Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories
David Ray Griffin
David Ray Griffin is professor emeritus of philosophy of religion and theology at the Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, where he taught 31 years. He has published some 30 books, including The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (Interlink Books, 2004) and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Interlink Books, 2005).
"[T]here was just an explosion [in the south tower]. It seemed like on television [when] they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions.”–Firefighter Richard Banaciski
“I saw a flash flash flash [at] the lower level of the building. You know like when they demolish a building”?–Assistant Fire Commissioner Stephen Gregory
?[I]t was [like a] professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear ‘Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop’."–Paramedic Daniel Rivera
The above quotations come from a collection of 9/11 oral histories that, although recorded by the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at the end of 2001, were publicly released only on August 12, 2005. Prior to that date, very few Americans knew the content of these accounts or even the fact that they existed.
Why have we not known about them until recently? Part of the answer is that the city of New York would not release them until it was forced to do so. Early in 2002, the New York Times requested copies under the freedom of information act, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration refused. So the Times, joined by several families of 9/11 victims, filed suit. After a long process, the city was finally ordered by the New York Court of Appeals to release the records (with some exceptions and redactions allowed). Included were oral histories, in interview form, provided by 503 firefighters and medical workers.12) The Times then made these oral histories publicly available.3 (Emergency Medical Services had become a division within the Fire Department.
Once the content of these testimonies is examined, it is easy to see why persons concerned to protect the official story about 9/11 would try to keep them hidden. By suggesting that explosions were occurring in the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, they pose a challenge to the official account of 9/11, according to which the towers were caused to collapse solely by the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fires.
In any case, now that the oral histories have finally been released, it is time for Americans and the world in general to see what these brave men and women reported about that fateful day. If this information forces a reevaluation of the official story about 9/11, better now than later.
That said, it must be added that although these oral histories are of great significance, they do not contain the first reports of explosions in the Twin Towers. Such reports—from firefighters, reporters, and people who had worked in the towers—started becoming available right after 9/11.
These reports, however, were not widely publicized by the mainstream press and, as a result, have for the most part been known only within the ?9/11 truth movement,” which has focused on evidence that seems inconsistent with the official story.
I will begin by summarizing some of those previously available reports. Readers will then be able to see that although in some respects the newly released oral histories simply add reinforcement, they also are revelatory documents: Some of the testimonies are quite stunning, even to people familiar with the earlier reports; and there are now so many testimonies that even the most skeptical reader is likely to find the cumulative effect impressive.
Previously Available Testimony Suggestive of Explosions in the Twin Towers
The day after 9/11, a story in the Los Angeles Times, referring to the south tower, said: “There were reports of an explosion right before the tower fell, then a strange sucking sound, and finally the sound of floors collapsing."4
A story in the Guardian said that “police and fire officials were carrying out the first wave of evacuations when the first of the World Trade Centre towers collapsed. Some eyewitnesses reported hearing another explosion just before the structure crumbled. Police said that it looked almost like a “planned implosion.”"5
“Planned implosion? is another term for controlled demolition, in which explosives are placed at crucial places throughout a building so that, when set off in the proper order, they will cause the building to come down in the desired way. When it is close to other buildings, the desired way will be straight down into, or at least close to, the building’s footprint, so that it does not damage the surrounding buildings. This type of controlled demolition is called an “implosion.” To induce an implosion in steel-frame buildings, the explosives must be set so as to break the steel columns. Each of the Twin Towers had 47 massive steel columns in its core and 236 steel columns around the periphery.
To return now to testimonies about explosions: There were many reports about an explosion in the basement of the north tower. For example, janitor William Rodriguez reported that he and others felt an explosion below the first sub-level office at 9 AM, after which co-worker Felipe David, who had been in front of a nearby freight elevator, came into the office with severe burns on his face and arms yelling "explosion! explosion! explosion!"6
Rodriguez’s account has been corroborated by Jos