Friday, April 23, 2004

Conspiracy!

When I attended the 9/11 conspiracy seminar there were a couple of people there who made a moderately persuasive case that the buildings in 9/11 were demolished by explosives. Here are the highlights as I recall them:
The buildings fell at about the same speed as a piece of rock falls in the atmosphere. You would expect at least the upper levels to have a bit of resistance from the rest of the building.

No other major steel structure had ever collapsed that way in a fire before 9/11, yet on that day three of them did and one of those was not hit by an airplane. There have been major fires in other skyscrapers and the internal structures of those buildings was often not even damaged.

In slow-motion, you can see that one tower starts to tilt slightly to one side, then just seems to start exploding from top to bottom, beginning well above where the plane hit. It looks exactly like films of demolitions I've seen.

Such an enormous and deadly event (like an airplane accident) should have been the subject of a huge investigation. The area should have been cordoned off for months for searching and sampling. Dozens, if not hundreds, of fire detectives, civil engineers, demolitions experts, and other investigators should have been sifting the wreckage for clues to how such a deadly tragedy could have happened.

Instead, the wreckage was cleaned out in record time, the small volunteer investigative committee was given one guided tour of the grounds and took no samples.

Some victims families actively lobbied for a more thorough investigation but they were ignored.

The conspiracy theorists tend to jump immediately to the conclusion that there was no terrorist hijacking, that there was an enormous conspiracy of hundreds of federal and city officials, law enforcement officers, firemen, airline officials, and reporters, all with the goal of ... well, the goal tends to shift, but the overall point is there are lots of really evil people keeping a really big secret. Anyone who has tried to pass around a birthday card for signing in the office without letting the person with the birthday know about it is going to have to doubt this idea. People really aren't good at keeping secrets. Even in the most brutal dictatorships with the harshest penalties for talking, information often leaks out. You certainly aren't going to keep a secret of this magnitude, even if by some miracle you managed to find exactly the right mix of evil minions to carry it out without tipping off non-minions. The whole idea is preposterous.

But... Like I said, there are some serious questions about the way the building came down and the city's behavior afterward. If we discard all theories involving hundreds of evil conspirators, what else is there? How about this: After the first WTC bombing, city officials became worried about a second attempt. They noticed that if someone actually knocked the building over, lots of people and property outside the building would be destroyed. The solution? Pre-wire the building with explosives designed to bring the building straight down. Then, if there is a terrorist incident and the building looks about ready to topple, you just flip a switch and the building comes straight down into it's footprint.

This is a perfectly logical --if somewhat callous-- plan. Everyone in the building is going to die if it falls over, so you aren't really killing them, all you are doing is saving the lives of other people near by. This conspiracy theory doesn't require hundreds of conspirators, only a few dozen. And they don't have to be evil since the underlying motive is a good one. The conspirators have a strong motive to keep the secret: shame. For some of them, their political careers are another motive, but for the fireman who probably pulled the plug, it's just deep shame at condemning thousands of people to death when it may have still been possible to save them.

There could also be another motive for keeping the secret. In this extended theory, the twin towers were brought down because they represented an immediate danger to the surrounding areas, but building seven was brought down to cover up the conspiracy. When they realized the fire in building 7 could not be put out quickly, they were afraid to go in because they knew there were explosives inside. Or maybe they were worried about the cleanup after the fire was put out --someone might discover the explosives-- or they would have to enforce special safety rules that would give away the presence of explosives. Either way, they were safer bring down building 7. That means that they destroyed a multi-million-dollar building as part of a cover up. That has to be a felony, even if destroying the towers was not.

This was kind of fun. Maybe next I'll post my conspiracy theory about Iraq.

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