The Destruction of the World Trade Center:
Why the Official Account Cannot Be True
David Ray Griffin
Authorized Version (with references & notes)
In The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (2004), I summarized dozens of facts and reports that cast doubt on the official story about 9/11. Then in The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2005a), I discussed the way these various facts and reports were treated by the 9/11 Commission, namely, by distorting or simply omitting them. I have also taken this big-picture approach, with its cumulative argument, in my previous essays and lectures on 9/11 (Griffin, 2005b and 2005d). This approach, which shows every aspect of the official story to be problematic, provides the most effective challenge to the official story.
But this way of presenting the evidence has one great limitation, especially when used in lectures and essays: It means that the treatment of every particular issue must be quite brief, hence superficial. People can thereby be led to suspect that a more thorough treatment of any particular issue might show the official story to be plausible after all.
In the present essay, I focus on one question: why the Twin Towers and building 7 of the World Trade Center collapsed. One advantage of this focus, besides the fact that it allows us to go into considerable detail, is that the destruction of the World Trade Center provides one of the best windows into the truth about 9/11. Another advantage of this focus is that it will allow us to look at revelations contained in the 9/11 oral histories, which were recorded by the New York Fire Department shortly after 9/11 but released to the public only in August of 2005.
I will begin with the question of why the Twin Towers collapsed, then raise the same question about building 7.
1. The Collapse of the Twin Towers
Shortly after 9/11, President Bush advised people not to tolerate “outrageous conspiracy theories about the attacks of 11 September” (Bush, 2001). Philip Zelikow, who directed the work of the 9/11 Commission, has likewise warned against “outrageous conspiracy theories” (Hansen, 2005). What do these men mean by this expression? They cannot mean that we should reject all conspiracy theories about 9/11, because the government’s own account is a conspiracy theory, with the conspirators all being members of al-Qaeda. They mean only that we should reject outrageous theories.
But what distinguishes an outrageous theory from a non-outrageous one? This is one of the central questions in the philosophy of science. When confronted by rival theories---let’s say Neo-Darwinian Evolution and Intelligent Design---scientists and philosophers of science ask which theory is better and why. The mark of a good theory is that it can explain, in a coherent way, all or at least most of the relevant facts and is not contradicted by any of them. A bad theory is one that is contradicted by some of the relevant facts. An outrageous theory would be one that is contradicted by virtually all the relevant facts.
With this definition in mind, let us look at the official theory about the Twin Towers, which says that they collapsed because of the combined effect of the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fires. The report put out by FEMA said: “The structural damage sustained by each tower from the impact, combined with the ensuing fires, resulted in the total collapse of each building” (FEMA, 2002). This theory clearly belongs in the category of outrageous theories, because is it is contradicted by virtually all the relevant facts. Although this statement may seem extreme, I will explain why it is not.
No Prior Collapse Induced by Fire
The official theory is rendered implausible by two major problems. The first is the simple fact that fire has never---prior to or after 9/11---caused steel-frame high-rise buildings to collapse. Defenders of the official story seldom if ever mention this simple fact. Indeed, the supposedly definitive report put out by NIST---the National Institute for Standards and Technology (2005)---even implies that fire-induced collapses of large steel-frame buildings are normal events (Hoffman, 2005). Far from being normal, however, such collapses have never occurred, except for the alleged cases of 9/11.
Defenders of the official theory, of course, say that the collapses were caused not simply by the fire but the fire combined with the damage caused by the airliners. The towers, however, were designed to withstand the impact of airliners about the same size as Boeing 767s. Hyman Brown, the construction manager of the Twin Towers, said: “They were over-designed to withstand almost anything, including hurricanes, . . . bombings and an airplane hitting [them]” (Bollyn, 2001). And even Thomas Eagar, an MIT professor of materials engineering who supports the official theory, says that the impact of the airplanes would not have been significant, because “the number of columns lost on the initial impact was not large and the loads were shifted to remaining columns in this highly redundant structure” (Eagar and Musso, 2001, pp. 8-11). Likewise, the NIST Report, in discussing how the impact of the planes contributed to the collapse, focuses primarily on the claim that the planes dislodged a lot of the fire-proofing from the steel.
The official theory of the collapse, therefore, is essentially a fire theory, so it cannot be emphasized too much that fire has nevercaused large steel-frame buildings to collapse---never, whether before9/11, or after 9/11, or anywhere in the world on 9/11 except allegedly New York City---never.
One might say, of course, that there is a first time for everything, and that a truly extraordinary fire might induce a collapse. Let us examine this idea. What would count as an extraordinary fire? Given the properties of steel, a fire would need to be very hot, very big, and very long-lasting. But the fires in the towers did not have even one of these characteristics, let alone all three.
There have been claims, to be sure, that the fires were very hot. Some television specials claimed that the towers collapsed because the fire was hot enough to melt the steel. For example, an early BBC News special quoted Hyman Brown as saying: “steel melts, and 24,000 gallons of aviation fluid melted the steel.” Another man, presented as a structural engineer, said: “It was the fire that killed the buildings. There’s nothing on earth that could survive those temperatures with that amount of fuel burning. . . . The columns would have melted” (Barter, 2001).
These claims, however, are absurd. Steel does not even begin to melt until it reaches almost 2800° Fahrenheit. And yet open fires fueled by hydrocarbons, such as kerosene---which is what jet fuel is---can at most rise to 1700°F, which is almost 1100 degrees below the melting point of steel. We can, accordingly, dismiss the claim that the towers collapsed because their steel columns melted.
Most defenders of the official theory, in fact, do not make this absurd claim. They say merely that the fire heated the steel up to the point where it lost so much of its strength that it buckled. For example, Thomas Eagar, saying that steel loses 80 percent of its strength when it is heated to 1,300˚F, argues that this is what happened. But for even this claim to plausible, the fires would have still had to be pretty hot.
But they were not. Claims have been made, as we have seen, about the jet fuel. But much of it burned up very quickly in the enormous fireballs produced when the planes hit the buildings, and rest was gone within 10 minutes, after which the flames died down. Photographs of the towers 15 minutes after they were struck show few flames and lots of black smoke, a sign that the fires were oxygen-starved. Thomas Eagar, recognizing this fact, says that the fires were “probably only about 1,200 or 1,300˚F” (Eagar, 2002).
There are reasons to believe, moreover, that the fires were not even that hot. As photographs show, the fires did not break windows or even spread much beyond their points of origin (Hufschmid, 2002, p. 40). This photographic evidence is supported by scientific studies carried out by NIST, which found that of the 16 perimeter columns examined, “only three columns had evidence that the steel reached temperatures above 250˚C [482˚F],” and no evidence that any of the core columns had reached even those temperatures (2005, p. 88).
NIST (2005) says that it “did not generalize these results, since the examined columns represented only 3 percent of the perimeter columns and 1 percent of the core columns from the fire floors”. That only such a tiny percent of the columns was available was due, of course, to the fact that government officials had most of the steel immediately sold and shipped off. In any case, NIST’s findings on the basis of this tiny percent of the columns are not irrelevant: They mean that any speculations that some of the core columns reached much higher temperatures would be just that---pure speculation not backed up by any empirical evidence.
Moreover, even if the fire had reached 1,300˚F, as Eagar supposes, that does not mean that any of the steel would have reached that temperature. Steel is an excellent conductor of heat. Put a fire to one part of a long bar of steel and the heat will quickly diffuse to the other parts and to any other pieces of steel to which that bar is connected.
For fires to have heated up some of the steel columns to anywhere close to their own temperature, they would have needed to be very big, relative to the size of the buildings and the amount of steel in them. The towers, of course, were huge and had an enormous amount of steel. A small, localized fire of 1,300˚F would never have heated any of the steel columns even close to that temperature, because the heat would have been quickly dispersed throughout the building.
Some defenders of the official story have claimed that the fires were indeed very big, turning the buildings into “towering infernos.” But all the evidence counts against this claim, especially with regard to the south tower, which collapsed first. This tower was struck between floors 78 and 84, so that region is where the fire would have been the biggest. And yet Brian Clark, a survivor, said that when he got down to the 80th floor: "You could see through the wall and the cracks and see flames . . . just licking up, not a roaring inferno, just quiet flames licking up and smoke sort of eking through the wall." Likewise, one of the fire chiefs who had reached the 78th floor found only “two isolated pockets of fire.”
The north tower, to be sure, did have fires that were big enough and hot enough to cause many people to jump to their deaths. But as anyone with a fireplace grate or a pot-belly stove knows, fire that will not harm steel or even iron will burn human flesh. Also in many cases it may have been more the smoke than the heat that led people to jump.
In any case, the fires, to weaken the steel columns, would have needed to be not only very big and very hot but also very long-lasting. The public was told that the towers had such fires, with CNN saying that “very intense” fires “burned for a long time.” But they did not. The north tower collapsed an hour and 42 minutes after it was struck; the south tower collapsed after only 56 minutes.
To see how ludicrous is the claim that the short-lived fires in the towers could have induced structural collapse, we can compare them with some other fires. In 1988, a fire in the First Interstate Bank Building in Los Angeles raged for 3.5 hours and gutted 5 of this building’s 62 floors, but there was no significant structural damage (FEMA, 1988). In 1991, a huge fire in Philadelphia’s One Meridian Plaza lasted for 18 hours and gutted 8 of the building’s 38 floors, but, said the FEMA report, although “[b]eams and girders sagged and twisted . . . under severe fire exposures. . . , the columns continued to support their loads without obvious damage” (FEMA, 1991). In Caracas in 2004, a fire in a 50-story building raged for 17 hours, completely gutting the building’s top 20 floors, and yet it did not collapse (Nieto, 2004). And yet we are supposed to believe that a 56-minute fire caused the south tower to collapse.
Unlike the fires in the towers, moreover, the fires in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Caracas were hot enough to break windows.
Another important comparison is afforded by a series of experiments run in Great Britain in the mid-1990s to see what kind of damage could be done to steel-frame buildings by subjecting them to extremely hot, all-consuming fires that lasted for many hours. FEMA, having reviewed those experiments, said: “Despite the temperature of the steel beams reaching 800-900°C (1,500-1,700°F) in three of the tests. . . , no collapse was observed in any of the six experiments” (1988, Appendix A).
These comparisons bring out the absurdity of NIST’s claim that the towers collapsed because the planes knocked the fireproofing off the steel columns. Fireproofing provides protection for only a few hours, so the steel in the buildings in Philadelphia and Caracas would have been directly exposed to raging fires for 14 or more hours, and yet this steel did not buckle. NIST claims, nevertheless, that the steel in the south tower buckled because it was directly exposed to flames for 56 minutes.
A claim made by some defenders of the official theory is to speculate that there was something about the Twin Towers that made them uniquely vulnerable to fire. But these speculations are not backed up by any evidence. And, as Norman Glover, has pointed out: “[A]lmost all large buildings will be the location for a major fire in their useful life. No major high-rise building has ever collapsed from fire. The WTC was the location for such a fire in 1975; however, the building survived with minor damage and was repaired and returned to service” (Glover, 2002).
Multiple Evidence of Controlled Demolition
There is a reverse truth to the fact that, aside from the alleged cases of 9/11, fire has never caused large steel-frame buildings to collapse. This reverse truth is that every previous total collapse has been caused by the procedure known as “controlled demolition,” in which explosives capable of cutting steel have been placed in crucial places throughout the building and then set off in a particular order. Just from knowing that the towers collapsed, therefore, the natural assumption would be that they were brought down by explosives.
This a priori assumption is, moreover, supported by an empirical examination of the particular nature of the collapses. Here we come to the second major problem with the official theory, namely, that the collapses had at least eleven features that would be expected if, and only if, explosives were used. I will briefly describe these eleven features.
Sudden Onset: In controlled demolition, the onset of the collapse is sudden. One moment, the building is perfectly motionless; the next moment, it suddenly begins to collapse. But steel, when heated, does not suddenly buckle or break. So in fire-induced collapses---if we had any examples of such---the onset would be gradual. Horizontal beams and trusses would begin to sag; vertical columns, if subjected to strong forces, would begin to bend. But as videos of the towers show, there were no signs of bending or sagging, even on the floors just above the damage caused by the impact of the planes. The buildings were perfectly motionless up to the moment they began their collapse.
Straight Down: The most important thing in a controlled demolition of a tall building close to other buildings is that it come straight down, into, or at least close to, its own footprint, so that it does not harm the other buildings. The whole art or science of controlled demolition is oriented primarily around this goal. As Mark Loizeaux, the president of Controlled Demolition, Inc., has explained, “to bring [a building] down as we want, so . . . no other structure is harmed,” the demolition must be “completely planned,” using “the right explosive [and] the right pattern of laying the charges” (Else, 2004). If the 110-story Twin Towers had fallen over, they would have caused an enormous amount of damage to buildings covering many city blocks. But the towers came straight down. Accordingly, the official theory, by implying that fire produced collapses that perfectly mimicked the collapses that have otherwise been produced only by precisely placed explosives, requires a miracle.
Almost Free-Fall Speed: Buildings brought down by controlled demolition collapse at almost free-fall speed. This can occur because the supports for the lower floors are destroyed, so that when the upper floors come down, they encounter no resistance. The fact that the collapses of the towers mimicked this feature of controlled demolition was mentioned indirectly by The 9/11 Commission Report, which said that the “South Tower collapsed in 10 seconds” (Kean and Hamilton, 2004, p. 305). The authors of the report evidently thought that the rapidity of this collapse did not conflict with the official theory, known as the “pancake” theory. According to this theory, the floors above the floors that were weakened by the impact of the airliner fell on the floor below, which started a chain reaction, so that the floors “pancaked” all the way down.
But if that is what happened, the lower floors, with all their steel and concrete, would have provided resistance. The upper floors could not have fallen through them at the same speed as they would fall through air. However, the videos of the collapses show that the rubble falling inside the building’s profile falls at the same speed as the rubble outside (Jones, 2006). As Dave Heller, a builder with degrees in physics and architecture, explains:
the floors could not have been pancaking. The buildings fell too quickly. The floors must all have been falling simultaneously to reach the ground in such a short amount of time. But how?. . . In [the method known as controlled demolition], each floor of a building is destroyed at just the moment the floor above is about to strike it. Thus, the floors fall simultaneously, and in virtual freefall. (Garlic and Glass 6)
Total Collapse: The official theory is even more decisively ruled out by the fact that the collapses were total: These 110-story buildings collapsed into piles of rubble only a few stories high. How was that possible? The core of each tower contained 47 massive steel box columns. According to the pancake theory, the horizontal steel supports broke free from the vertical columns. But if that is what had happened, the 47 core columns would have still been standing. The 9/11 Commission came up with a bold solution to this problem. It simply denied the existence of the 47 core columns, saying: “The interior core of the buildings was a hollow steel shaft, in which elevators and stairwells were grouped” (Kean and Hamilton, 2004, 541 note 1). Voila! With no 47 core columns, the main problem is removed.
The NIST Report handled this most difficult problem by claiming that when the floors collapsed, they pulled on the columns, causing the perimeter columns to become unstable. This instability then increased the gravity load on the core columns, which had been weakened by tremendously hot fires in the core, which, NIST claims, reached 1832°F, and this combination of factors somehow produced “global collapse” (NIST, 2005, pp. 28, 143).
This theory faces two problems. First, NIST’s claim about tremendously hot fires in the core is completely unsupported by evidence. As we saw earlier, its own studies found no evidence that any of the core columns had reached temperatures of even 482°F (250˚C), so its theory involves a purely speculative addition of over 1350°F.Second, even if this sequence of events had occurred, NIST provides no explanation as to why it would have produced global—-that is, total--collapse. The NIST Report asserts that “column failure” occurred in the core as well as the perimeter columns. But this remains a bare assertion. There is no plausible explanation of why the columns would have broken or even buckled, so as to produce global collapse at virtually free-fall speed, even if they had reached such temperatures.
Sliced Steel: In controlled demolitions of steel-frame buildings, explosives are used to slice the steel columns and beams into pieces. A representative from Controlled Demolition, Inc., has said of RDX, one of the commonly used high explosives, that it slices steel like a "razor blade through a tomato." The steel is, moreover, not merely sliced; it is sliced into manageable lengths. As Controlled Demolition, Inc., says in its publicity: “Our DREXSTM systems . . . segment steel components into pieces matching the lifting capacity of the available equipment.”
The collapses of the Twin Towers, it seems, somehow managed to mimic this feature of controlled demolitions as well. Jim Hoffman (2004), after studying various photos of the collapse site, said that much of the steel seemed to be “chopped up into . . . sections that could be easily loaded onto the equipment that was cleaning up Ground Zero.”
Pulverization of Concrete and Other Materials: Another feature of controlled demolition is the production of a lot of dust, because explosives powerful enough to slice steel will pulverize concrete and most other non-metallic substances into tiny particles. And, Hoffman (2003) reports, “nearly all of the non-metallic constituents of the towers were pulverized into fine power.” That observation was also made by Colonel John O’Dowd of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “At the World Trade Center sites,” he told the History Channel, “it seemed like everything was pulverized” (History Channel, 2002).
This fact creates a problem for the official theory, according to which the only energy available was the gravitational energy. This energy would have been sufficient to break most of the concrete into fairly small pieces. But it would not have been anywhere close to the amount of energy needed to turn the concrete and virtually all the non-metallic contents of the buildings into tiny particles of dust.
Dust Clouds: Yet another common feature of controlled demolitions is the production of dust clouds, which result when explosions eject the dust from the building with great energy. And, as one can see by comparing videos on the Web, the collapses of the towers produced clouds that are very similar to those produced by controlled demolitions of other structures, such as Seattle’s Kingdome. The only difference is that the clouds produced during the collapses of the towers were proportionally much bigger.
The question of the source of the needed energy again arises. Hoffman (2003), focusing on the expansion of the North Tower’s dust cloud, calculates that the energy required simply for this expansion---ignoring the energy needed to slice the steel and pulverize the concrete and other materials---exceeded by at least 10 times the gravitational energy available.
The official account, therefore, involves a huge violation of the laws of physics---a violation that becomes even more enormous once we factor in the energy required to pulverize the concrete (let alone the energy required to break the steel).
Besides the sheer quantity of energy needed, another problem with the official theory is that gravitational energy is wholly unsuited to explain the production of these dust clouds. This is most obviously the case in the first few seconds. In Hoffman’s words: “You can see thick clouds of pulverized concrete being ejected within the first two seconds. That’s when the relative motion of the top of the tower to the intact portion was only a few feet per second.” Jeff King (2003), in the same vein, says: “[A great amount of] very fine concrete dust is ejected from the top of the building very early in the collapse. . . [when] concrete slabs [would have been] bumping into each other at [only] 20 or 30 mph.”
The importance of King’s point can be appreciated by juxtaposing it with the claim by Shyam Sunder, NIST’s lead investigator, that although the clouds of dust created during the collapses of the Twin Towers may create the impression of a controlled demolition, “it is the floor pancaking that leads to that perception" (Popular Mechanics, 2005). The pancaking, according to the official theory being defended by Sunder, began at the floor beneath the holes created by the impact of the airliners. As King points out, this theory cannot handle the fact, as revealed by the photographs and videos, that dust clouds were created far above the impact zones.
Horizontal Ejections: Another common feature of controlled demolition is the horizontal ejection of other materials, besides dust, from those areas of the building in which explosives are set off. In the case of the Twin Towers, photos and videos reveal that “[h]eavy pieces of steel were ejected in all directions for distances up to 500 feet, while aluminum cladding was blown up to 700 feet away from the towers” (Paul and Hoffman, 2004, p. 7). But gravitational energy is, of course, vertical, so it cannot even begin to explain these horizontal ejections.
Demolition Rings: Still another common feature of collapses induced by explosions are demolition rings, in which series of small explosions run rapidly around a building. This feature was also manifested by the collapses of the towers.
Sounds Produced by Explosions: The use of explosives to induce collapses produces, of course, sounds caused by the explosions. Like all the previous features except the slicing of the steel columns inside the building, this one could be observed by witnesses. And, as we will see below, there is abundant testimony to the existence of such sounds before and during the collapses of the towers.
Molten Steel: An eleventh feature that would be expected only if explosives were used to slice the steel columns would be molten steel, and its existence at the WTC site was indeed reported by several witnesses, including the two main figures involved in the clean up, Peter Tully, president of Tully Construction, and Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Incorporated. Tully said that he saw pools of “literally molten steel” at the site. Loizeaux said that several weeks after 9/11, when the rubble was being removed, “hot spots of molten steel” were found “at the bottoms of the elevator shafts of the main towers, down seven [basement] levels” (both statements quoted in Bollyn, 2004).
Leslie Robertson, a member of the engineering firm that designed the Twin Towers, said: “As of 21 days after the attack, the fires were still burning and molten steel was still running” (Williams, 2001). Knight-Ridder journalist Jennifer Lin, discussing Joe "Toolie" O'Toole, a Bronx firefighter who worked for many months on the rescue and clean-up efforts, wrote: "Underground fires raged for months. O'Toole remembers in February seeing a crane lift a steel beam vertically from deep within the catacombs of Ground Zero. 'It was dripping from the molten steel," he said'" (Lin, 2002). Greg Fuchek, vice president of sales for LinksPoint, Inc., which supplied some of the computer equipment used to identify human remains at the site, described the working conditions as "hellish," partly because for six months, the ground temperature varied between 600 degrees Fahrenheit and 1,500 degrees or higher. Fuchek added that "sometimes when a worker would pull a steel beam from the wreckage, the end of the beam would be dripping molten steel" (Walsh, 2002). And still more witnesses spoke of molten steel.
This testimony is of great significance, since it would be hard to imagine what, other than high explosives, could have caused some of the steel to melt.
The importance of the nature of the collapses, as summarized in these 11 features, is shown by the fact that attempts to defend the official theory typically ignore most of them. For example, an article in Popular Mechanics (2005), seeking to debunk what it calls some of the most prevalent myths about 9/11 fabricated by “conspiracy theorists,” completely ignores the suddenness, verticality, rapidity, and totality of the collapses and also fails to mention the testimonies about molten steel, demolition rings, and the sounds of explosions.
2. Testimonies about Explosions and Related Phenomena
in the 9/11 Oral Histories
Most of these 11 features---all but the slicing of the core columns and the molten steel in the basements---are features that, if they occurred before or during the collapses of the towers, could have been observed by people in the area. And, in fact, testimonies about some of these phenomena have been available, since shortly after 9/11, from reporters, fire fighters, police officers, people who worked in the towers, and one prominent explosives expert, Van Romero,  who said on that very day after viewing the videotapes, that the collapses not only resembled those produced by controlled implosions but must, in fact, have been caused by “some explosive devices inside the buildings” because they were “too methodical” to have been chance results of the airplane strikes (Uyttebrouck, 2001). Some of these testimonies were very impressive. There were, however, only a few of them and they were scattered here and there. No big body of testimony was readily accessible.
But this situation has dramatically changed. Shortly after 9/11, the New York Fire Department recorded over 500 oral histories, in which firefighters and emergency medical workers recounted their experiences of that day. [Emergency Medical Services had become a division within the Fire Department(Dwyer, 2005a).] Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, however, refused to release them. But then the New York Times, joined by several families of 9/11 victims, filed suit and, after a long process, the New York Court of Appeals ordered the city to release the bulk of these oral histories, which it did in August 2005 (Dwyer, 2005b). TheTimes then made them publicly available (NYT, 2005).
These oral histories contain many dozens of testimonies that speak of explosions and related phenomena characteristic of controlled demolition. I will give some examples.
Several individuals reported that they witnessed an explosion just before one of the towers collapsed. Battalion Chief John Sudnik said: “we heard . . . what sounded like a loud explosion and looked up and I saw tower two start coming down” (NYT, Sudnick, p. 4).
Several people reported multiple explosions. Paramedic Kevin Darnowski said: "I heard three explosions, and then . . . tower two started to come down” (NYT, Darnowski, p. 8).
Firefighter Thomas Turilli said, “it almost sounded like bombs going off, like boom, boom, boom, like seven or eight" (NYT, Turilli, p. 4).
Craig Carlsen said that he and other firefighters “heard explosions coming from . . . the south tower. . . . There were about ten explosions. . . . We then realized the building started to come down” (NYT, Carlsen, pp. 5-6).
Firefighter Joseph Meola said, “it looked like the building was blowing out on all four sides. We actually heard the pops" (NYT, Meola, p. 5).
Paramedic Daniel Rivera also mentioned “pops.” Asked how he knew that the south tower was coming down, he said:
It was a frigging noise. At first I thought it was---do you ever see professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear 'Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop'? . . . I thought it was that. (NYT, Rivera, p. 9)
Collapse Beginning below the Strike Zone and Fire
According to the official account, the “pancaking” began when the floors above the hole caused by the airplane fell on the floors below. Some witnesses reported, however, that the collapse of the south tower began somewhat lower.
Timothy Burke said that “the building popped, lower than the fire. . . . I was going oh, my god, there is a secondary device because the way the building popped. I thought it was an explosion” (NYT, Burke, pp. 8-9).
Firefighter Edward Cachia said: “It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit. . . . [W]e originally had thought there was like an internal detonation, explosives, because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down” (NYT, Cachia, p. 5).
The importance of these observations is reinforced by the fact that the authors of the NIST Report, after having released a draft to the public, felt the need to add the following statement to the Executive Summary:
NIST found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives planted prior to September 11, 2001. . . . Instead, photos and videos from several angles clearly showed that the collapse initiated at the fire and impact floors and that the collapse progressed from the initiating floors downward.
Firefighters Burke and Cachia presumably now need to ask themselves: What are you going to believe, your own eyes or an official government report?
Flashes and Demolition Rings
Some of the witnesses spoke of flashes and of phenomena suggestive of demolition rings. Assistant Commissioner Stephen Gregory said: “I thought . . . before . . . No. 2 came down, that I saw low-level flashes. . . . I . . . saw a flash flash flash . . . [at] the lower level of the building. You know like when they demolish a building?” (NYT, Gregory, pp. 14-16).
Captain Karin Deshore said: “Somewhere around the middle . . . there was this orange and red flash coming out. Initially it was just one flash. Then this flash just kept popping all the way around the building and that building had started to explode. . . . [W]ith each popping sound it was initially an orange and then a red flash came out of the building and then it would just go all around the building on both sides as far as I could see. These popping sounds and the explosions were getting bigger, going both up and down and then all around the building" (NYT, Deshore, p. 15).
Firefighter Richard Banaciski said: “[T]here was just an explosion. It seemed like on television [when] they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions” (NYT, Banaciski, pp. 3-4).
Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick said: “It looked like sparkling around one specific layer of the building. . . . My initial reaction was that this was exactly the way it looks when they show you those implosions on TV" (NYT, Fitzpatrick, pp. 13-14).
A few witnesses spoke of horizontal ejections. Chief Frank Cruthers said: “There was what appeared to be . . . an explosion. It appeared at the very top, simultaneously from all four sides, materials shot out horizontally. And then there seemed to be a momentary delay before you could see the beginning of the collapse” (NYT, Cruthers, p. 4).
This testimony is important, because the official theory holds that the ejections were produced by the floors collapsing. So listen to firefighter James Curran, who said: “I looked back and . . . I heard like every floor went chu-chu-chu. I looked back and from the pressure everything was getting blown out of the floors before it actually collapsed" (NYT, Curran, pp. 10-11).
Battalion Chief Brian Dixon said, “the lowest floor of fire in the south tower actually looked like someone had planted explosives around it because . . . everything blew out on the one floor" (NYT, Dixon, p. 15).
Some witnesses said that the explosions seemed to be synchronized. For example, firefighter Kenneth Rogers said, “there was an explosion in the south tower. . . . I kept watching. Floor after floor after floor. One floor under another after another . . . [I]t looked like a synchronized deliberate kind of thing" (NYT, Rogers, pp. 3-4).
Why Does the Public Not Know of These Reports?
If all these firefighters and medical workers witnessed all these phenomena suggestive of controlled demolition, it might be wondered why the public does not know this. Part of the answer is provided by Auxiliary Lieutenant Fireman Paul Isaac. Having said that “there were definitely bombs in those buildings,” Isaac added that “many other firemen know there were bombs in the buildings, but they’re afraid for their jobs to admit it because the ‘higher-ups’ forbid discussion of this fact” (Lavello, n.d.). Another part of the answer is that when a few people, like Isaac and William Rodriguez, have spoken out, the mainstream press has failed to report their statements.
The official theory about the collapse of the towers, I have suggested, is rendered extremely implausible by two main facts. First, aside from the alleged exception of 9/11, steel-frame high-rise buildings have never been caused to collapse by fire; all such collapses have all been produced by carefully placed explosives. Second, the collapses of the Twin Towers manifested at least 11 characteristic features of controlled demolitions. The probability that any of these features would occur in the absence of explosives is extremely low. The probability that all 11 of them would occur is essentially zero.
We can say, therefore, that the official theory about the towers is disproved about as thoroughly as such a theory possibly could be, whereas all the evidence can be explained by the alternative theory, according to which the towers were brought down by explosives. The official theory is, accordingly, an outrageous theory, whereas the alternative theory is, from a scientific point of view, the only reasonable theory available.
4. Other Suspicious Facts
Moreover, although we have already considered sufficient evidence for the theory that the towers were brought down by explosives, there is still more.
Removal of the Steel: For one thing, the steel from the buildings was quickly removed before it could be properly examined, with virtually all of it being sold to scrap dealers, who put most of it on ships to Asia. Generally, removing any evidence from the scene of a crime is a federal offense. But in this case, federal officials facilitated the removal.
This removal evoked protest. On Christmas day, 2001, the New York Times said: “The decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses from the WTC in the days immediately after 9/11 means definitive answers may never be known.” The next week, Fire Engineering magazine said: “We are literally treating the steel removed from the site like garbage, not like crucial fire scene evidence (Brannigan, Corbett, and Dunn, 2002). . . . The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately” (Manning, 2002).
However, Mayor Bloomberg, defending the decision to dispose of the steel, said: "If you want to take a look at the construction methods and the design, that's in this day and age what computers do. Just looking at a piece of metal generally doesn't tell you anything." But that is not true. An examination of the steel could have revealed whether it had been cut by explosives.
This removal of an unprecedented amount of material from a crime scene suggests that an unprecedented crime was being covered up.
Evidence that this cover-up was continued by NIST is provided by its treatment of a provocative finding reported by FEMA, which was that some of the specimens of steel were “rapidly corroded by sulfidation” (FEMA 2002, Appendix C). This report is signific