Activist scientist backs official 9/11 line
Manuel Garcia, a government weapons scientist, has gone to bat for the official narrative of the collapses of the World Trade Center towers as part of an assault by a group of leftists on those skeptical of government findings and the implication of a conspiracy within federal agencies.
Three analyses by Garcia were published by the noted leftist Alexander Cockburn in Cockburn's magazine Counterpunch. Cockburn, an Irishman living in the United States, also writes a column for the progressive magazine The Nation, which has just published a strong attack on 9/11 skeptics for supposedly whipping up paranoia.
Cockburn, son of a communist activist, has often been accused of taking up causes that reflect the communist political agenda but has been defended as an unjustly accused progressive.
[In fairness, Conant wishes to note that his reporting has appeared in the Communist Party organ, Pravda -- though that reference has been deleted from Google.]
Garcia, who holds a PhD in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Princeton University, has worked as a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which conducts classified weapons research, since 1978. His unclassified writings concern plasma physics experiments.
Garcia joins the scientist and noted socialist Noam Chomsky in denouncing those who don't believe the government's 9/11 claims.
Garcia was an activist on behalf of Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos scientist who is suing the New York Times to try to force disclosure of the source of reports identifying him as a suspected spy for China's nuclear weapons program. Garcia also was a vocal critic of the Energy Department's plan to administer polygraph tests to scientists and others at weapons labs in the wake of the Wen Ho Lee uproar.
Garcia's analyses are found
Garcia's activism on behalf of Wen Ho Lee
[The second page appears to have been disabled after this post went on-line]
His opening attack on conspiracy theorists in general as mentally deluded has become a familiar, if logically irrelevant, refrain from various quarters, including from a segment of the left.
One wonders why Garcia published his analyses in Counterpunch rather than submitting his papers to a peer-reviewed journal. We don't know whether he plans to submit his 9/11 work to a scholarly journal. If not, we'd have to conclude that either he is not all that confident of his work, or he believes that some force won't permit discussion of 9/11 science and technology in peer-reviewed journals.
At any rate, here are Conant's comments on Garcia's analyses:
. Garcia asserts that the NIST investigation was an extremely detailed investigation by 200 engineers and building professionals. However, most of them were concerned with the physical minutae of specific experiments and had little or no say in the NIST's final report. Only a few people were involved in the computer simulations of the fires leading to "global collapse."
He fails to concede that the computer models DID NOT WORK until initial conditions were sufficiently tweaked.
. He cites various statements of the NIST without regard for the fact that the main report and the backup reports are in a number of places inconsistent. He seems unaware of deliberate NIST evasiveness about details of its collapse scenario.
. He explains the belches of smoke ejected from tower windows prior to collapse as a result of compression shock waves transmitted downward through the steel as the upper block began to give way. Nice hypothesis. The NIST didn't use it. More to the point, Garcia is unable to test his hypothesis because the NIST did not publish an exact table of times and window locations for the mysterious puffs of smoke captured in the mass of video and still photo evidence it had available.
. The collapse times he cites are novel, not, as far as I know, appearing in the public record as of 2005, though it is possible the NIST has since posted collapse times (it should be noted that the NIST web site search engine has proved unreliable). His calculations indicating these collapse times as reasonable are noteworthy. However, why didn't the NIST publish any analyses of the issue of fall times in its main report or supplemental reports?
Also, Garcia seems to be unaware of the problem of collapse time authenticity (see http://www.angelfire.com/ult/znewz1/fallrates.html), which may imply one or more after-the-fact disinformation operations.
. Garcia notes that the NIST rejects the initial "pancake theory" of collapse, but slides over the point that a modified pancake theory is implied. Yes, the NIST says wrecked core columns drag floors and walls inward and downward, although even that claim is problematic. But, in the NIST account, the columns are severed or critically weakened on upper floors, followed by a pancake collapse. In other words, how relevant is his attack on those who cite the pancake theory? Without a modified pancake theory, the NIST would be left with the requirement that building supports give way at low levels, implying explosives.
Another NIST idea is that the thermodynamics were such that core columns shortened and thus dragged down the floors and exterior walls. An implication might be that this shortening affected lower floors as well, hence giving the impression of lower supports being kicked out. Yet, the NIST does not go that far.
. Another problem Garcia misses is the fact that NIST reports and data are in places inconsistent. On the one hand, floor joist damage is inferentially blamed, but on the other, the joists must stay intact while the columns and trusses are critically damaged.
. Garcia seems to be unaware of the NIST's evasively presented blowtorch scenario. Had the fireproofing been blown off the floor slab undersides, the fire heat would have dispersed upward through the cement and steel floor slabs, rather than vectoring toward core columns in a concentrated, sustained fashion.
So the NIST model would work only if the fireproofing remained on the floor underside. Apparently it needed to remain on the floor joists connected to the core columns but needed to be stripped or partially stripped from the columns themselves (of course, this is not the impression given in some parts of the NIST's sets of reports and data).
However, the floor joists would be at about the same height as the ceiling which the blowtorch heat was running along on its way to the core columns.
Garcia takes no note of any of this or of many other peculiarities found in the NIST's presentation.
. Garcia also seems untroubled by the fact that the NIST uses no crime-scene forensics reports from the New York City police and fire departments, nor from any federal agency.
. In his speculation on the collapse of WTC7, Garcia skips the comment by FEMA investigators that the only scenario they could devise had only a low degree of probability. Why was the probability low? Because a standard failsafe system should have shut off the fuel oil supposedly being pumped up for hours from a large tank below. NIST investigators couldn't find records that might have indicated whether there was some anomaly in the electrical circuits of the building or the alternate power system.
Garcia seems to know nothing of these issues.
. One of the most important points bypassed by Garcia is the fact that the NIST conducted no experimental work on the possible use of planted explosives. Hence, it began with the a priori assumption that explosives weren't used and never did anything to test that assumption (though later it inserted unsupported statements that it had found "no evidence" of explosives).
Garcia seems non-cognizant of the remarkable fact that the 9/11 commission made the same assumption, in consultation with the NIST, a year before the NIST's final report on the twin towers.
. Garcia, who plans a further analysis of WTC7, doesn't seem bothered by the fact that WTC7's collapse is unique in the annals of steel structure buildings. He is also unfazed by the fact that the NIST's report on the twin towers was issued before its probe of WTC7 was anywhere near completion. Clearly, the NIST knows in advance that it is expected to rule out explosives. Otherwise, its theory about the twin towers would be thrown into question.
[Note: Garcia uses the Britishism "car park" as opposed to "parking lot" in his analyses, leading to the question of whether he had a silent co-author or editor who is British or has learned British English. Possibly Cockburn or an editorial assistant from the British Isles edited Garcia's reports.]