“But someone would have talked,” say the self-styled skeptics who believe the government’s official conspiracy theory of 9/11. “After all, every major conspiracy has its whistleblowers, doesn’t it?”
But there’s a problem with this logically fallacious non-argument. “Someone” did talk. In fact, numerous people have come out to blow the whistle on the events of September 11, 2001, and the cover-up that surrounds those events.
These are the stories of the 9/11 Whistleblowers.
You’re tuned in to The Corbett Report.
In 2001, Kevin Ryan was the site manager at Environmental Health Laboratories (EHL) in South Bend, Indiana. At the time, EHL was a subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global safety consulting and certification corporation that tests a range of consumer and industrial products for compliance with government safety standards. Among many other things, UL provides fire resistance ratings for structural steel components to insure compliance with New York City building codes.
Just weeks after the events of September 11, 2001, UL’s then-CEO, Loring Knoblauch, visited Ryan’s EHL lab in South Bend. During his speech there, Knoblauch assured the lab’s workers that UL “had certified the steel in the World Trade Center buildings” and “that we should all be proud that the buildings had stood for so long under such intense conditions.” Knowing UL’s role in producing a fire resistance directory and providing ratings for steel components, Ryan thought little of the statement at the time.
But Ryan’s curiosity about UL’s role in the certification of the World Trade Center steel was piqued when, in 2003, he began to question the lies that the Bush administration had used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and, eventually, to question the official story of September 11th itself. Recalling Knoblauch’s comments about UL’s role in certifying the Trade Center steel shortly after 9/11, Ryan began to take a professional interest in the official investigation into the Twin Towers’ destruction, an investigation in which UL itself was to play a part.
As Ryan began to learn more about the issues involved with the destruction of the towers and the ongoing investigation into that destruction, his concerns only grew. Why had the actual steel evidence of the towers’ destruction been illegally removed and disposed of before a proper investigation could take place? Why did not one or two, but three modern, steel-frame buildings completely collapse due to fire on 9/11 given that such an event had never taken place before? Why did the towers fail at all when John Skilling, the structural engineer responsible for designing the towers, claimed in 1993—just five years before his death—that his own analysis of jet plane crashes and ensuing fires in the towers had concluded that “the building structure would still be there”? And why had Knoblauch himself bragged about UL’s role in testing the World Trade Center steel—a test that would have rated the floor components for two hours of fire resistance and the building columns for three hours—when the North Tower “failed” in 102 minutes and the South Tower came down in just 56 minutes?
These concerns prompted Ryan, in October 2003, to write directly to Loring Knoblauch, outlining his thoughts and “asking what [Knoblauch] was doing to protect our reputation.” But if Ryan was expecting Knoblauch to put his mind at ease about these issues, he was sorely disappointed. Instead, Knoblauch—who included Tom Chapin, then the head of UL’s fire resistance division, in the email chain—wrote a response that only raised more questions than it answered.
KEVIN RYAN: Knoblauch copied Tom Chapin on his response to me, because it was Tom’s job as the leader of the fire resistance division to really address these kinds of things. And interestingly, Tom Chapin had written a letter to the editors at The New York Times in 2002 where he basically admitted, again, that UL’s testing had been behind the fire resistance of the World Trade Center towers. And so I’ve written about that a little bit, but he was very clear that the World Trade Center stood for as long as it did because of UL’s testing. And the problem of course with that is that the South Tower lasted for only 56 minutes after it was hit, and the testing that was required by New York City code was three hours of fire resistance for the columns and two hours for the floor assemblies. So 56 minutes and those ratings do not add up. That’s just not something that should go unquestioned.
So Loring Knoblauch wrote back to me after my questions in—it must have been October 2003 when I wrote to him. He wrote back to me a month later and he said all these things about how the company had tested the steel components used to build the World Trade Center towers. What he meant is we had tested samples of those and provided ratings for fire resistance to the New York City code—again, three hours for columns and two hours for floor assemblies. And that information established the confidence that the buildings would stand in those fire durations. And the test that was used was ASTM E119, which is the standard test used for this purpose. And UL is the leader in doing that testing, so it wasn’t a surprise.
And not only that, but NIST—the government agency NIST [the National Institute of Standards and Technology]—had made clear in some of their progress reports that UL had consulted with the construction companies for the World Trade Center towers, and throughout the building of the buildings that UL had provided that information. So it’s really not a surprise at all.
And Tom Chapin replied further to me that the NIST agency was doing an investigation and asked me, basically, to have patience. And I did for maybe the next year.
In 2002, NIST began its three-year, $16 million study of the Twin Towers’ “failure.” Tom Chapin had assured Ryan that UL was cooperating with this investigation and that his concerns would be allayed once the final report was released. But by 2004, it was already clear that there were serious problems with that report and its preliminary findings, including findings from tests conducted by UL on mock-ups of the WTC floor assemblies that contradicted NIST’s own conclusions about the buildings’ destruction.
RYAN: Well, it’s very important to understand that with the official accounts for the World Trade Center, there were a number of explanations given in the early years. And for the towers the one that was settled upon and that lasted for three years was the pancake theory.
And the pancake theory was this concept where the floor assemblies had heated up and sagged and this steel had softened or weakened and then they started to collapse upon each other in a pancake fashion. And then the columns basically just folded inward. So that was the official account, really. It was given by the FEMA investigators Corley and Thornton and others—who coincidentally had also given us the official account for the Oklahoma City bombing. But in this video from the television program Nova, it was captured for everyone’s benefit in little videos . . . animations. And so the pancake theory was the official account.
And UL tested the floor assemblies basically for the possibility of this in August 2004. So this was, again, nine months or ten months after I had asked my original questions. And they did so by using different assemblies with varying amounts of fireproofing. One of the assemblies had basically no fireproofing on it at all, and they ran it through this furnace in this ASTM E119 test and concluded in the end that there would be no collapse. That the floors would not collapse even at temperatures and times greater than what we’re seeing at the World Trade Center.
And they made that clear. NIST made this clear, that the pancake theory was not supported. So that left us all at that time with no explanation, in 2004, three years later. Having invaded Iraq, having done so much to invest in the official account that the World Trade Center had been destroyed by these planes. And that was a difficult situation for NIST and for everyone.
Realizing that UL was not pressing NIST on the discrepancies in its findings, Kevin Ryan took matters into his own hands and, on November 11, 2004, wrote directly to Frank Gayle, the director of NIST’s Twin Towers investigation. That email began:
“As I’m sure you know, the company I work for certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings. In requesting information from both our CEO and Fire Protection business manager last year, I learned that they did not agree on the essential aspects of the story, except for one thing—that the samples we certified met all requirements. They suggested we all be patient and understand that UL was working with your team, and that tests would continue through this year. I’m aware of UL’s attempts to help, including performing tests on models of the floor assemblies. But the results of these tests appear to indicate that the buildings should have easily withstood the thermal stress caused by pools of burning jet fuel.”
After pointing out the problems raised by NIST’s own investigation—including the tests that disproved claims that the steel in the floor area simply “melted”—Ryan got to the heart of the matter:
“This story just does not add up. If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I’m sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans. Alternatively, the contention that this steel did fail at temperatures around 250C suggests that the majority of deaths on 9/11 were due to a safety-related failure. That suggestion should be of great concern to my company.
“There is no question that the events of 9/11 are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror. And the issue of the WTC collapse is at the crux of the story of 9/11. My feeling is that your metallurgical tests are at the crux of the crux of the crux. Either you can make sense of what really happened to those buildings, and communicate this quickly, or we all face the same destruction and despair that come from global decisions based on disinformation and ‘chatter.’”
Predictably, if unfortunately, Gayle never responded to the email. However, Ryan made the important decision to share the email, and his concerns, with the broader public:
RYAN: Frank did not respond, no. Actually, that letter was sent to him and then also copied to a couple of people who were trying to find more information. Trying to find the truth about what happened on 9/11. Those two included David Griffin, who had just recently written a book, and Catherine Austin Fitts, the director of 911Truth.org.
Dr. Griffin asked me almost immediately if he could share it publicly. And, of course, with some hesitation, but knowing the importance in believing what I wrote, I told him it was OK. And overnight there must have been tens of thousands of people reading this letter on the web and people calling our offices in South Bend at UL constantly, and calling me at home constantly. I think a lot of people were feeling the same—they were thinking the same thing: That clearly there was something wrong here and the story was not explaining what we needed to know.
So Dr. Gayle did not respond. He’s never responded. Maybe one day I will talk to him personally and find out what he thinks. But, you know, these things are clear in terms of job—this is not really just a career decision, although it is—it’s a career decision. It’s more than that, it’s a decision about, you know, what kind of world we want to live in, and at a time where that kind of decision is really important. Because, you know, the book Nineteen Eighty-Four was supposed to be a fiction and it’s evolving into reality.
Ryan did not engage in these actions naïvely. He knew that allowing his concerns to go public would focus public attention on himself and on UL and that such actions would have ramifications for his employment.
But if he was bracing himself for those ramifications, he didn’t have long to wait. His email to Frank Gayle was sent on Thursday, November 11, 2004. It was published on the web the following day. Immediately, Ryan’s phone was ringing off the hook and UL was being contacted for comment. That weekend, the company reached out to him to let him know the consequences of his actions.
RYAN: The Human Resources folks called me that weekend and asked if I would contact the people on the web who had published it and ask that it be taken down. And I refused to do that and told them that I didn’t think that was the right thing to do. And I think it was at that very point that they started making the plans to terminate me.
So I had actually taken the next Monday off of work and that was convenient. It allowed me to get my thoughts together. And then on Tuesday when I came in—which I believe was the 16th—the leaders from the Northbrook—Chicago—office were there, and they had told me they would be: “Please make sure you’re there.” They brought a letter on UL letterhead and made it clear that, you know, they felt that I had practiced poor judgment in writing this letter and sending it to their client NIST. It had harmed their relationship with NIST, and thereby I was terminated.
So, yeah, that was a tough spot for my family and I. But my wife has been supportive. She knows the idealistic nature of her husband, I think, and she knew why it was important. And we’ve done fine, we’ve gotten by and gotten other jobs. And that’s—I believe people should recognize that it’s not the end of the world to lose your job. Sometimes it’s a new beginning that is useful.
Not for courting controversy, but merely for pointing out the glaring truth, Ryan was fired from his job. Like so many other whistleblowers in so many other stories, Ryan paid a price for doing what his conscience demanded.
Also like many other brave men and women who have been thrust into the position of blowing the whistle, Ryan has found a way to thrive despite the setbacks. Rather than keeping quiet and moving on with his life, Ryan has doubled down on his efforts, founding several action groups, editing the Journal of 9/11 Studies, writing articles and books on the subject of 9/11, volunteering on the board of directors of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, delivering lectures on the destruction of the World Trade Center, and continuing to raise public awareness of the problems with the official story of the founding event of the “War on Terror.”
In the end, despite the high price he paid career-wise, Ryan feels that his decision to blow the whistle and call out the self-contradictions of the NIST investigation was worth it. After all, it is only when those who know the truth are unafraid to step up and speak it, regardless of the personal consequences, that we will ever hope to achieve true justice.
RYAN: What I’ve been able to benefit from is understanding a lot more about society, history, politics, being better at communicating myself. And I’ve met a lot of great people. We’ve worked together to raise awareness and try to bring justice for 9/11. You know, I’ve met and presented with 9/11 victims’ family members. I’ve met 9/11 Commission leaders and other people who were very central to this story. So many great researchers. So many great people. So overall it was definitely worth it for me.
It’s a personal decision, of course, and it has to be motivated by trying to do some good. If it’s not motivated by trying to do some good then you’re doing the wrong thing.
Of the many scenes from September 11, 2001, that have been etched into the public consciousness, few are as iconic as the images of the survivors and first responders escaping Ground Zero completely covered in dust from the destruction of the Twin Towers.
And of the many, many lies told by government officials in the days following the attacks, few have been as blatant or as clearly documented as the lies about the safety of that dust propounded by the EPA and its administrator at the time, Chrstine Todd Whitman.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: We know asbestos was in there, was in those buildings. Lead is in those buildings. There are the VOC’s [Volatile Organic Compounds], however, the concentrations are such that they don’t pose a health hazard.
WHITMAN: Well, if there’s any good news out of all this, it’s that everything we’ve tested for, which includes asbestos, lead, and VOCs, have been below any level of concern for the general public health. Obviously, for those who are down here, these are very important . . .
WHITMAN: Statements that EPA officials made after 9/11 were based on the judgment of experienced environmental and health professionals at the EPA, OSHA and the CDC, who had analyzed the test data that 13 different organizations and agencies were collecting in Lower Manhattan.
I do not recall any EPA scientist or experts responsible for reviewing this data ever advising me that the test data from Lower Manhattan showed that the air or water proposed long-term health risks for the general public.
As we now know, these statements were all lies.
As early as September 18th, the very same day that Whitman was assuring New Yorkers that the air was safe to breathe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had already detected sulfur dioxide levels in the air so high that “according to one industrial hygienist, they were above the EPA’s standard for a classification of ‘hazardous’.” And even in those early days, first responders were already reporting a range of health problems, including coughing, wheezing, eye irritation and headaches. Even so, Whitman and the EPA persisted in perpetuating the lies about the dust, assuring New Yorkers that respirators were not needed outside of the “restricted area” around Ground Zero.
And, as we examined in 9/11 Suspects: Christine Todd Whitman, it was later confirmed that the White House had been editing the EPA’s press releases on the air quality in Manhattan and removing warnings about the air safety all along.
LISA MYERS: In the wake of 9/11, there were serious concerns about whether the air around Ground Zero was filled with toxins, unsafe for workers and residents. But by September 18th, many New Yorkers were back in their apartments and on the job, partly because of this press release that day from the Environmental Protection Agency, reassuring New Yorkers that their air is safe to breathe.
Was that press release misleading?
NIKKI TINSLEY: It was surely not telling all of the truth.
MYERS: In an exclusive interview, Inspector General Nikki Tinsley, the EPA’s top watchdog, tells NBC News the agency simply did not have sufficient data to justify such a reassurance. In fact, a new report by Tinsley’s office says at the time, more than 25 percent of dust samples collected before September 18th showed unsafe levels of asbestos. And the EPA had no test results at all on PCBs, dioxins or particulates in the air that can cause respiratory problems.
TINSLEY: The EPA did not give the people of New York complete information.
MYERS: So what happened? Tinsley’s report charges in the crucial days after 9/11 the White House changed EPA press releases to “add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones.” September 13th, the EPA draft release, never released to the public, says, “EPA ‘testing terrorized sites for environmental hazards.’” The White House changes that to EPA “reassures public about environmental hazards.” September 16th, the EPA draft says, “recent samples of dust on Water Street show higher levels of asbestos.” The White House version: “new samples confirm ambient air quality meets OSHA standards and is not a cause for public concern.” And the White House leaves out entirely this warning, that “air samples raise concerns for cleanup workers and office workers near Water Street.”
What many do not know, because their story has been largely ignored and marginalized, is that there were officials within the EPA who were desperately trying to blow the whistle on the agency’s lies. Officials like Cate Jenkins.
Dr. Cate Jenkins had joined the EPA in December 1979, serving as an Environmental Scientist with EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER). Her work included “detecting hazardous waste and developing regulations for their control,” a role that took on special importance in the wake of the toxic dust clouds covering Manhattan on 9/11. Unlike many of the other 9/11 whistleblowers, however, the events of September 11, 2001, did not represent the first time Dr. Jenkins had to blow the whistle on her own agency.
Jenkins dealt with many hazardous waste products in her job, but she specialized in dioxin (a.k.a. Agent Orange), a contaminant of wood preservatives that was used in the Vietnam War as a defoliant. Monsanto Chemical Corporation was the largest producer of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and it was a series of Monsanto-sponsored studies in the early 1980s that led the EPA to conclude that “human evidence supporting an association” between dioxin and cancer “is considered inadequate.”
In February 1990, Jenkins wrote a memo to the EPA Science Advisory Board alleging that the Monsanto-sponsored studies were fraudulent, and that the studies, if performed correctly, would have shown the carcinogenic effects of dioxin. The memo caught the attention of the press and, under the glare of a media spotlight, the EPA launched a criminal investigation of Monsanto. That investigation was opened on August 20th and closed less than two years later, but, as EPA whistleblower William Sanjour notes, “the investigation itself and the basis for closing the investigation were fraudulent.” No attempt was even made to determine the scientific validity of the studies in question, and the EPA declined to pursue the matter because of statute of limitations technicalities.
The EPA did, however, find time to mount a campaign of retribution against Jenkins for having the audacity to blow the whistle on the agency and its listing practices for hazardous chemicals. Her workload was reduced and higher-ups at the EPA immediately began talking about shunting her off into a purely administrative position where she would “not be involved with anything that puts her in direct contact with the regulated community or the public.” Her supervisor even wrote a letter to Monsanto apologizing for Jenkins’ memo questioning their studies.
Jenkins filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, and, in a series of cases that were appealed all the way up to the Secretary of Labor himself, it was found that she had been unfairly retaliated against for her whistleblowing and the EPA was ordered to reinstate her in her previous position.
But as nightmarish as that years-long, potentially career-ending ordeal in whistleblowing was for Dr. Jenkins, it was nothing compared to the ordeal she would have to face after “the day that changed everything.”
Beginning shortly after the attack, and continuing for years afterward, Dr. Jenkins attempted to bring the EPA’s faulty and fraudulent air quality testing practices to the attention of anyone who would listen. According to the Administrative Review Board of the US Department of Labor:
“Beginning in 2001, Jenkins made numerous disclosures and complaints alleging that the EPA engaged in improper laboratory testing, falsified a regulation governing exposure safety standards, and knowingly covered up the toxic properties of the dust emanating from the September 11, 2001 [9/11] World Trade Center [WTC] disaster. The improper testing and cover-up, Jenkins claimed, contributed to excessive and harmful toxic dust exposures of WTC ‘First Responders’ and others sufficient to later cause respiratory and other serious and debilitating disease. Jenkins disseminated these disclosures and complaints to her supervisors and others at EPA, to the EPA Inspector General’s Office, members of Congress, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as to state officials, state elected representatives, law firms representing WTC First Responders, citizens, and the media. Her disclosures were posted on web sites and repeatedly quoted in the press and television broadcasts, and by members of Congress.”
One of these early memos, dated January 11, 2002, was written on EPA letterhead and addressed to “Affected Parties and Responsible Officials.” It examines the case of Libby, Montana—a designated “Superfund” site, where the federal government is paying to help residents clean the “interiors of homes and residential soils [that] have been contaminated with asbestos from an adjacent vermiculite mining operation.” Jenkins compared the levels of contaminated dust particles found inside apartments in Lower Manhattan after 9/11 to dust samples taken in Libby, finding that the New York samples contained 22 times higher concentrations of asbestos than the Montana samples. As Jenkins noted: “The logical question thus arises: Why is EPA leaving people to their own devices in the cleanup of New York City, while intervening to clean homes at taxpayer expense in Libby?”
Worse, a team of independent scientists hired by tenant groups and New York political leaders found much higher samples of asbestos in the dust than what the EPA was reporting. As Dr. Jenkins told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time: “For every asbestos fiber EPA detected, the new methods used by the outside experts found nine. [. . .] This is too important a difference to be ignored if you really care about the health of the public.”
CATE JENKINS: New York City directly lied about the test results for asbestos in the air. When they finally released them, they doctored the results. They changed high hazardous levels to zero when they finally released them.
After years of internal memos, press interviews and other tireless efforts to blow the whistle on the severe health issues that would develop as a result of the EPA’s deliberate cover-up, the mainstream media was finally forced to begin covering the issue in 2006, after many of the Ground Zero clean-up workers and the residents of Manhattan were beginning to succumb to the effects of the deadly dust.
In 2006, after a federal judge ruled that Whitman’s post-9/11 lies were “conscience-shocking” and that she would not be granted immunity for her actions, the media finally began to cover the story. The New York Times, CBS and other outlets all ran stories on the scandal, and they all quoted from Jenkins’ memos and featured interviews with Jenkins herself. After the 5th anniversary came and went on September 11, 2006, however, the media’s attention turned elsewhere and the story drifted out of the attention of the public once again.
But Dr. Jenkins’ attempt to obtain justice for the victims of this horrendous crime did not end there. In 2007, she penned a remarkable 134-page letter addressed to then-Senator Hillary Clinton, as well as Congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, calling for a Senate investigation of the falsification of pH corrosivity data for World Trade Center dust. The thoroughly documented letter, containing over 300 footnotes and citations, included a detailed analysis of the falsification of WTC pH data by groups like the US Geological Survey, and the remarkable story of how “In May 1980, EPA’s hazardous waste program falsified pH levels (changed the numbers) that the UN World Health Organization (WHO) International Labour Organization (ILO) determined would invariably result in corrosive permanent tissue damage (chemical burns).”
In a much shorter—though no-less-explosive—letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation written at the same time, Jenkins also called for the FBI to open a criminal investigation into the EPA’s cover-up. This was followed up with an additional letter to the FBI in 2008, where Jenkins went even further, alleging fraud in pH testing of WTC dust and providing documentation that the EPA lab had diluted WTC dust almost 600 times with water before testing it for corrosivity.
Remarkably, despite her very public and very serious charges against the federal agency, and despite her past experience blowing the whistle on the EPA and subsequent years-long court battle to retain her position, Jenkins told Occupational Hazards magazine in 2002 that she did not fear losing her job over her comments. “All [EPA] management has to do is say, ‘Stop,’ and they haven’t,” she said, adding that as an EPA official, speaking out about lapses in the agency’s WTC effort does not require courage, just plenty of hard work.
Despite this belief, Dr. Jenkins was indeed fired from the EPA on December 30, 2010.
The firing followed a series of inane workplace incidents that resulted in suspensions and other retaliatory measures against Jenkins. The chain of events included Jenkins sending an email under the title “Op-Ed: Should EPA Institute a Workplace Fragrance Ban as Part of its Endocrine Disruptor Initiative?” after an encounter with a heavily-perfumed IT tech triggered an asthma attack in Jenkins, and her supervisor recommending that she be suspended, as the email—which was only sent to other EPA staff—”could have misled recipients as to whether it was an official EPA communication.” Eventually, the supervisor claimed that the series of incidents culminated with Jenkins threatening him in a workplace incident that was witnessed by no one.
As the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, who supported Jenkins in her ordeal with the agency, summarized:
“Dr. Cate Jenkins, a senior chemist with more than three decades of agency tenure, publicly charged that due to falsified EPA standards, First Responders waded into dust so corrosive that it caused chemical burns deep within their respiratory systems. After raising the issue to the EPA Inspector General, Congress and the FBI, Dr. Jenkins was isolated, harassed and ultimately removed from her position on December 30, 2010 by EPA, based upon an un-witnessed and contested claim that the soft-spoken, petite childhood polio survivor threatened her 6-foot male supervisor.”
Continuing through a series of appeals, legal wrangling and bureaucratic red tape, Jenkins succeeded in having her employment reinstated in 2012.
AMY GOODMAN: A government whistleblower who was fired after exposing the dangers of asbestos and dust on workers at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11 has been reinstated to her job following a federal court decision. Cate Jenkins, a chemist who worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, was the first EPA official to warn that dust in the air around the World Trade Center could pose a serious health risk. But the head of the EPA at the time claimed there was no reason for concern. Jenkins accused the EPA of intentionally hiding the dangers of air pollution at Ground Zero. She was fired in 2010. A federal court has now ruled Jenkins must be reinstated and given back pay.
SOURCE: Democracy Now, May 8, 2012
Incredibly, even this was not the end of Jenkins’ ordeal.
Instead of returning her to her daily work duties in 2012 as ordered, the EPA instead kept Jenkins on paid administrative leave and then re-filed the same charges against her in 2013. Less than a year after being ordered to give her her job back, the agency was instead trying to take it away again, saying that Jenkins had failed to prove that the EPA was retaliating for her whistleblowing.
The agency’s move was especially galling, given that Jenkins had yet to be given a chance to prove her case. Part of the reason that the EPA had been ordered to restore Jenkins to her job was because the agency had been found to have destroyed records pertaining to her case and otherwise obstructed discovery. In fact, her case that the EPA had retaliated against her for her whistleblowing was still before the Department of Labor.
The entire legal ordeal proceeded for years, finally coming to an end in 2018—a full eight years after the agency’s first attempt to fire her—when the Department of Labor confirmed a 2015 decision that the EPA had “retaliated against [Jenkins] for her reports to Congress and the FBI, and to the public through the media, about her allegations of violation of environmental laws and regulations by the EPA in connection with the rescue and cleanup operations at the WTC, in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Clean Air Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.”
After nearly two decades of research and whistleblowing and almost ten years of legal nightmare, Jenkins was finally vindicated. She had been unjustly fired for attempting to call attention to the agency’s wrongdoings, and she was restored to her position.
But although this victory is to be celebrated, it comes as slim comfort to those seeking justice for the victims of 9/11, not just those killed in the buildings that day, and not just the victims of the wars that have been waged in the name of September 11th, but the victims of the toxic dust that Cate Jenkins and others have been warning about since the events unfolded.
And meanwhile, those who pushed the deadly lies about the air quality have moved on with their lives, continuing their careers and only occasionally being confronted by the independent media that is still attempting to shed light on the story.
DERRICK BROZE: Ms. Whitman, I appreciate your talk in there. You guys mentioned voting and the power of shaming voters. I feel like there’s probably a lot of folks who feel like you might need to be shamed since it’s been 17 years since 9/11 and nearly 10,000 people are now sick with 9/11-related illnesses. And I know you apologized about it two years ago and you were cleared in the courts, but all evidence points to your time in the Bush administration clearly led to people being sick and led to people getting cancer and other 9/11-related illnesses.
WHITMAN: Everything that I said was based on the best available science at the time. Science has progressed now. I think we found things that we didn’t know then. But I never said anything that wasn’t predicated on what the scientists told me. That morning—every morning—I had a conference call with the scientists: “What is safe to say? What can I say? What shouldn’t I say?” And they kept repeating that they were seeing nothing in their studies that show that there was a long-term health consequence from the air in Manhattan in general and Lower Manhattan in general.
They may not be the lies we think of when we think of the lies of 9/11—lies which led to the illegal invasion of Afghanistan and contributed to the illegal invasion of Iraq—but the EPA’s lies about the World Trade Center dust, too, have proven deadly.
And, like a Cassandra cursed with the ability to foresee a grim future that she could not prevent, Cate Jenkins spent decades of her life warning of the consequences of those lies. And for her service, she faced years of persecution. Worst of all, her warnings were dismissed until they could no longer be denied.
And there are still those who claim that 9/11 does not have its whistleblowers.
WHITMAN: To say [that] because a draft press release changes that somehow that’s nefarious manipulation is . . . It’s mind-boggling that you leap to that conclusion.
JEFF ROSSEN: So now they’re walking back toward the World Trade Center. And as we keep letting you hear the personal stories the survivor stories of exactly what happened inside the World Trade Center when that first plane went in—and of course the collapses since then—we’re going to bring more of those to you now. Barry Jennings, you were on the eighth floor. You work for the city housing department. Explain to me the moment of impact.
BARRY JENNINGS: Well, me and Mr. Hess, the corporation counsel, were on the 23rd floor. I told him, “We gotta get out of here.” We started walking down the stairs. We made it to the 8th floor [later clarified to be the 6th floor]. Big explosion! Blew us back into the 8th floor. And I turned to Hess and I said, “This is it, we’re dead. We’re not gonna make it outta here. . . .”
I took a fire extinguisher and I bust the window out. This gentlemen heard my cries for help. This gentleman right here. And he said kept saying “Stand by, somebody’s coming to get you.” They could they couldn’t get to us for now because they couldn’t find us. You thought that was it. I thought . . . I go, “We’re dead.” I thought that was it. I started praying to Allah that that’s it, we’re going.
In 2001, Barry Jennings was the Deputy Director of Emergency Services for the New York City Housing Authority. After the first plane hit the North Tower at 8:46 AM on the morning of 9/11, Jennings was called to the city’s Office of Emergency Management in World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7) along with Corporation Counsel Michael Hess to help coordinate the emergency response. Entering Building 7 together before the strike on the South Tower at 9:03 AM, Jennings and Hess were surprised to discover that the office had been abandoned. Receiving a phone call from his superior, Jennings was warned to leave the building immediately. Descending via the stairwell, Jennings and Hess reached the 6th floor before an explosion blew them back up to the 8th floor, trapping them inside the building. After hours of chaos and confusion, including the collapse of the Twin Towers and repeated attempts to draw the attention of first responders, the pair were finally rescued by firefighters.
Hours later, World Trade Center Building 7, also known as the Salomon Brothers Building, collapsed at free-fall acceleration directly into the path of most resistance. After seven years of investigation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) determined that the building had not come down due to explosives or controlled demolition, as many alleged, or due to structural damage from the collapse of the Twin Towers, an explosion in the building’s fuel oil systems, or any of the other suggestions that had been put forward and retracted by NIST over the course of its investigation. Instead, NIST spokesman Shyam Sunder insisted that the building had collapsed due to ordinary office fires.
SHYAM SUNDER: The collapse of World Trade Center 7 on 9/11 was a rare event. Our study has identified thermal expansion as a new phenomenon that can cause the collapse of a structure. For the first time, we have shown that fire can induce a progressive collapse.
Jennings’ remarkable story was captured by Jeff Rossen, reporting on the ground for WABC-TV, just moments after he and Hess had been rescued from the building. But it wasn’t until several years later that Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas, the creators of Loose Change—the first viral internet documentary—discovered the clip of that interview from the day of 9/11 and realized that Jennings’ testimony was one of the few eyewitness accounts of one of the deepest mysteries of that day: The destruction of WTC 7.
JASON BERMAS: So while we were doing research for, obviously, our next cut of the film, Loose Change: Final Cut—you know, Loose Change Second Edition gave us a real opportunity to go around doing investigation. And we had had so much archived footage sent to us, because this was long before the days of the internet where you get something high-quality on the spot. And Dylan found footage of Barry Jennings that had been unedited that we had not seen that really suggested that he was absolutely in Building Seven.
And we also correlated that with him being with Michael Hess. And Michael Hess was the right-hand man of Giuliani. He was the city corporation counsel. Here’s a still shot of him behind me. And then you can see him here sitting next to Giuliani, so pretty much as close as it gets. And, you know, we made this connection. And actually I had reached out to Hess via email. I heard nothing back—and to, you know, the proper parties, nothing back.
But Dylan tracked down Barry Jennings in his city office and Barry did respond. And Barry said, “Come on down!” So me and Dylan went down with the camera, and once we got in there and started talking to him, I remember like the first thing that I saw—you know, he was obviously, I’d say, not the highest up guy, but very—you know, he had his own office, he was well respected. He had the key to the city. You know, he had talked about the key to the city after this event, and he even told us how he had seen Loose Change Second Edition. Basically, what I can remember: He was pretty sympathetic to our cause. He talked to us about Fahrenheit 9/11.
And from there we tried to find a spot to get him, and I remember he drove us out there. We were in the back, one of his suits hanging up. I remember we even talked about his family, you know, being out in Long Island. Very friendly guy. And we got him on the pier.
And listen: The interview is what it is. We’ve released it in full. We didn’t add anything. We didn’t coerce the guy. And I think what he says is about as telling as it gets.
“As telling as it gets.”
Indeed, Barry Jennings’ story is telling. As the only documented eyewitness testimony of the events taking place inside World Trade Center 7 during the hours of the attack, the accounts of Barry Jennings and Michael Hess are essential to coming to an understanding of the destruction of that building. And, most telling of all, it contradicts the official, government-approved story of Building 7’s destruction in many important ways.
BARRY JENNINGS: As I told you guys before, it was very funny. I was on my way to work and the traffic was excellent. I received a call that a small Cessna had hit the World Trade Center. I was asked to go and man the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) at World Trade Center 7 on the 23rd floor.
As I arrived there, there were police all in the lobby. They showed me the way to the elevator. We got up to the 23rd floor, me and Mr. Hess, who I didn’t know was Mr. Hess at the time. We got to the 23rd floor. We couldn’t get in. We had to go back down. Then security and the police took us to the freight elevators, where they took us back up and we did get in.
Upon arriving into the OEM EOC [Emergency Operations Center], we noticed that everybody was gone. I saw coffee that was on the desk. The smoke was still coming off the coffee. I saw half-eaten sandwiches. And only me and Mr. Hess were up there.
After I called several individuals, one individual told me to leave, and leave right away. Mr. Hess came running back in. He said, “We’re the only ones up here, we gotta get out of here.” He found the stairwell. So we subsequently went to the stairwell and were going down the stairs.
When we reached the 6th floor, the landing that we were standing on gave way. There was an explosion and the landing gave way. And I was left there, hanging. I had to climb back up. And now I had to walk back up to the 8th floor. After getting to the 8th floor, everything was dark. It was dark and it was very, very hot. Very hot.
I asked Mr. Hess to test the phones as I took a fire extinguisher and broke out the windows. Once I broke out the windows, I could see outside below me. I saw police cars on fire. Buses on fire. I looked one way, the building was there. I looked the other way, it was gone.
I was trapped in there for several hours. I was trapped in there when both buildings came down.
The firefighters came. They came to the window. Because I was going to come out on the fire hose. I didn’t want to stay any longer. It was too hot. I was gonna come out on the fire hose. They came to the window and they started yelling, “Do not do that. It won’t hold you.” And then they ran away.
See, I didn’t know what was going on. That’s when the first tower fell. When they started running, the first tower was coming down. I had no way of knowing that.
Then I saw them come back. Now I saw them come back with more concern on their faces. And then they ran away again. The second tower fell. So as they turned and ran the second time, the guy said, “Don’t worry, we’ll be back for you.” And they did come back.
This time they came back with 10 firefighters. And they kept asking, “Where are you? We don’t know where you are.” I said, “I’m on the north side of the building.” Because when I was on the stairs, I saw “North Side.”
All this time, I’m hearing all types of explosions. All this time, I’m hearing explosions. And I’m thinking that maybe it’s the buses around me that were on fire, the cars that were on fire. I don’t see no . . . you know? But I’m still hearing these explosions.
When they finally got to us and they took us down to what they called the lobby . . . Because I asked them when we got down there, I said, “Where are we?” He said, “This was the lobby.” And I said, “You gotta be kidding me.” It was total ruins. Total ruins. Now keep in mind: When I came in there, the lobby had nice escalators. It was a huge lobby. And for me to see what I saw was unbelievable.
And the firefighter that took us down kept saying, “Do not look down!” And I kept saying, “Why?” He said, “Do not look down.” And we were stepping over people. And, you know, you can feel when you’re stepping over people.
They took us out through a hole, that . . . I don’t know who made this hole in this wall. That’s how they got us out. They took us out through a hole through the wall to safety.
As they were taking me out, one firefighter had fallen. I believe he was having a heart attack. But before that, this big giant police officer came to me. And he said, “You have to run!” I said, “I can’t run. My knees are swollen.” He said, “You’ll have to get on your knees and crawl, then!” He said, “Because we have reports of more explosions.” And that’s when I started crawling, and I saw this guy fall behind me. His comrades came to his aid and they dragged him to safety.
I was looking for an ambulance for my knees, and at that time they told me we gotta walk 20 blocks to a refuge. Before I got there, Eyewitness News grabbed me and started interviewing me.
And that’s basically it.
SOURCE: Barry Jennings Uncut
To those unfamiliar with the official story of WTC 7, this might seem like just another account of the terror, confusion and heroism that the victims of that day faced during their harrowing ordeal.
But this is not the case. Jennings’ story is in fact full of details that directly contradict NIST’s pronouncements on the destruction of the building.
Most notably, Jennings’ vivid description of the explosions that were taking place in the building during his ordeal is in direct contradiction to NIST’s assertion in its FAQ on WTC 7 that, although NIST “investigated the possibility” of explosions contributing to the building’s demolition, “NIST concluded that blast events inside the building did not occur and found no evidence supporting the existence of a blast event.”
In fact, not only is there ample evidence, available to anyone interested, that there were explosions going on in the building shortly before it went down, but Jennings’ personal account confirms that there were numerous explosions taking place inside WTC 7 in the morning, hours before the building was destroyed.
The BBC, in its “Conspiracy Files” program on “The Third Tower,” tries to muddy the waters by implying that the explosions that Jennings testified to were in fact the dust and debris from the Twin Towers’ demolitions impacting Building 7.
JENNINGS: At that time I received a phone call from one of my higher-ups and he said, “Where are you?” and I said, you know, “The emergency command center.” And then he came back, he said, “Get out of here get out of the area.”
NARRATOR: At 9:59 the 1,300-foot South Tower collapses.
[. . .]
JENNINGS: I wanted to get out of that building in a hurry so I started—instead of taking one step at a time, I’m jumping landings. When I reach down to the 6th floor, with this eerie sound the whole building went dark and the staircase that I was standing on just gave way.
NARRATOR: At 10:28 the North Tower collapses in just 11 seconds.
With their editing and narrative intrusions, the BBC makes it seem that the explosions that Jennings and Hess experienced were just remnants of the Twin Towers hitting WTC 7. But in his interview with Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas, Jennings was completely adamant that he could still see both towers standing after the explosions happened.
JENNINGS: What happened was, when we made it back to the 8th floor—as I told you earlier, both buildings were still standing, because I looked. [He points] Two. [He pauses] I look one way, look the other way—now there’s nothing there.
When I got to the 6th floor, there was an explosion—that’s what forced us back to the 8th floor. Both buildings were still standing.
Keep in mind, I told you the fire department came . . . and ran. They came twice. Why? Because tower 1 fell and then tower 2 fell. And then when they came back, they came back, they came back all concerned like to get me the hell out of there. And, and they did. And we got out of there.
I got into the building a little before nine. . . . A little after nine. I didn’t get out of there until, like, 1:00.
It is important to note that Jennings’ story does not present a different view of the official story of 9/11; it undermines that story entirely. Multiple explosions taking place in the lower floors of Building 7 before the Twin Towers’ destruction shows that NIST was wrong to dismiss the possibility of explosive demolition of WTC 7. Given that the explosions that trapped Jennings and Hess was not falling debris from the Twin Towers and was not a fuel oil tank explosion—a point stressed by Jennings and confirmed by NIST—then the most likely possibility—pre-planted explosives that were timed to go off during the attacks—remains not only uncontested, but unconsidered by NIST or any other investigative agency.
Indeed, the 9/11 Commission—which called Jennings in to question him about his story in one closed-door meeting that was never followed up—did not even mention the stunning, symmetrical, free-fall demolition of World Trade Center Building 7 in its final report on the attacks. The BBC, as we have seen, attempted to bring Jennings’ story in line with the official story by purposely misleading its viewers about the timeline that Jennings himself insisted on. And NIST, infamously, took seven years to finally offer an account of Building 7’s collapse; an account so absurd as to be self-refuting:
SUNDER: Here’s a video taken on 9/11 that shows WTC 7 collapsing. Note the kink in the East penthouse and the progression of the screening wall and the West penthouse collapsing from East to West. Here is our structural model showing the building collapsing, which matches quite quite well with the video of the event.
Most remarkable of all, and conveniently left out of the account of every so-called “debunker” of Jennings’ testimony, is what Jennings himself felt about the destruction of Building 7.
JENNINGS: Well, I’m just confused about one thing and one thing only. Why World Trade Center 7 went down in the first place. I’m very confused about that. I know what I heard. I heard explosions.
The explanation I got was it was the fuel oil tank. I’m an old boiler guy. If it was a fuel oil tank, it would have been one side of the building. When I got to that lobby, the lobby was totally destroyed. It looked like King Kong had came through it and stepped on it. It was so destroyed, I didn’t know where I was. And it was so destroyed, they had to take me out through a hole in the wall. A makeshift hole that I believe the fire department made to get me out.
Given Barry Jennings’ personal experience, what did he make of the BBC’s attempts to alter the timeline of his story? How did he react to the official government viewpoint that no explosions took place in the building that day? What did he think of NIST’s refusal to even examine the evidence of controlled demolition of WTC 7 or their own computer-generated model of how “thermal expansion” and regular office fires brought down a 47-story steel-framed office tower?
Sadly, we will never know. When Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas released a small clip of their interview, Jennings’ job was threatened and he asked that the interview not be included in Loose Change: Final Cut. The full interview was not released until after the BBC released their Third Tower documentary in which Jennings claimed to be unhappy with how his testimony was “portrayed” by Avery and Bermas.
No further interview or follow-up with Jennings about his comments or about the way the BBC portrayed his story was possible. In September 2008, just as NIST was presenting its final report concluding that WTC 7 had spontaneously collapsed from ordinary office fires, it was reported that Barry Jennings had passed away in hospital the month before. No further details of his death were offered.
Dylan Avery, seeking to bring closure to Barry Jennings’ life, answer questions about his death, and honor the bravery of a 9/11 survivor who spoke the truth even when it was unpopular, hired a private investigator to determine the circumstances of Jennings’ death. In a remarkable and bizarre turn of events, however, after pursuing the case, the investigator referred the matter to the police, refunded his fee, and told Avery never to contact him again. To this day, no time or cause of death of Barry Jennings has ever been publicly announced or confirmed.
Despite the sad and confused ending of this tale, there is still hope. Hope that the courage Jennings had in standing up and telling the truth—even though it was not what the government, NIST, or the promoters of the official 9/11 story wanted to hear—will not be wasted. Hope that, ultimately, the historical record, and the truth itself, will out.
BERMAS: I think the strongest lesson to be learned about Barry Jennings is that the historical record is the historical record, no matter how hard you try to spin it. For instance, you know, now with these Dark Overlord documents leaking, there’s litigation talking about the transformers being blown up in the bottom of the building. OK, now if that had happened, we would have had a visual event much like what happened with the Con Edison transformer blowing less than six months ago. It did not happen. And yet on paper and litigation and in official documents it does again and again. Well, it’s a cover-up.
The man stepped over bodies. We know that happened. He and Hess both talked about internal explosions. That building housed the CIA, the Secret Service, the SEC. I mean, I could go on. It’s unbelievable.
And I really hope with this latest litigation we finally get to the truth, no matter what. And I would hope that Barry would want the truth, no matter what he may have said in that BBC documentary. Because I spent time with the man. I was in his back seat, and he sure as hell wanted the truth then.
And so now, all these years later, those who are still seeking the truth are left in the same position as Barry Jennings himself was when he first talked to Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas: Looking at his own experience inside WTC 7 on 9/11 and the government’s official explanation of those experiences, and realizing that the two do not add up. Jennings and the other 9/11 whistleblowers are those special few who can stand up and say that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.
JENNINGS: Well, I’m just confused about one thing and one thing only. Why World Trade Center 7 went down in the first place. I’m very confused about that. I know what I heard. I heard explosions.
In the days after September 11th, 2001, while the toxic dust was still settling on Lower Manhattan, details began to emerge about the terrorists who had allegedly hijacked the fateful 9/11 flights. Names and pictures were released to the public and broadcast around the world. Ziad Jarrah. Hani Hanjour. Marwan al-Shehhi. Mohamed Atta. Even before the official story had begun to coalesce, the foreign faces and unfamiliar names flashing across the screens seared themselves into the consciousness of a traumatized public and left little doubt: This attack was the work of Muslim terrorists.
But at the same time, information began to come out that created problems for this narrative. Reports of these devout Muslim fundamentalists drinking alcohol and partying in strip clubs. Revelations that two of the suspects had been allowed into the US after being identified as Al Qaeda agents. Confirmation that these same agents lived with an FBI asset while in the US. And even the testimony of a senior military intelligence official that a counter-terror program had been specifically warned not to investigate Mohamed Atta in the lead-up to 9/11.
WYATT ANDREWS: According to Congressman Kurt Weldon, it was a secret Pentagon intelligence unit code named Able Danger that knew a year before 9/11 that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta was in the United States and connected to Al Qaeda.
CONGRESSMAN KURT WELDON: And as you can see, they identified Mohamed Atta’s cell.
ANDREWS: In the summer of 2000, he says, the Pentagon’s special ops command had identified two terrorist cells inside the US, and knew of the connection between Atta and three other men who became hijackers. When the agents recommended telling the FBI, Weldon says Clinton administration lawyers said “No,” because Atta was in the country legally and could not be targeted by military intelligence.
WELDON: And their recommendation to bring the FBI in, to take that cell out, which was ignored, and they were told you can’t do that.
ANDREWS: So a year before 9/11 they had their picture—they had the picture of Mohamed Atta—
ANDREWS: And they knew roughly where he was?
But of the many bizarre pieces of the alleged 9/11 hijacker puzzle, none gets closer to the heart of the mystery than the seemingly innocuous revelation that 14 of the alleged hijackers’ visas to enter the United States had been issued at the same office: the US consulate in Jeddah. That so many of the visas were issued from a single office may seem like a minor footnote at first glance, but it is not. In fact, the Jeddah consulate is not just another US consular office. It has a history of issuing visas to terrorists at the request of the CIA.
Just ask Michael Springmann.
J. Michael Springmann was a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service who joined the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, serving as an economic/commercial officer in Stuttgart from 1977 to 1980 and as a commercial attaché in New Delhi from 1980 to 1982. In 1987, having passed the foreign service exam and gone through an orientation program, Springmann was assigned to the Jeddah consulate in Saudi Arabia.
Whatever he was expecting to find awaiting him in his new office, it’s safe to say that it didn’t take long for Springmann to find that the reality was going to be very different. As he writes in his exposé of his time at the Jeddah consulate, Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World, “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a mysterious and exotic place, but it was nowhere near as exotic and mysterious as the American consulate general on Palestine Road.”
J. MICHAEL SPRINGMANN: Well, when I got to Saudi Arabia I began hearing all kinds of strange things about the problems my predecessor had made for me. I heard this in fact from Walter Cutler, the American ambassador, just before I left. He spent 45 minutes telling me about all the problems that my predecessor Greta Holtz had created, and I thought, “Gee, she’s going to make my career for me!”
And I get to Jeddah and I’m being requested: “It’s your decision of course, Mike, but we have this problem here with this visa and we have an especially good contact and we’d like to have the person get a visa to come to the United States. Can you do it?” And I’d interview them and I’d give them the visa.
And after a while, these people began to be really strange characters that had no ties to either Saudi Arabia or to their own country and I would refuse them. And I would get a rocket from the Consul General, Jay Freres, who’s dead now, about, “Why didn’t you issue the visa? This guy is a good contact.”
I said, “Well, he couldn’t prove he had any ties either to Saudi Arabia or to his own country that was strong enough to make him return from the United States to Saudi Arabia or to his own country.” There’s no set list of contacts and connections, but it’s things like having a job, having businesses, having property, having family, something that would prevent you from staying in the United States and disappearing into the woodwork.
And it got to the point where it was, “Either issue the visa or you’re not going to work for the State Department anymore.” And as time went by I found out that, of some 20 Americans, there were only three, including myself, that I knew for a certainty to work for the Department of State. The rest worked for the CIA or the National Security Agency.
Eventually reassigned as a political/economic officer in Stuttgart and, finally, as an economic analyst for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, it took years for Springmann to fully comprehend the story that he had found himself in the middle of during his time at the Jeddah consulate. A key piece of that puzzle was provided when Springmann returned to the US and talked to journalist Joseph Trento, who informed him that the Jeddah office was being used by the CIA to ship in Osama Bin Laden’s associates for training in the US.
SPRINGMANN: So I came across Joe Trento, the journalist, in the middle of all of this, and he said, “Well, what you were doing in Saudi Arabia was issuing visas to the Mujahedin who were being recruited for Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.” And then the penny dropped and my eyes were opened and I said, “Yeah! That explains why they got so ferocious when I said no to these visas and why they stonewalled me when I tried to find out what was going on.”
I was talking formally to people. I talked formally to the Bureau of Consular Affairs when I was in Washington on the advice of the consul for consular affairs in Riyadh. And then I talked to the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs for the House of Representatives. I talked to the Government Accountability Office, which is a watchdog for Congress on the executive branch, and got nowhere. People just didn’t want to talk to me. And I said, “Well, this is really strange.”
And it bears out exactly what Trento had said: that they had an intelligence operation going on. And according to Joe, the reason they didn’t tell people in Jeddah about this was they wanted plausible deniability. They wanted to be at arm’s length from what people were saying and saying, “Well oh, gee. We didn’t know anything about that. He made a mistake. He didn’t get with the program. He didn’t know what was going on. He was violating the law. Put him in jail. Fine him.” Whatever.
Although the idea seems outlandish from a post-9/11 perspective, at the time it was not particularly surprising. The CIA had worked with Osama Bin Laden and other so-called “Mujahedin,” including many Saudis who had been drawn to Afghanistan to fight America’s arch-enemy, the Soviets, during the Afghan War. There were glowing articles framing Bin Laden as an “Anti-Soviet warrior” who was “on the road to peace” in mainstream publications well into the 1990s. And in the weeks after 9/11 it was even reported in the pages of Newsweek that in the late 1980s—precisely at the time that Springmann was stationed at the Jeddah consulate—”the veterans of the [Mujahedin’s] holy war against the Soviets began arriving in the United States—many with passports arranged by the CIA.”
One infamous example of an intelligence agency helping a known terrorist to enter the United States in this period came in the case of Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the “Blind Sheik.” In December 1990 it was revealed that the Blind Sheik had “slipped into the United States” despite being on a State Department terrorist watch list. At the time, the State Department insisted “[t]hey made a mistake” by issuing him a tourist visa from the United States Embassy in Khartoum. But three years later, the truth finally came out. As The New York Times reported in 1993 after a State Department inspector general investigation: “Central Intelligence Agency officers reviewed all seven applications made by Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman to enter the United States between 1986 and 1990 and only once turned him down because of his connections to terrorism.”
In this context, the revelation that Springmann was being directed by the CIA to let Mujahedin into the US for training was not unthinkable or outlandish conspiracy conjecture. On the contrary, it was practically expected.
As Springmann himself admits, if he had simply been informed at the time that the CIA was helping to facilitate such an operation in support of their foreign policy goals against the Soviet Union, he probably would have went along with it.
SPRINGMANN: And you know it goes back to Trento saying, “Well, they wanted somebody—some ‘schlub’ is his word—to be there and take the heat if something went wrong. And at the time I was dumb enough that if they’d explained it to me, “Yes, we’re recruiting the Mujahedin” I would have said, “Well, yeah, OK, this is an important foreign policy goal. I hate those godless communist bastards! So yeah, I’ll go with this.” But they never did.
And it would have saved a lot of effort on my part and saved a lot of embarrassment on their part, because I’ve been writing and talking about this for the last 25 years.
Springmann’s attitude is reflective of much of the American public’s perception of Muslim terrorists in the late 1980s. As tools of US foreign policy—convenient pawns to be wielded on the global chessboard against America’s enemies—they were not regarded as enemies themselves, but embraced as “freedom fighters” and “anti-Communist warriors.”
KENNETH BRANAGH: US National Security Adviser Brzezinski flew to Pakistan to set about rallying resistance. He wanted to arm the Mujahedin without revealing America’s role. On the Afghan border near the Khyber Pass, he urged the Soldiers of God to redouble their efforts.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: We know of their deep belief in God, and we are confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours. You will go back to it one day, because your fight will prevail and you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and God is on your side.
SOURCE: Soldiers of God
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: The goal of the United States remains a genuinely independent Afghanistan, free from external interference, an Afghanistan whose people choose the type of government they wish, an Afghanistan to which the four million refugees from Soviet aggression may return in safety and, yes, in honor.
On behalf of the American people, I salute Chairman Khalis, his delegation, and the people of Afghanistan themselves. You are a nation of heroes. God bless you.
But that was before “the day that changed everything.”
After the FBI released their list of suspected 9/11 hijackers, it didn’t take long for questions to emerge about these men, their background, and their travels. What paper trail and travel documents had been left in their wake? How did they obtain their visas to enter the US? Where did they obtain them? When? Which consular officers were in charge of issuing the visas, and were there any irregularities in the process?
It took years for these questions to be answered, but when they were, the results were scarcely believable. Not only had 14 of the alleged hijackers’ visas been obtained from the same Jeddah consulate that the CIA had used to funnel terrorists to the US during Springmann’s tenure, but 12 of those visas were issued by a single consular officer: Shayna Steinger.
A Columbia University graduate with no apparent foreign service background, Steinger was appointed as a consular officer in 1999 and arrived in Jeddah for her first foreign service assignment on July 1, 2000. From that point on, she proceeded to issue the visas to more than half of the alleged hijackers, many of them based on incomplete applications and fraudulent documents.
Saeed al Ghamdi received two visas, one in September, 2000, and the other in June, 2001. His second application was incomplete, lied about his earlier visa and was linked to a different passport with fraudulent features. Both visa requests were approved by Shayna Steinger.
Hani Hanjour received a visa from Steinger in September 2000, just two weeks after she rejected his first application. In subsequent investigations, she gave conflicting accounts of why she denied Hanjour’s visa the first time and why she issued it the second time.
Despite numerous errors on their applications which normally would have gotten them rejected, on October 24, 2000, Steinger issued visas to both Waleed and Wail Alshehri.
And, later that week, despite an incomplete application and suspicious indicators in his passport, Steinger issued a visa to Ahmed Alnami.
From the time of her arrival at Jeddah until just weeks before the attacks, the pattern continued: Men with incomplete, error-ridden applications and fraudulent or suspicious documents had their visas rubber-stamped by Steinger and, in September, their names and faces ended up on the FBI’s hijack suspect list.
In researching his book, Springmann tracked down and confronted Steinger about her time at Jeddah and her role in issuing these visas.
SPRINGMANN: So in the course of doing more research I ran across Jon Gold, who was a 9/11 researcher and an activist, and he came up with Shayna Steinger’s name. She was my successor several times removed who was in Jeddah and who had issued visas to 11 of the 15 Saudis who got the visas in Saudi Arabia to go fly airplanes into American buildings. I said, “Wait a minute. What is this?”
She was hired out of Columbia University with no real background in foreign affairs that I could see at a very high “GS” or foreign service level of about an FSO-4, which is maybe a GS-13, I guess, in the civil service. And she went on for a full 20 years with the State Department and retired, if she in fact worked for State. And after a bit I came across—or, actually, a journalist came across me and said, “Look, I found Shayna Steinger out in Iowa. Do you want to talk to her about your experience and her experience and compare them?”
So I did. I called her up. I found her phone number and she was living with her mother. And we had a bit of a fight to get her to talk to me, and I said, “Look, you either talk to me or I’ll write an article about it.” So she finally broke down and we talked, but only in general terms, saying, “Well, yes, I did the right thing. I did what I was told. They did an investigation. They cleared me.”
And I said, “Well, what was the story? You know, my understanding was they were recruiting terrorists for the Mujahedin to come to the US for training at US military facilities, generally on the East Coast. And they even had 52 recruiting offices in the United States, including one in Washington, D.C., but I could never find any background exactly where they were located.”
And she said, “I didn’t do anything wrong. I just did what I was told.” And it was kind of like talking to my cats sometimes. They were there and they knew you were talking to them but they didn’t give you any real good answers. So the book went out. It’s never been challenged by the government, but it’s gotten me interviewed, such as with you and with a lot of September 11th people.
Like so many of the 9/11 whistleblowers, Springmann paid a heavy price for his desire to tell the truth. His refusal to bow to the CIA and issue visas to unqualified applicants during his time at Jeddah, his refusal to stop asking questions about the operation he had been involved in after he was transferred elsewhere, and his refusal to stop speaking about the visas for Al Qaeda long after he left the State Department have had drastic repercussions on his career and his personal life.
SPRINGMANN: Once I was out of State I found I couldn’t get a job anywhere. I mean, I spoke several languages to a greater or lesser extent, I had experience working on three continents, I knew how to manage offices. I couldn’t get a job, and I got the impression after a bit that I was being blacklisted.
So I hired one of these resume checking services out in California and asked them to ask around. So they called up Day Mount and pretended to be someone hiring me and wanted to know how I was as an employee in Jeddah and what he thought of me and could he think of anything that special that I had done. And he said, “Well, I can’t think of anything really right off the bat,” and he came up with these weasel-worded responses to their questions, which gave the impression that, no, you shouldn’t hire this guy. But he didn’t come out and say that, but it was by implication very, very clear that Mike Springmann is not to be touched.
So then I went to law school and worked at getting a job after law school. I started asking around when I was in law school. I interned in various organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union. I talked to various national security organizations and found out that I couldn’t get a job again to save my soul.
[. . .]
I tried writing. I tried everything I could think of. And while collecting unemployment I was told to issue them reports on how many people I talk to during the week, and I would send page after page after page in of companies I applied to that I had hoped would fit my talents and abilities, but got nowhere.
So I figured, you know, the government is still in there pitching, trying to keep me out of any kind of a gainful employment, because that’s how you get rid of people permanently. They don’t have any money, they can take your house, you have no money to do anything except put food on the table, if you can. So it was a very nasty few years.
And for all of this sacrifice, we are still no closer to learning the truth about the Jeddah consulate and the CIA operations there than we were two decades ago. That 14 of the 19 alleged hijackers received their visas from the same office—12 from the same consular officer—is just the start of a deep and largely unexplored rabbit hole that brings not just the travel patterns or the intelligence connections but the very identity of those suspects into question.
Biographical details and pictures of two separate Ziad Jarrahs have been released to the public, and in fact multiple photographs of a number of the alleged hijackers appear to be pictures of entirely different people. A Waleed Al Shehri appeared alive and well in Morocco after 9/11 to protest the use of his name and photograph in stories about the supposed hijackers, and he was joined by an Abdulrahman al-Omari in Jeddah, who the FBI were forced to apologize to for falsely naming as a suspect. Newsweek reported that five of the alleged hijackers received training at secure U.S. military installations in the 1990s. Amidst the confusion, FBI Director Robert Mueller was forced to admit that the Bureau was “not certain” as to the identity of several of the men on their suspect list.
These issues remain untouched and largely forgotten by a public that, through a process of suggestion and association, have come to believe largely without question that the 19 faces in the iconic “hijacker line-up” are the perpetrators of 9/11. It is only through the story of people like Mike Springmann that we can begin removing those layers of lies and obfuscations from the story of 9/11 and come to a better understanding of the truth.
And, in the end, that idea—that we can get closer to the truth, that wrongs can be righted and lies exposed—is the idea that motivates whistleblowers like Mike Springmann. Whistleblowers who have come forward at great personal expense to shine light on these long-buried and inconvenient truths.
SPRINGMANN: I think, you know, I have to look at what I did and look at myself, and, as the story goes, look at your face in the mirror every morning. But I’ve been reading some emails sent to me by a good lawyer contact, lobbyist and attorney, on stoicism. And there have been things from Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and other folks. And one of the things that I saw was their comment that—memento mori—that you expect to die and you don’t fear death. You don’t look forward to death, but at the end of the day you think, “Well, what have I done this day, the last day that might be the rest of my life? I may not wake up tomorrow morning. Have I balanced the accounts? Have I done something of substance? Have I tried to rectify a wrong. Have I tried to do something good to balance out the evil in the world?”
[. . .]
So that’s one of the reasons why I keep doing this. I figure if I’ve got nothing else to do for the rest of my life, I’ve got to square the balance, and, regrettably, I’ve got to say, educate the ignorant if I can.
When people talk of the bravery exhibited by ordinary men and women during the traumatic hours of the 9/11 attacks, they are talking about people like William Rodriguez. Indeed, of the many stories of selflessness and courage to have emerged from that fateful day, it would be difficult to find one more heroic than that of William Rodriguez, dubbed the “last man out” because, as a janitor holding a master key to the buildings, he risked his life till the very moment of the Tower’s destruction, helping those trapped inside the Towers to escape.
RAMON TAYLOR: William Rodriguez was working as a janitor at the World Trade Center when the towers were attacked. Using a master key, he ran to open as many doors as he could before exiting and becoming buried alive.
WILLIAM RODRIGUEZ: So they started looking under the rubble, and once I got pulled from under the rubble I was—after, I was in shock. Why? Because I couldn’t find any of those buildings.
SADE BADERINWA: Rodriguez had one of only five master keys to unlock the doors in the middle stairwell and lead firefighters up floor by floor.
RODRIGUEZ: So I went and I picked up the man in the wheelchair and I started going down. The building started to oscillate so hard.
BADERINWA: He saved several lives that day. Then suddenly Rodriguez heard a terrible rumbling like the sound of an earthquake.
RODRIGUEZ: I saw—it was a total disaster. And all I hear is “Run! Run! Run!
BADERINWA: Like so many others, Rodriguez ran from the cloud of debris and dove under a fire truck.
WILLIAM RODRIGUEZ: We went up by the stairs with the Port Authority police to start rescuing people. A lot of people were coming out, but there was a lot of people that stayed there. And we brought a lot of people on wheelchairs and a lot of people on gurneys, all [the] people that couldn’t make it because there was no elevator service. The elevator went out.
REPORTER: The World Trade Center towers were built as a class “A” building. That means that, in the case of a fire, every third floor in both towers is closed to prevent a backdraft. It is the reason that Rodriguez’ master key was so crucial to getting people out.
RODRIGUEZ: It was hard. The amount of heat that was generated because of the fire was coming down. The smoke . . . It was an acrid smoke because you could feel it on your throat.
REPORTER: He saw firefighters carrying a hundred pounds’ worth of equipment on their backs waiting for a freight elevator that would never come. That elevator was demolished. So Rodriguez led them up another way, using a back pathway that only he knew. After the sky lobby collapsed he finally listened to police, who told him to get out. He was not prepared for what he was about to see.
RODRIGUEZ: When I look around I find all the bodies of the people that jump out of the building. They came out of the building and they say, “I saved myself!” And a piece of debris came in and killed them.
As one of the heroes of that day, a man whose story encapsulates all the tragedy and drama of 9/11, William Rodriguez is no stranger to the glare of the media spotlight. Not only has he been interviewed for dozens of news programs and reports on the events of September 11, 2001, and been featured as a spokesman for the survivors at multiple events and on many reports, he has also been awarded for his courage that day and even invited to a White House dinner, where he was honored by President Bush for his bravery.
But carefully curated from most mainstream reports on Rodriguez’ remarkarble story is an equally remarkable fact: This 9/11 hero is in fact a 9/11 whistleblower, someone who has contradicted the official story of the September 11th attacks from day one. According to Rodriguez, the first explosion that he felt that day was not the impact of the plane nearly 100 stories above him, but an explosion below him, from one of the sub-basement levels.
RODRIGUEZ: That morning I was supposed to be there at 8 o’clock in the morning every day. I called my supervisor because I was not going to work, I was gonna take a sick day. Made it there at 8:30 in the morning, go straight to the lobby, down to the basement.
The building has six sub-levels of basement: B1, B2 . . . all the way down to B6. Basement six, basement five, all the way up to basement one were all Port Authority areas. Some of them have parking for tenants, some of them have storage. B1 office . . . B1 level is where they have the support office for my company, the cleaning company, American Building Maintenance.
So I was talking to the supervisor, and at 8:46 we hear “BOOM!” An explosion so hard that pushed us upwards in the air. Upwards. And it came out from below us. From the mechanical room that was right below us. And it was so loud and so powerful that all the walls cracked, the false ceiling fell on top of us, the sprinkler system got activated, and everybody started screaming so loud because they didn’t know what was going on.
And the first thing I’m going to say is that a generator just blew up on the B2 level—the level below me. And everybody’s screaming. And when I’m going to verbalize it, six to seven seconds after, we hear “BAH!” The impact all the way on the top of the building of the plane.
Two different events separated by almost seven seconds. Separated by time. And now, I work in the building for 20 years. I know the difference of the sound coming from the top and one from the bottom.
So when everybody started—”What the heck is going on?”—a person comes running into the office saying, “Explosion! Explosion!” His hands extended, all the skin pulled from under his armpits on both arms. Hanging! And we thought it was clothing—it was part of his clothes—until he gets closer. He was coming like this, like a zombie. “Explosion! Explosion!” And when I looked at him, I realized it was his skin. Like when you take off a glove and you let it hang. And when I get to see his face, all this part was hanging off his face and everybody started screaming in horror. And I say, “Don’t move!” The guy was a black guy named Felipe David. Worked for a company called Aramark.
SOURCE: William Rodriguez’s story
Rodriguez’ story provides startling and credible eyewitness testimony that undermines the official myth that there were no explosives in the Twin Towers that morning. Rodriguez is insistent on a number of points: That there was a loud and distinct noise at 8:46 AM, that it came from beneath them in the sub-basement level and blew them upwards, and that it notably preceded the sound of the plane impact above them. This has led Rodriguez to conclude that there was an explosion in the sub-basement before the plane impacted the North Tower, something which the 9/11 Commission and other official government investigations into the attacks denies.
And, importantly, Rodriguez has been telling this same story—including the same detail about Felipe David—since the day of 9/11 itself.
AARON BROWN: William Rodriguez is a maintenance worker at the Trade Center, I believe. In any case, he’s on the phone with us now. Mr. Rodriguez, can you hear me?
RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I can hear you clearly.
BROWN: Tell me where you were when—well, which of the two buildings were you in?
RODRIGUEZ: I work on the Building One. The one that got hit the first time.
BROWN: Tell me what happened.
RODRIGUEZ: I was on the basement, which is a support floor for the maintenance company. And we hear like a big rumble—not like an impact, like a rumble—like something . . . like moving furniture on a massive way. And all of a sudden we hear another rumble and a guy comes running—running—into our office, and all his skin was off his body. All his skin. We went crazy. We started screaming. We told him to get out. We took everybody out of the office, outside to the loading dock area. And then I went back in. And when I went back in I saw people—I heard people that were stuck on an elevator—on a freight elevator, because all the elevators went down. And water was going in and they were probably getting drowned. And we get a couple of pipes and open the elevator and we got the people out.
If it were only William Rodriguez who heard, saw and experienced explosions inside the Twin Towers that morning, then such testimony would be easy enough to rationalize away. Maybe Rodriguez had become confused in the chaos of that morning. Maybe he had interpreted the sound and explosion incorrectly. Maybe he was lying to gain attention.
But William Rodriguez is not the only person who heard, saw and experienced explosions inside the Twin Towers that morning. In fact, hundreds of people, including office workers, police, firefighters and others have reported explosions all throughout the morning, from before the moment of plane impact all the way up to the explosive demolition of the towers themselves.
FEMALE BYSTANDER: What was it like?
TYRONE JOHNSON (FDNY LADDER 24): Horrible. The whole building just collapsed on us. Inside the lobby.
MALE BYSTANDER: Was that a secondary explosion?
JOHNSON: Yes, it was. Definitely a secondary explosion. We was inside waiting to go upstairs and on our way upstairs the whole fucking thing blew. And it just collapsed on everybody inside of the lobby.
MALE BYSTANDER: That must be the first tower coming down—
JOHNSON: I don’t know about the first one, but the second one . . . It was terrible. Then there was a third one, too, after that one.
MALE BYSTANDER: There was an explosion after that?
JOHNSON: Yes, there was. Everybody was just inside the building, waiting to go upstairs and it just let loose. Everything just let loose inside the building.
MALE BYSTANDER: So what you’re telling me is that there was the plane or whatever hit the building, then a secondary explosion—
JOHNSON: There was like three explosions after that. We came in after the fire—We came when the fire was going on already. We was in the staging area inside the building, waiting to go upstairs. And then an explosion. The whole lobby collapsed on the lobby inside.
REPORTER: And you were working there?
KENNY JOHANNEMAN: Yes, I was right there. I was in the B—I was down in the basement. Came down. All of a sudden the elevator blew up. Smoke. I dragged a guy out. His skin was hanging off and I dragged him out. And I helped him out to the ambulance.
REPORTER: Arthur Del Bianco is one of the lucky few, able to tell a tale of survival from a hospital bed.
ARTHUR DEL BIANCO: All of a sudden there was, like, “BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!” Like bullet shots. And then, all of a sudden, three tremendous explosions and everything started coming down.
EYEWITNESS: I think a bomb went off in the lobby first, then a plane hit the building. Then another plane hit the other building. But when I was coming through the doors on the other side of the Trade Center, something—either they blew the lobby up, or something. Because it blew the glass out of the doors and knocked us all down and I got a—smoke and everything on me.
Fireman 1: We made it outside, we made it about a block—
Fireman 2: We made it at least two blocks and we started running. Floor by floor, it started popping out—
Fireman 1: It was as if they had detonated–as if they were planning to take down a building. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM—
Fireman 2: All the way down. I was watching it and running.
These stories, collected haphazardly by reporters at the scene that day, paint a very different picture of 9/11 than that portrayed by NIST and the 9/11 Commission. Rather than a progressive collapse due to fire and burning jet fuel, these stories suggest that what was happening inside the Twin Towers that morning was in fact a series of explosive events. Explosive events that were powerful enough to cause internal collapses within the buildings well below the points of the plane impact and fires, and even, according to multiple witnesses, events that preceded the impact of the plane.
But is there more systematic and rigorously collected evidence of these explosions? Is there a repository of such testimony that would confirm what Rodriguez and many others have affirmed since the day of 9/11 itself: namely, that there were explosions taking place inside the buildings that morning?
In fact, there is such a repository. In the wake of 9/11, New York Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen ordered the collection of oral testimony from firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians who responded to the attacks that morning. That collection, amounting to more than 12,000 pages of testimony from 503 people, was then promptly sealed. It took a lawsuit and four years of court battle for the collection to be finally released to the public.
One of the researchers who spent time poring over that testimony was Graeme MacQueen, a retired associate professor at McMaster University and the former director of that university’s Peace Studies Center. What he found in that repository of oral history, and presented in a scholarly article for The Journal of 9/11 Studies, was an unmistakable pattern: Time after time, these first responders reported experiencing explosions in the Twin Towers. Explosions that cannot be accounted for in NIST’s official explanation of the towers’ destruction.
GRAEME MACQUEEN: There is other eyewitness explosion evidence that corroborates Rodriguez, at least in a general way. Meaning that there were people talking about explosions in the basement. There were lots of people talking about tremendous explosions and fire in some of the elevators—blowing the doors off elevators.
And some of this testimony can be found on the internet. I found some of it in the FDNY oral histories. You know, firefighters talking about the doors being blown off elevators.
And so there was some kind of very destructive event. Also the windows in the lobby, which were very strong windows, were blown out by the time most of the firefighters got there. And as one of them said, it looked like a plane hit the lobby.
There were other explosions that went off over the next hour or so, before the buildings started to come down. And when they came down, there were patterns of explosion from around the point of plane impact all the way down. Apparently we were supposed to believe that the building was coming down because of structural failure. But again, these were timed very well to go off in a particular way.
This is one of the reasons we know that these were explosions and that this was a controlled demolition. There were patterns. And they were explosions that were extremely strong, taking out these massive buildings and pulverizing them in less than 20 seconds. This was not structural failure.
Rodriguez’ story was not some fanciful invention that he spun during the most dramatic and horrific hours of his life; it is a story that fits into a pattern of explosive testimony related by many other witnesses that day. It is also a story that is deeply uncomfortable for those in the government and the media who were eager to celebrate the acts of bravery New Yorkers committed that day, but who will never report the explosive truth about the events at the World Trade Center that demolishes the official government conspiracy theory of 9/11.
It is remarkable that Rodriguez, immediately recognized and celebrated for his heroism on that day, would continue to insist on his story even as the official story—the one that insisted there were no explosives used that day—began to take shape. But he did. For years, Rodriguez used his speaking opportunities on mainstream media and at memorials and commemoration events to inform the public about explosions in the Twin Towers that morning.
Unsurprisingly, despite the attention and accolades he received for his remarkable story in the early days of 9/11, he soon found himself becoming persona non grata in the mainstream media because he refused to go along with the official lies about what happened that morning.
RODRIGUEZ: It says, “Safety Fire Department of New York.”
ANASTASIA CHURKINA: A rescue jacket he wore over his torn shirt. A lantern from the rubble.
RODRIGUEZ: It doesn’t work, but another memory from 9/11.
CHURKINA: And a piece of marble from high up on the 44th floor. This saved for a decade.
RODRIGUEZ: I put it in my pocket because it was just such a shocking realization.
CHURKINA: As well as memories that he relives every single day.
RODRIGUEZ: And I was pulled on the rubble and I started looking for all the people and I only found pieces of human beings.
CHURKINA: William Rodriguez, a janitor in the Twin Towers for almost 20 years and 9/11 survivor who saved hundreds of lives on September 11th by unlocking door after door for firefighters and dragging out at least a dozen people with his own bare hands. Known as the “last man out” before the World Trade Center collapsed, his unlikely story had the media glued to him like bees to honey. Becoming a voice for the victims, Rodriguez was honored as an American hero, only to be left homeless in the aftermath of the tragedy.
RODRIGUEZ: Funny thing: I will give the 800 number on camera, and when I called the 800 number they denied me the help.
CHURKINA: And shunned by the mainstream media soon after.
RODRIGUEZ: Censorship. I believe that censorship started from the very beginning, because when I was telling my story they told me, “Oh, cut this out. Cut this out.”
CHURKINA: No longer sweetheart of American broadcasts, William now talks mostly to foreign outlets. The reason: His version of 9/11 differed from the official scenario.
NEWS REPORT: It was the first hijacked plane that hit the—
RODRIGUEZ: “It was the first hijacked plane.” No, hello! That was an explosion before the plane hit the tower.
SOURCE: 9/11 survivor censored by media
Even more remarkably, Rodriguez went beyond simply telling the truth about what he witnessed that day.
Little known even to those who are familiar with his story is that Rodriguez has used his notoriety and media opportunities to advocate for 9/11 survivors who are suffering from the health effects incurred in the aftermath of the towers’ destruction. He has even taken the fight for 9/11 Truth to the political arena, forcing the government’s hand in convening a public commission to investigate the attacks, something that the Bush administration fought tooth and nail to prevent.
RODRIGUEZ: The 9/11 Commission is a book of 576 pages . . . 576 pages of lies. Because the 9/11 Commission exists because I went with three other people to Congress to ask that we wanted a formal investigation of the events of 9/11. And you may remember that the president said, “We don’t need an investigation. We know who did it.” That was the wrong thing to say to the families. We had the right and we wanted to know. So we pressed for an investigation. They didn’t want it.
So we used a technique that they have used against a lot of the people with the excuse of the war. We put widows, we put wives, we put fathers that love their loved ones on every television show and every news network to ask for an investigation. And they couldn’t handle the emotional toll that that will create on the American public. So we got the investigation.
I testified behind closed doors. They didn’t want me to do the testimony in an open hearing. Everything else—everybody else—open hearings. You saw the hearings. Mine was behind closed—I agreed because I did not know what was the process and I thought up to that point that they were going to do the right thing.
We created a family steering committee and we gave the Commission 168 questions to answer. We only have 22 of those questions answered. We wanted to have a family member to be part of the Commission, and they say, “We don’t want to allow that because they will have access to national security papers” and a lot of flimflam and baloney. We never got it. So we have to press for questions to be answered. We never got those answers.
Up to that point we thought that they were going to do the right thing. The final report shows up . . . What a surprise! My whole testimony was omitted. It doesn’t appear. 27 people that I gave them to interrogate, they didn’t call them. Not even one of them.
That the 9/11 Commission’s work was subverted and undermined by conflicts of interest and deliberate cover-up is perhaps to be expected. But the efforts of people like William Rodriguez have been instrumental in advocating for those left quite literally in the dust of 9/11. Those whose stories are too problematic for the official 9/11 narrative to be given any credence or attention.
As Graeme MacQueen points out, the story told by William Rodriguez and the other witnesses to explosions in the Twin Towers that day is not a peripheral issue or a minor footnote in the story of 9/11. On the contrary, it is of central importance. Either Rodriguez and the other witnesses to explosions independent of the planes and fires are wrong, or they are right. And if they are right, we are forced to the conclusion that the official story of 9/11 is not just mistaken, but that it is a deliberate fraud that has been perpetrated on the American public—and the broader public around the world—for nearly two decades.
MACQUEEN: Well, that would obviously indicate that somehow this building was wired for explosions and that there had been a plan made in advance of the plane attacks to destroy this building. And that means the official story about, you know, Mohamed Atta and the other 18 hijackers flying planes is an incorrect story.
That it indicates that there was—to use the classic word—an inside job. Somehow, insiders—deep insiders—got in the building and readied it for annihilation on that day. It also indicates that the story we’ve been told is false, and really knowingly false. Because, of course, Rodriguez and many other eyewitnesses to explosions were ignored, or silenced, or lied about by the official investigating agencies. Which means that the whole 9/11 story is a fraud.
Ultimately, the story of Rodriguez is important, not just for what it tells us about the official 9/11 narrative, or even for what it tells us about the way that power operates in society. It is important because it shows us what ordinary men and women are capable of in extreme situations. It reminds us that, in times of distress, we are still capable of coming together to help those around us. And it provides us with an example of someone who will not stop telling his truth, even when it becomes unpopular.
RODRIGUEZ: Our wounds are still open. We’re still hurting. We’re still going through the process of traumatic shock syndrome—PTSD.
You call me a hero, I call myself a survivor. For me, the heroes died on 9/11, in my opinion, because they died helping others. I just had the only tool available for me at that time to do great things, so I was—I’m a survivor. I have that survival skill. Why did I survive and my friends didn’t?
And now, 16 years after, it hits me stronger because I see the families. I see new families that came out from people that I saved and I always wonder, you know, what would have happened if those people that I lost—those 200 friends—will be alive today. It hits you. It hits you hard. So 16 years after, we’re still dealing with the backlash of what happened on that day.
9/11 changed me. It changed the world. We all know that. But it changed me in more ways than I expected.
Of all the 9/11 whistleblowers, perhaps the most noteworthy are the 9/11 Commissioners themselves.
The 9/11 Commission (formally “The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States”) was set up by President George W. Bush, who dragged his heels a full 441 days before finally establishing a body to investigate the events of September 11, 2001, and “to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding” them. But that remarkable gap between the events and the empaneling of the Commission was not due to mere laziness; Bush actively resisted any investigation for as long as he could, taking the extraordinary and unprecedented step of personally asking Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit Congress’ investigation into those events.
It was only when the political pressure to form a commission of inquiry became too great for Bush to resist that he authorized the commission and nominated a chairman: Henry Kissinger.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Today I’m pleased to announce my choice for commission chairman: Dr. Henry Kissinger.
REPORTER: Dr. Kissinger, do you have any concerns about once the commission begins it work and fingers point to valuable allies—say, Saudi Arabia for example—what policy implications could this have for the United States, particularly at this delicate time?
HENRY KISSINGER: I have been given every assurance by the President that we should go where the facts lead us.
Kissinger’s reputation as a cover-up artist and tool of the political establishment was such that even The New York Times speculated that Bush’s nomination of him showed that the president wanted to contain the investigation into 9/11, not enable it. 9/11 victims’ family members, similarly concerned that Kissinger was being appointed to run a cover-up commission, challenged him to his face to release the client list of his political consulting business.
NARRATOR: Several family members approached Kissinger and requested a meeting at his office in New York. Prior to the meeting, Kristen Breitweiser conducted a thorough investigation of Kissinger’s potential conflicts of interest.
PATTY CASAZZA: Probably much to the chagrin of some of the people in the room, Lorie (Van Auken) asked some very pointed questions. “Would you have any Saudi-American clients that you would like to tell us about?” And he was very uncomfortable, kind of twisting and turning on the couch. And then she asked “whether he had any clients by the name of Bin-Laden.” And he just about fell off his couch.
NEWS REPORTER: Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger stepped down from the position Friday.
MINDY KLEINBERG: We thought the meeting went well.
SOURCE: 9/11: Press For Truth
The next morning, Kissinger resigned his post as head of the 9/11 Commission and former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton were appointed chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, to take his place.
Remarkably, the suggestions of political cover-up did not end there, nor were they confined to a marginalized “lunatic fringe” of “conspiracy theorists” derided by the establishment media. The remarkable and almost completely unreported fact is that six out of the 10 commissioners—Kean and Hamilton, as well as Bob Kerrey, Tim Roemer, John Lehman and Max Cleland—have all expressed concern that the Commission was misled, stymied, hampered by conflicts of interest, and, ultimately, forced to participate in a politically motivated cover-up.
In their book, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, and in press conferences and interviews at the time the report was released, Kean and Hamilton famously remarked that the commission had been “set up to fail.”
EVAN SOLOMON: Even Lee Hamilton, the co-chair of the 9/11 Commission itself, admits to us that the process he headed up was seriously flawed.
LEE HAMILTON: So there are all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail. We got started late. We had a very short time frame; indeed we had to get it extended. We did not have enough money. They were afraid we were going to hang somebody.
THOMAS KEAN: But it was very difficult. And Lee and I write in our book that we think the commission in many ways was set up to fail.
As it turns out, the majority of the commissioners felt that the commission had been lied to, deliberately obstructed, undermined by the White House, or set up with staff that had conflicts of interest in the investigation.
One of these concerned commissioners, Max Cleland, resigned because the commission had been “deliberately compromised by the President of the United States.”
Commissioner John Lehman, meanwhile, admitted on NBC Nightly News that the Commission had to go through Karl Rove and other senior White House members to access key documents in their investigation and that “[w]e purposely put together a staff that had—in a way—conflicts of interest,” stressing, lest there be any doubt, that “[a]ll of the staff had, to a certain extent, some conflict of interest.”
Commission members even considered bringing criminal charges against Pentagon officials who had deliberately lied to them about the military’s complete lack of response on that day.
But perhaps the most cryptic of all the dissenting commissioners was Bob Kerrey. In 2009 he remarked that 9/11 was a “30-year old conspiracy,” but no mainstream reporter has ever followed up with him to clarify this statement.
JEREMY ROTHE-KUSHEL: Do you support a criminal investigation into 9/11? Because I know yours was an exposition. It was not a criminal investigation.
BOB KERREY: I don’t think so, but I don’t know. I mean, I do support a permanent commission to examine not just that but lots of other things in this area.
ROTHE-KUSHEL: But if it’s a permanent cover-up then it’s—I mean, if it is an act of war and it’s hiding things—which everyone on your Commission knew, that the Pentagon was changing their stories, lying to you—then it’s a cover-up of an act of war, and under Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution it’s treason. So unless we get to the very bottom of it then we’re still talking a treasonous exposition.
KERREY: This is a longer conversation, I’m not sure we’ll ever get to the bottom of it.
ROTHE-KUSHEL: We have to or we can’t save our country, sir.
KERREY: I don’t think—well, if that’s the condition upon which we’re going to be saving our country—because the problem is, it’s a 30-year-old conspiracy.
ROTHE-KUSHEL: No, I’m talking about 9/11.
KERREY: That’s what I’m talking about.
ROTHE-KUSHEL: Oh, you are. You mean . . .
KERREY: Anyway, I gotta run.
It is utterly remarkable that the 9/11 Commission and its final report are still held up as the final word on the events of September 11, 2001, when a majority of its own Commissioners admit that the commission was a cover-up and did not get to the bottom of the story. Even more remarkable is that this fact has never even been mentioned, let alone examined, in any mainstream media report. And, despite the fact that the majority of Americans believe the government is concealing what it knows about the events of September 11th from the public, to this day anyone who raises questions about the Commission or its findings is treated as a conspiratorial loony by those same media personalities who refuse to report on the 9/11 Commission’s own whistleblowers.
It should be apparent by this point that the old argument that “someone would have talked” is not just fallacious, but factually incorrect. There have, in fact, been numerous whistleblowers with documentable evidence of the frauds and fictions that have been constructed around the official 9/11 narrative. Their disclosures put the “but someone would have talked” doubters in an uncomfortable predicament: Either they are lazy—boldly pronouncing on issues they have not themselves bothered to investigate—or they are lying.
What is especially galling when the so-called “skeptics” use the “someone would have talked” fallacy is that the whistleblowers have in fact done everything possible to publicize their stories—holding press conferences, filing formal appeals, joining whistleblower organizations, and making themselves available for interviews. For their heroic efforts, these brave men and women have been fired from their jobs, shunned by former colleagues, smeared by the mainstream media, and ignored by the public.
“Someone would have talked.” Indeed, numerous “someones” have talked. Some of them have even screamed. But when their cries are ignored, the stories of the 9/11 whistleblowers sound like the proverbial trees falling in the forest with no one around to hear them. Unless and until we give these valiant men and women a voice, then we will never hope to learn the truth about 9/11.