Wednesday 30 April 2008

Was 10:45 a.m. the Originally Planned Demolition Time of WTC 7?

At 11:07 a.m. in the morning of September 11, 2001, a CNN correspondent in New York reported that a third tower had possibly collapsed. While this report was incorrect, it is interesting to note that the reporter's description could have applied to World Trade Center Building 7. This huge skyscraper was indeed the third tower to collapse on 9/11. However it did not come down until late in the afternoon, more than six hours after this report.

CNN correspondent Allan Dodds Frank reported by phone from Lower Manhattan. He described: "[J]ust two or three minutes ago there was yet another collapse or explosion. I'm now out of sight, a Good Samaritan has taken me in on Duane Street. But at a quarter to 11, there was another collapse or explosion following the 10:30 collapse of the second tower. And a firefighter who rushed by us estimated that 50 stories went down. The street filled with smoke. It was like a forest fire roaring down a canyon." [1]

WTC 7 was a 47-story tower, so would have fitted the description of the estimated "50 stories" described by Frank. And it did indeed collapse completely. One could in fact accurately describe its demise with Frank's words: "The street filled with smoke. It was like a forest fire roaring down a canyon." However, this collapse did not happen until 5:20 that afternoon.

What could have led Frank to make his incorrect report? Surely, even in the chaos of that morning, it would have been quite difficult for a mistaken report of another massive skyscraper coming down to have emerged out of nothing. Could the reason be that WTC 7 had originally been scheduled to be brought down (with explosives) at 10:45 a.m.? The incorrect information Frank reported had therefore been put out, by persons unknown, on the assumption that this would be the case. However, something--as yet unknown to us--happened that meant the demolition had to be delayed, and so Building 7 was not ready to be brought down until late that afternoon.

10:45 a.m. would certainly seem a far more logical time for the masterminds behind 9/11 to have wanted to bring down WTC 7. At that time, just 17 minutes after the North Tower had come down, the collapse of a third skyscraper would have appeared less obviously suspicious. It would have been easier for those involved with covering up the truth about 9/11 to claim this collapse was simply a consequence of the two earlier ones. Instead, however, the collapse at 5:20 p.m. appeared completely inexplicable. (Unless, of course, it was a controlled demolition.)

What makes Frank's report particularly notable is that there were other incorrect reports of a third building having collapsed--or at least being in danger of collapsing--later in the day, though these made specific reference to WTC 7. These went out in the hour or so before Building 7 came down:

At 4:15 p.m., CNN reported, "We're getting information that one of the other buildings ... Building 7 ... is on fire and has either collapsed or is collapsing." At 4:27, Greg Barrow reported from New York for the BBC radio channel Five Live, "We are hearing reports from local media that another building may have caught light and is in danger of collapse." He added, "I'm not sure if it has yet collapsed, but the report we have is talking about Building 7." At 4:54, presenter Gavin Esler reported on the BBC's domestic television news channel, BBC News 24: "We're now being told that yet another enormous building has collapsed. ... It is the 47-story Salomon Brothers building." At 4:57, presenter Phil Hayton announced on the BBC's international channel, BBC World, "We've got some news just coming in actually that the Salomon Brothers building in New York right in the heart of Manhattan has also collapsed." [2] However, WTC 7 (the "Salomon Brothers building") did not collapse until almost 25 minutes later.

These reports indicated that some people knew in advance that Building 7 was going to come down. This would have been quite a feat, since, as the New York Times put it, "before then, no modern, steel-reinforced high-rise in the United States had ever collapsed in a fire." [3]

Perhaps the real reason we heard these premature reports was that this information had somehow been passed to the media by the 9/11 perpetrators, as a cautious attempt at preventing speculation that WTC 7 was brought down with explosives. This was clearly what the collapse resembled, with the building falling completely and symmetrically into its own footprint in just 6.6 seconds. Indeed, CBS News anchor Dan Rather commented at the time that it was "reminiscent of ... when a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down." [4]

Speculation such as this would surely have been a threat to the official 9/11 story, as it might lead people to ponder whether--rather than being committed by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda--the attacks were an "inside job." To stifle any such debate, an official narrative would need to have been put out promptly. Perhaps this was why at 5:10 p.m.--still before WTC 7 had come down--the BBC's Phil Hayton reported: "[Y]ou might have heard I was talking a few moments ago about the Salomon building collapsing and indeed it has. ... It seems this wasn't the result of a new attack but because the building had been weakened during this morning's attack." [5] It appears the information had been put out already, not only that WTC 7 had collapsed, but also that it had come down without the use of explosives: It collapsed because "the building had been weakened during this morning's attack."

And thus, the cover-up had begun.

[1] "America Under Attack." Breaking News, CNN, September 11, 2001.
[2] These reports are summarized in Richard Porter, "Part of the Conspiracy? (2)." BBC News, March 2, 2007.
[3] James Glanz and Eric Lipton, "Burning Diesel is Cited in Fall of 3rd Tower." New York Times, March 2, 2002.
[4] CBS News, September 11, 2001.
[5] Quoted in Richard Porter, "Part of the Conspiracy? (2)."

Thursday 24 April 2008

Husband of Flight 93 Attendant: "Cell Phones Don't Work on a Plane ..."

The husband of a flight attendant on one of the four planes that crashed on 9/11 has, during an interview, revealed his astonishment at receiving a cell phone call from his wife that morning. The reason for his surprise: "because cell phones don't work on a plane."

The interview appeared on the 2006 documentary DVD, Portrait of Courage: The Untold Story of Flight 93. In it Lorne Lyles, a police officer in Florida, described how, at around 9:51 a.m. on September 11, he received a call from his wife, CeeCee Lyles, who was a flight attendant on United 93. She told him her plane had been hijacked and that she and some others were getting ready to "go to the cockpit." Lorne described that, after the call got disconnected: "I looked at the caller ID, and noticed that it was a call, and it was from her cell phone. And I'm like, OK, wait a minute. How can she call me from on the plane from a cell phone, because cell phones don't work on a plane? That's what I'm thinking." [1]

Lorne Lyles' concern was understandable. An article published by the Travel Technologist shortly after 9/11 stated: "[W]ireless communications networks weren't designed for ground-to-air communication. Cellular experts privately admit that they're surprised the calls were able to be placed from the hijacked planes, and that they lasted as long as they did." [2] Wireless Review similarly commented: "Because wireless networks are designed for terrestrial use, the fact that so many people were able to call from the sky [on September 11] brings into question how the phones worked from such altitudes. Alexa Graf, AT&T spokesperson, said systems are not designed for calls from high altitudes, suggesting it was almost a fluke that the calls reached their destinations." [3]

To investigate this matter, scientist A. K. Dewdney conducted a series of experiments using mobile phones from a small propeller aircraft, over the city of London, Ontario in Canada. (He noted that, "not only is the cell phone technological base in Canada identical to its U.S. counterpart, but Canadian communication technology is second to none, Canada being a world leader in research and development." [4]) Dewdney found:

[C]ell phone calls from commercial aircraft much over 8,000 feet are essentially impossible, while those below 8,000 feet are highly unlikely down to about 2,000, where they become merely unlikely. Moreover, even at the latter altitude (and below), the handoff problem appears. Any airliner at or below this altitude, flying at the normal speed of approximately 500 mph, would encounter the handoff problem. An aircraft traveling at this speed would not be over the cell site long enough to complete the electronic "handshake" (which takes several seconds to complete) before arriving over the next cell site, when the call has to be handed off from the first cell site to the next one. This also takes a few seconds, the result being, in the optimal case, a series of broken transmissions that must end, sooner or later, in failure. [5]

A similar concern to that expressed by Lorne Lyles may also have been hinted at by Deena Burnett, whose husband Tom Burnett apparently called her four times from on board Flight 93. In her own book, published in 2006, Deena Burnett described receiving the first of these calls from her husband at 9:27 a.m. on September 11: "I looked at the caller ID and indeed it was Tom's cell phone number." Deena, who during the early 1990s had worked as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, asked Tom: "Where are you? Are you in the air?" She commented in her book, "I didn't understand how he could be calling me on his cell phone from the air." [6]

Later in the day of 9/11, Deena told the FBI that "only one" of the calls she'd received from her husband "did not show on the caller identification." The reason for this was simply that "she was on the line with another call" when it was made. Otherwise, she had been "able to determine that her husband was using his own cellular telephone" on all his calls, "because the caller identification showed his number." [7]

Yet if cell phone calls like these would have been so unlikely from an aircraft in flight, what was really going on that morning? Was it just a "fluke" that these and other alleged passenger cell phone calls got through? Or, alternatively, might the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks have been involved in a sinister and malicious deception, to make the victims' relatives mistakenly believe they had been called from the hijacked flights?

[1] Portrait of Courage: The Untold Story of Flight 93. DVD. Directed by David Priest. Baker City, OR: Grizzly Adams Productions, 2006.
[2] Christopher Elliott, "Will They Allow Cell Phones on Planes?" Travel Technologist, September 19, 2001.
[3] Betsy Harter, "Final Contact." Wireless Review, November 1, 2001.
[4] A. K. Dewdney, "'Project Achilles': Final (Third) Report and Summary of Findings." Physics 911, April 19, 2003.
[5] A. K. Dewdney, "The Cellphone and Airfone Calls from Flight UA93." Physics 911, undated.
[6] Deena Burnett with Anthony Giombetti, Fighting Back: Living Life Beyond Ourselves. Altamonte Springs, FL: Advantage Books, 2006, p. 61.
[7] "Interview with Deena Lynne Burnett (re: Phone Call from Hijacked Flight)." Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 11, 2001.

Saturday 12 April 2008

Bombs in the Pentagon on 9/11? Witness Accounts Raise Questions

An image of the Pentagon attack captured by a surveillance camera

Several accounts reveal that some witnesses who were at the Pentagon when it was attacked on 9/11, and located close to where the building was struck, initially were quite sure a bomb--or bombs--had gone off. These accounts are particularly notable since these individuals were members of the armed forces, and therefore familiar with what explosives sounded and felt like. While they may not tell us anything conclusive, these reports raise questions about what actually happened at the Pentagon that morning:

• John Thurman, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, was in a second floor office just above where the Pentagon was hit. He has described the attack: "To me it didn't seem like a plane." Although he was aware that aircraft had hit the World Trade Center, he has recalled: "[T]o me, it seemed like it was a bomb. Being in the military, I have been around grenade, artillery explosions. It was a two-part explosion to me. ... [I]t seemed like that there was a percussion blast that blew me kind of backwards in my cubicle to the side. And then it seemed as if a massive explosion went off at the same time." He described what happened next: "[I]t just felt like this rolling earthquake going on underneath me. And in reflection, I realize that it was the plane that was actually underneath me. But at the time, again, I had thought that perhaps the terrorists had surreptitiously gotten construction workers to come in and place explosives, and they had perhaps commanded--detonated them synchronous with what was going on in New York." [1]

• Lieutenant Nancy McKeown ran a small meteorological unit in the Navy Command Center on the first floor of the Pentagon's D Ring--an area that was mostly destroyed when the building was hit. She described the attack: "[T]he building started to vibrate and things started to fall. And it initially felt like an earthquake. As the, as time progressed, the shaking of the building got violent. The noises got louder and louder." She added, "It sounded like a series of explosions going off." A colleague yelled out, and she "yelled back, bomb." When asked about the incident, "At that point you thought a bomb had gone off in the Pentagon?" McKeown replied: "That's correct. It sounded like a series of bombs exploding, similar to like firecrackers when you light them and you just get a series going off. But they got very loud, very extensive." [2]

• Army Major Craig Collier and his colleagues were in their second floor office, about 200 feet from where the Pentagon was hit. Collier described the moment of the attack: "[T]he building jolted and we heard a muffled boom, then a rumble. ... All of my peers in the area are experienced combat arms officers, and we quickly agreed that it sounded and felt like a bomb." [3]

Considering these accounts, it is perhaps interesting to note the following description of the physical effects of the attack, which was given in the U.S. Department of Defense's book Pentagon 9/11: "The Jet A fuel atomized and quickly combusted, causing explosive bursts as the plane hurtled into the building. A detonation 150 feet inside the building resulted from a 'fuel-air' explosion after the Jet A tanks disintegrated on impact. Here, as elsewhere, there was no uniform pattern of death and destruction. The vagaries of the fuel-air explosions and freakish blast effects meant deaths occurred randomly inside the Pentagon, with the occupants of seemingly more secure interior offices sometimes suffering worse fates than those nearer the outside wall." [Emphasis added] [4]

While these accounts provide us with no clear answers, they do show, again, why we need a proper investigation of 9/11--one that will include a thorough and unrestrained examination of what happened at the Pentagon that day.

[1] United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, April 11, 2006.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Alfred Goldberg et al., Pentagon 9/11. Washington, DC: Defense Department, Office of the Secretary, Historical Office, 2007, p. 26.
[4] Ibid. p. 37.