On this week's episode of 9/11 Free Fall, attorney Mick Harrison and AE911Truth Director of Strategy Ted Walter join host Andy Steele for an in-depth discussion of the request for correction submitted to NIST earlier this week regarding the agency's 2008 report on the destruction of World Trade Center Building 7.
The 100-page request for correction, which is signed by ten 9/11 family members, 88 architects and structural engineers, and AE911Truth, represents the most serious challenge to date against NIST's World Trade Center investigation.
We invite you to listen or to read the interview below.
Welcome to 9/11 Free Fall. I'm the host, Andy Steele. Today I'm joined by Ted Walter and Mick Harrison. Ted Walter is the director of strategy and development at AE911Truth. He holds a master of public policy degree from the University of California Berkeley, and prior to his current role with AE911Truth, he was the director of NYC CAN's 2014 High Rise Safety Initiative. He was a volunteer campaign manager for AE911Truth's Rethink 9/11 campaign way back in 2013, and he was a director of NYC CAN's 2009 ballot initiative. He's also the author of Beyond This Information: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings One, Two, and Seven. That's going to be front and center, that information, in today's discussion. Ted, welcome back to 9/11 Free Fall.
Thanks, Andy. Great to be here.
Mick Harrison is a public interest attorney. He's a public interest attorney and he's a graduate summa cum laude of the University of the District of Columbia School of Law, and he has a national practice focused on cases that involve whistleblower protection, government accountability, corporate fraud and false claims, and dangers to public health or the environment. He is the director of litigation for the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, doing a lot of great work. Mick Harrison, welcome back to the show.
Thank you, Andy.
The reason that I have these two gentlemen on here today is because AE911Truth has taken another step in fighting this big lie. They have filed a request for correction with NIST, and we're going to be talking about that. We're going to start off with Mick. Please begin by telling our audience what's involved in a request for correction, your role in this process, and how specifically are you using it with NIST?
Well, this request is focused on one of the three buildings that fell on 9/11, World Trade Center 7. My role was as a legal consultant. I was acting in my capacity as a lawyer, not on behalf of the Lawyers' Committee. The Lawyers' Committee did approve my role in assisting Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, which I was honored to do in this task. I think it's very important.
The basic legal concept underlying it is that the Information Quality Act allows citizens to request or petition an agency to correct factual information that is wrong, that is based on shoddy research, poor logic, bad science, and essentially request that it be corrected and republished in an accurate form so that proper policy decisions can be based on good information instead of bad information.
I'm sure Ted will help you understand the details of the content. I was very impressed with the work that Ted and his colleagues at Architects & Engineers did on this. I think when folks get a chance to read it, they will be as well. It's very thorough, it's very persuasive, it's very well-documented. It should convince the National Institute of Standards and Technology to correct their World Trade Center 7 report and acknowledge that their theory of collapse was wrong and that the theory that fits the evidence is the one that we've all been talking about, unfortunately, which is use of explosives and incendiaries.
Right on. I was browsing it this morning, and a lot of great information in there—I mean, stuff that a lot of the Truth Movement knows already that should be able to sway anyone who looks at it with intellectual honesty. But we know what we're up against and the stonewalling that we have received. But I love that we're taking this route, and we're getting it on the record that NIST has been notified. We're going through the proper channels. Ted, talk about some of the points of contention with the official story that are being raised in this specific request for correction.
Sure. The overall purpose, as Mick spoke to, but to go a little bit deeper into it, as to what the document is doing is demonstrating that NIST has violated its own guidelines and information quality standards in publishing this report in several aspects of the report. There are a number of standards that essentially govern that they have to live up to when they publish a report like this or when they do any research and disseminate any information, and those have to do with objectivity, transparency, reproducibility, and a few others.
What the document is demonstrating is that at least in eight different areas that we showed the NIST World Trade Center 7 report violates some of those information quality standards. Five of the areas of information that we chose to focus on have to do with how NIST modeled the collapse of the building. Many of those are specifically about the event that NIST says initiated the collapse, which as some of listeners know, but most people don't know, is essentially on one particular floor of the building, several beams expanded, pushed a girder off its seat and that caused this cascade of poor failures, which then left a single column unsupported, and then that column buckled. All of that is what NIST says is the initiating event of this collapse.
We look at several different steps in that process and show that each one of those steps, based on various information—the drawings of the building, as well as the analysis that was conducted by Professor Leroy Hulsey at the University of Alaska Fairbanks—and we're able to show that those steps are impossible.
There are certain things that NIST did in their modeling were not accurate. For example, they left off a specific structural feature in their model, which they acknowledged several years ago, which if you include that structural feature, actually makes that collapse initiation mechanism impossible.
So about half to two-thirds of the request is focused on these different modeling issues. Probably actually the biggest one that the request spends the most time on is, NIST claimed that its global collapse analysis matches the observed behavior "reasonably well," which are the words that NIST used in the report. We very methodically show how NIST's global collapse analysis does not match the observed behavior whatsoever. That's part of it.
The other part—the second half—of the request, as people can see when they go read it, is various evidence related to the use of explosives and incendiaries that NIST either distorted or omitted from its report. One area that's really ironclad, in my view, and I think in Mick's view as well, is the seismic evidence—that there were explosions happening during the course of Building 7's collapse. In particular, two powerful seismic signals that were admitted, right when the first part of the collapse started to happen, the beginning of the east penthouse going down, and then seven to eight seconds later, at the initiation of global collapse.
André Rousseau, who's a geophysicist in France, actually provided a declaration, which is part of this request, essentially testifying that these seismic signals, which were recorded at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory about, I don't know, 30 kilometers away from Ground Zero, picked up these seismic signals and that these signals were generated by explosions. Then the two other areas are the eyewitness and audio evidence of explosions.
And finally, the steel that was recovered from Building 7 that experienced extreme erosion and sulfidation and oxidation, which many people in the 9/11 Truth Movement are familiar with, but of course, not necessarily in the broader public. The upshot is that NIST's collapse theory is both physically impossible, could not have happened, and is also inconsistent with all of this evidence that exists.
The request for correction process gives us an avenue in which to methodically go through the NIST report and demonstrate the ways in which, because of these failings, the NIST report is not in compliance with NIST's own information quality standards. Our hope is that NIST will, as Mick said, be persuaded and will see that their record fails to comply with their own information quality standards and that NIST will revise its report.
The ultimate request, which is communicated at each point of the document, is for NIST to discard its probable collapse sequence, which is essentially its theory of how the building came down, and develop a new probable collapse sequence that is physically possible and that is consistent with all the evidence that's presented in the requests.
I mean, it doesn't comply with their own standards, it doesn't comply with common sense. I think this is a great next step and just a way to keep on laying the pressure on them and make them know that we're not going away. I'm very happy with this development today. Now, when I was looking over the request for correction, I see that there's an area at the end for names and signatures. So there's going to be a number of people who've put their name to this. Can you talk a little bit about that, Ted?
Yes. The request is actually signed by not only Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the organization is one of the requesters, but also ten 9/11 family members have joined us in submitting this request, so each of them are also individually requesters as well as about 88 structural engineers and architects who are affiliated with Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. I think most of them, if not all of them, have signed our petition, but they've also chosen to join the request as individual requesters. So we essentially have three categories of requesters: the family members, individual structural engineers and architects, and then the organization Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.
I'll just say it was heartening and fulfilling to be working with so many people, to have so many people so enthusiastically sign onto this request, and in particular, to have the support of many 9/11 family members and to know that we are working on their behalf to try to help uncover the truth about what happened as far as the murder of their loved ones, is, obviously, that gives us a lot of encouragement and energy to keep going and to do what we're doing.
I'd like to know, because we know what we're up against and we know who we're dealing with, at least as an agency, considering the process involved and all the pages of information being laid on them now, can NIST just get away with just simply stating, "We stand by our report," as they have in the past when they're challenged? Or do they need to go through this and address each point? That's a question for Mick.
Well, there's a federal law called the Administrative Procedures Act, the APA, which allows citizens to sue a federal agency if the agency takes an action that is arbitrary and capricious or contrary to law. And, in this case, if NIST were to simply thumb its nose at this very well-articulated request for correction—extremely well-documented—yeah, it would be an arbitrary action.
This is one of those areas where there's so much scientific evidence—multiple independent lines of it, which corroborate each other—that you've got one of those Sherlock Holmes moments, where the famous author, Arthur Conan Doyle, said, by way of his character, "When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever else remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
Even though NIST seems to want to not embrace the possibility of use of explosives and continues to want to say it's improbable—I know that they called their own theory "a probable collapse sequence"; they didn't say it was established by science as a definite explanation—in this case, if you read this request for correction by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, you'll see that at this point the evidence is, in fact, dispositive.
As we say, there is no other alternative. No other explanation can really explain these multiple lines of evidence, which all converge on the explanation that explosives and incendiaries were used. So, if NIST were to thumb their nose at this, they would be acting arbitrarily and capriciously.
The courts haven't had too many of these cases under the Information Quality Act; they've had a few. My reading of the case is that the courts recognize that the Administrative Procedures Act is available as a vehicle for appealing an agency denial of a petition or request for correction like this. The only issue that may come up would be an issue that often comes up in public interest cases, probably more than it should, which is a procedural one having to do with the standing of the plaintiffs.
But in this case, for the reason you just articulated with Ted, that you've got so many petitioners here—family members of folks who were lost in 9/11, architects and engineers, plus the organization, AE911Truth, that, in my view, there is no issue there, either. I'm cautiously optimistic—and I certainly hope we don't have to go there, but I'm cautiously optimistic that judicial review will be available to hold the agency, NIST, to account if they were to deny this request.
I would hasten to add, though, that this is so well done—and I know a lot of folks in the 9/11 Truth Movement will be skeptical that at this point any federal agency will do anything correct on this issue, but I do think that Ted and his colleagues who assisted on this, Tony Szamboti and others, did such an excellent job—that NIST is pretty well boxed in here. So we may not have to go that route of judicial review.
Let me just add a litigation-related note on this: Some of the listeners will know that my organization, the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Inc, a nonprofit, has done some Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. We have three active against NIST at the moment in federal court, and one of them has to do with Building 7 and is specifically focused on the Column 79 connection that Ted may want to talk about in a little more detail, which is, as he said, the heart of NIST's probable collapse sequence.
I represent David Cole, a well-known 9/11 researcher in that FOIA request, and my organization is supporting that litigation. When David asked for basically the data regarding the Column 79 connection in Building 7, NIST refused to give it. They were basically saying that their computer modeling, which is what they based their probable collapse sequence on, is, how shall I say, top double secret. They don't put it that way, but they are saying that they can't release it because in their view, it might be a danger to public health and safety because some wrongdoers may study it and learn how to bring down buildings by setting strategic fires in certain locations, which in steel frame buildings has never been done before 9/11 and the evidence now shows was not done on 9/11, either.
NIST is keeping this secret, and they're going to great lengths to keep the data that they say supports their conclusion secret. It's basically a "trust us" argument. In my thirty-some years of public interest advocacy, anytime an agency basically tells you something of this importance and says, "trust us, we can't tell you why, but this is our conclusion," you need to be really suspicious of it. This is not an exception.
After reading through the excellent request for correction that Ted and his colleagues did, it's clear to me now why NIST is not wanting to release their modeling and the data inputs in their models, because there's no way, if they released that data, that is not going to become clear to the world, and particularly the scientific community, that this request for correction is entirely correct as a matter of science and that NIST should have known that and will now have an obligation to fix it. They're hiding behind secrecy for reasons which are now clear and are made clear in this very detailed request for correction.
It is detailed, and I'm glad you said that, because it leads into my next question. Because there's so much great information on here—I mean, I really think this thing could be used for outreach to engineers, it's so well-organized and laid out—is NIST required to argue every point made? Is there any back and forth, or can they come out and say, "Well, you've got a hundred pages here pointing out how our story is full of holes, but we stand by it," and leave it at that?
Well, Ted, do you want to start with that or shall I?
I'll take a stab, but you might be able to say more about it than me. There is a provision in the information quality guidelines on NIST's website, which states that if NIST does not take corrective action in regards to a request or any of the requests contained within a overall requests document, that it will provide a point-by-point response, and I'm quoting them now, "will contain a point-by-point response to any relevant data quality arguments contained in the request." So they are required to respond in some manner. I think that language is a little bit vague: They can be very detailed and lengthy in their response or perhaps they could be relatively short in their response.
We have a little bit of precedent in the fact that a group of researchers, including Richard Gage, back in 2007 submitted a request for correction to NIST regarding the Twin Towers investigation. NIST responded to that request. I wouldn't say that it was truly substantive, but NIST certainly attempted to respond in a scientific matter in a way that they were, to some extent, going toe-to-toe with the claims being made by Richard Gage and others who joined in that request. I think that their arguments there were not persuasive, but they made an attempt.
I applaud Richard and the others who were involved in that. And I believe that James Gourley was the person who drafted that request back in 2007—the attorney who's been active in the movement for some time, as some folks know. I think that because the science and because our knowledge, in particular about Building 7, and the huge amount of research and scrutiny that has gone into NIST's report on the collapse of Building 7, we've been able to construct a document and a set of claims, as Mick said, that really should box NIST in. It's very hard to imagine a way that NIST could convincingly respond to these claims.
Let me be clear: I know Mick said this earlier and I say this as well, I think it's absolutely possible that NIST will comply with many or most, if not all of the requests put forward in this document. But supposing that they don't. I think that they're going to have a lot of trouble answering the claims in a substantive way. I hope that we will not see a short response, because the information and the evidence that is documented in this merits a very detailed response from NIST and ultimately does indeed warrant corrective action on NIST's part.
Absolutely. That is the right thing to do. Now, they're going to have a hard time being boxed in, coming out and saying, "Yeah, our entire analysis was wrong," which is basically what this amounts to. It's not just one detail here and there that they could correct and yet the overall story stays the same. I mean, this just completely pulls the rug out from under. And now you get into issues: How much money was spent on this NIST report just for Building 7 alone, and the fact that they took all that time to produce something that was shoddy work. I think that should be a national scandal if we didn't have other things dominating the headlines at this moment.
I'm curious on this thought from both of you guys. The question is, it's almost 20 years after—we're coming close to that, I think we're heading to the 19th anniversary now. People switch out of jobs. I know some of the people who worked on the report may still be at NIST, but you get new blood in there. You get people who weren't involved in this. Do you think that plays in our favor? This can be looked at with fresh eyes over at NIST? We'll start with Ted.
That's a good question. A lot of the personnel that was involved in the World Trade Center investigation at NIST are still there, matter of fact. Many of the principals in the investigation remain there. Dr. Shyam Sunder actually left NIST for some period of time, but then went back in. Many of the other lead authors are still there—that are head of divisions and so on.
I think that there will be some fresh eyes on the request. I don't think that the request is necessarily—and this is my speculation to some extent, but just based on my reading of the provisions and the information quality standards, I think there's a good chance that there'll be some fresh eyes on it.
It actually depends on who is the chief of the division that is going to handle the request, who's the head of that division. NIST has restructured several times in the last, I don't know, 10, 15, 20 years. So I believe the division that was primarily responsible for this investigation is not the same division. It's not clear to me right now which division is going to handle the request. We did ask NIST to specifically confirm to us which division is going be handling it.
There's also a second phase of this, which is: If we receive an initial denial from NIST, and that has to come within four months, unless, I guess, we concur and allow it to go for longer than that, but if there is an initial denial, we have 30 days in which to respond and appeal that denial. Then our appeal would go to somebody who is not involved at all doing the initial analysis and the response to our request. That person, from what I can tell was—I actually don't remember his name and don't remember the exact position right now, but he was definitely not involved in the World Trade Center investigation.
In theory, this is supposed to go to somebody else for a totally objective analysis in the event that we have to appeal an initial denial. So there's every chance that somebody else in NIST might look at this with fresh eyes and perhaps overrule the initial decision by the group that first handles the request.
Anything to add to that, Mick?
Yeah, I just have couple of notes. I think it is a good question, an interesting one. I don't think we have a crystal ball, so we can't predict what new faces might say about this petition. We can suggest what they should say just by being objective and logical and scientific. There have been cases in the past where agency folks who came in in the middle of a controversy, looked at it with a new face, and actually have changed agency policy and position over time.
There also have been cases where, of course—and we've seen them—agencies have circled the wagons and try to defend their past personnel, regardless of the facts. So it could go either way here. But there's so much available in this request for correction to justify a new position that if there is someone in NIST who has integrity and is able to look at this objectively, they've got plenty to defend their new position with if they chose to grant the request.
I remember a short war story here back in, what was it, 1993? Something like that. I was doing a case for Greenpeace, a federal lawsuit on a multimillion-dollar hazardous waste incinerator thing. In those days, EPA was looking at the risks of major combustion sources by just looking at the inhalation route of exposure. Greenpeace was putting all this evidence that most of us are poisoned by toxic chemicals, not by breathing, even though that can happen, but by eating food, because 99% of at least the persistent pollutants accumulate in the food chain and you get exposed much more that way than by breathing.
We had our whistleblower in the agency give us a secret draft of a new document, that agency study that showed what we were saying, that food chain risk was the big issue. We did end up, to make a long story short, putting that on as evidence in the case. We won the case initially at the trial in the trial court. And then, on jurisdictional or maybe procedural grounds, that particular lawsuit's positive outcome was reversed. But in the process, the agency did end up changing its policy nationwide and started looking at food-chain risk in their risk assessments. Agency policy and their scientific conclusions can change in the face of new evidence, and this is a good a case where it should.
I would have loved to have seen their faces when the internal document came back to haunt them. That is great, and we can only hope for the same thing here. This is a very important development because we are on the march here against the official story. The Building 7 report now has opened the door, and there's going to be more to come. We're going to keep you informed here on this show. That's why the show exists, to let you know any further developments in this.
Ted, Mick, I want to thank you guys so much for your incredible work and seeking justice for all those people that died on that day, by going after the Building 7 issue. Thank you for coming on 9/11 Free Fall today.
Thank you, sir.
Thanks so much, Andy.