Saturday, March 20, 2010

You Say Science, I Say Hogwash

Friends! Fans! Grab a pen and start writing your mother! Carve it into your neighbors' palms! Go tell it on the mountain! This will be my last 9/11 post! Well, at least for now. I'm sure after the last post, the few of you who read this probably think I've gone batty, that I might have the deep down crazies. And you might be correct. But this whole situation is crazy, so I'm right where I belong, I suppose.

Today, I finished David Ray Griffin's book, The Mysterious Collapse of WTC7: How the report was unscientific and false. The title doesn't lead much to the imagination. And just like the title, the entire book spells out each little detail to the point that it is cumbersome and nearly redundant. Nevertheless, Griffin has once again proven that the official story of what happened on September 11 is riddled with holes, mysteries, and all sorts of whodunnits. And once again he made a believer out of me.

I will give you the basic rundown of what the reports say. There is a lot of science mumbo jumbo, so I'll give you the easy History Books version. The official story of what happened to World Trade Center Building 7 is that debris from the collapse of the North Tower damaged WTC7 and started fires. These fires eventually got so hot that they caused thermal expansion within the steel beams and girders. The girders, because of the expansion, busted through the shear studs that held them in place and began to collapse and fail. A few central columns were then left without any support and they, too, collapsed. The video footage of WTC7 collapsing was nothing but a hollow shell of a building, as all of its inside had fallen apart. That is the explanation of the global collapse of WTC7.

Now, I am going to point out a few things that Griffin spends way too much time on. Should we do bullets? Yeah! Let's do bullets!

  • Fires were reported way before 10:28, when the North Tower collapsed. Remember Barry Jennings? He reported explosions and fires before 9:30. Michael Hess as well originally reported fires, though later he changed his story.
  • The fires that were started were extremely manageable. About six floors were reported to be in flames. These floors, however, were, for the most part, offices. The amount of combustible material was thin. Many experts agree that there was combustible material present, but enough to keep a fire in one place for about 40 mins. NIST reported some fires sitting on certain floors for nearly seven hours.
  • The combustible material available would have not been able to sustain a fire for a very long length of time. Not only that, but the temperatures it could have actually got to is nowhere near hot enough to create the kind of thermal expansion in steel.
  • The steel beams were reinforced in concrete. What normally happens in buildings is that when the steel is heated, so is the concrete. That way, they both expand with the heat and the beams and girders don't fail. In NIST's computer simulations, only the steel was heated and the concrete was completely ignored.
  • A few scientists looked at the logistics of that kind of thermal expansion. It takes an awful lot of heat spread out across the surface of a steal beam in order for it to expand even a small amount. NIST reported that there were isolated fires that each stayed on its floor, and only a couple moved across the entire floor. With about 40 minutes of combustible material in each location, there is actually no way for the fire to heat the entire beams or girders simultaneously and at the same rate in order for it to expand enough to break the shear studs.
  • NIST originally said that the girders didn't have shear studs. That was proven false. There were in fact shear studs. NIST admitted that they fabricated it.
  • All of NIST's research was done through computer simulation. Nothing was done with hard evidence with the steel or any piece of that actual building. NIST, in their report, admitted that they not only ignored the more likely scenarios and chose the less likely that fit their hypotheses, but also admitted that they embellished the heat of the fires, the length of the fires, and the amount of combustible material.
  • It is completely implausible for a building to collapse in a near free fall without the use of explosives. NIST's explanation that the columns fell and what we saw collapse was the empty shell of the WTC7. In order for that to happen, in order for the building to collapse that quickly without resistance, every column and every beam would have had to fail in unison. And remember, NIST said that there were fires on about six floors (8-14). How in God's green earth could fires in the lower middle of a building create enough heat across the entire building for each column and beam to fail in unison? It doesn't make sense. At all. NIST actually said in its report that what happened was "a miracle." You are scientists, you intergalactic ninnies! You aren't supposed to believe in miracles!

There you have the short version. Also, the term "intergalactic ninnies" is a name my cousin Josh used to call me when we were kids. It is no less fitting in this circumstance.

Now, one important question kept popping up when I would bore people to death with my knowledge of WTC7. Why? Why take out building 7? It was a good question that Griffin never answered directly. What was so important inside this building that was actually further away from the towers than some other buildings that needed destroyed? I emailed David Ray Griffin's webmaster, Edward Rynearson, and asked him this exact question. And though he isn't the friendliest pen pal, Mr. Rynearson did answer my question. He wrote:

WTC7 may have contained the control mechanisms for the attack. They may have used microwave beams like they use at airports to guide the planes in. Also, the SEC was storing evidence against energy companies involved in fleecing California consumers during the blackouts. This evidence was destroyed. CIA had offices in this building.

We really need a real investigation to determine exactly what happened.

Whoa, mama! Thanks for opening up a whole new can of worms, Ed!

The SEC aside, just take a look at the information that was available. There were in fact reports that people knew that WTC7 was going to come down before it actually did, when never in history had a fire brought down a steel structure of that size. There were reports of explosions. The building came down in what looked like a controlled demolition. The reports that NIST gave are improbable, implausible, and smeared with the nasty stench of scientific fraud. Griffin provides an enormous amount of evidence that explosives were used to bring down WTC7. At the very least, NIST should have investigated it. At least give it some thought. Instead, their reply was that the use of explosives seemed so ridiculous that they didn't even bother considering it as an option.

My question now, as I continue my research and reading, is what if NIST did believe in the theory that explosives were used. If they created a report that supported this, what holes would be evident from that side? Would there be as many pieces missing from that story as there is in the official one? I am certain that some would show. However, from a scientific approach, the rule is to follow the most likely hypothesis and to never ignore evidence, no matter how weak it might be. You have to follow up on the evidence. You have to answer the questions of professional people in the fields of engineering, fire control, and demolition. You have to present your work to your peers for analysis. NIST did not do any of these things. That is why a new investigation, one that wouldn't be pressured by the Bush (or Obama) administration to force the story to fit an outcome.

And I intend to help. It looks bleak, yes. The masterminds are all but off the hook. Thousands of lives have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. But if we can help bring the truth to light, we can maybe save a few thousand more. We can bring our soldiers back to their families. We can unmask the stereotypes we've given Muslims. We can punish the ones who are actually responsible. We can tear off Dick Cheney's nut sack and staple it to his forehead.

These things will likely never happen. So why pursue it? I guess I like the mystery. I like absurdity of it all. I believe too much in the truth.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Convicing Coincidences and Other Odd Occurences

I totally intended to continue my line of thought and post another entry or two about Hurricane Katrina, Michael Eric Dickson, and Paul Harris's book, but I saw something this week that I had to put up on History Books. Yes, it is about 9/11. Yes, it is a conspiracy theory. That is the extent of what I will say. I am going to post the information, and you take it as you will: conspiracy or coincidence.

Many deaths have taken place to key witnesses and people tied to the 9/11 truth movement that could have turned the tide in the investigations for 9/11. Here are a few.

Barry Jennings

I talked a lot about Barry Jennings in a previous post. His death is mysterious, probably the strangest out of these series. Two days before the NIST report, Jennings was found dead. The cause is unknown.

Beverly Eckert

Mrs. Eckert was an inspiration to say the least. Her husband died in the attacks on 9/11. Since then, she worked extremely hard to bring the families of victims together. It was this group of families that pushed the Bush administration to go through with the investigation and create the 9/11 Commission. She was offered money by the government to just hush up, but she refused and went on to sue the government. When the Report came out, she was also one of the many who were dissatisfied and who demanded an unbiased investigation. She was killed in a plane crash in Buffalo, just after meeting President Obama.

Kenny Johannemann

Kenny Johannemann was a Twin Towers janitor. Not only did he rescue a man from the wreckage but he also supported the account of explosions occurring. His family says that 9/11 changed him. He took to drinking and depression and eventually shot himself in 2008.

Madame Jeane Palfrey

Madame DC is the toughest one to tie in. She was mixed up in a lot of crazy shit before 9/11. Known for her ring of prostitution, Palfrey was in the news quite a bit and even spent some time in prison. She said that she'd rather die than go back there. Before she passed, though, she was interviewed on the Alex Jones show and said that she would never kill herself and she thought that she might be in danger. The rumors were that through her girls, she had acquired some classified information on 9/11. It's tough to tell, though. She was facing a pretty hefty prison sentence for other charges.

Michael H. Doran

Michael Doran was an attorney who fought for the victims of 9/11 and got them and the families of victims compensation. He was piloting a small plane near Cleveland when it went down, resulting in his death.

Christopher Landis

Former Operations Manager for Safety Service Patrol at the Virginia Department of Transportation. Landis gave some photographs of the Pentagon to some filmmakers. Apparently, these photos not only showed the crash site but also government officials covering it up. One week after the makers of "PentaCon" obtained his testimony on film, Landis committed suicide.

Bertha Champagne

Bertha was the baby-sitter of the younger Bush brother, Marvin, who, if you remember from my earlier posts, was the head of Securacom, the company that ran security for the entire WTC complex. She was 62-years-old when she was found in the Bush's driveway, run over by her own vehicle.

Paul Smith and John del Giorno

Smith was the pilot, del Giorno was the cameraman. These two were the first to witness the second plane slamming into the tower. Smith died a year or so ago by a cab that had been run off the road by a mysterious black car. Del Giorno refuses to speak about what he saw the morning of 9/11.

Major General David Wherley

General Wherley was one of the brave souls who first responded to the terrorist attacks by scrambling fighter jets in to the sky. Even though the airliners still crashed into the towers, Wherley tried his best to take care of the situation. He died in what was the worst DC metro crash in history in 2009.

Salvatore Princiotta

A first responder. A hero. A fire fighter. He moved to Arizona to help treat his lung condition that he got from breathing in so much filth at Ground Zero. He was murdered in 2007. The number one suspect in the murder case was Jeffery Bigham, who later shot himself.

David Graham

David Graham claimed that he spotted two of the alleged 9/11 terrorists the morning of the attacks. He took his information to the FBI who told him to shut up and go away. Graham began writing a book about his experience and the responses he got from the FBI. He was poisoned last year.

Now, I am the first to admit that some of these are shaky at best. The hooker, the baby-sitter, and the general all could be coincidences or freak accidents. But the dentist, the operations manager, and Barry Jennings eerily bring to mind Hollywood stories of spies and murder and deceit. I am about 25 pages away from finishing David Ray Griffin's The Mysterious Collapse of WTC 7 and I have some interesting things to talk about on my next post.

Before I go, I'll leave you with this. NIST admitted that it fabricated its computer simulations to fit their hypotheses of how WTC 7 collapsed. Admitted that they lied. Did you know this? Our government lied to us. That may not come as quite a shock to some. But it should rattle you. They went to great lengths to cover up what they did. NIST is the tip of the iceberg. Could they go as far as to commit murder? Here you have eleven maybes.

If you live in New York or know anyone who lives in New York, send them here:

Sign the petition to reopen the investigation with an unbiased commission.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Indifference, or It Came From Lake Pontchartrain!

First, history fans, I must warn you of the heaviness of this post. My study of Katrina has taken a turn from dealing with race and class to focusing on the mishandling of the rescue efforts that followed the storm.
Secondly, I want to thank Paul Harris for taking an interest in this blog. He was kind enough to send me a book of his own account of being trapped in the Superdome during late August 2005. I look forward to reading it, and I feel that it will be a good addition to our discussion here on History Books. I also have been listening to Dan Carlin's podcast, Hardcore History, and have some exciting posts brewing about the Punic Wars and the activities on the eastern front during World War 2. But! Before I get swept up in these tangents, let's get back to the eye of the storm. See what I did there?

I was hoping to have Dyson's book Hell or Highwater finished before the end of Black History Month, but March sneaked up on me. The book has been pretty startling. I had heard prior to reading the book about how FEMA failed tremendously and how the government dropped the ball. As I began reading through it, however, it seemed that the local government, not the federal government, blundered big time. But as I continued reading, I realized it was a joint effort between local, state, and federal governments in the late and inefficient response to the devastation that Katrina wrought. Everybody messed up. The federal government, however, was trusted in the end to take control of rescue efforts, clean up, and rebuild, and it was they who delivered the knock out punch to the beaten victims of the New Orleans.

Where do you start to assign the blame? Does it lie with Bush? Can we hold Mayor Nagin accountable? What about Governor Blanco? To figure out how this disaster could have been avoided, you might have to go back hundreds of years. But for the sake of a subject that I know little to nothing about, we'll just go back about ten years when articles, documentaries, and editorials began popping up not only in Louisiana but all over the country that pointed out the poor shape that the levees were in and how a rough storm could spell a disaster for the city of New Orleans. Ten years ago! And for ten years, the army corp of engineers looked at the 17th street canal with an awful feeling in their stomachs. They told the government how much money they needed to fix the deteriorating levees. But there were more important things to do than to protect the poor citizens of the Lower 9th and Jefferson Parish.

The money that could have been used to prevent some of Katrina's wrath traveled across the Atlantic ocean, through the Mediterranean, and into the desert, where it pledged its allegiance to the lies of rich men. The engineers had estimated $1 billion could have secured the crumbling walls that embraced Lake Pontchartrain. Instead that money was sent to Iraq and to Afghanistan. Along with the state's money, Bush sent thousands of Louisiana's finest to fight and to die in the desert. And so the stage was set. The prediction was widely acknowledged: soon a storm would power through the sad defenses and fill up the Crescent City with water. Sadly, the warnings fell on deaf ears.

Tackling natural disasters is tough. There is only so much you can do to prepare for them. Tornadoes, earthquakes, and even hurricanes can happen quickly, without warning, and take the lives of unsuspecting citizens. Very rarely do we get an adequate heads up that something like that is coming so we can get ready. A tornado siren can go off five minutes before the cyclone rips through a town. We can now track hurricanes when they are forming beyond the Caribbean and can prepare for impact a few days before. How then do we excuse ourselves for getting ten years of constant warnings and no action was taken? The blame can be tossed from mayor to governor to president, but in the end, not one person in charge thought it necessary to rebuild the deteriorating levees in New Orleans.

The next big misstep fell into the hands of Mayor Nagin. As Katrina blew through Cuba and gained momentum, Nagin was told how serious the situation was. He stalled. And lives were lost. Giving the go for a mandatory evacuation is a tough decision. It's expensive and dangerous. I know that Nagin wanted to be sure that this was the storm they had all feared before he gave the order. Yet, even when his worst fear was confirmed, the mayor again hesitated. I can't wrap my head around why. A voluntary evacuation was issued. This meant that the folks who had access to vehicles could get out of harms way. The thousands of poor folk who were dependent on the city for transportation were out of luck. Not until Katrina was knocking on the door of New Orleans did Nagin tell everyone to get out. The official plan to evacuate the poor folk of New Orleans involved commandeering the city and school buses, picking up the citizens, and booking it down both sides of the interstate. Here is the result of Nagin's hesitation:

The mayor acted too late. The baton was then passed to Governor Blanco, who I think tried her best to deal with the situation. Again, she waited too late to act, but when she did, it was decisive and prudent. She contacted the federal government, told them things were out of control, told them what they needed, and waited. I discussed in the last post about President Bush's indifference towards the cries for help from the South, how he seemed to treat it casually as though it were something egregious on a list of things to do. As the commander-in-chief, Bush has to take a chunk of the blame no matter what, and with good reason. I've made it clear that I believe all levels of government were to blame for the poor response. But if I were to ask who is to blame for turning a disaster into a catastrophe, the answer would be FEMA.

Michael Eric Dyson does an absolutely fantastic job of covering the background of FEMA, how it originated, how it grew to be obsolete, and how it led to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Created in 1979 to deal with response, rescue, and rebuilding in the midst of natural disasters, FEMA balanced on the edge of bankruptcy and tumbled through mismanagement until Clinton took office in 1993. President Clinton, who happens to be one of my heroes, whipped FEMA into shape and during the Midwest floods of the early '90s, got the agency to help with rescue and redistribution. It bought out much of the ruined land and helped the citizens settle into new communities and lives. Through hurricanes and earthquakes, FEMA, though not entirely faultless, thrived and knew its purpose. However, near the end of Clinton's term, especially in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, FEMA began to turn its attention to something much more exciting than natural disasters: terrorism.

Soon after the attacks on September 11, newly elected President Bush became obsessed with fighting terror. He directed much of this endless, exhausting task to FEMA, which he had demoted from a cabinet-ranked agency to a small piece of the Department of Homeland Security. Because of its intense focus on terrorism, FEMA lost touch with the natural disaster part of the job. It still responded, but as we see in New Orleans during Katrina, the agency was weak and built to do only so much, its chain of command and protocol getting lost somewhere in a muddled bureaucracy and ill-defined job descriptions.

Aside from its late response, its inadequate supplies and troops, and the Bush administration's attitude of indifference, FEMA surely did all that it could to save lives and to protect those survivors living in squalor in the Superdome and in the Convention Center. Wrong. Dyson points out a dozen unbelievable decisions FEMA made during the rescue efforts that actually made my jaw drop. You are probably going to say that in a disaster that huge, there needs to be organization so that it doesn't become more chaotic. I would initially say yes. But what if the people who were supposed to be organizing weren't really doing anything and there were a large amount of resources within reach? That is what we have to face now.

Sitting in Florida were a few Black Hawk helicopters, equipped with water and food and rescue gear, waiting for orders that never came. I have to keep in mind that the military is trained and can't do things without being ordered or asked, even if they know that breaking the rules is the right thing. This is a difficult moral/ethical issue that bothers me to no end. The pilots wanted to join the rescue efforts but could not. Sitting in the Gulf of Mexico was the USS Bataan. On board was enough food and water and hospital beds to accommodate much of the miserable refugees in the Superdome. FEMA never even called to ask for its service, so it sat empty in the harbor. Trucks with gallons and gallons of water were turned away by the National Guard because they weren't FEMA approved. A fleet of 500 water planes from Florida begged FEMA to allow them to help with the rescue. They were told it was too dangerous. Two hundred fire fighters drove down from Illinois were stopped outside of the city and told that they hadn't been approved by FEMA. When George Bush visited, a helicopter filled with food and water was flown in for a photo shoot but then was sent back without delivering any of its goods to those in need. And probably the worst example was of a doctor who was giving chest compressions to victims who were dying in the street. FEMA told him that he had to stop because his credentials hadn't gone through FEMA. He showed them his credentials and begged them to let him continue. He was trying to save lives. He was then forced to leave by the armed guards, who, by the way, had been given a shoot-to-kill order from Governor Blanco in the midst of the looting and violence that had been grossly overstated.

I understand that New Orleans was dangerous, contaminated, and even violent. But no matter what excuse is given, I cannot accept these atrocities. It breaks my heart to think of that doctor and those pilots and those fire fighters who had the misfortune of seeing the suffering and not being able to do anything about it. I will admit that while reading it, I felt my thirst for conspiracy burning in the back of my throat. And though some may argue that some agenda existed, I really think it was human error, hubris, and, as the title implies, indifference.

This post has had little to do with the racial issues that Dyson highlighted at the beginning of this book. When it comes to the actions, the series of events, the mis-communication, the battle for control, color and class was drowned out of the picture. A few days later, however, the world could see them floating in the water, next to the thousands of bodies whose lives had been overlooked for decades, centuries. The $1 billion that could have saved the levees has turned into $24 billion. The city of New Orleans will rise again, still below sea level, still impoverished, and I can't help but ask why.