Pentagon Attack Footage
The Suppression of Video Footage of the Pentagon Attack
It is striking that there is neither video footage nor any photographic evidence in the public domain showing a jetliner approaching or crashing into the Pentagon. As of May, 2006, the only video footage of the crash that has been released are clips from two Pentagon security cameras north of the crash site, one the source of 5 frames leaked in 2002.
With the release of the two video clips, the Pentagon claims to have supplied all of the footage it has of the attack. Although the number and positions of security cameras monitoring the Pentagon is not public knowledge, it seems unlikely that only two security cameras captured the attack. Isn't it reasonable to assume that there were dozens, if not hundreds, of security cameras ringing the huge building that is the heart of the United States military establishment?
Videos Outside the Pentagon Seized
|The Sheraton National Hotel may be the hotel from which the FBI seized a CCTV recording.|
Not only has the government refused to release footage that would clearly show how the Pentagon was attacked, it has also seized footage not belonging to the military. The FBI confiscated video recordings from several private businesses near the Pentagon in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Those recordings, if they still exist, might provide decisive evidence about the attack.
- The FBI visited a hotel near the Pentagon to confiscate film from a security camera which some hotel employees had been watching in horror shortly after the attack. The FBI denied that the footage captured the attack. 1
- The FBI visited the Citgo gas station southwest of the Pentagon within minutes of the attack to confiscate film that may have captured the attack. According to Jose Velasquez, who was working at the gas station at the time of the attack, the station's security cameras would have captured the attack. 2
|The NEXCOMM/CITGO gas station is just under the flightpath of the aircraft involved in the Pentagon attack.|
In addition it is likely there is other video footage that was either destroyed or is being withheld, given that the trajectory of the attack plane took it low over a large part of Arlington, Virginia.
Lawsuits to Obtain Videos
At least two plaintiffs have attempted to obtain videos seized by the FBI, using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The first, documented at Flight77.info, began with a request to the FBI in October of 2004. The second, undertaken by the Judicial Watch, Inc. began with a request to the Department of Defense (DOD) in December of 2004. Following is a timeline of the requests and subsequent lawsuits. Entries relating to the second case are distinguished with dates colored gray.
- October 14, 2004: Scott A. Hodes, on behalf of his client Scott Bingham, sends a request to David Hardy of the FBI requesting any videos "that may have captured the impact of Flight 77 into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001". The request letter mentions videotapes from the Citgo Gas Station and the Sheraton National Hotel.
- November 3, 2004: The FBI replies to Bingham's request stating that their search "revealed no record responsive to your FOIA request".
- November 17, 2004: Hodes files an appeal of Bingham's FOIA request with the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ), citing evidence that the videotapes mentioned in the original request exist.
December 15, 2004:
Christopher J. Farrell of Judicial Watch, Inc.
writes to James Hogan in the
Office of Freedom of Information/Security Review
of the DOD
requesting that the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
DOD, and FBI produce:
any and all agency records concerning, relating to, or reflecting the following subjects:
(1) Video camera recordings obtained by federal official(s) and/or law enforcement from a Nexcomm/Citgo gas station in the vicinity of the Pentagon on or about September 11, 2001.
(2) Pentagon security video camera recording(s) showing Flight 77 strike and/or hit and/or crash into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
(3) Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) video camera recording(s) obtained by any federal official(s) and/or law enforcement from the Virginia Department of Transportation ("VDOT") and/or the VDOT "Smart Traffic Center" on or about September 11, 2001.
- March 7, 2005: The DOJ replies to Hodes' November 17 appeal, admitting that it did possess records responsive to the request but that it could release the records because such a release "could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings."
- January 26, 2005: The DOD advises Judicial Watch, Inc. that it possesses a videotape responsive to the December 15, 2004 request but declines to produce the videotape, citing U.S.C 552(b)(7)(A).
- March 8, 2005: Bingham's attorney files a lawsuit with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia stating that the FBI is in violation of the FOIA for "failing to adequately respond to plaintiff's FOIA request, including failing to adequately search for and release records that the plaintiff believes the agency is in possession of, and for failing to timely respond to the plaintiff's administrative appeal."
- April 18, 2005: The DOJ files a response to Bingham's March 8 lawsuit denying the plaintiff's request and asking the judge to dismiss the plaintiff's Complaint with prejudice.
- April 19, 2005: District Judge Paul L. Friedman orders the defendants to file a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment in the case brought by Bingham on or before June 21, 2005.
- June 10, 2005: The DOD denies Judicial Watch's administrative appeal, claiming that the video is exempt as part of an ongoing investigation involving Zacarias Moussaoui.
- August 1, 2005: Jeffrey D. Kahn, an attorney for the DOJ's Civil Division files a 23-page MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. Scans of the document are posted on Flight77.info.
- August 29, 2005: Hodes files a Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and a STATEMENT OF FACT ON WHICH THERE EXIST A GENUINE ISSUE TO BE LITIGATED in response to the DOJ's motion for summary judgment.
- September 9, 2005: Kahn files a REPLY BRIEF IN FURTHER SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
- September 9, 2005: Special Agent Jacqueline Maguire of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division files a DECLARATION describing her search for records responsive to Bingham's FOIA request. Maguire admits to determining that 85 videotapes in the FBI's possession are "potentially responsive" the request, that she personally viewed 29 of the tapes, and that she located only one videotape that showed the impact of Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Maguire also refers to "one videotape taken from a closed circuit television at a Doubletree Hotel in Arlington Virginia," but states that it did not show the impact of Flight 77.
- September 26, 2005: Hodes files a request seeking "copies of 85 videotapes in the possession of the FBI described in the declaration of Special Agent Jacqueline Maguire dated September 7, 2005.
- October 20, 2005: The DOJ sends a letter to Hodes claiming that the requested material is exempt.
- October 24, 2005: Hodes appeals the DOJ's October 20 claim that its material is exempt.
- February 22, 2006: Judicial Watch, Inc. files a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Department of Defense for its refusal to disclose records sought under the FOIA request.
- May 5, 2006: Judge Friedman orders the defendants to show cause on or before May 26, 2006 why their motion for summary judgment should not be denied as moot, noting that the criminal proceedings against Moussaoui have ended.
- May 16, 2006: Judicial Watch obtains two videos from the DOD, and posts them on their website. The site is down for about half of the day due to demand.
- September 15, 2006: Judicial Watch announces the release of video from CITGO gas station. 3 The video consists mostly of views of the interior of the gas station and does not appear to capture the attack.
- December 2, 2006: Judicial Watch obtains a video recording from the Doubletree Hotel in Arlington. The video, which does not include a view of the Pentagon's facade, shows an explosion but does not capture an approaching jetliner. 4
2. Three Months On, Tension Lingers Near the Pentagon, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/11/01 [cached]
3. CITGO Gas Station Cameras Near Pentagon Evidently Did Not Capture Attack, JudicialWatch.org, 9/15/06 [cached]
4. Hotel security video shows 9/11 Pentagon blast, but no plane, CNN.com, 12/2/06 [cached]