Understanding 911 -
Incompetence Or Cowardice?

By Douglas Herman
Exclusive to

"But truthfully, I don't really know. We've had trouble getting a handle on Building No. 7." -Dr. Shyam Sunder - Acting Director Building and Fire Research Laboratory (NIST)

"Next we tried the physics department at the University of Michigan as well as three departments in the school of engineering, Civil, Materials Science and Mechanical. We sent each faculty member a personal invitation as well as a copy of "Improbable Collapse" All of the invitations were declined or not answered; that's over three hundred invitations total for the University faculty. No one would defend the official story as related in the NIST, FEMA and 911 Commission Report." -AnnArbor911Truth

American engineers and architects are either incompetents or cowards. Apparently there doesn't seem to be a third explanation as to WHY EXACTLY three American designed and engineered steel skyscrapers fell down on September 11, 2001. What other explanation can there be? Either the trio of buildings fell down because they were designed and built badly---incompetence--or American engineers are too cowardly to call a pyrotechnic explosion and sudden collapse a controlled demolition.

Reagrding the collapse of WTC-7, structural engineer, Russell Mills said, "Not controlled demolition." Mills, much like the spokesman for NIST, offered no detailed explanation. So the only conclusion an objective observer can draw is US structural engineers are no damn good. Especially given the fact that TWO foreign structures burned far longer and far hotter than WTC-7, in Venezuela and Spain, and did NOT collapse.

I spoke to one engineer who continually blamed government incompetence for the many lapses of security that day. Perhaps this top engineer--"with two engineering degrees"--had a good point. Maybe the incredible lapses of incompetence that occurred on 911 included American engineers and architects. Maybe our top guys, despite their advanced degrees, are frauds and fakes.

Case For Incompetence

Author Tom Wolfe, in his massive yet entertaining book about the early US space program, "The Right Stuff," observed that a curious engineering mindset emerged: OUR rockets always blow up. Wolfe noted that many NASA rockets blew up on the launch pad, they blew up in mid-air or they blew up before leaving the atmosphere. Incompetence, right? Apparently that engineering incompetence carried over to the World Trade Center because OUR towers always blow down.

BLOW DOWN, as anyone can see by looking at the photographs.

According to Forman Williams, a professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that Popular Mechanics consulted, jet fuel was the catalyst for the WTC fires (obvious), the resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper. The inferno was so hot, according to NIST, temperature reached 1832°F.

1832 degrees? Where exactly did that figure come from? More importantly, how long were those temperatures sustained? Equally important how much fuel of the estimated 10,000 gallons, was burned outside the buildings by the explosions? (See photo). The wing capacity of a Boeing is 4,000+ gallons.

If professor Williams and his colleagues had looked at the film footage and studied the photographs, they would have seen black sooty smoke indicating an oxygen-starved fire. Nor did NIST or Popular Mechanics apparently look at the recent photographs of the burning WTC-7 with the windows BLOWN OUT. Not blown in, as debris would do, but blown out, as (reported) bombs would do.

So, what did these structural engineers who signed onto the official goverment theory base their claim of a fire-induced structural failure? Guesswork? Computer analysis? Government pressure? I would speculate the latter.

Those structural engineers, contracted by FEMA and NIST, did not speculate HOW EXACTLY those fires started in so many various places in WTC-7. They blamed hot debris--since arson was not allowed as an option. Curiously that same ejected debris failed to ignite either of the adjacent buildings.  

Crazy, isn't it? When the official explanation endorsed by US architects and engineers and college professors is that the WTC weakened and fell from the effects of a fuel fire. When I explained to one top engineer---and sadly you almost have to take many top US engineers by the hand and explain rudimentary science to them--that an air-starved fuel fire may indeed HEAT steel beams but they cannot melt structural steel, he sidestepped the scientific fact.

And yet, for some inexplicable reason, many professionals observed molten metal weeks later beneath the pile. I asked this expert how to account for this anomaly and he became angry and spoke of gravity and mass but sidestepped the question.

Think of it another way. If you could take that red hot knife, the proverbial one that cuts through butter, and drop it on the floor, and weeks later observe a pool of molten metal, what does that tell you? Either the metal was incredibly soft or something else melted it. I doubt the metal becomes much hotter in the fall. Either the US engineers build skyscrapers badly---incompetents---or else they are lying about what wrecked the WTC because they are too afraid to speak out.

Case For Cowardice

I prefer to believe the latter. Most US engineers are talented professionals but too cowardly to defend their designs. But perhaps there is hope for the next generation.

"Given ideal temperatures (which the conditions of the WTC fires didn't allow), and a low-grade of steel (which the WTC steel wasn't), there is no way that steel can melt as a result of burning aircraft jet fuel. It has been observed that the fires in the WTC buildings were oxygen-starved within tens of minutes of the initial collision, essentially creating a low-temperature office-building fire," Wrote recent University of Illinois engineer, Adam Stevens. (see corroborating photo).

"The buildings stood strong, and the impact of the airplanes did not seriously affect their overall structural integrity," added Stevens. "There was some plastic deformation of the steel, but the forces holding up the skyscrapers were redistributed among the well-designed grid of steel."

Thank you, Adam, for explaining things clearly, as your learned professors appear unable---or unwilling to do.

The World Trade Center was a strong, over-built edifice, an award-winning design, and no amount of fudging can sidestep the facts. One investigator--and it seems like everyone in America EXCEPT structural engineers is seeking answers to the collapse--noted the 110 story towers, weighing 500,000 tons each, won many prestigious awards, from the VERY SAME ENGINEERS WHO NOW PROCLAIM ITS FLAWED DESIGN & FRAILTY!

Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement, 1971,

American Society of Civil Engineers.

Honor Award for Engineering Excellence,

Consulting Engineers Council of the United States.

Grand Award for Engineering Excellence,

New York Association of Consulting Engineers.

Apparently the Twin Towers were indeed "Modern Marvels," engineering masterpieces, constructed with load-bearing redundancies many times over. Engineered to withstand Category 5 hurricanes and designed to absorb the impact of a fuel-laden Boeing jumbo jet. Apparently the towers were far stronger than the average American skyscraper or why would they have won so many awards?

Or were US engineers and architects lying to us THEN and telling us the truth NOW? Perhaps top US engineers have been exposed finally as frauds: massive engineering incompetence caused the sudden collapses. Perhaps engineers lied to us about their buildings then. The awards were fake. The accolades false. The structures really were glistening houses of cards.

But most of us prefer to believe otherwise. The towers were far stronger than the so-called professionals who malign them now. The towers were worthy of the awards. They were worthy of the trust firefighter put in them.

"Within each trade tower there were 47 steel columns at the core and 240 perimeter steel beams. 287 steel-columns in total. According to the official story, random spread out fires on different floors caused all these columns to totally collapse at the same time and at a free fall speed, with no resistance from undamaged parts of the structure." wrote Steve Watson.

But, inexplicably, once the collapse of the Twin Towers began, the uppermost structure of the building began to erupt like a volcano. Study the photographs. The ejected material looks like a mushroom cloud.

Where are the top US structural engineers to explain what happened? Are we to believe that American architects and engineers are merely incompetent FRAUDS?

"A thorough examination of the debris of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings reveals further evidence of massive power and heat--a thermonuclear blast," wrote Ed Ward. "WTC 1 - 110 stories tall - debris pile 6 stories with a 30 feet crater surrounding it. WTC 2 - 110 stories tall - debris pile 6 stories high with a 30 feet crater surrounding it."

"WTC 6 was 8 stories high. The total height of its central debris of the crater was about 30 to 50 feet BELOW (emphasis mine) sea level and about 120 feet wide. Eight stories of building collapses and leaves a hole at least 30 feet deep."

Puzzled, I wrote to numerous American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) members and received not one response.

I wrote to many professionals who peer-reviewed "Why Did The World Trade Center Collapse--Simple Analysis." I posed these simple questions to, among others, the author of that report, professor Zdenek Bazant.

If the WTC fell at near gravitational speed, WHAT does that tell us about ASCE-designed building? And HOW can asymmetrical damage and a few scattered fires at the WTC-7 cause a symmetrical collapse of the building in 6.5 seconds? Especially a building reinforced with more than 375 tons of steel requiring 12 miles of welding, as WTC-7 was, and straddling an electrical power station. Are we to believe that all ASCE designed buildings straddling power stations must be built weaker, not stronger than surrounding buildings, none of which collapsed?

Also I hoped one or more of these "top experts" could explain these crucial elements. Explain WHY No WTC-7 steel was recovered or analyzed. WHY No unprocessed, intact floor trusses were recovered or analyzed. WHY No testing for explosives (or sulfidation or other residue of any kind) was performed. WHY Only 12 total core columns were recovered from WTC-1 & WTC-2 combined. WHY of the recovered core pieces, none showed exposure to temperatures in excess of 250 C. WHY of 170 examined areas on the perimeter column panels, only three showed exposure to temperatures in excess of 250 C and for one of these three forensic evidence indicated that the high temperature exposure occurred AFTER the collapse. WHY No recovered steel showed any evidence of exposure to temperatures above 600 C for any significant time.

I waited weeks. And like the earnest members of AnnArbor911, I never received a single response to my questions either.

Are all ASCE designed buildings weak and prone to sudden collapse? No. Only a fool would believe that. I prefer to believe that US buildings are among the BEST DESIGNED, BEST CONSTRUCTED buildings in the world. I prefer to believe the fault lies NOT in the builders or the buildings but with the cowards who call themselves professionals but fail to defend the designs or their fellow designers.


When that commercial fishing boat, Andrea Gail disappeared off new England, professional fishermen everywhere wanted to know exactly what happened and how it happened. Nobody tried to hide the flaws or deny the possibility of blame for the design changes on the lost boat. Unlike professional engineers, we professional fisherman have the courage to face the truth because we face the possibility of death everyday. Apparently many ASCE members are gutless cowards, too afraid to look at the evidence objectively, too afraid to speak up, too afraid even to defend the designs and the work of their colleagues.

I hope to hear from some young engineering students. I want to ask them if they have ever confronted their professors about the quastions I've raised and whether the answer(s) they received were satisfactory. Especially about those pools of molten metal and the sudden collapse of WTC-7. Confronting your professor may risk a good grade but you will be a better patriot for it.

Longtime Alaska commercial fisherman and former USAF veteran, Douglas Herman, writes regularly for Rense.



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