Ten years ago, on September 11, 2001, I was at my computer working on a paper. It was a gorgeous day in North Carolina and indeed on the entire east coast. I flipped over to the news and discovered that a plane had hit one of the World Trade towers in New York. Then I watched in horror as a second plane hit the South Tower, indicating that this was not an accident but something else. An hour later the South Tower collapsed, followed by the North Tower. I had been in those buildings on a number of occasions. Now, unbelievably, they were gone and nearly 3,000 people had perished. Like most people, I was grateful for the quick identification of the evil men who had committed this most horrendous of crimes on American soil. For several years following the attacks, like most people, I accepted the official explanations, wondering, though, whether this terrible event could have been prevented by our powerful military and intelligence agencies in Washington and around the world.
New York is my native city and I have written two books about its development and redevelopment. When the World Trade Center was first proposed I was working in New York as a city planner. We planners hotly debated whether the World Trade Center made good development sense. I supported the project because it appeared to solve several problems. The motivation for building the World Trade Center was to keep the financial district of lower Manhattan tightly clustered around the downtown — the area historically best served by public transportation. So I knew those buildings and had examined the architects’ plans. I never liked the design very much. The spaces in the buildings were dark and gloomy. But the engineering was unique. A powerful central spine contained the structural elements that held the buildings up. This was supplemented at the perimeter by a web of Vierendeel trusses welded together to form a powerful box supporting the buildings. When, a year or so after the attacks, I re-examined the videos of the collapses of the Twin Towers, something began to look very wrong to me. I had been trained in structural engineering in architecture school and had worked under the direction of professional engineers, verifying the structural design adequacy of scores of buildings. The videos of the September 11 collapses just didn’t look right to me. Where were the robust spines in the centers of the two structures after collapse? My doubts persisted for several years, even after the release of Joint Congressional Hearings, the 9/11 Commission Report, and the two studies of the dynamics of collapse issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The Toronto Hearings
In September of 2011, on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11, I was asked to serve with three panelists — two highly respected Canadian academics and the honorary chief judge of the Supreme Court of Italy — to hear testimony about that terrible day and alternatives to the official scenarios that had sought to explain the sequence of events that changed the course of history. I accepted the assignment reluctantly, but with the hope that I might have my doubts about the official story dispelled. September 11th is a difficult topic to internalize emotionally and weigh objectively. For four intense days we sat through the testimony of eighteen witnesses who had devoted much of their recent lives trying to sort out the facts of 9/11 and separate them from the inevitable speculations and theories that have swirled around the attacks, how they unfolded and the physical and human damage inflicted. The presentations ranged from rigorous and persuasive to tentative and open-ended, and occasionally controversial.
The Hearings began with a moment of silence to remember the victims and their families. This was followed by a video presentation by several 9/11 family members. It continues to be extremely painful to hear the relatives of victims express their frustration at the failure of the official investigations to bring answers to their questions and closure to their grief. This is especially poignant considering the extraordinary lengths the families went through to force a reluctant federal establishment even to hold an investigation, an investigation that turned out to be deeply flawed.361
There is no need to repeat here the details of the evidence and unanswered questions presented by the expert witnesses at the Toronto Hearings. The aggregate weight of the facts and deductions offered should give any thoughtful person reason to question the validity of the official version of events offered by the 9/11 Commission and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST). Several elements of the testimony stand out to this observer. The analyses of David Chandler showing free-fall movements in the collapses of the twin towers and WTC 7 are strong evidence of controlled demolition. Professor Paul Zarembka’s rigorous analysis of the unusual number of call options made on the stocks of the two airlines involved is also important. These were not random investments but statistically unexplainable except by the possibility of prior knowledge of the plan to attack the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The 9/11 Commission did not look deeply into who might have been behind these lucrative deals. The experiments of Jon Cole showing how thermite easily cuts through steel and the identification of unignited nanothermite residues in the dust by Niels Harrit provide sufficient grounds to demand an independent review of the conclusion that explosives were used to bring down the three WTC buildings. Particularly dramatic was Professor Harrit’s simple visual experiment of drawing a powerful magnet under a bag of dust from the area around Ground Zero. As he passed the magnet under the plastic envelope, clusters of iron spheroids were attracted from the dust. Iron spheroids are by-products of a thermitic reaction.
Richard Gage’s analysis of the building destruction noted numerous phenomena that appeared to be incompatible with the official version of how the buildings failed. These include the following observations:
- Total disintegration of the tower buildings above the crash zone, immediately after the onset of collapse.
- Pulverization of concrete floors, forming enormous dust clouds. Energy levels needed to cause such pulverization appear far in excess of the potential gravity-based energy stored in the structure during construction.
- Cascades of extruded clouds of material in all directions from a level just above the crash zones, bearing a striking resemblance to high-energy explosive photographs available on the Web.
- Clouds of dust moving vertically, high in the sky above the Twin Towers, suggesting rising hot air particle suspensions. A structure simply collapsing from beam and column failure would be unlikely to emit such high level clouds of dust.
- Flashes of red fire around the entire perimeter of the floor just below the crash zone just at the onset of collapse. A collapse due entirely to structural failure would not exhibit such conflagration. Explosives might. (Flashes on lower floors would not have been visible after the initiation of collapse due to the pervasive smoke and dust surrounding the lower portions of the buildings.)
- Photographs of key core columns cut at 45 degrees at the base of the building have been shown as evidence. A 45-degree burn would be the way a supporting column would be destroyed by a thermitic charge, permitting the structure to slide off its foundation support and bring down the central core above it. (Verification is needed to ensure that these were not made in the cleanup aftermath.)
- It is highly improbable that WTC 7 could collapse uniformly and instantaneously from the failure of a single column (Column 79) as suggested by NIST. All columns would have to fail at the same level and at the same moment as 79 for the building to collapse in the way it did — in free fall for 100 feet. Columns simply do not keel over in empathy with a single nearby failed column. Serial column failure is possible but only in a delayed sequential fashion, yielding an asymmetrical failure. This, however, is not how this building came down.
- NIST declined to address what ensued immediately upon so-called initiation of collapse for the Twin Towers, assuming what followed was “inevitable,” without describing or explaining the mechanism of serial collapse or the pulverization of 108 floors of concrete in each tower. References to “pancaking” are misleading as the residual debris showed no evidence of slabs dropping serially as the collapse proceeded.
- First responders and other on-site witnesses reported multiple explosions prior to and during the collapses of the three buildings.
That more than 1,600 professional engineers and architects agree with Mr. Gage and have signed a petition demanding an independent investigation is notable (though it has gone totally unnoticed by the mainstream media). The architect and engineer petition signers believe that only controlled demolitions can explain these phenomena. This proposition needs to be further examined. (The NIST engineers, when asked whether they had looked for explosives, said they had not, even while arguing that no explosives had been used in the building collapses at the World Trade Center.)
Other speakers at the Toronto Hearings presented a lengthy list of unanswered questions, inconsistencies, and anomalies in the narratives of the official reports. Professors David Ray Griffin and Graeme MacQueen and chemist Kevin Ryan provided detailed and persuasive challenges to the official story. Their dogged research, ignored by the mainstream media, cries out for a wider audience and a rigorous but fair review by independent authorities. Jay Kolar’s talk on the identities of the alleged 19 hijackers also raises disturbing questions about the individuals so quickly named as the perpetrators of the crimes of September 11. Barbara Honegger’s view that the official story of the Pentagon attack is false also deserves further verification or refutation. There are simply too many unanswered questions remaining about the events of that day to close the books and simply move on as our Washington politicians would like us to do. Even the chairs of the 9/11 Commission have admitted that they were set up to fail. It is not too late to demand a real investigation. Indeed, it will never be too late until the true facts are revealed and justice is done.
Professor Lance deHaven-Smith in his presentation on 9/11 and State Crimes Against Democracy, SCADS for short, showed how unaccountable units of government can and have through history undermined democratic states and institutions. Of course, there have been State Crimes Against Humanity perpetrated from earliest times. But State Crimes Against Democracy are a relatively new phenomenon, if you discount such events as the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Democracies are not necessarily fragile entities but they are vulnerable to efforts to undermine them, as we saw in Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1930s. The question of interest here is whether the 9/11 attacks were part of a SCAD, an unthinkable notion, of course, but one that would require a new investigation to put to rest.
Professor Peter Dale Scott’s incisive presentation reinforced the need to “connect the dots” concerning the events of 9/11. Scott’s conception of “deep state politics” is a disturbing complement to the idea of SCADS as a driving force of a centralized state dominated by long-term secretive planning for control of strategic resources and global hegemony. Again, the verdict is not in as to the degree to which “deep politics” dominates US and global decision-making, but the possibility clearly needs to be considered.
Other speakers at the Toronto Hearings showed how salient facts were ignored or misrepresented in the official reports. They also noted unexplained anomalies, and the numerous unanswered questions that remain. I will not repeat their findings here in detail. The reader is invited to look carefully at their testimony in this report. At the conclusion of the Hearings, the only reasonable conclusion one could come to is that the official reports have failed to provide a satisfactory explication of the events of 9/11/01. The American people and the international community deserve and are owed a real investigation. It is not too late to get to the bottom of the unsolved mysteries and culpabilities of the events of that terrible day. But persuading people that a new investigation is absolutely essential is not going to be easy. Let me illustrate.
At a social event recently I tested out reactions to questions about 9/11 events on several highly educated people. One man identified himself as a professor of criminology at a local university. I couldn’t resist asking him whether he viewed the 9/11 attacks as crimes. His immediate response: “No, it was an act of war.” He indicated that he regarded crimes as smaller events. I went on to ask whether the murder of more than 3,000 people was not also a crime. He relented and finally agreed that it was a crime as well as an act of war, though the latter category would take precedence in any societal response. Apparently, it is less of a crime to commit mass murder than a single murder — even to a criminologist.
I then asked a well-known news reporter for our local newspaper what he thought about the 9/11 events. I mentioned my participation in the Toronto Hearings, and asked whether the local paper might be interested in doing a story on what came out of the Hearings. His reply was that it probably would have to be treated as a human interest rather than a news story. Was this an example of instant self-censorship by an otherwise open and respected journalist?
I asked another well-educated professional whether he would consider a look at the factual evidence and testimony given in Toronto. His response was, in effect, “No, my mind is made up.” His view was that conspiracy theorists assemble isolated facts to compose a formulation already in their minds. “Elaborate theories don’t hold up under close scrutiny. Nobody could put together the complex conspiracies that theorists put forward. I believe in chaos theory. Nothing so complex as 9/11 could be planned. No, I won’t look at your facts or ‘evidence.’” This is a man who has spent his life, as I have, as a professional city planner.
On another occasion, a friend who is a professional architect was asked to look at the photographs of the collapses of the three World Trade Center buildings. He refused and indicated that it was his firm belief, having seen videos of the collapses, that the buildings had come down just as one might have expected from the plane crash damage and ensuing fires. He was not going to jeopardize his mental images with new information.
The resistance of such educated people to looking at evidence was disappointing though not surprising. Once a mental stand is taken, there is a heavy price to revising an opinion about so traumatic an event as 9/11. Laurie Manwell has thoughtfully explained in her Toronto Hearings paper the real obstacles to getting people to take a second look, and the even greater obstacles to people’s revision of a previously adopted conclusion about the events of that terrible day. “Cognitive dissonance” is a powerful barrier to reconsideration, even when faced with scientifically-based facts and robust alternative theories. The Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has identified and measured a related concept he calls “cognitive illusion,” which is the result of quick, intuitive reactions to a threatening situation, probably an evolutionary residual built in to the species to ensure survival in situations of imminent attack.362 This System 1 reaction, as Kahneman calls it, contrasts with System 2 cognition, based on analysis and rational thinking. System 2 cognition, Kahneman has shown, produces much more accurate conclusions and outcomes. But it comes at a price because thinking takes effort and time. System 1 — intuitive, immediate reaction — is far less reliable than System 2 but is easier to achieve quickly. Relying on System 1 reactions, many people have found that accepting the official explanations of 9/11 is less threatening, and easier to accept. The result is collective cognitive illusion, abetted by the imposed or self-imposed censorship of alternative analyses by the mainstream media.
Were Crimes Committed?
The federal and state authorities chose to categorize the events of 9/11 as acts of war, and by doing so have been able to avoid criminal procedures in courts of law. True, there have been trials of several accused “masterminds” in military tribunals, but these have lacked the rigor, thoroughness, and legality that would have prevailed in civilian criminal courts. The use of torture on accused accomplices further throws into doubt the validity of the confessions so secured.
The alleged perpetrators of the murders on 9/11 were presumed to have self-immolated in suicidal hijackings. So it was asserted that there was no need to conduct further criminal investigations concerning the circumstances and alleged perpetrators of the crimes of 9/11. This confusion served as an excuse to limit further criminal investigations.
One might think that an array of criminal investigations would have been an inevitable outcome of the murder of more than 3,000 innocent people, but this has not been the case. Nor have any criminal indictments emanated from the continuing deaths of area workers and first responders who have suffered mesothelioma cancer and other pulmonary illnesses, having erroneously been assured by the Environmental Protection Agency in the aftermath of the attacks that the air was safe to breathe. (It is anticipated that the death toll among this group will eventually exceed the number who died on 9/11.) We should simply note that there is no statute of limitations on the crime of murder, and that it is never too late to initiate new investigations on the basis of new evidence in capital cases.
Apart from the possibility of bringing criminal proceedings against those responsible for the planning and carrying out the murderous acts on September 11, there are two other categories of crimes for which investigations are needed and have not yet been initiated. The first category is official malfeasance or dereliction of duty resulting in death or injury that should have been prevented. The second category consists of acts intended to cover up or conceal crimes. To date no responsible officials, military or civilian, have been reprimanded, demoted, or punished for failure to perform their duties or fulfill their assigned responsibilities on September 11. Indeed, several of the key actors have been rewarded with promotions or awards despite evidence of having failed in their duty to protect the American people.
The possibility of cover-ups through outright lying in testimony to the Joint Congressional Hearings or the 9/11 Commission cannot be ruled out.363 Omissions and skewing of evidence, or professionally unethical behavior by officials, researchers and contracted consultants lie in a gray area of the law, though the conscious act of concealing crimes is actionable. A new, honest investigation conducted with subpoena powers should be empanelled to look into whether such crimes might have been committed.
Possible Venues for Remedies
What venues might be available in which to seek truth and justice? Before criminal charges can be brought, the true facts underlying the events of September 11 must be established. A number of initiatives have been proposed for actions within the United States. These include the creation of a standing Congressional committee on the events and continuing impacts of the 9/11 attacks. A campaign has been started calling for write-in petitions to be sent to the White House to open a new investigation. In addition, the use of ballot referenda in selected states where it is legal to do so upon petition has been suggested by former Senator Mike Gravel. Senator Gravel is currently seeking funding to obtain the needed minimum number of signatures to get on the ballots of several states. These promising initiatives should continue to be pursued.
Regrettably, the three branches of the US national government have so far proved that they cannot be relied on to conduct independent investigations or to pursue effective civil or criminal proceedings. So it may be necessary to look elsewhere. We should keep in mind that citizens from ninety countries, in addition to the United States, were killed on September 11, 2001. Foreign nationals killed totaled 372, or about 12 percent of the 2,977 victims. So there is ample reason for the international community to look beyond American institutions for objective, independent investigations and international criminal proceedings, if warranted.
The initial step might be to convene an independent international blue-ribbon panel to confirm or refute the physical and chemical findings which point to controlled demolitions. Investigations might also be placed in the hands of the National Academy of Science and/or the National Academy of Engineering.
There are approximately 2,200 National Academy of Science members and 400 foreign associates. Some 200 NAS members have received Nobel prizes. The NAS, headquartered in Washington, DC, was founded in the 1860s.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE), founded in 1964, is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. The mission of the NAE is to promote the technological welfare of the nation by marshaling the expertise and insights of eminent members of the engineering profession. In addition to its role as advisor to the federal government, the NAE also conducts independent studies to examine important topics in engineering and technology. The NAE has more than 2,000 peer-elected members and foreign associates, senior professionals in business, academia, and government who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers. They provide the leadership and expertise for numerous projects focused on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life.
The academies declare that they are science-based and are politically independent. One would expect that the appointment of totally objective committees to examine and judge the evidence brought forward to date might be within the capacity and mandate of the academies. Foreign associate representation would add to the confidence the public might have in judgments emanating from these prestigious institutions. Should the academies be reluctant to take on such formidable tasks, an independent international scientific blue-ribbon panel to confirm or refute physical and chemical findings could be formed under the auspices of some respected institution acting and widely regarded as an honest broker.
Should independent investigations indicate that crimes may have been committed, according to US law, including both federal and State law, or applicable international law, as recognized by the UN Charter or the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal of 1950, grand juries should be empanelled to bring indictments and set in motion judicial proceedings in appropriate venues.
A US federal grand jury enquiry with subpoena powers would be the best place for proceedings to begin. State or local courts are less suitable given the wide scope of investigation, but should not be ruled out.
Since international crimes may have been committed, the jurisdiction of courts in other sovereign nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague are possible venues for investigations and prosecutions. Though the attacks took place on US soil, the involvement of foreign nationals and the gravity of international consequences appear to provide ample warrant for ICC jurisdiction. However, the United States has revoked its original signing of the Rome Statute of 2002 establishing the ICC, and so it is not bound by the provisions of the Treaty. (As of 2012 approximately 120 states are parties to the Statute of the Court.) Under the Treaty, international crimes can be investigated by the ICC only under one or more of the following conditions:
- where the person accused of committing a crime is a national of a state party (or where the person’s state has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court);
- where the alleged crime was committed on the territory of a state party (or where the state on whose territory the crime was committed has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court); or
- where a situation is referred to the Court by the UN Security Council.
The first two conditions do not appear to be applicable to the September 11 situation and the third proviso would, unfortunately, in all likelihood be vetoed in the Security Council by the United States delegation. The stance of the United States government against widely accepted international law is particularly regrettable in light of the leadership of the US in establishing the Nuremberg Principles in 1950 at the end of the Second World War.364 These principles are highly germane to possible crimes committed in connection with the September 11 attacks. It remains to be seen whether they can be invoked in any international venue.
An alternative to proceedings at the International Criminal Court might be to convene an unofficial, but prestigious tribunal similar to the Russell Tribunal which focused attention on the criminality (and irrationality) of the war in Vietnam. Though it lacked status, the Tribunal brought the attention of world opinion and the international community to bear on the tragedy unfolding in Southeast Asia, thereby helping to end the conflict there.
Costs (and benefits) that might be associated with a new, honest investigation
What costs and benefits might result from a new, authentic, objective, believable investigation? If it can be shown and a majority of people come to understand who planned and carried out the events of September 11, 2011, how would (or could) this understanding affect US society, politics and image in the world? The answer to these questions depends on what the independent investigation determines to be the facts. The investigation may conclude that the tragedy of 9/11 was indeed the result of 19 hijackers commandeering four jet airliners and occurred only through malfeasance or dereliction of duty on the part of those responsible for protecting the country, and that a cover-up was undertaken merely to conceal incompetence. The two dominant parties have taken the view to forget the past and simply move on. Reprimands would be unlikely and the public would lose confidence in governmental response and accountability.
Another scenario would be where the responsible authorities, both civilian and military, were found to have simply moved aside, passively but intentionally, enabling the attacks to occur as described in the official reports, despite being aware of their likelihood and timing. The result would be a further loss of trust in authority. But culpability and accountability would probably be difficult to prove.
A third scenario that might be found would be where American authorities secretly farmed out to third parties the planning and logistics of carrying out the attacks and building collapses, but keeping enough distance to maintain deniability. These third parties could be foreign intelligence services, or pseudo-business corporations formed specifically for the task, or a combination of the two. Such enterprises have been used in the past to carry out covert activities.
A fourth, and in my opinion least likely, scenario would be where a special, official unit was set up within the American intelligence and governing circles to carry out the attacks. This would be the most difficult to keep secret and insulated from traditional military and intelligence entities which might harbor honest whistle-blowers.
So the degree of involvement by previously trusted officials would determine the level of trauma that a revelation of inside complicity, passive or active, would induce in the American people. Could the body politic withstand serious revelations without severe damage to cherished American ideals and institutional beliefs?
On the other hand, would the failure to look at unpleasant realities openly and honestly be even more damaging to American society and institutions? It is difficult to say, but there have been examples of societies and nations facing up to internal dysfunction, trauma, and immoral practices, emerging from the painful process stronger and politically more free. The American Civil War was such a case, as was the less bloody termination of the Apartheid system in South Africa. Similarly, Soviet Communism bloodlessly collapsed as a result of internal contradictions and lies. Could the American system embrace a comparable, but equally turbulent catharsis? Given the manipulation of the media, information controls, and the capacity of the American people for self-delusion, it is an open question. A polarized country might simply become more polarized. But that is a risk worth taking. We have already lost so much of our freedom and so many of our rights in the wake of 9/11 that to fail to uncover the truth would be to encourage further deterioration of our protections and liberties.
The Toronto Hearings are just a beginning. It can be said of these Hearings what Philip Shenon said in his book, The Commission, The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation: “The full truth has not been told yet. It won’t be told until there is an objective, independent investigation.”365
- To appreciate just how inadequate the families found the official 9/11 Commission Report, see: Questions to the 9/11 Commission with ratings in its performance in providing answers, compiled by Mindy Kleinberg and Laurie Van Auken, Members of the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission, 2004.
- Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrah, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
- John Farmer, chief Counsel to the 9/11 Commission in his book, The Ground Truth, concluded that high-level witnesses from both NORAD and the FAA lied in their testimony to the Commission. And we should note that omission of pertinent evidence, available but unsought or withheld, constitutes a form of cover-up. John Farmer. The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009.
- Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal. Adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950.
Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.
The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
- crimes against peace:
- Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggres sion or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
- Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
- War crimes: Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
- Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.
Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under international law.
Source: http:/ /deoxy.org/wc-nurem.htm
- crimes against peace:
- Philip Shenon. The Commission, The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation. New York: Twelve- Hachette Book Group, 2008.