WTC 7’s OEM Bunker Unmanned on 9/11
Why was Giuliani’s Office of Emergency Management bunker in WTC 7 empty and “deactivated” as the 9/11 spectacle unfolded?
In 1999, NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani constructed a $13 million emergency command retreat on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7—an armored, self-contained facility designed to provide a safe haven for leadership in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. But several first responders interviewed after 9/11 claim that the Office of Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center (OEMEOC) was empty and “deactivated” as early as 9AM on the morning of September 11th, a time when just such an emergency was in full swing.
As early as 8:24 AM, Air Traffic Controllers had become aware that American Airlines Flight 11 was in trouble and had possibly been hijacked. Any doubts were soon dispelled when, at 8:46, the enormous passenger jet slammed into the upper floors of the North Tower, the 110 storey skyscraper that stood one block south of WTC 7. It seems reasonable to assume (and has been stated as fact) that, as the spectacle unfolded, throngs of government officials and high ranking rescue personnel were flocking to the OEM bunker in WTC 7 to man their stations.
Jennings and Hess
But testimonies recorded after the attacks from rescue workers and OEM personnel tell a very different story. Barry Jennings, Deputy Director of the NYC Housing Authority’s Emergency Services Department, reported to the OEM bunker with a colleague, NYC’s corporation counsel Michael Hess, just before the second plane, Flight 175, hit the South Tower at 9:03. Unbelievably, they weren’t able to access the OEM: “We got up to the [OEMEOC], we couldn’t get in, we had to go back down.”  Police then escorted them to a freight elevator and they were finally able to return to the 23rd floor and enter the facility.
“To my amazement nobody’s there. I saw coffee that was still hot, still smoldering. They had screens all over the place, the screens were blank. So I didn’t know what was going on.” How the OEM bunker could be empty at a time when the brand new facility—built for just such a contingency—should have instead been bustling with activity is incomprehensible.
The fact that Jennings and Hess were only able to access the OEM after returning to the lobby and taking a freight elevator back up appears to indicate that the elevator door for the 23rd floor was locked, not the OEM bunker itself. It would seem that the entire floor was inaccessible, even to personnel with the proper clearances.
Any thought that Jennings and Hess might have arrived early, before other personnel had had a chance to appear, is countered by Jennings’ next statement that, shortly after his arrival, he was called by a “higher up” who seemed amazed that anyone was there. The man urged Jennings to “Get out of there. Get out of there now.” This command seems bizarre when, at that point in time, the only threat to the armored OEM bunker were the fires in the Twin Towers, the kind of threat it was designed to withstand. Since there had been not a single case in history of a high-rise fire resulting in a collapse, it’s hard to imagine that OEM personnel considered themselves vulnerable. The FDNY were busy setting up command posts in the lobbies of the Twin Towers—standard operating procedure for firefighters who know that steel framed skyscrapers don’t collapse when they burn. It’s also strange that the “higher up” that Jennings spoke with apparently didn’t elaborate as to why he and Hess were in danger.
But the reason why was made very clear moments later when, as they were leaving the building, a huge explosion occurred beneath them. The explosion was so strong that the landing they were on collapsed and they had to retreat back up to the eighth floor. Jennings recounts that he and Hess were trapped in darkness for “an hour and a half” and feared for their lives before finally being rescued by firefighters.
The fact that the OEM bunker was empty during the onset of the attacks is shocking enough but how OEM people could possibly have had foreknowledge of the explosion that Jennings and Hess experienced as they fled WTC 7, an event that has been recounted in none of the official reports into the collapse of WTC buildings that day, is shocking beyond all comprehension.
At the time that Jennings and Hess were attempting to flee the building (just after 9 AM), WTC 7 was undoubtedly filling with people who had just arrived for work. But Jennings recounts seeing no one else as he and Hess were leaving. Not a single other individual has stepped forth with stories of an explosion or a precarious escape at that time. Could the general emptiness of WTC 7 indicate that the building itself, not just the OEM, was somehow quarantined earlier that morning?
When Jennings was finally rescued (after the collapse of the North Tower) he stated that “The firefighter who took us down kept saying ‘do not look down.’ And I kept saying ‘why?’…and we’re stepping over people. And you know you can feel when you’re stepping over people.” Though officials have always maintained that no one died in WTC 7 on 9/11, this comment from a respected city worker appears to dramatically refute this claim.
Zarillo and Nahmod
Another first responder interviewed after the attacks also testified that the OEM bunker had to be “activated” upon his arrival. According to EMT Richard Zarillo, the second plane hit about the time he and a colleague, Captain Abdo Nahmod, were crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. This puts them in the city just after 9:03 AM. Their time of arrival at the WTC was estimated by Nahmod at about twenty minutes before the South Tower collapsed, or roughly 9:35, a half hour after Jennings and Hess left the OEM.
“Abdo and I went into No. 7, activated OEM, placed calls to EMS Citywide, RCC, to tell them we were there and we were activated.”  Nahmod confirms Zarillo’s account: “…[we] began to log onto the terminals, as well as inform the citywide dispatch supervisor that we were activating OEM at this time, and operations were to begin.”  Apparently Zarillo and Nahmod were “beginning” operations almost a full hour after the first plane hit the North Tower.
Zarrillo’s next statement adds a new twist: “Maybe five, ten minutes [after “activating OEM”] a rep from OEM came into the main room and said we need to evacuate the building; there's a third plane inbound.” If the OEM bunker had been purged of personnel, what was an “OEM rep” still doing there an hour after the first plane hit? Where did the report of a “third plane inbound” originate and when was it first disseminated to rescue personnel?
The Third Plane
Presumably, as the spectacle at the WTC unfolded, well planned and rehearsed OEM emergency protocols would have gone into effect and, for the first time in its short history, the OEMEOC in Building 7 would have become fully “activated.” Personnel from all pertinent departments would scramble to the facility, assume their various positions and take charge.
As they assessed the shocking situation—a process that may have taken quite some time in the confusion of the moment—a second plane hit the South Tower and it was clear that a full scale terrorist attack was underway.
Any reports that a “third” plane was headed toward the area would obviously have had to come after the second plane hit and, therefore, certainly no earlier than shortly after 9:03. The decision to abandon the OEM would have pushed the clock forward five or ten minutes at minimum and the evacuation itself would have taken even longer. It’s hard, therefore, to imagine that the OEM bunker could have been emptied of personnel any earlier than 9:15 - 9:30. The fact that Jennings and Hess found themselves locked out of the facility shortly before 9AM is remarkable and, under the circumstances, hard to comprehend.
During a BBC interview , OEM Deputy Director Richard Rotanz claimed that the decision to evacuate the OEM bunker and WTC 7 came after they heard that the Pentagon was hit. “They were telling us that we had a plane hit us in the Pentagon and we now realized…we were under attack…[WTC 7] could have been a target…it could have been a serious target.”
This ridiculous comment from, of all people, the second in command at the OEM implies that it took his people until after two planes hit the WTC and another had hit the Pentagon (9:38 AM, almost 40 minutes after the first impact) to realize that the country was under attack. It’s also strange that what was apparently an unconfirmed report of a possible third plane (a report ultimately proven to be false) could have trumped the training and protocols of a large team of emergency personnel and shut down the entire 23rd floor of WTC 7.
The OEM Facility
Many of those who have come to believe that the attacks of 9/11 were an inside job—a classic “false-flag” deception designed to provoke war with the Islamic states—have raised suspicions about what was really going on at the OEM bunker that morning. Some have made the shocking claim that the OEM was actually an operations and control center for the conspirators manned by a small cadre of insiders working covertly to orchestrate and execute every aspect of the attacks.
Though many people might find this theory to be “beyond the pale,” a long list of peculiarities surrounding the OEM facility’s planning and construction have generated disbelief and suspicion so strong that even those who loyally support the official version of the attacks have expressed concerns. And it can’t be argued that WTC 7 was virtually a nexus for many of the government, financial and intel agencies that 9/11 truth theorists have suggested were involved with the attacks.
The completion of Mayor Giuliani’s OEM bunker in 1999, just a year and half before 9/11, seems like uncanny timing in retrospect. The facility had its own air and water supply, emergency generators and was reportedly reinforced with blast resistant glass and other features designed to protect personnel who were to take charge should a catastrophic emergency arise.
But controversy dogged the new facility from the start. A New York Daily News article described the bunker as “the first-ever aerie-style bunker,” the vast majority (or, according to the Daily News, all) of similar facilities in the past having been built underground and well removed from potential high-risk areas. An emergency command retreat located high in a building would be vulnerable to a host of dangers that an underground facility would be immune to.
But questions about the wisdom of locating such a facility in the very midst of the number one terrorist target in the western hemisphere created the most controversy, especially when the WTC had already been attacked once in 1993. Having a large, well staffed, high-tech emergency command post destroyed by the very catastrophe it was designed to cope with (just as WTC 7 and the OEMEOC were on 9/11) would be inconvenient to say the least.
As if all this weren’t enough, several bizarre directives originating within the OEM have also fueled suspicion and attracted attention from rescue workers and 9/11 skeptics alike. The order to evacuate Building 7 and the area around the base of the Twin Towers because of an unconfirmed and ultimately false report that a possible third plane might be bearing down on the WTC complex allegedly originated with the Secret Service, but it was certainly disseminated by the OEM.
Oddly, the OEM ordered a similar evacuation of the Twin Towers at about the same time (approx. 9:30 AM) citing their certainty that the Twin Towers were about to collapse. In a world that has never seen the collapse of steel framed buildings before, this order was met with disbelief, especially from firefighters. But, later in the day, the OEM ordered the evacuation of the area around WTC 7 for much the same reason—OEM clairvoyance had somehow determined that Building 7 would be the third high-rise that day (and in history) to collapse due to fire.
These and other facts about the OEM bunker have raised enough suspicion among 9/11 skeptics in the years since the attacks, but the truly bizarre and relatively recent revelation that, after all the controversy and expense, after all the years of doubt and speculation, the facility was apparently shut down on, of all days, September 11th 2001, is certainly the most shocking.
Purging the OEM
If, as theorists speculate, the OEM facility was not what it claimed to be, it’s almost certain that only a tiny fraction of the OEM’s total staff were in on the conspiracy. The need to rid the sizable facility of the majority of its personnel would, therefore, be an essential part of the plan. Barring access to the floor on which the OEM bunker was located was a crude start, as Jennings and Hess can attest, but the facts seem to suggest that OEM personnel were contacted early and told not to report to the bunker altogether.
A small cadre of key, “in the know” people remaining in the bunker to preside over every last detail of the complex conspiracy (trajectories of the airplanes, demolition strategies for the Twin Towers, etc.) would have had no trouble keeping out of sight. The OEM bunker, the sole tenant of floor 23, was a vast facility with apparently one “main” room. Certainly there were many small, secure rooms where a tiny band of conspirators could do their work unmolested.
The fact that Zarillo and Nahmod were interrupted in their efforts to “activate OEM” in the empty facility by an “OEM rep” almost an hour after the first plane hit seems to fit the scenario perfectly. The “OEM rep,” busy preparing the demolition of the Twin Towers with his cohorts in an adjacent room, becomes aware that they have unwanted guests in the OEM offices. He then enters the “main room,” confronts Zarillo and Nahmod, tells them about the third plane coming in fast and orders them to leave immediately.
No Third Plane
Once Zarillo and Nahmod had been effectively purged from the scene, they were immediately told by rescue personnel in the lobby that there was no third plane after all but that a new evacuation order was in place, this time because the Twin Towers were about to collapse. When Zarillo relayed this bizarre order to a firefighter, it was met with surprise: “With a very confused look he said ‘who told you that?’ I said...‘OEM says the buildings are going to collapse; we need to get out.’” When Zarillo relayed the same message to the fire chief on the scene, he got much the same response: “[I found] Chief Ganci…we got a message that the buildings are going to collapse. His reply was ‘who the fuck told you that?’”
A similar scenario confronted Jennings and Hess, but with one big difference. Just after arriving at the bunker, Jennings is called by an unidentified superior who tells him to leave immediately. Whether the call originated from several blocks away or the next room over is anyone’s guess, but not a word is mentioned about a third plane. It would appear that Zarillo and Nahmod were the only ones to be booted from the OEM because of the third plane threat, and that was about 45 minutes later.
Professor Graeme MacQueen of McMaster University in Ontario sifted through hundreds of interviews made after 9/11 of rescue workers and firefighters. Almost all the individuals that mentioned the third plane threat in their interviews said that they first heard about it at approximately 9:30. Only a hand full of these accounts said that the order came earlier, but never any earlier than 9:15 or so. Any claim that the OEM shelter was abandoned early because of the third plane threat would, therefore, appear to be utterly implausible.
So, what was going on at WTC 7 and the OEM just as flight 11 hit the North Tower and the attacks of 9/11 got under way? What happened to all the people who had just arrived for work in WTC 7? Did all pertinent OEM and rescue personnel get an early message to not show up for work? If they did, what was the reason for this abrupt alteration of emergency protocols at a time when it hadn’t even been determined that anything other than an air emergency had occurred?
Not one person in an enormous building at least partly filled with CIA, DoD, SEC, IRS and Secret Service people—not to mention the employees of about a dozen banks and financial institutions—arriving for work that morning told tales of being caught in an enormous explosion as they fled WTC 7? Did these people as well get an order not to show up that morning? Why would they flee the building to begin with? They certainly weren’t in any immediate danger.
These and other questions about what was happening in WTC 7 that morning have yet to be answered. But the bizarre fact that the OEM bunker was empty when it should have been a bee’s hive of activity is only the latest revelation in the dark legacy of Building 7 and the shady emergency “ops” center the mayor built on its 23rd floor.
Copyright Darkprints, August, 2008