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On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, terrorists seized control of four passenger aircraft and commandeered them. Two were piloted into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. One was crashed into the Pentagon in Washinton, D.C. The fourth, due to the courage of those onboard, ended its voyage in a field in Pennsylvania.

Every soul aboard these aircraft perished, along with upward of six thousand innocents in and around the buildings these planes hit.

I don't know how anyone could be unaware of these events by now. It was a bad dream we found wouldn't disappear, because we weren't asleep.

On Wednesday, September 26, I received a forwarded e-mail from my Father. Entitled "Freaky," the e-mail bore an attached photograph (seen above) of a visitor to the World Trade Center's observation deck, posing against the railing. It was an otherwise normal photograph, except for an American Airlines jet heading toward him, the camera and the building.

I was horrified by this photograph - a lasting testament to the moment before collective innocence was once again shattered by extreme people in extreme ways.

The following day, I received the image again, this time bearing the following text description in the body of the message:

This was from a camera found in the wreckage of
the WTC, developed by the FBI for evidence and 
released on the net today...the guy still has 
no name and is missing.
Reading this, a number of things began to set off alarms in my mind... Then I began to really scrutinize the image. Previously, I had been so disturbed by it that I failed to notice a few obvious flaws. After that, I began to critically think about the photo and the facts of the attack.

Simply put, this image is a complete fraud.

Let me explain why...

First things first... Assuming this photo was legitimate (which it's not), let's factually describe it:

View the full-size image.
  • The fellow in this photo is standing on the observation deck of the World Trade Center, wearing glasses, a black knit fisherman's-style Winter hat, a navy blue nylon parka with brown corduroy trim at the collar and wrists, a black shirt with yellow print, and a tan backpack.

  • To the subject's right (the camera's left), an aircraft is approaching. The colored banding across the nose of the airplane - blue, then white, then red, descending - indicates the plane is an American Airlines jet.

  • We are looking North, with the skyscrapers of Manhattan in the background.

  • The photograph is taken in daylight. This daylight is coming from the camera's right. With North in the background, West would be to the left, and East to the right. This implies that the photo was taken during the morning.

  • Stamped in the lower-right corner of the photo are the segmented numerals 091101 - September 11, 2001.

Now, let's review some details about the World Trade Center buildings, and the events of September 11, 2001...
  • The World Trade Center complex consisted of seven buildings, the most notable being the "Twin Towers," 1 World Trade Center (the north tower) and 2 World Trade Center (the south tower), each of which stood 110 stories tall.

  • 1 World Trade Center was topped with a distinctive 360 foot television mast, which supported 10 major television antennas and a host of ancillary antennas.

  • 2 World Trade Center was topped with an observation deck that would allow viewers, on a good day, to see 45 miles in any direction (except down).

  • At 8:45 AM EST, a hijacked American Airlines jet - Flight 11 out of Boston's Logan Airport, a Boeing 767 - plowed into the north face of 1 World Trade Center.

  • Barely 15 minutes later, at roughly 9 AM, a second hijacked jet, United Airlines Flight 175 - also a Boeing 767 out of Logan Airport - approached from the south and impacted the south face of 2 World Trade Center.

  • Within an hour and a half, both towers, in reverse order, would collapse. The damage and resulting fires would eventually bring down or irreparably damage every building in the World Trade Center complex.

Assuming you've read all of these facts, you're likely coming to a few realizations about contradictions this image presents on facts alone...

If this picture was indeed taken from the World Trade Center's observation deck, then both the camera and the fellow against the railing are standing on the roof of 2 World Trade Center.

The tower that the American Airlines flight crashed into was 1 World Trade Center, which would be outside this photo's frame to the left - the aircraft in this photo is plainly heading toward the right and into 2 WTC.

The airplane that did collide with 2 World Trade Center, a United Airlines 767, neither shares coloration with the aircraft in this photo, nor approached 2 WTC from the direction this photograph shows; United Flight 175 approached from the south - the photographer has their back to that side of the building.

By the time the United Airlines jet hit 2 WTC, 1 World Trade Center was billowing a giant plume of smoke that, because of the prevailing winds that morning, had enveloped the top of 2 WTC. That, and the fact (reported on multiple other sites) that September hours for the observation deck meant it wouldn't have opened until 9:30am, tell that no tourist photos could have been taken on 2 WTC's deck either before or after the attack.

The weather in New York City on September 11 averaged nearly 70° Farenheit according to The Weather Channel's website, with early morning lows around 61° F. Even at the top of a 1,362 foot building, I can scarcely conceive of someone requiring a parka and knit hat on a lovely day like that.

Though the above has hopefully shown factually why this image is a fraud, let's approach the same consclusion from a different direction. Part of my livelihood involves retouching photos. Let's talk about troubling visual details in the photo...

The aircraft in this picture would have been approaching the World Trade Center buildings at nearly 300 miles per hour, and yet it shows no sign of blurring due to motion. Photographers cannot even cripsly capture a baseball in flight without adjusting the camera's shutter speed, and yet we're expected to believe that an airplane moving three times as fast as the best fastball in the American League is sitting as clearly rendered in the air as if it were motionless?

The jet is also in perfect focus. In fact, the airplane appears to be more sharply defined than the person in the picture. Odd, wouldn't you say?

The photograph (minus the airplane) is underexposed. Photographs from that day show the sky to be a much brighter, more saturated blue than the subdued sky we see in this picture. The railings on the observation deck of 2 World Trade Center were bright white, and yet in the photo, they appear to be grey. That wouldn't be so odd of it weren't for the fact that the white stripe in the three-color American Airlines banding on the airplane in this photo is a brilliant white. If they were both part of the same photo, you would expect the brightness of white to be consitent, right?

Further, compare the way the airplane is lit as opposed to how the young man is lit... The airplane, unlike everything else in this image, seems to be lit from nearly overhead and slightly to the front. Examine the way light reflects off the nose of the airplane and this is easily visible, most tellingly in the brilliant glare above the cockpit. This is completely unlike the shadows across the young man's face and the railing on the observation deck, which are due to an oblique light source much lower to the horizon.

Also, the overall image has a brownish cast to it that, were it uniform, would be of little consequence, but this brown hue is consistent everywhere except in an airplane-shaped area of the photograph that has very different color properties. Here, colors have more of a magenta cast to them. The silver upper fuselage of the jet is reflecting the blue of the sky... except that the blue it reflects doesn't coincide with the blue of the sky we see in this photograph.

A final detail to notice - the stamped date in the bottom right corner of the picture... The time stamp on a camera such as this is handled by an array of segmented light emitting diodes (LEDs), reflected onto the film at the time of exposure. Because of their brightness, and proximity to the film plane, these digits appear to 'burn' into the image, creating glowing numbers with a white-to-yellow core, bleeding away to a reddish-brown aura. This does not happen in the numerals visible in this photograph. In fact, the numerals in this picture are exactly 1 pixel thick yellow lines that are perfectly square to one another, where their real world counterparts are canted slightly to the right. Also, the numerals in the photograph are not properly spaced from one another; in the real world, each 7-segment LED array forms an "8" when all the segments are lit, but the 1s in the picture's 091101 are all misaligned if meant to provide space for the complete 7-segment LED. It's almost as if they are (surprise, surprise) fake; poorly added after the fact in a computer graphics editing program.

One last thing to consider; the text message sent with this photograph...

This was from a camera found in the wreckage of
the WTC, developed by the FBI for evidence and 
released on the net today...the guy still has 
no name and is missing.
Disregarding the fact that this photograph is a fraud, defying logic in what it depicts as well as in the credibility of the visual elements of the image, let's dissect this description...

Firstly, if this photo was legitimate, it would be a reasonable conclusion that this was the last photograph this camera ever shot.

If a camera bearing this photograph was located roughly a person's height above the roof of the World Trade Center, it would have had to survive not only the six foot fall to the concrete observation deck, but a subsequent plummet of over 1,300 feet as the building it lay upon collapsed into itself and into the sub-basement that it stood upon. Concrete was pulverized to fine dust in the collapse, and yet we're expected to believe that this plastic and metal camera, as well as the fragile negative stored within, survived completely intact?

When a camera follows a building into a giant grinding, smoldering, falling mass accelerating at 9.8 meters/second², one would expect at the least that the film door of said camera would spring open, exposing to light, dust, and intense heat the aforementioned fragile negative within. The negative would be destroyed, and the latent image on that negative, awaiting development, would be lost.

Secondly, what possible evidence might the FBI have hoped to glean from the miracle camera that survived all of this, aside from how to design better cameras?

Third - had the FBI even extracted a viewable image from such an unlikely negative, there's absolutely no reason that they would have released it to the public. An image like this would only disturb; it adds nothing revelatory to this portion of the investigation.

Even were it to (and notice the ridiculous compounding of unlikelihood we are wading through) be released by the FBI, why would it have been released to only the Internet? Why would it have not also been called to the attention of major news syndicates like the Associated Press or Reuters, or a news network like CNN?

There's a simple, obvious answer...

This picture is a fake.

Some sick fool with photo-manipulation software created a composite image that flies in the face of fact and reason and disturbs most all who see it.

For conclusive proof of the photo's illegitimacy, look no further than the original source image of the airplane used in this composite.

The original shot of the plane, by photographer Jonathan Derden, confirms disparities in exposure, focus, color balance and direction of light.

Additionally, the plane in the photograph is a Boeing 757, an entirely different plane from the 767s used in the attack.

To those of you who have bought into this photographic sham, I wonder why you would have wanted this image to have been legitimate? Enough real horror has been forced down the throats of the freedom-loving world over the past weeks without the needless, fraudulent depiction of imminent disaster that this image represents.

- Steve Moss     [September 27, 2001]

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