I was standing blocks from Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex and staring directly at it when it collapsed.
Working for the Los Angeles Times, I had arrived at the World Trade Center as the South and North Tower were making their rapid and deadly descents in the morning. That afternoon, I called in a series of reports to a staffer in the New York bureau.
I was literally on the phone with the office at 5:21 p.m., describing the fires burning in the structure as the building began—and completed— its remarkably fast, smooth descent to the ground. I described the building neatly pancaking, and the Pulitzer Prize winner on the other end taking my dictation declared: “That sounds like a controlled demolition.”
In fact, I have seen controlled demolitions before and since—and indeed, that was exactly what the destruction of Building 7 looked like, except perhaps for a marginally slower collapse of the top portion
As with most people, I was baffled by how Building 7—a smaller, 47-story tower that had not been hit by a plane and was separated from the Twin Towers by low-rise buildings–would come down at all. It just made no sense.
How exactly the building did come down has never been properly explained. An investigation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded that the building was hit by debris from the collapsing North Tower that started fires. However, it ruled out diesel fuel, structural damage from the debris and structural elements (trusses, girders, and cantilever overhangs) as causes of the collapse. It said the lack of water to the sprinkler system was an important factor in allowing fires to rage all afternoon. But the panel declined to state how the fires could bring down the building—and in such a rapid manner.
For many years, those who have been troubled by things that did not make sense regarding the 9/11 attacks have been marginalized as kooks. To be sure, some entertain enormously elaborate, complex scenarios that assume unspeakable evil carried out by a bewildering number of individuals, nations, and institutions.
However, fair-minded people who have carefully studied the evidence are troubled by the “official story,” just as they are troubled by the official explanations of the assassinations of American leaders over half a century, and other traumas ranging from the Oklahoma City bombing to the Boston Marathon bombing.
There is a reason so many people don’t trust the security apparatus and its allies in government, academia and the media, or the reassuring stories they tell us time after time that “there’s nothing to see here, folks.”Or to allow even the most reasonable question into the public discourse.
That kind of question hasn’t been possible with the mystery of Building 7. Until now.
A small group, NYC Coalition for Accountability Now (NYC CAN), run and largely staffed by a young man named Ted Walter, has come up with a solution: Get the public to legislate a formal inquiry into building collapses.
Noting that no high-rise building has ever collapsed as a result of fire, and seizing on the official position that the destruction of Building 7 cannot be definitively explained, Walter’s group has proposed that the city explore all building collapses since and including 9/11. The proposed inquiry pointedly excludes Buildings 1 and 2, the collapses of which have been much investigated and debated. It does not explicitly mention Building 7—but then it does not have to. Building 7 is unique in that it was not hit by a plane. Any serious investigation of building collapses would start with Building 7.
The mechanism for this is to seek to have New Yorkers vote on a ballot measure, the High-Rise Safety Initiative. Its supporters face a tough challenge ahead, and have already hit some formidable road blocks. Still they persevere.