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8 House Members View Draft Bill on Independent Science/Tech Probe of WTC 1, 2, 7 Collapses

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            The section below underscores widespread doubts about the credibility of the FEMA and NIST reports reflected by the reticence to pour billions into fire prevention. It also strongly indicates what can happen to professional integrity and objectivity under an Administration now known to  politicize and undermine agencies protecting Americans whether it’s the Food and Drug Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Justice Department. It is difficult not to conclude that research results were mandated to fit  around the finding that fire alone caused the collapses. And that previously courageous and dedicated public servants yielded to those pressures. That is why a fresh and independent team able to withstand such pressures is vitally necessary to conduct this new investigation—and without fear or favor, let the chips fall where they may.



Significantly Flawed Research by FEMA and NIST

Scarcely had the 9/11 evidence of beams, columns and cladding been shipped to Asian ports for scrap than questions about what happened at Ground Zero and the Pentagon began whipping around the world. In the U.S. when the mainstream media failed to provide credible answers about the perpetrators and the Administration started classifying non-military information, millions raced down the Internet’s busy highway of “blast lists” and websites to learn or share any scrap of explanation about the event. They did not accept the Administration’s explanation that 19 Arabs who could scarcely fly used box cutters to hijack four airliners and destroy the WTC and part of the Pentagon.

Users ranged from engineers, scientists, clergy, and professors to activists, ordinary people—and four women (“the Jersey Girls”) widowed by the collapses of WTC 1 and 2. All wanted to know why the Twin Towers disintegrated into the dust of volcanic-like explosions in less than 11 seconds instead of surviving like the Empire State Building had in 1945 when hit by a B-25. Or if they knew     WTC 7—which was not attacked—came down at 5:20 p.m. that in less than 7 seconds in its own footprint, a spectacular collapse exactly like planned demolitions of expendable buildings. [17]

Many skeptics became amateur detectives or scholarly researchers. It wasn’t long before they discovered the neo-conservatives’ 2000 tract Rebuilding America’s Defenses and its shattering message that for the United States to dominate the world—especially with its “vital interests” (aka oil) in the Middle East—a “new Pearl Harbor” might be necessary and would boost its state-of-the-art defense systems. For historians and political experts around the world, that finding set off uneasy parallels between 9/11 and the Bush Administration and the 1933 Reichstag fire and Adolph Hitler’s rise to power. [18]  

Structural engineers, architects, scientists and those in fire science were unsatisfied with the first investigation about the collapses done by FEMA in 2002—and began to say so at professional meetings and in classrooms. Its cursory report on WTC 1 and 2 had ended at the point of impact and blamed collapses on fire melting the buildings’ steel framing. They hedged on No. 7: “The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time.”[19]

Both FEMA and, then, NIST acknowledged that no steel-framed high-rise building—12 to 110 stories—had ever collapsed because of fire, but insisted the WTC collapses were “firsts.” This claim flies in the face of fire history for high-rises, known for a century by engineers, architects, and builders. That includes the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911 in the 12-story iron-and-steel framed Asch Building, now a New York University classroom structure. Or that 1933 Reichstag fire which gutted the interior, but the steel frame and stone exterior survived even World War II’s carpet bombings. Or that foggy Saturday morning in 1945 when a B-25 hit the Empire State Building and fired the 78th, 79th and basement.  Or Madrid’s 2005 Windsor inferno that gutted a 32-story office building after a two-day blaze—temperatures reaching 1,432ºF. Its steel-reinforced concrete frame and rebar-reinforced concrete columns held firm for 17 floors and even retaining a crane on the roof doing repairs. [20]

Fires, no matter how hot, do not melt steel in columns, beams, or flooring. Metallurgists have estimated the melting point of the structural steel alloy used in the WTC complex ranged from 2,500ºF to 2,800ºF. FEMA did not venture an estimate on the fires’ maximum temperatures. But NIST did in the 2005 report on WTC 1 and 2: a maximum of 1,837ºF. WTC 7 burned for seven hours, ample time for firefighters to ascertain temperatures. Researchers either didn’t ask them for that information or ignored it. [21]

Incredibly, NIST’s 2008 report on No. 7 relied on guesses about the combustible “loading” on the 11th and 12th floor from a pair of 13th floor tenants, two American Express managers who were not just qualified to render such a judgment, but were not in the building. Even more remarkable for a multi-million-dollar, supposedly scientific/technological study, NIST resorted to a computer simulation of the fires that placed the range between 392ºF to 1,652ºF. As if software could emulate actual conditions. [22]

Worse for FEMA/NIST researchers, near the end of their study, a mid-afternoon seven-hour, seven-alarm blaze broke out on August 18, 2007 in the 41-story, steel-framed Deutsche Bank building across the street from the WTC 2 site. Opened a year after the Towers (1974), it was built under most of the same codes. It was undergoing floor-by-floor dismantling after six years of being shrouded from heavy 9/11 damage. [23]

By the time dismantling had reached the 26th floor, a departing worker on the 17th floor reportedly flung a cigarette into debris. It set off a conflagration that involved 70 fire companies and caused two firefighters’ deaths. The fire was fed by oxygen pouring into open areas and air shafts and raged through the 13th to 18th floors. Like WTC 7, water was initially unavailable, but not because of a broken water main. Firefighters faced a vandalized standpipe and, unlike those at WTC 7, found other water sources. Despite its flaming ordeal, the bank remained standing. The official verdict was: “Buildings inspectors and forensic engineers have determined that the building is structurally sound and not in danger of collapse.”[24]

Back in spring 2003, the Bush Administration apparently hoped the FEMA report and the attack and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan would divert public attention from the WTC collapses. Those hopes now were dashed by a massive body of evidence about 9/11 being spread around the globe that neither aircraft nor fires could have caused the collapses.

Increasing suspicions about the government’s growing ferocious secrecy about 9/11 triggered a small publishing industry (Michael Ruppert’s Crossing the Rubicon, David Ray Griffin’s The New Pearl Harbor, etc.). Filmmakers began making DVD documentaries (Loose Change9/11 Revisited). Accusatory T-shirts appeared (“9/11 Was an Inside Job”), followed by the start of hundreds of 9/11 Truth groups and professional organizations (Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, etc). Such interest launched a speaker circuit of experts from the  scientific, technological, and military fields. None attributed collapses to fire. They championed an array of far more likely causes ranging from planned implosions using thermate or fissionable compounds to missiles and directed-energy weaponry. [25]

It didn’t help that the Bush Administration had inexplicably stalled off for months the public’s outcry for a definitive investigation, especially the Jersey Girls. They were unafraid of hounding the President and Congress for action. Congress finally set up a low-budget (initially, $14  million) 9/11 Commission with the curious order not to blame anyone for the attacks except terrorists. The Commission had no power to demand witnesses be sworn, including President Bush with Vice President Cheney at his elbow. Worse for objectivity, commissioners were chiefly loyal Administration “insiders.” None were drawn from the ranks of science or technology professionals. Work was largely done by an obedient 75-member staff of which more than half were former employees of the CIA, FBI, and Justice Department. They took nearly two years to produce a 567-paged report in 2004 that offered little to explain the collapse causes, and even failed to mention WTC 7. [26]

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Dr. Ellis is the principal of Ellis & Associates, LLC, a writers group in Portland OR, a nominee for a Pulitzer Prize in history in 2004 (The Moving Appeal), and a former journalism professor at Louisiana's McNeese State University and Oregon State (more...)
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