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Context of '9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Pentagon Security Cameras near the Crash Site Are Switched Off due to Renovation Work'

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Many security cameras at the Pentagon that could have captured the building being hit are currently switched off or have been taken down due to construction work that is taking place and therefore do not film the attack. (Austin and Pennington 11/9/2006 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 244) The attack occurs “close to the Pentagon’s heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring,” the Washington Times will later note. (Gertz and Scarborough 9/21/2001) “There are a lot of cameras within the facility at any one time,” Steve Pennington, a private consultant responsible for the Pentagon’s security cameras, will comment. However, due to renovation work that is being carried out on the Pentagon, many cameras close to where the attack occurs are currently out of use. Some cameras have been taken down temporarily. “There were cameras on poles at the other end, along the roadway, but they were down for construction projects or being changed out during the process,” Pennington will recall. Other cameras that would normally focus on the area where the crash occurs have been switched off. “Because that area was being renovated, a lot of the connectivity of these cameras and the infrastructure that allowed those cameras to be connected back to the building had been removed or destroyed, so they weren’t capturing images and offering fields of view,” Pennington will say. (Austin and Pennington 11/9/2006 pdf file) Furthermore, a number of cameras near the area of impact are either destroyed or lose connectivity when the crash occurs (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Jester 1/31/2006 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152-153) Two recently installed cameras north of the crash site are apparently the only Pentagon security cameras that capture the building being hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (CNN 5/20/2006; Austin and Pennington 11/9/2006 pdf file; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161)

Pentagon security cameras facing the crash scene allegedly have been put out of order by the attack. (Murphy 2002, pp. 245) John Jester, the chief of the Defense Protective Service (DPS), runs from his office at the Pentagon down to the DPS Communications Center and orders, “Get a camera up there!” (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 152-153) As the Washington Times will later note, “The attack occurred close to the Pentagon’s heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring.” (Gertz and Scarborough 9/21/2001) However, some of the Communications Center’s eight wall-mounted monitor screens are blank, because the crash has destroyed the camera nearest the area of impact and cut connectivity to others. Furthermore, some of the security cameras at the Pentagon are currently inoperable because of construction work going on (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Officer Jesse De Vaughn brings up an image from a camera at the Navy Annex, located a few hundred yards from the Pentagon, which is then focused onto the crash site. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 153 and 244) Two recently installed security cameras located north of the crash site in fact captured the moment the aircraft impacted the Pentagon (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161) The poor quality footage from these will be officially released in 2006 (see May 16, 2006). (Burns 5/17/2006) Whether the cameras that were destroyed or disconnected when the Pentagon was hit captured the approaching aircraft or the moment of impact is unstated.

A report in the Washington Times suggests, “Federal investigators may have video footage of the deadly terrorist attack on the Pentagon. A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon may have captured dramatic footage of the hijacked Boeing 757 airliner as it slammed into the western wall of the Pentagon. Hotel employees sat watching the film in shock and horror several times before the FBI confiscated the video as part of its investigation. It may be the only available video of the attack. The Pentagon has told broadcast news reporters that its security cameras did not capture the crash. The attack occurred close to the Pentagon’s heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring.” (Gertz and Scarborough 9/21/2001) In a later report, an employee at a gas station across the street from the Pentagon that services only military personnel says the gas station’s security cameras should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he says, “I’ve never seen what the pictures looked like. The FBI was here within minutes and took the film.” (McKelway 12/11/2001) In late 2006, the FBI will release the footage from the gas station’s cameras, along with footage from atop the Doubletree Hotel near the Pentagon. Whether the Doubletree is the hotel referred to in the Washington Times report is unknown. Neither of the videos will show the impact on the Pentagon, though the Doubletree video shows the subsequent explosion (see September 13, 2006-Early December 2006). Footage taken by the Pentagon’s security cameras and released earlier in 2006 will show that the Pentagon’s claim—that its own cameras did not capture the impact on 9/11—was untrue (see May 16, 2006).

The first two of five stills of the Pentagon impact.The first two of five stills of the Pentagon impact. [Source: Public domain]A series of photos surfaces purporting to show a plane crashing into the Pentagon on 9/11. It is not clear who released the photos, but the Pentagon asserts that they are authentic and were taken by a Pentagon security camera. The release of these pictures comes within days of the publication of the book l’Effroyable Imposture that disputes the claim that Flight 77 hit the Pentagon (see Early March 2002). “Officials could not immediately explain why the date typed near the bottom of each photograph is September 12 and the time is written as 5:37 p.m.,” the book notes. (US department of Defense 9/11/2001; Associated Press 3/8/2002; News 3/8/2002) The whole video, together with another also taken by a Pentagon security camera, will be released in 2006 (see May 16, 2006). (Burns 5/17/2006)

A frame from the video showing the attack on the Pentagon.A frame from the video showing the attack on the Pentagon. [Source: US Department of Defense]For the first time, the US Department of Defense officially releases video footage of the Pentagon attack. Two security cameras outside the building recorded the footage on the morning of 9/11 (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (US Department of Defense 9/11/2001; US Department of Defense 9/11/2001; Burns 5/17/2006; Markon 5/17/2006) The digital cameras positioned north of the crash site had recently been installed and were still undergoing testing. They were part of a security system that enabled a guard in a booth to identify drivers heading toward the parking lot for the Pentagon Mall Entrance. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 161) The Pentagon releases the two videos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and related lawsuit by the public interest group Judicial Watch. It previously refused to do so because, it said, the tapes were “part of an ongoing investigation involving Zacarias Moussaoui.” (Judicial Watch 5/16/2006) Both tapes were played as evidence during Moussaoui’s recent death penalty trial. (Markon 5/17/2006) However, the footage is of poor quality and several still images from one of the tapes have in fact already been released unofficially (see March 7, 2002). (Burns 5/17/2006) Furthermore, Judicial Watch had sought all recordings of the Pentagon attack, including those taken by cameras at the nearby Sheraton Hotel and Citgo gas station, and Virginia Department of Transportation traffic cameras (see (After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Judicial Watch 5/16/2006) According to CNN’s Jamie McIntyre: “[T]here are at least 80 other tapes that the government is holding onto. We’re told that they don’t really show much, but sources have told us that at least one of the tapes from a security camera at a nearby hotel may have captured the plane in the air.” (CNN 5/20/2006) So far, none of these tapes have been made public, though the FBI will release the footage from the Citgo gas station and video taken from the Doubletree Hotel in Arlington later this year (see September 13, 2006-Early December 2006). Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton says he hopes the newly released Pentagon security camera footage “will put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77.” For example, some suggest a missile hit the Pentagon on 9/11. (BBC 5/16/2006) However, it appears to have the opposite effect, causing Internet traffic to 9/11 conspiracy websites to soar. James Fetzer, co-chair of the group Scholars for 9/11 Truth, says of the videos: “There is no new information here whatsoever… You can’t tell what in the world is hitting the Pentagon.” (Alberts 5/18/2006)

Security camera footage of the Pentagon attack, from the nearby Doubletree Hotel.Security camera footage of the Pentagon attack, from the nearby Doubletree Hotel. [Source: Public domain]In mid-September 2006, the FBI releases never-before-seen footage from security cameras at a Citgo gas station near the Pentagon, recorded on the morning of 9/11. Agents seized the video just minutes after the attack on the Pentagon (see (After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The FBI releases it in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and related lawsuit by the public interest group Judicial Watch. Many people believed the footage would show the strike on the Pentagon. However, the video, depicting views from the gas station’s six security cameras, shows that these cameras apparently did not capture it. The footage has been partially obscured by the FBI, though, to protect the privacy of individuals who were in the Citgo convenience store at the time it was recorded. (Citgo 9/11/2001; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/13/2006 pdf file; Hall 9/15/2006; Judicial Watch 9/15/2006) Early in December, the FBI releases more security camera footage from the morning of 9/11, taken from atop the Doubletree Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, which it also seized after the attacks. This is also in response to the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch and others. The grainy video does not show American Airlines 77 in flight, but does show the explosion after the Pentagon was hit. According to Judicial Watch, this “seemingly contradicts a sworn FBI affidavit in a related case claiming that the Doubletree security recordings ‘did not show the impact of Flight 77 into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.’” (Doubletree Hotel 9/11/2001; CNN 12/2/2006; KWTX 12/4/2006; Judicial Watch 12/7/2006) In the weeks after 9/11, it was reported that FBI investigators confiscated footage of the impact on the Pentagon from a hotel nearby (see September 21, 2001). Whether the hotel referred to was the Doubletree is unknown. Judicial Watch is trying to obtain 9/11 footage from cameras at the Sheraton National Hotel, which is also near the Pentagon. (Emerson and Lindquist 9/12/2001; Judicial Watch 5/16/2006; CNN 5/17/2006)


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