The Missiles at Ground Zero
by Robert Pate
Some events of September 11, 2001 are still shrouded in mystery. What happened that day at Ground Zero –the area which held the World Trade Center complex –has not been fully explained. An official government report headed by a number of well-known public officials has been issued, but important questions remain unanswered.
How did the Twin Towers fall? Why didn't the nation's air defense system intercept the hijacked planes? What was the chain of events that led to the collapse –late in the afternoon –of a third building, World Trade Center 7?
There seem to be two main views of what happened on that day. One view is that of the 9/11 Commission Report, whose authors say we simply were attacked by Islamic terrorists without warning. The other view –mainly held by leftist conspiracy theorists –agrees that we were so attacked, but in addition asserts that the U.S. government knew of the attacks in advance, or even facilitated them, and exploited them in such a way as to further its own foreign policy. Both views are flawed.
The 9/11 Commission Report omits important information and includes fabricated timelines. And the critics who maintain a government conspiracy are wrong in their analysis when they say the Twin Towers fell due to a controlled demolition –or the fantastic claim made by some that "no plane hit the Pentagon."
Attack on the Twin Towers
Fortunately, we have several video recordings from both professional and amateur cameramen to help us understand what really happened on that day. Among the cameramen were two French brothers, Jules and Gedeon Naudet, who were in New York City filming a documentary about a rookie firefighter. That morning around 8:30, Jules Naudet followed a group of firefighters who responded to an "odor of gas" call at the intersection of Lispenard and Church Streets –several blocks north of the World Trade Center. The run was routine and Jules began filming the firefighters checking for the gas leak. At 8:46 the roaring noise of a low-flying plane caught the attention of the firefighters and Naudet –who proceeded to capture his nearly-unique footage of American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower (World Trade Center 1).
These firefighters, along with Jules Naudet, were the first responders arriving at the building four minutes after the aircraft crashed into the 110-story skyscraper. They entered the lobby from the west side and found two individuals on fire. Windows were blown out and the marble slabs that covered the walls were shattered, giving the appearance that a bomb had exploded at ground level. Apparently a fiery blast of burning jet fuel had come down the freight elevator and exploded into the lobby and the sub-level floors below. Unlike the passenger elevators –which were staggered in a broken series covering the lower third, middle third, and top third of the tower –the freight elevator ran continuously from top to bottom, enabling the explosion to travel the full distance.
Gedeon Naudet was at the firehouse at 100 Duane Street when Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. He began walking south with his own camera toward the World Trade Center. It appears Gedeon used Broadway and was one block east of the complex, at the intersection of Broadway and Vesey Street, when the second plane struck, hitting the South Tower (World Trade Center 2) at 9:03.
In footage taken by Gedeon of the second attack, we see a streaking object –apparently a missile –flying across his field of view. Matt Drudge placed video frames showing the "mystery object" on his Web site, Drudge Report, on September 16, 2001. Drudge credited the image to Gamma Press –the French news agency which employed the Naudets. Fox News also reported on the "streaking object" a few days after the attacks.
Using the footage they had taken that day, the two brothers produced a DVD documentary titled 9/11 (2002, Goldfish Pictures). In the film, Gedeon Naudet gives the impression that he witnessed the second plane hitting the South Tower not on Broadway, but one block closer at the corner of Vesey and Church Streets.
The documentary shows the crash of the second plane into the South Tower –then an abrupt cut in the film –followed by footage shot while the terrified cameraman ran north on Church Street. The cut footage would, I believe, have shown the missile explosion.
The video taken at Vesey and Church that appeared in the DVD came from another source since, obviously, Gedeon could not have been in two locations at once when the second plane hit. Gedeon Naudet must have somehow encountered the cameraman who shot this scene and obtained his film. All footage available to the Naudets showing the missile explosion was edited from the final cut of their DVD.
In the documentary the narrator says Gedeon, at that time, did not approach any closer than the intersection of Barclay and Church Streets (one block north of the WTC) without the assistance of firefighters. Gedeon apparently had circled back from Broadway and Vesey onto Barclay and Church Streets where the FBI began securing an area that contained the wreckage of an engine and landing gear from the second plane. At the time authorities prevented Gedeon from approaching any closer and he decided to return to the firehouse. However, about an hour later –after the South Tower had collapsed –Gedeon would arrive at the World Trade Center with three firefighters in a pickup truck.
Several other cameras recorded the impact of the first missile and the smoke from the explosion. A CNN camera on the north side of Manhattan filmed the white smoke plume just seconds after United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. Jules Naudet was inside the lobby of the North Tower when the second plane hit and also filmed the white smoke drifting toward the South Tower. This footage can be seen in the 9/11 documentary.
Other footage showing the missile explosion was taken by Jack Taliercio, a local Fox News cameraman. Taliercio was positioned in the plaza at the base of the North Tower and focused his camera on the burning building directly above him. In his video recording we see the second plane hitting the South Tower followed a few seconds later by an immense explosion on Taliercio's right near the vicinity of World Trade Center 6. WTC 6 was a seven-story building on the north side of WTC 1. The explosion sent debris flying in all directions. This footage was shown without explanation on news programs in the early days after 9/11, but is rarely seen today.
The impact point of the first missile can be determined by examining the frames provided by Matt Drudge and utilizing the data in a government report issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This missile appears to have overshot WTC 6 and hit the taller building across Vesey Street: World Trade Center 7. According to the NIST report, a large deep hole with black smoke emanating from it was seen on the south side of WTC 7 on the 14th floor.
After the crash of the second plane into the South Tower individuals began making emergency 911 calls claiming they saw a missile coming form the nearby Woolworth building. The Woolworth building was completed in 1913 and was once one of the tallest buildings in New York City. The building is located northeast of the World Trade Center at the intersection of Broadway and Barclay Street.
If a missile came from the direction of the Woolworth building then it could not have been the same missile that hit WTC 7. This second missile flew east to west –roughly parallel to Barclay Street –passing near the Woolworth building and exploding into an open parking area northwest of the Twin Towers.
A satellite photo of Ground Zero taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reveals where the missile landed. In the photo we see a black crater and a row of 15 burnt vehicles on the west side of the parking lot. Both missiles were fired by a pair of F-15 fighters sent to intercept the hijacked planes.
Response from Otis Air National Guard Base
American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked at 8:13 when Mohamad Atta took control of the plane about 50 miles west of Boston, Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter the flight's transponder was turned off. Around 8:20 the flight stopped transmitting its Identify Friend or Foe (IFF) beacon signal and started to deviate from its scheduled path. At that time authorities thought the plane may have been hijacked. At 8:24 the plane made a 100-degree turn to the south heading toward New York City. At 8:34 –some reports say "around 8:30" –Boston flight controllers attempted to contact Otis Air National Guard Base at Cape Cod and inform them of the hijacked plane.
The flight controllers contacted the air base directly without using NORAD as an intermediary. One of the pilots at Otis, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Duffy said "It didn't happen the way it was supposed to. We were the ones who were contacted right away and knew about it before the air defense sector."
Duffy said he received a call at about 8:30 or 8:35 from one of the sergeants about the hijacking. Also, an officer told him "This looks like the real thing." Duffy said "As soon as we heard there was something about a hijacking we got moving. I called for 'Nasty' (Major Daniel Nash) and I to suit up right away." Lieutenant Colonel Duffy continued, "Halfway to the jets, we got 'battle stations,' and I briefed Nasty on the information I had about the American Airlines flight. About 4-5 minutes later, we got the scramble order and took off." According to Aviation Week and Space Technology (6/3/2002) the fighters flew out of Otis about the same time Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower at 8:46. Other reports claim they departed at 8:52. Lieutenant Colonel Duffy said "I just wanted to get there. I was in full-blower all the way."
While in flight they were informed of the second hijacked plane heading toward New York City. In an interview with ABC News (9/11/2002) Duffy said they flew at supersonic speed. At this rate they could have flown the distance from Otis to New York City in 10 to 12 minutes –in time to intercept Flight 175. A near interception of the second plane at 9:03 as it was crashing into the South Tower is the best explanation for what happened that day. The fighters fired their missiles –seconds too late –hitting the southern face of World Trade Center 7 and the open parking area northwest of the Twin Towers.
World Trade Center 7
WTC 7 was a 47-story building which stood north of the Twin Towers on Vesey Street. The building collapsed under mysterious circumstances at 5:20 in the afternoon on September 11. Many of the nation's top national security and financial agencies had offices in the building, including the Defense Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the IRS, the Secret Service and the Central Intelligence Agency. WTC 7 also held Mayor Rudy Giuliani's emergency command post, located on the 23rd floor.
Many who have viewed video recordings of the collapse of WTC 7 believe the building was brought down under controlled demolition conditions. Other theories fall short in explaining what happened.
Unlike the collapse of the Twin Towers, World Trade Center 7 fell in upon itself, leaving a pile of rubble nearly limited in extent to where the building once stood. World Trade Center 7 was not hit by a plane and the fires which occurred on the various floors were not sufficient to cause its total collapse.
Dr. Jonathan Barnett, a professor of fire protection engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, hints at controlled demolition in a New York Times article (11/29/2001) by saying some steel beams were "partly evaporated" due to high temperatures.
In addition to the missile hit, WTC 7 suffered severe damage to its southwest corner on floors 8 thru 18 from the falling debris of the North Tower (WTC 1). Being unstable, WTC 7 might have collapsed on its own without any assistance. However, the fall would have been toward its weakest point: the southwest corner. In order to prevent such a collapse and to save lives in the ongoing search and rescue efforts, a decision was made to "pull" the building.
Another possible reason to pull WTC 7 would have been to protect classified information contained in the government offices there. The government may have teams of demolition experts on standby for emergency situations. If a structure were damaged by fire, earthquake, or some other disaster, expert teams could arrive on the scene, place explosives in predesignated areas, and quickly bring the building down. Once the building collapsed the remains would then be taken to a secret location and all sensitive information retrieved and secured.
Some have claimed the Twin Towers also fell under controlled demolition conditions. However, this is certainly not the case. The collapse of the towers can be explained by the high speed impact of the planes and the resulting fires that weaken the steel trusses. Unlike the collapse of WTC 7, both towers fell with the debris scattered in all directions. The upper portion of the South Tower fell toward the east, destroying most of World Trade Center 4. Adjacent to the Twin Towers on the western edge of the complex was WTC 3: the Marriot Hotel. The collapse of both towers onto the hotel destroyed the entire structure, less four remaining floors. There was no controlled demolition in the collapse of the Twin Towers.
It has been five years since the attacks of September 11. Official government reports that claim to have told Americans what happened that day smack of a cover-up. Conspiracy theorists who try to fill in the blanks, claiming the administration helped in the orchestration of events on that tragic day miss their mark. The American public should be told the truth. A new and honest 9/11 Commission needs to be formed with a mandate of addressing the unanswered questions.
9/11, a documentary on DVD, by Jules and Gedeon Naudet, Goldfish Pictures 2002.
"The Site: Engineers Suspect Diesel Fuel in Collapse of 7 World Trade Center," by James Glanz, the New York Times, November 29, 2001.
"Video Captures Sept. 11 Horror in Raw Replay," by Alan Feuer, the New York Times, January 12, 2002.
"Exercise Jump-Starts Response in Attacks," by William B. Scott, Aviation Week and Space Technology, June 3, 2002.
A transcript of an interview with Gedeon and Jules Naudet by Paul Reynolds, British Broadcasting Corporation, September 4, 2002.
"Hope and Heroism Turned to Horror on a Fateful Day," by Kevin Flynn, the New York Times, August 29, 2003.
"Unexplained 9/11 Explosion at WTC Complex," by Christopher Bollyn, American Free Press, July 10, 2004.
102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive inside the Twin Towers, New York, 2005, page 47.
"NIST Response to the World Trade Center Disaster, Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster, Part IIC- WTC 7 Collapse" pages 15, 17, 20, and 21, April 5, 2005
National Geographic: Inside 9/11, a documentary on DVD, October 18, 2005.
"The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll," by Mark Jacobson, New York Magazine, March 27, 2006.
"Profile: Otis Air National Guard Base," cooperativeresearch.org
"Otis Fighters Scramble to New York; Conflicting Accounts of Urgency and Destination," cooperativeresearch.org