Seven World Trade Center or World Trade Center Building 7 (hereinafter, “WTC 7”) was a 46-story structure to the north of the Twin Towers complex. WTC 7 collapsed at 5:21 p.m. on 9/11/01.
1. WTC 7 was built in 1985 as an addition to the World Trade Center, located across Vesey Street from the main compound and 300 feet from the North Tower (“WTC 1”). WTC 7 was not hit by an airliner on Sept. 11 and did not show significant damage from falling debris. It is the first skyscraper of steel-cage design in history said to have collapsed primarily due to the effects of fire. According to the “World Trade Center Building Performance Study” of Oct. 2001, a report by a team of engineers commissioned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”): “The performance of WTC 7 is of significant interest because it appears the collapse was due primarily to fire, rather than any impact damage from the collapsing towers.”
2. Several videotapes of the WTC7 collapse show that it begins with a drop of the center penthouse into the structure. The sides then droop towards the center as the building falls straight down, without visible rotation along the vertical axis and without significant resistance, neatly into its own footprint, within 6.8 seconds. These collapse mechanics perfectly mimic those of a controlled demolition by explosives. The WTC 7 collapse resembles a controlled demolition in other ways, such as the streamers of dust (“squibs”) emerging from the north facade at the beginning of the collapse and a rubble pile covered by exterior walls (see, www.wtc7.net).
3. The owner of WTC 7, Larry Silverstein of Silverstein Properties and Westfield America, seems to admit that the little-reported collapse of WTC 7 was the result of a decision to intentionally demolish the building. Speaking on camera for a PBS documentary first broadcast in 2002 (“America Rebuilds: A Year at Ground Zero”), Silverstein says, “I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, ‘We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.’ And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.” At other points in the same documentary, “pull” is used as a vernacular for controlled demolition. A full investigation would ask Silverstein to clarify this statement, and explore all other evidence indicating that there was a controlled demolition of WTC 7. It would also explore the role of the Blackstone Group, L.P., which purchased the lease on WTC 7 in 2000.
4. Reports from first responders and other persons at Ground Zero on the afternoon of September 11 indicate that warnings about the likely collapse of WTC 7 were issued in the hour prior to its collapse. A full investigation would follow up on these reports, and also clarify if any fatalities or injuries resulted from the collapse.
5. Steel remnants from the collapse were removed from Ground Zero in the weeks after the disaster, along with the rest of the remnants of the entire WTC complex. These were not retained by the authorities for use in the investigation of collapse mechanics, but rapidly shipped to blast furnaces in Asia for recycling, either directly from Ground Zero or from the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. The engineers writing the FEMA report lacked subpeona power. They were hired part-time as freelancers. They were prevented from obtaining blueprints for the buildings, and had only occasional and restricted access to the Ground Zero site. The Science Committee of the House of Representatives later wrote, “the lack of authority of investigators to impound pieces of steel for investigation before they were recycled led to the loss of important pieces of evidence.” (House Science Committee, 3/6/02, www.house.gov/science/hearings/full02/mar06/charter.htm) The editor of the nation’s oldest firefighting magazine, Bill Manning, objected to the accelerated scrapping of World Trade Center steel before investigators could determine the actual mechanics of the building collapses, and called the investigation of the collapses “a half-baked farce.” (Fire Engineering, 1/02).
6. The report on WTC 7 by FEMA and the preliminary reports from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) have ruled out fuel-tank explosions as a possible cause of the collapse, and fail to come to definitive conclusions about collapse mechanics. These present hypotheses “based on potential rather than demonstrated fact” (FEMA, Oct. 2001). The conditional phrasing of conclusions in these reports may be related to lack of access to physical evidence and blueprints and/or destruction thereof prior to publication. This problem is likely to also plague the final draft of the NIST report, due for publication in January 2005.
7. With regard to WTC 7, the 9/11 Commission Report mentions only that it was the location of the New York Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management (“OEM”); and further, that OEM was evacuated at 9:30 a.m. The report curiously fails entirely to mention the collapse of WTC 7 later in the day.
8. OEM was intended as the attack-proof command center for emergency management in the City of New York. Its location at WTC 7 with its own independent supplies of air, water and fuel was a subject of controversy among city agencies in the years prior to 9/11/01. Reportedly there were complaints that the placement of its large fuel tanks above ground were in violation of the fire code.
9. Mayor Giuliani and his staff did not set up command in OEM on September 11 before OEM was evacuated. After the evacuation of OEM, the city moved its emergency response command center to Pier 93–where FEMA had previously set up a command headquarters for TRIPOD II, a counterterrorism exercise based on a biological warfare scenario and originally scheduled to begin on 9/12/01. A full investigation would look into possible coordination of this exercise with the wargames of 9/11/01 by NORAD and other agencies (see, Appendix A1). A full investigation would also explore the consequences of New York City having lacked a ready command-post for coordination of emergency response on September 11.
10. WTC 7 was later revealed as the location of what the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) called its largest domestic station outside of the Washington, DC area. Other tenants included the Department of Defense, Secret Service, Treasury Department, and the New York headquarters of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). [The loss of the latter offices destroyed paper files on 200 open investigations into securities fraud and, presumably, greatly delayed and blocked all SEC investigations, perhaps including investigations into trades allegedly based on foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, for many weeks.] A division of the Blackstone Group owns interests in a number of defense contractors, and it is of interest to investigate whether Blackstone was contracting to any of the U.S. federal tenants in WTC 7.
11. Insurers have paid out damage claims to Silverstein Properties for losses resulting from the destruction of WTC 7. Following a settlement with the Blackstone Group, ending its interest in the property in 2003, Silverstein’s group began with the construction of a new building on the site, which is now nearing completion.
12. While failing to advance a conclusive determination of WTC 7 collapse mechanics, the official inquiries also have failed to consider the hypothesis of an intentional demolition.
13. If WTC 7 collapsed as the result of an intentional demolition by explosives, as much evidence suggests, other questions arise for a full investigation: Was it possible to wire the building for a controlled demolition within a few hours on September 11? If not, why would such preparations have been made in advance of that date? Have similar preparations been made in other buildings in New York? Were similar preparations made at other buildings at the WTC site prior to September 11?
(Forward to ANTHRAX ATTACKS.)