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Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-06-27 21:57
  Subject:   Ben vs. the 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists. Round 1. FIGHT!
  Music:NOFX - The Idiot Son of an Asshole
Let me get my biases out up front. I am a believer in at least the possibility that the administration ignored information given to them (out of arrogance and hubris - the defining trademarks of W's administration) and perhaps even knowingly *let* the 9/11 attacks happen. However, I consider it extreme paranoia, and see a complete lack of any hard evidence, for the theory that the Bush administration played any kind of active roll in the events of that day. Frankly I simply don't believe they are capable of such careful, well-concealed actions. The Bush II admn are just incredible dumb-asses. I do not believe that is any way that they could orchestrate a huge conspiracy, like one that would be necessary to plan and pull off 9/11, without some kind of hard evidence coming up. To quote Rumsfeld: "We have worse PR operatives than Al Qaida does!"

What follows is the compilation of a series of comments - criticisms, really - of the movie "Loose Change", a 9/11 government conspiracy piece. I posted these comments to flemco's LJ here. They provide some evidence why, no matter how hard I try or how much I would like to, I can't bring myself to believe that there was a vast government conspiracy to orchestrate 9/11. The available evidence simply does not support such a theory.

I'll document my objections as I watch...

The introductory stuff, about how this and that conspiracy existed, how Cheney and Wolfy and Rummy are scum-bag militarists, is all very interesting, but provides actual evidence for nothing.

About 9 minutes in, we hear a voice-over from someone who says they saw a blue logo on the side of the plane. I'm curious to know which plane that was, the first or the second. We have footage of the second plane hitting the second tower, and we find out for sure whether he was imaging things or not. I don't think we have footage of the first plane, but I may be wrong there...

A minute later, they show a bunch of quick cuts between different buildings undergoing controlled demolition, and the WTCs falling. What struck me here was how much more the official story (the central support beams that held up the top of the tower collapsed, and the top turned into a gravity-powered battering ram that smashed its way down through the middle of the rest of the building) looked to fit the collapse much better than some kind of controlled demolition. Controlled demolition generally takes out the pillars at the base of the building, and lets the whole building fall down into where the basement was. In the WTC footage, it seems very visually clear to me that that the top ten or twenty stories came loose, and smashed down through the rest of the building, tearing apart internal structure and blowing out windows as it went.

The dialog over the credits with the late Hunter S mother-fuckin' Thompson is fun, but again, doesn't prove a damn thing. Anyone who knew HST well can tell you he was always weirdo-paranoid. It came through very strongly in his writing, which frankly is why I enjoy his work so much.

Now, this Rumsfeld quote, about a missle hitting the Pentagon. Actually, I believe that there were explosives in the cargo hold of the plane that hit the Pentagon, that either were triggered by the terrorists flying the plane or just went off on impact. This explains the damage seen a lot better than the official version. However, I have no doubt that it WAS a plane and not a missile.

http://www.oilempire.us/pentagon-hole.html does a pretty good job debunking the "the hole wasn't big enough, etc, etc" stuff. Note that this site is pro-9/11 conspiracy. They're just not dumb-ass, believe-anything, paranoid morons who can't be bothered to consider evidence that's right in front of them. Look at this picture: http://911research.wtc7.net/essays/pentagon/docs/punchout_rv.jpg and then seriously tell me you think that big square panel at center-left came from a missile. That picture came from another pro-9/11 conspiracy site that also thinks the idea of a missle hitting the Pentagon is total BS, and not supported by any of the evidence - http://911research.wtc7.net/essays/pentagon/index.html .

Why Rumsfeld used the word "missile" I don't know. Maybe he really thought it was a missile. Maybe he was referring metaphorically to the plane overall as an unguided missile. Maybe he's just a dumb-ass. (Given that he's probably responsible for Abu Ghraib, and thought Iraq would be a walk in the park, let's not dismiss that last option out of hand...)

There's more of the Flight 77/Pentagon stuff here. I think at least one straw man is set up - something about the light poles and flight 77 bouncing off the ground. I don't know what the official version is, but it looks to me from the impact hole that flight 77 was pretty much falling out of the sky at a 45 degree angle when it hit the Pentagon. Quite possibly because the light poles actually DID shear its wings off! That would also explain why the hole in the Pentagon wall is not quite exactly the wingspan of a 747 - the wings were partly chopped off just before it hit.

This stuff around 17 minutes about no debris is obviously wrong. I don't know if that's what the official reports claim, but the photos from the sites I gave last post clearly show pieces of debris at least 4x4 - much larger than I'd ever expect from a missile. And those debris are indeed inside the hole in the Pentagon. (Ha-ha, later in the movie, about 20:30, they clearly show several large pieces of debris being carted off.)

This bit about the engines not being found is interesting, but given how fast those things spin, I wouldn't be surprised if they really did tear themselves apart. Titanium is strong stuff, but contrary to popular belief, it does NOT have a greater mechanical yield strength than steel! See http://swordforum.com/metallurgy/titanium.html . Titanium is used in aircraft because it's LIGHTER than steel.

As for the turbine wheel coming from a A-3 SkyWarrior, I fast-forwarded and rewound several times and looked at both wheels... and they do not look the same to me. One has a large, flat area around the center shaft and the other doesn't. Note that you can see all the way through the vanes, to the dark greenish wall in the background, at the right side of the picture of the unbroken A-3 disc. The A-3 disc doesn't have that large band of metal around the shaft, like the one in the Pentagon picture does.

The part about how the hole doesn't match a 757 is pure BS. They're using a picture with major amounts of smoke obscuring the hole - I can't tell how big the hole is in that picture, you can't see a damn thing. The links I posted earlier from the pro-conspiracy sites show clear pictures, and show how a 757 fits right into them.

There's lots more here on this subject. A million eyewitnesses, all who saw totally different things. People talking about a shockwave. Well yeah, did you see the size of that explosion?? Look at the footage of the WTC hits - you see that big-ass fireball? When an airliner hits things, it BLOWS UP! They're only carrying like 12,000 gallons of kerosene for fuel!

This stuff about cordite is a riot. Do these guys know anything about explosives?? Cordite is another name for smokeless gunpowder. It's a propellant, not an explosive. And it's barely been used since WWII. Says as much right on the Wikipedia page they show in the video. Furthermore, I don't know what kind of missile they claim hit the pentagon, but all the missiles I could find claim to use high explosive warheads (cordite is definitely not a high explosive), as http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-109.html .

I could go on and on about this, but let's just say I consider this segment about the Pentagon throughly debunked and hope there's something better waiting in the footage about the actual WTC attacks...

Okay, last word on the Pentagon stuff. I DO agree that all footage of the Pentagon crash (taken away by FBI agents from the gas station across the street, from the Sheraton, etc) should be released to the public. That sad-ass five frame junk from across the heliport shows absolutely nothing worth seeing. I think the footage might show that there were explosives in the cargo hold of the 757 that hit the Pentagon, and that would explain a lot of currently unexplained facts. Onward...

Ah, now this WTC7 footage IS interesting! Unlike the towers, which to my eye clearly seem to be disentigrating from the top down, WTC 7 *does* look like a controlled demolition - falling down as if the bottom was knocked out.

Ah, man... too brief on the interesting stuff, now we're back to BS. Okay, those two buildings, one in LA, one in Philly, were nowhere NEAR as tall as the WTC. Also, they had substantially different internal structures, lacking the much-maligned "core and perimeter, with no supports between" structure of the WTC. Also, though they had fires inside, THEY WEREN'T HIT BY AIRLINERS! I will once again refer interested parties to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse_of_the_World_Trade_Center - which quite clearly states that while the fires were a contributing factor, it alone didn't bring down the towers. Their own weight and less than robust architectural design is what really did it.

Here at about 35 minutes, they're claiming that there's something funny about the fact that the tower which got crashed into lower down fell faster than the one that got damaged higher up. That's no contradiction at all if you understand the internal structure of the towers was weak, and it was the weight of the portion of the building above the hit, along with the damage to the core, that allowed them to fall.

This stuff about the tower being designed to withstand an airplane strike is only partly true. It was designed to withstand a hit from a 707 - the largest known airplane in the late 60's when the towers were being designed. To quote the wikipedia page I just gave:

1 and 2 WTC were designed to withstand the impact of a 707 lost in fog while looking to land. The modeled aircraft weighed 263,000 lb (119,000 kg) with a flight speed of 180 mph (290 km/h), as would be used in approach and landing. The 767s that hit the towers had a kinetic energy more than seven times greater than the modeled 707 impact.

As far as melting steel with jet fuel, no, absolutely not. There were people who claimed this, but they're just plain wrong. What burning jet fuel WILL do, is heat the steel up enough to make it pliable. Almost all materials have what's called a "plastic limit" - the temperature where they lose their strength and get bendable. For structural steel as used in beams, they can lose half their strength at a temperature of 550 C, which is easily obtainable by burning jet fuel - http://guardian.150m.com/wtc/fig-A-6.gif That diagram is from research done in 1992, so it's unlikely to be biased by the events of 9/11/1999. The source article is http://guardian.150m.com/wtc/small/wtc-apndx-a.htm

About 43 minutes now. They're talking about the second explosion many heard just as the second tower came down. Watching the footage of the second tower collapsing again, I'm guessing they're just hearing the windows blowing out as the top section of the tower batters its way down through the building. And I'll bet $10 the person who heard snapping and crackling was hearing electrical lines shorting out as the top part of the tower fell. The bit about two explosions has a simple explanation. One boom was the plane hitting the tower. The second was the jet fuel going up nine seconds later. (Can we confirm this with video footage of the first plane hitting the first tower?)

51... they're showing "demolition charges" going off... IN THE TOWER THAT ISN'T COLLAPSING! Bahahahaha.

ALl this stuff about controlled demolition is interesting, but when I look at the footage of the tower coming down, it's clear to my eye that the top started collapsing first, and crashed down through the towers. That pushed a great deal of air out of the towers, blowing the lower level windows out just ahead of the shockwave. And again, these do not look like typical, collapse-from-the-bottom controlled demolitions to me. The WTC 7 footage looked that way to me. But the towers? Nope, not even close. Collapses from the top, smashing down through the rest of the building. Which is not yielding, sagging, or appearing to be losing its support from below.

Onward to Flight 93...

I dunno what to think about this Flight 93 stuff. The story that Flight 93 landed safely does not seem credible. There are plenty of pro-conspiracy sites that have very good material evidence that something very large, made of aluminium and plastic, blew up over Penn. For example, http://www.flight93crash.com/flight93_secondary_debris_field.html . I think a much more likely conclusion here is that Flight 93 was indeed shot down. A missile into the engine would explain a lot that is currently unexplained.


I have no idea about the flight recorders. I can see cagey government officials covering up their recovery. Why they haven't released them now, 5 years later... well, this is a very secretive, arrogant, evil administration. I agree we ought to be allowed to hear those recordings, assuming they do exist. I don't see this as good evidence of a vast conspiracy. Just typical government ass-covering. Like the tapes of the Pentagon crash.

1:09 - the producers of this film appear to be deliberately confusing the viewer as to the difference between an air phone and a cell phone. Air phones are those phones built into the back of the airplane seat. They work based on 450 MHz frequencies, broadcast at high power from the airplane's avionics. I don't see anything in the official record claiming anyone called from a cell phone.

1:15 - DA GOLD! Pretty neat part of the story. I might propose a simpler explanation than conspiracy here. The second a plane crashed into one tower, the bankers responsible for holding the gold got REEALLLL nervous, and attempted to get it the hell out of there. But The towers fell partway through their movements. How is this evidence for any kind of conspiracy?

1:18 - Oddly enough, this part I basically agree with. While I again don't see it as good evidence for a conspiracy, there is no doubt in my mind that Bush and Co have lept upon 9/11 as an excuse to do any damn thing they please, legal, constitutional, or not. Indeed, BushCo has hijacked America... and nobody seems inclined to do a damn thing about it.

That by itself was reason enough for me to make my decision six months ago that I didn't want to be part of this nation any more. I'm getting out while the gettin's good. I encourage you all to come with me and abandon the idiot Bush-worshippers to their fate, which they so richly deserve.

See also, The Loose Change v2 Viewer's Guide.

Bottom line for me is, Bush has done plenty to be worth impeaching if not actually trying for war crimes even AFTER 9/11. I don't see why we need to reach for paranoid conspiracy theories to think Bush is a warmongering, constitution shredding moron. The more time you waste yakking about some inane conspiracy theory for which there's no real evidence, the more you distract yourself from the things we really do have plenty of good evidence for. Like Bush lying to the American people in order to start a war in Iraq. Like his endlessly astonishing inabilitly to actually catch the people responsible for the 9/11 attacks ("homeland security" my ass). Like his insane ability to put the USA in the LARGEST DEBT EVER, BAR NONE, IN ALL OF RECORDED HISTORY!

Take my advice, and get the hell out of this country while the gettin's good.

As for me... two years, six months remain.
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Coinneach Fitzpatrick
  User: scarybaldguy
  Date: 2006-06-27 22:32 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
There's no need for conspiracy theory. This Administration can't even manage to keep Da Prez from going off-topic in his speeches, let alone engineer an event of this magnitude and keep it secret. It's all down to opportunism: they saw a chance to seize power illegally (but with the support of the sheeple), and they ran with it.
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  User: osmium_ocelot
  Date: 2006-06-28 01:21 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
"I am a believer in at least the possibility that the administration ignored information given to them (out of arrogance and hubris - the defining trademarks of W's administration) and perhaps even knowingly *let* the 9/11 attacks happen."

I sit a tiny bit further afield than you do on this. I am of the opinion that not only did the W administration knowingly allow the 9/11 attacks to happen, but that on that day, some key player or players facilitated it by insuring our response was not up to snuff. I do not think the administration got the ball rolling. But I do think that once they knew it was rolling, they allowed the path to remain clear. I don't think there was some kind of enormous conspiracy, for many of the same reasons you do; but I do think there was at the very least a small conspiracy within the highest echelons of power in the administration.

I have a couple of things to add to your observations :

"However, I have no doubt that it WAS a plane and not a missile."

And, if it wasn't a plane, then what has happened to all the people that were supposed to be aboard the flight? Making that many people disappear would require an entirely seperate and possibly bigger conspiracy than getting 9/11 rolling...

From what I've seen, the official explination for WTC7 seems to hold water. IIRC it goes something like this : big diesel generator in basement with fuel resevoir gets damaged starting a fire that knocks the building out from the botttom. Essentially a hot fire weakened the foundation to the point of collapse. Mind you, my recollection could be entirely off.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-06-28 01:34 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
From what I've seen, the official explination for WTC7 seems to hold water. IIRC it goes something like this : big diesel generator in basement with fuel resevoir gets damaged starting a fire that knocks the building out from the botttom. Essentially a hot fire weakened the foundation to the point of collapse. Mind you, my recollection could be entirely off.

The Viewer's Notes on Loose Ends site advances this theory too, and has some evidence for it. However, I haven't had time to go over the information in detail, so I'm not decided on WTC 7 yet.
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Alex Belits
  User: abelits
  Date: 2006-06-28 02:39 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
First of all, I agree that most of conspiracy theories about the WTC collapse have no good foundation in evidence. However after looking at the reports (NIST and FEMA), I have found absolutely no attempts to analyze the actual collapse of the structure after the top part of either building hit the bottom one. A lot of details, simulations and explanations why how the top first remained in place, then started to fall, however absolutely nothing about the sequence of destruction of the bottom floors. Since part of the central column were still standing on some photos taken after the top of one of the buildings (forgot which one of two) already fell, it was worth studying, and would just take some simulation time to determine, what exactly failed in which sequence. And as a bonus, that will shoe a sequence that is nothing like controlled demolition yet matches the observation. I would say, people who worked on the report are lazy even in things that would debunk conspiracy theorists whom they hated so much. There was some interesting research done about the role of trusses forming the building's "hat" in keeping the top floors together, and delaying the collapse, so it's not like people were unaware of the capabilities of computer simulation.

I really don't see how a fire can be described as "only a helper factor in bringing down the towers". According to NIST report, unevenly distributed sideway forces on the outer columns were the result of floor beams sagging after being softened by a fire. It's possible that a system that _releases_ a sagging floor beam in the case of high-temperature fire would prevent the collapse of the building if the columns are still capable of standing and are connected by short (ans therefore harder to damage) horizontal ties.

And in my opinion, criticisms of the building columns design in Wikipedia article are seriously wrong. There is nothing bad in not filling every empty space within a structure with additional reinforcing elements (see the progress in bridges design over 19th-20th centuries for examples). Additional columns will be heavy, so it creates more load at the bottom and require massive reinforcement on lower floors. The whole system will be "thicker" at the bottom (higher percentage of space used for columns) and "thinner" at the top, what makes perfect sense for light thin towers but may be impractical for heavy buildings.

And I still don't know, WTF happened to WTC7, however this is another story.
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  User: zonereyrie
  Date: 2006-06-28 06:07 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
You think the WTC theories are wacky? Try this: http://www.apfn.org/APFN/beam.htm
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-06-28 06:28 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
EM Beam weapon! AWESOME!!! ;D

I'm almost expecting to read about reports of a tall man in a black suit, and some hardsuited mercenaries, spotted in the area around the same time.
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  User: zonereyrie
  Date: 2006-06-28 06:56 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)

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