October 1, 2001 – September 11th began for me like most other business days. I had been in the office for almost an hour, catching up on what had happened in the markets overnight as well as reading my email and newspapers. As I finished a telephone call around 8:45am and hung up the receiver, I noticed on CNBC a fire in the north tower of the World Trade Center. I then watched the whole tragedy rapidly unfold.
About 9:05am the second plane went into the south tower. And then around 10:00am the south tower collapsed in what looked like a timed explosion. It was even reported that way on CNBC. The presenter, Mark Haynes, used the word “explosion” several times. Then after replaying the videotape, the CNBC presenter said that this tape would be important for “forensic” analysis, the implication clearly being that their camera had caught the explosion which caused the south tower to collapse. Then about 10:30am the north tower also collapsed in the same way, initiated by what first appeared to be an explosion near the top of the tower, and above the point of impact of the airplane.
These shots were taken by CNBC from their camera in New Jersey, looking at the WTC from across the Hudson River. It was a different camera angle than those shown on the major networks, which were using cameras in Manhattan and near the base of the towers. Subsequently, the possibility that bombs had been detonated in the WTC towers received little attention, but CNBC was not alone in its analysis of explosions in the two towers.
On September 19th TheWall Street Journal reported the view of a structural engineer who saw the second tower collapse. The article said:
“It appeared to me that charges had been placed in the building,” said Mr. Hamburger, chief structural engineer for ABS Consulting in Oakland, Calif. Upon learning that no bombs had been detonated, “I was very surprised,” said Mr. Hamburger.
The article went on to say the following:
By now it is accepted wisdom that the Twin Towers collapse was inevitable – the result of extraordinary trauma followed by extraordinary fire. But this was far from the initial reaction of the nation’s top structural engineers. The collapse of the two buildings stunned them. After all, other buildings had withstood trauma – earthquakes, for instance – akin to the assault by two 767 commercial jets. And despite the intense heat of the jet-fuel-fed flames that raged through the Twin Towers, fire protection experts said other skyscrapers had been subjected to flames as hot without collapsing.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted when it happened – that it happened at all, and that it happened in less than three or four hours,” said…Charles H. Thornton, an engineer and chairman of Thornton-Tomasetti Group, Inc, a New York structural engineering firm.
Is it possible that bombs had been placed in the WTC towers by the terrorists and that timed charges – like those used in a planned demolition of a building – caused the collapse?
Are we not getting the full story from the government? Does the government even know for certain whether or not bombs were used in the attack? We need to know the answers to these questions for two reasons.
First, if bombs were indeed used, the public should be made aware of how serious the terrorist threat really is. In other words, in addition to carrying out the simultaneously hijacking of four airplanes from three different airports, had the terrorists also managed to penetrate the security of the WTC and plant bombs there even before the planes hit? And then somehow detonate those bombs in a morbid and horrific display of power while national attention was fixed on the burning towers?
The second reason the above questions are important is to determine responsibility for the deaths of so many firefighters who rushed to the scene. If bombs were not the cause of the WTC collapse, were the towers structurally flawed?
As I see it, there are no other alternatives. Either there were bombs or the towers were structurally deficient. Otherwise, why did the New York Fire Department place at risk the lives of so many firefighters?
Clearly, the NYFD did not consider the collapse of the towers to be a realistic possibility. If the collapse of the towers had been a possibility, the firefighters would not have been sent in there. Firefighters are not put at that kind of risk. What’s more, not only would it have placed the firefighters at unconscionable risk, but also it slowed down the evacuation of the building as descending employees in the central stairways contended with firefighters climbing up into the building with their equipment.
There are some other issues that need to be addressed in the wake of this human tragedy. One of these is the abominable action of Congress, my opinion of which has fallen to a new low.
The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress only, not the President, who has declared war. So why has Congress failed in its Constitutional responsibility to maintain the checks-and-balances so important to the nature of our federal government? And if Congress didn’t want to declare war, why didn’t it instead use its other Constitutional powers “To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations”?
Lastly, how come no attention is being given in the media to why these acts of terrorism occurred in the first place? Before the origin of the terrorists was known, I was speaking on the telephone with a friend who asked whether they were from Iraq. I replied that no one knew yet, but commented that they could have been from there or any number of countries – Iran, Serbia, Somalia or a half-dozen other places where we’ve been sticking our nose where we have no business. We’ve become no different than the Romans. More people should be reading and learning from Gibbons account of their “Rise and Fall”.
America is supposed to be a Republic, not an Empire. But neither Congress nor the President gives the slightest heed to each other’s unconstitutional behavior. And the imperial presidency leads us even further astray. To demonstrate this point, is it not ironic that Bush has created a new government bureaucracy for ‘Homeland Defense’? After all, isn’t that what the Defense Department is supposed to be doing?
During the Cold War, one could reasonably argue that some military presence on the Soviet Union’s borders in Europe and Asia was helpful in the defense of America. However, that war ended over a decade ago, so there is no possible justification to maintain a standing army where there is no threat. What happens is that the standing army itself becomes perceived as the threat.
We’ve learned nothing from Viet Nam. There was no threat then to the ‘homeland’. And we should not be sticking our nose into other people’s affairs where there is no threat to the ‘homeland’. How many sons and daughters will be sacrificed now to satisfy the swift retribution so anxiously craved by the federal government?