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Zeitgeist - Part II: All The World's a Stage

Author: Edward L Winston
Added: November 29th, 2007

Peter Joseph (creator of Zeitgeist) believes that I'm mentally ill because I disagree with him. You can read all about it on his forums (linked from this forum post), with a blog-based rebuttal here. You better not disagree with him, or you'll be labeled insane next. Perhaps I'm crazy for pointing out his forum post?

In this part of the film, the film maker examines the possibility that the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 on the United States were an inside job, that is to say the US government was either completely responsible, or allowed it to happen. It also covers a small amount about the terrorist attacks on London on July 7, 2005.

In the previous part, I went through everything the film maker said and discussed everything point by point, however because this part is made up of many different people, countless quotes, and news pieces, I will instead just discuss general points the film attempts to make. I will try to discuss them as thoroughly as possible as to leave no questions unanswered.

This page overviews the film's conspiracy theories related to the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, the largest topics are not covered in too much depth, because that is too much for this page. If you want in depth information, and even more conspiracy theories, please see my September 11th conspiracy page.

Myth Overview

The 911 Myth:

19 hijackers, directed by Osama B Laden, took over 4 Commercial Jets with box cutters and, while evading the Air Defense System (NORAD). Hit 75% of their targets. In turn, W. Trade Towers 1,2 & 7 collapsed due to structural failure through fire in a "pancake" fashion, while the plane that hit the Pentagon vaporized upon impact, as did the plane that crashed in Shanksville. The 911 Commission found that there were no warnings for this act of Terrorism, while multiple government failures prevented adequate defense.

This part of the film opens with a paragraph detailing the "myth" of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 (called 9/11 from here on). The film maker has already reached a predetermined conclusion, and assumes you have as well, that the attacks on 9/11 were an inside job or something to that affect. Therefore this calls his entire analysis into question, however we will go on anyway, discussing each piece of evidence. 

General Ahmed and Mohammad Atta

  • No inquiry was ever made as to why General Ahmed of Pakistan had $100,000 wired to Mohammad Atta
  • On the morning of September 11th, US government officials were having breakfast with Ahmed in Washington D.C.

General Ahmed was formally the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence in Pakistan[1]. The film alleges that General Ahmed wired $100,000 to Mohammad Atta. I went to try and track this down, but I only found such an accusation listed on other conspiracy sites. I finally found the original source on The Times of India web site[2]. I cannot find any other substantial source on the subject. Due to the fact that it was written by an Indian, I have to doubt the article's truthfulness even more, considering there is a long standing animosity between Indians and Pakistanis. At this time, no Wikipedia articles mention such a transaction except the General Ahmed article[3]. Several conspiracy sites say that the money was given on September 10, 2001. I just have to wonder why someone that is committing suicide the next day would need $100,000.

It was also hard to find information on a breakfast between General Ahmad and "government officials". I finally tracked down a few places, nearly all were known tabloids that also said General Ahmed was also Mohammad Atta's bagman, but we already discussed that. It may have taken a while but I did find an article from the Washington Post about such a breakfast taking place[4], but again the claims seem a bit iffy, considering there were absolutely no news sources at the time that report such a breakfast taking place, only within the next year did such accusations surface -- and overall it seems a bit illogical, why would the organizers of the most massive conspiracy to cover up the largest terrorist attack in history, meet for breakfast on the morning before it happened, you would think they would avoid each other.


  • The 9/11 Commission deemed the financing of the attacks was "of little significance" in their official report

Actually, this quote is taken completely out of context, the commission actually said that they knew funding came from Al Qaeda, but where Al Qaeda itself received the money was not known, mainly because they had so many sources of money. They did attempt to track it down, and the leads ran cold. Therefore, "at this time", finding the exact origin of the money used for 9/11 was "of little practical significance" [my italics][5].

Hijacker's Passport

  • The passport for one of the hijackers was found near the World Trade Center.

Satam al-Suqami's passport was indeed found, reportedly in the vicinity of Vesey Street, before the towers collapsed [6]. He was not the only one who's passport was found, in fact the passports of Ziad Jarrah and Saeed al-Ghamdi are reported to have been found at the crash site of United Flight 93.

Although strange, it is not inconceivable that his passport could have survived the blast, considering highly flammable floatable airplane seats were also found, and can even be seen in the post-attack photographs.

Alive Hijackers

  • Some of the claimed hijackers were actually found alive after the attacks
  • At least six hijackers are still alive
  • Since they have been proven alive, the FBI has not revised their list of suspects

On September 23, 2001 the BBC[7] and the Daily Telegraph[8] reported that some of the hijackers were actually alive and well. They reported they had found Waleed al-Shehri, who reportedly was living in Casablanca, Morocco. Reported also was that Abdulaziz al-Omari, Saeed Al-Ghamdi, and Khalid al-Midhar, three other hijackers, were still also living in the middle east.

All of the reports have since been acknowledged as cases of mistaken identity by the publications involved[9][10][11]. The problem may have arisen because the FBI names were common Arabic and Islamic names[12]. Another possible way confusion could have arise is because many of the hijackers varied the spelling of their names, for example Hani Saleh Hanjour, also used "Hani Hanjoor", "Hani Saleh", "Hami Hanjoor" [13].

No Links to Osama bin Laden

  • No evidence has ever linked any of the alive or dead "hijackers" to Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden and the group he founded Al Qaeda is estimated to have spent at least $400,000 as well as an additional $300,000 that went to the hijackers[14]. Before the attacks, the hijackers returned approximately $26,000 to an unknown source in the United Arab Emirates. The hijackers were not really good at anonymous spending, so they left a very in depth paper trail behind that linked them directly to Al Qaeda and thus Osama bin Laden[15]. Again in reference to the "bag man" conspiracy theory, why would they need $100,000 if they were killing themselves and if they wired unspent money back anyway?

Fake Osama Video

The video that confesses to the attacks on September 11th, 2001 containing Osama bin Laden is said to be fake. Can you guess which one?

Video #3 is said to be another person. I did brighten up the picture a bit to see if I could get a better look, but you could barely see. However, I watched it when it was originally on television and there was no doubt then who it was. The picture above it does not look like another person, sure the video is much darker, but as you can tell in videos #1, #2, and #4 he is outside in the daylight, and if anyone has ever used a home video camera inside in low light, it is very dark. Regardless of whether or not you want to believe a darker contrast is a different person, it simply is the same person in all videos.

Some argue that it is a CIA agent / sponsored actor, but the problem is, if the CIA was behind it, why would they get someone who is "darker" and does not look like bin Laden -- especially when they have associates of bin Laden in the "fake video" that look exactly like the correct people -- why do such a poor job on bin Laden? Especially with modern computers?

Shafig bin Laden, G. H. W. Bush, and the Carlyle Group

  • Shafig bin Laden was meeting with George H W Bush, and the Carlyle Group the morning of 9/11

I can find no sources of such an event -- that is sources that do not occur on conspiracy web sites themselves. If the event did take place, it is not surprising, considering Osama bin Laden has many, many family members, something on the order of 54 brothers and sisters alone -- most of which have completely disowned him. Many also own or are a part of major businesses, construction companies, oil companies, etc, so it is not very surprising that rich business men meet with rich business men -- believe it or not, it is a very common occurrence [19].

Hani Hanjour was a Bad Pilot

  • Hani Hanjour was a bad pilot and could not have executed a 270 degree (or 330 degree) turn that was required to hit the Pentagon

The evidence put forth is from his flight instructors, however their concerns were not about his piloting, but his poor English and behavior problems.

For example, "he didn't do his homework, didn't attend on time and he would sort of come and go," said Duncan Hastie of Cockpit Resource Management [20]. And also, "he wasn't the greatest of students in terms of his attitude, but most of that was his lack of ability to communicate in English, and I don't speak Arabic." said another flight instructor [21]. Peggy Chevrette, the manager for the now-defunct JetTech flight school in Phoenix, "Hanjour's English was so poor that it took him five hours to complete a section of a mock pilot's oral exam that is supposed to last just a couple of hours." [23]

His instructors obviously did not think he was too bad of a pilot, because he did have a commercial pilot's license, as well as instrument rating. Most of the concerns over Hani were due to his poor English language skills. The FAA requires commercial pilots to be able to speak and write fluently in English [23].

The New York Daily News spoke with an expert who said, "steering a large jet into a huge building wouldn't require a great deal of skill because taking off and landing are the most difficult maneuvers. A few hours in a twin-engine plane or a decent simulator could get you there." [24].

Regarding Flight 77 Hitting the Pentagon

The film goes through a verity of information relating to this pretty quickly, some of it simply to attempt to use logic in order to convince watchers. For example, it goes on and on about how an engine made of titanium could not be "vaporized". Most of this was based on the idea that no security camera footage was available, however it is, Video 2 of the pentagon shows clearly a plane in the right background just before impact [25].

I am not sure where they get the idea that the engine was vaporized. Plenty of pictures of said engines are available on the Internet, as well as countless witness statements of people who were driving or in the area at the time and clearly saw a plane [26].

Twin Towers

Far more information can be found on our debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories page related to the Twin Towers, here. This just covers as much as I could without having countless pages of information. If you do not think this information is thorough enough, see the page already mentioned.

  • The pancake theory is wrong, because otherwise there should be a large stack of floors a large twisted column of steel sticking up into the sky
  • Video of the structural engineer of the Twin Towers saying that the towers could survive a direct hit from a 707
  • The collapse of the buildings looks like a controlled demolition
  • There are puffs of smoke / dust on lower floors when the building was coming down, indicating bombs going on
  • There was molten metal in the basements of the buildings
  • There were subbasement explosions just before the planes hit
  • Evidence of thermite being used due to damage on the columns
  • Evidence of thermite being used due to the enormous dust clouds

The pancake theory is not necessarily incorrect, but how it is presented is. The NIST said that heat from the fires sagged the trusses, which bowed the columns inward, causing the building to collapse. After it began to collapse the inevitable pancaking ensued due to the tremendous force from above. The force from above and the pancaking itself took the rest of the building down with it [27].

The film next shows structural engineer Leslie Robertson speaking about how the building could take a direct hit from a 707. While this is true, I saw the same History Channel program this footage came from. As discussed in the show, the planes that hit the Twin Towers were not 707s, instead they were 767-200s [28][29]. The problem with using this footage as "proof" of foul play is how much different the situations were. As discussed in the same show as the footage shown, they did not expect the plane to be completely full of fuel, much less coming in at full speed, because back then they figured if a plane was going to hit the building, it would be a complete accident, and the Boeing 707 was the largest commercial plane at the time [30]. Instead the planes that hit the Twin Towers were full of fuel, intending on crossing the country, and were flying at full speed, and also hit at an angle to hit as many floors as possible [31][32].

As already discussed in this section, we talked about what caused the buildings to collapse and how they collapsed. It may look like a controlled demolition, but it is not. When floors began to collapse upon one another with a tremendous weight below them, the only way to go is down. That said, it may "look" like a controlled demolition, but believe it or not, that's just how buildings generally fall down, regardless. I imagine people expect when a massive building falls for it to fall over like a small building, but this simply is not the case.

Just like all buildings, especially tall ones, there is a massive volume of air inside. When the top floors began to collapse, this air was being pushed down to the next floors, and the weakest windows blew out due to the pressure [33]. 

Molten metal is often said to have been seen in the basements of the buildings or in various other parts. While jet fuel burns at 800 to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, this is not hot enough to melt steel. However, steel loses 50% of its strength at 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, more than enough to cause the steel to expand and sag, cracking concrete, eventually bringing down the buildings. That said, the jet fuel was not the cause of any molten metal, however as we know, the building was not empty. The NIST reports that pockets of fire hit 1832 Fahrenheit, caused by the burning of various materials in the building, including rugs, curtains, furniture, and paper [34].

Some reports say there were sub-basement explosions just before the planes hit. At this time I cannot find a single reliable source of such a thing happening, only conspiracy sites and unreliable "witnesses". When people are panicking, human perception can be greatly different from what is actually happening. Unfortunately, I cannot trust "first hand accounts" on youtube as actual evidence, just as a bunch of "first hand accounts" of alien abductions prove nothing at all [35]. If I find anything, I will be sure to update this.

The movie goes on to discuss the evidence of thermite being used to damage columns and the "enormous dust clouds" being evidence as well. For evidence they show various photographs and a little video of said thermite usage, smoke, and dust. Well, first of all, the pictures taken were all taken during clean up, so any clean cuts could have been done at any time, but that does not really matter because thermite does not make clean cuts. Claims about the dust clouds and dust are attributed to thermite, not the 11.2 million square feet of concrete that had just fallen [36]. Most of the people claiming they saw thermite were either misquoted or just plain wrong. If you want to know more, see our 9/11 page on thermite, here.

Building Seven

For more information related and more in depth studies into building seven, please see our building seven page in our 9/11 myths area.

  • Molten metal was seen in the basement
  • The building shows precision controlled demolition taking place
  • Building seven is not mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report

As explained in the "Twin Towers" section of this page, fuel was not the only thing burning in building 7 that day. There were several large diesel storage tanks for back up generators in the building, which fueled the fires, along with everything flammable within the building. These fires surely weakened any metal that was in the building, especially the primary truss for its open lobby design. The NIST has not released their findings on building seven just yet, but when they do, be sure it will be posted here as quickly as possible. Just like the Twin Towers, there are not many ways tall, large buildings can fall, except directly down [37].

The film goes on to claim that in the 9/11 Commission report, building seven is "not mention[ed] at all". I guess they assume (probably correctly) that the viewer did not actually read it. I, however, have read it and I remember reading various things about building seven. Unfortunately for them, it is mentioned on pages 284, 293, 302, and 305 (twice) [38].

Update: Originally I used to have these page numbers listed: "301, 310, 319, and 322 (twice)", however that was due to a mix-up on my part. I had read the commission report on PDF, and those corresponded to the PDF page numbers not the literal page numbers from the book, so I fixed them above. Keep in mind, the movie claims it's not mentioned, but it is, it never discusses the type of content missing. Thanks to Sky Hook for pointing out this error.

Scrambling Jets

The film makes a big deal about NORAD and it's ability to defend our country, claiming that they are supposed to watch the skies over the US, but that is not true. NORAD's purpose originally was to watch for missile attacks from the Soviet Union, and other world wide threats that could be damaging to national security, not watch local skies [39]. In fact here is a quote from March 2002 by General Eberhart, explaining how NORAD was setup prior to 9/11:

"Prior to 11 September 2001, our air defense posture was aligned to counter the perceived external threats to North America air sovereignty -- we considered flights originating domestically as 'friendly by origin'. Within this context, our aerospace warning and control missions were oriented to detect and identify all air traffic entering North American airspace, and if necessary, intercept potentially threatening inbound aircraft." [40]

The film also talks about how within "10 minutes of a hijacking, jets are to be scrambled." The last hijacking to occur in the United States was in 1991 [41] and since then the air marshal program had been downsized with only 33 in 2001, and none on domestic duty on 9/11 [42].

The protocols in place on 9/11 for the FAA and NORAD to respond to a hijacking presumed that the hijacked aircraft would be identifiable and would not attempt to disappear; there would be time to address the problem through appropriate FAA and NORAD chains of command; and a hijacking would take the traditional form: that is, it would not be a suicide hijacking design to convert the aircraft into a weapon.

When NORAD fighter jets were "scrambled", that meant that they were to "establish a presence in the air. The pilots are trained to trail the hijacked plane at a distance of about five miles, out of sight, following it until, presumably, it lands. If necessary, they can show themselves, flying up close to establish visual contact, and if the situation demands, maneuver to force the plane to land." [43]

On 9/11 the existing protocol for hijackings was completely unsuited for dealing with what was about to happen. The defense of the airspace of the US depended on close interaction between two federal agencies: the FAA and NORAD. The Boston Center FAA and other air traffic control centers alerted NEADS of the four hijackings, though with little or no advance notice for NEADS and NORAD to mount a response.

At most, NEADS had 9 minutes advance notice of the first hijacking, American Airlines Flight 11 and was notified about United Airlines Flight 175 at 9:03 AM - the same time that it crashed into the World Trade Center's south tower. NEADS had four minutes advance notice of American Airlines Flight 77 and Flight 93 at 10:07 AM - after it had already crashed.

At 8:32, Flight 11 turned off its transponder, immediately making it difficult to find the aircraft. The controller told his supervisor that he thought something was seriously wrong with the plane, although neither suspected a hijacking. The supervisor instructed the controller to follow standard procedures for handling a "no radio" aircraft. When the military was finally contacted at 8:34 the FAA notified the military of the aircraft.

In the film, it has the recording of an officer saying "Is this real world or exercise?" The last part is repeated, as if they previous had a similar operation exercise, but now the man is not sure. I guess the film maker did not realize that officers are supposed to ask that question.

NEADS ordered two F-15 alert aircraft at Otis Air force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, 153 miles away from New York City. Due to the transponder being turned off, the plane could not be located on the radar, and within time it hit its target. The military continued looking after this time, but American Airlines refused to admit one of its planes had crashed for several hours.

This is just a small amount of the information regarding NORAD, please see our 9/11 NORAD page for more information.

London Bombings

It is true that they had exercises the same morning and were in almost the same location, they were not at the exact same time, like the movie claims. The first three bombs went out around 8:50 AM, however the exercise did not start until around 9:30 AM. [44]. Companies run exercises quite often, and the more, the better -- but because the exercise included bombs going off in various locations, some of which were near the real locations, that does not equal a conspiracy.

Various Comments

There were various sampled comments, from Alex Jones, and from various other places. The ones I wanted to cover here did not have a specific place to put them. 

"... a bunch of Arab guys take over an airplane"

The above is profoundly racist, implying that somehow Arabs cannot do things that require intelligence. We know from various places that most of the hijackers were actually fairly intelligent and organized, and not like traditional terrorists.

"How can they take over airplanes with box cutters?"

Right now it's hard to imagine a time when people actually believed that a terrorist was going to just use you as a hostage, get what he wanted, and let you go -- and that's no doubt what most of the people on the planes on 9/11 believed.

Part Three

Next is the page on bankers, Federal Reserve, and a potential conspiracy: Next Page