9 - 1 1 R e s e a r c h essays
EDITOR'S NOTE: A more recent revision of this essay is available on questionsquestions.net.

A Critical Review of WTC "No Plane" Theories

by Eric Salter

28 September 2005

With the amount of attention that the Pentagon no-plane theories have received, it shouldn't be surprising that some would also make the bizarre claim that no 767s hit the World Trade Center, despite voluminous video and photographic evidence to the contrary. My previous articles dealt with the core of these theories at length. These articles were lengthy, so the purpose of this summary is to provide a somewhat condensed and updated summary for those new to the subject or lacking in the time to delve into the details of the image analysis.

There are 2 versions of the no-plane arguments: The first, that small planes or missiles hit the towers and these were covered over in the videos and photos of the impact by 3D graphic images of 767s. The other argument made is that the planes (at least the second plane) was in fact a hologram generated by classified technology. The proponents argue that visual "anomalies" indicate the fraudulent nature of the holographic or computer 767-in the case of the second hit-and show that the plane in the Naudet video of the first hit was not the size or shape of a 767.

The over arching weakness of the media overlay argument is this: how could the perpetrators have ensured control over all the images taken of the planes that approached the WTC? Only one good image posted to the web would have threatened the exposure of the operation. New York is a media capital of the world, with both national networks, local network and independent TV stations, and international media bureaus, and many independent video companies like the kinds I've worked for, and professional photographers. Professionals would have been rushing out to document whatever they could, through professional pride or the hope for making a buck off it. Evan Fairbanks and war photographer James Nachtway are some examples. And then there are also cameras in the possession of ordinary citizens and the thousands of New York's ever-present tourists. The following 3D relief diagram from "One Nation" shows how many vantage points were available to capture the approach of flight 175:

The plane would have been clearly visible over most of the southern tip of Manhattan, from the streets in a wide area of shorter buildings just south of the towers, the majority of the southern and eastern facing windows of the buildings south of the towers ( such as this photo from hereisnewyork.org), the rooftops of those buildings, the Manhattan and Jersey shorelines along the Hudson, any boats on the water and Ellis Island, where camera toting tourists visit the Statue of Liberty. Moreover, since the plane, hitting at floors 77-85, was above most of the tall buildings on the East side, the plane was visible from higher vantage points all over midtown and Brooklyn.

What we have of images of flight 175 from 9/11 is exactly what we would expect: a great variety of still and moving images from a variety of angles from near and far and from mainstream media down to amateurs. There are absolutely no images of missiles or small planes. So, were these photographers and videographers all agents? There has been no research into their backgrounds. If they weren't, then what was the chain of custody of the tape before being aired? Was the allegedly modified footage the original or a duplicate of the original (as one would expect) supplied by the videographer? Who now has the original? If the photographer has the original, then are we to believe he or she does not care that their image showed something different than was on TV? None of these questions are answered. The default explanation, and the only answer possible, is the bug-eyed assertion that somehow the perps of 9/11 controlled all the cameras in NY on 9/11.

Perhaps, like the movie "Minority Report", they had pre-cogs who intuited exactly where each and every person videotaping the plane would be standing.

In reality, the perpetrators would have found out about each image only after the image appeared on the web or in the media. And then it would have been too late to alter the image. The media overlay theory, in the case of flight 175, is utterly absurd.

That leaves the hologram theory and the claim that the plane in the Naudet footage is not a 767.

The plane the Naudet footage of the first hit is not immediately recognizable as a 767. The reason for this is simple: the plane is very small and the footage is out of focus, as one can see about 10 seconds after impact when the camera briefly zooms all the way in to the tower. It was adjusted for the firemen 10 or 20 feet away. But even if it was in focus, an object as small as the plane was in that footage would still not have been very clear, because, in my experience, video is not perfectly sharp down to the individual pixels, the square or rectangular blocks that make up digital images. The plane in the Naudet video occupied a space only about 20 by 20 pixels, not enough to show much detail even if the video were in focus. You might as well try to duplicate Michelangelo's "David" using bricks. The claim that the video should have clearly shown a 767 is an amateur argument born out of a lack of understanding of how resolution affects the clarity of that image. And this misunderstanding continues, at least in the case of Gerard Holmgren, more than a year later.

Compounding the misinterpretations due to blurry footage, the no-planers were originally using a half size, compressed mpeg movie to conduct their analysis. Moreover, Webfairy performed processing on this low quality movie which created even more degraded images, aptly described by Mark Bilk as "abstract video art." The no-planers, not knowing what full quality video was or what compression artifacts were, claimed these muddy, altered images were proof of the absence of a real plane.

In reality, what can be seen in the unsullied Naudet footage shows what a 767 should look like at that small resolution.

The object clearly does have wings, a fuselage and a tail, ruling out the absurd missile hypothesis.

The fuselage, as best can be ascertained in the blurry footage, is roughly the expected length of a 767.

The shadow of the plane, as seen below, tells us several things:
•this is an airplane, with a fuselage and wings.
•the wingspan is about 75% of the width of the WTC, the expected size of a 767.
•the wings are clearly swept back, refuting the claim that the wings extend straight out from the fuselage.

It should be noted that the magnified images of the Naudet video have been subjected to "smoothing" to blend the information between pixels, making it seem like there is more detail in the enlargements then there really is. This may contribute to the impression that a 767 should be more discernible. Scaling without smoothing shows the true lack of detail available to show the plane:

Markus Icke makes a more subtle argument regarding the Naudet video. In his article " The X-11 drone" he claims that it is in fact a large plane but that it doesn't have wing mounted engines and has wings that are not swept back like a 767. His articles on the WTC1 hit show more sophistication than some of the other no-planers and he has at least been able to grasp the technical issues appropriate to video analysis, after some earlier mistakes. However, beneath the glossy facade are technical and logical errors..

The stumbling block for Icke's argument is the dark circular shape to the right of the fuselage, which is darker, thicker and stubbier than the left wing. This doesn't fit with his argument for an airplane without wing mounted engines. At the angle of view, the right wing should be thinner and less visible than the left wing. Icke's first attempt to deal with this shape was to simply ignore it and leave it off the model of his "X-11", while claiming there was "not enough evidence" to speculate on what it could be. It didn't need evidence to be considered: it was the evidence. And what it was evidence for was a wing mounted engine. The following graphic shows how the right engine and wing root of a clear 767 image, when blurred like the Naudet video, form a circular blob exactly like that in the Naudet video:

Icke continued to struggle with this shape in his most recent article, claiming that it was possibly the inside of the right wing or some large unexplained object. Both claims are easily dismissed. The shape is too big to be the inner part of the wing alone and a large object mounted on the wing on just one side of the airplane would cause the plane to be unstable and presumably not capable of flight (and that leaves out explaining the purpose of this large object). The arrangements of shapes on the plane in the Naudet footage can only be reasonably explained by wing-mounted engines, and analysis that can be repeated using any similar plane at a similar angle, such as one provided by Gerard Holmgren.

The common misperception that the plane in the Naudet video had wings more perpendicular to the fuselage that a 767 comes from mistaking the right engine for the right wing.

In his latest article Icke has created a 3D rendering of a 767 approaching a model of the WTC that looks different from the Naudet footage. He claims this proves the plane in the Naudet video could not have been a 767. The program Icke used to make the 3D graphics, Flight Simulator comes nowhere close to being capable of creating photo realistic lighting. It doesn't even generate shadows cast by objects in the scene (such as the shadow of the wings onto the engine mounts), let alone reflections, indirect reflected illumination (radiosity), or atmospheric haze. These properties are crucial to creating a useful diagnostic image. In real life the surrounding environment is going to be reflected on the metallic body of the fuselage. The more the tone and color of the plane match the brightness and color of the background, the more it is going to blend with that background-especially when blurred-making the fuselage less prominent.

(It should be noted that Holmgren, in a recent interview with David West, named Flight Simulator as the software used to create the media overlays.)

Additionally, Icke's model is misaligned. The tail is rotated up and to the right, away from the camera, compared to the Naudet footage. This makes the fuselage of his model less foreshortened by perspective, making it appear longer than what we see in the Naudet video. Icke's model is misaligned because he believes that the plane approached the WTC in a path directly perpendicular to the wall. In fact, the plane was approaching from the left: the shadow of the right wing tip is the last piece of shadow of the plane that is visible, indicating a non-perpendicular approach. Icke has consistently ignored this evidence.

The tail is the same size in both the Naudet video and Icke's graphic. This further supports the conclusion that it is in fact the same plane in both images and that the differences are due to foreshortening and lighting.

None of the arguments against a 767 can adequately explain how a hole in the building was created that fits a 767 perfectly, including widening of the hole where the engines were located. Here is a 767-200 diagram (with the wings tilted upwards 3 degrees to simulate flexing due to aerodynamic lift (aeronautic experts will have to determine the exact amount of flexing), sized to 75% of the width of the WTC and rotated to fit over the hole in WTC1:

The diagram from the NIST report shows the same alignment:

No other plane fits the hole as precisely as a 767, down to the narrow grooves created by the wings on either side of the impact hole, especially visible on the right. Attempts at overlaying diagrams by no-plane advocates such as Stefan Grossmann and the German Engineers are incompetent at best, using inaccurate diagrams of 767s, aligning those diagrams incorrectly and/or using photographs from angles that appear to show debris where the engine holes should be.

Combined with the certainty that the large plane in the Naudet video has wing mounted engines, there is absolutely no rational reason to bother with considering planes other than a 767. Substituting another airliner with wing mounted engines gains the perpetrators nothing but the risk of exposure. Could it be a 767 other than flight 11? Possibly, but there is no physical evidence to prove that substitution. The claim that flight 175 was a windowless 767 tanker are baseless.

Holograms

Unlike the first hit, the multiple videos and photographs of the second hit clearly show a 767. So the no-planers are forced to claim that either all of these videos were faked or that what was actually seen was a hologram created with classified, unacknowledged technology. Why the perps would resort to this when there was no technical obstacle to flying a plane into a building is not credibly explained.

The hologram theory is more plausible than the media overlay theory. That's not saying much, but at least it doesn't depend on tens of thousands of eyewitnesses looking the other way at the crucial moment to avoid seeing a missile or small plane. But it's still a non-starter. What a genius idea for a theory of 9/11: It is based on a technology that is not acknowledged and not even accepted as possible by a majority of the world's scientists. One could spend years just trying to hash through the conflicting opinions of "experts" about the nature of the technology and the lay audience-nearly everyone else-will never have the technical knowledge to decide who to believe. That would be a really great way to spend the next decade. (I happen to believe the technology might exist, but even that qualified belief is a product of years of reading about these kind of things)

The hologram advocates point out series of purported visual anomalies in the shape of the plane. Why the shape of the plane would be so misshapen when more complicated and detailed aspects of the illusion, such as condensation of water vapor above the wing or reflections on the plane's fuselage, are handled perfectly is not explained. Why the perps would use a misshapen model, or even resort to such an unstable technology in the first place are also not explained. Again, there were no technical obstacles to flying a real plane into the building.

Not surprisingly, the anomalies turn out, again, to be amateur image analysis mistakes.

The observation of wings "flickering" on and off is good example. These "flickering wings" only occur in the poorer quality video in which the brightness of the wing closely matches that of the background. What is happening is simple: noise and compression artifacts blur what little visual data there is of the edge of the wing. The wing then becomes indistinguishable from the background in that frame, hence the "disappearing wing" anomaly. Whether it happens or not in a particular frame is determined by random dispersal of noise and compression artifacts. Stepping back from the technical analysis, the flickering wing claim itself is fundamentally illogical. Other video angles show no flickering wing, undercutting the idea that the hologram was malfunctioning. And flickering like this simply does not happen in 3D animation unless the artist programs it to happen, thus eliminating the media overlay hypothesis.

Markus Icke's argues that the plane was misshapen, with a "port-wing anomaly" that resulted in a droopy left wing. This argument arises from the fact that he used two images that had differing aspect ratios: one was stretched vertically compared to the other, creating a difference in their shapes. When this is corrected, the "port wing anomaly" disappears.

In just two videos, the Park Foreman footage and the CNN Battery Park footage, we can see detailed, realistic phenomenon occurring: the shadow of the smoke cloud, the reflection of the ground below on the bottom of the plane, water vapor condensing above the wings. In addition, the plane matches the motion of the cameras perfectly and disappears cleanly behind buildings. Yet the no-planers contend the shape of the plane is distorted, meaning the perps used a misshapen model, something that in the world of digital imaging can only happen on purpose. This is grossly illogical.

The appearance of the 767 "melting" into the WTC is also cited as evidence of a holographic fraud. But we know from a test run by Sandia Labs that a high speed impact will virtually vaporize a plane, reducing it to small pieces of confetti. The speed of flight 175 was estimated at 500-590 m.p.h. by the NIST report. At that speed, only two things would have happened. If the wall was not penetrated the plane would have been smashed into confetti, like the F4 in the Sandia test, effectively looking as if it melted into the building. If the wall was penetrated, the plane would have been partially destroyed and would have continued moving into the building, again looking as if it were melting into the tower.

Stefen Grossmann claims that the plane did not decelerate as it should have from the loss of kinetic energy when it hit the building. This is a key argument for a hologram, but this claim is easily disproved by a visual examination of the motion of the 767 in the Evan Fairbanks footage. The plane is clearly decelerating as it hits the building, indicating that the Fairbanks footage shows a physically realistic impact, contrary to the "melting plane" claims.

Hologram advocates have raised concerns about explosion not occurring at exactly at impact. But even if combustion started at impact, forward momentum would carry fuel further into the open interior space of the building as it started to spread and ignite, and the expanding gases of the explosion would only push back out through the hole a split second later, as we see in the video.

German Engineers

Morgan Reynolds cites the no-plane arguments of the " German Engineers" in his widely distributed article " Why Did the Trade Center Skyscrapers Collapse?" Jim Hoffman deconstructs this easily rebutted material in his response to Reynolds' piece, so I won't go in depth with it here. The central argument of the "engineers" is that the holes created by the impacts are simply not large enough to be made by 767s. There is no computer modeling of the physics involved. The authors simply draw circles around the areas that look open and note that a 767 doesn't fit within these circles. Of course, neither does any other normal plane. The impact areas seem to be, in fact, easily explainable: the heavier, denser central parts of the planes penetrated the outer wall of the WTC but the thinner, lighter wings did not, leaving tell-tale indentations but not holes. And the debris occluding the holes could be either material that fell down from damaged areas just above the impact or flaps of wall or floor that folded to the side when the plane entered but then fell back once it had passed. Neither Reynolds nor the German Engineers offer any systematic analysis that shows that the thin 767 wings should have penetrated the WTC outer wall.

However, the NIST computer models testing the dispersal of kinetic energy on impact showed that every part of the airplane except for wing sections with empty fuel tanks would penetrate the outer wall of the WTC. This scenario explains the shape of the impact area perfectly. No-plane advocates have not conducted their own computer impact modeling, and until they do the NIST report remains the authority on the subject. Grossmann has stated his intention to conduct such a computer analysis, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for a complex model of the physics of impact from someone who can't even properly align a diagram of a 767 over the entry hole.

The attempt by the "engineers" to create doubt by showing differently shaped impact holes in buildings made of different materials and construction techniques than the WTC demonstrates nothing and is a waste of time.

One might assume that Morgan Reynolds' foray into no-plane territory is simply a poorly considered blunder. After all, the German Engineers' article sidesteps the problem of presenting a credible explanation for what actually did hit the WTC in the absence of 767 impacts. Reynolds does not state whether he supports the impossible media overlay theory or the baseless hologram theory. In addition to the 767-shaped impact areas, we have plenty of physical evidence for a 767: the videos and photos showing a 767 hitting WTC2. Reynolds doesn't state why this physical evidence can be considered unreliable. And it must be stated again that Reynolds, like the German Engineers, does not offer any computer modeling or physical analysis that shows why a 767 could not have made the impact holes seen on the towers.

Unfortunately, Reynolds' contribution to 9/11 truth effectively functions as a Trojan horse, sandwiching bogus no-plane theories between more reputable data, like the tower demolitions. So far Reynolds has not addressed any of the "no-plane"-related arguments in Hoffman's critique and word through the grapevine is that he intends to take out an article in Scientific American with the help of Jimmy Walters, presumably with the bogus no-767 info included. With friends like these . . .

Jon Carlson's 737

Jon Carlson and others have claimed that the second plane to hit the WTC was in fact a 737. This claim is easily debunked. The jet that hit WTC2 was much too large to be a 737. 737s have a much narrower fuselage than 767s, and a 737 that has the same proportions of fuselage length and width to wingspan size as the plane seen in the videos is much smaller than that plane. Additionally, 737 engines are mounted flush with the wings and are closer to the fuselage than they are on 767s. Several images of the WTC2 hit show a plane with engines that hang below the wing and which are mounted farther apart than 737 engines.

And 737s do not fit the entry holes-even the largest 737 model has a wingspan that is about 40 feet too short.

This claim is also poorly considered. Making measurements of the size and proportion of the plane in the videos is extremely easy and would invariably and inevitably expose the identity of a 737. The perps of 9/11 would never have made this substitution unless they deliberately intended to blow their cover.

The flashes

The flashes that occur in the hits on both towers have been the object of much speculation. While it is difficult to say exactly what the flashes are, and this is not my area of expertise, it is easy to say what they are not. There are no missiles visible in any of the pieces of footage. The flashes appear and disappear within 1/30th of a second in both collisions. There is no apparent damage to the building whatsoever, clearly contradicting the claim that the flashes were the result of some destructive weapon used to clear the way for the penetration of the planes.

The flash at the collision of flight 11 and WTC1 did not happen before impact, as some claim. The nose of the plane was almost touching the building in the frame (field, actually) before the flash making it a certainty that in the next frame showing the flash contact was occurring. Additionally, the claim made in the "In Plane Site" video that the flash in the second hit is separated from the fuselage is not reliable. The space in-between is probably a result of the shadow of the building on the plane.

The "pod"

Not precisely a no-plane argument, the claim that a pod was attached to the bottom of the second 767 turns out to be a misinterpretation of natural lighting phenomenon. This should not be surprising, given that there are no missiles observed emerging from the pod, and that no other useful purpose seems to be accomplished by the pod. Markus Icke's attempt to affirm the reality of the pod relies in part on shadows he drew in himself on his 3D models of a 767, an analysis that can fairly be called "fraudulent."

Windshield UFOs

Just for fun, the latest absurd analysis to be circulated by Webfairy and others concerns an alleged UFO hovering around the north tower after the first hit. The UFO turns out to be a bit of dirt on the window of vehicle the film crew was travelling in. This is typical of the wildly erroneous and often hilarious analyses of visual evidence that we've seen so far.

The database errors

Perhaps the only interesting bit of data that has come from the no-planers has been the discrepancies in the BTS database involving the airline flights involved in 9/11. The problem with this evidence is that databases can be easily hacked, as any computer programmer can tell you. This evidence can't be regarded as reliable, let alone unimpeachable. That anyone would make it a centerpiece of an investigation is baffling. And even if the database anomalies were reliable, it would only establish the possibility of plane substitution, and would shed no light at all on what type of plane actually hit the North tower.

It is standard operating procedure for false and misleading evidence to be planted to discredit conspiracy researchers. We can be nearly certain that this has been done with 9/11 evidence and these database errors are a leading candidate for suspicion.

Still, there is documentary evidence for at least the idea of flight substitution in the Operation Northwoods documents, which call for the substitution of a chartered airline flight to be substituted with a drone. This drone was to be shot down and the downing of the plane blamed on Cuba. What has seemingly been lost on the 9/11 plane substitution advocates is that the Northwoods plans called for substitution because this was to be a fake plane flight to begin with, a charter full of intelligence assets who would be quietly and secretly disembarked later. The whole point of substitution was to avoid real casualties. The perpetrators of 9/11 obviously did not care about casualties so why would substitution be necessary? They would need to divert the original planes regardless, so physical control of the actual airline flights is not the issue. There was no technical obstacle to flying the planes into the towers, so if they had control why didn't they do that and avoid all the risks? And it should be noted that Operation Northwoods calls for the drone to be a copy of the airliner, not a missile or smaller aircraft, even despite the fact that it was not going to be flown over a populated city whose attention-and cameras-were riveted on the target. To suggest that the perps of 9/11, with the resources at their disposal, would have taken the risk of using an airplane other than a http://questionsquestions.net/WTC/767 is totally absurd.

Conclusion

The WTC no-plane theories are exactly what they appear to be: amateur misinterpretations of images and unsupported suppositions sustained beyond their shelf life by aggressive bluffing, bald-faced denials of obvious mistakes and personal attacks upon critics of the theories.


Commentary

When I told friends who were open to 9/11 skepticism that I was working on some articles critical of these no-plane theories, they looked at me askance, as if to say "why are you even wasting your time on that?" Overall their reaction was appropriate. Frankly, I've been embarrassed to admit to ordinary folks that I've been working on these articles and have begrudged every moment of time I spend on it. These theories never were and never will be broadly accepted among the 9/11 skeptic community, let alone the broader public, even with the attention of high profile figures like Morgan Reynolds. But that doesn't mean that they are not a threat, especially to a particular minority segment of the 9/11 skeptics community.

The treatment of the pod issue by Popular Mechanics should be a warning.

The pod theory was never supported by any more than a small minority of 9/11 researchers. But as a result of Von Kleist's error-ridden "In Plane Site" dvd and forwarding of pod articles by naive individuals who thought they were encouraging dialogue, enough noise was built up around the issue to give PM the justification to portray the "pod" as a widely held view. And their treatment of it was a master stroke. They gave it marquee position at the beginning of the article-a first impression-tainting all the other stronger evidence to follow. And then their debunking was weak, simply a one-liner from an "expert" claiming it was an illusion, allowing the pod advocates to declare victory and continue to push their theory. Overall, a "lose-lose" scenario for 9/11 truth.

On has to wonder, with the no-plane theories gaining the support of bigshot Morgan Reynolds, if a redux of the pod debacle is in the cards.

If so, there are many reasons why it has progressed to this point. The phrase "Fools Rush In" has never been so appropriate than in describing the rougher edges of the 9/11 truth movement, in which we've seen all sorts of instant experts talking about technical subjects far removed from their expertise. Some researchers who are quite good at tracking down information have proven themselves completely incompetent at making a sound technical analysis. It's a completely different skill set. I suppose part of the problem is that so far I'm the only one with a background in visual media that has taken a critical look at these theories and that I've refused to spend too much time or energy on them. But the fact that the no-plane advocates have not seeked out a second opinion on their amateurish analyses from another experienced professional speaks volumes.

The no-plane ideas are a manifestation of an epidemic of "smoking gun fever," the rush to see promising evidence in any and every perceived anomaly. One could chalk this up to technical incompetence or reckless enthusiasm or a desperate desire for ammunition to use against a terrifying conspiracy, but the problem in fact is deeper. Is often driven by an ideological imperative to pursue a more radical case. And by radical I don't mean "leftist" but more divergent from the official story. If you look at the rhetoric of a no-plane supporter, such as Nico Haupt, you see an attempt to make accepting no-plane claims synonymous with pursuing the "real truth." Likewise, the " Gatekeepers" research of Bob Feldman, for which I helped build the flowchart graphic, has been hijacked and transformed from a complex analysis of elite control of lefty media into a simplistic ideological litmus test: "If you don't support my spurious physical evidence claims you're a 'gatekeeper.'"

The discussion of physical evidence has been politicized, subject to the old, stupid radical-moderate dialectic. I worry that the 9/11 truth movement is devolving towards a predictable, manufactured divide: moderates who treat physical evidence responsibly but who advocate limited-hangout analyses of both 9/11 and world politics, and radicals who pursue a deeper and more accurate overall analysis but who lunge after spurious and sensational physical evidence claims in the name of exposing a deeper truth. You can find Haupt questioning the peak oil theory one minute and posting the windshield UFO garbage the next. That behavior discredits those who are pursuing more "radical" analyses.

Discussion of physical evidence should be egoless and non-ideological, characterized by stark realism. First the evidence has to be demonstrated simply to be reliable. Then it must be decided whether there is enough evidence to make a convincing case. The no-plane theories don't even make it past the first test. Every day prosecutors drop charges in criminal cases because they don't have enough evidence to go to trial, and they may do this even though they know the suspect is guilty as sin. Why? You pick your battles carefully, pick those you can win. In the end, the physical evidence may only support a limited hangout. If that is the case the answer is not to give up and go home but to augment the physical evidence with research about the past history of elite manipulation. Despite some forays into questionable evidence, Webster Tarpley has done exactly this in his book " 9/11 Synthetic Terror."

On the other hand, massaging the evidence to fit a more radical analysis is exactly what the perps of 9/11 want. It leads to straw man arguments that the debunkers can knock down.

It should go without saying that an investigation of a conspiracy like 9/11 will always a two-front war against disinformation. On one side are the gatekeepers pursuing a limited hangout. On the other side are crackpots and disinfo agents pushing bogus, discrediting evidence. Weeding out bogus claims is neither gatekeeping nor censorship but an absolutely critical activity. In defending no-planers and pod people, some who don't even support the theories have cited "freedom of speech" in defending those theories' place at the table, evidently feeling that if there is any tendency to suppress any lines of inquiry, then there will not a an atmosphere conducive to uncovering the full truth. This attitude simply ignores one front of the two-front war we're involved with. The treatment of the "pod" issue by PM is a perfect example of how this "freedom of speech" argument can backfire. It's clear the advocates of certain theories have shown themselves to be completely egotistically and ideologically attached to those theories. They'll never change. So if this breaks through and embarrasses us like the pod issue did, the real responsibility will be with those who kept forwarding or tolerating the no-plane material in the interest of "dialogue" or "exploration" or "askin' questions" and who failed to use their powers of discernment.

In between the two fronts of this information war there is a lot of grey area, with quite a bit of room for principled disagreement about both evidence and tactics. Of course, principled disagreement is exactly the opposite of the obnoxious behavior of the no-planers, some of which I've documented in my articles. This behavior creates an acrimonious and divisive atmosphere in a movement that prevents productive work, and is usually the M.O. of deep cover agents. But I'm not suggesting no-plane advocates are agents. In fact I believe that most are deluded "useful idiots," as the terminology goes. As such, their offerings are misinformation, not disinformation. But that doesn't mean that the spooks wouldn't flood lists and forums with vociferous multiple-pseudonym supporters of these theories, in a tactic similar to the astroturfing of mainstream politics. If I were in charge of the cover up I would let the authentic fools emerge and then use mind control to encourage egomaniacal and aggressive tendencies. But while general comments on what theories constitute disinfo are reasonable, it's useless to let fly specific accusations of disinfo activity regarding individuals. There is never any evidence. Charges going back and forth is what the cover-up crew wants. Divide and conquer. Given the historical record of COINTELPRO, the ones making the accusations are most likely to actually be the agents.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A version of this essay with two updates is found on the QuestionsQuestions.net website