New York City activist

March 3, 2008

Richard Gage’s avowed enemy, Part 3 – and more about WTC 7

I’ll now look at a few more parts of Nobles’s commentary on the September 2007 version of Gage’s slide show.

WTC 7 fire evidence

# 018 – No Large Fires, Slide 1

The slide show no longer makes this claim.

But the amount of fire in WTC 7 is an issue on which people can honestly disagree. Most photos of the fires in WTC 7 show only the north side or the east side, where there were relatively few fires. Even in Appendix L – Interim Report on WTC 7 (PDF) in NIST’s June 2004 Progress Report, the vast majority of the WTC 7 photos, including even the west side photos, do not show much fire, and there are no south side photos there. Nearly all the fire observations about the south and west sides are based solely on eyewitness testimony, for which NIST does not provide sources. So, it is quite understandable why many people would conclude that there was not much fire. Those who have drawn such conclusions may be wrong, but they should not be assumed to be either lying or stupid, the only alternatives Nobles wants us to consider.

Anyhow, near the top of this page on Nobles’s site is a photo of WTC 7 being hit by debris from WTC 1. Alas, Nobles does not tell us his source for this photo. He really should name his source, especially given how he has elsewhere berated Gage for using unsourced info.

Below the graphic is a video. Alas, I can’t watch streaming video.

Fuel tanks in WTC 7

Nobles then says:

Another reason Gage emphasized no plane is to say that there was no jet fuel in 7 the way there was in 1 and 2. Again, he’s hiding facts that don’t fit his narrative. There were plenty of large diesel fuel tanks in 7 World Trade to power emergency generators.

But did the diesel tanks play any significant role in the fire?

Soon after 9/11, various experts speculated that they might have. (See, for example, Engineers Have a Culprit in the Strange Collapse of 7 World Trade Center: Diesel Fuel by James Glanz, New York Times, November 29, 2001.)

However, NIST and other experts eventually concluded that the diesel fuel tanks did not play a significant role after all.

According to NIST’s WTC 7 Technical Approach and Status Summary (PDF), by Therese McAllister, December 18, 2007, on page 6: “The working hypothesis is based on an initial local failure caused by normal building fires, not fires from leaking pressurized fuel lines or fuel from day tanks.”

Further down on the page, Nobles himself quotes the NIST interim report on WTC 7 as follows:

From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.:

  • No diesel smells reported from the exterior, stairwells, or lobby areas
  • No signs of fire or smoke were reported below the 6th Floor from the exterior, stairwells or lobby areas

In Chapter 5 (PDF) of the FEMA report, Table 5.2 shows where all the fuel tanks were. Most of them were on or below the tth floor, i.e. below any fire floors. All were on or below the 9th floor, below the 12th floor fire that is blamed for the failure of column 79.

Nobles provides an unsourced diagram showing the fuel tank locations. (I can’t find it in either Appendix L of the NIST prelim report or Chapter 5 of the FEMA report.) According to this diagram, there were no fuel tanks on the east side of the 8th floor, which was the only floor that had both (1) fire on the east side (i.e., fire anywhere near column 79) and (2) fuel tanks anywhere on the floor.

According to the fire observations reported by NIST (displayed by Nobles further down on the page, but without identifying them here as being taken from the NIST prelim report), the only floors that had fires on the east side were floors 8, 11, 13, 13, and 14.

So, there is no evidence that the fuel tanks actually played any significant role in causing the initiation of collapse. Of course, the fuel tanks perhaps could have played a major role in the WTC 7 fires, but apparently they didn’t. WTC 7 perhaps could have been hit by a plane, too, but it wasn’t.

So, berating Gage about the fuel tanks is rather beside the point.

It might be a good idea, though, for Gage to mention that there were fuel tanks but that they’ve been ruled out, by NIST, as having any significant role in the fire.

Further down on the page, there are still more unsourced photos. Joseph, if you are going to berate other people for not sourcing everything, the least you can do is to source all of your graphics.

The “gash” in the south side of WTC 7

Anyhow, under “Random damage,” Nobles gives us an ABC News photo of what is supposed to be a long vertical gash in the building. What I see here is a very long, perfectly straight vertical line, too neat to be a “gash.” I’m not sure what it actually is, but I suspect that this “gash” is really some sort of video illusion.

Further down on the page is another photo showing a more jagged, more realistic-looking gash. Alas, that photo is unsourced.

Below that is yet another unsourced photo with the label “SW Corner Damage Starting at Floor 18.” (I happen to recognize this photo from the NIST prelim report, Figure L-22a.) At first glance, this photo looks as if the entire lower part of the southwest corner has been torn away. On closer inspection, that’s clearly an illusion produced by smoke plus another building in the foreground. The photo nevertheless does show plenty of damage to the facade of WTC 7 itself. However, in some places it’s hard to tell the difference between actual damage and smoke stains; and, in other places, it’s hard to tell how deep the damage goes, e.g. whether it’s affecting the columns or spandrels themselves or just the outer surface of the wall. It does appear that there is some actual damage to perimeter columns and spandrels themselves, but it is far from clear how much.

It is true that various people in the 9/11 Truth movement have understated both the fire and the damage to WTC 7. But various “debunkers,” on the other hand, have tended to overstate both the fire and the damage, well beyond what is reported in the NIST prelim report.

The page ends with yet another accusation that Gage must be lying.

WTC “leaning” and “bulge” before collapse

# 019 – No Large Fires, Slide 2

Here Nobles shows us the NIST fire observations again, and, this time, he sources them.

Nobles then quotes Gage as saying, “But why didn’t the building fall toward its severely injured side?”

In response, Nobles first berates Gage for asking an allegedly crazy question, then says:

Oh, and Richard? 7 World Trade did fall towards its damaged side.
7 World Trade Falling To South

No one questions that the building mostly went down (or rather that it crushed up as it fell). But this framegrab, taken from the northeast, shows a distinct lean toward the severely damaged side as it does so.

Nobles then forgets to show us “this framegrab.”

Anyhow, the question of how far WTC 7 actually leaned, vs. how far it should reasonably have been expected to lean, is one that I think the structural engineers in Gage’s group should explore, as I’ve already discussed in Richard Gage’s avowed enemy, part 2 – and my thoughts about WTC 7. This is a quantitative question deserving of careful analysis. Too many people on both sides have simply hand-waved it.

Nobles then says:

His larger point is that the buildings showed no characteristic features of destruction by fire. This also is incorrect. As has been and will further be shown, 7 World Trade did demonstrate large, creeping fires and slow deformations over time.

Nobles quotes FDNY Deputy Chief Peter Hayden in Firehouse magazine, September 9, 2002:

…also we were pretty sure that 7 World Trade Center would collapse. Early on, we saw a bulge in the southwest corner between floors 10 and 13, and we had put a transit on that and we were pretty sure she was going to collapse. You actually could see there was a visible bulge, it ran up about three floors. It came down about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, but by about 2 o’clock in the afternoon we realized this thing was going to collapse.

(A “transit” is a surveyor’s telescope, which can be used to measure small movements of a building.)

Interestingly, this “bulge in the southwest corner” was not even mentioned in the 2004 NIST prelim report, which has an entirely different explanation for WTC 7’s collapse, as I explained in detail in Richard Gage’s avowed enemy, part 2 – and my thoughts about WTC 7

Some Nobles bloopers

# 066 – WTC 7 Tenant List

Nobles can find nothing wrong with this slide, and, as usual when he encounters such a slide, he steps up the ad hominem attacks instead of simply acknowledging that he has found nothing wrong with this particular slide. Apparently Nobles has decided that he absolutely must use absolutely every single slide as an opportunity to bash Gage in one way or another, even when he can’t find anything wrong with the slide itself. This time, Nobles resorts to blatant nonsense in order to attack Gage.

Here, a section titled “The Dadgum Gubmint” contains a lengthy straw-man diatribe against an alleged implied accusation that the IRS might have been involved in demolishing WTC 7. I’ve never heard Gage or anyone else make such an accusation against the IRS. In fact, most people in the 9/11 Truth movement are more likely to suspect the CIA, the FBI, or the SEC.

At the bottom is a section titled “Other Occupants of the Building,” which claims, without giving a source or any other specifics:

There were other organizations inside 7 World Trade, by the way. The most enlightening one was a stock exchange manned 24/7. People were all over the building, and in and out all of the time. It defies belief to think that none of these people would have noticed the necessary preparations for demolishing the building.

What stock exchange? Looking at the tenant list in the FEMA report, Table 5.1, I didn’t find any stock exchange.

I did find the Securities and Eschange Commission, a federal agency which regulates the stock exchange. I also found Salomon Smith Barney, an investment banking firm which provides brokerage services among other things. But I found no stock exchange per se.

Unfinished business, including Nobles’s personal accusations against Gage

Below are copies of my last replies to Joseph Nobles in the comment threads following my two previous posts.

In the comment thread after Richard Gage’s avowed enemy, part 1, he has not yet replied to the following comment by me:

Joseph wrote:

If Richard Gage is willing to get up on a stage and repeat this outright garbage in city after city in order to advance his POLITICAL GOALS, then Richard Gage is willfully lying

That is far from a sound conclusion. What may seem to you to be “outright garbage” seems very reasonable to a lot of people. It is, therefore, a sincere belief, even if mistaken.

A lot of people believe what they see. A lot of people, upon seeing a video of the collapse of WTC 7, are instantly convinced that it must have been a controlled demolition, because that’s the only context in which they’ve previously seen buildings go down in any manner at all similar to the way WTC 7 went down. The way many people’s minds work, this kind of visual recognition is extremely and genuinely convincing.

To many people, the key question is whether they should believe “experts” (the vast majority of whom support the official story) or whether they should believe what they see as the evidence of their own senses. They choose the latter because the “experts” are seen as compromised.

Whatever flaws you may see in the above (and I agree that there are flaws), it’s a sincerely held belief on the part of many people in the 9/11 Truth movement, including leaders.

To a lot of people in the 9/11 Truth movement, furthermore, CD of the WTC building seems so “obvious” that it doesn’t even seem to them to be necessary to do much if any further research to verify or falsify that impression. Hence what you see as the inexcusably sloppy research.

So, instead of calling people liars, it might be better for you to try to address the epistemological divide.

and there is not a libel or slander charge against me that will ever stick.

Whether or not you could be successfully sued for it, why does your site contain unwarranted claims about what Gage’s organization does with its money?

Are you saying that David Ray Griffin complied that list of controlled demolition features?

I don’t know who “compiled” the list. I do know that Griffin popularized such a list in his article The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True (with a table of contents here that includes a list of characteristics, similar to though not identical to Gage’s list). This article also contains the following “if and only if” argument: “the collapses had at least eleven features that would be expected if, and only if, explosives were used.”

Comparing Gage’s and Griffin’s lists more closely, I see that they differ on more points than I remembered that they did, so it would be inaccurate to say that Gage got his list from Griffin. But this general style of argument seems to have been popularized by Griffin. I doubt that Griffin himself originated even the general style of argument, because it is my impression that Griffin’s earlier works on 9/11 contained very little, if any, original research, but instead just put together other people’s research. I don’t know exactly who originated this type of argument, or exactly who Gage got it from, but it clearly does pre-date Gage’s activity in the movement.

A lot of people find this kind of argument convincing because most of the listed characteristics are simply a spelling out of the visual impression. That’s the main basis of the argument, not any authority.

Appeal to authority – Gage presents a list of characteristics and the only available authority he gives for accepting it is his own authority.

As I said earlier, the basis of his list is not “authority,” his own or anyone else’s. The list is based on common-sense arguments plus visual recognition, e.g. the pictures of “known controlled demolitions” vs. other kinds of collapses.

To the extent that Gage can be said to be using an argument from authority, it’s really more of an anti-authoritarian argument. It essentially boils down to an argument that (1) not all building professionals agree with the official story, and that, therefore, (2) one should believe one’s own eyes rather than any “experts.”

Argument ad populum

You and I seem to have a very different understanding of what this means. As I understand it, an “Argument ad populum” is a claim that something must be true because a majority of people believe it, or a majority of some respected elite group. Gage never claims that a majority of people agree with him, or a majority of any widely respected group of people.

He is softening the resistance of his audience by quoting these numbers.

“Softening,” yes. But he is using the numbers of people only as a way of suggesting that his belief is worth looking at. It’s not one of his arguments that his belief is actually true.

I could write the Fenster section better. But why would a loss in trust in the Bush Administration’s case against Iraq necessarily translate to a doubting of the overwhelming evidence in the case of the collapses of those buildings?

The above paragraph conflates two separate questions. First, the question of “overwhelming evidence.” What a lot of people find “overwhelming” is what they see as visual evidence of CD.

As for the relevance of a loss of trust in the Bush administration, as I said, lying us into a war proves that Bush and Cheney are murderous liars. This, in itself, is not sufficient to prove that they lied and murdered in any additional particular way, but does open the door to suspicion that they could have done so.

The slide is not gone. For some reason, the first fifteen slides cannot be linked to. After that, you can do direct links to the slides (from 16 on). By going to the first slide (the Statue of Liberty and the Towers) and advancing the slides in order, you can see that the slides are all there.

The slide outlining his argument is not there when I click through the first several slides. I just now tried this again in both Firefox and IE.

About the Secret Service:

They never had information about a direct threat to Bush at the school. Never. If they had, they would have gotten Bush out of the school immediately and asked where they needed to take him later.

They did recognize a threat, but of an unpredictable kind. Bush was in danger as long as he wasn’t in an adequately “safe and secret” hiding place. So the problem was finding an adequate hiding place. Until then, apparently they estimated that he was safer in an already secured building than in transit to an as-yet-undecided destination.

You still don’t understand what actionable information is.

The wording on your website is, at the very least, unclear, because it comes across as meaning that Bush was not seen as being in any danger, which is not the case.

In the comment thread after Richard Gage’s avowed enemy, part 2 – and my thoughts about WTC 7, Joseph Nobles has not yet replied to the following comment by me:

You might want to clarify your wording on the transfer trusses.

Anyhow, NIST’s analysis did not take into account any leaning of the building. I was, in fact, surprised to discuver that the leaning before collapse wasn’t even mentioned in the “observations of structural collapse” section. I was expecting to find, and specifically looked for, details on what the firefighters observed using the transit. But I found no mention of this at all. So, evidently, NIST did not consider this to be a significant factor. This is one more reason why I say that the south side damage did NOT play any essential role in NIST’s hypothesis.

Anyhow, once again, I would appreciate a response to what I said about your accusations of video manipulation on Gage’s part. What do you think of the counteevidence I pointed to?

See also this comment here.

Regarding Nobles’s accusations of “lying,” I would now like to add the following:

An organization operating on a shoestring budget can be expected to make lots of mistakes when attempting to research something as complex as the events of 9/11. This certainly does not mean that the activists are either lying or “extremely stupid,” the only other alternative Nobles wants us to consider.

It does mean that 9/11 Truth movement activists need to be willing to listen to criticism and to correct errors. Too many 9/11 Truth movement activists are self-defeatingly dogmatic, assuming that all disagree with them must be “shills,” end of story.

It is my impression that Richard Gage is not in the self-defeatingly dogmatic category. He strikes me as a reasonable person who can listen to constructive criticism. However, it may take him quite a bit of time to process and evaluate the criticism in between all the other things he’s doing.

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2 Comments »

  1. Some people who try to debunk the those who question the official 9/11 investigation, have unintentionally raised more doubts about the official investigation of 9/11. This website quotes a fireman about the damage done to the WTC 7 in order to explain why it collapsed. It quotes a Captain Chris Boyle

    …on the north and east side of 7 it didn’t look like there was any damage at all, but then you looked on the south side of 7 there had to be a hole 20 stories tall in the building, with fire on several floors. Debris was falling down on the building and it didn’t look good.

    If a building had a 20 story hole on one side, it would topple over, not collapse straight down into its base, falling almost at free fall speed.

    [Comment by Randall Jones, edited by blog author Diane to HTML-ize and prettify link.]

    Comment by randalljones — March 3, 2008 @ 4:52 am | Reply

  2. The above issue (symmetry of collapse of WTC 7) has been discussed at length here. Everyone, please read carefully the following posts and the subsequent comment threads:

    First, the following post:

    Richard Gage’s avowed enemy, part 2 – and my thoughts about WTC 7

    Then, for further details on some aspects of this issue, please read carefully the relevant parts of the following posts and the comment threads below them:

    Review of Hardfire debates between Mark Roberts and Loose Change crew
    Two WTC 7 collapse videos: Can both be real?

    Comment by Diane — March 3, 2008 @ 2:01 pm | Reply


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