I had a TV that could be set to turn on at a particular time. I used it in 2001 as my alarm clock. It was set to turn on at 7am, as I recall, but long hours sometimes meant sleeping through it and coming in later.
On September 11, 2001, I was at home and woke to CNN showing smoke coming out of one of the World Trade Center towers. This turned out to be the north tower, 1 WTC. 
I had forgotten just how large the building was. When they showed the footage of the first plane hitting, I had thought of the man who flew his plane into the White House some years before . I had not realized that it had been a passenger jet (actually neither had CNN).
Then the second plane hit the south tower. I thought then that it was likely terrorism.
I called work. Those already there had heard about it but were unsure what to do. It seemed likely to me that this would mean a lot of people in places like Rockefeller Center going home early until what had happened became clearer.
Later there was footage of the fire department on the scene. The thought of calling the building’s management and telling them not to assume that the fireproofing would last one or two hours popped into my head.
To explain why, I have to back up a bit. As I mentioned before, I worked with an environmental consulting firm. One of the abatement contractors we worked with had an office in the WTC and virtually all of the contractors in town had worked in that building because, being so large, there was more work than one company could handle.
There was one week in the 90s when we got several visits from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) at 1251. I wound up showing them to the floors on the third day that inspectors showed up. My co-worker explained that the rule was simple: don’t help them find faults but also don’t get involved with trying to argue out of any citations. Essentially, it was the contractor’s problem.
The contractor supervisor on site was an overly caffeinated and excitable fellow who I would wind up on occasion making very angry by asking him to fix things or correct them. It wasn’t personal, at least not to me.
The supervisor did argue with the two inspectors. I had trouble not smiling because I could see that he was mostly digging himself into a deeper hole. At one point, he tried to show them that something was easily repaired and utterly destroyed it due to his manic energy and lack of care. My co-worker remained completely poker-faced and merely took notes of the infractions.
However, once it was over, my co-worker had something else to do, perhaps to write up memos about what needed to be corrected or to see that the things noted from the inspectors got into the daily log that we kept. I was therefore saddled with showing the inspectors the way out. I asked them why they came to our building so frequently. They had come often and usually not found anything to write up.
“We use your building to show the new inspectors what a compliant project is supposed to look like.”
What he was saying, in other words, was that we had grown a reputation for being one of the most regulatory compliant buildings in the City when it came to asbestos removal. I asked around and found that that was true. In fact, contractors regularly had to calculate their inability to cut corners when bidding on our projects. While this likely did cost the owners a bit more money, their reputation was greatly improved over what had happened in the 80s when they got the news coverage for the opposite.
On these projects, the removal of asbestos is followed by the spraying or other methods of installing non-asbestos containing fireproofing. In our case, we used a spray-on variety.
There had been a time when there was a shortage of sprayers and even the material from the supplier in the City. There was more abatement going on in New York at the industry’s peak than anyone had anticipated.
On the projects that happened during this period, it became clear that the contractors (we actually had two working on different projects at the same time) were attempting to hide deficiencies because of the material and sprayer shortage. Naturally, we became even more vigilant after realizing this and made them do or correct what was contracted for.
This situation had lead to a few interesting situations. First, because there was a shortage, the contractor attempted to convince our team to accept a substitute assembly for the re-spraying of fireproofing. In other words, the original structural engineers had specified certain thicknesses of fireproofing on certain structural members (beams, columns, etc.) and now the contractor was looking how to appear to achieve the same fire protection utilizing less fireproofing.
They didn’t tell me that there was shortage. They submitted a request for substitution, which the specifications permitted them to do. I was assigned to look over their request and compare what they wanted to do with what was originally specified. In essence, they were trying to say that, for example, two inches of fireproofing was as good as four inches of fireproofing using a different assembly out of the United Laboratories (UL) book on fireproofing. I explained this to my boss and co-worker and they refused the request.
The contractor’s next step was to send a man from W.R. Grace to come visit my co-worker and I and to re-explain what the request had said. During this meeting, and I felt bad about it after–but have also at times laughed about it as well–I very nearly made this grown man cry. He got so choked up that he wasn’t able to speak. There was a step in his explanation that just didn’t make sense to me. The contractor re-submitted the request anyway.
UL had an office, I think somewhere on Long Island. I called and got a hold of an engineer. He said I was right, there was no way you could make that leap that the contractor and the W.R. Grace representative had said. Absolutely no way.
I informed the boss and co-worked again. The request was rejected again.
Here’s where it gets spooky. The same engineer I had spoken with called me back a few days later. This is an approximation of the conversation.
“I was wrong,” he said.
“Oh,” I grabbed the book again to discuss the subject. “So the formula we were looking at…”
“I was wrong.”
“Um. Ok. Just need to figure out how we can–”
“No. You don’t understand. I was wrong.”
“Ah. Ok. Thanks.”
He had clearly been told by a superior to call me back and explain that he was wrong. Since he was not wrong, he did what smarty-pants science types with ethics do and made it clear that this was case. I explained this to my boss, but I was still puzzled. The piece I wasn’t getting out of all of this, the tests themselves are paid for by the manufacturers. In other words, UL only has a job testing manufacturer materials because the manufacturers pay for it. Their clout had overcome the science, the engineering, based on a shortage of material, trained sprayers, and spray machines.
We still refused the request for substitution.
But what happened at the other buildings being worked on at the same time? It seemed possible that there would have been some deficiencies that would not have gotten the same scrutiny. We had that reputation and these were some of the same contractors. And we tended to only work with the better ones.
Of course there were other issues anyway. The jet fuel. The paper, the place being full of it. And the conspiracy theories surrounding some witness reports.
That same intern who said his deceased father had been CIA was the one who told me that (and I’m still not clear on where he got the information) CIA, NSA, and FBI had had offices down in the basement and they had all gotten out before the planes hit. He also said that the building contained the biggest listening post the US had, or because of the building’s height, it had served as an intel antenna to much of the world.
Among the witness reports is that there were explosions coming from below after the planes hit .
If it was true that there were intelligence agency offices down there, then it might follow that there were charges set as standard operating procedure to destroy any sensitive equipment or remaining data in the place. Those wouldn’t be the kind of things you’d want to leave lying around waiting to be discovered after such an attack.
But were they responsible for bringing the buildings down? I don’t know. Many people smarter than me, who understand engineering and have studied the subject have come down on both sides of that argument.
In any case, I did not try to call. It bothered me for some time after the collapse. While it seemed unlikely that I would have been heeded (practically everyone seemed to think at the time that a plane couldn’t bring the towers down), that wasn’t the point. It was that I hadn’t at least tried.
But the point here is that there are so many similarities between 9/11 and the unused OPERATION NORTHWOODS, followed by many fortunes made, that I cannot help but be suspicious. I think that at the very least we can assume that it was Al Qaeda in the planes and that they were instructed or “controlled” (choose your term) via something like voice-to-skull or subliminals combined with other factors to make it happen. MK/Ultra had been continued in the 80s for various purposes, perhaps including this one.
This would explain why, given that they used the same kinds of technology on me and others, and that someone would later fear that I were coming close to discovering the truth, that there was such an insane level of cloak-and-dagger all of a sudden springing up around me.
That all culminated in this book. It culminated in me living in a place I’d probably not have otherwise moved to, away and estranged from my friends of many years; a longterm relationship and career ruined; having had my head messed with in so many ways that the idea of a new career that doesn’t somehow involve what I’m doing right now seems impossible along with any chance of a life or something even approaching economic stability, or, really, any kind of stability at all.
Someone had it in for me. They all but got me to do something violent, something criminal, that would see me dead or in prison (further discredited and less able to tell the tale in ways like this). Discredited, labeled as insane, likely. For a while anyway. You’ll have to be the judge of that now.
The answer to the question “why?” wasn’t because I supported Bill Clinton, Valerie Plame-Wilson, Sibel Edmonds or Peter Watts. It wasn’t because I met Jeremy Scahill and had tried to write a story around the follies of using mercenaries and generally outsourcing critical security. It wasn’t because (as you’ll see) I contributed money to Wikileaks before the Manning story broke.
It’s because of the technology and techniques, the illegal programs, and that I witnessed and could (and have to an extent) put together in a narrative form.
Then came what happened after 9/11.
1 For the best and most complete (really you can spend days reading it) accounting of 9/11 and several other topics see, again, History Commons and its 9/11 Timeline:
2 New York Times, “CRASH AT THE WHITE HOUSE: THE OVERVIEW; Unimpeded, Intruder Crashes Plane Into White House,” Maureen Dowd, 13 September 1994:
3 History Commons, “Janitor Hears Explosions and Other Strange Noises in North Tower,” 11 September 2001: