“Pod” refers to the suggestion by David vonKleist in his controversial 911 video In Plane Site that explosive missiles were attached to the aircraft that presumably struck the twin towers. VonKleist insists that, in a close inspection of the TV footage of that second plane’s impact, one can discern protuberances under the wings that could be missile pods, and he contends that flashes, characteristic of the explosion of missile warheads, also can be discerned in the TV footage forward of the aircraft just prior to its impact.

Defenders of the TV version of 911 are quick to attack anyone asking uncomfortable questions, and they will seize upon the extenuating “pod theory” as proof that the growing population of 911 questioners is just a bunch of conspiracy wackos. The attack by Hearst Corp’s Popular Mechanics is perhaps the best known instance in which the pod theory has been used to ridicule 911 dissidents.

911 dissidents who want to be taken seriously (which means be considered plausible and respectable in straight society and in official circles) suffer particularly when they are called “conspiracy wackos.” They become anxious and defensive, make haste to distance themselves from the dreaded pod, and jump all over poor vonKleist, whom they label as divisive, as an agent, and as a promoter of disinformation.

Into a 911-truth meeting one evening came an innocent young man with a copy of the then-new In Plane Site video in his hand and a passion to share his excitement with what he expected to be an open-minded group. Wouldn’t it be natural to expect 911 dissidents to be a receptive and imaginative bunch?

“Disinformation”, they told him, and he never returned.

The smear “disinformation” assumes that there exists in 911 research some fundamental body of “information” by comparison to which a disinformation can be distinguished. I challenge the assumption that there is any such absolute standard.

The same assumption is brought to bear on anyone daring to offer a theory of what really happened that ventures outside certain vague boundries of established academic 911 Truth.

A kind of fundamentalism permeates the 911 movement. Certain theories have particular weight, while some others are prima-facie inadmissible, beyond consideration. The “credentials” of one who espouses a particular theory matters. Academic credentials from any discipline (even theology) have weight. Professorial demeanors are assets. But vonKleist doesn’t have a doctorate in anything; is not from any branch of the academy, and is not even boring, three criteria for being considered plausible in the so-called 911 Truth movement.

Some think the dissident’s mission is to brew up a 911-Lite that would be palatable to some prominent academic, like the impenetrable Noam Chomsky, a story that can be taken seriously, by The Serious. Desired is a coherent, plausible, agreed-upon story line, like one would find in a textbook for History 101.

The pod, had it been espoused by a Dr. Griffin, might have gained some traction. As it is, the theory could not be in deeper disrepute.

The hoax
The only fundamental common to all 911 dissidents is that we are dealing with a massive hoax, a big-lie propaganda. If there is any consensus, this should be it.

Behind the curtain of the hoax, anything might have happened. Material evidence has been destroyed or dispersed. Witnesses have been destroyed, intimidated, or bought. The conspiracy is so institutional (apparently involving the intelligence agencies of three nations) that it is difficult to identify a specific suspect. The official investigations have been ludicrous. We are left with a skeleton of ambiguous circumstantial evidence.

For the concrete, our most valuable evidential resource, Exhibit A, becomes, pathetically, recorded footage from TV. Not all of this is live. None of the collapse scenes are live. Much of that day’s footage is edited. Some may be contrived, faked. There is no absolute certainty even in the video record, but this is where we find much of our evidence for the demolition of the towers, for the blasting of Building 7, for the missing Boeing, for the pod.

Welcome to the twittering world of 911. No standard here. No foundation for smugness or censorship. One theory is likely to be as defensible as another.

defending the pod
Pod anxiety can spill over onto anyone daring to defend the theory. It does not help that vonKleist’s work is deficient in self-defense, possibly attributable to his not coming from an ass-covering academic milieu. The logical problems implied by the pod theory are neither anticipated nor addressed in his video. VonKleist shares his observations with a simple enthusiasm. That spirit itself will draw suspicion from those who respect the more sober demeanor of the logical-moderate, the resigned-reasonable.

The scenario implied by the pod is problematic. How could the (presumably) hijacked aircraft have been rigged up with missiles and pods preflight without that oddity being noticed at the airport? Of course, such an alteration could not be accomplished in mid-flight. Thus, in order to advance the pod theory, one must hypothesize a switching of the aircraft.

Horrors, shriek the plausibles! This switcheroo raises such a tangle of academic problems! Don’t you realize that a whole new scenario would have to be devised? And Thompson’s sacred 911 Timeline, established forever in hardcover, might have to be rewritten.

The innocent researcher vonKleist had proceeded unaware that an unofficial sub-orthodoxy of 911 had already become as solidified as the official one promoted on TV.

But is any such orthodoxy possible once one penetrates into the ambiguous world of 911? I think 911 should above all be seen as a hoax. Behind the elaborate curtain of the grand hoax, stand the manipulators of the hoax, snickering at the true-believing gullibles and the dissident plausibles alike.

some physics, please
Why do I defend the missile-pod theory against such odds? First, I am compelled by the logic of physics, the most simple Newtonian physics.

Please tell me how, even on that amazing day, a fragile aircraft could penetrate the hardened steel structure shown of the WTC architecture?

Leave your physics books closed, class. The math, in foot-pounds-per-second-per-second or whatever, do that later, and try to prove me wrong. What is the true mechanical situation here according to your instincts? Wouldn’t it take an explosive assist to enable airframe and engines to slice right through that rugged structure as easily a knife through butter, which is precisely what the TV footage shows?

What happens when a motorcycle collides with an SUV? An SUV with a locomotive? Could a fragile Boeing cut right through all this hard stuff? Or would it fragment into many pieces on collision with an unyielding surface and fall like confetti into the street far below? (Or, assuming a full load of fuel, the impact of the aircraft might be compared to a water balloon thrown against a solid wall, splat!)

WTC girders

No normal air transport could have served as the appropriate hardware for the job of penetration. Appreciate that the construction photo here was taken in an early construction stage preceding the installation of cast-metal facade and of three-foot-thick concrete floors, materials that would increase the total resistance of the structure to impact and penetration. Also factor in the resilience of the tower and all the impact energy that its sway and oscillation would dissipate.

I have made this argument repeatedly in 911 discussions, and it is always smugly shrugged off.

As shown on TV, how easily the plane passes into the structure! It’s as if a door had suddenly opened wide for the occasion. Incredible. Unreal. Compare the Pentagon. How likely is it that the damage to that rugged five-walled steel-and-masonry architecture could have been accomplished by any transport aircraft? Hunt-the-Boeing is becoming a discussible issue even among the petty-plausibles regarding the Pentagon. So why must the same physics logic get suspended for the rugged WTC?

the Dawson-Perry report
Physics aside, the pod theory explains a mystery that has annoyed this writer in regard to NBC’s Dawson-Perry Report, cited in my NBC Spins 911. This on-the-ground report by NBC News’ Today Show reporter Pat Dawson, got aired (inadvertently) by the network on the morning of 911 shortly after the collapse. Dawson reported that fire safety chief Albert Perry had told him that, not only were explosives pre-planted in the tower, but that the structural damage his firemen were seeing and reporting on by radio from way upstairs at the site of impact indicated that explosives might have been installed in the plane itself.

“According to his (Perry’s) theory,” says Dawson, “there were actually devices that were planted in the building. One might have been in the plane. A second device, he speculates, was probably planted in the building.”

In my writing of NBC Spins 911 this little detail in the transcript had always annoyed me, and I admit that I was even tempted to excise the troubling words, so I thank Mr. vonKleist for suggesting an explanation.

May I humbly suggest to the Academy a new scenario, one that is consistent with the physics and with the Dawson-Perry Report and one that demands something like a pod.

The four ill-fated aircraft are commandeered soon after take-off by remotely controlled “anti-hijacking” robotics. (Such a technology was actually preinstalled, stock, in all four of these Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, which had identical flight decks.)

The robotic theory is about as fashionable among the plausible resigned-reasonables as the pod itself. They should be advised that robotics technology is today the big focus in military technology, in aerospace engineering, and even among electronics hobbyists.

By means of robotics, then, three of the “hijacked” airliners are successfully rerouted. Where? Perhaps into the dark depths of Lake Erie. Or perhaps to some remote midwestern airbase, where, in some obscure hanger, the passengers are conducted off the plane at gun-point and forthwith disposed of.

To the consternation of the plotters, however, the determined crew of the fourth airliner succeeds hands-on (with hammers, screwdrivers, wire-cutters or whatever) in accessing a compartment, disarming the robotics equipment, and regaining control of their plane. They then head for the nearest big airport (Pittsburgh).

The plotters resolve this emergency by dispatching a fighter jet that shoots the tail section off the errant plane (the classic shoot-down technique) sending the aircraft and all its passenger-witnesses directly downward into the ground (the tail section later reportedly being found eight miles away). The plotters then cover up the disaster by improvising some good storytelling about heroic passengers overwhelming hijackers. The story is told and retold as an utter certainty from that very day on, in all the mass media, and even in an ABC prime-time docudrama.

Meanwhile, two substitute robotic aircraft, appropriately weaponized, have already been secretly dispatched from some convenient base to their New York targets. Missiles, or shaped charges, are let loose from the nose of the aircraft just prior to impact. A third appropriately weaponized aircraft hits the Pentagon. The collapse of a section of that structure, too, is facilitated, as in the Twin Towers, by preinstalled demolition charges.

But the fourth weaponized aircraft, it’s cover story shot down, cannot be sent off to Washington and its target the Capitol, so it is directed back to base. Instead, in order to intimidate Congress, Plan B, the anthrax plot, will be implemented.

no planes!
I do agree with the antipodists that the pod theory indeed implies an untidy and convoluted plot and that it has logistical complexities that might compound the risk to the plotters. But that concern tempts one into even more unpopular territory. For one is now prompted to hypothesize that the impacts were video simulations only. The crucial theatrical cover-up of the demolition could not be left to chance physics. So maybe there were no planes making impact at all! A great simplification for the perpetrators. Of course that kind of thinking infuriates the petty-plausibles even more than robotics or pods!

Some blasting had to have been present to produce the observed result up in the towers. And, presumably, according to pod theory, this was in the form of explosives installed in missiles launched from pods on the aircraft. Presumably. With your mind wide open to the possibilities, you might also allow that the same result could have been achieved by explosives preinstalled in the tower only, these devices triggered to help fake an aircraft impact that existed only in video simulation. Of course, the digital video technology required is now routine, and we are accustomed to seeing it in movies. Simulations mixed in with news segments, that’s just a new twist.

The planes as a video fake? Can you argue that that would be impossible? Maybe you were downtown in New York that day, and you happened to look up through the canyon at just the right moment, and, with your phenomenally quick and certain vision, you perceived a jet flashing overhead like a bullet at 500 mph. (Perhaps it is biologically possible for the retina to register and transmit that perception to your brain in just a microsecond.) So let’s say that you did see that.

Then you are an eyewitness. Thus, you can contradict the no-plane theory on a sound empirical basis.

But I am not on such solid epistemological ground. I do not know. I just saw it on TV. So I cannot so smugly claim to know what is real and what is Hollywood on this issue. Can you?

Maybe you want to invoke that landing gear shown on TV as a piece of contradictory evidence. Then I could say that this was just a prop, like Mohammed Atta’s wallet.

And the ensuing fire? The fuel, too, may have been preinstalled in the towers and pumped and released and ignited on schedule as part of the pyrotechnics that would provide the pretext for the collapse. Remember all that diesel oil reported to have been stored nearby on site? The combustion of this fuel would have been just another step in the demolition sequence, the pre-collapse theatrics.

And the Pentagon? Pre-installed explosives, like in the twin towers.

And that Pennsylvania crash? Just an empty bomb in a cornfield (as has been suggested) giving the pretext for the hero-passenger story, that story itself being the point.

A gigantic piece of theatre was the hoax called 911, whatever your analysis. Think Hollywood and you will be attuned. The fundamental phenomenon of interest is mass illusion and how it works. The analytical minutia of “what really happened” is subordinate, impossible to establish conclusively, and futile to belabor.

Yet to suggest no-plane in 911 dissident circles is to invite attack. Morgan Reynolds is an ex-Bush-administration official turned 911-doubter. At a speaking engagement in Portland, Reynolds showed receptiveness to an audience member who raised the possibility of the aircraft impact being a video fake. Reynolds was later criticized by the plausibles. However, this Washington insider must have learned something about the centrality of illusion in the art of rule and appreciate how the faking of planes is as defensible as any other scenario — and how the manipulators are giggling behind the curtain.

In the 911 hoax, illusion rules. Like a novel by Nabokov or a play by Pirandello, reality and illusion get all mixed up. This is no environment for the intellectually insecure who seek smug academic certitude. The situation argues for the widest tolerance and openness. Here in the twittering, ambiguous, illusory world of 911, any possibility can be entertained.

Hollow towers?Phil Joyhan called to remind me of the paragraph above and to invite me to entertain the holllow-towers theory, which I had not heard of. Thank you, Phil. Can’t get it out of my head. Were the towers constructed as a movie set, a gigantic Potemkin village — with ultimate demolition in mind? Hmmm… Illusion does rule. This theory must drive “the petty” up the wall. But what about that diminutive debris pile? Interesting that on the heels of hollow-towers came the directed-energy theory of Judy Wood (just as the red-thermite followed mini-nukes). Where did the towers go? Maybe they never were. I invite you to Google: “911 hollow towers.” Lots to talk about here. See, for example the discussion at:

— George Trinkaus