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And the FAA Guy Gets to Play Himself!

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911Truth.org urges nationwide response to United 93 (a.k.a. The Official Film of the Official Story)

Photo of Ben Sliney

Ben Sliney of the FAA

911Truth.org is announcing a nationwide campaign to distribute flyers to the audience attending United 93, which opens at theaters across the country on Friday, April 28th. In New York City, friends of 9/11 truth received local television news coverage after conducting a visibility action Tuesday night at the movie’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere. We encourage our readers to continue this campaign throughout the nation.

Many people have objected to the release of this movie because it commercializes September 11th. Still, the desire to see it may simply express a fundamental need to understand forces that profoundly affect our lives. The real problem lies in a screenplay borrowed directly from the dubious claims of the US government and its official “9/11 Commission.” In its shameless casting of FAA executive Ben Sliney as himself, United 93 provides a Hollywood platform to a salaried spokesperson for the government.

Still, to merely reject United 93 and its version of what happened on Flight 93 is to miss an important opportunity. Those attending this film likely have a deep interest in the issues of 9/11. We urge 9/11 truth activists to respond creatively, by encouraging United 93 audiences to attend alternative events (such as, to take one example, the May 8th New York town hall meeting in Tribeca, which is designed as a direct response to United 93). Accordingly, we have designed the proposed leaflets as invitations. …

 

Screenshot of Face the Truth banner NYC

911Truth.org urges nationwide response to United 93

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Here are three flyers made to be distributed at screenings of United 93, one especially for New York and two good across the country. The film opens nationwide on Friday, April 28, 2006.

The basic idea of these flyers is to avoid focusing too much on either Flight 93 or its fictionalization in the film, United 93. After all, the movie renders the entire “official story,” and every part of that story is equally fair game.

Confronting the official story is more important than a mere boycott of the movie; no matter how opportunistic and exploitative one may consider the film itself to be. And there is no reason to alienate the people who want to see the film.

Flyers like these and others will be distributed at dozens of United 93 screenings, but no single piece of paper can summarize the complete case for skepticism about September 11th, and no piece of paper can compete with a movie blockbuster.

We therefore recommend using the reverse side of Version 1 to invite people to an upcoming event in your area. This is the best way to present your ideas in depth to people whose attendance at United 93 probably indicates a genuine interest in the events of September 11th.

All of the flyers are one-half page, whether two-sided or single-sided. (Version 1 is made to be printed twice on a single page, with the event invitations on the back. Version 2 is printed on both sides of an 8.5×11 sheet, and cut down the middle.)

VERSION 1: Adaptable for use anywhere. The front concerns United 93 and directs the reader to check out an event invitation on the reverse. You must of course provide your own event invitation on the reverse!

VERSION 2: New York flyer. As distributed starting at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Tuesday, Apr. 24. The reverse is an invitation to a May 8th town hall meeting and film premiere in response to United 93, in NYC.

VERSION 3: Does not require invitation to an alternative event on the reverse.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

1. Its critics say United 93 seeks to profit from the misery, blood, sweat and tears of the people who were silenced on September 11th, and who therefore cannot speak for themselves.

We understand those New Yorkers who say even the trailers to United 93 are too disturbing to watch, and that the horror is still too fresh for them to accept September 11th as Hollywood entertainment. Thousands of people in their city continue to pay the heavy price of personal loss associated with losing a loved one. Many more are still scarred by the trauma of directly experiencing the attacks.

An as-yet unknown number also suffer from physical poisoning, after exposure to the toxic dust of Ground Zero. Many of their lives will be cut short as a result. Although the last group includes first responders, the state has exploited legal loopholes to deny many of them compensation, and the federal government is doing little to help them.

Given the reality of treatment accorded the living heroes of September 11th, do we really need new odes to heroism?

2. On the other hand, you may be lining up to buy tickets, and the honest truth is, we also sympathize with the desire to see United 93. We all crave insight into the forces behind September 11th, which have so profoundly affected our lives.

Art, turning tragedy into drama, seeking catharsis… these are ancient, honorable ways for people to make sense of loss, to seek purpose out of chaos. People need stories. And there is no shame in seeking closure.

The dramatization of United 93 is presented like a documentary, striving for the “you are there” effect. And therein lies the real problem: most of the plot is borrowed uncritically from the claims of the US administration and of The 9/11 Commission Report. The film never hints that these official narratives are under serious dispute.

3. United 93 is writing its own chapter in the Hollywood textbook on how to convert controversy into box office. The predictable revulsion at a movie that commercializes September 11th has served the filmmakers as an opportunity to gain sympathy by displaying a calculated compassion and thoughtfulness.

While the film ignores those who disbelieve its “let’s roll” gospel, the Universal Studios public-relations team did not. A few weeks ago, the studio dispatched a film crew to one of the “9/11 Truth on Sundays” lectures at St. Mark’s Church in Manhattan, where New Yorkers who reject the official story of 9/11 gather each week. The filmmakers queried audience members about what they thought “really happened” to Flight 93. The interviews were supposedly destined for a documentary to accompany the DVD version of United 93. But no doubt the movie’s marketing team also found the footage useful, as a glimpse into the mindset of a growing focus group.

Based on the corporate media response, the United 93 campaign was a success. The Tribeca Film Festival, initiated after 2001 to stimulate a sense of revival in the neighborhood directly struck by 9/11, chose United 93 as its opening-night feature. This prompted the Village Voice to put the film on its cover, and several of the New York tabloids followed suit on Tuesday morning (Apr 24).

The reviews so far have been uniform in praising the film for its authenticity, restraint and general good taste. Yet even with the buzz at a peak, many of those lining up to fill the 2000-seat Ziegfeld Theater at the world premiere Tuesday night arrived in groups by tourist bus, their complimentary tickets in hand. They were greeted by activists hoisting a banner that read, “Stop the 9/11 Media Blackout.” (The photo is of the same banner from an earlier protest.)

“Everybody wanted our flyers,” one member of this group told us of a scene that developed near the protest. “People were crowded around us, jotting down the sites to go online.”

The police had set up a “free speech zone” to isolate the protesters, but in an unusual turn, it was in the perfect spot to maximize visibility.

“A British reporter approached me with a peculiar, for me, lack of understanding of what was meant by the ‘Media Blackout,’” one activist said. “He wondered if I was part of that group — I will not enter a pen, so I stood apart from the group. He said, ‘That group says the government did it.’ ‘Well yes,’ I replied, ‘if you look closely at the data, you have to come to that conclusion.’ He jumped back and scampered across the street, fast, as though I had the plague.”

4. United 93 is not simply about what may have happened on a single flight. Half of the film time is spent depicting events on the ground, for example at air-traffic control installations.

On September 11th, air-defense procedures requiring the automatic interception of flights that deviate from assigned route went unheeded. This prevented the standard reconnaissance function of such interceptions. This has been termed a failure, and the agencies responsible for it include NORAD, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US Air Force, and the civilian and military command from Bush on down.

These parties have disagreed radically about how this “failure” occurred. Their many contradictory accounts of what supposedly happened, in some cases upheld over several years’ time, leave no doubt that at least some officials have lied to the public. (See “Senator Dayton: NORAD Lied About 9/11“) Furthermore, a wealth of information in the public domain suggests that the failures were in fact the result of an intentional circumvention, of a standdown or sabotage from within. (See “The Wargames of September 11th“)

But United 93 follows in the footsteps of The 9/11 Commission Report by fashioning an unambiguous, single account of the day’s events, in which any and all failures are attributed solely to miscommunication and confusion. In effect, the film endorses the 9/11 Commission’s general absolution of all official actions, and adopts the Commission’s lazy approach of not even bothering to ask the questions.

In the Village Voice review, Dennis Lim writes approvingly of the manner in which United 93 “dispels… conspiracy theory” by pointing to the incompetence of a government “too stunned and unprepared” to have performed any action deliberately.

In what is perhaps the film’s most audacious and morally bankrupt move, Ben Sliney, the FAA crisis coordinator who was directly responsible for responding to the events of September 11th, is allowed to play himself. Sliney is widely credited as the man who at the height of the crisis ordered all flights nationwide to land immediately at the nearest airport. In repeating the performance for the movie, according to Newsday‘s Gene Seymour, he “seems more magnetic than anyone else on the ground, possibly because he appears to be one of the few who acts decisively.”

Magnetic! Decisive! Now seriously, why does this privilege accrue only to Ben Sliney? Shouldn’t the entire government, from Bush on down, get the same chance to play themselves as the heroes of a Hollywood 9/11?

In casting Sliney, the film producers show their willingness to collaborate with a salaried spokesperson of the government in constructing a palatable narrative. United 93 stands revealed as the Official Film of the Official Story.

5. As a work of propaganda, United 93 implicitly or explicitly endorses each of the official narrative’s central tenets. These include the following:

The 9/11 plot originated entirely within a terror network run by Osama Bin Ladin, which dispatched 19 hijackers (or 20, if we are to include Zacarias Moussaoui). Only the terrorists knew what they were about to do. No one in the government could have prevented it.

The correct identities of all of the perpetrators are now known to us. Flying a Boeing jumbo jet for the first time, failed Cessna pilot Hani Hanjour pulled off the difficult aerobatic maneuver that struck the Pentagon.

Yes, things may have gone wrong in the way the government handled things, but in the world of the official story and of United 93, this can only have been due to mistakes, confusion or, at worst, negligence.

How can the film know what it claims to know? No cameras captured the end of Flight 93, as they did the hits on the Twin Towers and the subsequent collapses. Audio recordings, made on September 11th by the air-traffic controllers who handled two of the 9/11 flights, were later destroyed by an FAA official, who prevented anyone from ever hearing or transcribing these irreplaceable accounts. (See New York Times, 5/6/2004) The sources cited by the 9/11 Commission in establishing its version of the air defense response are almost exclusively classified, and may or may not become available to public scrutiny beginning in January 2009.

As we learned soon after the publication of The 9/11 Commission Report, both the government and the Commission lied when they said that “not a trace” was found at Ground Zero of the four airline black boxes from the flights that hit the WTC. (See “Firefighters Said Black Boxes Found at Ground Zero” and “Missing Black Boxes in WTC Attacks Found“) While a cockpit voice recorder was recovered from the Shanksville crash site, and an edited tape of it was recently released to the public, ample evidence suggests that the government has covered up what happened during the final three minutes of Flight 93.

This is only a fraction of the evidence suppressed and destroyed, the whistleblowers gagged and intimidated, and the promotions bestowed upon those who supposedly failed. In other words, all of the signs of a massive, coordinated cover-up.

But at least, in place of the facts, United 93 can offer us Ben Sliney‘s personal magnetism.

6. Relatives of those who died on September 11th raised hundreds of unanswered questions about the day’s events. People like the “Jersey Widows” fought the White House for 14 months before they finally got their demand for an independent “9/11 Commission.” The Commission promised them it would use their questions as its bible. Two years later, with the publication of the final report, it was clear that the Commission had completely ignored the majority of the questions.

Last July, two of the Jersey Widows took to Capitol Hill to deliver a public rejection of The 9/11 Commission Report. They called it a whitewash, a cover-up by a body of politicians with grave conflicts of interest. (The investigation’s executive director, Philip Zelikow, was a member of the Bush administration’s national security staff. His resignation was repeatedly demanded by the family members, to no avail.)

As their first of many points about the Commission’s failings, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken noted its bizarre insistence that Flight 93 crashed at 10:03 am, although nearly all prior reports timed the crash to 10:06 am.

A powerful piece of physical evidence corroborates the latter time. At 10:06 am, a seismic event issued from the location of the Flight 93 downing. This was recorded at four stations surrounding the Shanksville area in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, two of which received the small earth-tremor at a signal-to-noise ratio exceeding 2:1. In summarizing the data, Won-Young Kim of Columbia University and Gerald R. Baum of the Maryland Geological Survey, two seismologists the US Army hired to determine the crash time, found that the tremor was “typical for seismic waves generated by airplane impacts and crashes.” (Kim and Baum, 2002)

Now, of course it is conceivable that a plane crash could, for some reason, fail to cause a tremor, as the 9/11 Commission claims occurred at 10:03. It is also technically possible for a tremor to coincidentally occur three minutes later, in the same spot as the tremorless plane crash. The Commission was able to press an admission to this effect from seismologist Kim, albeit not from his colleague, Baum. Still, the Commission’s claim that the Shanksville tremor was unrelated to the Shanksville crash is analogous to a claim that lightning coincidentally struck the dead body of a man, three minutes after he was electrocuted by some other, mysterious means.

To the mortal layperson, it seems infinitely more probable that the members of the government’s commission must have wanted to cover up an embarrassing fact, even if this required them to formulate an extremely unlikely scenario. After all, they could reasonably expect that their authority would be questioned by neither the corporate media nor a Hollywood studio. (See the treatments of these issues by John Doe II and Stickdog.)

Screenshot of Face the Truth banner NYC

7. Researcher Jim Hoffman is not the only one to argue that Flight 93 was shot down, and that the Commission must be seeking to hide this by fudging the crash time. (See “Flight 93 Flyers,” at wtc7.net)

Hoffman covers other data points supporting this conclusion, including:

- Eyewitness accounts of explosions preceding the nose-dive of Flight 93.

- The scatter pattern of the crash debris, with debris such as bone fragments found at Indian Lake, 2.5 miles away, and as far away as New Baltimore, eight miles away. This suggests that the plane began to break up while still in the air, and is inconsistent with the plane remaining fully intact until it hit the ground.

At the same time, Hoffman challenges other researchers who have constructed narratives in which Flight 93 landed safely at a military base after it was swapped with a drone plane; or in which the plane crash at Shanksville was merely simulated by way of a bomb planted at ground level. The evidentiary basis is less than flimsy: statements by the local coroner and the mayor of Shanksville are taken out of context to suggest there were no plane fragments and no bodies at the crash site; and a single, brief news item from the day itself claims that Flight 93 landed in Cleveland, although the paper that published the report no longer backs the story.

In the Flight 93 section of “The Complete 9/11 Timeline,” Paul Thompson gathers nearly every known fact about Flight 93, including eyewitness accounts that argue for and against a shootdown. His compilation also encompasses all of the known reports of calls from the flight, whether by air-phone or cell phone. (While other researchers have said these calls are dubious because of the supposed technical difficulties in connecting by cell phone from a fast-moving plane at a high altitude, at least some of the calls were reportedly by air-phone, and the altitude of the flight along its diversion is uncertain.)

The last of the known calls, that from passenger Ed Felt, also strongly suggests a shoot-down (and why would agents of a cover-up construct that?) Before he was cut off, Felt was reported as speaking of an explosion in the cabin and a rush of wind, suggesting decompression. The 911 operator who took his call has been barred by his superiors from talking about it.

8. How we understand September 11th is not an academic matter; it is deadly serious. The events of 9/11 were used to propel a perpetual, global “War on Terror” and to justify the USA PATRIOT Act. The executive branch has claimed an unprecedented power to detain citizens for years without charges, and undertook other assaults on our natural rights and liberties.

9/11 gave us a color-coded system for instilling a constant state of panic among the people, as well as a disastrous invasion of Iraq, based on government-sponsored misconceptions that Iraq was involved with 9/11.

Who knows how many wars are yet to follow. All because of 9/11?

Even our grandchildren are affected, as they are saddled with multi-trillion-dollar debts that will prove to be multigenerational. The 9/11 story matters — to everyone.

Virtually every poll commissioned on the subject reveals that the majority of Americans continue to harbor deep misgivings about the events of 9/11; also about the official lack of candor, accountability and transparency, and the near-impossibility of getting these issues addressed in the mass media.

We want to know why the Commission wants to hide what really happened in the final three minutes of Flight 93–whatever it was. We want the facts about 9/11 that a democratic people need, if we are to make informed decisions about the future. Our country can bear no more omissions and distortions, gag orders on whistleblowers, or media censorship. We need the truth about 9/11.