The first indication that World Trade Center Building 7 was intentionally demolished comes from direct observation and common sense. If it is viewed coming down, there is really no question. All support has been removed and the building falls straight down. It has been seen many times, always and only as a result of demolition. Buildings do not fall through themselves naturally at the acceleration of gravity. The late Danny Jowenko, a building demolition expert in Holland, was shown Building 7 collapsing for the first time during a live interview. His response: “This is a controlled demolition. No question about it. They simply blew up columns and the rest caved in afterwards.” He was then asked “You sure?” and replied “Absolutely. It’s been imploded. This was a hired job, performed by a team of experts. … It’s without a doubt a professional job. They know exactly what they’re doing.”278 Only later did he learn that this building came down on 9/11.
NIST asks its readers to discount their perceptions, and their common sense, and believe only NIST. However, we cannot overlook the fact that:
- The NIST report was produced by a government agency in an administration that was notorious for censoring scientific reports for political purposes.
- The claim that an event resembling controlled demolition was caused by office fires is patently absurd.
- NIST’s analysis leading to this conclusion was based solely on computer modeling and ignored contradictory physical evidence.
- The data and assumptions that went into NIST’s computer models have not been made public.
- The NIST report has not been peer reviewed.
- Before NIST even began its study, the crime scene had been systematically and intentionally destroyed.
- NIST refused to search for residue of explosives.
As our colleague Frank Legge has put it,
“The evidence for explosives in controlled demolition of all three buildings is both compelling and obvious, hence the failure of NIST to consider this possibility is prima facie evidence of corruption.”
Common sense is not a perfect guide to truth, but neither is blind faith in authority figures. Our senses can be fooled, but authority figures can lie. When something doesn’t pass the smell test, we honor our good sense by validating it with critical observation, experimentation, and analysis — in other words, with science. As individuals, some of us may not have the talents or resources to validate our own perceptions about 9/11, but as a community, we do. The role of the many scientists who question the official story of 9/11 is to engage with the evidence, to engage with the public, and to witness to the Truth.
Description of World Trade Center 7 and Its Collapse
World Trade Center Building 7 (sometimes referred to as WTC 7, Building 7, or the Salomon Smith Barney Building) was a tall, trapezoidal building, situated a little more than 100 meters north of the North Tower, across Vesey Street. It was 47 stories (174 m; 571 ft.) tall. Its footprint was nearly the size of an American football field. It had 58 perimeter columns and 25 core columns. The tenants of the building in 2001 included Salomon Smith Barney, the IRS Regional Council, the US Secret Service, the DOD, the CIA, the NYC Office of Emergency Management, the Securities & Exchange Commission, and several banks and insurance companies. The 23rd floor housed a specially reinforced bunker for the NYC Office of Emergency Management.279 Needless to say, it was an extremely security-minded place.
On the morning of 9/11, WTC 7 was hit by debris from the collapse of the North Tower. But whereas the Twin Towers were hit by jet liners flying at approximately 500 mi/hr,280 the few large projectiles that hit WTC 7 were more like small trucks. The measured speed of the fastest of them was 78 mi/hr, essentially highway speed.281 The planes that hit the Twin Towers had about 1500 times the kinetic energy of the most energetic debris that hit WTC 7. Ultimately NIST discounted debris damage as a factor in the collapse of the building, but it is still cited and still plays a role in the public perception.
There were fires on a limited number of floors that moved around the building, staying in any one place no more than 20-30 minutes, exhausting the fuel and moving on. In its final report, NIST claims that in the northeast corner of the 12th floor, intense, prolonged fires caused thermal expansion in the overhead beams, pushing a girder off its seat connecting it to Column 79. This failure, they claim, cascaded down several floors leaving the column unsupported and causing it to buckle. The failure of this single column, they say, is what ultimately brought the building down.282
Chris Sarns, a researcher with Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, has analyzed photographs showing the actual progression of the fires.283 He found that the fires on the 12th floor had burned past the northeast corner earlier in the day and were essentially out, in that area, by 5:00 pm. NIST needed fires around column 79 for their theory to work, so it appears they adjusted their computer model, in contradiction with the visual evidence provided by photographs available of that same area, to show a fire around Column 79 when it was needed to support NIST’s conclusion.
Throughout the day there were sounds of explosions and reports that WTC 7 was going to come down. Sometime after both towers had collapsed, Ashleigh Banfield reported for MSNBC, “We just heard one more explosion. That’s about the fourth one we’ve heard.” Several reporters, including Vince Dimitri, CBS, and Ashleigh Banfield, MSNBC, reported that fire officials expected Building 7 to collapse.
BBC news famously jumped the gun and reported the collapse of WTC 7 in detail about 20 minutes prior to its actual occurrence.284 Other reporters, who apparently knew the NY skyline better, seemed to have had the same script but showed confusion when what they were reading didn’t match what they saw. At 4:15 Aaron Brown reported for CNN, with Building 7 standing in the background behind him, “We are getting information now that one of the other buildings, Building 7 in the World Trade Center complex is on fire and has either collapsed or is collapsing, and I, I, you, to be honest can see these pictures a little bit more clearly than I.” Someone on CNN even reported that a 50-story building went down at 10:45 am.285 As crowds filled the streets to watch from behind police lines, WTC 7 fell at 5:20 pm.
The final demise of the building began with the collapse of the East Penthouse, preceded by a loud, sharp, percussive boom, recorded by a television camera on West St. near Harrison St.286 After several seconds the West Penthouse started to fall into the building, but before it even disappeared, the rest of the building let go and fell along with it.
For well over 2 seconds, the downward acceleration was constant and equal to the acceleration of gravity within the margin of error of the measurements. In other words, for this building, even though it was falling straight down through its own supporting structure, freefall actually happened. Furthermore, there was a sharp onset of freefall.287 The building was holding steady, then it simply let go. In approximately 2.5 seconds of freefall, it fell over 100 feet — the equivalent of 8 stories.
Some argue, erroneously, that the resistance in the case of WTC 7 was not significant because the falling weight was so great. It is true that the falling weight was great, but the strength of the supporting structure was even greater. The structure was built to support 3 to 5 times the actual load. The energy absorbed during destruction of the structure would therefore not be negligible and the resulting downward motion would not approximate freefall unless the strength of the structure was being removed by some other force. Furthermore, note that when the falling section of the building did eventually engage with the lower structure, deceleration resulted. If the structure had enough strength to decelerate the falling building after it achieved a considerable speed, it should have produced measurable resistance from the beginning. The conditions allowing freefall in the first 2.5 seconds are clearly very different from the conditions that existed during the rest of the descent of the building.
An alternative analysis could consider the energy associated with Building 7’s descent. When an object falls, the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. During freefall, all of the potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. But, if any of the energy is used for other purposes along the way, such as crushing concrete or deforming steel, or throwing things around, there will be less energy available to be transformed into kinetic energy. This would reduce the speed of the fall. For freefall to occur, none of the energy could have been diverted to other uses, so the energy that destroyed the structure had to have come from some other source. The observed fact of freefall is literally proof of demolition.
The NIST Report
The preface of the NIST report on WTC 7 states:
NIST is a nonregulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The purpose of NIST investigations is to improve the safety and structural integrity of buildings in the United States, and the focus is on fact finding. … NIST does not have the statutory authority to make findings of fault nor negligence by individuals or organizations. Further, no part of any report resulting from a NIST investigation into a building failure or from an investigation under the National Construction Safety Team Act may be used in any suit or action for damages arising out of any matter mentioned in such report.288
Choosing NIST to be the investigative body determined from the outset that this would be a limited, building safety investigation without the statutory authority to become a forensic criminal investigation. We have not had a real, fully empowered, forensic investigation at all. Therefore, we should not be asking for a new investigation. We should instead be asking for a real investigation.
The final draft of the NIST WTC 7 report was released for public comment in August 2008, and the final report was released on November 25, 2008. In both of these, NIST discusses the rate of fall of the building.
A standard way to understand the motion of the roofline would be to track it frame-by-frame using the many videos of the collapse that were made available to NIST. NIST did not initially do this; at least such analysis is not mentioned in their published report. In the final draft released for public comment, NIST claimed it measured the overall time it took for the roofline to move between two points, like starting and stopping a stopwatch. The ending point of NIST’s collapse time was when the roofline reached the level of the 29th floor. Their starting point was 5.4 seconds earlier, which one would presume would coincide with the downward motion of the roofline. This they compared with the expected freefall time, which they calculated to be 3.9 seconds. They therefore proclaimed that the collapse time was 40% longer than freefall time.289
This was a stunningly invalid and meaningless measurement. The only way to validly compare the motion of the building to the acceleration of gravity is to actually measure the acceleration of the building throughout its collapse. The acceleration is found from the slope of the velocity versus time graph. In mathematical terms, acceleration is the derivative of velocity with respect to time. A valid measurement of acceleration cannot be obtained from two data points unless it is assumed, a priori, that the acceleration between those two points is uniform, and it is improper to assume uniform acceleration without a valid reason for doing so.
What NIST did is equivalent to connecting the first and last points on the actual velocity versus time graph, and ignoring everything that happened in between. This is not a valid way to measure what they say they are measuring, yet this was the basis of their initial denial that freefall occurred.
NIST apparently wanted to claim that freefall did not occur, because they knew that actual freefall would be a smoking gun for demolition. They also must have known that freefall did occur, because it is easily measurable by tracking the roofline, they had access to all the relevant videos, and the scientists at NIST are not incompetent. To cover up the inconvenient fact of freefall, they focused on the deceptive, and completely meaningless notion of “freefall time” and said the collapse time of the building took longer than freefall time. Moreover, to support this deception, they had to falsify the collapse time measurement, as described below.
The ending point of NIST’s collapse time measurement is when the roofline reaches the level of the 29th floor. The starting point, 5.4 seconds earlier, which they claimed was the start of downward motion, is during a period of quiescence after the collapse of the East Penthouse, about a second before the beginning of the collapse of the West Penthouse, and about a second and a half before the actual descent of roofline of the main building. It is just plainly dishonest to claim that the collapse time of the main part of the building is 5.4 seconds.
Jeremy Hammond has looked carefully at the question of how NIST measured their collapse time.290 NIST’s measurements are based on a video taken from a camera on West Street near Harrison Street, which they labeled Camera 3. This camera has an upward-looking view from near ground level toward WTC 7. That video shows a kink that develops in the roofline prior to the fall of the building. Other upward-looking views also show this kink. Jeremy did a frame-by-frame comparison of the pixels in the Camera 3 video, trying to reconstruct NIST’s measurement. He found that there is actually movement of the roofline that coincides with NIST’s start time, but what they were measuring was the development of this kink. He also determined, by comparison with other videos, that the kink was not a vertical dip in the roofline at all, but rather a horizontal fold towards the interior of the building. The simple proof of this is that the fold is visible only when viewed from below. For videos with a line of sight level with the roofline, the roofline stays flat even as it falls to the ground. Since Camera 3 has an upward-angled line of sight, a horizontal fold is indistinguishable from a vertical dip. Furthermore, by choosing a tracking point near the center of the roofline, NIST maximized the ambiguity. It appears that this was the basis of their claim that the downward motion of the roofline began 1.5 seconds before downward motion actually began. The scientists at NIST had access to many videos from different perspectives. They had to be aware that the collapse of the building was a three-dimensional event and that their chosen video had a line of sight that introduced ambiguity into the measurement.
On August 26, 2008 NIST held a technical briefing conference and I was able to ask the following question: “Any number of competent measurements using a variety of methods indicate the northwest corner of WTC 7 fell with an acceleration within a few percent of the acceleration of gravity. Yet your report contradicts this, claiming 40% slower than free fall, based on a single data point [I meant to say two data points]. How can such a publicly visible, easily measurable quantity be set aside?”291
Shyam Sunder, NIST’s lead investigator, answered that freefall happens when there is no structural resistance. He said that freefall would have taken 3.9 seconds but their model showed it should come down in 5.4 seconds. He also said that the 5.4 seconds of their model was reasonable because there was structural resistance in this case, that there was a series of failures that had to take place, and they were not all simultaneous. However, the question I posed was how the video evidence that freefall actually occurred could be set aside. Sunder’s answer is that their computer model showed that freefall could not have occurred. That is the substance of his answer. Sunder is elevating their model above the direct physical evidence. That is not science. Sunder’s response typifies the entire investigation. NIST substituted computer models for actual physical evidence. Taking the evidence out of the picture insulated them from having to go where the evidence leads.
NIST’s model is based on the assumption that WTC 7 came down as a natural collapse due to fire, gravity, and buckling columns. Since their model could not produce a freefall collapse, and since the video evidence shows that freefall actually occurred, their model is wrong, and the assumptions behind their model are wrong. NIST does not acknowledge this or try to account for the discrepancy in any way.
Shyam Sunder, in interviews, has touted the “robustness” of modern modeling software, describing how entire airplanes are designed start-to-finish based on computer models. This is an irrelevant distraction. NIST was not tasked with designing a plane or designing a building. NIST was tasked with an investigation of how a particular building actually came down. If explosives were used to destroy Building 7, NIST would never discover them in a computer model. Even if the computer model can be made to collapse, it does not mean that is the way the building actually collapsed.
Conclusions drawn from computer models are essentially restatements of the assumptions that were programmed in. NIST could have made their model work if, at a mouse click, eight floors of support, in the model, were suddenly removed, but that would require that the fall of WTC 7 be interpreted as a demolition.
In the August 2008 Final Draft for Public Comment, the strategy was to try to cover up the fact that during a significant portion of collapse, the building underwent freefall acceleration. That strategy didn’t work, because the public comments that were submitted let NIST know that many people understood the deception they were attempting to perpetrate on their readers.
In the final report released in November 2008,292 NIST continued to assert that their earlier analysis was correct. The entire original timing analysis is still in the final report. But then they added what they described as a “more detailed” analysis. Using video frame tracking measurements, they computed a velocity versus time graph from which the acceleration was computed as a function of time. They said they were still using the Camera 3 video, so they still had the issue of the ambiguous lateral motion, which made it look as though the downward motion begins sooner and undergoes a more gradual transition into freefall acceleration. They then divided the graph into three stages. The fall of the main part of the building starts in Stage 2 and continues into Stage 3. However they tack on the erroneous early measurements as Stage 1, leading to an overall time for their three stages of 5.4 seconds.
They also did one more thing. They added a straight regression line through their Stage 2 data. They even gave the equation of the line, which shows that the slope is exactly equal to the acceleration of gravity. In other words, NIST admits in the final report that WTC 7 fell in absolute freefall for over 2 seconds.
Figure 9-1: Velocity v. Time Graph from NIST Final Report on WTC 7
Whether or not the whole process took 5.4 seconds or any other amount of time is irrelevant. Knowing the exact start time of the fall is irrelevant. What really matters is the slope of the graph during the fall. The fact that NIST acknowledges 2.25 seconds of absolute freefall acceleration should be the end of the story. Freefall acceleration happened over a significant interval, and NIST has finally admitted it. The straight line on this graph means that NIST acknowledges that WTC 7 came down without resistance and without doing any work for over 100 feet. It means all support over that distance was suddenly removed by something other than the falling mass. It literally means the NIST final report confirms that WTC 7 had to have been a demolition. This is what should have been reported in newspaper headlines around the world.
NIST’s three stages add up to 5.4 seconds, so in a weasel-worded conclusion they claim their original analysis is vindicated:
“As noted above, the collapse time was approximately 40 percent longer than that of free fall for the first 18 stories of descent. The detailed analysis shows that this increase in time is due primarily to Stage 1. The three stages of collapse progression described above are consistent with the results of the global collapse analyses discussed in Chapter 12 of NIST NCSTAR 1-9.”293
Their concluding statement is not actually saying the admitted period of freefall acceleration is consistent with their collapse analysis. There is nothing in their analysis that justifies a period of freefall. They are saying the overall 5.4 seconds of the three stages taken together is consistent with their analysis.
So, we are back to NIST’s two data points connected with a straight line. They simply ignore the very real period of freefall, point instead to their artificial 5.4 second construct, and then they walk away from it.
In interviews and other appearances, Shyam Sunder has attempted to minimize the significance of the freefall observation by discounting the visible collapse as seen in videos. He claims that the interior had already collapsed and what we are seeing is just the “facade” of the building. (Note, by the way, that what Sunder calls a facade is actually a load-bearing wall.)
Of course we are seeing only the surface, but what can be seen on the surface contains evidence about what lies behind. If there were an internal collapse ahead of time, the falling beams and girders would apply torques to the exterior walls, which would have created visible distortions. If the interior collapse could propagate the length of the building, why didn’t it propagate to the much closer exterior walls of the building and therefore become visible?
The structure was rigid right up until a fraction of a second before global collapse. Then there was a clear transition point where the structure literally went limp. This occurred suddenly, just before it started to fall. The windows under the East Penthouse broke when the East Penthouse fell into the building, but no more window breakage occurred until after the building began to fall. Had the bulk of the interior collapsed ahead of time as NIST claims, we would have seen the same external signs we saw in the smaller, earlier collapse of the East Penthouse. Likewise, the West Penthouse was fully supported by interior columns right up to about a half second before global collapse. When the West Penthouse did collapse, it fell only about half its height before the rest of the building joined it in freefall. The West Penthouse remained partially visible throughout the freefall interval.
When the building fell there were roiling clouds of debris that raced down the street, which some have likened to volcanic pyroclastic flow. The release of these debris-laden clouds was simultaneous with the visible collapse. Had the bulk of the building collapsed earlier, with just a visible facade left to fall, the debris clouds would have occurred earlier.
Remember the context of this separation of interior and exterior collapse: Sunder is trying to justify the observation of freefall. He is claiming the “real” collapse occurred as their model predicted, slower than freefall, and that what we can see from the exterior was merely a thin shell, so supposedly its freefall is inconsequential. As suggested above, this entire construct is false.
However, even assuming the construct is not false, and that only a facade remained, the exterior columns would have retained their full strength, but without the load. They would be expected to remain, perhaps many seconds, swaying, tipping, then buckling one-by-one, much as happened to the straggler columns in the North Tower of the WTC following its collapse. The simultaneous, straight-down freefall of a postulated thin veneer wall would be even more mysterious than the freefall of the loaded structure.
All of this is a fantasy, of course. The entire building fell nearly simultaneously with the West Penthouse, with accompanying window breakage and simultaneous release of a massive debris cloud. NIST has no escape from freefall acceleration of the entire structure.
The NIST WTC 7 report has never been peer reviewed. There has been no transparent public forum for critiquing or correcting the final report. It does not constitute science. It is instead an authoritarian declaration by a government agency that has repeatedly demonstrated its unwillingness to consider the one hypothesis that could account for all of the observations — explosive demolition. The fact that NIST attempted to deny the obvious freefall acceleration, then attempted to hide their acknowledgment of freefall in a transparently false construct, together with the fact that they used an inappropriate camera angles and inappropriate analytical methodology, all point to NIST’s role in furthering a criminal cover-up.
The most significant fact in all this is that we have measured and NIST has reluctantly confirmed that WTC 7 went through a significant period of freefall.
- Dynamically, this means all column support was suddenly and simultaneously eliminated.
- Practically, this means this was an intentional demolition, and that it had to have been planned and set up in advance of 9/11.
- Politically and sociologically, given the extreme security consciousness of the agencies that occupied in the building, the only way the building could be prepared for demolition would be through deep insider connections.
- Ultimately, this means that the insiders who were involved in planning and executing the demolition of WTC 7 on 9/11 had to be in coordination with the entire event of 9/11, including the demolitions of the Twin Towers, the airplane hijackings, and the subsequent cover-up.
- Interview with Danny Jowenko: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=877gr6xtQIc
- FEMA, “World Trade Center Building Performance Study,” available at http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=1728.
- NIST estimates 443 mph for AA11 (WTC 1) and 542 mph for UAL 175 (WTC 2) in NIST NCSTAR 1-2, p. 165.
- Chandler, David, “High Speed Massive Projectiles from the WTC on 9/11,” available at http://911speakout.org/?page_id=8
- NIST’s “Probable Collapse Sequence” is outlined in NIST NCSTAR 1A, p. 21.
- Sarns, Chris, “A Compilation of Research by Chris Sarns on World Trade Center 7’s Mysterious Collapse,” at http://truthphalanx.com/chris_sarns
- The discovery was announced in a blog post at http://911blogger.com/node/6400 submitted by 911veritas on Saturday 02/24/2007 at 1:15pm. The erroneous report was discovered while searching an archive of 9/11 first day news coverage. WTC 7 is reported to have collapsed while it is still visible in the background.
- In a news report at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_sNl7l6tOU, CNN reporter Allan Dodds Frank describes the collapse of a building, approximately 50 stories tall, at 10:45 am. No such building collapsed at that time, but the description fits WTC 7 which collapsed much later that day.
- NIST FOIA release: footage labeled “CBS-Net Dub5 09” taken by “Camera 3” has a definite boom a few seconds before the collapse of the East Penthouse. Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j8XN3iKLak
- Chandler, David, “WTC7 in Freefall—No Longer Controversial,” available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCDpL4Ax7I
- NIST NCSTAR 1A, p. xxviii.
- NIST NCSTAR 1A for public comment, p. 41.
- Hammond, Jeremy R., “Video Analysis of NIST’s Claim of a 5.4 s Collapse Time Over 18 Stories for WTC 7,” Foreign Policy Journal, July 11, 2011.
- Chandler, David, “WTC7: NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part I)” available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDvNS9iMjzA
- NIST NCSTAR 1-9 and NCSTAR 1A.
- NIST NCSTAR 1A p. 45.