Saturday, October 01, 2005

Omissions & Distortions in The 9/11 Commission Report: A Significant Pattern

by David Ray Griffin

Testimony at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference 2005 (September 21-24, Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC) for the session, “The 9/11 Omission: What the Commission Got Wrong,” September 23, 2005, sponsored by Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA):

There have been two main theories about 9/11, each of which is a conspiracy theory. The official conspiracy theory says that the attacks were planned and carried out entirely by al-Qaeda. The alternative theory says that the attacks could not have succeeded without the involvement of forces within our own government.

In examining The 9/11 Commission Report, I have focused on how it dealt with evidence supportive of the alternative theory. I have found that it did so by distorting or simply ignoring this evidence. This is no surprise, because the man running the Commission, Philip Zelikow, was essentially a member of the Bush-Cheney administration. But it is a fact that needs to be brought to light.

Because there are so many omissions and distortions---in my book I identified at least 115---I can point to a significant percentage of them only by moving through my representative list quite quickly.

Flights 11 and 175
I will begin with the question of how hijacked airliners could have struck the Twin Towers.

The Commission’s answer was the third answer we have been given to that question. The first answer, given by military leaders the first few days after 9/11, was that no fighter jets were sent up until after the Pentagon was struck. The second answer was contained in a timeline put out by NORAD on September 18, one week after 9/11, in which it stated the times at which it had been notified by the FAA about each flight and then the times at which it had fighters scrambled. The Commission failed to mention this change of story.

With regard to Flight 11, the Commission claimed that the military received notification about its hijacking 9 minutes before it struck the north tower. The military was unable to intercept it, however, because Colonel Marr, the head of NEADS---NORAD’s Northeast Sector---had to telephone a superior in Florida to get permission, and this call took 8 minutes. The Commission, besides failing to ask how such a call could take so long, also failed to point out that, according to Department of Defense procedures, the call was unnecessary.

With regard to Flight 175, the Commission claimed that the military received no notification about it until after it had struck the south tower (22-23). But NORAD, in its September 18 timeline, had said that notification had been received at 8:43, a full 20 minutes before the south tower was struck. So if the Commission’s new story is true, then NORAD officials were either lying or their memories were so bad that they got confused one week after the events. The Commission, however, failed to press this question.

Whenever there is a crisis, the FAA sets up a teleconference with the military. Information about Flight 175’s hijacking, it would seem, should have come to the military by means of this teleconference. The Commission, however, claimed that the FAA did not set up this teleconference until 9:20, 17 minutes after Flight 175 had crashed into the south tower (36). In making this claim, however, the Commission failed to mention a memo from the FAA’s Laura Brown, which said that the teleconference was established “within a few minutes” after the first tower was struck, which would have been about 8:50. The memo also said that the FAA conveyed information about all “flights of interest,” which would have included Flight 175. Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste read this memo into the Commission’s record during a hearing in 2003. But the Commission’s final report pretends that this memo did not exist.

The Commission’s claim about the military’s ignorance of Flight 175 also ignores a story involving Captain Michael Jellinek, a Canadian who on 9/11 was overseeing NORAD headquarters. According to this story, Jellinek was on the phone with NEADS as he watched Flight 175 crash into the south tower and asked, “Was that the hijacked aircraft you were dealing with?”--to which NEADS said yes.

The Collapse of the Twin Towers
Some more omissions and distortions involve the question of why the Twin Towers collapsed after being struck by the airliners.

The Commission failed to mention that prior to 9/11, fire had never caused steel-frame high-rise buildings to collapse, even when the fires were much bigger, hotter, and longer-lasting than the fires in the towers. It did not mention, in other words, that all previous collapses had been caused by carefully placed explosives in a process called controlled demolition.

The Commission also did not mention that the collapse of each tower had at least 10 features characteristic of controlled demolitions. For example, each collapse (1) began suddenly, (2) came straight down, (3) occurred at virtually free-fall speed, and (4) produced an enormous amount of dust, which happens when explosives pulverize concrete into tiny particles.

Each collapse was also total, with each 110-story building collapsing into a pile of rubble only a few stories high. How such a total collapse could occur---if explosives were not used---is a complete mystery, because the core of each tower consisted of 47 massive steel columns. The main explanation for the collapse is a pancake theory, according to which the floors above the hole created by the plane’s impact broke loose from the columns and fell on the floor below, thereby starting a chain reaction. But if this is what happened, the core columns would have still been sticking a thousand feet into the air. The Commission handled this problem by simply denying the existence of these core columns, saying: “The interior core of the buildings was a hollow steel shaft.” (541n1)

Another standard feature of controlled demolitions is, of course, the occurrence of explosions. The oral histories recorded by the New York Fire Department, which were finally released this past August, contain dozens of testimonies about multiple explosions in both towers, which reinforce previously available testimonies. However, although the Commission had access to the oral histories, it did not quote any of them. That is too bad, because the authors of the Report obviously like colorful quotations, and the 9/11 oral histories contain some pretty good ones. For example, firefighter Thomas Turilli, referring to the south tower, said that “it almost sounded like bombs going off, like boom, boom, boom, like seven or eight." Paramedic Daniel Rivera, describing what he called a “frigging noise,” said: “do you ever see professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear 'Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop'? That's exactly what . . . I thought it was.” Firefighter Edward Cachia, referring to the collapse of the south tower, said: “It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit. . . [W]e originally had thought there was like an internal detonation, explosives, because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down.” Assistant Fire Commissioner Stephen Gregory said: “I thought . . . before . . . No. 2 came down, that I saw low-level flashes. . . . I . . . saw a flash flash flash . . . [at] the lower level of the building. You know like when they . . . blow up a building. . . ?” Firefighter Richard Banaciski said: “[T]here was just an explosion. It seemed like on television [when] they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions.”

The question of whether explosives had been used could have been settled by a scientific examination of the steel columns. However, even though removing evidence from a crime scene is usually a federal offense, the authorities allowed the steel to be quickly removed and sold as scrap metal. This removal was protested by the New York Times and Fire Engineering magazine. The 9/11 Commission, however, said nothing about it.

The Commission also failed to mention Mayor Giuliani’s statement, made to Peter Jennings, that he had learned in advance that one of the towers was going to collapse. The Commission did not, therefore, need to ask Giuliani why anyone, prior to the collapse of the south tower, would have expected it to collapse, given the fact that there was no objective evidence or historical precedent for such a collapse.

The Commission also did not mention that the CEO of the company that was in charge of security for the World Trade Center was Wirt Walker III, the president’s cousin, or that Marvin Bush, the president’s brother, had been one of this company’s directors.

Building 7
The Commission also omitted many vital facts about the collapse of building 7. This collapse is especially important, because the collapses of the Twin Towers are usually attributed partly to the impact of the airplanes, but building 7 was not struck by a plane and yet it collapsed in essentially the same way, showing all the signs of a controlled demolition. The Commission did not mention these facts.

It also did not mention that firefighters were removed from building 7 several hours in advance because someone spread word that it was going to collapse, even though there were, according to all available photographs, fires on only a few of this building’s 47 floors. The Commission again could have included some interesting quotations from the 9/11 oral histories. For example, Decosta Wright, a medical technician, said: “I think the fourth floor was on fire. . . . [W]e were like, are you guys going to put that fire out?” Chief Thomas McCarthy said: “[T]hey were waiting for 7 World Trade to come down. . . . They had . . . fire on three separate floors . . . , just burning merrily. It was pretty amazing, you know, it's the afternoon in lower Manhattan, a major high-rise is burning, and they said ‘we know.’” But the Commission says nothing about this decision not to fight the fires, based on advance knowledge that the building was going to collapse.

The Commission also did not mention that Larry Silverstein, the building’s owner, said on a PBS show that he and the “fire department commander” decided it would be best to “pull” the building, after which “we watched the building collapse.”

The Commission avoided pointing out any of these things by simply not finding any room in its 571-page book to mention the fact that building 7 collapsed---even though it was supposedly the first large steel-frame building in history to collapse from fire alone.

End Part I


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