Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Case in Point - WTC 7

The BBC program, The Conspiracy Files: 911-The Truth Behind the Third Tower, broadcast on 26 October 2008 updated the original program, The Third Tower, which was broadcast on 6 July 2008. The updated program included the results of the official NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) report on the reasons for the collapse of World Trade Centre Building 7.  Building 7 was the third tower to collapse on 11 September 2001 at 5.21 in the afternoon. It was not hit by a plane. The collapse itself received very little attention from the media both on the day and in the weeks and months following, with the result that many people did not know that a third tower fell that day.  Furthermore, Building 7 wasn't even mentioned in the official 911 Commission Report. Both programs present, and then attempt to debunk, several of the conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious collapse of the third tower to fall on 9/11.

The program sets out some of the biggest questions about the events on and around September 11th. Perhaps the most important of these is the fact that the tower was the first steel framed skyscraper ever to collapse solely because of fire.  According to the NIST report, as shown in the program, Building 7's collapse was due to fires fueled by office materials and furnishings. These fires, says the report, burned hot enough to cause "thermal expansion" in the steel girders which then buckled and caused the failure of many connections and floors. This in turn led to the failure of column 79 which buckled and initiated a chain reaction among the other 81 columns. The BBC show the NIST video simulation of the collapse which, they say, is the most complex computer simulation of a structural collapse ever made. However, when seen alongside a video of the building falling, it bears little similarity to the real event. See: WTC 7 NIST MODEL VS. REALITY  The actual event was a symmetrical collapse, with the roof-line descending whilst remaining horizontal and no evidence of the bending and distortion shown in the NIST simulation. Despite not seeming to represent the real collapse, no one can check their simulation as they have refused to release the data used to create their model, stating that it might jeopardise public safety to do so!

Another of the questions covered in the program was the controversy surrounding the speed at which the tower fell. Critics of the official story say that Building 7 collapsed at free fall speed, which is the speed at which an object falls when it encounters no resistance, and that this points to the use of explosives to remove the supporting columns. In the program, the BBC shows a video from NIST that times the descent of the roof-line. They calculate that the speed of descent of the first 17 floors before they disappear from view in the video took 5.4 seconds and that if it had fallen at free fall it would have taken 3.9 seconds.  Spokesman for NIST, Shyam Sunder, looks quite triumphant when he says that this is 40 to 50 per cent longer than free fall.  His evident satisfaction seems misplaced when you consider that the collapse of a 47 storey skyscraper took a total of seven seconds - hardly a normal occurrence.  But in fact the program is only partly correct on this score. NIST has since admitted that Building 7 collapsed at free fall speed for the first 2.5 seconds meaning that, for two and a half seconds, all resistance had been removed. (See: NIST admits free fall - part 1 Parts 2 & 3 also really interesting). NIST also neglects to say that the building went into free fall suddenly i.e. there was no gradual onset of collapse.

So if all resistance had been removed, the next question must be how?  This is where the BBC attempt to debunk the controlled demolition theory.  To do this they employ Mark Loizeaux, an expert in controlled demolition and President of Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI), whose wealthy clients include the Federal government. Edited as a back and forth argument between Loizeaux and Richard Gage of Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, the program tries to discredit the theory that Building 7 was brought down with the use of explosives. He explains that it takes months to prepare a building for controlled demolition: the knocking out of interior walls, the placing of hundreds of explosive charges and miles of initiating cable and detonating cord. When asked if the explosives could have been placed in the occupied building without anyone noticing, he says, "In a screenplay, in a movie. Something with Bruce Willis in it, maybe." Then the program cuts to Richard Gage who, when asked when the explosives could have been placed in the tower, says that explosives could have been placed before or during remodelling of the floors or even when the building was initially erected. To which Mark Loizeaux's response is that the explosives he works with have shelf life of about 3 years and cannot therefore be guaranteed to go off after this period. We are then shown Shyam Sunder explaining that NIST had ruled out controlled demolition because, to sever one column in WTC7, would have required 9lbs (4.1kg) of explosives which would have produced a huge noise reaching levels of 130 to 140 decibels from a mile away. NIST claims that no explosions of that magnitude were picked up by any videos or people they spoke to. 

Then the program returns to the story of the two witnesses, Barry Jennings and Michael Hess, who were trapped in building 7 on the morning of 11 September. Both had originally claimed they heard loud explosions inside the tower and that the resulting damage (a collapsing stairwell) prevented them from escaping. In this updated program, Michael Hess has changed his story and now claims that he is certain that he didn't hear any explosions but only experienced the shaking of the building when it was hit by debris when the north tower fell. Unfortunately, Barry Jennings was unable either to reiterate or correct his original story because he died two days before the release of the NIST report. As yet there doesn't seem to be any official information available on the cause of death. 

The program then explains that Mark Loizeaux and his company, CDI, were hired to advise on the clean-up of Building 7. Mr. Loizeaux explains that if there were explosions of the magnitude required to demolish the building, all of the windows in the surrounding buildings would have been blown out including those to the rear of the buildings but that they were not. He also says that the debris would have contained caps and tubes as evidence of the explosives used.  

Of course, these arguments stand up if you are only considering the use of conventional explosives, such as RDX, but NIST did not consider the use of thermite, an incendiary used by the military. The program then introduces Professor Steven Jones PhD, a physicist who   has discovered explosive residue in the World Trade Centre dust. Dr. Jones explains that the dust contains evidence of the use of thermite, which is a "strange substance" according to the program. So strange that my son recently studied it in his school physics class. In fact the class are due to have demonstration in the next week or so much like the one Dr. Jones does in the program whereby he demonstrates the speed with which the thermite reaches extremely high temperatures leaving behind iron microspheres identical to those found in the World Trade Centre dust. Steven Jones believes that thermite was used to demolish WTC 7 and the twin towers. He says that thermite compounds can be designed using nanoscale (ultra fine grain) aluminium powders which transform thermite from an incendiary to an explosive and that these compounds can be prepared as a gel which can be formed and shaped. The program then cuts back to Mark Loizeaux who says that such compounds do not exist as, if they did, he would know. Well, it seems that Mr. Loizeaux is ill-informed about developments in explosive technology as both Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory have made these compounds (see: Sol gels at Lawrence Livermore Lab). 

The program failed to mention all the witness testimonies of firefighters, first responders, engineers and others who were there on the day and the days and weeks after the event. Many of these people reported hearing explosions before and during the collapse of tower 7 (see: Firefighter & witness testimonies) and others who reported seeing molten steel in the debris weeks after the collapse. NIST has completely ignored all of this evidence in its report. For example, Leslie Robertson, the engineer jointly responsible for the design of the WTC complex said, "As of 21 days after the attack, the fires were still burning and molten steel was still running." (More on molten steel: Molten steel at WTC) How can this be possible when the office fires at WTC7 only reached a maximum of 650 degrees celsius whereas steel does not melt until reaches temperatures of 1,510 degrees celsius? How could these fires continue to burn underground for weeks after the collapse without oxygen and with only office materials as fuel? Again the answer seems to lie in the use of thermite which has its own source of oxygen, can therefore burn underwater and burns at 2,500 degrees celsius - temperatures hot enough to melt structural steel.  Tom Manley of the New York Fire Department said about the fires at Ground Zero, "You couldn't even begin to imagine how much water was pumped in there. It was like you were creating a giant lake."

Returning to the previous points raised by the program that seem to disprove the use of explosives to bring down building 7, such as the difficulty of placing of explosives without anyone noticing, the miles of initiating and detonating cord that would be needed, the noise of explosions and the lack of evidence of explosives in the debris. The following interview with Tom Sullivan, who was working with Mark Loizeaux's company, CDI, at the time of the attacks on the WTC buildings as an explosives loader, makes these points redundant as he finds the conclusion that thermite was used perfectly logical and feasible Tom Sullivan - Former Explosives Loader for Controlled Demolition, Inc.. He also makes clear his disbelief of the NIST theory that the collapse was initiated by the failure of one column when he says, "Well, that's just nonsense." He goes on to say that when they load a building for collapse, they have to have all the columns on a given load floor collapse at the same time, within milliseconds of each other, so that the building comes down as a synchronised implosion.  He says that the columns can easily be accessed from the elevator shafts. Detonating cable is not necessary because wireless remote detonators can be used, although most contractors don't use them as they are expensive. He said that steel casings would not be found in the debris because they haven't been used for years. The RDX shape charges they usually use leave nothing behind when detonated and thermite cutting charges have also been self-consuming since they were patented in 1984, so there would be nothing left in the debris pile except molten iron.  As for the explosions, he says they don't set the explosives to go off at once but in reality you hear a progressive wave of charges going off (see witness testimonies) and in the case of thermite, you would hear far less noise since they work by thermal heating rather than explosive cutting as with RDX cutting charges. 

So according to Tom Sullivan, an expert in the controlled demolition field, it is perfectly feasible that building  7 was brought down by explosives and not, as Mark Loizeaux would have us believe, a fantasy dreamt up by deluded conspiracy theorists.  But NIST did not consider the possibility of thermite, despite the fact that there was melted steel and pulverised concrete which, according to the manual on national standards for fire investigation (article NFPA18.15), could not have been caused by fire.  This and many other national standards were completely ignored. One of the most important was NFPA 9.3.6 Spoilation of Evidence that states that once evidence has been removed from the scene, it should be maintained not spoiled or altered. But within days of the collapse, the debris was being shipped to China for recycling. Therefore, NIST had only one piece of steel on which to base their investigation. The condition of this piece, formerly a one inch girder, is very telling. It has been reduced to 'Swiss cheese' according to the investigators who studied it, "its edges - which are curled like a paper scroll - have been thinned to almost razor sharpness".  But the program appears to provide an explanation for this with expert, Richard Sisson, who claims that the steel had been attacked by a liquid slag containing iron, sulphur and oxygen. To explain the unusual presence of sulphur, he said that the hot fires in the debris caused the sulphur in the gypsum wallboard to attack the steel. However, another expert, Dr Jeff Farrer who has a PhD in materials science and engineering, said that the temperatures needed to release the sulphur from the gypsum could not be achieved by normal office fires which, we are told by NIST, were the cause of the collapse. Perhaps due to the difficulty in explaining away the existence of the 'Swiss cheese' steel, it does not even appear in the NIST report.

Near the end of the program we are shown an interview with Richard Clarke, former Chief Counter-Terrorism Adviser to George Bush. He says that anyone who's ever worked in government will tell you that government does not have the competence to carry out such a large-scale conspiracy nor is it able to maintain secrecy. It would appear that he is right on one of those points. The US government is finding it increasingly difficult to  maintain secrecy as more and more whistleblowers are speaking out every day. His first point, that the government doesn't have the competence to carry out such a large-scale conspiracy, is debatable. Government information is given out on a need-to-know basis. Therefore it is very possible that many people were involved but did not know the significance of the orders they were given.  As the truth movement grows, it is quite probable that more and more people will realise the relevance of their actions that day and go public.  In fact, since this interview, Richard Clarke himself has been raising questions with the CIA regarding the fact that they blocked the FBI from investigating some of the people who were later named as 9/11 hijackers.

The program concludes with an emotional speech by former New York firefighter Lieutenant Frank Papalia who says that he believes that those who question the official story have no respect for his friends and all the people that died that day. This argument, that by seeking answers people are distressing the families of those that died, can equally be seen from the opposite point of view.  There are many families who are distressed that they still do not know who was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.  The Remember Building 7 campaign is itself led by families of 9/11 victims (see:Remember Building 7).  Furthermore, there are those firefighters who question the official story because they know that national standards were ignored and that evidence was illegally destroyed. One such firefighter is Eric Lawyer, who founded Firefighters for 9/11 Truth because as he says, "Why would a government so aggressively suppress truth and blatantly destroy evidence if there was nothing to hide?"

Indeed, why would the government be in such a hurry to remove the evidence? Why would NIST refuse to look for evidence of explosives when so many witnesses reported hearing explosions, and when terrorists are known to have used explosives at the World Trade Centre in 1993? If they believed their own story that Al Qaeda terrorists had flown planes into the towers, how could they be so sure that they had not also planted explosives in them and so investigate that possibility thoroughly? Ground Zero was the biggest and most important crime scene in American history but the evidence was almost completely removed before FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), who wrote the initial report, arrived. Why did the government continue to resist carrying out an official investigation until it finally gave in under the media pressure from a campaign organised by the relatives of 9/11 victims? (see: The Jersey Girls) If the government were on the side of their citizens, surely they would want to get to the bottom of what happened?

Furthermore, if we are to take as fact the NIST report that building 7 was destroyed by fire, it will be the first steel framed, fire-proofed skyscraper to collapse from fire alone. If NIST are correct,shouldn't they be asking how such a thing could happen and how can it can be prevented from happening again?  But as I have shown, the NIST report is flawed and, some experts would say, fraudulent.  It is not possible to check the data they have used because they refuse to release it.  Consequently, the official report on the collapse of building 7 is not peer reviewed. However, several of the papers written by scientists who support the controlled demolition hypothesis, in response to a challenge by Noam Chomsky, are peer reviewed and some have been published in mainstream journals (see:Peer reviewed papers). The NIST report fails to consider all of the available evidence and therefore cannot be considered as science.  As the late biologist, Lynn Margulis, says in her interview for the film 911 Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out, "You cannot do science when you are deprived of the evidence and when your hypothesis is the least valid instead of the most likely. When the most likely hypothesis in the case of building 7 wasn't even mentioned, this is not science."

Links: 
BBC Conspiracy Files: The Truth Behind the Third Tower
Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth
Firefighters for 911 Truth
Reinvestigate 911
Scholars for 911 Truth
Pilots for 911 Truth
Scientists for 911 Truth
Lawyers for 911 Truth
Medical Professionals for 911 Truth
Journalists for 911 Truth
Political Leaders for 911 Truth
Religious Leaders for 911 Truth
Veterans for 911 Truth
Actors and Artists for 911 Truth
Consensus 911
Skeptopathy
Watch 9/11 Explosive Evidence:Experts Speak Out
Watch 911 Blueprint for Truth
Blueprint for Truth español 33 min
Blueprint for Truth français 33 min
Blueprint for Truth deutsch 33 min

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