Critique of David Ray Griffin regarding Calls from 9-11 Planes
by Paul Zarembka, Professor of Economics, SUNY at Buffalo
October 14th 2011
October 14th 2011
David Ray Griffin's response to this article is posted below.
-- "The present essay provides various types of evidence that the calls [from 9/11 planes] were, indeed, faked." (Griffin, 2011, p. 101)Watching and participating for almost ten years in the movement to expose the truth about what happened on September 11, 2001, I have come to feel that some are trying too hard to prove that the government is lying. A population can be manipulated not only by lies but also by sprinklings of truths, half truths, and distortions. Indeed, offering some truths is an effective means of undermining critics who argue for lies everywhere.
A self-confident movement does not need to be exposing just lies and only lies. It can examine evidence and draw disparate conclusions about differing accuracies of the huge amount of material to work with. I have felt that the work of David Ray Griffin, a leading commentator on September 11, is an example of turning up stones everywhere with the word "lie" written on them. He seems called upon to write about everything having to do with September 11 in order to turn over stones everywhere. Why?
I hadn't thought to put this worry to paper until I carefully read Griffin's Chapter 5 "Phone Calls from the 9/11 Planes: How They Fooled America" that appears in his just published 9/11 Ten Years Later (2011, Northampton, MA: Olive Branch).
CeeCee Lyles' CallTo set the stage, I offer an initial example that a critique of Griffin's chapter is necessary. This is for what he considers "the most direct evidence of fakery" in the phone calls. Griffin offers the tape recording of the phone call from UA 93 flight attendant CeeCee Lyles to her husband Lorne Lyles at 9:47 a.m. on September 11, 2001. He reproduces the text of what CeeCee says on Lorne's answering machine. After CeeCee completes her message, a female voice is heard in the background, "You did great" (www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUrxsrTKHN4). Griffin then asks, "How could anyone not take this whispered comment as clear evidence that the 'CeeCee Lyles' message was a fake?"He goes on to write a paragraph by way of explanation:
- To call it a "fake" means that the message was not what it purports to be. It could have been a fake produced by voice morphing. Or it could have been CeeCee Lyles reading a script she was forced to read -- in which case, the whispered message might have been by a person coaching her. But in either case, the message was not authentic.
There is an alternative simple explanation that Griffin fails to even mention: Flight assistant CeeCee Lyles was sitting next to another woman and CeeCee had discussed with her an intention to call her husband. The other woman simply supported CeeCee in how she handled herself with that phone message.
This possible explanation is ignored altogether by Griffin. It cannot be ignored and thus rendered so improbable as not worth being put to paper. (I asked five persons -- none of whom support the official story about September 11th -- to interpret who likely said, "You did great". Four said that this woman would likely be on the plane. One of them added that if that woman were a government agent, the government would have cut off that "You did great" in the recording when presented as evidence at the Moussaoui trial. Two offered that a quick claim of a fake would be "ridiculous".)
Professor Paul Zarembka has written a critique of a chapter of my recent book, 9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes against Democracy Succeed.1 The chapter in question is entitled "Phone Calls from the 9/11 Planes: How They Fooled America." I thank Dr. Zarembka for taking my chapter seriously enough to write his critique.2 However, I submit that my chapter not to be guilty of the charges he levels.
At the beginning of his critique, Zarembka states that I seem intent on "exposing just lies and only lies" -- on "turning up stones everywhere with the word 'lie' written on them." A computer search shows that my chapter contains no instances in which I used the term "lie," "lies," or "lying." I certainly did, to be sure, suggest that various aspects of the official story are false. This would be grounds for reproach if these suggestions were based on errors, and Zarembka suggests that they often are. Indeed, to adopt his formulation, he seemed to be intent on turning up stones everywhere with the word "error" written on them. But the charge that my chapter is filled with errors cannot be maintained.
At the conclusion of Zarembka's critique, he said that he found "weakness" in my chapter's "internal logic." This charge by Zarembka, however, reflects the fact that he simply failed to understand the logic of some of my arguments, or certain facts relevant to those arguments.
Sliding Over Deena Burnett's Testimony
My chapter, as I said in a statement quoted at the head of Zarembka's essay, "provides various types of evidence that the calls [from 9/11 planes] were . . . faked." I clearly presented the testimony of Deena Burnett as providing the most important example of this evidence for fakery: The first section of my chapter was devoted to her testimony, and I devoted far more space to it than to anything else. And yet Zarembka began his critique by discussing a recorded message by flight attendant CeeCee Lyles, which I had discussed later and to which I devoted less then a page. I did refer to the Lyles message as providing the "most direct evidence of fakery," but I did not thereby mean that she provided the strongest evidence.3 That distinction, I indicated, belonged to the calls received by Deena Burnett. And yet Zarembka provided an extremely brief treatment of the Burnett calls.
As to why I presented the Burnett calls as the strongest evidence for fakery: Deena told the FBI on the day of the attacks that she had received "three to five cellular phone calls" from her husband, Tom Burnett, calling from United 93.4 "Only one of the calls," the FBI report added, "did not show on the caller identification as she was on the line with another call."5 The FBI later indicated that she had received (only) three calls. If we accept that as a correct statement of fact, then Deena's testimony would have been that her Caller ID showed two of the calls she received from her husband to have been from his cell phone.
And yet, it is now generally agreed, her husband could not have made cell phone calls from United 93, which was at the time over 40,000 feet in the air. And when in 2006, the FBI's report on phone calls from the 9/11 planes became public in relation to the Moussaoui trial, this report said of Tom Burnett that his calls were made from seat-back phones. The FBI's report thereby avoided the problem of endorsing technologically impossible phone calls.
But the FBI's report thereby created another problem: How to explain why Deena Burnett reported that her phone's Caller ID indicated that some of the calls from her husband were made on his cell phone. One possible answer would be that she had misremembered. But she made her statement to the FBI on 9/11 itself, only hours after the event. Another possible answer would be that she lied. But there appears to be no conceivable reason why she would have done this. It seems inescapable, therefore, that her Caller ID did indicate that the messages were from Tom Burnett's cell phone. But how is that possible? If, as the FBI now says, Tom used a seat-back phone to call Deena, how could his cell phone number have appeared on Deena's Caller ID?
This question must be answered by anyone who wants to think of the phone calls from the 9/11 planes as authentic. But no one has provided an answer. Zarembka, while seeming to deny that the Burnett calls provide evidence for fakery, fails to address this issue.
Zarembka's very brief treatment of these calls seems to be devoted to the suggestion that Deena Burnett's testimony was unreliable. He first states that "she said he [Tom] called four times," whereas the government stated that "there were only three calls." Was Zarembka thereby suggesting that, if Deena was mistaken about the number of calls, she might have also been confused about other matters? If so, Zarembka's argument is groundless: He evidently missed the fact, quoted in my chapter, that Deena on 9/11 told the FBI that she had received "three to five cellular phone calls" from Tom.6 So even if one accepts the accuracy of the government's statement that she had received (only) three calls from Tom, her statement cannot be faulted as inaccurate.
In any case, Zarembka then states what seems to be his main reason for doubting Deena's statement: "Deena's statement that Tom called from his cell phone has been revealed to be unsupported by phone company records. 'The call Burnett made from the cell phone [says a 9/11 Commission memorandum] did not show up on the cell phone bill. . . .'7 [T]he government claims a record for Tom using an air phone, showing a 'CS' credit card being used and approved three times."8
Having provided this information, Zarembka states: "Griffin does not cite this important report." As Zarembka's statements indicate, he seems to believe that the government's records settle what did and did not happen.
I, by contrast, believe Deena Burnett's testimony that she saw Tom's cell phone number on her Caller ID. I do not believe, of course, that Tom had used his cell phone to call her from United 93: My chapter was based partly on evidence that cell phones in 2001 could not be used to make calls from airplanes flying at high altitudes. So of course Deena's belief that Tom used his cell phone to call her would not be supported by the phone company records. Indeed, Deena herself, as I mentioned in my chapter, wondered how Tom could have called her from the air. But I can see, as I have said, no way of denying that Tom's cell phone number appeared on her Caller ID.
Whereas Zarembka evidently takes government records as indisputable, the government sometimes provides fabricated records. I have elsewhere shown, for example, that the government provided false records that were used to "prove" that on September 10, 2001, Mohamed Atta and another al-Qaeda operative, Abdul al Omari, drove a rented Nissan Altima to Portland (Maine), stayed overnight in a motel, and then took an early flight the next morning back to Boston to catch American 11. Although they made the transfer, the official story says, their luggage did not, and after American 11 crashed into the World Trade Center, the authorities found treasure trove of information in this luggage that proved al-Qaeda's responsibility for the attacks.
As to why I consider these documents false: According to press stories of September 12, 2001, two al-Qaeda operatives named Adnan and Ameer Bukhari had driven the rented Nissan Altima to Portland, stayed overnight, and then took the early morning flight back to Boston in time to catch American 11. As for Mohamed Atta, he had remained in Boston. The treasure trove of material proving al-Qaeda's responsibility was found in a rented Mitsubishi, which Atta had left in the parking lot of Boston's Logan Airport.
But on September 13, it was discovered that neither of the Bukharis had died on 9/11: Adnan was still alive, and Ameer had died the previous year. The next day, the press stories started changing, and by September 16, what is now the official story had been fully developed. By October 5, moreover, the FBI had provided witnesses and videos purportedly proving that Atta and al-Omari had been in Portland on September 10.9 The FBI even had an affidavit, signed by a judge on September 12, stating that "American Airlines personnel at Logan discovered two bags [checked to passenger Atta] that had been bound for transfer to AA11 but had not been loaded onto the flight."10
So, although the FBI originally had physical evidence showing that the Bukharis had taken the Nissan to Portland and that Atta had left a rented Mitsubishi at the Boston airport, the FBI was able to provide photos and documents "proving" that Atta and al-Omari had taken the Nissan to Portland. This episode illustrates the fact that the government can provide official-looking documents to prove almost anything. I would not, therefore, allow official-looking telephone records to override Deena Burnett's testimony, given on 9/11 itself, that the calls she received indicated that they were made from her husband's cell phone.
Moreover, whereas Zarembka evidently takes Flight 93's telephone records as proof that Tom Burnett had swiped his credit card three times, what Zarembka refers to for this flight are not the original database records, but merely summary records, which could easily have been doctored (as shown by the fact that two cell phone calls, which obviously did not come from the onboard telephone system, were tacked on at the bottom).
Because of Zarembka's apparent faith in official-looking documents, he seems to hold that Deena's testimony, insofar as it conflicts with the government's data, can be disregarded. His only statement concerning Deena's testimony about Tom's cell phone -- which I presented as the most important evidence -- is sandwiched between statements about official reports. He says: "Griffin does not cite this important report, but focuses on Deena's affirmations as to Tom's cell phone number having been displayed on her screen. Meantime, the government claims a record for Tom using an air phone. . . ."
Zarembka, thinking I should have cited the FBI report showing that Tom used an onboard phone, slides over the fact that Deena had affirmed that Tom's cell phone number was displayed by her Caller ID. I have argued that this fact -- especially in the context of the other evidence that the 9/11 calls were inauthentic -- constitutes an unanswerable problem for the FBI's position on the Burnett calls and, thereby, for the entire story about calls from the 9/11 planes. (The calls to Deena Burnett could have been faked only if someone had engaged in advance planning to make these calls. And, as I argued in my chapter: "This planning would disprove the official account of 9/11, according to which the planes were taken over in a surprise operation. And if the official account is false on this point, then it must be supposed that all of the purported calls were faked.") To argue that Deena's testimony about Tom's cell phone number can simply be disregarded, one would need to give a plausible account as to why she would have given this account in spite of its falsity.
Why Did "Tom Burnett" Decline to Talk to the Children?
Deena Burnett, assuming that she was talking to her husband, said that the "kids" wanted to talk to him. But "Tom Burnett" declined, saying: "Tell them I'll talk to them later."11 I reported having found it "difficult to believe that the real Tom Burnett, dealing with a real situation, would have responded in this way." Zarembka, however, said: "Given that Tom had three very young daughters and was in an emergency situation, I find this easy to believe."
This brief argument contains two reasons for his view: There was an "emergency situation," and the children were "very young." I do not see how this combination of reasons could explain why the real Tom Burnett, in the situation described in the official story about United 93, would have declined the chance to speak to his children.
Would Tom Burnett have declined because his children were very young? They were, according to Deena, asking to talk to their father. If they were not too young to ask to talk to him, they were not too young for him to talk to them.
What about the "emergency situation"? A central fact about this situation would have been that Tom Burnett would have been aware that he was almost certainly going to die in the next few minutes. He could not have believed that he would "talk to [his children] later." I do not believe, in any case, that many fathers would turn down the probably last opportunity to talk to their young children.
Which is to say: I find it difficult to believe that the real Tom Burnett, knowing that his plane was likely going to crash in Pennsylvania, would have said to his wife: "Tell [the children] I'll talk to them later."
The second topic discussed by Zarembka is voice morphing. Zarembka's treatment can be summarized thus: (1) For Griffin, faked calls could be explained only by voice morphing. (2) Voice morphing of passengers or flight attendants who were added to the flight at the last minute would have been unlikely. (3) Therefore, it is unlikely that calls could have been faked. However, points 1 and 2 are both false.
In relation to the first point, Zarembka says: "Griffin relies on morphing because he needs a mechanism to explain the documented calls as faked, yet has no other alternative to offer to explain the calls as faked." However, I said: "[T]he idea that the calls to Deena Burnett . . . were faked should not be simply equated with the idea that these calls were produced by voice morphing. Rather, that is only one way in which they might have been faked." Then, after quoting some statements in which I had made this point in earlier writings, I discussed the "repeater hypothesis," explaining why it could not explain most of the calls, after which I said: "the failure of the repeater hypothesis does not necessarily mean that the voice-morphing hypothesis is correct. There may still be another way in which the phone calls from the planes could have been faked." I then concluded by saying: "We need to keep a clear distinction between the evidence for a phenomenon that needs to be explained (called by philosophers of science the explanandum) and the explanation for that phenomenon (the explanans). We might reject all the available explanations. But that rejection will not do away with the explanandum, which in this case is the evidence that reported phone calls from the planes were faked."
Turning now to point 2: Voice morphing certainly provides the best presently available explanation as to how the calls could have been faked. Zarembka suggests that it could not explain how phone calls of last-minute additions to the flight manifests could have been faked. But his conclusion is based on two false premises, namely: (2a) "some ten minutes of the real person's voice is needed to achieve a reliable imitation"; and (2b) voice morphing technicians would not be able to gather the information needed about passengers and flight attendants who had been added to the flight manifest near to the last minute.
With regard to 2a: Zarembka based his statement about the need for "ten minutes of the real person's voice" on this statement by journalist William Arkin: "By taking just a 10-minute digital recording of [anyone's] voice," voice morphing experts can "clone speech patterns and develop an accurate facsimile." But this statement does not pretend to state what is absolutely necessary. In fact, I had said: "[A]ccording to Arkin's article, the capacity to morph voices in 'near real time' using a ten-second voice sample had been developed by early 1999."
Equally important is Zarembka's error with regard to 2b. There likely would have been years of preparation for this operation. During this period, all of the voice samples and other information needed about possible flight attendants and possible passengers could have easily been gathered and stored. But Zarembka ignores this fact.
For example, quoting the fact that "[flight attendant] Renee May was only assigned to Flight 77 during the morning of 9/11," Zarembka says: "[V]oice morphing of her call to her parents would have been quite difficult." But there would have been numerous phone calls from and to Renee May in the previous year, which could have been recorded, and during which a file containing personal information about her could have been developed. With regard to the passengers who made last-minute changes: The government could have gotten voice samples from phone calls to the airliners in the previous years, or by hacking into other telephone calls. And besides, as mentioned earlier, the government had developed the "capacity to morph voices in 'near real time' using a ten-second voice sample."
In sum: The technology of voice morphing can easily account for faked calls from passengers and flight attendants. And there may be still another way, presently unknown to most of us, to explain the fact that various elements in the 9/11 calls suggest that they were inauthentic.
Cell-Tower Handshaking at 580 MPH
I had suggested that, although the reported 9:58 AM cell-phone calls by Edward Felt and CeeCee Lyles were accepted by the FBI as indeed cell phone calls, these reported calls "would have to be rated as very unlikely."
Zarembka begs to differ. In the first place, he points out, the "5,000 feet" elevation that is commonly cited is the elevation above sea level, not above the ground, and the above-ground altitude of a plane in Shanksville would be 2,230 feet. That is a good point. However, according to A. K. Dewdney -- who had one time had a regular column in Scientific American -- cell phone calls from airliners more than 2,000 feet above the ground would be "highly unlikely."12
In the second place, the lower a flight, the greater the "handshake" problem. Zarembka suggests that the calls by Felt and Lyles would not have encountered that problem, because "both calls were short." But in this context, these reported calls would be considered quite long: Felt was reportedly able, after reaching the dispatcher, to tell him about the hijacking; and Lyles was able to tell her husband that her plane had been hijacked, that the hijackers were "forcing their way into the cockpit," that she loved her husband, and that she heard passengers screaming.
In any case, less important than the length of the calls was whether the plane was flying too fast and low for them to complete handshakes. "Any airliner at or below this altitude [of 2,000 feet above the ground], flying at the normal speed of approximately 500 mph, would encounter the handoff problem," wrote Dewdney. "An aircraft traveling at this speed would not be over the cellsite long enough to complete the electronic 'handshake' (which takes several seconds to complete) before arriving over the next cellsite, when the call has to be handed off from the first cellsite to the next one."13
Accordingly, even the reported cell phone calls by Felt and Lyles must be considered very unlikely.
Another argument I employed -- drawing on an essay entitled "'Shockingly Calm': The Phone Calls From the Planes on 9/11," by the careful scholar who uses the alias "Shoestring 9/11" -- was that supposed calls from 9/11 planes by passengers and flight attendants were much calmer than we would have expected from authentic calls.
Zarembka criticized me on the assumption that I claimed that there were no exceptions. Given that assumption, he could easily point out exceptions (such as the fact that Lorne Lyles and the father-in-law of Jeremy Glick reported hearing screaming), and then make his charge: "Griffin is not entitled to cite only that which might sustain his argument. . . , while ignoring contrary pieces of evidence." However, if I were arguing that there were no exceptions to the calm I would not have pointed out that "Todd Beamer," after having long seemed calm, expressed fear when it became likely that the passengers on United 93 were going to die, telling Lisa Jefferson: "I know we're not going to make it out of here,"14 after which he cried out: "Oh my God, we're going down! We're going down! Jesus help us."15
My argument was not that everyone was calm all the time. Rather, what I pointed out was that the calmness was remarkable -- that the people making these calls were much calmer than any of us would expect under the described circumstances.
With regard to the flight attendants in particular, Zarembka argues that the calmness of the flight attendants was not remarkable: "Calmness on the part of professionals is what they are trained to do." However, people who know this still described the calmness of some of the flight attendants as remarkable. A United Airlines manager described Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant on United 93, as "shockingly calm."16When the family of Betty Ong, a flight attendant on American 11, heard the recording of her call, they "couldn't believe the calm in Betty's voice."17
The Still-Connected Calls of Beamer and Glick
One reason for saying that the phone calls were faked, I said, was the fact that two of the alleged calls from United 93 remained connected long after this flight reportedly crashed: the Todd Beamer call remained connected for over 65 minutes, and the Jeremy Glick call remained connected for two hours and six minutes. How could that possibly be, if the official story were true? According to that story, United 93, going 580 miles per hour, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Such a crash would have instantly disconnected all calls. Would the fact that these two calls remained connected for over an hour not prove that the calls were not coming from UA 93?
But Zarembka has only a four-word response to the fact that these calls remained connected for over an hour: "This is a puzzle." In Zarembka's eyes, it appears, the failure of the Glick and Beamer calls to disconnect when their plane crashed does not prove that the calls were placed from somewhere else. They merely constitute a puzzle.
"Todd Beamer" Passing Up the Chance to Talk to Beamer's Wife
What about the fact that the man presenting himself as Todd Beamer did not want to talk to Lisa Beamer (Todd's wife)? This man had lots of time, spending 13 minutes talking to a Verizon supervising operator, Lisa Jefferson. There would have been no reason why he could not have used some of this time to call Lisa Beamer. Indeed, Lisa Jefferson even offered to try to reach her "and patch her call through." But "Todd" declined, with the excuse that he didn't "want to upset her unnecessarily," because "[s]he's expecting our third child in January."
Calling this excuse unbelievable, I said that it revealed "Todd Beamer" to have been an impersonator.
Zarembka, however, deems the reason given by this man for not calling Lisa Beamer to be credible. But is it? "Todd" said that he did not want his pregnant wife to be upset. But is this not absurd? If this had really been Todd Beamer, would he not have realized that his wife would very soon be upset by the news of his death, so that the question of whether she was upset immediately or a few hours later would not matter much? And did it not occur to him that she would likely be even more upset if she learned that he had turned down a last opportunity to talk to her?
In deeming my argument "unpersuasive," Zarembka says that one would need "to speculate for a reason differing from the stated one of Todd's wife's pregnancy." But a reason is very close at hand: It is likely that the man was an impersonator, and that he was not certain that his impersonation was good enough to fool Todd Beamer's wife.
But Zarembka, after expressing his opinion that the man presented as Todd Beamer had provided a perfectly good rationale for not talking to Lisa Beamer, recommended that readers turn to Rowland Morgan's discussion of the alleged Beamer calls, which Zarembka considers "more convincing." And yet Morgan said: "The contrast between a young man facing his end and his refusal to speak to his wife is implausible."18
Ignoring the FBI's Evidence about Barbara Olson
Having treated my discussion of the Burnett calls very briefly, Zarembka gives an even briefer treatment of my second longest discussion of evidence for fakery: the reported phone calls from Barbara Olson. According to her husband -- Solicitor General Theodore "Ted" Olson -- she had called him twice from American 77, with the first call lasting "about one (1) minute"19 and the second one "two or three or four minutes."20
It appears, however, that this story could not have been true, for several reasons. In the first place, the story told by Ted Olson, as purportedly told to him by his wife -- the story according to which three or four slight men armed with only knives and box-cutters held off 60 passengers and crew members -- was extremely implausible.
Second, there seemed to be no way that Barbara Olson could have made calls from American 77: Her flight at the time of the calls was too high for cell phone calls, and the FBI, in any case, indicated in 2004 that there were no cell phone calls from this flight. (To repeat: The FBI said: "All of the calls from Flight 77 were made via the onboard airphone system."21 ) The Boeing 757s equipped for American Airlines, moreover, evidently had no onboard phones for use by passengers and crew. These facts, especially when combined with the implausibility of the Olson story, had provided strong reasons to doubt the truth of that story prior to 2006. But in that year, the FBI's telephone evidence about American Flight 77 was made public as part of the FBI's evidence for the Moussaoui trial, and it said, in effect, that the Olson story could not have been true: Whereas Ted Olson had said that he had received two calls from his wife, one of which lasted about a minute and the second of which lasted at least twice as long, the FBI report said that Barbara Olson attempted (only) one call, that it was "unconnected," and that it (therefore) lasted "0 seconds."22
How does Zarembka treat this information? First, he does not mention the fact that what had been the dominant press account in the first several years -- that Barbara Olson had used her cell phone -- has now been ruled out by the FBI.
Second, he says that I ruled out her using "an air phone" on the basis of "[c]laiming" that "air phones were unavailable to passengers on American Airlines Boeing 757s." By speaking about what I was merely "claiming," Zarembka seems to suggest that American Flight 77 might have actually had working onboard phones.
Third, at this point, Zarembka does not mention the information about Flight 77 made available by the FBI in 2006. He merely says: "Griffin is unsatisfied with leaving it there and provides some other abnormalities." Zarembka then recommends "[Rowland] Morgan's 2010 extensive discussion of the alleged Olson calls."
Morgan's book-length essay, which I cited many times, is indeed excellent. And one of the factors making it excellent is its report about the crucial information that Zarembka failed to mention: that the telephone data contained in the evidence for the Moussaoui trial says that "Mrs. Olson had only made one call, an unconnected call, by unidentified phone type, and that she had never spoken to her husband."23 Why Zarembka did not consider this information worthy of mention, I do not know.
Instead of mentioning this information, Zarembka concluded his brief treatment of the Olson calls by saying: "Olson had been originally scheduled to fly on September 10" -- which was Zarembka's way of indicating that it would have been difficult for Barbara Olson's calls to her husband to have been morphed. This suggests that, in spite of the evidence that she could not have used either a cell phone or a seat-back phone, and in spite of the FBI's indication that she did not complete a call to her husband, Zarembka still believes that she somehow made the calls. I cannot understand what kind of thought process led him to this conclusion.24
Not More Passenger Calls?
I had begun the eighth section of my chapter by saying: "Another reason for doubting the authenticity of the 9/11 phone calls is the very small number of passengers who, according to the official story, took advantage of the opportunities to make phone calls." Zarembka, meaning to lift up another stone with "error" written on it, writes: "[I]n the process of listing each of the four planes . . . , he [Griffin] seems to forget that a few pages earlier he had made a full argument that air phones were unavailable for flights AA 11 and AA 77 as they were using Boeing 757s."
However, although there are errors in relation to this point, they are by Zarembka. In the first place, he said that American 11 (as well as American 77) was a Boeing 757. But American 11 was a 767, hence it presumably had onboard phones.25 Zarembka should, therefore, have responded to the problem about the official story of American 11 raised by Rowland Morgan: "There were about 76 passengers sitting unsupervised in business and coach while the alleged hijackers were locked away. . . . All of them sat facing seatback phones. . . and no passenger called 9-1-1?"
A more important error made by Zarembka is that he evidently failed to note that I was discussing American 77 within the framework of the official story. Within this story, there is no acknowledgment of the evidence that Boeing 757s -- and hence American 77 -- had no working onboard phones that could be used by passengers and flight attendants. This is shown by the fact that flight attendant Renee May is listed by the FBI as having used an onboard phone to call her parents from American 77, and Barbara Olson is listed as having tried to make a call.
Within that framework -- according to which passengers and flight attendants could have used seat-back phones on American 11 and 77 and United 175 and 93 -- it would indeed be surprising that there would have been so few calls.
Zarembka has suggested that my treatment of the "phone calls from the 9/11 planes" often portrays the official story as being false when the evidence does not support such a severe verdict. But Zarembka's critique failed at virtually every point.26 Zarembka also concluded his critique by stating that my chapter suffers from problems of "internal logic." But no instances of this failure have been shown. Rather, what Zarembka saw as problems in logic were actually misreadings of my arguments, as I hope my rebuttal has made clear.