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On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda launched its four-plane air force against the United States. On board were its precision weapons: 19 suicidal hijackers. One of those planes, thanks to the resistance of its passengers, crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The other three hit their targets — the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. — with the kind of “precision” we now associate with the laser-guided weaponry of the U.S. Air Force.

From its opening salvo, in other words, this conflict has been an air war. With its 75% success rate, al-Qaeda’s 9/11 mission was a historic triumph, accurately striking three out of what assumedly were its four chosen targets. (Though no one knows just where that plane in Pennsylvania was heading, undoubtedly it was either the Capitol or the White House to complete the taking out of the icons of American financial, military, and political power.) In the process, almost 3,000 people who had no idea they were in the bombsights of an obscure movement on the other side of the planet were slaughtered.

It was a barbaric, if daring, plan and an atrocity of the first order. Almost 15 years later, such suicidal acts with similar “precision” weaponry (though without the air power component) continue to be unleashed across the Greater Middle East, Africa, and sometimes elsewhere, taking a terrible toll — from a soccer game in Iraq to a Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey (where the “weapon” may have been a boy).

The effect of the September 11th attacks was stunning. Though the phrase would have no resonance or meaning (other than in military circles) until the U.S. invasion of Iraq began a year and a half later, 9/11 qualifies as perhaps the most successful example of “shock and awe” imaginable. The attack was promptly encapsulated in screaming headlines as the “Pearl Harbor of the Twenty-First Century” or a “New Day of Infamy,” and the images of those towers crumbling in New York at what was almost instantly called “Ground Zero” (as if the city had experienced a nuclear strike) were replayed again and again to a stunned world. It was an experience that no one who lived through it was likely to forget.

In Washington, the vice president headed for a deep underground bunker; the secretary of defense, speaking to his aides at the damaged Pentagon, urged them to “Go Massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not” (the first hint of the coming decision to invade Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein); and the president, who was reading a children’s story, The Pet Goat, to a class of elementary school students in Sarasota, Florida, while the attacks took place, boarded Air Force One and promptly headed away from Washington. Soon enough, though, he would appear at Ground Zero, bullhorn in hand, and swear that “the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

Within days, he had announced a “war on terror.” And on October 7, 2011, less than a month after those attacks, the Bush administration would launch its own air war, dispatching B-2 Stealth bombers with satellite-guided precision weaponry from the U.S., as well as B-1 and B-52 long-range bombers from the British Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, supplemented by strike aircraft from two U.S. aircraft carriers, and about 50 Tomahawk Cruise missiles fired from ships. And this was just its initial air riposte to al-Qaeda (though the most significant parts of the attack were, in fact, aimed at taking out the Taliban regime that then controlled much of Afghanistan). By the end of December 2001, 17,500 bombs and other munitions had rained down on Afghanistan, 57% of which were reportedly “precision-guided” smart weapons. Released as well, however, were perfectly dumb bombs and cluster munitions filled with “soda can-like” bomblets which scatter over a wide area, don’t all explode on contact, and so remain around for civilians to mistakenly pick up.

If you really want to experience shock and awe, however, think about this: almost 15 years have passed and that air war has never ended. In Afghanistan, for instance, in just the first four years of the Obama administration (2009-2012), more than 18,000 munitions were released over the country. And this year, B-52s, those old Vietnam workhorses, retired for a decade in Afghanistan, took to the air again as U.S. air sorties there ramped up against surging Taliban and Islamic state militants.

And that’s just to begin to describe the never-ending nature of the American air war that has spread across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa in these years. In response to al-Qaeda’s brief set of air strikes against U.S. targets, Washington launched an air campaign that has yet to end, involving the use of hundreds of thousands of bombs and missiles, many of a “precision” sort but some as dumb as they come, against a growing array of enemies. Almost 15 years later, American bombs and missiles are now landing on targets in not one but seven largely Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen).

What are we to make of al-Qaeda’s and Washington’s “precision” air campaigns? Here are some thoughts:


1. Success and Failure: Without a hint of exaggeration, you could say that, at the cost of \$400,000 to \$500,000, al-Qaeda’s 9/11 air assault created Washington’s multi-trillion-dollar Global War on Terror. With a microscopic hijacked air force and a single morning’s air campaign, that group provoked an administration already dreaming of global domination into launching a worldwide air war (with a significant ground component) that would turn the Greater Middle East — then a relatively calm (if largely autocratic) region — into a morass of conflicts, failed or collapsed states, ruined cities, and refugees by the millions, in which extreme Islamic terror outfits now seem to sprout like so many mushrooms. This, you might say, was the brilliance of Osama bin Laden. Seldom has so little air power (or perhaps power of any sort) been leveraged quite so purposefully into such sweeping consequences. It may represent the most successful use of strategic bombing — that is, air power aimed at the civilian population of, and morale in, an enemy country — in history.

On the other hand, with only a slight hint of exaggeration, you might also conclude that seldom has an air campaign without end (almost 15 years and still expanding at the cost of untold billions of dollars) proven quite so unsuccessful. Put another way, you could perhaps conclude that, in these years, Washington has bombed and missiled a world of Islamist terror outfits into existence.

On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda was the most modest of forces with militant followers in perhaps the low thousands in Afghanistan and tiny numbers of scattered supporters elsewhere on the planet. Now, there are al-Qaeda spin-offs and wannabe outfits, often thriving, from Pakistan to Yemen, Syria to North Africa, and of course the Islamic State (ISIS), that self-proclaimed “caliphate” of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, still holds a sizeable chunk of territory in Iraq and Syria while its “brand” has spread to groups from Afghanistan to Libya.

Minimally, the U.S. air campaign, which has certainly killed enough terror leaders, “lieutenants,” “militants,” and others over these years, has shown no ability to halt the process and arguably has ploughed remarkably fertile ground for it. Yet in response to the next terror outrage (as in Libya recently), the bombs continue to fall. It’s a curious record in the generally disappointing annals of air power and well worth considering in more detail.

2. Bombs Away!: As 2015 ended, the rate of U.S. bomb and missile use over Iraq and Syria was so high that stockpiles of both were reportedly depleted. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh said, “We’re expending munitions faster than we can replenish them. B-1s have dropped bombs in record numbers… We need the funding in place to ensure we’re prepared for the long fight. This is a critical need.”

And this situation carried into 2016 as bombing runs over Syria and Iraq only seemed to rise. Even though both Boeing, which makes the Joint Direct Attack Munition, and Lockheed Hellfire, which produces the Hellfire missile (so crucial to Washington’s drone assassination campaigns across the Greater Middle East and Africa), significantly stepped up production of those weapons, there were still shortfalls.

Fears have risen that at some point there might not be enough munitions for the wars being fought, in part because of the expense involved in producing various kinds of precision weaponry.

The numbers associated with the U.S. air campaign that is the heart and soul of Operation Inherent Resolve, the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria begun in August 2014, are striking. As 2015 ended, scholar Micah Zenko estimated (based on figures released by U.S. Air Force Central Command) that 23,144 bombs and missiles had been dropped on both countries by the U.S. Air Force that year (and another 5,500 by coalition partners) in what he calls Washington’s “kill-’em-all with airstrikes” strategy — which, he adds, “is not working.” (In fact, studies of the “kingpin strategy” or “decapitation” as it’s sometimes known — attempts to destroy terror groups from the top down — indicate that it has had anything but the desired effect.)

In 2016, the weaponry-released-per-month figures are minimally keeping pace with 2015 — almost 13,400 for the U.S. and another nearly 4,000 for the rest of its air coalition through July. According to Pentagon figures, as of August, the U.S. had conducted 11,339 strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014 at a cost of \$8.4 billion to U.S. taxpayers.

No point in my boring you with the more modest figures for the bombing and missiling over so many years of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Just know this: America’s air war in the Greater Middle East and Africa is now deeply embedded in the lifeblood of our national capital. Just about every major candidate for that office this year (even Bernie Sanders) was in favor of the air war against ISIS and no future president could ground the drones that continue to carry out White House-supervised assassination campaigns across a significant swath of the planet. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are essentially committed to continuing the U.S. air war into the distant future.

Think of this as a form of success — not overseas, but at home. Bombs away is a triumphalist way of life in Washington and it hardly matters what those bombs do, or don’t do, on release over distant lands.

3. Barbarism and Civilization (or Their Precision and Ours): Al-Qaeda was quite precise in its assault on the American “homeland.” Its goal was clearly to take out both iconic structures and whoever might be in them. In the process, it clearly meant to horrify and provoke. On both counts, it was successful beyond what even its planners could have imagined. With perfect accuracy, the world branded this as barbarism of the first order.

Al-Qaeda’s “precision” tactics and those of its successor organizations from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to the Islamic State have not changed greatly over the years. Their precision weapons are sent into the heartlands of civilian life, as in that recent wedding ceremony in Turkey where a suicide bomber, possibly a boy outfitted with explosives, killed 54, including 22 children under 14, to create anger and outrage. The barbarity of this form of warfare is aimed, as ISIS says, at destroying the “gray zone” of our world, and creating instead an ever more us-vs.-them planet. At the same time, such attacks are meant to provoke the powers-that-be into striking back in ways that will create sympathy for ISIS in its world, as well as the kinds of conflict and chaos in which such organizations are likely, in the long run, to thrive. Osama bin Laden understood this early on. Others have grasped his point.


That, then, is their version of precision bombing, and if it isn’t the definition of barbarity, what is? But what about our version of — to use a word seldom applied to us — barbarity? Take the Bush administration’s official “shock and awe” air campaign that began the invasion of Iraq on March 19-20, 2003. It was to involve an overwhelming display of air power, including 50 “decapitation” strikes meant to take out top Iraqi leaders. In fact, not a single leader was touched. According to Human Rights Watch, those strikes instead killed “dozens of civilians.” In less than two weeks, at least 8,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles would be loosed on Iraq. Some, of course, missed their precise targets but killed civilians; some hit those targets in crowded urban areas or even villages and did the same. A small number of Tomahawk missiles, at a cost of \$750,000 apiece, among the more than 700 fired in those first weeks of war, would miss Iraq altogether and land in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

In those first weeks of war in which Baghdad was taken and the invasion declared a success,863 U.S. planes were committed to the operation, more than 24,000 air “sorties” were conducted and, by one estimate, more than 2,700 civilians died under them, or nearly a Twin-Towersful of Iraqi non-combatants. In the first six years of what would become an ongoing air war in Iraq, one study found that “46% of the victims of U.S. air strikes whose gender could be determined were female and 39% were children.”

Similarly, in December 2003, Human Rights Watch reported that American and British planes had dropped or artillery had fired “almost 13,000 cluster munitions, containing nearly 2 million submunitions, that killed or wounded more than 1,000 civilians.” And the likelihood was that more died from scattered, unexploded bomblets in the months or years thereafter, when stepped on or picked up by a curious child. In fact, the U.S. dropped cluster bombs in Afghanistan as well (with undoubtedly similar results), and in recent times has sold them to the Saudis for their profligate air campaign of slaughter in Yemen.

To grasp the dimensions of that 2003 air assault, consider the USS Abraham Lincoln, the aircraft carrier positioned off the coast of San Diego so that President George W. Bush could make a flamboyant landing on it that May 1st and, under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished,” declare that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended” and that the U.S. and its allies had “prevailed.” (No, it turned out, they hadn’t.) As it happened, that carrier had just returned from a 10-month deployment in the Persian Gulf during which its planes had flown some 16,500 missions and dropped approximately 1.6 million pounds of bombs. And that, of course, was just one part of the overall air campaign against Saddam Hussein’s forces.

That the Bush administration’s shock-and-awe strikes and the invasion/air war that followed were neither precise nor effective in the short or long run is now obvious. After all, American air power is still blasting away at Iraq today. The question is: Shouldn’t it be self-evident that an air war, which went on through at least 2010, was taken up again in 2014, has helped turn embattled Iraqi cities into rubble, and shows no sign of ending any time soon, is barbaric?

It’s clear that, while there is no way to adequately count all civilian casualties from America’s twenty-first-century air wars, “towers” of dead noncombatants have been piled atop one another in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. This next-to-eternal version of war, with all its destructiveness and “collateral damage” (which a few organizations have tried their best to document under difficult circumstances), should be the definition of state barbarism and terror in a world without mercy. That none of this has proven effective in the very terms that the bombers themselves set seems to matter little indeed.

Put in more graphic fashion, does anyone doubt that the Kurdish wedding slaughter (assumedly by an Islamic State suicide bomber) was a barbaric act? If not, then what are we to make of the eight documented cases — largely ignored in this country — in which U.S. air power eviscerated similar wedding parties in three countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen) between December 2001 and December 2013, killing almost 300 celebrants?

Of course, you already know the answer to that question. In our world, there is only one type of barbarism: theirs.

4. The Religious Roots of the Air Wars of (and on) Terror: Obviously, while there was a political aspect to al-Qaeda’s air war on America, there was also a deeply religious aspect to it. Hence, the ability to convince 19 men that self-immolation was a righteous way to go. Whether you call it jihad or fanaticism, at the heart of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks was a deep core of religiosity.

How then would you categorize an activity that repeatedly produces negative results and that a government nonetheless continues to engage in for 15 years with no end in sight? Let’s add that, in six of the seven countries the U.S. has bombed or missiled, its planes had full control of the air space from moment one, and in the seventh (Iraq), it took mere hours, or at most days, to establish it. In other words, during almost every second of this decade and a half of war, American pilots were in next to no danger in enemy skies — or, in the case of drone pilots thousands of miles away from their targets, none at all. They were, that is, in little less than godlike positions above those they were sent to kill, the — as drone pilots reportedly like to put it — “bug splat.”

How could that godlike sense of dominance not gain an almost religious intensity over that long decade and a half — even if the deity in question was of an imperial kind? That would undoubtedly hold, by the way, not just for the pilots pursuing the war, but for the generals planning and overseeing it, and the political leaders who ordered or endorsed it. That feeling of having so much uncontested power in one’s hands must induce an essentially religious sense of omniscience and potency, hard to resist even when the results prove so unsatisfying.

What we undoubtedly have in the American air war, as in al-Qaeda’s, is a deeply embedded belief system that no real world evidence seems capable of shaking. This is, in other words, an American form of jihad, which is why it shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

Washington’s Thirty Years’ War

A child born on September 11, 2001, is now only a couple of years away from being able to sign on as a pilot in the air wars that began just after her birth. There are reasonable odds that her child, born several years from now, might be entering junior high school when those conflicts officially become America’s Thirty Years’ War.


I can still remember first coming across that moniker for an endless set of forgotten European religious wars of the seventeenth century. I found the thought of such a long period of warfare almost unimaginable, not to say antediluvian, given the power of modern weaponry. Well, as the phrase goes, live and learn.

Perhaps this September 11th, it’s finally time for Americans to begin to focus on our endless air war in the Greater Middle East, our very own disastrous Fifteen Years’ War. Otherwise, the first explosions from the Thirty Years’ version of the same will be on the horizon before we know it in a world possibly more destabilized and terrorizing than we can at present imagine.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: 9/11, American Military 
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  1. woodNfish says:

    A child born on September 11, 2001, is now only a couple of years away from being able to sign on as a pilot in the air wars that began just after her birth.

    And she’ll be just as incompetent as most other women in any combat role. Stick that up your PC ass and suck on it Engelhardt, you relativist dipshit.

    • Agree: Jim Christian
    • Replies: @Boris Kazlov
  2. Rehmat says:

    PITY – When Yankees attacked Taliban on October 4, 2001, they couldn’t find a single military jet or a commercial plane defending Afghanistan. Why? Because Taliban had no tank, no jet, no helicopter, no ship, and no anti-aircraft defense system.

    But, kidos …… Al-Qaeda agents were so smart, they jammed F16s defense system on September 11, 2001 – crashed two jumbo passenger planes into WTC, and one into the Pentagon while missing the White House.

    Shame on CIA and Mossad – they could not even catch Al-Qaeda Founder/CEO Osama Bin Laden or his No.2 or No. 3 adviser Abu Zubaydah ……

    • Agree: Druid
  3. “With its 75% success rate, al-Qaeda’s 9/11 mission was a historic triumph, accurately striking three out of what assumedly were its four chosen targets.”

    It goes well beyond that … the engineering behind knowing where to put the aircraft into the two towers so that the floors supporting a sizeable number of the top-most floors would fail, allowing the top-most to come crashing down on all below, pancaking them into dust, is simply amazing.

    But the thing that puzzles me is that anyone, except for die-hard finance weenies, who has worked in NYC for more than a few years is rarely in the office before 9am … at least I rarely was, even when working on the Street (actually WFC, but who outside NYC knows WTF that is?). If the strikes at the WTC had come one hour later, the death toll would have been far higher.

    Pondering these two points, it is hard to resist the siren-song of the Truthers. Were the Jihadis actually capable of such engineering prowess, or was some larger group with far more engineering and computing power behind the scenes working out the best way to drop the towers? And were the towers taken out before the mass of people had arrived at the office … in other words, kill enough to piss-off the average american, but not so many that we’d have to go straight to nuclear … by plan?

    Engelhardt kind of makes his point: The Jihadis got more bang for their buck, but the Neocons have certainly gotten a lot more bucks for their bang.

    • Replies: @Seoulsurvivor
    , @artichoke
  4. Druid says:

    It was a bloody inside Ziocon job!

  5. Bowman says:

    The rebuilding of schools in this country could occur if we would stop the fetish of airpower.
    At some point, and I think we are there, bombing swaths of desert and mountain peasants becomes costly and insane.

  6. War, war, war = profits, profits, profits for the elites, jobs, jobs, jobs for the commoners whose civilian infrastructure work was shipped overseas, because the sure vigourish of financialism is superior to the risks of loaning money for manufacturing. War is a surefire income stream, because bombs and weaponry need to be replaced immediately, the worse the conflicts get.

  7. @The Alarmist

    “Neocons have certainly gotten a lot more bucks for their bang”

    Well put.

    • Replies: @Roberto
  8. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    This article does not do a service to the public, inasmuch as it swallows, hook, line, and sinker the official story that it was a few Arabs who couldn’t fly a Cessna properly and were directed from a cave in Afghanistan who effectively stymied the entire defense apparatus of the US. What utter nonsense! There is now a library of superb information enough to show anyone with an IQ above the room temperature that the entire business was an inside job, that the towers came down with controlled demolition, etc., etc. etc. Englehardt doubtless knows all this perfectly well. He just doesn’t seem to have the guts to face it or report it–or perhaps he and his family have been threatened. Whatever. His take on the event is tripe. For starters, one can go back and read the articles Paul Craig Roberts has written–usually on Sept. 11–over the last 5 or so years. For an excellent–and funny–video on the absurdity of the official narrative see James Corbett’s:

    9/11 – The Truth In 5 Minutes – James Corbett

    The Saker has promised an upcoming analysis of the current state of the 911 Truth movement. Meanwhile he’s posted an interview by Lars Schall on 911 insider trading.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  9. dahoit says:

    I do not believe the story of Fl93 one bit.They found the tail a half mile from the fuselage.It was shot down by US,but we let the terrorists be the fall guys,as it looks far better that the passengers killed themselves rather than our actual missiles,which of course might(I say might)have brought a little blame on the angelic heads of the shrub and cheney.Instead they were made heroes, the zeros who let America down on their watch.
    Why wouldn’t they let the MSM at the site?(not that they cared for the truth)
    A comedy from zion.

  10. This article is excellent but no wonder there is so much bogus journalism; no matter what a person writes, people will get it wrong, so why bother even writing at all?

    For instance, we have people here whinging about the comment regarding female pilots as if the author was promoting the practice when in fact he was emphasizing the really obvious point that the stupid wars have been going on for practically ever.

    I commend Mr. Engelhardt for his persistence in the unthankful, Sisyphian task of stating the truth.

    Well done.

  11. anon • Disclaimer says:

    No, this:

    “On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda launched its four-plane air force against the United States. On board were its precision weapons: 19 suicidal hijackers. One of those planes, thanks to the resistance of its passengers, crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The other three hit their targets — the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. — with the kind of “precision” we now associate with the laser-guided weaponry of the U.S. Air Force.”

    is not the truth. It’s nonsense. Mr. Engelhardt doesn’t have to be Sisyphus for this tripe.

    Try this instead:

  12. artichoke says:
    @The Alarmist

    As a truther and an engineer, it’s clear that what brought the buildings down was competently executed demolition, not some result of a fire within the structure from burning jet fuel and office furnishings.

    Since the article mentions planes hitting the buildings, it’s irresponsible to leave this point out.

    I am not going to give a coherent explanation, a “conspiracy theory”, for all that happened and why. I don’t know all that. But what I say above is accurate and must be a part of any coherent explanation.

  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The purported cell phone calls made from the hijacked planes on 9/11 have been proven to have been impossible:

  14. @artichoke

    The story of 911 is fantastic (as in fantasy), but it is not nearly as fantastic as the JFK magic bullet. Was JFK killed in a murder-conspiracy by the deep state? You bet. My money is on the life-long supporters of LBJ, Kellog Brown Root, who went in to make tons of money as LBJ escalated Vietnam.

    Was 911 a conspiracy? Perhaps. The story of how the planes brought down the towers is plausible (I was an engineer before I was a banker … thank you H1Bs for pushing me out of a good paying job and into one that paid buckets of money), but Occam’s razor actually supports the proposition that a far larger group with more resources had more likelihood to successfully bring down the Towers than a bunch of misfit jihadis. Nevertheless, the planes and their burning fuel would have been enough to take out the centre columns; The floors were stressed to the centre column of the building, not the exterior curtain, and at the right height on the towers, taking out the sole support, the upper floors would have fallen into the hole in the centre column with enough force to pancake all the floors below.

  15. Cui bono and follow the money are pithy phrases related to discovering motive in crime. Let’s see now…

  16. @artichoke

    BTW, the planes and their fuel might be a plausible explanation for WTC 1 & 2, but the strongest argument in favour of the Truther movement is WTC 7. There is a distinct possibility that controlled demolition was in play in all three towers, and the planes were merely window dressing. You might say they learned something from previous fantastic scenarios like JFK.

  17. Alfred says:

    Never read so much nonsense. Please stop pretending that the Saudis did it or some guy in a cave. It was a home-made project with ample assistance of the Israelis. The Saudis provided the stooges – who were mostly in the pay of the Americans in any case.

    It took months of work to lay the charges in the THREE buildings

  18. unit472 says:

    The Mohammedan has always been fascinated with aviation. Palestinian terrorists in the 70’s saw how the airline hijackings to Cuba dominated US TV news and began their own series of hijackings and airport attacks.When suicide bombings began in earnest it was inevitable that some Islamic group would see the possibilities of creating the terrorist ‘kamikaze’.

    That airlines and our intelligence agencies didn’t anticipate this was a major lapse especially after the earlier bombing of the WTC.

  19. @The Alarmist

    Nevertheless, the planes and their burning fuel would have been enough to take out the centre columns;

    That has to be baloney.

    If the claim is accurate, then why is the Empire State building still standing after accidentally being hit by a gasoline laden bomber?

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    , @artichoke
  20. @Jacques Sheete

    “If the claim is accurate, then why is the Empire State building still standing after accidentally being hit by a gasoline laden bomber?”

    You are kidding, right? A B-25 with a MTOW of 16,000 kg, of which only 2,500 to 3,000 was Avgas (much more volatile … vapourises almost immediately, and would make a pretty fireball) strikes a concrete-facade building based on a re-inforced steel frame throughout is hardly a reasonable comparison to a 767 with a MTOW of 180,000 kg, of which perhaps 30,000kg was kerosene-like jet fuel (some vapourised to make a pretty fireball, but a lot sloshed around inside the building to continue burning) that smashes through a light steel and glass facade at perhaps twice the velocity.

    • Replies: @NoseytheDuke
    , @cooltemp
  21. artichoke says:
    @Jacques Sheete

    Correct, Alarmist is pushing some nonsense here. Can’t disprove his claim to have been an engineer, but no way is he right about the Tower 1 and 2 collapses.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  22. utu says:

    Mr. TOM ENGELHARDT, what have you been doing for last 15 years? Whole article on 9/11 15 years later and not a single mention to a possibility that 9/11 was a false flag?

  23. Few Americans realize that American aircraft bombings continue everyday, just like a business, even if no good targets are known. They just bomb “something”, it’s their job. Read their daily press release:

    September 9: Military airstrikes continue against ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq

    September 9, 2016
    Release # 20160909-01

    SOUTHWEST ASIA – On Sept. 8, coalition military forces conducted 14 strikes against ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq. In Syria, coalition military forces conducted nine strikes using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL targets. Additionally in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted five strikes coordinated with and in support of the Government of Iraq using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL targets.

    From my blog:

    Nov 3, 2015 – Bombs Away Forever!

    A great story about wasting billions of dollars each year to kill dozens Iraqi and Syrian civilians each day is this recent “60 Minutes” episode.

    Thousands of analysts try to find “targets” each day, then mad bombers fly at a cost of millions of dollars each day to bomb a few buildings or a sniper. Each strike must kill several innocents, but they don’t know or care, they are having great fun flying “combat” missions. The bomb video they show was their best result that month, but they don’t show the other 99% where they blow up a building and aren’t sure if it did any good, or who they hit. Even if no civilians are killed, each building destroyed had a purpose: housing, warehouse, pharmacy, store. Each owner and his family had their livelihood destroyed, and locals lose jobs and income. Power, sewer, and water lines, sidewalks and roads are damaged while everyone for miles is traumatized. The USAF may have killed more Syrians than ISIS this past year! It certainly destroyed far more property.

    Note the General says they have plenty of airpower, which kills the current spin that we could win if we just bombed more. They are scheduled to fly a dozen missions each day, and analysts must provide a target list each day or they will be accused of incompetence and punished, and replaced with someone who will provide a daily target list. This is great fun for military officers and provides billions of dollars in easy profits for certain people. They could do this for years!

    All this bombing provides new recruits for anti-American elements because only genocidal heathens would blow up a dozen of buildings each day killing dozens of Iraqi and Syrian civilians, each day. To claim that of the thousands of bombs dropped so far, only five innocents were killed, is ludicrous. This is one reason the new Iraqi Army refuses to fight for their American warlords.

    This reminds me of a 1984 passage from the late Col. Fletcher Prouty USAF:

    ” …we must understand that it has become the objective of ‘low intensity conflict’ to continue the wasting of money, the pointless killing of defenseless people, and the consumption or attrition of costly war materiel to make way for the procurement of more. ‘Low-intensity conflict’ is a way in which the hundreds of billions of dollars of armaments produced each year can be used, destroyed, and wasted this year in order that more may be procured and used next year.”

    • Replies: @JVC
  24. why do people call others who don’t believe in the official 911 narrative truthers?

    is that suppose to make the bubble you live in better? safer?

    are you all that afraid?

    • Replies: @artichoke
  25. artichoke says:
    @Astuteobservor II

    We should all be “truthers”, interested in the truth.

    I see some new disinfo was added to the narrative, to celebrate the 15th anniversary. Those supposed letters Bush wrote on the plane, or transcript of what he said, when he was flying away to safety somewhere other than DC (even though DC was not under attack.)

    Recall that Bush grounded the Air Force, without which the airplane strikes to the towers would have been impossible. Those heavy jets would have been intercepted before they got out of Massachusetts airspace, by swarms of F-16’s and more.

    Recall that Bush was reading “My Pet Goat” to some elementary school children, and didn’t even interrupt himself when an aide told him what was going on. He probably already knew, because there are reports that he watched video of the first plane strike on some proprietary channel, before going in to read to the kids.

  26. Art says:

    In fact, the U.S. dropped cluster bombs in Afghanistan as well (with undoubtedly similar results), and in recent times has sold them to the Saudis for their profligate air campaign of slaughter in Yemen.

    Rand Paul – god bless!

  27. Max Payne says:

    Almost 15 years later, American bombs and missiles are now landing on targets in not one but seven largely Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen).

    When are we going to start bombing the right Arabs? You know… the ones in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar…

    Israel needs to drop a nuke on Mecca and Medina… but I get a feeling Israel and the GCC are ass-to-mouth buddies now.

    A small number of Tomahawk missiles, at a cost of \$750,000 apiece, among the more than 700 fired in those first weeks of war, would miss Iraq altogether and land in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

    Six tomahawks crashed into Pakistan during strikes on Afghanistan in ’01. Apparently a couple were sold to the Chinese and it inspired the development of the Babur cruise missile which seems to be just a high-copy of the Tomahawk.

    Given time maybe enough shit will fall out of the sky to give all those countries some form of high-tech weaponry (Iran and the RQ-170, China and the forced landing of the EP-3, stealth paint of the F-117 shot down in Serbia, etc.)

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  28. TG says:

    Very clever – yes, the hijacked airliners on 9/11 were indeed ‘precision weapons.’

    I suggest that we are to blame. If we keep voting for blood-soaked monsters joined at the hip to Wall Street like Hillary Clinton, and refuse to vote for at least not crazed warmongers like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan etc., because Clinton is ‘experienced’ and ‘serious’, well, what can you say.

    Trump is hardly the first candidate to oppose our insane incoherent warmongering, but, in a strange twist, his very outrageousness is the one thing that gives him a chance against a totally biased press that has gotten used to slanders and media blackouts destroying non-establishment candidates. Will the oligarchy win yet again, or will Trump pull off an upset? Stay tuned.

    It’s an old joke that the big problem with Democracy is that the people get the government they deserve…

  29. @Max Payne

    “When are we going to start bombing the right Arabs? You know… the ones in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar…”

    You mean the ones who are seen holding hands of or receiving bows from the POTUS? The ones who have bought and paid for our government?

    Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

    There is only one dog in this hunt who doesn’t seem to owe his allegiance to places in that region.

  30. @artichoke

    The only thing I have asserted is that the official story for Towers 1&2 is plausible. I have not challenged your pet theory, and I have acknowledged that Tower 7 is a damning testimony in support of the Truther cause.

    The only reason I shoot back here is that you refuse to admit that 150k to 180k of molten metal mass shooting through the central part of the towers would not have been enough to compromise the bulk of the relevant structure that was then subjected to an hour of high-intensity heat from continuing burn from the remainder of the Jet-A and the parts of the structure that had been ignited. To be frank, the Truther story around all of this, that the official story is impossible, is delusional. Assuming that a broader conspiracy was indeed in play, the engineering was indeed remarkable.

    While it is less likely that Osama and gang had worked this out for themselves, they had a connection to construction and engineering that would mean that they had a non-trivial possibility of a capability to do so.

    Even if the official story is questionable, in the case of Towers 1 & 2 it is nevertheless plausible.

  31. JVC says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    your post pretty much nails it—someone always benefits from war, most often making profits on sales to both sides, and a war without end is the wet dream of that ruling Military/industrial/security/government complex.

  32. artichoke says:
    @The Alarmist

    I’ve seen calculations that the heat generated would not have been enough to melt all the interior metal structure.

    Even if it were, the buildings would have sagged in the middle, or almost surely fallen in an uneven way. The probability that they would each collapse neatly into their own footprint in this way, save for a dust cloud around the collapse, with the perfectly symmetrical pancaking we saw, is effectively zero.

    However the squibs are consistent with the obvious story that, just like every other building that’s fallen that way in human history, these were professionally demolished.

  33. … a world possibly more destabilized and terrorizing than we can at present imagine.

    What I can’t imagine is avoiding it.

  34. @woodNfish

    This article is total bullshit, it buys the official explanation of 9/11: “BinLaden did it”

    • Replies: @woodNfish
  35. @The Alarmist

    Not plausible, but more credible. There are lots of studies that demonstrate that the heat produced by that fire could not possibly melt all the steel colums and core to produce a collapse at free fall speed. But, of course, the populace will resist the idea that ‘their government’ was complicit. Regarding bldg. 7, even the most carefully engineered deception plans like this one, have gaping holes.

  36. @The Alarmist

    Utter nonsense! Had the floors pancaked there would have still been thick steel vertical columns left standing and it is very unlikely that the whole combination would have collapsed evenly all the way to the ground. Newton’s Laws are not referred to as such because they are mere theories.

    Occam’s Razor only applies where there is a sincere effort to explain an occurrence, not when there is a concerted effort to disguise the truth by disposing and withholding of evidence and by establishing a vast body of disinformation.

    If you are sincere, study more. If you are just a troll trying to obfuscate matters for idealogical reasons then by all means carry on, you merely identify yourself as such.

  37. @The Alarmist

    The architects of WTC 1 & 2 have stated that the buildings were designed to withstand impacts from a 707 weighing 50% more than the planes that hit on 9/11 and carrying 50% more fuel.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  38. @Anon

    “There is now a library of superb information enough to show anyone with an IQ above the room temperature…” Sorry, is that Celsius or Fahrenheit ?

  39. @The Alarmist

    “While it is less likely that Osama and gang had worked this out for themselves, they had a connection to construction and engineering that would mean that they had a non-trivial possibility of a capability to do so.”
    There is no reason (assuming the official story) that Osama etc were motivated by any plan OTHER than to smash planes into WTC. Actually bringing the buildings down–as THE motivation– seems a little optimistic even for a deluded Wanker like Osama.
    I suspect (again, ASSUMING the official story) that Osama was successful — LUCKY — beyond his vile little dreams.

  40. woodNfish says:
    @Boris Kazlov

    I’m on the sidelines with that one because I don’t see the benefit of destroying downtown NYC and murdering 3000+ innocent people. I’m not saying you are wrong, just that I don’t see how anyone benefits or could live with that on their conscience. It is too big a conspiracy to keep secret.

  41. @NoseytheDuke

    The heaviest 707 had a MTOW of circa 150,000 kg, but I will grant that it could carry roughly the same fuel payload. On a good day burning water it might get enough speed to do some damage.

    As for the architects modelling, there are things they probably didn’t think of, like what happens when powdered aluminum (the wings and tail being ripped to confetti as they pass through the steel facade beams) is introduced into the fire (A: it burns hotter), while the fuselage and engines become a shaped projectile that strips away any foam protection of the centre column and severely compromises its integrity.

    Here’s a fun fact for all you conspiracy buffs: Burn aluminum and iron oxide (rust from steel) together and you get traces of thermite all over the place.

    • Replies: @NoseytheDuke
  42. @The Alarmist

    Impact speed would be low in either case due to the very low altitude. Shredded aluminium dispersed with fuel and steel beams is NOT the same as thermite which is milled to minute particles and evenly mixed with ferrous oxide to a very precise degree. The straight down collapses that occurred each required that the (47) thick, steel support columns would need to all fail at the exact same time all the way down which is beyond unlikely and more likely impossible under the scenario that you’ve described.

    You claim to be an engineer so you should surely know this. Any decent person who cares about the American nation and its people should be demanding an open and independent investigation not making pathetic excuses for how the impossible happened on three occasions and all within a few hours of each other. Only a traitor or a fool would do that.

  43. @NoseytheDuke

    You need to watch the videos again … the towers did not collapse straight down into their footprint, and one did distinctly tilt as it collapsed. The impossible you describe didn’t happen.

    As for the aluminum, it was merely an additional fuel. But burning it in the presence of ferric oxide under non-normal temperature and pressure would likely give indicators that would suggest thermite was present.

  44. @NoseytheDuke

    “Any decent person who cares about the American nation and its people should be demanding an open and independent investigation not making pathetic excuses for how the impossible happened on three occasions and all within a few hours of each other. Only a traitor or a fool would do that.”

    Any decent person convinced his government is so evil as to murder three thousand innocents of its own people would be rounding up as many like-minded people to March (peacefully) on DC and demand an American Spring instead of playing keyboard kommando esposusing dubious physics.

    You could start by relearning how gravity works on a mass that is perched on a unstable balance point and tell me why it dropping to one side would create enough centrifugal force to overcome gravity pulling it straight down, especially with the remaining centre columns working against any net centrifugal force it might have as it pivots. So the top floors drop on the lower, mostly straight down … Because Gravity! … That’s how things fall on earth unless there is some other force vector at work, with some minor torquing due to Coriolis force, but yes, pulling the centre of mass mostly straight down unless it was outside the body (I defy you to show me how the CG of the top floors was outside the body of the top floors as they rotated around what was left of the centre, but I suppose it is possible),. And given the relatively small mass of the top floors compared to the rest of the tower, it would be unlikely they would torque the whole tower over like one pictures a falling tree.

    BTW, ever wonder why so many people drop trees on their own houses? A: Poor understanding of mechanics.

    A lot of the structure fell into its footprint, but a lot didn’t, as it wiped out my old office across the street along with a few places I used to grab lunch and the bar where we went to do karaoke, so I can dispute your claim of the impossible.

  45. cooltemp says:
    @The Alarmist

    Thanks you for clarifying the difference between the aircraft, fuel and buildings. This information has been common knowledge but some people are so simple minded that they still think the manned moon missions were faked.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  46. cooltemp says:
    @The Alarmist

    Building 7, like many high rise towers in the financial district contained in their core a network of steel pipe risers for the distribution of #2 fuel oil between the fuel tanks located at the penthouse mechanical floors and generators at various lower levels for their uninterruptable power supply. In the event of the loss of electricity from the main grid, the generators would be used to supply power to the building. With the deaths of almost 500 hundred firefighters, nearly 150 police officers, scores of fire trucks and emergency vehicles crushed by falling debris and the subsequent chaos and destruction that prevailed in lower Manhattan, wouldn’t it be more plausible that the fires raging through building 7 were just too overwhelming and resulted in its collapse instead of a bunch of covert operatives laying demolition charges through out the building unobserved by anyone?

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  47. @cooltemp

    I started out positing that the official story might be plausible, but the Truthers don’t even want to concede that much. I’m of the opinion that the US govt was embarrassed by its paymasters, the Saudi Arabians, and went into overdrive to cover up a lot of unpleasant truths that were on its radar but went unaddressed. Yes, I know, that might also be part of a cover story for a greater conspiracy.

    But the point I made above is critical … if the US govt is as evil as the Truthers would have us believe, then there is no point calling for yet another investigation that will be led by, manipulated, and stonewalled by that same govt, so they are full of hot air. It is particularly annoying to have one call you a traitor for accepting the official story in part or in whole, but never accept that they might be a traitor for not acting on the serious allegations of treason that they make about a giant government conspiracy. Like I said, they should be sitting on the Mall or in Dupont circle and peacefully calling for regime change if they are really so sure.

  48. @cooltemp

    “… they still think the manned moon missions were faked.”

    Are you telling me they were real ;o

  49. Christo says:

    Sorry , ZOG/Bush Jr. attacked Iraq first(when it was already 1/2 occupied or controlled by US forces from the 1991 attack-which got 3 of my comrades killed for nothing/Israel) and did not attack AfPak till a year or two later.

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