Cell Phone Calls From 9/11 Hijacked Airliners Prove To Be Impossible
Professor David Ray Griffin / Global Research – January 12, 2010
On November 27, 2009, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Fifth Estate program aired a show entitled “9/11: The Unofficial Story,”1 for which I, along with a few other members of the 9/11 Truth Movement, was interviewed. In the most important part of my interview, I pointed out that, according to the FBI’s report on phone calls from the airliners provided in 2006 for the Moussaoui trial, Barbara Olson’s only call from Flight 77 was “unconnected” and hence lasted “0 seconds.” Although this Fifth Estate program showed only a brief portion of my discussion of alleged phone calls from the 9/11 airliners, its website subsequently made available a 22-minute video containing this discussion.2
Shortly thereafter, a portion of this video, under the title “David Ray Griffin on the 9/11 Cell Phone Calls: Exclusive CBC Interview,” was posted on You Tube,3 after which it was posted on 911 Blogger.4 This latter posting resulted in considerable discussion, during which some claims contradicting my position were made. In this essay, I respond to the most important of these claims, namely:
1. The FBI has not admitted that cell phone calls from high-altitude airliners on 9/11 were impossible.
2. There is no evidence that some of the reported 9/11 phone calls were faked.
3. American Airlines’ Boeing 757s, and hence its Flight 77, had onboard phones.
4. The FBI’s report on phone calls from the 9/11 airliners did not undermine Ted Olson’s report about receiving phone calls from his wife.
The four sections of this essay will respond to these four claims in order.
1. The FBI on the Possibility of High-Altitude Cell Phone Calls in 2001
I have suggested that the FBI’s report to the Moussaoui trial in 2006 implied its acceptance of the argument, made by some members of the 9/11 Truth Movement, that cell phone calls from high-altitude airliners would have been impossible, or at least virtually so. One critic, however, said: “The FBI hasn’t admitted anything about the possibility of making cell phone calls at 30,000 feet.”5 It is true that the FBI has never explicitly stated that such calls are impossible, or at least too improbable to affirm. But its report for the Moussaoui trial, I have argued, implies an acceptance of this view.
My argument for this claim involves three points: (1) Immediately after 9/11, the FBI had described, or at least accepted the description of, about 15 of the reported calls from the airliners as cell phone calls. (2) In 2003, a prominent member of the 9/11 Truth Movement argued persuasively that, given the cell phone technology available in 2001, calls from high-altitude airliners would have been impossible. (3) The FBI report for the Moussaoui trial affirmed only two cell phone calls from the airliners, both of which were from United Flight 93 after it had descended to 5,000 feet. I will expand on each of these three points.
Reported Calls Originally Described as Cell Phone Calls
Approximately 15 of the reported phone calls from the four airliners were described at the time as cell phone calls. About 10 of those were from Flight 93. For example:
• A Washington Post story said: “[Passenger Jeremy] Glick’s cell phone call from Flight 93 and others like it provide the most dramatic accounts so far of events aboard the four hijacked aircraft during the terrifying hours of Tuesday morning, and they offer clues about how the hijackings occurred.”6
• A Newsweek story about United 93 said: “Elizabeth [Honor] Wainio, 27, was speaking to her stepmother in Maryland. Another passenger, she explains, had loaned her a cell phone and told her to call her family.”7
• According to the FBI’s interview of Fred Fiumano, a close friend of UA 93 passenger Marion Britton, she called to tell him about the hijacking and then gave him the number of the phone she was using. Since this was not the number of her own cell phone, Fiumano assumed that Britton, who was traveling with a colleague from work, “had borrowed a cell phone.”8
• Reporting that UA 93 flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw had called her husband from United 93, the Greensboro News & Record, besides speaking of their “cellular phone conversation,” also reported that she had told her husband that “many passengers were making cell phone calls.”9
• A story about Deena Burnett, who reported receiving three to five calls from her husband, Tom Burnett, said: “Deena Burnett clutched the phone. … She was at once terrified, yet strangely calmed by her husband’s steady voice over his cell phone.”10
Two calls from United Flight 175 were also originally described as cell phone calls:
• A BBC story said: “Businessman Peter Hanson, who was with his wife and baby on the United Airlines flight 175 that hit the World Trade Center, called his father in Connecticut. Despite being cut off twice, he managed to report how men armed with knives were stabbing flight attendants.”11 An Associated Press story said that “a minister confirmed the cell phone call to Lee Hanson.”12
• A Washington Post story said: “Brian Sweeney called his wife Julie: ‘Hi, Jules,’ Brian Sweeney was saying into his cell phone. ‘It’s Brian. We’ve been hijacked, and it doesn’t look too good.’”13
It was widely reported, likewise, that two people had made cell phone calls from American Flight 77. One of these was flight attendant Renee May, about whom a story’s headline read: “Flight Attendant Made Call on Cell Phone to Mom in Las Vegas.”14
The other reported cell-phone caller from Flight 77 was CNN commentator Barbara Olson, wife of Theodore “Ted” Olson, the US solicitor general. On the afternoon of 9/11, CNN put out a story stating that, according to Ted Olson, his wife had “called him twice on a cell phone from American Airlines Flight 77.”15 Olson, who reportedly told the FBI the same day that he did not know “if the calls were made from her cell phone or the telephone on the plane,”16 went back and forth between these two positions in his public statements.17 He even endorsed the onboard phone version in what seem to have been his two final public statements on the issue, made to the Federalist Society on November 16, 2001, and to London’s Daily Telegraph on March 5, 2002.18 But these statements of the alternative version went virtually unnoticed in the American press, as shown by the fact that, a year after 9/11, CNN was still reporting, with no public contradiction from the FBI, that Barbara Olson had used a cell phone.19
Watch the video below…
Finally, there were reportedly two connected cell phone calls from American Flight 11, both made by flight attendant Madeline “Amy” Sweeney. The 9/11 Commission Report later stated:
“[Flight attendant] Amy Sweeney got through to the American flight Services Office in Boston but was cut off after she reported someone was hurt aboard the flight. Three minutes later, Sweeney was reconnected to the office and began relaying updates to the manager, Michael Woodward. . . . The phone call between Sweeney and Woodward lasted about 12 minutes.”20
An affidavit from the FBI agent who interviewed Woodward that same day stated that, according to Woodward, Sweeney had been “using a cellular telephone.”21
It is likely that, except for the Olson case and one or two others, the newspapers got the information for their stories primarily from the FBI, which gave the impression of supporting the people’s claims that they had received calls from cell phones. This was the case, as we have just seen, with regard to the reported calls from Amy Sweeney. With regard to Deena Burnett, the FBI report said:
“Starting at approximately 6:39 a.m. (PST), Burnett received a series of three to five cellular phone calls from her husband. . . . Approximately ten minutes later Deena Burnett received another call from her husband. . . . Approximately five minutes later she received another cell phone call from her husband.”22
With regard to Lee Hanson, the FBI report said: “He believed his son was calling from his cellular telephone.”23
It is clear, therefore, that the FBI was not publicly raising objections to – and even appeared to be endorsing – the notion that there were several cell phone calls from the 9/11 flights, even though these flights were reportedly at quite high altitudes when the calls were received. In the report presented to the Moussaoui trial by the FBI in 2006, however, this apparent endorsement would disappear – probably because of limitations on what cell phones could do.
Cell Phone Limitations
Given the cell phone technology available in 2001, cell phone calls from airliners at altitudes of more than a few thousand feet, especially calls lasting more than a few seconds, were virtually – and perhaps completely – impossible. And yet many of the reported cell phone calls occurred when the planes were above 25,000 or even 40,000 feet24 and also lasted a minute or more – with Amy Sweeney’s reported call even lasting for 12 minutes.25
Three problems have been pointed out: (1) The cell phone in those days had to complete a “handshake” with a cellsite on the ground, which took several seconds, so a cell phone in a high-speed plane would have had trouble staying connected to a cellsite long enough to complete a call. (2) The signals were sent out horizontally, from cellsite to cellsite, not vertically. Although there was some leakage upward, the system was not designed to activate cell phones at high altitudes.26 (3) Receiving a signal was made even more difficult by the insulation provided by the large mass of an airliner.
Well-known Canadian scientist and mathematician A. K. Dewdney, who for many years had written a column for Scientific American, reported early in 2003 on experiments showing that these difficulties would have rendered impossible at least most of the reported cell phone calls from the 911 airliners.27 His experiments involved both single- and double-engine airplanes.
Dewdney found that, in a single-engine plane, successful calls could be counted on only under 2,000 feet. Above that altitude, they became increasingly unlikely. At 20,000 feet,
“the chance of a typical cellphone call making it to ground and engaging a cellsite there is less than one in a hundred…. [T]he probability that two callers will succeed is less than one in ten thousand.”
The likelihood of 13 successful calls, Dewdney added, would be “infinitesimal.”28 In later experiments using a twin-engine plane, which has greater mass and hence provides greater insulation from electronic signals, Dewdney found that the success rate decayed to 0 percent at 7,000 feet.29 A large airliner, having much greater mass, would provide far more insulation – a fact, Dewdney added, that “is very much in harmony with many anecdotal reports …that in large passenger jets, one loses contact during takeoff, frequently before the plane reaches 1000 feet altitude.”30 Dewdney concluded, therefore, that numerous successful cell phone calls from airliners flying above 30,000 feet would have been “flat out impossible.”31
The Tonka Report editor’s Note: Keep reading, folks! This is more explosive information exposing yet another of now countless facts unravelling the government fraud of 9/11… – SJH
Link to entire article below…