The importance of this Consensus Point is that two men occupying senior positions within the New York City administration reported a massive explosion deep inside World Trade Center (WTC) 7 on the morning of 9/11, which trapped them in a stairwell for 90 minutes.
On September 11, 2001, Barry Jennings was the Deputy Director of the Emergency Services Department for the New York City Housing Authority.
Michael Hess was the New York City Corporation Counsel.
After a plane hit the North Tower (WTC 1) at 8:46 AM, Jennings and Hess had each been summoned to a meeting in the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) operations center on the 23rd floor of WTC 7. They arrived at the OEM to find the office abandoned and left the building using the stairs. Both were trapped on the way down by a massive explosion that seemed to come from the basement.
Serious questions about the destruction of WTC 7 have been raised by the account of Barry Jennings.  If corroborated, it would challenge the official story of the WTC 7 collapse, according to which it was caused by fire and fire alone.
This account by Jennings and Hess would support evidence presented elsewhere by the Consensus Panel suggesting that WTC 7 did not fall from fire alone but was brought down through demolition.
While en route to work on 9/11, reported Jennings, he received an urgent phone call right after the North Tower was hit at 8:46 AM, telling him to report to the OEM. He arrived at WTC 7 about the time the South Tower (WTC 2) was hit at 9:03 AM, to find police in the lobby. Along with Michael Hess, who was looking for Mayor Giuliani, Jennings took the elevator to the 23rd floor. Arriving, they found the OEM locked. They returned to the lobby, and were then escorted by a security guard to a freight elevator, which conveyed them back up to the OEM.
Jennings was amazed to find no one there. He saw half-eaten sandwiches and steaming coffee on the table. He then placed several phone calls to ask what he should do and was told by a superior to “get out of there; get out of there now.” 
The elevators had stopped working, so Jennings and Hess started down the stairs. When they reached the sixth floor there was a powerful explosion from below, which caused the landing on which they stood to give way. In darkness they were forced to climb back up to the 8th floor, where Jennings broke a window with a fire extinguisher. Hess called down through the window for help, and after a 90-minute wait they were rescued by NYC firefighters.
At the time of the explosion, Jennings said, both towers were still standing. If true, this would place the explosion before 9:59 AM, when the South Tower began to collapse.
Later, as Jennings was escorted out through the WTC 7 lobby, he found it destroyed beyond recognition.
Four important issues are raised by Jennings’ account of an explosion within WTC 7, which does not accord with NIST’s account, according to which the seeming explosion was simply an effect of the North Tower collapsing at 10:28 AM:
- Jennings’ time of arrival and the WTC 7 evacuation: Although Jennings reported that he arrived at the empty OEM around the time that the second plane hit at 9:03 AM, the official account says that the men did not arrive at the OEM until just before the South Tower fell at 9:59 AM. (Hess made no public statement about the time they arrived.)
- Hess’ report of an explosion: Jennings’ report of an explosion from below while they were in the stairwell was initially also reported by Hess, although he later changed his report.
- The Destroyed WTC 7 Lobby: The destruction of the lobby reported by Jennings was omitted by NIST.
- Jennings’ time of departure from WTC 7 is important to confirming his arrival time, given that he and Hess said that they were trapped for about 90 minutes. 
Although the NIST investigation reported interviews with both men, FOIA requests for these interviews have been denied.  Evidence supporting Jennings’ account must, therefore, be found elsewhere.
The Official Account
The 2005 NIST account relating to Jennings and Hess,  which was written in two paragraphs, can be broken down into its series of claims:
- When the first aircraft struck WTC 1 [8:46 AM], the electrical power went out for several seconds inside WTC 7. (NIST Ref 368. FDNY Interview 54, winter 2004.)
- Many people immediately began leaving the building, and the OEM operations center began receiving calls related to the emergency. (NIST Ref 369. FDNY Interview 54, winter 2004.)
- As the second aircraft struck WTC 2 [9:03 AM], a decision was made to evacuate WTC 7. (NIST Ref 370. WTC 7 Interview 1110402, fall 2002.) By the time WTC 2 was struck by the second aircraft at 9:03 AM, many WTC 7 occupants had already left the building and others had begun a self-evacuation of the building. (NIST here did not provide a reference.)
- At 9:59 AM, WTC 2 collapsed, and debris from the collapse struck the south face of WTC 7. (NIST Ref 376. FDNY Interview 45, winter 2004.)
- At 10:28 AM, WTC 1 collapsed and a significant amount of damage was done to WTC 7. (Ref 377. PAPD Interview 1, fall 2003.) A large amount of debris crashed through the front center of the building from approximately the 10th floor down to ground level, and debris ripped a part of the southwest corner off from approximately the 8th floor up to the 18th floor. (NIST Ref 378. FDNY Interview 3, winter 2004.)
- The collapse of WTC 1 also appears to be responsible for starting fires inside of WTC 7. (NIST Ref 379. FDNY Interview 19, winter 2004.)
- With the collapse of the two towers, a New York City employee and a WTC 7 building staff person became trapped inside of WTC 7. (NIST Ref 380. Interviews 2041604 and 1041704, spring 2004.)
- The two had gone to the OEM center on the 23rd floor and found no one there. As they went to get into an elevator to go downstairs the lights inside of WTC 7 flickered as WTC 2 collapsed. At this point, the elevator they were attempting to catch no longer worked, so they started down the staircase. When they got to the 6th floor, WTC 1 collapsed, the lights went out in the staircase, the sprinklers came on briefly, and the staircase filled with smoke and debris. The two men went back to the 8th floor broke out a window and called for help. Firefighters on the ground saw them and went up the stairs. (NIST here did not provide a reference.)
- In addition, a security officer for one of the businesses in the building was also trapped on the 7th floor by the smoke in the stairway. As the firefighters went up, they vented the stairway and cleared some of the smoke. They first met the security officer on the 7th floor and firefighters escorted him down the stairs. Other firefighters from the group continued up the stairs, shined their flashlight through the staircase smoke and called out. The two trapped men on the 8th floor saw the flashlight beam and heard the firefighters calling and went down the stairway. The firefighters took the men outside and directed them away from the building. (NIST Ref 381. WTC 7 Interviews 2041604 and 1041704, spring 2004.)
NIST said in another document that the two men were rescued at “12:10 to 12:15 PM.” 
The Best Evidence
I. The key elements of NIST’s claims numbered 1-9 above are addressed below.
Some of these claims are verifiable and support the Jennings and Hess account. Others are self-contradictory.
- & 2. & 3. Re the time of the WTC 7 evacuation: The NIST statements that many people began evacuating WTC 7 soon after the first plane hit at 8:46 AM, and that greater numbers were unofficially directed to leave after the second plane hit, are verifiable elsewhere.  Many people were directed not to use the elevators. (Note that the official order to evacuate did not come until 9:30 AM when a false report of a third plane coming in was circulated.)This means that Jennings and Hess could easily have found the lobby, the elevators, and the OEM empty soon after 9:03 AM, as Jennings claimed.
- Re the time that Jennings and Hess arrived: NIST says that debris from the 9:59 collapse of the South Tower struck the south face of WTC 7, just as Hess and Jennings were leaving the OEM, and starting down the (northeast) stairs. However, this would place the men on the stairs a full half hour after the OEM had been officially evacuated at 9:30, which contradicts the idea that the security guard helped them to take the freight elevator to the OEM.
- to 8. Re an explosion within WTC 7: NIST says that 29 minutes later, at 10:28, the North Tower collapsed, causing extensive damage to the south and SW faces of WTC 7.  This statement implies that Jennings and Hess mistook the impact to the NE stairwell for an explosion within WTC 7. This cannot be true because:
- it would mean that the men had taken 29 minutes to descend 17 floors from the 23rd floor to the 6th floor, nearly two minutes per floor;
- both stairwells were located along the north edge of the WTC 7 core in the north half of the building, but the debris hit the south face of WTC 7, which was 355 feet from the North Tower, with WTC 6 in between;
- as shown in the Cantor structural drawing (see footnote 9), the two stairwells inside of WTC 7 were not in the area of the south-face damage claimed by NIST;
- the drawing also shows that core columns #74 and #75 would have blocked the advance of any debris that might have been headed for the stairwell. 
- The unreferenced NIST claim that two (unnamed) men went back up to the 8th floor is supported by a video released by NIST in 2010 following a FOIA request. The footage shows Mr. Hess calling for help through a broken window on the 8th floor, amidst explosions going off around the north side of WTC 7 — the side opposite from the Towers. Hess can be heard to shout “an explosion.” 
- NIST’s claim that the firefighters went up the NE stairway to rescue Jennings and Hess was based not on firefighter testimony but on interviews with the two men, whom NIST did not name. As noted earlier, the content of these interviews has been denied to FOIA requests. This denial may have been because, as Hess told the BBC, when they arrived at the 6th floor:
“The building began to shake, and it was as if you were in an earthquake … the whole building was shaking … the stairway ran into a wall. All of a sudden, as you were going down on the sixth floor, you hit a wall.” 
Jennings concurred, saying that when they reached the sixth floor, “There was an explosion. And the landing gave way.”  [italics added]
Therefore, according to the report given by Hess and Jennings, NIST’s account — that Hess and Jennings saw the firefighters’ flashlight beam coming up the stairs, heard them calling up to them, and then were escorted down the stairway — would have been impossible, because the stairway was structurally blocked.
II. Evidence Addressing NIST’s Omission of Jennings’ Reports of Explosions
- Evidence from the Northeast Stairwell Both Jennings and Hess were interviewed after their escape:
Jennings, in an interview with WABC-TV reporter Jeff Rossen, stated that there was “a big explosion.” 
A fireman who shared this interview with Jennings, said that inside WTC 7 it was “pandemonium … we couldn’t get to them, we went through the building, we were lost … the back side was completely blown away, there was no way to access it, we couldn’t get to them, and finally one of the fire department teams found them. But we didn’t think they were going to make it.” 
Michael Hess echoed Jennings’ account of hearing explosions in his first account, given to a reporter on 9/11:
“I was up in the emergency management center on the 23rd floor, and when all the power went out in the building, ah, another gentleman and I walked down to the 8th floor [sic] where there was an explosion. And we’ve been trapped on the 8th floor with smoke, thick smoke all around us for about an hour and a half.” 
In a modified account given to the BBC in 2008, in which he withdrew his account of an explosion, Hess referred to his initial impression when they got down to the sixth floor: “In my mind I had assumed there had been an explosion in the basement.”  This belief was confirmed, as we saw above, by his yelling out the window, “an explosion.”
- Evidence of the Destroyed WTC 7 Lobby Jennings’ reported that he did not recognize the lobby on the way out: “I looked around, the lobby was gone. It looked like hell.” This was corroborated by CBS footage that emerged from a FOIA request in 2010.  All of this footage, according to NIST, was recorded between the tower collapses, at roughly 10:15 AM.Thus the explosion itself had occurred before the footage was recorded, and certainly before the North Tower fell at 10:28. This would be consistent with the early arrival of the two men, who had been summoned to WTC 7 after the first plane hit at 8:46 AM.
III. Evidence Addressing the Time that Jennings and Hess Departed WTC 7
NIST’s claim that Jennings and Hess were not rescued until 12:10 to 12:15 is objectively disproved by Hess’s interview time with UPN 9 News, nearly half a mile from WTC 7. Close analysis shows the interview to have occurred either at 11:34 AM, or by 11:57 AM at the latest. 
Even taking the later time of 11:57 AM, and working backwards by subtracting the 90 minutes that the men were trapped, plus giving a conservative estimate of 30 minutes for both their rescue and for Hess to get to the interview location, the latest the men could have arrived in the stairwell would have been just before 10:00 AM, the time of the South Tower collapse.
Again, the importance of this Consensus Point is that both Jennings and Hess felt a massive explosion below them in the NE stairwell of WTC 7, and reported that the 6th floor landing “gave way,” with its stairs “running into a wall”.
The time of their experience is consistent with the pre-10:15 AM annihilation of the enormous WTC 7 lobby, as shown in the FOIA-released CBS footage of 2010.
These near ground-level phenomena could not have been caused by the collapses of the Twin Towers, because WTC 6 stood between. Instead, the annihilation of the entire lobby points to a massive internal explosion — yet NIST omitted the word “explosion” from its account.
Given the evidence for explosions in the North and South Towers that has been reviewed in eight Consensus Points About the Twin Towers, the question arises whether WTC 7 had been planned for demolition shortly after the collapse of the South Tower (at which time its dust and debris would have concealed the nature and speed of the collapse of WTC 7), but for some reason had to be delayed until later in the day.
References for WTC 7 Point 8
- Barry Jennings interviews have been posted on this site: “Barry Jennings Interviews (WABC-TV, 2001 / LTW, 2007).” Transcripts of these interviews are available at s1.zetaboards.com/LooseChangeForums/…
- History Commons – Profile: Barry Jennings (backup). (Shortly before 9:03 a.m.).
- Soon after his escape, Hess told Frank Ucciardo of UPN 9 News: “I was trapped in World Trade Center 7 for an hour and a half.” at 1:37 min. in “9/11: WTC7 explosion witness Michael Hess.”
- Jennings and Hess testified to NIST in 2004, but this testimony was never released and FOIA requests have been declined. David Ray Griffin cites one such request: “NIST declined on the basis of a provision allowing for exemption from FOIA disclosure if the information is ‘not directly related to the building failure.’” Letter of August 12, 2009, from Catherine S. Fletcher, Freedom of Information Act Officer, NIST, to a FOIA request of August 8, 2009, from Ms. Susan Peabody, for “[t]he complete texts of NIST’s 2004 interviews of Michael Hess and Barry Jennings, which are cited in NIST NCSTAR 1-8 … , 109, n.380, as ‘WTC 7 Interviews 2041604 and 1041704.’” In: David Ray Griffin, “9/11 Truth: The Mysterious Collapse of WTC Seven,” Global Research, September 11, 2015, Global Research, September 14, 2009.
- J. Randall Lawson and Robert L. Vettori, “NIST NCSTAR 1-8. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster. The Emergency Response Operations,” NIST, September 2005, 109-110.
- NIST, “Appendix L: Interim Report on WTC 7,” L-18 (pdf-p. 22). No source for this claim is cited.
- Bob Weaver, the Assistant Special Agent in charge of the US Secret Service New York Field Office, said: “When the first plane hit we looked up out of our building and saw the fire and explosion. It was easy to see that it was time to evacuate,” In: Richard Thieme, “More Than Human: The Network is More Than the Sum of its Parts when Disaster Hits,” 2001. After WTC 7 shook, Chief Engineer Michael Catalano said: “The plane had already hit and there was a big gouge.” “He returned to his crew and ordered an evacuation. The second plane hit and they were thrown to the ground. While the building was emptying, Catalano and his crew worked to maintain the building’s vital systems.” In: “First On the Scene: 2 of 3. The Unsung Heroes of September 11,” July 8, 2002. Other supervisors “knew not to take the elevators” and instructed staff to head downstairs.
- NIST, “Questions and Answers about the NIST WTC 7 Investigation (09/17/2010, ARCHIVE, incorporated into 9/19/2011 update).”
- See the grey and green diagram showing staircases based on Cantor structural drawings, half way down abovetopsecret.com/forum/…
- Hess is visible calling for help through a broken north window of the 8th floor, amidst sounds of explosions outside (1:52 minutes). At 2:34, Hess yells down to the firefighters, “An explosion.” In: “WTC 7, Michael Hess Calls For Help.”
- Michael Hess 2008 BBC interview, “IN AN INSTANT – 5 DIFFERENT THINGS HAPPENED! ,” at 0:55 min.
- Barry Jennings transcript from 2007 “Uncut” (“Louder Than Words”) interview; “Barry Jennings Interviews (WABC-TV, 2001 / LTW, 2007),” at 4:10 min.
- “Barry Jennings Interviews (WABC-TV, 2001 / LTW, 2007),” 0:24 min.
- “Barry Jennings Interviews (WABC-TV, 2001 / LTW, 2007),” 1:00 min.
- “Michael Hess, WTC7 explosion witness,” at 0:30 minutes.
- Michael Hess 2008 BBC interview, “IN AN INSTANT – 5 DIFFERENT THINGS HAPPENED! ,” at 1:30 min.
- Paul Vallely, “Inside the towers, they scrambled for their lives. The Survivors,” The Independent, September 13, 2001.
- “NIST FOIA: WTC 7 Lobby Shots and South Face Around 10:15 a.m.” The note below the video reads: “All of the footage was recorded between the tower collapses, roughly around 10:15 a.m. (estimate by NIST in sub-report “NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Vols. 1-2”, Nov. 2008).
Videographer: Mark LaGanga, CBS
Source of video excerpt:
NIST FOIA #09-42
Subfolder: 42A0120 – G25D31
File: DVD Video Container
Total File Size: 3.82 GB
SubfolderLink: http://911datasets.org/index.php/SFolder:3IAGVZVIFRCYCZVEEMC4QG2NSIE3UGAF ”
- David Ray Griffin, “Michael Hess, Barry Jennings. The 9/11 Interview with Evidence that NIST Lied about When Michael Hess and Barry Jennings Were Rescued,” [circa September 18, 2008].