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V 1.43
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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

Owner's Admission?

Silverstein's Apparent Admission that Building 7 was Demolished

Larry Silverstein, the controller of Building 7, the third skyscraper to totally collapse on 9/11/01, gave an interview, portions of which were reproduced in a PBS documentary aired on September 10, 2002, entitled America Rebuilds. The story that Silverstein assented to the demolition of WTC 7, based on an excerpt from the interview, has been widely circulated on websites, books, and videos. This page first recounts that story, in much the same form as it appeared on earlier versions of this page, and then proceeds to examine the issue in greater depth.


'Pull it' as Demolition Admission

Silverstein apparently admitted that the building was deliberately demolished by the New York City Fire Department late in the afternoon.

Silverstein's alleded admission consists of his following on-camera statements shown in America Rebuilds.

I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, "We've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it." And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse. 1  

What does Silverstein mean by "the decision to pull" Building 7? Many observers have suggested that a later passage in the same documentary indicates that, in this context, "pull" means to destroy a building through controlled demolition. In preparation for the controlled demolition of irreparably damaged Building 6, a Ground Zero worker says

... we're getting ready to pull the Building Six.

An alternative explanation for Silverstein's remark is that he was referring to a decision to "pull" firefighting operations in Building 7. That explanation is advanced in a September 9, 2005 statement issued by Stilverstein Properties spokesperson Mr. Dara McQuillan:

Seven World Trade Center collapsed at 5:20 p.m. on September 11, 2001, after burning for seven hours. There were no casualties, thanks to the heroism of the Fire Department and the work of Silverstein Properties employees who evacuated tenants from the building.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a thorough investigation of the collapse of all the World Trade Center buildings. The FEMA report concluded that the collapse of Seven World Trade Center was a direct result of fires triggered by debris from the collapse of WTC Tower 1.

In the afternoon of September 11, Mr. Silverstein spoke to the Fire Department Commander on site at Seven World Trade Center. The Commander told Mr. Silverstein that there were several firefighters in the building working to contain the fires. Mr. Silverstein expressed his view that the most important thing was to protect the safety of those firefighters, including, if necessary, to have them withdraw from the building.

Later in the day, the Fire Commander ordered his firefighters out of the building and at 5:20 p.m. the building collapsed. No lives were lost at Seven World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. 2  

However, there are several problems with this explanation.

  • According to Chapter 5 of FEMA's Building Performance Study , firefighters were never in the building: "Preliminary indications were that, due to lack of water, no manual firefighting actions were taken by FDNY."
  • Silverstein's statement implies a close temporal proximity between "that decision to pull" and "watch[ing] the building collapse," giving no time for the fires to become more severe and do what fires have never before done: cause the total collapse of a steel-frame high-rise.

Of course there are even greater problems with the implication that Silverstein and the FDNY decided to demolish the building only after the attack on the Twin Towers.

  • Rigging a building for controlled demolition normally takes weeks of preparation -- far longer than the at most a few hours between the determination that "they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire," and the 5:20 PM collapse of the building.
  • The building had several areas of fire -- hardly conditions under which a demolitions team could be expected to lay high explosives.

However, if we imagine that the "decision to pull" had been made before 9/11/01, Silverstein's comment makes more sense as an admission that there had been a deliberate decision to demolish the building.

A Closer Look

Although many people are convinced that Silverstein's statement is an admission that he and the fire department commander conspired to demolish the building, the statement fails to support a case for such a crime.

A more sophisticated interpretation of Silverstein's comment is that it is bait, eliciting the widespread circulation of an interpretation that is easily denied if not refuted. While failing to provide substantial evidence for the controlled demolition of WTC 7, the story has functioned to eclipse the overwhelming case for demolition based on the physical characteristics of the collapse documented in photographs and videos of the event and the rubble pile that resulted. Those visual documents establish that the building's collapse was an implosion exhibiting all of the features of a standard controlled demolition, including:

  • Very rapid speed of fall
  • Symmetric collapse around its vertical axis
  • Production of large quantities of dust
  • Collapse into a small, consolidated rubble pile, with exterior walls lying on top


1. America Rebuilds, PBS, 9/10/02
2. 9/11 Revealed? New book repeats false conspiracy theories, usinfo.state.gov,

page last modified: 2015-04-29