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9/11 Commission

WTC Collapse Inquiries

According to the official account of the attack as told by media and government, the Twin Towers and Building 7 collapsed totally because of structural failures. Since no steel-framed building, bridge, or other large structure has ever totally collapsed with fires as the primary cause either before or after 9/11/01, these events would be the largest and most mysterious failures of engineered steel structures in the history of the world. Shouldn't they have prompted an investigation of commensurate scope and resources?

The ASCE/FEMA Investigation

Incredibly, no investigation was funded as the site was cleaned up. A group of volunteers from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), many of whom had also participated in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation, started an investigation with limited resources. FEMA eventually took over the ASCE's investigation, and named it the Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT). Months after the attack, frustrations with failures of the investigation were expressed in a congressional hearing.

e x c e r p t
title: HEARING CHARTER: Learning from 9/11: Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center

Concerns Related to the Engineering Investigation

Though many of the individuals who have participated in the WTC building performance investigation are architects and engineers with experience investigating other structural collapses - including those resulting from natural causes as well as terrorist attacks - nothing had prepared these investigators for a disaster of this magnitude and complexity. Unlike the destruction caused by an earthquake, which may affect several buildings across an expansive area, this disaster involved many buildings and a massive debris pile in a small, confined area. Also unlike most earthquakes, the WTC disaster caused significant casualties and prompted a prolonged search and rescue effort. In addition, the concurrent criminal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a separate investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board further frustrated the building performance investigators.

The hearing transcript goes on to list four reasons for the failure of the investigation, excerpted here.

NIST's Investigation

It was not until long after the Ground Zero clean-up was completed that an investigation with a multi-million dollar budget began: NIST's 'Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation' was funded with an initial budget of $16 million. If the problems with FEMA's investigation enumerated in the Learning from 9/11: Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center earn it the description of a farce, then the conduct of NIST's investigation earn it the description of a cover-up. NIST's Final Report on the Twin Towers shows that:

  • NIST avoids describing, let alone explaining, the "collapse" of each Tower after they were "poised for collapse." Thus, NIST avoids answering the question its investigation was tasked with answering: how did the Towers collapse?
  • NIST describes the Twin Towers without reference to the engineering history of steel-framed buildings, and separates its analysis of WTC Building 7 into a separate report. By treating them in isolation, NIST hides just how anomalous the alleged collapses of the buildings are.
  • NIST avoids disclosing the evidence sulfidation documented in Appendix C of the FEMA's Building Performance Study 1   This unexplained phenomenon was described by the New York Times as "perhaps the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation."
  • NIST has refused to publish the computer models that its report imply show how the fires in the Towers led to "collapse initiation".

Kevin Ryan

Underwriters Laboratories executive-turned-whistleblower Kevin Ryan enumerates the official "investigations" completed by mid-2006 in his presentation A New Standard For Deception .

  • ASCE
    • Turned ASCE Investigations into an "assessment"
    • Report released May 2002
  • Silverstein/weidlinger
    • Report released October 2002
  • NIST
    • Report released September 2005

Ryan reports that the the leaders of the ASCE team who volunteered to explain the WTC collapses are almost identical to the authors of the OKC Murrah Building report.

Initial ASCE team
leaders (9/14/01)
  • Gene Corley
  • Charles Thornton
  • Paul Mlaker
  • Mete Sozen
  • Other volunteers
OKC Murrah building report
  • Gene Corley
  • Charles Thornton
  • Paul Mlaker
  • Mete Sozen

Later in his presentation, Ryan notes the overlapping authorship of the FEMA and NIST reports.

  • FEMA Chapter 1 authors:
    • Therese McAllister: co-write NIST report 1-6 and 1-7
    • John Gross: co-wrote NIST report 1-6 and 1-7
    • Ronald Hamburger: NIST contributor
  • FEMA Chapter 2 authors:
    • Ronald Hamburger: see above
    • William Baker: NIST contributor, Freedom Tower
    • Harold Nelson: co-wrote NIST report 1-5 and 1-7
  • FEMA Chapter 5 cuthors (WTC7):
    • Ramon Gilsanz: co-wrote NIST report 1-6F
    • Harold Nelson: see above

  • References

    1. Appendix C: Limited Metallurgical Examination, FEMA.gov,

    page last modified: 2010-12-18
    Copyright 2004 - 2011,911Review.com / revision 1.10 site last modified: 05/16/2019
    Gene Corley, lead investigator in FEMA/ASCE World Trade Center collapse "investigation", was the principle investigator for ASCE and FEMA in the investigation of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City.
    Members of FEMA's Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) measure some pieces of steel at Fresh Kills landfill