9/11 Scholars Forum

Exposing Falsehoods and Revealing Truths

"Phone Calls from the 9/11 Airliners", Part III, by Prof David Ray Griffin


Cell Phone Numbers Recognized on Caller ID

In spite of what has been said above, some people may be able to accept the idea that everyone who reported receiving cell phone calls from the 9/11 airliners – except perhaps for those who reported the 9:58 calls from Felt and Lyles – had misunderstood what they had been told. But even if so, they face a still more difficult problem: If all the calls (except the two at 9:58) were made from onboard phones, as the FBI’s report for the Moussaoui trial says, why did some of the calls produce the supposed caller’s cell phone number on the recipient’s Caller ID?

Tom Burnett: The best-known case of this type involves the reported calls from Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett to his wife, Deena Burnett. As we saw earlier, she told the FBI agent that she had received three to five calls from her husband that morning. The FBI report then added:

“Burnett was able to determine that her husband was using his own cellular telephone because the caller identification showed his number, 925 980-3360. Only one of the calls did not show on the caller identification as she was on the line with another call.”65

According to the report presented to the Moussaoui trial, however, Tom Burnett completed three calls, all of which were made using a passenger-seat phone (the rows from which he allegedly made the calls are indicated).66

It is instructive to compare the FBI’s treatment of Deena Burnett’s testimony with its treatment of the testimony of Lorne Lyles, the husband of CeeCee Lyles. The FBI’s summary of its interview with him says: “At 9:58 AM, Lorne Lyles received a call at home from her celular [sic] telephone. Lyles was in a deep sleep at the time. . . . Lyles commented that CeCe [sic] Lyles’ telephone number 941-823-2355 was the number on the caller ID.”67 When the FBI turned in its telephone report for the Moussaoui trial, it reflected Lorne Lyles’s testimony that his spouse had used a cell phone. But even though Deena Burnett provided the same evidence – that her spouse’s cell phone number had appeared on her phone’s Caller ID – the FBI’s report for the Moussaoui trial did not reflect her testimony, but instead said that her husband had used a seat-back phone. This contrast provides further evidence that the FBI’s report was tailored to avoid affirming any high-altitude cell phone calls.

In any case, how can anyone say that the FBI’s treatment of the reported calls from Tom Burnett does not provide insuperable evidence against the truth of the official story? If he had actually called from an onboard phone, as the FBI now says, how could his home phone’s Caller ID have possibly indicated that the calls came from his cell phone? Some people reject as “unwarranted speculation” the suggestion that this shows that the calls were faked. But until someone comes up with an alternative explanation, this is the only hypothesis that accounts for the facts.

One cannot avoid the problem, moreover, by assuming that the FBI agent who wrote the report of the interview misinterpreted her. She repeated her statement about the Caller ID a year later to McClatchy reporter Greg Gordon,68 and five years later she repeated it again in a book, in which she said: “I looked at the caller ID and indeed it was Tom’s cell phone number.” She said, incidentally, that she realized that this was problematic, writing: “I didn't understand how he could be calling me on his cell phone from the air.”69 She, nevertheless, reported what she had seen.

Renee May: There was, furthermore, evidently another phone that registered the cell phone number of a person onboard the 9/11 airliners, namely, AA 77 flight attendant Renee May. According to the FBI summary of its interview with Renee’s mother, Nancy May, she “did not know whether her daughter was utilizing an in-flight telephone or her own personal cellular telephone.”70 But there was another reported call from Renee May, about which the public was not told. The 9/11 Commission Report asserted that “all family members of the Flight 77 passengers and crew were canvassed to see if they had received any phone calls from the hijacked flight, and only Renee May’s parents and Ted Olson indicated that they had received such calls.”71 However, if Renee May’s fiancé should be considered one of her “family members,” then the Commission should have mentioned his testimony.

According to FBI notes dated June 5, 2002, Renee May’s parents “advised that Renee also had made a telephone call to [her fiancé] at his office, on the morning of 09/11/2001, but did not speak to him.” Then, summarizing the testimony of her fiancé (whose name was blocked out), the FBI notes said:

“May had attempted to contact [him] on the morning of 09/11/2001, but did not talk to him. [He] advised that the caller identification (ID) of his business telephone . . . had indicated May had called.”72

We cannot say for certain that we have here a parallel with the Burnett case, because May’s fiancé, according to the FBI’s summary of its interview with him, could not say at what time in the morning the call occurred. One might suppose, therefore, that she had called early, before the flight departed.

However, the flight reportedly pushed back from the gate at 8:09 AM, so if she had called before she was on duty, she would have needed to call pretty early, surely no later than 7:15 AM. Accordingly, the fact that the call leaving her cell phone number came to her fiancé’s office phone, rather than his home phone, means that it was most likely dialed later, after Flight 77 would have been in the air. This seems to be what May’s fiancé and parents assumed. Indeed, it was likely this belief that convinced the Mays that their daughter’s call to them had also been made from her cell phone, leading to the local headline, “Flight Attendant Made Call on Cell Phone to Mom in Las Vegas.”73

In any case, the FBI’s report to the Moussaoui trial, not mentioning the call to Renee May’s fiancé, indicated that her two calls to her parents – only one of which was connected – were made from an onboard phone.74

Conclusion: On the one hand, the cell phone number of Tom Burnett and probably that of Renee May showed up on Caller IDs while their planes were in the air. On the other hand, the FBI’s Moussaoui trial report states that Burnett and Renee May did not use cell phones. Unless one is willing to challenge the FBI on this point, what alternative is there except to conclude that someone fabricated at least one, and probably both, of these calls, using a device that, besides replicating the impersonated persons’ voices, also caused their cell phone numbers to appear?75 That is, to be sure, speculation. But if there is no other plausible way to account for the facts, it cannot be called unwarranted speculation.

Moreover, if we can say with great confidence that the reported calls from Amy Sweeney and Tom Burnett (and probably Renee May) were faked, what about the reported calls from various other people – including Sandy Bradshaw, Marion Britton, Honor Wainio, Jeremy Glick, Peter Hanson, and Brian Sweeney – that were originally said to have been made on cell phones? The only way to avoid the conclusion that they also were faked, it seems, would be to claim that they were based on misunderstanding or faulty memory. However, the accuracy of these reports is supported not only by the fact that so many people gave them, but also by the fact that the Burnett calls, having been registered on the recipient phone’s Caller ID as cell phone calls, cannot be explained with speculations about misunderstanding or faulty memory. The calls to Deena Burnett thereby support the accuracy of the claims of the other people who said they had been called from cell phones. It would seem, therefore, that we have good evidence, with regard to most of the reported calls originally said to have been made on cell phones, that they were faked.

That conclusion leads to the further conclusion that all of the reported calls from the airliners were faked, even those that were from the beginning said to have been made from onboard phones. Why? Because if some of the calls had been genuine, reporting real hijackings, why would several people have been all set up with the equipment and information to fabricate cell phone calls from some of the passengers? If people were ready to fabricate calls from Amy Sweeney, Tom Burnett, and most of the other people who were originally said to have made cell phone calls, then the airliners were not, as the official story has it, hijacked in a surprise operation. If the most fundamental part of the official story is false, then there is no reason to accept the reality of any of the hijack-reporting phone calls from the planes.

3. Questions about Onboard Phones on American Flight 77

Prior to learning about the FBI 2006 report to the Moussaoui trial, which indicated that Barbara Olson had attempted only one call and that it was “unconnected” so that it lasted for “0 seconds,” members of the 9/11 Truth Movement already had reasons for doubting the truth of Ted Olson’s claim that she had made two calls to him from Flight 77, during each of which they had conversations. One of those reasons was that it seemed that the calls could not have been made from either a cell phone or an onboard phone.

The possibility that Barbara Olson might have used a cell phone seemed ruled out by the plane’s reported altitude: According to the 9/11 Commission, her first call reportedly occurred “between 9:16 and 9:26 AM,” when Flight 77, according to the NTSB’s official report, would have been somewhere between 25,000 and 14,000 feet.76 (The FBI later specified that her attempted call occurred at 9:18:58, at which time the NTSB report says that Flight 77 would still have been at about 25,000 feet.77) It was no big surprise to learn, therefore, that the FBI said in a previously quoted 2004 statement - “All of the calls from Flight 77 were made via the onboard airphone system”78 – that there were no cell phone calls from this flight.

That statement did, however, indicate that there were onboard calls from this flight. And, as we have seen, the FBI explicitly said that Renee May, using an onboard phone, completed a call to her parents. But I have cited evidence that neither she nor Barbara Olson could have made such calls, because American Airlines’ 757s did not, in September 2001, have functioning onboard phones.

In response, one critic has written, “FACT: AA 757s had airfones on 9/11,” even adding: “Griffin himself acknowledged as much in 2007 - but has continued to promote the claim about no phone calls,” and other critics have expressed agreement.79 I will address the two parts of this twofold claim – that American’s 757s had onboard phones on 9/11, and that I have claimed otherwise while knowing better – in reverse order.

My Evolving Position on whether Flight 77 Had Onboard Phones

When I published the first edition of Debunking 9/11 Debunking in 2007, I argued that the claim on which Ted Olson had evidently settled – that his wife had called him twice from Flight 77 using a passenger-seat phone – could not be true, because this flight did not have such phones. I made this assertion primarily on the basis of evidence provided by Rowland Morgan and Ian Henshall in their co-authored book 9/11 Revealed that American’s 757s (unlike United’s) did not have onboard phones.80

Morgan and Henshall had based this claim on three facts: First, the American Airlines website, while reporting that passengers could make telephone calls from AA’s Boeing 767s and 777s, did not mention its 757s.81 Second, they had learned from a representative of American Airlines in London that its 757s did not have onboard phones. Third, having asked AA in an email letter, “Are 757s fitted with phones that passengers can use?” they received a reply, signed “Tim Wagner, AA Spokesman,” which said: “American Airlines 757s do not have onboard phones for passenger use.” Then, realizing that Wagner’s reply left open the possibility that American’s 757s might have had phones that, while intended only for use by the crew, Barbara Olson might conceivably have borrowed, Morgan and Henshall sent another letter, asking, “are there any onboard phones at all on AA 757s, i.e., that could be used either by passengers or cabin crew?” Wagner’s response said: “AA 757s do not have any onboard phones, either for passenger or crew use. Crew have other means of communication available.”82

On the basis of these three mutually supporting pieces of evidence, I said in the first edition of Debunking 9/11 Debunking (which appeared early in 2007): “[W]e have very good evidence that the call to Ted Olson, like the call to Renee May’s parents, was fabricated – unless, of course, he simply made up the story.”83

My Retraction of My “Error”: Shortly after the book appeared, however, I had second thoughts, which were provoked by three facts. First, a trusted colleague sent a 1998 photograph of the inside of an AA 757, showing that it had seat-back phones. Second, a CNET News report from February 6, 2002, sent by this same colleague, said:

“American Airlines will discontinue its AT&T in-flight phone service by March 31, a spokesman for the airline said Wednesday. . . . Passengers on Boeing 777 and Boeing 767-300 aircraft, which mainly fly international routes, will continue to offer an in-flight phone service.”84

At that time, I took this statement to mean that all Boeing airliners except the 767s and 777s would have had in-flight phone service until March 31, 2002.

Third, looking back at the statements from AA representatives quoted by Morgan and Henshall, I saw that they were formulated in the present tense, stating only that AA’s 757s “do not” have onboard phones. Those statements left open the possibility that, although they did not have onboard phones at the time these statements were made (2004), they had had have them back in 2001.

Having concluded that I had probably made an error, I wrote a retraction, entitled “Barbara Olson’s Alleged Call from AA 77: A Correction About Onboard Phones,” which was posted May 7, 2007. Having said that my earlier claim that AA 757s did not have onboard phones was “wrong, at least probably,” I concluded this essay by saying:

“In this brief essay, I have tried to exemplify what I have always said people should do when they find that they have made errors, especially about issues of great importance: Correct them quickly, forthrightly, and publicly. I assume that now NIST, Popular Mechanics, and the 9/11 Commission will correct the dozens of errors that have been pointed out in their reports.”85

Retracting the Retraction: Although the second of these two sentences was written with tongue in cheek, I was completely serious about the importance of correcting errors. Six weeks later, that same policy led to retract my retraction because of three new pieces of information: First, I learned of a 2004 news report that said: “Several years ago, American installed seatback phones . . . on many of its planes but ripped them out except in some Boeing 777s and 767s on international routes.”86 The fact that American’s 757s had onboard phones in 1998 did not, therefore, necessarily mean that it still had them in 2001.

The second new piece of information, supplied by Rob Balsamo of Pilots for 9/11 Truth, was a page from the Boeing 757 Aircraft Maintenance Manual (757 AMM), which was dated January 28, 2001. The first sentence of this page states: “The passenger telephone system was deactivated by ECO FO878.” This page indicates, in other words, that by January 28, 2001, the passenger phone system for the AA 757 fleet had already been deactivated.87

This information is relevant to the news report of February 6, 2002, which said that, except for its 767s and 777s, American Airlines would “discontinue its AT&T in-flight phone service by March 31.” There were two things I had not earlier noticed about this report. First, it merely said that this service would be discontinued (except for its 767s and 777s) “by March 31.” To say that it would be discontinued by that date was not necessarily to imply that it would be continued until that time on all of AA’s planes. Second, this report did not mention 757s in particular, so it did not necessarily indicate that AA’s 757s still had any in-flight phone service to be discontinued. This news report, in other words, would be consistent with the idea that, although some AA planes (in addition to the 767s and 777s) might continue in-flight phone service until March 31, the service on its 757s had already been discontinued. And that is precisely what the page from the 757 AAM indicated, namely, that the phones on American’s 757s had already been deactivated by January 2001.

The third new piece of information, which I also learned from Balsamo, was that another AA representative had made a statement about the absence of phones on AA 757s, which, being more precise than the statements that Morgan and Henshall had received, left no room for misinterpretation. This statement, which had appeared on a German political forum, had been evoked by a letter to American Airlines saying:

“[O]n your website . . . there is mentioned that there are no seatback satellite phones on a Boeing 757. Is that info correct? Were there any . . . seatback satellite phones on any Boeing 757 . . . on September 11, 2001?”

The reply, which was signed “Chad W. Kinder, Customer Relations, American Airlines,” said:

“That is correct; we do not have phones on our Boeing 757. The passengers on flight 77 used their own personal cellular phones to make out calls during the terrorist attack.”88

After confirming the authenticity of this reported exchange,89 Balsamo and I co-authored an article entitled “Could Barbara Olson Have Made Those Calls? An Analysis of New Evidence about Onboard Phones.” In a section entitled “Correcting an ‘Error,’” we reviewed the reasons that had led me to conclude that my claim about AA 77 – that it would have had no onboard phones – was probably wrong.

That section was followed by one entitled “Correcting the Correction,” in which we laid out the three above-mentioned “new pieces of evidence supporting the contention that AA 77 did not have onboard phones.” We then also reported that our conclusion about Barbara Olson’s alleged calls to her husband – that they did not occur – was supported by the FBI’s report for the Moussaoui trial (although this report did not support our contention that Flight 77 would have had no onboard phones).90 Although we said that “we cannot yet claim to have proof” that American’s 757s did not have functioning onboard phones in September 2001, we called our evidence “very strong.”

This article was posted (on the Pilots for Truth website) on June 26, 2007. So my retraction, in which I stated that Flight 77 probably did have onboard phones, had stood as my public position for only the six weeks between May 7, 2007 – when I posted “Barbara Olson’s Alleged Call from AA 77: A Correction About Onboard Phones” – and June 26, 2007.

The fact that I had retracted that retraction was also stated prominently in the second edition of Debunking 9/11 Debunking, which, labeled “Revised and Updated Edition,” appeared in August 2007. Indeed, the primary reason for putting out this new edition was to update the book’s discussion of the alleged phone calls from the airliners, using the new information contained in the article co-authored with Balsamo. Besides reporting in this updated edition on the FBI’s report for the Moussaoui trial, in which it failed to affirm any high-altitude cell phone calls (including those purportedly made by Tom Burnett),91 I also explained the reasons for my initial retraction of the claim, made in the first edition, that there were no onboard phones on AA 77, and then the reasons for retracting this retraction. Although I did not have enough space to explain these reasons in detail – because the second edition’s overall pagination had to remain the same as the first edition’s – I referred readers to the article co-authored with Balsamo for more detail.92

Finally, in October 2009, I published an article entitled “New Evidence that the Official Story about 9/11 Is Indefensible,” in which I explained that “I was motivated to put out the Revised and Updated Edition [of Debunking 9/11 Debunking] primarily because of new information about the alleged phone calls.”93

In light of all this, I can perhaps be forgiven for being astonished to find people claiming that I have agreed since 2007 that American’s 757s had onboard phones.94

Did American 77 Have Onboard Phones?

Thus far in this section, I have merely discussed the fact of, and the reasons for, the evolution of my own thinking on the question of whether American 77 had onboard phones. The important question, however, is whether the relevant evidence, taken as a whole, supports the view that it probably did or did not. As I see it, the relevant evidence supports the latter conclusion, with the most important evidence consisting of the following four items:

 Statements from various representatives of American Airlines that its Boeing 757s did not have onboard phones, the most important of these being Chad Kinder, who, in response to the question whether it was true that there were no “seatback satellite phones on any [American] Boeing 757 on September 11, 2001,” said: “That is correct; we do not have phones on our Boeing 757. The passengers on flight 77 used their own personal cellular phones to make out calls during the terrorist attack.”95

 A page, dated January 28, 2001, purportedly from the Boeing 757 Aircraft Maintenance Manual (757 AMM), which states: “The passenger telephone system was deactivated by ECO [Engineering Change Order] FO878.”96 Although the phones were physically removed from the planes in 2002, this document says that they were deactivated, so that they could not be used, almost eight months before September 11, 2001. The authenticity of this page is vouched for by an American Airlines employee who, although he wishes to remain anonymous, is known to Rob Balsamo of Pilots for 9/11 Truth.

 The following statement of American Airlines Public Relations Representative John Hotard: “An Engineering Change Order to deactivate the seatback phone system on the 757 fleet had been issued by that time [9/11/2001].” Following this statement, Hotard emphasized that photographs showing seatback phones in American 757s after 9/11 would not prove anything, for this reason: “We did two things: issued the engineering change orders to disconnect/disable the phones, but then did not physically remove the phones until the aircraft went . . . in for a complete overhaul.”97

 The following statement by Captain Ralph Kolstad, who flew Boeing 757s (as well as 767s) as captain from 1993 until he retired in 2005: “[T]he ‘air phones,’ as they were called, were . . . deactivated in early or mid 2001. They had been deactivated for quite some time prior to Sep 2001.” In response to a question about this statement, he added: “I have no proof, but I am absolutely certain that the phones were disconnected on the 757 long before Sep 2001. They were still physically installed in the aircraft, but they were not operational.”98

Given the fact that these four mutually supporting pieces of evidence come from completely different sources, they provide very strong evidence for the view that American 757s in 2001, and hence American Flight 77, did not have functioning onboard phones.

The opposite point of view appears to have the following support:

• The claim by the FBI that onboard phone calls were made from Flight 77: an unconnected call by Barbara Olson; a connected (as well as an unconnected) call by Renee May; four connected calls by unknown persons to unknown numbers; and one unconnected call from an unknown person to an unknown number.99

• The aforementioned CNET News report from February 6, 2002, which quoted an AA spokesperson as saying: “American Airlines will discontinue its AT&T in-flight phone service by March 31.”100

• A document, dated March 13, 2002, which was provided by someone using the alias AMTMAN, and which purports to be an American Airlines ECO (Engineering Change Order) for the deactivation of the telephone circuit breaker and toggle switch for B757s.101

None of this evidence, however, is very strong:

• Given the fact that the FBI had the primary responsibility for marshaling evidence to support the official story, the FBI’s own testimony in support of this story cannot simply be assumed to be accurate, especially since this testimony is not supported by any clearly authentic, publicly available, documents.

• The evidence provided by the CNET News report of February 6, 2002, is weak for the reasons pointed out earlier: It merely says that all phone service on American Airliners, except for the 767s and 777s, will be discontinued “by March 31.” It does not say that all phone service will continue until that date, and it says nothing whatsoever about 757s in particular. It is compatible, therefore, with the evidence that the service on American’s 757s was discontinued long before March 31, 2002.

• The document purported to be an American Airlines ECO dated March 13, 2002, was provided by the anonymous person using the alias “AMTMAN” only after the publication of the Griffin-Balsamo article, which included the citation of a page, apparently from the Boeing 757 AMM, stating that the telephone system had been deactivated prior to January 28, 2001. When AMTMAN was challenged by Balsamo to give his real identity, so that his claim to be an AA employee could be verified, he disappeared. This document is, therefore, in the same boat as the purported page from the 757 AMM in one sense, namely, that the authenticity of each is supported only by a person who has remained anonymous. They differ, however, in a very important way: Whereas the purported AMM page is consistent with the testimony of Customer Service Representative Chad Kinder, pilot Ralph Kolstad, and Public Relations Representative John Hotard, the purported ECO provided by AMTMAN is contradicted by the testimony of all of these past and present AA employees.

At the end of our joint article, Balsamo and I wrote: “Although we believe our evidence that they did not have [functioning onboard] phones is very strong, we cannot yet claim to have proof; evidence to the contrary might still emerge.” While repeating that statement today, I would add that, given the new statements by John Hotard and Ralph Kolstad, combined with the fact that in the intervening years no proof to the contrary has emerged, the evidence is even stronger now. The evidence is very strong, therefore, that Barbara Olson could not possibly have made calls from Flight 77.

4. Did the FBI’s 2006 Report Confirm Ted Olson’s Testimony?

The question of whether American Flight 77 had onboard phones is important primarily for the question of the reality of the reported calls from Barbara Olson. However, if it should turn out that, contrary to what the presently available evidence indicates, Flight 77 did have onboard phones, that fact by itself would not settle the question about Olson’s reported calls, because there are other reasons to doubt their reality.102 One of these reasons is that Ted Olson’s account – according to which he received two calls from his wife that morning, each of which lasted a minute or more – was undermined by the FBI’s Moussaoui trial report on phone calls from the airliners. Or at least I so claimed in my Fifth Estate interview, as well as in some of my writings. In this section, I respond to challenges that have been made to this claim.

The basic reason for my claim was the stark contrast between Ted Olson’s testimony and the FBI’s report on phone calls from American Flight 77. According to Olson’s testimony, he received two telephone calls from his wife that morning, the first of which, he told the FBI, “lasted about one (1) minute,” after which, a few minutes later, he received another call from her, during which, he later told Larry King, they “spoke for another two or three or four minutes.”103 The FBI’s report to the Moussaoui trial, by contrast, says that Barbara Olson attempted one call, which was “unconnected” and (therefore) lasted “0 seconds.”104 Could anyone possibly think that this report does not undermine Ted Olson’s account?

The answer to this question, surprisingly, turns out to be Yes, because some people suggest that Ted Olson’s account and the FBI report are not mutually contradictory. These suggestions all revolve around the fact that the FBI’s telephone report about American Flight 77, besides indicating that there was an unconnected call from Barbara Olson and two calls from Renee May – one unconnected, the other connected – also indicated that there were five calls from this flight that were doubly unknown: Each was made by an “unknown caller” to an “unknown number.” It also stated that four of these five calls were connected.105

One attempt to reconcile the FBI’s Moussaoui trial phone report with the claim made by Ted Olson, according to which his wife called him twice from Flight 77, has been to suggest that this FBI report was intended to confirm Olson’s account, and successfully did so, by saying that all four of the connected calls to unknown numbers were calls from Barbara Olson to her husband’s office. A second attempt to reconcile the two would be to suggest that two of the four connected calls were from her. I will look first at the four-call hypothesis, then the two-call hypothesis.

Is the Four-Call Hypothesis Plausible?

In order for the four-call hypothesis to be persuasive, two conditions would need to be fulfilled. First, the FBI, in presenting its phone report to the Moussaoui trial, would have needed to be proposing, at least implicitly, the hypothesis that the four connected calls to unknown numbers were made by Barbara Olson. Second, in order for this four-call hypothesis to reconcile the FBI’s 2006 report with Olson’s account, it would need to be plausible. I will look at these two questions in reverse order.

In the first chapter of The 9/11 Commission Report, we find this statement about the reported calls from Barbara Olson:

“At some point between 9:16 and 9:26, Barbara Olson called her husband, Ted Olson, the solicitor general of the United States. . . . About a minute into the conversation, the call was cut off. . . . Shortly after the first call, Barbara Olson reached her husband again. She reported that the pilot had announced that the flight had been hijacked.”106

That discussion suggested that there was no reason to question the reality of these calls. The only hint that there might be something problematic was the evident fact that no one could establish exactly, or even very approximately, when the first call from her came. Surely, one would think, Ted Olson himself and whoever in his office put the call through to him would have had a pretty precise memory of when this shocking, traumatic call was received – more precise, at least, than the 10-minute span of time “between 9:16 and 9:26.” So why could it not be determined with more precision when this reported call came?

Often, of course, puzzles raised by statements in the text of a book can be solved by looking at the relevant notes. When one turns to the endnote for this paragraph, however, one finds the following statement:

“The records available for the phone calls from American 77 do not allow for a determination of which of four ‘connected calls to unknown numbers’ represent the two between Barbara and Ted Olson, although the FBI and DOJ believe that all four represent communications between Barbara Olson and her husband’s office. . . . The four calls were at 9:15:34 for 1 minute, 42 seconds; 9:20:15 for 4 minutes, 34 seconds; 9:25:48 for 2 minutes, 34 seconds; and 9:30:56 for 4 minutes, 20 seconds.”107

So, we learn, there were apparently only two sources of information: purely oral reports from people in the office (not backed up by any notes or logs), which provide the account of two calls from Barbara Olson; and “records available for the phone calls from American 77,” which provide no proof that Barbara Olson made any calls whatsoever. The DOJ and the FBI merely “believe” that two, or perhaps all four, of the connected calls to unknown numbers had been made by her.

The other thing this statement seems to imply is that there were no DOJ phone records showing the reception of any calls from Barbara Olson or from American Flight 77 – and, in fact, no DOJ phone records indicating that any calls were received at times corresponding to the times of any of the connected calls to unknown numbers reportedly made from Flight 77. Does this fact not undermine any attempt to try to correlate the phone calls reported by the two sources?

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