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9/11 Debate: Loose Change Filmmakers vs. Popular Mechanics Editors of "Debunking 9/11 Myths**QQ

Written by Subject: Conspiracies
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EXCLUSIVE...9/11 Debate: Loose Change Filmmakers vs. Popular Mechanics Editors of "Debunking 9/11 Myths"

Monday, September 11th, 2006

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/09/11/1345203

September 11, 2001 - five years after the attacks many people are asking questions about what happened on that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Websites, articles, books and documentaries have put forward a variety of alternate theories to the government's account of what happened. The most popular of these is a documentary called "Loose Change." Now, a book dealing with many of these theories has just been published by the magazine Popular Mechanics, it's called "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts." In a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive, we host a debate between the filmmakers of Loose Change and the editors of Popular Mechanics on 9/11. [includes rush transcript - partial]

We continue with our 9/11 coverage today on this fifth anniversary of the attacks. Last week we heard from New Yorkers calling on the federal government to stop ignoring the health effects of the attacks on the World Trade Center. A major new study of 9/11 finds that nearly seven out of every ten first responders at Ground Zero now suffer from chronic lung ailments. We also spoke with a man whose brother was killed at the World Trade Center and is now spearheading a movement against President Bush's war on terror. And we looked at September 11th 100 years ago, when Gandhi launched Satyagraha, the modern non-violent resistance movement that continues to this day.

Today, a debate about 9/11. Ever since the attacks took place, many people across the country have raised a number of questions about what actually happened on that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Websites, articles, books and documentaries have put forward a variety of alternate theories to the government's account of what happened.

The most popular of these is a documentary called "Loose Change." The 80-minute film first appeared on the web in April 2005. Since then, it has had at least 10 million viewings and is described by Vanity Fair as "the first Internet blockbuster." As the popularity of "Loose Change" has soared, a book dealing with the questions it and others have raised about 9/11 has been published. It's called "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts" put together by the editors of the magazine, Popular Mechanics.

Today, we talk about some of the 9/11 theories and the arguments against them.

* Dylan Avery, writer and director of "Loose Change."

* Jason Bermas, researcher for "Loose Change."

* James Meigs, editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics. Part of the editorial team that produced "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts."

* David Dunbar, executive editor of Popular Mechanics. Part of the editorial team that produced "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts."

RUSH TRANSCRIPT

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AMY GOODMAN: Today, we bring you a national exclusive: a debate about 9/11. Ever since the attacks took place, many people across the country have raised a number of questions about what actually happened on that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Websites, articles, books and documentaries have put forward a variety of alternate theories to the government's account of what happened. The most popular of these is a documentary called Loose Change. The 80-minute film first appeared on the web April 2005. Since then, it's had at least 10 million viewings and is described by Vanity Fair as “the first internet blockbuster.”

As the popularity of Loose Change has soared, a book dealing with the questions it and others have raised about 9/11 has been published. It’s called Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts. It’s put together by the editors of the magazine Popular Mechanics.

So today, we'll talk about some of the theories and the arguments against them. We're joined in our studio by the filmmakers of Loose Change. Dylan Avery is the writer and director of the film and Jason Bermas is the film’s researcher. From Popular Mechanics, we're joined by David Dunbar, the executive editor of the magazine. He led the editorial team that produced Debunking 9/11 Myths. James Meigs is also with us, the magazine's editor-in-chief. Before we go to all of them, let's go to a clip of Loose Change that deals with the attacks on the Pentagon on 9/11.

NARRATOR: 10:06 a.m., Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Flight 93 was en route from Newark, New Jersey to California with 45 passengers when it went off course at 8:56 over northeastern Ohio. According to the official story, Flight 93 was en route to Washington, D.C., when it was overpowered by a group of passengers and crashed into an abandoned strip mine in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Out of all the events of 9/11, the one that has caused the most confusion is Flight 93: it was shot down/it wasn't shot down. However, evidence suggests that perhaps Flight 93 was nowhere near Shanksville.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: I wanna get quickly to Chris Chaniki. He's a photographer with the Pittsburgh affiliate, a FOX affiliate. He was back there just a couple of minutes ago. And Chris, I've seen the pictures. It looks like there’s nothing there, except for a hole in the ground.

CHRIS CHANIKI: Basically that's right. The only thing you could see from where we were was a big gouge in the earth and some broken trees. You could see some people working, walking around in the area. But from where we could see, there wasn't much left.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: Any large pieces of debris at all?

CHRIS CHANIKI: No. There was nothing, nothing that you could distinguish that a plane had crashed there.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: Smoke, fire?

CHRIS CHANIKI: Nothing. It was absolutely quiet. It was actually very quiet. Nothing going on down there. No smoke, no fire, just a couple of people walking around. They looked like part of the NTSB crew, walking around looking at the pieces.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: How big would you say that hole was?

CHRIS CHANIKI: From my estimates, I would guess it was probably about 20 to 15 feet long and probably about ten feet wide.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: What could you see on the ground, if anything, other than dirt and ash?

CHRIS CHANIKI: You couldn't see anything. You could just see dirt, ash and people walking around.

NARRATOR: Wally Miller, a Somerset County coroner: “It looked like somebody just dropped a bunch of metal out of the sky.” In the Washington Post: “It looked like someone took a scrap truck, dug a ten-foot ditch and dumped trash into it. And as for the passengers: “I stopped being coroner after about 20 minutes, because there were no bodies there.” In the Pittsburgh Review: “I have not to this day seen a single drop of blood, not a drop.” It would seem that on one day, for the second time in history, an entire plane along with its passengers disappeared upon impact.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of Loose Change. We'll talk with the filmmakers, as well as the editors of Popular Mechanics, when we come back from break, and then we’ll take on the issue of what happened in Washington, the question of what hit the Pentagon. Stay with us.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Diane Lang
Entered on:
Problem with most conspiracy theories that don**Q**t hold water is they have some of the facts and come to all the wrong conclusions. Few efforts are made to ASK the right people the RIGHT questions. Hey, I am up for a great conspiracy but the incompetence of our gummint precludes the sort of vast conspiracy by a bunch of people who couldn**Q**t find their way to the bathroom with a map and a flashlight would have created. Loose Change is a travesty of misinformation and the kind of effluence Michael Moore is famous for. This article from the St. Anthony Messenger should be read. If these folks in Shankville and local communities are involved in a **QQ**coverup**QQ** then the world has gone totally MAD. Government has been involved in lies and cover up but the kind of VAST conspiracy Loose Change gets into gives more credit to these bozos than they deserve. The kind of disinformation that makes a real conspiracy of interests become lumped in with garbage. It amazes me how much credit people want to give to our idiocracy. That movie by Mike Judge is a far better indication of how things work than Loose Change or those who believe that hogwash.

From St. Anthony Messenger - it ain**Q**t the CFR print arm - just a small publication that did its job.
THE SCARCITY of signs directing pilgrims to the temporary memorial where United Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, five years ago doesn**Q**t dissuade visitors from meandering along Somerset County**Q**s country roads until they reach the site. The September 11 crash killed everyone on board, including the four terrorists who hijacked the plane.

Over 100,000 people come each year to pay their respects to the 33 passengers and seven crew members who are credited with preventing the Boeing 757 from reaching its target in Washington, D.C.

Stan and Emily Jerich are among the volunteers who greet these visitors every day of the year inside a small unheated shelter on a windy knoll above the crash site. **QQ**We are scheduled for two hours once a week,**QQ** explains Emily, a eucharistic minister who lives 45 minutes away at The Villages at Seven Springs. The Jerichs were among the area Catholics who shared their experiences with St. Anthony Messenger on the first day of spring this year.

As people trickled inside on this brisk day, Stan, 67, and Emily, 65, gave informal presentations, offered brochures, answered questions and described plans for the Flight 93 National Memorial.

In front of the shelter, names of the 40 heroes of Flight 93 are prominently displayed on benches that face the field where the plane crashed upside down at 10:03 a.m. at an estimated speed of over 500 miles per hour. As tragic as it was, the damage could have been much more extensive. The Boeing 757 could have carried 182 passengers. If the plane had remained airborne for another few seconds, a nearby school in the path of the flight would have been hit, explains Emily.

**QQ**The F.B.I. and state police were here within 30 minutes**QQ** of the crash, Emily notes. **QQ**The F.B.I. led the investigation.**QQ**

When relatives of the victims stayed at Seven Springs Mountain Resort not long after the crash, the Jerichs met many of them. Emily recalls trying to console a parent of one of the crew members. She explains that she and Stan know what it**Q**s like to lose a child because they had a daughter who died at age four from leukemia.

Emily remembers trying to assist a man at Seven Springs who fell asleep while holding an infant. She was afraid he would drop the baby so she offered to hold the child, but the man declined her offer. **QQ**He said his wife had been on the plane,**QQ** she explains. **QQ**I just kept watching him in case he relaxed so I could grab the baby.**QQ**

Of all the volunteer activities Stan and Emily are involved in, she says their role at this memorial is the experience she will never forget because of the many thank-you**Q**s they receive from appreciative visitors.

Working With the F.B.I.

At the temporary memorial, Sally Svonavec, 64, greets her husband, Jim, and their son, Jamie, when the men drive up in their pickup truck. Members of St. Peter**Q**s Parish in nearby Somerset, they explain how the family business, J & J Svonavec Excavating, became the only excavating company to work with the F.B.I. at the site.

Jim, 65, and Jamie, 34, have refused all previous requests for interviews: They wanted to tell their story to a Catholic publication. Men of few words, they admit it**Q**s difficult returning to this site, where they dug through soil that contained pieces of the aircraft, personal items that belonged to those on board and human remains: No whole bodies were recovered.

Sally explains that she and Jim were in Hilton Head, South Carolina, on September 11, 2001, just beginning an overdue vacation. Jim had assured Jamie that he could handle business matters while they were gone.

Jim and Sally followed the shocking events of that morning on the news: They learned that two hijacked planes had hit the two towers of the World Trade Center, then a third plane crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth hijacked plane was being tracked over western Pennsylvania.

Later Jamie phoned them that the fourth plane had just crashed near Shanksville (about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh) on reclaimed strip-mined land where they had worked.

It didn**Q**t take long for throngs of law-enforcement officers, who had been tracking the plane**Q**s path, and other people, including Jamie, to reach the location where they could tell the aircraft had gone down. But it took a while to identify the exact location of impact because there was no plane visible. Sally remembers Jamie phoning them from the site and saying, **QQ**There is no plane there, believe me.**QQ**

The location was eventually determined because of some disturbed ground in front of a grove of charred evergreens, explains Jamie. The ground had swallowed up much of the wreckage.

Because of their familiarity with the property, the Svonavecs were asked to work with the F.B.I. on recovery efforts. **QQ**We hired some extra people and worked one long shift, seven days a week,**QQ** says Jim, a former federal mining inspector.

Using a Kobelco excavator, the process was slow and meticulous because **QQ**every bucket of material that was excavated went through screens,**QQ** explains Sally. Screening helped locate many body fragments and debris from the plane.

The plane **QQ**went in the ground so fast it didn**Q**t have a chance to burn,**QQ** says Jim. Authorities were especially anxious to find Flight 93**Q**s **QQ**black boxes**QQ** (cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder) in hopes of discovering what happened during the doomed flight.

The flight data recorder was located on September 13, some 15 feet underground. The following day, the cockpit voice recorder was unearthed at a depth of 25 feet. The cockpit recording was played in public for the first time this past April during the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 9/11 attacks.

In honor of Jim**Q**s role in finding the black boxes, a United Airlines official presented him with a hat he treasures. It says, **QQ**I found the box.**QQ** The excavators also found **QQ**a jacket that belonged to one of the terrorists,**QQ** explains Jim. The jacket contained the hijacker**Q**s schedule for September 11. **QQ**We found the knives [the terrorists] used, too.**QQ**

Although only fragments of bodies were recovered, everyone was identified, including the hijackers, explains Emily Jerich. Pointing to a fenced-in field about 500 yards below the shelter, she explains that the public isn**Q**t allowed there **QQ**because that is their burial area.**QQ**
http://www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/Sep2006/Feature2.asp


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