March 31, 2007

"Blogger recording phone calls to Sept. 11 witnesses" - Daily American

This article is about Jeff from

Blogger recording phone calls to Sept. 11 witnesses

Daily American Staff Writer
Saturday, March 31, 2007 11:47 PM EDT

A Canadian man has been calling Somerset County residents and, without their knowledge, recording the phone conversations he has with them about Flight 93 and Sept. 11.

Jeff Hill of Saulte Sainte Marie, Ontario, then posts the conversations on a Web site dedicated to debunking conventional beliefs about the events of Sept. 11.

During a telephone interview Wednesday, Hill confirmed he had called four county residents and recorded their conversations.

“It's not right at all,” said Paula Purbaugh of Somerset, one of the people Hill contacted and recorded.

In Pennsylvania, it is a felony offense to record telephone conversations without the consent of all parties that are involved in the conversation, said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The nonprofit organization provides free legal assistance to journalists.

But because Hill lives in Canada, it is unclear if he broke the law, Dalglish said.

“If he were to come to the state of Pennsylvania, they could probably try to get him,” she said. “I'm not sure that legally there's much that can be done to him, at least not done easily.”

Hill defended his actions, saying the National Security Agency is recording the telephone conversations of everyone in North America. His recordings are no different, he said.

Pressed further, he admitted that making the recordings was unfair to the people he had called.

“No, it's not fair I did that, but I want to get to the truth,” Hill said.

Locally, the Web postings of the recordings were found by Val McClatchey of Indian Lake, who shot the now famous photo of a plume of smoke rising behind a red barn after Flight 93 crashed into the ground. McClatchey titled the photo “End of Serenity,” copyrighted it and began selling copies of it for $20, with most of the proceeds being donated to The Todd Beamer Foundation or the Flight 93 Memorial. She has used some of the proceeds to cover mailing costs, she said.

But starting about two years ago, claims arose that McClatchey had faked the photo. Skeptics of her shot said, among other claims, that the smoke should be black instead of gray and resembled an ordinance blast more than a jet fuel blaze.

Soon, bloggers began attacking her online, accusing her of being a fraud and developing elaborate theories about her background. To keep track of what was being written about her, she set up an account with Google Alerts; the Internet search engine sends her an e-mail anytime her name is posted on a Web site. She receives about four or five notifications from Google every day she said. Through everything, she has maintained the authenticity of her photograph.

Hill called McClatchey at her real estate office on Jan. 26 and told her he'd like to order a copy of the photo. He then began questioning her about the photo, gradually asking more aggressive questions about the photo's legitimacy. But throughout the conversation, McClatchey said Hill was very nice.

The next day, Google notified McClatchey that the conversation she'd had with Hill had been posted online. But McClatchey took no action until last Tuesday, when Hill began calling other Somerset County residents. At that time, she received e-mail notifications that he had recorded phone calls with three other area residents and posted their conversations online. In the conversations, Hill tries to get people to say McClatchey's photo is fake.

McClatchey went to state Rep. Bob Bastian's office to see what he could do to help. She said Bastian suggested she talk to the newspaper. Bastian did not return a phone call seeking comment.

“This is more or less to let people know they're being recorded illegally,” McClatchey said.

Hill said he called people whose names he found in media reports about Flight 93.

He said he first became interested in Sept. 11 theories when he accidentally stumbled across a Web site that claimed Building 7 of the World Trade Center fell too quickly.

Soon he became obsessed with discovering what he describes as “the turth” about Sept. 11. He said he was put on sick leave from his job at Dell Computers, where he took phone calls for technical assistance.

“Maybe they were afraid I'd start talking to the customers,” he said, which Hill said he never did.

Hill said he was sent to a doctor for psychological help. Doctors said he was “uptight” and “paranoid,” and they prescribed him “happy pills,” which he never took. He said he doesn't know what it would take to get his job back and at present he is in the process of being put on disability.

(Rob Gebhart can be reached at robg©

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know about Pennsylvania laws, but federal law states that only one person in a telephone call needs to consent to it being recorded. I believe that is true in most states as well.