As September approaches, we are reminded that the anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 will soon be upon us once again. 11 years laters, are we any closer to the truth about what really happened on that fateful day?
For the next month until September 11, 2012, we will be posting on a daily basis important articles from our early archives pertaining to the tragic events of 9/11.
The official theory about the Twin Towers is that they collapsed because of the combined effect of the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fire.
The following text by Professor David Ray Griffin originally published on Global Research in January 2006 forecefully refutes the official narrative.
In The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (2004), I summarized dozens of facts and reports that cast doubt on the official story about 9/11. Then in The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2005a), I discussed the way these various facts and reports were treated by the 9/11 Commission, namely, by distorting or simply omitting them. I have also taken this big-picture approach, with its cumulative argument, in my previous essays and lectures on 9/11 (Griffin, 2005b and 2005d). This approach, which shows every aspect of the official story to be problematic, provides the most effective challenge to the official story.
But this way of presenting the evidence has one great limitation, especially when used in lectures and essays: It means that the treatment of every particular issue must be quite brief, hence superficial. People can thereby be led to suspect that a more thorough treatment of any particular issue might show the official story to be plausible after all.
In the present essay, I focus on one question: why the Twin Towers and building 7 of the World Trade Center collapsed. One advantage of this focus, besides the fact that it allows us to go into considerable detail, is that the destruction of the World Trade Center provides one of the best windows into the truth about 9/11. Another advantage of this focus is that it will allow us to look at revelations contained in the 9/11 oral histories, which were recorded by the New York Fire Department shortly after 9/11 but released to the public only in August of 2005.
I will begin with the question of why the Twin Towers collapsed, then raise the same question about building 7.
1. The Collapse of the Twin Towers
Shortly after 9/11, President Bush advised people not to tolerate “outrageous conspiracy theories about the attacks of 11 September” (Bush, 2001). Philip Zelikow, who directed the work of the 9/11 Commission, has likewise warned against “outrageous conspiracy theories” (Hansen, 2005). What do these men mean by this expression? They cannot mean that we should reject all conspiracy theories about 9/11, because the government’s own account is a conspiracy theory, with the conspirators all being members of al-Qaeda. They mean only that we should reject outrageous theories.
But what distinguishes an outrageous theory from a non-outrageous one? This is one of the central questions in the philosophy of science. When confronted by rival theories---let’s say Neo-Darwinian Evolution and Intelligent Design---scientists and philosophers of science ask which theory is better and why. The mark of a good theory is that it can explain, in a coherent way, all or at least most of the relevant facts and is not contradicted by any of them. A bad theory is one that is contradicted by some of the relevant facts. An outrageous theory would be one that is contradicted by virtually all the relevant facts.
With this definition in mind, let us look at the official theory about the Twin Towers, which says that they collapsed because of the combined effect of the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fires. The report put out by FEMA said: “The structural damage sustained by each tower from the impact, combined with the ensuing fires, resulted in the total collapse of each building” (FEMA, 2002). This theory clearly belongs in the category of outrageous theories, because is it is contradicted by virtually all the relevant facts. Although this statement may seem extreme, I will explain why it is not.
No Prior Collapse Induced by Fire
The official theory is rendered implausible by two major problems. The first is the simple fact that fire has never---prior to or after 9/11---caused steel-frame high-rise buildings to collapse. Defenders of the official story seldom if ever mention this simple fact. Indeed, the supposedly definitive report put out by NIST---the National Institute for Standards and Technology (2005)---even implies that fire-induced collapses of large steel-frame buildings are normal events (Hoffman, 2005). Far from being normal, however, such collapses have never occurred, except for the alleged cases of 9/11.
Defenders of the official theory, of course, say that the collapses were caused not simply by the fire but the fire combined with the damage caused by the airliners. The towers, however, were designed to withstand the impact of airliners about the same size as Boeing 767s. Hyman Brown, the construction manager of the Twin Towers, said: “They were over-designed to withstand almost anything, including hurricanes, . . . bombings and an airplane hitting [them]” (Bollyn, 2001). And even Thomas Eagar, an MIT professor of materials engineering who supports the official theory, says that the impact of the airplanes would not have been significant, because “the number of columns lost on the initial impact was not large and the loads were shifted to remaining columns in this highly redundant structure” (Eagar and Musso, 2001, pp. 8-11). Likewise, the NIST Report, in discussing how the impact of the planes contributed to the collapse, focuses primarily on the claim that the planes dislodged a lot of the fire-proofing from the steel.
The official theory of the collapse, therefore, is essentially a fire theory, so it cannot be emphasized too much that fire has never caused large steel-frame buildings to collapse---never, whether before 9/11, or after 9/11, or anywhere in the world on 9/11 except allegedly New York City---never.
One might say, of course, that there is a first time for everything, and that a truly extraordinary fire might induce a collapse. Let us examine this idea. What would count as an extraordinary fire? Given the properties of steel, a fire would need to be very hot, very big, and very long-lasting. But the fires in the towers did not have even one of these characteristics, let alone all three.
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