Monday, September 20, 2010

911 Truth, Explosive Demolition and Occam's Razor

One of the definitions of a Conspiracy Theory is the non-belief of the official account of an incident and the belief of an incredibly complicated series of events rather than the simpler official account; this is especially true of “911Truth.” Every aspect of “911Truth” is immensely complicated with no cohesive chain of events to tie it together. I’m writing this article is bring up what I believe are some near insurmountable issues with the corner stone of the 911Truth movement, that of explosive demolition of the Twin Towers and Building 7. I do not claim to be an expert in explosive demolition, but as a career police officer I have dealt with bomb experts and military ordinance experts. I have also been present during training exercises involving car bombs and IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices). Further I have researched explosive demolition and researched as much information I could find on CDI, Controlled Demolition Inc. Here is a simple primer of explosive demolition. How Stuff Works

On May 8, 2010, there was Firefighters for 9/11Truth and Architects and Engineers for 9/11Truth conference in the San Francisco area to discuss their work. One of the guest speakers was a gentleman by the name of Tom Sullivan who had previously worked for Controlled Demolition, Inc. Norcaltruth. Here is a transcript of the beginning of his presentation and explanation of how a controlled demolition is done.

“First you have to weaken the building and that’s after studies are done by structural engineers; to explain exactly how the building was built in the first place. At that point staircases are cut at intervals, firewalls are removed, elevator shafts are cut, including the rails and the elevator cars removed. Then all of the support columns on the load floors are cut with a torch and that essentially removes 20% of their strength. And even with all that compromising and weakening the building is still safe to enter; we keep working in it…. the story that just a few column failures can cause synchronized global collapse, well I gotta tell you that’s just nonsense. The final step at this point is you would load the building with RDX charges and they have individual delays and some times two to three different delays on a given floor. So the work is very complex and precise, requiring years of experience;” “Wireless detonators have been around for years. You look at any action movie you see these things going off all the time. And then of course the military has them. Contractors don’t use them; why? Because they’re just too expensive.” On the referenced web site there are also some bullet points about Sullivan’s presentation including.

2.) Another myth is that miles of detcord would be found in the debris pile. On this point, Sullivan mentioned the remote-controlled detonators that have been in use for many years. CDI has on their own website a section that talks about their own remote-controlled demolition capabilities called DREXS (Directional Remote Explosive Severance).

Okay lets take this a part. First lets start out with the purpose of explosive demolition. The purpose is to create a controlled environment so a building can demolished without all the trouble of banging it with a big steel ball or the dangerous job of many workers with torches cutting up the building. The explosions are designed to cause the building to fall into it’s own footprint with as little mess as possible (we’ll come back to this).

“First you have to weaken the building and that’s after studies are done by structural engineers; to explain exactly how the building was built in the first place. At that point staircases are cut at intervals, firewalls are removed, elevator shafts are cut, including the rails and the elevator cars removed. Then all of the support columns on the load floors are cut with a torch.” One can assume that all these steps are necessary for a successful controlled demolition. What Sullivan did not mention is that after the firewalls are removed and the stairs and elevators cut, the building is defacto gutted. This is not something that could have been done in a weekend. Sullivan also mentioned that after this weakening process the building is still safe to walk into. Sure it might be safe to walk into, but the building would no longer be functional for the purposes of doing any business and of course it would be instantly obvious that the inside of the building had been significantly modified. One can not use the logic that all this pre-weakening is a prerequisite for implosion "the story that just a few column failures can cause synchronized global collapse", but then say it was not necessary in this case.

So if we are talking about Building 7, the building that seemed to drop right down into it’s own footprint as in a classic controlled demolition, we are left with a conundrum. How could Building 7 be imploded using controlled demolition, if none of the pre-weakening was done? There appears to be no known technology to implode an intact occupied building in this manner and it surely would have required more explosives without the weakening, making the explosions much more violent. The next obvious issue is more speculative but just as germane. Who would you get to do such a thing? As Sullivan said, it would require a crew with years of experience, so it would require a team of psychotic murdering controlled demolition experts. Where would one even look for such a team?

But lets move on. Let’s suppose that the technology does exist to secretly use controlled demolition on an occupied building without the weakening process. The next issue, after setting all the charges would be how to set them off. As Sullivan said, “The final step at this point is you would load the building with RDX charges and they have individual delays and some times two to three different delays on a given floor.” The conventional wisdom or most commonly stated conspiracy theory is the charges were set off with wireless charges; as Sullivan said, “Wireless detonators have been around for years. You look at any action movie you see these things going off all the time. And then of course the military has them. Contractors don’t use them; why? Because they’re just too expensive.” After talking with explosive experts and a lot of research, I am certain that Sullivan errored here, probably due to inexperience. Sullivan first said contractors do not use wireless detonators, since he has not made any claims of working for moviemakers or the military, than it is probable, that he does not know their limitations. Therefore he might believe the reason is cost, when actually it is some quite different.

There are two related reasons why wireless detonators are not used by contractors involved with explosive demolition. The first is wireless detonators are not positive or accurate enough. Wireless detonators use radio frequencies (RF) that do not always reach their intended target at the intended time. When used for special effects or by the military, wireless detonators are usually line of sight and not used for anything even approaching the complexity of taking down a building with explosive demolition. The same can be said for microwave technology, such as cellphone triggers used with IEDs. How often does a radio fade out or cellphone lose it’s signal? This can especially be problematic with buildings. I remember when the City of Santa Cruz built their new Police Station; they had to install a Nextel microwave booster because our phones would not work inside the building. The second reason wireless detonators are not used for explosive demolition is safety. Once a wireless detonators is set, there is no way to insulate it from stray RF signals. If you are in a remote area, then the possibility is very slight. But if you are in a large city, there are a large amount of RF and microwaves swirling all around, the odds of an accidental triggering is high, and certainly too high to risk your life.

Another myth is that miles of detcord would be found in the debris pile. On this point, Sullivan mentioned the remote-controlled detonators that have been in use for many years. CDI has on their own website a section that talks about their own remote-controlled demolition capabilities called DREXS (Directional Remote Explosive Severance). Here is a point of either confusion or ignorance. The 911Truth conference web site brings up the issue of some proprietary explosive system used by CDI called DREXS (Directional Remote Explosive Severance). Due to the fact the name includes “Remote” it was assumed by the writer that it is some form of wireless remote explosive. But since Sullivan has already told us that contractors do not use wireless detonators, then it should be obvious the DREXS is not wirelessly detonated and most likely “Remote” takes on the meaning of something being done either at a distance and/or automatically. The CDI site tells us “DREXS (Directional Remote Explosive Severance) System facilitate the demolition or dismantling of all types of steel and concrete facilities to provide the safe, expeditious and cost-effective removal of industrial structures.” Another 911Truth site gave this quote from CDI “Our DREXSTM systems . . . segment steel components into pieces matching the lifting capacity of the available equipment.” From these two quotes we can surmise that CDI is not touting a remote controlled system, but a system that cuts the building up in segmented pieces of a predetermined size so it is easier to cart away. The most common means of detonating explosives is with “primacord” or detonating (det) cord. As mentioned by many debunkers of 911Truth, there would have been miles of these cords reaching from a detonation center to every charge and they would have been obvious to everyone.

Finally, I told you I’d get back to the primary purpose of explosive demolition. Since there is no evidence that the weakening process was done on these buildings, then we are in un-chartered waters in knowing if the technology exists to implode an occupied building the size of the twin towers or Building 7. But the question must be asked, Why go to all the trouble to implode the buildings? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just take out the main supports and let them collapse in some less structured way? The purpose of explosive demolition is for safety and to leave as little mess as possible; something that was obviously not in the mind of a person who would want to destroy an occupied building. In order to implode a building one needs expertise that has been defined as an art form. There is probably less than half a dozen demolition companies in the world that could take on a project like this; but certainly no reputable company would,  but it's feasible one could set off some cutting charges on some main supports that could cause the building to come down in all sort of ways that wouldn’t have to be an implosion.

As I said before, the purpose of this article is not to debunk 911Truth, but to raise doubts about the theory of explosive demolition. Beyond the way the towers and especially building 7 looked as they fell, there is really no evidence of an explosive demolition. The only other observance was the puffs that blew out the windows of the twin towers as the pancaked down. To even a casual observer it is obvious that air pressure would be blowing out the windows for several stories below, as the air trapped between the floors needed someplace to go. There are also a lot of people that heard what they thought were explosions, which I’m sure they did. When a 110 story building is collapsing, or just about to collapse, there is no telling what is going on inside and the violence of the collapse can certainly sound like explosions. In my mind there are a lot of questions about why 911 happened, but I have no doubt how it didn't happened; it’s a matter of Occam's razor.

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