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The Pentagon Caper

Conspiracy theorists haven’t exactly been placated by the Defense Department’s release of footage from two cameras that showed Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon on Sept. 11. Also, Adam Nagourney’s losing-is-the-new-winning strategy for the Dems is not widely seen as a muscular counterpoint to Karl Rove.

The Pentagon caper: Footage from two Pentagon security cameras, recording the terrorist attack on the facility on Sept. 11, was made public Tuesday by the Defense Department, which had withheld the material because of Zacarias Moussaoui’s trial. Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, the legal activist group that sued for access to the video under the Freedom of Information Act, explained: “[W]e hope that this video will put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77.” Keep hoping., a collective of “educated, curious, critical thinkers,” finds more questions than answers: “If you’ve followed the conspiracy theories, I don’t think these two videos disprove them at all. On the contrary—if you don’t clearly see a large passenger airplane in the videos, your skepticism should be piqued.” And Jennifer, a 22-year-old living in Marabella, Spain, writes on her MySpace blog: “Though I hate to say and all of you hate to admit it, it looks to me, that it is more likely a missile. It’s the right size and a much more believable size than the nose of a 757.”

Without getting into visual forensics, the disclosure of the Pentagon reel has Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones at Prison Planet seeing a wag-the-dog scenario: “The release of new video images of Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon is both a direct assault against a 9/11 truth movement that has flourished in recent months and an attempt to reinforce the attendant propaganda of 9/11 in light of Bush’s 29% approval rating.” Even Christian site Swap Blog, whose poster is not a “black helicopter kind of guy,” has trouble decoding the whos and hows of the Pentagon immolation: “I have no doubt about the twin towers falling due to the two jets that hit it, or the plane crash in a Pennsylvania field, but the Pentagon crash just does not seem to have as much evidence as the others and one would think it would have the most.”

Yet conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters argues that at least one source of misdirection—a mysterious “smoke-trail” that appeared moments before the plane impact—can be explained by a reconstruction of the flight’s actual trajectory. He excerpts an old post of his, quoting a tour guide from the Pentagon: “It came in just over the Sheraton hotel in the background, clipping a light pole, bounced off the freeway, killing a cab driver, and hit just short of the Pentagon. This time sequence explains why the Pentagon took less damage than one might expect; the bounce took off some of the momentum and fuel before the plane hit the building, meaning that the impact did not travel as deeply and the fire did not burn as hot.”

And Jonah Goldberg at righty mag National Review’s The Corner fumes that certain media outlets still stuff their copy with disclaimers. He cites a Reuters piece about the camera footage that goes as follows, “U.S. authorities have said five al Qaeda hijackers … .” Goldberg ripostes, “Reuters, after five years and Osama Bin Laden’s videotaped admission, still uses locutions like this to describe the 9/11 attacks. … ‘Have said’? If this is still in doubt, Reuters should have a team of reporters working around the clock to nail down the story.”

Read more about the Pentagon video. Watch it here. Also, in March 2005, Popular Mechanics ran this article debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories. Here’s a thorough debunking of the Pentagon conspiracy theories.

Give ‘em enough rope: Adam Nagourney suggested in the New York Times on Sunday that the Democrats could profit by not retaking the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. If a Republican predominance in all three branches continues to founder into ‘08, then this would be all the more auspicious for the party of opposition. Just don’t tell that to the party’s “netroots” base.

New York lefty “Guy2K” at Capitoilette * pounces on Nagourney’s hypothetical fear of Democratic “payback” as one justification for repainting the House red: ‘Payback’ also sounds like ‘politics as usual’—divisive, inside-the-beltway squabbling—rather than governing in the interests of those outside the beltway.” In the comments section at The Democratic Daily Blog, Ron Chusid responds to a Nagourney-fileting post with the following: “Even if we look at this purely in terms of politics, there is no saying how things will be politically in 2008. You have to take advantage of chances of winning when you get them. Plus, it is possible that having the chance to investigate Bush will open more eyes and increase chances for further victories in 2008.”

Matt Stoller at MyDD(Direct Democracy) looks at Nagourney’s sources and finds a curious pattern: “Notice anything? Well first of all, these are all MEN. Yup. Second of all, they are all WHITE. Third, with the possible exception of Kaus and Klinkner, who I don’t know, they are all pro-war. Fourth, none of them represent labor. Fifth, all of them are OLD … Welcome to Adam Nagourney’s Democratic Party: rich, white, non-union, hawkish, professional, old, and male.”

But fellow liberal Hank Kaczmarek at Free New York Blog is more amenable to the Timesman’s free advice: “The party, up to now, has failed to take Nagourney’s earlier advice and coalesce around a unified set of campaign themes. … Perhaps as we get closer to November, the Democrats will present an actual agenda that they seek to be elected on. By that time, it may be too late. This is what Nagourney, Coehlo, Kerrey, Andrews, and Frost know.”

Read more about Nagourney’s Times piece.

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Correction, May 19: This article originally misspelled the name of the blog Capitoilette. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)