A Clue to the Truth about 9/11 ?

7. Elsewhere in the Naudet film

The 18 firemen interviewed in the Naudet DVD :
Battalion One : 1. Chief William Blaich (Commander); 2. Chief Joseph Pfeifer; 3. Ed Fahey, aide to Pfeifer.
Ladder Company One, Duane Street : 4. Captain Ron Schmutzler; 5. Lieutenant Gary Lajiness; 6. Lieutenant Bill Walsh; 7. Nick Borrillo; 8. Jamal Braithwaite; 9. John McConnachie; 10. Chris Mullin; 11. John O'Neill; 12. Steve Olsen; 13. Steve Rogers. [also included James Hanlon, the interviewer, not shown, and probationary Tony Benetatos]
Engine Company Seven, Duane Street : 14. Captain Dennis Tardio; 15. Joe Casaliggi; 16. Tom Spinard; 17. Damian Van Cleaf; 18. Pat Zoda.

It would obviously be very strange if the Flight 11 shot was fake, but the rest of the Naudet film, showing how events unfolded from then on, was a perfectly authentic documentary. That, to put it mildly, is not the case. The film is absolutely littered with scenes almost as bizarre as Flight 11. Some are not too difficult to figure out, some have a significance that escapes me, but all of them raise serious questions about the truthfulness of the film and the people in it. My article concentrates on the plane shot because it is by far the most important example of fraud, but many, many others can be pointed out, only some of which are included here. When the film was shown on British TV in September 2002, many reviewers commented on how dishonest and tasteless it was to have a subplot about the brothers thinking the other one was dead, or everyone thinking Benetatos was — as if an event like 9/11 needed to be embellished. It never seemed to occur to them the reason for these things was that the entire film was fake : not in the sense that its images had been tampered with (although some may have been — see Appendix 4), but that its whole premise was a lie — that these people found themselves caught up in things they never dreamed could happen. That claim is made so often in the film it should sound false to any sensible person, but most write it off as just poor scriptwriting — stating the obvious. This, however, is not a case of a failure of creativity or vocabulary. It is a case of "protesting too much" — of overdoing alleged innocence, when it shouldn't even be in question. We never saw it coming ... Not in a million years did I think those buildings would collapse ... If only we'd known ... Who'd have thought it ? ... We were so young and naive back then ... Time and again, the same message : they didn't know. I say the following examples point towards a very different message : yes they did.

"My point is, we knew those towers as well as anybody: but nobody — nobody — expected September 11th." — James Hanlon (01:54 into the film). Well, not strictly true: if we accept the official story, I think Osama Bin Laden must have expected it — like the 19 hijackers and everyone else involved in the conspiracy. We are told several intelligence agencies around the world, including in the USA, saw it coming; we have even been told members of the Bush Cabinet saw it coming. And if I am right, James Hanlon, the Naudet brothers and several employees of the Fire Department of New York saw it coming.

What is Hanlon’s point, anyway ? What does knowing the towers have to do with an ability to foresee 9/11 ? "We knew those buildings inside out, but we didn't know about Osama Bin Laden plotting in a cave in Afghanistan ?" And why, after all, would that be part of the job of a New York fireman ? Or maybe, translated, it's "Just in case there are any complete nuts out there who might have the idea I saw 9/11 coming, well, just for the record, no I didn't" — a denial so unnecessary it makes you wonder why he would conceivably say nobody expected it, and then repeat the word "nobody," meaning "or else." It makes you wonder why he didn't also deny shooting President Kennedy, if only because it happened before he was born.

Similarly (04:04) : "The strange thing is, the tape — the whole story — it kind of happened by accident. I mean, Jools and Gideon [sic] didn't mean to make a documentary about 9/11." You don't say. If that had been their intention, they would have known it was going to happen — "kind of" — which would mean they were complicit in it, which is obviously ridiculous. But not so ridiculous it doesn't need said, it seems — instantly making it rather less ridiculous.

Hanlon again (19:10), on the death of Firefighter Michael Gorumba two weeks before 9/11: "At the time, we didn't think there could be anything worse than losing a single firefighter" — "single" as in one — Gorumba had a partner, Lori Campbell. An innocent enough statement on its face; but not when we know — and Hanlon must have known — that just two months before this single death, three firefighters were killed on the same day, June 17, in a propane explosion in Queens, in what was known as the Fathers' Day disaster, bringing that year's death toll to the highest since 1998, before Gorumba and before 9/11.

FDNY Deaths 1986—2009 :
1986 2     1991 2     1996 3     2001 6*   2006 2
1987 4     1992 1     1997 0     2002 1     2007 3
1988 0     1993 1     1998 6     2003 2     2008 3
1989 1     1994 7     1999 1     2004 1†   2009 1
1990 0     1995 6     2000 1     2005 4     2010

* pre-9/11
† Died serving in Iraq. The FDNY website carries a Medal Day 2006 listing of the 239 "members" called up for service in Afghanistan and Iraq, including one fatality — this one (it also includes only one name from Duane Street). If there are New York firefighters, or "members," serving abroad in the military, are there conversely military "members" serving in New York firehouses ? This traffic between the fire service and the military, presumably not all one-way, would suggest that the idea of Duane Street being infiltrated by a military intelligence unit might be rather less far-fetched than it seems. This is, of course, speculative — but it would be, given the nature of such an operation.

The Naudet film contains not one reference to the Fathers' Day fire: because it happened in June, just after they started filming, maybe it just was not as convenient to a Naudet script that needed a death turning up just before 9/11, as an intimation of mortality and a prescient hint of what was to come — the way Michael Gorumba's conveniently did. (Is that yet another coincidence — or yet another can of worms ?) It's as bad as Benetatos being killed in a car crash: we can't have the main character killed at the start of the film — or the Naudets later, or James Hanlon, or anyone else from Duane Street. They all have to survive 9/11 — the script says so, and God wrote this script, says Tony's mother. Or, more likely, perhaps it's the fact that mentioning Fathers' Day would remind us that the result of a gas explosion can look like this:


What used to be the Long Island General Supply store, 12-22 Astoria Boulevard, Queens, Sunday June 17 2001 — Fathers' Day. (picture by FDNYphoto.com)

Would any New York fireman, just weeks after three colleagues had died in this, describe a gas leak call as "kind of routine," or say "You don’t think anything of it ?" Would a battalion chief in charge of that call saunter about hand in pocket, like Joseph Pfeifer ? Is that why Fathers' Day is unmentioned in the Naudet film ? In every firehouse in New York in September 2001, with memories of Harry Ford, John Downing and Brian Fahey still fresh, there was nothing whatever "routine" about any FDNY emergency call involving gas. The Naudets were desperate for a fire for their proby: what about this one ? Instant answer: he didn't start work at Duane Street until Thursday 5 July. But among those helping on June 17 were 16 Battalion Chiefs (and 46 engines, and 33 ladders — and Fire Chaplain Mychal Judge): was Chief Joe "kind of routine" Pfeifer one of them ? Were any firemen from Duane Street present ? How about Captain Dennis "arrived in minutes" Tardio ?

No — not 9/11. Queens, June 17 again. (FDNYphoto.com)


Where was James Hanlon on 9/11 ? What answer do we get ? Edit 4 (23:05 into the DVD): "I was off that day." No other explanation is offered until, more than an hour later in the film (1:27:57), long after both impacts and both collapses, we are told "I'd come in from home." When did he come in, exactly ? For nearly an hour of the film, Hanlon never once appears on screen — even as the narrator — from his last appearance at 21:26, standing at the dining room door on the night of 10 September, before he goes off duty, as his colleagues and the Naudets get stuck in. When Jules Naudet walks back into Duane Street firehouse at 1:20:37, in the "reunion scene," who comes in with him but James Hanlon, in our first sight of him on the actual day of 9/11 — but he is not identified, and we get no explanation as to how they come to be together. (See Appendix 4, Pictures 9a and b.) How did this other reunion happen ? Five minutes before, Jules had said "I need to go back to the firehouse." Was Hanlon with him then ? Apparently not — so when and how did they meet ? If he was already back at Duane Street before Jules, why not show them meeting, or say where he had been for the last hour ? Didn't Jules still have his camera with him ? Why wouldn't he want to film going back to the station, and seeing what had happened to the firemen, or his brother ? And yet our only film of his return — and the other firemen's — is apparently shot by Gιdιon; and when Jules walks in, his hands are free — where's his camera ?

Among others, former Chief Larry Byrnes (a fireman 1957—1998 — misspelled as Burns in the DVD captions) saw what had happened on TV and came out to Duane Street to volunteer his help (49:05) — just before the collapse of the South Tower, if the film's chronology is accurate, although the general recall (the first for decades) of all off-duty, if not retired like Byrnes, firefighters and officers had been broadcast on FDNY radio and by the media a full half hour earlier, at 9.29. Why, apparently, didn't James Hanlon turn up until the Twin Towers had been destroyed ? What was he doing while the rest of the world was watching the World Trade Center, live and/or on TV ? Maybe we are meant to see him as just a detached observer, the film's narrator, but how detached can he really be when he works at the firehouse in the film and knows the men who were filming what happened ? Or maybe he's just too modest to tell us that the second he heard about the first plane, he grabbed his gear and was out the door, heading for 1 WTC — where, in a rare failure of serendipity, Jules Naudet's camera failed to pick him out from among the milling hundreds.

Another mysterious disappearance : after surviving the North Tower collapse, Jules says (1:10:13) "Chief Pfeifer says 'OK, let's go now.' And we get up — the dust starts to clear because the wind was blowing in the opposite direction." Pfeifer : "After that, it was just trying to literally walk around the block and — and regroup, and walk back to the scene and see what we could do." The film then cuts to Gιdιon's abstract study of dust blowing past his camera. Pfeifer has just spoken his last words in the film until almost 28 minutes later, when he appears talking about losing his brother Kevin. Because it appears that Naudet, having had his life saved by Pfeifer diving on top of him, shows his gratitude by taking off looking for his brother. As Pfeifer puts it in his Firehouse interview "The cameraman went one way and I went back to the scene" — i.e. the Trade Center, or its remains. He must have been there rather a long time, because "We stood there and we watched 7 collapse" (at 5.20 p.m.). He also mentions meeting Chief Byrnes, working at 10 Engine, but says nothing about Benetatos being with him; and we never see Pfeifer (or Byrnes) coming back to Duane Street. Gιdιon is waiting for Jules; everyone is wondering where Benetatos is; nobody seems to care that Pfeifer, their Battalion Chief, hasn't shown up. Why the lack of concern ? And why didn't Jules stay with Pfeifer after the collapse ? Why wander off on his own, being challenged by policemen, when Pfeifer could have vouched for him ? "So I go back up, walk north, not really knowing where I'm going." But, funnily enough, ending up at Duane Street, where guess who was waiting for him all the time ?

And, of course, we have that other question that never gets answered : why the brothers ever got separated in the first place. If the point was to film Benetatos fighting a fire, and the whole company except him went to the gas leak call, he was hardly likely to be fighting any fires on his own, so why did Gιdιon stay with him ? To keep him company ? Why didn't both Naudets ride with Pfeifer ? But then they wouldn't have had the adventures they did, and we wouldn't have the entertainment of the separation/reunion story — on top of the 9/11 one. Terrorist lunacy and a tearjerker : a bargain at any price. David Friend, the man with all the answers, has one for the separation question : "Gιdιon ... remained back at the station house ; Benetatos was just going off shift." By the time the gas leak call came in, he would have known he was not going off shift at 9 a.m., and leaving the firehouse empty, if the rest of the crew had not come back from the leak by then, which he could not just have assumed. And if they knew he was going off shift in half an hour, why was he left in charge of the firehouse at 8.30 in the first place ? How could they have known how long the call was going to take ? The explanation is nonsense, anyway, because Gιdιon would have wanted to film Benetatos fighting a fire, which he would not have been doing on his own, or if he was just about to end work and go home. Can we try again ? Why did Gιdιon stay at Duane Street ? Friend's "explanation" makes as much sense as his statement, from the same paragraph : "On the morning of September 11, the station received word of a gas leak at Lispenard and Church, near the twin towers." The leak was, in fact, three quarters of a mile away from the towers — fifteen blocks — seven further away than the station : if Friend knows where Duane Street is, why would he imply the Church-Lispenard junction was closer to the Trade Center ?

"Unfortunately, after 9/11, they had assistance in the editing of what they had witnessed from Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair and a pack of producers. So the documentary attempted to inject a superfluous 'plot,' as if the simple chronicle of what the brothers witnessed was insufficient for the bored, 'dumbed down' viewer. Feature films, such as Traffic, adopt a documentary style, affecting to be real life, while epic real life attempts to disguise itself as Hollywood. On the Naudets' film, the commentary and musical score were an irritant, the journalistic input irrelevant." "Unfortunately, they couldn't resist adding an unnecessary and irritating polish. There was an infomercial-esque introduction by Robert De Niro, some dreadfully hammy narration and a soundtrack of Mongolian throat singing. As one of the Naudets talked of being chosen as "history's witness," suddenly the Mongolian throat singing didn't sound so bad. All of this may have had something to do with Vanity Fair's editor, Graydon Carter, being an executive producer. As 9/11 leaned towards the glossy and the produced, it became schmaltzy and oddly sanitised, something that detracted from the film's impact and import. Consider the lily gilded."

"The problems stem from the Naudets' misconceived attempt to accommodate the events of that day within their original idea. In trying to keep Benetatos at the centre, they bent their film to create a false drama. Through a combination of ominous hints and evasions, we were led to believe that Tony ... had died in one of the Twin Towers ... The deceit left a sour taste ... It takes a special outlook to run towards danger when every survival instinct recommends the opposite direction. That mentality was movingly caught on film here but then turned by the sorrowful tinkle of a piano and a saccharine narration into sentimentality ... Then something more impatient intervened in post-production; call it the American myth-making machine or public appetite for heroes." Did I write any of this ? These are from reviews by, in order, Yvonne Roberts (Observer), Gareth McLean (Guardian) and Andrew Anthony (Observer, again), all beginning to show an awareness of something wrong with the Naudet opus, but none of them getting anywhere near just how wrong, or why — possibly "because it could take us down roads where we don't want to go," in the words of Michael Moore, someone who isn't going down any of those roads himself, if he can help it.

Another piece of missing film : did Gιdιon film the collapse of the North Tower ? If he did, where is the film ? His last shot of firemen Steve Rogers, John McConnachie and Kirk Pritchard heading down Church Street towards the tower is at 1:06:39, then it switches back to Jules and we get nothing more from Gιdιon until the film abstraction, after the collapse of the tower, starting at 1:10:41. But Rogers says he saw the tower collapsing just after they all arrived (Task Force interview, 9 January 2002). If Gιdιon was also a witness, and we know he had his camera with him, why would he not have filmed it ? Did he get separated from the firemen, and if so, how ? Did he have a miraculous escape, like his brother ? Was he filming running away from the tower, like his brother ? Did somebody decide — sensibly, for once — that a double simultaneous miracle would be pushing the audience's credulity a bit ? And yet, the question stands : did he film it ? And if he did, why would they edit out footage like that ? (See Pictures 30a-30b)

Once again, David Friend to the rescue, if only five years later : "he mistakenly put his camera on zoom." Well, even professionals make mistakes. And yet, describing his first arrival at the North Tower before capturing the second plane, Gιdιon says : "The cameraman in me took over. I realize I am here to film. This is too important to f*** up." But what did he do when he went back down to the North Tower an hour later ? He f***ed up. When did he f*** up ? Was picture 30a shot on zoom ? If it was, he could quite easily have filmed the collapse with a setting like that. He would only have missed it if he was right up close, filling the whole screen with the side of the tower — but why would he have done that ? Again, the "explanation" simply raises more questions. He managed to snatch the South Tower plane, squeezed into the corner of his picture for just a few frames, ostensibly by complete accident — but then missed the entire 110-floor North Tower collapsing, over ten seconds, because his camera was set too close ? Shouldn't that be the other way around, to be slightly more credible ? He should have missed the second plane because he was deliberately, not mistakenly, zoomed in on the North Tower, shooting close-ups of the impact area, people hanging out of the windows, etc, and then later filmed that same building collapsing : that would make more sense. Getting the first shot but missing the second one stretches credulity.

"Waiting for a job — that was a very big concern. But every time we would talk with some of the senior guys, they always told us 'Well, be careful what you wish for'" — Jules Naudet (17:12). And isn't there something tasteless about actually wanting a serious fire, just to make a film about it ? Most firemen would be perfectly happy if they never got called out — they know just how dangerous fires are, and they would never dream of wishing for one, or humouring some fool who wanted them risking their lives for the sake of a film. Fires are not entertainment — a fact learned, as shown in the film, by every student at Fire Academy — and one that should have been understood by anyone even contemplating a documentary on that subject — if that ever was the idea in the first place, as opposed to making a propaganda film of people being killed by their own government. Does that explain Naudet the budding pyromaniac ?

Of course, even when the World Trade Center fires turned up, there was no firefighting, with or without Benetatos. It was never a serious proposition that firemen could climb 80 or 90 floors before they even started attempting to tackle fires like that — and Pfeifer specifically told them not to go any higher than Floor 70 (28:58). Or that Naudet could film them getting even that high, when he had been told to stay with the Chief. "We made a conscious decision early on that we weren't going to try and put the fire out ... this was strictly a search and rescue operation" : Division I Chief Peter Hayden, Firehouse magazine, April 2002. So what do we get instead ? Film of firemen, policemen and officials of the Port Authority and OEM all trying — with mixed success — to use phones and radios, as hundreds of firemen are sent upstairs, helping on the way with an evacuation that could have been a lot easier without them and their equipment blocking the stairways. "What they did that day — what everyone there did — was remarkable": James Hanlon (03:03). Remarkably pointless and futile, perhaps. When the FDNY lost as many in one morning as in the previous 51 years (total deaths 1950-2001 : 343), in buildings from which virtually all the original occupants below the impacts had been successfully evacuated, and no firefighting was ever contemplated (a message that seems never to have been passed on to the Duane Street contingent : "We'll get there" (Tardio), "They'll put it out. That's what they do" (Jules Naudet) — see Pictures 29a-29d), the loss of life seems criminally negligent. This will have to be properly accounted for : it should already have happened, but for the same things that make rational discussion of the VietNam deaths — the American ones — impossible.

And if that seems unduly critical of folk caught in a (supposedly) unimaginable situation, read this : "We were doing nothing. Nothing. What's the plan ? Nobody had a plan." Or this : "Yet those efforts do not explain why so many firefighters died in a building they could have escaped and where there was scarcely anyone left who could be helped." The second one is the opinion of Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, no fans of conspiracy theory, in their excellent book "102 Minutes," and the first is their quote from Lieutenant Steve Modica, aide to the late Chief John Paolillo. There are plenty of New York firemen who well know that one of the reasons their brothers died on 9/11 was the incompetence — and hopefully no more than that — of their superiors : they are also well aware of the things that stop them saying it.

Jules again (21:49) : "We all joked all night long. It was a great night. Little did we know." Little did they know what would happen the next morning — September 11. Of course — again – if they had known, they would have been complicit. How could they have known ? It's yet another example of protesting too much: one of umpteen references in the film to hindsight — what they didn't know at the time, but found out later. Every denial simply achieves the exact opposite: why would anyone who genuinely didn't know feel the remotest need to say so ? What would they have done if they had known ? Changed history by foiling the plot ? Politicians might have been able to do that, or Air Force commanders. Why would a French film-maker with no political or military authority imagine it could all have been different — if only he'd known ? Do we ever hear any other ordinary members of the public coming out with this ? If they raise the subject at all, they ask why the government didn't prevent it. Nobody says "if only we'd known" — except the Naudets and their friends. Their film is aimed at people who don't understand that when the suspect says "I didn’t shoot her" before the detective mentions a gun, it instantly gives him away. You don't overdo the innocent act if you want to get away with it. Compare the alleged innocence of the gas leak scene: "You don't think anything of it" (Casaliggi); "It’s just another call" (Jules Naudet); "And it was kind of routine and um pretty simple" (Pfeifer). Nothing suspect there, then: three of them denying it. Which gives me three reasons for refusing to believe them. If it's nothing unusual, why the harping on about it ?

Gιdιon Naudet (35:56) : "There were people from all over the world in these streets — different colours, different languages." Why does he sound surprised, as a resident of New York since 1989, that the city's people have different skin colours and speak different languages ? Like French, for example. But when you're making a propaganda film, and you need to say the whole world was there, in the streets, watching the two towers, that’s the kind of nonsense you come out with. Can there be any other reason for saying it ? Or how about this comment ? — "And they were all looking at the same thing and talking about the same thing and reacting the same way." (36:21) ? Nobody dancing and laughing and celebrating, then ? Well, nobody except the Laughing Man in Appendix 4, Picture 27a — and the five Israelis arrested by the FBI after filming the WTC in flames from Liberty State Park in New Jersey, but that story's untouchable — obviously anti-Semitic.

"We have something that has happened here": TV announcer (26:46). Reminiscent of the infamous sentence "It appears as though something has happened in the motorcade route" from a Dallas radio announcer in November 1963. The "something" in each case was something that nobody from any of the network TV companies managed to capture on film, in a colossal failure of professional journalism — worse in 1963, when it happened at a public event; more understandable on 9/11, when the event was unexpected, but still a colossal failure. When there must have been witnesses who saw the plane, and could explain why the building was on fire, how could any TV announcer be reduced to "something that has happened” ?

"As we swung around in front of World Trade, my mind tells me 'Wow! This is bad.'” Damian Van Cleaf, Engine 7 (27:03). "That wasn't occurring, almost like he knew that this was not good": Pfeifer on Judge's reaction to the burning North Tower (48:03). "When the second plane hit, that's when you could see fear”: Gιdιon Naudet (35:37). "And for the first time, I looked in someone else's eyes and saw fear”: Van Cleaf (54:17). "Inside the Trade Center, all Jools and Chief Pfeifer knew — all anyone knew — was that something had gone terribly wrong”: James Hanlon (53:11), after the sound of the collapse of a 110-storey building. "Wrong” ? Surely not. "Every single cell of your body is telling you, you know, you should not be here" : Gιdιon (1:00:09), refusing to listen to every single cell of his body and heading straight into a disaster area, like the teenager in the horror film who just can't stay out of the haunted house. "And there was just a sense that this wasn't a good place to stay": Pfeifer (1:03:52), exercising his ESP rather than his eyes or his brain, like the man looking over the side of the Titanic. "This is not a good sign," as Captain Tardio would say — and did (1:05:33) — as, he admits, a joke.

"And we look, and the tower's here, so, OK, probably it was something else. The tower is still standing. The other one, we can't see it, but it's probably just, you know, on the other side": Jules Naudet (1:03:20). Apparently, they thought the noise they had just heard was the building they were in, the North Tower, collapsing — but when they get out, there it is in front of them — "the tower" — not "the North Tower." Not "the South Tower," either — but "the other one." Why doesn't he specify "North" and "South" ? Is it credible that it never occurs to him that if the noise wasn't the North Tower coming down, and they can't see South, the "something else" might have been South falling ? Is it credible that of all the folk wandering around, not one knows the South Tower has gone, and tells them that ? Another question : if they thought the noise was North coming down, why did Pfeifer, as he claims, broadcast an evacuation order, and when did he do it ? Running for the escalators ? Who would have had the time to get out, if Pfeifer himself barely managed it ?

Jules Naudet (1:06:45) : "Strangely enough, I kept ... the only thing that was — that was my preoccupation was to, to, to clean my lens. I don't know if it was a way for me to try to focus on something so I can stay away from the horror of the reality, but it was just my obsession — my lens needs to be cleaned." Or maybe it was knowing that in two minutes the North Tower was going to collapse — which it did — and he wanted to get a clear picture of his escape from it — which he did. (See Appendix 4, Pictures 16a to g.)

"Again, the cameraman would just film": Gιdιon Naudet (1:19:35), on the firemen returning to Duane Street after the second collapse. He seems to be referring to himself as "the cameraman," yet at 1:20:46, when the brothers are reunited, we see them together in the same picture: who was filming that ? (See Appendix 4, Picture 9c). Curiously, the only camera credits given at the end of the film (in both the DVD and TV versions) do not include the names Jules Naudet, Gιdιon Naudet or James Hanlon: yet the Naudets were given camera credits in their previous film (see Convenience No. 65) — in which, in marked contrast to "9/11," they never once appear on screen, together or separately (except by accident, reflected in mirrors — see Picture 37 in Appendix 4) ; nor does Hanlon, although he does narrate one of the film's twelve chapters.

At 04:49 in the DVD, Hanlon says "We teamed up and by June of 2001 the three of us were out at the Fire Academy, shooting the training," which suggests all three were filming, then and maybe later. Hanlon is, in fact, fireman, director, producer, narrator and (presumed) cameraman in the film (as well as being an actor elsewhere); he also conducts the film's interviews, and seems to have at least contributed to the basic theme of the film — the proby's rites of passage. It could even be said he played a larger part in bringing the film about than the Naudets themselves did. But it does not inspire confidence in the authenticity of any documentary to have it presented by a professional actor, whether or not he also happens, in this case, to be a fireman.

Sir Laurence Olivier narrated the classic British TV series "The World at War," but unlike Hanlon, he never appeared on screen, did not film any of the scenes and was not a personal friend of the film-makers or their subjects. Hanlon's status represents another blurring of the distinction between fact and fiction in the film. "9/11" might, in fact, better be described as a drama-documentary, or a "faction," but it was marketed as the real thing — as history, on film, as it happened, "beginning to end" (03:16) ; not with editing like that, it's not — and not with an actor presenting it — and not with staged, scripted reconstructions.

Ex-Chief Byrnes to Tony Benetatos (49:25), at Duane Street, just before Gιdιon films them leaving for the Trade Center (and presumably would have followed them there, but Tony sends him back into the firehouse for some gloves, and they've disappeared into the crowd by the time he gets back — another idiotically contrived story) : "Get a flashlight, and a bottle of water." Simple enough advice, although I would have thought firemen carried flashlights — torches, as we call them in Britain (where miners wear them on their helmets) — as a matter of course, but apparently not. What do we see four minutes later (53:27) ? Jules : "They asked me "You with the light, help us out." So it was pointing my light wherever they needed." Are we really to understand that none of the firemen with Naudet, groping around in the dark and dust of Tower One after Two's collapse, had something as basic for members of an emergency service as a flashlight, and were dependent on the light from Naudet's camcorder ? Well, weren't they lucky they had a cameraman with them ! They might never have got out the place without him — although even with him, it seems to take them most of the half hour between the first collapse and the second one to find a way out. Maybe it was all the effort of carrying Father Judge's dead body around with them — as you do, when you're choking with dust, desperately trying to get out of a pitch-black hell-hole. Could this possibly be just another invented pretext, I wonder, so that the script doesn't have them outside the North Tower straight after Pfeifer's reaction shot and the mad dash for the escalators ? Then, we'd all wonder, how would they fill up most of half an hour before North came down as well ? Why would they still be standing around anywhere near it, for their "miraculous escape" episode, when passers-by would have told them what had happened to the other tower ? So, instead, we have them stuck inside North all that time, and edit in some interview footage to pad it out a bit, and give us a break from floating dust and a fleeting glimpse of somebody's boot — a boot that should be liberally applied to the person who wrote this script.

From Vincent Dunn's "50 Ways Firefighters Die" : "Visibility reduction due to smoke and darkness at a fire is a major contributing cause of fireground death and injury. All firefighters should carry personal flash-lights. All departments should use spot-lights and floodlights to improve visibility at night." "The firefighter's best protection against injury and death by a fall during overhauling is a properly charged flash-light. No firefighter should respond to a fire without a personal light." Why did these firefighters need a film-maker's light ?

Captain Dennis Tardio (1:22:09) : "I can't believe we all made it out. How did we make it out of that building ? Thirty seconds — another two flights higher — why am I alive and so many others are dead ?" An interesting question. Of the 343 firemen killed that day, 95 came from Division 1, the five Manhattan battalions closest to the Trade Center,* and of those five, the highest death toll (25) was from Battalion 1 — but none of them were from Duane Street. Only three other houses in the division recorded zero deaths — Canal Street, Henry Street and East 18th Street. Duane Street, however, unlike them, claimed to have supplied some of the first firemen into the tower (Pfeifer was the first chief — 27:56). Somehow, the first-in-last-out rule seems not to apply here. "A firefighter in full gear carrying 60-something pounds of hose and equipment takes about a minute to climb one flight of stairs": Hanlon (29:55). Which means that if Engine 7/Ladder 1 started climbing as soon as they arrived — say, about 9 a.m. — they could have been something like 50 floors up by the time the South Tower collapsed just before 9.59, presuming they could sustain that speed indefinitely, which is highly unlikely.

But assuming only 40, that means that even if they received an immediate evacuation order at 9.59, they would have had to come down 40 floors in the 29 minutes before the North Tower also collapsed at 10.28. Any later than 9.59 — and it was later — even faster ("We started calling our people down, which was probably about 25 minutes before the north tower collapsed" : Hayden, Firehouse, April 2002); from higher than 40 floors up, faster still — just to reach the exits — plus the time taken to get far enough away from the collapsing building. "I heard that Engine 7 got up to the 30th, 35th floor, somewhere in there, and they had gotten out just before the building came down" : Joe Casaliggi (who never got above the lobby himself, because of a faulty oxygen cylinder, so he can't confirm the claim), interviewed 9 January 2002. Even that lower figure, 30 floors, in less than 29 minutes, with radio contact intermittent, causes problems. "I can't believe we all made it out": and none of the rest of us should, either, with arithmetic like this — it doesn't add up. Where were the Duane Street firemen at 9.59 ? If they had been even as high as Floor 30, none of them should have survived to say so.

Lieutenant Jim Fody of Engine 7, who was working overtime that day with Engine 9 (Fire Department interview, 26 December 2001) : "We continued on about the 20th floor ... at this time the lights went out ... we didn't know it at the time, but this was, in fact, the south tower collapsing" — which happened at 9.59. But he and his unit carried on, to about Floor 23, by about 10.05, when his unit (all of whom survived) started to evacuate, having heard about the order from other units. Coming down 23 floors in less than 23 minutes might be just about credible, but for the question of why they had climbed only as far as Floor 20 by 9.59. He earlier claims that after one of his men witnessed the first plane hit the North Tower, "We arrived within, I would say, six or seven minutes" — i.e., well before 9 a.m. Why did it take his unit nearly an hour to get up only 20 floors, even, as he says, having a break every five floors ? Starting at 9 a.m., 20 floors at one minute a floor (Hanlon's timing) + four 3-minute breaks, being generous = 32 minutes ; what were they doing for the other 27 ? "I know 7 made it up as high as about the 30th floor," he says, confirming what Casaliggi says, but since Casaliggi's limit was the lobby and Fody's was No. 23, his use of the verb "know" is questionable. He doesn't know anything of the kind — and nor do we.

Firefighter Frank Campagna of Ladder 11 says (Task Force interview, 4 December 2001) he was on Floor 17 when the South Tower collapsed, then climbed another 13, then came down all 30 before North collapsed, at 10.28 : he is thus claiming to have negotiated 43 floors in the space of less than 29 minutes ! "We let the civilians go first ... we walked our way down" — leaving enough time for a chinwag in the lobby, before getting out just seconds before "it came down on top of us." If the unnamed chief they allegedly met on Floor 30, who told them to evacuate, had known the building was going to collapse, and exactly when, and how much time they had left to get out, the timing could not have been more perfect. The absurdity continues : do any of these firemen have a clue where they were, when, or are they just making it up as they go along, or lying ? Their interviews were only conducted to have some kind of internal FDNY record of what happened : none of what they said was under oath, and firemen are only human, but evidence as improbable as this would never be accepted for two seconds in any legal forum. Why did their interviewers accept it ? Were any of the witnesses ever called back in, to account for contradictions or just plain nonsense ? Apparently not.

Why was Engine 9 only 20 floors up by 10 a.m. ? Why was Engine 7 only 30 floors up, by maybe the same time ? Why wasn't Dennis Tardio interviewed by the FDNY Task Force, so that we could establish, from someone who was actually there, what floor his unit reached, and when they started to come down ? Hayden (Task Force interview, 23 October 2001) : "The latest report — the last report we had from anybody at all was that there were people that were heading up around the 48th floor. That was several minutes prior to this collapse. So we had people as high as the 50th floor while we had communications. I think that's about as far up as anybody got." If the men were climbing a floor a minute, starting at 9 a.m. and going on until the evacuation was ordered an hour later, some of them should have reached Floor 50 : but if Tardio and his Engine 7 group, one of the first units into the tower, only reached Floor 30, how on earth could anyone have got 18 floors higher ? Or even higher than that : the National Commission Report claims "one engine company had climbed to the 54th floor"; presumably they did not survive, if presumptions can be made in these circumstances.

We — and Tardio and company — are stuck with some simple historical and arithmetical facts :
9.00 : Start ascent
9.59 : S Tower falls; start descent
10.28 : N Tower falls
If the men came down at the same speed as they went up, the South Tower collapse would have had to be at about 9.45 for them to survive, maybe slightly later, if they could come down faster than going up. But they tell us in the film they were knocking themselves out going up, and the South Tower did not collapse at 9.45. They have an hour to get up, but only half that to come down : if they knocked themselves out going up, how could they possibly have come down the same distance in half the time ? They didn't go up 40 and come down 20. They have obviously used the Hanlon figure to calculate their descent time, but forgotten that it does not fit with their ascent time. If they came down a minute a floor, they could have gone up at the same speed — but, with twice the time, they would have reached twice the height — and never made it out. Their story about going up as fast as they could, desperate to tackle this fire and get the people out, has to be a lie. Either they came back down twice as fast as they could going up, or they strolled up, half as fast as they could, so that they left themselves enough time to get back down again — which would mean they knew when both collapses were going to happen.

An hour up, half an hour down, the same distance both ways : what's the distance, and what's the speed, either way ? No wonder we can't get definitive figures : none of them would make sense of this fairytale. We need to have a credible explanation as to how these firemen survived, and this is not it. Is the truth — the same way Jules Naudet also managed to survive (see below) — that these people never even went through the charade of going up the stairs at all, never mind coming back down in half the time ? It's not too difficult, after all, to avoid being crushed by a collapsing building, if you were never inside it in the first place — and the film has no evidence of any firemen going up the stairs, or coming down them. We only ever see them heading off into the distance, out of sight : some documentary. Everything that happened upstairs has to be taken on trust. With figures like these ? No thank you. If what the survivors say is true, they should never have been survivors.

* Battalion — Deaths — Address (Unit)
   (in bold : operating at Church/Lispenard at 8.46 am on 9/11; SOC — Special Operations Command)

1 : 13   South St (Engine 4/Ladder 15)
     0   Duane St (Engine 7/Ladder 1)
     4   Liberty St (Engine 10/Ladder 10)
     1   Beekman St (Engine 6)(+ 2 SOC)
     7   West 10th St (Squad 18)

2 :  8   227 Avenue of the Americas (Engine 24/Ladder 5)
     4   Broome St (Engine 55)
     1   North Moore St (Ladder 8)
    10   Lafayette St (Ladder 20)

4 :  0   Canal St (Engine 9/Ladder 6)
     0   Henry St (Engine 15)
     6   East 2nd St (Engine 28/Ladder 11)
     1   Pitt St (Ladder 18)

6 :  1   East 14th St (Engine 5)
     0   East 18th St (Engine 14)
    10   Great Jones St (Engine 33/Ladder 9)
    12   East 13th St (Ladder 3)

7 :  4   West 34th St (Engine 1/Ladder 24)
     3   West 19th St (Engine 3/Ladder 12)
     3   West 37th St (Engine 26)
     7   West 38th St (Engine 34/Ladder 21)

From 1:30:24 to 1:31:50, Benetatos describes where he was all day — unlike James Hanlon — between leaving Duane Street after the first collapse and coming back late in the afternoon, to an accompaniment of images that imply he had a cameraman with him all day. If he did, who was it ? And if not, why would any ethical documentarist, with a subject like this, try to pass this film off as contemporary ? If Benetatos did not have a photographer with him, that should not be implied. Don't the Naudet brothers know the difference between fact and fiction ? Genuine documentary film-making does not confuse the two: the Naudets do it all through their film.

"There was so much that we didn't know about that first day — who had attacked us, how, why": James Hanlon (1:32:17). One question that never seems to occur to anyone in the entire film, as they watch this lunacy going on, is where the US Air Force had been, or — another one — why they, as taxpayers, should carry on funding a trillion-dollar Department of Defense that was totally incapable of protecting the country's capital and its biggest city — or even its own HQ. If the film-makers wanted to avoid political controversy, why didn't they cut out all appearances by George W. Bush, the most divisive US President in decades — arguably ever ?

"Around 8.30" (see Film Edit 7) : why only "around" ? Isn't it standard practice to keep a log — both where the call originally went and at Duane Street — of the times of 911 calls (if this was a 911 call), and what action is taken on them ? To get a more exact time, a resident of New York State, which I am not, might want to write to the Records Access Officer of the Fire Department of New York — and/or the New York Police Department — and ask, under the New York Freedom of Information Law, for the records of all 911 calls made in Manhattan between 8.15 and 8.45 am on 11 September 2001. That might enable us to establish not just the time of the call, but where it was made from, and maybe even the identity of the bearded man at the Church/Lispenard junction, looking up at the plane — possibly the person who made the call, although the film never says so.

In the original TV version of the "9/11" film and its 2006 "update," the scenes inside Duane Street on the morning of 9/11 include a brief view of Tony Benetatos' helmet, which is marked "Prob Firefighter 8361" — the "Prob" standing for "Probationary"; in the "cherry picker" scene on 3 September, however, his helmet has the number 3865. Did he have two employee numbers, or two helmets ?

In his interviews with both Firehouse magazine and the FDNY Task Force, Pfeifer makes the following strange claim : "But right before the south tower collapsed, I noticed a lot of people just left the lobby, and I heard we had a crew of all different people, high-level people in government, everybody was gone, almost like they had information that we didn't have. Some of them were moved across the street to the command post" (Task Force); "All of the people that came into the lobby left the lobby. They were going to set up a command post across the street, so a lot of our guys left. And a lot of other people left. I'm not too sure what their reason was. Maybe they knew more than us. But the lobby kind of emptied out. And then the south tower collapsed" (Firehouse).

Firstly, the Incident Command Post was shifted from the lobby of WTC 1 out to the far (west) side of West Street Highway around 09:00, after the arrival of the then Chief of Department, Peter Ganci, who was later killed there (he appears never to have actually been inside either of the towers — and is never seen in the Naudet film) ; the lobby post then became an Operations Post, reporting to the ICP. This was an hour before the South Tower collapsed, not "right before" it : is Pfeifer's memory that faulty ? Secondly, if his implication is that the ones who left somehow knew a collapse was imminent, why would they not tell him, Hayden and the other chiefs left in the lobby ? His only reference in the film (49:58) is "I think at that point the lobby was pretty empty. There were just a few of us in the lobby, and — and we were discussing tactics." No explanation of why the lobby was empty, and no film of this mass evacuation, which seems to have completely escaped Naudet's eagle-eyed (when it suited him) attention.

The simplest explanation is that this is yet another fiction, contrived to help explain how the only casualty we are told about from the debris blasted into the lobby from the south tower collapse was Father Judge. If the lobby had still been packed, there would have been far more deaths and injuries, including possibly Pfeifer and Hayden, and the finding of only Judge's body would be a little too convenient, so the story needs an emptied lobby, and that's what the story gets — with the extra bonus of Pfeifer's own brand of conspiracy theory (reminiscent of Tardio's comments about demolition — see under Part 2): that these "high-level" gubmint types knew more than just an ordinary working fireman like him. Ain't it the truth ? Well — on balance — probably not. In this conspiracy, I think Pfeifer was almost certainly — as he was in the lobby — an insider.

How did Father Judge meet his end, anyway ? From a heart attack, according to Pfeifer ; other versions have him outside the tower, or even in the south tower, or from head injury caused by an exploding chunk of marble, or taking off his helmet giving the last rites to Firefighter Daniel Suhr, the only one who was killed by a falling body ; Judge's colleague, Father Cassian Miles, OFM, says "severe injury to the back of the head" ; "Brian Mulheren, a retired New York City police detective who attended the autopsy, said Father Judge died of blunt trauma to the back of the head" — but Mulheren himself was no stranger to controversy. Then we have the version offered by Safety Chief Stephen King (seen on the left in Picture 15e, Appendix 4) in his FDNY Task Force interview, 21 November 2001 (for what those testimonies are worth — not much) : "I remember at one point a fireman came in to the command post and he said "Father Judge is dead." And I said, "What are you talking about ? I was just talking with him," meaning five, ten minutes ago, or whatever. And he said, "He's dead, Chief." [Interviewer : Was this before the collapse ?] Before the collapse. Definitely before the collapse. Absolutely."

If King is referring to the Operations Post in the lobby of the North Tower, he must mean the collapse of the South Tower, after which the post in North was abandoned, and the firemen fled the building. He cannot mean the collapse of the North Tower : there was no command post there by then. King's version means Judge could not have been killed by the collapse of South. There appear to be no witnesses who actually saw how Judge died : how can that possibly be, when there were hundreds of people inside and outside the North Tower ? But every version of his death is second-hand, or speculative, or based on nothing more than what people want to believe, for religious or other reasons not accorded much weight at an autopsy. The Chief Medical Examiner, who performed the autopsy, could help clarify the question, although even if there was a head injury, there is no way to be sure exactly when or where or how it happened; and unfortunately, autopsy reports are not public documents in the USA — only the next of kin or people authorised by them are allowed access. Is King's memory faulty when he says Judge died before the collapse ? Or is he just lying ? Don't Father Judge's sisters deserve better than this shambles ?

At the Church-Lispenard junction, two pedestrians are seen crossing Church Street from east to west in Film Edit 26, one reaches the NE corner in Edit 27, and in Edit 30 one crosses from NW to NE, then one from NE to NW — and we have a bystander with the group of firemen. Why were any of these people allowed anywhere near the scene of a potential gas explosion ? From "Natural Gas Hazards" by Chief Frank C. Montagna of FDNY Battalion 58 (Brooklyn) and Matthew Palmer, Field Operations Planner with Con Ed: "The following tactics are recommended for firefighters when life and property are not in jeopardy: 1. Secure the area. Keep the public (and FDNY personnel) at a safe distance." Why was this not done ?

Item 6 in the list says "Position all apparatus and Firefighters upwind, out of the path of escaping gas." On the morning of 11 September, there was a mild north wind — the wind that blew the smoke from the North Tower towards the South Tower. Yet in Church Street, a fire truck and Chief Pfeifer's SUV were parked downwind from the alleged gas leak: why ?

When Chief Pfeifer arrived in the North Tower, "right away a guy from the Port Authority told him the damage was somewhere above the 78th floor" (28:01). (See Appendix 4, Picture 17b) Where did this information come from ? Even if communications with the upper floors were blocked, checking the building from outside should have established the impact was, in fact, much higher than that — between floors 93 and 99. How could it not have been known that the North Tower impact was 15-20 floors higher ? Because the staff were afraid to leave the tower ? So how did hundreds of firemen get in, with only one being killed by a falling body ? They would have known where the impact damage was. Pfeifer was looking at the tower all the way down from Church Street, as he made his radio reports : we see him repeatedly leaning into the front window to look up at it, and he must have seen what the film shows (See Picture 17a) — that the damage was nowhere near 32 floors from the top of the tower. "You get to know every step — every staircase — every storey" (Hanlon (01:22)) — but not, it seems, how to gauge, on a building clearly divided into three sections, the difference between 32 floors and 16.

When we see the front of the Chief's SUV being driven up Church Street for the gas leak call (Edit 22 in the Film Sequence listing), we are presumably intended to believe that this is the actual event on the day, so Naudet must be inside the car (although the glare in the windscreen prevents identification): so who filmed the car from outside it ? This scene is obviously a reconstruction: apart from the ethics, again, of doing that in a documentary, it raises the question of why Naudet, who was at the firehouse when the alarm call came in, did not film the whole episode from then on, instead of reconstructing the scene using later interviews with the firemen.

He was there himself: why do we have no film of it actually happening ? And why, once the live filming does start, at the junction, just before the plane arrives, is he apparently kneeling in the street (Edit 26 — see Pictures 1a-1d in Appendix 4) as he films the firemen standing in front of the Trade Center towers — which he holds the camera on as they walk out of shot ? He was there for one reason — to film the firemen: why is he prematurely filming the Trade Center, as if he somehow knows it is about to become the subject of the film, seconds before it does ? And why, when James Hanlon's commentary was overdubbed later, and this is our last ever view of the towers intact, is nothing said about it ? (Another example of missing commentary, like Hanlon reappearing on screen after an hour's absence.) We are apparently meant to read it as an "establishing shot," making the unspoken statement that he can see the Trade Center from where he is — because it might look suspect if our first view of it was when he panned left to film the plane hitting it.

But it looks suspect anyway, because unless he knew that was going to happen, why would he need to make the statement ? How could he have made it ? "I can see the Trade Center." So what ? How could he possibly have known the answer to "so what ?" before the plane supplied it ? As for why he was kneeling down, that has more to do with the shot's real purposes. There are times and places for "artistic" angles, and the site of a potential gas explosion is not among them. Naudet was obviously doing an establishing shot for his own reasons as well as the ones aimed at us: preparing his camera for a shot of a plane no-one had heard arriving yet, and checking his position and his view to make sure he had the towers in the middle of his picture, well above the traffic and well clear of the buildings in Church Street, with plenty of blue sky in between and above — and that he knew where to stop swinging the camera when the time came, by using visual cues in the local scenery (see Appendix 4 to find out which ones).

Watching the firehouse TV, Tony Benetatos is outraged (42:29 into the DVD — see Picture 2 in Appendix 4): "The Pentagon's on f***ing fire," he says, apparently not to the person ostensibly filming him live, Gιdιon Naudet. Small problem: the clock next to the TV says it is 9.30, but the Pentagon was not hit until 9.37. Easily explained: either the clock was at least 7 minutes slow or the scene we are watching is another reconstruction and the picture on the TV is a video recording. But what use would a wrong clock be in a firehouse ? And if the scene is a reconstruction, why would they leave in a mistake as obvious as this one ? How could they have him talking about something we'd know hadn't happened yet ? What kind of editing is this from CBS professionals, when it took a whole team of them months putting it all together ? Or perhaps the "error" was no error at all, but included entirely deliberately, to see how many spotted it — or rather, how few. Few enough for them to get away with it for nine years, apparently.


Eight days before 9/11: James Hanlon left, Tony Benetatos right. "The roof starts to collapse, you gotta get off" — Hanlon (20:06). Now how did those towers get into the picture ? You just can't get away from them — if you try hard enough not to. Result: Ironic Premonition No. 94. Note that the photographer has also neatly fitted in the third building that came down, WTC 7, just being touched by Benetatos' helmet. He could have got the heads closer, or had both facing the camera, hiding the backdrop, but that would have spoiled his composition, wouldn't it ? Note that the North Tower antenna marks the almost exact centre of the picture : yet another Naudet coincidence.

How do we explain another bizarre scene, on the night of 3 September — only eight days before 9/11 — where James Hanlon takes proby Benetatos up above the roof of the Duane Street firehouse on a fire truck "cherry picker" (19:46) ? Apart from the excuse of delivering advice on the dangers of collapsing roofs — the only apparent connection, in that aerial platforms like this can be used to extract people from places on a roof unreachable by ladder (but if the roof of the firehouse is the example, why can't we see it ? — and why doesn't Hanlon demonstrate taking the platform into a roof corner ?) — the major reason would appear to be what is shown in the above picture (also on the back of the DVD box): Hanlon, Benetatos and — framed between them — the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (and No. 7), lit up against the night sky. One might almost think the photographer was trying to tell us something — like, isn't it ironic he's up there listening to advice on getting off a burning building — in front of a background like that ? It could only be totally accidental — if not for the fact that the only way to film the towers from the front of Duane Street firehouse was to get 40 feet off the ground and point the camera south — with your alleged subjects on either side of them, carefully arranged to fit the picture, i.e. exactly the way this picture was shot. [And see Convenience 41 on the impossibility of filming the first plane from the firehouse — unless from across the road, with three seconds' notice.]

Of course, the very first action scene in the film (01:07) is of the Trade Center, with firemen from Duane Street — again, before 9/11 — when as Hanlon tells us, they might visit the buildings five times in a single shift, being only seven blocks away from it. That might explain why many sources cite Duane Street as the firehouse closest to the Trade Center: not true. It was certainly the closest one to the north, and the importance of that fact to the Naudet film is not hard to work out, but the closest house in any direction was Ladder 10/Engine 10 at 124 Liberty Street, directly opposite 4 WTC, and diagonally across from 2, the South Tower — whose collapse partly destroyed "Ten House" (it was re-opened only in November 2003, with its Engine 10 crew based at Duane Street in the interim, and Ladder 10 at South Street). If the pre-9/11 footage at the WTC was included with hindsight, after later events, did the Naudets film the firemen at any other buildings in lower Manhattan, or did they only take calls at the WTC ? Or was it, like the "cherry picker" scene, a case not so much of hindsight as of foreknowledge ?

And for those who think the above still represents only one temporary passing view from the scene, taken out of context, here is a complete breakdown of that 62-second, 16-cut scene, in the same style as the gas leak episode, followed by ten stills, most with subtitles :

1 (2.2) Date fills screen : September 3
(No dialogue)
2 (3.1) Late evening — view from across road of Ladder 1 truck jacked up outside Duane Street firehouse
(No dialogue [Picture 1 - 19:48])
3 (1.7) Benetatos climbs on to aerial platform
(No dialogue)
4 (2.2) Benetatos moves in next to Hanlon
(No dialogue)
5 (2.8) View from just under platform
Live (JH): We'll go straight up right now.
6 (2.1) Looking along Duane Street to east, with platform rising outside firehouse on right
(No dialogue [Picture 2 - 19:58])
7 (3.1) Platform going up, with Benetatos and Hanlon aboard — but no photographer !
(No dialogue)
8 (2.9) View from further below platform than in Cut 5
Live (JH): There's a lot of things going on at all times, you know ?
Live (TB): Right.
9 (3.6) Rightwards pan on to platform, with Hanlon on left, Benetatos on right and WTC 2, 1 and 7 (left to right) between them
Live (JH): Shit's hitting the fan, the roof starts to collapse, you got to get off. [Picture 3 - 20:07] You know, you got to really ...
10 (2.9) Close-up of Benetatos, then camera pulls back to show 7 WTC behind him, stopping when left side of tower is at edge of picture — obviously as deliberately as getting all three towers between both heads
Live (JH): ... improvise ...
Live (TB): Right.
Live (JH): ... you know what I mean ?
Live (TB): Right.
Live (JH): Basically ...
11 (8.1) Another view of Hanlon left, Benetatos right, with three WTC towers between them
Live (JH): ... you have to be on the top of your game ... [Picture 4 - 20:12]
Live (TB): Right.
Live (JH): You're not the ? ? ? [indistinct — and not in subtitles] — you're on the top of your game — this is not a joke, this job. [Picture 5 - 20:16]
Live (TB): Right.
Live (JH): There's a ...
12 (3.6) Close-up of Benetatos — No. 7 not seen
Live (JH): ... lot of things to think about [Picture 6 - 20:20], you know. And ...
13 (9.8) Same view as 11
Live (JH): ... tunnel vision — focus ...
Live (TB): Right. [Picture 7 - 20:25]
Live (JH): ... really, because that's what's going to keep you alive [Picture 8 - 20:27] and that's what's going to give you the opportunity to help anybody else. [Picture 9 - 20:30]
Live (TB): Right.
14 (3.6) Close-up of Benetatos with WTC 7 behind
Live (TB): Right.
Live (JH): Ready to go down ?
15 (3.8) View from behind Benetatos on right, with WTC towers on left
VO: Fire or no fire ... [Picture 10 - 20:39]
16 (6.6) Hanlon and Benetatos on way back down, Hanlon still explaining procedure
VO: ... Tony had learned a lot that summer. Sure he had a ways to go, but we'd teach him.

In the seven cuts (numbers 9-15) lasting 35 seconds where the platform is above the roof and the Trade Center towers are theoretically visible, they are actually on screen, inserted between Hanlon and Benetatos, as in the photograph shown, for a total of at least 20 seconds — plus the view in Cut 15, and the close-ups with No. 7 in the background. This is no passing glimpse, and the composition of these shots is obviously not accidental : how could he not notice the tallest buildings in the city are in his picture ? (And why do Hanlon and Benetatos pay them no attention ?) It is clearly intentional : the only question is what the intention is. Why would a photographer deliberately frame a picture of two people with three enormous skyscrapers between them, that ostensibly have nothing to do with the subject being discussed — and that were destroyed eight days later ? Another question : who gave James Hanlon, an ordinary firefighter, the authority not just to give training to a probationary, but to put Ladder 1 out of commission by jacking it up off the street and blocking most of the front of the firehouse, for training as unnecessary as this ? What would they have done if a 911 call had come in, and they needed that truck ? Lives could have been lost because of things a probationary should have learned at Fire Academy, not on the job, during working hours, using one of the firehouse's two main vehicles.

Note Hanlon's recommendation in Cut 13, Picture 7, of tunnel vision. Another extract from Vincent Dunn's "50 Ways Firefighters Die" : "Tunnel vision is a visual distortion that firefighters experience during stressful firefighting situations. While focusing on a spectacular or dangerous event, the firefighter may block out a nearby surrounding hazard or deadly peril. By concentrating on one point of the fire and not sizing up the entire fire area, a firefighter may block out an approaching danger. Tunnel vision and the hurried pace of firefighting cause accidents that could be avoided by a size-up of the entire fire and a slower pace." Why is Hanlon giving a proby completely wrong and fatally dangerous advice ?


Straight after the rooftop scene, we get another one just as outrageous. As Hanlon tells us in his commentary "Far as we knew, there was plenty of time" — to teach Benetatos, that is — we see the proby checking something on a list on the wall against a calendar showing September 2001, apparently about to write something on it. The camera then moves in, for no obvious reason, and gradually focuses on a close-up of the calendar before we cut to the next scene — the night Jules cooked his leg of lamb specialty : Monday, September 10. These nine stills from the shot and one from the next one, starting with the very first frame at 20:47 and ending at 20:54, are evenly spaced, exactly 18 frames apart (the centre of the frame in the first nine is marked by diagonal lines (the white borders in frames 5-9 are included to clarify where the edge of the picture is)). See how each successive frame shows the camera getting closer to its last position before we move on to the next scene : and which day of the month is closest to the centre of the picture in that last calendar frame ? Now we know what the point of the close-up was — yet another demonstration of foreknowledge. The rooftop scene used an antenna to mark the horizontal centre of the picture : this one marks the centre horizontally and vertically.

Or am I reading too much into it ? Isn't it purely accidental that the shot ends with the 11th right in the middle ? But why are we being given a close-up of the calendar in the first place ? We don't see Benetatos writing anything on it, and it has nothing else already marked against any date — nothing circled, nothing highlighted : what's he doing, and what's the cameraman doing ? What's the significance of the calendar ? It seems to fit Hanlon's voiceover — "plenty of time," calendar, get it ? — but that was presumably recorded months later, and actually, it doesn't fit at all : it's another piece of premature irony. If they thought then they had "plenty of time," why is he checking a calendar, as if he knows they don't — that, in fact, the big event is coming on the 11th ? If you don't care about time, why check a calendar ? If the shot was filmed after 9/11, it's completely fake : staging the scene to suggest Benetatos had — yet again — no idea what was going to happen, and is proving his complete innocence by not putting a big red ring around the "11" — oh, what a giveaway that would be. If it really was shot just days before 9/11, possibly even on the Monday night, what it suggests — using something rather more subtle, putting the "11" in the centre of the picture — is that he, and whoever filmed the shot, and filmed it that way, certainly did know. I am not suggesting, by the way, that the cameraman was so accurate he could get the "11" right in the centre : that would be achieved by doing it roughly, then digitally cropping the edges of the original film, wider than the DVD version, to get the centring exact — and the message clear : "We knew — we put proof of it all through the film — it's there in front of you, staring you in the face — but none of you lot have the brains to see it."


Watch Joe Pfeifer's reaction to the plane when it arrives, recorded on film (see Appendix 4, Pictures 8a and b) : the other fireman and the bystander turn and look up at it, but Pfeifer, by contrast, turns and looks towards the camera, turning his back to the plane, as if totally oblivious to it. It seems he can see and hear something more interesting than what is grabbing everyone else's attention; or maybe he is deaf, and doesn't hear the plane — or blind, and doesn't see it, or the reaction to it of folk standing right next to him — distinct career disadvantages for a fireman. Only after the other two are already looking up at the plane before it flies behind the AT&T does Pfeifer look up — facing the wrong way — then turns to his right, presumably in time to see the plane hitting the tower. Every description of this event you will read (except this one) says that everyone there looks up at the plane, as if they all look up at the same time : not true — Pfeifer takes his time doing it. Why ? Is it because he is in charge of this exercise, and is simply making sure the cameraman carries out his part in it ? Why else would he apparently be more interested in the camera than the plane ?

In his April 2002 Firehouse interview, Pfeifer says "It was very emotional when I came home because I had worked for 40 hours. I got home around midnight." This would make sense only if the figure was actually 39, meaning his shift started at 09:00 on the Monday, which is the normal time of the shift change. If 40 is the figure, it means he must have started work at 08:00, in which case why was he still on duty at 08:30 the next day, when the gas leak call came in ? He might have been working a 24-hour shift (they normally last 9 or 15), but not 25. If he had "only" worked almost a straight 24 hours, it might explain his failure to hear the plane at Church and Lispenard at 08:46 on the Tuesday; working a further 15 would be so extraordinary it would be interesting to see what he looked like at the end of it — if either of the Naudets had gone down to Ground Zero and filmed him — which they didn't. If Pfeifer started at 08:00 the day before, when Flight 11 hit Tower One he should have been at home, sleeping through the whole thing, not going on to help run the biggest rescue effort in the city's history for the next 15 hours. Whether it was 39 or 40, he didn't work for 40 hours after the plane hit the tower : before it ever happened, he had already been working almost 24 (or 25) hours — voluntarily — nothing to do with 9/11. In fact, all of it was voluntary : the Fire Department would never expect anyone to do even 24 hours, never mind 40.

Most bizarre of all, perhaps, is the scene where the North Tower collapses, and Jules Naudet has to move fast (Appendix 4, Pictures 16a to g). "And I don't even have time to think at that point. I just run." How many of us would choose to hold on to a video camera while running for our lives from a collapsing skyscraper ? But Naudet is devoted to his art: he doesn't care that he could always buy a new camcorder, but not a new life. He hangs on to his machine, and leaves it running — and it's still running when he ducks behind a car, with Pfeifer allegedly on top of him. Only damage — some dust on the lens. How about that ? Saves his life and his camera, and films it happening. Quite something, on top of recording the mass murder of 3,000 others who didn't have his literally unbelievable luck. I would have instinctively flung the camcorder and anything else I was carrying — I would have had no interest in filming what might well have been my horrible death: but I don't have photography in my veins, like Jules Naudet — the man who was earlier filming in Lispenard Street because he needed "camera practice" (Film Edit No. 19).

How could he follow filming his own miraculous dice with death ? How could the brothers follow a multiple award-winner like "9/11" ? Maybe that's one reason it took them six years to produce the sequel, and that when it turned up it had the word "God" in the title. Of all the accusations made against the Naudets, including mine, the list could never include lack of ambition, at least since their first film — a fairly modest little piece about a married couple teaching boxing to deprived youth in the Bronx. From that to a film recording 9/11, to two hours of interviews with religious leaders followed by more than half the human race : like Wolfgang Staehle (see Appendix 1), the Naudets seem to be drawn to the spectacular, however much they deny it, and however reclusive their own lives are by contrast.

Instead of allaying suspicion about the "9/11" film, the new effort does the exact opposite : it would have been far more credible to go back to making normal human interest documentaries, but the people who produced "9/11" just do not think like that. Everything has to be gigantic and monumental and stupendous — like the World Trade Center. Going from the mass murder of thousands to religions followed by billions, the Naudets and their idiot friends at CBS are digging a stupendous, monumental, gigantic hole for themselves, out of which nothing is going to help them climb. You cannot carry on indefinitely increasing the hyperbole — a lesson that seems to have escaped these people's attention. Where do the Naudets go after making a film about God ? The Last Judgment ? The nuclear holocaust ? A film shot on Mars ? Meanwhile, we have the questions about 9/11, still sitting there nine years later, waiting to be answered.

Selective list of awards :
54th Primetime Emmy Awards, September 2002 : Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for Non-Fiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera); Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special (Informational).
German Television Awards, October 2002 : GTA Award for Best International Program.
62nd Annual Peabody Awards, April 2003.
Satellite Awards, January 2003 : Award for Special Humanitarian DVD.
55th Writers Guild of America Awards, March 2003 : WGA Award (TV) for Documentary — Current Events.
Foundation for Moral Courage — Jan Karski Documentary Film Award 2002.

Also nominated for :
Cinema Audio Society, USA, March 2003 : CAS Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for Television — Non-Fiction, Variety or Music Series or Specials.
54th Primetime Emmy Awards, September 2002 : Award for Outstanding Picture Editing for Non-Fiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera); Award for Outstanding Cinematography for Non-Fiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera); Award for Outstanding Sound Editing for Non-Fiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera).
Television Critics Association Awards, July 2002 : TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-Series and Specials.
Rory Peck Trust Awards, October 2002 : The Rory Peck Award for Hard News (finalist); Sony International Impact Award.

The Peck Awards (Sony Award held at Sony France in Paris on 9 September 2002, the Hard News and Features Awards at Channel 4 in London on 18 September) attracted 43 entrants, including 9/11 film by Evan Fairbanks and by another French film-maker, Ιtienne Sauret, whose "WTC : The First 24 Hours" is listed in the Naudet film with a credit for additional footage (above one for Luc Courchesne Images — a third French film-maker), as well as "Plane Hitting World Trade Center Tower," attributed to Goldfish Pictures Inc./(APTN/Gamma USA). "Well, this is just THE shot, isn't it ?" ... "It's in focus, in the middle of the frame ... and remains the single most key shot" ... "his reactions were amazing" : but despite comments like that, the panel of judges — Mark Damazer (BBC), Sue Brooks (APTN), Chris Elliott (The Guardian), Mike Inglis (ITN) and Nick Toksvig (Sky) — gave the Hard News Award to Najibullah Quaraishi's film of the SAS in Afghanistan, which also won the Sony Award. How did "THE shot" manage to come away with nothing ? Did the judges have misgivings they kept to themselves ?

Gιdιon Naudet (Radio Times, 7-13 September 2002) : "... from a moral point of view we have not exploited these images ... we couldn't sell the footage to anyone who might exploit it. People were proposing insane amounts of money ; in one case we were offered $2.5 million." And yet we know that the footage of Flight 11 hitting the North Tower was sold within hours to the French agency Gamma Press, from whom CNN and other broadcasters had to get it ; and we also know that when Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter (who knew the Naudets' father) brokered the deal — via Jim Wiatt of the William Morris Agency, the Naudets' own — by which CBS President Leslie Moonves acquired the full Naudet film (the brothers were interviewed in the March 2002 edition of the magazine), Moonves "would not say how much the network paid for the material. He said there was no bidding war with other networks." But we can presume the film was not provided free of charge, and money did change hands : so much for the "moral point of view" — selling their film to a media giant like CBS, whose own Susan Zirinsky said "Nobody is out for anything other than showing a remarkable body of work."

So the Naudets got nothing, and CBS got nothing ? I don't think so. From a report by Bridget Byrne, February 6 2002 : "The Naudets, who will be paid to work on the special, retain rights to their footage for international distribution, home video and DVD." (That report continues "They will also be completing their original three-hour documentary on the New York firefighters" : obviously another aborted idea.) It would be interesting to know who offered $2.5 million for the film : if it was someone who could not afford that kind of money, why would the offer be taken seriously ? It could not have been a TV broadcaster : we have Moonves' word that "there was no bidding war."

Then we were told (e.g., in France-Amιrique, Dossier 22-29 March 2002) that when the Naudets got home on the evening of 9/11, two FBI agents were waiting for them, after hearing about them from the Fire Department, and demanded their footage, allowing them to keep one copy of the impact shot — presumably how it was shown, for the first time, on Univision later that night — perhaps after first being sold to Gamma, allegedly on their father's advice, and doubtless using his connections and experience in the photojournalism business. "Business" being the operative word, rather more credibly than "moral." How and when the brothers got their film back from the FBI is another of the untold stories of 9/11 — if we can believe the confiscation story in the first place.