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Video: Trailgate: Pentagon insists mystery not a missile

  1. Transcript of: Trailgate: Pentagon insists mystery not a missile

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Back in this country, more on a story we told you about here last night, that mysterious vapor trail high in the sky over Southern California that looked to a lot of people awfully like a large missile had been launched. The Pentagon has concluded it wasn't a missile, but the explanation may not satisfy everybody. Our own Jim Miklaszewski on duty tonight from the Pentagon . Jim , good evening.

    JIM MIKLASZEWSKI reporting: Good evening, Brian . It took the Pentagon and military more than a day and a half to come up with that explanation for what everyone thought they saw in the skies over Los Angeles on Monday night. But there's one gaping hole in

    their story: They still can't say exactly what it was. It's the shot seen around the world. Caught by a KCBS traffic chopper, it appears to show a missile streaking across the skies near Los Angeles . But the Pentagon 's efforts today to entirely shoot down that theory may have come up short. A terse statement from a Pentagon spokesman says, "There is no evidence to suggest this is anything else other than a condensation trail from an aircraft."

    MIKLASZEWSKI: The Pentagon has ruled out this was anything launched by the US military or government, but even now could not offer any hard evidence it is in fact a plane, even though many missiles experts are already convinced.

    Mr. JOHN PIKE (Globalsecurity.org Director): All of the characteristics of this make it look like a jet contrail, doesn't look like anything like a rocket. Airplanes go slow, rockets go fast, and this is going slow.

    MIKLASZEWSKI: Some Web sites have even tentatively identified the plane, a daily US Airways Flight 808 from Hawaii to Phoenix . US Airways officials say, however, they could not confirm it's their plane. All that has done little to put an end to the conspiracy theories that this was all part of some top secret military program.

    Mr. JIM TILMON (Aviation Expert): We have a place called a skunk works that's out there in -- on the West Coast , and that's where we developed the U-2 , the SR-71 , the Stealth Bomber , all those kinds of projects.

    MIKLASZEWSKI: Or that the Pentagon 's version of the story is nothing more than a cover-up.

    Mr. MARCO CACERES (Aerospace Analyst): I'm left with only one conclusion, which would be some sort of a missile -- hopefully a US missile, not a foreign missile -- and something that is not going to explode.

    MIKLASZEWSKI: Pentagon and military officials worry they'll never be able to knock down all those conspiracy theories. And according to one senior Pentagon official, 'We started 36 hours late and will never catch up.' Brian :

    WILLIAMS: All right, Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon tonight. The mystery continues.

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