CITGO CAMERA MYSTERIES AND MYSTERY CAMERA
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The Frustrating Fraud
First draft - April 6 2008
Recently I started looking again into the layout of the surveillance cameras at the Citgo station/Navy Exchange, first using as a base John Farmer's graphic made after on-site inspection in 2007 [left - figure 4 in his Citgo video overview PDF, an informative read]. The green circles represent views present in the multiplexed video released in September 2006 [see below]. The yellow circle is the area lit up at about the moment of impact. Red circles indicate cameras there or said to have been but whose views were not included. These will be the main focus of this article.
The numbering for the cameras is based on multiplexer slot labeling and verified by the view shown from each (see sample screen below). Cameras 5, 6, and 7 watched the inside of the store, while 3 and 4 looked from its outside walls over the canopy/pump areas. The #1 label is somewhat arbitrary since its view is not represented, but there is a slot for it on the final screen - labeled '1 ICE' [upper left corner in the screen below]. That spot is filled by the composite screen in miniature, which means, to Farmer, that the camera was offline at the time of recording. His site photos confirm an ice machine at the south/east entrance, so this is the best guess for camera 1.
The main focus of this article will be on the two camera positions on the north canopy's west edge. These were left unnumbered in Farmer's graphic, since there was no spaces for them in the multiplexed image as released. For reference, I chose to call them 8 and 9, with 9 at the corner and 8 closer to the store. Below is Russell Pickering's drawing after on-site investigation in August 2006 [source], labeled by view title, not camera number. The one I've called 9 is labeled here 'missing camera.' Indeed, its place in these graphics is honorary; no camera has ever been photographed in that spot to my knowledge.
Pickering explained the reason this spot was included with such a label, at the Loose Change Forum in September 2006:
"According to the manager of the Citgo [...] They were evacuated for about two hours from the Citgo and minutes after they reopened the camera was taken. She never viewed the video herself. [...] The Citgo manager physically took me out under the canopy and showed me the location of the removed camera. It was pointed at pump 2. [...] The manager described this one as having had a clear view of the Pentagon wall and quite a bit north as well." [emph. mine] [source]
Previously most researchers had believed the video, not the actual camera, was seized 'within minutes' of the attack. But Pickering found out on the pivotal group-research trip that it was actually taken hours afterward, along with one of the actual cameras, for uncertain reasons. In this Pickering photo (above, pink labels by me, black and red by him) we can see the indicated location of the one said to have been taken by the FBI, as I've labeled it, camera 9. Camera 3 is also visible here, labeled but not important, and camera 8 is nestled at the pillar with its own view that was also not present in the final. Note the position of this camera when looking at the photo below, also by Pickering [source]. In this view, again, pink is mine, we can clearly see another camera even closer to the store (labeled by me "?"). It's featured in neither Farmer's nor Pickering's layouts. Also no view present in the video, of course.
This opens up new possibilities; the removed camera was later replaced but in a different spot - it was never taken at all, just moved over prior to August 2006 - it was not even moved, with the manager yanking Pickering's chains pointing to an empty spot where they never had a camera. Although it seems a prime spot to have one.
There are obvious time line issues and no certainty that the video set-up was the same from 9/11 to 2006 or 2006 to 2007, or till now. All we have is three contended camera positions along the north canopy's west edge, two cameras in 2006, and no views from any of these three locations in the Citgo video (only cam 3 covered the north canopy). This is admittedly a bit odd. Considering all photographed and alleged camera positions, however many were there and online on that morning, this is the slate as I see it (below). There is a definite asymmetry here. (red camera angles rough, based on above photos, black line deduced as a logical angle for the missing camera).
In this context I can see why people would suspect views were removed; the alternative seems to be that on September 11 as Flight 77 flew by on whatever side, all the camera views towards the Pentagon and/or the north path were just off-line, like the VDOT's cameras are said to have been. Considering field of view and resolution issues I doubt any of them would catch anything that was much above the ground or any more than a few hundred feet away. Thus little was likely missed, but it looks kind of like they're fostering mystery here.
But then again camera 4 was left in, or painted in, whichever you prefer... and it shows what's almost certainly the shadow of Flight 77 following the ground south of the station.