Reply to Protec's
A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE COLLAPSE OF WTC TOWERS 1, 2 & 7
FROM AN EXPLOSIVES AND CONVENTIONAL DEMOLITION INDUSTRY VIEWPOINT
by Jim Hoffman
The article critiqued here,
A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE COLLAPSE OF WTC TOWERS 1, 2 & 7
FROM AN EXPLOSIVES AND CONVENTIONAL DEMOLITION INDUSTRY VIEWPOINT
is one of several technical articles defending
official explanations of the total collapses of the World Trade Center towers
published shortly before the fifth anniversary of the
Following publication of Blanchard's article,
The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Whereas NIST relies heavily on the straw-man technique,
primarily highlighting claims based on fallacies,
Blanchard appears to address several serious arguments
against the official explanations.
However, he fails to articulate these arguments
and skirts them with replies laced with fallacies.
Blanchard's article, published on August 8, 2006,
may have grown out of inquiries such as
this letter by Greg Henricks.
Summary -- Blanchard's Methods
Blanchard uses a dozen paragraphs to establish his expertise,
touting Protec as
"one of the world's most knowledgeable independent authorities
on explosive demolition."
Showcasing his specialized knowledge of demolition
and repeatedly referring to evidence unavailable to the public,
Blanchard implies that his understanding about the destruction of
the WTC towers outweighs that of non-experts.
However, because these events display so many obvious characteristics
of controlled demolitions,
many individuals reject the official story of gravity-driven collapses
based on simple intuition.
Blanchard avoids discussing most of those features
(the thorough pulverization, explosiveness, and rapidity
of the Twin Towers' destruction)
and instead appears to address two of the features
(symmetry and jets of dust)
but with only muddled and convoluted explanations.
Despite his self-proclaimed expertise,
Blanchard fails to debunk
any substantial arguments for controlled demolition of the WTC towers.
His arguments amount to a series of fallacies
wrapped in appeals to authority and reinforced with pretentious language.
Implying All Demolitions Must Be Engineered the Same Way
Blanchard's primary mislead is to imply that
any controlled demolition would have to be engineered
in the same fashion that he has witnessed in commercial demolitions.
He never explicitly acknowledges this,
but he repeatedly reinforces it,
exploiting people's tendency to defer to experts.
In fact, it is quite easy to destroy structures
when constraints of economy and safety are eliminated:
blowing things up is much easier than imploding them.
But Blanchard would have you believe, for example,
that it is impossible to destroy a building's columns
without the labor-intensive procedure of "pre-burning."
I doubt that members of combat demolition units
bother with such procedures when they blow up buildings.
The key tenet of Blanchard's denial of WTC controlled demolition
is thus the unacknowledged assumption
that all demolitions have to be engineered in the same way
as those designed to implode buildings with minimal collateral damage.
His reliance on a stealth assumption is reminiscent of the NIST Report,
which hides its failure to explain the total collapses of the Twin Towers
behind the idea that
"collapse initiation" automatically leads to "global collapse"
-- an assumption that runs counter to all experience
and defies experimental verification.
Wrapping Himself in "Scientific" Phrases
Blanchard is fond of the word scientific,
as he uses the word in phrases seven times:
"scientific principles of gravity, explosives, and structural failure,"
"purely scientific view of each event,"
"scientific evidence that explosives were not used,"
"only scientifically legitimate way to ascertain if explosives were used," and
"the scientific principles of explosive initiation and of structural failure."
In fact, Blanchard's treatment of the issues he addresses is
anything but scientific. Blanchard:
- Provides no evidence to support most of his assertions.
- Repeatedly invokes a privileged body of evidence
and ignores the vast body of public evidence.
- Excludes possibilities out of hand,
cherry-picking a few issues to address.
- Relies on flat denials, such as his assertion that
there is no evidence of explosives use.
- Exploits fallacies such as appeals to authority
and appeals to prejudice.
- Promotes common misconceptions,
such as that demolitions must proceed from the ground up.
Confusing Evidence for Explosives with Evidence for Demolition
Blanchard makes repeated assertions that there is no evidence of explosives.
That is arguable,
given the unexplained sulfidation of steel,
multiple fingerprints of aluminothermics in Ground Zero samples,
and multiple and abundant evidence of high blast pressures
that are difficult to explain absent high explosives.
More important, Blanchard's denials
serve to confuse the distinct issues of
evidence of explosives and evidence of demolition.
If the WTC towers were not felled by natural collapses,
then their destruction must have been engineered --
ie: subjected to controlled demolition.
Thus, arguments that contradict the possibility of natural collapses
imply the use of controlled demolitions,
while implying nothing about how they were engineered,
and indeed the possibilities are endless.
Blanchard's use of the phrases
"physical evidence relating to explosives" and
"physical evidence indicating explosives"
implies that only physical artifacts,
such as samples containing residues of known explosives,
constitute physical evidence.
However, the vast public bodies of photographs and video recordings
of the each towers' destruction
are physical evidence that can be used to make quantitative measurements
about the global features such as
symmetry, rates of fall, rates of expansion, and trajectories of rubble.
Such features are the basis for arguments for demolition
quite apart from specific theories involving explosives.
Blanchard's denials of evidence of explosives, even if correct,
do nothing to address those arguments.
Table of Contents -- Nine Assertions Blanchard Attempts to Debunk
Original Article -- With Added Commentary
A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE COLLAPSE OF WTC TOWERS 1, 2 & 7 FROM
AN EXPLOSIVES AND CONVENTIONAL DEMOLITION INDUSTRY VIEWPOINT
By Brent Blanchard, August 8, 2006, c-2006
of this analysis is to explore the possibility of explosives or similar
supplemental catalysts causing or contributing to the collapse of World Trade
Center Towers 1, 2 and 7 in New York on September 11, 2001 through examination
of known facts as they relate to
scientific principles of gravity, explosives, and structural failure. To our
knowledge, this is the first analysis conducted by experts in the field of
explosive demolition, as well as the first with observations and commentary
from personnel directly responsible for the removal of debris from Ground Zero.
that do not relate to such analysis –
and thus receive no practical
consideration here – include:
- Who owned the buildings
- Who insured the buildings
- What types of documents were stored in the buildings
- Motives for destroying the buildings
The significance of the above points (among countless others) can be debated
forever, but none relate to the specific actions required to execute a
successful explosive demolition.
Nor will we
be rendering opinions on the NIST, FEMA or 9/11 Commission Reports,
as they did not make specific comments regarding explosives.
commented on the issue
in its Final Report on the Twin Towers,
published in September of 2005, almost a year before Blanchard's article.
It is further acknowledged that many family members of WTC victims
have embraced – and in some cases aligned with –
those who question the “official” version of events that
occurred on 9/11. This report will not, nor is it intended to, address the much
wider scope of unanswered questions regarding those events. Rather this is a
reasoned, factual analysis of a
single group of questions and allegations that fall within our specific area of
expertise. To that end, we hope this report will be of benefit to all
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
is authored by Brent Blanchard, Senior Editor for Implosionworld.com and
Director of Field Operations at Protec Documentation Services, Inc.
(www.protecservices.com), Rancocas, New Jersey.
Additional contributions and research assistance was provided by Protec
employees Earl Gardner, Gary McGeever, Michael Golden and John Golden.
Protec is one
of the world’s most knowledgeable independent authorities on explosive
demolition, having performed engineering studies, structure analysis,
vibration/air overpressure monitoring and photographic services on well over
1,000 structure blasting events in more than 30 countries. These include the
current world record-holders for largest, tallest and most buildings demolished
with explosives. Protec regularly documents the work of more than 20 explosives
contractors who perform structure blasting as a primary source of revenue
(including extensive experience with every American company) as well as dozens
more who blast structures in a part-time capacity.
above, Protec possesses several additional types of data and experience that
place the firm in a unique position to analyze and comment on this event:
Protec technicians were operating
portable field seismographs at several construction sites in
Manhattan on 9/11. These seismographs recorded the events
at Ground Zero, including the collapse of all three structures. These
measurements, combined with seismic and airblast data recorded by other
independent entities, provide an unfiltered, purely scientific view of each
In the weeks following 9/11, several Protec building inspectors and staff
photographers, including this author, were contracted by demolition teams to
document the deconstruction and debris removal processes at Ground Zero.
These processes included the mechanical pull-down of the remains of the U.S.
Customs Building (WTC 6) and various other activities occurring simultaneously
throughout the site. Our teams took thousands of photographs and personally
examined untold amounts of debris, including countless structural elements from
WTC 1 and 2. While these photographs and video recordings were not originally
intended to specifically prove or disprove evidence of explosive demolition,
they do provide substantial visual evidence that relates directly to this
analysis and place us in a position to speak first-hand of conditions on site
rather than relying on outside testimony or hearsay.
Protec has been given access to thousands of personal photographs
taken by laborers and site foremen employed by the demolition companies
responsible for deconstructing the Ground Zero site. The companies include
Tully Construction, D.H. Griffin Wrecking, Mazzocchi Wrecking, Yannuzzi
Demolition, Gateway Demolition and Manafort Brothers. (Any other demolition
company claiming to have worked on the Ground Zero site either worked under the
supervision of one of these firms or is misrepresenting their participation.)
In addition, Protec documented the only public discussion
of the 9/11 clean-up attended by all of the demolition teams
(National Demolition Association Convention, Orlando, Florida, 4/22/03).
While the original intent of Protec’s two-hour video was to archive
the unprecedented challenges faced by these teams, various questions and
commentary from the speakers are relevant to this analysis.
Because building implosions are often promoted as live news events,
Protec’s offices are equipped to record multiple
television broadcasts at all times. Our company’s archived recordings
of original news broadcasts from the morning of
9/11 begin well prior to the collapse of the first tower and continue
uninterrupted beyond the collapse of WTC 7. These original unedited
recordings have allowed us to compare and scrutinize the collapse of all three
structures free from any possibility of image tampering or modification. In
addition, we have examined dozens of freelance and amateur video recordings
incorporated into various documentary programs chronicling 9/11 and studied
countless ground-based and aerial images captured by private, press and
Blanchard boasts about the volumes of evidence that supposedly supports
Protec's alleged investigation, but he doesn't let you, the reader,
see any of that evidence.
Blanchard's approach contrasts with that of 9-11 Research,
which is to publish every piece of evidence we can find.
That body of evidence includes large collections of
of the WTC Towers' construction, aircraft impacts,
fires, explosive destruction, and remains
of the destruction of the Twin Towers and WTC 7
- scientific papers, official investigations, and press reports
referenced throughout the website
Protec and its
employees have not been paid or hired by anyone to analyze this event, nor do
we possess any political affiliations or contribute to any political party or
individuals. We have undertaken this endeavor entirely at our own expense,
with the singular goal of facilitating constructive dialog
and providing a factual voice of reason to our friends and associates
who were affected by the attack.
Protec's not having been paid to produce this article doesn't
mean that it lacks conflicts of interest.
As a Ground Zero contractor and likely recipient of other contracts
from corporations and government entities
that have an interest in maintaining the official story,
Protec and its employees are hardly disinterested parties.
A final note:
Before releasing this report, we reviewed every paragraph and tried to simplify
the verbiage and technical vernacular as much as possible. Our thinking is the
more people who understand this analysis, the more benefit it might provide. It
is given that each of the points below could (and likely will) be extrapolated
upon in far greater detail by others, however the intent here is to offer our
comments as succinctly and cohesively as possible.
collapse looked exactly like explosive demolitions.”
PROTEC COMMENT: No they didn’t. It’s the “where.”
Blanchard exploits a common misconception --
that because demolitions are usually engineered to proceed from the ground up,
all demolitions would necessarily have to be engineered that way.
This is of course false, since explosive charges could be
placed anywhere in a building and detonated in any order desired.
Obviously, the demolitions of the Twin Towers,
being designed to support the official narrative of events,
started from around the crash zones.
When discussing similarities between the towers’
collapse and an explosive
demolition, many people overlook the single question most central to any
objective investigation. It is not “how” or “when”
the buildings failed, but “where” they failed.
That answer holds the key to understanding almost
everything that occurred at Ground Zero.
Blanchard wants you to dismiss the "how" and "when",
and only focus on the point that he chooses to address.
Any scientific investigation would consider all aspects of the event
rather than cherry-pick certain ones and dismiss others out of hand.
inception in the late 1800s, blasting engineers have understood that building
implosions work best when the forces of gravity are maximized. This is why
blasters always concentrate their efforts on the lowest floors of a structure.
While smaller supplemental charges can be placed on upper floors to facilitate
breakage and maximize control as the structure collapses, every implosion ever
performed has followed the basic model of obliterating structural supports on
the bottom few floors first, “to get the structure moving.”
Since the Towers' demolitions had to start from around the crash zones,
the planners would not have been able to exploit the vast majority
of each Tower's mass to aid the destruction.
Thus they would have had to use much greater quantities of explosives than
are typical in demolitions, exploding the Towers rather than imploding them.
This was not
the case with the collapse of Towers 1 and 2. Close examination of these events
from every video and photographic angle available does not indicate failure
originating from the lowest floors, rather clearly shows each building
beginning to fail at precisely the point where the respective planes struck.
That is, no floors above or below the impact points
ever move until the structural elements within the impact zone
begin to collapse (WTC 7 collapsed differently, which we will cover later).
Furthermore, there are no independent failures present
while the structures are collapsing
(we’re not talking dust plumes or debris, but actual structural failure).
All lower floors remained completely intact until they were consumed by the
collapse from above.
Because countless images confirm this assessment and none contradict it,
we believe this fact to be visually indisputable.
Contrary to Blanchard's assertion that initial structural failures occurred
at "precisely the point where the respective planes struck,"
the visual records show that in both Towers,
structures were shattered well above the crash zones
before they moved downward into structures below the crash zones.
early breakup of the South Tower's top
is particularly apparent.
for explosives to be considered as a primary or supplemental catalyst, one
would have to accept that either, a) dozens of charges were placed on those
exact impact floors in advance and survived the violent initial explosions and
1100+ degree Fahrenheit fires, or b) while the fires were burning, charges were
installed undetected throughout the impact floors and wired together,
ostensibly by people hiding in the buildings with boxes of explosives.
There is no third choice that could adequately explain explosives causing
failure at the exact impact points.
The chemical properties of explosives and their reaction to heat render
scenario A scientifically impossible and scenario B remarkably unlikely,
as we know of no explosive compound that could withstand such force
and/or heat without detaching from the columns or simply burning off
prior to detonation.
Multiple fallacies in Blanchard's assertions are explicated by the
9-11 Research demolition FAQ
Scenario A is absurd, and scenario B is based on the false
assertion that the failures started
"precisely the point where the respective planes struck."
There are an infinite number of possible ways that the demolitions
could have been designed,
many of them easily compatible with the plane crashes.
Blanchard makes the unscientific assertion that there is only
one method of accomplishing the task.
other problems with both scenarios: Given the consistent weight distribution
around the outer perimeter of each structure, one would have needed access to
a prohibitively large quantity of load-bearing I-beam columns
to allow “cutter charges” to initiate failure.
Those columns would have needed extensive preparation,
also known as “pre-burning”, to allow the explosives to perform
their function. And in order to prepare the columns you first had to be able to
see the columns, which means at least partially removing the outer-perimeter
interior walls of all blast floors, including furniture, plumbing and conduit
lines, insulation, etc.
Blanchard's objections are answered by the
9-11 Research demolition FAQ
which describes demolition methods whose preparation would not have required
physically accessing the perimeter columns,
such as those using thermobaric devices installed only in the Towers' cores.
Blanchard's assertion that "pre-burning" is necessary in any demolition
is another example of his attempt to mislead the reader into
believing that only one method of demolition is possible.
Issues of safety and economy, such as minimizing dust production,
are central factors in the design requirements of normal demolitions.
Such issues would not necessarily constrain a demolition whose primary
purpose was to annihilate a New York City icon in a shock-and-awe display.
Thus, the need for the preparations described by Blanchard,
such as "pre-burning," become moot:
the desired outcome could be achieved
through the use of greater quantities of explosives,
which would obviate the need to place the charges
directly against exterior columns.
Note that Blanchard mentions only I-beam columns.
Is he unaware that all of the Twin Towers' perimeter columns and
all but the top stories of their core columns were box columns,
not I-beam columns?
All of this would have been performed within the 55 minutes between
plane impact and collapse – working in an environment
of unspeakable heat and destruction – or
have been performed completely undetected, in advance, on multiple floors in
both buildings, while suffering no adverse effects from the planes’
impact with these same areas.
This is impossible.
The idea that the Towers were rigged for demolition after the plane crashes
is ludicrous and not entertained by any serious researcher.
Blanchard's use of this point is a straw-man argument.
“But they fell straight down into their own footprint.”
PROTEC COMMENT: They did not.
They followed the path of least resistance, and there was a lot of resistance.
Path of least
Blanchard's attempt to turn the reality of the events --
that the destruction followed the path of most
on its head, is an example of
his sleight-of-hand technique used throughout the article.
The fact that the destruction of each Towers proceeded straight down
its vertical axes,
systematically destroying 80 or 95 stories
of cold, intact, steel structure, means, by definition,
that the events followed the paths of most
Blanchard avoids that fact by only addressing the debris falling
outside of the Towers' footprints.
There are several proofs of demolition implicit in this behavior,
If there was "a lot of resistance" to rubble falling through the Towers
(as there would have to be if the rubble was crushing the Towers
without the aid of demolition)
then that resistance should have slowed the descent of that rubble
much more than air slowed the descent of rubble falling outside the Towers.
However, as the visual records clearly show,
disappeared inside of the exploding rubble clouds
at about the same rate as the rubble clouds raced to the ground.
The fact that both events became more symmetrical as they proceeded
implies that they were engineered,
since natural processes become less symmetric over time.
This is especially obvious in the case of the South Tower,
the rotation of whose top slowed
as it disappeared into the rubble cloud.
Any discussion of how the towers fell on 9/11 requires a fundamental
of how buildings collapse and an examination of the damage inflicted upon
adjacent structures that morning.
A tall office
building cannot be made to tip over like a tree. Reinforced concrete
smokestacks and industrial towers can, due to their small footprint and
inherently monolithic properties. However, because typical human-inhabited
buildings (and their supporting elements) are spread over a larger area and are
not nearly as rigid, the laws of gravity cause them to begin collapsing
downward upon being weakened or tipped off center to a certain point.
Blasters are well aware of this and often rely on this principle in designing
upper-floor charge patterns to maximize breakage and in predicting
debris drop zones.
Blanchard's assertion about how tall office buildings would fall
is contradicted by all available evidence.
Except for the alleged cases of the WTC towers,
no skyscraper of more than 40 stories has ever collapsed
for any reason other than controlled demolition.
Unplanned collapses of smaller steel-framed high-rise buildings
have only been caused by severe earthquakes,
and in all documented cases either the collapses were limited
to a few floors, or
the buildings toppled
of towers 1 and 2 followed this principle exactly. When the impact floors of
both towers eventually failed, the upper sections did not simply tumble
over onto the street below, rather they tilted while simultaneously collapsing
If Blanchard's principle were real and could account for
the symmetrical collapse of the Towers, we should have seen
the buildings collapse downward, not explode outward.
difference between these two collapses and a typical building implosion was
that the initial failures occurred very high up on the structures, which lead
to an extended-duration “pancake” effect down to the ground.
With the weight
and mass of the upper sections forcing the floor trusses below rapidly
downward, there was no way for outer perimeter walls to fall in,
so they had to fall out. A review of all
photographic images clearly show about 95% of falling debris being forced away
from the footprint of the structure, creating a giant “mushroom”
effect around its perimeter.
Here, Blanchard admits that the Towers mushroomed,
with 95% of the debris falling outside the footprints.
But that being the case invalidates the official account --
NIST's version of it
-- in which the "tremendous energy of the falling building section"
is supposed to have crushed the buildings from the crash zones down.
With the vast majority of rubble falling outside of the Tower,
where is this alleged
The visual records show no evidence of the
"falling building section" after the first three seconds of each event,
only exploding clouds of dust and metal fragments.
As we now
know, significant amounts of heavy structural debris rained down for blocks
around the site. Many of the closest WTC buildings were completely destroyed
and others heavily damaged. Predictably, the north tower’s collapse
caused slightly more ancillary damage than the south tower,
as its impact point was higher and thus a larger volume of debris
was projected farther from its footprint.
Video of the north tower collapse clearly shows a roughly 50-story
tall section of the building shearing away intact and laying out towards the
west, heavily damaging the American Express Building
and others on the adjacent block.
Aerial photos taken just after both collapses
show massive volumes of debris that impacted WTC 7 (and other buildings to the
north), the effects of which were directly responsible for the intense fires
within that structure.
What video shows a
"50-story tall section of the [North Tower] shearing away intact"
and what aerial photos show
"massive volumes of debris that impacted WTC 7"?
As with the rest of the assertions that fill Blanchard's article,
the reader is apparently expected to just take his word for it.
indicate that a relatively small amount of structural support debris actually
landed straight down within the towers’ footprints, making this event
notably dissimilar to a planned demolition event.
The fact that the Towers exploded outward rather than imploded inward,
is evidence for, not against, demolition.
Implosion requires limiting the quantities of explosives used
to avoid throwing debris outwards.
The fact that debris was hurled from the Towers in all directions
up to 500 feet is direct evidence of powerful explosives.
The fact that the Towers were shredded and pulverized to a far greater
extent than is typical in controlled demolitions
corroborates the conclusion that their demolition involved
far greater quantities of explosives than typical demolitions.
“But explosive charges (aka plumes, squibs, etc.) can clearly be seen
shooting from several floors just prior to collapse.”
PROTEC COMMENT: No, air and debris can be seen pushing violently outward,
which is a natural and predictable effect of rapid structural collapse.
Blanchard's assertion that the jets of dust are a
"natural and predictable effect of rapid structural collapse"
is belied by the fact that such features have never been
observed in a natural collapses,
but are almost universally observed in controlled demolition.
buildings are typically comprised of about 70% air and 30% structural elements
and contents. During any rapid collapse that air must be displaced in some
manner. Therefore when gravity makes a structure fall downward, the
air within the structure is propelled horizontally through windows, doorframes,
or any other path of least resistance.
Blanchard's description has little relationship to the documented events.
Steel assemblies catapulted outward hundreds of feet in all directions
attest to events that were explosive, not gravity-driven.
And rather than seeing air propelled through windows,
we see exploding clouds of thoroughly pulverized concrete
reaching about five times the width of the Towers
before reaching the ground.
In the case
of WTC 1 and 2, it has been scientifically documented that the failures of
interior floor trusses were occurring slightly ahead of exterior columns,
which is why the columns fell outward and contributed to a
Another side effect of this unequal progression was that air –
and various lightweight office contents – was forced out of windows
well below the visible collapse mechanism.
The amount of debris seen jettisoning from any given floor or window
was likely dependent on the condition of the windows, obstructions or furniture
blocking the windows, and the amount and weight of localized debris.
The existence of vacant and non-occupied mechanical floors
also likely affected the level or absence of expulsion in certain areas.
Where is the "scientific documentation" that
"failures of interior floor trusses were occurring slightly ahead
of exterior columns?"
Is Blanchard referring to FEMA's
of floor pancaking,
which is explicitly disavowed by NIST's subsequent
Again, it is important to note that neither building structurally failed
at any location where plumes were visible, nor did they fail at any
point in advance of the single gravitational collapse sequence.
Which tells us that the “plume” phenomenon witnessed
was a predictable effect that gravity dictates had to occur.
If structural failures were not occurring where the "plumes" were visible,
then what was causing the plumes? Didn't Blanchard just tell us
that it was structural failures of pancaking floors?
“Several credible eyewitnesses are adamant that they heard explosions in
or near the towers.”
PROTEC COMMENT: Maybe they did hear loud noises that sounded to them
like explosions, but such statements do nothing to refute scientific evidence
that explosives were not used.
Blanchard fails to produce any "scientific evidence"
that explosives were not used -- only a series of hollow denials
of scientific arguments that the Towers were not destroyed by
Arguing over who heard explosion-like noises,
when they heard them, how loud they were or from
what direction they came is a pointless exercise.
This is not to imply that any witness should be ridiculed or dismissed;
however, such subjective, highly interpretive statements do nothing to prove or disprove the presence of
explosives. Simply put, there are countless causes of sharp,
loud noises that have no relation to explosives.
The accounts of sounds and sights of explosions
at the onset of each Tower's destruction in these
excerpts from the oral histories of emergency responders
have a degree of corroboration and detail
that undermines Blanchard's description of them
as subjective and highly interpretive.
These witnesses described the sounds as pops or explosions,
not as the creaking, groaning, or tearing sounds one would expect
if the events were initiated by structural failures such as
columns buckling and floors collapsing.
scientifically legitimate way to ascertain if explosives were used is to
crossreference the fundamental characteristics of an explosive detonation
with independent ground vibration data recorded near Ground Zero on 9/11.
Fortunately, several seismographs were recording ground vibration that morning,
and perhaps more fortunately,
all available data is consistent and paints a clear picture.
The eyewitness reports of the sights and sounds of explosions marking
the onsets of each Tower's destruction
are abundantly corroborated by the visual records of those events.
Blanchard does not support his assertion
that demolition charges would necessarily generate
detectable ground vibrations.
His assertion contrasts with this description of the Alladin Hotel demolition:
But with the charges positioned above ground instead of within the crust ...
the Aladdin implosion didn't even register on the nearby seismograph
at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas,
according to geology professor Dave Weide.
Clearly, a demolition's seismic signature, like its other aspects,
is a function of its design.
Staggering the detonation of hundreds of charges over time
would minimize explosives-induced ground vibrations,
which would probably be eclipsed in any case by the relief of strain
as tens of thousands of tons of mass of the Towers' upper sections
were severed from their bases,
and by the much larger vibrations caused by rubble hitting the ground.
at Columbia University’s
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, recorded the collapses
of WTC 1, 2 and 7. This data was later released to the public and currently
appears on their website. Additionally, on 9/11 Protec field technicians were
utilizing portable field seismographs to
continuously record ground vibrations on several construction sites in
Manhattan and Brooklyn for liability purposes.
In all cases, these recordings indicate single
vibration events when the buildings collapsed. At no point during 9/11 were
independent or secondary vibration events documented by any seismograph,
and we are unaware of any entity possessing such data.
This is false.
Close examination of the
seismographs form the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
shows that small signals start about ten seconds before the large signals.
The graphic on the right shows a 20-second excerpt from the seismograph
that the observatory recorded for the South Tower's destruction.
Note the onset of a signal well above baseline about one quarter of
the way into the excerpt.
This evidence makes a compelling argument against explosive demolition.
The laws of physics dictate that any detonation powerful enough to defeat
steel columns would have transferred excess energy through those same columns
into the ground, and would certainly have been detected by at least one
of the monitors that were sensitive enough to record the structural collapses.
However, a detailed analysis of all available data reveals no presence of any
unusual or abnormal vibration events.
Blanchard's "compelling argument"
combines an unsupported assertion
(that charges would generate detectable seismic signals)
with supposed evidence that the reader can't see
(alleged seismic recordings possessed by Protec)
while ignoring public evidence that arguably indicates explosives
(seismic signals recorded at Palisades).
Wrapping his hollow argument in the pretentious language of
"detailed analysis" and the dictates of the "laws of physics"
makes it no more compelling.
“An explosive other than conventional dynamite or RDX was used…
a nondetonating compound such as thermite (aka thermate), which gets very
hot upon initiation and can basically ‘melt’ steel.
This can be proven by photographs of molten
steel taken at Ground Zero, the temperature and duration of underground fires,
and comments made by rescue workers.”
PROTEC COMMENT: We have come across no evidence to support this claim.
The evidence that Protec apparently failed to come across includes
showing temperatures above the melting point of aluminum
on the surface
of the rubble pile 5 days after the attack,
and a number of
of molten metal in the rubble pile.
This claim is
actually a loose connection of unrelated individual assertions,
therefore we must address them as such.
The vast majority of comments made by
rescue workers, city officials or various others not involved in the actual
demolition process at Ground Zero regarding the heat of underground fires or
“molten anything” (steel, aluminum, tin, composites, etc.)
are conjecture and
have no practical value in determining what types of materials were actually
burning and at what temperature. Most were simply never in a position to know,
and those that were have acknowledged that they don’t know for sure.
Here Blanchard transmutes witness statements about red-hot metal into
statements about something burning. Surely he knows the difference.
Obscuring the difference gives him an excuse to once again dismiss
unwanted evidence out of hand rather than actually accounting for it.
Metals glow with a color determined by temperature regardless
of their composition, so observations of red molten metal would
indicate temperatures of above 1000ºF.
Molten aluminum is ruled out because,
given its low emissivitiy and melting point,
it has a dull gray appearance.
a series of experiments
Steven Jones showed to be thoroughly untennable
explanations the orange-glowing material reported at Ground Zero
seen streeming from the South Tower
consisted of aluminum and/or hydrocarbon composites.
that we have examined purporting to show demolition equipment extracting
“molten steel” from the debris at Ground Zero are inconclusive
at best, and
most are inaccurate as described. Extracting various hot metallic compounds or
debris is one thing, but “molten steel beams” is quite another.
As a fundamental point,
if an excavator or grapple ever dug into a pile of molten
steel heated to excess of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit it would completely lose its
ability to function. At a minimum the hydraulics would immediately fail and its
moving parts would bond together or seize up. The heat would then quickly
transfer through the steel components of the excavator and there would be
concern for its operator. The photos we have reviewed on various websites do
not show any of this, and if anything, indicate that the underground fires -
while very hot – were not hot enough to melt steel.
In an effort to further research this
assertion, we spoke directly with equipment operators and site foremen who
personally extracted beams and debris from Ground Zero
(several of whom have requested anonymity to prevent harassment).
These men worked for independent companies in separate quadrants of the site,
and many were chosen due to their extensive experience with debris removal
following explosive demolition events. To a man,
they do not recall encountering molten structural steel beams, nor do they
recall seeing any evidence of pre-cutting or explosive severance of beams
at any point during debris removal activities.
How many foremen did Blanchard's investigators speak with? Two? Three?
Because Blanchard provides no details about this survey,
his summary of its results is meaningless.
The assertion that thermite played a
role in the towers’
collapse has been put forth by Stephen Jones, a Professor
at Brigham Young University.
This author spoke with Dr. Jones at length in February 2006, and we have
corresponded via email a few times since. As he has explained it, metallurgic
tests were conducted on two sections of steel beams that were saved for 9/11
memorials in the New York area.
These beams apparently tested positive for thermite, which led Dr. Jones
to conclude that thermite was used on 9/11 by unknown parties to compromise
support beams in WTC 1, 2 and 7. Dr. Jones acknowledges that his investigation
is still in the research phase and that questions regarding the viability of
his theory remain unanswered. For example, it is unknown how thermite’s
destructive process could have been applied and initiated simultaneously on so
many beams – in several buildings – undetected and/or under such
It is also unusual that no demolition personnel at any level
noticed telltale signs of thermite’s
degenerative “fingerprint” on any beams
during the eight months of debris removal.
And a verifiable chain of possession needs to be established
for the tested beams. Could they have been cut away from the debris pile
with acetylene torches, shears, or other potentially
contaminated equipment while on site?
Could they have been exposed to trace amounts of thermite
or other compounds while being handled, or in storage, or during the
transfer processes from Ground Zero to the memorial sites?
We do not know the answers, but these and many related questions
should be addressed if this assertion continues to be pursued.
Despite Blanchard's communications with Dr. Jones,
he fails to accurately describe the evidence that Jones cites
for the use of thermite. These include:
of FEMA's Building Performance Study,
which arguably does show
telltale signs of the "degenerative 'fingerprint'"
of thermite and/or thermate, such as
deep cavitation due to sulfidation and intergranular melting
Microscopic analysis of dust samples with a known chain of possession
Abundant potassium, manganese, and flourine in samples
of previously molten metal from the WTC site --
elements not abundant in structural steel but constituents of
accelerants used in aluminothermics
Footage of the South Tower broadcast live on ABC News
moments before its destruction,
a descending spout of orange material
and a rising plume of gray smoke
emanating from a point on the perimeter wall.
Thermite reactions produce molten iron (as glowing orange liquid)
and aluminum oxide (as gray smoke),
matching the observed event like a hand in a glove.
Blanchard's rebuttal to suggestions that thermite was used amount
to workability arguments addressed in the
9-11 Research demolition FAQ
“Debris removed from Ground Zero – particularly the large
steel columns from towers #1 and 2 – were quickly shipped overseas
to prevent independent examination or scrutiny.”
PROTEC COMMENT: Not according to those who handled the steel.
The large steel support members extracted from Ground Zero
were handled differently than other debris,
mostly because of their size and quantity (this type of initial separation
increases jobsite efficiency and is not unusual on demolition projects).
Most demolition jobsites are neither the site of a mass murder,
nor of totally unprecedented alleged structural failures
that contradict engineering history.
steel was extracted and/or cut away from other debris, it was piled in staging
areas just outside the work zone. These piles were then loaded onto trucks that
transported them a few blocks north to a secondary staging area on the
Hudson River. Cranes transferred the steel from the trucks onto barges,
which were shipped to Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island.
At this point it transferred into the control
of Yannuzzi Demolition, whose team was responsible for off-loading the barges
and storing the steel in an area separate from general debris arriving on other
barges. It was then examined and cataloged by a series of forensic
investigators, city officials and site
managers. Some time later (the timing varied due to logistical factors),
the steel was shipped off site to China.
The steel was placed under the control of a demolition company that obviously
did not have an interest in examining it as evidence in a crime,
and that company quickly shipped the steel off to China
where it could be melted down,
without examination by investigators,
except for the few cases documented in
Appendix D of FEMA's Building Performance Study
team can personally verify the Lower Manhattan
chain of possession, as we witnessed and documented this chain.
We then reviewed activities that occurred at Fresh
Kills by speaking with John Yannuzzi, President of Yannuzzi Demolition.
Our team also reviewed commentary made by Dennis Dannenfelser,
Yannuzzi’s Fresh Kills Site Supervisor,
who oversaw the entire operation from start to finish and spoke candidly
and extensively at the National Demolition Association’s
annual Convention in March 2003. According to all parties, the steel
went through the same series of steps as it
would have on any other demolition project, albeit on a larger scale and
with an increased presence of examiners. No one we spoke with perceived an
attempt to “rush” or hide the process, and to the opposite,
dozens if not hundreds of unrelated individuals – working for various
entities and possessing various types of expertise – came in close
contact with the steel over a period
of months before it was eventually shipped overseas. In consideration of these
first-hand experiences and interviews, and absent any dissenting commentary,
we can find nothing to support this assertion.
Blanchard's testimonial about his knowledge of the steel's chain of possession
does nothing to answer charges that the steel was disposed of
without proper forensic examination
or that the disposal constituted a criminal destruction of evidence.
Since Yannuzzi Demolition was contracted to recycle the steel
(and allowed to purchase it for a low price)
of course its employees wouldn't perceive a rush
in its expeditious shipping to China.
The steel was apparently not examined for explosive residues,
and the vast majority was recycled before the completion of
FEMA's investigation, whose final Report called for
"further research investigation and analysis"
to understand collapses, whose exact causes, it stated, remained
"unknown" at the time.
“WTC 7 was intentionally ‘pulled down’ with explosives.
No airplane hit it, and the building owner himself was quoted as saying
he made a decision to ‘pull it’.”
PROTEC COMMENT: This scenario is extremely unlikely for many reasons.
Blanchard uses a red-herring claim
to bracket his only discussion of claims
of the controlled demolition of WTC 7.
that the building was demolished functions here as elsewhere
to distract from the physical features of the building's
collapse that indicate controlled demolition:
Near free-fall speed of descent
Streamers of dust emerging from the facade
Totality, leaving no large assemblies intact
Symmetry, falling in a precisely vertical fashion
Since none of these features has ever been observed in the natural
collapse of a steel-framed building, and each is a signature
characteristic of controlled demolition,
each individually indicates controlled demolition.
Taken together, they constitute an overwhelming inductive
argument for controlled demolition.
assertion has taken several forms over the past few years and has developed
into a major point of discussion amongst conspiracy theorists. Most recently,
it was used as a cornerstone allegation on C-SPAN’S
national broadcast of a
9/11 symposium hosted by Mr. Alex Jones, an author and radio personality who is
highly critical of the government’s handling of 9/11.
a demolition standpoint, several aspects of this claim are problematic.
A building owner would never be in a position to dictate to fire personnel or
emergency workers whether his building should be “pulled”
or demolished. We
know of no case where command and control of a disaster scene has ever been
transferred to a private third party, much less a disaster of such scope. This
action would violate a number of ethical canons regarding the safety of
emergency responders and the general public, not to mention exposing those who
transferred and assumed such authority to substantial liability risks.
Therefore, even if such a statement was made on 9/11, it is highly doubtful
that the comment would have affected decisions at the scene.
We have never once heard the term “pull it” being used to refer
to the explosive demolition of a building,
and neither has any blast team we’ve spoken with. The
term is used in conventional demolition circles, to describe the specific
activity of attaching long cables to a pre-weakened building and maneuvering
heavy equipment (excavators, bulldozers, etc.) to “pull”
the frame of the
structure over onto its side for further dismantlement. This author and our
research team were on site when workers pulled over the six-story remains of
WTC-6 in late fall 2001, however we can say with certainty that a similar
operation would have been logistically impossible at Ground Zero on 9/11,
physically impossible for a building the size of WTC 7, and the structure did
not collapse in that manner anyway.
Any detonation of explosives within WTC 7 would have been detected by multiple
seismographs monitoring ground vibration in the general area
(see Assertion #4). No such telltale “spike”
or vibratory anomaly was recorded by any monitoring instrument.
Saying, “No airplane hit it”
implies the structure suffered minimal effects from the
planes crashing into the adjacent towers. In fact, nothing could be further
from the truth. Video and photographs of the north tower collapse clearly
depict substantial upper sections of the building falling outward and impacting
WTC buildings 6 and 7. This was not a glancing blow from extraneous material,
rather thousands of tons of steel girders falling directly into the building
from hundreds of feet above. WTC 7 sustained significant impact damage to its
southwest corner up to the 18-20th floor, or a little less than halfway up the
building. There was also significant damage to the building’s south face,
although dense smoke present in most photos hinders an exact assessment. Other
photos depict several lower floors fully involved in a large fire that either
began upon impact or shortly thereafter, and most experts point to the large
stockpile of diesel fuel stored in the basement as the likely catalyst.
Regardless of the fire’s origin, these
flames are clearly visible from all four sides of the structure. With most
local firefighting equipment destroyed and the search for survivors being of
primary concern, these intense fires were left to burn uncontrolled for more
than six hours, further compromising the already badly damaged structure. Given
these facts, any implication that WTC 7 was not substantially affected by the
original plane crashes is not accurate.
Several demolition teams had reached Ground Zero by 3:00pm on 9/11, and these
individuals witnessed the collapse of WTC 7 from within a few hundred feet of
the event. We have spoken with several who possess extensive experience in
explosive demolition, and all reported hearing or seeing nothing to indicate an
explosive detonation precipitating the collapse. As one eyewitness told us,
“We were all standing around helpless…we knew full well
it was going to collapse.
Everyone there knew. You gotta remember there was a lot of confusion and we
didn’t know if another plane was coming…but I never heard
explosions like demo charges. We knew with the damage to that building
and how hot the fire was,
that building was gonna go,
so we just waited, and a little later it went.”
Finally, we have not discovered or been
presented with any physical evidence indicating explosives were used to fell
Here as elsewhere,
Blanchard implies that only physical artifacts qualify as physical evidence.
To the contrary, photographs and videos of the event are physical evidence,
and they indicate demolition.
We do not
know exactly how or why WTC 7 fell when it did, and we decline to hypothesize
here. All we can offer is that, from a demolition and structural failure
standpoint, available data does not rule out the possibility of the building
collapsing as a direct result of the structural conditions detailed above.
“A steel-framed building has never collapsed due to fire, yet three steel
buildings collapsed on one day…therefore explosives must have been
PROTEC COMMENT: No, actually it means three steel buildings collapsed due
to fire (and violent external forces) on one day.
The above is an obvious non-sequitur.
Many unprecedented things happened on 9/11. To draw any specific relationship
between how many buildings were destroyed and the reason for their collapse
runs counter to logic and common sense.
No, to infer that a result was caused by a set of conditions,
when the engineering history provides no support for that inference,
runs counter to logic and common sense.
No steel-framed high-rise building has ever, before or since 9/11/01,
totally collapsed due to any combination of conditions involving
fire and structural damage,
and there are
of similar buildings being ravaged by fires much more
severe and long-lasting than those in the WTC towers.
Logically, this should lead one to be highly skeptical of the
official explanations, all of which are primarily fire theories.
The fact is, many steel structures have collapsed due to fire.
And as with those failures, the collapse of all three buildings
on 9/11 involved specific structural conditions.
Each failure displayed characteristics dissimilar to the other two,
and in no case have we come across evidence of explosives being present
or affecting any of those conditions.
Defenders of the official story have failed to produce even a single
example outside of 9/11/01 of a steel-framed high-rise building --
even one of faulty construction --
that has totally collapsed due to fires
or a combination of structural damage and fires,
Blanchard's vague assertion that
"many steel structures have collapsed due to fire"
These defenders are even harder pressed to find a precedent
that would give credence to the idea that a collapse event
could thoroughly shred a steel structure,
pulverize most of the non-metallic contents,
and leave a pile of rubble that smoked for months.
that explosives were used is intentionally ignoring or dismissing evidence
that doesn’t suit their conclusion.”
PROTEC COMMENT: Please…if anyone knows of specific physical evidence
relating to explosives being used in any manner on the Ground Zero site,
bring it to our attention.
The extensive visual record of the destruction of the Twin Towers and
Building 7 constitutes a body of physical evidence
with tremendous redundancy
supporting several independent proofs of controlled demolition.
As you have noticed,
most of our comments relate to the differences between what people
actually saw on 9/11 and what they would have seen had explosives been
present. Absent any evidence of explosives use, that is all we can offer
(well, that and noting how no evidence has surfaced during five years
of furious independent web investigations and intense media hubbub).
I have already documented how Blanchard unscientifically dismisses
the evidence that has surfaced.
Moreover, his statement implies a false equivalence between the
"independent web investigations" and a supposed "media hubbub."
To the extent that any such media hubbub has occurred at all:
It began only years after 9/11/01, after major media corporations
acknowledged losing substantial market share to small,
Internet-based sources of news and commentary.
It has used straw-man arguments and ad hominem attacks to smear
and discredit 9/11 skeptics -- quite the opposite of using
the massive financial resources at its disposal to help uncover
and publicize the evidence of WTC explosives.
Like Blanchard, it has dismissed or ignored the good evidence
for official complicity in 9/11, while highlighting the most absurd arguments,
all of which have long been debunked on 9-11 Research and its companion site,
As noted in the
to my critique of NIST's report,
the destruction of all three WTC towers exhibited six physical
features unique to controlled demolitions.
Blanchard simply ignores this evidence and the many arguments
for controlled demolition they support,
baldly asserting that there is "[no] evidence for explosives use."
Implicit in his denial is a confusion of
evidence for the use of specific explosives with
evidence for controlled demolition.
It also bears
repeating that the men and women who actually deconstructed and removed the
debris from Ground Zero were not part of a clandestine cartel of government
stooges working to obstruct justice. Rather this collection of several hundred
workers represented some of the country’s most
experienced and highly respected demolition veterans (recall the impressive
fact that no one was killed during the clean-up). Most quickly became consumed
by the project and worked on site from the first day to the last, stressing
marriages and families to the breaking point.
But their consistent presence –
combined with their vast collection of past experiences working on explosive
demolition projects – made them precisely the group of people
who would have been most likely to spot and call attention to abnormalities
in the debris had there been any.
The dedication and heroism of the Ground Zero workers has nothing to do
with charges that those managing the crime scene undertook
illegal and unethical suppression and destruction of evidence.
With all due respect to distinguished scholars and others alike,
it matters little whether Alex Jones is drawing parallels
to building implosions, Steven Jones is drawing
conclusions from hot metal
or Chuck Jones is drawing dynamite in the hands of Wile E. Coyote;
for assertions to be credible they must eventually comply with
the scientific principles of explosive initiation and of structural failure,
realistic judgments of probability, and indisputable visual evidence.
Thus far, every assertion we have investigated scores a resounding 0 for 3.
welcomes the opportunity to review additional data as it becomes available.
However barring any additional evidence, those making allegations similar to
the points above may do well to consider that sometimes “asking tough
questions” isn’t the biggest challenge; It’s accepting
the answers and decisively moving on to other areas that render
their contributions productive and valuable.
Having failed to articulate, let alone answer,
a single of the score of compelling arguments for the demolition
of the WTC skyscrapers,
Blanchard declares victory.