A Clue to the Truth about 9/11 ?

Appendix 6 : The Film Contract

A copy of the original contract between the Fire Department of New York, represented by its Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (who still held that post as of July 2007 Telephone 718 999-2056), Frank Gribbon, and Goldfish Pictures, represented by its President, Jules Naudet, is reproduced below obtained under New York State's Freedom of Information Law of 1978. This is presumably the "letter" Naudet refers to when, heading back to Duane Street after the second collapse, he is seen in the film being challenged for ID by a policeman (1:15:11). The first problem raised by this document is the date July 17, 2001 which, taken with the final clause ("17. This agreement shall take effect upon execution by both parties"), means that any filming done before the contract was signed was without the express authority of the Fire Department. In the film, James Hanlon says "We teamed up and by June of 2001 the three of us were out at the Fire Academy, shooting the training" (see Chapter 7), and the accompanying caption gives the date 9 June ; Tony Benetatos is shown driving to Duane Street for his preliminary interview on Monday 2 July, three days before starting work as a probationary firefighter ; these scenes and all others in the film shot before 17 July are outside the terms of the contract. Why was it drawn up so late ? Why were the film makers allowed to start shooting almost six weeks before they were given legal permission to film anything on FDNY premises ? The contract should have been signed before any filming took place : why wasn't it ? I put that question to Frank Gribbon in September 2007, via Emily Rahimi, Editor of Viewpoint, "The Newsletter of the NYC Fire Department" ; still no reply.

In November 2007, the New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting (based at 1697 Broadway, 6th floor, New York, NY 10019) told me they had no trace of an application for a Motion Picture Permit (or an Original Certificate of Insurance) from Goldfish Pictures Inc. ; the permit and the insurance are legal requirements for filming in New York City, and films shot there that are released commercially will include a mention of the Office of Film in their credits list (see below for an example, from the credits for Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" above "Thanks also to"). "9/11" was put on public release by Paramount, edited by CBS, co-produced by the senior staff of Vanity Fair magazine : this was not some home movie for a tiny private audience. The first six weeks of filming were without the legal permission of the Fire Department ; it would appear that the entire film was shot without the legal permission of the New York City administration. It would also appear that that administration could not care less, having had this brought by me to their attention. When and why were the Naudets given exemption from the laws that apply to everyone else making films in New York City ?

Next problem : the film shows (12:36) Benetatos getting his first pay cheque : $672.25 for two weeks "starting pay," as he calls it to James Hanlon, a joke hardly enough to buy a 6-pack. But then, as Benetatos says, if he had wanted to get rich, he would have become a lawyer : the academic qualifications might have come in handy, too. Eleven days after his first day, on Monday 16 July, the day before the date on the Naudet contract, a probationary firefighter called Edward McMellon started at the Fire Academy Benetatos had just left : this recruitment had caused some upset when it became public the previous month (see the article by Thomas J. Lueck in the New York Times of 30 June 2001), since McMellon was one of the four policemen who had shot dead an innocent immigrant, Amadou Diallo, in February 1999 ; their bullets, 19 of which hit the victim, supplied the title "41 Shots" of the last episode of "Law and Order : Trial by Jury" to feature the late Jerry Orbach (it also featured see above James Hanlon). According to the Times, McMellon was "part of a class of 150 ... and would receive a base salary of $49,023, the same amount he had been earning as a police officer with five years' experience" : this information, defending the recruitment, was supplied by the same Frank Gribbon who co-signed the Naudet contract the following month.

If, as Gribbon emphasises, McMellon was just another student, can we take it his 149 classmates were paid the same and were Benetatos and his classmates also paid $49,023 a year as mere students ? Because, if they were, why would any of them want to take a 66% pay cut after being assigned to a firehouse for actual work experience ? These figures make no sense : who is telling the truth ? The New York Times or the Naudet film ? Perhaps Frank Gribbon or someone else from the Department would like to clarify the position : if Benetatos was being paid only $336 a week on the job at Ladder One in July 2001, why was McMellon being paid almost triple that as a new start at the Fire Academy the same month, July 2001 ? Perhaps the Academy isn't quite as egalitarian as Gribbon would have us believe, and ex-policemen get special discriminatory pay rates, even after leaving the Police Department ? If so, do ex-firefighters have a deal like that, if they become rookie cops ? One source tells us trainee firemen get paid as much as police officers with five years behind them ; another source tells us trainee firemen get paid peanuts : which is it ?

Another problem : the probationary period. According to Gribbon in the Times, "Like other probationary firefighters, Mr. McMellon is to spend 14 weeks in training. He also faces a year of probation in the department, which is also standard for beginning firefighters." According to Gribbon in Clause 2 of the contract, the probationary period on the job is "approximately nine months" (a period also specified by the Naudets in the film). Which Frank Gribbon do we believe ? Clause 2 says the "period" of filming would include the time Benetatos was "undergoing training at the Fire Academy" : but his training had already ended before the date the contract was signed, 17 July, and its terms were not retrospective, so why was that sentence included ?

Next question : how long was the filming going to be allowed to continue ? Clause 2 again : for "a reasonable time after the end of his probationary period." They would be filming, in other words, until either April or July 2002, plus "a reasonable time" : so why were they already getting fed up by the end of August 2001, before Benetatos had even been working for two months of the nine or twelve his probation lasted ? Could Lower Manhattan possibly go nine months without a serious fire ? Why the urgency with the start of September coming up ? Why should that be significant ? Could it be that the reason Benetatos never attended any serious fires for weeks on end was because his protectors made certain the star of their film was never exposed to anything dangerous ? If he had been injured or killed before 11 September, end of film's alleged subject : they would have had to create another one as a pretext to carry on filming back to the drawing board.

Four more observations :

Firstly, this contract was signed yet another of these Naudet coincidences, no doubt just seven days before another rather more important and valuable one : between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the one hand and Silverstein Properties, Inc. and Westfield America, Inc. on the other, sealing the 99-year lease on the two tallest buildings in New York, One and Two World Trade Center (along with the 9-storey Four and Five ; Three, Six and Seven were already under lease). Exactly one week before the Twin Towers were privatised, the Naudets signed the contract that provided the excuse for filming them being pulverised. CEO Larry A. Silverstein's prediction about the future of the complex now in his hands for its last seven weeks : he would be "raising it to new and greater heights."

Secondly, in his FDNY Task Force interview of 25 October 2001 (No. 9110167), Frank Gribbon makes this comment : "I have seen videotape from the French guys, quote/unquote the Jules and Gideon (inaudible). Et cetera et cetera." Which part of this statement is he qualifying with his "quote/unquote" inverted commas ? "The French guys" ? Aren't they really French, then ? Or wasn't it real videotape ? "Et cetera et cetera."

Thirdly, Clause 6 : "Goldfish agrees that the Documentary will cast FDNY in a favorable light." By which agreement we can say a fond farewell to the concept of documentary objectivity in the Naudet film and an equally fond hello to the frank admission that the film was, in this sense at least, right from the beginning or from July 17 a work of propaganda. What else was it ever going to be when the contract was obviously drawn up by the Fire Department and its legal advisers ? Or when it was being filmed in a city that makes filming without a permit from the Mayor's Office illegal ? Right from the beginning, the grovelling to the "eencredeebull gahs" of Duane Street, all living saints, totally dedicated to their work : it takes planes flying into skyscrapers to reduce them to using the F word. Anybody expecting reality from a film shot on terms like the ones in this contract would probably think "Star Wars" was a documentary. And this is before we even examine what the brothers actually filmed, and discover that the propaganda went much further, and deeper, and dirtier, than supplying free advertising for the FDNY.

Which raises the fourth question : why would the Department even be interested in having outsiders make a propaganda film for them, when there has been an internal FDNY Photo Unit since the 1950s, and even an AV unit for making videos ? The Photo Unit is run by a Lieutenant Richard Smiouskas, and was actually out filming at the Trade Center on 9/11, but detailed information is quite scarce, even on the FDNY's own website. Why would Frank Gribbon even want to consider drawing up a contract with people who were not Fire Department colleagues, when he could have had a film made by folk who were ? There was a famous "Man Alive" documentary on the FDNY in 1972 entitled "The Bronx is Burning," but that was made by the BBC : why the invitation to French immigrant amateurs 30 years later ?