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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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For all the fire claims by FEMA and NIST, their researchers somehow failed to explore the obvious possibility that arson—particularly in WTC 7—might have been used to cover the use of “silent” explosives such as thermate. Under any other circumstances, fire inspectors and insurance detectives would have suspected arson because of the fire’s curious starting point (the building’s midsection) and subsequent routes. Nor were questions asked about the unusually quick $861 million insurance settlement for Silverstein. [36]

NIST’s research expenses for both 2005 and 2008 reports had been covered by FEMA and it was highly unlikely it would contradict FEMA’s 2002 verdict about causes: “[It]…was due primarily to fire, rather than any impact damage from the collapsing towers….It is likely that fires started as a result of debris from the collapse of WTC 1.” The NIST report seconded that notion. [37]

However, it is doubtful that most arson inspectors or experts would have agreed with the results on WTC 7, just in reading the report. For one thing, no entrance point for flaming debris or sparks existed. No open rooftop doors, no blown-out windows from interior heat, and no fire alarms going off. One of NIST’s exhibits showed that on 9/11 the entire fire-alarm system had been “placed on test” at 6:47:42 a.m. for “routine maintenance.” Researchers apparently saw nothing amiss in the log operator (“DYJ”) calmly reporting “completing test over” at 14:48:22 (2:48:22). The last firefighter presumably was gone and adequate time was left for experienced arsonists to complete a job. [38]

The report stated that at 11:30 a.m., firefighters discovered no water was available (broken city water mains) except for a sprinkler tank on the 46th floor. Presumably, they were hunting a source to  hose off the building’s exterior. [39]

But, suddenly at 12:10 p.m., small fires started in the building’s midsection—Floors 19, 22, 29, and 30. Though these blazes blew out a few windows and admitted oxygen, they “did not spread far before dying out,” thanks to the sprinklers, the report stated. Then, at 2 o’clock small fires sprang up between Floors 7 and 13—below the sprinkler system’s reach, the report stated. With no water from below or above, the remaining firefighters were ordered to leave at 2:30 because someone had concluded saving the building was an impossibility. And so the fires continued to burn. [40]

            As yet, few seem to have questioned why firefighters were not permitted to extinguish the fires. Or why firefighters and lawmen had surrounded the building from noon on, warning bystanders the building was going to fall.

Or why a countdown to the 5:20 collapse was clearly overheard on the street.

            After the release of the 9/11 Revisited video, suspicions went around the globe, not about arson, but about Silverstein’s possible pre-planned demolition of all three buildings to save millions on repairs should terrorists attempt a repeat of the 1993 bombing of WTC 1 and 2. Repairs had come to $700 million. The Port Authority had told bidders on the lease during the 2000 negotiations that asbestos removal and cladding replacement for WTC 1 and 2 probably would cost at least $200 million and plumbing/electrical upgrades might bring the total to $800 million. Silverstein’s 15-year old WTC 7 also needed asbestos removal and utility upgrades. Yet a year later on the PBS 9/11 special America Rebuilds he recalled that he told the fire commander around 5 o’clock on 9/11: “We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it. And they [sic] made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.”[41]

Any long-time developer like Silverstein knew the verb “pull” was a demolition term—and he’d used it twice. His spokesman tried to cover that slip by explaining it referred to pulling firefighters from the building, though all 4,000 tenants had fled by 10:30 a.m., all firefighters were out by 2:30 p.m. Considering the time involved in preparing a demolition of a building that size, it was plain to many demolition and building experts that No. 7 had to have been rigged long before 9/11. [42]

None of these factors seemed to concern NIST’s researchers as they moved toward their 2008 deadline on the WTC 7 report. And they had been warned about their research methodology. One architect tracking their progress up to late 2007 had warned they were performing substandard and biased work that would negate conclusions. Left unsaid was that such flaws would also harm the Institute’s reputation as a credible source by Congress and subsequent Administrations. [43] 

            The warning may have explained the low-profile of the report’s release in August 2008. It was immediately met by withering criticism about those methods and credibility from 16 national and international experts in structural engineering, architecture, physics, and chemistry. Thousands more probably would have joined them had NIST permitted more than a three-week review of the 1,000-page document and demanding $19,000 for photographic evidence of WTC 7. That such behavior smelled of “cover-up science” was indicated by emails between two members of that group:


            NIST employs numerous tactics to distance their research and themselves from public scrutiny while giving the semblance of actual interaction with the public. NIST has never allowed scientists, engineers, architects to directly question them on camera, allowing only time-limited Web casts (advertised only a day in advance) during which they will deal with technical questions submitted by email only if they have time or feel like answering them.

They open themselves up a little more to career reporters from the mainstream media, but largely these reporters were selected by their media companies—perhaps in part because they would not ask tough questions. (This certainly was the pattern of behavior exhibited at the August 21, 2008 press conference coinciding with NIST’s release of their report on Building 7.)

NIST publishes extremely long documents that virtually nobody would bother absorbing (1,000 pages for their WTC 7 report). NIST makes the false promise that it would discuss these matters once the report has been released, but NIST has already denied me a chance to interview them. [44]

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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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