This weekend I got interested in the “9/11 Truth” movement. Watched a couple of video presentations. To be sure, there are all kinds of people in this movement, ranging from flying saucer nuts to Ph.D. engineers. I was looking at what seemed to be the more authoritative end of the spectrum.
My initial reaction was that the videos raised some troubling questions. On mulling it over, however, I’ve concluded that even the best educated and most cautious of the conspiracy theorists are building castles in the air. (And of course, we know only too well what can happen to castles built in the air….)
The contention of the Architects & Engineers for Truth is that the World Trade Center buildings (all three of them) collapsed as a result of controlled demolition. The implication, though they’re careful not to articulate it, is clear: Nobody but the CIA could have pulled off such an operation.
Now, I’m quite willing to argue that George Bush and Dick Cheney are capable of such monstrous evil. I don’t think they would have hesitated for more than 15 minutes, if they thought they could get away with such a scheme. But on close examination, the scheme doesn’t make sense at all.
The theory is that the towers were brought down by an application of thermite to the steel girders, which caused melting. And indeed, chemical residues that look like thermite are found in the wreckage. The difficulty with this idea is that the girders were vertical, and quite thick. When thermite is ignited, it melts steel, but molten steel, being a liquid, flows downward. Keeping the burning thermite in contact with the un-liquified surface within the girder would be rather difficult. In addition, it would require many minutes for an application of thermite to melt a significant thickness of the beam. The controlled demolition scenario is predicated on the observation that the towers collapsed quickly. Timing the thermite burning so as to cause a sudden collapse, even if it were possible to hold the thermite in place, would be extraordinarily difficult. Explosives such as C4 can bring a building down quickly, or so I’ve read, but they also make very loud detonations, which weren’t heard. Besides, nobody has reported finding C4 residue in the wreckage.
Applying thousands of pounds of thermite to the girders up and down the core of two buildings that size would have taken many weeks. The likelihood of discovery would not be remote. But worse: What if one or both planes missed the buildings? What would you do then? At that point, you would have to go back in and get rid of the thermite before it was discovered. No, that’s a show-stopper right there.
Beyond that, we have to ask, “Why bother?” If we assume that Bush and Cheney ordered the CIA to do the whole operation, including a controlled demolition, why bother with the demolition at all? Their purposes (which are obvious) would have been fully achieved, and with far less risk, merely by hitting the Twin Towers and the Pentagon with airliners. It would have been unnecessary, as well as reckless, to cause the buildings to fall down.
Yes, the towers and WTC 7 collapsed in spectacular fashion. But the events of the day were unique and unrepeatable. Trying to form an ironclad theory about what would or would not have happened to such a building under those conditions is a little like trying to throw darts while blindfolded.
Personally, I’d love to believe that Bush and Cheney were behind it. But the evidence is underwhelming.