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Wed, May 17, 2006

Video Of American Flight 77 Striking Pentagon On 9/11 Released

Image Of Plane's Nosecone Visible In New Video Clip

American Airlines Flight 77 is, in a sense, the "lost" aircraft of 9/11. The images of the two 767s striking the World Trade Center towers are burned indelibly into the minds of everyone who watched that morning unfold on their television screens, while the events aboard United Flight 93 -- which crashed in a field in Shanksville, PA -- have recently been chronicled on film.

Before Tuesday, however, there were few visual records available on the final moments of Flight 77, the Boeing 757 that crashed into the Pentagon that awful morning. Still images previously released by the Pentagon showed little clear evidence of an aircraft striking the Defense Department headquarters... leading conspiracy theorists to postulate that it wasn't an aircraft at all that struck the western wall of the Pentagon, but a missile -- traveling at such high speeds as to be nearly invisible to the security cameras that captured the destruction.

Such conspiracy-minded people may not be sated by the release Tuesday of another video the Pentagon says clearly shows the aircraft, literally, the moment before it impacted the Pentagon. However, the newly released footage -- obtained by the government watchdog site Judicial Watch after a Freedom of Information Act request -- does appear to show the image of an aircraft's nose just before a fireball erupts within the walls of the Pentagon.

That image is distorted by speed, and the half-second time lapse of the video capture -- which, some will likely say, makes the image appear more like, well, a missile. Others, however -- including Judicial Watch -- say the newly-released video (available at the FMI link below) clearly proves it was an airliner that struck the Pentagon.

"We fought hard to obtain this video because we felt that it was very important to complete the public record with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton to Fox News. "Finally, we hope that this video will put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77. As always, our prayers remain with all those who suffered as a result of those murderous attacks."

Tom Bortner, who survived the attack on the Pentagon, says he thinks the speed the plane was traveling at when it struck the building made it impossible for security cameras to catch a better image of the airliner.

"I think it's conclusive that plane hit the Pentagon and I don't think the tape really adds or detracts from that," Bortner said.

The road to getting the tape released was not an easy one. According to the group, Judicial Watch first filed the FOIA request in December 15, 2004... "seeking all records pertaining to September 11, 2001 camera recordings of the Pentagon attack from the Sheraton National Hotel, the Nexcomm/Citgo gas station, Pentagon security cameras and the Virginia Department of Transportation." The Department of Defense admitted in a January 26, 2005 letter that it possessed a videotape responsive to Judicial Watch's request.

However, the Pentagon refused to release the videotape because it was, "part of an ongoing investigation involving Zacarias Moussaoui." Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on February 22, 2006 arguing that there was "no legal basis" for the Defense Department's refusal to release the tape.

The watchdog group then filed a lawsuit in February 2006, maintaining the government had "no legal basis" to withhold the tape. As the lawsuit was being debated, Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison -- removing the government's excuse for withholding the tape.



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