Dawn Vignola’s Account vs. CIT’s Methods by Erik Larson

*Revised and corrected 1/24/10

From their apartment, Dawn Vignola and her roommate Hugh ‘Tim’ Timmerman saw American Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, September 11, 2001. Shortly afterward, they gave witness accounts to local and national TV media. In 2007, they were interviewed by Citizen Investigation Team (CIT), who attempted to discredit their testimony. I interviewed Dawn and her husband, Dan Ferrigno, January 5, 2010 at that same apartment and found them credible; they talked openly with me, their accounts have not changed since they were first offered, and I saw for myself that Dawn and Tim could have easily seen what they claimed to have seen.

On September 11, 2001 Dawn Vignola shared a 16th floor apartment with Hugh ‘Tim’ Timmerman, in Arlington, VA, which overlooked the Pentagon and the surrounding area. They were both at home, and Dawn was on the phone with her husband, Dan Ferrigno, because of what was happening in New York. She saw the plane approaching out the West window, over the top of a line of trees, and then it turned East. She could see the AA, and in the bright sun the plane appeared to be white. (See here for photos of the Boeing 757 N64AA, the plane that was American 77 on 9/11; notice how it appears white in the photos where there is direct sun on it). It was flying above the line of trees and buildings, and seemed to be over 395 or Columbia Pike.

As the plane disappeared from view past the window’s North edge, she went over to the window on the North side and watched for the plane, which she had noticed was flying unusually low; she and Tim were accustomed to seeing airplanes flying over the area, including over the Pentagon, as Reagan National Airport is close by. She saw the plane cross in front of the Sheraton Hotel on Columbia Pike, then it disappeared from view behind some nearby buildings. She watched for it to appear in view on the other side of a neighboring apartment building; it did, and she and Tim saw it impact the Pentagon, about 3/4 of a mile away. They did not see the plane fly over- in fact, it hit so low at the base, it looked like it hit the heliport first.

At the time, there was only vacant land and buildings under construction in between their building and the Pentagon, and these did not obstruct their view of the heliport. Since then, shorter buildings have been built in that area, but they still can still clearly see the upper floors of the Pentagon. In person everything appears much larger and clearer than it does on the accompanying video; when the camera is zoomed in, it actually gives a better idea of how large everything appears in person. Dawn and Tim had a clear view of the impact side and the airspace over the Pentagon, and would have seen the plane fly over- or seen something else hit- if that had happened. In addition, Dan’s office across the Potomac River had a view of the airspace over the Pentagon; he was looking at it while on the phone with Dawn, and saw the black smoke rising, but did not see a plane flying over or away from the Pentagon.

This is a short video of the view from Dawn’s apartment, with my narration based on the above points: The View from Vignola’s Contradicts CIT

This photo gives an approximate idea of how large the Pentagon appears from Dawn and Dan’s apartment, but still does not accurately convey how clear everything appears in person (also note that the shorter buildings in the middle were not there on 9/11; the view of the heliport was not obstructed):

This Google Earth image shows Dawn Vignola’s apartment and the line of sight to the Pentagon, as it was on 9/11/01. As can be seen from this photo, the area between her apartment and the Pentagon was largely vacant, with some construction going on:


Shortly after they saw the impact, Dawn called WUSA, the local CBS channel, and was interviewed live on the air. Tim was listening to the questions as they were asked by the TV reporter, and he can be heard in the background offering his input to Dawn, some of which she passed on over the phone. Later, Tim was interviewed by CNN. Dawn’s account has not changed since that interview; it is the same account she gave to Citizen Investigation Team in 2007 (judging by what CIT has said about it), and the same account that was given to me. Dawn is no longer in contact with Hugh ‘Tim’ Timmerman. There are a number of hits for ‘Hugh Timmerman’ online, but I did not attempt to track him down for comment; CIT has said they could not locate him.

Since 9/11, various people have claimed that AA 77 did not crash into the Pentagon. As there are numerous witness accounts of an AA 757 crashing into the Pentagon, some crash skeptics have questioned those accounts. For instance, in the case of Dawn’s account, blogger Steven Welch alleged that Tim was ‘coaching’ Dawn in her account, and claimed neither testimony could be considered credible. And, according to Dawn and Dan in my interview of them, when Craig Ranke and Aldo Marquis (CIT) interviewed them in November 2007, Craig and Aldo were not simply interested in receiving Dawn’s account and verifying the view from the apartment. Rather, they sought information that would support their theory that the plane known as AA 77 had flown over the Pentagon, dismissed the elements of Dawn’s testimony that did not support this theory and attempted to persuade Dawn and Dan they were mistaken and their theory was correct. (For 2 sides to this story, see the ‘Plan271’ thread at CIT’s forum)

CIT insists they’re objective and have not done anything improper in their investigation and reporting. For instance, in a 12/12/09 podcast interview by Paul Tassopulos, Craig Ranke said, “Citizen Investigation Team, myself and Aldo Marquis, have been to Arlington, Virginia several times to interview dozens of eyewitnesses to the Pentagon attack. We went there with no pre-conceived notions about what happened- we went there with no particular theory in mind. Our entire goal was to objectively ask the people on the street what they saw, and report it, and let the chips fall where they may.” (2:05) However, it is clearly not the case that they went to Arlington with “no pre-conceived notions about what happened”; as early as 1/11/06, before Craig and Aldo joined the Loose Change forum, Aldo Marquis had posted an article online titled “Meet Agent Lloyd A. England (Pentagon Plant)“. Lloyd England says the plane knocked a light pole through his cab’s windshield, and numerous photos place him, his damaged cab and a broken light pole at the scene. Aldo attempted to show that England could not be telling the truth about what happened, and that the scene was staged. If the plane knocked the light pole through the windshield of England’s cab, the plane was on the ‘South of Citgo’ path, (not on the ‘North of Citgo’ path, as CIT claims certain other witness accounts prove), and this disproves CIT’s ‘flyover’ theory. And according to Pentagon crash witness Mike Walter, when he met Craig and Aldo at his barbeque on the first trip to Arlington, “They were saying things like, ‘Are you sure the plane didn’t land [at Reagan airport] and they set off a bomb?’ They kept coming up with all these scenarios.”

Dawn and Dan invited Craig and Aldo into their apartment, talked with them at length and gave them permission to record the view from their apartment, but declined to be interviewed on camera, as Dawn was close to 9 mo. pregnant at the time, and felt it would be invasive of her personal privacy. CIT recorded conversation at the apartment anyway, (and their phone conversations), without Dawn and Dan’s knowledge or consent. In a comment thread at 911Blogger, Craig Ranke acknowledged this at least in part, saying, “Obviously while we video taped her POV with her consent after being invited to her home our discussion with her at the time was recorded by the video camera. And we most certainly did record our initial conversations on the phone with her as we do with EVERY phone call we make in our investigation.”

“One-party consent” is all that’s required in Federal jurisdictions and 38 states, but there are differing opinions on whether it’s ethical for journalists to record subjects without their knowledge or consent; “Some journalists see taping as an indispensable tool, while others don’t like the formality it may impose during an interview. Some would not consider taping a call without the subject’s consent, others do it routinely.” Craig Ranke defended CIT doing it, stating that in Virginia “one party consent” to a conversation being recorded is all that’s required by law (true), and that they do this “so nobody can falsely accuse us of behaving inappropriately or saying or doing something underhanded or deceptive.”

CIT also recorded a conversation with Lloyd England without his knowledge or consent, and released it (in part), claiming it was a “virtual confession” and that it supported their previously-issued charge that he is an “accomplice” to the 9/11 attacks and subsequent cover up. (See this discussion thread at 911Blogger for alternative views on whether Lloyd England’s statements are a “virtual confession”). It seems another reason CIT might record interviewees without their consent or knowledge is the potential for capturing bits of unguarded conversation which they can represent as damaging to the credibility of witnesses whose testimony contradicts their ‘flyover theory’; certainly they’ve demonstrated they will release recordings if they think it does. As CIT haven’t released their recordings of Dawn and Dan, it may be there’s simply nothing on them they feel would work to their advantage if released. CIT expert Adam Larson (no relation) has documented a consistent pattern of CIT attempts to dismiss or discredit witness accounts that support the ‘South of Citgo’ path or plane hitting the Pentagon; 33 cases, including Dawn Vignola, Tim Timmerman and Lloyd England: CIT WITNESS VERIFICATION PART III: ROUGHSHOD OVER THE SUSPICIOUS ONES.

On 11/29/07, CIT published an entry on their forum titled Details of our Nov 2007 research trip to Arlington, more data proving a deception, and included this statement regarding their interview of Dawn: “Previously published witness Dawn Vignola who was coached by her former roomate [sic] Hugh Tim Timmerman on the radio as an eyewitness declined to be interviewed on camera but let us into her Pentagon City high rise apartment to get shots of her POV and the one of the best possible views of the the event from high up. Dawn swears that the plane was white and although with her panoramic view she got a great look at it approaching from a ways away, once it got near the Pentagon it was obscured by the building in front of her until a split second before the explosion. She says it hit the heliport. We know this isn’t true because there was no damage to the heliport so likely the explosion and fireball simply concealed what the plane really did.”

Following this, on 1/15/08, on CIT’s forum, Aldo Marquis posted an entry titled, Witnesses List Broken Down, No such thing as 104 “impact” witnesses, and under a sub-heading for witnesses categorized as, “Only saw plane (possibly from far away location), could not see pentagon, light poles or impact, either deduced or are lying OR do not directly mention or CONFIRM seeing an impact”, he listed Dawn Vignola as “(TALKED TO by CIT, claimed the plane was white seemed unsure of final position)”

1/21/08, ‘plan271’ confronted Craig and Aldo on the CIT forum regarding inaccurate/misleading statements about ‘coaching’, the view Dawn and Tim had of the plane, the Pentagon and the crash, and what they had said about it. Craig and Aldo defended making an issue out of Tim interjecting comments during Dawn’s TV interview, although in dialogue with plan271 they referred to it as Tim ‘helping’ Dawn. They also denied accusing Dawn and Tim of lying, but continued to insist they could not have seen what they said they saw:

Craig Ranke, 1/21/08: “As soon as we saw the view from their apartment I knew instantly that there is no way she would have been able to physically see an impact and could only have deduced it based off the explosion.”

Aldo Marquis, 1/21/08: “We believe Timmerman and Vignola merely deduced the impact.”

12/5/08 (perhaps earlier) CIT posted this .gif of video from Dawn and Dan’s apartment:

Timmerman and Vignola’s panoramic view on 9/11” (Compare this to the photo and video above)

Notice this was filmed wide angle, from the middle of the apartment (not from Dawn’s vantage point); this gives uncritical viewer’s the impression that Dawn and Tim could barely see the Pentagon, which is not true.

Dawn and Dan are aware of the allegations and misrepresentations regarding Dawn and Tim’s accounts. Dawn told me that after seeing the plane crash into the Pentagon, she felt it was important to alert the media, but hadn’t expected to be put on the air live, and had not wanted to attract attention. But now they’re part of the controversy over ‘what’ hit the Pentagon.* Dawn and Dan OK’d my coming to their apartment to record the view and spoke with me for over an hour, but due to their experience with CIT, they did not want the conversation recorded, and I didn’t. As Dawn explained in a January 2, 2010 email to Michael Wolsey, which she authorized for public release, “I am now hesitant to have a telephone conversation recorded or even to be interviewed since my experience has been that I cannot trust how it will loaded onto the Internet or whether others will be able to access it and then edit it, unjustly, for their own pursuits.  The last time I trusted someone in this sort of matter, in particular Craig and Aldo, I found my words being distorted, taken out of context, and/or insinuations that I meant something other than what I said.” In the near future, Dawn and Dan will be launching a website that will host photos, video, Dawn’s personal account written down shortly after witnessing the Pentagon crash, and other related material, in an effort to set the record straight.

For more information on Citizen Investigation Team, see the articles written by Arabesque and Adam Larson.

This article by Arabesque is a helpful overview, with information on many specific incidents and examples: CIT, Craig Ranke, Aldo Marquis, and the PentaCon Flyover Theory: Origin, Debate, and the ‘Smoking-Gun’ Anti-Controversy

*NOTE: This article was written to shed light on Dawn Vignola’s and Tim Timmerman’s witness accounts, and the manner in which CIT has conducted its investigation and reporting. I support independent research and investigation of 9/11, and there are many reasons to question the official version of events. I take issue with selective interpretation of evidence, absolute claims regarding events for which contradictory or incomplete evidence exists, and the promotion of speculation as fact.

Certainly, the US government should release all photos, video and documentation related to ‘what’ hit the Pentagon. By withholding evidence, the US government is diminishing its credibility, as well as fueling the controversy about ‘what’ hit, and this in turn has distracted from larger questions, including the questions about why the Pentagon was hit at all; about the reason there was no air defense over D.C. more than half an hour after the second WTC impact, close to an hour and a half after the first signs of hijacking, after a ‘summer of threat’ that included warnings from different nations about an impending attack on the US using planes, when the CIA, FBI, NSA and SOCOM had developed their own intelligence on the impending plot, when the FAA, NMCC, NORAD and NEADS have procedures that enable quick interception of aircraft and had known for decades of attempts to use aircraft as missiles, and when the NSC and White House were aware of “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” (Aug 6 PDB)

The 9/11 Commission omitted and distorted facts that are part of the public record, including in its own and other government reports. The Complete 9/11 Timeline at HistoryCommons.org gives a comprehensive overview of what’s known about 9/11 and related entities and events, based on ‘mainstream’ sources. In addition, 9/11 Research, and the Journal of 9/11 Studies, document many unanswered questions and disturbing facts related to the total destruction of WTC 1, 2 & 7, and about NIST’s investigation of same. The big picture and thousands of details make the case that there needs to be a full, independent investigation of 9/11, before that day- or any other terrorist attack- are used again to justify increased funding for the military-industrial complex, foreign interventions, and draconian domestic security measures.

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