OFFICIAL 9/11 STORY STARTS UNRAVELING FROM THE TOP
By John Daly
UPI International Correspondent
Washington, DC, Jun. 13 (UPI)
A former Bush team member during his first administration is now voicing
serious doubts about the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9-11. Former
chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W.
Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds comments that the official story about the
collapse of the WTC is "bogus" and that it is more likely that a controlled
demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7. Reynolds,
who also served as director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National
Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas and is now professor emeritus at Texas
A&M University said, "If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the
World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a
government attack on America would be compelling." Reynolds commented from
his Texas A&M office, "It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a
scientific debate over the cause of the collapse of the twin towers and
building 7. If the official wisdom on the collapses is wrong, as I believe
it is, then policy based on such erroneous engineering analysis is not
likely to be correct either. The government's collapse theory is highly
vulnerable on its own terms. Only professional demolition appears to account
for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three
Why Did the Trade Center Skyscrapers Collapse?
by Morgan Reynolds
by Morgan Reynolds
"It didn't seem real. There are thousands of these steel beams that just
fell like pickup sticks."
~ John Albanese, volunteer firefighter and amateur photographer
"What struck us - guys like Warren Jennings and myself, who have spent
basically all our lives in the scrap business - we'd never seen steel this
heavy, this huge, this massive. It was just unbelievable."
~ Michael Henderson (p. 93),
General Manager, Marine Terminals, Metal Management NE
To explain the unanticipated free-fall collapses of the twin towers at the
World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, mainstream experts (also see The
American Professional Constructor, October 2004, pp. 12-18) offer a
three-stage argument: 1) an airplane impact weakened each structure, 2) an
intense fire thermally weakened structural components that may have suffered
damage to fireproofing materials, causing buckling failures, which, in turn,
3) allowed the upper floors to pancake onto the floors below.
Many will nod their head, OK, that does it and go back to watching the NBA
finals or whatever, but I find this theory just about as satisfying as the
fantastic conspiracy theory that "19 young Arabs acting at the behest of
Islamist extremists headquartered in distant Afghanistan " caused 9/11. The
government's collapse theory is highly vulnerable on its own terms, but its
blinkered narrowness and lack of breadth is the paramount defect unshared by
its principal scientific rival - controlled demolition. Only professional
demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with
the collapses of WTC 1 ( North Tower ), WTC 2 ( South Tower ), and the
much-overlooked collapse of the 47-story WTC building 7 at 5:21 pm on that
The scientific controversy over the initial structural weakening has two
parts: what caused the original tower damage and did that damage "severely"
weaken the structures? Photos show a stable, motionless North Tower (WTC 1)
after the damage suffered at 8:46 am and the South Tower after its 9:03 am
impact. If we focus on the North Tower , close examination of photos reveals
arguably "minor" rather than "severe" damage in the North Tower and its
As many as 45 exterior columns between floors 94 and 98 on the northeast
(impact) side of the North Tower were fractured - separated from each other
- yet there is no direct evidence of "severe" structural weakening. None of
the upper sections of the broken perimeter columns visibly sags or buckles
toward its counterpart column below. We can infer this because of the
aluminum covers on the columns: each seam uniformly aligns properly across
the Tower, forming a horizontal "dashed line" in the fašade from beveled end
to end. Despite an impact hole, gaps in perimeter columns, and missing parts
of floors 95-98 at the opening, the aluminum fašade shows no evidence of
vertical displacement in the columns, suggestive of little or no wider floor
buckling at the perimeter.
The aluminum covers attached to the columns also aligned vertically after
impact, that is, separated columns continued to visually remain "plumb"
(true vertical), lining up top to bottom around the aperture, implying no
perceptible horizontal displacement of the columns. Photographic evidence
for the northeast side of the North Tower showed no wider secondary
structural impact beyond the opening itself. Of course, there was smoke
pouring out of the upper floors.
The fact that perimeter columns were not displaced suggests that the floors
did not buckle or sag. Despite missing parts of floors 95-98, photos show no
buckling or sag on other floors. If so, that boosts the likelihood that
there was little damage to the core. Photos do not document what happened
within the interior/core and no one was allowed to inspect and preserve
relevant rubble before government authorities - primarily FEMA - had it
quickly removed. Eyewitness testimony by those who escaped from inside the
North Tower concerning core damage probably is unavailable.
Photos do not allow us to peer far into the interior of the building; in
fact the hole is black, with no flames visible. We know that the structural
core and its steel was incredibly strong (claimed 600% redundancy) making it
unlikely that the core was "severely" damaged at impact. There were 47 core
columns connected to each other by steel beams within an overall rectangular
core floor area of approximately 87 feet x 137 feet (26.5 m x 41.8 m). Each
column had a rectangular cross section of approximately 36" x 14" at the
base (90 cm x 36 cm) with steel 4" thick all around (100 mm), tapering to ?"
(6 mm) thickness at the top. Each floor was also extremely strong (p. 26), a
grid of steel, contrary to claims of a lightweight "truss" system.
Those who support the official account like Thomas Eagar (p. 14), professor
of materials engineering and engineering systems at MIT, usually argue that
the collapse must be explained by the heat from the fires because the loss
of loading-bearing capacity from the holes in the Towers was too small. The
transfer of load would have been within the capacity of the towers. Since
steel used in buildings must be able to bear five times its normal load,
Eagar points out, the steel in the towers could have collapsed only if
heated to the point where it "lost 80 percent of its strength, " around
1,300oF. Eagar believes that this is what happened, though the fires did not
appear to be extensive and intense enough, quickly billowing black smoke and
relatively few flames.
While some experts claim that airliner impact severely weakened the entire
structural system, evidence is lacking. The perimeters of floors 94-98 did
not appear severely weakened, much less the entire structural system. The
criminal code requires that crime scene evidence be saved for forensic
analysis but FEMA had it destroyed before anyone could seriously investigate
it. FEMA was in position to take command because it had arrived the day
before the attacks at New York 's Pier 29 to conduct a war game exercise,
"Tripod II," quite a coincidence. The authorities apparently considered the
rubble quite valuable: New York City officials had every debris truck tracked
on GPS and had one truck driver who took an unauthorized 1 ? hour lunch
The preliminary NIST Response claims that "the wall section above the impact
zone moved downward" (pdf, p. 36) on WTC 1 but offers no evidence. It offers
photographic evidence, however, for a "hanging floor slab" on the 82d floor
of the South Tower at 9:55 a.m. This looks minor though because there is no
sag on adjacent floors and the integrity of the structure looks very much
intact. The fire looks weak too, yet the South Tower collapsed only four
minutes later. This would be quite a puzzle without a demolition theory.
About a dozen of the fragmented ends of exterior columns in the North Tower
hole were bent but the bends faced the "wrong way" because they pointed
toward the outside of the Tower. This fact is troublesome for the official
theory that a plane crash created the hole and subsequent explosion between
floors 94 and 98. The laws of physics imply that a high-speed airplane with
fuel-filled wings breaking through thin perimeter columns would deflect the
shattered ends of the columns inward, if deflected in any direction,
certainly not bend them outward toward the exterior.
A possible response would be that, well, yes, an airliner crash would bend a
column inward rather than outward, if bent at all, but the subsequent force
of a jet fuel blast would act in the opposite direction: any inward bends
caused by plane impact would straighten toward vertical or even reverse the
bent steel columns toward the exterior under blast pressure. However, such a
proposed steel "reversal theory" (first bend inward by collision, then bend
outward by explosion) suffers two major handicaps:
1 No "inward-bending columns" were observed and it would be unlikely
that each and every one would be reversed by subsequent explosion, and
2 the hypothesis is ad hoc and lacks simplicity, both scientific
Occam's razor would suggest that the outward bends in the perimeter columns
were caused by explosions from inside the tower rather than bends caused by
airliner impact from outside. Also supporting this theory is the fact that
the uniformly neat ends of the blown perimeter columns are consistent with
the linear shaped charges demolition experts use to slice steel as thick as
10 inches. The hypothesis of linear shaped charges also explains the
perfectly formed crosses found in the rubble (crucifix-shaped fragments of
core column structures), as well as the rather-neatly shorn steel everywhere.
The engineering establishment's theory has further difficulties. It is
well-known that the hole in the west wing of the Pentagon, less than 18-foot
diameter, was too small to accommodate a Boeing 757, but the North Tower's
hole wasn't big enough for a Boeing 767 either, the alleged widebody
airliner used on AA Flight 11 (officially tail number N334AA, FAA-listed as
"destroyed"). A Boeing 767 has a wingspan of 155' 1" (47.6 m) yet the
maximum distance across the hole in the North Tower was about 115 feet (35
m), a hole undersized by some 40 feet or 26 percent. "The last few feet at
the tips of the wings did not even break through the exterior columns,"
comments Hufschmid (p. 27). But 20 feet on each wing? I'd call that a
substantial difference, not "the last few feet," especially since aircraft
impact holes tend to be three times the size of the aircraft, reflecting the
fact that fuel-laden airliners flying into buildings send things smashing
about in a big way. The small size of the holes in both towers casts doubt
on the airliner-impact hypothesis and favors professional demolition again.
There were no reports of plane parts, especially wings, shorn off in the
collision and bounced to the ground on the northeast side of the tower, to
my knowledge, though FEMA reported a few small pieces to the south at Church
street (pp. 68-9) and atop WTC-5 to the east of WTC-1.
Adding to the suspicious nature of the small aperture in WTC 1 is that some
vertical gaps in the columns on the left side of the northeast hole were so
short, probably less than three feet (p. 105) high (p. 27). Not much of a
jumbo jet could pass through such an opening, especially since a fuel-laden
plane would not minimize its frontal area. The engines are a special problem
because each engine is enormous and dense, consisting mainly of tempered
steel and weighing 24 to 28.5 tons, depending upon model. No engine was
recovered in the rubble yet no hydrocarbon fire could possibly vaporize it.
The hole in the North Tower also is suspicious because it did not even have
a continuous opening at the perimeter, but instead contained substantial WTC
material (p. 27) just left of center (pp. 62, 105). This material appears
integral to that area, so it did not move much, suggesting minimal
displacement and no clean penetration by a jumbo jet. These huge airliners
weigh 82 tons empty and have a maximum takeoff weight of up to 193 tons.
In the case of the South Tower , an engine from UAL Flight 175 (tail number
N612UA and FAA-registered as still valid!) has not been recovered despite
the fact that the flight trajectory of the video plane implied that the
right engine would miss the South Tower . Photos showing minor engine parts
on the ground are unconvincing, to put it mildly. Perhaps independent jet
engine experts (retired?) can testify to the contrary. Further contradicting
the official account, the beveled edge of the southeast side of the south
tower was completely intact upon initial impact. The government never
produced a jet engine yet claimed it recovered the passport of alleged
hijacker Satam al Suqami unharmed by a fiery crash and catastrophic collapse
of the North Tower. The government has not produced voice (CVR) or flight
data recorders (FDR) in the New York attack either, so-called black boxes, a
fact unprecedented in the aviation history of major domestic crashes.
Adding to the problems of the official theory is the fact that photos of
the North Tower hole show no evidence of a plane either. There is no
recognizable wreckage or plane parts at the immediate crash site. While the
issue probably takes us too far afield, the landing wheel assembly that
allegedly flew out of the North Tower and was found several streets away
could easily have been planted by FEMA or other government agents. I've
never seen any objective analysis of this wheel assembly though it would be
welcome. In fact, the government has failed to produce significant wreckage
from any of the four alleged airliners that fateful day. The familiar photo
of the Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania (The 9/11 Commission Report , Ch.
9) shows no fuselage, engine or anything recognizable as a plane, just a
smoking hole in the ground. Photographers reportedly were not allowed near
the hole. Neither the FBI nor the National Transportation Safety Board have
investigated or produced any report on the alleged airliner crashes.
The WTC 1 and Pentagon holes were not alone in being too small. Photos show
that the hole in WTC 2 also was too small to have been caused by the crash
of a Boeing 767. In fact, the South Tower hole is substantially smaller than
the North Tower hole.
The next question is whether the fires were hot enough to cause the WTC
buildings to collapse. In defending the official account and its clones that
try to explain the unprecedented collapses of three steel-framed skyscrapers
without demolition, heat arguably is more important than structural impact.
That's obviously true for building WTC 7 because there was no alleged
First, no steel-framed skyscraper, even engulfed in flames hour after hour,
had ever collapsed before. Suddenly, three stunning collapses occur within a
few city blocks on the same day, two allegedly hit by aircraft, the third
not. These extraordinary collapses after short-duration minor fires made it
all the more important to preserve the evidence, mostly steel girders, to
study what had happened. On fire intensity, consider this benchmark: A 1991
FEMA report on Philadelphia 's Meridian Plaza fire said that the fire was so
energetic that "[b]eams and girders sagged and twisted," but "despite this
extraordinary exposure, the columns continued to support their loads without
obvious damage" (quoted by Griffin , p. 15). Such an intense fire with
consequent sagging and twisting steel beams bears no resemblance to what we
observed at the WTC.
Second, severe structural damage to the WTC towers would have required
fires that were not only large but growing throughout the buildings and
burning for a considerable period of time. None of these conditions was
present. "The lack of flames is an indication that the fires were small, and
the dark smoke is an indication that the fires were suffocating," points out
Hufschmid (p. 35). Eyewitnesses in the towers, as well as police and
firefighters, reported (pp. 199-200) the same thing.
Third, the impact opening was 15 floors lower in the South Tower than in the
North Tower, where core columns were thicker, so the South Tower fire had to
produce more heat to raise the steel temperatures to soften up (thermally
weaken) the steel columns. Yet its fires were considerably smaller and 30
minutes shorter in duration. The Tower collapsed after burning only 56
minutes. A prime candidate to explain why "the wrong tower fell first" is
that the small dying fire in the South Tower forced the hand of the mass
murderers who decided to trigger demolition earlier than planned in order to
sustain the lie that fire caused the collapse. The North Tower stood for
another 29 minutes and its core steel was thinner at its upper stories. The
1991 Meridian Plaza fire burned for 19 hours and the fire was so extreme
that flames came from dozens of windows on many floors. It did not collapse.
Fourth, implicitly trying to explain away these difficulties, the current
NIST investigation, conducted by "an extended investigation team of 236
people," makes "dislodged fireproofing" the key variable to explain the
collapses. Supposedly, "the probable collapse sequence for the WTC towers
are (sic) based on the behavior of thermally weakened structural components
that had extensive damage to fireproofing or gypsum board fire protection
induced by the debris field generated by aircraft impact" (p. 111). "Had
fireproofing not been dislodged by debris field," this team of
government-paid experts claims, "temperature rise of structural components
would likely have been insufficient to induce global collapse" (p. 108).
Perhaps acknowledging the lack of direct evidence for its conjectures, the
NIST admits that "a full collapse of the WTC floor system would not occur
even with a number of failed trusses or connections" and it "recognizes
inherent uncertainties" (pp. 110 and 112). The NIST will have to boost its
creativity to plausibly explain the WTC 7 collapse because it won't have the
benefit of tales of aircraft and debris fields.
Aside from specific defects in the fire collapse theory, a wide variety of
facts undermine it:
* Photos show people walking around in the hole in the North Tower
"where 10,000 gallons of jet fuel were supposedly burning. The women (p. 27)
seem to (sic) looking down to the ground" (the NIST "Response" pdf, p. 62,
also shows a similar photo of the same blond woman with light-colored slacks
looking over the edge of the 94th floor).
* By the time the South Tower was hit, most of the North Tower 's
flames had already vanished, burning for only 16 minutes.
* The fire did not grow over time, probably because it quickly ran
out of fuel and was suffocating rather than the sprinkler system dousing the
* FDNY fire fighters remain under a gag order
(Rodriguezvs-1.Bush.pdf, p. 10) to not discuss the explosions they heard,
felt and saw. FAA personnel are also under a 9/11 gag order.
* Even the 9/11 Commission (Kean-Zelikow) Report acknowledges that
"none of the [fire] chiefs present believed that a total collapse of either
tower was possible" (Ch. 9, p. 302). It shocked everyone that day, amateur
and professional alike, although some firefighters realized that so-called
secondary explosive devices were a risk.
Griffin (pp. 25-7) succinctly identifies the primary defects in the official
account of the WTC collapses, and its sister theories. These problems were
entirely ignored by The 9/11 Commission Report (2004), so the government
appointees must have found it difficult to account for the following facts:
1 Fire had never before caused steel-frame buildings to collapse
except for the three buildings on 9/11, nor has fire collapsed any steel
high rise since 9/11.
2 The fires, especially in the South Tower and WTC-7, were small.
3 WTC-7 was unharmed by an airplane and had only minor fires on the
seventh and twelfth floors of this 47-story steel building yet it collapsed
in less than 10 seconds.
4 WTC-5 and WTC-6 had raging fires but did not collapse despite much
thinner steel beams (pp. 68-9).
5 In a PBS documentary, Larry Silverstein, the WTC lease-holder,
recalled talking to the fire department commander on 9/11 about WTC-7 and
said, "maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it," slang for demolish it.
6 FEMA, given the uninviting task of explaining the collapse of
Building 7 with mention of demolition verboten admitted that the best it
could come up with had "only a low probability of occurrence."
7 It's difficult if not impossible for hydrocarbon fires like those
fed by jet fuel (kerosene) to raise the temperature of steel close to
Professional demolition, by contrast, can explain all of these facts and
more. Demolition means placing explosives throughout a building, and
detonating them in sequence to weaken "the structure so it collapses or
folds in upon itself" (p. 44). In conventional demolitions gravity does most
of the work, although it probably did a minority on 9/11, so heavily were
the towers honeycombed with explosives.
1 Each WTC building collapse occurred at virtually free-fall speed
(approximately 10 seconds or less).
2 Each building collapsed, for the most part, into its own
3 Virtually all the concrete (an estimated 100,000 tons in each
tower) on every floor was pulverized into a very fine dust, a phenomenon
that requires enormous energy and could not be caused by gravity alone
("workers can't even find concrete. 'It's all dust,' [the official] said").
4 Dust exploded horizontally for a couple hundred feet, as did
debris, at the beginning of each tower's collapse.
5 Collapses were total, leaving none of the massive core columns
sticking up hundreds of feet into the air.
6 Salvage experts were amazed at how small the debris stacks were.
7 The steel beams and columns came down in sections under 30 feet
long and had no signs of "softening"; there was little left but shorn
sections of steel and a few bits of concrete.
8 Photos and videos of the collapses all show "demolition waves,"
meaning "confluent rows of small explosions" along floors (blast sequences).
9 According to many witnesses, explosions occurred within the
10 Each collapse had detectable seismic vibrations suggestive of
underground explosions, similar to the 2.3 earthquake magnitude from a
demolition like the Seattle Kingdome (p. 108).
11 Each collapse produced molten steel identical to that generated
by explosives, resulting in "hot spots" that persisted for months (the two
hottest spots at WTC-2 and WTC-7 were approximately 1,350o F five days after
being continuously flooded with water, a temperature high enough to melt
aluminum (p. 70).
Controlled demolition would have required unimpeded access to the WTC,
access to explosives, avoiding detection, and the expertise to orchestrate
the deadly destruction from a nearby secure location. Such access before
9/11 likely depended on complicity by one or more WTC security companies.
These companies focus on "access control" and as security specialist Wayne
Black says, "When you have a security contract, you know the inner workings
of everything." Stratesec, a now-defunct company that had security contracts
at the World Trade Center and Dulles International Airport, should be
investigated, among others, because of the strange coincidence that
President Bush's brother, Marvin P. Bush, and his cousin, Wirt D. Walker
III, were principals in the company, with Walker acting as CEO from 1999
until January 2002 and Marvin reportedly in New York on 9/11. At least one
report claims that a "power down" condition prevailed on September 8-9 (pdf,
p. 45) at WTC to complete a "cabling upgrade," presenting an opportunity to
plant explosives with low risk of detection.
A related point is that demolition companies go to considerable expense to
wire steel-framed skyscrapers with explosives to produce safe implosions,
and they would love to do it more cheaply by simply setting two small fires
like those that (allegedly) caved in building 7. Apparently, the
terrorist-inventors have kept this new technology secret.
Why would the killers destroy WTC-7, especially since a collapse would
arouse suspicion in some quarters? A logical if unproven theory is that the
perpetrators used Mayor Giuliani's sealed OEM "bunker" on the 23d story of
WTC-7 to conduct the twin tower implosions and then destroyed the building
and evidence to cover up their crimes, just as a murderer might set his
victim's dwelling ablaze to cover up the crime (one in four fires is arson).
Giuliani's "undisclosed secret location" was perfect because it had been
evacuated by 9:45 a.m. on 9/11, it enabled unmolested work, provided a
ringside seat, was bullet- and bomb-resistant, had its own secure air and
water supply, and could withstand winds of 160 mph, necessary protection
from the wind blasts generated by collapsing skyscrapers.
There is special import in the fact of free-fall collapse (item one in the
list immediately above), if only because everyone agrees that the towers
fell at free-fall speed. This makes pancake collapse with one floor
progressively falling onto the floor below an unattractive explanation.
Progressive pancaking cannot happen at free-fall speed ("g" or 9.8 m/s2).
Free-fall would require "pulling" or removing obstacles below before they
could impede (slow) the acceleration of falling objects from above.
Sequenced explosions, on the other hand, explain why the lower floors did
not interfere with the progress of the falling objects above. The pancake
theory fails this test.
If we put the murder of 2,749 innocent victims momentarily aside, the only
unusual technical feature of the collapses of the twin towers was that the
explosions began at the top, immediately followed by explosions from below.
WTC-7, by contrast, was entirely conventional, imploding from bottom up.
It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a scientific debate over the
cause(s) of the collapse of the twin towers and building 7. If the official
wisdom on the collapses is wrong, as I believe it is, then policy based on
such erroneous engineering analysis is not likely prove to be sound. Revised
engineering and construction practices, for example, based on the belief
that the twin towers collapsed through airplane damage and subsequent fires
is premature, to say the least.
More importantly, momentous political and social consequences would follow
if impartial observers concluded that professionals imploded the WTC. If
demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the World Trade Center on
9/11, then the case for an "inside job" and a government attack on America
would be compelling. Meanwhile, the job of scientists, engineers and
impartial researchers everywhere is to get the scientific and engineering
analysis of 9/11 right, "though heaven should fall." Unfortunately, getting
it right in today's "security state" demands daring because explosives and
structural experts have been intimidated in their analyses of the collapses
June 9, 2005
Morgan Reynolds, Ph.D. [send him mail], is professor emeritus at Texas A&M
University and former director of the Criminal Justice Center at the
National Center for Policy Analysis headquartered in Dallas, TX. He served
as chief economist for the US Department of Labor during 2001-2, George W.
Bush's first term.
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