Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shutting Down The Tin-Foil Hat Brigade: Controlled Demolition Did NOT Bring Down the Towers

The section of Loose Change dealing with the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center begins with this quote:

"There were explosions going off everywhere. I was convinced that there were bombs going off all over the place and someone was sitting at a control panel pushing detonator buttons." --Theresa Veliz, working on the 47th floor of the North tower when flight 11 hit.

The running theory, in regards to the towers, is that even though we know they were hit by planes (the video footage is a little hard to ignore, especially coming from so many non-governmental sources), they didn't collapse due to the damage. 9/11 Truthers claim it was controlled demolition that brought down the buildings, including WTC 7, which didn't collapse until around 5 p.m.
The very first claim is that they are "the first steel buildings in history to collapse due to fire." As proof, they point out that in 1945, a B-25 bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State building. Then, they point out that in 1975, a fire broke out in the North tower that ended up consuming six floors of the WTC. And they point out that in 1988, several floors of an LA skyscraper burned for three hours. All of these buildings are still standing, yet the twin towers and WTC 7 all "conveniently fell into little piles." Never, in any of this, has anyone claimed that it was merely the fires that caused the collapse of the twin towers.

Dylan Avery goes on to point out a few more, including the Windsor building in Madrid, which burned for nearly 24 hours. He tries to say that none of these buildings, all steel-framed, collapsed; unfortunately, he is wrong. The top 10 floors of the Windsor building DID collapse, largely onto itself. Then, after pointing to all of these other fires and baying that none of them completely collapsed, he proudly points out that the twin towers only burned for under 100 minutes--and demands to know how a fire could have made these buildings collapse.

*Sigh* Do I have to go there?

"And to think...the government would have us believe that these buildings were brought down by 10,000 pounds of jet fuel." --Dylan Avery, narrating Loose Change

No, Dylan, common sense does not refute the official story. He quotes Van Romero, the VP for research at the New Mexico Institue of Mining & Technology, who says that based on the tapes, he believed explosives caused the collapse. That's right...the tapes. That statement was not based on actually seeing the wreckage and locating evidence of explosives, it was based on seeing the collapse on TV. Two days later, the same man, likely after seeing more than just the TV footage, said, "certainly the fire is what caused the building to fail."

Avery's response? He asks what would make Romero change his mind so fast. Spoken like a true nitwit.

Then Avery quotes Himan Brown, a civil engineer and the WTC's construction manager. Himan was quoted as saying that the fire didn't melt the steel--it just weakened it, and that was enough to cause the collapse. Then he quotes Kevin Ryan, from Underwriters Laboratories, who contradicts Himan; he says that the steel has to be exposed to temperatures of 2000F for several hours in order to be weakened enough to collapse. He says that Brown's assertion that a short fire melted the steel "makes no sense." Unfortunately, Brown never said the fires melted the steel. He said the fires weakened it. This is just one fine example of Avery and co. taking several quotes completely out of context.

But, hey...anything to prove their point.

Avery shows several news clips of many, many people talking about hearing explosions. Nobody says anything about bombs--trained firefighters, who know the difference between a bomb blast and an explosion caused by a very large fire moving in a very large building, talk about explosions, not bombs. One eyewitness even talks about seeing brief light sources emitting from the towers and a crackling noise before the collapse.

This is the part where picking the brains of my firefighter buddies and borrowing their textbooks comes in real handy.

Fire is a funny thing. Especially when let loose in a large structure made of concrete and steel that's full of all manner of simple fuels (paper, dry fiber, et cetera), a fire can do a lot of strange things. There are a number of things that can sound like an explosion. The major ones are called flashovers and backdrafts. A flashover is what happens when a fire emits a high layer of smoke, causing pyrolysis--the heating of all flammable objects/surfaces in a room--causing them to give off flammable gases. The temperature then reaches a point where those gases ignite suddenly, igniting everything else in the room. When this happens, it sounds like an explosion. There are varying types of flashovers that all have this general effect.

A backdraft (for those who never saw the movie) is similar to a flashover; it's what happens when a compartment (room) is on fire and the fire depletes all of the oxygen feeding it. Any sudden exposure to oxygen--an open door, a broken window, a collapsing portion of a wall--creates a sudden and very violent ignition of all of the flammable gases in the compartment. In other words, an explosion.

I promise you that these things were happening in those towers. A fire large enough creates these events. As for the crackling? The towers were 110 stories high, with a lot of glass between the steel frames. Gee. I wonder what might've crackled while the structures were beginning to collapse.

I really love how Avery quotes people who have absolutely no knowledge of construction, engineering, and demolition about what happened. He taped the account of "Willie," a janitor at the WTC on 9/11 (yep, a janitor), who swears it was explosives because the fires came down through the elevator shafts. Avery plays the recordings of a group of financial analysts (people who spent all their time crunching numbers in college and had no time to study physics or chemistry) that recorded two explosions when the first plane hit. Avery is even ballsy enough to claim that the elevator shafts were sealed, thus couldn't have had enough oxygen to allow a raging fireball to travel down them. say it was impossible, but what expertise is that based on? Being sealed didn't keep oxygen out, and I promise you the sealing was compromised by a Boeing 757 hitting the building. (I'd like to know how he goes from accepting Willie's account of the fire exploding down the elevator shaft and burning several people to claiming that it couldn't have happened!)

Avery points out that the collapse was picked up as a "seismic event" by an observatory. I wonder...would the collapse of a 110-story steel-and-concrete building make the ground shake?

What about the "hot spots" of "molten steel" found in the basement under the rubble? It wasn't steel. The metal found was tested, and engineers and chemists discovered that it was a mix of different metals, including aluminum and lead, all of which were present in the structures and would have melted in the fires. And since they're claiming that the fires never got hot enough to melt steel (and a controlled demolition wouldn't have created a fire hot enough to melt steel), I'm struggling to understand if he even knows what his point was in bringing it up.

Unless he's just trying to stir up more doubt. I think at this point he's just chasing his tail. (If you know what the guy looks like, and you can get a good visual in your head, it's actually pretty damn funny.)

I'm curious: how many pounds of explosives would be required to bring down a 110-story skyscraper? I'm guessing it's a hell of a lot. How would they get thousands of pounds of explosives into the towers without anyone noticing? How would they wire the buildings for this sort of thing without one of the thirty-thousand-plus people who worked there noticing? evacuation for a bomb threat, maybe? Nope. That wouldn't have given even the most experienced military EOD teams enough time to even start rigging those massive buildings for demolition.

And I'm sorry, Dylan...the fact that bomb-sniffing dogs were "abruptly removed" from the buildings on 9/6/01 doesn't rouse suspicion for me. That tells me the dogs were needed elsewhere.

"I think what happened to the WTC is simple enough. It was brought down in a carefully-planned, controlled demolition. It was a psychological attack on the American people, and it was pulled off with military precision." --Dylan Avery, narrating Loose Change

Windows didn't blow out because of explosives; as the buildings collapsed, an accordion effect was created. Air trapped in the buildings was being compressed; it had to go somewhere, and the windows were eventually the weakest point. And no, the fires didn't get hot enough to melt the steel frame. Nobody has ever claimed such a thing.

The planes that hit the towers, just as the plane that hit the Pentagon, tore massive holes in the buildings. Several steel support beams were ripped from their moorings on impact. The crashes themselves, putting massive holes in the towers, significantly compromised the stability of the structures. Thousands of pounds of burning jet fuel created raging infernos that further weakened steel beams that had already been badly damaged by the crashes. On top of the crash sites, thousands of pounds of steel, glass, and office materials perched precariously--until the gaping holes in the buildings finally gave way. All of that weight was too much for the crippled buildings to handle.

They also did not "conveniently fall into neat little piles." The collapse of the twin towers destroyed most of the WTC complex, beginning with the Marriott WTC. WTC 7, set on fire by falling debris, a building that didn't have the kind of reinforced foundation that the towers had, collapsed later in the evening. Even St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was damaged beyond repair and had to be demolished.

And Avery's claim that Rudy Giuliani refused to allow investigators into the site to inspect the tons upon tons of rubble? Horseshit. Massive teams of experts examined the rubble. The amount of paper generated by these experts on what they found (and didn't find) could keep my fireplace lit for years. A piss-ant like Giuliani could never have had enough clout to order investigators to stay away while the rubble was hauled off to recycling plants.

There were no blasting caps, no detonation cord, no residue from TNT or ammonium nitrate. Since Avery likes to present doubt based on nothing but a lack of evidence, I'd like him to chew on that one.

Hey...what about that B-25 bomber that hit the Empire State building? Why didn't that building collapse? I'll tell you. A B-25 Mitchell, the plane that hit the ESB, is thus: it has a wingspan of 67 feet, 6.7 inches, a length of 53 feet, 5.7 inches, stands about 16 feet high, weighs 33,000 lbs. loaded and carries only 975 lbs. of fuel. Its maximum speed is 245 mph.

A Boeing 757-200, on the other hand, is a much different aircraft. It has a wingspan of 124 feet, 10 inches, a length of 155 feet 3 inches, stands 44 feet, 6 inches high, weighs 255,000 lbs. when loaded with passengers, and carries 11,489 lbs. of fuel. Its maximum speed is 540 mph.

Oops! Bit of a difference! Start backpedaling now, buddy, 'cause you're gonna have a hard time 'splainin' that one!

I'd like to ask another very good question: since you say that the collapse of the towers and WTC 7 looks so much like controlled demolition, and that alone must prove that only controlled demolition could have done it...where, pray tell, have you stashed the footage of the last skyscraper knocked down by a commercial jetliner, the footage you're apparently comparing this to?

Thaaaaat's right. You have none. This is the first time it's ever happened. I'd be laughing right now at the stupidity of all of this if it weren't for the fact that I have a headache the size of Lower Manhattan.

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