By Josh Parrish
The collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 is one of the more mysterious events that occurred on September 11, 2001. It was not struck by an aircraft as the Twin Towers were and video of the collapse appears to resemble those of buildings brought down by a controlled demolition. These facts have led to speculation that the building was brought down deliberately. Deficient investigations that followed only served to fuel this speculation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted the first official inquiry into the collapse the World Trade Center buildings. The report is merely a collection of supposition and hypotheses arrived at through the examination of photographic evidence and eyewitness interviews. FEMA?s reasoning behind the collapse of Building 7 is as follows: Debris from the collapse of the Twin Towers caused structural damage to Building 7 and ignited fires on several different floors; including floors 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 19. There were diesel generators located throughout the building to supply electricity in the event of a power outage. These generators were fed by pressurized fuel lines from large tanks on the lower floors. The falling debris also damaged these pressurized lines and provided a continuous source of fuel for the fires. According to FEMA, neither fire nor structural damage alone would have been sufficient to cause the building’s collapse. It was the combination of the structural damage, which diminished the load bearing ability of the structure, and the fire, which weakened the steel, that brought the building down.
While this explanation may sound plausible, it is not based on an examination of any physical evidence. Specifically, the investigators were unable to confirm how much, if any, diesel fueled the fires. “There is no physical, photographic, or other evidence to substantiate or refute the discharge of fuel oil from the piping system. The following is, therefore, a hypothesis based on potential rather than demonstrated fact.” The investigators seem to have little faith in their own theories, “Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence.” When subjected to critical analysis, the investigation by FEMA appears to be nothing more than an attempt to formulate theories that conform to the official version of the events of September 11th, rather than a rigorous scientific study.
One of the ways in which the FEMA investigation was hampered was by the destruction of evidence. Almost immediately following the disaster, the structural steel was removed from the site and placed on ships headed for Asia to be recycled.
The New York Times reported on 12/25, 2001 that, "In calling for a new investigation, some structural engineers have said that one serious mistake has already been made in the chaotic aftermath of the collapses: the decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses that held up the buildings. That may have cost investigators some of their most direct physical evidence with which to try to piece together an answer”. Dr. Frederick W. Mowrer, an associate professor in the fire protection engineering department at the University of Maryland, said he believed the decision could ultimately compromise any investigation of the collapses. ‘I find the speed with which potentially important evidence has been removed and recycled to be appalling,’ Dr. Mowrer said”. Interviews with a handful of members of the [FEMA funded] team, which includes some of the nation’s most respected engineers, also uncovered complaints that they had at various times been shackled with bureaucratic restrictions that prevented them from interviewing witnesses, examining the disaster site and requesting crucial information, like recorded distress calls to the police and fire departments."
Even if one accepts the Bush administration’s official version of the events of that day, there were still compelling reasons to study the evidence. The engineering and construction community could have greatly benefited from a thorough examination of the structural steel. Prior to September 11th, there had never been a fire-induced collapse of a steel framed building. If Building 7 did actually collapse due to fire and falling debris, then a careful examination of the evidence would certainly be warranted; if for no other reason than to learn some valuable lessons about the safety of high-rise buildings in general. Destroying evidence of a disaster of this magnitude is unprecedented. The fact that it occurred raises questions about the motives of those involved in making the decision.
As incomplete and inadequate as FEMA?s investigation was, theirs was not the only one conducted. The World Trade Center was heavily insured, and the companies that were due to pay those claims commissioned their own private investigation. The difference between the insurance investigation and FEMA?s study is quite remarkable. The insurance companies had unfettered access to the site of the collapse beginning on the very afternoon of September 11th. They were also granted access to powerful computer programs used by the Pentagon for classified research; the FEMA investigators were not. The insurance companies have produced thousands of pages of analysis and an equally staggering number of diagrams and photographs. However, the results of these investigations have remained private. It is interesting to note that a shareholder in Allianz Group proposed denying payment due to evidence of insurance fraud. Allianz Group carried a significant portion of the insurance policy on the World Trade Center. In response to the shareholders? claim, the company made the following statement: “When the company makes insurance payments it does so on the basis of careful scrutiny ? especially with payments in the order of magnitude referred to here. Two official commissions in the USA have examined the incidents of 11 September 2001 in detail. Their findings provided no indication that the allegations submitted by the proposer are correct.”
The mission of Project Censored is not to draw conclusions in the field of structural engineering; it is to examine mainstream media coverage of newsworthy events. In the case of World Trade Center Building 7, there has been very little coverage of the surrounding issues. The collapse of Building 7 had the appearance of a perfectly executed controlled demolition; it fell straight down into its own footprint, at virtually free-fall speed, yet this issue has hardly been raised in the mainstream media, and was completely ignored by the 9/11 Commission.
The lack of news coverage coupled with the destruction of key evidence and the lack of a credible investigation has given rise to numerous questions and accusations of government complicity in the attacks of that day. The list of tenants that occupied the building lends itself to these theories. Occupants of the building included: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), The FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Department of Defense, IRS, and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s Office of Emergency Management. Some detractors claim that the building was brought down to destroy evidence against Enron and Ken Lay that was contained in the SEC offices. Others claim that the CIA offices housed the evidence of government involvement in the attacks and thus needed to be destroyed.
Investigations into the destruction of Building 7 have been performed and conclusions have been reached. Those who are not inclined to trust the current administration will inevitably find fault with the investigation, but the fact that the administration directed the evidence to be destroyed leaves them open to this criticism. The facts surrounding the destruction of Building 7 will likely remain a mystery, unless there is a full and truly independent investigation, using subpoena power.
World Trade center Performance Study, May 2002, pg. 5-1
2 World trade Center Building Performance Study, May 2002, pg. 5-20
3 Chertoff, Benjamin, et al. ?9/11: Debunking the Myths”, Popular Mechanics, March 2005. 8 April 2005, http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1227842.html?page=&c=y
4 Wor World Trade center Performance Study, May 2002, pg. 5-1
ld Trade Center Building Performance Study, May 2002, pg. 5-28
5 World Trade Center Building Performance Study, May 2002, pg. 5-31
6 Manning, Bill, ?$elling Out the Investigation”, Fire Engineering, Jan. 2002 8 Apr. 2005, http://fe.pennet.com/Artilces/Article_Display.cfm”Section=ARCHI&ARTICLE_ID=133237&VERSION_NUM=1
7 New York Times, 12/25/01
8 Manning, Bill, ?$elling Out the Investigation”, Fire Engineering, Jan. 2002 8 Apr. 2005, http://fe.pennet.com/Artilces/Article_Display.cfm”Section=ARCHI&ARTICLE_ID=133237&VERSION_NUM=1
9 Glanz, James, and Eric Lipton, “Vast Detail on Towers? Collapse May Be Sealed in Court Filings”, New York Times, 30 Sept. 2002 8 Apr. 2005
10 Allianz Group ? Shareholder Proposals, 20 Apr. 2005 13 May 2005, http://www.allianzgroup.com/Az_Cnt/az/_any/cma/contents/750000/saObj_750776_05_04_20_Gegenantr_ge_ENGLISH.pdf
11World Trade Center Performance Study, May 2002, pg. 5-2