refer to the maps in this section and consider the proposition in
If we assume as a given the information that a civilian airliner
will be deliberately flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center
at 8.46 am on the morning of 11 September, 2001, hitting the tower head on
at 450 m.p.h. after flying in a straight line towards it, at a constant
height of about 1,200 feet, impacting at around floor 95 (15 or so from
the top of the tower) to contain the death toll to roughly 1,500*; we
need propaganda film of this event, showing the last seconds of the
plane's flight (in the unlikely event of there being no eyewitnesses, in which case the
fire could have been caused by something inside the building) and allowing
a close-up of the damage to the building after impact, which means filming
from somewhere north of the tower.
* See Appendix 7
Obviously, the film would have to be
disguised as "accidental," so a cover story has to be contrived, and a
suitable filming location chosen. This is no doubt exactly how the Naudet
film was organised by setting requirements, and trying to solve all the
problems involved in a brainstorming session like the one in the film
"Wag the Dog", about a fabricated war, ironically starring Robert De
Niro, who, even more ironically, was somehow persuaded to introduce the
original TV version of the Naudet film, lending it some much-needed
credibility, when he and his management should have known better.
(Strangely, when the film was released on VHS and DVD, it included new
footage and 52 extra minutes of interviews, but De Niros contribution had
been completely removed: did he get wise ?)
The vast majority of Manhattan's population
at any given time is either inside a building home, school, workplace,
etc or a vehicle car, bus, subway, etc. Of the small minority who are
outside on the street, on foot, most of those are moving towards a
destination. It would be virtually impossible to capture the impact either
from inside a building or vehicle, certainly a moving one, or while
walking, so the photographer has to be outside, on the street, stationary.
The most convenient pretext for being in a certain place, at a
certain time, is to use people who have to be at any place, at
any time one of the emergency services: firemen, for example. But
firemen don't normally carry cameras with them. Solution: have someone
else filming them, for a documentary. But the film couldn't be about a
fire, if we need to capture the plane: it would be too distracting and too
dangerous. The plane would only be audible and visible for about ten
seconds from any one point in the city from most places, with a sudden
increase in volume and visibility and then fading away again just as
suddenly it would only be at maximum volume for one or two seconds. Ten,
or even two, seconds of loud extraneous noise near the camera a truck
engine, a pneumatic drill could completely drown out the plane's
engines. What we really need is a silent emergency a suspected gas leak, for
Since we want to avoid filming the plane in motion, which
might blur the impact shot, we need an excuse for only filming the last
few seconds, preferably from behind the plane but not straight behind
it, because that would look too convenient ; as would managing to grab a
camera, or start filming, just before the impact even if there was
enough time to do it. The best method is simply to have the plane hidden
from view temporarily plausible enough, in a city as full of tall
buildings as New York. Not that you need a tall building to hide a plane
or even the World Trade Center towers.
If they were the only
buildings in New York, and the rest of it was flat, it would be easily
possible to hide them from one person's view by having someone else
standing in the way an adult in front of a child, for example or, as
shown in the Naudet film (Picture 1a in Appendix 4), a fireman filmed from
a child's height. Or the camera's view could be blocked by having the lens
coated in dust as in other scenes from the Naudet film, as it happens.
Not to mention other filming hazards like lampposts, traffic lights, road
signs, tree branches, birds, etc all of them to be seen in the film. The
number of streets it might be possible to use for filming is extremely
limited, and for these purposes I would reduce it to the six north-south
streets shown in Map 1 (actually a satellite photograph (or composite), as are 2 and 4) leading off southwards from Canal Street, from left to right, West Broadway, Church Street,
Broadway, Cortland Avenue, Lafayette Street and Centre Street.
Lower Manhattan is a region of huge skyscrapers, but there are three giants in particular in the area between the World Trade Center and Canal Street, marked as C, D and F in Map 1. These three create large "blind zones," numbered 1, 2 and 3 in the map, and extending as far as the black lines on either side, from where the WTC North Tower is not visible. Building E also creates a blind zone over most of the area between 2 and 3, but there are parts from where the tower can be seen (see Part 5 for a shot from Lafayette Street). The green parts of the six streets are areas outside the blind zones (parts south of the three giants are excluded because of the time factor) : note that the only one of the six that is green all the way north from C, D and F, offering an unobstructed view of the North Tower, is Church Street. The red spot opposite Building A marks the location where Jules Naudet filmed Flight 11's last two seconds from the top of Church Street.
Map 2 shows that the angle between Naudet and Flight 11's path was only 12 degrees, measured from the North Tower : just one thirtieth of a circle further west, and he would have been right under the plane and would have filmed its impact from directly behind and if he had, would have instantly made it much more obvious it was staged. The map also shows how delicate, and how important, Naudet's position was time-wise, with only six seconds of flying time between him and the plane's target and how perfectly positioned he was in that regard : not too far away, not too close.
Isn't that rather vague ? No it's not : nobody in New York even attempted to film the plane's impact from ten seconds of flying time away, or twenty seconds, or two, and they would very probably have failed if they had. The only person who consciously attempted to film it, succeeded partly because he was at the right distance. Wolfgang Staehle's cameras were filming automatically, and Pavel Hlava claims he was unaware of any plane until later ; only Naudet was deliberately filming the plane, and only Naudet filmed its impact on the tower. There could have been hundreds of photographers at roughly the right distance : there was one.
Conversely, it should be pointed out that he could have been six seconds away, even at the same crossroads, but inside a car, facing north ; or in one of the corner cafιs ; or behind the AT&T Building ; or in the Post Office ; or tying his shoelaces ; given any of which, he might as well have been miles away. His location was only one element of several but it had to be right, and it was. The problem with his story is : so was everything else.
In Map 3 (tilted 15 degrees to point true north vertically), the "blind zones" from Map 1 are shown in more detail, shaded blue but these are only some of those areas. Virtually the
entire length of the west side of Church Street for example would be
shaded blue in a complete mapping. The significance of the red lines
leading from the Trade Center towers (G and N) up to the top right is that
if Naudet moves over those
lines, both towers disappear. One line goes from the NE corner of the South Tower (N) to the SE corner of the AT&T Building (A) and beyond : if he goes west of the line beyond that corner, into the blue area, both Twin Towers are completely lost to sight. The other line goes from the NW corner of the North Tower (G) to the NW corner of the cafe at the SE corner of the Church-Lispenard junction : if he crosses east of that line, up Lispenard and into that blue area, both towers go out of sight on the other side of the street.
The dot showing his
position, just off the pavement at the NE corner of the intersection, is
in the exact centre of the WTC's "window of visibility" just as the
towers are right in the centre of his impact shot, with an equal width of
sky on either side the two facts being linked. He could have been
standing anywhere at that crossroads : within those four corners, can it
credibly be pure chance that he was standing at the exact midpoint of the
towers' visibility ? The picture at the heading of the Home Page proves the point. Divided into three equal sections, like some flags (the French one, for instance), the east side of Church Street on the left, the west side on the right, and the towers looming over West Broadway in the centre. That is not the view you get from the Church-Lispenard junction : you only get that view from the centre of that "window," exactly half-way between the corner of the cafe and the corner of the AT&T, cutting off the view if you go too far east beyond the first or too far west beyond the second. This photographer, exactly half-way between, has minimised the danger of either. And if you want to see how much of a difference his exact position makes, look at the picture at the end of Part 5, taken from maybe 15 feet further west, not even half-way across Church Street, with the North Tower about to start disappearing if you step just slightly to the right.
Map 4 shows the locations of the only five firehouses in the area covered by the photograph : three of them A, B and D responded to the 9/11 gas leak call, marked by Naudet's position (JN). (Bill Walsh (see Appendix 4-18) in his FDNY interview at Duane Street, 11 January 2002, made no mention of D, but thought Engine 55 at 363 Broome Street and Engine 24 at 227 6th Avenue (two of the four houses just outside the picture) may also have been there : "I'm not sure.") Engine 4 in South Street (E) would have been too far away, and C was not among the responders, either, perhaps for that reason or the same ones that led the Naudets to make their film at Duane Street instead of the house closest to the WTC : "Ten House" was (a) on the wrong side of the North Tower to film Flight 11 flying into its north face, and (b) too close to the South Tower to avoid its collapse (it was, in fact, so badly damaged it was shut down for months afterwards). Duane Street was, however, the closest house to the north of the North Tower, and that was the side the plane would hit. Duane Street had to be the place that provided the filming excuse,
if not the actual location of the impact shot.
The shot could not have been captured from any of the five firehouses themselves : C, too far south, E, even further away (for a relatively minor emergency they responded to 9/11 and, in fact, lost more men that day than any other house in Manhattan (see Section 7)), D, almost directly east (and the photographer has to be able to shoot a frontal close-up of the gash in the tower after impact, not just the impact itself), A, almost directly north (too straight behind the plane, which would have almost overflown the firehouse) and B, too close (only about 3 seconds to spare and the building faces north). It had to be when firemen were out on a call somewhere and filming the plane from out in the street would be easier, anyway preferably somewhere well on the other side of Duane Street from the Trade Center, to allow more filming time. Somewhere like Church Street, being the only one with a clear view of the tower all the way up although only on its east side. Somewhere as far up Church Street as possible, before it ends at Canal Street, with no continuation northwards : what's the last street ? Lispenard. And look at that : a giant skyscraper filling a whole block to itself, to hide the plane behind until the last two seconds. And across the street from it ... we could have a "reported" gas leak.
Buildings & Heights
A AT&T Building (430')
B Tribeca Grand Hotel (85')
C Western Union Building (370')
D AT&T "Long Lines" Building (551')
E Tribeca Tower (545')
F Jacob K. Javits Federal Building (587')
G One World Trade Center (1,368')
Approximate flight path of American Airlines
Time scale of last seven seconds of flight (1/8 of a mile a
second at 450 m.p.h.)
Jules Naudet's location between NE and SE corners
of Church/Lispenard intersection
12Ί angle between Naudet's position
and flight path as measured from One WTC
Jules Naudet (position marked as red dot)
A-G : as Map 1; other
buildings mentioned in text (with heights)
H : SoHo Grand Hotel
I : Post Office (24')
J : NYPD First Division Headquarters
K : FDNY Ladder 8, 14 North Moore Street (35')
L : FDNY Engine
7/Ladder 1, 100 Duane Street (40')
M : Seven World Trade Center (570'
rebuilt 2005, 741')
N : Two World Trade Center (1,362')
A Ladder 8, 14 North Moore Street
B Engine 7/Ladder 1, 100 Duane Street
C Engine 10/Ladder 10, 124 Liberty Street
D Engine 6, 49 Beekman Street
E Engine 4/Ladder 15, 42 South Street
JN Jules Naudet
1 One World Trade Center
2 Two World Trade Center