911 In Plane Site  Rewound

A ‘hit piece’ in Popular Mechanics magazine pulls the trigger

on a 911 movie’s many suspicious flaws


Jeremy Baker


In 2004, the video 911 In Plane Site, a 52 minute documentary produced by filmmakers William Lewis and Dave vonKliest of the Power Hour, was released for sale on the internet. This film — a purported overview of the case being compiled by 9/11 researchers and activists that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the attacks of September 11th were essentially an inside job — enjoyed, from the outset, an inexplicable popularity among the broad community of 9/11 skeptics that was wildly disproportionate to the quality of its content. In comparison, other far better films on 9/11 have struggled to find distribution and attract attention. But, as this film’s veracity was examined by the best and most knowledgable figures in the 9/11 truth movement, questions began being asked.

                Understandably, the 9/11 truth movement has attracted all sorts of adherents, credible and otherwise — a fact that sets the stage for detractors who wish to discredit its message by shining light on its least worthy proponents. But, if even a small percentage of what 9/11 researchers have concluded is true (and if so much is truly at stake) it only stands to reason that such a burgeoning grassroots movement would be targeted by “operatives” assigned the task of sabotaging and derailing its credibility — typically by infiltrating its ranks, establishing an optimum level of acceptance within the movement itself and then, when the time is right, letting loose with a deluge of false leads and disinformation that directly impacts the movement’s credibility and compromises its effectiveness. This strategy, nick-named the “strawman” tactic, is familiar to career activists well versed in the antics of “co-intelpro,” an intelligence offensive made famous in the sixties for its infiltration and undermining of anti-war movements and student activism.

                As 911 In Plane Site began its rise to notoriety, a handful of 9/11 activists attempted to alert people to this movie’s myriad flaws and unaccountably poor research and presentation. If a film of this quality was produced on any other subject it would be widely condemned for its shoddiness and irresponsibility. But, unfortunately, many casual enthusiasts of the 9/11 skeptics movement, in their righteous zeal, have impulsively signed on to various theories and viewpoints without doing their homework. It’s these well-meaning but incautious people that, I believe, make up the core of 911 In Plane Site’s fan base.

                Early on, before I’d seen the movie, I’d been hearing a lot of hard talk from both sides. A significant phalanx of 911 In Plane Site supporters had naturally provoked an increasingly caustic backlash from those who knew (as I’ve come to know) how potentially damaging this film could be. So, in an effort to get to the bottom of things, I watched the film, carefully analyzed every scene and released my findings in a critical review. In particular, I examined the two most likely scenarios that would result in this film’s disturbing inaccuracies; 1) It’s either a tabloid fiasco of poor, sensationalist video journalism, or 2) it’s an intentional attempt to disseminate crippling disinformation. To this day, I’m not entirely sure which is the case but in the end it doesn’t really matter, the result is the same — bogus information masquerading as competent research, held up as being representative of the movement and readily available as ammunition for our opponents.

                Besides containing many typos, grammatical mistakes and incidental (but significant) blunders that lend the film a decidedly hokey, amateur feel, 911 In Plane Site also includes many examples of so-called “evidence” that the producers claim are central elements in the case being presented by the best in 9/11 research. But much of the information this video features is based on obscure, unsubstantiated points that have had their significance exaggerated or distorted. Many of these inconsequential points have come and gone since the attacks and have remained, at best, peripheral to quality 9/11 researchers. But, in 911 In Plane Site, these flimsy points take on a whole new meaning.

                 The following is a brief recap of the points I originally made in my review. Towards the beginning of IPS, the narrator, Dave vonKliest, tells us that he began his “research” into 9/11 by studying the myriad picture magazines and books published after 9/11 that he found in grocery stores. He makes a big point of sorting out a claim made once in one of these inconsequential books about a 100' wide crater left by Flight 77 in the Pentagon. His stalwart refutation of this long forgotten claim adds nothing of value to the debate but does falsely create the illusion that he’s a tough, no nonsense investigator busy tearing holes in the “official” story. Later in the movie, he does it again by playing a Fox News segment in which a man describes Flight 175 (the second plane to hit the WTC) as having no windows and strange markings, a claim that hasn’t been supported by a single other witness and has never achieved credibility among quality 9/11 researchers.

                He then produces a report from an EAA (Environmental Assessors Association) “specialist” that contains faulty information and bogus conclusions about the damage a 757 should have made to the Pentagon. This report also makes claims about the temperature levels required to melt steel with jet fuel — assertions that fly in the face of everything we know about fuel fires in enclosed spaces.

                The producers also irresponsibly focus on the “pod” and “flash” theories, both of which are esoteric, technical issues that have effectively distracted attention from far more central points. Who cares what caliber of gun Boothe used to shoot Lincoln? But these tangential technical points also have the distressing potential of making the 9/11 researchers who dwell on them look like tech-nerds and crackpots. More alarming, however, is the obviously manipulated video that they use to support these theories — film clips that don’t require a specialist’s seasoned eye to confirm as being fabrications. Whether or not the makers of IPS doctored this video or were honestly duped by those who did is unclear but, given the obvious nature of these video enhancements, they should certainly have known better.

                911 In Plane Site also includes a segment that references a short video clip that appears to show an explosion in the vicinity of WTC 6 while both towers were still intact. This clip had, at one time, attracted attention among 9/11ers but had long since been exposed as just an odd, anomalous sight gag that merely shows the first billowing cloud of debris from the collapse of WTC 2, not an unexplained explosion. The video clip they include and the still image they use to support it are both entirely bogus and represent either truly bush-league blunders or intentional sleight of hand.

                But the part in 911 In Plane Site that has generated the most suspicion is contained in a segment espousing the theory that the planes striking the towers may have been substitute, military cargo planes. Central to this issue, according to IPS, is a film clip showing witnesses reacting to the impact of Flight 11 into the North Tower. In this clip, a woman cries out: “That was not an American airlines...that was not an American airlines,” a comment they claim supports the theory at hand. But the only interpretation of this woman’s cryptic remarks that has ever made the slightest sense was that she meant: “That was a foreign attack on our country,” a statement that proves absolutely nothing (other than a woman’s rush to judgement) and contributes even less to the substitute planes theory. But that didn’t keep Lewis and vonKliest from placing an untoward amount of stress on this flimsy, ill-considered piece of highly questionable “evidence.”

                But what worries me most about 911 In Plane Site, and other equally frivolous 9/11 films, books and websites, is this: towards the end of my review I made what’s proven to be a prophetic remark, specifically that, if this movie is a setup, “the proof will undoubtedly come in the form of a mainstream attack that will pick out these blatant red-herrings and use them to blast the other good stuff out of the water...” It’s a classic strategy. Juxtapose the responsible research with the goofy stuff and then pull the trigger — the good gets shot down with the bad. And it wasn’t long before this very thing happened before our eyes.

                In the March, 2005, issue of Popular Mechanics, the cover story is devoted to debunking what they alone call the “16 most common 9/11 lies” (not mistakes or ill-considered points, lies) put forth by 9/11 researchers and skeptics. I expected this piece to be full of holes and easy to debunk back, but I had no idea that it would be nearly as flawed as the 9/11 video they mention first in their attack. That’s right, 911 In Plane Site is first out of the blocks in PM’s hit piece, and no wonder. It’s rightfully attacked as being a salesman of such ludicrous theories as the “no windows in Flight 175" hypothesis, the “intriguing” issue of “pods and flashes” and many other weak and superfluous points.

                PM goes after several other researchers, writers and websites, some that are among the best in the 9/11 visibility movement but others, as well, that are among the worst — again, put the bad in right along side the good and take them both down together. It’s important for 911ers to be cognizant of IPS’s shortcomings and potential for distorting our message, but it’s equally important to see it as possibly being just one part of a broader scheme concocted by desperate men whose lives and legacies hinge on maintaining the fairytale of evil Arab terrorists being confronted by the global white knights of America. Surely we need to make these distinctions as we carefully attempt to deconstruct the complex and gut wrenching riddle of 9/11.

                 In a webcast late in 2004, vonKliest appeared to discuss his movie. By that time, the film clip in IPS allegedly showing an explosion over building 6 had proven itself to be misconstrued and  irrelevent. But, rather than taking responsibility for the gaff, vonKliest actually tried to claim that IPS had played an important role in clearing up the issue! He then proceeded to disparage (in no uncertain terms) those of us who dared to point out the many other glaring problems with his movie. Calling us “keyboard commandos” (among other things), vonKliest expressed nothing but contempt for his critics and not the slightest contrition for his unaccountably poor work. He shamelessly claimed that all he did was put these “compelling” points before the world and, oh boy, what a hubbub he’d created — a cheap ploy designed to make him look like a brave but misunderstood bearer of shocking but vital news, rather than the particularly irresponsible film-maker that he is. Well, it’s not our fault he made such a poor film and surely there are more accurate ways of determining a film’s final,  metaphysical value than the extent to which it makes neophytes “ooo” and “aah.”

                But his most vehement words were reserved for his fellow 9/11 researchers who had so vocally criticized his movie, accusing us of being reactionary competitors and petty nay-sayers. Now I ask you: are these really the kind of people we want to embrace as we confront the awesome task of unmasking the real perpetrators of 9/11 and put our hard fought case before the world? Some 9/11ers have actually recommended that, despite his recklessness, we should withhold judgement and welcome vonKliest in the movement as a good man who’s at least making an effort. But is it really in our best interests to offer an olive branch to those who’ve shown nothing but contempt for us in return — who make movies and write books that are already doing damage and appear to be more concerned about covering their tracks than uncovering the truth?

                If 911 In Plane Site is a setup, I’m very concerned that the piece in Popular Mechanics is just the beginning. Movies like IPS are, I’m afraid, a gift to our detractors that will just keep on giving, providing an endless supply of legitimate targets and serving as a focal point for attacks, contrived though they may be. If IPS was just another no-account 9/11 movie that enjoyed a moment in the sun and then faded into obscurity, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit concerned. But the fact is that the director’s cut of IPS  is now available and I’ve heard that it’s selling better than ever, even in the wake of the PM article which clearly shows the films potential for harm.

                In 2004, Canadian journalist and media critic Barrie Zwicker released a DVD remake of his popular 9/11 film The Great Deception. The Great Conspiracy is a thoughtful, impeccably researched and very well-presented account of the best in 9/11 research and has proven itself to be consistently inspiring and enlightening to staunch 9/11 conspiracy advocates. But its effect on  the many fence-sitters who aren’t yet onboard with 9/11 conspiracy theory but who are ready to loan us their ears is perhaps this movie’s finest quality. Barrie is a consummate professional whose dignified demeanor and on-camera acumen is second to none and a gracious gift to the 9/11 Truth movement from our northern neighbors.

                I’ve seen the affect TGC has had on its audiences with my own eyes and highly recommend it to anyone who sincerely wants to take a well guided tour down the rabbit hole (i.e., educate themselves on the subject of US government complicity in the attacks of September 11th). The Great Conspiracy is peerless among the movies made about 9/11 and it’s well-deserved popularity is appropriate to its quality. Mr. Zwicker is constantly on the road appearing internationally to speak and present his movie. His is the kind of work we should be embracing and I encourage 9/11 enthusiasts to make a careful judgement as to what efforts they support and which ones they leave behind. Credibility is everything to the 9/11 truth movement and we must guard and protect our hard won credibility like a mama bear watches out for her cubs.


Copyright 2005 Darkprints