Hypotheses: Official Theories of the Attack

It is widely believed that there is a single theory of the attack endorsed by the government and news media. Indeed, the most general form of the official story has remained unchanged: The attack was exclusively the work of cells of Islamic extremists who attacked us "because they hate our freedoms."

However, when one examines the accounts of the attack advanced at different times by different government agencies, it becomes clear that there is not a single official theory of the attack, but several mutually incompatible theories regarding each of several aspects of the attack. This is especially apparent in the various accounts advanced by the Vice President, NORAD, and the 9/11 Commission to explain the failure of the air defense system to protect the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; and in the contradictory explanations for the collapses of the World Trade Center skyscrapers proposed by FEMA and NIST.

Here we describe theories advanced by official government reports concerning three main aspects of the attack.


Destruction of WTC 1, 2, and 7

All accounts of the destruction of the World Trade Center endorsed by government agencies and mainstream media rest on the premise that WTC 1, 2, and 7 collapsed spontaneously as a result of combinations of structural damage and fire stress. Beyond that, various reports have proposed collapse theories which vary significantly, and in some cases fundamentally contradict eachother. These collapse theories tend to focus on real and postulated events before or at the onset of the buildings' destruction, and none have attempted to to explain the entire range of features of these events documented by the available evidence.

The ASCE/FEMA Building Performance Study

NIST's Report on the Twin Towers

NIST's investigation of the World Trade Center disaster was established by a 2002 act of Congress entitled the National Construction Safety Team Act, which allocated approximately $16,000,000 for a two-year study. In June of 2005, NIST published the draft of its final report on the Twin Towers, and in September it released its substantially identical final report.

NIST's analysis of WTC 7

As of January, 2007, NIST has yet to publish its final report on the collapse of WTC 7.

Military Response to the Attack

The official story of the immediate military response to the attack has passed through three revisions since the attack.

Foreknowledge of the attack

Many of the indications of foreknowledge of the attack have yet to be addressed by any official government report. For example, the 9/11 Commission Report, which describes the Commission as "chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks" fails to mention that the World Trade Center was leased to a private company for the first time in its history six weeks before the attack, and that security was handled by a company linked to the Bush family.

The 9/11 Commission on Insider Trading

One foreknowledge indicator that the Commission did address is the apparent evidence of insider trading in the pre-attack surges in options on stocks affected by the attacks. The 9/11 Commission Report gives the following explanation of these transactions:

Highly publicized allegations of insider trading in advance of 9/11 generally rest on reports of unusual pre-9/11 trading activity in companies whose stock plummeted after the attacks. Some unusual trading did in fact occur, but each such trade proved to have an innocuous explanation. For example, the volume of put options--investments that pay off only when a stock drops in price--surged in the parent companies of United Airlines on September 6 and American Airlines on September 10--highly suspicious trading on its face. Yet, further investigation has revealed that the trading had no connection with 9/11. A single U.S.-based institutional investor with no conceivable ties to al Qaeda purchased 95 percent of the UAL puts on September 6 as part of a trading strategy that also included buying 115,000 shares of American on September 10. Similarly, much of the seemingly suspicious trading in American on September 10 was traced to a specific U.S.-based options trading newsletter, faxed to its subscribers on Sunday, September 9, which recommended these trades. These examples typify the evidence examined by the investigation. The SEC and the FBI, aided by other agencies and the securities industry, devoted enormous resources to investigating this issue, including securing the cooperation of many foreign governments. These investigators have found that the apparently suspicious consistently proved innocuous. Joseph Cella interview (Sept. 16, 2003; May 7, 2004; May 10-11, 2004); FBI briefing (Aug. 15, 2003); SEC memo, Division of Enforcement to SEC Chair and Commissioners, "Pre-September 11, 2001 Trading Review," May 15, 2002; Ken Breen interview (Apr. 23, 2004); Ed G. interview (Feb. 3, 2004).
-- 9/11 Commission Report

This explanation is partial and circular. It is partial because it mentions only "trading activity in companies whose stock plummeted in the attacks" and fails to specify which activity it did examine. It is circular because it claims it traced much of the activity to a US investor with "no conceivable ties to al Qaeda" and thereby concludes that the trades were "innocuous".

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