The Lies (and misconceptions) of the "'truth' movement"

Intro (scroll down for entries)

I readily admit that I have no doubts that most members of the “truth movement” sincerely believe all the nonsense that they spout. I even think that most of the “leaders” of the movement, the ones who run the sites and write the books make the videos etc believe all of what they purport. However far too many of them present the facts in a less than honest fashion: quotes are taken out of context, contrary information omitted, rumors are reported as fact etc, others are too blinded by their preconceived notions to see the fallacies of their theories. I did want a blog title that would garner attention and ‘The Misconceptions of the Truth Movement’ just wouldn’t have the same ring to it.

I will address specific errors made by leading “truthers” in this blog and will erase any generic replies that have nothing to do with the entry topic. In other words if the entry is about Amanda Keller contradicting herself replies going on about the debris from flight 93 or Silverstein’s “pull it" comment etc. etc. will be deleted. Personal attacks and insults whether directed at me or other commenters, whether made by “truthers” or “debunkers” will be deleted as well.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Hidden History of 9-11-2001

OK it been quite a while, I’ve busy with other things. I hope to be able to post here at least weekly from now on.

In 2006 a lengthy truther tome titled The Hidden History of 9-11 was published by Elsevier a respectable scholarly press based in the Netherlands. It was edition # 23 of a series of books on “political economy”. Due to the respectability of the publisher, the fact that most of the contributors were university professors and claims some the articles (chapters) had been peer reviewed the books released garnered enthusiasm on ‘truther’ websites. However due to its prohibitively high price, until recently over $ 100, almost no one read it. That changed a few months ago with the release a $ 15 paperback. It can also be read for free on Google Books.

Despite its prestigious publisher and the claims of peer review and the number of authors with PhD’s it suffers from the same poor scholarship of all other truther books, movies, websites etc and is basically yet another repackaging of the same claims previously repeated ad infinium elsewhere. Very little of it was new even in 2006.

Interestingly at least one truther agrees with me about the book.
“J.W.K” from Nagano, Japan a Amazon “Top 1000 reviewer” who has given several other “truther” books and videos 5 stars, gave it 2 stars and wrote, “The scholarship is shoddy and unfocused. The book contained nothing that wasn't already more clearly presented in THE NEW PEARL HARBOR by Professor David Ray Griffin”

As I have noted elsewhere there is something about conspiracy theories in general and 9/11 "truth" in particular that transforms otherwise rational and intelligent people into fools. Normally this foolishness is in a subject matter distant from their areas of specialty. Though not related to 9/11 Arthur Butz is a perfect example, he teaches electrical engineering at Northwestern, one of the best universities in the US, but he is a Holocaust denier. The most obvious examples relating to 9/11 are Griffen and Fetzer, respected professors emeritus of theology and philosophy who have spewed so much rubbish about events that morning that many in the movement no longer take them seriously. Though claims have been made that part of the material has been peer reviewed none of the authors are wrote about subjects related to their areas of specialty.

Getting off to a bad start - numerous errors in the 1st Chapter

The first chapter is a case in point, I only skimmed through it but that was enough to discover numerous errors including long debunked canards.The author claimed that, the “passenger lists” “released by the airlines” didn’t have any Arab names.But the lists on CNN and other media outlets were clearly labeled VICTIMS lists which obviously would preclude the perpetrators. He cited the CNN lists which even have the word “victims” in their urls. If that didn’t make it obvious enough the page the lists were linked from is clearly labeled a “memorial”.

Nothing on the CNN pages or similar ones indicates the source of the names was the airlines, CNN only cited AP, the pages contained personal information the airlines would not have. They were based on MEDIA reports not info from the airlines as the CNN Memorial “about this site” page made clear:This memorial lists those who died in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania when terrorists hijacked four U.S. planes on September 11, 2001. The list includes those listed as "confirmed dead" and "reported dead" by the Associated Press which defines the terms as follows:

• CONFIRMED DEAD Includes victims who have been confirmed dead by a coroner's office or the Defense Department. It also includes those a court has declared
legally dead, even if no body has been recovered. Once the court has made such a
finding, a death certificate can be issued.

• REPORTED DEAD Includes those whose deaths have been reported by family, employers, mortuaries, places of worship or by the airlines that listed them as aboard one of the four flights. Includes people for whom memorial services have been held, even if their bodies have not been recovered or positively identified. (Those identified by federal authorities as the hijackers are not included). Personal information
accompanying the individual records comes from CNN reports, newspaper obituaries
and information submitted by friends and family. The photos were submitted to
CNN by friends or family of the victims or used with permission from media
partners as noted on each photo. The site was archived in August 2004.

He claimed that the passenger manifests were never released but as reported by CBS the Boston Globe released those of the two flights that originated in their city two days after the attacks.And all four lists were released by the government for the Moussui trial either before or just after press time for the first edition but well before the supposedly revised paperback edition.

Kolar wrote:

In an early, September 12, 2001 disclosure, CNN reported being provided with a
list of 19 hijackers from the flight manifests which the FBI presumably
possessed.(15) This particular list of 19 is instructive for the kinds of errors
it contains and for the four names the FBI had quickly changed. Two of these
corrections involved the deletion of Adnan and Ameer Bukhari who were called
brothers in most press releases (for example, Allison, 2001). (16)

Adnan and Ameer Bukari it turns out weren't brothers and weren’t on either flight, one died earlier and the other was questioned by the FBI and eventually cleared but neither of the cited sources (articles in CNN and the St. Petersburg Times) said the Bukharis were suspected hijackers let alone they were on the flight manifests. They were just two of many Arabs who had pilot training in Florida 2000 – 2001 that the FBI looked into. The CNN article did say:
“We would like to correct a report that appeared on CNN. Based on information from multiple law enforcement sources, CNN reported that Adnan Bukhari and Ameer Bukhari of Vero Beach Florida, were suspected to be two of the pilots who crashed planes into the World Trade Center.”
But there is no indication their names came from the flight manifests or any “press releases” or that CNN claimed to have been “provided with a list of 19 hijackers from the flight manifests”

An earlier CNN article which said the Bukaris were suspects because they were tied to a car found at the Portland (Maine) airport said its source for the names was the Portland police not the FBI so it doesn't seem to have come from the flight manifests. According to Wikipedia (no citation) “later reports continued to suggest that Adnan Bukhari fell under suspicion because of documents found within the car” that would fit with the Portland police being the source.

Further undermining Kolar's claim is the fact that 2 "truther" esays on the Bukhari discrepancy, one by David Ray Griffin and the other on What Really Happened make no mention of such a list with their names on it. But cite several news reports from the day following the attacks, neither claims that the FBI said they were among the hijackers or that they or anyone said they were on the manifests. The sources seem to be local law enforcement as yet another CNN story indicates. The supposed FBI list including the two Saudis seems to be a figment of Kolar's imagination and poor scholarship.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The uncollaborating witneses

In my previous post I showed that Amanda Keller, who claimed at one point to have been Mohamed Atta's girlfriend, contadicted herself various times. Just as her story contradicts itself the named witnesses Hopsicker cites as backing her claims contradict themselves and/or Keller. Hopsicker cites four supporting witnesses from the Sandpiper Apartments where Amanda Keller and Mohamed Atta supposedly lived together March – late April or early May 2001. Charles Grapentine the building’s manager spoke to the Sarasota Sun-Herald shortly after the attacks and was cited in an article published September 14, 2001.

“While attending flight school at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Mohamed Atta, 33, and Marwan Alshehhi, 23, lived with four other Middle Eastern students near Venice Airport at Sandpiper Apartments.

The six Middle Eastern men shared a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in unit 26, said Charles Grapentine, manager of the apartments.

Huffman Aviation rented the unit at $550 a month,…The flight school then subletted the unit to its students, …Huffman Aviation charged each of the six Middle Eastern flight students $225 a month to live in the apartment, Grapentine said …Students were charged an additional $50 fee for cleaning costs, Grapentine said.

It is unknown how long the six men resided at Sandpiper Apartments before leaving in early January of this year. The complex's owner, Vicky Kyser, told the Sun she is turning the leases over to the FBI”

Grapentine wasn’t quoted as to when they stayed but the paper, seemingly citing the owner, said they left in “early January". He did however indicate that Atta had lived in apartment 26 with five other Middle Eastern men all of whom were students at Huffman Aviation. Interestingly according to Hopsicker, Keller (and Atta) also lived in apartment 26.

A few days later however Grapentine’s story changed. Hopsicker cited the following passage which he claimed at times came from “a Sept 15 AP story” and at others from a September 18 article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The later scenario more likely because Hopsicker posted an image of the article, the author was a staff writer at the local paper :

“However, Atta may have been in Venice as recently as April. Charles Grapentine, he manager of Sandpiper Apartments on Airport Avenue in Venice, said he remembers seeing Atta at the complex for about three weeks in April. He said Atta was living in the apartment of Amanda Keller.”

So did Grapentine remember seeing Atta living with five other Middle Eastern students from Huffman for a few months presumably until January or did he remember seeing him staying with Keller for a few weeks in April? Or did see him in the same apartment months apart in dramatically different living situations? If that’s what happened why didn’t he say both times that Atta lived there twice? No other witnesses say he was there twice.

His wife and boss seems to have supported his original account they were interviewed for a different September 14 Sun Herald article.

"Paula Grapentine immediately recognized the face of a suspected terrorist who may have trained for the World Trade Center attacks at Huffman Aviation in Venice. He was her next-door neighbor.

Postal Carrier Neil Patton also recollects the names and faces of Mohamed Atta, 33, Marwan Alshehhi, 23, and four other Middle Eastern flight school students.

The lived at the Sandpiper Apartments, unit 26, in Venice until earlier this year.


But the Grapentines, who manage Sandpiper and Lemon Bay Apartments, didn't like the six men -- especially Atta.


The students reportedly smoked a strange tobacco which smelled like marijuana, [the apartment complex's owner, Vicky] Kyser said. "

Though Hopsicker cites the mailman, as a supporting witness he also indicated that the man he thought was Atta lived in apartment 26 till early January with several other Middle Eastern men, not that he lived with Keller in March and April.

The Sun obtained a handwritten list of names the FBI is reportedly pursuing Thursday: Gamil, Rami, Mukadam, Ibrahim and Mogadem. Stapled to the list FBI agents gave Patton was a special agent's business card. The FBI would not confirm or deny the pursuit of these five individuals.

Patton said he remembered all the above-mentioned names as those being used by some of the six Middle Eastern students allegedly attending Huffman Aviation.

Atta also may have gone by the name Youseff, Patton said.

He delivered no unusual mail at the Venice address, Patton said.

Only once was a 8-by-3-inch box mailed to the apartment, he said. Patton stopped delivering mail to the men at Sandpiper Apartments on Jan. 18, 2001 -- which means they probably moved out seven to 10 days before, he said.

But even Patton seems a bit unsure he seems to have told the paper he recognized both the real names and pseudonyms of the hijackers.

Hopsicker does have two other witnesses who said Atta lived with Keller, one is anonymous and supposedly a former manager at Huffman. This presents two problems one is there is no way to determine his credibility; the other is that there is no way to verify that he said what Hopsicker claims he did. As I will demonstrate in a future post Hopsicker can’t even be trusted to accurately and honestly report what local newspapers reported thus his claims as to what unnamed sources supposedly told him must be taken with a bag of salt. He claims the then flight school employee “vividly remembers her then-hot pink hair,” Which seems quite unlikely, are we to believe that Atta a known quantity at the school was seen there moths after he supposedly left with such a conspicuous companion and no one else seems to remember seeming them?

The other witness however seems credible enough, Keller’s next door neighbor, a housewife named Stephanie Frederickson. But like Neil Patton (the mail man) Vicky Kyser (the building owner), Paula Grapentine and even Charles Grapentine in his original account, she contradicts part of Keller’s story. Hopsicker cited her in a 2004 newsletter.

"Amanda moved in next door first, saying she had come from Orange Park (near Jacksonville," Frederickson says. "Then one day in the middle of March (of 2000) she brought home Atta. ‘I’d like you to meet my friend Mohamed Atta,’ she said to me. ‘He’s from France.’"

However according to Keller, that’s not the name she knew “Atta” by. In chapter 3 of his book Hopsicker quotes Keller as telling him “The name on the [rent] check was Mohamed Arajaki, the name he said was his.” Two chapters later he tells his readers “She knew him as Mohamed Arajaki, which was also the name on the [bail] check. " He said this on his site as well “The alias Atta used, we have learned, was “Mohamed Arajaki,” the same one he used with Amanda Keller while living in the Sandpiper Apartments in Venice.”

If Frederickson actually told Hopsicker that Atta and Keller moved together in March 2000, that would also be a serious discrepancy because his current theory is that they were a couple February – April or May 2001. At the time though Hopsicker’s theory was that they were together in 2000 thus he presumably put words in her mouth. Either Frederickson or Hopsicker looses credibility over this one take your pick.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The mutating tales of Amanda Keller

Truther’s frequently talk about Mohamed Atta’s supposedly un-Islamic behavior. They talk of him drinking heavily, living with a pink haired stripper - “out call lingerie” model/escort named Amanda Keller and normally cite the work of “independent journalist” Daniel Hopsicker. Keller is Hopsicker’s star witness and as far I can tell is the only person who says Atta smuggled and used cocaine.

As anyone following the story already knows she said she had lived with Atta a few days after 9/11, then retracted it, then reaffirmed it to Hopsicker saying she’d been pressured by the FBI. Then in 2006 she retracted it again saying "It was my bad for lying," according to the reporter “…the former Venice stripper now says her boyfriend was another flight student not connected to 9/11”

The retraction, reaffirmation and second retraction were not the only changes in her story as Hopsicker should well be aware because all the information I cite can be found on his site or in his book.

The story that Atta lived with Keller didn’t originate with Hopsicker but rather with stories in local papers. On Saturday, September 22 (?) the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported:

In a telephone interview late Friday, Keller said she met Atta through a friend and let him stay in the apartment with her and her then-boyfriend, Garrett Metts, because she felt sorry for him…


Payne [Keller’s mother] said Keller’s mother took Atta in because he had nowhere to stay
“Stray dogs, stray cats, stray people, she was always taught to help anybody out there when they needed help,” Payne said.

In other words she was living with Metts when she met Atta and they let him stay with them (sorta like a stray dog). Unless it was a ménage a trios he wasn’t her boyfriend.

Then on September 22 or 23 she and her family spoke to reporters for an article in the same paper subtitled “"Mohammed" slept on her couch, a Venice woman says”. Though she was now saying that he wasn’t Atta, Keller and even her mother confirmed that Mohamed stayed over while she was involved with Metts:
Susan Payne, Keller's mother, said her daughter and then-boyfriend Garrett Metts often took in strangers at her apartment.

The two were popular, Payne said, and people often stayed there after nights of partying and visiting the clubs.

Mohammed, Tammy Payne said, often went out clubbing, usually at Margarita Maggie's in Sarasota.

In an interview at her mother's house, Keller wouldn't talk about the man who stayed on her couch.

By the time she spoke to Hopsicker her story became quite a bit racier and more dramatic. Mohamed (she rarely if ever called him Atta in interviews) were live-in boyfriend and girlfriend sharing a bed until their dramatic break up on the night she met Garret. Here's how she and Hopsicker told it the first chapter of his book:
“I was up there with a whole bunch of other girls and Angelina. And this cute guy was dancing right below us, and the light was hitting him, and he had this long beautiful hair, and he looked at me, and I got real embarrassed."

The 'cute guy's name was Garret, we heard.


“He (Garret) wrapped his shirt around my legs and was dirty dancing with me”


“He [Mohamed] asked me about Garret, saying, 'Who's that?"'

"And I said, 'I guess he's the new one.'…”

That night Amanda went home with her new beau. Things were never the same between her and Atta again.


One night soon after meeting Garret, the 'hot new guy', she brought him back to the apartment. She told Atta he could deal with it. He could move out.

The hot new guy was sleeping over. The hot new guy was in the 'big bed.' Atta was on the couch. After discussing what she should do with the apartment house manager, who corroborated her story, Amanda Keller unceremoniously dumped Atta's three suitcases and Gold's gym bag onto the parking lot underneath their second floor apartment, and called him a cab.

To make a long story short she lived with Atta 3 – 6 weeks (accounts vary) then dumped him and hooked up with Garret, let Atta spend a few nights on the sofa then kicked him out.

So Keller now has three or four versions of events depending on how you count:
1st she said she let Atta stay over while she was living with her “then boyfriend” Garret Metts” (conveniently dead by 9/11).

Then she said the Mohamed who slept over wasn’t Atta but someone else named Mohamed.

Then she same back with an even juicier story, she was having an affair with Atta but dumped him to live with Metts.

Finally she went back to a variation of the 2nd version. She’d lied, Mohamed wasn’t Atta after all.  AFAIK she hasn’t been heard from since. But even her retractions didn’t match, in the first one Mohamed was a guy who’d crashed on her couch in the second he’d been her boyfriend.

But those weren’t the only changes her story underwent.

Where did Keller meet Atta and where did she work at the time?

Story # 1a – She met him at the airport bar and was as an out-call 'lingerie model' / escort.

From issue 27 of the Mad Cow Morning News (Hopsicker’s newsletter)

During her year-long sojourn in Venice Amanda Keller was a willowy 20-year old bleached-blond, who met Atta at a bar at the airport, the 44th Aero Squadron), was an out-call 'lingerie model' for an escort service called Fantasies & Lace in nearby Sarasota, not far from Cheetah's, a nearby strip club Atta is known to have frequented .

From issue 29 of the Mad Cow Morning News

"She told us she met him at the bar at the 44th Aero," states Frederickson [Keller’s next door neighbor]. "They were remodeling and the 44th Aero wasn't open yet, but the bar was still doing business...


"That's when she started dressing really slutty, and dyeing her hair pink," Frederickson continues

Story # 1b – She was as an out-call 'lingerie model' / escort. Possibly met him at a strip club where she worked.

From Chapter 1 of Hopsicker’s book Welcome to Terrorland
When she 'hooked-up' with Atta, Amanda Keller was a willowy 20 year-old 'lingerie model' and stripper with spiky pink hair. She worked nights for an escort service called Fantasies & Lingerie which catered to a mixed crowd of politicians, judges, high-rollers and socialites of both sexes, just down the street from Cheetah's, a strip club Atta was known to frequent in nearby Sarasota.

He didn’t say where they met but tells us 1) she was a stripper and escort, 2) Atta frequented a strip club close to the escort service she worked for. Call me crazy me he seems to be implying they met at “Cheetah’s”.

Story # 2a – She met him at Papa John’s Pizza when she was the manager, became and escort soon after that:

From Chapter 5 of Hopsicker’s book Welcome to Terrorland :
Keller was a restaurant manager when she met Atta, she will tell us later. Before she switched to a more lucrative line of work, she managed the local Papa John's. And it is there she first met Atta, which is why -- two days after the attack -- the FBI was looking for Amanda Keller ...

It is interesting to note that Hopsicker completely contradicted himself in chapters 1 and 5 without even seeming to notice.

Story # 2b She met him at Papa John’s Pizza where she worked, was the manager at the time or was later promoted to manager with in a few months, seems to still have been the manager until shortly before 9/11.

A September 14, 2001 article in the Sun-Herald recounted that Florida state police visited Tony and Vonnie LaConca the previous day because on February 21, 2001 they rented a house for one week to Amanda Keller and “Mohamed”, they suspected that Mohamed was Mohamed Atta:

Keller, who allegedly met Mohamed while working at Papa John's Pizza in Venice, told the couple [the LaConca’s] she would translate because Mohamed spoke limited English


A Papa John's employee confirmed that Keller was a manager there, but has not been to work for some time.
Presumably she told the Laconca’s that she “met Mohamed while working at Papa John's Pizza” because they said she did all the talking.

Hopsicker could argue that versions 2a and 2b don’t contradict each other but the newspaper article seemed to indicate she was a manager there till not longer before 9/11. Hopsicker tells us she was an escort during their relationship, most of it from the sounds of it. They were together by February 21 and depending on which version you want to believe they broke up sometime in April or early – mid May. While one can’t infer too much from an indirect quote it’s hard to believe that if she hadn’t been in for 5 – 6 months the employee would still she was a manager there even if they said she had “not been to work for some time.”

But Amanda isn’t alone in making contradictory comments. All three of her named supporting witnesses contradict themselves and/or her story. But that will have to wait till next time.


I admit that I have no doubts that most members of the “truth movement” sincerely believe all the nonsense that they spout. I even think that most of the “leaders” of the movement, the ones who run the sites and write the books make the videos etc believe all of what they purport. However all too many of them present the facts in a less than honest fashion: quotes are taken out of context, contrary information omitted, rumors are reported as fact etc others are too blinded by their preconceived notions to see the fallacies of their theories. I did want a blog title that would garner attention and ‘The Misconceptions of the Truth Movement’ just wouldn’t have the same ring to it.

I will address specific errors made by leading “truthers”  and will erase any generic replies that have nothing to do with the entry topic. In other words if the entry is about Amanda Keller contradicting herself replies going on about the debris from flight 93 or Silverman’s “pull it comment” etc etc will be deleted.