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Profile: Steve Pennington
Steve Pennington was a participant or observer in the following events:
Steve Pennington. [Source: Chesapeake and Midlantic Marketing]Two recently installed security cameras outside the Pentagon capture the building being hit, but the images they take will turn out to be of poor quality. [Associated Press, 5/17/2006; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 161] The cameras are located at a checkpoint north of the crash site that visitors to the Pentagon go through and usually focus on the drivers of the vehicles that come in and out. They are reportedly the only security cameras at the Pentagon that capture the building being hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001 and Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [CNN, 5/20/2006; Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 11/9/2006 ; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 161]
Video System Was Switched on Early for Testing - It is fortunate that the cameras film the crash. The Pentagon has an elaborate new, centralized, digital video recording system that was only installed a few weeks ago and is not yet government property. It should not be on now, but workers started running it early to capture data for testing purposes. Steve Pennington, a private consultant responsible for the Pentagon’s security cameras, will later recall that, along with Brian Austin, the maintenance team chief responsible for the cameras, a colleague called Greg Goff, and a couple of other people, he “decided to turn it on a few days before [9/11], not knowing that something was going to occur.” “It was purely happenstance that the system happened to be running [on 9/11], because it wasn’t supposed to be running for another month,” Pennington will comment. However, since the system is only being tested, the cameras are running at a slower rate than they normally would and therefore capture less information. Whereas they usually record at a rate of either 3.75 or 7.5 images per second, they are currently recording just one image per second.
Government Will Initially Withhold the Captured Video - On September 12, the footage of the crash captured by the cameras will be put onto CDs and copies will be provided to the FBI, the secretary of defense’s office, and the Joint Operations Center at Fort Myer (see September 12, 2001). [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 11/9/2006 ] Subsequently, the US government will initially refuse to make public the footage because it is going to be used as evidence in the trial of al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. It will finally be released in May 2006 (see May 16, 2006). However, five frames from one of the tapes will be released unofficially in March 2002 (see March 7, 2002). [Washington Post, 5/17/2006; CNN, 5/20/2006] The images of the crash captured by the cameras will turn out to be of poor quality, though. The Associated Press will describe the plane shown hitting the building as “a thin white blur.” [Associated Press, 5/17/2006] John Jester, chief of the Defense Protective Service, will similarly describe it as “just a blur.” “You can see a bit of tail, a plane sliding across the ground, and a huge explosion,” he will say. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1/31/2006 ]
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. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 11/9/2006 ; 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. [Washington Times, 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. [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 11/9/2006 ] 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). [Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1/31/2006 ; 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; Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 11/9/2006 ; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 161]
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