The NIST Report on the World Trade Center Collapse one year later: Still Dead On Arrival

The NIST Report on the World Trade Center Collapse one year later: Still Dead On Arrival
By Mark H. Gaffney

A note to the reader: In December 2006 Mark H. Gaffney posted a scathing critique of the US government’s official report about the WTC collapse on 9/11. One year later, the case is stronger than ever. * *

doa.jpg01/04/08 “ICH ” — – -In August 2002 the US Congress authorized the National Institute for Safety and Transportation (NIST) to investigate the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11. The official instruction was not limited to conducting a building performance study, as some have claimed.[1] The primary stated objective of the investigation was to determine the cause of the collapse–––no less.[2]

When NIST released its final report in September 2005, critics charged that the agency had ignored evidence of explosions in the towers. The agency responded by asserting its scientific laurels. NIST insisted that its “200 technical experts” had conducted “an extremely thorough investigation.” NIST boasted that its staff “reviewed tens of thousands of documents, interviewed more than 1,000 people, reviewed 7,000 segments of video footage and 7,000 photographs, analyzed 236 pieces of steel from the wreckage, performed laboratory tests and sophisticated computer simulations,” yet, found “no corroborating evidence for a controlled demolition.” NIST also claimed that it had considered “a number of hypotheses for the collapse of the towers.”[3]

No doubt, many Americans were persuaded by this snow-job. Sad to say, few of our countrymen (or women) bother to read official reports, especially when they run to 10,000 pages. The persistent individuals who do, however, know that there are sound reasons to question all of the above; because a close reading of the NIST report shows that the agency assumed from the beginning that the Boeing 767 impacts and subsequent fires were responsible for the collapse of the twin towers. The report gives no consideration whatsoever to alternative hypotheses, including the possible use of explosives, the leading candidate. Far from exploring other scenarios, NIST simply took it for granted that the impacts set in motion a chain of events leading to a catastrophic structural failure. Working backwards, NIST scientists searched for evidence that supported their predetermined conclusion. Everything else was ignored or excluded. If it is not already evident to the reader, this is no way to conduct a scientific investigation. NIST then had the audacity to imply that it arrived at its favored collapse model through an exhaustive process of elimination. Most readers who merely browsed NIST’s 2005 Executive Summary probably were not aware that NIST’s stated conclusion was really an assumption. Consider this passage, for example:

“The tragic consequences of the September 11, 2001 attacks were directly attributable to the fact that terrorists flew large jet-fuel laden commercial airliners into the WTC towers. Buildings for use by the general population are not designed to withstand attacks of such severity; building codes do not require building designs to consider aircraft impact.”[4]

The above comment about building codes is deceptive–––NIST readily concedes in its report that the towers survived the initial impacts. In fact, John Skilling, the structural engineer who designed the WTC, always claimed that they would. The towers survived, despite serious damage, because they were hugely overbuilt, redundant by design. Although the WTC’s soaring lines gave the impression of a relatively light frame, in fact, the twin towers were extremely rugged buildings, engineered to withstand hurricane-force winds and even a direct hit by a Boeing 707, the largest commercial jetliner of the day. Some have argued that the newer Boeing 767s caused much more damage because of their larger size, but in fact, the two Boeings are comparable. Although slightly smaller, the 707 has a greater cruise speed of 600 mph (as compared with 530 mph for a Boeing 767). Assuming both were to crash at this speed, the 707 would actually have greater kinetic energy.[5]

After the Boeing 767 impacts on 9/11 the severed steel columns simply transferred the weight of the building to other undamaged columns. The NIST report even states that the towers would probably have stood indefinitely, if the impacts had not dislodged the fireproofing material that protected the steel from fire-generated heat.[6] Construction-grade steel begins to lose strength at 425°C (~800°F) and is only about half as strong at 650°C (1,202°F). NIST argues in its report that the crashed jetliners damaged or dislodged 100% of the protective insulation within the impact zone, while also spilling many thousands of gallons of jet fuel over multiple floors. The resulting 800-1,000°C (1,440-1,800°F ) blaze–––the report claims–––seriously weakened the now-exposed steel, leading to a global structural failure. In order to understand the official story, however, and why it fails to explain the WTC collapse, it is necessary to know more about the World Trade Center and how it was built.

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