The nine-year-old body of 9/11 conspiracy theories includes many improbable (and sometimes contradictory) claims, everything from remote-controlled planes flying into the World Trade Center, to a missile hitting the Pentagon, to mass kidnappings of air passengers.
But a group of more than 1,200 architects and engineers is building what it hopes is a scientifically sound argument about one 9/11 claim: That the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed not by fires caused by the airplane collisions, but by a controlled demolition.
At a press conference in Washington DC, Thursday, the group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth offered evidence "that all three WTC skyscrapers on September 11, 2001, in NYC were destroyed by explosive controlled demolition."
The third building the group referred to was World Trade Center 7, a skyscraper that collapsed about eight hours after the main WTC towers fell. For many 9/11 "truthers," WTC7's collapse despite not being hit by a plane is the "smoking gun" proving that something other than airplanes brought down the towers. The WTC7 collapse was not addressed in the official 9/11 Commission report.
"That building fell completely into its own footprint," blogger Andrew Steele told WKTV in Utica. "You can watch on YouTube yourself and use your own common sense. Even if you don't have a scientific background ... if you have two eyes, you can see that fire alone did not bring down that building."
His claims, and those of the 1,270 architects and engineers who have signed on to the effort, were bolstered by the support of former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who said in a press release that "critically important evidence has come forward after the original government building reports were completed."
Gravel has been concerned with the events of September 11, 2001, for some time now. He has called for an independent investigation into 9/11.
"Unlike the first investigation, this commission should be granted subpoena power and full access to all governmental files and personnel," Gravel wrote. "George Bush should be forced to testify ALONE."
San Francisco architect Richard Gage said the way the towers collapsed was consistent with a controlled demolition, not a chaotic structural collapse.
"The official FEMA and NIST reports provide insufficient, contradictory, and fraudulent accounts of the circumstances of the towers' destruction," Gage said. "We are therefore calling for a grand jury investigation of NIST officials."
But Gage added that "government investigators at the NIST have been forced to acknowledge the free-fall descent, an indicting fact, after being presented with analysis by AE911Truth petition signers."
On its Web site, the architects' and engineers' group lists facts that suggest explosives were used to take down the towers.
-- Rapid onset of "collapse"
-- Sounds of explosions at ground floor - a second before the building's destruction
-- Symmetrical "structural failure" -- through the path of greatest resistance -- at free-fall acceleration
-- Massive volume of expanding pyroclastic dust clouds
-- Expert corroboration from the top European Controlled Demolition professional
-- FEMA finds rapid oxidation and intergranular melting on structural steel samples
WTC7 exhibited none of the characteristics of destruction by fire, i.e.
-- Slow onset with large visible deformations
-- Asymmetrical collapse which follows the path of least resistance (laws of conservation of momentum would cause a falling, to the side most damaged by the fires)
-- High-rise buildings with much larger, hotter, and longer lasting fires have never "collapsed".
Debunking9/11, a Web site devoted to disproving the claims of 9/11 "truthers," argues that no aircraft was needed to bring down WTC7, because "while building 7 wasn't hit by an airliner, it was hit by the large perimeter columns of the Tower collapse. It was 400 ft away but the towers were more than 1300 ft tall. As the tower peeled open, it easily tilted over to reach building 7."
"Truthers" and debunkers have been arguing for years over whether the scant photographic evidence of WTC7's south side after the main towers' collapse shows enough damage to justify the building's collapse.
"All the buildings just as far away from both towers as WTC7 were hit," Debunking9/11 asserts. "The others were either very short buildings which didn't have to support a massive load above or had no fire. Only Building 7 had unfought fires and the massive load of 40 stories above them."