The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Fin

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

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Part 2 of 2

5. HEAT AND UNUSUAL EMISSIONS AT GROUND ZERO

Two more features of the Ground Zero rubble pile pointed to the use of explosives: (1) long-lasting heat, produced by inextinguishable fires, and (2) periodic emissions of unexpected substances.

Long-Lasting Heat, Inextinguishable Fires

Engineer Roger Fulmer was at Ground Zero from the middle of October until the middle of November 2001, as part of the Sacramento Debris Removal Team of the US Army Corps of Engineers. He gave the following account of the temperature of the debris pile during the first two months after 9/11:

Temperatures in the pile were over 1,200°F [649°C]. Every time an area was opened, fire started in any buried combustible debris. Water trucks and fire engines were used continually. The high temperature debris and water created steam.... The dust and other hazardous materials from the debris required sprayers to be set up to wash all trucks exiting the site. These sprayers were also used to cool the high temperature debris before it left the site. Several trucks were returned to the site for additional cooling because the law enforcement officers would not let them through the tunnels leaving Manhattan until they stopped steaming. [82]


The fact that Ground Zero remained hot for several months after 9/11 was widely reported. A New Scientist article in December (2001) was titled "Ground Zero's Fires Still Burning." [83] Then in January (2002), Herb Trimpe, an Episcopal deacon who served as a chaplain at Ground Zero, wrote: "On the cold days, even in January, there was a noticeable difference between the temperature in the middle of the site [and that] two blocks over on Broadway. You could actually feel the heat." [84] According to Greg Fuchek -- who was mentioned above as the vice president of a company that supplied computer equipment to identify human remains at the site -- the working conditions were "hellish," partly because the ground temperature varied between 600° and 1,500°F (315° and 815°C) for six months. [85]

This heat existed because very hot fires continued to burn in the Ground Zero debris piles, even though heavy rains occurred, millions of additional gallons of water were sprayed onto the piles, and a chemical suppressant was pumped into them. [86] Why the fires could not be extinguished was a mystery.

Periodic Emissions of Unexpected Substances

The mystery of Ground Zero was increased by the fact that two separate projects to monitor the air after 9/11 discovered high levels of substances in the air that, given the official account of the destruction of the Twin Towers and WTC 7, should not have been there.

Thomas Cahill, a professor at the University of California at Davis, monitored the air about a mile from Ground Zero during the month of October 2001. Having discovered various coarse particles, Cahill declared: "These particles simply should not be there." [87] With regard to fine particles, he said: "We see very fine aerosols typical of combustion temperatures far higher than [expected in] the WTC collapse piles." [88] These very fine particles, some of which "were found at the highest levels ever recorded in air in the United States," [89] contained high levels of sulfur and extremely high levels of silicon. [90]

Cahill also found high concentrations of various metals, including iron, titanium, vanadium, nickel, copper, and zinc. [91]

The other project to monitor the air was carried out over several months by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It dealt extensively with a fact noted by Cahill: that the air contained high levels of rare organic compounds. By far the most prevalent of these was one that is called 1,3-diphenylpropane, abbreviated 1,3-DPP.The EPA had monitored countless building fires in which many toxic substances had been emitted. And yet, an EPA scientist stated, although the EPA had never previously reported finding 1,3-DPP in the air, this chemical was present in the air at Ground Zero during the first three weeks at levels that "dwarfed all others." The EPA's Erik Swartz said that "it was most likely produced by the plastic of tens of thousands of burning computers." [92] Experiments could surely be performed to see if that is an adequate explanation, but NIST did not report doing this.

Another fact that could be learned from the EPA monitoring was that violent fires occasionally flared up at Ground Zero long after all normal combustible materials would have been consumed. This fact was discovered from material released by the EPA in 2007 in response to a FOIA request instigated by chemist Kevin Ryan. This information was then made public in a paper published in the Environmentalist, on which the present section of this chapter is based, "Environmental Anomalies at the World Trade Center: Evidence for Energetic Materials," by Kevin Ryan, Steven Jones, and James Gourley (who is a chemical engineer as well as an attorney).

These scientists discovered, moreover, that the occasional flare-ups produced spikes in the release of several toxic substances classified as "volatile organic chemicals" (VOCs), including benzene, propylene, styrene, toluene, and ethyl benzene. Although the EPA's reports to the general public in 2002 mentioned these chemicals, it did not reveal the levels at which they had been detected, and they were, Ryan and his coauthors learned, "far above the levels published by EPA in their reports." Indeed, "these spikes in VOCs [were] at levels thousands of times higher than seen in other structure fires." [93] I repeat: thousands of times higher.

One of the most significant facts about the occasional spikes in the emissions of these volatile organic chemicals is that they continued long after the ordinary fuel sources at the site would have disappeared. Although most of the typical combustible materials were "largely burned off by mid to late October, ... the most striking spike in toxic air emissions ... occurred on 9 February, 2002," almost five months after 9/11. [94] There clearly had to be something in the debris that could remain volatile for several months.

Energetic Nanocomposites: A Possible Explanation

Accordingly, Ryan and his coauthors argued, these spikes "point not to other sources of typical combustible materials but to other forms of combustion," namely, to "chemical energetic materials, which provide their own fuel and oxidant and are not deterred by water, dust or chemical suppressants." [95] Fires fed by these energetic materials could not, therefore, be extinguished until these materials had exhausted their reactivity.

Ryan and his colleagues suggested that these materials were "energetic nanocomposites," such as "nanothermites," sometimes called "superthermites." An exploration of this suggestion requires a brief discussion of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is based on "nanoenergetics," which is research into ways to "manipulate the flow of energy ... between molecules." [96] The nanoworld, with which nanotechnology works, deals with things that are very small -- only slightly larger than ordinary molecules. This means that nanotechnology deals with particles between 10 and 100 nanometers in size, and a nanometer is only one millionth of a millimeter.

The significance of the tiny size of these particles follows from the fact that, the smaller something is, the larger is its surface area relative to its volume. (For example, a mouse has a much greater surface area relative to its volume than does an elephant.) This means that, compared to a larger particle, a nanoparticle has a larger percentage of its atoms on its surface, which in turn means that its atoms can react with other atoms much more rapidly. [97]

An essential part of nanotechnology is the creation of nanometals, such as ultra-fine-grain aluminum (nanoaluminum).

Nanometals can then be used to create nanocomposites, one type of which is nanothermite (superthermite), which is a collective name -- there are many forms of nanothermite. A nanothermite is a composite of a nanometal, which is usually nanoaluminum, with an ultra-fine-grain metal oxide, commonly iron oxide (rust). By contrast, ordinary thermite -- now sometimes called macrothermite -- combines a standard metal oxide with standard aluminum.

Because of the presence of aluminum in all (or at least virtually all) forms of thermite, they are often called "aluminothermic" mixtures.

Compared with ordinary thermite, nanothermite (superthermite) releases "greater amounts of energy much more rapidly." In fact, "Superthermites can increase the (chemical) reaction rime by a thousand times." An article in Technology Review, from which these quotations were taken, explained why this is the case, employing the previously mentioned point about the surface area:

Nanoaluminum is more chemically reactive because there are more atoms on the surface area than standard aluminum .... Standard aluminum covers just one-tenth of one percent of the surface area (with atoms), versus fifty percent for nanoaluminum. [98]


Because of the very high rate of energy release, which is made possible by the high surface area of the reactants, nanothermite explosives are classified as high explosives. [99] The difference has been explained by Jim Hoffman thus:

The reaction rate ... determines the destructive character of the material. Whereas a cup of conventional thermite will melt a hole clear through a car's engine block, the same quantity of nanothermite will blow the car apart. [100]


Whereas the enormous explosive power of nanothermites is one reason to suspect that they were used in the destruction of the Twin Towers and WTC 7, understanding how they could account for the chemical emissions at Ground Zero requires that we look at their chemical composition.

Although the most common type of nanothermite uses ultra-fine iron oxide (along with nanoaluminum), the oxidizer can be formed from many other metals, such as barium, copper, molybdenum, nickel, potassium, titanium, vanadium, or zinc. One type of nanothermite, for example, mixes nanoaluminum with copper oxide, another with molybdenum oxide, another with barium nitrate, still another with potassium permanganate. [101]

Two more essential factors about nanothermites involve the way in which the ingredients are mixed and how the resulting mixture is stored. Kevin Ryan, with reference to a 2000 article entitled "Nanoscale Chemistry Yields Better Explosives," [102] explained:

The mixing is accomplished by adding these reactants to a liquid solution where they form what are called "sols," and then adding a gelling agent that captures these tiny reactive combinations in their intimately mixed state. The resulting "sol-gel" is then dried to form a porous reactive material that can be ignited in a number of ways.


Silicon compounds, Ryan added, are often used to create the porous structural framework. [103]

With regard to the question of how sol-gel nanothermites could have been used to cur the steel columns of the World Trade Center buildings, Ryan quoted a 2002 article entitled "Energetic Nanocomposites with Sol-gel Chemistry," which says:

The sol-gel process is very amenable to ... spray-coating technologies to coat surfaces.... The energetic coating dries to give a nice adherent film. Preliminary experiments indicate that films of the hybrid material are self-propagating when ignited by thermal stimulus. [104]


One or more types of sol-gel nanothermite could, in other words, have been sprayed onto the steel.

Elsewhere, Ryan has suggested that "spray-on nano-thermite materials may have been applied to the steel components of the WTC buildings, underneath the upgraded fireproofing." [105] The fact that the steel was coated with explosive material would not, therefore, have been detectable by WTC employees.

Ryan supported this suggestion with the fact that there was "a remarkable correlation between the floors upgraded for fireproofing in the WTC towers, in the years preceding 9/11/01, and the floors of impact, fire and failure." This correlation is important, Ryan pointed out, because the "fireproofing upgrades would have allowed for shutdown of the affected floors, and the exposure of the floor assemblies and the columns for a significant period of time." [106] In this way, all the explosive material could have been added beyond the view of ordinary WTC employees.

I turn now to the ways in which Ryan, Gourley, and Jones suggested that their hypothesis -- that the buildings were brought down by the use of thermitic materials, involving both thermate and nanothermite -- can also explain the long-lasting fires and chemical emissions at Ground Zero.

Because nanothermites (superthermites) provide not only their own fuel but also their own oxidant, as stated earlier, they can burn underground and "are not deterred by water, dust or chemical suppressants." [107] They could, therefore, account for the long-lasting fires in the rubble.

The occasional spikes in the emissions of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), usually lasting only "one day or less," can also be explained by the hypothesis that nanothermite was employed to bring the buildings down:

If energetic nanocomposite materials, buried within the pile at GZ [Ground Zero], were somehow ignited on specific dates ... , violent, short-lived and possibly explosive fires would result. Such fires would have quickly consumed all combustible materials nearby. The combustible materials available, after a month or two of smoldering fires in the pile, might have been more likely to be those that were less likely to have burned completely on earlier dates, like plastics. Later combustion of such plastic materials, in violent but short-lived fires, could explain the spikes in VOCs seen on those dates. [108]


The spikes in benzene, 1,3-DPP and other organic chemicals could perhaps have been produced in this way.

The extreme level of 1,3-DPP might also be partly explainable by the fact that" [t]he synthesis of novel nanostructured materials has involved the use of 1,3-DPP to functionalize mesoporous silicas through control of pore size." [109] Then, after the 1,3-DPP was released from the nanothermite's silica microstructure, it would in turn have broken down into some of the other chemicals found at unusually high levels, including styrene, toluene, and benzene. [110]

Some of the chemicals could also have come from the nanothermite materials. For example, high levels of silicon would follow from the use of silica in the liquid used to mix the nanoaluminum with an oxidant to create the "sol," and high levels of sulfur can be explained by the addition of sulfur to thermite mixtures to create thermates. [111]

Furthermore, the various metals found in the dust in surprisingly high concentrations can also be explained by this hypothesis. Take, for example, the extremely high percentage of iron-rich particles in the WTC dust, said by the 2003 RJ Lee report to constitute 5.87 percent of the dust -- which, as Jones and his coauthors emphasized, is "nearly 150 times" the amount found in ordinary office building dust. [112] This extremely high concentration of iron-rich particles can be explained by the aforementioned fact that iron oxide is the most commonly used oxidant in nanothermites. Also, the unusually high concentrations of barium, copper, molybdenum, nickel, titanium, vanadium, and zinc, which were found by the RJ Lee, Cahill, and/or USGS studies, can be explained by the fact that oxidants based on these metals are sometimes used in the production of nanothermites.

Finally, still another phenomenon supporting the hypothesis proposed by Ryan, Gourley, and Jones was the simultaneous spiking of emissions of chemicals commonly used in alumino thermic mixtures. For example, the EPA data showed that the top nine days for iron emissions were also the top nine days for aluminum emissions -- which is precisely what would be expected if nanothermite composed of aluminum and iron oxide had been used to demolish the buildings.

Eight of those same days, moreover, were also the top days for emissions of barium, another common ingredient in thermitic materials. [113]

The unusual amount of barium in the WTC dust, incidentally, might provide a clue as to the provider of at least some of the thermitic material. The film Zero has footage in which Steven Jones says:

arium nitrate and sulfur are part of the military patent on what is known as thermate. This is thermite with sulfur and barium nitrate added to make this material cut more rapidly through steel. Now barium is a very toxic metal, so one would not ordinarily expect this to be present in the large concentrations that we see. Well, the fact that we see it. .. in the dust is a very strong indication to me that the military form of thermite has been used. [114]


In any case, December 19, 2001, provided another example of simultaneous emissions, being the top day for both iron and vanadium emissions and the second highest day for aluminum and barium emissions. A spike in nickel emissions also occurred on that day. [115]

Nickel also spiked on March 7, which was the highest day for barium emissions. [116]

Still another correlation involved silicon. During October, which was the only month that Cahill monitored emissions, the top two days for silicon emissions were October 5 and 11, which were also this month's days with the highest emissions of benzene, ethylbenzene, propylene, styrene and toluene. [117]

In sum: The long-lasting fires at Ground Zero, along with the unusual emissions noted by Professor Cahill and the EPA, provide further evidence that WTC 7 and the Twin Towers were brought down with explosives. NIST could have contested this conclusion by providing an alternative explanation for the long-enduring heat at Ground Zero and for the emissions of chemicals and metals that should not have been present. Instead, NIST's WTC 7 report dealt with these phenomena in the same way it dealt with the reported pools of molten metal, the scientific reports of particles that could have been produced only by extremely high temperatures, and the pieces of steel that, according to the WPI professors, had undergone oxidation, sulfidation, intergranular melting, and perhaps even vaporization: by simply ignoring them. Once again NIST illustrated Whitehead's observation that if, when formulating a theory, scientists are "content to disregard half [the] evidence," any apparent success of their theory is merely illusory.

[b]6. RED/GRAY CHIPS: MORE EVIDENCE FOR THE USE OF NANOTHERMITE

Early in 2009, the Open Chemical Physics Journal published a paper, "Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe," which provides additional, and still more definitive evidence that nanothermite was used to destroy WTC 7 as well as the Twin Towers. Written by Niels Harrit, who teaches in the University of Copenhagen's chemistry department, along with Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, and six more coauthors, this paper reports results of experiments on very small but visible bi-layered chips, red on one side and gray on the other, that Jones had found while studying dust that had been recovered from the World Trade Center site. [118]

Initially suspecting that these red/gray chips might simply be dried paint chips, this team of scientists tested this possibility through two methods. First, paint chips and red/gray chips were soaked for 55 hours in methyl ethyl ketone, which is an organic solvent known to dissolve paint. Although the paint chips partially dissolved, the red/gray chips did not. [119] Second, both types of chips were subjected to a hot flame. Although the paint chips were "immediately reduced to fragile ashes," the red/gray chips were not. [120]

Having found two facts counting against the paint hypothesis, these scientists then employed a scanning electron microscope, an X-ray energy dispersive spectroscope, and a differential scanning calorimeter to determine the chemical composition of the red/gray chips. This composition provided further evidence against the paint hypothesis.

The gray sides were found to consist of "high iron and oxygen content including a smaller amount of carbon," [121] but what the scientists found to be most interesting was the composition of the red sides, because they were found to have various features suggestive of thermite.

Evidence of Thermite:

One such feature is that the red sides are composed primarily of "aluminum, iron, oxygen, silicon, and carbon." [122] The first three of these ingredients are suggestive of thermite because, as we saw in the previous section, thermite is commonly made by combining aluminum with iron oxide. The analysis showed, moreover, that "iron and oxygen are present in a ratio consistent with Fe203 [iron oxide]." [123]

The presence of iron was also suggested by the red color and the fact that the chips were subject to magnetic attraction. [124] However, Harrit and his colleagues realized, although the red layer has the same chemical signature as thermite, it might "not really be thermitic." The crucial test would be whether, when heated, it would "react vigorously." They performed this test in two ways. First, using the differential scanning calorimeter, they found that "the red/gray chips from different WTC samples all ignited in the range 415-435°C." They also produced "highly energetic reactions," the details of which produced "evidence for active, highly-energetic thermitic material in the WTC dust [that] is compelling." [125]

A second test occurred when they tested the paint hypothesis by applying a flame to the red/gray chips to determine their response to heat. The results of this test will be reported below.

Evidence of Nanothermite:

Several features of the thermitic material suggested to this team of scientists that it is nanothermite, rather than ordinary (macro) thermite.

For one thing, the primary ingredients in the red side are ultrafine grain, typically being "present in particles at the scale of tens to hundreds of nanometers." Commenting on this fact, Harrit -- an expert on nanochemistry -- and his colleagues wrote: "The small size of the iron oxide particles qualifies the material to be characterized as nano-thermite or super-thermite." [126]

A second piece of evidence supporting the presence of nanothermite in the WTC dust was that, when a flame was applied to a red/gray chip, as a further test of the paint hypothesis, the result was "the high-speed ejection of a hot particle," suggesting that the chip's red side consisted of "unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology" -- in other words, nanothermite. This test rather dramatically, in conjunction with the other evidence, ruled out the paint hypothesis. [127]

A third reason to call it nanothermite, rather than ordinary (macro) thermite, is the temperature at which it reacted. As the test in the calorimeter revealed, it reacted at about 430°C, whereas ordinary thermite does not ignite until heated above 900°C (l,650°F). In a statement combining this third reason with the first, Harrit and his colleagues wrote: "The low temperature of ignition and the presence of iron-oxide grains less than 120 nm [nanometers] show that the material is not conventional thermite ... but very likely a form of super-thermite." [128]

Fourth, these scientists found that the ingredients of the red sides of the chips were intimately mixed. Pointing out that the intimate mixing of these ultra-fine ingredients belongs to the chemical signature of nanothermite, they wrote: "The red layer of the red/gray chips ... contains aluminum, iron and oxygen components which are intimately mixed at a scale of approximately 100 nanometers (nm) or less." [129]

A fifth sign of nanothermite is the red material's carbon content, which "indicates that an organic substance is present" -- which is what "would be expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive." [130]

Finally, this team of scientists observed, the hypothesis that the red material contains nanothermite is supported by the twofold fact that it is porous and that silicon was one of its main ingredients. [131] As we saw in the previous section, when nanothermite is mixed in a sol-gel, silicon compounds are often used so that, when the mixture dries, it forms a porous reactive material.

Various facts about the red sides of the red/gray chips, therefore, support the conclusion that they are unreacted nanothermite. The gray sides, composed primarily of iron and oxygen, required further study, Harrit and his colleagues said. But they speculated that the existence of the gray side may indicate "that the unreacted material was in close contact with something else, either its target, a container, or an adhesive." [132]

In any case, the conclusion that the red side of these chips is unreacted nanothermite suggests the further conclusion that someone had put nanothermite in the buildings. How else could the large quantity of this material be explained?

An innocent explanation would be possible, to be sure, if the WTC dust might have been contaminated with these ingredients during the clean-up operations at Ground Zero. This hypothesis was, however, excluded by the fact that the four dust samples were collected at times and places that ruled out such contamination. One sample was collected on 9/11 itself about ten minutes after the collapse of the North Tower. The other three samples were collected from nearby apartments into which dust had come through open windows. In two of these cases, moreover, the dust was collected the day after 9/11. [133]

Also, Steven Jones was not the only one to receive samples of WTC dust from those who had collected it. "I have two samples in Copenhagen which were sent to me directly from the collectors, and they contained the chips as well," Harrit reported. "There is a handful of other scientists who can bring the same testimony." [134]

Another question is whether the red/gray chips necessarily mean that nanothermite was used to bring down the WTC buildings. Could not red/gray chips with the ingredients of nanothermite have been produced by conventional explosives? Besides regarding this idea as a priori implausible, Harrit and his colleagues wrote:

No red/gray chips having the characteristics delineated here were found in dust generated by controlled demolition using conventional explosives and methods, for the Stardust Resort & Casino in Las Vegas (demolished 13 March 2007) and the Key Bank in Salt Lake City (demolished 18 August 2007). [135]


The red/gray chips, therefore, present compelling evidence that nanothermite was employed -- perhaps along with other thermitic and explosive materials -- in the demolition of WTC 7 as well as the Twin Towers. [136]

During a TV interview after his essay was published, Harrit made clear that he and his colleagues were not excluding the use of other materials as well: "We found nanothermite in the rubble. We are not saying only nanothermite was used." [137]

Harrit was saying, however, that he and his colleagues had found active thermitic material in the WTC dust. To the interviewer's question as to whether he had any doubt about this, he replied: "You cannot fudge this kind of science. We have found it. Unreacted thermite." [138] As to how much nanothermite was used to bring the three buildings down, given the amount of residue found in the WTC dust, Harrit estimated that it would have been over ten tons. [139]

Harrit also expressed no doubt about whether it was, in fact, used to bring down the buildings. When asked why he thought this substance, which he and his fellow scientists had found in the WTC dust, contributed to the collapse of the WTC buildings, he replied: "Well it's an explosive. Why else would it be there? .. This [unreacted thermite] is the 'loaded gun,' material that did not ignite for some reason." [140]

With regard to the question of how the nanothermite was used, Harrit replied:

I cannot say precisely, as this substance can serve [two] purposes. It can explode and break things apart, and it can melt things. Both effects were probably used, as I see ir. Molten metal pours out of the South Tower several minutes before the collapse. This indicates the whole structure was being weakened in advance. Then the regular explosives came into play. The actual collapse sequence had to be perfectly timed, all the way down.


Finally, making clear that the discovery of nanothermite in the dust is not the first strong evidence for the demolition of the WTC buildings, Harrit said:

[T]he article may not be as groundbreaking as you think. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have long known that the three buildings were demolished. This has been crystal clear. Our research is just the last nail in the coffin. This is not the "smoking gun," it is the "loaded gun." [141]


7. DID NIST TEST FOR THERMITE RESIDUE?

As we have seen in the previous three sections, evidence found in the WTC dust is consistent with the hypothesis that forms of thermite, including thermate and nanothermite, had been employed to bring down WTC 7 as well as the Twin Towers. If NIST had carried out a scientific investigation, truly seeking the cause of the collapses, it would have tested the dust for residues of thermite reactions. By its own admission, however, it did not.

In NIST's 2006 document giving "Answers to Frequently Asked Questions" about its 2005 report on the Twin Towers, we find the following question: "Was the [WTC] steel tested for explosives or thermite residues? The combination of thermite and sulfur (called thermate) 'slices through steel like a hot knife through butter.'" NIST replied:

NIST did not test for the residue of these compounds in the steel.... Analysis of the WTC steel for the elements in thermite/thermate would not necessarily have been conclusive. The metal compounds also would have been present in the construction materials making up the WTC towers, and sulfur is present in the gypsum wallboard that was prevalent in the interior partitions. [142]


NIST's argument, in other words, was that even if they had found sulfur and thermite residue, this would not have proved that thermate had been used to bring the buildings down, because sulfur and the other elements in thermate might have come from the building materials.

Simultaneously with its release in August 2008 of the Draft version of its WTC 7 report, NIST put out a document entitled "Questions and Answers about the NIST WTC 7 Investigation." One of the questions was: "Is it possible that thermite or thermate contributed to the collapse of WTC 7?" As part of its answer, NIST repeated almost verbatim its previous statement as to why it did not bother to check for thermate, saying:

Analysis of the WTC steel for the elements in thermite/rhermate would not necessarily have been conclusive. The metal compounds also would have been present in the construction materials making up the WTC buildings, and sulfur is present in the gypsum wallboard used for interior partitions. [143]


By repeating its earlier answer, NIST implied that it was a good explanation. But it was not.

One problem is that NIST's statement -- that such a test "would not necessarily have been conclusive" -- entails that it might possibly have been conclusive. This point was made in a "Request for Correction," which was submitted to NIST in 2007 by a group of scholars that included Steven Jones and Kevin Ryan. In their letter, they pointed out several problems in NIST's report on the Twin Towers. With regard to the question at hand, they wrote:

A chemical analysis for explosive residue on the steel or in the dust. .. could put to rest. .. the theory that explosives were responsible for the collapses of the Twin Towers. [144]


In other words, even if a positive result would not have been conclusive, a negative result, showing that there was not any residue from explosives in the Ground Zero dust, would have been conclusive. It would have conclusively disproved the theory that explosives had been used. As the group of scholars pointed out in a later "Appeal" to NIST, this would have required only "a very simple lab test." [145] Why would NIST's scientists not have performed this test? Was it because they knew that the test would not have provided this negative result?

A second problem with NIST's claim is that a positive result, showing the presence of thermite residue, might indeed have been conclusive. The group of scholars made this point in their "Request for Correction" by quoting a statement from Materials Engineering, Inc. (a company that "provides assistance in arson investigations"), [146] which says:

When thermite reaction compounds are used to ignite a fire, they produce a characteristic burn pattern, and leave behind evidence. These compounds are rather unique in their chemical composition, containing common elements such as copper, iron, calcium, silicon and aluminum, but also contain more unusual elements, such as vanadium, titanium, tin, fluorine and manganese. While some of these elements are consumed in the fire, many are also left behind in the residue .... The results [of Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy on minute traces of residue], coupled with visual evidence at the scene, provide absolute certainty that thermite reaction compounds were present, indicating the fire was deliberately set. [147]


Accordingly, these scholars said:

[I]t is difficult to imagine a scenario in which a test for explosive residues would not be conclusive .... Unless NIST can explain a plausible scenario that would produce inconclusive explosive residue test results, its stated reason for not conducting such tests is wholly unpersuasive. [148]


At the press briefing of August 21, 2008, on the occasion of NIST's release of its Draft Report on WTC 7, Shane Geiger of the 9/11 truth movement tried to confront NIST's lead investigator, Shyam Sunder, with evidence for the use of explosives provided by materials that have been found in the WTC dust. No sooner had he started his point than Sunder and Ben Stein (NIST's director of media relations) tried to silence him, saying that it was time to "move on" (to another question). Here is how the exchange went:

GEIGER: [Y]ou reiterated from your Twin Towers report that NIST has stated that it found no corroborating evidence to suggest that explosives were used to bring down the buildings. Now, in the very next sentence you ...

SUNDER: OK. Well, let's, let's ...

GEIGER: ... admit that NIST did not conduct tests for explosive residue. So of course it's very difficult to ... to find what you're not looking for. But in ...

STEIN: OK, we're going to move on.

GEIGER: ... iron spheres which are characteristic of the dust and can be seen on the United States Geological Survey website. These are found in every single sample of the dust to date, including all the samples that RJ Lee group took a look at. I actually have ...

STEIN: OK, we're gonna move on ...

GEIGER: I have a friend who's found these in his sample of dust. ...

STEIN: I think.. ..

GEIGER: ... and I think this is -- there's enough of these out there -- there's a billion pounds of World Trade Center dust in the landfill on Staten Island. I think it's pretty fair to say that NIST could, if NIST were interested in doing so, that NIST take a look at these spheres.

STEIN: Do you have a question, sir?

GEIGER: Inside these spheres, Dr. Steven Jones is claiming that there is evidence of a thermite reaction.

VOICE: OK, move on.

GEIGER: I certainly would like to hear about your research on this, other than bare assertions.

STEIN: Could you comment on what was said?

SUNDER: Yes, very quickly, there are a thousand pages of reports right there. It's on the website. I urge you to read it, understand it, and when you've understood it, we can have a discussion.

GEIGER: How may I go about discussing this with you in the future?

SUNDER: Well, you can submit your questions in writing and we will look at what you have to say. [149]


So, although Sunder had been happy to answer all the other questions raised at the briefing, Geiger's question did not deserve a reply until he had read the "thousands of pages of reports." Also Geiger's questions had to be submitted in writing. These two conditions meant that Sunder did not need to reply while reporters were listening and video cameras were running. They also meant, in fact, that Sunder would not need to answer the question at all. In any case, Sunder concluded his response to Geiger with these words:

But I will reassert what I've said all along, that the findings that we have got, we are very comfortable with. It's based on sound science, it is consistent with the observations. [150]


However, as we have seen and will continue to see in the following chapters, NIST's report, far from being consistent with the observations, is based on ignoring a wide range of relevant observations. For this and other reasons to be explored in the second part of this book, Sunder's claim that his report is based on "sound science" could hardly be further from the truth.

Sunder's systematically unscientific treatment of the question of thermitic materials in the dust was continued a week later during his "technical briefing" of August 28, 2008. A question submitted by Steven Jones asked: "Did NIST have available to it samples of dust from the WTC catastrophe? And if so, did NIST examine the dust for red or gray chips?" Sunder replied:

[W]e went through a pretty rigorous screening process to figure out which were the credible hypotheses that we would pursue and how we went about pursuing them, and we did not believe that the possible hypothesis that you just mentioned fell into the realm of a credible hypothesis. [151]


Jones, however, had not suggested a hypothesis. He had only asked whether NIST had checked WTC dust for the presence of red or gray chips. Sunder simply dodged that question by calling it a hypothesis that could not be deemed credible.

It is true, of course, that the question posed by Jones implied a hypothesis, namely, that nanothermite was used to bring down WTC 7. Sunder began the statement quoted above by saying, ''As I said just a moment ago, ... " In that earlier statement, he had said:

[W]hen we started the investigation we considered a whole range of possible hypotheses. And from that, based on our technical judgment, we decided what were credible hypotheses that we should pursue further. Among them, of course, was the... diesel fuel fire, the transfer girders,... and, of course, the most obvious, which is the normal building fires.... In addition to that, because of the concern expressed by several people about blasts and blast-oriented sounds, we decided to include that as a hypothetical scenario to also evaluate. We judged that other hypotheses that ... were suggested really... were not credible enough to justify a careful investigation. [152]


It was this statement that lay behind Sunder's answer to Jones, namely, that NIST did not believe that the hypothesis Jones was suggesting "fell into the realm of a credible hypothesis" -- the kind that would "justify a careful investigation."

So, although no steel-framed high-rise building had ever been brought down by diesel fuel fires, normal building fires, or girder failures, NIST thought that hypotheses about the collapse of WTC 7 based on these causes were credible enough to justify careful investigations. And although nanothermite could have helped bring the building down and could, moreover, explain the melted steel and the "blast-oriented sounds," NIST found the hypothesis that nanothermite was used to bring down WTC 7 so lacking in credibility that checking the WTC dust for unteacted nanothermite would not have been justified!

Sunder's reply shows that, besides refusing to begin, as we saw in the previous chapter, with the most likely hypothesis -- namely, that WTC 7 was brought down by explosives of some sort -- NIST even refused to do a simple test to confirm or disconfirm the most strongly supported version of that hypothesis. Whatever the NIST report was, it was not a scientific report.

Besides giving a completely inadequate rationale for not testing the dust to see if it contained the red/gray chips that Steven Jones and his colleagues had reported, NIST gave an equally lame excuse for not testing the dust for the presence of sulfur. NIST claimed, as we saw, that finding sulfur would not prove anything because the gypsum wallboard contained sulfur. But if that might provide an adequate explanation, why had the three professors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute been so puzzled by the fact that the piece of steel they studied from WTC 7 had been sulfidized? Are we to assume that these professors, all experts in the field, did not know that gypsum wallboard contains sulfur? If that fact might have provided a satisfactory answer, surely these "fire-wise professors" would not have stated at the end of their appendix to the FEMA report: "No clear explanation for the source of the sulfur has been identified." [153]

At least one likely reason why they would not have considered the gypsum a possible source has been explained in the previously discussed paper, "Extremely High Temperatures during the World Trade Center Destruction," by Steven Jones and other scientists. Gypsum is calcium sulfate, so if the only sulfur discovered were from gypsum wallboard, it would be matched by about the same percentage of calcium. Given the fact that the sulfur at Ground Zero was not matched by a corresponding amount of calcium, it could not have been from gypsum. [154]

Could NIST simply have been unaware of this fact? That would be possible only if its scientists were unfamiliar with the most common building materials. Also, Jones had made the point about calcium and sulfur in a 2007 paper entitled "Revisiting 9/11/2001," [155] and this paper was presented to NIST in December 2007 by architect Richard Gage and placed on NIST's own website. [156] We can be confident, therefore, that NIST, rather than being ignorant of this fact -- that the absence of a correspondingly high percentage of calcium in the Ground Zero dust shows that the sulfur did not come from gypsum -- simply ignored it.

A third problem is that NIST's answer about sulfur is a straw-man argument. The question NIST answers by referring to gypsum in the wallboard is: Why was there sulfur in the WTC dust? As we saw earlier, however, the real question is: How did sulfur enter into the intergranular structure of the steel? As Steven Jones indicated in a passage quoted earlier, if scientists at NIST "heat steel to about 1000°C in the presence of gypsum, ... they will find that sulfur does not enter steel under such circumstances." [157] NIST, however, ignored this issue.

A fourth problem with NIST's position is that it is circular. On the one hand, as we saw in the Introduction, NIST's lead investigator, Shyam Sunder, said at NIST's press briefing in August 2008: "We did not find any evidence that explosives were used to bring the building down." [158] That statement implies that NIST looked for possible evidence and found that it was absent. On the other hand, as we have also seen, NIST said in its ''Answers to Frequently Asked Questions," published in 2006: "NIST did not test for the residue of these [thermite] compounds." Although this admission was not repeated in NIST's 2008 documents about WTC 7, it was implied by its statement that finding such residues would not necessarily have been conclusive. NIST's statement that it "did not find any evidence that explosives were used" is, therefore, deceptive. As the group of scholars observed in their "Appeal" to NIST: "[I]t is extremely easy to 'find no evidence' when one is not looking for evidence." [159]

The circularity in NIST's position was pointed out by journalist Jennifer Abel of the Hartford Advocate in a story in which she discussed an interview she had with Michael Newman, spokesman for NIST's Department of Public and Business Affairs. Abel asked: "[W]hat about that letter where NIST said it didn't look for evidence of explosives?" Newman replied: "Right, because there was no evidence of that." In response to this strange answer, Abel asked the obvious question: "But how can you know there's no evidence if you don't look for it first?" Newman then responded with a still stranger statement: "If you're looking for something that isn't there, you're wasting your time ... and the taxpayers' money." [160]

Newman's obviously circular position illustrates in a humorous fashion -- or at least it would be humorous if so much were not at stake -- NIST's refusal to follow the scientific method's empirical dimension, which entails that a theory, to be truly scientific, must do justice to all of the evidence that might be relevant.

NIST's failure to test for signs that thermite had been used is even more inexcusable in light of the fact that the Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations, which is put out by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), says that, in seeking to determine the cause of a fire, investigators should look for evidence of accelerants, which are any substances that could be used to ignite, and/or accelerate the progress of, a fire. (Dogs that are employed to detect such substances are known as "accelerant detection canines.") In its section on "undetermined fire cause," this NFPA Guide says:

In the instance in which the investigator fails to identify all of the components of the cause of the fire, it need not always be classified as undetermined. If the physical evidence establishes one factor, such as the presence of an accelerant, that may be sufficient to establish the cause even where other factors such as ignition source cannot be determined. [161]


Thermite mixtures constitute one of the most common types of accelerants.  [162] By admitting that NIST had not checked for evidence of thermitic materials, therefore, Newman admitted that NIST had violated one of the basic principles of fire investigations. Also, as we have seen, nanothermites would be sufficient to account for at least many of the unusual ingredients in the WTC dust and also for at least some of the fires in WTC 7. (Although NIST treated it as self-evident that the fires in WTC 7 were caused by burning debris from the collapse of the North Tower, this explanation is not at all self-evident, as we will see in Chapter 8.)

There can be no doubt, therefore, that NIST should have performed tests to check for thermitic materials. In light of the fact that its purported reason for not doing so -- that such tests would not necessarily have been conclusive -- is unpersuasive, must we not suspect that NIST's real reason was its knowledge that such tests would have been conclusive, showing that such materials had indeed been used?

As we saw earlier, Alfred North Whitehead noted that the pursuit of truth requires an "unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account." [163] In preparing its WTC 7 report, however, NIST appears to have been possessed of unflinching determination to ignore much of the relevant evidence.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:16 am

Part 1 of 3

5. NIST'S IGNORING OF TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE FOR EXPLOSIVES

In its final report on WTC 7, as we have seen, NIST claims that it "found no evidence of a... controlled demolition event." [1] In making this claim, NIST implies not only that it found no physical evidence to support the controlled demolition hypothesis, but also that it knew of no reliable testimonial evidence. However, just as NIST simply ignores several kinds of physical evidence, it also ignores various sources of testimonial evidence.

In ignoring relevant testimony, NIST continues a precedent it set in its report on the Twin Towers. In preparation for examining NIST's treatment of testimonial evidence about explosions in WTC 7, therefore, I will review its treatment of testimony about explosions in the towers.

1. NIST'S TREATMENT OF TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE ABOUT EXPLOSIONS IN THE TWIN TOWERS

In its 2005 report on the Twin Towers, NIST claimed that it had "found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives planted prior to Sept. 11, 2001." [2] In accordance with this claim, NIST wrote its report as if no credible witnesses had spoken about explosions occurring before or during the destruction of the Twin Towers. In reality, however, there were dozens of such witnesses.

In 2005, the City of New York was forced to release 503 oral testimonies by members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), which had been recorded shortly after 9/11. These testimonies, which were available to NIST, were made publicly available by the New York Times. [3]

Even prior to this development, testimonies about explosions in the towers had been available from WTC employees, police officers, and journalists, some of which I quoted, along with several of the FDNY testimonies, in an essay entitled "Explosive Testimony." [4]

One of the WTC employees was engineer Mike Pecoraro, who was working in the sixth sub-basement of the North Tower. He said that, after an explosion that occurred at about the time this building was hit, he and a co-worker went up to the C level, where there had been a small machine shop. "There was nothing there but rubble," said Pecoraro. "We're talking about a 50 ton hydraulic press -- gone!" On the B level, he and his co-worker found a steel-and-concrete fire door, which weighed about 300 pounds, wrinkled up "like a piece of aluminum foil." [5]

One police officer who reported explosions was Sue Keane of the New Jersey Fire Police Department. After speaking of an explosion that occurred during the collapse of the North Tower, she said:

[There was] another explosion. That sent me and the two firefighters down the stairs.... I can't tell you how many times I got banged around. Each one of those explosions picked me up and threw me.... There was another explosion, and I got thrown with two firefighters out onto the street. [6]


Two of the journalists who reported explosions were from the Wall Street Journal, which occupied a building next to the WTC. One of them wrote:

I... looked up out of the office window to see what seemed like perfectly synchronized explosions coming from each floor.... One after the other, from top to bottom, with a fraction of a second between, the floors blew to pieces. [7]


The other WSJ reporter said that, after seeing what appeared to be "individual floors, one after the other exploding outward," he thought: "'My God, they're going to bring the building down.' And they, whoever they are, had set charges .... I saw the explosions." [8]

Surely, one would think, NIST would have considered such reports credible. But it did not mention these or any other testimonies from journalists, police officers, or WTC employees.

With regard to the testimonies from the Fire Department of New York, Professor Graeme MacQueen, in a thorough study, found that 118 of the 503 FDNY testimonies referred to phenomena indicating that explosions had occurred. [9] For example, Chief Frank Cruthers, speaking of the South Tower, said:

[T]here was what appeared to be at first 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. [10]


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. [11]


NIST was not unaware of these FDNY testimonies. It had been given access to the oral histories prior to their public release and even referred to them in its report on the Twin Towers. [12] But it wrote its report on the Twin Towers as if these testimonies did not exist.

NIST's Limited Denial

In response to a question about its failure to mention testimonies about explosions, NIST even specifically denied that any relevant testimonies had been collected by the FDNY. In its 2006 document responding to "frequently asked questions," NIST wrote:

There was no evidence (collected by... the Fire Department of New York) of any blast or explosions in the region below the impact and fire floors. [13]


While not explicitly saying that the FDNY had not collected any testimonies about explosions in the towers, this statement, by saying that NIST had collected none that referred to explosions "in the region below the impact and fire floors," implied that it had collected no relevant testimonies. NIST's rationale for this limited denial was apparently that, unless explosions occurred below the floors with fires, they could be explained as resulting from the jet fuel that had been released into the buildings when the airplanes crashed into them.

This rationale was not justifiable. For one thing, explosions above the impact floors also could not be explained by the jet fuel, because this fuel could not have gone up the elevator shafts. NIST would have had no justification, accordingly, for considering irrelevant the above-quoted testimony of Chief Frank Cruthers, who reported what seemed to be an explosion that "appeared at the very top, simultaneously from all four sides."

A second factor is that the jet fuel, NIST itself admitted, would have "lasted at most a few minutes." [14] Given the fact that the vast majority of the testimonies suggestive of explosions referred to phenomena that occurred during or just before the collapses, long after all the jet fuel would have been exhausted, NIST could not have justified dismissing them as irrelevant.

Moreover, even NIST's limited denial -- that the FDNY did not collect any testimonies of explosions below the fire and impact floors -- is incorrect. Firefighter Timothy Burke, for example, said:

Then 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. [15]


Firefighter Edward Cachia reported:

[T]he South Tower ... 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. [16]


Assistant Fire Commissioner Stephen Gregory said:

I saw low-level flashes.... I saw a flash flash flash and then it looked like the building came down .... [It was at] the lower level of the building. You know like when they demolish a building, how when they blow up a building, when it falls down? That's what I thought I saw. [17]


Firefighter Kenneth Rogers reported:

[T]hen there was an explosion in the South Tower. ... Floor after floor after floor. One floor under another after another and when it hit about the fifth floor, I figured it was a bomb, because it looked like a synchronized deliberate kind of thing. [18]


And firefighter Howie Scott said:

I just happened to look up and saw the whole thing coming down, pancaking down, and the explosion, blowing out about halfway up. [19]


If one form of scientific fraud is, in the words of Horace Freeland Judson quoted in Chapter 2, "tendentiously selecting what to report," then NIST, which not only failed to mention this evidence but even specifically denied its existence, is clearly guilty of this form of scientific fraud.

NIST's Response to a "Request for Correction"

The aforementioned "Request for Correction," which was sent to NIST by Steven Jones and other scholars in 2007, was based on a federal law known as the Data Quality Act, which required NIST to respond to charges that their report was biased. Jones and his colleagues quoted many of the FDNY testimonies about explosions in the towers, including some that spoke specifically of explosions "in the region below the impact and fire floors," and then stated:

An unbiased NIST investigation would consider these multiple, credible, mutually supporting, publicly available reports of explosions inside the Twin Towers.... [T]he entire WTC Report is clearly biased in favor of finding that the airplane impacts and resulting fires were the only cause of the collapses of the Twin Towers. [20]


In its letter of reply, sent several months later, NIST wrote:

Your letter. .. asserts that NIST failed to take into account interviews of emergency personnel that suggested the presence of bombs in the towers. NIST reviewed all of the interviews conducted by the FDNY of firefighters (500 interviews) and in addition conducted its own set of interviews with emergency responders and building occupants. Taken as a whole, the interviews did not support the contention that explosives played a role in the collapse of the WTC Towers. [21]


The second sentence of this statement made clear that NIST's claim about the absence of testimonies about explosions was not based on ignorance of the FDNY oral histories.

The third sentence constituted, in effect, a correction of NIST's previous claim, implicit in its 2005 report on the Twin Towers, that the FDNY did not report any testimonies about explosions in the towers. NIST's revised claim seemed to be that, although there were some testimonies about such explosions, there were not enough "to support the contention that explosives played a role in the collapse of the WTC Towers." This was a significant modification of NIST's stance, which should have been published as a correction on its website and stated in a press release, not simply put in a letter to a few scholars.

In any case, what exactly NIST meant by this statement is not clear. Did it mean that the oral histories did not provide evidence worth mentioning unless all of the oral histories, or at least a majority of them, mentioned explosions? If so, that would be an incredible response. Almost 25 percent of the members of the FDNY provided testimony suggestive of explosions. This was a very high proportion, especially given the fact that these men and women had not been asked whether explosions had been going off -- they had simply volunteered this information.

With regard to NIST's limited denial -- that none of the FDNY testimonials spoke of explosions "in the region below the impact and fire floors" -- NIST's "taken as a whole" statement in this letter seemed to admit that there were some testimonies of this type while claiming, in an attempt to justify its silence about them, that there were not enough of them to be worth mentioning.

NIST, however, had not simply failed to mention them. It had specifically stated that the FDNY collected "no evidence ... of any blast or explosions in the region below the impact and fire floors." No evidence would mean no testimonies of this sort whatsoever. Accordingly, insofar as NIST admitted that the FDNY oral histories did include some testimonies of this sort, it admitted that its limited denial had been false. And yet NIST has never publicly retracted it, so we have here another example of scientific fraud.

By admitting, in effect, that there were some testimonies about explosions, including several specifically referring to the region below the fire and impact floors, while claiming that these testimonies "taken as a whole" did not provide evidence that explosives played a role in the collapse of the Twin Towers, NIST demonstrated that it had been determined -- whatever the effect on its credibility as a scientific agency -- to avoid mentioning evidence for explosives in its report.

NIST's wording, it should be noted, was that, taken as a whole, the FDNY testimonies "did not support the contention that explosives played a role in the collapse of the WTC Towers" (emphasis added). The phrase "support the contention" is ambiguous. It can mean "provide some support for the contention, albeit not sufficient support to prove it (because additional evidence would be required to have proof)." This is surely how most people would understand the phrase. Bur NIST, in saying that the FDNY interviews did not support the contention that explosives played a role, meant that they did not provide sufficient support for it (which means that the testimonies suggestive of explosives did not serve, all by themselves, to prove it -- even though no one had claimed they did). It used this very strong, even aberrant, meaning of the phrase to justify the fact that it had not even mentioned the testimonies suggestive of explosions, even though it knew about them.

NIST was clearly employing a double standard. With regard to evidence supportive of its own position, NIST did not demand that this evidence be sufficient to prove it. Indeed, as we will see in the second part of this book, NIST cited extremely weak evidence in support of its explanation of the collapse ofWTC 7. But when dealing with a type of evidence supportive of the controlled demolition hypothesis, NIST implied that this type of evidence can be ignored if it is not sufficient, all by itself, to prove the truth of this hypothesis.

What the proponents of the controlled demolition hypothesis claim, however, is merely that the testimonial evidence about explosions is part of a cumulative case -- which also includes evidence for pulverized concrete, melted steel, oxidized-and-sulfidized steel, squibs, and other types of physical evidence -- that provides sufficient support for their hypothesis. As such, the testimonial evidence for explosions is clearly part of the total evidence, which any scientific study of the destruction of the WTC buildings would need to consider.

Accordingly, if NIST had been carrying out a truly scientific investigation of the destruction of the Twin Towers, thereby considering the whole of the evidence, it would have mentioned the massive body of testimonial evidence that explosions were going off before and during the collapses of the Twin Towers.

NIST's dismissive attitude to testimonial evidence about explosions in the buildings was also illustrated by its response to a WTC employee who tried to inform NIST about an explosion he had experienced.

NIST's Response to the Testimony of William Rodriguez

William Rodriguez, who was employed as a janitor in the North Tower, was named a "national hero" for helping many people escape from that building. As such, he was invited to the White House and had his picture taken with President Bush. [22] But Rodriguez was not treated like a hero by NIST.

Rodriguez said that while he was reporting for work in an office on the first sub-level floor, he and others, at 8:46AM, heard and felt an explosion below them. In his words:

When I heard the sound of the explosion, the floor beneath my feet vibrated, the walls started cracking and everything started shaking .... Seconds [later], I hear another explosion from way above .... Although I was unaware at the time, this was the airplane hitting the tower.


Co-worker Felipe David, who had been in front of a nearby freight elevator, then came into the office, Rodriguez reported, with severe burns on his face and arms and yelling, "Explosion! explosion! explosion!" Rodriguez said: "He was burned terribly. The skin was hanging off his hands and arms. His injuries couldn't have come from the airplane above, but only from a massive explosion below." [23]

Rodriguez's testimony that he had witnessed an explosion before the attack on the North Tower was reported by the BBC. [24]

His account was also corroborated by Jose Sanchez, who was in the workshop on the fourth sub-level. Sanchez said that he and a coworker heard a big blast that "sounded like a bomb," after which "a huge ball of fire went through the freight elevator." [25]

When Rodriguez later learned that NIST was doing the official investigation of the destruction of the Twin Towers, he wanted to let its researchers know about his experience. But, he discovered, NIST was unreceptive:

I contacted NIST ... four times without a response. Finally, [at a public hearing] I asked them before they came up with their conclusion ... if they ever considered my statements or the statements of any of the other survivors who heard the explosions. They just stared at me with blank faces. [26]


Clearly, given the fact that Rodriguez was reporting something that NIST did not want to hear, his "national hero" status did not count for much. NIST treated his testimony with the same lack of respect that it would show for that of Barry Jennings (to be discussed below).

NIST's unscientific treatment of testimonial evidence for explosions in the Twin Towers illustrates the fact that, by the time it started working on its reports on the World Trade Center, it had become a political agency, whose employees with science degrees had lost all scientific independence. We should not be surprised, therefore, to find that these employees treated the testimonial evidence for explosions in WTC 7 in the same unscientific way. I turn now to this evidence.

2. TESTIMONIES ABOUT EXPLOSIONS IN WTC 7 FROM WITNESSES OUTSIDE THE BUILDING

Although we do not have nearly as many recorded testimonies about explosions in WTC 7 as we have for the Twin Towers, there are some very clear statements from people who witnessed such explosions from either outside or inside the building. The present section quotes a few people who reported witnessing such explosions from outside.

One of these witnesses was reporter Peter Demarco of the New York Daily News, who said:

[T]here was a rumble. The building's top row of windows popped out. Then all the windows on the thirty-ninth floor popped out. Then the thirty-eighth floor. Pop! Pop! Pop! was all you heard until the building sunk into a rising cloud of gray. [27]


Another witness was former NYPD officer Craig Bartmer, who reported:

I was real close to Building 7 when it fell down .... That didn't sound like just a building falling down to me .... There's a lot of eyewitness testimony down there of hearing explosions .... [A]ll of a sudden ... I looked up, and ... [t]he thing started pealing in on itself. ... I started running ... and the whole time you're hearing "boom, boom, boom, boom, boom." [28]


Still another witness was a New York University medical student, who had been serving as an emergency medical worker that day. He gave this report:

[W]e heard this sound that sounded like a clap of thunder .... [T]urned around -- we were shocked .... [I]t looked like there was a shockwave ripping through the building and the windows all busted out. ... [A]bout a second later the bottom floor caved out and the building followed after that. [29]


All of these statements had long been on the public record when NIST published its report on WTC 7. But NIST, claiming that it "found no evidence of a blast or controlled demolition event," [30] simply ignored them.

3. STATEMENTS ABOUT EXPLOSIONS IN WTC 7 FROM WITNESSES INSIDE THE BUILDING

In addition to the foregoing statements from people who witnessed explosions from outside of WTC 7 as it started to collapse, we have testimonies from two men who reported experiencing explosions while they were in the building early in the morning. These two testimonies are of special importance, not only because they referred to explosions early in the day, but also because they were given by two city officials.

The Testimony of Michael Hess

One of these officials was Michael Hess, who at the time was New York City's corporation counsel. As such, he was the chief lawyer for the city, supervising its law department, which had over 600 attorneys. When he was appointed to this position in 1997, he was already, as a New York Times story reported, one of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's "old friends from the legal profession." [31] This friendship was illustrated in a 2002 book by Giuliani, in which he referred to Hess simply as "Mike." In that book, in fact, Giuliani pointed out that Hess, along with Jennings, was in WTC 7 on the morning of 9/11. [32] As we will see, however, Giuliani gave an account that differed greatly from the accounts given by Hess and Jennings themselves.

Hess provided his own account while being interviewed before noon on 9/11 by Frank Ucciardo of UPN 9 News. The interview began at 11:57. [33] And it occurred, Ucciardo reported, "on Broadway about a block from City Hall," which is several blocks from the WTC site. So Hess had to have been rescued early enough to get there before noon. During this live interview, Hess said:

I was up in the emergency management center on the twenty-third floor [of WTC 7], and when all the power went out in the building, another gentleman and I walked down to the eighth floor [sic] where there was an explosion and we were trapped on the eighth floor with smoke, thick smoke, all around us, for about an hour and a half. But the New York Fire Department. .. just came and got us out. [34] [Although Hess said they had "walked down to the eighth floor," they actually walked down to the sixth floor, then went back up to the eighth floor after the explosion; see the endnote.]


While clearly stating that there had been "an explosion," Hess did not indicate the time at which it occurred. We can infer from his testimony, however, that it must have been no later than 10:00AM. That is, if he had been trapped for "about an hour and a half" and then, after being rescued, had made his way to City Hall, several blocks away, close to two hours must have passed between the explosion and the interview. Accordingly, if the interview began at 11:57AM, then the explosion that trapped the two men must have happened no later than 10:00AM.

Giuliani, however, gave a very different account of this episode in the life of his old friend Michael Hess. Giuliani wrote:

When he got to the 8th floor [of WTC 7], Tower I -- the North Tower -- collapsed, part of it falling on top of the southern part of7 World Trade Center. Luckily, Mike was in the northern section of the building. Unluckily, he was now trapped, as the stairs were impassable.

Mike went into an office on the 8th floor, joined only by a fellow from the Housing Authority. The building was filling up with smoke and dust from the collapsed towers, but since the men were facing north they had no way of knowing the towers had fallen. [35]


Like Hess, Giuliani stated that Hess was trapped on the 8th floor and that the building was filling up with smoke. Otherwise, however, Giuliani's account diverged from that of his friend. He made no mention of "an explosion." And whereas Hess simply said that he and the other man were surrounded by "smoke, thick smoke," Giuliani spoke of "smoke and dust" and claimed that it had come "from the collapsed towers" (rather than from an explosion within WTC 7). Giuliani said, moreover, that the two men had become trapped because WTC 7 had been damaged by debris from the collapse of the North Tower, which did not occur until 10:28. According to Giuliani, therefore, Hess and his companion became trapped on the 8th floor at about 10:30.

But this timeline created a problem. Although Giuliani did not indicate how long the two men were trapped, he surely would not have contested Hess's statement that he and his companion had been trapped "for about an hour and a half" If they were not rescued until an hour and a half after 10:30, then they could not have been rescued until noon. How, then, could Hess have been giving an interview several blocks away before noon? The timing as well as the content of the Hess interview, therefore, contradicted Giuliani's claim that the event Hess called "an explosion" had really been produced by the 10:28 collapse of the North Tower.

Giuliani's account was also problematic because of his claim that the men became trapped because "part of [the North Tower fell] on top of the southern part of 7 World Trade Center." As a result of the debris from the collapsing North Tower, he implied, "the stairs were impassable." But Giuliani also acknowledged that the two men were in "the northern section of the building" -- a fact that allowed Giuliani to say that, although the event that had filled the building with smoke and trapped the two men was really just the collapse of the North Tower, Hess and Jennings themselves did not know this: "since the men were facing north they had no way of knowing the towers had fallen." But Giuliani's second point -- that they were trapped on the north side of WTC 7 -- undermined his main claim -- that they had become trapped when debris from the North Tower fell "on top of the southern part of 7 World Trade Center." The north side of WTC 7 was 50 yards -- half the length of a football field -- from the south side. Debris striking the south side would not have made the stairs on the north side impassable.

Giuliani's account, published in 2002, was evidently the first attempt by a spokesperson for the official story about 9/11 to deal with the potentially problematic fact that two city employees, Michael Hess and Barry Jennings, had become trapped in WTC 7 on the morning of 9/11. I have dealt with this account at some length partly because of its intrinsic interest, as the account provided by the then mayor of New York City, and partly because NIST would later give essentially the same account, which would, in turn, be echoed in 2008 by the BBC.

Before turning to the treatments by NIST and the BBC, however, we need to look at the testimony of the other city official, Barry Jennings, which is much more extensive.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

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Part 2 of 3

The Testimony of Barry Jennings

Barry Jennings was the emergency coordinator/deputy director of the Emergency Services Department of the New York City Housing Authority. In June 2007, he agreed to do an interview with Dylan Avery, who planned to include segments from it in his forthcoming documentary, Loose Change Final Cut. Prior to the completion of the film, however, portions of the interview were released on the internet. [36] This release evidently led to developments at the New York City Housing Authority that caused Jennings, only two years from retirement, to fear that he would lose his job and hence his pension. For this reason, he requested that his interview be omitted from the film, and Avery reluctantly agreed. This occurred late in 2007, shortly before the release of Loose Change Final Cut in November of that year.

On July 6, 2008, however, the BBC aired a program on WTC 7 that featured an interview with Jennings. [37] During this interview, Jennings repeated many of the things he had told Avery. But he suggested that Avery's film had distorted his testimony on one issue (to be discussed below). At that point, Avery decided to put the entire interview, labeled "Barry Jennings Uncut," online, [38] which he did on July 9, 2008. [39]

Jennings had also been interviewed by NIST, as both Jennings and NIST reported. [40] Although the transcript of this interview has not been made public, Jennings' statements in his interviews with Avery and the BBC surely provide a good idea of what he told NIST Jennings, in fact, said to Avery: "They asked me the same questions that you guys are asking me," and, in response to Avery's comment, "And yet you told them pretty much the same things you just told us," Jennings said "Yes." He later added: "I don't know if they liked the answers I gave. I could care less. I gave ... my account of it, the truth, and that was that." [41][/quote]

We can conclude, therefore, that insofar as NIST's account of Jennings' experiences differs greatly from what he said in those other interviews, NIST has probably distorted what it heard from him.

The following summary of Jennings' testimony is based primarily on "Barry Jennings Uncut," supplemented with statements he made in his interview for the BBC.

"[S]hortly after the first plane hit [the North Tower]," Jennings said, he received a call to go to WTC 7. Like Hess, whom he had not previously known, he was going to see Mayor Giuliani, who, they both assumed, would be in the Office of Emergency Management's emergency command center on the 23rd floor. As Hess later explained: "In an emergency, we were supposed to go and huddle and plan and strategize with Mayor Giuliani in the Emergency Management Center on the 23rd floor. That was the plan." [42]

When did they arrive? The North Tower had been struck at 8:46AM, so Hess and Jennings should have arrived at about 9:00. Jennings said, in fact, that he "got in the building ... a little before 9:00, a little after 9:00."43 He also said that he "had to be inside on the 23rd floor when the second plane hit," [44] which was at 9:03. That they arrived "shortly after the first plane hit" and before the second plane hit, as Jennings said, was stated two days after 9/11 in one of London's leading newspapers, the Independent, which wrote:

Up in the command centre on the 23rd floor, two men felt the building rock with the second explosion. Housing Authority worker Barry Jennings, 46, had reported there after the initial blast. So had Michael Hess, the city's corporation counsel. After the second plane hit they scrambled downstairs. [45]


As we will see below, the Independents account, which stated that it was" [a]fter the second plane hit" that Hess and Jennings "scrambled downstairs," would become more important after Hess, in an interview for the BBC in 2008, claimed that it was much later.

In any case, although the two men had expected to find Giuliani and other people on the 23rd floor, they did nor. Jennings said:

[W]e noticed that everybody was gone. I saw coffee that was on the desks still, the smoke was still coming off the coffee. I saw half-eaten sandwiches. Only me and Mr. Hess was up there. And after I called several individuals, one individual told me to leave and to leave right away. [46]


Then, finding that the elevator would not work, they went down the stairs as fast as they could. Jennings told the BBC: "I wanted to get out of that building in a hurry, so I starred, instead of taking one step at a time, I'm jumping landings." [47] But when they got to the 6th floor, Jennings said:

The landing that we were standing on gave way -- there was an explosion and the landing gave way. I was left there hanging. I had to climb back up, and now [ had to walk back up to the 8rh floor. [48]


When later asked where the explosion originated, Jennings said: "Under us. It was definitely under us, it was definitely under us." When asked if it lifted them up, he said: "Yeah, ir blew us back." [49] He later repeated the point, saying: "The explosion was beneath me." [50]

The account by Jennings differs from that of Hess on one point: Whereas Hess, as we saw earlier, said that the explosion occurred when they reached the 8th floor, Jennings said that it was when they reached the 6th floor, after which they "went back up to the eighth floor." However, it may be that Hess did not consider that detail important enough to mention in the very brief account he was giving. Or perhaps he simply misspoke -- in a later interview, in fact, Hess said that it occurred when they got to the 6th floor. [51] (Also, Jennings himself on one occasion spoke of the explosion as having occurred when they were on the 8th floor, although he later corrected this statement. [52])

In any case, Jennings expressed no doubt about his statement that what they experienced was an explosion in WTC 7. Besides calling it "an explosion," he specified that it happened "beneath" him and that it was powerful enough to cause the landing on which he was standing to give way.

Jennings was also certain that what he considered an explosion beneath him could not have been simply effects from the collapse of one of the towers. During the interview, Dylan Avery pointed out that, according to defenders of the official story, "the whole reason that Building 7 collapsed ... is because the North Tower fell onto it and caused damage. And what people are going to say is... that Barry was hit by debris from the North Tower." Jennings replied: "No. What happened was, when we made it back to the 8th floor, as I told you earlier, both buildings were still standing." [53] Jennings clearly rejected Giuliani's claim, therefore, that it was debris from the North Tower collapse that caused him and his companion to become trapped.

After getting back up to the 8th floor, Jennings said, he used a fire extinguisher to break a window, after which he was able to catch someone's attention with his cries for help. [54] He and Hess, however, were not rescued immediately, as Jennings explained:

I was trapped in there several hours. I was trapped in there when both buildings came down. The firefighters came .... And then they ran away. See, I didn't know what was going on. That's when the first tower fell. When they started running, the first tower was coming down. I had no way of knowing that. Then I saw them come back. Now I saw them come back with more concern on their faces. Instead, they ran away again: the second tower fell. So, as they turned and ran the second time, the guy said, "Don't worry, we'll be back for you. And they did come back. [55]


Jennings repeated this explanation of how he knew that the Twin Towers were both still standing when the explosion occurred, saying:

When I got to the 6th floor, there was an explosion. That's what forced us back to the 8th floor. Both buildings were still standing. Keep in mind, I told you the fire department came and ran. They came twice. Why? Because Building Tower One fell, then Tower Two fell. And then when they came back, they came back all concerned to get me the hell out of there, and they did. [56]


In other words, although firefighters were ready to rescue them before 10:00, the firefighters had to leave because of the collapse of the South Tower, which occurred at 9:59. Then, although firefighters returned to the site, they had to leave again at 10:28, when the North Tower collapsed.

Also notable is Jennings' statement that they were trapped "several hours." This assertion suggests that Hess's estimate that they were trapped for "about an hour and a half" may have been somewhat conservative. For example, if the period was closer to two hours, then, if they were rescued by 11:30AM (allowing Hess 25 minutes to talk to people and walk to the location of his 11:57 interview), then the explosion would have occurred at about 9:30.

In any case, the most important point is that, whereas Giuliani had claimed that the two men were trapped because of damage caused by the collapse of the North Tower, Jennings stated that the North Tower and even the South Tower collapsed only after an explosion had caused them to become trapped. What Jennings called "an explosion" beneath him could not, therefore, have simply been some effects created in WTC 7 by the collapse of the North Tower. He and Hess were clearly describing an explosion that occurred in WTC 7 approximately an hour before the 10:28 collapse of the North Tower.

Moreover, besides reporting the big explosion that knocked the landing out from under them, Jennings spoke of further explosions. Referring to the time the two men were trapped, waiting for firefighters to rescue them, Jennings said: "All this time, I'm hearing all type of explosions. All this time, I'm hearing explosions." [57]

Jennings also reported that, when he was taken down to the lobby of WTC 7, he was amazed by what he saw:

When they finally got to us and they took us down to what they called the lobby -- ' cause I asked them when we got down there, "Where are we?" he said, "This was the lobby," and I said, "You got to be kidding me." It was total ruins, total ruins. Now keep in mind, when I came in there, the lobby had nice escalators, it was a huge lobby, and for me to see what I saw, it was unbelievable. [58]


He later added: "[T]he lobby was totally destroyed. It looked like King Kong had came through and stepped on it. And it was so destroyed I didn't know where I was. And it was so destroyed that they had to take me out through a hole in the wall." [59]

In the course of describing his experience while walking through this lobby, Jennings contradicted the official account of the collapse of WTC 7 on still another point. According to that account, no one died in this building. NIST wrote: "No lives were lost in WTC 7." [60] Jennings, however, suggested otherwise, saying:

[T]he firefighter that took us down kept saying, "Don't look down." I asked, "Why?" And he said, "Do not look down." We were stepping over people, and you know you can feel when you're stepping over people. [61]


Jennings' account of the destroyed lobby is given added credibility by the fact that he (and perhaps also Hess) evidently reported it shortly after the event. The previously cited Independent story, published two days after 9/11, said that Hess and Jennings went "downstairs to the lobby, or what was left of it." [62] It cannot be claimed, therefore, that Jennings' statement to Avery about the destruction of the lobby was a later elaboration.

Before completing his narrative, Jennings spoke of still more explosions, saying:

They took us out through a hole in the wall.... And this big giant police officer came to me, and he says, "You have to run," and I said, "I can't run, my knees are swollen." He said, "You'll have to get on your knees and crawl, then, because we have reports of more explosions." [63]


As to why his knees would have been swollen, this is probably explained by the above-quoted statement by Jennings -- a big, heavyset man -- that while rushing down the stairwell he had been "jumping landings." Be that as it may, the police officer's meaning was evidently that Jennings needed to leave the premises quickly because more explosions were expected.

The testimony of Michael Hess and Barry Jennings was clearly threatening to the official account of WTC 7, according to which its collapse was not caused or even aided by explosives. I turn now to the way in which NIST dealt with this threat in its 2005 report, which would be repeated in its 2008 report on WTC 7. I will then deal with the BBC's attempt in 2008 to popularize and bolster NIST's account.

NIST's Treatment of the Hess-Jennings Episode

Prior to its 2008 report on WTC 7, NIST had referred twice to the fact that Hess and Jennings were trapped in this building.

The first mention of this episode was in a progress report that NIST put out in 2004. [64] Although most of this report dealt with the Twin Towers, it included as an appendix the earlier-mentioned Interim Report on WTC 7, for which NIST staff person Therese McAllister was evidently the lead author. [65] In this document, NIST said that the men had been rescued "[a]t 12:10 to 12:15PM." [66] But if Hess was being interviewed several blocks away at 11:57, they must have been rescued, as we saw earlier, no later than 11:30AM. [67] The assertion that they were not rescued before 12: 10 PM is, therefore, clearly false.

Why would NIST have made this false assertion? Apparently because this assertion allowed NIST to claim -- as had Giuliani in his 2002 book -- that the event called "an explosion" by Hess and Jennings was really caused by debris from the collapse of the North Tower. NIST made this claim in its 2005 report on the Twin Towers, which consisted of a main report and 42 supporting volumes. [68] One of those supporting volumes, entitled The Emergency Response Operations, described the rescue of Hess and Jennings from WTC 7. In an account that referred to Hess simply as a "New York City employee" and misidentified Jennings as "a WTC building staff person," the authors of this volume, Randall Lawson and Robert Vettori, wrote:

With the collapse of the two towers, a New York City employee and a WTC 7 building staff person became trapped inside of WTC 7. The two had gone to the OEM center on the 23rd floor and found no one there. As they went to get into an elevator to go downstairs the lights inside of WTC 7 flickered as WTC 2 collapsed. At this point, the elevator they were attempting to catch no longer worked, so they started down the staircase. When they got to the 6th floor, WTC 1 collapsed, the lights went out in the staircase, the sprinklers came on briefly, and the staircase filled with smoke and debris. The two men went back to the 8th floor broke out a window and called for help. Firefighters on the ground saw them and went up the stairs.... [They] shined their flashlight through the staircase smoke and called out. The two trapped men on the 8th floor saw the flashlight beam and heard the firefighters calling and went down the stairway. The firefighters took the men outside and directed them away from the building. [69]


This account radically changed the timeline of the Hess-Jennings episode from the one Jennings himself gave.

First, Jennings said that it was shortly after the South Tower was struck, and hence shortly after 9:03, when he and Hess had started down the stairs. As to why they went down the stairs instead of taking the elevator, Hess had said during his interview on 9/11 that it was because the power had gone out in WTC 7. But Lawson and Vettori suggested that the building's electric power was lost when the South Tower collapsed, which did not occur until 9:59. It was only then, according to NIST, that the two men started down the stairs.

Second, the event that blocked their descent at the 6th floor, according to Jennings, was an explosion, powerful enough to knock the landing out from under them. His account suggested that this explosion would have happened no later than 9:30. But NIST claimed, as had Giuliani in 2002, that the stairwell became blocked because of debris from the North Tower's collapse, which did not occur until 10:28. [70]

Third, Jennings said that, "want[ing] to get out of that building in a hurry," he was "jumping landings," which suggests that it would have taken him only a few minutes to descend from the 23rd to the 6th floor, once he had received word that they should get out of the building. But NIST's timeline implied, implausibly, that it took Jennings and Hess almost a half hour -- from about 9:59, when the South Tower collapsed, until 10:28, when the North Tower collapsed -- to get down those seventeen flights of stairs.

Fourth, Jennings reported that, after the explosion, "both [towers] were still standing." He knew this because, after the firemen came to rescue them, they ran away (which was when the first tower collapsed); then the firemen came back, but again ran away (when the second tower collapsed). NIST's timeline, by contrast, entailed that both towers had already collapsed by the time Jennings first called for help.

It appears that NIST's 2004 claim that the rescue of Hess and Jennings occurred at "12:10 to 12:15PM" was a result of NIST's timeline -- according to which they had became trapped at 10:28 -- combined with Hess's statement that they were not rescued until about 90 minutes after they were trapped.

NIST's claim that the two men did not become trapped until 10:28 created yet another problem. Jennings had provided an explanation as to why it took so long for him and Hess to be rescued: Although the firefighters had come twice, they had to leave each time one of the Twin Towers came down. But NIST, as we saw, simply said: "The two men went back to the 8th floor [and] broke out a window and called for help. Firefighters on the ground saw them and went up the stairs." NIST thereby portrayed Jennings as having broken the window at about 10:30. Why would it have then taken the firefighters over 90 minutes -- from roughly 10:30AM until 12:10 or 12:15PM -- to rescue the men, given the fact that both towers had already collapsed? NIST offered no explanation.

Besides contradicting many statements by Jennings and creating the two problems just mentioned -- why it took Hess and Jennings so long to reach the 6th floor and then why it took the firefighters so long to rescue them -- NIST's timeline also contradicted the fact that Hess gave an interview several blocks away that started before noon, which means, as we have seen, that he and Jennings must have been rescued no later than 11:30AM.

Having distorted Jennings' testimony on many points by changing the timeline of the events he reported, NIST then completely omitted the final part of his testimony, in which he reported that the lobby of WTC 7 had been destroyed, that he felt himself "stepping over people," and that the "big giant police officer" said that there were "reports of more explosions." NIST again simply omitted whatever evidence did not fit its story.

Is it possible that Jennings had not told NIST the things he told Avery? Although this is not likely -- especially given the fact that Jennings, as we saw earlier -- explicitly said that he had been asked the same questions and had given the same answers -- it is possible. Assuming for the sake of argument that it is true, is it also possible that NIST did not know about Avery's interview of Jennings? That would be very unlikely simply from the fact that this interview, titled "Barry Jennings Uncut," was made available on the internet in the second week of July 2008, over a month before NIST issued its Draft Report on WTC 7. Beyond that, moreover, Avery notified NIST about the interview, he has reported.?! We can safely conclude, therefore, that NIST was not ignorant of this interview; it simply ignored it.

I turn now to the way in which the BBC, which supported NIST's explanation of the collapse of WTC 7, treated the testimony of Hess and Jennings in its documentary about WTC 7.

The BBC's Treatment of the Hess-Jennings Testimony

Dealing with the BBC's treatment of this testimony is complicated by the fact that it put out two versions of its documentary on the collapse of WTC 7: one that included testimony from Barry Jennings but none from Michael Hess and, in fact, even ignored the fact that Hess had been present; and a later one that, in addition to acknowledging Hess's presence, included testimony from him.

The First version of the BBC's Program on WTC 7: On July 6, 2008, the BBC aired a documentary entitled The Conspiracy Files: 9/11-The Third Tower, [72] which supported the official view of the collapse of WTC 7. It described Barry Jennings as "the key witness in the controversy over what really happened inside Tower 7." It could thus describe him, while supporting the official view, because it distorted the meaning of his statements by placing them within the timeline provided by NIST.

For example, right after showing Jennings recounting the fact that, while on the 23rd floor, he was told to exit WTC 7 quickly (an exit that, according to Jennings, occurred not long after 9:03), the BBC narrator said: ''At 9:59, the 1,300-foot South Tower collapses." [73] The BBC thus made it seem as if Jennings did not start down the stairs until after 9:59.

Next, after showing Jennings' account of rushing down the stairs to the 6th floor, at which point the staircase landing was knocked out from under him (which would have probably have been between 9:15 and 9:30), the BBC narrator said: ''At 10:28, the North Tower collapses .... This time, Tower 7 takes a direct hit from the collapsing building." [74] The BBC thus made it seem as if Jennings himself had said that this was when he became trapped.

These timeline distortions then allowed the narrator to conclude: "Early evidence of explosives were just debris from a falling skyscraper." [75]

Having drawn this false conclusion, the BBC could then misuse Jennings' account of the destructiveness of the explosion in WTC 7 -- "When we got to the 8th floor," Jennings said, "I thought of walking to one side of the building. That side of the building was gone!" -- as evidence that debris from the North Tower's collapse had caused great damage to WTC 7. [76] The BBC also used Jennings' account of fire caused by the explosion -- he said, "I could smell fire; you know, you could smell the smoke, and I felt the heat; it was intense" -- as evidence that fires had been set in WTC 7 by debris from the North Tower. [77]

To complete the timeline distortion, the BBC, after showing Jennings describing how he finally got outside the building, showed a clock with its hands at 12:03 (which came close to the rescue time -- "12:10 to 12:15 PM, -- stated in NIST's 2004 Interim Report on WTC 7).

Here, however, the BBC slipped up, saying that Jennings was finally rescued "after surviving for three hours, trapped inside an inferno." [78] This was a slip, because if Jennings had been trapped in the building for three hours before being rescued at 12:03, he would have been trapped since 9:03. The BBC thereby inadvertently stated the truth: that Jennings (and Hess) had started down the stairs shortly after the South Tower was struck (which occurred at 9:03), not shortly after the South Tower collapsed (which occurred at 9:59).

This slip aside, the most important issue is how the BBC handled the problematic fact that Michael Hess, who had been with Jennings and was rescued at the same time, had given an interview several blocks away before noon. If Hess and Jennings had not been rescued until after noon, as the BBC suggested, Hess could not have been giving this interview before noon.

The BBC dealt with this problem by simply making no mention of Hess, giving the impression that Jennings experienced these events all by himself The BBC did this even though Jennings had sometimes, in statements included in the BBC program, used the word "we." In describing explosions, for example, he said: "The first explosion I heard when we were on the stairwell landing, when we made it down to the 6th floor." [79] Bizarrely, however, the BBC narrator consistently spoke only of Jennings, never uttering Hess's name or even mentioning that Jennings was with another man.

In addition to distorting Jennings' timeline and pretending that he had experienced these events all by himself, the BBC also engaged in another type of dishonesty: It sought to discredit the Loose Change producers by suggesting that they had distorted Jennings' testimony -- even though footage played by the BBC clearly showed that they had not.

The controversy, such as it was, revolved around Jennings' statement that, when he was being taken through the lobby by a firefighter, they were "stepping over people." After declaring, "There is no evidence that anyone died in Tower 7 on 9/11," the BBC tried to make it seem as if the Loose Change producers, by saying that Jennings had indicated otherwise, had mischaracterized his testimony. To do this, the BBC first showed Dylan Avery saying: "He [Jennings] says he was stepping over dead bodies in the lobby." The BBC then said: "Trouble is, Barry Jennings himself disagrees with their interpretation of his words." It then showed Jennings saying:

I didn't like the way, you know they portrayed me as seeing dead bodies. I never saw dead bodies I said it felt like I was stepping over them, but I never saw any. [80]


As we can see, this was at most a quibble about words. The central issue raised by the BBC in its statement introducing this segment was whether Jennings had suggested that there were bodies in the lobby. He clearly had. Whether he had seen them or merely felt them was a secondary matter, to which the BBC should not have devoted any time. But it clearly wanted to use this quibble to suggest that the Loose Change producers had misrepresented Jennings' testimony on this subject.

Moreover, the BBC provided no evidence that the Loose Change producers had ever claimed that Jennings had seen bodies. In the statement quoted above, Avery had said: "He [Jennings] says he was stepping over dead bodies in the lobby." When the BBC confronted Avery on camera with the charge that he had taken Jennings' statement out of context, Avery played the portion of the Loose Change interview in which Jennings said:

[T]he firefighter that took us down kept saying, "Don't look down." I asked, "Why?" And he said, "Do not look down." We were stepping over people, and you know you can feel when you're stepping over people. [81]


So, although the BBC had introduced this segment by saying that Jennings disagreed with the Loose Change producers' interpretation of his words, it showed no actual disagreement. Indeed, this segment of the interview even explained why Jennings would not have "seen" any bodies -- because he had been told by the firefighter not to look down.

Was this supposed disagreement between Jennings and the Loose Change producers manufactured by the BBC? We do not know. What does seem clear, however, is that the BBC unfairly used it to create the impression that the Loose Change producers had distorted Jennings' testimony. The BBC was thereby able to appear to have supported the claim with which it began this segment, namely: "There's no evidence that anyone died in Tower 7 on 9/11."

It was clearly the BBC, however, that had distorted Jennings' testimony on this subject, because he had supplied such evidence. And this, as we have seen, is simply one of many ways in which the BBC, in the interests of supporting NIST's claim that there were no explosions in WTC 7, distorted Jennings' testimony.

The BBC rightly called Jennings "the key witness in the controversy over what really happened inside Tower 7." His testimony, undistorted, provided evidence that a very powerful explosion occurred within WTC 7 fairly early that morning, followed by other explosions, and that, at some point, people in the building were killed.

Jennings, however, would not personally be able to correct the distortions of his record by NIST and the BBC. Although only 53 years old, he reportedly died, after several days in a hospital, on August 19, 2008. [82] This was just two days before NIST had its August 21 press briefing to announce the Draft version of its final report on WTC 7.

As this book was going to press, those who have tried to obtain any additional information from authorities, even about the reported cause of Jennings' death, have been unable to do so. In April 2009, for example, Dylan Avery hired a private investigator -- reputed to be one of the best in the state of New York -- to find out what she could. Within 24 hours, however, Avery received a message from her, saying:

Due to some of the information I have uncovered, I have determined that this is a job for the police. I have refunded your credit card. Please do not contact me again about this individual.


This sounded like the response of a person who had been frightened. It is, in any case, not the response one would expect, as Avery observed, if she had merely found that Jennings had passed away "innocently in a hospital." [83]

Whatever its actual cause, Jennings' death at that time was undeniably convenient for NIST. There would now be no chance that Jennings would be asked -- perhaps again by Avery, perhaps by a mainstream reporter who had watched "Barry Jennings Uncut," perhaps by a grand jury -- what he thought about NIST's report on WTC 7. Jennings' death was also convenient, as we will see next, for the BBC.

The Second version of the BBC's Program on WTC 7: On October 26, 2008 -- almost 10 weeks after Jennings died -- the BBC aired a revised version of its WTC 7 program, entitled The Conspiracy Files: 9/11-The Truth behind the Third Tower. [84] This version was significantly different. In the first version, as we saw, Jennings was portrayed as having been alone and, accordingly, was described in the singular as the "key witness." In this new version, by contrast, Michael Hess's presence with Jennings is acknowledged; the BBC now uses the plural, referring to the two of them as the "key witnesses"; and several statements from Hess are included, among them his assertion that "there were no explosions." [85]

The addition of Hess is, in fact, the major way in which this second version of the BBC program differs from the first. The statements from Hess, which are interspersed throughout the program, were taken from a BBC interview with him. Producer Mike Rudin, in his blog of October 21, 2008, called it Hess's "first interview since 9/11," adding that it was "recently recorded." [86]

By including Hess in this second version of its documentary, the BBC was able to shore up its chronology. In his blog, Rudin acknowledged that some critics, whom he called "self-styled truthers," had charged that the first version of the BBC's program, in presenting Barry Jennings' testimony, had "misrepresented the chronology." Rudin was able to reply to this charge by referring to the BBC's "recently recorded" interview with Michael Hess, saying: "In his first interview since 9/11 he confirms our timeline." [87]

Although "confirms" is a loaded word, implying the correctness of the BBC timeline, it is certainly true that Hess endorsed this timeline, at least on the crucial issue of the time of the event that Jennings had called an "explosion." While now claiming that "there were no explosions" in WTC 7, Hess admitted that, at the time, he had "assumed that there had been an explosion in the basement." He also acknowledged that the lights had gone out, that the stairwell had filled with smoke and soot, that the sprinklers had come on, and that he had felt "the building shake." But, he claimed: "I know now this was caused by the northern half of Number 1 [the North Tower] falling on the southern half of Out building." [88]

This interpretation would mean, of course, that the event did not occur before either of the Twin Towers had collapsed, as Jennings had said, but instead at 10:28, as NIST and the BBC had claimed. Besides including these statements by Hess in the second version of its program, the BBC had its narrator emphasize their significance by introducing Hess with these words: "One witness who first thought there was an explosion is now clear that it was something else." [89]

The BBC hence used Hess to refute what was said in the Loose Change interview by Jennings, who can no longer defend his account (except posthumously, by means of that interview, which is widely available on the internet and also in a new [2009] version of Loose Change [90]).

Back on 9/11 itself, Hess evidently gave the same account as Jennings. In his interview with UPN 9 News, as we saw, he said that there had been an explosion. At that time, Hess clearly had no idea what Giuliani's account of WTC 7 would be. But after he became aware of this account -- which would likewise become the account given by NIST and the BBC -- Hess would not have wanted to contradict it: Besides being an old friend of Giuliani's, he had since 2002 been a founding partner and vice chairman of the former mayor's consulting business, Giuliani Partners LLC. [91]

Hess also, however, probably would not have wanted to contradict the account given by Barry Jennings, which had become somewhat well known on the internet. Indeed, if Hess had contradicted Jennings' account and then Jennings had publicly disputed Hess's account, implying that Hess was either lying or seriously confused, this dispute could have resulted in considerable publicity for something that Giuliani and other defenders of the official story surely wanted kept quiet -- the fact that Jennings had testified to an enormous explosion in WTC 7 on the morning of 9/11 and that Hess had originally supported that testimony.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Hess's "first interview since 9/11" occurred only after Jennings was dead.

The BBC apparently tried to suggest that the second version of its program, and hence its interview with Hess, had been made before Jennings had died. At the end of the program, the following statement appears on the screen: "Since this program was filmed Barry Jennings has sadly passed away." [92] That would most likely be true only if by "this program," the BBC meant the first version of it, which was aired July 6, 2008. If Jennings died on August 19, the second version, which was not aired until October 26 and hence almost ten weeks later, was probably filmed after Jennings' death. This assumption seems confirmed in Mike Rudin's own blog of October 26, in which he said that the interview with Hess had been "recently recorded."

A second thing that is not surprising about Hess's interview, when he finally did allow one, is that his account agrees point by point with Giuliani's 2002 account (which can be reviewed on pages 85-86, above).

Giuliani had written: "When [Hess] got to the 8th floor [of WTC 7], Tower I -- the North Tower -- collapsed, part of it falling on top of the southern part of7 World Trade Center." Hess similarly, as we just saw, told the BBC that "the northern half of Number 1 [fell] on the southern half of our building."

Giuliani then wrote: "Luckily, Mike was in the northern section of the building." Hess told the BBC: "We were in the northern half of our building so luckily we weren't crushed." [93]

It was almost as if Hess had reviewed Giuliani's account before doing the interview. In any case, by virtue of agreeing with Giuliani, Hess's 2008 statement also agreed with NIST and thereby the BBC. Accordingly, as we saw, the BBC's Mike Rudin said that Hess's testimony "confirms" the BBC's chronology. It could have confirmatory value, however, only if it were plausible. But it is problematic in many ways.

One problem is that Hess's BBC account is contradicted by Barry Jennings' account on two points: First, Jennings said that he and Hess ran down the stairs following the attack on the South Tower, hence not long after 9:03, but Hess now implies that they started down the stairs almost an hour later, right after 9:59, when the South Tower collapsed. Second, Jennings explicitly said that he heard explosions, stating: "The first explosion I heard when we were on the stairwell landing, when we made it down to the 6th floor. Then we made it back to the 8th floor, and I heard some more explosions." When he was asked by the BBC interviewer what it sounded like, Jennings said: "Like a boom, like an explosion." [94] But when Hess was asked whether he heard "any sounds, like explosions," he replies: "No, nothing .... My position, and I'm quite firm on it, there were no explosions." [95] If Hess really disagreed with Jennings on these points with regard to what the two of them had experienced, why did he wait until after Jennings was dead to give his contradictory account?

A second problem with Hess's new testimony involves the first of the above points of disagreement: the time at which the two men started down the stairs. As we saw earlier, an Independent story two days after 9/11 echoed Jennings' account, saying: "After the second plane hit they [Hess and Jennings] scrambled downstairs." [96] This story shows, therefore, that what Jennings told Dylan Avery is what he and possibly Hess -- had told the press immediately after the event

. A third problem involves the second point of disagreement. When Hess was interviewed by UPN 9 News on 9/11, he did not express the slightest doubt about there having been an explosion. He did not, for example, speak of an event that might have been an explosion, or that he assumed to have been an explosion. He simply stated, as a matter of fact, that "there was an explosion." Would he have spoken with such certainty if he had not heard an explosion? And given how certain he appeared to have been at that time, before he knew what the official story was going to be, how can we believe his present claim, according to which he heard nothing and is now quite certain that no explosions occurred?

A fourth problem with Hess's statement to the BBC is that, in this statement, he implies that he and Jennings had arrived at WTC 7 shortly after the attack on the North Tower. He said: "In an emergency, we were supposed to go and huddle and plan and strategize with Mayor Giuliani in the emergency management center on the 23rd floor. That was the plan." [97] If that was the plan, Hess and Jennings should have arrived shortly after the first attack and hence around 9:00, as Jennings had said, not almost an hour later, shortly before the 9:59 collapse of the South Tower. But if they arrived at about 9:00AM and found that the emergency management center was empty, as Hess as well as Jennings said, [98] then why would they still have been up there at 9:59, when the South Tower collapsed? Why would they have remained in this empty building for almost an hour -- especially after two World Trade Center buildings had been hit by airplanes? The idea is completely implausible.

A fifth problem was discussed earlier in relation to NIST's account: If Hess and Jennings started down the stairs right after the collapse of the South Tower and hence at about 10:00AM,why would it have taken them 28 minutes to descend the 17 flights from the 23rd to the 6th floor? Jennings said that they were running down the stairs (saying that he was "jumping landings"), so it certainly would not have taken them over 90 seconds per floor.

A sixth problem, which was mentioned earlier in discussing Giuliani's account, involves Hess's statement to the BBC that he and Jennings were in the northern part of WTC 7 (so that, when they went back up to the 8th floor, they could not see whether the Twin Towers had collapsed). If so, then why did the debris from the North Tower, which struck the south part of WTC 7, cause their stairwell, on the north side of the building, to become blocked? The account by Hess and the BBC, like that by Giuliani, is simply self-contradictory on this issue.

A seventh problem for Hess's new story concerns his own interview with UPN 9 News: If the event that he had earlier called "an explosion" had really been caused by the collapse of the North Tower, which occurred at 10:28, and if he and Jennings had then been trapped for "about an hour and a half" before they were rescued, as he reported on that day itself, then how did he get back to City Hall, several blocks away, in time to be interviewed before noon?

Accordingly, every part of Hess's new story is either inherently implausible or contradicted by the testimony of Jennings, who -- unlike Hess -- had no obvious motive to lie. The BBC cannot credibly claim, therefore, that the truth of its chronology was "confirmed" by Hess's testimony.

To conclude this discussion of the BBC's effort to bolster NIST's attempt to neutralize Barry Jennings' testimony about explosions in WTC 7: Far from bolstering NIST's account, the BBC succeeded only in making it more obviously problematic. It did this by allowing Jennings to tell his story on a mainstream television program while revising Jennings' chronology in a way that could be easily exposed as a distortion; by first trying to pretend that Jennings was by himself, even though he repeatedly spoke of "we"; by only later, after Jennings was dead, admitting that he had been accompanied by Michael Hess, who was now used by the BBC to support the official account; and by making public an interview with Hess that is so riddled with problems as to leave little doubt that it is a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end.

As a result, the testimony of Barry Jennings stands: There were explosions in WTC 7 on the morning of 9/11, with a huge one occurring not long after 9:03, hence prior to the collapse of both of the Twin Towers.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:18 am

Part 3 of 3

NIST's Implicit Account of the Rescue Time

According to the scenario suggested by Hess and Jennings on 9/11, as well as by Jennings subsequently, they were trapped not long after 9:03 AM (probably sometime between 9: 15 and 9:30), and rescued no later than 11:30 AM. Further support for the truth of this account is provided by the fact that NIST itself implies, while describing the Hess-Jennings rescue in its WTC 7 report of 2008, that it took place at about 11:00 AM.

This report's account of the rescue of Hess and Jennings is contained in a passage that focuses primarily on a security officer who was said also to have been in the building:

A security officer for one of the businesses in the building headed back up to a floor in the 40s after WTC 2 collapsed [i.e., after 9:59 am] to see if all his personnel were out of the building .... The security officer had reached the 30th floor when the building shook as WTC 1 collapsed, and the stairwell became dark. He began to descend and stopped at the 23rd floor to see if anyone was on the OEM floor. He opened the door to check for staff that might have been present and saw the area was filled with smoke. He made it down to the 7th floor, where he stopped because he could not see or breathe at this point. He broke a window near the center of the north face to yell for help. A ladder truck pulled up, but could not reach the window because of the Con Edison building extension at the lower floors. Firemen came up the stairwell right away. ... As the firefighters went up, they vented the stairway and cleared some of the smoke. They first met the security officer on the 7th floor, and firefighters escorted him down the stairs. Other firefighters from the group continued up the stairs, shined their flashlights through the staircase smoke and called out. The two trapped men on the 8th floor [i.e., Hess and Jennings] saw the flashlight beams, heard the firefighters calling, and went down the stairway. The firefighters took the men outside and directed them away from the building. [99]


According to this account, a security officer was on the 30th floor at 10:28, when the North Tower collapsed. Then, after descending to the 23rd floor and opening the door to the Office of Emergency Management, to make sure no one was still there, he descended to the 7th floor. Even if we assume he was, because of the darkness, going down the stairs slowly, he surely would have reached the 7th floor by 10:40. He then broke a window and yelled for help. After firefighters found that they could not get a ladder to his window, they came up the stairs "right away" -- which means that they probably would have reached him by 11:00. Then while some of the firefighters led the security officer out of the building, others continued up toward the 8th floor, found Hess and Jennings, and led them out of the building.

The conclusion that this account implies that Hess and Jennings were rescued at about 11:00 AM is reinforced by another fact: The section of the NIST report after this description of the rescue is headed ''Activity from 11:02 to approximately 2:30 PM EDT." [100]

Moreover -- to bring up a remarkable fact not mentioned earlier -- this rescue account in NIST's 2008 report on WTC 7 is essentially the same as the rescue account provided in its 2005 report, which was quoted earlier. In my previous discussion of that 2005 account, however, I interpreted it in light of the statement, found in NIST's 2004 Interim Report on WTC 7, that the rescue did not occur until" 12:10 to 12:15 PM." But nothing in that 2005 rescue account itself -- which had different authors than the 2004 report [101] -- suggested that the rescue occurred so late. Instead, like the account provided in NIST's 2008 report, it suggested that Hess and Jennings were rescued at about 11:00 AM. This is not surprising, given the fact that the same person -- J. Randall Lawson -- was the first-listed author of each document. [102]

In Lawson's 2005 version, however, he and his coauthor, Robert Vettori, were somewhat vague about how quickly the firefighters started up the stairs to rescue the three men (Hess, Jennings, and the security officer). [103] One could, therefore, not say for certain that their account contradicted NIST's statement, made in its 2004 Interim Report on WTC 7, that they were not rescued until "12:10 to 12:15 PM."

But in Lawson's account in NIST's 2008 report, he and his coauthor, Richard Gann, are more explicit about this point. Their account, quoted above, says that when the security officer broke a window on the 7th floor (following the 10:28 collapse of WTC 1) and yelled for help, the firefighters, after unsuccessfully trying to get a ladder to his window, "came up the stairwell right away." This Lawson-Gann account could not reasonably be read as the description of a rescue effort that, by not succeeding until 12:10 to 12:15PM, took close to an hour and a half It is clear, therefore, that this account contradicted the 2004 Interim Report's claim -- a claim also made by the BBC [104] -- that Hess and Jennings were not rescued until after noon.

The conclusion that NIST gave two mutually inconsistent versions of the rescue of the three men is confirmed by its treatment of the security officer, and in this case the inconsistency occurs within the pages of NIST's 2008 WTC 7 report itself.

In its fifth chapter, written by William M. Pitts, we read that "a witness saw a fire on the southwest corner of the 7th floor at about 12:15PM, before being rescued (Chapter 6)." [105] Pitts thereby agreed with NIST's 2004 Interim Report on WTC 7 with regard to the question of when the men were rescued.

However, when we follow Pitts' suggestion to turn to Chapter 6, which is the chapter in which Randall Lawson and Richard Gann describe the rescues, we find that this "witness" is the security officer we discussed above. The statement about his seeing a fire on the 7th floor is in a sentence that was omitted, for the sake of brevity, in my earlier quotation of Lawson and Gann's 2008 account of the rescue. A portion of that passage, with the omitted sentence reinserted and italicized, reads:

He broke a window near the center of the north face to yell for help. A ladder truck pulled up, but could not reach the window because of the Con Edison building extension at the lower floors. Firemen came up the stairwell right away. Soon after WTC 1 collapsed, the security officer saw a fire on the west side of Floor 7 that he attempted to put out with an extinguisher, but he was unable to do so. As the firefighters went up, they vented the stairway and cleared some of the smoke. They first met the security officer on the 7th floor, and firefighters escorted him down the stairs. [106]


In this Chapter 6 account by Lawson and Gann, the security officer observed the fire "shortly after WTC 1 collapsed," meaning shortly after 10:28AM -- not at "about 12:15 PM,"as the Chapter 5 account by William Pitts states. Pitts even, as we saw above, referred readers to Chapter 6, evidently not realizing that its account contradicted his own.

These two contradictions within the 2008 report -- regarding the time at which the security officer observed a fire on the 7th floor and the time at which the three men were rescued -- show that the various authors of the NIST report had not settled upon a consistent story. Obviously, both sets of stories cannot be true. And, as we have seen, the "12:10 to 12:15 PM" rescue time contradicts not only the testimony of Jennings but also the fact that Hess gave an interview before noon. Of the two NIST stories, therefore, the Lawson-Gann account, which suggests that the men were rescued at about 11:00, is surely closer to the truth.

However, to suggest that this element in the Lawson-Gann rescue account is true, or at least close to the truth, is not to suggest that this account is true in its entirety. It is, in fact, almost certainly not.

One problem is that this account -- by indicating that firefighters were available to rescue the men when the security officer called for help shortly after the 10:28 collapse of the North Tower -- implies that firefighters stayed at the WTC site after that collapse, or at least returned within a few minutes. This would have been impossible, because the collapse of each of the Twin Towers produced an enormous dust cloud that blocked out all light and made breathing virtually impossible.

For example, the transcription of Captain Karin Deshore's account of her experiences after the collapse of the South Tower reads thus:

Total darkness, total noise.... Can't tell you how long it was before it died down .... Not being able to breath -- there was no air whatever. This explosion... simply sucked all the oxygen out of the air.... Sudden[ly] it was all over and ... you could open your eyes. It was pitch black.... Can't give you time periods.... [A] man said "I'm over here; can't see." That's when opened my eyes; said "can't see either." He said, "Okay, I'm going to talk. .. we will find each other. ... And we held onto each other like little kids. By then we were coughing, vomiting, spitting. It was just, we were trying to breathe. [107]


Paramedic Louis Cook had a similar experience after the collapse of the North Tower. Having just returned to the site after surviving the South Tower's collapse by running away, Cook said that when he heard the North Tower start to rumble:

I didn't look up. I figured I've been through this once. I know what's coming now. I started running north on West Street. Stuff just kept hitting it seemed like right behind me.... This time fire was coming down, because I could feel the heat. I grabbed a firefighter's turnout coat. .. I threw it over my shoulders .... I ended up diving down next to some kind of truck. ... I just waited there. I just covered up .... The heavy stuff was really hitting the ground .... I just waited there for everything to stop .... I couldn't breathe. I'm breathing in my shirt .... I figured, all right, now you've got to find a way out of here because you're going to suffocate. So I start crawling -- because I can't see, I start crawling and doing one of these sweeps in front of me so I don't hit anything. Somebody yells, "Is there anybody out there?" I was like, "Yeah. It's Cook." ... The response was, "Yeah, this is Chief McCarthy .... So I yelled, "Just keep yelling. I'll find you." He started just calling back and forth his name. I remember crawling up to him, and ... I grabbed him by the arm .... We latched onto each other's arms. We were crawling, and we stood up. He said to me, "All right. As long as we make it to the water, we'll be all right." ... I had an idea where the water is. You still can't see it because it's dark as a mother. You can't breathe. It's so heavy with smoke and dust and ash. I can't breathe. I have ... dust impaction in my ears, in my nose. I was coughing it out of my mouth. It felt like I had a baseball in my mouth. [108]


As these accounts show, the idea that firefighters could have remained at the site, or could have returned within ten minutes, is quite implausible. (The fact that the firefighters had to leave -- indeed, to run for their lives -- was reflected in an earlier-quoted account by Barry Jennings, in which he said: "The fire department came and ran. They came twice. Why? Because Building Tower One fell, and then Tower Two fell." [109])

An equally serious problem is created by the idea, suggested by the Lawson-Gann account, that Hess and Jennings were rescued about 30 minutes after they had become trapped. This suggestion is implicit in both the 2005 and the 2008 versions of Lawson's account of the rescue, because both versions say that it was the collapse of the North Tower at 10:28 that trapped the two men. This means that, if they were rescued at about 11:00, they would have been trapped for only about half an hour.

Hess and Jennings themselves, as we have seen, said that they had been trapped for much longer: Hess said "about an hour and a half"; Jennings said "several hours." They surely would not have made these estimates if they had really been trapped for only about half an hour.

It would appear that Lawson's rescue account, with its difficulties, resulted from combining the account given in Rudy Giuliani's 2002 book -- in which he said that Hess and Jennings were trapped at 10:28 by damage caused by the North Tower collapse -- with the testimony given to NIST in 2004 by Hess and Jennings themselves, who probably reported that they had been rescued at about 11:00. [110] (Lawson was one of two NIST staff members who handled "first person interviews" for the reports on emergency response operations, [111] so he was probably involved in the interviews of Hess and Jennings.) Lawson and Gann evidently combined these two sources without realizing, or perhaps caring, that the resulting account radically contradicted what Hess and Jennings themselves had said.

Given the fact that we have no reason to doubt the statements by Hess and Jennings that they had been trapped for an hour and a half or longer, we can conclude that one of the two claims in the rescue account by Lawson and Gann -- that Hess and Jennings first became trapped at 10:28 and that they were rescued at about 11:00 -- is false. As to which of these claims must be false, the fact that the Lawson-Gann account implicitly suggests that Hess and Jennings were rescued at about 11:00 -- in spite of the existence of a prior NIST document putting the time at over an hour later -- suggests that they obtained this information from the 2004 interviews with Hess and Jennings themselves. The false claim, therefore, must be the one derived from Giuliani -- that the men were not trapped until the collapse of the North Tower damaged WTC 7 at 10:28. And there are, as we have seen, other reasons to consider this claim false.

To conclude this discussion about timing: If Hess and Jennings were rescued at about 11:00 and if this was at least an hour and a half after they had become trapped, then they had become trapped no later than about 9:30. NIST's rescue account, therefore, has inadvertently supplied evidence in favor of Jennings' report that the event that trapped them occurred prior to the collapse of either tower, so it must have been an explosion within WTC 7 itself

Other Possible Testimonial Evidence about Interior Damage to WTC7

Barry Jennings, as we have seen, reported that extensive damage had been done to the interior of WTC 7 on the morning of 9/11. Besides reporting that the 6th floor landing of the stairwell that he and Hess were descending was destroyed, he told the BBC, as we saw earlier: "When we got to the 8th floor, I thought of walking to one side of the building. That side of the building was gone!" He also told Avery that, as he was being rescued, he found that the lobby was in "total ruins." If Jennings was telling the truth, other people, we might assume, would have reported some of this damage. If so, did they report it to NIST?

The question about witness reports of damage came up during the "technical briefing" of August 2008. A question submitted by Jake Pauls asked: "Did NIST use interviews with occupants to learn what they saw of the damage to WTC 7 when the Towers fell, when and how they evacuated from WTC 7, and if you did not seek such information, why not?" Although the primary part of this question was about reports of damage, Shyam Sunder deferred it until later, when he would be ready to "talk about the evacuation process." When the question was repeated later, Sunder responded only to the part about the evacuation, ignoring the question as to whether NIST had used "interviews with occupants to learn what they saw of the damage to WTC 7." After completing his rather long answer, Sunder asked Richard Gann if he had anything to add. Gann said:

Recall that virtually the entire population of the building that morning was out of the building before the Towers collapsed .... So the evacuating people didn't have very much to say about damage to the building that occurred later in the day. [112]


Jake Pauls, I should add, did not seem to have in mind the issue of whether WTC 7 might have been damaged [i]prior to the collapse of the towers. It is interesting to note, however, that Gann's answer, by speaking of damage that had occurred "later in the day," avoided the question of damage that might have occurred in the morning.

Pauls, in any case, did not give up. Later reformulating his question so that it focused only on reports of damage, he asked: "What interior direct observation reports of WTC 7 damage were available for your analysis for the post-Tower collapse period, and where in WTC 7 were those interior observations made?" Sunder turned for a response to Therese McAllister, who said:

We interviewed a number of emergency responders that were in and around WTC 7 after the collapse of the Towers. They generally were walking up and down the building on the lower floors up to about Floor 10. And they did report the conditions that they saw from walking around the core and the floor a reason the lower floors. And we did use that information as part of our assessment of the interior damage. [113]


That was her total answer, and this "answer," it should be noted, completely dodged the question of the nature of the damage reported.

It appeared that this was a subject that NIST did not want to discuss.

In sum: NIST's treatment of testimonies about explosions in WTC 7 clearly involves serious falsification, in which NIST both ignored and distorted testimonial evidence about explosions -- evidence that is directly relevant to the reason for the collapse of WTC 7.

4. TESTIMONIES ABOUT FOREKNOWLEDGE OF WTC7'S COLLAPSE

Although direct testimony about explosions is the most relevant type of testimonial evidence for the question of why WTC 7 collapsed, it is not the only type. Also relevant are reports that some people knew in advance that this building was going to come down. These reports are relevant because, prior to that day, no steel-framed high-rise building had ever collapsed because of fire alone, so there should have been no reason for anyone to expect WTC 7 to collapse, especially given the absence of fires except on a few floors.

It might be thought, to be sure, that the fact that the Twin Towers had collapsed would have provided a good reason to suspect that WTC 7 would also collapse. But many people at the time assumed that the towers had come down because they had been hit by airplanes, and WTC 7 had not been hir by a plane. Also, there were four other buildings in the World Trade Center complex, and there were no reports that these buildings were expected to collapse, even though some of them were considerably closer to the Twin Towers, and were damaged much more severely by debris from them, than was WTC 7.

One of the interesting facts about WTC 7 is that, because it was expected to collapse, there was little effort to put out its fires. This little-reported fact was even mentioned by NIST. One of its documents stated:

According to the FDNY first-person interviews, ... firefighting was never started in [WTC 7]. When the Chief Officer in charge of WTC 7 got to Barclay Street and West Broadway, numerous firefighters and officers were coming out of WTC 7. These firefighters indicated that several blocks needed to be cleared around WTC 7 because they thought that the building was going to collapse. [114]


One such firefighter was Captain Ray Goldbach. In discussing events taking place in the afternoon, he said:

There was a big discussion going on ... about pulling all of our units out of 7 World Trade Center. Chief [Daniel] Nigro didn't feel it was worth taking the slightest chance of somebody else getting injured. So at that point we made a decision to take all of our units out of 7 World Trade Center because there was a potential for collapse .... Made the decision to back everybody away, took all the units and moved them all the way back toward North End Avenue, which is as far I guess west as you could get on Vesey Street, to keep them out of the way. [115]


This process of establishing a safety zone was described by many members of the FDNY. Firefighter Vincent Massa said:

[L]ater on in the day as we were waiting for seven to come down, they kept backing us up Vesey, almost like a full block. They were concerned about seven coming down, and they kept changing us, establishing a collapse zone and backing us up. [116]


Decosta Wright, an emergency medical worker, said:

asically they measured out how far the building was going to come, so we knew exactly where we could stand .... Five blocks. Five blocks away.... Exactly right on point, the cloud just stopped right there. [117]


As to when people were moved away from WTC 7, witnesses differed. Chief Daniel Nigro said: "[A]pproximately an hour and a half after that order [to move away] was given, ... 7 World Trade Center collapsed completely." [118] That would mean that the collapse zone was established at about 3:50 PM. Firefighter Kevin McGovern put it earlier, saying: "It took about three hours [after the order] for Seven World Trade Center to actually come down," which would have meant about 2:20. [119] Captain Robert Sohmer said that the evacuation occurred still earlier, "at approximately maybe 2:00 roughly." [120] Chief Frank Fellini, one of the men who made the decision, said that, after it was made, "for the next five or six hours we kept firefighters from working anywhere near that building" -- which would mean that the collapse zone was established by about noon. [121]

In any case, whenever the decision not to fight the fires in WTC 7 was made, it was not a decision with which everyone agreed. The expectation of imminent collapse was, therefore, not universal. For example, Chief Thomas McCarthy said:

[The firefighters at the site] were waiting for 7 World Trade to come down.... They had ... fire on three separate floors... , just burning merrily. It was pretty amazing, you know, it's the afternoon in lower Manhattan, a major high-rise is burning, and they said "we know." [122]


In stating that there was "fire on three separate floors," McCarthy indicated that, from his perspective, there was no objective basis for expecting the building to collapse. A similar statement was made by Decosta Wright, who said:

I think the fourth floor was on fire.... [W]e were like, are you guys going to put that fire out? I was like, you know, they are going to wait for it to burn down -- and it collapsed. [123]


Puzzlement about the failure to fight the fires in WTC 7 was also reported by Deputy Chief Nick Visconti, who said: "Now, World Trade Center 7 was burning and I was thinking to myself, how come they're not trying to put this fire out?" Then, after he started implementing Chief Fellini's order to "get these people out of. .. 7 World Trade Center," he encountered resistance from some other chiefs, one of whom said: "Oh, that building is never coming down, that didn't get hit by a plane, why isn't somebody in there putting the fire out?" [124]

Similarly, Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen reported that, while walking past hundreds of firefighters who were being held away from WTC 7, he heard comments such as, "Why don't they let us in there?" [125]

To summarize: Whereas some firefighters, in line with the fact that fire had never caused a steel-framed high-rise building to come down, did not expect WTC 7 to collapse, some senior fighters did expect it to collapse, and correctly so. The question arises, therefore, as to why the latter group had this expectation.

According to Captain Michael Currid, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association's sergeant at arms, he and other FDNY officers at some point went into WTC 7, where four or five fire companies were battling its flames, and yelled up the stairwells: "Drop everything and get out!" He did this, he said, because "[s]omeone from the city's Office of Emergency Management" had told him that WTC 7 was "basically a lost cause and we should not lose anyone else trying to save it." [126]

The fact that the idea that WTC 7 was a lost cause came from Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management is significant. As I reported elsewhere, this same office had told some firefighters in advance that the Twin Towers were going to collapse. [127] Mayor Giuliani himself, in fact, told Peter Jennings on ABC News that he had been told that the towers were going to collapse shortly before the first of them actually did. [128] How could Giuliani's people have known that these three buildings -- and only these three buildings -- were going to collapse? The only possible answer seems to be their knowledge that explosives were going to bring these three buildings down.

NIST, of course, failed to point out that the decision to stop fighting the fires in WTC 7 must surely have been based on such knowledge, not on any evidence that could have been discerned by firefighters lacking such knowledge.

[b]5. PREMATURE MEDIA REPORTS OF WTC 7'S COLLAPSE

Further evidence of foreknowledge of WTC 7's collapse was provided by premature news reports, in which this building's collapse was announced before it actually occurred. These reports evidently began "at about 4:15," when CNN's Aaron Brown said: "We are getting information now that. .. Building 7 ... has either collapsed or is collapsing."  [129] This was over an hour before the building actually did collapse (at 5:21).

Additional premature announcements came from the BBC. At 4:53 PM, the BBC's Radio Five Live said it had reports "that another large building has collapsed just over an hour ago." At 4:54, the BBC's domestic television news channel announced the collapse. Then at about 5:10, BBC World repeated this announcement. It even provided an explanation of why the building had collapsed, saying: "[T]his wasn't the result of a new attack but because the building had been weakened during this morning's attack." Finally, at 5: 14, BBC reporter Jane Standley was seen announcing the collapse of the Salomon Brothers building -- the other name for WTC 7 -- while it could still be seen standing in the background. [130]

In February 2007, a video containing some of this news footage, especially of the BBC's premature reporting, was placed on the internet. After it had evoked an enormous amount of discussion and "lots of emails" to the BBC, Richard Porter, the head of news for BBC World, responded on his blog, writing:

We're not part of a conspiracy. Nobody told us what to say or do on September 11th. We didn't get told in advance that buildings were going to fall down. We didn't receive press releases or scripts in advance of events happening .... If we reported the building had collapsed before it had done so, it would have been an error -- no more than that. [131]


This was a manifestly inadequate response (as shown by viewers' responses to it, which numbered almost 600 by the end of 2007). It was obvious that the BBC's announcement was "an error." The question was: How could such an error -- announcing the collapse almost 30 minutes before it happened -- have occurred? Rather than offering some explanation, Porter simply exclaimed that the BBC was not part of any conspiracy.

The suspicion that the BBC's premature announcement reflected something more than simply an inexplicable "error" was not entirely unreasonable, given some of the BBC's previous coverage of 9/11. On September 13, 2001, it published an article on its website entitled "How the World Trade Center Fell," which quoted two experts making the obviously false assertion that the buildings collapsed because the jet fuel-fed fires had melted their steel columns. [132] Then in February 2007, just over a week before Porter's blog entry was published, the BBC aired one of the worst, most-biased television programs ever produced on the subject, The Conspiracy Files: 9/11. [133]

In March 2007, Porter wrote another blog entry on the subject in which he said that, on the afternoon of 9/11, there had been "a fairly consistent picture being painted of Building 7 in danger of collapse." But how did the transition get made to the declaration that the building had collapsed? Referring to the fact that three BBC channels reported the collapse "in quick succession," Porter was "inclined to believe that one or more of the news agencies was reporting this, or at least reporting someone saying this." But why would such agencies have been reporting the collapse approximately 30 or even -- in the case of CNN -- 60 minutes before it happened? Porter's only explanation was to "point to [the] confusing and chaotic situation on the ground." [134] This second blog entry by Porter evoked over 600 responses, most of which found his explanation inadequate.

Porter could have offered a somewhat plausible explanation by suggesting that the rumor that WTC 7 was going to collapse, which had been circulating for several hours, at some point became changed, through misunderstanding, into the rumor that it had already collapsed.

If we accept this explanation, which the BBC could have offered, we might conclude that the premature announcement of the collapse by the news media adds nothing to what we have already established, namely, that Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management had spread the word several hours in advance that WTC 7 was going to collapse.

Even with that interpretation, however, the premature announcements were not insignificant, because they revealed in a dramatic and memorable fashion the fact that someone knew in advance that Building 7 was going to collapse. This is important because, given the salient facts -- that WTC 7 had not been hit by a plane, that no steel-framed high-rise building had ever collapsed because of fire alone, that WTC 7 had fires on only a few floors, and that some of the other still-standing WTC buildings had suffered far worse damage -- there should have been no reason to expect WTC 7 to collapse.

6. REPORTS OF INTENTIONS TO BRING WTC 7 DOWN

Besides the fact that some people knew in advance that WTC 7 was going to come down, there were reports that some people had said that it was going to be brought down.

Indira Singh's Report:

 One person giving such a report was Indira Singh, a senior consultant for JP Morgan Chase. On 9/11, while serving as a volunteer emergency medical worker, she was put in charge of setting up triage sites. In 2005, Singh said during an interview on Bonnie Faulkner's Guns and Butter radio show:

[P]retty soon after midday on 9/11 we had to evacuate [the site where we had been working] because they told us Building 7 was coming down .... I do believe that they brought Building 7 down because I heard that they were going to bring it down because it was unstable because of the collateral damage. That I don't know; I can't attest to the validity of that. All I can attest to is that by noon or one o'clock, they told us we need to move from that triage site up to Pace University, a little further away, because Building 7 was gonna come down or be brought down.


In response to this statement, Faulkner asked: "Did they actually use the word 'brought down' and who was it that was telling you this?" Singh replied: "The fire department. The fire department. And they did use the words 'we're gonna have to bring it down."' [135]

Additional Statements from "Seven Is Exploding":

Most of Indira Singh's testimony as quoted above can be heard on a video entitled "Seven Is Exploding" (which is a segment from a program aired on Italian television in April 2007). After playing Singh's statement, this video shows police officers saying: "Keep your eye on that building, it'll be coming down .... This building is about to blow up; move it back." We then hear the sound of loud explosions, after which a firefighter says: "We gotta get back. Seven is exploding." [136]

Kevin McPadden's Report:

Additional testimony has come from Kevin McPadden, a former Air Force officer involved with Special Operations for Search and Rescue. In 2006, he gave the following account of what he experienced on 9/11 while stationed at a Red Cross operations center:

They said you know you've got to stay behind this line because they're thinking about taking this building down, they're not sure if it's stable or not, so they were holding a line off because they had knowledge that something was gonna happen. Well, they pushed us back a little bit. ... [A] couple of minutes later. .. people started coming back out to the street, I watched five New York City buses jam packed with people wanting to do search and rescue head down there towards Building 7 ... and right then Building 7 came down. [137]


Larry Silverstein's Statement:

A different type of report came from WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein. It was different in being a self-report, in which he stated, at least apparently, that he himself had made the suggestion to bring the building down. During a PBS program in 2002, while discussing events leading up to the collapse of WTC 7, Silverstein said:

I remember getting a call from the fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, "We've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it." And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse. [137]


Acknowledging that Silverstein made the first part of this statement, NIST tried to handle it by quoting an interpretation issued by Silverstein Properties, which said:

In the afternoon of September 11, Mr. Silverstein spoke to the Fire Department Commander on site at Seven World Trade Center. The Commander told Mr. Silverstein that there were several firefighters in the building working to contain the fires. Mr. Silverstein expressed his view that the most important thing was to protect the safety of those firefighters, including, if necessary, to have them withdraw from the building. With respect to Mr. Silverstein's statement, when recounting these events for a television documentary, that "I said, you know, we've had such terrible loss of life. Maybe the smartest thing to do is to pull it," [a Silverstein Properties spokesman] has said that by "it," Mr. Silverstein meant the contingent of firefighters remaining in the building. [139]


By simply quoting this interpretation from Silverstein Properties without comment, NIST implied that it was correct, or at least plausible. In so doing, it ignored several facts that show it to be so implausible as to be almost certainly false.

First, the statement from Silverstein Properties, in ending the quotation with the phrase "pull it," omitted the remainder of Silverstein's statement, in which he said: "And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse." This final sentence indicated pretty clearly that he was talking about pulling the building, not the contingent of firefighters.

Second, Larry Silverstein himself undermined the attempt by the Silverstein Properties spokesman to claim that he had been talking about pulling the firefighters out of the building. He did this inadvertently by stating that his conversation with the fire department commander had occurred after all firefighters had left the building. The statement by the Silverstein Properties spokesman, as we saw, simply said that this conversation occurred "in the afternoon," which left open the possibility that it had occurred in the very early afternoon, before the firefighters had been ordered out of the building. It was widely agreed, as we have seen, that this order had been given around 2:00. But Silverstein, in response to a question from a "We Are Change" group in March 2008, said that the decision to pull was made "around 3:30 or 4:00 PM." [140] NIST, in implying that the interpretation suggested by the Silverstein Properties spokesman was true, failed to point out that Silverstein himself had undermined that interpretation.

NIST itself, moreover, furthered this undermining. On the page after its quotation of the interpretation from the Silverstein Properties spokesman, NIST wrote:

[A]t approximately 2:30 pm, FDNY officers who had evaluated the condition of WTC 7 ... decided that it was not worth the additional risk to human life. They decided to abandon the building completely, and the final order was given to evacuate the site around the building. [141]


If this is what happened, "the Fire Department Commander on site at Seven World Trade Center" definitely would not have told Silverstein at "about 3:30 or 4:00" that "there were several firefighters in the building working to contain the fires." Accordingly, NIST itself, evidently without knowing it, helped Silverstein inadvertently undermine the official interpretation of his problematic "pull it" statement -- an interpretation that had been endorsed by Popular Mechanics [142] and even the US State Department. [143]

Moreover, given the fact that Silverstein did make the statement and that its meaning had been publicly debated, we would assume that NIST would have interviewed him about this. Did it? At the August 2008 technical briefing, 9/11 widow Lorie Van Auken asked: Did NIST interview Larry Silverstein to find out why he said, "There was so much loss of life we decided to pull it," regarding WTC 7?

NIST's lead investigator, Shyam Sunder, replied: "No, we did not interview Larry Silverstein." [144]

Although that admission -- parallel to Sunder's admission that NIST had not examined the WTC dust for sulfur or thermite residue -- was bad enough, his justification for not interviewing Silverstein only made the problem worse. He said:

And let me kind of explain why we ... did not do that. We are a technical scientific investigation. So what we place the most importance on, credence on, are the scientific facts, to the extent that we can get them. And of course what helps us most in this complex reconstruction are ... documents, documentary evidence -- that is, plans, specifications, structural plans, architectural plans, connection-framing-detailed fabrication drawings and so on. We then look for visual information -- again, information from photographs and videos that actually tell us what actually happened on 9/11. We then try and go in depth and talk to people who actually were in charge of emergency response on the site. And we go and talk to people who ... were actually occupants of the building. So, again, we do that not by just anecdotal conversation. We actually do it in a very structured format, where the information we obtain from that analysis can be useful to make robust findings and then conclusions and recommendations. So that's how we approached this investigation. What people say, what they said on TV, why they say it, when they say it, for us is really the least important from the point of view of trying to carry our a scientific investigation .... [W]hat was said doesn't really matter. What happened really matters. And we have the science behind our findings and recommendations, and that's important. [145]


Sunder said, in other words, that given NIST's very rigorous understanding of the nature of scientific method, the fact that the owner of WTC 7 said that he and others had agreed to "pull it" was irrelevant. As scientists, Sunder and his team were only concerned with "what happened," and they knew that they would not discover that by listening to "what people say" and finding out "why they say it." Presumably, if Sunder were a forensic scientist investigating a fire and a young man came forward and said, "It's my fault; I set the fire; I'm sorry," Sunder would say: "Don't bother us, kid. We're scientists."

A little later, in any event, Sunder gave the same kind of answer to the following question from Lorie Van Auken: "Many people who were near WTC 7 on 9/11 did hear explosions. Some even heard a countdown on police radio. Did you speak with these people?" Sunder replied:

No, we did not speak with those people, again for the same reason I just mentioned, so I won't repeat the whole argument, which is that the science speaks for itself and it's pretty robust. [146]


As we will see in the second part of this book, the science behind NIST's theory is anything but robust. But even if it were, Sunder's excuse for not interviewing these people would be absurd -- as if forensic scientists investigating a crime would eschew all testimonial evidence in order to concentrate solely on physical evidence.

In any case, besides uncritically reporting the interpretation offered by Silverstein Properties (showing that NIST considered some testimonial evidence acceptable) NIST failed to report any of the other statements in which an intention to demolish WTC 7 was expressed. We have here one more illustration of NIST's ignoring or distorting all evidence that would contradict its politically driven report on WTC 7's collapse.

7. EXPERT TESTIMONY THAT EXPLOSIVES BROUGHT WTC 7 DOWN

In addition to these reports of statements expressing the intention to bring down WTC 7, statements that WTC 7 was indeed brought down with explosives have been made by many people, some of whom can be considered experts. One person sometimes quoted in this regard is Dan Rather, who at the time was the CBS News anchor. Right after WTC 7 came down, Rather said:

Amazing, incredible pick your word. For the third time today, it's reminiscent of those pictures we've all seen too much on television before, where a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down. [147]


Rather was not an expert, and he did not say that WTC 7 was actually a controlled demolition; he said only that its collapse was "reminiscent" of such demolitions. But several people with relevant expertise have said the building was deliberately brought down.

Hugo Bachmann and Jorg Schneider, both emeritus professors of structural analysis and construction at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, have stated that, in their opinion, WTC 7 was "with great probability" professionally demolished. [148]

Jack Keller, emeritus professor of engineering at Utah State University (who had been named by Scientific American as one of the world's leaders in using science and technology to benefit society), was even more definite, saying of this building's destruction: "Obviously it was the result of controlled demolition." [149]

Another expert who has stated this was Danny Jowenko, a controlled demolition expert in the Netherlands with his own firm. [150] As mentioned in the Introduction, he was asked in 2006 by a filmmaker to comment on a video of the collapse of WTC 7 without knowing what it was -- he had not realized that a third building had collapsed on 9/11. After viewing the video, he said: "They simply blew up columns, and the rest caved in afterwards .... This is controlled demolition." When asked if he was certain, he replied: ''Absolutely, it's been imploded. This was a hired job. A team of experts did this." When he was told that this happened on September 11, he was incredulous, repeatedly asking, "Are you sure?" When he was finally convinced, Jowenko said: "Then they worked very hard." [151]

In 2007, Jowenko was asked whether he stood by his statement that it must have been controlled demolition. He replied: ''Absolutely .... I looked at the drawings, the construction and it couldn't be done by fire ... absolutely not." [152]

Jowenko also explained why controlled demolition experts in the United States have not stated this obvious fact. When the interviewer mentioned that he had phoned the US company Controlled Demolition, Inc., which said: "Oh, it's possible it came down from fire," Jowenko replied: "When ... you have to earn your money in the States as a controlled demolition company and you say, 'No, it was a controlled demolition,' you're gone." [153]

NIST, as a political rather than a scientific agency, did not report any of this expert testimony.

SUMMARY

Just as NIST ignored all physical evidence that WTC 7 was brought down by explosives, it ignored all testimonial evidence supporting this hypothesis. Besides failing to mention testimonies about explosions in WTC 7 from people outside of the building, it also ignored the testimony of two city officials, Michael Hess and Barry Jennings, who were inside. To try to neutralize this testimony by Hess and Jennings, NIST distorted it by changing the timeline, as had Rudy Giuliani in his 2002 book, so as to claim that the "explosion" they had reported was really damage caused by debris from the North Tower collapse. NIST thereby ignored what Hess and Jennings actually said. NIST's distortion of their testimony was then amplified and popularized by a BBC documentary, a second version of which employed Hess himself, after Jennings was dead, to "confirm" the Giuliani-NIST-BBC timeline.

NIST also ignored the fact that some senior members of the FDNY knew several hours in advance that the building was going to come down and that the source for this information seemed to be Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management.

With regard to testimonies reporting statements expressing the intention to bring WTC 7 down, NIST ignored all of them except the famous one from Larry Silverstein, which NIST sought to dismiss by repeating an innocuous interpretation of it, while ignoring the fact that this interpretation had been undermined by Silverstein himself.

NIST ignored, finally, the testimony of experts who have declared that WTC 7 was brought down by explosives.

Having ignored all of this evidence, NIST stated, in the December 2008 version of its "Questions and Answers about the NIST WTC 7 Investigation," that "the possibility that an explosion caused or contributed to the collapse of WTC 7" had been "investigated carefully" and that NIST had "found no evidence supporting the existence of a blast event." [154]

And not a single mainstream reporter publicly ridiculed this statement.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

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6. NIST'S STRAW-MAN ARGUMENTS AGAINST EXPLOSIVES

Chapter 3 showed that the most likely starting point for an investigation of WTC 7's collapse would have been the hypothesis that explosives of some sort were used to bring it down in the procedure known as controlled demolition. That chapter also showed, however, that NIST did not begin with this hypothesis, choosing instead to accept the "challenge" to see if WTC 7's collapse might have been caused by an ordinary building fire. Chapters 4 and 5 then showed that NIST, in order to argue that explosives played no role in WTC 7's demise, had to ignore and distort an enormous amount of physical and testimonial evidence. The present chapter looks directly at NIST's arguments for excluding the hypothesis that explosives were used.

NIST's arguments begin with a particular scenario as to the kind of explosive that might have been used -- a scenario that NIST purportedly determined to be the most likely one. NIST then argues that this scenario could not have occurred because the explosive material could not have been placed without detection and, even if it had been, it would have caused sounds and window breakage that did not occur.

After laying out NIST's arguments, I will show that they are riddled with problems, the central one being that they are perfect examples of the kind of straw-man arguments discussed in Chapter 2.

1. NIST'S "PLAUSIBLE BLAST SCENARIO"

"Aspart of assessing alternative hypotheses for initiation of the collapse of WTC 7," NIST writes, "[s]cenarios of a hypothetical blast event that could have occurred in WTC 7 on September 11, 2001, were assessed." [1] However, although NIST speaks here of "scenarios" in the plural, it actually discusses only one scenario. NIST write: "In particular, a plausible scenario with the minimum amount of required explosive was identified." [2]

Suggesting that the most plausible scenario would be the one that required the least amount of explosive material to be hauled into WTC 7, NIST claims to have determined that this scenario would minimally require sufficient explosive material to sever one of the building's crucial columns. This requirement would best be fulfilled, NIST further claims, by RDX explosives: "The lowest mass of explosive needed to sever any of the six column or truss sections was found to be 4 kg (9Ib) of RDX explosives in linear shaped charges." [3]

2. NIST'S THREEFOLD ARGUMENT AGAINST ITS "PLAUSIBLE" SCENARIO

After suggesting that this was the most plausible of all the possible scenarios through which WTC 7 might have been brought down by explosives, NIST then proceeds to argue that it was not really plausible after all. NIST bases this conclusion on a threefold argument involving window breakage, sound, and detection. I will examine each of these arguments in order.

Window Breakage

One problem with this scenario, NIST argues, is that it would have caused window breakage that did not, in fact, occur. Claiming that the critical column that would have needed to fail would have been Column 79, NIST writes:

[T]he minimum charge ... required to fail [Column 79] would have produced a pressure wave that would have broken windows on the north and east faces of the building near Column 79. The visual evidence did not show such a breakage pattern on any floor of WTC 7 as late as about 4:00pm or above the 25th floor at the time of the building collapse initiation. [4]


There appear to be two dimensions to NIST's argument here -- an implicit as well as an explicit dimension.

The Explicit Argument:

Explicitly, NIST argues that, given the scenario it has in mind, according to which explosives would have been placed to bring down Column 79, the windows that these explosives would have broken did not break.

The statement quoted above, however, does not actually say this, as one can see by focusing on the final sentence: "The visual evidence did not show such a breakage pattern on any floor of WTC 7 as late as about 4:00 PM or above the 25th floor at the time of the building collapse initiation." This statement leaves open the possibility, and even seems to imply, that there was "such a breakage pattern" below the 25th floor after 4:00 PM.

Moreover, even if NIST's argument were true, it would prove nothing. NIST's assumption that explosives would have been focused especially on Column 79 is based solely on its own argument -- to be discussed in Part II of this book -- that this was the critical column, the failure of which would have caused the entire building to collapse. Prior to NIST's report, the notion that anyone planning to bring down WTC 7 would have concentrated the explosive material on this particular column had apparently not occurred to anyone. Accordingly, even ifNIST's argument here is correct -- that the windows that would have been broken if NIST's scenario had been enacted were not broken -- it is a circular argument, based solely on NIST's own scenario, not that of people who have claimed that WTC 7 was brought down with explosives. It is thereby a straw-man argument, disproving an unlikely hypothesis of its own creation that diverts attention from the more likely hypothesis proffered by critics of the official account. NIST's argument does not, therefore, do anything to undermine the contention that the building was deliberately demolished.

The Implicit Argument:

In making its explicit argument, NIST also seems to imply that, at the time that WTC 7 began to collapse, no windows whatsoever broke. Insofar as this claim is indeed implicit in NIST's report -- which in speaking of window breakage refers only to breakage caused by fire -- it is false.

As noted in Chapter 4, a video available on the internet shows a vertical row of approximately eight windows, from roughly the 29th to the 37th floor, being blown out as WTC 7 begins to collapse. [5]

As pointed out in Chapter 5, more than one witness described windows as breaking at the time the building started to come down. Peter Demarco of the New York Daily News said: "The building's top row of windows popped out. Then all the windows on the thirty-ninth floor popped out. Then the thirty-eighth floor. Pop! Pop! Pop!" [6] A New York University medical student said that "it looked like there was a shockwave ripping through the building and the windows all busted out." [7]

NIST's argument about window breakage is clearly bogus.

Sound

NIST's second reason for rejecting the plausibility of what it portrayed as the most plausible "blast event" scenario is that it would have produced sounds that did not occur. The explosion of nine pounds of the RDX material, NIST says,

would have resulted in a sound level of 130 to 140 decibels (a sound level consistent with a gunshot blast or a jet plane that is 10 to 20 decibels louder than a rock concert in front of speakers), at a distance of at least half a mile (if unobstructed by surrounding buildings ... ).


But no such sound level, was reached, says NIST: "There were no witness reports of such a loud noise, nor was such a noise heard on audio tracks of video tapes that recorded the WTC 7 collapse." [8]

NIST's argument again seems to have an implicit as well as an explicit dimension.

The Explicit Argument:

What NIST argues explicitly is that "such a loud noise" -- meaning one that reached 130 to 140 decibels -- was neither reported nor caught on tape.

This argument depends entirely on NIST's assumption that if WTC 7 had been brought down by explosive material, the most plausible scenario would have involved nine pounds of RDX, which would have produced a very loud concussive sound.

But RDX was emphatically not the most plausible type of explosive material for someone to use to bring down WTC 7. Indeed, among those who have argued that WTC 7 was brought down by controlled demolition, RDX has seldom if ever been named as the most likely explosive.

Rather, as we have seen, the prime suspect has been nanothermite. As we saw in Chapter 4, the leading scientists who have worked on this issue have suggested that, in addition to the use of thermate, which is an incendiary, the perpetrators used nanothermite, which is classified as a high explosive. They regard it as the most likely candidate, partly because its signature has been repeatedly and independently discovered in the World Trade Center dust, and partly because of other virtues to be mentioned below.

We can see, therefore, that NIST, in arguing against the feasibility of the controlled demolition of WTC 7 by means of arguing against controlled demolition using RDX, has engaged in one of the best-known of the fallacious forms of argumentation: attacking a straw man. That is, rather than responding to the real argument employed by proponents of the controlled demolition thesis, it attacked an argument of its own creation. Then, having knocked down this straw-man argument, which it had erected on the pretense that RDX would have been employed in the most plausible of the controlled demolition scenarios, NIST could claim to have shown that WTC 7 was not brought down by controlled demolition.

This RDX straw man is, as we have seen, especially vulnerable to the argument from sound. However, if NIST had engaged the scenario actually proposed by the leading scientific exponents of the controlled demolition hypothesis, this argument would not have worked, because explosions produced by nanothermite would not be as loud. Indeed, this fact had been pointed out to NIST before it issued its Final Report.

In August 2008, as we saw in the Introduction, NIST issued a Draft for Public Comment. Before it issued its Final Report in November 2008, it was able to revise its report, to the extent it desired, on the basis of comments it had received. Problems in NIST's argument against controlled demolition were mentioned in several of these comments, some of which dealt specifically with NIST's argument about sound.

One such comment came from attorney and chemical engineer James Gourley, who would become one of the nine coauthors, along with Niels Hartit, of the 2009 paper, discussed in Chapter 4, reporting the discovery of unreacted nanothermite in the WTC dust. "[W]riting on behalf of a group of scientists, scholars, engineers, and building professionals, in 2008" Gourley pointed out that "NIST only considers blast events using RDX, an extremely high explosive." Then, referring to the existence of "nanoenergetic compounds, or nanothermites, that have the potential to be used for building demolitions," Gourley stated:

Because nanothermites are primarily high-temperature incendiaries rather than explosives, they could cause damage to steel structures without producing the sound ... levels associated with RDX.


Finally, following the proper protocol of telling NIST what revision he was recommending, Gourley wrote: "NIST should revise its report to specifically analyze whether such nanoenergetic materials could have been used as a component in a 'hypothetical blast scenario' at WTC 7." [9]

However, in spite of this and other calls for NIST to revise its discussion of this issue, no revisions were made. Indeed, a search of both versions of NIST's Final Report on WTC 7 -- both the brief and the long versions -- reveals not a single instance of the word "thermite" (or "thermate") or any word beginning with "nano." It appears that NIST, after inviting the public to comment on the Draft version of its final report on WTC 7, simply ignored the comments that pointed out the straw-man nature of its RDX scenario.

The Implicit Argument:

Beyond NIST's explicit argument that no explosive sounds of 130 to 140 decibels were either reported or recorded, it implicitly seemed to suggest that no explosive sounds whatsoever were reported or recorded at the time just before WTC 7 came down. Any such suggestion, however, would be false.

As pointed out in Chapter 5, the sound of explosions was both reported and captured on videotape. Former NYPD officer Craig Bartmer said:

I was real close to Building 7 when it fell down .... That didn't sound like just a building falling down to me .... There's a lot of eyewitness testimony down there of hearing explosions .... I started running ... and the whole time you're hearing "boom, boom, boom, boom, boom." [10]


The New York University medical student whose testimony was quoted above reported that, just before WTC 7 started coming down, he and others "heard this sound that sounded like a clap of thunder." [11] And the video called "Seven Is Exploding" contains footage of police officers saying, "Keep your eye on that building, it'll be coming down .... This building is about to blow up," followed by the sound of very loud explosions, which frighten people, after which a firefighter says: "We gotta get back. Seven is exploding." [12]

NIST was not -- or at least should not have been -- unaware of this video, because a correspondent named Michael Smith told them about it. The occasion for his doing so was the following statement by NIST, which described phenomena that would have resulted from a "blast" caused by nine pounds of RDX but that, NIST claimed in its Draft Report, did not occur:

The sound from such a blast in an urban setting would have been reflected and channeled down streets with minimum attenuation. The sound would have been attenuated behind buildings, but this would have also generated multiple echoes. These echoes could have extended the time over which the sound could have been detected and could possibly have had an additive effect if multiple in-phase reflections met. [13]


After quoting this passage in his letter to NIST, Smith wrote:

There is a video with this exact effect recorded on the soundtrack, available at the following link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYvrKfWkxdw. While the firefighters are talking on the phone, a very loud blast startles them, and another firefighter comes running up and tells them that they "gotta get back seven is exploding." ... t is a very loud sound. After listening again, I clearly heard multiple echoes that slowly died out, which precisely matches the description of reflection and attenuation given in the report. [14]


Smith added that the NIST's Draft Report report claimed that "the soundtracks from videos being recorded at the time of the collapse did not contain any sound as intense as would have accompanied such a blast." [15] Smith then concluded: "This statement is clearly incorrect, given the clear soundtrack of the above video and the criteria described immediately prior to this statement in the report." [16]

Now it may be that, technically, NIST was correct to say that none of the videos contained "any sound as intense" as that which, according to NIST, would have been produced by nine pounds of RDX, namely, a sound of 130 to 140 decibels. But insofar as NIST was implicitly claiming that no videos captured any very loud explosive sound -- of perhaps 120 decibels -- at the initiation of WTC Ts collapse, NIST was clearly wrong. NIST, however, responded to Smith's comment in the same way that it did to Gourley's -- by simply ignoring it, thereby continuing to imply that no explosions were either reported or recorded at the outset of WTC7's collapse.

To summarize: Insofar as NIST makes technically correct statements about explosive sounds that did not occur, these statements are part of a straw-man argument based on its claim that, if WTC 7 had been brought down by controlled demolition, the saboteurs would have used RDX rather than, say, nanothermite. Insofar as NIST implicitly claims that the controlled demolition hypothesis is disproved by the fact that no explosive sounds whatsoever -- perhaps not quite as loud as 130 decibels -- were reported or captured on tape, NIST's claim is simply false.

A more complete discussion of the falsity of NIST's denial of reports of explosions in WTC 7 would need to include, of course, the reports to which the most space in Chapter 5 was devoted: those of Michael Hess (in 2001) and Barry Jennings.

Detection

NIST's third argument against the controlled demolition hypothesis is that explosives could not have been planted without detection. In developing this claim, NIST offers two possibilities: either the explosive material would have been planted prior to 9/11, or it would have been planted on 9/11 itself, "during approximately a 6 h[our] time frame, i.e., between the time WTC 7 had been evacuated and the time at which collapse occurred."17 In either case, NIST argues, the RDX material could not have been deployed without detection:

Prior to preparing a column for controlled demolition, walls and/or column enclosures and SFRM [fire-proofing material] would have to be removed and replaced without being detected. Preparing the column includes steps such as cutting sections with torches (which produces noxious and odorous fumes) and careful placement of charges and an initiation device. Controlled demolition usually prepares most, if not all, interior columns in a building with explosive charges, not just one column. It is unlikely that. .. such activity could have taken place without being detected. [18]


There are at least two problems with this argument. One of them is that it presupposes that the people in charge of security at WTC 7 would necessarily have been concerned to prevent explosives from being planted. This is problematic because, as trial lawyer Earl Staelin wrote in his comment to NIST:

The [NIST] report fails to mention that the security firm for WTC 7, as for WTC 1 and 2, Securacom (later called Stratesec) had connections to George W. Bush... , which may have made it possible for agents of our government to place explosives in the buildings and escape "detection." [19]


The connections to which Staelin alluded were close ones: Marvin Bush, one of the president's brothers, had been one of Securacom's principals in the 1990s, during which the fireproofing upgrades to be mentioned below were made, and Win Walker III, one of the Bush brothers' cousins, was the CEO through 2001 (and hence on 9/11 itself).

Although the point made by Staelin was an important one, NIST ignored it. In putting out its Final Report in November 2008, NIST simply repeats the statement in question, as if Staelin's comment had never been received.

A second problem with NIST's argument is that it seems to assume that, if explosives were indeed planted in WTC 7, they would have been planted during working hours. But there is no reason to assume this. As we saw in Chapter 4, the explosive material could have been added to the Twin Towers during periods when the floors in question were closed to have the fireproofing upgraded. Perhaps the same thing occurred in WTC 7. If not, the explosive material could have been added during evening hours and weekends. In 1978, for example, after the owners of the new Citicorp Tower learned that it was likely to fall over during a hurricane, they had it retrofitted during the evening hours, without the building's tenants ever knowing. [20]

In light of the previous point about the Bush-family connections to WTC security, moreover, those who had the job of planting the material may have had no problem getting into the buildings during off hours.

A possible objection to this point would be that, if the explosive materials had been planted during evening hours and weekends, employees would have noticed them when they returned to work. This objection, however, would presuppose that the explosive material would necessarily be visible. As we saw in Chapter 4, the advance of technology in this field may mean that this is not necessarily true.

As Jim Hoffman has pointed out, the argument about detection presupposes that a demolition would have necessarily been "set up like a conventional commercial one, with fuses and large numbers of cutting charges." In reality, he points out, "the demolitions could have been controlled using wireless detonators, which have been commercially available for decades." Also, he adds, the use of nanothermite would have given the planners "much more leeway in the placement of charges required to totally destroy the buildings." It would have been easy "to surreptitiously install devices in hidden portions of the cores. Any such job would have been far simpler than the structural retrofit of the CitiCorp Tower." [21]

Once again, NIST's arguments against the controlled demolition hypothesis presuppose its own scenario, in which the saboteurs would have used RDX or some other conventional explosive, rather than one or more explosives made possible by the emergence of nanotechnology.

A Fourth Argument

On the basis of the above threefold argument, NIST's report on WTC 7 says, with apparent confidence: "NIST concluded that blast events could not have occurred." Then, apparently using "blast events" to refer to any kind of controlled demolition whatsoever, NIST declares: "blast events did not cause the collapse of WTC 7." [22]

In its document providing "Questions and Answers," NIST adds a fourth argument in its response to the following question: "An emergency responder caught in the building between the 6th and 8th floors says he heard two loud booms. Isn't that evidence that there was an explosion?" This question obviously refers to the testimony of Barry Jennings, although his name is not mentioned. Here is NIST's answer:

If the two loud booms were due to explosions that were responsible for the collapse of WTC 7, the emergency responder -- located somewhere between the 6th and 8th floors in WTC 7 -- would not have been able to survive the near immediate collapse and provide this witness account. [23]


NIST's argument here depends on the fallacious assumption that if an emergency responder had heard explosions that contributed to the destruction of WTC 7, these explosions would necessarily have occurred immediately before the collapse.

NIST's scientists knew, however, that in controlled demolitions of large buildings, explosives are used to eliminate some of the columns in advance, prior to the final set of explosions that actually bring the building down (see Appendix A). They also knew that Barry Jennings was trapped in the morning; they themselves reported his rescue. Their answer is, therefore, dishonest as well as fallacious.

The fallaciousness involved one of the logical fallacies taught in elementary logic classes. Called the "complex question fallacy," it is committed "when a single question that is really two (or more) questions is asked and the single answer is then applied to both questions." [24] The fallaciousness of this approach can be seen by imagining the following courtroom conversation between a defense attorney and his client, who is accused of murdering his wife:

Attorney: Did you murder your wife this past August 25 and then go play tennis?

Client: No, as my doctor will testify, I have been physically unable to play tennis for several years now.

Attorney: The defense rests.


That would, of course, be an absurd argument. Structurally, however, it is the same as NIST's argument that, if Barry Jennings had heard explosions in WTC 7, he would have died that day.

NIST here commits the complex question fallacy in order to create a straw-man argument.

3. THE MOST PLAUSIBLE OR LEAST PLAUSIBLE SCENARIO?

In describing its "plausible blast scenario," NIST implies that it was the [i]most plausible way in which WTC 7 could have been brought down by controlled demolition. In a comment sent to NIST in response to its Draft Report, however, one critic suggested that it was actually the least plausible scenario. What NIST gave us, he argued, "is the epitome of a straw man argument," which "shows that NIST was determined to avoid examining all but the most implausible of theoretical scenarios, so as to easily disprove the plausibility of such a scenario." [25]

In explaining the reason for his comment, this critic pointed out that an appendix to the FEMA report on WTC 7 "found that steel from WTC 7 had melted, due to a corrosive attack by a liquid slag containing high levels of sulfur. Several chemical compounds ... could potentially have caused this phenomenon." In response to NIST's protocol question of how the passage could be made more accurate, this author suggested that NIST add the following statement:

In its evaluation of alternate hypotheses re[garding] the collapse of WTC 7, NIST chose to ignore the likelihood of chemical compounds having been used to amplify the effects of fire on the steel structure, and instead focused exclusively on the least plausible of these alternate theories, the use of high explosives. [26]


As scientists and private citizens, the authors of the NIST report may have responded to this suggestion with a smile of recognition. As NIST employees, however, they made no change in their report.

Although this critic did not mention thermites, including thermates (thermites with sulfur) in particular, they are the chemical compounds that have most often been proposed as the substances used to demolish the towers. Niels Harrit, Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, and their colleagues have suggested, in particular, that those who brought down WTC 7 (as well as the Twin Towers) employed thermitic materials involving at least thermate -- which, because of its sulfur content, could account for the sulfidized piece of steel from WTC 7 mentioned by the above-quoted critic -- and nanothermite. Neither one or the other by itself is deemed capable of accounting for the various phenomena. I turn now to the way NIST responded to this discussion.

4. NIST ON THERMITE/THERMATE

As we saw earlier, neither "thermite" nor "thermate" appears anywhere in NIST's WTC 7 reports -- either in its brief (87-page) or its long (729-page) report. From reading those reports alone, one might assume that the scientists at NIST did not know about thermite.

However, NIST did finally discuss thermite in a document entitled "Questions and Answers about the NIST WTC 7 Investigation." As pointed out above in Chapter 4, one of the questions was: "Is it possible that thermite or thermate contributed to the collapse of WTC 7?" We examined in that chapter one point made in NIST's reply, namely, that if any steel had been recovered from WTC 7 -- as we saw, NIST claims that none was, thereby ignoring the piece of oxidized and sulfidized steel reported in an appendix to the FEMA report -- an analysis of it "would not necessarily have been conclusive." The main point made in NIST's answer, however, is that the use of thermite to sever columns in WTC 7 "was unlikely." In explaining why, NIST writes:


To apply thermite to a large steel column, approximately 0.13 lb of thermite would be needed to heat and melt each pound of steel. For a steel column that weighs approximately 1,000 lbs. per foot, at least 100 lbs. of thermite would need to be placed around the column, ignited, and remain in contact with the vertical steel surface as the thermite reaction took place. This is for one column ... presumably, more than one column would have been prepared with thermite, if this approach were to be used. It is unlikely that 100 lbs. of thermite, or more, could have been carried into WTC 7 and placed around columns without being detected, either prior to Sept. 11 or during that day. [27]


Of special interest in this statement is NIST's point that the thermite would need to "remain in contact with the vertical steel surface as the thermite reaction took place." As to how long this contact would need to be maintained, NIST had said in an earlier document:

Thermite burns slowly relative to explosive materials and can require several minutes in contact with a massive steel section to heat it to a temperature that would result in substantial weakening. [28]


It is clear that NIST, in speaking of thermite, is referring only to ordinary (macro-) thermite, not nanothermite. As we have seen, whereas ordinary thermite is an incendiary, nanothermite is an explosive (as well as an incendiary). Accordingly, as Steven Jones has pointed out, nanothermite is "not an incendiary that would need to 'remain in contact with the vertical steel surface as the thermite reaction took place.''' [29]

Nanothermite is so different from ordinary thermite that it is, as pointed out in Chapter 4, classified as a high explosive. The degree to which it reacts both more quickly and hence more powerfully than ordinary thermite was partly indicated by comparing the numbers of atoms on the surfaces of their ingredients, such as aluminum: "Standard aluminum covers just one-tenth of one percent of the surface area (with atoms), versus fifty percent for nanoaluminum." As a result, nanothermites "can increase the (chemical) reaction time by a thousand times." [30] Besides being far more powerful than ordinary thermite, nanothermite is even more powerful than conventional high explosives such as RDX. [31]

NIST's argument that ordinary thermite (including thermate) could not have, all by itself, brought down the WTC buildings does not, therefore, say anything about whether nanothermite -- perhaps in conjunction with ordinary thermite (including thermate) -- could have done the trick.

NIST has here clearly engaged in deception. It had been asked to address the following question: "Is it possible that thermite or thermate contributed to the collapse of WTC 7?" However, rather than responding to this question -- which asked merely whether thermite (of some sort) could have contributed to the collapse -- it answers a quite different question, namely, whether ordinary thermite (including thermate) could have, all by itself, brought the buildings down.

Accordingly, just as NIST's refutation of the controlled demolition hypothesis by refuting an RDX version of that hypothesis is irrelevant, so is its refutation of a version of that hypothesis based on ordinary thermite alone. Once again, NIST has responded to a straw-man position rather than to the position taken by the leading scientists who have argued in favor of the controlled demolition hypothesis.

Given the fact that NIST has consistently failed to discuss the possibility that nanothermites were used to bring down WTC 7 (as well as the Twin Towers), mentioning them neither in its official reports nor even in its answers to commonly asked questions, one might suppose that the scientists who worked on these reports for NIST were simply unaware of nanothermites. Is it possible that they ignored the qualitative difference between nanothermite and ordinary thermite because they were simply not aware of the nanotechnology revolution? I turn next to this question.

5. MIGHT NIST HAVE BEEN UNAWARE OF NANOTHERMITES?

Any claim that NIST did not mention nanothermites because its scientists were unaware of their existence would not be plausible. Far from being unaware of the work being done in nanoscience and nanotechnologies, NIST has been closely connected to this work in multiple ways. I will summarize several of these ways so that readers will have some idea about how fully conversant scientists at NIST must have been with the existence and characteristics of nanothermites. [32]

NIST's Directors 2001-2008

The directors of NIST during the years that it has been working on the World Trade Center reports have all been conversant with nanotechnology.

Arden Bement, NIST's Director 2001-2004:

In December 2001, President Bush selected Arden Bement, a metallurgical engineer, to be the director of NIST. Bement had previously been employed by organizations that would later become leaders in nanotechnology: Battelle, [33] the Department of Defense (DOD), and, in particular, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), an agency of the DOD assigned to develop new technology for the military. [34] Having worked for Battelle in the late 1960s, Bement worked for the DOD in the late 1970s, being the director of DARPA's office of materials science and then the deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering in the late 1970s. After being appointed the director of NIST in 2001, Bement remained in this position until November 2004 (at which time he became the director of the National Science Foundation). [35] Accordingly, the person who was in charge of NIST during the first three years of its work on the destruction of the World Trade Center was well connected with organizations that were doing pioneering work in nanotechnology.

During Bement's tenure as director, moreover, NIST was doing its own work in nanotechnology. In a speech he gave shortly after becoming director, Bement said: "NIST is providing tools and research to probe, manipulate, and ultimately, master the world of nanotechnology." [36]

Hratch Semerjian, NIST's Acting Director 2004-2005:

NIST's next director, Hratch Semerjian, was even more obviously in a position to be well informed about nanotechnology. In the 1980s, he coauthored several papers with Michael Zachariah, who in the following two decades became known as one of the world's leading experts on nanoscience, and who is now associate editor of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. [37] Semerjian had worked for NIST since 1977 (when it was called the National Bureau of Standards), and had been the director of its Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory from 1992 until 2003. In November 2004, when Arden Bement resigned as NIST's director, Semerjian was appointed its acting director. [38] He remained in that role until after NIST published its report on the Twin Towers in 2005. [39]

William Jeffrey, NIST's Director 2005-2007:

In July 2005, William Alan Jeffrey became NIST's director. He had previously worked at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) as deputy director of its Advanced Technology Office and chief scientist for its Tactical Technology Office, after which he became the senior director for homeland and national security at the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (within the Executive Office of the President). His interest in nanotechnology was shown during an interview shortly after his move to NIST in 2005. In response to the question as to what he viewed as the "most promising research priority at NIST," he mentioned "measurement needs for nanotechnology and nanomanufacturing" as one of the things to which NIST was giving high priority. [40] His commitment was revealed most fully by the fact that, the following year, he created the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (described below). [41]

James M. Turner, Acting Director, 2007-:

Upon Jeffrey's resignation in September 2007, James M. Turner, who had been NIST's deputy director, was named the acting director. During his testimony on behalf of NIST before a Senate subcommittee in March 2008, he mentioned nanotechnology many times. [42]

NIST Advisors

For its work on the World Trade Center, NIST had an advisory committee comprised of nine "prominent building and fire experts." One of these advisors was Forman A. Williams, director of the Center for Energy Research and also professor of engineering physics and combustion at the University of California at San Diego. [43] Williams has written about the ignition of porous energetic materials [44] -- a description that applies to nanothermites.

NIST's Partnerships for Nanotechnology Research

NIST has also been directly involved in nanotechnology research in conjunction with organizations that have pioneered this research. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories: The previously discussed sol-gel nanothermites, which can be sprayed onto steel, were developed in the 1990s by the Lawrence Livetmote National Laboratories (LLNL). [45] From at least as early as 1999, NIST was working with LLNL to test these nanothermites, as shown by a paper entitled "Nanostructure High Explosives Using Sol-gel Chemistry," which described a 1999 experiment on "energetic nanocomposites" that was "conducted at the National Institute of Standards and Technology." [46]

NASA: In 2003, "NIST and NASA researchers started ... sponsoring a series of workshops devoted to nanotube measurements. " [47]

University of Maryland, College Park:

Also in 2003, NIST signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Maryland, College Park, to develop a cooperative program in nano-metrology and nano-manufacturing (Hratch Semerjian, as the director of the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, signed this document for NIST). [48] This agreement led to the Co-Laboratory for Nanoparticle Based Manufacturing and Metrology, directed by Michael Zachariah (whose co-authorship of papers with Semerjian was mentioned above). [49] That development led in turn to the Center for Nano Manufacturing and Metrology, which is "a joint venture between the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology" and is funded by NIST and NASA. [50]

College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering:

In April 2008, NIST signed a cooperative agreement with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering of the State University of New York at Albany. [51]

NIST's Own Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

In addition to having these partnerships, NIST in 2006 created the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. [52] Being "the federal government's lead laboratory for work on nanoscale measurements and standards," a NIST fact sheet says, the Center "features a large Nanofabrication (Nanofab) Facility," which is "equipped with a still-growing array of state-of-the-art -- and, sometimes, unsurpassed -- tools for making, testing, and characterizing prototype nanoscale devices and materials." [53] Accordingly, given NIST's directors and advisors, its various partnerships for research in nanotechnology, and its own center for nanoscience and nanotechnology, the idea that its scientists could have been unaware of the existence and capabilities of nanothermites is implausible. Insofar as the NIST authors implied ignorance of nanothermites, we can only conclude that they were dissembling.

6. NIST'S IMPLICIT ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT EXPLOSIVES DESTROYED THE TWIN TOWERS

NIST's denial that explosives were used to bring down WTC 7, in spite of the multiple types of evidence pointing to this conclusion, was preceded by a similar denial with regard to the Twin Towers. One of the many types of evidence that explosives were used to bring down the towers was the fact that the destruction of these buildings began with massive explosions near the top, which ejected material out horizontally. Included in this material were massive sections of steel columns, weighing hundreds of tons, which were hurled out 500 or 600 feet. A few of them implanted themselves in neighboring buildings, as can be seen in videos and photographs. [54]

This feature of the destruction of the Twin Towers provides apparently irrefutable evidence against the official account, according to which the only force available, beyond that supplied by the airplane impacts and the resulting fires, was gravitational attraction, which pulls things straight down. One scientific critic of the official story who has emphasized this feature as especially compelling evidence is Dwain Deets, the former director of the research engineering division at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The "massive structural members being hurled horizontally," he has said, is one of the factors that "leave no doubt" in his mind that "explosives were involved." [55]

Deets' point is well grounded, because, as we saw in Chapter 3, the NFPA Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations points to "high-order damage" as a sign that explosives had gone off, and lists as one of the features of high-order damage: "Debris is thrown great distances, possibly hundreds of feet."

In its report on the Twin Towers, NIST avoided the need to explain what could have caused these horizontal ejections by its usual method: simply refusing to acknowledge them.

In its reports on WTC 7, however, NIST does acknowledge them, at least implicitly. As we saw in the Introduction, NIST in earlier years suggested that the damage caused by the debris from the North Tower would likely playa major role in its account of WTC 7's collapse. This stage of NIST's thinking was reflected in the 2006 book by Popular Mechanics. Saying NIST had found that "WTC 7 was far more compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated," the Popular Mechanics authors wrote that NIST's investigators "now believe the building failed from a combination of long-burning fires in its interior and damage caused from the North Tower's collapse." [56]

Later, as we have seen, NIST abandoned this twofold explanation, saying that WTC 7 was brought down by fire alone. But it still, as we will see, needed to appeal to debris from the North Tower's collapse to explain how the fires in WTC 7 got started. And it could hardly deny all the debris damage that had been described in its Interim Report on WTC 7, which said, among other things, that the "middle one-fourth to one-third width of the south face was gouged out from Floor 10 to the ground." [57]

Here, in any case, is what NIST says in its 2008 report on WTC 7:

When WTC 1 collapsed at 10:28:22AM, most of the debris landed in an area nor much larger than the original WTC 1 building footprint. However, some fragments were forcibly ejected and traveled distances up to hundreds of meters. Pieces of WTC 1 hit WTC 7, severing six columns on Floors 7 through 17 on the south face and one column on the west face near the southwest corner. The debris also caused structural damage between Floor 44 and the roof. [58]


Debris that caused such extensive damage, including the severing of seven steel columns, had to be quite heavy. NIST seemed implicitly to be admitting that sections of steel columns, after being forcibly ejected, had been hurled at least 650 feet (because "hundreds of meters" would mean at least 200 meters, which would be about 650 feet). Actually, NIST could have made its point without acknowledging that debris had traveled so far, because the North Tower was only 375 feet (about 115 meters) from WTC 7.

Nevertheless, whether we are talking about 650 or only 375 feet, enormous force would be needed to eject large sections of steel that far out, so as to strike WTC 7. It would seem, therefore, that NIST's report on WTC 7, while explicitly denying that explosives were used to bring down this building, has implicitly admitted that they were used to demolish the Twin Towers. And if explosives were used in the towers, who could doubt that they were also used in WTC 7?

Conclusion: In any case, even if the authors of the NIST report on WTC 7 were fully aware of the straw-man character of their arguments against thermitic explosives, they publicly use this set of arguments as a pretext to offer a theory of how WTC 7 could have come down -- in the manner in which it did come down -- without the aid of explosives. Part II of this book examines the major elements in that theory.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:00 pm

PART TWO: NIST's Unscientific Arguments for Its Own Theory

7. NIST'S THEORY OF AN UNPRECEDENTED COLLAPSE: AN OVERVIEW


Having discussed in Part I what NIST denies -- that WTC 7 was brought down by explosives -- I turn now to NIST's own theory of the collapse of WTC 7. This theory is quite complex, involving several elements, and it is riddled with many problems, requiring extensive discussion. It would be easy for readers, therefore, to lose sight of the forest because of all the trees. In the present chapter, therefore, I provide an overview of NIST's theory, pointing out its main elements and the chief problems in these elements.

At the heart of the problems in NIST's theory is its claim that the collapse of WTC 7 was an unprecedented occurrence, in that the cause of this collapse was different from the cause of all previous collapses of steel-framed high-rise buildings. This claim raises the possibility that NIST has violated the principle, widely presupposed in the physical sciences, that scientists should not, without very good reasons, posit unprecedented causes to explain familiar occurrences.

The first section of this chapter is devoted to an examination of this issue. The second section then provides an overview of the main elements in NIST's theory of this collapse.

1. THE UNPRECEDENTED NATURE OF WTC 7'S COLLAPSE According to NIST, the collapse of WTC 7 was "the first known instance of the total collapse of a tall building primarily due to fires." [1] WTC 7 was, of course, not merely a "tall building": It was a steel-framed tall building. NIST's claim, therefore, is that WTC 7 was the first steel-framed high-rise building ever to be brought down by fire alone.

Although NIST here says "primarily due to fire" rather than "due to fire alone," the role played by the only other alleged cause -- structural damage produced by debris from the North Tower collapse -- is so minimal in NIST's account that there is no real distortion involved in saying "fire alone." Indeed, Shyam Sunder himself sometimes referred to fire as the sole cause. In his "Opening Statement" at the press conference on August 21, 2008, for example, he spoke of a "fire-induced progressive collapse"; said that NIST had shown for the first time that "fire can induce a progressive collapse"; and added that "WTC 7 collapsed because of fires fueled by office furnishings." And in the "Technical Briefing" held five days later, he referred to "the fires that caused the collapse of World Trade Center 7" and also said: "WTC 7 collapsed due to uncontrolled fires with characteristics that are similar to previous fires in tall buildings." [2]

The Twin Towers, according to NIST, had been the first steel-framed buildings in history to suffer total collapse from any cause other than controlled demolition. They were not, however, brought down by fire alone, according to NIST, but by fire in conjunction with structural damage caused by the impact of the airplanes.

WTC 7 was not hit by a plane. And although NIST had at one time, as we saw earlier, planned to claim that this building's collapse was partly due to damage inflicted by debris from the North Tower's collapse, it ended up not making this claim. "Other than initiating the fires in WTC 7," NIST says in its final report, "the damage from the debris from WTC 1 had little effect on initiating the collapse of WTC 7." [3] Accordingly, whereas the Twin Towers were unique -- for a few hours -- in being the only steel-framed high-rises to collapse without the aid of explosives, WTC 7, according to NIST, was (and still is) unique in being the only steel-framed high-rise building in which total collapse was induced by fire alone.

But how could a steel-framed high-rise building have been brought down by fires -- indeed, not even jet-fuel fires but merely fires "fed by ordinary office combustibles"? How could "ordinary fires," to use NIST's language, have resulted in this "extraordinary outcome"? [4]

NIST's short answer is that its scientists "identified thermal expansion as a new phenomenon that can cause structural collapse." [5] This statement was made by NIST's lead WTC investigator, Shyam Sunder, in his August 2008 press briefing, on the occasion of the release of the Draft version of NIST's final WTC 7 report. This statement led many critics to point out that the thermal expansion of steel is hardly a "new phenomenon." Sunder had, however, simply worded his statement poorly. He meant that NIST had learned that thermal expansion, a well-known phenomenon, could cause structural collapse. The "new phenomenon," in other words, is that structural collapse, which we had known all along could be caused by explosives, can also be caused by the thermal expansion of steel. Sunder expressed himself more clearly when he said: "[WTC 7] fell because thermal expansion, a phenomenon not considered in current building design practice, caused a fire-induced progressive collapse." [6]

But how could this very common phenomenon, thermal expansion, have produced such an uncommon -- indeed, unique -- result: the total collapse of a steel-framed building without the aid of explosives? As physicist John Wyndham wrote in his letter to NIST:

[Your theory] runs contrary to 100 years of experience with the behavior of steel-framed buildings that have caught on fire. Every one of them was subjected to thermal expansion, but never before has there been such a collapse. [7]


The same point had previously been made in a letter to NIST by architect Richard Gage, who wrote: "In more than 100 steel-framed, high-rise fires (most of them very hot, very large and very long-lasting), not one has collapsed, ever." [8]

As I have emphasized, NIST could have easily avoided making its unprecedented claim: It could have begun its research with the assumption that WTC 7 was probably, like all previous steel-framed high-rise buildings that have suffered total collapse, deliberately brought down with explosives. It could then have confirmed the probable truth of this assumption by acknowledging the various types of evidence that explosives of some sort were used to bring this building down.

NIST could have done this easily, that is, from a scientific point of view. From a political point of view, however, NIST could not say the obvious, because it was an agency at the time of the Bush-Cheney Department of Commerce. As such, it had to come up with a nondemolition theory of how the building came down, because to say "demolition" would be ro imply complicity by domestic -- most likely government -- agents. NIST was thus led to violate the scientific method by affirming, when it scientifically could have done otherwise, an unprecedented cause for a familiar phenomenon. In doing so, NIST affirmed a unique occurrence, which Sunder described as "a new kind of progressive collapse ... a fire-induced progressive collapse." [9]

The violation might arguably have been less egregious, to be sure, if NIST had been able -- without falsifying data and otherwise committing scientific fraud -- to come up with a plausible explanation for WTC 7's collapse. As we will see, however, NIST did not even come close to doing this.

In the remainder of this chapter, I provide an overview of the main elements of NIST's theory, pointing out some of its problematic claims. In the following chapters, I will show in detail that each element of this theory is implausible -- a fact that makes the theory as a whole implausible in the extreme.

2. THE MAIN ELEMENTS OF NIST'S THEORY

NIST's theory about the collapse of WTC 7 involves five major elements. The first is NIST's claim about the way in which fires started and then spread in this building.

(1) How the Fires Started and Spread

NIST says: "The fires in WTC 7 were ignited as a result of the impact of debris from the collapse of WTC 1 [the North Tower]." [10] In his press briefing of August 2008, Shyam Sunder elaborated on this point, saying: "The debris from Tower 1... started fires on at least 10 floors of the building. The fires burned out of control on six of these ten floors for about seven hours." [11] The six floors on which there were reportedly out-of-control fires were Floors 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13. [12]

As to why the fires on those floors burned out of control, Sunder said: "The city water main had been cut by the collapse of the two WTC Towers, so the sprinklers in Building 7 did not function for much of the bottom half of the building." [13] This lack of water was said to have been crucial:

Had a water supply for the automatic sprinkler system been available and had the sprinkler system operated as designed, it is likely that fires in WTC 7 would have been controlled and the collapse prevented. [14]


Given this absence of an operating sprinkler system, the fires were able, NIST claims, to spread from the south side and southwest corner of the building, where the debris from the North Tower struck, to the building's northeast region, where they caused the thermal expansion that initiated the building's collapse.

An important element of NIST's account is its statement that "there was no evidence of floor-to-floor fire spread." [15] This means that the fires on each of the ten floors with fire had to have been ignited separately by debris from the North Tower.

Another important element of NIST's account is a claim that it did not make in its final report. Supporters of the fire theory of the collapse of WTC 7, as I mentioned in the Introduction, had generally assumed that the fires had been spread and intensified by diesel oil contained in the building. NIST's final report on WTC 7, however, said that "fuel oil fires did not play a role in the collapse of WTC 7." [16] Gone, therefore, was the possibility of claiming that the diesel fuel had played a role in WTC 7 analogous to that played by jet fuel in the Twin Towers. In those two buildings, NIST said, there was "widespread spraying of jet fuel ro ignite numerous workstations or offices simultaneously." In WTC 7, by contrast, "the fire would have spread from one individual workstation or office to another." [17]

Nevertheless, as Chapter 8 will show, NIST claimed that the fires spread from the south side and the southwest corner of WTC 7 to the northeast region, where they burned with sufficient intensity, and for a sufficient length of time, to cause enough thermal expansion to start a chain of failures that would result in the building's total collapse.

(2) Fire Temperatures and Durations

NIST's theory, as we will see in Chapter 9, requires that fires on some of the floors burned at 1,000°C (l,832°F); it even suggested that they in places reached 1,100°C (2,012°F). Bur independent scientists, as we will also see, believe that the fires could not have been burning at temperatures even close to this.

In addition, in order to have caused the damage required by NIST's theory, the fires on some floors, as we will also see in Chapter 9, must have lasted up to four hours. But NIST's claim that fires on some of the floors burned that long is purely speculative, unsupported by empirical evidence. Indeed, as we will see, some of NIST's claims about the fires are contradicted by facts contained in its own reports.

Another problem involves the fact that big, intense, long-burning fires on the floors in question would have been possible only if those floors had contained large quantities of combustible material. NIST claims that this was indeed the case on the 11th, 12th, and 13th floors -- the floors that, according to NIST, had the fires that were primarily responsible for bringing down WTC 7. As we will see, however, the claim that these floors had extraordinarily high amounts of combustible material is unfounded.

(3) Steel Temperatures

The role of the fires in NIST's theory, of course, was to bring steel up to temperatures at which it could change in ways that could have produced global collapse. Unlike NIST's report on the Twin Towers, however, its report on WTC 7 does not claim that fire damaged the (vertical) columns. NIST's theory about WTC 7 is, instead, based on the heating of (horizontal) beams.

The fire-induced effects in these beams that led to collapse, according to NIST, were of two types: expansion and weakening. The thermal expansion of beams -- generally alleged by NIST to have been the primary cause of WTC 7's collapse -- was said to have occurred at steel temperatures below 400°C (750°F). So this part of NIST's theory is not obviously outlandish. Equally essential to the theory, however, is the idea that the beams on some of the floors became hot enough to lose most of their strength, which happened, according to NIST, when they reached temperatures of 600°C to 675°C (1,100°F to 1,250°F) -- temperatures that, as we will see in Chapter 9, are clearly implausible.

Beyond overestimating the temperatures and durations of the fires, NIST had two other methods for trying to make its claims about steel temperatures seem plausible. One of these methods was to base its calculations on temperatures ten percent higher than its own simulations suggested. The second method was to avoid the implications of its own finding that each cubicle or office would have provided sufficient fuel for fires lasting only 20 to 30 minutes. As we will see, both of these methods are invalid -- a fact that further discredits the claim that office fires caused the high steel temperatures required by NIST's theory.

(4) How Thermal Expansion Caused Floor and Column Failures

According to NIST, the high temperatures reached by the steel beams supporting Floors 6 through 13 on the northeast side of WTC 7, near Column 79, weakened them so much that they were ready to collapse. At the same time, the thermal elongation of a beam on Floor 13 caused the steel girder connecting Column 44 to Column 79 to disconnect from the latter, so that it was no longer supporting it. This loss of support for Column 79, along with other damage, caused Floor 13 to collapse, and its collapse triggered a cascade of collapses down to the 5th floor. Then Column 79, having lost support from the girder and the floors, buckled, and this started a chain reaction of column failures, leading eventually to the collapse of the entire building.

One problem with this theory, already mentioned, is that it depends on greatly overestimated steel temperatures.

A second problem is that, even if those temperatures were correct, the claim that the steel would have elongated sufficiently to produce the effects described by NIST appears to be unsupported by the relevant calculations, as we will see in Chapter 9.

A third problem is that NIST's claim that steel beams expanded enough to cause such damage is dependent on a finding of its computer simulation, according to which the shear studs connecting the steel beams to the concrete floor slabs failed because the steel beams expanded further and more quickly than the concrete slabs. This was a surprising result, given the fact that steel and concrete, when heated, expand virtually the same amount. The result becomes less surprising, however, when we learn that NIST, while running its simulation, "heated" only the simulated steel, not also the simulated concrete, even though an actual fire in the real building would have heated the actual concrete as well as the actual steel. It was only through this chicanery, evidently, that the simulation predicted the failure of the shear studs.

A fourth problem involves a second instance of fraud involving shear studs. NIST's finding in its computer simulation that the girder connecting Columns 44 and 79 failed is dependent on its claim that, although shear studs were used to connect the beams to the floor slabs, they were not also used to connect the girders to the slabs. But NIST's Interim Report on WTC 7, released back in 2004, stated that shear studs were used to connect the girders (as well as the beams) to the floor slabs.

Once we are aware of this and the previous three problems in NIST's theory of how the global collapse of WTC 7 began, we can see that it is completely unworthy of credence.

(5) How a Failed Column Led to Total Collapse

The final element of NIST's theory -- which, of course, presupposes the correctness of the previous four elements -- is that the collapse of Column 79, which NIST calls the "initial local failure," eventually led to the global collapse of WTC 7. The theory is that the failure of Column 79 caused Columns 80, 81, and, eventually, all the interior columns to fail, so that the building was simply an empty shell; then the exterior columns failed, causing the descent of the exterior facade -- a descent that, from the perspective of external witnesses and video cameras, appeared to be the sudden collapse of the whole building. With this account, NIST attempted to reconcile its theory of a progressive collapse, which would have taken considerable time, with the fact that the building appeared to collapse at virtually the rate of a free-falling object.

But this part of NIST's theory is, like the previous pans, riddled with problems, as we will see in Chapter 10. One of these problems involves a claim NIST makes concerning Column 79: that after losing support from a critical girder and eight floors, which had collapsed, it started moving downward with a high rate of acceleration within a fifth of a second, even though it had not lost the supports it had from the remaining floors. This would have been impossible.

A second problem is that although NIST claims that its simulation-based graphics of the collapse of WTC 7 match the building's behavior as seen in the videos "reasonably well," these graphics really -- as can most easily be seen by comparing the rooflines -- show a completely different kind of collapse.

A third problem is that careful measurements of the building's descent as seen in videos show the upper portion of the building coming down in free fall for over two seconds. NIST's theory does not allow for such an occurrence, a fact that was reflected in the first version of NIST's final report, the Draft for Public Comment, which was issued in August 2008. In that version, NIST denied that free fall had occurred. But public discussion, especially by high-school physics teacher David Chandler, forced NIST to admit, in its Final Report, issued in November, that there had been a stage in the collapse, lasting for over two seconds, during which free fall had occurred. NIST's theory was not revised, however, to allow for this, so NIST ended up with a contradiction between its description of, and its theory about, the collapse. This contradiction dramatically illustrates, more clearly than any of the other problems in NIST's theory, the falsity and unscientific character of its entire approach.

Having given this overview of the five main elements of NIST's collapse theory, along with the chief problems in them, I will provide in the following three chapters a detailed exposition and critique of these elements and problems.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:04 pm

8. THE INITIATION AND SPREAD OF FIRES: NIST'S UNEMPIRICAL ACCOUNT

In Shyam Sunder's opening statement at the August 2008 press briefing to announce the release of NIST's final report on WTC 7, he said: "The debris from Tower 1... started fires on at least 10 floors of the building. The fires burned out of control on six of these ten floors for about seven hours." [1] Both claims in this statement are highly problematic.

Although Sunder stated the first claim -- that the fires in WTC 7 were ignited by debris from the North Tower -- as if this were beyond doubt, NIST's WTC 7 report itself shows otherwise. It says that the cause of the fires is "unknown," [2] which means that NIST could only call the idea that they were ignited by debris from the North Tower "likely." [3]

The press, however, simply reported Sunder's seemingly confident statement at the briefing, without pointing out that NIST's report did not back it up. Eric Lipton of the New York Times, for example, wrote: "The investigators determined that debris from the falling twin towers ... ignited fires on at least 10 floors at 7 World Trade Center." [4] In light of NIST's report, Lipton's term "determined" should have been replaced by "speculated." The Associated Press repeated Sunder's speculation in an even more matter-of-fact manner, writing that WTC 7 "was set on fire by falling debris from the burning towers." [5] But that claim, as we will see, is not supported by evidence and is -- in light of evidence reported by NIST itself -- highly unlikely.

The press also failed to challenge Sunder's second claim -- that fires on six floors "burned out of control .. for about seven hours." The press thereby let stand the impression, created by this statement, that the fires on those floors were such that they could have greatly increased the temperature of the building's steel. NIST's report, however, provides no evidence of any seven-hour fires -- let alone seven hours of the raging -- inferno fires suggested by the expression "out of control." The fires were out of control only in the sense that no one was trying to control them.

In the following discussion, I focus primarily on problems with NIST's claim that the fires in WTC 7 were ignited by debris from the collapse of the North Tower. I deal secondarily with the question, important for the following chapter, of the spread and duration of the fires.

1. REQUIREMENTS OF NIST'S THEORY

If NIST's theory of the initiation of the fires in WTC 7 was to be consistent with the official view of this building's collapse -- that it was not caused by explosives -- there were several requirements that had to be met.

One requirement was that the fires in this building began when the North Tower collapsed at 10:28:22 (henceforth designated simply as "10:28"). NIST might have claimed, to be sure, that one or more fires had started at 9:59, when the South Tower (WTC 2) collapsed. But NIST pointed out evidence that "large and heavy debris did not reach WTC 7 from the collapse of WTC 2," which was 675 feet (206 meters) away. (By contrast, WTC 1, the North Tower, was only about 370 feet [113 meters] away.) [6] NIST, accordingly, dismissed the possibility that any fires began before 10:28.

Given the recognition that no fires could have been started by the 9:59 collapse of the South Tower, any evidence that fires began before 10:28 would threaten NIST's theory, because the existence of such fires could be used to support the contention, reported by both Barry Jennings and Michael Hess on 9/11 and reiterated by Jennings several years later, that explosions occurred in WTC 7 prior to the collapse of either of the Twin Towers.

Evidence that fires had begun after 10:28 would also be problematic from NIST's perspective, because it could be used to support the idea that fires had been deliberately started by means of incendiary devices of some sort.

Strictly speaking, NIST could have accommodated evidence of late-starting fires by positing that they were caused by electrical shorts that, although ultimately caused by the North Tower debris damage, had developed some time later. The possibility that electrical shorts started fires was even mentioned. However, this was not a possibility that NIST took seriously. It is mentioned only once, and then only in passing, in a chapter in the long version of NIST's final report written by a single author, Richard Gann. [7] It is not mentioned in the final chapter, in which NIST's theory is summarized, or in any of the other chapters co-authored by NIST's lead investigator, Shyam Sunder. The possibility that fires might have been started by electrical shorts is, moreover, not mentioned even once in the brief version of NIST's report, which was intended for the press and the general public.

Why did NIST not take seriously the possibility of late-starting fires caused by electrical shorts? Perhaps because acknowledging this possibility would have undermined the claim that fires on some of the floors had "burned our of control for about seven hours." It could even have undermined NIST's claim, which (as we will see later) was essential to its theory, that some of the fires had burned for four hours.

Perhaps for these reasons, therefore, NIST wrote -- with one strange exception, to be mentioned later -- as if all the fires in WTC 7 had begun at 10:28, due to debris from the North Tower's collapse. NIST seemed to consider this claim to be a requirement for giving full support to the official view of WTC 7's collapse, according to which it was not brought about deliberately.

A second requirement followed from NIST's acknowledgment, pointed our in the previous chapter, that "there was no evidence of floor-to-floor fire spread." [8] Given this fact, NIST had to maintain that the fires on all ten floors on which fires were observed had been started directly by debris from the collapse of the North Tower. It needed to maintain, therefore, that the fires on each of those floors began at 10:28. This means that if fires were not observed on some of those floors until later on in the day, NIST could not suggest that they had migrated from floors on which fire had been observed earlier. It had to claim that fires had been burning on each of the ten floors since 10:28.

These two requirements entailed a third. Most of the debris damage to WTC 7 was on its south face, with a little on its west face near the southwest corner, so "[t]here was no superficial or structural damage to the north and east faces." [9] NIST had to maintain, therefore, that the fires on all ten floors began on either the south side or the south end of the west side. Therefore, if fire was first observed on the north or east face of a particular floor -- and this was indeed the case for some floors -- NIST had to claim that the fire had migrated there unnoticed from the south or southwest part of the building. NIST's theory, moreover, claims that WTC 7 was caused to collapse by fires on its north and east sides. Accordingly, whereas floor-to-floor migration of fires was ruled out, side-to-side migration of fires on the floors was essential to the theory.

With these requirements in mind, let us compare NIST's theory with the evidence, as reported by NIST itself.

2. WHERE, WHEN, & HOW DID THE FIRES START?

Physical chemist Frank H. Greening has written that one of the most significant problems with NIST's theory is "the question of where and how fires started in building 7." [10] If, as NIST claims, fires were started on ten floors at 10:28 by debris from the North Tower's collapse, we would assume that fires would have been observed on those floors shortly thereafter. And this is what NIST suggests, writing: "Shortly after the towers collapsed, fires began to appear at multiple locations in WTC 7." [11] But whether this statement is true depends on the meaning of "shortly" and "multiple."

After the collapse of the North Tower, as we will see below, photographers and camera crews returned to the site and started capturing imagery, according to NIST, at about 11:00AM. And yet, NIST says, the earliest that any fires in WTC 7 were captured by photographs or videos was at 12:10PM, when fires were visible in two windows on the southwest corner of Floor 22. [12] Fires were then seen at the south end of the west face of the 29th and 30th floors at 12:28. [13] Accordingly, NIST's statement that fires began to appear "[s]hortly after the towers collapsed" means that fire appeared on one floor about one hour and 40 minutes after the collapse of the North Tower and on two other floors about two hours after the collapse. Most people would probably not consider this a reasonable interpretation of "shortly."

The fact that cameras did not capture fires on those floors until almost two hours after 10:28 creates a plausibility problem for NIST's theory: It requires us to believe that, although the fires were supposedly started near the building's south and southwest faces, and hence near the windows, they remained invisible from outside the building for all that time. NIST's theory that all of the fires began at 10:28 is, in any case, speculative, not based on any empirical evidence.

NIST's claim that fires began appearing shortly in "multiple locations" is also problematic. Given NIST's assertion that debris from the collapse ignited fires on ten floors, the word "multiple" would most naturally suggest that fires soon began appearing -- in imagery captured by cameras -- on most, or at least many, of these floors. NIST, however, reports that, prior to 2:08 PM, fires were photographed on only three floors: the 22nd, the 29th, and the 30th. [14] On all the other floors, fires did not appear in imagery until 2:08 or later. Fires that did not appear until 2:08 or later -- three and a half hours or more after the collapse of the North Tower -- certainly cannot be said to have appeared "shortly after" that collapse.

The fact that fires first became visible on the 11th and 12th floors at 2:00 make it very difficult to believe NIST's claim that all fires began at 10:26.

Equally implausible are NIST's claims about the 7th and 13th floors. NIST wrote: "Early indications of a developing fire were observed on the west side of the 7th floor shortly after 2:00 PM.... The first visual evidence for burning on the 13th floor was seen on the east face around 2:30 PM." [16] According to NIST, therefore, these fires remained invisible from outside the building for three and a half to four hours. [17]

NIST's theory moves completely beyond the realm of plausibility in relation to the 8th, 9th, and 14th floors, on which fires were fitst photographed at about 3:40, 4:00, and 5:00 PM, respectively, and hence about five, five and a half, and six and a half hours after the collapse of the North Tower. [18] Can anyone really believe, for example, that a fire had been burning on Floor 14 since 10:28AM, even though "the first and only visual indication of a fire on this floor" was a picture of it taken at 5:03? [19]

3. ALLEGED EYEWITNESS TESTIMONIES OF EARLIER FIRES

The plausibility of NIST's claim that the fires in WTC 7 all originated when the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 is seriously threatened, as we have seen, not only by the fact that imagery of fires on some floors was not captured until three to six hours later, but also by the fact that imagery of no fires whatsoever were captured until 12:10PM. If fires had been initiated at 10:28 near the south and southwest faces of ten different floors, and if cameras had resumed capturing images at 11:00, then surely at least one of the fires would have become visible much earlier than 12:10PM. This supposition could lead to the suspicion that none of the fires began before noon. To overcome this problem, NIST claims that eyewitnesses saw fires on some floors in before any cameras captured them.

An Earlier Fire on the 7th Floor?

NIST claims that a security officer saw a fire on the 7th floor shortly after the North Tower collapsed at 10:28. Although NIST's statement about this security officer -- which occurs in a chapter written by Lawson and Gann -- was quoted in Chapter 5, I have repeated it here, with the statement about the security officer's observation italicized:

A security officer. .. headed back up to a floor in the 40s after WTC 2 collapsed [i.e., after 9:59 AM].... The security officer had reached the 30th floor when the building shook as WTC 1 collapsed [i.e., at 10:28 AM], and the stairwell became dark. He began to descend and stopped at the 23rd floor to see if anyone was on the OEM floor. He opened the door. .. and saw that the area was filled with smoke. He made it down to the 7th floor, where he stopped because he could not see or breathe at this point. He broke a window near the center of the north face to yell for help. A ladder truck pulled up, but could not reach the window .... Firemen came up the stairwell right away. Soon after WTC 1 collapsed, the security officer saw a fire on the west side of Floor 1 that he attempted to put out with an extinguisher, but he was unable to do so. As the firefighters went up, they vented the stairway and cleared some of the smoke. They first met the security officer on the 7th floor, and firefighters escorted him down the stairs. Other firefighters from the group continued up the stairs, shined their flashlights through the staircase smoke and called out. The two trapped men on the 8th floor [i.e., Hess and Jennings] saw the flashlight beams ... and went down the stairway.  [20]


With this account, NIST apparently meant to avoid having to claim that, although the fires began at 10:28 AM, there was no evidence of a fire until 12:10 PM. By means of this Lawson-Gann account of the security officer, NIST has shown that a fire was seen in WTC 7 shortly after the collapse of the North Tower (WTC 1), hence at about 10:30. Or rather, NIST has shown this if, and only if, its account of the security officer's observation is plausible. Bur it is not, for five reasons.

One problem is that the sentence about the fire being seen by the security officer breaks the line of thought: After describing firemen going up the stairwell, the passage describes the observation of a fire, which had occurred several minutes earlier, and then returns to the account of the firefighters going up the stairwell. If the sentence about the observation of the fire is eliminated, the passage reads much more smoothly: "Firemen came up the stairwell right away. As the firefighters went up, they vented the stairway and cleared some of the smoke." It seems, therefore, that the sentence about the security officer's observation of the fire was inserted after the description of the rescue had been written.

A second problem is that, if he had come down the staircase that Hess and Jennings were on, he would have encountered them before he reached the 7th floor.

A third problem with this alleged observation is that it is not mentioned in any previous NIST document about the WTC. The footnote to it, giving the source of its information, says, "SSB [Salomon Smith Barney] Interview 5, April, 2004," [21] which suggests that the security officer had given this account to NIST in April 2004. But, in NIST's 2005 account of the rescue -- which was written by Lawson with Robert Vettori -- the relevant footnote referred only to the interviews with Michael Hess and Barry Jennings. The account does mention a security officer, but there is no indication that he had been interviewed. [22] Are we to believe that, although this interview was recorded in April 2004, Lawson and Vettori, while writing their 2005 account of the rescues, would have made no reference to it?

A fourth problem is one that I mentioned in Chapter 5, when discussing the Lawson-Gann account of the rescue of Hess and Jennings. As we saw, this account implies that firefighters either remained at the WTC site after the 10:28 collapse of the North Tower or else returned only a few minutes thereafter. This conclusion is implied by the fact that the security officer appears to have called for help as soon as he reached the 7th floor, which the account suggests would have been no later than 10:40AM. But due to the huge dust cloud caused by the collapse of the North Tower, as we saw in Chapter 5, firefighters would not have been able to remain at the site, or even to return to it within a few minutes.

Moreover, even if they had been standing around outside, barely able to breathe, they would not have been able to see Hess, Jennings, and a security officer signaling for help. The brief version of NIST's report says that the time at which visibility allowed firefighters to see the building again was "estimated to be 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM." [23] And a chapter in NIST's long report written by William Pitts says: "During [the] first hour following the collapse of WTC 1, emergency responders ... and professional photographers and film crews began to work their way slowly back to the WTC site," with the latter starting to obtain imagery "around 11:00 AM." [24] Accordingly, NIST's reports contain evidence contradictory to the idea that a security officer could have signaled to firefighters at about 10:40 AM.

For these reasons, the claim that the security officer became trapped when WTC 1 collapsed is implausible. If the story reflects actual events, it seems more probable that the security officer would have been trapped, like Hess and Jennings, around 9:30, when the huge explosion occurred that prevented Hess and Jennings from going below the 6th floor. If so, the security officer would have signaled for help shortly after that, as did Hess and Jennings. (However, these would still be a problem with the claim that he had descended to the 7th floor on the same staircase.) But then firefighters, after failing to reach the three men with a ladder, would have been unable to rescue them until 11:00 or so, due to the collapses. (Jennings, as we saw in Chapter 5, said: "The fire department came and ran. They came twice. Why? Because Building Tower One fell, and then Tower Two fell." [25]) Accordingly, if a security officer really reported seeing a fire on the 7th floor shortly after the first damage to WTC 7 occurred, it probably would have been a fire he observed closer to 9:30 than to 10:30.

I will return to this possibility after discussing a fifth reason for doubting Lawson and Gann's claim that, "Soon after WTC 1 collapsed, the security officer saw a fire on the west side of Floor 7." This fifth reason is that NIST provides contradictory versions of the claim.

As we saw above in Chapter 5, an account in NIST's final WTC 7 report written by William Pitts says: "[A] witness saw a fire on the southwest corner of the 7th floor at about 12:15 PM, before being rescued (Chapter 6)." [26] Chapter 6, to which Pitts refers the reader, is the chapter written by Lawson and Gann. His "witness," therefore, is the security officer discussed by them. Pitts, however, was apparently unaware that, according to their chapter, this security officer saw the fire at about 10:30, not at about 12:15.

Another version of the alleged observation that contradicts the Lawson-Gann version occurs in Chapter 9 of the report, which says: "There was a direct observation of a workstation fire in the southwest corner of Floor 7 around noon." On the following page, the time is stated more precisely: ''A cubicle fire was observed on Floor 7 at about 12:15 PM, near the southwest corner of the building." [27] This chapter was co-authored by Kevin B. McGrattan, William L. Grosshandler, and, amazingly, Richard G. Gann. [28] One chapter that Gann helped write, therefore, claimed that a 7th floor fire was observed at about 10:30, whereas another chapter co-authored by Gann says, like Pitts's chapter, that it was observed at "around noon" or, more precisely, "at about 12:15 PM."

There is yet another version of this alleged observation. The "summary" at the end of Chapter 6, written by Lawson and Gann, says: "Soon after WTC 1 collapsed, and thus about 10:30AM, FDNY observed a fire on the west side of the 7th floor." [29] This chapter had not previously discussed any such observation by the FDNY, so this claim, stated in the summary, cannot be a reference to a second observation of the fire (in addition to the one made by the security officer). Accordingly, besides contradicting other authors of NIST's WTC 7 report on the question of when the 7th floor fire was observed, Lawson and Gann even contradict themselves on the issue of who observed the fire at "about 10:30 AM" -- a security officer or the FDNY. Did they, after deciding to report an observation of fire at 10:30, change their minds about details and then forget to make the entire chapter consistent with regard to this issue?

In any case, given all of these contradictions, there is no reason to credit NIST's claim that a 7th floor fire was observed at about 10:30. It appears likely that this claim is a distortion or even a complete fabrication, created to support NIST's theory that the fires in WTC 7 were started by debris from the collapsing North Tower.

Doubt about NIST's claim could easily be cleared up if NIST would provide proof that it did indeed interview a security officer who reported what NIST claims. But NIST refused a FOIA request to release the text of the alleged interview -- thereby increasing the doubt that it actually took place. [30]

An Earlier Fire on the 8th Floor?

No fire was filmed on Floor 8, as we saw above, until 3:40 PM. NIST, however, claims that eyewitnesses reported seeing a fire on the south face of this floor sometime "[ b]etween 12:15 PM and 2:30 PM" (which would make it somewhat more believable that a fire had started on this floor at 10:28). In the chapter by McGrattan, Grosshandler, and Gann, NIST states:

At 12:15PM, when the cubicle fire was observed on Floor 7, people being led from Floors 7 and 8 out of the building reported no fires, heavy dust, or smoke on Floor 8. Between 12:15 PM and 2:30 PM, fire activity on Floor 8 was observed at the south face by eyewitnesses near the southwest corner of the building. [31]


The first of these two sentences is quite remarkable: Even though NIST claims that the fire on Floor 8 -- like the fires on all the other floors -- began at 10:28 AM, this sentence seems to imply that people had remained on this floor until 12:15 PM. Can we imagine that people would have remained on a floor for almost two hours after a fire had started on it?

The sentence clearly states, in any case, that people being led out of the building from the 8th floor at 12:15 saw no fires or even smoke on this floor. I will return to this statement later. For now I wish to point out that we have several reasons to be suspicious of the entire passage.

One problem is the statement that a security officer observed a 7th floor fire at 12:15 PM. As we saw earlier, this statement, made by McGrattan, Grosshandler, and Gann, is contradicted by other NIST authors, who claim that the security officer made this observation at about 10:30AM, shortly after the North Tower collapsed.

A second problem is that, as we saw in Chapter 5, the claim that the security officer spotted a 7th floor fire at around noon, just before he was rescued, appears to have been motivated by the desire to support the claim, made in NIST's 2004 Interim Report on WTC 7, that Michael Hess and Barry Jennings, who were rescued at the same time as the security officer, were rescued at "12:10 to 12:15 PM." And that claim, as we saw, runs contrary to many facts, most obviously the fact that Hess gave an interview before noon several blocks from the WTC site.

A third problem involves this passage's main claim -- that an 8th floor fire was observed between 12:15 and 2:30 PM "by eyewitnesses." Not only are these alleged eyewitnesses unnamed, their existence is not even supported by a footnote referring to interviews with any of them.

Accordingly, NIST's claim about eyewitness testimony to an 8th floor fire early in the afternoon is no more credible than its claim about an early observation of a 7th floor fire.

NIST's Claims for Earlier Fires: Conclusion

On the basis of these alleged eyewitness reports of fires at 10:30AM on Floor 7 and sometime between 12:15 and 2:30 PM on Floor 8, NIST created computer simulations (to be discussed in the following chapter) in which "the fires on these two floors were assumed to have initiated at a time designated as noon." [32] This is puzzling: If NIST believes that the fires began at 10:28, why did it have its computer simulations based on the assumption that they did not begin until noon?

The more serious question, however, is whether NIST even had evidence that the fires began as early as noon. The only evidence NIST offers is alleged eyewitness testimonies and, as we have seen, they are too problematic to be considered credible evidence. The earliest good evidence of fires on these floors, therefore, is the first set of images captured by cameras, which were captured "shortly after 2:00 PM" (Floor 7) and at about 3:40 PM (Floor 8).

This conclusion has two important implications. First, it means that NIST'S earliest objective evidence of a fire in WTC 7 remains the photograph of a fire on the 22nd floor taken at 12:10 PM. To accept NIST's theory of the initiation of the fires, therefore, we must believe that fires were burning on ten floors for an hour and 40 minutes before we have objective evidence for even one of them.

The second implication is that the objective evidence of fire on any of the lower floors, on which there were said to be "sustained" fires, remains the image showing fires on the 11th and 12th floors, which was captured at 2:08 PM (even though "imagery of the WTC 7 faces [had] started to become available around 11:00 AM" [33]).This fact creates a problem for NIST's claim that these fires all started at 10:28 and hence for its claim, to be discussed below, that some of these fires endured for seven hours.

Before turning to the question of the duration of the fires, however, we need to look at a report that there was fire in WTC 7 even earlier than NIST claimed.

Reports that Fire Began at about 9:30 AM

I suggested above that, if a security officer actually did report a fire on the 7th floor, it was probably not at 10:30, as NIST claims, but more like 9:30. (If NIST changed the timeline of the events reported by Michael Hess and Barry Jennings, there is no reason to doubt that it would have done the same for events reported by a security officer.) A reason to believe this, beyond those given earlier, is that three people reported fires in WTC 7 at about 9:30.

Two of these people were Michael Hess and Barry Jennings. As we saw in Chapter 5, they reported an explosion that evidently occurred between 9:15 and 9:30 AM. According to Hess's testimony at the time, this explosion produced "thick smoke" on the 8th floor, and where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Jennings told Dylan Avery that when he got back up to the floor, "It was dark. It was also very, very, hot -- very hot." [34] Jennings told the BBC: "I could smell fire; you know, you could smell the smoke, and I felt the heat; it was intense." The BBC, to be sure, interpreted this to mean fire that was started by the collapse of the North Tower at 10:28, but Jennings was talking about fire that followed upon the big explosion that he experienced approximately an hour earlier.

The third person, an expert on building collapses who otherwise supports the official story about the destruction of the World Trade Center, publicly stated that the fires in WTC 7 began at 9:30 that morning. This expert was structural engineer Matthys Levy, the coauthor of a book entitled Why Buildings Fall Down [35] and the chairman of Weidlinger Associates, which assisted Larry Silverstein's pursuit of a $7 billion insurance payment for the destruction of the World Trade Center (which he had leased shortly before 9/11). [36] Levy offered expert testimony in support of the official story in a 2002 PBS documentary, Why the TOwersFel~ and also in a 2007 History Channel documentary, 9/11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction?

While discussing WTC 7 during the second of these programs, Levy said: "The initial fires started around 9:30 in the morning, so the building was allowed to burn for eight hours." [37] Levy's intent to support the official account, according to which fires brought the building down, is shown by his statement that "the building was allowed to burn for eight hours." That statement also shows that he did not simply misspeak -- that he had not meant to say that the initial fires had started "around 10:30": Only if the fires had burned from 9:30 AM until 5:21 PM, when WTC came down, would they have burned for (almost) eight hours.

In stating in 2007 that the fires in WTC 7 began at 9:30, Levy probably did not realize that he was contradicting in advance what NIST was going to say in its 2008 report, namely, that no fires began until 10:28.

In any case, Levy's statement provides independent support for the account given by Barry Jennings and Michael Hess -- before the latter changed his story after Jennings' death in 2008, as discussed in Chapter 5 -- according to which a fire-producing explosion occurred as they were trying to leave the building shortly after the 9:03 attack on the South Tower. The independent support from Levy makes it seem even more likely that if a security officer did report having observed a 7th floor fire, this observation would have been made closer to 9:30 than 10:30.

It might be thought, to be sure, that if a fire had been started on one or more lower floors at that time, there would be photographs showing this fire. However, images captured from cameras at a distance from the site did not show the lower floors of WTC 7, as they were blocked by surrounding buildings. And the attention of the photographers and camera crews who had arrived at the site by 9:30 would surely would have been focused on the Twin Towers, which had been struck by airplanes and were burning very visibly. Subsequently, the dust clouds created by the collapses of the Twin Towers at 9:59 and 10:28 would have prevented imagery of WTC 7's lower floors from being captured until about 11:00, when visibility returned (as we saw above). By then, any fire that had started at 9:30 would have likely burned out -- as did fires, as we will see below, on several other floors.

To summarize: Whereas NIST claims that all the fires in WTC 7 began at 10:28, this claim appears to be purely speculative. The empirical evidence seems to be more consistent with the idea that some fires began before 10:21 and other fires began after that time. I turn next to NIST's claims about the spread and endurance of the fires.

4. THE SPREAD AND ENDURANCE OF THE FIRES

As we saw at the outset of this chapter, NIST claims that "fires burned out of control on six... floors for about seven hours." The claim that fires burned for many hours on some of the floors is an essential part of NIST's theory, according to which the fires burned long enough to increase the temperature of steel beams sufficiently to cause significant thermal expansion. This claim, however, is not supported by NIST's own evidence.

If fires burned for (almost) seven hours before WTC 7 came down at 5:21, they would have needed to start at about 10:30. But once NIST's claims about early eyewitness observations of fires are dismissed, its earliest evidence of fires in WTC 7 consists of images of fires on Floors 22, 29, and 30, which were captured by cameras at 12:10 and 12:27 PM.

These images, moreover, do not even lend support to the notion that fires on some floors lasted for about five hours, because, as NIST acknowledges: "These [fires] were short-lived." [38] Spelling this out, NIST says that the fires on these three floors "generally did not spread far before dying out." [39] NIST also says: "There are no images showing flames or other evidence of active fires above the 14th floor after about 1:00 PM." [40] In other words, these fires all died out in less than an hour.

As to why the fires on Floors 22, 29, and 30 died out rather than continuing to spread, NIST suggested that they were put out by WTC 7's sprinkler system, which remained intact above the 20th floor:

Water for Floors 1 through 20 was supplied directly from the NYC water distribution system through two service lines .... [T]he water supply tanks located in the upper part of the building did not service the lower floors. Therefore, there was no source of water for controlling fires on the lowest 20 floors when the NYC system became inoperable following the collapse of WTC 1.. .. The water supplies for Floors 21 through 47 included large capacity storage tanks and direct connections to the NYC water distribution system. These supplies provided redundant sources of water for the standpipe and sprinkler system infrastructures .... This might explain why some fires on and above Floor 20 did not spread into the anernoon. [41]


This would seem plausible, except for one problem: There was also evidence of fire on the 19th floor, which was one of the floors on which the sprinkler system was not supplied with water. And yet the fire on this floor had also died out by 1:00. [42] Why so? NIST wrote: "NIST was unable to obtain evidence to indicate why this fire did not spread." [43] Perhaps the area where this fire began simply did not have sufficient combustible material to keep it going.

Be that as it may, the 19th floor exception prevented NIST from claiming that, once a fire was started on a floor, it would spread unless it was put out by sprinklers. The fact that Floor 19's fire did not spread, even though its sprinklers could not have been operating, suggests that fires on other floors may have been unable to spread for a reason unrelated to the question of whether those floors had functioning sprinklers -- with such a possible reason being the absence of sufficient combustible material. The fire on Floor 19, therefore, provides one more reason to be skeptical of NIST's theory that fires started on some of the lower floors at 10:28 and continued to spread until the building collapsed.

In any case, NIST's claim about long-burning, out-of-control fires was restricted to six lower floors: "Sustained fires occurred on Floors 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13." [44] These are the floors on which Shyam Sunder claimed that fires burned "for about seven hours." But NIST's own evidence fails to support this claim. I will look at these six floors in reverse order, starting with Floor 13.

Floor 13

NIST says, as we saw earlier: "The first visual evidence for burning on the 13th floor was seen on the east face around 2:30 PM." [45] So, although NIST claims that this fire started on the south or southwest part of building at 10:28, it provides no evidence to support this claim. The empirical evidence would be compatible with the assumption that the fire on this floor originated on the east face shortly before 2:30. At best, therefore, NIST has provided evidence that the fire on the 13th floor lasted about three hours. This is important because, as we will see in the next chapter, Floor 13 is one of the three floors on which fire is said to have caused the greatest damage.

Floors 12 and 11

The fires on the 11th and 12th floors are the other ones said to have caused the most damage. With regard to Floor 12, NIST says: "The first observation of a fire on the 12th floor was on the east face around 2:08." [46] NIST's evidence, therefore, would be consistent with the assumption that the fire on this floor began on the east face at about 2:00 PM. At best, therefore, NIST's evidence supports the existence of a fire on this floor lasting about 3 hours and 20 minutes.

The same is true of the 11th floor, about which NIST states: "A fire was first observed on this floor at 2:08 PM on the east face." NIST, however, makes additional comments about this floor, saying:

Shortly after the flames first appeared on the north face [at 4:34 PM], a photograph showed intense burning .... By around 4:52 PM, the flames in the area had apparently died down, and flames on this floor were not observed again until around 5:10 PM .... NIST found no evidence regarding the pathway that the fire took to reach the north face. [47]


So although NIST claims that the fire on Floor 11 began on the south or southwest side at 10:28, then migrated to the east face by 2:08 and to the north face by 4:34, it presents no evidence to support this claim. Its evidence would be consistent with the assumption that one fire began on Floor 11's east face at about 2:00, another began on its north face at about 4:30, and still another began at about 5:00. Moreover, even if we accepted NIST's speculation of a continuous, migrating fire on Floor 11 from 2:08 PM until the building collapsed, this would be evidence for a fire lasting only a little over 3 hours.

Floor 9

NIST's evidence for a "sustained fire" on the 9th floor is even weaker.

NIST states:

There was no indication of fire in the available imagery on this floor until... [shortly] before 4:00 PM.... There are no images suggesting how fire reached [the west side of the north face]. Views of the floor as little as 10 min[utes] earlier provided no indication that a fire was present. Once the fire appeared, it grew rapidly and spread to the east.... NIST found no evidence regarding fire behavior after 4:40 PM. [48]


In other words, NIST had evidence that a fire on the 9th floor was "sustained" for a total of 40 minutes -- from about 4:00 until about 4:40 PM. It was "out of control" in the sense that no one was controlling it. But it seemed to control itself quite well, perhaps because this floor -- possibly like the 19th floor -- simply did not have enough combustible material to keep a fire going.

Floor 8

"The earliest observation of a fire present on the 8th floor," NIST says, occurred at about 3:41 PM.49 This statement is made in the chapter written by William Pitts, who was perhaps unaware of the above-discussed claim, made in the chapter by Kevin McGrattan, William Grosshandler, and Richard Gann, that eyewitnesses had reported "fire activity on Floor 8 ... at the south face" sometime between 12: 15 and 2:30 PM. The fact that Pitts was apparently unaware of this claim is another reason, beyond those discussed above, to consider it poorly supported.

But even if we accepted the alleged eyewitness testimony, NIST would still not have provided a credible account of a long-lasting fire on the 8th floor.

One problem is that the alleged eyewitness testimony does not support NIST's general narrative about the fires in WTC 7, according to which they began on the south or southwest face of the building at 10:28 and then moved toward the other faces. The fire on the 8th floor, according to these reported eyewitnesses, was still on the south face when it was spotted sometime between 12:15 and 2:30 PM, and hence two, three, or even four hours after it had supposedly started.

A second problem is the claim that this fire remained in the same area for such a long period. As will be seen in the next chapter, NIST acknowledged that the combustibles in any given area would be burned up within approximately 20 minutes. If so, how could fire have kept burning on Floor 8's south face for several hours?

A third problem is implicit in a statement by McGrattan, Grosshandler, and Gann that follows their claim about eyewitnesses to an 8th floor fire:

At 3:15 PM, fire was observed on Floors 7 and 12 at the north face, but not Floor 8. At about 3:40 PM, fire was observed near the center of the north face of Floor 8 at roughly the same time fires were burning on the west face and in the northeast corner. [50]


So, after having remained on the south face for several hours, the 8th floor fire suddenly appeared "near the center of the north face" at roughly the same time that it appeared "on the west face and in the northeast corner."

Far from suggesting a fire that migrated from the south face to other parts of the 8th floor, the evidence would be more consistent with the hypothesis that fires were somehow started separately in these four locations.

In its computer simulation of the fires on this floor, in fact, NIST itself needed to assume the existence of at least two independently started fires. Its account of this simulation is quite remarkable. In the chapter entitled "Fire Simulations," McGrattan, Grosshandler, and Gann say:

Fire spread [in general] was predicted by the model as a natural consequence of surrounding objects heating and burning. The exception was that, for the simulation of the 8th floor, a second specified fire was needed to spread the fire to the north face of the building. [51]


NIST admits, in other words, that it could not explain how fire could have migrated from the south face to the north face of the 8th floor. In seeking to overcome this problem by positing a second, separately ignited, fire on this floor, NIST has violated its claim that all of the fires in this building were started by the collapse of the North Tower at 10:28.

This violation is made even clearer in the longer account by McGrattan, Grosshandler, and Gann, which begins:

In the simulation, a 2 MW [52] fire was prescribed near the middle of the south face at about 12:30 PM, 30 min[utes] after the start of the fire on Floor 7. Although there is no direct photographic evidence for it, in the model, windows were intentionally broken out along the west face, starting from the southwest corner, as a means of directing the simulated fire spread in the observed clockwise direction. [53]


These authors then admit that, even after they had broken windows (in the simulation) to direct the fire from the south face up the west face toward the north face (although photographs provided no warrant for doing this), they could not get the simulated fire to move to the north face:

The fire did not spread to the north face in preliminary simulations. The cause was a partition (shown in the architectural drawing of the floor) that partially blocked the path from the southwest corner to the northwest corner. Thus a second MW fire was prescribed near the northwest corner at 3:00 PM, based on the photographic evidence. [54]


The "photographic evidence" to which these authors refer was not evidence of a second fire, but simply the photograph of a fire on the north face taken at about 3:40 PM.

Is this not truly remarkable? NIST claims that WTC 7 was brought down by fires, all of which originated at 10:28 when the North Tower collapsed. NIST's lead investigator, Shyam Sunder, said in his technical briefing in August 2008: "Our observations support a single point of fire ignition on any given floor in World Trade Center 7." [55] Nevertheless, to explain the photographic evidence of fires on the 8th floor, McGrarran, Grosshandler, and Gann simply speculate that a second fire originated in the northwest corner at 3:00 PM.

Besides contradicting NIST's general theory, this speculation raises the question of how such a fire could have originated. If there was no floor-to-floor fire migration, as NIST acknowledges, this fire could not have come up from Floor 7 or down from Floor 9. Also, no burning debris was flying through the air at this time. To exclude the possibility that this second fire was intentionally set later in the day, therefore, NIST would have needed to insist that it was caused by an electrical short -- a possible cause of fires that is mentioned once in NIST's WTC 7 report, in a chapter by Richard Gann. [56] But the chapter in which the second fire is posited, which Gann co-authored, does not mention this possibility. It simply posits a second fire, starting about 3:00 PM, without any discussion of how it might have been started.

Moreover, if these NIST authors concluded that a fire must have somehow started on Floor 8 at about 3:00 PM, what basis did they have for assuming that a previous fire had been initiated on this floor at 10:28 AM? As we saw earlier, NIST itself says that at 12:15 PM "people being led from Floors 7 and 8 out of the building reported no fires, heavy dust, or smoke on Floor 8." [57] With this statement, NIST provided evidence against its claim that a fire had started on Floor 8 at 10:28. Why, therefore, should the NIST authors not simply have assumed that the 8th floor fire started at 3:00?

There is, in fact, no photographic evidence that a fire was present even that early. The earliest objective evidence of fire anywhere on the 8th floor, to recall, is a photograph of a fire on its north face that was taken at about 3:40 PM. If NIST was going to speculate about a fire igniting in the afternoon, perhaps because of an electrical short, it could most reasonably have speculated that it arose shortly before that photograph was taken.

Insofar as NIST had empirical evidence of a fire on Floor 8, therefore, it was for one that endured less than two hours.

Floor 7

The 7th floor was the lowest of the six floors said to have had sustained fires. Aside from the claim of an observation of a fire at 10:30 AM -- which, as we saw, is too problematic to take seriously -- the first evidence of fire on this floor is an image captured "shortly after 2:00." Beyond that, here is what NIST says about Floor 7:

The fire spread north along the west face. By 3:00 PM, the fire had progressed ... past the halfway point of the north face. Shortly after this time, the fire on the north face appeared to stop .... [A]bout 4:25 PM, a fire flared just east of this and died down within another 15 min[utes]. As late as 4:45 PM, fire was observed near the middle of the north face on Floor 7. [58]


To reword the final sentence to bring out its point more clearly: No fire was observed on the 7th floor after 4:45 PM. It was, therefore, hardly what most people would call a fire that was "out of control." NIST has provided, in any case, good evidence for fire on Floor 7 only from 2:00 until 4:45 PM -- a duration of less than three hours. And yet, as we will see in the next chapter, NIST claims that this 7th floor fire heated steel up to very high temperatures.

Summary

Although Shyam Sunder, NIST's lead investigator, claimed at his August 2008 press briefing that "fires burned out of control on six... floors for about seven hours," NIST's report at best provides evidence that fires on these six floors had endured for durations ranging from 40 minutes to a little over three hours. NIST has speculated, of course, that all of the fires started at 10:28, which would mean that the fires on some of the floors would have endured almost seven hours. NIST has provided no credible evidence, however, that any of the fires lasted even half that long.

This fact is implicitly acknowledged by NIST in the chapter on "Fire Simulations," written by Kevin McGrattan, William Grosshandler, and Richard Gann. Whereas the short version of NIST's WTC 7 report claims that "[s]ustained fires occurred on Floors 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13," [59] the chapter by these three authors in the long version says, more accurately, that "sustained and/or late fires were observed on Floors 7 through 9 and 11 through 13 of WTC 7." [60] This statement reflects a major modification, because the "and/or" allows for the possibility that none of the six floors had "sustained" fires -- that all of them merely had "late" fires. This is, in fact, all that NIST's evidence shows.

Of course, while the statement by McGrattan, Grosshandler, and Gann has the virtue of honesty, it would not have been nearly as impressive at the press briefing as Sunder's claim that "fires burned out of control on six... floors for about seven hours."

Besides not being reflected in the press briefing, the statement by McGrattan, Grosshandler, and Gann is also ignored in NIST's final chapter, titled "Principal Findings," which was written by Sunder along with Therese McAllister, Richard Gann, and John Gross. This chapter states that WTC 7 "withstood fires ... on several floors for almost seven hours." [61] So, although Gann was one of the authors of the chapter containing the modest statement about "sustained and/or late fires," he evidently agreed to sign off on the unsupported claim about fires that endured "almost seven hours."

In any case, the great difference between these two durations is of crucial importance for the claim by NIST to be examined in the following chapter -- the claim that the fires in WTC 7 not only became hot enough, but also endured long enough, to heat some of the steel to extremely high temperatures.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:06 am

Part 1 of 2

9. FIRE AND STEEL TEMPERATURES: IMPLAUSIBLE CLAIMS BASED ON DISTORTED DATA

According to NIST's theory, WTC 7 collapsed because of fires fed by office furniture and other ordinary combustibles. These fires did their damage by heating steel beams up to temperatures high enough to cause some of them to expand and others to weaken. This theory requires that fires on some floors became very hot and remained that way for many hours. The first part of this chapter examines NIST's claims concerning the temperatures and durations of the fires; the second part examines its claims about temperatures reached by some of the building's steel. In both parts, we will see, NIST's theory involves implausible claims based on fudged data.

1. FIRE TEMPERATURES AND DURATIONS

As we saw in the previous chapter, NIST claims that fires on six of the floors endured for seven hours. The existence of long-lasting fires on these floors is essential to NIST's theory because its computer simulations indicated that the crucial damage, which caused WTC 7 to collapse, would have occurred when fires had been burning at high temperatures for about four hours. NIST says:

t appeared likely the critical damage state occurred between 3.5 h[ours] and 4 h[ours]. [1]

The global analysis with fire-induced damage at 4.0 h[ours] most closely matched the observed collapse events. [2]


This theory is rendered extremely dubious by many problems.

No Evidence of Four-Hour Fires

As we saw in the previous chapter, NIST's claim that fires burned for seven hours on six floors is purely speculative, unsupported by empirical evidence. The actual video and photographic evidence provided by NIST would be consistent with fires enduring on these floors from 40 minutes (Floor 9) to three hours and 20 minutes (Floors 11 and 12). The available empirical evidence, therefore, does not support the four-hour fires required by NIST's simulations.

Overestimated Combustibles on Floors 11 and 12

One of the most extraordinary aspects of NIST's WTC 7 report is its estimation of the amount of combustible materials on the 11th and 12th floors. NIST provides only very flimsy support for its claim that these floors had far more combustible fuel than the floors in the Twin Towers and most of the other floors in WTC 7. And yet the fires on these floors -- along with the 13th floor, which will be discussed below -- are portrayed by NIST as the primary cause of the collapse of WTC 7. We must, therefore, look closely at its evidence for this claim.

For the 7th, 8th, and 9th floors, NIST used the same estimate of combustible fuel load that it had made for the floors of the Twin Towers: 20 kg/m[2] (4 lb/ft[2]). For Floors 11 and 12, however, NIST estimated the combustible fuel load to have been more than 50 percent higher: 32 kg/m[2] (6.4 lb/ft[2]). [3] Why? In Chapter 3 of the long version of its Draft for Public Comment, put out in August 2008, NIST wrote:

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had occupied the 11th and 12th floors and the north side of the 13th floor ... American Express occupied the southwest sector of the 13th floor. ... The furniture [on the 11th and 12th floors] was mostly modular, generally consisting of decorative laminate over particle board. There were some older solid wood pieces scattered among the managers' offices. The combustible load in the offices was described as high by interviewed American Express managers. There was no clean desk policy. Open case files were left on surfaces. There were many bookcases, file cabinets, and cartons of files in the offices. [4]


The key statement here, to which NIST would repeatedly refer, is that the combustible load was "described as high."

Attorney and chemical engineer James Gourley, writing "on behalf of scientists, scholars, engineers, and building professionals" (including scientists Niels Harrit, Steven Jones, and Kevin Ryan, and architect Richard Gage), sent NIST an incisive critique of its Draft Report. Commenting on the passage just quoted, Gourley said:

Recall that American Express occupied only the southwest sector of the 13th floor. How, then can NIST credibly claim that the combustible load on the entirety of the 11th and 12th floors, both occupied solely by the SEC, was reported to have been high? [5]


Gourley was wrong about one thing here: Besides occupying part of the 13th floor, American Express also occupied Floors 7 and 8. This fact does not, however, affect his point, which was that American Express representatives could not be assumed to be authorities about Floors 11 and 12.

In NIST's Final Report, issued in November 2008, the sentence in question has been changed to read: "The combustible load in the offices [on Floors 11 and 12] was described as high by interviewed SEC managers." [6] Was NIST here, by changing "American Express managers" to "SEC managers," simply correcting a careless error that Richard Gann, the author of Chapter 3, had made in the Draft Report? Probably so, because citing the American Express managers would have made no sense, as Gourley's letter pointed out, and the Draft Report did have a footnote referring to 2005 and 2006 interviews with SEC staff

With this alteration, in any case, NIST's claim for a much higher fuel load on Floors 11 and 12 is not so obviously baseless. But it is still very weak, for several reasons.

One problem involves NIST's point, made in the statement quoted above, that there was "no clean desk policy" on Floors 11 and 12. In making this point, NIST seems to imply that desks on these floors were probably covered with more combustibles than those on Floors 7 and 8. But NIST had earlier noted that American Express, which occupied Floors 7 and 8 (the combustible loads of which NIST did not rate as "high"), also "did not require their employees to clear their desktops at the end of a workday." [7]

Even more serious problems with NIST's claim about Floors 11 and 12, according to which they had far more combustibles than Floors 7 and 8, can be seen by examining its comparison of the layouts of these floors, which is provided in NIST's chapter entitled "Fire Simulations" (written by Gann along with Kevin McGrattan and William Grosshandler):

[T]he 7th and 8th floors of WTC 7 ... were mostly populated by cubicles .... [T]he 11th and 12th floors of WTC 7 were mainly partitioned into offices. The combustible loading of office furnishings was estimated as follows. There were approximately 150 cubicles on the 8th floor and about 120 offices on the 12th floor. NIST assumed that the combustible mass of the furniture was about the same in an office as in a cubicle. Since the loading of other combustibles was reported to have been high on the 11th and 12th floors (Chapter 3), NIST assumed that the total combustible mass in an office was about double that of a cubicle. Thus, the average combustible fuel load on the 11th and 12th floors was estimated as 32 kg/m[2] (6.4 lb/ft[2]). [8]


One problem with NIST's argument here is that, if each cubicle had about as much furniture as each office, as NIST says, Floor 8, with its 150 cubicles, would have had considerably more furniture than Floor 12, with its merely 120 offices. Accordingly, if NIST had needed, for some reason, to argue that the 8th floor had mote combustibles than did Floors 11 and 12, it could have used the cubicles-versus-offices contrast to make [i]that case.

But NIST, which needed the opposite conclusion, interpreted its own statement in Chapter 3 -- "The combustible load in the [11th and 12th floor] offices was described as high by interviewed SEC managers" -- to mean that the quantity of "other combustibles" on those floors was so great that it not only compensated for the furniture deficit but also made the "total combustible mass" on each of these floors over 50 percent higher than that on Floors 7 and 8. That is a lot to read into the statement reportedly made by some SEC managers.

There is, moreover, no way to verify whether these managers really made this statement to NIST. And if they did, we have no way to check NIST's interpretation of it. If these managers said that the combustible load on these two floors was "high," were they indicating that it was higher than that of the other floors in WTC 7 and the floors in the Twin Towers? And if so, did they mean that it was over 50 percent higher? We have no way to find out, as we are not told their names. Unlike some of NIST's reported interviews, moreover, these alleged interviews are not even given reference numbers. The footnote simply says: "NIST Interviews with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission staff, December 2005 through March 2006." [9]

And yet NIST's entire theory about the collapse of WTC 7 is dependent on its highly dubious interpretation of this vague, anonymous, and unverifiable statement.

The claims about Floor 12 are especially important, because NIST uses its computer simulation of fire on this floor as the basis for its description of the fires on the 11th and 13th floors. This fact is reflected in the following statement by NIST about its fire simulations, in which it points out the connection between high fuel loads and intense fires:

In the computations, the fire on the 12th floor, and thus the derivative fires on the 11th and 13th floors, generated significantly more heat than the fire on the 7th or 8th floor. This was in large part due to the higher fuel load in the simulations. [10]


The fact that NIST's simulated fires on Floors 11 and 13 were derivative from its simulated 12th floor fire -- meaning that, rather than working up independent simulations of the fires on those floors, NIST simply assumed that they would have progressed in roughly the same way as the fire on the 12th floor -- is of great importance, because NIST claims, as we will see, that the fires on these three floors were primarily responsible for bringing down WTC 7.

In other words, if NIST were not positing extra-high loading of combustible material on Floor 12 and hence Floors 11 and 13, its theory that fires brought down WTC 7 would not have even prima facie plausibility. But the basis for NIST's argument for this high loading is, we have seen, far too weak to support NIST's extraordinary claim -- that for the first time in history, a steel-framed high-rise building was brought down by fire.

Extraordinary claims, it is often pointed out, require extraordinary evidence. But NIST's evidence for the claim in question -- that Floor 12 and hence Floor 11 (and also Floor 13) had 50 percent more combustible fuel than the other floors in the World Trade Center buildings -- is extraordinary only in the sense of being extraordinarily flimsy.

It even appears, moreover, to be demonstrably false. NIST's report contains schematic diagrams of Floors 8 and 11. If NIST is correct in saying that the 11th and 12th floors were the same, the schematic of Floor 11 shows that each of these floors had 120 offices. But the schematic diagram for Floor 8 shows that, instead of having only 150 cubicles, as NIST states, it had 249. [11] We saw earlier that, even with only 150 cubicles, the 7th and 8th floors would have had more combustibles per square foot than did the 11th and 12th floors. With 249 cubicles each, Floors 7 and 8 would have had far more combustibles than Floors 11 and 12. They may, in fact, have had about 50 percent more combustibles than Floors 11 and 12 -- just the opposite of what NIST claims.

Exaggerated Combustibles on Floor 13

If NIST's treatment of the quantity of combustibles on the 11th and 12th floors is remarkable for its weakness, its treatment of this issue with regard to Floor 13 is even more so. Here is NIST's main statement: "The density of combustibles on the 13th floor was varied and not well known. The average value was assumed to be the same as the 12th floor." [12]

NIST says, in other words: Because we had little information about the density of combustible material on the 13th floor, we concluded that we could best estimate this density by assuming that it was the same as that which we postulated fir the 12th floor.

NIST uses this assumption to claim that the fires on Floor 13, like those on Floors 11 and 12, were very hot and long-lasting. There are two problems with this claim.

First, as mentioned above, both American Express and the SEC had offices on the 13th floor. And yet evidently no one from these organizations reported that this floor had a high quantity of combustible material. If there had been, surely the SEC managers with offices on this floor would have mentioned it when making their comment about Floors 11 and 12.

A second problem involves NIST's claim that the "density of combustibles on the 13th floor was ... not well known." This claim of ignorance is made in Chapter 9, which was written by McGrattan, Grosshandler, and Gann. But Chapter 3, which was written by Gann, indicates that NIST, in fact, knew quite a lot about Floor 13. We there read:

Along the central section of the north petimeter was a corridor, with a hearing room and multiple testimony rooms facing it. There were additional testimony rooms on the northern portion of the east side of the floor and a storage room at the northwest corner. The testimony rooms were sparsely furnished, with just a table and a few chairs. [13]


NIST knew, therefore, that at least part of the 13th floor was "sparsely furnished" -- which would surely mean that, far from having more than the average amount of combustible material, this portion of the floor would have had less.

Just below Gann's statement, moreover, NIST's report has a revealing schematic of Floor 13, showing the location of the corridor, the hearing room, and the testimony rooms. In his letter on behalf of a group of critics of the WTC 7 report, attorney James Gourley wrote:

[A]n examination of the schematic diagram ... reveals that the hearing room appears similar to a court room. Court rooms [like testimony rooms] are also sparsely furnished, with a few tables and chairs. [14]


This schematic also reveals that almost half the floor space of Floor 13 was taken up by the corridor, the hearing room, and the testimony rooms, along with the elevators and restrooms that filled the center of the floor. About half of the floor, therefore, would have had very few combustible items.

Accordingly, NIST's decision to estimate a combustible loading of 32 kg/m[2] (6.4lb/ft[2]) in its computer simulation of 13th floor fires was completely unrealistic. As Gourley wrote: "NIST has apparently greatly overestimated the fuel loading on the 13th floor." [15] Indeed, this floor, far from having more combustible material than most of the other floors, would surely have had less.

NIST's Admitted Gap between Simulations and Evidence

The amount of combustible material on a floor would have been a crucial factor in determining both the temperature and the duration of any fires on that floor. Accordingly, the reasons to believe that NIST overestimated the amount of combustibles on Floors 11, 12, and 13 undermine the credibility of its claim that the fires on these floors were hot enough and long-lasting enough to have greatly raised the temperature of their steel supports.

NIST even admits that the duration of its simulated fires on these three floors exceeded the duration of the actual fires as indicated by the visual evidence. With regard to the 12th floor, NIST says: "The burning time near the north face was longer in the simulation than in the visual evidence." [16] With regard to the 11th floor -- which NIST portrays simply by using its simulation for the 12th floor fires delayed by an hour -- it admits: "This resulted in a... burn duration that was longer than observed in the photographs." With regard to Floor 13, NIST states: "The Floor 13 fires were represented by the Floor 12 fires delayed by one-half hour. The ... burn duration was longer than in the visual evidence." [17]

NIST, however, does not attribute these discrepancies between its simulations and the visual evidence to the fact that it had exaggerated the amount of combustible material on these floors. It does acknowledge the possibility that this might be true -- that the discrepancy might be due to the fact that "the input fuel load was too high." But it rejects this possibility as unlikely, citing an alternative simulation of the 12th floor fires: "Decreasing the combustible load ... from 32 kg/m[2] to 20 kg/m[2]," NIST claims, "showed little effect on the rate of fire progression." [18]

This claim, however, is hard to believe, especially in light of another simulation, in which the combustible load on the 8th floor was doubled from 20 kg/m[2] to 40 kg/m[2]. As to the effect of this doubling, NIST says: "This caused the fires to burn in place longer, until the fuel was consumed, before advancing. As a result, the fires moved distinctly more slowly than in the visual evidence." [19]

Both of these results cannot be correct, at least ifNIST's computer simulation has any relation to the real world. If increasing the amount of available fuel slows down a fire's movement, so that it will burn longer in a given area, then decreasing the amount of fuel will speed up the fire's movement, so that its burn duration in a given area will be shorter. NIST itself implies this by saying, with regard to the simulated fires on Floor 12: "[S]pread rate was about one-third to one-half slower than that on lower floors due to the higher fuel-load." [20]

NIST cannot have it both ways: It cannot say that, although raising the fuel load slows down the spread rate, lowering the fuel load would not speed it up. [21]

It would seem, therefore, that NIST's simulations were based on overestimations of the combustibles available as fuel on Floors 11, 12, and 13, and that this is why the duration of the simulated fires exceeds that of the actual fires, as indicated by the visual evidence.

The 5:00 Fire and the 4:45 Photograph

Do the discrepancies between NIST's simulations and the visual evidence indicate a difference between the simulations and reality? NIST would deny this. But clear proofs of such differences have been provided by NIST itself.

NIST's simulated fires on Floor 12 are illustrated in Figure 9-11 of its report by graphics that display "hourly snapshots of the upper layer temperatures predicted by the model for the 12th floor." The graphic for 5:00 PM shows fires that were very big and very hot -- between 500°C and 1,000°C (932°F and 1,832°F) -- covering about half of the floor's north side. [22] Such fires would have been highly visible from outside.

These fires would have been visible, that is, if they had existed. A photograph of the north face that had been taken fifteen minutes earlier shows that they did not. This photograph was even described, surely to NIST's present embarrassment, in its Interim Report on WTC 7, published in 2004. This report said: ''Around 4:45 PM, a photograph showed fires on Floors 7, 8, 9, and 11 near the middle of the north face; Floor 12 was burned out by this time." [23]

We have an outright contradiction. On the one hand, NIST's computer simulation, based on its claim that Floor 12's combustible loading was "high," portrayed this floor as the scene of a raging inferno at 5:00 PM. On the other hand, photographic evidence shows that, in the real world, this floor's fires had completely burned out at least fifteen minutes earlier -- perhaps because all of its combustibles had already combusted.

This contradiction, which existed in NIST's Draft for Public Comment, was pointed out to NIST by Richard Gage (of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth) [24] and also James Gourley, who said: "It appears that NIST's computer fire simulations are not representative at all of the fires actually occurring in WTC 7." [25]

How did NIST respond to having this stark contradiction brought to its attention? It issued its Final Report without making a single change.

Moreover, as Gage's letter pointed out, the contradiction between NIST's simulated Floor 12 fire and the visual evidence of the actual fire was even worse than the contradiction revealed by the 4:45 photograph. NIST's graphic of its simulated 12th floor fire at 4:00 PM shows the northeast corner of this floor completely filled with a very hot fire. [26] But photographs in NIST's report tell a different story. A photograph taken "around 2:57 PM" shows that the 12th floor fire had already moved across the north face about one-fourth of the way to the northwest corner, leaving the northeast corner dark. [27] A photograph taken "around 3:12:50 PM" shows that the fire had continued moving west, being at this time almost to the center of the north face, and the northeast corner was still dark. [28] A photograph taken at "around 3:54" shows that the only fire remaining on Floor 12 was in the northwest corner. [29]

Accordingly, whereas the graphics of NIST's simulated fire show a raging, very hot fire in the northeast corner of the 12th floor at 4:00 PM, photographs supplied by NIST show that the actual fire had already left that corner by 3:00 PM, never to return. This is no trivial matter, because one of the central elements in NIST's theory of the collapse of WTC 7 is its claim that, in Sunder's words, "Column 79, which is in the northeast corner, is subjected to the heat from this fire on this particular floor for a pretty long time." [30] NIST's theory clearly hinges, therefore, on a fire that did not exist.

Moreover, whereas NIST's 2004 report had pointed out that "Floor 12 was burned out by [4:45 PM]," these photographs show that the truth was even worse: the entire floor except for the northwest corner was burned out by 4:00. And yet NIST's 5:00 PM graphic shows big, hot fires still going strong.

The stark contradictions between NIST's simulated fire and the available photographs show how we should read statements in which NIST admits that its simulations may involve "mild overestimates." For example, after pointing out that the 11th floor fire's "burn duration was longer [in the simulation] than in the visual evidence," NIST says that this difference "could have led to a mild overestimate of the heating on the north side of the floor." Further down the same page, NIST says the same thing, word for word, about the discrepancy between the simulated fire on the 13th floor and the visual evidence. [31] What does NIST mean by a "mild overestimate"?

We can infer the answer by looking at NIST's statement about the discrepancy regarding the fires on the 12th floor: "The simulations of the 12th floor fires (and thus the derivative 11th and 13th floor fires) may have mildly overestimated the duration of the fires." [32] Accordingly, by portraying 1,000°C (l,832°F) fires at locations at which the fires had actually burned out an hour or two earlier, NIST had, in its own eyes, only "mildly overestimated" the actual durations. We can, therefore, reasonably infer that NIST's derivative models of the 11th and 13th floor fires, each said to have possibly involved a "mild overestimate," had a comparable correspondence to reality -- meaning virtually none whatsoever.

Why would there have been such a lack of correspondence between NIST's computer simulations and the visual evidence provided by photographs and videos? NIST provides an answer to this question in the following amazing statement:

The observed fire activity gleaned from the photographs and videos was not a model input, and thus one should not expect a perfect correspondence between predicted high temperatures and observed fire activity. [33]


By saying that the visual evidence was "not a model inpur," NIST means that it was not used in constructing NIST's computer-based model of the fire used in its computer simulation.

As we saw in Chapter 2, the form of scientific fraud known as fabrication, in which scientists simply make up their data, is not uncommon. It is unusual, however, for scientists to admit that this is what they have done.

In any case, NIST uses the fact that it simply ignored the visual evidence while constructing its computer models of the fire to explain the lack of "perfect correspondence" between that visual evidence and NIST's models of the fires. As the discrepancy regarding the state of the fire on 12th floor at 5:00 PM shows, NIST's admission that there may not be a "perfect correspondence" means that there may be no more correspondence than there is between a raging inferno and a totally burned-out fire.

"Mild Overestimates" of Fires on Floors 11 and 13

As we saw above, NIST states: "The simulations of the 12th floor fires (and thus the derivative 11th and 13th floor fires) may have mildly overestimated the duration of the fires." [34] In referring to the 11th and 13th floor fires as "derivative," to recall, NIST means that, rather than carrying out time-consuming simulations of these fires, its scientists simply modeled them on their simulated 12th floor fires.

In a comment about the significance of this procedure, which had been explained in NIST's Draft for Public Comment, James Gourley wrote: "By using its grossly overestimated 12th floor fire data on both the 11th and 13th floors, it has magnified this error three-fold." [35] The following examination of NIST's portrayal of these other two floors will bear out the correctness of Gourley's criticism of this procedure (which remained unchanged in NIST's Final Report).

NIST's Treatment of Floor 11 Fires:

Here is NIST's account of why and how it developed its representation of the 11th floor fires:

The fire behavior on Floor 11 followed the pattern on Floor 12.The fires on the two floats occurred at similar times on the east face, prior to 2:30 PM.The appearance times of the fires on the north face of the 11th floor were about 1-1/2 h[ours] later than those on the 12th floor. Since the floor layouts had the same arrays of partitioned offices, and since it was unknown which office doors were open or closed, the Investigation Team decided that additional simulations of Floor 11 would not have provided any more meaningful results than time-offsetting the temperatures predicted for Floor 12. The Floor 11 fires were represented by the Floor 12 fires delayed by 1 h[our]. [36]


If the 12th floor simulation could be trusted, NIST's decision to assume that the 11th floor fire followed the same path might have been reasonable. But then it added an arbitrary twist: Although the 11th floor fire reached the north face an hour and a half later than the 12th floor fire, NIST's model treated it as if it had arrived there only an hour later. Why would NIST have done this? [37]

We can infer the likely answer by looking at NIST's Figure 9-11, [38] which presents graphics showing the progression of the simulated 12th floor fire every hour, on the hour. The graphic for 3:00 PM shows the heart of the 12th floor fire still down in the southeast corner. The 4:00 graphic, by contrast, shows big fires along most of the north face. If the 11th floor fire had been portrayed as following the same path 1.5 hours later, by 5:00 PM it would have been where the 12th floor fire had been by 3:30, and hence still on the east face. It could not, therefore, have done the damage required by NIST's theory before 5:21, when WTC 7 collapsed.

But by plotting the 11th floor fire as following the path of the 12th floor fire only an hour later, NIST could represent it as burning wildly out of control at 5:00 on the north face (as was the fire on the 12th floor at 4:00 in NIST's simulation). Only by being there at that time could the 11th floor fire do the damage required by NIST's theory. Once again, NIST has simply manipulated the data to produce the result it needed.

NIST's Treatment of 13th Floor Fires:

NIST provides the following explanation of its representation of fires on Floor 13:

The fire on this floor generally followed the pattern of the fire that was observed for the 12th floor. The timing of the fire on the east side was roughly one-half hour behind that of the fire on the 12th floor. ... Since the floor layout and fuel load on the east side of the 13th floor were highly uncertain, the Investigation Team decided that additional simulations of Floor 13 would not have provided any more meaningful results than time-offsetting the temperatures predicted for Floor 12. [39]


As we saw earlier, NIST used the claim that the 13th floor combustible content was "not well known" to justify its assumption that it was the same as that of the 12th floor. Here, NIST makes that same claim to ignorance about the 13th floor to justify the assumption that the temperatures on this floor were the same as those calculated for the 12th floor.

As we also saw earlier, however, NIST had more information about the "floor layout and fuel load" of Floor 13 than its claim to ignorance suggests. But if NIST had based its model of the 13th floor fire on this information, it could not have portrayed this fire as it did.

Part of the information NIST possessed, as we saw earlier, is contained in the "Schematic of Floor 13" provided in Chapter 3 of its report. [40] This schematic shows that much of the north part of this floor consisted of a corridor, which ran along the north face, and hearing and testimony rooms, which would have been sparsely furnished. There would not have been enough combustibles to fuel a big, hot, long-lasting fire.

Instead of basing its representation of the 13th floor fire on this information, however, NIST based it on the assumption that this fire had followed the path of its simulated 12th floor fire, except for coming along a half-hour later. We can see the result by looking at NIST's graphics of the simulated 12th floor fire. [41]These graphics show a very big, very hot fire -- 900°C to 1,000°C [1,650°F to 1,832°F] -- covering much of the northern third of Floor 12 at 4:00 and 5:00 PM. If the 13th floor fires followed the same path a half-hour later, these big, hot fires would have been covering the same part of this floor from 4:30 until 5:21 PM (when WTC 7 collapsed).

However, if we take reality into account by looking at NIST's "Schematic of Floor 13," we can see that the area in which NIST portrays these big, hot, long-lasting fires is precisely the area that was occupied by the corridor and the (sparsely furnished) hearing and testimony rooms. Far from having a combustible fuel loading of 32 kg/m[2] (6.4lb/ft[2]), as NIST proposes, this part of the 13th floor probably had an even lower density of combustibles than that which NIST assigned to most floors, namely, 20 kg/m[2] (4 lb/ft[2]). This area, accordingly, would not have had nearly enough combustibles to feed the fires depicted there by NIST.

NIST alludes to this problem by admitting, with regard to its model of the 13th floor fire, that its "burn duration was longer than in the visual evidence." [42] Note that the word "longer" was not qualified with an adverb, such as "mildly" or even "moderately." NIST's statement allows, therefore, for the possibility that the simulated fires might have burned, say, two hours longer than the actual fires.

The evidence, in fact, suggests this conclusion. NIST's theory requires, as we have seen, that the fires on Floors 11, 12, and 13 burned for at least four hours. In the previous chapter, however, we saw that NIST's first visual evidence of fire on the 13th floor is an image captured at 2:30 PM. If this fire did indeed move to the north face, as NIST supposes, it would likely not have found enough fuel to sustain it past 4:30 PM (which would mean that the fire burned on this floor for at most two hours).

Photographic support for this conclusion is found, interestingly, in NIST's 2004 Interim Report on WTC 7. This report displayed a photograph of WTC 7's north face showing fires on the 7th and 12th floors but none on the 13th floor. A note beneath the photograph said: "Around 4:45 PM, a photograph showed fires [on] Floors 7, 8, 9, and 11 near the middle of the north face; Floor 12 was burned our by this time." [43] We previously focused on the statement about Floor 12. But the remainder of the statement is also of interest, because in spelling out the floors on which there were fires on the north face at 4:45, it does not mention Floor 13. [44]

According to NIST in 2004, accordingly, there were no fires on the north face of the 13th floor at 4:45 PM. [45] In its 2008 report, nevertheless, NIST claims that big fires were burning at that location from 4:30 until 5:21 PM, when the building collapsed.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:07 am

Part 2 of 2

Summary of NIST's Treatment of Floors 11 and 13:

Given the fact that NIST's computer models of the fires on Floors 11 and 13, like its simulation of the 12th floor fire, completely fails to correspond to the visual evidence, we can fully appreciate the implications of NIST's acknowledgment that such information "was not a model input."

It appears, in sum, that NIST wildly -- not merely mildly -- overestimated the temperatures and the durations of the fires on Floors 11, 12, and 13. Given the crucial role these fires play in NIST's theory of WTC 7's collapse (which will be explained below), these overestimates alone would render the theory unworthy of credence. There are, however, still further problems.

Could the Fires Have Generated Air Temperatures of 1,000 to 1,100°C?

Another problem with NIST's simulated fires in WTC 7 is that they greatly exceed the temperatures that would have been reached by the actual fires. The air temperatures in some locations of WTC 7, according to graphics in NIST's final report, reached 900°C (l,650°F) to 1,000°C (1,832°F), [46] or even higher. [47] The report also says that "simulated fires on Floors 7, 12, and 13 heated portions of the tops of the floor slabs to over 900°C (1,650°F) ," [48] and the fires could have done this in a few hours only if they had been considerably hotter than 900°C (see the Dr. Babravskas quote on page 201). NIST's theory, therefore, clearly requires fires that were 1,000°C (1,832°F) or even higher.

But the idea that there were fires of this temperature is completely implausible. Professor Thomas Eagar of MIT, who supported an early (pre-NIST) version of the official theory about the collapses of the Twin Towers -- and who therefore cannot be suspected of distorting the facts in order to support critics of the government's theory -- provided a helpful account of the maximum temperatures to be expected in the Twin Towers. Eagar wrote:

In combustion science, there are three basic types of flames, namely, a jet burner, a pre-mixed flame, and a diffuse flame.... A fireplace is a diffuse flame burning in air, as was the WTC fire. Diffuse flames generate the lowest heat intensifies of the three flame types.... The maximum flame temperature increase for burning hydrocarbons (jet fuel) in air is, thus, about 1,000°C [about 1,832°F].... But it is very difficult to reach [even] this maximum temperature with a diffuse flame. There is nothing to ensure that the fuel and air in a diffuse flame are mixed in the best ratio. [49]


Pointing out that the black smoke being emitted from the Twin Towers indicated that their fires had a less than optimal ratio of fuel to oxidant, being instead starved for oxygen, Eagar estimated that these fires were "probably only about 1,200 or 1,300°F [648 or 704°C]." [50]

Eagar's account would apply all the more to the fires in WTC 7. They also emitted black smoke and, not having been spread by jet fuel, were much smaller. They were, therefore, probably not as hot as those in the Twin Towers. We can say for certain, in any case, that they were no hotter -- which means that they would have been at least 300°C (570°F) cooler than the 1,000°C (1,832°F) fires of NIST's simulations. Moreover, NIST even implies in places that the fires may have reached 1,100°C (2,012°F), hence exaggerating their temperature by at least 400°C (750°F). [51]

NIST's collapse theory, therefore, is based on the idea that the fires in WTC 7 were 300 to 400°C (570 to 750°F) hotter than they surely were.

The Adoption of Case B Variables

One method NIST used to obtain such high fire temperatures in its computer models was simply to adopt higher temperatures than those suggested by its own simulations. NIST did so, as I will explain, by falsely supposing that a margin of error can justify an arbitrary adjustment of the results either upward or downward.

NIST's simulations were carried out with the use of the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS). [52] However, rather than simply use the results generated by this process, NIST developed two alternative scenarios. Here is NIST's description of its three scenarios, labeled Case A, Case B, and Case C:

The temperature data for use in the structural analysis of WTC 7 contained thermal data sampled at 30 min[ute] intervals for a 6 hour period. For each time step, a set of thermal data was generated that specified the thermal state of the lower 16 stories of the building. Three different thermal response computations were used, all of which represented a realistic and reasonable range of fire scenarios for WTC 7 on September 11, 2001. Case A used the temperature data as obtained from the FDS simulation. Case B increased the FDS gas temperature by 10 percent and Case C decreased the FDS gas temperatures by 10 percent.


The fact that NIST chose to use the FDS implies that NIST regarded it to be a reliable means for calculating the probable temperatures. It should have assumed, therefore, that the Case A data were the most accurate. NIST claims, however, that it could have reasonably chosen to use any of the three sets of temperature data, writing:

Given the limited visual evidence, the Investigation Team estimated, using engineering judgment, that a 10 percent change was within the range of uncertainty in the extent and intensity of the fires. [53]


NIST's argument, in other words, is that the FDS calculations might have been 10 percent too high or 10 percent too low, so either Case B or Case C might have been the most accurate. NIST could thereby justifiably use either the Case B or Case C data.

But even if we assume the correctness of NIST's "engineering judgment," it would not justify a choice to use the Case B or Case C, instead of the Case A, data. Even if the Case A data were indeed off by 10 percent, NIST would have had no way of knowing whether they were 10 percent too high or 10 percent too low. If they happened to be 10 percent too high, so that the Case C data were in fact the most accurate, NIST's choice of the Case B data would mean that its figures would be 20 percent too high. Nevertheless, NIST chose to use the Case B data.

A second justification for doing so is proffered by NIST in the following paragraph, which refers to engineering simulation software called ANSYS. [54]

The three thermal response cases (A, B, and C) were used in the ANSYS analysis. Based on ANSYS model results, it became apparent as the analyses progressed that the sequential failures that were occurring were essentially at the same locations and with similar failure mechanisms. However, as might be expected, the failures were shifted in time, i.e., Case C failures occurred at a later time than the same failures in Case A, and Case A failures occurred at a later time than Case B failures. As a result, only the fire-induced damage produced by Case B temperatures was carried forward as the initial condition for the LS-DYNA analysis... , since the damage occurred in the least computational time (about 6 months). [55]


As this statement shows, NIST's second justification for using the Case B temperatures, incredibly, was so that its computer calculations could be carried out more quickly. This was more important, NIST suggested, than using the most accurate data.

NIST would, to be sure, dispute this conclusion, saying that its choice of the Case B data was justified by its "engineering judgment" that the Case A temperatures might have been 10 percent too high or too low. As we have already seen, however, that judgment, even if correct, would not justify choosing the Case B data, because they might well have been 20 percent too high. The only scientifically justifiable approach would have been to stick with the Case A data while warning readers that they might be as much as 10 percent too high or low.

Given the obvious problems with NIST's stated reasons for choosing the Case B data, we can only conclude that its real reason was that these data, with their higher temperatures, would allow NIST's simulated fires to heat up the simulated steel to the temperatures at which it would fail faster than would the Case A temperatures. In NIST's words: "Case B resulted in mildly higher temperatures in the steel," and "Case B failures occurred at the earliest time." [56]

Even with the Case B temperatures, as we will see in the second part of this chapter, the fires would not have been sufficiently hot and long-lasting to heat the steel beams to the temperatures NIST claimed they reached. If NIST had (correctly) employed the Case A temperatures, this problem would have been even more obvious.

To summarize the first part of this chapter: There are very strong reasons to maintain that the fires in WTC 7 neither became nearly as hot, nor endured nearly as long, as the simulated fires on which NIST bases its collapse theory.

2. STEEL TEMPERATURES

The variables in NIST's computer models of the WTC 7 fires appear, we have seen, to have been derived less from the physical facts than from the requirements of its theory as to how this building collapsed. This theory requires fires that would have heated some of the building's steel to temperatures that arguably could have brought about unprecedented structural damage. I turn now to NIST's claims about the temperatures reached by some of WTC 7's steel.

Temperatures Allegedly Reached by Steel Beams

When NIST developed its explanation of why the Twin Towers collapsed, it argued that the (vertical) columns buckled because fires had raised the temperature of their steel to a point at which they had lost most of their strength. In its explanation of the collapse of WTC 7, NIST does not make any such claim about columns. It instead says that, at the temperatures to which the columns in this building were heated, "structural steel experiences relatively little loss of strength or stiffness. Thus, WTC 7 did not collapse due to fire-induced weakening of critical columns." [57]

Fire instead brought down this building, NIST claims, by heating some (horizontal) steel beams and also some floor slabs and connections:

Being lighter than the columns and with thinner SFRM [spray-applied fire-resistive material], the floor beams, floor slabs, and connections heated more quickly and to higher temperatures than the columns. The elevated temperatures in the floor elements led to their thermal expansion, sagging, and weakening, which resulted in failure of floor connections and/or buckling of floor beams. [58]


The fires, therefore, caused two kinds of damage, referred to in this passage as "thermal expansion," on the one hand, and "sagging" and "weakening," on the other.

Some of NIST's rhetoric misleadingly suggests that it considers thermal expansion to have been the cause of the collapse. Shyam Sunder, for example, made this suggestion in his assertion, quoted above in Chapter 7, that NIST had "identified thermal expansion as a new phenomenon that can cause structural collapse." [59]

NIST's report, however, repeatedly refers to thermal expansion, on the one hand, and thermal weakening and sagging, on the other, as two distinguishable phenomena that led to the collapse. Here are some statements in which they are distinguished:

Elevated temperatures in the floor elements led to thermal expansion, with or without thermal weakening and sagging. [60]

[T]hermal weakening occurs at temperatures greater than about 500°C [931°F]. ... The thermal expansion of the WTC 7 floor beams that initiated the probable collapse sequence occurred primarily at temperatures below approximately 400°C (750°F). [61]

"Better thermal insulation ... [would] minimize both thermal expansion and weakening effects." [62]


Thermal expansion is said to have done its damage at relatively low temperatures. When heated, some of the steel beams become sufficiently elongated, NIST argues, to have exerted forces that helped cause a critical column (Column 79) to fail.

The expanded beams could have exerted such force only if they stayed cool enough to remain rigid. "[S]tructural steel," Thomas Eagar has pointed out, "begins to soften around 425°C [797°F]." [63] NIST claims, accordingly, that this particular kind of damage was caused at temperatures low enough for the steel beams to remain rigid: "The thermal expansion of the WTC 7 floor beams that initiated the probable collapse sequence occurred primarily at temperatures below approximately 400°C (750°F)." [64]

NIST could, therefore, make the case for thermal expansion, which it says "initiated the probable collapse sequences," without claiming that any steel reached extremely high temperatures.

But the damage done by thermal expansion was only one of the initiating causes of WTC 7's collapse, according to NIST's theory. Another initiating cause was the fact that several floors collapsed because the steel beams supporting them had been severely weakened by fire. NIST sometimes, in fact, seems to give this explanation pride of place. In his technical briefing, for example, Shyam Sunder said: "[T]hermally induced breakdown of the floor system was the determining step in causing collapse initiation." [65]

In any case, these beams had become severely weakened, NIST claims, because they were heated to temperatures of 600°C (1,100°F), even 675°C (1,250°F).

The temperatures of some sections of the beams supporting Floors 8, 12, 13, and 14 exceeded 600°C (1,100°F). [66]

[M]any of the floor beams in the southeast half of [Floor 13] reached temperatures around 600°C and remained that hot for over an hour. [67]

During the course of the simulation, the 8th floor beams heated up significantly due to the fire on the 7th floor .... The temperatures in the northeast corner floor beams were above 675°C [1,250°F] near 5:00 pm. [68]

All floor beams began to buckle [at 675°C). [69]


As made clear in the third of these four quotations, these estimated steel temperatures were based on NIST's computer simulations.

These temperatures were not based, it should be emphasized, on an examination of any recovered pieces of steel from WTC 7. NIST claims, as we saw in Chapter 4, that no steel from this building had been recovered. This claim is not true, as we also saw, because the three professors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and also Professor Astaneh-Asl reported on pieces of steel recovered from WTC 7. NIST, however, had to ignore these pieces of steel, because they had been subjected to temperatures far too high to have been caused by fire. In NIST's calculations of steel temperatures, therefore, information derived from physical reality, in the form of recovered steel, was not a "model input."

It is conceivable, of course, that NIST's estimated steel temperatures, even if not based on any physical evidence, might be plausible. There are strong reasons, however, to conclude that they are not.

Exaggerated Fire Temperatures and Durations

The most obvious problem with NIST's estimated steel temperatures, given the facts discussed in the first section of this chapter, is simply that the fire temperatures and durations used in NIST's simulations appear to have been grossly exaggerated. NIST's simulated fires seem to be 300 to 400°C (570 to 750°F) too hot and to have endured two or more hours too long. As Frank Greening has concluded:

In view of the fact that NIST appears to have overestimated the intensity and duration of the fires in WTC 7, ... it follows that the heating of the structural steel is also overestimated. [70]


This problem by itself undermines any credibility that NIST's theory might seem to have. But there are several more problems.

Insufficient Fuel to Heat Beams to 600°C

One reason that the fires in WTC 7 could not have been as hot and long-lasting as NIST suggests, as we have seen, is that they lacked sufficient fuel. Both Greening and Kevin Ryan have concluded from this fact that the steel beams could not have reached 600°C (let alone the 675°C [1,250°F] that NIST claims was reached by beams in at least one location in the building).

Ryan, having noted NIST's claim that the collapse of WTC 7 was initiated by the temperature of five floor beams that had reached 600°C (1,100°F), wrote:

[R]aising those five floor beams to a temperature of 600°C would require an enormous amount of energy, far more than was available from the burning of the office furnishings underneath the floor beams. [71]


Greening likewise rejected the view that fire could have heated floor beams to 600°C (1,100°F), even expressing doubt that it could have heated them much above 300°C (570°F).

NlST's collapse initiation hypothesis requires that structural steel temperatures on floors 12/13 significantly exceeded 300°C [570°F] -- a condition that could never have been realized with NIST's postulated 32 kg/m[2] fuel loading. [72]


Greening believes, therefore, that NIST's theory requires steel beams to have become twice as hot as they could have been, given the quantity of available combustibles estimated by NIST.

Steels Thermal Conductivity Ignored

In stating that the fires in WTC 7 could not have increased the temperature of any steel beams to 600°C (1,100°F), Ryan and Greening were taking into consideration the fact that steel is a good conductor of heat (compared with non-metallic substances). [73]

To explain: If a flame is applied to one portion of a long steel beam, that portion will not be quickly heated up to the temperature of the flame, or even close to it, because the heat will be diffused throughout the beam. If this beam is connected to other pieces of steel, the heat will also spread to them (more or less quickly, depending on the nature of the connections). And if these pieces of steel are, in turn, interconnected with hundreds of others, the heat from the flame will be diffused throughout the entire structure.

In doubting that any of the steel beams could have come close to the temperatures posited by NIST, Ryan and Greening were presupposing this fact about the thermal conductivity of steel, plus the fact that WTC 7 had an enormous amount of interconnected steel.

It seems, however, that NIST simply ignores these facts, evidently not factoring in the thermal conductivity of steel in its computer simulations. To ignore it, however, is scientifically illegitimate, because any simulation that does so will necessarily exaggerate the temperature the steel will reach. Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas, an expert on fire temperatures, has written:

If a flame is exchanging heat with an object which was initially at room temperature, it will take a finite amount of time for that object to rise to a temperature which is "close" to that of the flame. Exactly how long it will take for it to rise to a certain value is the subject for the study of heat transfer. ... [T]he rate at which target objects heat up is largely governed by their thermal conductivity, density, and size. [74]


Besides being large and protected by fireproofing insulation, the steel beams conducted heat well and were interconnected with the rest of the steel in this 47-story building, so that "target objects" for the fires to heat up were huge.

Accordingly, given the thermal conductivity of steel and NIST's failure to include it in its calculations, its steel temperature simulations are -- even if very hot, long-lasting fires are presupposed for the sake of argument -- completely unrealistic.

Fires Burning Too Long in One Place

Still another problem with the simulations of steel temperatures is that they seem to assume that fires remained burning in particular areas of the building far longer than would have been possible, given the available combustible material.

On the one hand, NIST's computer simulations of the damage the fires would have caused are based almost entirely on damage that would have occurred after four hours of heating. NIST states, for example: "The global analysis with fire-induced damage at 4.0 h[ours] most closely matched the observed collapse events." [75] In a more detailed statement, NIST says:

At 3.5 h[ours], the floor systems had fire-induced damage and failures of some connections, beams, and girders. After 4.0 h[ours] of heating, there was substantially more damage and failures in the WTC 7 structural floor system, particularly in the northeast region surrounding Column 79. The structural condition at these two times illustrates how the structure developed sufficient fire-induced damage to reach the collapse initiation event. [76]


These statements suggest that the fires continued to heat up particular beams, girders, and connections for four hours. Indeed, in explaining why its simulation showed that a full 4.0 hours of heating was needed, NIST states: "The response of WTC 7 to the fire-induced damage at 3.5 h[ours] was not sufficient to cause an initiating event that would lead to global collapse." [77]

On the other hand, NIST's account of the combustible material available to fuel fires does not allow for four-hour fires in any location. Given the average amount of combustibles on the various floors, NIST says, the fires could have burned at anyone spot for only 20 to 30 minutes:

Fires for the range of combustible contents in WTC 7 -- 20 kg/m[2] (4.0 lb/ft[2]) on Floors 7 to 9 and 32 kg/m[2] (6.4 lb/ft[2]) on Floors 11 to 13 -- persisted in any given location for approximately 20 min[utes] to 30 min[utes). [78]


NIST acknowledges, in fact, that its simulations showed the period of intense burning to have been closer to 20 minutes than to 30, saying: "[T]he typical intense flaming peak for most of the fires observed in WTC 7 lasted about 20 min[utes]." [79]

It appears, therefore, that NIST's position is self-contradictory. To increase the temperature of any steel beams to the point at which they would fail, which according to NIST would mean 600°C (1,100°F), or more, the fire would have to affect them continuously for four hours. And yet the fire could have endured at anyone spot for only 20 minutes. At the end of a four-hour burning period, the fire would have been 12 offices or cubicles away from its location at the beginning of this period. By that time, the steel that had been heated by the fire at the beginning of this period would have cooled down.

Shyam Sunder, NIST's lead investigator, has offered two quite different solutions to this problem.

Sunders First Solution:

During a 2007 meeting of the advisory committee for NIST's WTC investigation, a committee member asked:

A 4 lb/ft[2] fuel load fire moved every 20 minutes; essentially it started and stopped every 20 minutes, so ... how could fires burn for as long as they had and taken out this major structure that had good fireproofing? [80]


Sunder replied [81]:

The fires in the towers did not stop after 20 minutes. The fires moved from location to location, meaning that at any given location the combustibles needed about 20 minutes to be consumed. While the combustibles at a location were being consumed, the fire front would be progressing to adjacent combustibles .... Once the fires had begun heating the air, the overall air temperatures on a floor continued to rise as new combustible material became involved .... The heating of the structure through its protective insulation was a result of both the high air temperatures that were reached and the duration of those high air temperatures, not just the duration of local burning. [82]


In other words, Sunder said, even though the fire kept moving, the air temperature kept rising, and it was the very high air temperature reached after four hours that did the damage.

Sunder's answer presupposed that the fires at that time not only were heating up the objects close to their flames but also had already heated up the entire floor, because otherwise heat from the fire areas would have been going to the still unheated areas of the floor. But each floor was about the size of a football field, [83] and the visual evidence provides no basis for any suggestion that fires covered all or even most of any floor at any time.

Sunder's answer also presupposed that the process of heating up the air temperature was what physicists call an "adiabatic process," in which no heat is lost. His answer presupposed, in other words, that each floor was similar to a furnace, so that the heat, rather than escaping, would keep building up.

But the floors of WTC 7 were nothing like furnaces. Besides being about the size of a football field, each floor would have constantly lost heat through its walls and windows, especially through any broken windows and any holes in the walls caused by debris from the North Tower's collapse.

NIST's own report supports this contention. It says that the floors could not have been airtight, or else the fires would never have grown enough to threaten the building:

If each floor of WTC 7 had been airtight (i.e., no broken windows or breach in the exterior from debris damage), a fire starting on a particular floor would have been limited to the size that would not likely have threatened the building.... [T]hat would have resulted in an oxygen level below which flame spread would slow considerably and soon halt. [84]


NIST's report, moreover, points to extensive window breakage on the south face, which was caused by debris from the North Tower, [85] and to additional window breakage on other faces of Floors 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13, which was caused by the heat of the fires. [86] NIST even reported that it deliberately broke windows in its simulations so as to drive the fires in the proper direction. [87] Sunder's picture of furnace-like floors is, therefore, contradicted by the report prepared by his team.

This contradiction draws attention to the fact that NIST's theory evidently needs to have it both ways. To provide oxygen and direction to the fires, it needs to have broken windows. But to drive the heat up over a four-hour period, even though the combustibles in any particular area would have been exhausted within 20 minutes, it needs the floors to be airtight and otherwise furnace-like, not allowing any heat to escape. Sunder's solution, therefore, did not overcome the apparent self-contradiction in NIST's position. In August 2008, however, Sunder offered a second solution.

Sunders Second Solution:

In his opening statement for NIST's "WTC 7 Technical Briefing" on August 26, 2008, Sunder repeated the point that fires "persisted in any given location for approximately 20 to 30 minutes." During the question period, 9/11 widow Lorie Van Auken asked:

If building materials typically supply fuel to a fire for 20 minutes, and insulation used on the columns, including Column 79, lasts for two to three hours, how did Column 79 fail? What fueled the fire for that long? [88]


In his response, Sunder did not repeat his earlier answer. Rather, he changed the definition of what would fuel a fire for 20 or 30 minutes, saying:

[K]eep in mind that the 20 to 30 minutes is the time it takes for a combustible in a particular location to start igniting and then complete the process of completely burning out. But that combustible may be a table. It may be a filing cabinet. It may be a computer workstation. It can be furniture, chairs, and so on. So this is not as though the entire space is all burning concurrently. It is each combustible burns for 20 to 30 minutes. [89]


So, after having earlier said that a fire could persist "in any given location" for only 20 to 30 minutes, Sunder now claimed that a fire could be fueled for 20 to 30 minutes by "a combustible in a particular location" -- a combustible such as a table, a chair, a filing cabinet, or a computer workstation. This would imply that a cubicle, if it had all four of these things, could support a fire for an hour and 20 minutes.

But this was not what NIST's Draft for Public Comment, which had just been released, said. It said the same thing as an above-quoted passage from NIST's Final Report, namely:

Fires for the range of combustible contents in WTC 7-20 kg/m2 (4.0 lb/ft[2]) on Floors 7 to 9 and 32 kg/m[2] (6.4 lb/ft[2]) on Floors 11 to 13 -- persisted in any given location for approximately 20 min[utes] to 30 min[utes]. [90]


The Draft Report, like the Final Report, also said: "The simulations indicated that the clusters of workstations burned out in about 20 min[utes] to 30 min[utes]." [91]

However, although this is what NIST's documents say, Sunder tried to rule out this interpretation at the briefing, continuing his answer to Lorie Van Auken by saying:

[W]hen you look at. .. the 2,000 square feet of floor area around Column 79, you can have fires moving from combustible to combustible in that vicinity for a long time. So it moves around .... It's just that each combustible takes 20 to 30 minutes to burn, not the entire floor. [92]


In spite of Sunder's claim at this briefing, the fact that the 20-to-30-minute burning period applies to workstations and cubicles, not to individual combustibles, is stated unequivocally in a new passage in NIST's Final Report, which says: "[F]ires moved from one location to the next (e.g., from one office cubicle to the next) and burned intensely in anyone location for roughly 20 min[utes] to 30 min[utes]." [93]

In stating during the technical briefing that it was each individual combustible, such as each table or filing cabinet, that burned for 20 to 30 minutes -- so that the fire would have remained at each location for an hour or more -- Sunder may have inadvertently revealed his awareness that fires moving every 20 to 30 minutes could not have increased the temperature of steel at any particular location to 600°C (1,100°F). Be that as it may, the contradiction remains, constituting yet another fatal flaw in NIST's WTC 7 collapse theory.

Conclusion: NIST's Exaggerated Steel Temperatures

In producing simulations in which steel beams became much hotter than the actual beams in WTC 7 could have been, NIST used various illegitimate means, which included: positing fires that were unrealistically hot; positing fires that endured much longer than the actual fires did; ignoring the thermal conductivity of steel; and positing fires that lasted too long in one place.

Producing exaggerated steel temperatures was nothing new for NIST. It had done this in its report on the Twin Towers. Arguing that these buildings collapsed because steel columns buckled, NIST wrote: "[W]hen bare steel reaches temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius, it softens and its strength reduces to roughly 10 percent of its room temperature value." [94] Insofar as NIST was claiming that these columns reached 1,000°C (1,832°F), this was a wild, completely baseless, speculation. NIST's own scientists found that, of the columns from the North Tower that they examined, none of the core columns, and only three of the sixteen perimeter columns, had "reached temperatures above 250°C [482°F]." [95] And yet NIST implied that some columns in the towers had reached 1,000°C [1,832°F].

Given NIST's extreme exaggeration of steel temperatures in the Twin Towers, we should not be surprised by its similar exaggerations in relation to WTC 7. Whether or not they surprise us, however, these exaggerations would be sufficient to vitiate NIST's report on this building, even if it contained no other problems.

But it does contain other problems -- many of them. Some of these problems have been laid out in previous chapters. Still more of them, including some of the most serious, will be discussed in the next and final chapter.
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Re: The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the

Postby admin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:13 am

Part 1 of 2

10. FROM THERMAL EXPANSION TO GLOBAL COLLAPSE: FABRICATIONS AND CONTRADICTIONS

In the present chapter, I examine the final two steps in NIST's explanation of the collapse of WTC 7: its claim that thermal expansion caused a crucial column and several floors to fail, and its claim that those failures then led to global collapse.

I begin by quoting NIST's own summary statement of its explanation of how fires in WTC 7 produced a series of local failures that quickly led to global collapse:

The heat from [the] uncontrolled fires caused thermal expansion of the steel beams on the lower floors of the east side of WTC 7, primarily at or below 400°C (750°F), damaging the floor framing on multiple floors .... If thermal expansion in steel beams is resisted by columns or other steel members, forces develop in the structural members that can result in buckling of beams or failures of connections.

Fire-induced thermal expansion of the floor system surrounding Column 79 led to the collapse of Floor 13, which triggered a cascade of floor failures. In this case, the floor beams on the east side of the building expanded enough that they pushed the girder spanning between Columns 79 and 44 to the west on the 13th floor .... This movement was enough for the girder to walk off of its support at Column 79. The unsupported girder and other local fire-induced damage caused Floor 13 to collapse, beginning a cascade of floor failures down to the 5th floor. ... Many of these floors had already been at least partially weakened by the fires in the vicinity of Column 79. This left Column 79 with insufficient lateral support, and as a consequence, the column buckled eastward, becoming the initial local failure fot collapse initiation.

Due to the buckling of Column 79 between Floors 5 and 14, the upper section of Column 79 began to descend. The downward movement of Column 79 led to the observed kink in the east penthouse, and its subsequent descent. The cascading failures of the lower floors surrounding Column 79 led to increased unsupported length in, falling debris impact on, and loads being re-distributed to adjacent columns; and Column 80 and then Column 81 buckled as well. All the floor connections to these three columns, as well as to the exterior columns, failed, and the floors fell on the east side of the building. The exterior facade on the east quarter of the building was just a hollow shell.

The failure of the interior columns then proceeded toward the west. Truss 2 ... failed, hit by the debris from the falling floors. This caused Column 77 and Column 78 to fail, followed shortly by Column 76. Each north-south line of three core columns then buckled in succession from east to west, due to loss of lateral support from floor system failures, to the forces exerted by falling debris, which tended to push the columns westward, and to the loads redistributed to them from the buckled columns. Within seconds, the entire building core was buckling. The global collapse of WTC 7 was underway. The shell of exterior columns buckled between the 7th and 14th floors .... The entire building above the buckled-column region then moved downward as a single unit, completing the global collapse sequence. [1]


This theory, as can be seen, contains the following elements:

1. The fires caused sufficient thermal expansion in steel beams on the east side of WTC 7 to force the steel girder connecting Columns 44 and 79 to lose its connection with the latter, and to damage the floor framing on multiple floors near Column 79.

2. The loss of that girder's connection to Column 79, along with fire-induced damage to the floor system around Column 79, caused Floor 13 to collapse.

3. The collapse of Floor 13 caused all the floors below it down to the 5th floor to collapse.

4. Column 79, being left with inadequate lateral support, buckled between Floors 5 and 14.

5. This buckling caused the downward movement of Column 79 (which caused the kink in the east penthouse).

6. Columns 80 and 81, having also lost support, buckled, causing all the floors on the east side of WTC 7, which had been weakened by fire, to collapse.

7. All the other interior columns then failed, leaving the building a hollow shell.

8. After most of the collapse had already occurred in the building's interior, where it could not be seen from outside, the exterior columns failed, completing the global collapse.

Now, presupposing this overview of NIST's theory of global collapse, I focus on problematic details. I first look at various problems in NIST's claims about types of damage caused by thermal expansion. I then turn to problems in NIST's theory of WTC 7's global collapse -- which are especially severe.

1. NIST'S THEORY OF DAMAGE CAUSED BY THERMAL EXPANSION

The idea that thermal expansion of steel floor beams led to catastrophic damage, which NIST calls the basic element in its theory, contains far too many problems to be even remotely plausible. I will discuss four of them.

Overestimated Steel Temperatures

As we saw in the previous chapter, NIST's claims that steel beams reached temperatures of 600°C (1,100°F), and even higher, is based on exaggerations about the amount of combustible material available on the floors and also about the temperatures and durations of the fires. The claims about steel temperatures are also based on false assertions, such as the assertion that raging fires were burning on the 12th floor at a time when, in fact, the fires on this floor had burned out. NIST's claims about the temperatures of steel beams also seem to ignore the implications of the thermal conductivity of steel and of NIST's own estimate that fires could last in any given area for only about 20 minutes. Insofar as NIST's theory of WTC 7's collapse depends on its claims about steel temperatures, this theory is discredited by the fact that these claims are based on gross exaggerations and even outright falsehoods.

NIST has emphasized, to be sure, that the thermal expansion of steel beams, which (allegedly) initiated the collapse, "occurred primarily at temperatures below approximately 400°C (750°F)." [2] But even raising the temperature of huge, insulated, interconnected pieces of steel close to 400°C (750°F) would have required extraordinary fires. As we saw in the previous chapter, the idea that steel temperatures significantly above 300°C (570°F) could have been reached on Floors 11, 12, and 13 would be dubious, even if NIST's (unrealistic) fuel loading for those floors were true. As we also saw, NIST itself found only three columns in the Twin Towers that had reached temperatures above 250°C (482°F)." [3] Even NIST's claim that some steel beams in WTC 7 reached almost 400°C (750°F) is, therefore, probably an exaggeration.

And yet its theory requires beams to have reached much higher temperatures. NIST does seek to downplay this fact by portraying thermal expansion, which can occur before steel reaches 400°C, as more important than thermal weakening and sagging, which require much higher temperatures. "In the WTC 7 collapse," NIST says, "the loss of steel strength or stiffness was not as important as the thermal expansion of steel structures caused by heat." [4] NIST's theory, nevertheless, does require that steel beams in some locations reached temperatures of 600°C (1,100°F), even 675°C (1,250°F). Such temperatures, according to NIST, were necessary for the beams to lose enough strength to result in floor failures, which playa central part in NIST's theory.

Accordingly, NIST's theory is shown to be unworthy of credence simply because it requires unrealistic steel temperatures. However, although no further evidence would be required to show NIST's theory of WTC 7's collapse to be unscientific and false, I will examine some additional problems to illustrate more fully just how unscientific and implausible it is.

Vanished Shear Studs

One serious problem involves NIST's claim that the collapse of WTC 7 was due in part to the fact that shear studs were not used to connect its girders to the floor slabs. This claim -- that the girders had no shear studs -- is stated unambiguously by NIST:

Floor beams and exterior spandrel beams had shear studs, but the girders that supported the floor beams did not have shear studs. [5]

In WTC 7, no studs were installed on the girders. [6]


This absence of girder sheer studs, NIST says, was a crucial factor in the movement from thermal expansion to global collapse.

This alleged absence is said to have been most fateful with respect to the girder that connected Column 44 with Column 79. If shear studs had been used to make this girder "composite" with the floor, NIST says, then it could have resisted the thermal expansion of the beams under the 13th floor. But without any shear stud connections, "resistance to the thermal expansion of the floor beams would have been provided primarily by the lateral stiffness of the girder," and the girder simply had far too little stiffness (strength) to offer any significant resistance:

The lateral stiffness of the girder was about three orders of magnitude smaller than the axial stiffness of the floor beam. Thus ... the girder provided almost no lateral resistance to the free thermal expansion of the floor beam. [7]


This lack of resistance due to the absence of girder shear studs, NIST says, allowed -- by means of a failure to be described in the next section -- the floor beams to expand freely. And it was these processes, rooted in the absence of girder shear studs, that caused the floor system to fail, the girder between Columns 44 and 79 to become disconnected from the latter, and (thereby) Column 79 to fail.

The absence of girder shear studs is, therefore, critical for NIST's answer to one of the most frequently asked questions, namely: Given the fact that no steel-framed high-rise building had ever collapsed from fire alone, even though some such buildings had bigger and longer-lasting fires, why did WTC 7collapse? Here is NIST's answer:

These other buildings, including Philadelphia's One Meridian Plaza, a 38-story skyscraper that burned for 18 hours in 1991, did not collapse due to differences in the design of the structural system. [8]


These alleged structural differences were spelled out in a longer version of NIST's answer, which said:

If the fires in First Interstate Bank, One Meridian Plaza, the Cardington Test Building and WTC 7 generated comparable atmospheric temperatures, and of the four buildings cited only the WTC 7 building collapsed, the reason for the different outcomes likely lay in differences in the structural systems and the details of how the steel frames were constructed. Although all four buildings have been described as "steel frame structures," comparison of construction features between the three buildings that did not collapse in an uncontrolled fire and WTC 7 revealed [five] differences. [9]


One of these five claimed differences was the absence of girder shear studs in WTC 7. The Draft version of NIST's final report, released in August 2008, expressed this difference in these words: "Non-composite girders in WTC 7 rather than composite girders (presence or absence of shear studs) in the other three structures." [10]

This made an impressive argument: Although those other buildings had equally big or even bigger fires, all of them had composite girders -- meaning that shear studs attached the girders to the floors -- and none of them collapsed. Given this perfect correlation, NIST had good reason, it appeared, to suggest a causal relation.

NIST did, in fact, suggest it strongly. In explaining why WTC 7 collapsed, even though other steel-framed high-rise buildings had survived more severe fires, NIST said that one of the factors was "the absence of shear studs on the girders that would have provided lateral restraint." [11] NIST, in fact, made this point repeatedly, with the following sentence appearing twice, verbatim, in its Draft Report: "Additional factors that contributed to the girder failures were the absence of shear studs that would have provided lateral restraint." [12] Applying this general point to, in particular, the girder connecting Columns 44 and 79, NIST wrote: ''Additional factors that contributed to the failure of the critical north-south girder were (1) the absence of shear studs that would have provided lateral restraint. ... " [13]

But in its Final Report, issued in November 2008, NIST admits that the correlation on which it had based this argument in its Draft Report was, in fact, less than perfect. Its list of the structural differences between WTC 7 and the fire-ravaged buildings that did not collapse now has this item: "Non-composite girders in WTC 7 rather than composite girders (presence or absence of shear studs) in two of the other three structures." [14]

This modified version of the statement -- the previous version had said "in the other three structures" -- makes for a less impressive argument. Although NIST does not draw attention to this fact, it now admits that of the three buildings to which it compares WTC 7, only two had shear studs connecting their girders to the floor slabs. This means that one of the other three buildings remained standing even though it had no girder shear studs. The argument for the causal connection NIST has suggested -- between the absence of girder shear studs and global collapse -- had become much weaker.

Nevertheless, after making this modification, NIST has continued to suggest the causal connection just as strongly as before. All of the above-quoted statements from the Draft Report, in which NIST called the absence of girder shear studs one of the factors responsible for the collapse of WTC 7, are repeated unchanged in the Final Report. NIST continues to suggest, in other words, that the argument for a causal connection is as strong as ever.

There is, moreover, an even more serious problem with NIST's claim that the lack of girder shear studs was one of the reasons for WTC 7's collapse: In 2004 -- before NIST had developed a theory around the idea of girder failures -- it had stated that shear studs did connect the girders to the floor slabs. In its 2004 Interim Report on WTC 7, NIST said:

Most of the beams and girders were made composite with the slabs through the use of shear studs. Typically, the shear studs were 0.75 in[ches] in diameter by 5 in [inches] long, spaced 1 ft to 2 ft on center. Studs were not indicated on the design drawings for many of the core girders. [15]


Whereas the first sentence clearly indicated that shear studs connected most -- but not all -- of the girders to the floor slabs, the final sentence spelled out the exception: many of the core girders did not have shear studs.

This distinction is important because the crucial girder in NIST's 2008 theory -- the one connecting Columns 44 and 79 -- was not a core girder. It was instead in the building's eastern region. According to NIST's 2004 report, therefore, this girder would have been anchored to the floor slab with shear studs -- at least 22 of them.

Why at least 22? The above-quoted statement says that the shear studs were placed from one to two feet apart. The girder was 45 feet long. [16] So even if we assume that there was a shear stud only every two feet, there would have been 22 shear studs connecting this girder to the floor. [17]

For its 2008 reports, however, NIST rewrote the above passage to fit its newly developed explanation of why WTC 7 collapsed. Its Draft Report of August 2008 stated:

Most of the beams were. made composite with the slabs through the use of shear studs. Typically, the shear studs were 0.75 in[ches] in diameter by 5 in[ches] long, spaced 2 ft on center. Studs were not indicated on the design drawings for the girders. [18]


As Chris Sarns, who discovered this contradiction between NIST's 2004 and 2008 reports, has pointed out, two crucial changes were made. [19] First, whereas the 2004 report had said, "Most of the beams and girders were made composite with the slabs through the use of shear studs" [emphasis added]' the 2008 version deleted "and girders," so only the beams were said to have shear studs connecting them to the slabs. Second, whereas the 2004 report said that the design drawings did not indicate shear studs "for many of the core girders," the 2008 report simply says that shear studs were not indicated "for the girders" -- thereby implying that they were not indicated for any of the girders, whether they were core girders or not.

It appears, therefore, that NIST, having developed a theory that would seem plausible only if the girders were not connected to the floors with shear studs, has simply made those shear studs vanish. The girder connecting Column 44 and 79, therefore, went from having at least 22 shear studs to having none. How can we avoid the conclusion that NIST, an agency of the US Department of Commerce, is guilty of scientific fraud?

In denying the existence of girder shear studs in its 2008 report, NIST gives the impression that it does so on good authority. In a section headed "Absence of Shear Studs on Girders," NIST says: "In WTC 7, no studs were installed on the girders (Cantor 1985)." [20] NIST thereby implies that the Structural design drawings of Irwin G. Cantor, the structural engineer of record for WTC 7, indicated that the girders had no studs. However, besides providing no evidence to support this suggestion, NIST ignores the fact that one of its own earlier statements -- " The structural design drawings (Cantor 1985) specified design forces for connections and suggested a typical detail, but did not show specific connection designs" [21] -- had pointed out that his drawings would not have given any such indication.

It appears, therefore, that one of the crucial elements in NIST's explanation of WTC Ts collapse is based on a claim that NIST, by virtue of its 2004 report on WTC 7, knows to be false.

Shear Stud Failure and Concrete's Thermal Expansion

One element of NIST's theory not explained in the previous section is just why the lack of shear studs on the girder connecting Columns 44 and 79 would have led to such catastrophic results. It was stated there that the lack of shear studs on that girder allowed the unrestrained expansion of the floor beams, which in turn led to the processes that caused global collapse.

Why would the expansion of the floor beams, if not restrained by the girder, have left them completely unrestrained? Although the girders, according to NIST, were not connected to the floor slabs by means of shear studs, the steel floor beams were. Why did these studs not restrain the beams? NIST's answer is that, once the girder, having become disconnected because of its lack of shear studs, no longer offered resistance to the floor beams, the expansion of these beams broke the shear studs that had anchored them to the floor slabs, because the floor slabs, unlike the beams, did not expand. From then on, the expansion of the beams was completely unrestrained:

[W]hen a floor beam is not restrained from thermally expanding, while the floor slab to which it is attached with shear studs is restrained due to its in-plane stiffness, the shear studs will fail and the floor beam will have little resistance to thermal expansion or to lateral-torsional buckling. [22]


NIST's theory is based, therefore, on two different types of shear stud failure. Whereas girder shear studs played their role by simply failing to exist, the shear studs connecting the steel beams to the floor slabs failed due to lateral pressure. NIST's claim about this second kind of failure, we will see in this section, is as problematic as its claim about the first.

Is it conceivable that the shear studs making the steel beams composite with the floor slabs would have failed even if the girders had no studs? Kevin Ryan has explained what would have been involved:

The studs [holding the concrete floor to the beams] were 0.75 inches x 5 inches long, and were positioned every 1 to 2 feet along the beam .... There were 28 of these studs for each of the five beams that supposedly expanded. [23]


So, Ryan pointed out, NIST's theory requires that "those floor beams would have had to not only expand linearly, but also break 28 high-strength shear studs." NIST's theory does require all of this breakage, even though, as Ryan points out, a deceptive media presentation by NIST suggested otherwise by showing only three of these shear studs. [24]

In any case, surprise that such breakage occurred was expressed in a comment to NIST by David Proe and Ian Thomas, a professorial research fellow and the director, respectively, of the Centre for Environmental Safety and Risk Engineering at Victoria University in Melbourne. In a letter to NIST, they said:

The assessment of WTC 7 appears to conclude that composite beams [i.e., beams connected to floor slabs with shear studs] are extremely susceptible to failure due to thermal expansion. This is not our experience at all. [25]


Why did Proe and Thomas differ so radically with NIST on this issue?

NIST's claim that shear studs failed depends on what it calls the "differential thermal expansion" of the steel beams and the concrete floor slabs. This is simply a technical way of saying that, in response to the heat from the fires, the steel beams expanded more than the floor slabs. This difference is said to have been responsible for the failure of the shear studs connecting the beams to the floor slabs (which then allowed the beams to expand freely). NIST says, for example, that when temperatures in the shear studs became greater than 300°C (570°F), "differential thermal expansion of the floor beams and floor slab resulted in significant shear force in the shear studs and caused them to fail." [26]

NIST suggests, in fact, that this failure of the shear studs is exactly what should have been expected:

[O]ne would expect that, when a floor beam is not restrained from thermally expanding, while the floor slab to which it is attached with shear studs is restrained due to its in-plane stiffness, the shear studs will fail and the floor beam will have little resistance to thermal expansion. [27]


But why should there have been a significant difference between the expansion of a beam and of the floor slab to which it was connected? Why should one expect the floor slab to have retained its "in-plane stiffness" while the steel beam expanded?

We should, in fact, not expect this: The beams and the floor slabs were both subjected to the same fires, and heat causes steel and concrete to expand almost the same amount, with steel being only slightly more expansive. Put technically, the "linear expansion coefficient" of concrete is almost the same as that of steel. [28]

If steel and concrete were not similar in this regard, then reinforced concrete -- which is concrete in which steel bars are embedded -- would not be useful, because it would fail when subjected to very hot or very cold temperatures. And yet reinforced concrete, which is commonly used in buildings and other structures, works very well, precisely because steel and concrete respond very similarly to changes in temperature. NIST, in fact, acknowledges this similarity, saying that "steel and concrete have similar coefficients of thermal expansion." [29]

On what basis, then, does NIST claim that the shear studs were subjected to intolerable pressure because of differential thermal expansion? Here is its explanation:

In general, the steel framing heated more quickly than the concrete slab. Thus, even though steel and concrete have similar coefficients of thermal expansion, differential thermal expansion occurred between the steel floor beams and concrete slab when the composite floor was subjected to fire. [30]


Let us focus first on NIST's statement that "the steel framing heated more quickly than the concrete slab."

How much more quickly? Even though this is presumably a scientific document, NIST provides no quantitative assessment. We need to know, however, what NIST had in mind. If its vague statement meant only that the steel heated up 0.5 percent more quickly than concrete, then the difference in the thermal expansion would be too trivial to have mentioned. But if NIST meant that steel heated up much more quickly -- say 50 percent more quickly -- this would imply, contrary to fact, that reinforced concrete would not be useful. But NIST's report gives no figure.

Nevertheless, NIST's entire case for shear stud failure rests on its vague claim about differential thermal expansion, as the following statement illustrates:

Shear stud failures in WTC 7 were found to be primarily due to differential thermal expansion effects as the floor beams heated more quickly than the concrete slab. [31]


When we turn to NIST's claim that its computer simulations proved that shear studs would have failed because of the differential thermal expansion, we find this statement:

The first failures observed were of the shear studs, which were produced by axial expansion of the floor beams, and which began to occur at fairly [sic] low temperature of 103°C. [32]


Is the idea that this could have happened in the real world -- which would mean that shear stud failure could be produced by temperatures slightly higher than the boiling point of water -- credible? David Proe, in a letter to NIST about its Draft for Public Comment, indicated that it is not, stating:

We are particularly interested in the finding that the shear studs failed at low temperature. Having conducted numerous fire tests on composite beams, we have never observed this. Was there any physical evidence obtained of this type of failure? [33]


NIST, which did not respond to Proe's question, continues to claim in its Final Report that those shear studs did fail, starting a process that led to the global collapse of WTC 7.

We need an answer, therefore, to the question raised above: Why would NIST's computer simulations have indicated that the floor slabs would have heated up much less quickly, and therefore expanded much more slowly, than the steel beams? Why would the floor slabs have retained their "in-plane stiffness"? The answer is contained in a seemingly innocuous sentence, buried at the end of a paragraph in which NIST describes the variables that were fed into its simulation: "No thermal expansion or material degradation was considered for the concrete slab, as the slab was not heated in this analysis." [34]This remarkable statement bears repeating: "[T]he slab was not heated in this analysis."

This is the reason NIST could tell us that "floor beams heated more quickly than the concrete slab" -- enough more quickly to break shear studs. It had nothing to do with the idea that steel expands farther and faster than concrete. It was simply that, when NIST ran its simulation, it "heated" the simulated steel beams but not the simulated floor slabs.

It appears that the authors of NIST's WTC 7 report have made an effort to avoid, at least technically, committing fraud in this case: Besides admitting that concrete and steel are similarly expansive when subjected to heat, they also explicitly point out that, in their computer expetiment, they did not heat the concrete slab.

Nevertheless, these authors do appear to be guilty of fraud in this matter. NIST generally implies in its report that the floor slabs as well as the steel beams were subjected to heat in its simulations. In the passage in which NIST states that "steel and concrete have similar coefficients of thermal expansion," it also says: "differential thermal expansion occurred between the steel floor beams and concrete slab when the composite floor was subjected to fire." [35] The "composite floor," of course, is the floor slab attached to the beams by means of shear studs, so NIST implies here that the floor slab was heated in its simulation. And yet NIST's simulation, upon which its explanation was based, assumed that the concrete slab was not heated.

Even if NIST had technically protected itself from the charge of fraud, moreover, that would be irrelevant to the question of the credibility of its explanation of the collapse of WTC 7. This explanation, being based on its simulations, could be regarded as credible only insofar as the simulations could be assumed to approximate what actually happened in WTC 7 on September 11, 2001. And insofar as the fires actually heated the steel beams, they would have also heated the floor slabs.

According to NIST's simulations, in fact, the slabs on the 12th and 13th floors reached 675°C (1,250°F). [36] If, for the sake of argument, we accept this estimation, then an "experiment" in which the simulated floor slab was not heated, while the simulated steel beams were heated, would provide no evidence whatsoever that the actual shear studs connecting the actual slabs and beams to each other would have broken.

The phoniness of NIST's simulation was pointed our by Proe and Thomas, who wrote:

We do not agree with the calculations ... indicating shear stud failure. Under the theory presented, ... the W24 beams try to expand, but this is entirely prevented by the slab, producing very high forces at the shear connectors. In reality, the slab is also heated and expands. [37]


Without NIST's unrealistic simulation, in other words, there would have been no reason for the shear studs to fail.

How Much Did the Floor Beams Expand?

Even if NIST's scenario of massive shear stud failure were credible, so that we could imagine that the steel beams were able to expand freely, there would be another question: Could they have expanded sufficiently to cause the kind of damage suggested in NIST's theory?

According to NIST, as we have seen, the process that led to the global collapse of WTC 7 began with the expansion of the floor beams. NIST says:

[T]he floor beams on the east side of the building expanded enough that they pushed the girder spanning between Columns 79 and 44 to the west on the 13th floor. ... This movement was enough for the girder to walk off of its support at Column 79. The unsupported girder and other local fire-induced damage caused Floor 13 to collapse, beginning a cascade of floor failures down to the 5th floor. [38]


To wreak such havoc, the expansion of those floor beams must have been considerable. How much was it, exactly? In the above passage, which is in the brief version of its 2008 report on WTC 7, NIST does not specify, assuring us only that it was enough --" enough that they pushed the girder. .. to the west," which in turn was "enough for the girder to walk off of its support."

But in light of all the damage allegedly caused by the expansion of these floor beams, we really need to know, in order to assess the plausibility of NIST's theory, just how much they would have expanded. Incredibly, even though NIST's entire theory of a thermal-expansion-induced collapse hinges on its claim about expanding floor beams, NIST never says how much they expanded.

Kevin Ryan, having studied the long version of NIST's report with this question in mind, wrote:

t appears NIST is telling us that the loose beams ... deflected the loose girder a distance of several feet. Even if we believe that WTC 7 was built in such a shoddy manner, is this hypothesis realistic? [39]


Based on a diagram provided by NIST, Ryan concluded that NIST's claim is that the beams elongated slightly over two feet. [40] NIST itself refers in one place to a movement of 6.25 inches. [41] So we can ask if a deflection of two feet, or even half a foot, is realistic.

In trying to make a realistic estimate, Ryan said:

The floor beams that NIST is speaking of, that supposedly pushed the girder between column 79 and column 44 completely out of place, were each about 52 feet, or 15.8 meters, in length.


Then, employing the relevant mathematical equation, Ryan calculated that "the beams could have expanded 0.019 m[eters] for every 100°C increase in temperature." Finally, pointing out that only half of this expansion would have been on the girder end of the beam, Ryan concluded:

[A]lthough NIST does not state it clearly in the new report, a 575°C increase in temperature would have caused the girder end of the beams to experience a maximum of 2.2 [i]inches of deflection. And if it were only a "section," for example only a third of a beam length, then the increase from thermal expansion would be correspondingly smaller (or 0.7 inches). [42]


Ryan's final sentence referred to the fact that NIST, in claiming that temperatures approaching or exceeding 600°C (1,100°F) had been reached by floor beams, claims only that these temperatures had been reached by "some sections" of the beams. [43]

According to Ryan's analysis, therefore, the heat-induced expansion of the steel beams would have probably increased their length at the girder end no more than an inch. If this is even close to accurate, then we must agree with Ryan's conclusion that a realistic estimate of the beams' thermal expansion "makes NIST's story of all those bolts and studs breaking in unison, and that critical girder buckling, quite unbelievable." [44]

To summarize: There are four reasons to doubt that the thermal expansion of steel beams could have produced the kinds of damage required by NIST's theory: NIST overestimates the steel temperatures; it falsely claims that the girders had no shear studs; it produces a fabricated "differential thermal expansion" in its computer simulation by heating the steel beams but not the concrete floor slabs; and it implies that the beams, once they had broken free from their shear studs, would have expanded much farther than suggested by standard calculations.

2. NIST'S THEORY OF GLOBAL COLLAPSE

Every element of NIST's theory of how thermal expansion induced enormous damage, we have seen, is deeply problematic. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a less credible theory. But even if we accepted this theory, for the sake of argument, NIST's theory of the effect of this damage, namely, WTC 7's global collapse, would be implausible for several reasons. I will examine four.

The Initiation of Column 79's Descent

One of the problems NIST faced was to explain how a building damaged by fire could have come down with about the same acceleration rate as a building that has been deliberately imploded. In the latter case, explosives have removed the building's steel columns, so that there is nothing to prevent it from coming down in free fall. But if a steel-framed high-rise building were somehow caused to collapse by fires, it would come down much more slowly, because the steel columns would impede the collapse.

NIST, however, could not have claimed that the building's exterior came down slowly. Videos of the collapse have long been available, and the descent of the building's roofline (before it disappeared from view) had been very precisely timed. NIST therefore needed to describe a collapse that, while not caused by explosives, appeared to match the acceleration of the collapse revealed by these videos -- which is the acceleration that would be expected if explosives had been used to implode the building. Given this impossible task, it would not be surprising to find that NIST has made some implausible claims regarding the collapse of WTC 7. And this is what we do find.

One example is NIST's description of the downward acceleration of Column 79, in which NIST says:

Once Column 79 buckled, the column section above Floor 14 began to descend downward. Column 79 began moving downward at the roof level approximately 0.2 s[econds] after Column 79 buckled and 0.6 s[econds] before Column 80 buckled. [45]


After examining this and some related statements by NIST, Frank Greening wrote:

NIST shows ... that the vertical displacement of column 79 at the roof level was in fact 0.83 meters in 0.6 seconds. This implies that within 1 second of buckling column 79 was moving downwards with an acceleration of 4.6 m/s[2] ... which is a very dramatic motion for a column that was restrained by several framing beams and girders on all the undamaged and unheated floors above floor 14 just moments before collapse initiation. I would therefore ask NIST to explain how and why all lateral supports acting on column 79 from more than 30 upper floors, were simply ripped out or otherwise detached from their very secure connections in only 0.2 seconds? [46]


Greening raised this question in response to NIST's Draft for Public Comment. But it went unanswered, and NIST's Final Report simply repeats its above-quoted statement with no added explanation.

Clearly, however, Greening had raised a valid question: Given the fact that Column 79 had been secured on Floors 15 to 47 by beams and girders -- ones that, moreover, had suffered no fire damage -- how could it have been accelerating downward very rapidly within a fifth of a second? The claim is completely implausible.
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