Part I of 3: House Panelists—Even in 3/02—Demanded Scientific Probe on WTC Event

Few in the 9/11 movement may be aware that prior to the 9/11 Commission, the U.S. House’s Committee on Science held an brief “investigation” of the WTC destruction, Text of the first part of that hearing (Vol. 1 of 2) is below. The Republicans controlled Congress at that time, but chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY-24) was motivated about demands that six months had gone by and no investigation had begun by the Administration’s two agencies that handle disasters: FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and its subsidiary NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).

Boehlert and several on the panel were particularly concerned that most of the material evidence of the disaster—especially the Towers’ steel beams—had been removed by the Port Authority of NY/NJ under impoundment and sales orders of Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the City of New York. WTC documents on construction, etc. were sequestered until January 2002 also by Giuliani. Although insurance adjusters had been permitted on Ground Zero the afternoon of 9/11 and the U.S. Geological Survey had picked up and tested 35 grab samples of residue all around the complex on September 17, Giuliani also barred FEMA/NIST from the site until October 6, 2001.

Two chief purposes of the hearings were determining what destroyed the WTC and how the federal agencies tended to investigate major catastrophes such as this complex. The text shows that under strong questioning by Boehlert and two New York City Democrats (Joe Crowley, Anthony Weiner), the heads of FEMA and NIST admitted uncertainty of who was in charge of the overall investigation and that despite the national implications of 9/11, their agencies were ruled by Giuliani and the Port Authority.

Only a half-dozen expert witnesses were called to testify, among them the two agency directors, as well as Abolhassan Astaneh-asl, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California/Berkeley, allied with NIST director Arden L. Bement. Their testimony laid the groundwork for the sole use of a computer model to determine what destroyed the WTC 1 and 2 (the Towers) and WTC 7. Moreover, even before the investigation had begun, they admitted determining that fire was the sole causal agent of the destruction. No questions/answers were raised about explosions or the USGS’s findings of significant levels of strontium and barium, as well as vanadium, uranium, and tritium immediately around the site.

Representative Crowley’s questioning of FEMA/NIST’s heads and Astaneh-asl is notable in getting them to reveal that the beams had been rushed away from this major crime scene. (Parts were sold to Asian scrapyards, two nearby recycling shops; given to a Louisiana shipyard, and stored until April 2010 in a JFK airport hangar.) Crowley also wrung the admission from a FEMA investigator that the only way the WTC documents could be obtained from the City of New York and the Port Authority was by signing an agreement that FEMA would not testify against them.

Also noteworthy in the text is the advocacy of a major investigation by the only expert witness on fire—Glenn P. Corbett, a professor of fire science at NYC’s John Jay College. In it, he urged the immediate appointment of a “World Trade Center Disaster Commission” to analyse 9/11 as a “total event, using an integrated, scientifically rigorous approach.” Several House panellists agreed.

Barbara G. Ellis, Ph.D., senior researcher

Text of 2002 House Science Committee Hearings on the Collapse of the World Trade Center. Part 1 of 3.

NEXT on June 1: House Science Committee Hearing No.2, May 1, 2002

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