Translated and adapted by Paolo Attivissimo with the author's permission.
The original Italian article is available in the author's 11-settembre blog.
It's been an important week for 9/11 researchers. On March 27, professor Steven Jones, originator and main supporter of the theory of thermite-induced controlled demolition of the Twin Towers, reported via affiliated websites that he had acquired important documents related to the North Tower (WTC1).
These documents were allegedly provided anonymously by an unknown "whistleblower" who was involved in the technical assessments carried out for the lawsuits between Silverstein Properties (owner of WTC 7 and 99-year leaseholder of the Twin Towers) and the insurance companies that objected to Silverstein's request for a double payout for the two attacks of September 11, 2001. The documents include over 200 scans of architectural blueprints of the North Tower in addition to legal and CAD files.
Not the first blueprints; other sets existThese blueprints, however, are not the first to surface. I had already received copies of the Twin Towers' construction blueprints from a senior Italian architect who had been involved with the WTC project at the time, and research I conducted in 2003 and 2004 pointed out that private rescuers had retained microfilms of the design and construction drawings.
In July 2003 I learned that Louis Briendel, a construction worker who lived two blocks from the WTC on 9/11, had taken part in the rescue operations and in the subsequent cleanup of the buildings that had not been involved directly in the attack but had been affected by the dust and debris of the Towers' collapse.
During this work, Briendel recovered material and debris stored in 40 bags, which were placed at the authorities' disposal in an underground storage facility. As time went by and nobody collected the bags, Briendel repeatedly sent reminders, both personally and through his managers, but the only response he got was that the material was of no interest and that he should get rid of it.
At this point, Briendel inspected the contents of the bags and found that they included a portion of a reel of half-burned but still legible microfilm. One frame was labeled "Tower A - Floors 9 - 33". In other words, he had found a microfilm of the blueprints of the North Tower. The reel included documents related to several projects, such as Bank of America, Chang HWA Bank and, more importantly, drawings labeled B-Level Parking Area with the Fuel and Generator Rooms.
Research allowed Briendel to attribute the microfilm to the New York and New Jersey Photographic Offices, which used to be on the 74th floor of the North Tower. Through Bank of America, he determined that the blueprints referred to work that had been carried out in 1993, but BoA had no microfilm record of projects submitted to the owners. Nobody expressed any interest in these documents: neither the Port Authority of New York of New Jersey (PANYNJ), which had built and owned the Twin Towers, nor the architects who had signed the blueprints that had survived the collapse. So the microfilm was put into cold storage and that is presumably where it still is.
Another important reference to blueprints is the book American Ground, by William Langenwiesche. On page 47 of the Italian edition, Langenwiesche discusses LERA (an engineering firm run by Leslie E. Robertson, the designer of the World Trade Center) and states that LERA used its own copy of the original drawings (the only surviving copy, since the remainder of the documents were stored by PANYNJ in its offices in the North Tower and was thus lost in the collapse) with great care and sparingly, carefully controlling dissemination in order to ensure that LERA would be involved in the clearing and rebuilding process and to protect itself in view of the impending victim compensation lawsuits.
These documents are therefore important, although the releases are only a very small part of the full set of drawings. Their significance is discussed below.
Why now?There is also the question of timing: why are these documents being provided or disclosed now? After a period in which alternative theories flourished, it seems that many skeptics are having second thoughts, even in the US. These skeptics include people who are becoming uneasy with the increasingly imaginative theories which involve not only thermite and explosives, but nuclear weapons or cosmic rays used to cause the collapse of the Twin Towers.
An example of these second thoughts is the self-imposed blackout of the PentagonResearch website. Russell Pickering, the site's webmaster, is rather critical of the official reports and has chosen to take a six-month break in order to gain a better understanding and at the same time avoid publishing incorrect information, especially in view of new witness reports which have emerged more than five years after the events and describe the path of the aircraft that hit the Pentagon.
In any case, it is rather strange to see the various alternative theories increasingly contradicting each other while they are being also contradicted by technical and scientific findings. At this point in time, the release of the blueprints might have two possible explanations: from a conspiracy theorist's standpoint, it could be meant to breathe new life into criticism of the analyses provided by NIST. From a non-CT standpoint, it might be the opportunity to deal a final blow to the arguments that pervade the Internet and prove beyond doubt the technical inconsistency of such criticism.
ReactionsWhatever the reason, the importance of these documents has undoubtedly been underestimated broadly or perhaps has not been understood fully, since the reactions so far have only been attacks against NIST. Here in Italy, there has been only silence from those who claim to be seeking the truth about 9/11 but are actually busy talking about other things.
I believe these documents should be analyzed to determine, once and for all, whether NIST was indeed misleading about the structural details and massaged them to match the official version, as the conspiracy theorists claim.
But before delving into this issue, the reaction of some US conspiracy theory gurus deserve mention. Leaving aside professor Steven Jones, who is the direct recipient of the documents, the Loose Change website includes this post, which quotes from the letter that was attached to the documents, giving clues to the alleged source of these files:
Excerpts from the letter sent to Dr. Jones: "I was not sure if this information was available and I wanted to make sure that it first went to people who are well versed on the existing material. I have enclosed ... the architectural plans of the WTC Complex in .TIFF format. I have also included the WTC Tower collapse ... data that [we] compiled. My hope is that this can be posted on the appropriate websites and more people can make use of it. I would like to contribute my efforts where I can as I was on the ... team working for Silverstein Group ... in 2002". I'm glad this vital evidence can finally be put into the public domain where it belongs. Many thanks to this individual, and to Dr. Jones for passing this information onto me.
Poison pill?To be honest, this statement is quite perplexing, most of all because the provided TIFF drawings are architectural blueprints, not the construction blueprints. If the goal was to revive weary CT sites which were running out of new stories, it seems to have been achieved.
On Alex Jones' Infowars.net site, Steve Watson cautiously uses the stratagem of taking a rather critical quote from another site:
The detailed architectural drawings make clear what official reports have apparently attempted to hide: that the Twin Towers had massive core columns, and those columns ran most of the height of each Tower before transitioning to columns with smaller cross-sections.Claims like these raise the question of whether these blueprints were actually a poison pill. Whoever sent them probably knew that he or she could rely on superficial reactions, to which we are by now accustomed due to a certain way of interpreting the search for truth, rather than on eliciting serious analysis from experts in the field.
Both of the government-sponsored engineering studies of the Twin Towers' "collapses" -- FEMA's and NIST's -- are highly misleading about the core structures. Neither Report discloses dimensions for core columns -- dimensions that are clearly evident in the architectural drawings. Both Reports use a variety of techniques seemingly designed to minimize the strength of the cores or to conceal their structural role entirely.
Column cross-sectionsSteve Watson's claim is at best incorrect, although not entirely false, and could be checked easily if only one bothered to read NIST's final report, dated September 2005. NCSTAR 1-3, “Mechanical and metallurgical analysis of structural steel”, Chapter 2, page 10, section 2.3.2, includes this diagram:
The diagram clearly provides the designations of the core columns and the floor at which their cross-section changed from box-like to H-shaped (or "wide flange", WF). It also indicates the cross-section of the core columns at the 84th floor.
I checked this illustration against the corresponding blueprint, which is identified as A-A-143 and shows the core structure for floors 84 to 86. The match is perfect. I also checked many of the indications of the floors at which the column cross-section changed, and again the match is perfect.
Accordingly, it is false to claim that NIST provided misleading information regarding the cross-section of the columns. Anyone claiming this is in bad faith or has an inadequate grasp of the official reports. That's a polite way of saying that the people who make such claims haven't even bothered to read the reports they're trying to criticize.
Column dimensionsHaving established that NIST did not misrepresent core column cross-sections, we can now focus on column size. The same NIST report shows this illustration on page 11:
The diagram clearly provides the dimensions of the cross-sections of the core columns between the 83rd and 86th floors and also provides the codes of the H-shaped beams.
Conspiracy theory flawed at the coreHow on earth can the whistleblower's blueprints be used to claim that these figures are incorrect? They're architectural drawings, not construction drawings (which are also available for the WTC). This means that the various architectural elements are shown schematically, not with the scale and detail required for construction. Accordingly, it is a colossal mistake to use these blueprints as sources for scale details of structural components (and that is why they may be poison pills).
This can be demonstrated by considering the drawing shown below, which is not taken from the blueprints released by Steven Jones. It is one of the WTC construction drawings of which I have copies:
This is drawing A-AB-266, Main Lobby Core Wall Plan Details. It clearly shows that the bottom left corner column, numbered 1001 in the previous illustration, has a closed rectangular cross-section which contains an additional reinforcement member. This matches the information provided for the core columns at the foot of the building, as shown by the following photographs:
These photographs show the base of a column and (most importantly) an actual column, preserved as part of the WTC evidence.
Let's see how the architectural blueprints show this very column by looking at drawing A-A-20, First Floor Core Plan, from the whistleblower's release:
We can now compare the detail of the cross-section of this same column 1001, as shown in the architectural blueprint ( the whistleblower's release):
and as shown in the construction blueprint which I possess:
It is therefore absolutely evident that any use of these architectural drawings to investigate not only the dimensions of the columns but even merely their cross-sectional shape is a harebrained approach, worthy of those who posit the involvement of nukes or space rays in the collapse of the WTC.
Core details provided by NISTLet's see how NIST explicitly describes the core columns of the Twin Towers.
The photograph below shows clearly the exact point of transition from box column to H-shaped column:
The core columns of course were not mutually independent: they were linked by horizontal members known as core channels, shown below in some examples of their failure modes:
Let us also check how the much-maligned final report from NIST describes the various types of core column, so we can see whether the conspiracy theorists' allegation of a NIST attempt to minimize the structural strength of the cores holds water. These are the two paragraphs which give the specifications of the two types of column used in the WTC core:
There is no sign of any attempt to minimize the structural role of the core colums. Indeed, NIST provides the names of the suppliers, the specifications of the materials used, their yield strengths, and their plate thickness.
The following chapter of the same NIST report further describes the structural role of the core's box columns and their quality control characteristics. These were the most important columns in terms of bearing the static loads of the central core of the building.
Despite these high quality levels, the events that occurred in the Twin Towers led to an overload of the structure, which literally shattered due to the dynamic loads induced by the failure of the floors struck by the aircraft impact and then weakened by fire.
Giant puzzleAs an additional detail, it is worth nothing that every structural component of the Twin Towers was stamped or marked with unique identification codes, as shown below:
Accordingly, we know the location and main mechanical production and installation characteristics for every single component in the design, in addition to the name of its supplier and its shipping batch code. Essentially, the Twin Towers were a huge puzzle in which the builders had to ensure on-time delivery of the unique parts intended for the assembly process.
In view of these findings, I believe there is no way one can claim that NIST attempted to provide misleading information. Those who make such allegations are probably poorly informed or lack the technical skills needed to comprehend the wording of specialist reports.