Baseless claims on 9/11 attack on the Pentagon circulate
Written by Tim Hartwell on September 22, 2022
The claim: No plane debris was found at Pentagon, no CCTV footage of crash and trillions went missing from budget
American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked by al-Qaida militants and crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, killing all 64 people on the plane and 125 in the Pentagon. But more than 21 years later, some social media users are still questioning the details of the attack.
“Never forget no plane debris was found at the Pentagon. There is no CCTV footage and trillions went missing from the budget,” reads a Sept. 10 Facebook post that was shared more than 200 times in less than a week.
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But the claims are baseless.
Airplane debris was found at the Pentagon, as confirmed by images and videos from the scene and an array of eyewitness accounts. The Pentagon also released security camera footage from the attack in 2006, and there is no evidence trillions went missing from the Pentagon budget before or after the attack.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.
Airplane debris was found at the Pentagon, CCTV footage was released
The FBI published numerous photos that show airplane debris at the site of the attack, including a piece of damaged metal with text on it that says “American Airlines, Inc.”
Jamie McIntyre, then a CNN reporter, was inside the Pentagon when the attack occurred and also captured images of debris, which he later shared in 2010 on his website “Line of Departure.” He reported at the time that the Pentagon heliport was littered with “thousands of tiny shards of airplane wreckage” and what appeared to be part of a cockpit window.
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Other eyewitness accounts also indicate there was debris on the premises.
Then-Navy physician Dr. David Tarantino recalled seeing “two large smoking holes” in the C-ring walls of the Pentagon and “what was clearly the forward landing gear and huge tire of a jetliner,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Robert Gray, a captain with the Arlington County Fire Department in 2001, said he had to sift through “a pile of debris that was airplane parts” days after the attack, according to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
In 2006, the Department of Defense also released images of the attack recorded by the Pentagon’s security cameras after the conservative group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request, according to CBS News. The images show a thin white object flying toward the Pentagon at a low altitude moments before the object hits the building and explodes.
The claim about trillions missing from the budget appears to be a reference to a speech former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave on Sept. 10, 2001, at an event for the Department of Defense’s Acquisition and Logistics Excellence Week.
In the speech, Rumsfeld talked about how it was difficult to track financial transactions because of antiquated systems within the Department of Defense, according to a transcript. As an example, he said that “according to some estimates” the department was unable to track $2.3 trillion in transactions.
The issue was being unable to track how the money was spent, though, not money going missing entirely.
“We cannot share information from floor to floor in this building because it’s stored on dozens of technological systems that are inaccessible or incompatible,” Rumsfeld said.
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That was not the first time such a figure was mentioned by the Defense Department.
In 2000, Robert J. Lieberman, a former assistant inspector general for the Department of Defense, said in testimony before military officials and members of Congress that it had been difficult for the department “to emulate private sector financial reporting practices.” He also said $2.3 trillion in spending was “unsupported by reliable explanatory information and audit trails or were made to invalid general ledger accounts.”
The Associated Press and Lead Stories debunked this claim.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claims that no plane debris was found at the Pentagon, that there was no CCTV footage of the attack and that trillions went missing from the Pentagon budget. An array of images and eyewitness accounts indicate there was airplane debris at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The Pentagon released security camera footage from the attack in 2006, and it’s an overstatement to say trillions went missing from the Pentagon’s budget.
Our fact-check sources:
- Associated Press, Sept. 13, Posts falsely claim no airplane debris found at Pentagon on 9/11
- Lead Stories, Sept. 13, Fact Check: Donald Rumsfeld Did NOT Report That $2.3 Trillion Was Missing The Day Before 9/11 Attacks
- Britannica, accessed Sept. 19, American Airlines flight 77
- FBI, accessed Sept. 19, FBI Records: The Vault
- Line of Departure, Sept. 11, 2010, The Immortal 9/11 Conspiracy
- USA TODAY, Sept. 15, Fact check: CNN 9/11 broadcast edited to falsely claim no plane wreckage at Pentagon
- CBS News, May 16, 2006, Pentagon Makes Public 9/11 Footage
- Smithsonian Magazine, September 2002, Eye in the Sky
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum, accessed Sept. 19, Robert Gray
- Wikimedia Commons, accessed Sept. 19, Pentagon Security Camera video
- Department of Defense, Sept. 10, 2001, DOD Acquisition and Logistics Excellence Week Kickoff—Bureaucracy to Battlefield
- Department of Defense, July 20, 2000, Testimony
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