CSI PENTAGON: 911 On Ebay [ archive ]:

4 Jan

Over 5 million items are sold every day on Ebay, the World’s Online Marketplace. All kinds of unique things are found, including National Defense items consisting mostly of medals once awarded, now for sale. David Nicholson decided to sell on Ebay something a bit different from America’s history of national defense. Nicholson, who once ran an auction house, began, March 4th, an auction for a Pentagon flag, opening bid of $25,000. 

Nicholson says his flag was flying atop a construction crane at the Pentagon when the terrorists’ attacked, Sept. 11, 2001. The retired auctioneer says he got the flag from an acquaintance, a supervisor for Facchina Construction Company, a Federally approved construction company working on site at the Pentagon, at the time, according to Nicholson. According to the US Small Business Administration Award, the La Plata, Maryland based Facchina Construction Company, Inc. received an SBA Phoenix Award for ‘Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Private Citizen,’ for work “on the reconstruction of the Pentagon following the September 11th attacks.”

According to reports, Nicholson has Stage 4 disease of advanced kidney cancer. Nicholson says last year he was only given a few months to live. The prognosis can be fatal.  His oncologist is quoted saying Nicholson is early in his chemotherapy treatment. Media reports Nicholson’s tumors have spread to his stomach and lymph nodes. High-dose treatments of Interleukin-2 have shrunk his tumors a total of 30%.  Nicholson says when doctors told him ” I’m going to have to have a bone marrow transplant or experimental treatment” that determined the next decision he made, to offer the 5-by-8-foot Pentagon flag he restored before placing it, along with several documents, in a specially built wood-and-Plexiglas frame, including a list of the victims in the Pentagon attack along with a letter of authenticity from the construction company supervisor. Nicholson said he rejected an earlier offer of $100,000“ “deciding to share it with the public instead.” He says his mounting bills are forcing him to sell the flag on Ebay “to bail his family out of the financial peril caused by his illness.”     

One problem. The flag may not belong to Nicholson.

Nicholson has told several media outlets, the Facchina Construction Co supervisor, an acquaintance, brought ten boxes of post-attack Pentagon debris to his Orange, Virginia auction house, May 2002, for him to sift through for sale or disposal. Nicholson’s father, John, spotted the flag crumpled under Pentagon junk.

Unfortunately for Ebay, Facchina Construction Co. and Nicholson, they may be participating in the handling of and trafficking of  property taken from the violent scene of an unsolved crime on Federal property. American Airlines Flight 777 was commandeered by terrorists, flying the 757 over ArlingtonCemetery and Route 27 before driving it through a newly renovated Pentagon wall. Almost 200 people were murdered at the Pentagon, September 11, 2004. Countless others are scarred with burns, lungs damaged from smoke and fuel along with the living permanently scarred unable to forget the day itself and murdered colleagues they will never see again. 

Vernon J. Geberth, M.S., M.P.S., author of Practical Homicide Investigation, writes, “The search of the crime scene is the most important phase of the investigation conducted at the scene. Therefore, law enforcement personnel involved in the crime scene search must arrange for the proper and effective collection of evidence at the scene.” Forensic investigations are a tedious and time consuming step by step approach of recognition, documentation and recovery of physical evidence necessitating patience and care and evidence including the ten boxes of debris Nicholson, who held on to the flag for over two years, accepted from his acquaintance.

Nicholson will be hard press to argue he is unaware of the penalty of accepting items from 911 crime scenes. Newspapers were filled with accounts of federal employees, including private contractors being legally pursued for their theft of personal items and WTC debris. AP reporter John Solomon wrote March 2004, “The removal of souvenir debris from the scenes of the Sept. 11 attacks reached the highest levels of government, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and FBI Director Robert Mueller’s chief of anti-terrorism, a Justice Department investigation has found.” Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the jetliner metal shard Rumsfeld has on a table in his office is shown to people as a reminder of the tragedy Pentagon workers shared on Sept. 11, 2001.  Rumsfeld did not consider the shard his to own. Di Rita said. “We are mindful of the fact that if somebody has an evidentiary requirement to have this shard of metal, we will provide it to them.”

“It was a ghoulish prospect that anyone would want things from a crime scene where people have died,” one agent was quoted as telling investigators. The ensuing investigation showed that people requested and received 911 debris items to display in an exhibit dealing with hate crimes like Knoxville, Tenn. FBI agent Joe Clark, did submitting paperwork for a 100-pound piece of steel as did, US Ambassador Will Farish being given a steel beam to be buried in a memorial garden in central London for the UK citizens murdered that day. Attorney Stephen M. Kohn had said, “Every federal employee who stole or converted property from that crime scene (Ground Zero) must be held fully accountable under the law.” A manager of a construction company hired to clear debris is just that, civilly accountable to the Pentagon, along with the auctioneer who accepted the items from him.

William Doyle’s son was killed in the WorldTradeCenter. When he first heard items were being taken from Ground Zero, he said “Unbelievable.” It was just a month or two ago, 1000 WTC families, still mourning without bodies, were asking for the debris embracing bits of their dead

Nicholson promised the Pentagon’s winning bidder a letter of authenticity from Facchina Construction, the company that Nicholson says flew the flag at the Pentagon.


Facchina Construction Company is based in La Plata, Maryland. In 1987, CEO Paul Facchina expanded his client base, when the commercial market disappeared in the 1990s, to include heavy institutional settings like airports, military facilities, and prisons in addition to highway and bridgework. Owner Paul Facchina, honored as Inc. Magazine and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for 1991, proudly posts his message on his company’s website, “This company bears my name for the purpose of expressing my personal accountability and my determination that the company’s conduct be exemplary in every respect. Name and reputation are of prime importance to me, as I know they are to those who choose us as their contractor or business partner.” Contractors working on Federal sites must be approved as are supervisors hired in good faith to uphold their CEO’s integrity. Nicholson told the Washington Post Facchina Construction’s supervisor who gave him the items is seeking “to have the letter returned because he was reprimanded for writing it on the company’s letterhead.”

Nicholson says he is selling the flag he had restored, to secure “the future of his 6-year-old daughter, Alia” and to fund research for new treatments for renal cell carcinoma “at the DukeComprehensiveCancerCenter in Durham, N.C., where he is being treated.” 

In the least, the flag belongs to the families of the murdered. In the most, it should be returned to America’s people to hang in the Pentagon’s hallowed halls along with the tributes sent by citizens from around the world- children’s pictures, homemade banners, flags, and memorials honouring our murdered. Maybe America’s flag should hang outside Donald Rumsfeld’s office as an apology from those who chose to vilify him for honouring the shard that reminds him of the dead and injured he worked alongside colleagues to save, September 11, 2004.

Knowingly receiving stolen goods comes with a penalty as does knowingly selling stolen goods. With the murderer Osama Bin Laden still out there, the case at CSI Pentagon, crime scene Pentagon, is still open. Ebay must remove the Pentagon flag from auction.


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