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Unfinished business from September 11








THE FIVE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT 9/11 James Ridgeway. The 9/11 Commission Report is widely declared to be the definitive account of the most devastating attack ever to take place on American soil, but in truth the most vital questions about 9/11 have not been asked:

*Why wasn't a decade of warnings and hundreds of previous deaths enough to improve airline security? Whose interests does the FAA really protect?

*Why was Dick Cheney running the country from a secret bunker on 9/11? Where was Donald Rumsfeld? And how did the Bush administration plot to use the attacks to advance their policy goals?

*With al-Qaeda firmly on the radar for years, why were the FBI and CIA, the world's premier intelligence services, unable to see this coming?

What did ISI, the Pakistani intelligence organization, know, when did they know it, and whom did they tell? How did U.S. allies in the region help pave the way for these attacks?

*Why didn't this "independent" commission find anyone accountable for more than 2,700 civilian deaths? Why are so many of their findings still classified? Which questions did they ask-and which did they ignore?


2500 Ground Zero responders have come down with cancer

NY Post - More than 2,500 Ground Zero rescuers and responders have come down with cancer, and a growing number are seeking compensation for their illnesses, The Post has learned.

The grim toll has skyrocketed from the 1,140 cancer cases reported last year.

In its latest tally, the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital counts 1,655 responders with cancer among the 37,000 cops, hard hats, sanitation workers, other city employees and volunteers it monitors, officials told The Post.

The tragic sum rises to 2,518 when firefighters and EMTs are added. The FDNY, which has its own WTC health program, said Friday it counts 863 members with cancers certified for 9/11-related treatment.

WTC epidemiologists say studies show that 9/11 workers have gotten certain cancers at a significantly higher rate than expected in the normal population — prostrate, thyroid, leukemia and multiple myeloma.





LIZ SZABO, USA TODAY - Working amid the rubble of the World Trade Center may have aged the lungs of firefighters and rescue workers by an average of 12 years, a new study shows. "It's pretty shocking," says John Balmes, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco who reviewed the research, published today in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, but was not involved in writing it. . . Air pollution at Ground Zero included more than 400 chemicals, according to the study.

JUNE 2006


CORKY SIEMASZKO, NY DAILY NEWS - With New Yorkers already fuming about reports that the feds downplayed the danger of Ground Zero dust, the White House gave EPA chief Christie Whitman the power to bury embarrassing documents by classifying them "secret.". . .

Although the stated reason for Bush's directive is to keep "national security information" from falling into enemy hands, advocates for thousands of ailing Ground Zero heroes are convinced there's a more sinister motive. "I think the rationale behind this was to not let people know what they were potentially exposed to," said Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project. "They're using the secrecy thing to cover up their malfeasance and past deceptions.". . .

APRIL 2006


JAMES RIDGEWAY, COUNTERPUNCH - On Flight 11, flight attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney were on the phone to American Airlines ground personnel minutes after the hijacking began. Even though both the FAA and the airlines had been warned more than 50 times in the months preceding the attack, officials on the ground reacted with skepticism and annoyance to Betty Ong's desperate call.

According to one account by people who have listened to all the tapes, American Airlines people were anxious to keep what was going on secret. An American Airlines tape, according to Gail Sheehy in the New York Observer, shows the managers were concerned about keeping things secret. People who listened to the tapes said there were statements including the following: "Keep it close," "keep it quiet," "Let's keep this among ourselves."

So in those terrifying minutes before the first hit, two brave women on the phone inside Flight 11 were calmly telling American Airlines ground officials exactly what was happening.

The airline's reaction: Nothing. It did absolutely nothing.

The managers could have picked up a phone and told all their pilots what was going on. Indeed they co told all pilots in the air what was happening. They could have called officials in New York. There is a real likelihood people at least could have evacuated the second tower.

If someone on the ground had acted, Flight 93, sitting on the Newark airport tarmac, might well have avoided the hijack. . .

The 911 Commission report states it clearly: "As news of the hijackings filtered through the FAA and the airlines, it does not seem to have occurred to their leadership that they needed to alert other aircraft in the air that they too might be at risk."

The 911 Commission found "no evidence…that American Airlines ever sent any cockpit warnings to its aircraft on 911." . . .



DAVE LINDORFF, COUNTERPUNCH - One of the more puzzling mysteries of 9-11 is what ever happened to the flight recorders of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers. Now it appears that they may not be missing at all. Counterpunch has learned that the FBI has them. . .

All four of the devices were recovered from the two planes that hit the Pentagon and that crashed in rural Pennsylvania. In the case of American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon, the FBI reports that the flight data recorder survived and had recoverable information, but the voice recorder was allegedly too damaged to provide any record. In the case of United Airlines Flight 93, which hit the ground at 500 mph in Pennsylvania, the situation was reversed: the voice recorder survived but the flight data box was allegedly damaged beyond recovery.

But the FBI states, and also reported to the 9-11 Commission, that none of the recording devices from the two planes that hit the World Trade Center were ever recovered.

There has always been some skepticism about this assertion, particularly as two N.Y. City firefighters, Mike Bellone and Nicholas De Masi, claimed in 2004 that they had found three of the four boxes, and that Federal agents took them and told the two men not to mention having found them. (The FBI denies the whole story.) Moreover, these devices are almost always located after crashes, even if not in useable condition (and the cleanup of the World Trade Center was meticulous, with even tiny bone fragments and bits of human tissue being discovered so that almost all the victims were ultimately identified). As Ted Lopatkiewicz, director of public affairs at the National Transportation Safety Agency which has the job of analyzing the boxes' data, says, "It's very unusual not to find a recorder after a crash, although it's also very unusual to have jets flying into buildings."

Now there is stronger evidence that something is amiss than simply the alleged non-recovery of all four of those boxes. A source at the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency that has the task of deciphering the date from the black boxes retrieved from crash sites-including those that are being handled as crimes and fall under the jurisdiction of the FBI-says the boxes were in fact recovered and were analyzed by the NTSB.

"Off the record, we had the boxes," the source says. "You'd have to get the official word from the FBI as to where they are, but we worked on them here.". . .

For its part, the FBI is still denying everything, though with curious bit of linguistic wiggle room. "To the best of my knowledge, the flight recording devices from the World Trade Center crashes were never recovered. At least we never had them," says FBI spokesman Stephen Kodak. . .

Why would the main intelligence and law enforcement arm of the U.S. government want to hide from the public not just the available information about the two hijacked flights that provided the motivation and justification for the nation's "War on Terror" and for its two wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, but even the fact that it has the devices which could contain that information? . . .



GEORGE WASHINGTON BLOG SPOT - BYU Physics professor Steven Jones has stated that the government agency tasked with examining the collapse of the World Trade Centers did not investigate any anomalies in the collapse of the buildings, failing to even examine any evidence regarding the buildings' impossible near free-fall speeds and symmetrical collapses, apparent demolition squibs, the fact that the buildings turned to dust in mid-air, the presence of molten metal in the basement areas in large pools in all of the buildings, or the unexplained straightening out of the upper 34 floors of the South Tower after they had precipitously leaned over and started toppling like a tree.

I just ran across an article from a respected civil engineering trade journal which backs up Professor Jones' claim that the government did not really examine the conditions immediately prior to collapse or the collapses themselves. Specifically, the article from the journal of the 180-year old UK Institution of Civil Engineers states:

"World Trade Center disaster investigators are refusing to show computer visualizations of the collapse of the Twin Towers despite calls from leading structural and fire engineers."

The article goes on to state "a leading U.S. structural engineer said, 'By comparison [to the modeling of fires] the global structural model is not as sophisticated' . . . The software used has been pushed to new limits, and there have been a lot of simplifications, extrapolations and judgment calls . . . it would be hard to produce a definitive visualization from the analysis so far.'"

In other words, the U.S. structural engineer is saying that even the non-visual computer models which NIST used to examine why the trade centers collapsed are faulty.

JAMES RIDGWAY, BUZZ FLASH, NOVEMBER 2005 - At one of its public hearings, the [9/11] Commission and its audience listened to the emotional tape-recorded words of Betty Ong, one of two flight attendants on American Airlines Flight 11 who had calmly provided blow-by-blow accounts of the first hijacking as it happened. As their phone calls were relayed to American Airlines headquarters, they were met first with disbelief, and then with warnings from AA managers to "keep this quiet" and "keep this among ourselves." American did not immediately alert the FAA, local flight control centers, the military, the FBI, or even its own pilots. This was before the other planes were seized, and before one of them had even left the ground. It was long before workers in the World Trade Tower Two were told not to evacuate because they were in no danger from the "accidental" plane crash at the other tower.

How many hundreds or thousands of lives might have been saved if the airline had quickly passed on the information provided by these courageous flight attendants? And why, for that matter, had the airlines not taken action to prevent or respond to such hijackings, even after receiving countless warnings in the spring and summer of 2001? The 9/11 Commission staff made copious inquiries into what happened at American Airlines. These inquiries are mentioned in passing in the report's footnotes. The full contents of these staff inquiries were classified and will not be made public for years.


James Ridgeway

The 9/11 Commission Report is widely declared to be the definitive account of the most devastating attack ever to take place on American soil, but in truth the most vital questions about 9/11 have not been asked:

*Why wasn't a decade of warnings and hundreds of previous deaths enough to improve airline security? Whose interests does the FAA really protect?

*Why was Dick Cheney running the country from a secret bunker on 9/11? Where was Donald Rumsfeld? And how did the Bush administration plot to use the attacks to advance their policy goals?

*With al-Qaeda firmly on the radar for years, why were the FBI and CIA, the world's premier intelligence services, unable to see this coming?

What did ISI, the Pakistani intelligence organization, know, when did they know it, and whom did they tell? How did U.S. allies in the region help pave the way for these attacks?

*Why didn't this "independent" commission find anyone accountable for more than 2,700 civilian deaths? Why are so many of their findings still classified?Which questions did they ask-and which did they ignore?

An ever-growing number of facts casts clouds of suspicion over the actions and motivations of many key government officials and agencies. The 5 Unanswered Questions cuts through the official accounts and political "spin" to the questions that lie at the heart of this American tragedy. Currently the Washington correspondent for the Village Voice, James Ridgeway has authored over fifteen books and co-directed the films Blood in the Face and Feed. He has also written for Harper's, The Economist, New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, Parade, Ramparts, and The Wall Street Journal. 1583227121/progressiverevieA/

JUNE 2005. . .


THE REVIEW has been a lonely voice pointing to professional evidence from architects, engineers and fire experts that the World Trade Center disaster was far greater than it had to be due to the failure to observe city building codes and to grossly inadequate fireproofing.

To accept this view would, however, would be to recognize that the World Trade Center was built in massive disregard of safety standards and would call into question the behavior of prominent New York City figures including the Rockefeller family. It would become not just an act of terrorism but the biggest building scandal since the Shirtwaist Triangle Fire in the early 20th century.

To put it simply: the evidence - including that buried in the NY Times story of a new study of the collapse - points to an incident that might have killed hundreds - but not thousands - if the buildings had been properly constructed.

We pick up the Times story a full 17 paragraphs in:

NY TIMES - The trade center was built by the Port Authority, which is not subject to any building codes. Despite promises by the Port Authority to "meet or exceed" the New York City code, the federal investigation found that the trade center had fewer exit staircases than required and that the Port Authority never tested the fire resistance of the floors. It also found no evidence that a rigorous engineering study supported the authority's repeated public assertion that the towers could stand up to the impact of a fully loaded commercial airliner. . .

The three-year, $16 million federal investigation was broken into two primary parts. Using computers to reconstruct the attack, engineers found that when the towers were struck, they redistributed load to surviving columns. Once the fire weakened those remaining, extremely stressed columns, whose fireproofing had been knocked off by the planes, the structures collapsed, the report says.

That research found no flaw in the design of the towers that was a critical factor in the collapse, Dr. Sunder said.

As the computer reconstruction of the towers proceeded, others worked on a second inquiry: identifying weaknesses in building codes. . .

At least some elevators in tall buildings should be built with more robust shaft walls and with electrical systems that will not fail if exposed to water, the report says, so that they can be used to evacuate people who cannot descend long distances and to take firefighters to high floors.

The investigation also raised hard questions about the usefulness of a century-old furnace test that measures the fire resistance of structural components. Last summer, the National Institute of Standards and Technology arranged a furnace test of a 17-foot piece of steel and concrete floor, the standard requirement at the time that the towers were erected. The floor passed the test. However, the tower floors were built not with 17-foot lengths of floor, but with 35- and 60-foot lengths. When a 35-foot length was tested in the furnace, the floor failed the fire-rating requirement.

[Not made clear in the Times story is how critical using more closely spaced uprights encased in concrete or terra cotta blocks, rather than just fireproofing, would have been. In fact, the 1993 bombing of the same building occurred in at its bottom - built according to traditional standards - which is perhaps why the buildings were still around on September 11]



911 TRUTH - An executive of the company that certified the steel used in the construction of the World Trade Center has questioned the common theory that fuel fires caused its collapse, in a letter to the head of the government team that has spent two years studying how the trade center was built and why it fell. The author of the letter, Kevin Ryan, is site manager at Environmental Health Laboratories in South Bend, Indiana, a division of Underwriters Laboratories, the product-compliance and testing giant. Because UL certified the WTC steel for its ability to withstand fires, its performance on September 11 is obviously of concern to the company.

Ryan sent his letter to Frank Gayle, deputy chief of the Metallurgy Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He later forwarded it in an e-mail to David Ray Griffin, author of the New Pearl Harbor, and Catherine Austin Fitts, who is a member of the board. Griffin asked for and received permission to forward the letter for Web distribution. called Ryan today to confirm his authorship. . .

A chemist by profession, Ryan said he is acting in the hope of receiving a public response from Gayle. Given the impact of September 11 on events around the world, Ryan said, everyone needs to know the full truth of what really happened on that day. He added that he considers Gayle to be a good scientist and an honest person.

KEVEN R RYAN TO FRANK GAYLE - Having recently reviewed your team's report of 10/19/04, I felt the need to contact you directly. As I'm sure you know, the company I work for certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings. In requesting information from both our CEO and Fire Protection business manager last year, I learned that they did not agree on the essential aspects of the story, except for one thing - that the samples we certified met all requirements. They suggested we all be patient and understand that UL was working with your team, and that tests would continue through this year. I'm aware of UL's attempts to help, including performing tests on models of the floor assemblies. But the results of these tests appear to indicate that the buildings should have easily withstood the thermal stress caused by pools of burning jet fuel.

There continues to be a number of "experts" making public claims about how the WTC buildings fell. One such person, Dr. Hyman Brown from the WTC construction crew, claims that the buildings collapsed due to fires at 2000F melting the steel. He states "What caused the building to collapse is the airplane fuel burning at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The steel in that five-floor area melts." Additionally, the newspaper that quotes him says "Just-released preliminary findings from a National Institute of Standards and Technology study of the World Trade Center collapse support Brown's theory."

We know that the steel components were certified to ASTM E119. The time temperature curves for this standard require the samples to be exposed to temperatures around 2000F for several hours. And as we all agree, the steel applied met those specifications. Additionally, I think we can all agree that even un-fireproofed steel will not melt until reaching red-hot temperatures of nearly 3000F. Why Dr. Brown would imply that 2000F would melt the high-grade steel used in those buildings makes no sense at all.

The results of your recently published metallurgical tests seem to clear things up, and support your team's August 2003 update as detailed by the Associated Press, in which you were ready to "rule out weak steel as a contributing factor in the collapse". The evaluation of paint deformation and spheroidization seem very straightforward, and you noted that the samples available were adequate for the investigation. Your comments suggest that the steel was probably exposed to temperatures of only about 500F, which is what one might expect from a thermodynamic analysis of the situation.

However the summary of the new NIST report seems to ignore your findings, as it suggests that these low temperatures caused exposed bits of the building's steel core to "soften and buckle". Additionally this summary states that the perimeter columns softened, yet your findings make clear that "most perimeter panels (157 of 160) saw no temperature above 250C". To soften steel for the purposes of forging, normally temperatures need to be above 1100C. However, this new summary report suggests that much lower temperatures were be able to not only soften the steel in a matter of minutes, but lead to rapid structural collapse.

This story just does not add up. If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I'm sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans. Alternatively, the contention that this steel did fail at temperatures around 250C suggests that the majority of deaths on 9/11 were due to a safety-related failure. That suggestion should be of great concern to my company.

There is no question that the events of 9/11 are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror. And the issue of the WTC collapse is at the crux of the story of 9/11. My feeling is that your metallurgical tests are at the crux of the crux of the crux. Either you can make sense of what really happened to those buildings, and communicate this quickly, or we all face the same destruction and despair that come from global decisions based on disinformation and "chatter."

Thanks for your efforts to determine what happened on that day. You may know that there are a number of other current and former government employees that have risked a great deal to help us to know the truth. I've copied one of these people on this message as a sign of respect and support. I believe your work could also be a nucleus of fact around which the truth, and thereby global peace and justice, can grow again. Please do what you can to quickly eliminate the confusion regarding the ability of jet fuel fires to soften or melt structural steel.



[This quote from the 9/11 Commission report was just brought to our attention. We could not find it in either the Washington Post or the NY Times although the Palm Beach Post, Seattle Times and two Seattle weeklies ran the story. When we put the phrase "to keep someone from taking a plane" into Google we came up with only 48 responses.]

MARTIN BRIGHT, GUARDIAN, SEP 11 - In August 2001, the Minneapolis office of the FBI contacted headquarters in Washington to request a warrant to search the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French national with known Islamic extremist views being held in the Midwest city on immigration charges.

An intelligence investigation into Moussaoui had been instigated after agents learned he had taken flying lessons at the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Eagan, Minnesota, as 'an ego-boosting thing'. They found he had an inexplicable $32,000 in his bank, was planning to sign up for martial arts training and buy a global positioning receiver. He paid $9,000 to be trained how to fly an airliner from London Heathrow to New York's John F Kennedy and showed particular interest in the workings of aircraft doors. The field office concluded he was 'an Islamic extremist preparing for some future act in furtherance of radical fundamentalist goals'.

But when a supervisor at Minneapolis pushed the request for a warrant, headquarters complained he was just trying to get people 'spun up.' The supervisor, now furious, said this was precisely his intention and he was 'trying to keep someone from taking a plane and flying it into the World Trade Centre'. Washington said this was not going to happen and they had no evidence Moussaoui was a terrorist.



WILL BUNCH, PHILA DAILY NEWS CAMPAIGN EXTRA - Two men who worked extensively in the wreckage of the World Trade Center claim they helped federal agents find three of the four "black boxes" from the jetliners that struck the towers on 9/11 - contradicting the official account. Both the independent 9/11 Commission and federal authorities continue to insist that none of the four devices - a cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the two planes - were ever found in the wreckage.

But New York City firefighter Nicholas DeMasi has written in a recent book -- self-published by several Ground Zero workers -- that he escorted federal agents on an all-terrain vehicle in October 2001 and helped them locate three of the four.

His account is supported by a volunteer, Mike Bellone, whose efforts at Ground Zero have been chronicled in the New York Times and elsewhere. Bellone said assisted DeMasi and the agents and that saw a device that resembling a "black box" in the back of the firefighter's ATV.

Their story raises the question of whether there was a some type of cover-up at Ground Zero. Federal aviation officials - blaming the massive devastation - have said the World Trade Center attacks seem to be the only major jetliner crashes in which the critical devices were never located.

A footnote to the 9/11 Commission Report issued this summer flatly states: "The CVRs and FDRs from American 11 and United 175" - the two planes that hit the Trade Center - "were not found."

And officials for the FBI - which oversaw the cleanup at Ground Zero - and the New York City Fire Department repeated this week that the devices were never recovered.



NICK WELSH, INDEPENDENT - In his book Peter Lance claims that in 1996, high-ranking FBI and Justice Department officials turned a deliberate blind eye on documentary evidence provided by a high-ranking mob snitch that a key Al Qaeda terrorist, Ramzi Yousef, behind bars for the original bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, was actively plotting to blow up what turned out to be TWA Flight 800, which exploded 13,000 feet in the air above Long Island in the summer of 1996, killing all 230 passengers and crewmembers on board. After a 16-month investigation, the FBI blamed that tragedy on mechanical failure. Given that Yousef's uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was one of the masterminds behind the September 11 plot, Lance contends the FBI blew yet another golden opportunity to prevent 9/11 from ever occurring. . .

In 1995, a Philippine colonel named Rodolfo Mendoza informed American authorities that he'd obtained a confession from Abdul Murad, a close associate of Yousef's, who revealed then that Yousef - in addition to assassination plots against the Pope and President Bill Clinton - was working on plans to send a hijacked airliner crashing into one or more of six possible targets in the United States. These included the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, a nuclear power plant, the Sears Tower in Chicago, and the Transworld Building in San Francisco. No date was set. In addition, Mendoza said Murad told him that Yousef had enrolled his accomplices in flight-training schools. Lance claims Mendoza's warning clearly establishes the official beginning of the 9/11 plot in 1995, not 1998 as outlined in the 9/11 Commission's report. . .

When the TWA Flight 800 blew up, investigators found trace explosives favored by Yousef on the plane, but rejected sabotage as a cause in favor of mechanical failure. Lance suggests that decision was based solely on political considerations rather than the forensic evidence. . . Lance contends that high-ranking officials, like Jamie Gorelick - now the FBI's chief counsel - shut down the criminal investigation into the crash of TWA Flight 800 for fear that their outstanding cases against various mobsters would unravel.

The World Trade Center's Dirty Secret

[The first story below, column one in Sunday's Times, involves a matter the Review has been following since the month after the attack on the WTC. Even this report, however, does not suggest the depth of the scandal - the possibility that most of the deaths at the WTC were not due to the crash of the planes but to the grossly negligent construction of the buildings in violation of fire standards dating back as far as 60 years. Involved are not merely design flaws, as one might gather from the Times article, but the deliberate circumventing of city fire codes by having the World Trade Center exempted from them. To get some sense of the seriousness of the matter, compare the understated Times report with the criminal charges filed in the recent Rhode Island music hall fire or with last century's Shirtwaist Triangle fire. We have also included earlier accounts to give a better picture of this largely suppressed story]

JAMES GLANZ, NY TIMES - Hundreds of buildings nationwide with fireproofing similar to that used in the World Trade Center could be far more prone to structural damage during major fires than previously thought, according to preliminary calculations by federal investigators.

The investigators are studying the precise causes of the World Trade Center collapse. Their work includes calculations of how heat moves through steel building components with small gaps or imperfections in fireproofing insulation. Their inquiry, which is still in its early stages, shows that during a fire such flaws can act as sluice gates for heat, allowing it to enter the steel, where it becomes trapped, weakening the structure.

Countless buildings put up since the 1960's have used the same type of lightweight, fluffy, spray-on fireproofing to protect their steel. Photographic evidence of the trade center suggests that this material, which is easily damaged, had gaps and possibly larger missing sections. Experts say similar problems are also found in ordinary high-rises. . .

"When we entered into this investigation, there clearly was a concern with explaining why buildings that looked like they would stand forever came down," said Richard G. Gann, a senior research scientist at the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. That is where this $16 million investigation into the sequence of structural failures that led to the collapse of the World Trade Center - buildings that looked as if they would stand forever - is being conducted. . .

Officials with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which built the trade center, have claimed in the past that no matter how well the steel was protected, the planes probably knocked off much of the fireproofing where they struck. Other experts have disputed that contention, saying that poorly applied and maintained fireproofing could have played a role in the collapses.

Only the cores of the twin towers, which held the elevators and escape stairwells, were built like traditional high-rises, with clusters of relatively heavy steel columns and beams linked together in a cagelike matrix. Beyond that, the 110 floors in each tower contained roughly an acre of open space each, uncluttered by vertical support columns. . .

Spray-on fireproofing replaced the use of heavier materials, like terra-cotta blocks, after World War II, and became extremely common in the 1960's, when the World Trade Center went up. The fireproofing used on the trade center trusses was a mixture of mineral fibers and cement-like materials called binders.

SAN JOSE BUSINESS JOURNAL, OCTOBER 2001: The two towers of the World Trade Center may have collapsed because the planes which crashed into them this morning scraped away protective coatings on steel beams allowing incredibly intense fires to soften supporting beams, according to a San Jose State University professor who has worked on buildings of similar size. While not drawing a conclusion as to the cause of the collapse, a Stanford University professor has estimated the intensity of the fires, likening them to the explosion of an atomic bomb. "The planes hitting the sides of the buildings probably did not do that much structural damage," says Kurt McMullin, professor of civil engineering at San Jose State.

"The impact of the jets probably knocked a lot of fireproofing off [the steel girders]," he says. "Losing the glass windows allowed the fire to travel to several floors. It just led to a complete collapse of the steel frame which then dropped all the floors above. "We design buildings to withstand high intensity fires for a limited time," he says. "[But] once steel becomes hot it becomes soft and it loses its strength." The buildings, engineered to withstand the force of a hurricane, should have been able to withstand the impact of the planes, he says.

JOSEPH J. REBANDO, RETIRED BATTALION CHIEF IN LETTER TO NY DAILY NEWS - All new high rise buildings in NYC should be constructed under the 1938 building code, requiring all structural steel to be insulated by several inches of concrete and plaster. All components must be able to withstand fire and heat at elevated temperatures for four hours. This would provide ample time for evacuation and mitigate the total collapse of the structure.

BILL MANNING, FIRE ENGINEERING MAGAZINE - Did they throw away the locked doors from the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire? Did they throw away the gas can used at the Happyland Social Club Fire? Did they cast aside the pressure-regulating valves at the Meridian Plaza Fire? Of course not. But essentially, that's what they're doing at the World Trade Center. For more than three months, structural steel from the World Trade Center has been and continues to be cut up and sold for scrap. Crucial evidence that could answer many questions about high-rise building design practices and performance under fire conditions is on the slow boat to China, perhaps never to be seen again in America until you buy your next car. . .

I have combed through our national standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere in it does one find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings over 10 stories tall. Hoping beyond hope, I have called experts to ask if the towers were the only high-rise buildings in America of lightweight, center-core construction. No such luck. I made other calls asking if these were the only buildings in America with light-density, sprayed-on fireproofing. Again, no luck - they were two of thousands that fit the description. . .

Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the "official investigation" blessed by FEMA and run by the American Society of Civil Engineers is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure. . .

As things now stand and if they continue in such fashion, the investigation into the World Trade Center fire and collapse will amount to paper- and computer-generated hypotheticals. However, respected members of the fire protection engineering community are beginning to raise red flags, and a resonating theory has emerged: The structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers. Rather, theory has it, the subsequent contents fires attacking the questionably fireproofed lightweight trusses and load-bearing columns directly caused the collapses in an alarmingly short time. . .

The builders and owners of the World Trade Center property, the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, a governmental agency that operates in an accountability vacuum beyond the reach of local fire and building codes, has denied charges that the buildings' fire protection or construction components were substandard but has refused to cooperate with requests for documentation supporting its contentions . . .

Clearly, there are burning questions that need answers. Based on the incident's magnitude alone, a full-throttle, fully resourced, forensic investigation is imperative. More important, from a moral standpoint, for the safety of present and future generations who live and work in tall buildings-and for firefighters, always first in and last out-the lessons about the buildings' design and behavior in this extraordinary event must be learned and applied in the real world. To treat the September 11 incident any differently would be the height of stupidity and ignorance. The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately. The federal government must scrap the current setup and commission a fully resourced blue ribbon panel to conduct a clean and thorough investigation of the fire and collapse, leaving no stones unturned.

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - Largely ignored by the ordinary media is a key question about the September 11 disaster: did it have to be that bad? The answers, however, are being sought by firefighters, engineers and architects. A case in point is Jim Malott, a San Francisco architect who has followed the World Trade Center since it first took shape, chronicling its history in words and photos. Mallot was also an officer aboard U.S.S. Enterprise, where he witnessed more than one fiery jet plane crash.

In the November/December 2001 issue of Designer/Builder, Mallot gives a deeply disturbing interview to Kingsley Hammet who writes: "Prior to the advent of the World Trade Center towers, high-rise buildings shared two vital characteristics. They were supported by a grid of steel columns, generally spaced about thirty feet apart, and each interior column was encased in a tough cladding of concrete to create a fireproof skin designed to withstand a four-hour inferno. (The four-hour fire rating is the code rule for the columns and major beams in any large building.) As designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, New York's Twin Towers incorporated neither of these traditional features. And as far as Malott is concerned, it was the failure of their substitutes - not the initial crash, not the exploding jet fuel, and not the subsequent fire alone -that lead to their collapse and the enormous loss of life . . . "As Malott watched the tragedy unfold, he surmised that the sequence of events went something like this. when the planes slammed into the exterior of the buildings, the fuselages and engines broke through a number of the outside columns while the wings disintegrated as though being forced through a cheese grater. The bodies of the planes crashed across the unobstructed floors, smashed into the central cores of the buildings, and blew the sheetrock off the supporting columns and from around the stairwells, completely destroying the elevator shaft wails. Thus, in the first seconds, the four-hour-rated fireproofing was stripped from the steel core structures and with it went all hope that the buildings could survive a fire. "After an hour of this inferno, the now-naked steel columns of the central core at the impact floors were heated to about 1,600 degrees, which is the point at which steel loses almost all of its structural strength. The relatively skimpy floor system, with hung sheetrock, small-diameter steel bar joists, and the thin layer of concrete, offered little barrier to the raging flames despite having been rated as fire-resistant for four hours. Three floors may have collapsed within the impact area, further tearing fireproofing away from the core columns.

Once the first couple of core columns began to buckle, Malott speculates, they threw all of their load not onto a neighboring ring of strong columns protected with fireproofing (which in this design did not exist), but onto the adjacent columns in the exposed core, which were similarly denuded of fireproofing by the initial impact and also were failing under the intense heat. 'The outside of the building did not fail. It did not get hot enough,' Malott says. 'It was the core that failed.'

"It's time now to go back and rethink the entire concept of the high-rise structural system, Malott says. Buildings such as the World Trade Center towers cannot be built to minimum code specifications And architects must now truly consider the impact of a fully loaded aircraft or other impact/explosion/fire combination striking another tower. Future high-rise buildings must be designed with a redundant system of interior support columns so no failure of any critical part - be it the core, the skin, or the floor -leads to the catastrophic collapse of the entire building . . .

"Ever since the World Trade Center became the global icon of capitalism, most high-rise buildings in America have followed its lead and wrapped their steel columns in some combination of mineral wool and gypsum board rather than concrete, leaving them susceptible to potentially devastating pancake failure not in four hours, for which they are theoretically fire rated, but in less than an hour . . . "It's interesting to note that while the enormous bomb that exploded in the parking garage of the World Trade Center in 1993 killed six people, injured almost 1,000, caused a massive fuel fire, and collapsed two garage floors, it did relatively little structural damage to the tower because the basement columns were encased in concrete . . .

"A building of this scale, in Malott's opinion, should never have been built in this way. The best proof is what happened to the 102-story Empire State Building when rammed by a B-25 in 1945. The plane, loaded with gasoline, hit between the seventy-eighth and seventy-ninth floors. The resultant fire burned for twenty-four hours and gutted five stories of the building. But the accident did not cause any catastrophic collapse of the structure because the tower had been built around a grid of interior columns and everyone had been clad in concrete."

[DESIGNER BUILDER 2405 MacLovia Lane, Santa Fe, NM 87505]

[The story below, so far as we know, was the first time the corporate media has let its audience know that the collapse of the World Trade Center towers might have been due to improper construction rather than to the impact the planes. . . But while the Shirtwaist Triangle fire early in the last century (which killed 150 people) produced major building reforms, the whole tendency since September 11 has been to ignore the culpability of those responsible for the towers' construction.]

CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY WASHINGTON POST JUNE 2002 - Fireproofing failures -- rather the impact of the plane crashes -- probably caused the World Trade Center towers to quickly collapse, architects and engineers told a federal panel. "The insulation is going to turn out to be the root cause," said James G. Quintiere, a professor at University of Maryland's Fire Protection Engineering Department who analyzed the fireproofing in the two towers. Neither tower, he found, had fireproofing thick enough to withstand the fire's blast furnace intensity for two hours, which is considered the minimum needed for those on the upper floors to escape the towers. "A two-hour fire resistance is right on the ragged edge," Quintiere said. The North Tower, which had 1 1/2-inch-thick fireproofing, fell in 104 minutes, and the South Tower, with its 3/4-inch-thick fireproofing, collapsed in 56 minutes . . . "There needs to be a change in the way buildings are inspected," said Roger G. Morse, an architect who specializes in forensic investigations of building disasters and has studied the World Trade Center. Typically, he said, inspectors examine fireproofing before construction is completed, and the work is often damaged in the final construction. In the case of the World Trade Center, he said, construction workers apparently failed to apply asbestos properly to some beams 30 years ago. He found that asbestos had peeled off the core columns up to the 78th floor. No asbestos was applied above the 78th floor, because federal regulations changed and prohibited its application. Instead, workers on the upper floors applied a non-asbestos fireproofing that was not as fire resistant. With better fireproofing, Morse said, the towers "probably would have held up a little longer." Most experts said the problems are not unique to the World Trade Center, which was regulated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "It could happen anywhere," Morse said. "The situation at the Trade Center wasn't the worst that I've seen." Several experts spoke of a national problem in high-rise buildings. "The fire service has seen a consistent weakening in fire safety," said Vincent Dunn, a retired New York City fire chief and fire safety consultant. He ran through a list of several New York City building fires where spray-on fireproofing did little to prevent the structure's destruction. He described climbing through these buildings after fires and found "nothing left up there but bent, warped, twisted steel. There's no spray-on [fireproofing] left."

HEATING, PIPING, AIR-CONDITIONING ENGINEERING MAGAZINE - Steel loses 30 percent of its strength at 1000 F and 80 percent of its strength at 1400 F. These are temperatures that can be reached within 5 min. on unprotected steel in a standard fire. Steel collapse in a fire is impossible to predict and often occurs instantaneously

DEPUTY CHIEF VINCENT DUNN RET. - After the 767 jet liner crashed into the world trade center building creating the worst terror attack in history, a fire burned for 56 minutes inside the World Trade Center building number two. The top 20 floors of the building collapsed on the 90 floors below. The entire one hundred and ten-story building collapsed in 8 seconds . . . After a fire burned inside WTC tower number one for 102 minutes, the top 30 floors collapsed on the lower 80 floors. And the entire one hundred and ten stories of this building collapsed in 10 seconds. You can say the reason they collapsed was they were struck with a 185 ton jet airliner and the 24,000 gallons of jet fuel caused a fire of 1500 to 2000 degrees F which weakened the steel and cause the collapse. Or you can take a closer look at the buildings construction of the WTC buildings. And ask yourself why did these structures collapse so fast and so completely. The answer can be found by examining high-rise construction in New York City over the past 50 years In terms of structural system the twin towers departed completely from other high-rise buildings. Conventional skyscrapers since the 19th century have been built with a skeleton of interior supporting columns that supports the structure. Exterior walls of glass steel or synthetic material do not carry any load. The twin towers are radically different in structural design as the exterior wall is used as the load-bearing wall . . .

The most noticeable change in the modern high-rise construction is a trend to using more steel and shaping lightweight steel into tubes, curves, and angles to increase its load bearing capability. The WTC has tubular steel bearing walls, fluted corrugated steel flooring and bent bar steel truss floor supports. To a modern high rise building designer steel framing is economical and concrete is a costly material . . . Architects, designers , and builders all know if you remove concrete from a structure you have a building that weights less. So if you create a lighter building you can use columns, girders and beams of smaller dimensions, or better yet you can use the same size steel framing and build a taller structure . . .

If you reduce the structure's mass you can build cheaper and builder higher. Unfortunately unprotected steel warps, melts, sags and collapses when heated to normal fire temperatures about 1100 to 1200 degrees F. The fire service believes there is a direct relation of fire resistance to mass of structure. The more mass the more fire resistance. The best fire resistive building in America is a concrete structure. The structures that limit and confine fires best, and suffer fewer collapses are reinforced concrete pre WWII buildings such as housing projects and older high rise buildings like the empire state building, The more concrete, the more fire resistance; and the more concrete the less probability of total collapse. The evolution of high-rise construction can be seen, by comparing the Empire State Building to the WTC. My estimate is the ratio of concrete to steel in the Empire State Building is 60/40. The ratio of concrete to steel in the WTC is 40/60. The tallest building in the world, the Petronas Towers, in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia, is more like the concrete to steel ratio of the Empire State Building than concrete to steel ratio of the WTC . . .

A plane that only weighted 10 tons struck the Empire State Building and the high-octane gasoline fire quickly flamed out after 35 minutes. When the firefighters walked up to the 79 floor most of the fire had dissipated. The Empire State Building in my opinion, and most fire chiefs in New York City, is the most fire safe building in America. I believe it would have not collapsed like the WTC towers. I believe the Empire State Building, and for that matter any other skeleton steel building in New York City, would have withstood the impact and fire of the terrorist's jet plane better than the WTC towers. If the jet liners struck any other skeleton steel high rise, the people on the upper floors and where the jet crashed may not have survived; there might have been local floor and exterior wall collapse. However, I believe a skeleton steel frame high rise would not suffer a cascading total pancake collapse of the lower floors in 8 and 10 seconds . . .

Perhaps builders should take a second look at the Empire State Buildings construction. There might be something to learn when they rebuild on ground zero. The empire state building has exterior Indiana limestone exterior wall, 8 inches thick. The floors are also 8 inches thick consisting of one-inch cement over 7 inches of cinder and concrete. All columns, girders and floor beams are solid steel covered with 1 to 2 inches of brick terracotta and concrete. There is virtually no opening in the floors. And there are no air ducts of a HVAC heating cooling and venting system penetrating fire partitions, floor, and ceilings. Each floor has its own HVAC unit. The elevators and utility shafts are masonry enclosed. And for life safety there is a 4-inch brick enclosed so-called "smoke proof stairway". This stairway is designed to allow people to leave a floor without smoke following them and filing up the stairway. This is accomplished because this smoke proof stairway has an intermediate vestibule, which contains a vent shaft. Any smoke that seeps out the occupancy is sucked up a vent shaft . . .

Builders hailed the New York City building code of 1968 as a good performance code. However, some fire chiefs decried it as a law that substituted frills for real construction safety. The asbestos spray on coating of steel trusses used in the WTC towers was considered by Chief of the New York City Fire Department, at the time, John T. O' Hagan to be inferior to concrete encasement of steel . . . The WTC started construction in the 1970s. And the WTC towers built by the Port Authority of New York did not have to comply with the minimum requirements of the new 1968 performance building code.

ARCHITECTURAL RECORD, INTERVIEW WITH FIRE LIEUTENANT GREGORY GARGISO - Our teachings on high-rise structures go like this:

o They are broken down into three major construction groups; lightweight, medium weight and heavyweight and these designations coincide almost directly with groups according to years.

o Almost all the heavyweights were built before 1945, the medium weights from '45 to '68 and the lightweights from '68 to present.

o It's not too far a leap from this to deduce that your heavyweights are your Empire State, your Woolworth Building, your Equitable Insurance Building. 20 to 25 pounds per cubic foot. Limestone faced, heavy steel skeleton encased in concrete or block and tile.

o Your lightweights are 8 to 10 lbs per cubic foot, and include of course the Trade Center, the World Financial Center, the JP Morgan building. The newest high-rises in town, basically.

o The middleweights are a bit more elusive, maybe because this group to me are the least aesthetically pleasing. They are 10 to 20 pounds per cubic foot. The Pan Am Building (or Met Life as it is now), One Bankers Trust Plaza, The UN Building. So guess which one the firefighters like to fight the fires in the most. Well, you guessed it, the heavyweights. Not because we're hopeless romantics in love with the architecture of the early 20th Century.

Why then? Because they perform under stress. You see, we are interested in results. It's all fine and well that a particular partition is supposed last against a fire X amount of hours in a controlled laboratory test, or that a curtain wall is not supposed to allow fire to pass from one floor of a high-rise to the next. But in the organized chaos of firefighting, the knuckle dragging grunt work, the 100 or more variables thrown into the mix, the controlled yelling to orchestrate men into action against the Red Devil, the race against time, the sheer physical logistics, they don't usually do what they were designed to do . . .

Stairwells protected by concrete and steel instead of sheetrock would have resulted in lower casualities at the WTC. Walls were obliterated and doorjambs jammed as the building settled into its death throes, barring escape for many. What if power remained on and the elevators stayed operational? High-rise buildings in New York built between 1945 and 1968 were required to have a "fire tower," a stair in a shaft open at top and separated from the floor space by a vestibule with two doors at each end. This is a tremendous advantage to fleeing occupants psychologically as well as physically . . .

INTL NETWORK FOR TRADITIONAL BUILDING, ARCHITECTURE & URBANISM - A series of unrelated design assumptions about structure, fire proofing and escape - some dating from the 1920s - exacerbated the World Trade Centre collapse, it was claimed. Giving evidence on 6 March to the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Dr Arden L. Bement, Jr, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology of the US Department of Commerce, explained some of the issues which NIST would examine if commissioned to undertake a National Building and Fire Safety Investigation. "Current building design practice does not consider fire as a design condition . . . They do not represent real fire hazards in modern buildings. They also do not consider the fire performance of structural connections or of the structural system as a whole, or the multiple performance demands on fire proofing materials", Bement explained. Continuing, he argued that progressive collapse had become a problem in modern structures because of their smaller margin of safety. Many lacked the reserve capacity to accommodate abnormal loads, ironically due to increased efficiency in the use of building materials and refinements in analysis techniques.

New York's fire chief long ago warned against the use of lightweight steel floor trusses and sprayed fire protection (both thought to have been used at the WTC). Many firefighters are said to believe that they are safer fighting fires in traditional early 20th century buildings - which have durable concrete fire protection to steel elements - than in flimsy "semi-combustible" modern tower blocks.

[INTBAU is a British organization under the patronage of the Prince of Wales]

JOHN SEABROOK, NEW YORKER - The second generation of tall buildings, which includes the Metropolitan Life Building (1909), the Woolworth Building (1913), and the Empire State Building (1931), are frame structures, in which a skeleton of welded- or riveted- steel columns and beams, often encased in concrete, runs through the entire building. This type of construction makes for an extremely strong structure, but not such attractive floor space. The interiors are full of heavy, load-bearing columns and walls, and, as you move toward the center of these buildings, the more cryptlike they feel. Charlie Thornton, of the Manhattan-based structural-engineering firm of Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers, a leading designer of the structures of modern high-rises, said to me recently, "A building like the Empire State Building is way over-designed and overbuilt. The building didn't need all that support. Those engineers didn't understand loads the way we understand them-they used slide rules to work them out, whereas we have computers-and so they erred on the side of caution." . . .

As the new high-rises sprouted, some New York City firefighters began to point out that the same innovations that make these buildings more economical to erect and more pleasant to inhabit also make them more vulnerable to fire. In 1976, the New York City Fire Commissioner, John O'Hagan, published a book entitled "High Rise Fire and Life Safety," in which he called attention to the serious fire-safety issues in most high-rise buildings constructed since 1970, referring to such buildings as "semi-combustible." Unlike the earlier generation of skyscrapers, which used concrete and masonry to protect the structural steel, many of the newer buildings employed sheetrock and spray-on fire protection. The spray-on protection generally consisted of either a cement-like material that resembles plaster or a mineral-fiber spray, such as the one used to protect the floor joists in the World Trade Center.

O'Hagan pointed out that, even when these spray-ons are properly mixed and applied to the steel (which must be clean), they are much less dense than concrete and can be easily knocked off. The swaying of the cables in the elevator shafts has been known to dislodge the fire protection from the columns in the cores of these buildings, and the coating used on floor supports is often removed by workers who install the ducts and wiring inside the hollow floor. The questionable performance of the fire protection used in these buildings, combined with the greater expanse of lightweight, unsupported floors, O'Hagan said, created the potential for collapse, of the individual floors and of the entire structure. He also pointed out that the open spaces favored by modern developers allowed fires to spread faster than the compartmentalized spaces of the earlier buildings, and that the synthetic furnishings in modern buildings created more heat and smoke than materials made out of wood and natural fibers.

ETHICAL SPECTACLE, FEB 2002 [From an article by three NYC firefighters] - There are many, many questions to be asked by us about the World Trade Center collapse and its implications on high-rise firefighting across the nation. Some questions are political, many are technical, others are philosophical. Here are a few (in no particular order) to think about:

- Given the typical resources of most fire departments, can we be expected to handle every high-rise fire thrown at us? When was the last time your city manager asked you for a complete list of resources that you need to fight a high-rise fire, including personnel? . . .

- Beware the truss! Frank Brannigan has been admonishing us for years about this topic. It has been reported that the World Trade Center floors were supported by lightweight steel trusses, some in excess of 50 feet long. Need we say more?

- Modern sprayed-on steel "fireproofing" did not perform well at the World Trade Center. Haven't we always been leery about these materials? Why do many firefighters say that they would rather fight a high-rise fire in an old building than in a modern one? . . .

The largest loss of firefighters ever at one incident . . . The second largest loss of life on American soil . . . The first total collapse of a high-rise during a fire in United States history . . . The largest structural collapse in recorded history. Now, with that understanding, you would think we would have the largest fire investigation in world history. You would be wrong. Instead, we have a series of unconnected and uncoordinated superficial inquiries. No comprehensive "Presidential Blue Ribbon Commission." No top-notch National Transportation Safety Board-like response.

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, MARCH 2002 - some serious questions raised by engineers and architects about the quality of the World Trade Center's construction. They weren't the only ones surprised to find a plane crash causing so great a catastrophe. In a videotape of Osama bin Laden released by the administration late last year, bin Laden - who has a background in construction - made these remarks:

OBL: (...Inaudible...) We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (...Inaudible...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.

NY TIMES, MAY 2003 - Federal investigators studying the collapse of the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, say they now believe that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the government agency that built the towers, never performed the fundamental tests needed to determine how their innovative structures would perform in a fire. The preliminary finding, if it holds up, will undermine decades of public assurances by the Port Authority that the twin towers met or exceeded the requirements of New York City's building code, and therefore would be structurally safe in a large fire.

The codes are based on tests of each building component in furnaces that subject the structures, and the fireproofing insulation that protects them, to the harsh conditions of a major fire. Investigators, speaking at a news conference near ground zero, said their findings about the fire tests were an important development in their examination of one theory for why the buildings collapsed when and how they did: that the huge fires set by burning jet fuel weakened the lightweight floors of the towers, and that the failure of at least several floors in each building set off a chain reaction culminating in the total collapse of the complex.

The investigators have said that it is unclear whether, even if the tests had been done and the buildings been found to have met standards, the lightweight floor structures, called trusses, and the fluffy fireproofing on them could have been expected to withstand the intense fires of Sept. 11. But the absence of the central tests has robbed the investigators of the ability to even say whether the buildings performed as their designers had specified in their original plans and as the city's codes required of other buildings like them.


NY TIMES - Federal investigators studying the collapse of the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, say they now believe that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the government agency that built the towers, never performed the fundamental tests needed to determine how their innovative structures would perform in a fire. The preliminary finding, if it holds up, will undermine decades of public assurances by the Port Authority that the twin towers met or exceeded the requirements of New York City's building code, and therefore would be structurally safe in a large fire. The codes are based on tests of each building component in furnaces that subject the structures, and the fireproofing insulation that protects them, to the harsh conditions of a major fire.

Investigators, speaking at a news conference near ground zero, said their findings about the fire tests were an important development in their examination of one theory for why the buildings collapsed when and how they did: that the huge fires set by burning jet fuel weakened the lightweight floors of the towers, and that the failure of at least several floors in each building set off a chain reaction culminating in the total collapse of the complex. The investigators have said that it is unclear whether, even if the tests had been done and the buildings been found to have met standards, the lightweight floor structures, called trusses, and the fluffy fireproofing on them could have been expected to withstand the intense fires of Sept. 11.

NIKOS A. SALINGAROS, PLANETIZEN - I believe that the 9/11 event raises disturbing questions about the failed responsibilities of those professions. Two reasons are: (1) a prominent modernist architectural symbol (the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center) was specifically targeted to be attacked and destroyed; (2) the leading terrorists (Mohamed Atta and Osama bin Laden) had an architecture - urbanist - construction background. Writing with Michael Mehaffy, I earlier proposed that the third world -- and the Islamic world in particular -- feels a rage towards the United States, at least in part due to the modernist architectural and urban models we have introduced to those countries, which have destroyed their traditional built heritage. Atta was a professional planner who was said to be outraged over the desecration of traditional Islamic cities by modernist architecture and planning. Of course, Atta was a criminal, but how many ordinary people in traditional cities of the third world share those feelings?

The architect and urbanist Léon Krier recently made an eloquent statement about the absurdity of what many of our professional architects and urbanists do. He argues that the events of 9/11 burst the bubble of a monumental architectural deception. Nevertheless, one year later, the same architects who were fashionable before the 9/11 tragedy are still asked to design mono-functional mega-towers, and are acting as if nothing had really happened on that day to affect their profession. One has only to look at the unrepentantly modernist and postmodernist proposals for reconstructing the Twin Towers to see this. Their monstrous, tortuous forms deliberately shock us and unbalance our human sensibilities. . .

My co-authors and I tried to raise the frightening possibility that the West has become identified with a nihilistic architecture whose hegemony has erased humane built form around the world. In doing so, it replaces living traditions with alien and dysfunctional forms that recreate images of crude 1920s machines and industrial buildings. More than the buildings themselves, however, we are misusing our technological authority and economic might to insert such seductive design images into weaker societies' educational and media systems. Our industrial and cultural exports come bundled with destructive architectural visions. All the world copies what we do, so we have a moral responsibility to practice a humane architecture and urbanism.

Al-Qaeda is driven by an intolerant fundamentalism that would destroy free and democratic government. As we fight them to preserve democracy and basic human rights, we must also recognize and eliminate our own "geometrical fundamentalism". When the history of this societal struggle between conflicting ideas comes to be written, ours should be the side that championed the freedom for human beings to connect to their built environment, and protected this basic right from being suppressed by an intolerant architectural dogma.

JUL 2004


NY POST - An Environmental Protection Agency memo claims city and federal officials concealed data that showed lower Manhattan air was clouded with asbestos after the World Trade Center collapse. And officials sat on the alarming information even as they told the public it was safe to return downtown, the internal memo says.

Testing by the city Department of Environmental Protection showed the air downtown had more than double the level of asbestos considered safe for humans, claimed federal EPA environmental scientist Cate Jenkins, who supplied the memo to The Post. The data, which Jenkins says she culled from state records, appear damning.

MAY 2004


JAMES RIDGEWAY, VILLAGE VOICE - Details of a Florida drug case may well shed light on the claims of an FBI translator who says the agency covered up evidence warning of the 9-11 attack. Sibel Edmonds, the translator, said in an interview Monday with the Voice that the Florida case illustrates the issues and evidence she has been trying to make public for two years. . .

Among the Farsi translators working for the FBI, she said, it was common knowledge that a longtime, highly regarded FBI "asset" placed in Afghanistan told the agency in April 2001 that he had information from his contacts there that bin Laden was planning a major attack, involving the use of planes, in one or another of big American cities-Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York among them. The agents who took down the information from the spy wrote up reports and sent them to their superiors. That was the last the agents heard of the matter.

Edmonds said she had heard the details of the Afghan asset story in an unclassified meeting at the Capitol, but she cannot talk about the specifics because of a Justice Department gag order that classifies as secret what she has to say. She said, however, that "there are a lot of activities in the U.S. A lot of money . . . and these activities involve money laundering, drugs, a support network for terrorism . . . people in high places . . . [people] in the political arena."

Cybercast News Service, part of the conservative watchdog Media Research Center, reports that Mehrzad Arbane, an Iranian convicted of drug smuggling and suspected of money laundering and smuggling people from the Middle East into the U.S., told an associate who had become a government informant in October 2001 that he "may have smuggled two of the hijackers who flew planes into the towers in New York on September 11, 2001." Arbane was convicted May 13 in a Florida federal court of importing cocaine. He is expected to stand trial in New York for harboring illegal aliens, including two from Iran. . .

Whether the U.S. is tracing the connections between Arbane and the hijackers is not known. However, Ecuador is one of the countries from which Arbane is believed to have operated, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told a House Foreign Operations appropriations subcommittee in April 2002 that along the border between Ecuador and Colombia, "we have got . . . a bit of a problem with Al Qaeda itself and some Hezbollah elements." Armitage added, "Frankly we are afraid as we squeeze Colombia, with hopefully the assistance and support of the Congress, that like a balloon, some of the problems might balloon out in other areas. We want to do what we can to try to keep Ecuador from ballooning out."

Most of the government's efforts to stop terrorists from entering the country are focused on airports and ports. Using drug dealers to smuggle terrorists adds a new dimension to the problem. Drug sales such as the trade in opium from Afghanistan are often used to help finance terrorist groups. . .


CURTIS L. TAYLOR AND SEAN GARDINER, NEWSDAY, SEP 11 20001 - The World Trade Center was destroyed just days after a heightened security alert was lifted at the landmark 110-story towers, security personnel said yesterday. Daria Coard, 37, a guard at Tower One, said the security detail had been working 12-hour shifts for the past two weeks because of numerous phone threats.


BRASSCHECK - he New York Times reports that an on-the-scene, eye witness account of what *really* happened on 9-11 recorded by at least six air controllers who were working the New York air lanes that day was destroyed without anyone making a transcript or even listening to it. The reason given for the destruction of evidence? The air controllers were not in the right frame of mind to give accurate statements. Here's how the tape was destroyed in case anyone thinks it was one of those bureaucratic oversights:

"The taping began before noon on Sept. 11 at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center, in Ronkonkoma, on Long Island, but it was later destroyed by an F.A.A. quality-assurance manager, who crushed the cassette in his hand, cut the tape into little pieces and dropped them in different trash cans around the building, according to a report made public today by the inspector general of the Transportation Department."

APRIL 2004


CURTIS L. TAYLOR AND SEAN GARDINER, NEWSDAY, SEP 11 20001 - The World Trade Center was destroyed just days after a heightened security alert was lifted at the landmark 110-story towers, security personnel said yesterday. Daria Coard, 37, a guard at Tower One, said the security detail had been working 12-hour shifts for the past two weeks because of numerous phone threats. But on Thursday, bomb-sniffing dogs were abruptly removed. "Today was the first day there was not the extra security," Coard said. "We were protecting below. We had the ground covered. We didn't figure they would do it with planes. There is no way anyone could have stopped that." Security guard Hermina Jones said officials had recently taken steps to secure the towers against aerial attacks by installing bulletproof windows and fireproof doors in the 22nd-floor computer command center.


STEVEN KOMAROW AND TOM SQUITIERI, USA TODAY - In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties. One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. In another exercise, jets performed a mock shoot down over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet supposedly laden with chemical poisons headed toward a target in the United States. In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon - but that drill was not run after Defense officials said it was unrealistic, NORAD and Defense officials say.

NORAD, in a written statement, confirmed that such hijacking exercises occurred. It said the scenarios outlined were regional drills, not regularly scheduled continent-wide exercises. . . A White House spokesman said Sunday that the Bush administration was not aware of the NORAD exercises. But the exercises using real aircraft show that at least one part of the government thought the possibility of such attacks, though unlikely, merited scrutiny. . . On April 12, a watchdog group, the Project on Government Oversight, released a copy of an e-mail written by a former NORAD official referring to the proposed exercise targeting the Pentagon. The e-mail said the simulation was not held because the Pentagon considered it "too unrealistic."


BRASSCHECK - Into what deep, dark media hole has Yossef Bodansky fallen? Bodansky was (is?) director of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. Not a flake. Not an outsider.

In 1993, a book of his published in mass market paperback form "Target America: Terrorism Today" detailed the intentions of 'Islamists' to someday use hijacked planes as missiles. According to the book there were actual training programs in place to prepare people to accomplish this very exacting mission.

The disappearance of this book from the 9-11 discussion has been total. It started immediately after the attacks and continues up to today. As if that were not strange enough, Bodansky also wrote another book which, while it was briefly a New York Times bestseller, has also mysteriously gone missing in action.

Title: "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America" Interesting title especially since the 'asleep at the wheel' crowd claims they didn't know we were at war with the guy. . . "The Man Who Declared War on America" was in the works long before the September 11 attacks. After a brief - and studiously superficial - flurry of press appearances, Bodansky, the book and his detailed research into matters you'd think the news media would be clamoring for became a grand non-issue.

Some possibilities:

1. Author Bodansky doesn't want to become rich and famous - he writes for the love of it - so he is deliberately avoiding the news media so he can work in modestly compensated obscurity.

2. The news media has somehow gotten 'the word' that Bodansky is one of 'those people' who doesn't merit air time (i.e. everyone who has something pertinent to say about the state of the nation.)

The great 9-11 media mystery for me is why is this establishment guy who made very detailed predictions both about the practicalities of a plan attack and the intentions of 'Bin Laden' completely off the media radar?

My other favorite unanswered questions:

- Who warned Mayor Willie Brown not to fly the week of September 11th? Right after the attack, he said someone had, but now he won't name the name - and no one is pressing him too hard.

- Who authorized and coordinated the special flights of over 120 mostly unnamed Saudis from the US immediately after September 11th when US air space was closed to all commercial air traffic?

- Oh, and what happened to that multi-multi-billion dollar air defense system we all pay for. You know the one that normally challenges any jet or large plane that strays from its flight path and does not respond to inquiries. It's not like they don't know what to do when this happens, but on 9-11, they did nothing.


JAMES RIDGEWAY, VILLAGE VOICE - Like most of the Bush cabinet, Attorney General John Ashcroft took commercial jets when he traveled. But on July 24, 2001, he changed that practice and began flying in chartered government jets. Asked by CBS News at the time about the change, the Justice Department cited a "threat assessment" by the FBI and said Ashcroft had been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term.

"There was a threat assessment, and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines," an FBI spokesman said. But as CBS went on to report, "Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected, or who made it.". . . When asked if he knew details of the threat or who might have made it, Ashcroft said, "Frankly, I don't. That's the answer."

911 Research - Some 185,101 tons of structural steel have been hauled away from Ground Zero. Most of the steel has been recycled as per the city's decision to swiftly send the wreckage to salvage yards in New Jersey. . . . Last month, fire experts told Congress that about 80% of the steel was scrapped without being examined because investigators did not have the authority to preserve the wreckage.

The bulk of the steel was apparently shipped to China and India. The Chinese firm Baosteel purchased 50,000 tons at a rate of $120 per ton, compared to an average price of $160 paid by local mills in the previous year. . .

Given that the people in charge considered the steel garbage, useless to any investigation in this age of computer simulations, they certainly took pains to make sure it didn't end up anywhere other than a smelting furnace. They installed GPS locater devices on each of the trucks that was carrying loads away from Ground Zero, at a cost of $1000 each. . .

MARCH 2004


BRASSCHECK - The day of 9-11, then mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown, announced that he had been warned not to fly the week of 9-11 by his 'airport security advisor.' When asked about specific alerts, the head of San Francisco airport security said no such alert had been issued. So who was it who warned Willie Brown not to fly that week?

Before joining the Bush White House, Condoleezza Rice was an executive of San Francisco-based Chevron and a member of numerous boards of prominent Bay Area businesses and non-profits. Rice and Brown certainly know each other and she is the most likely source of the information Brown cited. (Brown has refused to disclose his source.)




1. As Commander-in-Chief on the morning of 9/11, why didn't you return immediately to Washington, D.C. or the National Military Command Center once you became aware that America was under attack? At specifically what time did you become aware that America was under attack? Who informed you of this fact?

2. On the morning of 9/11, who was in charge of our country while you were away from the National Military Command Center? Were you informed or consulted about all decisions made in your absence?

3. What defensive action did you personally order to protect our nation during the crisis on September 11th? What time were these orders given, and to whom? What orders were carried out? What was the result of such orders? Were any such orders not carried out?

4. In your opinion, why was our nation so utterly unprepared for an attack on our own soil?

5. U.S. Navy Captain Deborah Loewer, the Director of the White House Situation Room, informed you of the first airliner hitting Tower One of the World Trade Center before you entered the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. Please explain the reason why you decided to continue with the scheduled classroom visit, fifteen minutes after learning the first hijacked airliner had hit the World Trade Center.

6. Is it normal procedure for the Director of the White House Situation Room to travel with you? If so, please cite any prior examples of when this occurred. If not normal procedure, please explain the circumstances that led to the Director of the White House Situation Room being asked to accompany you to Florida during the week of September 11th.

7. What plan of action caused you to remain seated after Andrew Card informed you that a second airliner had hit the second tower of the World Trade Center and America was clearly under attack? Approximately how long did you remain in the classroom after Card's message?

8. At what time were you made aware that other planes were hijacked in addition to Flight 11 and Flight 175? Who notified you? What was your course of action as Commander-in-Chief of the United States?

9. Beginning with the transition period between the Clinton administration and your own, and ending on 9/11/01, specifically what information (either verbal or written) about terrorists, possible attacks and targets, did you receive from any source?

10. As Commander-in-Chief, from May 1, 2001 until September 11, 2001, did you receive any information from any intelligence agency official or agent that UBL was planning to attack this nation on its own soil using airplanes as weapons, targeting New York City landmarks during the week of September 11, 2001 or on the actual day of September 11, 2001?

11. What defensive measures did you take in response to pre-9/11 warnings from eleven nations about a terrorist attack, many of which cited an attack in the continental United States? Did you prepare any directives in response to these actions? If so, with what results?

12. As Commander-in-Chief from May 1, 2001 until September 11, 2001, did you or any agent of the United States government carry out any negotiations or talks with UBL, an agent of UBL, or al-Qaeda? During that same period, did you or any agent of the United States government carry out any negotiations or talks with any foreign government, its agents, or officials regarding UBL? If so, what resulted?

13. What was the purpose of the several stops of Air Force One on September 11th? Was Air Force One at any time during the day of September 11th a target of the terrorists? Was Air Force One's code ever breached on September 11th?

14. Was there a reason for Air Force One lifting off without a military escort, even after ample time had elapsed to allow military jets to arrive?

15. Who approved the flight of the bin Laden family out of the United States when all commercial flights were grounded, when there was time for only minimal questioning by the FBI, and especially, when two of those same individuals had links to WAMY, a charity suspected of funding terrorism? Why were bin Laden family members granted that special privilege - a privilege not available to American families whose loved ones were killed on 9/11?

16. Please explain why no one in any level of our government has yet been held accountable for the countless failures leading up to and on 9/11?



NEIL MCKAY, SUNDAY HERALD - There was ruin and terror in Manhattan, but, over the Hudson River in New Jersey, a handful of men were dancing. As the World Trade Center burned and crumpled, the five men celebrated and filmed the worst atrocity ever committed on American soil as it played out before their eyes. Who do you think they were? Palestinians? Saudis? Iraqis, even? Al-Qaeda, surely? Wrong on all counts. They were Israelis ­ and at least two of them were Israeli intelligence agents, working for Mossad, the equivalent of MI6 or the CIA.

Their discovery and arrest that morning is a matter of indisputable fact. To those who have investigated just what the Israelis were up to that day, the case raises one dreadful possibility: that Israeli intelligence had been shadowing the al-Qaeda hijackers as they moved from the Middle East through Europe and into America where they trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the United States. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the Israeli cause.

After the attacks on New York and Washington, the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was asked what the terrorist strikes would mean for US-Israeli relations. He said: "It's very good." Then he corrected himself, adding: "Well, it's not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy [for Israel from Americans]."



[The questions that Bunch discusses in his article]

WILLIAM BUNCH, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS - There are dozens of unanswered questions about the 2001 attacks, but we've narrowed them down to 20 - or 9 plus 11.

1. What did National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tell President Bush about al Qaeda threats against the United States in a still-secret briefing on Aug. 6, 2001?. . .

2. Why did Attorney General John Ashcroft and some Pentagon officials cancel commercial-airline trips before Sept. 11?. . .

3. Who made a small fortune "shorting" airline and insurance stocks before Sept. 11?. . .

4. Are all 19 people identified by the government as participants in the Sept. 11 attacks really the hijackers?. . .

5. Did any of the hijackers smuggle guns on board as reported in calls from both Flight 11 and Flight 93?. . .

6. Why did the NORAD air defense network fail to intercept the four hijacked jets?. . .

7. Why did President Bush continue reading a story to Florida grade-schoolers for nearly a half-hour during the worst attack on America in its history?. . .

8. How did Flight 93 crash in western Pennsylvania?. . .

9. Was Zacarias Moussaoui really "the 20th hijacker"?. . .

10. Where are the planes' "black boxes"?. . .

11. Why were Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials so quick to link Saddam Hussein to the attacks?. . .

12. Why did 7 World Trade Center collapse?. . .

13. Why did the Bush administration lie about dangerously high levels of toxins and hazardous particles after the WTC collapse?. . .

14. Where is Dick Cheney's undisclosed location?. . .

15. What happened to the more than $1 billion that Americans donated after the attack?. . .

16. What was the role of Pakistan's spy agency in the Sept. 11 attacks and the subsequent murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl?. . .

17. Who killed five Americans with anthrax?. . .

18. What happened to the probe into C-4 explosives found in a Philadelphia bus terminal in fall 2001?. . .

19. What is in the 28 blacked-out pages of the congressional Sept. 11 report?. . .

20. Where is Osama bin Laden?. . .


JULY 2003


NY TIMES - The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said today that its work was being hampered by the failure of executive branch agencies, especially the Pentagon and the Justice Department, to respond quickly to requests for documents and testimony. ... At a news conference, Mr. Kean described the presence of "minders" at the interviews as a form of intimidation. "I think the commission feels unanimously that it's some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency," he said. "You might get less testimony than you would. We would rather interview these people without minders or without agency people there," he said.

GEORGE BUSH STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS - Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide. The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary; he is deceiving. From intelligence sources we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses.

JUNE 2003

THE QUESTIONS OVER BUSH'S behavior on September 11 escalate with a video recently obtained by the Memory Hole which shows George Bush being approached by Andrew Card, presumably with information about the attack, and then the president sitting passively for five minutes as the children in the classroom perform. Says Bob Harris on This Modern World, "When the footage ends, he's still not moving, although we can hear the press being told the photo-op is over. Eyewitness accounts indicate that he continued to do virtually nothing for at least another several minutes."

MAY 2003


[This is an amazing compilation from scores of sources concerning the many still unexplained aspects to the president's behavior on September 11, 2001. It is quite long but mesmerizing and a reminder of how much passes us by in normal news coverage

CENTER FOR COOPERATIVE RESEARCH - Why, at 9:03 a.m. - fifteen minutes after it was clear the United States was under terrorist attack - did President Bush sit down with a classroom of second-graders and begin a 20-minute pre-planned photo op? No one knows the answer to that question. In fact, no one has even asked Bush about it. Bush's actions on September 11 have been the subject of lively debate, mostly on the internet. Details reported that day and in the week after the attacks - both the media reports and accounts given by Bush himself - have changed radically over the past 18 months. Culling hundreds of reports from newspapers, magazines, and the internet has only made finding the "truth" of what happened and when it happened more confusing. In the changed political climate after 9/11, few have dared raise challenging questions about Bush's actions. A journalist who said Bush was "flying around the country like a scared child, seeking refuge in his mother's bed after having a nightmare" and another who said Bush "skedaddled" were fired. We should have a concise record of where President Bush was throughout the day the US was attacked, but we do not.

JAMES RISEN , NY TIMES, NOVEMBER 2001 - The Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine New York station was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, seriously disrupting United States intelligence operations while bringing the war on terrorism dangerously close to home for America's spy agency, government officials say.
The C.I.A.'s undercover New York station was in the 47-story building at 7 World Trade Center, one of the smaller office towers destroyed in the aftermath of the collapse of the twin towers that morning. All of the agency's employees at the site were safely evacuated soon after the hijacked planes hit the twin towers, the officials said. The intelligence agency's employees were able to watch from their office windows while the twin towers burned just before they evacuated their own building.

Immediately after the attack, the C.I.A. dispatched a special team to scour the rubble in search of secret documents and intelligence reports that had been stored in the New York station, either on paper or in computers, officials said. It could not be learned whether the agency was successful in retrieving its classified records from the wreckage.

MAY 2002

[The Washington Post, along with other conventional media, continues to low ball what appears to be a major scandal: the highly combustible construction techniques used in skyscrapers in recent decades. But issues raised by such publications as Designer-Builder, Fire Engineering, and the Progressive Review are now cropping up elsewhere, including in the New Yorker]

||| BILL MILLER WASHINGTON POST - The twin towers of the World Trade Center sustained massive structural damage after two hijacked jets crashed into the 110-story buildings on Sept. 11, and the steel eventually buckled under the enormous heat generated by fires caused by spreading jet fuel, a federal team of engineers has concluded in a report to be released today. Saying it was "remarkable" that the towers remained standing as long as they did, the engineers warned that it "may not be technically feasible" or cost-effective to design structural safeguards to protect other skyscrapers from toppling in similar attacks.

Although the report found that the World Trade Center met building standards, it urged a national study to examine broader issues such as the quality of fireproofing materials, placement of emergency exit stairwells, evacuation procedures and firefighter response. New standards might be needed to evaluate fire resistance along with changes in building codes, the report said.

. . . The report found that automatic sprinklers and other fire-suppression systems were disabled by the impact of the crash, that top exit stairwells were cut off by the crash, and that much of the fireproofing meant to protect steel became dislodged. Meanwhile, "fireballs" from ignited jet fuel engulfed much of the buildings' contents.