A 911 rescue worker said this week he was told by FBI agents to "keep his
mouth shut" about one of the "black boxes" found at ground zero,
the official story that none of the flight and cockpit data recorders were ever
recovered in the WTC wreckage.
Honorary firefighter Mike Bellone claims he was approached by unknown bureau
agents a short time after he and his partner Nicholas DeMasi, a retired New
York firefighter, found three of the four "black boxes" among the
before January 2002.
The pair first claimed to find the data recorders in an August 2003 book
entitled "Behind The Scene: Ground Zero" when DeMasi said the "black
found while he traversed ground zero in his ATV with three federal agents.
FBI and New York fire officials have denied ever finding the voice and data
Now Bellone claims agents were adamant about keeping the discovery a secret.
"They confronted me and told me to not to say anything," recalls
referring to one of three reddish-orange boxes with two white stripes he saw
the back of DeMasi's ATV. "I said give me a good reason? When they couldn't,
told them I wouldn't shut up about it.
"Why should I? I have nothing to hide and nothing to gain. It's the truth
Nick and I are sticking to our story as we always have."
Bellone said he and DeMasi were not the only 911 rescue workers to see the
black boxes. He said there were several other witnesses and knows first hand
they have been silenced by federal agents.
"I know two or three others saw what went down, but they are not talking,"
added Bellone. "They got to those guys after they talked to me. The only
I can figure they are trying to hide the truth is that the government knows
screwed up and the recorders would prove it."
Asked to give names of the other witnesses, he said he wouldn't break a
fellow-worker's confidence, privacy and firm desire to remain anonymous.
"I can tell you this, though, it was all very strange. I worked on the
spaceship Columbia clean-up and you know when something important is found and
something is not" he recalled, saying the day the 'black boxes' were secretly
carted away agents acted like "something big was going down."
Bellone also recalled never learning the FBI names as this type of personal
contact and information wasn't exchanged between the civilian workers and
government officials working side-by-side at ground zero.
"We worked together, but nobody knew their names," added Bellone.
on their FBI jackets, but I'm sure I could pick them out of a line-up or
recognize their pictures."
The pair's bombshell accusations blows a big hole in the official story as
well as the findings in the recent 911 Commission report. In Chapter 1,
footnote 76, there is the sole but definitive reference to the airline "black
"The CVR's and the FDR's (voice and flight data recorders) from American
and United 175 were not found."
Asked if DeMasi and Bellone were questioned or subpoenaed, Commission
spokesman Al Felzenberg said:
"I can't tell you now if he was is one of the 1,200 people we interviewed
if the book was one of the countless ones we researched. We explored every
lead, but I will try to find out if we talked with him and get back to you"
However, Bellone said he and DeMasi never were contacted by Commission
members or asked to appear regarding their statements even though the book was
published well before the hearings commenced.
And it's amazing with a story of such importance that in over a year since
the book surfaced almost nobody else has called them either. It's hard to
imagine a story with such magnitude has not been thoroughly checked out unless
mainstream press purposely ignored it.
"I have been contacted by only one newspaper reporter from the Philadelphia
Daily News. That's it," he said, referring to an October 2004 story by
William Bunch, recapping DeMasi's book statements as well as the usual
Those close to the 911 investigation said the recovery of the "black boxes"
is important, holding vital clues and leading to the truth of what really
happened on the morning of 911.
The cockpit voice recorder uses a pair of microphones to capture all cockpit
sounds for the last 30 minutes of a doomed flight. The flight date recorder
also significant since it records altitude, heading and airspeed.
Both recorders are designed to withstand enormous impact and heat. National
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials said they should have withstood
conditions at the WTC.
And finding the boxes after a crash seems to be standard procedure, according
to the NTSB.
"It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back,' said NTSB
spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz. "I can't remember another case which we did
Bellone is retired and was made an honorary New York fireman for his efforts
after 911. DeMasi also recently retired from Engine Co. 261, nicknamed the
"Flaming Skulls," after serving a brief stint after 911 with the fire
department's marine unit.