The past ten years have seen a huge increase in the number of game-changing documentary films, produced primarily by small activist groups. From Food Inc,
, to Hot Coffee
, independent documentaries have taken on the investigative role formerly played by national newspapers. Tight deadlines prevent many reporters from investigating thoroughly, and--far too often--we simply repeat what other reporters have written. The other side of an important story may go untold for some time.
A group called Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) has spent the last six years gathering forensic evidence to explain the extremely rapid destruction of the World Trade Center Towers, which, they contend, could not have been caused by the airline impacts and fires alone. Unlike previous documentaries on the 9/11 tragedy that suggest there are too many questions with regard to the official story, 9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out
) seeks to provide some answers. The argument, that high-tech explosives were used to demolish the buildings, is supported in the documentary by extensive evidence. According to the group’s website
, about 80% of the people who believed the official story become convinced of the explosive demolition theory after being presented with the evidence. Some remain uncertain, but only a small percent are unconvinced. Of those who remained true to the official story, one confessed to the group’s founder, architect Richard Gage, “I wouldn’t believe what you’re telling me even if it were true.” (ESO
The film opens with the question, “Why revisit 9/11?” and provides a count of the number of lives lost in the wars that have been the direct result of 9/11, the 4.5 trillion dollars spent so far on the War on Terror, and the intolerable loss of civil liberties
. No speculations are made in the documentary about who was responsible. Instead, viewers are left to wonder about the identity and size of the group that perpetrated this horrible crime and whether or not these criminals operate within the U.S. government or have simply fooled or manipulated our politicians.
The documentary does not paint a picture of a large group of conspiratorial scientists falsifying information. For the most part, it shows that the scientists working on the 9/11 investigation were simply not given much to investigate. The main crimes, according to the film, would seem to be of omission, not commission.
Although the mainstream media and independent researchers have attempted to explain why the buildings came down the way they did—some say transformers exploded, the building design was flawed, or that all the columns in the damaged area failed simultaneously—none of these theories are supported by the government’s investigation. The first, most startling fact revealed to the documentary viewers is that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which was given the charge of conducting the investigation into the collapses, did not investigate the actual causes of the way the buildings came down in the way that they did.
A close examination of NIST’s final report
on the WTC Towers indicates that it appears to be true, as the documentary argues, that NIST does not explain the rapid destruction of the buildings. The NIST report describes the top floors of the towers beginning to tilt, poised, it would seem, to topple over the sides of the towers. In the 298-page document, only two paragraphs (on page 146) concern what came next, the entire building collapse of the undamaged floors below:
The structure below the level of the collapse initiation offered minimal resistance to the falling building mass at and above the impact zone. The potential energy released by that downward movement of the large building mass far exceeded the capacity of the intact structure below to absorb that through energy of deformation.
Since the stories below the level of collapse initiation provided little resistance to the tremendous energy released by the falling building mass, the building section above came down essentially in free fall, as seen in videos. As the stories below sequentially failed, the falling mass increased, further increasing the demand on the floors below, which were unable to arrest the moving mass.
The official government investigation of the buildings’ destructions stops there. No scientific data is provided to support these narrative statements. NIST does not explain why the intact structure offered “minimal resistance” or provide an estimate of “the potential energy” that was released or explain why it “far exceeded the capacity of the intact structure.”
This is where AE911Truth experts pick up the story of 9/11, analyzing the material and documentary evidence not examined by NIST, which, they claim, indicates the use of explosives: the rapid descent of the structure through the path of greatest resistance, the existence of molten steel, eye-witness reports of explosions, the lateral ejection of multi-ton steel sections, the mid-air pulverization of concrete and metal decking, temperatures that exceeded the range of jet-fuel and office fires, and the chemical signature of the incendiary thermite found in solidified molten steel and dust samples.
Since no steel-frame structure has ever completely collapsed due to impact or fire, the events of 9/11 are phenomena still in need of explanation. As a number of architects and engineers appearing in the film stress, steel-framed skyscrapers are built in such a way that, if they begin to collapse, they will do so fairly slowly, asymmetrically and incompletely, giving people and rescue workers time to evacuate. The fact that these buildings came down in about ten seconds poses very serious questions for the building industry. When AE911Truth members, 9/11 victims’ family members and others petitioned NIST to include an analysis the actual collapses, NIST responded by admitting,
…We are unable to provide a full explanation of the total collapse…. (ESO 0:49:36)
The question then becomes, What did NIST investigate? According to a summary provided on the NIST website
, what the investigation specifically undertook was to establish
the expected performance of the towers under normal design loads and conditions
and to analyze the
standard fire resistance of the WTC truss-framed floor system, the quality and properties of the structural steels …, and the response of the WTC towers to the design gravity and wind loads.
The investigators further created
Simulations of the behavior of each tower …, in four steps: The aircraft impact…, the resulting distribution of aviation fuel, and the damage to the structure, partitions, thermal insulation materials, and building contents. … The heating and consequent weakening of the structural elements…, and the progression of structural component failures leading to the initiation of the collapse of the towers.
NIST concedes that
The focus of the Investigation was on the sequence of events from the instant of aircraft impact to the initiation of collapse for each tower. For brevity in this report, this sequence is referred to as the "probable collapse sequence," although it includes little analysis of the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached and collapse became inevitable.
The experts in the AE911Truth documentary more or less accept NIST’s very detailed descriptions of the impact and damage—although many in the documentary question how badly the steel could actually have been weakened by heat in such a short time. However, according to the experts, even if the conditions described existed, it does not follow that total collapse was inevitable.
The documentary refutes the widely publicized “progressive collapse” theory
hastily conceived by Zdenek Bazant just days after the tragedy, submitted for publication September 14, 2001, and revised in 2002 and 2007. Unlike NIST, Bazant does discuss the “collapses,” but none of his data or calculations was used by NIST in the official report. Mechanical engineer Tony Szamboti and physics teacher David Chandler demonstrate how Bazant’s claim is easily falsified by careful measurements that show the falling upper floor section accelerated smoothly through what Bazant assumes was an intact structure below; the expected jolt of impact never occurred (ESO
The second most startling fact revealed by the documentary is that NIST blatantly disregarded national standard procedures by not testing for explosives. Although the official report
(page 146) notes that
NIST found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives planted prior to September 11, 2001
when physicist Steven Jones and others petitioned NIST to reveal information about whether or not tests for explosive residue were performed, NIST replied,
…NIST did not test for the presence of explosive residue (ESO 0:16:18)
An international team of independent researchers did test for explosives. The film details the extensive laboratory research that was performed, using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), which revealed nano-thermite in the dust samples (ESO
1:07:42). Tests performed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other independent researchers also found iron microspheres, a typical by-product of a high-temperature thermitic reaction, present in the dust samples (ESO
1:05:24). The final reports by NIST do not mention the microspheres. The experiments done on the samples, the experts in the film note, are reproducible and verifiable. So far no independent researchers not associated with the government investigation have challenged these findings, according to Steven Jones (ESO
The third shocking fact revealed to documentary viewers is that important evidence was destroyed or was not included in the NIST investigation. Standard procedure for an investigation of a disaster of this magnitude would require careful study of the material evidence, says Jonathan Barnett, Professor of Fire Protection Engineering, FEMA BPAT Team (ESO
0:15:04). In the case of 9/11, almost all the steel was shipped immediately to China to be recycled (ESO
0:13:33). “There were laws violated in the destruction of that evidence,” notes Roland Angle, Civil/Structural Engineer (ESO
The fourth shocking fact revealed by the documentary surrounds WTC 7. This 47-story building--which housed the CIA among other tenants--also came down on September 11th in a manner that looks exactly like a conventional controlled demolition. In 2006, Popular Mechanics
developed a previously published article into a book entitled, Debunking 9/11 Myths
, whose argument about WTC 7 many journalists subsequently repeated, including Chris Hayes
, Mathew Rothschild
, and Terry Allen
. Popular Mechanics
argued that falling debris from WTC 1 greatly contributed to the building’s demise and that there were a number of fuel tanks--in the basement and on various floors--which exploded, causing the otherwise apparently inexplicable destruction of the steel-frame structure. An earlier analysis
(section 5-31) by FEMA had reported a “low probability” of this being the cause of the destruction of the building.
However, as the documentary reports, according
to NIST (pages xxxvi – xxxii), “fuel oil fires did not play a role in the collapse of WTC 7…. Other than initiating the fires in WTC 7, the damage from the debris from WTC 1 had little effect on initiating the collapse of WTC 7.” The documentary shows that Shyam Sunder, the lead investigator at NIST, takes care to stress that, according to the official investigation, WTC 7 was brought down by normal office fires and nothing else (ESO
The popular press had promulgated hypotheses that were not supported by NIST in the final reports.
The behavior of the NIST scientists represented in the documentary is complex. Sunder does not say the official explanation is groundless, but he and some other NIST investigators seem to spoon-feed AE911Truth researchers the information they need to disprove the official argument. According to the NIST report, the WTC 7 “collapse” took 40% longer than it would have if it were in freefall (ESO
0:25:17). In a NIST technical briefing shown in the film, Sunder remarks that something descending in “freefall time would be an object that has no structural components beneath it” to slow it down (ESO
“He was making our case for us,” remarks Chandler (ESO
0:25:40). AE911Truth’s members challenged NIST’s measurements at the briefing, and the report had to be revised to include the fact that freefall occurred. The fact of freefall indicates that an external force had removed the structure below the falling floors. Chandler later notes, “There are some very good scientists, I’m sure, at NIST, and their life’s work is getting distorted and used for political purposes.” (ESO
The number of architects, engineers, materials scientists, chemists, physicists, fire safety experts and explosive experts who have signed AE911Truth’s petition calling for a scientific investigation has now reached over 1700 (an increase of 200 or so since the film’s production began). In comparison, only a handful of scientists support the official “gravitational collapse” narrative, which, it turns out, NIST did not develop into a falsifiable theory.
Journalists and public figures Terry Allen, Noam Chomsky
, David Corn
, Chris Hayes, Matthew Rothschild, and Matt Taibbi
all have made claims that the government had provided a complete and thorough investigation into the “collapses,” repeating what the Popular Mechanics
book and other mainstream media sources claimed. In retrospect, now that the reports are final and have been thoroughly reviewed by experts, it appears the widespread claims—that the government had adequately explained how and why the buildings came down—are untrue. The argument presented by AE911Truth, on the other hand, is very thorough and takes care to account for all the observed phenomena and material evidence. The overall presentation in the documentary is detailed, accessible, professional and respectful of the scientists who have investigated 9/11, even when they criticize their work.
The final short section of the documentary provides some analyses from experts in psychology, who discuss the effects of trauma in dealing with disturbing evidence. Dr. William Woodward, Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire, notes that the Germans had to admit the truth about the Holocaust before they could begin to heal; and the South Africans had to come to terms with Apartheid (ESO
1:27:27). Similarly--difficult as it may be--U.S. citizens need to face the horrible fact that they have allowed themselves to be deceived, so that the healing can begin. 9/11 and its subsequent deadly wars, according to Woodward, are our Holocaust.
The documentary will be screening in 30 cities nationwide. Upcoming events include Washington, DC, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Pinellas Park, FL, Daytona Beach, FL, Atlanta, GA, Nashville, TN, Bozeman, MT, Alameda, CA, and San Francisco, CA. Experts Speak Out
is also available for purchase as a DVD or download on the Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth website
Victoria N. Alexander, PhD is a novelist and a philosopher of science. Her latest non-fiction book, The Biologist’s Mistress, examines how a controversial area of research develops into an accepted theory over time.