Update: See bottom of page for link to December 2006 hotel video.
The Bush Administration has shot itself in the foot with the release of a new video of the alleged "American Airlines Flight 77" crashing into the Pentagon. This latest video may be viewed at YouTube. At Judicial Watch, two recordings can be replayed on the same page: the top one or "video 1" is the latest release, and the bottom / "video 2" sequence includes the five frames that were originally leaked in early 2002. Alternatively, download either .wmv file (video 1 or 2) at this DoD page or here for video 1 or video 2.
Yet again, the cover-up fails to confirm that a Boeing 757 was anywhere near the Pentagon on September 11th. Neither recording includes a frame capturing an entire plane. The latest video has a frame showing the front section of the object, with the wings outside the field of view, followed by a frame which appears to show the tail illuminated by the flames as the projectile slams into the building. The older, video two, recording has just one frame showing the missile or plane before the explosion; unfortunately the object is almost entirely obscured by the right-hand pillar whose top lines up just below the horizon. In this frame, it is possible to make out a wing which appears just "above" the horizon, and a vapor trail is to the right of this. An excellent analysis may be found here.
It is unlikely that the Pentagon would place so much emphasis on cost-cutting and saving disk space, and give so little priority to security, that all of its camera recordings would be at a minimal frame rate of one fps. Some reports have claimed two fps; observation of the videos suggests the actual rate to be 1 fps. An analysis of the video by a London researcher suggests that an analogue camera recorded onto VHS videotape at 1 fps to save on tapes; the output frames were extensively manipulated, recorded back onto analogue and then converted back to digital for release by Judicial Watch. Analogue video would easily be capable of some 20 fps for three hours per tape, and a twenty-fold decrease in speed would lead to 60 hours per tape. The Pentagon's inability to track $2.3 trillion of transactions (when Dov Zakheim was the Comptroller) was not announced until September 10, 2001, and analogue videos slowed to provide 60 hours per tape would be a most improbable balance between economy and security for the HQ of the world's greatest military power. The videos probably have been manipulated by removing the tale-tale frames which captured the entire object. Alternatively, they have deliberately chosen to release the inconclusive recordings, and the other 84 tapes held by the FBI include smoking gun evidence that would debunk the government's conspiracy theory.
The tail shown in video 1 does not appear to match that of a Boeing 757. The Boeing 757 vertical stabiliser tapers off; the width (as viewed from the side) at the top is no more than half that where it joins the fuselage. Some planes such as the Boeing 717 and 727 have a relatively non-tapering tail (but also winglets at the top of the tail which are not evident in the video).
The probability for any particular video (from the north or south) to show only the front section of the plane, in the first frame where it appears, is given by:
F * L / V
...where F is the frame rate in frames per second, L is the permissible range in feet, and V is the plane velocity in feet per second. The Boeing 757-200 is 55 feet from the tip of the nose to the engine tips. Let's suppose the first frame must show between 10 and 55 feet of the plane, so L is set at 45 feet. Starting with a high estimate of the speed prior to impact, 780 feet per second (about 532 mph) as quoted by Civil Engineering Magazine, February 2003, and assuming a frame rate of one frame per second as per the video, the plane moves 780 feet per frame. So the probability of a particular camera being aligned such that a frame captures the required 45 feet range is 45 / 780 = 1 in 17.33. The probability for two particular cameras to be so aligned is 1 in 17.33 squared which is about 1 in 300.
For a low estimate of velocity, say 500 fps, the plane travels 500 feet between frames, so the probability of one camera having the required alignment is 45 / 500 = 0.09 and the probability for two such cameras to be so aligned is 0.09 squared = 1 in 123. If the frame rate is taken to be two frames per second, the plane only travels at most 390 feet between frames. As the frame rate is increased, the probability of achieving the criminals' goal of avoiding a frame capturing the entire length of the plane or missile decreases to zero. But at 2 frames per second and 390 feet between frames, the probability of getting the 45 feet range for any one camera is 45 / 390 = 1 in 8.667, and for two cameras it is 1 in 75.11. At 2 frames per second and 500 feet per second, the object only flies 250 feet per frame.
They could not release two videos that merely showed the first 10 to 55 feet in the first frame and possibly a tail in the next, since that would have been too improbable, and thereby a confirmation of evasive tactics. The 2002 video had the object mostly obscured by a pillar. Now they are having to play semantics and argue that the other videos did not capture "the impact". It is not so much the impact that is of interest, but an unobscured view of the entire flying object that could help to narrow down what it actually was. Nevertheless, failure to release the other evidence demonstrates the administration's reliance on subterfuge.
When Judicial Watch said that they hoped the latest video would dispel conspiracy theories, they were effectively lying for the Bush administration. The government hopes to keep 9/11 skeptics arguing over whether a "missile" hit the Pentagon, instead of concentrating on the extraordinary maneuvers which could not have been pulled off by Hani Hanjour and the WTC controlled demolition. In the case of the Pentagon attack, plane theories are a better match for the evidence than missile theories. However, the projectile was almost certainly not "Flight 77", and it was most certainly not flown by someone who was refused permission to fly a Cessna on account of poor flying skills, and who was rated as barely even capable of driving a car.
Revised August 27, 2006: In June 2006, Sam Danner approached some 9/11 researchers and told them he had witnessed the object that hit the Pentagon. He spoke on a number of internet talk radio shows in July, e.g. Michael Collins Piper at RBN - scroll down to July 10. According to his description, the object was certainly not a Boeing 757, and it bore some resemblance to a Global Hawk. It had the bulbous nose of a humpback whale, and a single central engine towards the rear. Danner said there was a smell of cordite or gunpowder rather than kerosene.
Days after the broadcasting of Sam's story, he said two guys with sunglasses in a large black US government SUV or 4x4-type car tried to run him off the road as he was driving home from work on the afternoon of July 18. They had tailgated him near Camp David in Maryland, and then rammed his car sending it into a spin. On July 21, Sam Danner and Christopher Bollyn were both scheduled to speak on RBN's Michael Piper show. Sam sent an email to Piper saying that he would not be able to appear. Instead, Sam's son Matthew phoned in to the show, saying that his father had lied (scroll down to July 21 at the RBN link - listen to the final caller on the show who is introduced as Matthew Danner, after "Matt from Vermont"). Matthew then posted to internet forums saying that Sam had been at home at the time of the Pentagon attack, and had not gone to Washington until hours afterwards. For several weeks, there was a split between father and son. Around August 8, Sam changed his story and admitted lying.
Unfortunately, the evidence is that Sam Danner did indeed lie. The file AllOfSamsMessages.mp3 at the above link, part 3 of the Sam Danner controversy at Eric Hufschmid's site, contains voicemails from Sam Danner to his son. Sam actually admits that his story was only "65% true" and "has some lying in it", and pleads that he should be allowed to have his "bit of glory". There are fatal problems with the theory that an incident involving "sunglass-wearing Feds in a SUV" scared Matthew into demanding that his father withdraw his story, and the father initially resisted but succumbed two or three weeks later. It is hard to see how the voicemails could have been edited to leave damning phrases such as "the made-up stuff like the Global Hawk and all that crap". There is no evidence of Sam Danner's car having been hit by a government vehicle.
In conclusion, the jury is still out on the question of what hit the Pentagon. Neither the DoD's release of video frames (which were supposed to dispel "all the conspiracy theories" for good!), nor the Danner affair, has provided credible evidence for a large plane, a mid-sized plane, a drone or a missile. The authorities' immediate confiscation and failure to release video from the motel and the gas station is evidence that whatever it was, it most certainly was not Flight AA77.
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Revised December 4, 2006: The latest Doubletree hotel video shows nothing new. They had more than five years to make sure there was nothing incriminating. And it's the same with the CITGO gas station footage.