Saturday, September 10, 2011
9/11 oral histories...
by David Ray Griffin
"[T]here was just an explosion [in the south tower]. It seemed like on television [when] they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions."--Firefighter Richard Banaciski
"I saw a flash flash flash [at] the lower level of the building. You know like when they demolish a building?"
--Assistant Fire Commissioner Stephen Gregory
"[I]t was [like a] professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear 'Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop'."
--Paramedic Daniel Rivera
The above quotations come from a collection of 9/11 oral histories that, although recorded by the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at the end of 2001, were publicly released only on August 12, 2005. Prior to that date, very few Americans knew the content of these accounts or even the fact that they existed.
Why have we not known about them until recently? Part of the answer is that the city of New York would not release them until it was forced to do so. Early in 2002, the New York Times requested copies under the freedom of information act, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration refused. So the Times, joined by several families of 9/11 victims, filed suit. After a long process, the city was finally ordered by the New York Court of Appeals to release the records (with some exceptions and redactions allowed). Included were oral histories, in interview form, provided by 503 firefighters and medical workers.1 (Emergency Medical Services had become a division within the Fire Department.2) The Times then made these oral histories publicly available.3
Once the content of these testimonies is examined, it is easy to see why persons concerned to protect the official story about 9/11 would try to keep them hidden. By suggesting that explosions were occurring in the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, they pose a challenge to the official account of 9/11, according to which the towers were caused to collapse solely by the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fires.
In any case, now that the oral histories have finally been released, it is time for Americans and the world in general to see what these brave men and women reported about that fateful day. If this information forces a reevaluation of the official story about 9/11, better now than later.
That said, it must be added that although these oral histories are of great significance, they do not contain the first reports of explosions in the Twin Towers. Such reports--from firefighters, reporters, and people who had worked in the towers---started becoming available right after 9/11.
These reports, however, were not widely publicized by the mainstream press and, as a result, have for the most part been known only within the "9/11 truth movement," which has focused on evidence that seems inconsistent with the official story.
I will begin by summarizing some of those previously available reports. Readers will then be able to see that although in some respects the newly released oral histories simply add reinforcement, they also are revelatory documents: Some of the testimonies are quite stunning, even to people familiar with the earlier reports; and there are now so many testimonies that even the most skeptical reader is likely to find the cumulative effect impressive.
Previously Available Testimony Suggestive of Explosions in the Twin Towers
The day after 9/11, a story in the Los Angeles Times, referring to the south tower, said: "There were reports of an explosion right before the tower fell, then a strange sucking sound, and finally the sound of floors collapsing."4
A story in the Guardian said that "police and fire officials were carrying out the first wave of evacuations when the first of the World Trade Centre towers collapsed. Some eyewitnesses reported hearing another explosion just before the structure crumbled. Police said that it looked almost like a 'planned implosion.'"5
"Planned implosion" is another term for controlled demolition, in which explosives are placed at crucial places throughout a building so that, when set off in the proper order, they will cause the building to come down in the desired way. When it is close to other buildings, the desired way will be straight down into, or at least close to, the buildings footprint, so that it does not damage the surrounding buildings. This type of controlled demolition is called an "implosion." To induce an implosion in steel-frame buildings, the explosives must be set so as to break the steel columns. Each of the Twin Towers had 47 massive steel columns in its core and 236 steel columns around the periphery.
To return now to testimonies about explosions: There were many reports about an explosion in the basement of the north tower. For example, janitor William Rodriguez reported that he and others felt an explosion below the first sub-level office at 9 AM, after which co-worker Felipe David, who had been in front of a nearby freight elevator, came into the office with severe burns on his face and arms yelling "explosion! explosion! explosion!"6
Rodriguez's account has been corroborated by Jose Sanchez, who was in the workshop on the fourth sub-level. Sanchez said that he and a co-worker heard a big blast that "sounded like a bomb," after which "a huge ball of fire went through the freight elevator."7
Engineer Mike Pecoraro, who was working in the sixth sub-basement of the north tower, said that after an explosion he and a co-worker went up to the C level, where there was a small machine shop. "There was nothing there but rubble," said Pecoraro. "We're talking about a 50 ton hydraulic press--gone!" They then went to the parking garage, but found that it was also gone. Then on the B level, they found that a steel-and-concrete fire door, which weighed about 300 pounds, was wrinkled up "like a piece of aluminum foil." Having seen similar things after the terrorist attack in 1993, Pecoraro was convinced that a bomb had gone off.8
Given these testimonies to explosions in the basement levels of the towers, it is interesting that Mark Loizeaux, head of Controlled Demolition, Inc., has been quoted as saying: "If I were to bring the towers down, I would put explosives in the basement to get the weight of the building to help collapse the structure."9
Some of the testimonies suggested that more than one explosion occurred in one tower or the other. FDNY Captain Dennis Tardio, speaking of the south tower, said: "I hear an explosion and I look up. It is as if the building is being imploded, from the top floor down, one after another, boom, boom, boom."10
In June of 2002, NBC television played segments from tapes recorded on 9/11. One segment contained the following exchange, which involved firefighters in the south tower:
Official: Battalion 3 to dispatch, we've just had another explosion.
Official: Battalion 3 to dispatch, we've had additional explosion.
Dispatcher: Received battalion command. Additional explosion.11
Firefighter Louie Cacchioli, after entering the north tower lobby and seeing elevator doors completely blown out and people being hit with debris, asked himself, "how could this be happening so quickly if a plane hit way above"? After he reached the 24th floor, he and another fireman "heard this huge explosion that sounded like a bomb [and] knocked off the lights and stalled the elevator." After they pried themselves out of the elevator, "another huge explosion like the first one hits. This one hits about two minutes later . . . [and] I'm thinking, "Oh. My God, these bastards put bombs in here like they did in 1993!"12
Multiple explosions were also reported by Teresa Veliz, who worked for a software development company in the north tower. She was on the 47th floor, she reported, when suddenly "the whole building shook. . . . [Shortly thereafter] the building shook again, this time even more violently." Then, while Veliz was making her way downstairs and outside: "There were explosions going off everywhere. I was convinced that there were bombs planted all over the place and someone was sitting at a control panel pushing detonator buttons. . . . There was another explosion. And another. I didn't know where to run."13
Steve Evans, a New York-based correspondent for the BBC, said: "I was at the base of the second tower . . . that was hit. . . . There was an explosion. . . . The base of the building shook. . . . [T]hen there was a series of explosions."14
Sue Keane, an officer in the New Jersey Fire Police Department who was previously a sergeant in the U.S. Army, said in her account of the onset of the collapse of the south tower: "[I]t sounded like bombs going off. That's when the explosions happened. . . . I knew something was going to happen. . . . It started to get dark, then all of a sudden there was this massive explosion." Then, discussing her experiences during the collapse of the north tower, she said: "[There was] another explosion. That sent me and the two firefighters down the stairs. . . . I can't tell you how many times I got banged around. Each one of those explosions picked me up and threw me. . . . There was another explosion, and I got thrown with two firefighters out onto the street."15
Wall Street Journal reporter John Bussey, describing his observation of the collapse of the south tower from the ninth floor of the WSJ office building, said: "I . . . looked up out of the office window to see what seemed like perfectly synchronized explosions coming from each floor. . . . One after the other, from top to bottom, with a fraction of a second between, the floors blew to pieces."16
Another Wall Street Journal reporter said that after seeing what appeared to be "individual floors, one after the other exploding outward," he thought: "'My God, they're going to bring the building down.' And they, whoever they are, HAD SET CHARGES. . . . I saw the explosions."17
A similar perception was reported by Beth Fertig of WNYC Radio, who said: "It just descended like a timed explosion--like when they are deliberately bringing a building down. . . . It was coming down so perfectly that in one part of my brain I was thinking, 'They got everyone out, and they're bringing the building down because they have to.'"18
A more graphic testimony to this perception was provided on the film made by the Naudet brothers. In a clip from that film, one can watch two firemen describing their experiences to other firemen.
Fireman 1: "We made it outside, we made it about a block . . . ."
Fireman 2: "We made it at least two blocks and we started running." He makes explosive sounds and then uses a chopping hand motion to emphasize his next point: "Floor by floor it started popping out . . . ."
Fireman 1: "It was as if they had detonated--as if they were planning to take down a building, boom boom boom boom boom . . . ."
Fireman 2: "All the way down. I was watching it and running. And then you just saw this cloud of shit chasing you down."19
As these illustrations show, quite impressive testimony to the occurrence of explosions in the Twin Towers existed even prior to the release of the oral histories. As we will see, however, these oral histories have made the testimony much more impressive, qualitatively as well as quantitatively. The cumulative testimony now points even more clearly than before not simply to explosions but to controlled demolition...
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