Fisking Robert Fisk’s 9/11 fantasies, a farewell to the Scooter, and other observations…
With a tip of the cap to legendary New York newspaperman Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…
“FISKING” IS THE TERM COINED FOR THE PUBLIC DEBUNKING (by bloggers, journalists, and other critics) of claims made by British journalist Robert Fisk. A quick glance at “Robert Fisk: Even I question the ‘truth’ about 9/11” which appeared in The Independent in late August, helps explain why Fisk’s reporting raises so many eyebrows.
In his article, Fisk tries to distance himself from the more extreme elements of the 9/11 Truth Movement (the “ravers” he calls them) but then announces: “I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11.” Fisk proceeds to list a number of these “inconsistencies,” which turn out to be a cobbled-together list of rhetorical questions that are favorites of the conspiracy theorists.
Fisking Fisk’s 9/11 questions is quite simple. Here are the answers to the four major questions he poses:
1. ”[W]here are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon?” Much of the aircraft, a Boeing 757, was destroyed upon impact, but there are numerous photos of the wreckage of American Airlines Flight 77. You can find them here, here, and a photo of what’s left of an engine here, along with other wreckage photos and extensive eyewitness accounts of the debris found inside the Pentagon. (What’s really behind this question? Some 9/11 conspiracy theorists claim a missile slammed into the Pentagon, not the jet.)
2. “Why did flight 93’s debris spread over miles when it was supposed to have crashed in one piece in a field?” Some debris from Flight 93 did spread after impact, which is common in such commercial airline crashes, but not nearly as far as 9/11 conspiracy theorists assert. The “wide-spread debris theory” is thoroughly debunked here and here. (What’s behind the question? Many conspiracy theorists claim that Flight 93 was shot down by a military aircraft, a scenario which would produce scattered debris).
3. ”If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers – whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C – would snap through at the same time?” This represents a complete misunderstanding of the causes of the Twin Towers collapse. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) concluded after a three-year study that “the impact of the planes severed and damaged support columns and dislodged fireproofing insulation coating the steel floor trusses and steel columns, which meant that the subsequent fire, which reached 1000 degrees Celsius, weakened the floors and columns to the point where they bowed and buckled, causing the towers to collapse.” (What’s behind this question? Many conspiracy theorists contend that the Twin Towers were brought down by controlled demolition, refusing to accept the conclusions of NIST and other scientific studies.)
I would encourage Fisk, and other 9/11 doubters, to take the time to watch this simulation of a jet hitting one of the towers, developed at Purdue University, to better understand how impact led to the collapse.
4. ”What about the third tower – the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) – which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it?” While no aircraft hit WTC 7 directly, the building was badly damaged by debris from the collapse of nearby WTC 1. NIST’s working hypothesis is that WTC 7 fell because of the collapse of a critical column due to “fire and/or debris induced structural damage.” And the actual collapse of WTC 7 took longer, some 15-18 seconds (according to the seismic data), much of this activity not evident on the videos of the collapse.
My questions for Fisk would be: did you do any research on 9/11 before writing your piece? Talk to civil engineers? Read the NIST reports? You would be asking a different set of questions if you did.
A VERY STRONG ARGUMENT CAN BE MADE THAT “THE LIVES OF OTHERS,” last year’s Oscar winner for best foreign-language film was flat-out the best film of 2006 in any language. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film, now available on DVD, follows an East German Stasi agent assigned to spy on a playwright and his actress girlfriend and traces the compromises and betrayals that become tragically common in a police state. The acting in the film is superb, understated and yet emotionally moving.
A Hollywood remake, in English, is slated for 2010, although it is hard to imagine it having the power or authenticity of the original.
AMMUNITION FOR ANTI-MONARCHISTS: news from Norway that Princess Märtha Louise is looking to charge people for teaching how to communicate with angels. “Now, some are calling for her to renounce her royal title” according to Der Spiegel. At least the embarrassing family members (Billy Carter, Margaret Trudeau, Cécilia Sarkozy, Neil Bush, etc.) of leaders in democratic countries eventually fade from sight when the leader leaves office.
I MET FORMER YANKEE GREAT PHIL RIZZUTO some 33 years ago, in 1974, when he was in Boston announcing a Yankees-Red Sox game. Rizzuto stopped by WEEI, where I was working as a weekend news writer, to record a syndicated radio spot. The diminutive Hall of Famer proved to be more than happy to talk baseball with a teenager. Nicknamed the “Scooter,” Rizzuto, who died August 13 at the age of 89, was an unaffected and genuinely warm man. Vale!
YOGI BERRA, a teammate of Phil Rizzuto and noted American philosopher, provides this month’s words of wisdom: “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”