Monday, August 25, 2008

Skepticism over NIST report on WTC-7

The recent NIST reports about WTC-7's collapse on September 11, 2001 is worthy of a discussion.

I will indeed finish reading this NIST draft for public comment of the Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7. I'm already on page 26 (of 115) and just now reached the end of the front-matter to stumble upon meat in the form of a Preface. The Executive Summary starts on page 33 of the PDF. Chapter 1, Page 1 of this document is 39 pages into the file.

Consider these warning flags of potential document padding.


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1) Let us assume for this point #1 that the document is the God's honest truth. I would welcome it, support it, and defend it. However, would this debunking of a single 9/11 conspiracy theory bring down the 9/11 Truth Movement? Hardly. There are still too many other questionable aspects of the events of that day and the 400 some day delay with hues of cover-up before any investigation started.

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2) Without getting into any substantial meat of that report, the citizens of the United States have valid reasons to be skeptical about its methods and conclusions because of NIST's recent track record of unscientific and biased 9/11 reports and Bush's track record with promoting politics over science.

"A Return to Reason" by Chris Mooney states: "For eight long years, the Bush administration has trashed and politicized the government science agencies. How to kick out the hacks and flat-Earthers and let the geeks reign." It might well have been written about NIST.

"(M)any branches of the US government basically amount to scientific dormitories... In one sense, it's modern technocracy at its most arcane. But given the complexity of decision making today, it's hard to see how you could run the country any other way.

"This also means that by assaulting the science infrastructure, you can hobble government itself, and during the Bush administration, science abuse has been not only epidemic, but endemic. ...

"Consider the National Marine Fisheries Service... UCS took a pool of (some 500 scientists at NMFS) in 2005 and found that more than half knew of instances in which commercial interests had 'inappropriately induced the reversal or withdrawal of scientific conclusions or decisions through political intervention.' Further, more than a third of respondents said they had been 'directed, for non-scientific reasons,' to avoid making findings that required protection of species in peril, and nearly a fourth had been 'directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information' from scientific documents. ...

"Nearly 100 EPA scientists surveyed by the UCS pointed the finger directly at the White House. As one scientist put it, 'They truly interfere and want to stamp the White House Agenda over every document that is sent to them for review. They have hired their own scientists and play the >>my scientist is better than yours<< game. The EPA has to accept a lot of shit from them to get any documents out.'"


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3) Out of 115 pages, only pages 22-24 (1-1/2 pages) cover explosives as a possible explanation. That is very thin to say the least. They write:

"Considerable effort was expended to compile evidence and to determine whether intentionally set explosives might have caused the collapse of WTC-7... Six combinations of explosive location and column/truss and two implementation scenarios were considered... Attention focused on a single hypothetical blast scenario location... The other scenarios would have required more explosives, or were considered infeasible to carry out without detection."

And therein lies the smoking gun of their report.

"Considerable effort was expended" was boiled down to a mere six explosive combinations, two scenarios, then only one scenario (on 1-1/2 pages), because the other was "considered infeasible to carry out without detection"?

The purpose of the report was to document the "how's" if with fires, bombs, or other things. It is not the document's purpose to make distinctions of infeasibility.

If I thoroughly believed what the US government holds that 19 Arabs pulled off 9/11, then it would be certainly infeasible to me that such foreigners could plant bombs in a building with tenants like the FBI, NSA, CIA, SEC, and a NYC Disaster Command Center. On the other hand, I fail to see what would make it infeasibility if the perpetrators were one or more of those tenants (or the boss of those tenants) doing whatever it likes to the building space it rents.


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4) The NIST report dismisses that explosives were used on WTC-7 in part because the blasts would have been heard and would have broken glass at or around the time of the collapse. (FTR, eye-witnesses did report explosions in WTC-7, but they happened much earlier in the day.)

Are we expected to believe that of the three trillion dollars that on September 10, 2001 Donald Rumsfeld admitted that the Pentagon could not account for, none of that money went into exotic news weapons systems, some of which could have been deployed on 9/11 and had different mechanisms and signatures than explosives?


5) Here is my speculation on what the criticisms will be.

Like the earlier NIST reports on the WTC towers, the analysis will be slammed for assuming worst-case scenarios with regards to the extent, heat, and duration of the fires; for over-driving computer simulation variables well-beyond what is realistic and reasonable in order to achieve cascading failure conditions; for mischaracterizing the architectural design flaws; for insufficient review of the literature and historical precedents; for only entertaining one explanation (e.g., fires) rather than other scenarios (e.g., bombs, exotic weapons) that could also sufficiently explain the destruction observed without having to over-drive assumptions and variables; etc.

Given that the report was just released on August 20, it is still early for there to be lots of review by 9/11 Truthers.


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6) From the video I saw a couple of days ago, what struck me was they were talking about conditions leading to non-uniform collapses of floors within the outer rigid steel shell and how the floors pulled the inner columns and other floors into cascading failure yet not the outer walls of the shell.

They want us to believe that the outer steel shell was strong enough to resist any visible deformity from the pulling of cascading collapsing floors that undermine the inner supports, yet this strong shell isn't strong enough to remain standing. Rather than folding and buckling in on itself now that successive failures on the inside have removed or scooped out the interior, it falls like a box into a paper shredder at free-fall speed. Unbelievable comes to mind.

The video of the computer simulation shows localized and non-uniform failure cascading from right to left on the inside of the structure while presumably the outer steel shell remains unaffected without any buckling or folding to the inside.

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7) Although this report has several pages with the names of contributors, don't expect that any of them will be made available by NIST or the government for a public debate/analysis against other academic scholars from the 9/11 Truth Movement who have reviewed the report and found it lacking.

8) Because the NIST report does not have an extensive literature review or historic overview of how fires have affected steel skyscrapers, the reader will have to do that themselves. There is no historical precedent for fires alone bringing down steel skyscrapers, even when the fires such as one in Spain several years ago burned demonstrably hotter and longer; no steel building has failed to the point of falling, much less uniformly, at free-fall speed, into its own footprint.


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The take-away from the above is that all readers should approach the draft of the final NIST report on WTC-7 with a huge grain of salt and tons of skepticism.

It should not have been the job of this report to pass judgment on what is feasible to carry out without detection. They should have remained scientific and covered in detail how different scenarios could have accomplished the same observed destruction. They did not.

Aside from the aforementioned instances of report padding, the document comes across as a magician's trick: keep your eye on my right-hand; pay no attention to the fingers on my left-hand.

Specifically, read all about the work of my right-hand to model scientifically a case where fires could indeed have causes the WTC-7 to suffer a cascading collapse at free-fall speed into its own footprint. But ignore that the fingers on my left-hand deleted details of explosion scenarios and brushed them off as "infeasible" without even providing explanations of the parameters that separate feasible from infeasible.


If you can't win them over with brilliance, then overwhelm them with bullshit data.

This WTC-7 report should bedazzle the general public (and the government trolls), most of whom do not have the educational background and more importantly the patience to dig into this to determine validity; they're easily "Blinded By Science" as the pop song goes.

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