Those interested in the events of 11 September
might want to consult the
response times to the highjackings by the North American Aerospace Defense
Command (NORAD) at:
It is worth noting that the
to the North East Air Defense
Sector (NEADS) came so late that interception of the highjacked planes was
impossible, except in the case of United Airlines Flight 175 (Boston - Los
Angeles), which, theoretically, could have been intercepted two mintues
before it hit World Trade Center 2 but wasn't. It is also worth noting that
there was never any formal FAA notification of a highjacking of United
Flight 93 (Newark - San Francisco), although "the FAA and NEADS established
a line of open comnmunication discussing AA Flt 77 and UA Flt 93". There was
a "Fighter Scrambler Order" given ("order to get an aircraft airborne as
soon as possible") for United Flight 93: "Langley F-16s already airborne
for AA Flt 77". So, what happened to UA Flt 93? Was it intercepted (forced
And why the delay in notification from the
when notification is
supposed to be immediate with a response from NORAD in two minutes at most?
The Washington Post, on 12 September ("White
Said Targeted") and the
New York Times on the next day ("Aides Say Bush Was One Target of Hijacked
Jet") let it be known that the attackers had made phone contact with the
Secret Service (at10:05) and had authenticated themselves by citing the
secret codes giving access to the secure lines for the White House and Air
Force One that would be used to set a nuclear attack in motion. This is what
necessitated moving Bush from his safe haven in Louisiana to Nebraska: since
the secure lines were no longer considered so, he had to be at the control
center of the nuclear arsenal in Nebraska in person. On the thirteenth of
September, Karl Rove confirmed that the attackers had called the Secret
Service, but on the twenty-eighth, Ari Fleischer, the White house spokeman,
denied this, saying that his colleagues had been mistaken about it,
suffering from the intense emotion of the day. Yet former chief of the CIA
Woolsey said that the attackers had secure codes to all the main
Either the security of codes is hopelessly
(unlikely), or the attackers
were connected to somebody highly placed in the military. Either way, there
should have been a major inquest into the question.
If one accepts that the attackers were linked
to military top brass, then
the phone call to the Secret Service was most likely a request for
negotitions.Oddly, US air space was not closed until 9:45 a.m., at which
time Bush gave the order to shoot down any suspect aircraft in US air space.
(UA Flt 93 crashed in Pennsyvania at 10:03 -- estimated time, according to
NORAD.) Yet at 12:15 p.m., there were still some 50 civil aircraft still in
US air space, which suggests that at least in certain places the air space
closure was not considered worth taking seriously. Yet, at 12:00 noon, the
border with Mexico was closed, at 12.04 the order was given to evacuate Los
Angeles International Airport, and at 12:15 an evacuation order was given
for San Francisco International Airport. What about the airports on the East
Coast, and the big ones like Chicago and Atlanta?
If, one accepts that there were negotiations
on, then it is reasonable
to assume that they faltered and that the attackers made some sort of threat
that made closing the border with Mexico seem necessary, as well as the
evacuation of the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports. Also, following
the the phone call, there were orders to evacuate the State Department, the
World Bank and the Justice Department (10:22), an order to close all
airports (at 10:39), then an order to evacuate all federal [SIC] buildings i
n Washington (10:45), and one, from Governor George Pataki, to close all
federal buildings in the state of New York (10:57).
Why only federal buildings in Washington? Why
federal buildings in New York
but not elsewhere? (The last time a federal building was hit, it was in
Oklahoma.) This suggests that in the course of evaluating the first phone
call from the attackers, certain buildings and places came to be perceived
as in danger, but not others. If there was no communication with the
attackers and everybody was blindly trying to find his way to an
understanding of what was taking place, the air space would have been closed
immediately after the second hit at the World Trade Center, at the latest
(9:02); all airports immediately closed (and possibily evacuated); all of at
least the center of Washington evacuated; and all federal buildings
throughout the country closed, as soon as possible.
Noteworthy was George W. Bush's first response
in Sarasota, where he spoke
of "getting those folks". Thereafter, in all the briefings given by the
various government actors, terrorism was never mentioned. When George W.
Bush finally spoke of it, in his speach to the nation at 8:30 p.m., it was
not in order to speak of getting the attackers but to speak of launching a
vague "crusade" against all terrorism, without any definition of what this
It is further noteworthy that the four
planes took off over a
period of sixteen minutes, evidently anticipating a closure of US air
space -- which came too late to bother them.
Also, during the trail of those accused of
the World Trade Center in
1993, one of the accused spoke of how the bombers' evaluation of their act
resulted in the conclusion that to topple to the buildings (the goal of the
1993 bombing: the builidng hit was expected to fall on the other), they
would need to hit them each with a jumbo jet airliner, since the buildings
had been designed to resist the impact of a Boeing 707. But nobody seems to
remember that now...
Finally, none of the intelligence services
National Security Agency,
the CIA, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Services (Army, Navy, Marines,
Air Force), the Energy Department Security Service, etc.) saw anything
coming, despite hundreds of billions of dollars worth of resources over the
years. Either it's all defective (highly unlikely: US intelligence
capacities are the envy of every other country in the world, so I'm told
here in Geneva, over and over), or the people were lax and incompetent
(highly unlikely also, although there's probably quite a bit of room for
improvement). Either way, there should be a blue ribbon inquiry into what's
amiss. The government doesn't seem to think that this is necessary, which
again suggests that insiders were involved, which allowed for circumventing
the world's best intelligence services.
Comment (Midgie, if you're still
us, don't read any further: you'll
only get upset):
If the people of the United States spent as
time following pulbic
affairs, as behooves citizens of a democracy, as they spend following soap
operas and sit coms and the lives of those who act in them, they would've
pieced this together a long time ago and demanded the explanations they
deserve concerning what was and is really going on.
Robert James Parsons
rue de la Flèche 17
CH - 1207 Geneva, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 736-59-55
Geneva United Nations Office
Press Room No 1
CH - 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 917-20-18
witnesses, including firefighters and other rescue workers, hear
explosions at the start of, and during, the collapse of the south WTC
tower. Some of them report hearing a single explosion:
Entity Tags: Sue Keane, Thomas Vallebuona, Stephen Viola, Thomas Turilli, Pete Hamill, World Trade Center, Kevin Darnowski, Ed Kennedy, Craig Carlsen, Lance Lizzul, Edward Sheehey, John Sudnik, Keith Murphy, Julio Marrero, Jeff Birnbaum
9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001: Some Witnesses Think South Tower Collapse Resembles a Controlled Demolition
witnesses to the collapse of the south WTC tower think it resembles a
demolition using explosives. Some initially believe this is what is
Entity Tags: Stephen Gregory, World Trade Center, Richard Banaciski, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Kenneth Rogers, Timothy Burke, John Bussey, Joseph Meola, Brian Dixon, Daniel Rivera, Beth Fertig, Edward Cachia, Frank Cruthers, Dominick DeRubbio
In the wake of the WTC bombing, the Seattle Times interviews John Skilling who was one of the two structural engineers responsible for designing the Trade Center. Skilling recounts his people having carried out an analysis which found the Twin Towers could withstand the impact of a Boeing 707. He says, “Our analysis indicated the biggest problem would be the fact that all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the building. There would be a horrendous fire. A lot of people would be killed.” But, he says, “The building structure would still be there.” [Seattle Times, 2/27/1993] The analysis Skilling is referring to is likely one done in early 1964, during the design phase of the towers. A three-page white paper, dated February 3, 1964, described its findings: “The buildings have been investigated and found to be safe in an assumed collision with a large jet airliner (Boeing 707—DC 8) traveling at 600 miles per hour. Analysis indicates that such collision would result in only local damage which could not cause collapse or substantial damage to the building and would not endanger the lives and safety of occupants not in the immediate area of impact.” However, besides this paper, no documents are known detailing how this analysis was made. [Glanz and Lipton, 2004, pp. 131-132; Lew, Bukowski, and Carino, 10/2005, pp. 70-71] The other structural engineer who designed the towers, Leslie Robertson, carried out a second study later in 1964, of how the towers would handle the impact of a 707 (see Between September 3, 2001 and September 7, 2001). However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), following its three-year investigation into the WTC collapses, will in 2005 state that it has been “unable to locate any evidence to indicate consideration of the extent of impact-induced structural damage or the size of a fire that could be created by thousands of gallons of jet fuel.” [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/2005, pp. 13 ]
Saturday, February 27, 1993
Twin Towers Engineered To Withstand Jet Collision
Engineers had to consider every peril they could imagine when they designed the World Trade Center three decades ago because, at the time, the twin towers were of unprecedented size for structures made of steel and glass.
"We looked at every possible thing we could think of that could happen to the buildings, even to the extent of an airplane hitting the side," said John Skilling, head structural engineer. "However, back in those days people didn't think about terrorists very much."
Skilling, based in Seattle, is among the world's top structural engineers. He is responsible for much of Seattle's downtown skyline and for several of the world's tallest structures, including the Trade Center.
Concerned because of a case where an airplane hit the Empire State Building, Skilling's people did an analysis that showed the towers would withstand the impact of a Boeing 707.
"Our analysis indicated the biggest problem would be the fact that all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the building. There would be a horrendous fire. A lot of people would be killed," he said. "The building structure would still be there."
Skilling - a recognized expert in tall buildings - doesn't think a single 200-pound car bomb would topple or do major structural damage to a Trade Center tower. The supporting columns are closely spaced and even if several were disabled, the others would carry the load.
"However," he added, "I'm not saying that properly applied explosives - shaped explosives - of that magnitude could not do a tremendous amount of damage."
He took note of the fact that smoke and fire spread throughout the building yesterday. He said that is possibly because the pressurizing system that stops the spread of smoke didn't work when the electric power went off. Skilling, 72, was not involved in the design of the building mechanics.
Although Skilling is not an explosives expert, he says there are people who do know enough about building demolition to bring a structure like the Trade Center down.
"I would imagine that if you took the top expert in that type of work and gave him the assignment of bringing these buildings down with explosives, I would bet that he could do it."
Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.