By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Having split with Pickering and Avery, Marquis and Ranke returned to D.C. in November 2007 to interview Turcios and other eyewitnesses. In footage they later included in their online documentary, Turcios clearly points to the north side of the gas station. So does Sergeant Lagasse, who was filling his police car with gas when the attack took place.
"Where did you see the plane?" Ranke asks in a friendly, excited voice.
Lagasse points over his shoulder.
"How sure are you it was on the north side of the gas station?" Ranke asks.
"I tell you right now," Lagasse responds. "You can't say more than 100 percent. Because there is no way it was anywhere other than where I say it was."
"How much of a chance is there that the plane was on the south side of the gas station?" Ranke asks.
"Zero chance," Lagasse says. "Is there less-than-zero percent?"
In the clip, Lagasse also makes repeated references to the fact that he saw the plane hit the Pentagon—and didn't see any plane fly away from the area. When reached at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA)—the official name of the Pentagon police agency, where he's now a lieutenant—Lagasse groaned when he heard the names Craig Ranke and Aldo Marquis and said he couldn't comment without permission from a press officer.
Chris Layman, a PFPA spokesman, said the agency now prohibits officers from speaking directly to the media, but he sent the Weekly a brief, written statement saying the Pentagon "was hit by American Airlines Flight 77 at 9:37 a.m., killing all 64 passengers and crew and 15 Pentagon employees," that the event was "witnessed by hundreds of people," and while some "have their own theories," the "facts have been verified and are clear."
Marquis and Ranke also interviewed several Arlington National Cemetery employees after receiving permission to bring cameras to the facility. The cemetery is next to the Pentagon. In footage in The PentaCon, several employees state the plane was flying on the north side of the CITGO gas station. More important, all of them—who without exception believe the plane struck the Pentagon—claim the plane started to bank in the sky just before they saw the explosion. To the filmmakers, that banking motion, along with the plane's location north of the CITGO station, proves that the aircraft actually flew over the Pentagon, not into it.
The Researcher's Edition of The PentaConalso includes an interview with Keith Wheelhouse, who was at Arlington National Cemetery on 9/11 to bury his brother-in-law. In the interview, Wheelhouse tells Marquis and Ranke that he saw an American Airlines jet crash into the Pentagon. He also claims to have seen a second plane that seemed to be shadowing the first one. But Marquis and Ranke apparently don't believe Wheelhouse saw the crash because, their film notes, a line of trees partially obscures the view of the building from the location where he claimed to have been standing.
Another witness Marquis and Ranke suspect is part of a deliberate disinformation campaign to trick people into thinking the plane that actually flew over the building at the precise moment someone ignited an explosion was actually a second plane shadowing the phantom American Airlines jet.
USA Todayeditor Joel Sucherman backs the second-plane claim and also appears in The PentaCon. "I'm very confident that what I saw was a jet passenger airplane, silver, the 'AA' on the tail," he says, adding that he also saw a second plane that was "much higher in the sky than the passenger jet was."
Also included in the film is a tape-recorded telephone call with USA Today reporter Vin Narayanan. "Yeah, there was another plane off in the distance," Narayanan says. "It was a jet; it was definitely a jet."* * *
How witnesses who saw a second plane high in the skies above the Pentagon could possibly be part of a conspiracy to fool the public into thinking that a plane that nobody saw fly over the Pentagon actually crashed into a building is a question that is as ridiculously convoluted and inherently illogical as the very theory embraced by Marquis and Ranke. In fact, other than a few interesting interviews with people who saw a plane fly on one side of a gas station when the official data places it on the other, ThePentaCon includes no evidence of anything whatsoever, just a lot of questions and innuendo set to an ominous hip-hop beat.
Take the bizarre disclaimer at the end of the film: "Citizen Investigation Team is not directly accusing anyone specific [sic] featured in this presentation as being complicit in the crime," it says. "CIT does not call for an investigation into if 9/11 was an inside job. We call for hearings that must lead to indictments uncovering who the masterminds and complicit operatives really are."
Among the "suspicious coincidences" that Ranke and Marquis have "exposed," none is as instructive as the fact that several USA Today employees—Walter, Sucherman and Narayanan, to name a few—rank among the "supposed" eyewitnesses to the Pentagon plane crash. The obvious fact that so many USA Today workers were near the Pentagon that morning because they drive past the building on their way to work every morning is something that apparently doesn't impress the Citizen Investigation Team.