Tuesday, January 23, 2007

9/11 Conspiracy Theories,controlled demolition hypothesis 3

The day of the attacks, there were reports suggesting explosions and secondary devices. Several journalists reporting on the events speculated that the World Trade Center collapses were caused by intentionally planted explosives and some experts made similar suggestions in the days following the attacks. As an official explanation that did not involve explosives emerged, however, these speculations ceased, and some were retracted.

In a notable example, the Albuquerque Journal quoted Van Romero, Vice President for Research at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, who said that the collapses looked "too methodical" and that his opinion, based on the videotapes, was that there were some explosive devices inside that caused the towers to collapse. He further said "detonation of bombs within the towers is consistent with a common terrorist strategy."After speaking with structural engineers, however, he revised his opinion and said "certainly the fire is what caused the building to fail". He further said he had been misquoted and had "only said that that's what it looked like."

An early version of the controlled-demolition hypothesis, explictly stated in opposition to the official explanation, was formulated by J. McMichael. His ironic essay "Muslims Suspend the Laws of Physics" recalled Romero's initial remarks and introduced some of the lasting elements of the hypothesis: that the fires could not have sufficiently weakened the steel to initiate the collapses, and that the undamaged structure underneath the impact zones would have resisted a total progressive collapse. These ideas were then developed in greater detail by Jeff King and Jim Hoffman on their websites, with little attention from the mainstream media.

Eric Hufschmid's Painful Questions was the first book-length treatment of the hypothesis, and included questions about Building Seven. In 2004 this book was singled out by proponents and debunkers alike. Popular Mechanics started its investigation into this and other 9/11 conspiracy theories when Painful Questions was advertised in the New York Times and theologian David Ray Griffin listed Hufschmid's questions among the reasons to re-investigate the events of 9/11 in his influential book The New Pearl Harbor.

In late 2005, Steven E. Jones, a physicist at Brigham Young University, made his own pursuit of the hypothesis public. Even before peer review and publication of the article in the 2006 book "9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals speak out," his interest in the hypothesis brought a measure of scientific credibility and increased media exposure to the theory. In consequence, however, Jones was placed on paid leave by his university in September 2006 for his "increasingly speculative and accusatory" statements.

The controlled demolition hypothesis and the official explanations of the collapse developed alongside each other. Proponents of the controlled demolition hypothesis, for example, were among the first to question the "pancake collapse" hypothesis, in which floors progressively detached from the columns due to the force of higher floors falling on them. This theory, which constituted the official consensus until the middle of 2005, was ultimately rejected by NIST. In its effort to understand the collapse of Building Seven, moreover, NIST claims to be currently developing "hypothetical blast scenarios" that will be of interest to proponents of controlled demolition. Likewise, Zdenek P. Bazant, who co-authored the first published analysis of the collapses of the two towers, has proposed examining data from controlled demolitions in order to better model the progressive-collapse of the towers. The controlled demolition hypothesis has been pursued mainly by experts in fields other than structural engineering and by a network of amateur investigators.

An August 2006 poll concluded that 36% of respondents overall said it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East." 16 percent of Americans considered it at least somewhat likely that "the collapse of the twin towers in New York was aided by explosives secretly planted in the two buildings."

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