to scramble armed fighter jets. I had been trained to surveil the skies for stealthy Russian bombers. I understood the technical difficulties of trying to find aircraft that did not want to be found. Yet, our eastern seaboard cities were vulnerable to attack and our defensive response was practically non-existent on that fateful day.

    To be fair, our pilots were trained to engage possible hostile approaching aircraft hundreds of miles away from American targets. Our long range radar systems scan airspace thousands of miles beyond our borders. But fighter jets have been scrambled to identify domestically launched jet airliners in the past.

    After the second plane hit the south tower, it was clear that the United States was under attack. In my opinion, the third plane, American Airlines flight 77 should have never reached the Pentagon.

    (Curious inconsistecy. The condition of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of American Airlines Flight 77 raises some questions.

    Officials at both American Airlines and United Airlines said the black boxes aboard their destroyed aircraft were modern solid-state versions, which are more resistant to damage than the older magnetic tape recorders. The cockpit voice recorder was quickly transported to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., and its data was downloaded. Soon afterward, the FBI took charge of the box and its data.

    In its report on the CVR, the NTSB identified the unit as an L-3 Communications, Fairchild Aviation Recorders model A-100A cockpit voice recorder; a device which records on magnetic tape. The NTSB reported that "The majority of the recording tape was fused into a solid block of charred plastic." No usable segments of tape were found inside the recorder.

    End of part 1

    Photo: The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008, by David Gleason of Chicago, Ill. Wikimedia Commons. (annotation added)
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