But let's think about it for a second.
Let's say there were explosives in the WTC that brought down Tower 1, Tower 2, and WTC 7. Why would they have been there? Who might have put them there, and when?
The 'tinfoil hat' theorists would have us believe that some agency in league with the hijackers did so. However, I find that unlikely. What would be the point? Surely, if the hijackers succeeded in crashing their aircraft into the towers, the result would have been essentially the same. Probably almost the same number of casualties (minus the rescue workers trapped in the buildings when they came down) would have occurred - there was little hope for anyone trapped above the fires, at that point. No evidence would have survived the aircraft crash and fire, most likely - at least, no evidence other than that Al-Qaeda hijackers had done just what we think they'd done - hijack the airplanes and crash them. Anything other than that would have been a terrible risk to the plan - imagine if they'd missed the buildings? And no, hitting them was not a sure thing. It was, in fact, a fairly good piece of piloting and luck, especially for both planes to hit. I'm not saying they couldn't guarantee both aircraft would crash, but hitting the towers, i.e. the place rigged to destroy evidence - nope. After all, look at Flight 93. So. Why would whoever rigged the towers have been in league with the hijackers?
Okay. Who, then?
The obvious next choice: The U.S. authorities. But why would they do that?
Simple answer: damage control. Look at where the towers were located. Above Wall Street. Above the most important piece of real estate to the Western economy on the planet. A controlled demolition's most important advantage would be that it would allow the buildings a much better chance of being brought straight down, into their existing lot, without damaging anything outside the property line.
Evidence exists to support this hypothesis. First, the actual pattern of destruction. One point of the destruction everyone marvels over is how finely crumbled or powdered the debris was. Very few identifiable pieces were retrieved, other than large structural steel bits. Obviously, the fall would damage everything - but no really large pieces fell outside the building perimeters. Consider that even planned and scheduled demolition sometimes goes hideously wrong - and then consider that three times, on the same day, including two of the tallest buildings in the world, far taller than have been controlled-demolished before, all fell due to unplanned, unbalanced damage - with that little collateral damage.
WTC 7, by the way, was damaged by falling debris - but only on one face. A few of its support columns were, indeed, damaged - but it still fell almost straight down. Wouldn't it have fallen over like a tree? Nope, not in this case.
So. Why would this happen? Because the building were, in fact, demolished in a controlled fashion. Not by terrorists - but by government agency, in order to prevent worse destruction were the towers to topple over lower Manhattan. Or, if you believe the tinfoil theorists, to lay the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq - but again, I don't think you needed to demolish them for that. However...
Consider the following. When were the explosives planted? The towers lasted mere hours after the attacks. Any demolition preparation work would have involved a massive effort, and been impossible to hide from the rescue workers charging up and down the buildings, and would have also involved equipment and materials that would have been difficult if not impossible to get onsite that quickly. Explosives would need to be placed on structural members that would likely be inaccessible without cutting through at least some cladding material. Multiple times, on multiple floors. While WTC 7 might certainly have been done following the attack (consider how much later it collapsed, as well as the fact that it had been completely and successfully evacuated nearly immediately, and how much smaller it was) Towers 1 and 2 would have been almost impossible to prep in that timeframe. I'm not going to say impossible, but it seems...unlikely.
However, we must recall that the Towers had been the target of a structural attack years before. A credible one, by terrorists - explosives planted in the parking structure, successfully detonated, if insufficient for the job. Furthermore, when the Towers were built, there was a debate for a long time if the seawall built to retain the foundation pressure from allowing the structure to settle by pressing the substructure out into the Hudson river would be able to last longer than thirty or forty years. Although procedures for fixing it were, I believe, eventually implemented, when it was designed, it was designed 'on faith' that those would be available (I was told this by an employee of the engineering company that designed it. I don't know if it's true.)
In any case, after the bomb explosion, it might have made sense for the government to consider preparing the Towers for deliberate demolition in case of just such an eventuality. After all, better to lose just the Towers than the entire surrounding area. Of course, the question arises - why not tell us?
At the time, it was sheer chaos. There were thousands of civilians still trapped in the buildings, which were burning. Although engineering models run after the event seem to indicate that the building might have survived the fire, FEMA's report indicates that the fire was, in fact, what weakened the buildings to collapse. Certainly, there is debate. Imagine the following. If you posit that there was, in fact, a demolition system installed in WTC, then it follows that there must have been a person responsible for making the decision to utilize it. That person would have been glued to every monitoring system available, watching the buildings, the rescue operations, everything. They would, assuming they were a responsible and reasonably competent individual (and I do assume that) be in agony. Despite the evacuation, thousands remained above the fireline. We now know that hundreds of people were committing suicide, jumping rather than die by flame. There were firefighters, police and rescue personnel in the buildings, of course. But above all, that person would have been charged to remember that they and they alone were responsible for protecting the thousands of people who remained within a four or five-block radius (the height of a tower) and likely further, not to mention the economic damage, should one of the towers decide to topple rather than fall. They know, or have been told, that if they 'turn the key,' the tower in question will implode and fall straight down, damaging little outside its footprint - after all, the agency in question had months to plan and implement this system after the last bomb, and they're confident it will work.
So our triggerperson sits and stares at the monitor. They're looking for any twitch of the building. Any shudder. And who knows. After 56 minutes, something happens on North Tower. Something. Perhaps it did start to collapse. Maybe the floor where the impact occurred suffered enough damage for the outer shell to peel away. Something.
And they turn the key. Knowing that even though there are hundreds of rescue personnel and thousands of people above the fireline, there are tens of thousands within reach of the tower if it doesn't go straight down.
Then, 46 minutes later, the upper 34 floors of the South Tower start to fall to the South and East. They turn the key again.
At that point, WTC 7, already evacuated, would be an afterthought.
I don't think I would blame that person one damn bit. I don't think I'd try to give them a medal either, because if they were the kind of person I'd hope was given the job, they'd probably try to kill me if I did. Nope, I'd give them all the therapy they wanted, and make sure nobody ever knew. Make sure they never had to worry about money again. Make sure they always had someone to talk to, ideally someone who'd had to make a similar choice, if not on that scale.
Unfortunately, this is our current government. I think they would have just panicked and reflexively thought of the lawsuits from families and buried the whole damn thing. It would have had to be beyond secret anyway - if you *did* have a demolition system in the WTC, you sure wouldn't want anyone knowing about it. After all, though, they did put the NYC crisis response bunker in there after the bomb went off. Sorta odd place for that, wasn't it? And the CIA undercover facility was there. And of course, the rage over the loss of the skyline as well as the loss of those people being blamed on Al-Qaida made the War on terror agenda so much easier to sell.
Man, it can be fun to be a tinfoil hatter.
Posted by jbz at January 22, 2006 4:22 PM