Artifacts on display from the attack at the Pentagon. (photo: John Makely/NBC News)
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9/11 Museum World Trade Center Evidence: No Plane Hit Pentagon?
By William Boardman, Reader Supported News
31 May 14
Part 1 of 2
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Astronomer Carl Sagan was fond of saying this when talking about the possibility of intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also used the expression in his own portrayal of intelligent life on this planet, in reference to his inability to find Saddam Hussein's WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) that didn't exist.
It's a basically useful mindset that has both useful and useless applications, as in Rumsfeld's using it to mean, apparently, something like: "We don't need no stinking evidence, we know his WMDs used to exist, we believe they still exist, and that's good enough - trust us."
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" applies as well to the events of September 11, 2001, and it's still not clear which usage applies best to which argument from any perspective. The assumption here is that, at a minimum, the official 9/11 story is false in some of its essentials. The official 9/11 story has too many elements to assume they're all false, or even that they're mostly false. On the contrary, whether one assumes official honesty or an official cover-up, the motive is the same: to get as much right as possible and/or necessary. The best lies are embedded in truth.
The 9/11 Museum is full of contradictions, acknowledged and ignored
The National September 11 Memorial Museum (cost: $700 million) opened ceremonially in New York City on May 15, 2014. The museum (operating budget: $60 million a year) opened publicly six days later (admission: $24). The openings were characterized by both reverence (President Obama called the museum a "sacred place of healing and hope") and controversy (over the gift shop, and especially its Darkness Hoodie ($39) and its United-States-shaped cheese platter with hearts marking 9/11 death sites (price unavailable), as well as serious censorship (no charge) and the CEO's salary ($378,000)).
A "Museum Review" in The New York Times pondered the museum's "trifurcated identity:"
Was it going to be primarily a historical document, a monument to the dead or a theme-park-style tourist attraction? How many historical museums are built around an active repository of human remains, still being added to? How many cemeteries have a $24 entrance fee and sell souvenir T-shirts? How many theme parks bring you, repeatedly, to tears?
Because that's what the museum does. The first thing to say about it, and maybe the last, is that it's emotionally overwhelming....
Despite that overwhelming ad hominem character, emphasizing the emotional impact of the lives of the living and dead, the museum defines itself with a contradictory pose of academic detachment: "The National September 11 Memorial Museum serves as the country's principal institution concerned with exploring the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of those events and exploring 9/11's continuing significance." More credibly, the museum defines its mission as bearing witness to the World Trade Center attacks of 1993 and 2001. Most compellingly, the 9/11 Museum seems to be a guardian of the official 9/11 story.
Omission can also be a form of bearing witness
Among the 9/11 Museum's artifacts on display (its collection numbers more than 10,000 items, mostly small and personal), there are parts of the Boeing 767 airliners that hit the twin towers. The larger artifacts include a charred piece of fuselage with a missing window and the "World Trade Center Cross" (which a federal judge has ruled an "artifact," not a violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state). The museum also has a collection of unidentified or unclaimed human body parts, some 14,000 of them, stored in an underground repository not open to the public.
Without apparently intending to do so, the 9/11 Museum's body of evidence that tends to reinforce the official 9/11 story in New York, also tends to reinforce longstanding questions about the official 9/11 story at the Pentagon. That story is that the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 (a Boeing 757 carrying 58 passengers and 6 crew) flew into the Pentagon at almost ground level, killing all aboard as well as 125 in the building (all but five of whom were, eventually, officially identified).
From the beginning, the official 9/11 Pentagon story caused cognitive dissonance, since the visual evidence suggests that nothing as big as a 757 could have hit the outside wall of the Pentagon and disappeared even more completely than the planes that hit the World Trade Center, where they burned until the WTC collapsed around them. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
The alternative stories posit a missile or specially rigged small plane hitting the Pentagon. There is no known physical evidence to support such stories. According to Snopes.com (as of April 2008), these stories are false. Much of the evidence collected by government investigators remains secret. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Even a determined debunker of 9/11 skeptics, while laying out a coherent argument that the official 9/11 Pentagon story is true (and conflating physical evidence with photography), ends up concluding:
In this essay I asked what conclusions about the Pentagon attack were supported by physical evidence - primarily post-crash photographs of the site. I found that, in every aspect I considered, this evidence comports with the crash of a Boeing 757. At the same time, the evidence does not conclusively prove that the aircraft was a 757, much less that it was Flight 77. However, that lack of conclusiveness should not be surprising given the systematic suppression of evidence by authorities.
The 9/11 Museum, for all its claims to being the principal institution for exploring the events of 9/11, has next to nothing to say about the Pentagon or about the other 757 that crashed in Pennsylvania. New York has shown more respect for the dead than the Pentagon, where higher officials overruled subordinates and dumped human remains in a landfill.
William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
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