Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The Frustrating Fraud
February 10 2008
edits Feb 11 3pm
It was a chilly November morning in Arlington, not long after sunrise, when Defense Protective Services Sgt. Chadwick Brooks met with Craig Ranke of Citizen Investigation Team at the Navy Exchange/former Citgo station just west of the Pentagon. After some initial discussion next to two bright yellow traffic barriers at the station’s northwest corner interviewer Craig Ranke asks Brooks to move the interview to the location he was actually at when he saw “Flight 77” fly over or near the station just 62 months earlier.
At 34:20 in the video they are at the spot, and Ranke has Brooks confirm “this is exactly where you were standing when you got out of the car.” As Ranke later explained for those who take this too literally, “there is no reason to expect Brooks himself to remember the exact parking space," but I think all are in agreement he picked the right general area. "From that vantage point," Ranke feels, "north or south of the Citgo would be clear as day.” Indeed, it would be as clear as left or right.
Brooks said at 34:50 “we were able to see everything” indicating the plane coming from above, ahead, and to the right. At right here is the area Brooks first saw the plane passing from, over ("the middle") of some trees at the lot’s west edge. I’ve identified the fork-like structure in that space as an Air Force Memorial just finished before the interview was given.
His path description is fragmentary, but it seems that from over these trees, the plane passed via “the front of the station” over the ‘Jersey barriers’ where the interview started. But Brooks is also clear when questioned that it was not actually over the canopy - or the barriers - but more to the left, and entirely north of the station. “It was going on a straight line, a straight line towards the Pentagon,” he says at one point, and emphasizes again “it was a straight line” on which it “flew directly in front of the building” followed by “a great ball of fire [that] just goes straight up in the air.”
So he describes a straight path that came over the trees and the barrier, visual clues he recalls and has now had a chance to see, that takes it just north of the north canopy. Therefore his path described is something quite like this:
Note that a straight line between those points comes nowhere near matching a straight line to the impact point; a severe right turn would be required. In comparison, Lagasse's path originated further north and took a much straighter line to the impact/flyover point. This is shown in the video after Brooks’ description but before Brooks drew his own path. I had to re-construct this one from the video interview, since he wasn’t asked to draw out this path right after he described it. When asked by Loose Change Forum member bileduct, Ranke explained “I simply forgot to get him to draw the flight path” at that time, which is perhaps understandable, with so many aspects to keep track of when doing this kind of work.
Back But with a Sharpie
Luckily, however, Ranke “had both officers [Brooks and Lagasse] booked on the same morning.” So after Brooks finished and left, he interviewed Lagasse, and apparently seeing his flight path reminded him; “after Lagasse's interview I realized that I forgot to ask Brooks to draw the flight path and called him on his cell phone. He agreed to come back and draw it so Lagasse stuck around to see what he would draw out of pure curiosity. That is what led to the segment with both of them.” [source] Some might wonder if this dynamic introduced some distortion to Brooks’ second recollection. “I suppose I should have taken Brooks across the street again,” Craig confessed, “but to be honest it didn't cross my mind as I knew he had already explained in detail how he saw the plane on the north side.” So he stayed on with Lagasse watching nearby.
At 58:43 in the video Brooks is back, pad in hand, under the north canopy again. Craig announces “okay, Sgt. Brooks is gonna draw for me on the image where he saw the plane fly.” As the subject faces north and scans left right perhaps over-much, Ranke explains “now he’s trying to assess the area again, recollect where he saw it, and then draw right there on that piece of paper for me.” At 59:07 Brooks decides he’s not in the right spot to draw it and walks north, with Craig commenting “he’s going over here to the north side from where he remembers it flying.” The camera follows with a calming “no pressure, no pressure.” and films the drawing action. Funky music fades in oddly repeating the word “time,” as Ranke urges the Sgt. To “make that nice and thick for me.”
At about 1:01:30, Sgt. Lagasse walks over and peeks at it, and exclaims
Lagasse: “That's damn near perfect from what I saw. And we've never -- for the record we never talked to each other about this.”
Brooks: “Yeah, for the record, we never -- we've never discussed it at all.”
Ranke: “So you guys, neither of you guys have really talked about this with each other? Never in all these five years, and you both independently drew the flight path line pretty much exact.”
Lagasse: “I know, I was -- the way this has been going -- who knew what he was going to put down there because he was in a different location. But it's right there, which makes me feel good about the way I remembered it.”
Ranke: “So you're both pretty much 100% certain that that's what you remember the flight path being?”
Brooks: “But from different locations, yes.”
About a minute later they both chuckle strangely when asked if there was any chance it was south of the station. Of course not; however it happened, they both drew the same flight path, so it’s pretty well 100% proven. “Again,” Brooks affirms, “we never discussed this, that’s what I seen with my own eyes [...] "I know what I've seen with my own eyes. I know I was here, and I don't have to go around saying I was here.”
LCF member Bileduct (who was banned right after me) asked Ranke, after confirming the original described path and comparing it to the later drawn one, “is it fair to say that there is an inconsistency with what Sgt Brooks said he saw, and what he drew?” “No,” Ranke responded, “unless you expect humans to be computers. They only need to be correct about the approximate placement of the plane and this is all we should expect them to be correct about.” As Craig pointed out “You can't forget how these guys are all at the Navy Exchange/former citgo EVERY DAY […] They know the area.” So he happened to draw Lagasse’s flight path despite his own recalled memory and a visual review of an area he’s very familiar with, and CIT somehow feels this makes the discrepancy less suspicious.
An Ace or a Joker?
The chuckles might be telling; Brooks’ account Is studded with clues the he might just be having fun with these guys. While discussing the altitude, he directs Ranke’s view to the left; “you see where that telephone pole is?” pointing. The camera follows and zooms in expectantly just before he yoinks the point, saying “it was up higher – it was up way higher than that. It was just – it was just unbelievable.” Sounding confused and with muted disappointment, Ranke responds “oh, okay.” At another time, he points to “the Pentagon, which is currently located over there.” Not so much ha-ha funny is where, while facing west, he indicates a flight path to his right, or north, whereas his previous account from 2001 had the plane coming up on his left. This means either a south of the Citgo path, or a 2006 interview done with him standing backwards in the scene, switching his directions to compensate. This is silly witness behavior; he may as well have been wearing his uniform backwards to flesh out the discrepancy.
But perhaps the biggest prank of them all, one with once fatal-seeming implications, has been brilliantly capitalized on by CIT. He described a “United Airlines” 737, with blue lettering on a white (actually ‘champagne’) paint job. United didn’t even use a blue-on-white standard until 2004, at the time using white letters on gray and dark blue. It almost seems Brooks did a quick Google image search just before the 2006 interview in order to yank his interviewers around, or to sabotage his account. Brooks at first seemed the odd man out compared to Lagasse’s clear description of a silver AA 757 with red letters, matching the most the widely reported clues, Turcios’ gray then silver plane with unsure markings, and Paik’s ‘black wings’ seen from below. Obviously he didn’t really see a UA plane, but CIT later turned the tables, making Brooks’ account a pivotal point of the ‘white plane’ construct, which they feel is pretty well proven. He saw a white drone airliner with a single blue stripe, and simply morphed it in his memory to something familiar. Now this leaves Lagasse’s, Turcios’, and Paik’s descriptions - and much of the rest of the body of evidence - the odd men out.
Likewise, it can’t be ruled out that Brooks was simply amusing himself when he later told the Citizen researchers that their documentary based on his testimony was an “eye-opener.” I’ve still not seen the direct quote from Brooks to this effect, but am relying on CIT’s insistence, first aired when Aldo Marquis asked Arabesque at the LCF on August 9 2007 “did you know that Sgt. Brooks already said our film was an "eye-opener" and "anything is possible" when it came to him being fooled? […] He said it was possible he was fooled, are you saying that you know for a fact that he wasn't?” [source] He repeated the same paragraph word-for-word in the same forum two days later, and Craig pasted it another two days later at JREF, again repeating Aldo’s awkward sentences; “is it possible he missed the impact because he too went to radio it in. Did Sgt. Brooks detail the impact? Or did he say "and what seemed to be a quick second the plane went in front of the building and a big boom, fireball explosion went off.". He said it was possible he was fooled, are you saying that you know for a fact that he wasn't?”
Sure, anything is possible, including that he was fooled by the fakery. It's also at least as possible that he saw what actually happened and rather than being fooled, was just fooling around when he talked to the camera in 2006.