Online Extra: 9/11 Controversy Arrives in Columbia Columbia FreeTimes 04/15/2009

Issue #22.15 :: 04/15/2009 - 04/21/2009
Online Extra: 9/11 Controversy Arrives in Columbia

Architect Richard Gage Questions Official Account in Talk at Unitarian Fellowship


By Jonathan Thompson

Columbia was introduced to a controversial new movement with an April 11 presentation by 20-year veteran architect Richard Gage. A member of the American Institute of Architects with experience in designing high-rise buildings, Gage provided a rarely heard professional perspective on the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.

Since discovering what be believes are flaws in the official story three years ago, Gage has built a movement of more than 600 architects and engineers who support his message. They call themselves the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and their mission is to build support for a new investigation into the building collapses.

Often dismissed as a conspiracy theorist, Gage says, "First let the technical truths emerge, then if necessary, cope with the conspiracies and other questions."

Of technical truths he brought plenty. His two-and-a-half-hour presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was chock full of video interviews with first responders and cleanup workers who were on the scene describing explosions before the building collapses. Kevin McPadden, a former Air Force medic and a 9/11 first responder, had this to say in a video interview: "You heard explosions, like ba-boom!, a distinct sound, not like floors collapsing. ... You felt a rumble in the ground like you wanted to grab onto something. To me, I knew that that was an explosion." Gage says that 118 other first responders described similar sounds of explosions in 9/11 oral histories published in The New York Times.

Beyond eyewitness testimony, Richard cites an unprecedented level of destruction in the towers' collapse as evidence of explosive controlled demolition. He asks where the 4-inch-thick concrete floors went — all 110 of them — and why they were turned into fine powder and giant clouds of debris that covered Manhattan for days after the attacks. Why had the largest recovered file cabinet been reduced to the size of a football? Where did the energy come from to tear the steel core of the building into scattered pieces? Why had a building, which had been designed to withstand the downward force of gravity, fallen straight down and completely torn itself apart? Why were so few recognizable building components left?

Point by point, Gage checked off characteristics of the building collapses that he describes as only attributable to a controlled demolition. He then charged that the official investigation, which concludes that fires and plane damage brought down the buildings, fails to account for any of these characteristics. "They should have called it the investigation into the initiationof collapse," he said to an audience of about 40 people at the UU.

Referring to a National Institute of Standards and Technology report on the collapse of the towers, Gage says that virtually the entire 10,000 pages of the report is dedicated to describing the size of the airliners that crashed into the towers and the characteristics of the fires that ensued. But the report contains only a single paragraph and no calculations as to what actually happened to the towers during and after the collapse, he says.

During a question and answer session after the presentation, several people asked Gage how explosives might have been placed in the buildings, and who he thought was responsible for placing them. To the first question he noted an existence of a great number of elevator shafts and maintenance floors, and that while he says he doesn't know exactly how it was done, he believes that physical evidence for the existence of explosives was undeniable. To the second question Gage replied frankly, "I don't know, but I don't think it was al Qaeda."

That is where Gage's investigation ends and conspiracy theories begin. Is there enough evidence and unanswered questions to call for a new investigation? You will have to watch the presentation and decide for yourself.