Five Years After and We Still Don`t Know

In the five years since three World
Trade Center buildings collapsed into their own
footprints in virtually free fall time, the convincing
power of the official explanation of that day`s events
has evaporated. Polls show that 36% of Americans do not
believe the official account. As Lev Grossman writes in
Time magazine (September
3, 2006
), "Thirty-six percent adds up to a lot of
people. This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a
mainstream political reality."

Grossman acknowledges that
alternative explanations of 9/11 are more compelling
than the official explanation. Grossman offers a
psychological explanation for the success of alternative
explanations: "a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a
grand conspiracy behind it."

However, Grossman`s psychological
explanation fails on its own terms. Which is the
grandest conspiracy theory? The interpretation of 9/11
as an orchestrated casus belli to justify US
invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, or the interpretation
that a handful of Muslims defeated US security multiple
times in one short morning and successfully pulled off
the most fantastic terrorist attack in history simply
because they "hate our freedom and democracy"?
Orchestrating events to justify wars is a stratagem so
well worn as to be boring. Indeed, it is the fantastic
conspiracy of the official explanation that makes it

The scientists, engineers, and
professors who pose the tough questions about 9/11 are
not people who spend their lives making sense of their
experience by constructing conspiracy theories.
Scientists and scholars look to facts and evidence. They
are concerned with the paucity of evidence in behalf of
the official explanation. They stress that the official
explanation is inconsistent with known laws of physics,
and that the numerous security failures, when combined
together, are a statistical improbability.

The call by 9/11 skeptics for an
independent investigation by an international panel of
experts is not a conspiracy theory. In principle there
is nothing wrong with such an investigation. In
practice, it might be difficult to create a truly
independent panel. How many physicists, for example,
have careers independent of government grants, and how
many engineering firms would risk being branded
and lose business by coming down on
the "wrong" side of the issue?

Nowhere is there a surfeit of brave

I do not know what happened on
9/11, and I don`t expect to ever find out. Neither
government nor media show any interest in providing us
with anything except a political commission`s report.

9/11 skeptics have pointed out a
large number of problems with the 9/11 Commission
Report. Here is a very short list:

(1) There appears to be a very
large energy deficit in the official explanation of the
collapse of the two WTC towers, and no explanation for
the collapse of WTC 7. What is the source of the energy
that brought down the three buildings?

In the PBS documentary, "
broadcast in September 2002,

Larry Silverstein
, who had the lease on the World
Trade Center, said that WTC 7 was brought down by a
decision of the authorities on the scene: "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
to pull it.` And they made that decision to pull and we
watched the building collapse."

Two striking facts jump out from
this quote. One is that fire was not raging in WTC 7.
The other is that "to pull" a building means to
bring it down by engineered demolition. For WTC 7 to be
pulled on the late afternoon of September 11, it would
already have had to be wired for demolition. Why was WTC
7 wired for demolition?

Brigham Young University Professor
of Physics Steven Jones has suggested that thermite, or
some other powerful, high temperature, high explosive
capable of slicing the powerful steel columns that
comprised the WTC towers central core, provided the
energy missing in the official account.

In a September 1, 2006, New York

"U.S. moves to debunk `alternative theories` on Sept. 11
Jim Dwyer reports that the
National Institute of Standards and Technology, an
agency of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, disputes Professor
Jones` suggestion. NIST believes that such "enormous
quantities of thermite would have to be applied to the
structural columns to damage them"
that engineered
demolition is not feasible.

Gentle reader, note what NIST is
saying. If no reasonable quantity of the explosive
thermite, which is used for engineered demolition, could
damage the powerful buildings, the measly energy from an
airliner, a bit of jet fuel, and gravity could not have
collapsed the buildings.

The fact of the matter is that
there has been no investigation of why the three
buildings collapsed. Bill Manning, the editor-in-chief
of "Fire Engineering" got it right
when he wrote in the

January 2002 issue
of that publication that "the
`official investigation` blessed by FEMA and run by the
American Society of Civil Engineers is a half-baked
farce that may already have been commandeered by
political forces whose primary interests, to put it
mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure. . . . As
things now stand . . . the investigation into the world
Trade Center fire and collapse will amount to paper- and
computer-generated hypotheticals."

Manning complained about the
"destruction of evidence . . . of the largest
fire-induced collapse in world history"
and wrote
that nowhere in the "national standard for fire
is there "an exemption allowing
the destruction of evidence."

Obviously, we were not meant to
know why the buildings collapsed.

This conclusion does not
automatically lead to the conclusion that some elements
of the US government and/or Israeli intelligence
destroyed the buildings, using airliners as cover, in
order to justify invasions to achieve US/Israeli
hegemony in the Middle East or US control of oil
supplies. No doubt, neoconservatives in the Bush
administration used 9/11 for this purpose. However,
perhaps the buildings failed for reasons that involve
enormous liabilities, and those liabilities were covered
up with a bogus explanation.

According to news reports,
insurance payments to Silverstein for the buildings were
many multiples larger than the price he paid for the
lease. If the reports are correct, perhaps money
explains the story.

(2) The belief that Muslims pulled
off the attacks is based on the concreteness of the 19
names identified as the hijackers by the FBI. The fact
that the FBI attests to the identity of the hijackers is
the source of the official story`s credibility.

Considering the official story`s
dependence on the identity of the hijackers, how is it
possible for the official story to survive for 5 years
after the BBC`s report (
23, 2001)
that a number of the alleged hijackers are
alive and well?

According to BBC News World
Edition, "Saudi Arabian pilot Waleed Al Shehri was
one of five men that the FBI said had deliberately
crashed American Airlines flight 11 into the World Trade
Centre on 11 September. His photograph was released, and
has since appeared in newspapers and on television
around the world. Now he is protesting his innocence
from Casablanca, Morocco. He told journalists there that
he had nothing to do with the attacks on New York and
Washington, and had been in Morocco when they happened.
He has contacted both the Saudi and American
authorities, according to Saudi press reports. He
acknowledges that he attended flight training school at
Daytona Beach in the United States, and is indeed the
same Waleed Al Shehri to whom the FBI has been

Obviously, Waleed Al Shehri would
not be alive if he had crashed an airliner into the
World Trade Center. It would appear that the FBI`s
confidence in the identity of the hijackers is more
public relations than reality. As the FBI has been
proven wrong about the identity of a number of the
hijackers, how do we know the FBI is right about any of

There are many holes in the
official 9/11 story and very little evidence in its
behalf. Did the government, terrified by possible public
reaction to the catastrophe and expected to have an
explanation for the terrifying event, simply concoct a

The reason so many people doubt the
9/11 story is not because they have psychological needs
for conspiracies, but because the 9/11 story is not



Paul Craig Roberts

] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.
He is the author of

Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
and the Soviet Economy

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

for Peter
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.