9/11 "black box" cover-up at Ground Zero?

"At one point I was assigned to take Federal Agents around the site to search for the black boxes from the planes. We were getting ready to go out. My ATV was parked at the top of the stairs at the Brooks Brothers entrance area. We loaded up about a million dollars worth of equipment and strapped it into the ATV. When we got into the ATV to take off, the agent accidentally pushed me forward. The ATV was already in reverse, and my foot went down on the gas pedal. We went down the stairs in reverse. Fortunately, everything was okay. There were a total of four black boxes. We found three."

- Nicholas DeMasi, firefighter at Engine Company 261 in Queens

This is the more comprehensive version of our story appearing in today's Philadelphia Daily News.

Two men who worked extensively in the wreckage of the World Trade Center claim they helped federal agents find three of the four “black boxes” from the jetliners that struck the towers on 9/11 - contradicting the official account.

Both the independent 9/11 Commission and federal authorities continue to insist that none of the four devices - a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) from the two planes - were ever found in the wreckage.

But New York City firefighter Nicholas DeMasi has written in a recent book -- self-published by several Ground Zero workers -- that he escorted federal agents on an all-terrain vehicle in October 2001 and helped them locate three of the four.

His account is supported by a volunteer, Mike Bellone, whose efforts at Ground Zero have been chronicled in the New York Times and elsewhere. Bellone said he assisted DeMasi and the agents and that he saw a device that resembled a “black box” in the back of the firefighter’s ATV.

Their story raises the question of whether there was a some type of cover-up at Ground Zero. Federal aviation officials - blaming the massive devastation - have said the World Trade Center attacks seem to be the only major jetliner crashes in which the critical devices were never located.

A footnote to the 9/11 Commission Report issued this summer flatly states: “The CVRs and FDRs from American 11 and United 175” - the two planes that hit the Trade Center - “were not found.”

And officials for the FBI - which oversaw the cleanup at Ground Zero - and the New York City Fire Department repeated this week that the devices were never recovered.

The “black boxes” - actually orange - could have provided valuable new information about the worst terror attack to ever take place on American soil.

The cockpit voice recorder uses two microphones to capture the sounds of the cockpit for the last 30 minutes of a doomed flight on a tape loop. In the case of the hijacked 9/11 jetliners, the devices should have captured any conversations or actions involving the hijackers, as well as radio transmissions.

The flight data recorder records things like airspeed, heading, and altitude. Both devices - located in the tail of the airplane - emit loud “pings” so they can be located even in ocean jetliner crashes, like the 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island.

They are built to survive an impact of enormous force - 3400 Gs - and a fire of 1100 degrees Celsius for one hour, somewhat higher than official estimates of the World Trade Center blaze.

“It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders,” Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, told CBS News in 2002. However, officials said little of the jets was recovered.

DeMasi was with now defunct Engine Company 261 in 2001. He wrote up his recollections of the Ground Zero recovery in a glossy book self-published by a group that calls itself Trauma Recovery Assistance for Children, or the TRAC Team. The book was published in 2003 but received little notice.

(There's more on the book and how people can get it at this site.)
DeMasi, an all-terrain vehicles hobbyist - said he donated 4 ATVs to the clean-up and became known as “the ATV Guy.”

“At one point, I was asked to take Federal Agents around the site to search for the black boxes from the planes,” he wrote. “We were getting ready to go out. My ATV was parked at the top of the stairs at the Brooks Brothers entrance area. We loaded up about a million dollars worth of equipment and strapped it into the ATV...”

“There were a total of four black boxes. We found three.”

Efforts over several days to locate and interview DeMasi, who is now said to be with the FDNY’s Marine Unit, were not successful.

But his account was verified by another member of the so-called TRAC Team, recovery site volunteer Bellone. He recalled FBI agents arriving for the search one day in early October, setting up their equipment near Brooks Brothers. He said he didn’t go out with them on the ATV but observed their search.

At one point, Bellone said he observed the team with a box that appeared charred but was redish-orange with two white stripes. Pictures of the flight recorders on the NTSB and other Web sites show devices that are orange, with two white stripes.

“There was the one that I saw, and two others were recovered in different locations - but I wasn’t there for the other two,” Bellone said. He said the FBI agents left with the boxes.

If the account by DeMasi and Bellone is true, it’s not clear what motive federal authorities would have for claiming they weren’t found.

By the same token, however, it’s not clear what incentive either man would have to lie.

An FBI spokesman in New York, Jim Margolin, said after checking with the leader of the Ground Zero investigation that none of the boxes were recovered.

Frank Gribbon, the FDNY spokesman, also said “no one in the Department is aware of the recovery of any of the airline "black boxes" at the WTC site.”

Bellone has encounted some unrelated problems in connection with the TRAC group, however. In April, the New York Post reported (story not available online) that TRAC owned money to a number of creditors, including the company that published the book. Fire officials also told Bellone, who was made an honorary firefighter by a New York engine company, that he couldn’t wear an official uniform on school visits.


Firefighter Said Black Boxes
Were Found at Ground Zero

By Bryan Sacks and Nicholas Levis
Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2004

Pulitzer Prize winner William Bunch  uses an account from the book to the left, "Behind-the-Scenes: Ground Zero," as one source for the claim that three black boxes from the aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Center were discovered by authorities during the recovery efforts in 2001-2002. This is contrary to the official story. (Philadelphia Daily News, Thursday, 10/28/04 - a longer version was published on his "Campaign Extra" weblog.)

We hope other newspapers - and broadcasters - will follow this important lead and endeavor to investigate other potential cover-ups relevant to the 9/11 investigation. 

Therefore we are offering a limited number of copies of the book gratis to print and broadcast journalists, and to the general public at cover price with free shipping.
(For ordering information, see left.)

Update, Oct. 29: This breakthrough story has been picked up at OpEd News, Scoop Media, Yahoo PR Newswire and many other outlets. 

Amid the enormous detail of loss, sorrow and recovery conveyed in "Behind-the-Scenes: Ground Zero," a New York City firefighter reveals that at least three of the four black boxes from Flights 11 and 175 were found by "Federal Agents" at the former World Trade Center site, during the clean-up efforts from September 2001 to March 2002.

At the time of the disaster, Nicholas DeMasi was a firefighter at Engine Company 261 in Queens. (The firehouse was shut down in 2003, after a century of operation.) 

In the weeks that followed 9/11, he joined an all-terrain vehicle crew (ATV Unit) at Ground Zero. In "Behind-the-Scenes," he describes his experience as follows: "If you needed anything, go ask the ATV Guy, they're the gopher guys."

On page 108 comes the revelation:

"At one point I was assigned to take Federal Agents around the site to search for the black boxes from the planes. We were getting ready to go out. My ATV was parked at the top of the stairs at the Brooks Brothers entrance area. We loaded up about a million dollars worth of equipment and strapped it into the ATV. When we got into the ATV to take off, the agent accidentally pushed me forward. The ATV was already in reverse, and my foot went down on the gas pedal. We went down the stairs in reverse. Fortunately, everything was okay. There were a total of four black boxes. We found three."

DeMasi's statement was committed to print in August 2003 and concerns an event that likely happened before January 2002. It has gone unnoticed by the media until now, and is flatly contradicted by the Kean Commission's supposedly exhaustive findings.

The only statement on the status of the Ground Zero black boxes in the 9/11 Commission Report is buried in footnote 76 to Chapter 1, but it is definitive: "The CVRs and FDRs from American 11 and United 175 were not found..." As if to leave no doubt about what is meant - that not even a trace of the total of four cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders from the two aircraft remained - the same sentence adds: "...and the CVR from American Flight 77 was badly burned and not recoverable."

DeMasi did not return phone messages to a number of investigators who reached out to him, and has not spoken out beyond his comments in "Behind-the-Scenes." He is obviously not seeking attention - why else drop his bombshell in this off-hand way, in a passage that almost no one has noticed? - and we have no interest in putting him on the spot. Given his commitment to the recovery effort at Ground Zero and the detail he provides, his account has an immediate, prima facie credibility.



Porter Goss orders CIA Inspector General to sanitize report assigning individual blame for 9/11 (Archive of article from NY Times, 11/2)


FEMA plans terror-incident training program for Election Day, Nov. 2, 2004 

Analysis: "Osama" Video Points to LIHOP!


(NOTE: LIHOP="Letting It Happen On Purpose," the hypothesis that U.S. officials deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks for their political and financial gain and as a pretext war.) 

The latest statement by "Osama Bin Laden" (whether or not it is really him) raises the question of why there was no air defense response to the Sept. 11 hijackings. 

Is it really him? As usual, "Osama" has a new look, once again different from the "Osamas" of previous videos. As usual, when the video was made and how it was received by Al Jazeera is unclear. 

He says he devised the original plan for 9/11 together with Mohamed Atta. Well, that settles any question about who authored the attacks. However, he also says the idea was to complete the attacks in 20 minutes. The conspirators feared that otherwise, the hijacked flights would be intercepted by U.S. jet fighters. 

But the actual attacks on Sept. 11 took almost two hours. The Pentagon was hit about one hour and 15 minutes after the first hijacking began. Why weren't the planes intercepted - as "Osama" says he and Atta had feared?

According to "Osama," this was because Bush stayed on in the Florida elementary school, listening to "The Pet Goat." Bush did nothing to exercise his authority after hearing news of the attacks, and this allowed their success. "Allah be praised." 

Of course, Bush's actions do not suffice to explain why the U.S. Air Force failed to follow standard operating procedures in reacting to the ongoing hijackings. 

But to even bring up the issue tells us that "Osama," or whoever really made this video, is aware that millions of people are questioning the official story on this point. Whoever made the video is willing to imply Bush may have been complicit - in exchange for establishing the ultimate authorship of "Osama." 

Fact is, this "Osama," the first one to address Americans in the course of an entire speech, is the strangest one yet. More than any previous Osama, he sounds as though his script was written by Michael Moore. He presents well-informed critiques of the USA PATRIOT Act, the awarding of contracts to Halliburton, and the irrational hysteria and curtailment of freedoms in the U.S. following 9/11. Almost too well-informed. 

Perhaps the intent of the video producers was simply to associate valid criticisms of the Bush administration with the hated figure of America's greatest enemy. For an alternative analysis suggesting that the release of the video (given the convenient timing) was in fact intended to support the Bush-Cheney campaign - despite the suggestion of LIHOP - see the always brilliant Michel Chossudovsky, "Intelligence Asset Osama Supports Bush Reelection" (Oct 31)

Right on schedule to accompany the new Osama tape:

Revelation that 9/11 Commission has not released 70 pages implicating officials for failure of air defense response on Sept. 11  
(Oct 30: Original story in NY Times, by subscription)

Thursday, Oct 28: JUSTICE FOR 9/11
Citing probable cause to open an immediate investigation and convene a grand jury into the crimes of September 11, New Yorkers delivered a Complaint and Petition to the office of State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (120 Broadway).

Greg Palast on preparations for election fraud (Oct 28)

Ground Zero Black Boxes Found? (Oct 27)

Civilian Death Toll in Iraq exceeds 100,000 (Oct 27)

100 luminaries from all walks of life and 50 relatives of the fallen demand a new investigation into Sept. 11. 

Eminem video attacks Bush 9/11 behavior, cites New York Post headline: "BUSH KNEW" (Oct 25)

Crossing the Rubicon sells out first print run of 30,000 in a month - is someone trying to slow it down? (Oct 24)

Who benefits? Sept. 11 mom points to Bush (Oct 22)

Boulder Weekly Cover Story on 9/11 Truth (Oct 22)

"WTC Hero Sues Bush and Others under RICO Statute" (Oct 23)

Mariani RICO lawsuit revived as Rodriguez v. Bush et al.
(Oct 22, PDF download of filing in Pennsylvania, 1MB)

Delmart "Mike" Vreeland captured in Iowa
(Oct 22)

9/11 Citizens' Commission - "The Omissions Hearings" video & audio online
(Oct 21)

Daily Stanford on protests at Zelikow appearance
(Oct 21)

Bush pre-election strike on Iran 'imminent'? (Oct 20)

Carol Brouillet in Daily Stanford: "The truth about Zelikow and the Sept. 11 cover-up commission" (Oct 20)

NY 9/11 Truth's Mike Kane starts blog
(Oct 20)

"CIA withholding damning 9/11 report that points at top officials"
Caution: Consider the source! (Oct 19)

Washington Post on the Million Worker March:
"One of the most prominent banners on display was one declaring, 'The Bush regime engineered 9/11'" (Oct 18)

Word at the German parliament: U.S. gov't due to decide on Iran attack in November (Oct 15)

Sen. Dayton closes DC office after threat? (Oct 12)

Remains of 9/11 victims 'to spend eternity' in city rubbish dump (Oct 10)

Indymedia servers seized by FBI - in London (Oct 7)


Go to the home page for details on all coming events:
Every SUNDAY: 9/11 Unreported - Films and Open-House Seminars at Verlaine, 110 Rivington.
Every WEDNESDAY: NY 9/11 Truth meetings at the Judson Church.  
Every SATURDAY: Street visibility actions around the city.  

Saturday, Jan 16: "Justice for 9/11" - Rally and Music in Battery Park to support opening a new criminal investigation of September 11.


"THE DOLLAR CRISIS AND 9/11 TRUTH" (May 04 but timely!)

(Oct 8)

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