VIDEO: The BP "Gulf Syndrome": Benzene and Corexit Poisoning
The Government is Silent on the Human Health Risks
by Deborah Dupré
BP is gassing Gulf Coast residents with poisonous Benzene and Corexit dispersants at dangerously high levels in the largest U.S. domestic military operation to date. The military and FEMA are engaged in Emergency Plans for 36 urban areas from Texas to Florida due to the unstoppable Gulf oil volcano the size of Mt. Everest, as WMR reports, indicating evacuations. Some people are advised to relocate now. (See Parts III and IV)
Satellite imagery that Obama's administration withheld shows "under the gaping chasm spewing oil at an ever-alarming rate is a cavern estimated to be around the size of Mount Everest. This information has been given an almost national security-level classification to keep it from the public," writes Wayne Madsen.
Human suffering in the Gulf is increasing from the world's latest and largest toxic oil kill as BP lies and government remains silent about the human health risks. Most immediately damaging of the operation's withheld information pertains to toxins breathed since the explosion.
Southerners reporting illnesses with symptoms reflecting Benzene and Corexit poisoning have had to face some leaders suggesting the cause to be mental illness, "stress", while others, such as BP chief Tony Hayward, blamed the illness on rotten food.
Hayward is the guy who sold his £1.4 million shares in BP one month before the Gulf "spill." This in turn caused a collapse of value and a saving to him of over £423,000 when BP's share price plunged after its predicted destruction in the gulf according to the Telegraph. (Since Hayward's pay package of £4 million a year had been insufficient, cashing out enabled him to pay off the mortgage on his family's mansion in Kent.)
No monitors, no dispersant toxicity studies
Other life-risking withheld information is that chemicals released have not been monitored. WMR colleague John Caylor, a Gulf Coast resident, reported, "BP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which have stated that several hundred air quality monitors have been deployed around the Florida and Alabama coasts and have not detected any benzene levels that would be harmful to human health, are lying." (WMR, EPA and media lying about air monitors on Gulf coast, June 7-8, 2010)
A senior news source at WEAR-TV, ABC's affiliate in Pensacola told Caylor that "there are no air quality monitors that have been deployed along the coastal bays and inlets by either BP or the EPA. The station sent reporters out to check on the monitors and discovered they were non-existent." (Emphasis added)
"ABC News network out of New York and CNN are echoing the BP and Obama administration's lines that the air quality is being monitored and is perfectly safe," wrote Caylor. WWL TV reports monitors are being now used in south Louisiana. (See video #2 below)
The spewing oil and dispersant chemicals are toxic enough for so many people to become ill, evacuation would be required, especially before a hurricane blows the lethal cocktail over more Southerners. Hurricane season 2010, anticipated to be highly active and strong, will bring the oil and ipersant chemicals further inland, impacting health of too many people to be ignored. Already, even mainstream news reports 70 people in Louisiana have been admitted to hospital with symptoms of toxic poisoning. New Orleans area officials have urged people without means to evacuate before a hurricane to register now.
"Get a game plan now," WWL reported.
Corexit and Benzene Gulf gas combo effects
On May 1, two U.S. Department of Defense C-130 Hercules aircraft were employed to spray oil dispersant, Corexit EC9500A and Corexit EC9527A. Dispersant information, however, was "kept secret under competitive trade laws."
The stated purpose of using more chemicals on the chemical spill was "to break up the oil into tiny droplets that sink and can be more readily dispersed by ocean currents, to diminish the oil's effect on sea life and shore habitats." (New York Times, BP and EPA Skirmish Over Oil Dispersant, May 24, 2010) Mother Nature's non-chemical, safe, effective bio-remediation method (see Youtube below) of disposing of the oil was dismissed. Safe and effective solutions for human and environmental survival are not part of the agenda.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) "Fact sheets" page for Nalco's Corexit has pdfs available for "Dispersant Type 1," Corexit 9500 (PDF); and "Dispersant Type 2," Corexit 9527A (PDF). Tom Philpott of Grist, who found that these product numbers matched those identified unofficially by his sources, writes,
"The data sheets for both products contain this shocker: 'No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product" -- meaning testing their safety for humans and both data sheets include the warning 'human health hazards: acute.'"
(As Philpott reported, the MSDS for Corexit 9527A states
'excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects,' and 'repeated or excessive exposure to butoxyethanol [an active ingredient] may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver.'
'"Prolonged and/or repeated exposure through inhalation or extensive skin contact with EGBE [butoxyethanol] may result in damage to the blood and kidneys.'"
The solvents 2-Butoxyethanol and petroleum distillate appear "most dangerous," writes Philpott, but these chemicals continue to be saturating water and air.
Out of work shrimper, oil clean-up work Clint Guidry reported, "The closest I got [to the Gulf water] was Venice, Louisiana, and you could smell it from Venice... they were actually spraying Corexit 9527A on the oil spill on top of the water and spraying all around - Venice sits on a peninsula, the Mississippi River, right at the - right above the Head of the Passes.
"And they were actually spraying this Corexit in the air all around where people were living, with kids and children, and continuously saying how safe it was."
By May 24, New York Times reported that 700,000 US gallons (2,600,000 l) of Corexit dispersants had gassed the area, "approaching a world record." BP was ordered to take "immediate steps to scale back the use of dispersants" that the military was reportedly spraying. Both entities seemingly follow orders from a higher command. Chemical gassing of Gulf life continued.
Benzene, or "swamp gas," the toxin released by fossil fuel oil, is lethal enough for public health concern and action without Corexit. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that benzene causes severe human injury such as chromosomal, and is a human carcinogen. Exposure to high levels of benzene is associated with leukemia cancer: acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and chronic myelogenous leukemia. (See: 0.9977 Benzene (IARC Summary & Evaluation, Supplement7, 1987)
Benzene-related leukemias have been reported to develop in as short as nine months according to IARC.
The satiation of toxic air, water and food has posed serious health risks to all people of the Gulf, but especially to pregnant women, the elderly and people with health vulnerabilities such as asthma and emphysema. Gina Solomon, NRDC Senior Scientist outlined health risks Louisianians and other Gulf Coast residents face.
Only days after BPs greatest oil assault began, Solomon recommended that pregnant women leave the oil spill area since fossil fuel oil toxins cause miscarriages.
Oil spill VOC (volatile chemicals) acute health effects include "headaches, dizziness and nausea," and "[o]ver the long term, many of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, so there are lots of reasons to worry about inhaling them," advised Solomon. (Dupre, Hitting rock bottom calls for intervention, Examiner, May 9, 2010) The first nine Gulf spill workers were hospitalized for "dizziness, headaches and nausea" as Solomon predicted weeks before according to VOC effects, plus shortness of breath and nosebleeds, likely symptomatic of Corexit.
Adding fire to the fuel, burning the slick as the petrochemical-military-industrial complex are also doing, has compounded the public health risk. Dr. Marcel Casavant, chief of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, has stated, "Smoke from burning oil contains many chemicals; some are potentially lethal poisons..." (ABC News, BP Gulf Oil Spill: Human Health Risks Small But Fears May Linger) Casavant indicates those at greatest risk are children.
Oil toxic poisoning does not always have immediate impact. One study showed that the effect is generational: women exposed to oil toxins have daughters with reproductive health problems, such as miscarriages. (See: Dupre, FUEL DVD countdown to end old, dirty, dangerous, corrupt business, Examiner, May 11. 2010; and Josh Tickell, FUEL, 2009)
Within days of the Gulf incident, the smell of oil was so strong in coastal deep south, it was reported that one lady had to shut all her windows, turn on her AC and "if her asthma keeps up like this, she'll need to go on her breathing machine tonight." Meanwhile, police were driving up and down the beach "explicitly telling tourists to 'just stay out of the water.'" (It's BP's Oil, Mother Jones, May 24, 2010) That was almost a month ago. How is she now?
Harassed for attempted survival
CNN reported that commercial shrimper working on the "clean-up," John Wunstell Jr. filed a temporary restraining order in federal court against BP to stop its harassment of workers that voice health concerns. He "wants the oil giant to give the workers masks." Among first reported workers hospitalized for oil/gas injury, Wuntsell alleges that BP confiscated his clothing stripped from him in the hospital, and told him that they would not be returned. This story is eerily similar to those of Nazi gas chambers.
Louisiana Shrimpers Association also accused BP of threatening to fire fisherman from cleanup jobs if they complain about health problems or wear masks. (See Gulf Spill Workers Hopsitalized, Restraining Orders sought, News Inferno) Clean-up worker fishermen were not given respirators, "not even those working in the most dangerous area, closest to the well still spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico," reported Guidry.
Such negative public relations for corporatism has almost been blacked-out. Gulf Coast residents lack information about serious risks BP's poisons are inflicting on them. Solomon's words of warning were a silenced clarion call to Gulf residents.
Another mild warning for Louisinans was finally offered today. A New Iberia, Louisiana chemist, Wilma Subra advised in a WWL TV new report (Youtube video below) that people experiencing ill health effects from the gassing should relocate, "move out of the area."
Regardless of presidential or other statements about holding accountable those responsible for the latest oil assault on humanity, the U.S. military objective in the Gulf for its ultimate goal of Full Spectrum Dominance has been achieved.
Gulf Coast residents and The World Can't Wait calling a Gulf Emergency Summit for citizens to take charge of the Gulf crisis face U.S. military and BP's hired private army mercenaries, similar to during Katrina's aftermath.
The military now controls one of the nation's most important ports, its most inland port, Baton Rouge, and the nation's largest river, the Mighty Mississippi. These are primary resources required in the Pentagon's quest for total control of "land sea, and air superiority." (See USSPACECOM's Vision for 2020, and www.spacecom.af.mil/usspace)
On June 2, 2000, Defense News reported that "Full-spectrum dominance" is the key term in "Joint Vision 2020," the blueprint DoD will follow in the future" and that " Innovation has always been a hallmark of the American military. In 2020, this native American talent will be even more important." For those who dare look, the Gulf operation has been a demonstration of such innovation.
Deepwater Unified Command Gulf Operation
In its quest for the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. military innovation enabled it to seize control of Haiti within hours of its earthquake, then the entire Gulf after the "spill," and now, in secret maneuvers will soon include more U.S. coastal land and inhabitants according to WMR. (See Gassed in the Gulf Part I) The petro-chemical-military industrial complex includes BP's "security firm" Wackenhut, hired as a private army to help control the people of the Gulf region, hide Gulf atrocities and control the region through the 'Deepwater Horizon Unified Command military operation.
Jeremy Scahill reports that Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and her husband, Avi Lewis, host of al Jazeera English's popular program Fault Lines, described a "run in" with Wackenhut, hired for "perimeter security" for the Deepwater Horizon Command. (Jeremy Scahill, BP and US Government 'Command Center' Guarded by Company from Afghan Embassy Hazing Scandal, May 28, 2010)
A foreign company, British Petroleum and U.S. government agencies, including the US Coast Guard, Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security are running Deepwater Unified Command according to Scahill.
Wayne Madsen reports that "36 urban areas on the Gulf of Mexico are expecting to be confronted with a major disaster from the oil volcano" and "emergency plans are being made for cities and towns from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Houston, New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile, Pensacola, Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, Sarasota-Bradenton, Naples, and Key West."
Citing sources within the US Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Madsen asserts that "the Obama White House and British Petroleum are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BP's liability for damage caused by what can be called a 'mega-disaster." Florida is preparing to evacuate, with FEMA taking the lead.
For this operation to succeed, mainstream media must participate in the PR campaign, (propaganda) since most Americans still believe and even center their lives around their TVs. An example of mainstream "news" propaganda presented was the reporting of BP containing one of the leaks. Madsen stated it was "pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration, according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources."
Gulf military operation LYHOP or MYHOP
A "spill" reflects an accident. BP's reported "spill," actually an underwater oil volcano, was either a LYHOP, a Let It Happen On Purpose, or a MYHOP, a Make It Happen On Purpose. Both are false flag operations to further justify military control on U.S. soil in the already existing coup that began during the Bush administration in October 2008 when US troops were deployed for duty on U.S. soil.
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before," said Rahm Emanual and David Rockefeller has said, "All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order."
It has also been said that fascism will come when the people ask for it. Now that BP admits it cannot control the Gulf crisis, will the American people ask for military control, be grateful for it, or at least simply continue allowing its latest major step in "full spectrum" control, same as Americans allowed passage of the USA PATRIOT ACT after 911?
The gulf crisis was predicted if not planned by more than one person knowing human and other life would be injured or killed. Exxon Mobil Chairman Rex Tillerson told a House of Representatives subcommittee that BP's operation was "a dramatic departure from the industry norm in deepwater drilling."
The explosion's cause is attributed to a $500,000. missing piece of equipment, an acoustic switch, required in other countries. With G.W. Bush's deregulations, the Gulf operation could proceed without the safety equipment, leading to military intervention. New York Times reports that during a Congressional hearing, members learned that BP also decided not to conduct a "cement bond log" test that would have measured the cement's strength. Halliburton Energy Services was producer of the casing being run and cemented. This company knows how to make a profit. It is the same company profiting most from U.S. illegal Middle East invasions, Hurricane Katrina and Haiti's earthquake.
Soon after the Gulf explosion, oil workers requesting anonymity report that they heard a telephone conversation in which the head of the rig was crying while telling the other party on the phone, "We knew this was going happen. Are you satisfied now?"
Since the explosion, "Louisiana and Florida have essentially begged for help, to no avail. Governor Jindal said with emotion, 'We need more boom, more skimmers, more jack-up barges,' reports Houston Homeland Security Examiner, Lou Gallio, adding, "Louisiana, however, has received only a fraction of the supplies it requested to protect itself."
Add the BP chief Tony Hayward selling his shares one week before the explosion. (See Gassed in the Gulf, Part I) What has become a U.S. military operation increasingly appears to have been a LYHOP, if not a MYHOP false flag black operation.
"To the rescue" military innovation
During the fake but profitable H1N1 swine flu pandemic, troops were moved into five regional areas, ready for action. At that time, Ron Paul stated, "The stage is set for our country to be in remnant status... to evolve into a military dictatorship" in which few are aware of seriousness of this and "few seem to care." (Video) Now, six thousand troops have moved into the southern area for a long-term Gulf operation with more on standby according to Defense News.
Defense News reports that Army Col. Patrick R. Bossetta, commander of State Aviation Command in Hammond, La. stated that the operation tempo is almost as high as Louisiana aviation units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan experienced. (Department of Defense News, Louisiana Aviators Battle Oil Spill, Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul C. Meeker 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
The Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded, killed 11 platform workers and injured 17 others on April 20, 2010. By May 16, USNORTHCOM was preparing military operations within the U.S., working with DHS, state and local law enforcement on U.S. soil. (See: Maj. Dale Greer: 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs, Units make history with Air Force's first homeland defense ORI, June 3, 2010, located on Intelhub.com)
"We're thinking ahead over the long term" said Army Maj. Gen. Abner C. Blalock, Alabama's adjutant general during a DoD roundtable. "[A]ssets from Missouri and Illinois have been tapped to support operations in Louisiana through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact." (Department of Defense News, States Prepare to Help Louisiana, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy, National Guard Bureau) "Six months" in Afghanistan occupation time means years.
Regrettably for some 911 survivors offended by the comparison, as during the 911 false flag black operation, hiding evidence is paramount to mission success. A prime example of this during the 911 black operation was Bush's demand for a fake investigation. The Gulf operation evidence is being hidden. As noted in Part I of this series, military personnel and mercenaries have blocked journalists from the Gulf area and BP has coerced oil spill responders to sign contracts preventing them from talking to the press about their observations in the region.
In the 911 black operation designed to further fascism by catapulting the war on terror, early stage response workers were not provided preventive gear and therefore breathed toxic dust. Today, oil assault response workers are breathing toxins and not provided preventive gear. BP spokesman Darren Beaudo claims constant air quality monitoring, by boats and wearable "badges" worn by supervisors on boats in areas judged the most dangerous, show no air quality problem and no need for workers to wear masks, all untrue according to reports highlighted in Part I of this series.
Years of military intervention are now needed in the U.S. because the Gulf emergency is greater than the public has been informed and the military needs control of the Gulf. Wayne Madsen reports that "when the Army Corps of Engineers first attempted to obtain NASA imagery of the Gulf oil slick -- which is larger than that being reported by the media -- it was turned down. However, National Geographic managed to obtain the satellite imagery shots of the extent of the disaster and posted them on their web site."
"BP is the operator and principal developer of the Macondo Prospect with 65% of interest, while 25% is owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, and 10% by MOEX Offshore 2007, a unit of Mitsui. (Wikipedia)
Deepwater Horizon was a 9-year-old, massive, floating semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU), built by Hyundai Heavy Industries with supposed capacity to operate in waters up to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) deep and drill down to 30,000 feet (9,100 m) drilling an exploratory well at approximately 1,500 meters in the Macondo Prospect located in the Mississippi Canyon Block 252. This prospect is in the United States "exclusive economic zone," about 41 miles (66 km) off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. "It was owned by Transocean under the Marshalese flag of convenience, under lease to BP until September 2013." (Wikipedia)
BP's Gulf exploration dangers were known for years. Explaining technological requirements for oil companies to drill as deeply as intended for fossil fuels in the Gulf, in the movie, FUEL, Ken Hern, now chairman of the board of Homeland Renewable Energy, emphatically alerts, "It would be easier to send a man to the moon than to drill as deep as they are planning."
People of integrity, from Van Jones and oil rig supervisors to the UN Renewable Energy Ambassador of Goodwill Josh Tickell and a host of other environmentalist leaders, tried to prevent the Gulf disaster. They could have succeeded in saving lives and the planet if powers that be want that.
Instead, in disregard of the weary, the poor, the downtrodden, mainly people of color in the South, the power elite have been quietly moving towards full and total control. They and the military who serve them are like the Mississippi River itself, Paul Robeson's Ol' Man River, looking the other way, knowing but acting as if unaware of human suffering.
"He don't say nothin'. He just keeps rollin' along."
THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 2010
As I have previously noted, it is now clear that there is damage to BP's well beneath the sea floor.
Recently-retired Shell Oil President John Hofmeister told MSNBC yesterday:
The question is whether there is enough mechanical structure left at the base of the reservoir to hold the cement when they start pouring cement in [from the relief well].
The more oil we some coming out, the more it tells you that the whole casing system is deteriorating. The fact that more oil would be coming out rather than less oil, would suggest that the construction within the pipe is offering no resistance whatsoever, and we're just getting a gusher.
Newsweek gives a balanced view regarding the risk of a total structural failure of the well:
The likelihood of a complete collapse is difficult to assess, in part, engineers and legislators say, because BP hasn't shared enough information to evaluate the situation. But a handful of clues suggest that the company is concerned. On Friday, BP spokesperson Toby Odone acknowledged that the 45-ton stack of the blowout preventer was tilting noticeably, but said the company could not attribute it to down-hole leaks. "We don't know anything about the underground portion of the well," he said. But, the stack "is tilting and has been tilting since the rig went down. We believe that it was caused by the collapse of the riser." The company is monitoring the degree of leaning but has not announced any plans to run additional supports to the structure.
As many have speculated ... concerns over structural integrity are what led BP to halt "top kill" efforts late last month. When it was digging this particular well, the company ran out of casing–the pipe that engineers send down the hole–and switched to a less durable material called liner. This may have created several weak spots along the well that would be particularly vulnerable to excessive pressure or erosion. So instead of sealing the well, the company has been focused on trying to capture the oil as it flows out the top.
At this point, some experts say, additional leaks wouldn't matter much. "It's very possible that there are subfloor leaks," says [Roger Anderson - an oil geophysicist at Columbia University]. "But that doesn't change the strategy moving forward." The linchpin of that strategy involves drilling relief wells that would absorb all possible leaks, both at the top and the bottom of the hulking, teetering structure. Relief wells are drilled straight down into the sea bottom. After running parallel to the existing well for a few thousand meters, they cut in and intersect the original well bore. BP is drilling two such wells, one on either side of the main well. Once they are complete, the company will use them to pump heavy fluid and cement into the main well, stopping the oil at its source. The approach usually has a 95 percent success rate.
But to work, the well must be sealed as far down as possible–if it's sealed too high, oil could still escape through any leaks beneath the seal. In this case, relief wells will have to drill down to 5,500 meters, and that takes time, at least until August. The real question now is whether the entire structure can hold out long enough.
One of the dangers which the relief wells are racing against is that the blowout preventer (BOP) is leaning ... and might fall over.
The well casing itself is attached to the BOP. And - as discussed below - the BOP is very heavy. So if the BOP fell over, it would likely severely damage the structural integrity of the casing.
As Think Progress points out:
In a press teleconference Monday, National Incident Commander Thad Allen announced that the riser package is tilting "10 or 12 degrees off perpendicular," twice the 5.5 degree tilt of the Leaning Tower of Pisa:
The entire arrangement is kind of listed a little bit. I think it's 10 or 12 degrees off perpendicular so it's not quite straight up.
As the Times-Picayune notes:
The integrity of the well has become a major topic of discussion among engineers and geologists.
"Everybody's worried about all of this. That's all people are talking about," said Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of geoscience programs at University of Houston. He said the things that BP has being doing to try to stop the oil or gain control of it have been tantamount to repeatedly hitting the well with a hammer and sending shock waves down the pipe. "I don't think people realize how delicate it is."
"There is a very high level of concern for the integrity of the well," said Bob Bea, the University of California Berkeley engineering professor known to New Orleanians for investigating the levee failures after Katrina, who now has organized the Deepwater Horizon Study Group. Bea and other engineers say that BP hasn't released enough information publicly for people outside the company to evaluate the situation.
When wells are drilled, engineers send links of telescoping pipe down the hole, and those links are encased in cement. The telescoping pipe, called casing, unfolds like a radio antenna, only upside down, so the width of pipe gets smaller as the well gets deeper.
The cement and layers of casing are normally quite strong, Van Nieuwenhuise said. But with the BP well, there are several weak spots that the highly pressurized oil could exploit. BP ran out of casing sections before it hit the reservoir of oil, so it switched to using something called liner for the remainder of the well, which isn't as strong. The joints between two sections of liner pipe and the joint where the liner pipe meets the casing could be weak, Van Nieuwenhuise said.
Bill Gale, an engineer specializing in fires and explosions on oil rigs who is part of Bea's Deepwater Horizon Study Group, said the 16-inch wide casing contains disks that are designed to relieve pressure if necessary. If any of those disks popped, it could create undesirable new avenues for the oil to flow.
Bea said there are also concerns about the casing at the seabed right under the blowout preventer.
Van Nieuwenhuise said he's never actually heard of oil from a blown out well rupturing the casing and bubbling up through the ocean floor. He would consider that an unlikely, worst-case scenario.
A more likely problem, he said, is that oil could find its way into open spaces in the casing string, known as the annulus, and travel up the well in areas where it isn't supposed to be. This scenario could be one reason why more oil than expected is flowing at the containment cap that BP installed earlier this month to collect the oil.
Bea is more concerned about the worst-case scenario than Van Nieuwnhuise. In an answer to a question, Bea said, "Yes," there is reason to think that hydrocarbons are leaking from places in the well other than the containment cap.
"The likelihood of failure is extremely high," Bea said. "We could have multiple losses of containment, and that's going to provide much more difficult time of trying to capture this (oil)."
Meanwhile, observers monitoring the video feeds from the robotic vehicles working on the sea floor have noticed BP measuring a tilt in the 40-ton blowout preventer stack with a level and a device called an inclinometer.
Bea said BP isn't sharing enough information for others to know. If there is oil and gas escaping from the sides of the well, it could erode the sediments around the well and eat away at the support for all the heavy equipment that sits above. Bea said reports that BP is using an inclinometer is significant news. "It tells me that they are also concerned," he said.
Here are videos of BP measuring the tilt of the BOP.
While the BOP weighs 40 tons, the riser package as a whole weighs over 450 tons. If the BOP and riser package fell over, it would inflict severe damage to the attached well casing.
The Houston Chronicle reports:
Money-saving measures BP took while designing the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico appear to have dogged efforts to bring the massive oil spill under control.
Documents released by congressional investigators show that modifications to the well design BP made last year included a reduction in the thickness of a section of the casing — steel piping in the wellbore
The modification included a slight reduction in the specified thickness for the wall of a 16-inch-diameter section of pipe toward the bottom of the well, according to a May 14, 2009, document.
The condition of the well also limits how much oil and gas can flow into containment systems now being used successfully to capture some of the flow. Even if a vessel could capture all the hydrocarbons gushing from the well, some would have to be released to keep well pressure under control.
Marvin Odum, president of Houston-based Shell Oil, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell, told the Houston Chronicle last week that the integrity of the well casing is a major concern. Odum and others from the industry regularly sit in on high-level meetings with BP and government officials about the spill.
If the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor, or create a crater underneath the wellhead - a device placed at the top of the well where the casing meets the seafloor - that would destabilize it and the blowout preventer.
The steel casing used in oil wells is strong, said Gene Beck, petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M, but pressures deep in a well are powerful enough to split strong steel pipe or "crush it like a beer can."
The strength and thickness of casing walls are key decisions in well design, he said. If the BP well's casing wasn't strong enough, it may already be split or could split during a containment effort.
BP spokesman Toby Odone said the decision to reduce the pipe thickness was made after careful review. The company said it doesn't know the condition of the well casing and has no way of inspecting it.
BP is drilling two relief wells to intercept the Macondo well near the reservoir and plug it with cement. A rupture in the Macondo well casing probably wouldn't affect that effort, said Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, director of geoscience programs at the University of Houston.
"When they start the bottom kill the cement will try to follow oil wherever it's escaping, so it would actually hide a lot of sins in the well bore," Van Nieuwenhuise said.
So far there are no signs that the section of the pipe below the sea floor is leaking.
The blowout preventer has been listing slightly since the accident, but officials believe that may have happened when the Deepwater Horizon sank while still attached to the well via a pipe called a riser.
But the longer the well flows uncontrolled the more likely it is that the well casing could be damaged or the blowout preventer damaged further. Sand and other debris that flows through the pipes at high velocity can wear through metal over time, said Van Nieuwenhuise.
The chances of the well eroding from underneath and the blowout preventer tipping may seem unlikely.
"But everything about this well has been unlikely," said David Pursell, an analyst with Tudor Pickering Holt & Co
Indeed, oil industry expert Rob Cavner says that he wouldn't be surprised if the BOP ended up falling over entirely.
Did 9/11 Justify the War in Afghanistan?
Using the McChrystal Moment to Raise a Forbidden Question
By Prof. David Ray Griffin
June 25, 2010 " Global Research" -- There are many questions to ask about the war in Afghanistan. One that has been widely asked is whether it will turn out to be "Obama's Vietnam." This question implies another: Is this war winnable, or is it destined to be a quagmire, like Vietnam? These questions are motivated in part by the widespread agreement that the Afghan government, under Hamid Karzai, is at least as corrupt and incompetent as the government the United States tried to prop up in South Vietnam for 20 years.
Although there are many similarities between these two wars, there is also a big difference: This time, there is no draft. If there were a draft, so that college students and their friends back home were being sent to Afghanistan, there would be huge demonstrations against this war on campuses all across this country. If the sons and daughters of wealthy and middle-class parents were coming home in boxes, or with permanent injuries or post-traumatic stress syndrome, this war would have surely been stopped long ago. People have often asked: Did we learn any of the "lessons of Vietnam"? The US government learned one: If you're going to fight unpopular wars, don't have a draft – hire mercenaries!
There are many other questions that have been, and should be, asked about this war, but in this essay, I focus on only one: Did the 9/11 attacks justify the war in Afghanistan?
This question has thus far been considered off-limits, not to be raised in polite company, and certainly not in the mainstream media. It has been permissible, to be sure, to ask whether the war during the past several years has been justified by those attacks so many years ago. But one has not been allowed to ask whether the original invasion was justified by the 9/11 attacks.
However, what can be designated the "McChrystal Moment" – the probably brief period during which the media are again focused on the war in Afghanistan in the wake of the Rolling Stone story about General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, which led to his resignation – provides the best opportunity for some time to raise fundamental questions about this war. Various commentators have already been asking some pretty basic questions: about the effectiveness and affordability of the present "counterinsurgency strategy" and even whether American fighting forces should remain in Afghanistan at all. But I am interested in an even more fundamental question: Whether this war was ever really justified by the publicly given reason: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
This question has two parts: First, did these attacks provide a legal justification for the invasion of Afghanistan? Second, if not, did they at least provide a moral justification?
I. Did 9/11 Provide Legal Justification for the War in Afghanistan?
Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, international law with regard to war has been defined by the UN Charter. Measured by this standard, the US-led war in Afghanistan has been illegal from the outset.
Marjorie Cohn, a well-known professor of international law, wrote in November 2001:
"[T]he bombings of Afghanistan by the United States and the United Kingdom are illegal."2
In 2008, Cohn repeated this argument in an article entitled "Afghanistan: The Other Illegal War." The point of the title was that, although it was by then widely accepted that the war in Iraq was illegal, the war in Afghanistan, in spite of the fact that many Americans did not realize it, was equally illegal.3 Her argument was based on the following facts:
First, according to international law as codified in the UN Charter, disputes are to be brought to the UN Security Council, which alone may authorize the use of force. Without this authorization, any military activity against another country is illegal.
Second, there are two exceptions: One is that, if your nation has been subjected to an armed attack by another nation, you may respond militarily in self-defense. This condition was not fulfilled by the 9/11 attacks, however, because they were not carried out by another nation: Afghanistan did not attack the United States. Indeed, the 19 men charged with the crime were not Afghans.
The other exception occurs when one nation has certain knowledge that an armed attack by another nation is imminent – too imminent to bring the matter to the Security Council. The need for self-defense must be, in the generally accepted phrase, "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation." Although the US government claimed that its military operations in Afghanistan were justified by the need to prevent a second attack, this need, even if real, was clearly not urgent, as shown by the fact that the Pentagon did not launch its invasion until almost a month later.
US political leaders have claimed, to be sure, that the UN did authorize the US attack on Afghanistan. This claim, originally made by the Bush-Cheney administration, was repeated by President Obama in his West Point speech of December 1, 2009, in which he said: "The United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks," so US troops went to Afghanistan "[u]nder the banner of . . . international legitimacy."4
However, the language of "all necessary steps" is from UN Security Council Resolution 1368, in which the Council, taking note of its own "responsibilities under the Charter," expressed its own readiness "to take all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001."5
Of course, the UN Security Council might have determined that one of these necessary steps was to authorize an attack on Afghanistan by the United States. But it did not. Resolution 1373, the only other Security Council resolution about this issue, laid out various responses, but these included matters such as freezing assets, criminalizing the support of terrorists, exchanging police information
about terrorists, and prosecuting terrorists. The use of military force was not mentioned.6
The US war in Afghanistan was not authorized by the UN Security Council in 2001 or at anytime since, so this war began as an illegal war and remains an illegal war today. Our government's claim to the contrary is false.
This war has been illegal, moreover, not only under international law, but also under US law. The UN Charter is a treaty, which was ratified by the United States, and, according to Article VI of the US Constitution, any treaty ratified by the United States is part of the "supreme law of the land."7 The war in Afghanistan, therefore, has from the beginning been in violation of US as well as international law. It could not be more illegal.
II. Did 9/11 Provide Moral Justification for the War in Afghanistan?
The American public has for the most part probably been unaware of the illegality of this war, because this is not something our political leaders or our corporate media have been anxious to point out.8 So most people simply do not know.
If they were informed, however, many Americans would be inclined to argue that, even if technically illegal, the US military effort in Afghanistan has been morally justified, or at least it was in the beginning, by the attacks of 9/11. For a summary statement of this argument, we can turn again to the West Point speech of President Obama, who has taken over the Bush-Cheney account of 9/11. Answering the question of "why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place," Obama said:
"We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women and children without regard to their faith or race or station. . . . As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda – a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam. . . . [A]fter the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden - we sent our troops into Afghanistan."9
This standard account can be summarized in terms of three points:
1. The attacks were carried out by 19 Muslim members of al-Qaeda.
2. The attacks had been authorized by the founder of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan.
3. The US invasion of Afghanistan was necessary because the Taliban, which was in control of Afghanistan, refused to turn bin Laden over to US authorities.
On the basis of these three points, our political leaders have claimed that the United States had the moral right, arising from the universal right of self-defense, to attempt to capture or kill bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network to prevent them from launching another attack on our country.
The only problem with this argument is that all three points are false. I will show this by looking at these points in reverse order.
1. Did the United States Attack Afghanistan because the Taliban Refused to Turn Over Bin Laden?
The claim that the Taliban refused to turn over Bin Laden has been repeatedly made by political leaders and our mainstream media.10 Reports from the time, however, show the truth to be very different.
A. Who Refused Whom?
Ten days after the 9/11 attacks, CNN reported:
"The Taliban . . . refus[ed] to hand over bin Laden without proof or evidence that he was involved in last week's attacks on the United States. . . . The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan . . . said Friday that deporting him without proof would amount to an 'insult to Islam.'"
CNN also made clear that the Taliban's demand for proof was not made without reason, saying:
"Bin Laden himself has already denied he had anything to do with the attacks, and Taliban officials repeatedly said he could not have been involved in the attacks."
Bush, however, "said the demands were not open to negotiation or discussion."11
With this refusal to provide any evidence of bin Laden's responsibility, the Bush administration made it impossible for the Taliban to turn him over. As Afghan experts quoted by the Washington Post pointed out, the Taliban, in order to turn over a fellow Muslim to an "infidel" Western nation, needed a "face-saving formula." Milton Bearden, who had been the CIA station chief in Afghanistan in the 1980s, put it this way: While the United States was demanding, "Give up bin Laden," the Taliban were saying, "Do something to help us give him up."12 But the Bush administration refused.
After the bombing began in October, moreover, the Taliban tried again, offering to turn bin Laden over to a third country if the United States would stop the bombing and provide evidence of his guilt. But Bush replied: "There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he's guilty." An article in London's Guardian, which reported this development, was entitled: "Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand Bin Laden Over."13 So it was the Bush administration, not the Taliban, that was responsible for the fact that bin Laden was not turned over.
In August of 2009, President Obama, who had criticized the US invasion of Iraq as a war of choice, said of the US involvement in Afghanistan: "This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity."14 But the evidence shows, as we have seen, that it, like the one in Iraq, is a war of choice.
B. What Was the Motive for the Invasion?
This conclusion is reinforced by reports indicating that the United States had made the decision to invade Afghanistan two months before the 9/11 attacks. At least part of the background to this decision was the United States' long-time support for UNOCAL's proposed pipeline, which would transport oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea region to the Indian Ocean through Afghanistan and Pakistan.15 This project had been stymied through the 1990s because of the civil war that had been going on in Afghanistan since the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
In the mid-1990s, the US government had supported the Taliban with the hope that its military strength would enable it to unify the country and provide a stable government, which could protect the pipeline. By the late 1990s, however, the Clinton administration had given up on the Taliban.16
When the Bush administration came to power, it decided to give the Taliban one last chance. During a four-day meeting in Berlin in July 2001, representatives of the Bush administration insisted that the Taliban must create a government of "national unity" by sharing power with factions friendly to the United States. The US representatives reportedly said: "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs."17
After the Taliban refused this offer, US officials told a former Pakistani foreign secretary that "military action against Afghanistan would go ahead . . . before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest."18 And, indeed, given the fact that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred when they did, the US military was able to mobilize to begin its attack on Afghanistan by October 7.
It appears, therefore, that the United States invaded Afghanistan for reasons far different from the official rationale, according to which we were there to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
2. Has Good Evidence of Bin Laden's Responsibility Been Provided?
I turn now to the second point: the claim that Osama bin Laden had authorized the attacks. Even if it refused to give the Taliban evidence for this claim, the Bush administration surely – most Americans probably assume – had such evidence and provided it to those who needed it. Again, however, reports from the time indicate otherwise.
A. The Bush Administration
Two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he expected "in the near future . . . to put out . . . a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking [bin Laden] to this attack."19 But at a joint press conference with President Bush the next morning, Powell withdrew this pledge, saying that "most of [the evidence] is classified."20 Seymour Hersh, citing officials from both the CIA and the Department of Justice, said the real reason why Powell withdrew the pledge was a "lack of solid information."21
B. The British Government
The following week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a document to show that "Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001." Blair's report, however, began by saying: "This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama Bin Laden in a court of law."22 So, the case was good enough to go to war, but not good enough to take to court. The next day, the BBC emphasized this weakness, saying: "There is no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks."23
C. The FBI
What about our own FBI? Its "Most Wanted Terrorist" webpage on "Usama bin Laden" does not list 9/11 as one of the terrorist acts for which he is wanted.24 When asked why not, the FBI's chief of investigative publicity replied: "because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."25
D. The 9/11 Commission
What about the 9/11 Commission? Its entire report is based on the assumption that bin Laden was behind the attacks. However, the report's evidence to support this premise has been disowned by the Commission's own co-chairs, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton.
This evidence consisted of testimony that had reportedly been elicited by the CIA from al-Qaeda operatives. The most important of these operatives was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – generally known simply as "KSM" – who has been called the "mastermind" of the 9/11 attacks. If you read the 9/11 Commission's account of how bin Laden planned the attacks, and then check the notes, you will find that almost every note says that the information came from KSM.26
In 2006, Kean and Hamilton wrote a book giving "the inside story of the 9/11 Commission," in which they called this information untrustworthy. They had no success, they reported, in "obtaining access to star witnesses in custody . . . , most notably Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."27 Besides not being allowed by the CIA to interview KSM, they were not permitted to observe his interrogation through one-way glass. They were not even allowed to talk to the interrogators.28 Therefore, Kean and Hamilton complained:
"We . . . had no way of evaluating the credibility of detainee information. How could we tell if someone such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed . . . was telling us the truth?"29
They could not.
Accordingly, neither the Bush administration, the British government, the FBI, nor the 9/11 Commission ever provided good evidence of bin Laden's responsibility for the attacks.
E. Did Bin Laden Confess?
Some people argue, to be sure, that such evidence soon became unnecessary because bin Laden admitted his responsibility in a videotape that was discovered by the US military in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in November 2001. But besides the fact that bin Laden had previously denied his involvement many times,30 bin Laden experts have called this later video a fake,31 and for good reasons. Many of the physical features of the man in this video are different from those of Osama bin Laden (as seen in undoubtedly authentic videos), and he said many things that bin Laden himself would not have said.32
The FBI, in any case, evidently does not believe that this video provides hard evidence of bin Laden's responsibility for 9/11, or it would have revised its "Most Wanted Terrorist" page on him after this video surfaced.
So, to review the first two points: The Taliban said it would turn over bin Laden if our government would give it good evidence of his responsibility for 9/11, but our government refused. And good evidence of this responsibility has never been given to the public.
I turn now to the third claim: that, even if there is no proof that Osama bin Laden authorized the attacks, we have abundant evidence that the attacks were carried out by Muslims belonging to his al-Qaeda organization. I will divide the discussion of this third claim into two sections: Section 3a looks at the main support for this claim: evidence that Muslim hijackers were on the airliners. Section 3b looks at the strongest evidence against this claim: the collapse of World Trade Center 7.
3a. Evidence Al-Qaeda Muslims Were on the Airliners
It is still widely thought to have been established beyond question that the attacks were carried out by members of al-Qaeda. The truth, however, is that the evidence entirely falls apart upon examination, and this fact suggests that 9/11 was instead a false-flag attack - an attack that people within our own government orchestrated while planting evidence to implicate Muslims.
A. Devout Muslims?
Let us begin with the 9/11 Commission's claim that the men who (allegedly) took over the planes were devout Muslims, ready to sacrifice their lives for their cause.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Atta and other hijackers had made "at least six trips" to Las Vegas, where they had "engaged in some decidedly un-Islamic sampling of prohibited pleasures." The Chronicle then quoted the head of the Islamic Foundation of Nevada as saying: "True Muslims don't drink, don't gamble, don't go to strip clubs."33
The contradiction is especially strong with regard to Mohamed Atta. On the one hand, according to the 9/11 Commission, he was very religious, even "fanatically so."34 This characterization was supported by Professor Dittmar Machule, who was Atta's thesis supervisor at a technical university in Hamburg in the 1990s. Professor Machule says he knew his student only as Mohamed Al-Emir – although his full name was the same as his father's: Mohamed Al-Emir Atta. In any case, Machule says that this young man was "very religious," prayed regularly, and never touched alcohol.35
According to the American press, on the other hand, Mohamed Atta drank heavily and, one night after downing five glasses of Vodka, shouted an Arabic word that, Newsweek said, "roughly translates as 'F--k God.'"36 Investigative reporter Daniel Hopsicker, who wrote a book about Atta, stated that Atta regularly went to strip clubs, hired prostitutes, drank heavily, and took cocaine. Atta even lived with a stripper for several months and then, after she kicked him out, she reported, he came back and disemboweled her cat and dismembered its kittens.37
Could this be the same individual as Professor Machule's student Mohamed Al-Emir, who would not even shake hands with a woman upon being introduced, and who never touched alcohol? "I would put my hand in the fire," said the professor, "that this Mohamed El-Amir I know will never taste or touch alcohol." Could the Atta described by Hopsicker and the American press be the young man whom this professor described as not a "bodyguard type" but "more a girl looking type"?38 Could the man who disemboweled a cat and dismembered its kittens be the young man known to his father as a "gentle and tender boy," who was nicknamed "nightingale"?39
We are clearly talking about two different men. This is confirmed by the differences in their appearance. The American Atta was often described as having a hard, cruel face, and the standard FBI photo of him bears this out. The face of the Hamburg student was quite different, as photos available on the Internet show.40 Also, his professor described him as "very small," being "one meter sixty-two" in height41 – which means slightly under 5'4" – whereas the American Atta has been described as 5'8" and even 5'10" tall.42
One final reason to believe that these different descriptions apply to different men: The father of Mohamed al-Emir Atta reported that on September 12, before either of them had learned of the attacks, his son called him and they "spoke for two minutes about this and that."43
There are also problems in relation to many of the other alleged hijackers. For example, the BBC reported that Waleed al-Shehri, who supposedly died along with Atta on American Flight 11, spoke to journalists and American authorities in Casablanca the following week.44 Moreover, there were clearly two men going by the name Ziad Jarrah – the name of the alleged hijacker pilot of United Flight 93.45
Accordingly, besides the fact the men labeled "the hijackers" were not devout Muslims, they may not have even been Muslims of any type.
And if that were not bad enough for the official story, there is no good evidence that these men were even on the planes - all the evidence for this claim falls apart upon examination. I will illustrate this point with a few examples.46
B. Passports at the Crash Sites
One of the purported proofs that the 19 men identified as the hijackers were on the planes was the reported discovery of some of their passports at crash sites. But the reports of these discoveries are not believable.
For example, the FBI claimed that, while searching the streets after the destruction of the World Trade Center, they discovered the passport of Satam al-Suqami, one of the hijackers on American Flight 11, which had crashed into the North Tower.47 But for this to be true, the passport would have had to survive the collapse of the North Tower, which evidently pulverized almost everything in the building into fine particles of dust – except the steel and al-Suqami's passport.
But this claim was too absurd to pass the giggle test: "[T]he idea that [this] passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged," remarked a British commentator, "would [test] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism."48 By 2004, the claim had been modified to say that "a passer-by picked it up and gave it to a NYPD detective shortly before the World Trade Center towers collapsed."49 So, rather than needing to survive the collapse of the North Tower, the passport merely needed to escape from al-Suqami's pocket or luggage, then from the plane's cabin, and then from the North Tower without being destroyed or even singed by the giant fireball.
This version was no less ridiculous than the first one, and the other stories about passports at crash sites are equally absurd.
C. Reported Phone Calls from the Airliners
It is widely believed, of course, that we know that there were hijackers on the airliners, thanks to numerous phone calls from passengers and crew members, in which they reported the hijackings. But we have good reasons to believe that these calls never occurred.
Reported Calls from Cell Phones: About 15 of the reported calls from the airliners were said to have been made on cell phones, with about 10 of those being from United Flight 93 – the one that reportedly crashed in Pennsylvania. Three or four of those calls were received by Deena Burnett, who knew that her husband, Tom Burnett, had used his cell phone, she told the FBI, because she recognized his cell phone number on her Caller ID.
However, given the cell phone technology available in 2001, high-altitude cell phone calls from airliners were not possible. They were generally not possible much above 1,000 feet, and were certainly impossible above 35,000 or even 40,000 feet, which was the altitude of the planes when most of the cell phone calls were supposedly made. Articles describing the impossibility of the calls were published in 2003 and 2004 by two well-known Canadians: A. K. Dewdney, formerly a columnist for Scientific American, and economist Michel Chossudovsky.50
Perhaps in response, the FBI changed the story. In 2006, it presented a report on the phone calls from the planes for the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker. In its report on United Flight 93, it said that cell phones were used for only two of the calls, both of which were made the plane, shortly before it crashed, had descended to a low altitude.51 These two calls were, in fact, the only two cell phone calls made from any of the airliners, the FBI report said.52 The FBI thereby avoided claiming that any high-altitude cell phone calls had been made.
But if the FBI's new account is true, how do we explain that so many people reported receiving cell phone calls? Most of these people said that they had been told by the caller that he or she was using a cell phone, so we might suppose that their reports were based on bad hearing or faulty memory. But what about Deena Burnett, whose statement that she recognized her husband's cell phone number on her Caller ID was made to the FBI that very day?53 If Tom Burnett used a seat-back phone, as the FBI's 2006 report says, why did his cell phone number show up on his wife's Caller ID? The FBI has not answered this question.
The only possible explanation seems to be that these calls were faked. Perhaps someone used voice morphing technology, which already existed at that time,54 in combination with a device for providing a fake Caller ID, which can be ordered on the Internet. Or perhaps someone used Tom's cell phone to place fake calls from the ground. In either case, Tom Burnett did not actually call his wife from aboard United Flight 93. And if calls to Deena Burnett were faked, we must assume that all of the calls were – because if there had really been surprise hijackings, no one would have been prepared to make fake phone calls to her.
The Reported Calls from Barbara Olson: This conclusion is reinforced by the FBI's report on phone calls from American Flight 77 – the one that supposedly struck the Pentagon. Ted Olson, the US Solicitor General, reported that his wife, Barbara Olson (a well-known commentator on CNN), had called him twice from this flight, with the first call lasting "about one (1) minute,"55 and the second call lasting "two or three or four minutes."56 In these calls, he said, she reported that the plane had been taken over by hijackers armed with knives and box-cutters.
But how could she have made these calls? The plane was far too high for a cell phone to work. And American Flight 77 was a Boeing 757, and the 757s made for American Airlines – the 9/11 Truth Movement learned in 2005 – did not have onboard phones.57 Whether or not for this reason, the FBI's report to the Moussaoui trial did not endorse Ted Olson's story. Its report on telephone calls from American Flight 77 did mention Barbara Olson, but it attributed only one call to her, not two, and it said that this call was "unconnected," so that it lasted "0 seconds."58
This FBI report allows only two possibilities: Either Ted Olson engaged in deception, or he, like Deena Burnett, was duped by faked calls. In either case, the story about Barbara Olson's calls, with their reports of hijackers taking over Flight 77, was based on deception.
The alleged phone calls, therefore, do not provide trustworthy evidence that there were hijackers on the planes.
D. Autopsy Reports and Flight Manifests
The public has widely assumed, due to misleading claims,59 that the names of the alleged hijackers were on the flight manifests for the four flights, and also that the autopsy report from the Pentagon contained the names of the hijackers said to have been on American Flight 77. However, the passenger manifests for the four airliners did not contain the names of any of the alleged hijackers and, moreover, they contained no Arab names whatsoever.60 Also, as a psychiatrist who was able to obtain a copy of the Pentagon autopsy report through a FOIA request discovered, it contained none of the names of the hijackers for American Flight 77 and, in fact, no Arab names whatsoever.61
E. Failure to Squawk the Hijack Code
Finally, the public has been led to believe that all the evidence about what happened on board the four airliners supported the claim that they were taken over by hijackers. This claim, however, was contradicted by something that did not happen. If pilots have any reason to believe that a hijacking may be in process, they are trained to enter the standard hijack code (7500) into their transponders to alert controllers on the ground. This is called "squawking" the hijack code. None of the eight pilots did this on 9/11, even though there would have been plenty of time: This act takes only two or three seconds and it would have taken longer than this for hijackers to break into the pilots' cabins: According to official account of United Flight 93, for example, it took over 30 seconds for the hijackers to break into the cockpit.62
F. False-Flag Attack
It appears, therefore, that 9/11 was the most elaborate example yet of a false-flag attack, which occurs when countries, wanting to attack other countries, orchestrate attacks on their own people while planting evidence to implicate those other countries. Hitler did this when he was ready to attack Poland, which started the European part of World War II; Japan did it when it was ready to attack Manchuria, which started the Asian part of that war. In 1962, the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed false-flag attacks killing American citizens to provide a pretext for invading Cuba.63 This proposal was not put into effect because it was vetoed by President Kennedy. But in 2001, the White House was occupied by an administration that wanted to attack Afghanistan, Iraq, and several other predominantly Muslim countries,64 and so, it appears, evidence was planted to implicate Muslims.
3b. How the Collapse of WTC 7 Disproves the Al-Qaeda Theory
I turn now to the strongest evidence that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by insiders rather than foreign terrorists: the collapse of Building 7 of the World Trade Center, which is the subject of my most recent book, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 Is Unscientific and False.65
A. Mysterious Collapse
I speak of the "mysterious collapse" because the collapse of this building was, from the very beginning, seen as more mysterious than that of the Twin Towers. Given the fact that those two buildings were hit by planes, which started big fires, most people evidently thought – if wrongly - that the fact that these buildings came down was not problematic. But Building 7 was not hit by a plane, and yet it came down at 5:21 that afternoon.
This would mean, assuming that neither incendiaries nor explosives were used to demolish this building, that it had been brought down by fire alone, and this would have been an unprecedented occurrence. New York Times writer James Glanz wrote, "experts said no building like it, a modern, steel-reinforced high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled fire." Glanz then quoted a structural engineer as saying: "[W]ithin the structural engineering community, [Building 7] is considered to be much more important to understand [than the Twin Towers]," because engineers had no answer to the question, "why did 7 come down?"66
Moreover, although Glanz spoke of an "uncontrolled fire," there were significant fires on only six of this building's 47 floors, and these fires were visible at most for three to four hours, and yet fires have burned in other steel-frame skyscrapers for 17 and 18 hours, turning them into towering infernos without causing collapse.67 So why did Building 7 come down? FEMA, which in 2002 put out the first official report on this building, admitted that its "best hypothesis" had "only a low probability of occurrence."68
B. Reasons to Suspect Explosives
By its "best hypothesis," FEMA meant the best hypothesis it could suggest consistent with the fact that it, as a government agency, could not posit the use of incendiaries and explosives. Why might anyone think that incendiaries and explosives brought this building down?
Precedent: One reason is simply that, prior to 9/11, every collapse of a steel-frame high-rise building was brought about by explosives, often in conjunction with incendiaries, in the procedure known as "controlled demolition." Collapse has never been produced by fires, earthquakes, or any other cause other than controlled demolition.
Vertical Collapse: Another reason to posit controlled demolition is that this building came straight down, collapsing into its own footprint. For this to happen, all of this building's 82 steel columns had to fail simultaneously. This is what happens in the type of controlled demolition known as "implosion." It is not something that can be caused by fires.
Simply seeing a video of the building coming down makes it obvious to anyone with knowledge of these things that explosives were used to bring it down. On 9/11 itself, CBS News anchor Dan Rather said:
"[I]t's reminiscent of those pictures we've all seen . . . on television . . . , where a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down."69
In 2006, a filmmaker asked Danny Jowenko, the owner of a controlled demolition company in the Netherlands, to comment on a video of the collapse of Building 7 without telling him what it was. (Jowenko had never heard that a third building had collapsed on 9/11.) After viewing the video, Jowenko said: "They simply blew up columns, and the rest caved in afterwards. . . . This is controlled demolition." When asked if he was certain, he replied: "Absolutely, it's been imploded. This was a hired job. A team of experts did this."70
An organization called "Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth," which was formed in 2007, now has over 1,200 members. Many of them, as one can see by reading their statements, joined after they saw a video of Building 7's collapse.71
In light of all of these considerations, a truly scientific investigation, which sought the truth about Building 7, would have begun with the hypothesis that it had been deliberately demolished.
C. NIST's Report as Political, Not Scientific
However, this hypothesis did not provide the starting point for NIST – the National Institute of Standards and Technology – which took over from FEMA the responsibility for writing the official report on the destruction of the World Trade Center. Rather, NIST said:
"The challenge was to determine if a fire-induced floor system failure could occur in WTC 7 under an ordinary building contents fire."72
So, although every other steel-frame building that has collapsed did so because explosives (perhaps along with incendiaries) were used to destroy its support columns, NIST said, in effect: "We think fire brought down WTC 7." To understand why NIST started with this hypothesis, it helps to know that it is an agency of the Commerce Department, which means that all the years it was working on its World Trade Center reports, it was an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration.
Also, a scientist who had worked for NIST reported that by 2001 it had been "fully hijacked from the scientific into the political realm," so that scientists working there had "lost [their] scientific independence, and became little more than 'hired guns.'"73
One manifestation of NIST's political nature may be the fact that it delayed its report on Building 7 year after year, releasing it only late in 2008, when the Bush-Cheney administration was preparing to leave office.
Be that as it may, NIST did in August of 2008 finally put out a report in the form of a draft for public comment. Announcing this draft report at a press conference, Shyam Sunder, NIST's lead investigator, said:
"Our take-home message today is that the reason for the collapse of World Trade Center 7 is no longer a mystery. WTC 7 collapsed because of fires fueled by office furnishings. It did not collapse from explosives."74
Sunder added that "science is really behind what we have said."75
However, far from being supported by good science, NIST's report repeatedly makes its case by resorting to scientific fraud. Two of the major types of scientific fraud, as defined by the National Science Foundation, are fabrication, which is "making up results," and falsification, which means either "changing or omitting data."76 I will begin with falsification.
D. NIST'S Falsification of Testimonial Evidence Pointing to Explosives
Claiming that it "found no evidence of a . . . controlled demolition event,"77 NIST simply omitted or distorted all such evidence, some of which was testimonial.
Two city officials, Barry Jennings of the Housing Authority and Michael Hess, the city's corporation counsel, reported that they became trapped by a massive explosion in Building 7 shortly after they arrived there at 9:00 AM. NIST, however, claimed that what they called an explosion was really just the impact of debris from the collapse of the North Tower, which did not occur until 10:28. But Jennings explicitly said that they were trapped before either of the Twin Towers came down, which means that the explosion that he and Hess reported occurred before 9:59, when the South Tower came down. NIST rather obviously, therefore, distorted these men's testimonial evidence.
Other people reported that explosions went off in the late afternoon, when the building started to come down. Reporter Peter Demarco of the New York Daily News said:
"[T]here was a rumble. The building's top row of windows popped out. Then all the windows on the thirty-ninth floor popped out. Then the thirty-eighth floor. Pop! Pop! Pop! was all you heard until the building sunk into a rising cloud of gray."78
NIST dealt with such testimonies by simply ignoring them.
E. NIST's Omission of Physical Evidence for Explosives
NIST also ignored a lot of physical evidence that Building 7 was brought down by explosives.
Swiss-Cheese Steel: For example, three professors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute discovered a piece of steel from Building 7 that had melted so severely that it had holes in it, making it look like Swiss cheese.79 The New York Times, pointing out that the fires in the building could not have been hot enough to melt steel, called this "the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation."80 The three professors, in a report included as an appendix to the 2002 FEMA report, said: "A detailed study into the mechanisms of this phenomenon is needed."81
When NIST's report on Building 7 appeared, however, it did not mention this mysterious piece of steel. It even claimed that no recovered steel from this building had been identified.82 And this was just the beginning of NIST's omission of physical evidence.
Particles of Metal in the Dust: The nearby Deutsche Bank building was heavily contaminated by dust produced when the World Trade Center was destroyed. But the bank's insurance company refused to pay for the clean-up, claiming that the dust in the bank was ordinary building dust, not dust that resulted from the destruction of the WTC. So Deutsche Bank hired the RJ Lee Group, a scientific research organization, to do a study, which showed that the dust in this building was WTC dust, with a unique chemical signature. Part of this signature was "[s]pherical iron . . . particles,"83 and this meant, the RJ Lee Group said, that iron had "melted during the WTC Event, producing spherical metallic particles."84
Iron does not melt until it reaches 2,800°F (1,538°C), which is about 1,000 degrees F (540 degrees C) higher than the fires could have been. The RJ Lee study also found that temperatures had been reached "at which lead would have undergone vaporization"85 – meaning 3,180°F (1,749°C).86
Another study was carried out by scientists at the US Geological Survey. Besides also finding iron particles, these scientists found that molybdenum had been melted87 – even though its melting point is extremely high: 4,753°F (2,623°C).88
These two studies proved, therefore, that something had produced temperatures many times higher than the fires could have produced. NIST, however, made no mention of these studies. But even this was not the end of the physical evidence omitted by NIST.
Nanothermite Residue: A report by several scientists, including University of Copenhagen chemist Niels Harrit, showed that the WTC dust contained unreacted nanothermite. Whereas ordinary thermite is an incendiary, nanothermite is a high explosive. This report by Harrit and his colleagues did not appear until 2009,89 several months after the publication of NIST's final report in November 2008. But NIST should have, as a matter of routine, tested the WTC dust for signs of incendiaries, such as ordinary thermite, and explosives, such as nanothermite.
When asked whether it did, however, NIST said that it did not. When a reporter asked Michael Newman, a NIST spokesman, why not, Newman replied: "[B]ecause there was no evidence of that." "But," asked the reporter, "how can you know there's no evidence if you don't look for it first?" Newman replied: "If you're looking for something that isn't there, you're wasting your time . . . and the taxpayers' money."90
F. NIST's Fabrication of Evidence to Support Its Own Theory
Besides omitting and distorting evidence to deny the demolition theory of Building 7's collapse, NIST also fabricated evidence – simply made it up – to support its own theory.
No Girder Shear Studs: NIST's explanation as to how fire caused Building 7 to collapse starts with thermal expansion, meaning that the fire heated up the steel, thereby causing it to expand. An expanding steel beam on the 13th floor, NIST claimed, caused a steel girder attached to a column to break loose. Having lost its support, this column failed, starting a chain reaction in which the other 81 columns failed, causing a progressive collapse.91 Ignoring the question of whether this is even remotely plausible, let us simply ask: Why did that girder fail? Because, NIST claimed, it was not connected to the floor slab with sheer studs. NIST wrote: In WTC 7, no studs were installed on the girders.92 Floor beams . . . had shear studs, but the girders that supported the floor beams did not have shear studs.93 This was a fabrication, as we can see by looking at NIST's Interim Report on WTC 7, which it had published in 2004. That report, written before NIST had developed its girder-failure theory, stated that girders as well as the beams had been attached to the floor by means of shear studs.94
A Raging Fire on Floor 12 at 5:00 PM: Another case of fabrication is a graphic in NIST's report showing that at 5:00 PM, there were very big fires covering much of the north face of Floor 12.95 This claim is essential to NIST's explanation as to why the building collapsed 21 minutes later. However, if you look back at NIST's 2004 report, you will find this statement:
"Around 4:45 PM, a photograph showed fires on Floors 7, 8, 9, and 11 near the middle of the north face; Floor 12 was burned out by this time."96
Other photographs even show that the 12th floor fire had virtually burned out by 4:00. And yet NIST, in its final report, claims that fires were still raging on this floor at 5:00 PM.
G. NIST's Affirmation of a Miracle
In addition to omitting, falsifying, and fabricating evidence, NIST affirms a miracle. You have perhaps seen the cartoon in which a physics professor has written a proof on a chalkboard. Most of the steps consist of mathematical equations, but one of them simply says: "Then a miracle happens." This is humorous because one thing you absolutely cannot do in science is to appeal to a miracle, even implicitly. And yet that is what NIST does. I will explain:
NIST'S Denial of Free Fall: Members of the 9/11 Truth Movement had long been pointing out that Building 7 came down at the same rate as a free-falling object, at least virtually so.
In NIST's Draft for Public Comment, put out in August 2008, it denied this, saying that the time it took for the upper floors – the only floors that are visible on the videos - to come down "was approximately 40 percent longer than the computed free fall time and was consistent with physical principles."97
As this statement implies, any assertion that the building did come down in free fall would not be consistent with physical principles – meaning the laws of physics. Explaining why not, Shyam Sunder said:
"[A] free fall time would be [the fall time of] an object that has no structural components below it. . . . [T]he . . . time that it took . . . for those 17 floors to disappear [was roughly 40 percent longer than free fall]. And that is not at all unusual, because there was structural resistance that was provided in this particular case. And you had a sequence of structural failures that had to take place. Everything was not instantaneous."98
In saying this, Sunder was presupposing NIST's rejection of controlled demolition – which could have produced a free-fall collapse by causing all 82 columns to fail simultaneously – in favor of NIST's fire theory, which necessitated a theory of progressive collapse.
Chandler's Challenge: In response, high-school physics teacher David Chandler challenged Sunder's denial of free fall, pointing out that Sunder's "40 percent longer" claim contradicted "a publicly visible, easily measurable quantity."99 Chandler then placed a video on the Internet showing that, by measuring this publicly visible quantity, anyone knowing elementary physics could see that "for about two and a half seconds. . . , the acceleration of the building is indistinguishable from freefall."100
NIST Admits Free Fall: Amazingly, in NIST's final report, which came out in November, it admitted free fall. Dividing the building's descent into three stages, NIST described the second phase as "a freefall descent over approximately eight stories at gravitational acceleration for approximately 2.25 s[econds]."101 ("Gravitational acceleration" is a synonym for free fall acceleration.)
So, after presenting over 600 pages of descriptions, graphs, testimonies, photographs, charts, analyses, explanations, and mathematical formulae, NIST says, in effect: "Then a miracle happens."
Why this would be a miracle was explained by Chandler, who said: "Free fall can only be achieved if there is zero resistance to the motion."102 In other words, the upper portion of Building 7 could have come down in free fall only if something had suddenly removed all the steel and concrete in the lower part of the building, which would have otherwise provided resistance. If everything had not been removed and the upper floors had come down in free fall anyway, even for only a second or two, a miracle – meaning a violation of the laws of physics - would have happened.
That was what Sunder himself had explained the previous August, saying that a free-falling object would be one "that has no structural components below it" to offer resistance.
But then in November, while still defending the fire theory of collapse, NIST admitted that, as an empirical fact, free fall happened. For a period of 2.25 seconds, NIST admitted, the descent of WTC 7 was characterized by "gravitational acceleration (free fall)."103
Knowing that it had thereby affirmed a miracle, NIST no longer claimed that its analysis was consistent with the laws of physics. In its August draft, in which it had said that the collapse occurred 40 percent slower than free fall, NIST had said three times that its analysis was "consistent with physical principles."104 In the final report, however, every instance of this phrase was removed. NIST thereby almost explicitly admitted that its report on WTC 7, by admitting free fall while continuing to deny that explosives were used, is not consistent with the principles of physics.
Conclusion about WTC 7: The science of World Trade Center 7 is, therefore, settled. This fact is reflected in the agreement by many hundreds of professionals with various forms of expertise – architects, engineers, firefighters, physicists, and chemists – that this building was deliberately demolished.
This truth has also recently been recognized by a symposium in one of our leading social science journals, which treats 9/11 as an example of what its authors call State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs).105 Criticizing the majority of the academic world for its "blithe dismissal of more than one law of thermodynamics" that is violated by the official theory of the World Trade Center collapses, these authors also criticize the academy for its failure to protest when "Professor Steven Jones found himself forced out of tenured position for merely reminding the world that physical laws, about which there is no dissent whatsoever, contradict the official theory."106
And now the world can see, if it will only look, that even NIST, in its final report, did not dissent: By admitting that Building 7 came down in free fall for over two seconds, while simultaneously removing its previous claim that its report was consistent with physical principles, NIST implicitly admitted that the laws of physics rule out its non-demolition theory of this building's collapse. NIST thereby implicitly admitted that explosives were used.
H. Implications for the Al-Qaeda Theory of 9/11
And with that implicit admission, NIST undermined the al-Qaeda theory of 9/11. Why?
For one thing, the straight-down nature of the collapse of WTC 7 means that it was subjected to the type of controlled demolition known as "implosion," which is, in the words of a controlled demolition website, "by far the trickiest type of explosive project," which "only a handful of blasting companies in the world . . . possess enough experience . . . to perform."107 Al-Qaeda terrorists would not have had this kind of expertise.
Second, the only reason to go to the trouble of bringing a building straight down is to avoid damaging nearby buildings. Had WTC 7 and the Twin Towers – which also came straight down, after initial explosions at the top that ejected sections of steel outward several hundred feet108 - instead toppled over sideways, they would have caused massive destruction in Lower Manhattan, destroying dozens of other buildings and killing tens of thousands of people. Does anyone believe that, even if al-Qaeda operatives had had the expertise to make the buildings come straight down, they would have had the courtesy?
A third problem is that foreign terrorists could not have obtained access to the buildings for all the hours it would have taken to plant explosives. Only insiders could have done this.109
The science of the collapse of World Trade Center 7, accordingly, disproves the claim - which from the outset has been used to justify the war in Afghanistan – that America was attacked on 9/11 by al-Qaeda Muslims. It suggests, instead, that 9/11 was a false-flag operation to provide a pretext to attack Muslim nations.
In any case, the official rationale for our presence in Afghanistan is a lie. We are there for other reasons. Critics have offered various suggestions as to the most important of those reasons.110 Whatever be the answer to that question, however, we have not been there to apprehend the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Besides never being legally justified, therefore, the war in Afghanistan has never been morally justified.
This war, moreover, is an abomination. In addition to the thousands of US and other NATO troops who have been killed or impaired for life, physically and/or mentally, the US-led invasion/occupation of Afghanistan has resulted in a huge number of Afghan casualties, with estimates running from several hundred thousand to several million.111 But whatever the true number, the fact is that the United States has produced a great amount of death and misery – sometimes even bombing funerals and wedding parties - in this country that had already suffered terribly and that, even if the official story were true, had not attacked America. The fact that the official story is a lie makes our war crimes even worse.112
But there is a way out. As I have shown in this paper and even more completely elsewhere,113 the falsity of the official account of WTC 7 has now been demonstrated, leaving no room for reasonable doubt. In his inaugural address, President Obama said, "We will restore science to its rightful place,"114 thereby pledging that in his administration, unlike that of his predecessor, science would again be allowed to play a determinative role in shaping public policy. By changing his administration's policy with regard to Afghanistan in light of the science of WTC 7, the president would not only fulfill one of his most important promises. He would also prevent the war in Afghanistan from becoming known as "Obama's Vietnam."115
David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books on various topics, including philosophy, theology, philosophy of science, and 9/11. His 2008 book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé, was named a "Pick of the Week" by Publishers Weekly. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among "The 50 People Who Matter Today." His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (2009). His next book will be Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (September 2010). He wishes to thank Tod Fletcher, Jim Hoffman, and Elizabeth Woodworth for help with this essay.
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