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.


9 thoughts on “Fabulous Conspiracies

    1. The official theory (or theories, since WTC 7 was different from the Towers) seems fairly sensible. What happened in the towers seems to have been that the floor trusses on the floors where the fires were burning sagged due to the heat, pulling the exterior framework inward. At some point this bowing of the exterior framework caused it to break apart, thus precipitating the collapse. You can read the NIST report, or just the FAQs from NIST; it’s all online. WTC 7 seems to have fallen as a result of the failure of one central supporting beam, which was probably a design defect from the beginning. Heat, in this case, seems to have caused a long horizontal beam to separate from this essential vertical beam, causing it to buckle. When it buckled, the beams around it also buckled. This is why WTC 7 appeared to collapse inward: The interior framework failed before the exterior.

      The theory that the collapse of the towers was due to planted explosives rests in part on the idea that the downward progress was very rapid, as if the floors beneath the falling upper structure had lost their structural integrity. But this view seems (and I’m not an engineer!) to ignore the fact that the amount of material in the upper structure, once it started moving, had a huge amount of kinetic energy. It wasn’t just mass, it was mass in motion. It would have plowed through anything. And every floor it plowed through added to the mass.

      I would urge anybody who is curious about this to read ALL of the relevant literature, both the truth movement stuff and the official reports. Form your own conclusions — but be wary of believing anything because you WANT to beileve it. And be prepared for a very long slog through highly technical material.

      1. WTC 1 & 2 were unique buildings structurally. Instead of the usual 3-D steel grid of most tall buildings (WTC 7, Morrow Office Building, Empire State Building, etc.) WTC 1 & 2 were entirely supported by the outside columns (what Jim is calling girders). Each floor was an open concrete slab supported by steel web trusses. The steel was coated with a spray on fire barrier material, and my understanding is that a particularly difficult to apply, and expensive, spray on product was originally specified, but that the contractor was a allowed to use a cheaper type because of the difficulty and time involved with the better and tougher product. The official report states that upon impact the aircraft disintegrated spraying the interior with steel, aluminum, plastic, bone, etc. shrapnel which damaged the fire barrier material, exposing the steel. Furnishings, jet fuel, and hot motors supplied the fuel and heat for the fires. The steel trusses lost tensile strength somewhere around 600 to 800 degrees F (“Both typical structural steel (A36 and A992) and high strength alloy steels retain approximately 90% of their strength to nearly 600ºF. Significant dimensional changes and distortions occur at temperatures above 800ºF.”.–from an article in Structure, the journal of the structural engineering types). Typical buildings fires generate ceiling temperatures in the 1000-1200 degree F range. So the steel trusses loose there stiffness and tons of concrete flooring cause them to sag bending the the exterior columns to which they’re attached inward. The original thought was that the fasteners attaching the trusses to the columns failed, causing the first floor to pancake onto the next, and so forth. After further examination of the debris the fasteners and attachment points were found, for the most part, to have remained intact, but the pieces of column were found with stress fracturing that suggested the columns exceeded their bending points and failed, again a tensile issue. I don’t know of any of the structural steel found that showed evidence of thermite, which burns at a temperature as high as 4500+ degrees F, while all steel will melt at between 1130F and 2400F depending on the alloy. WTC 7, a conventional steel building, suffered a catastrophic collapse, wherein a part failing causes other parts around it to fail. This is pretty much what happens in Jinga. Apart from the engineering data not supporting the planted explosives/thermite theories, there’s the FBI. They don’t like other government agencies messing on their turf, especially the CIA, and no matter how organized and monolithic one may think the Fed is the truth is that any number of middle managers in the FBI, ever since the fifties, would be more than willing to fall on their swords to take down the CIA over something this big. Their was a conspiracy for sure. It was hatched somewhere in the Middle East by crazy fanatics for some reason, and with expected results that made perfect sense to them at the time, but is incomprehensible to us and that we suppose (and probably correctly) with results they did not anticipate.

      2. I would quibble on only one point, Ron. The support was not entirely in the outside columns. The towers were what’s called a “tube within a tube” design. There was a structure of columns in the core. The horizontal trusses supporting the floors were bolted between the exterior columns and the core columns.

      3. Even many people who were there seem unable to comprehend the magnitude of the forces involved once the top floors started falling. Heat and pulverization of everything inside were witness to these forces, but still we expect the lower floors to put up a humanly noticeable resistance. Simply not gonna happen.

  1. I think you went straight to putting your finger on the most glaringly obvious little snafu of the 9-11 crowd, but you missed the most important one.
    This is not a surprise, from someone only recently looking into it, and that underscores my next point.

    I find it difficult to believe, but every time I bring this up, no one cares, esp. 9-11 truthers:

    For those of us who were already paying attention in 1991, the most pathetic cover-up is the one the 9-11 crowd has created themselves.

    After the 1991 truck-bomb attack, the US gov made a study of the issue, which was somewhat published a couple years later. Among other things, they concluded that an airplane loaded with fuel and/or other bulk explosives was the only real threat to the buildings themselves. So, a set of new laws and standing orders were instituted ’round about ’95.
    Most salient among them was a system for keeping track of every plane’s position, and a methodology for inquiring immediately as to reasons for any variation from flight plans. The air force was under standing orders to shoot down any plane that deviated for more than 20 minutes without being given a new, approved, flight plan.
    There were provisions for clearly delineating who was responsible for command and execution of this function at any given time, and very clear orders for what they would do and what the repercussions of doing otherwise would be.

    All of these planes were off course for well over 20 minutes, the claim is none of them were shot down. No one got court-martialed, resigned, reprimanded, or even received a memo in their file. Those whom military law was required to submit to a court’s martial were all promoted relatively quickly, and in many cases, often.

    One can talk about lots of factors involved in these things, but there is only one thing that mattered, there was no court’s-martial. You will hear that’s because they were all on training exercises that day, you will hear that a plane load of Saudis already was in the air and had just left the country. You will hear that we had only one fighter, stationed in MI, East of the Mississippi that day…
    None of this matters.

    There is no debate that the law required actions that there is no debate were not taken, and there is no debate who did not take these actions, nor that they faced no repercussions.
    Conspiracy or no, why was there no courts-martial? How is it that military law was able to shirk it’s duty to prosecute the shirking of such critically important, long standing, and well practiced actions???

    Conspiracy or no, what could be a more important debate about that day?

    The simple fact is that all the garbage about thermite, which you reasoned through quite well, is nothing but a cloud of war hiding the real issue. Since when does such a public and important crime of omission get air force commanders and pilots promoted???

    I’m inclined to say that this is the best proof of conspiracy, but thanks to the rank and file 9-11 crowd hiding the real issue, and hiding the origins of such a focus, mainly within the same ignorance and willingness to leap to conclusions that enables it, we will never know if Emperor Dick(less) The First was just covering his own butt because he didn’t plan for any contingency other than training exercises on a clear and happy day, on the anniversary of 9-11, or if the exercises were just there to enable the big lie (9-11 was already the anniversary of many previous similar acts including the 1991 twin towers truck-bombing).

    More important to me is this: no one got court-martialed, AND NO ONE CARES.

    Just like when it comes to torture, letting bygones be bygones, and drone assassinations of a US citizen minor relaxing harmlessly in his own home unarmed, and scores of civilians at weddings, funerals, or just attempting to help the victims of a still smoldering attack, the issue is not what happened, it’s what did not happen.

    USians did not know, and when informed? they did not care, and this includes the 9-11 truth crowd almost entirely.

    This is the best proof of a conspiracy the 9-11 truth crowd has allowed us to have, that they don’t care, and in light of the subsequent acquiescence of the US public I mentioned, I consider that some pretty weak “proof”.

    The first rule of a successful conspiracy is few actors who were aware of it, if any fully understand it all. As you pointed out, the main argument here just does not fit that all important bill. Not only does the 9-11 truther line require too many conspirators, the risk of something going wrong, as you mention, was just far too great.

    The fact that Dick scheduled Air force training exercises and that no one shot down the planes (though that one that “crashed” was nothing but a burn spot) does strongly hint at some level of conspiracy. The fact that no one was courts-martialed adds little to this in such terms.

    The fact that no one cares that no one was courts-martialed, and that even those who fully understand the importance of this don’t speak to it, makes the whole question of conspiracy moot. Conspiracy to bring down the towers is nothing compared to the public not caring that it was essentially allowed to happen in a very public way, and that there are very clear and un-debated records of exactly who it was allowed it.

    Thanks for the help with this important factor in the fall of our government and our culture, 9-11 truthers!

    What bothers me is the assist to the rise of confusion and petty bickering.

    On a similar note, if you ever get involved with an organization that comes to the point of discussing who the government infiltrator is, it’s the person who started that discussion, or else the one who prompted then to and then most adamantly pursues it further… except that they probably don’t work directly for the government, they either work for a sub-contractor, or one of those corporations who own the government.

    If you are not an infiltrator, yet you cry out, “infiltrator!” you might as well be one.
    They are not really there to spy on you, though they may not know that, and they don’t really intend just to intimidate, it is simply their job to smash the trust required to work together whatever it takes, unless they can simply provoke actions that make it all irrelevant anyway. This is why effective resistance requires no leaders and non-violence, the rest is simply bullspit useless theory.

  2. PS: Just in case you’re wondering where I got my opinion on this, it came from my own head. The above opinion began to be formed before I saw the videos. I was woken long after the fall by my girlfriend, and told her it was bulloney. I never forgot the audacity of ordering the Air Force to shoot down civilians with only a 20 minute window to correct actions that the pilot may not even have been in control of.

    Sure enough, turns out they didn’t do it.

    So, when I first saw the tower falling, and I too took pause that the lower floors did not noticeably arrest the fall, I was already armed with the knowledge that it was irrelevant. Of course, I also knew a thing or two about structural engineering, materials science, and the irresistible amount of mass and acceleration coming down.
    Only if the very first floor under the break had held would there have been any way for it to come out any different, and that floor seems to have been heated precisely according to the plans of the engineers who did the study 10 years prior.

    Which brings to mind one other secondary big question no one seems to ask, how did they manage to load up the plane with enough extra fuel to make the airplane loaded with jet fuel plan actually work? … who cares? all that matters is building 7.

    In other words unless those planes were stocked with as much fuel, and thus as few passengers, as possible, the airplane attack was known to be insufficient…
    But if they had to blow up demolitions charges to start the fall, then why would they bother with any additional ones?

    Is it because they needed a controlled demolition because the Israelis/Dick/Bushes/Saudis/CIA owned the Starbucks across the street?

    Think about it people!

  3. I would argue that whoever did it, the results were quite possibly exactly as desired.

    An obvious example is the resurgence of an almost (at the time) extinct Al Queda.

    The fact that a bill (Patriot Act) that was far too long to read in one day hit the legislature floors immediately thereafter, with only hours before the vote, is somewhat circumstantial. It had been going through revisions behind closed doors for years.

    Possibly the substandard coating was responsible for the conflict between the original engineering report in the 90s, and the assumption that the planes were carrying only a normal amount of fuel. I had not thought of this until reading these comments. It is possible the original specs were what they were working with, thus being in the dark about the substitution.

    the tube w/in tube design has long been the only way to build such tall buildings, I think it is still the standard. There HAS to be an inner tube for effective ventilation and elevators might as well be there too. Otherwise the humans would cook themselves with their own body heat, not mention friction and other forces caused by gravity, winds, the continued curing of the cement, et cetera. (The Three Gorges Dam will take some ungodly number of centuries to finish generating heat due to curing.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s