Monday, April 30, 2007

CIA / Military -- press says NO PROBLEM

Stuff the constitution! Separation of powers, HAH! Oversight? No way jose!

Hayden: Military roots don’t hurt CIA job

By Katherine Shrader - The Associated Press -- CORPORATE OWNED PRESS
Posted : Friday Apr 13, 2007 8:01:19 EDT

CIA Director Michael Hayden said his position as a four-star general does not hinder his ability to run the civilian spy agency despite concerns raised when he got the job last year.

In an hourlong interview to air Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Q&A” program, Hayden acknowledged there are a number of current and former military leaders now in the top jobs at spy agencies. But he said his nearly 40 years of Air Force service is not a factor as he leads the CIA.

He said he would not mute his views if they ran counter to people above him in the military.

“I’m not in any military chain of command,” Hayden said, according to a transcript provided in advance to The Associated Press. “I am an active-duty Air Force officer, but I don’t report to the chief of staff of the Air Force. I don’t report to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Why are there so many senior intelligence officials with military backgrounds?

“They were the best athletes available in the draft at this particular point in time,” said Hayden, who often uses sports metaphors.

Of the five main agencies whose sole mission is intelligence, only the National Reconnaissance Office is currently run by a civilian.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is a retired Navy vice admiral. The head of the National Counterterrorism Center, John Scott Redd, is a retired Navy vice admiral. If his nomination is approved by the Senate, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper will be the defense undersecretary for intelligence.

Within days, the Senate could vote on a spending blueprint for spy agencies that includes a provision to ensure that future CIA directors and deputy directors are civilians. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, objecting to that language and a dozen other provisions.

The bill also says any military officer running the CIA will not be subject to the defense secretary’s supervision and the CIA must reimburse the military for the individual’s salary.

The CIA was created after World War II to establish a civilian intelligence agency, partly in response to the military’s inability to predict Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The issue of civilian control continues to come up in debates.

Last year, lawmakers raised concerns about Hayden’s background when Bush asked him to take over the CIA. They questioned whether it was the right time for a uniformed officer to head the agency as the Pentagon assumed an increasingly dominant role in intelligence collection and analysis.

Some of the same voices chimed in again when McConnell was tapped to oversee all 16 spy agencies earlier this year.

Among them was Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. He said he remains concerned that intelligence agencies have been overpopulated by military officials. He said he wants to see a diversity of views — and more civilians — at the top of spy agencies.

“I don’t want the CIA run like the Army,” Hoekstra said Thursday. “I am glad that General Hayden is not saluting up through the chain of command at the Pentagon, but somewhere along the line, he does realize that his future career may be influenced by the people at the Pentagon.”

In the C-SPAN interview, Hayden said he reports to McConnell. “And after him, to the president,” he said. “It’s not that kind of problem for us.”
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posted by u2r2h at 2:33 PM 1 comments

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Old Saab car - Short story

Have I Got a Car for You!

By Kurt Vonnegut

I used to be the owner and manager of an automobile dealership in West
Barnstable, Massachusetts, called "Saab Cape Cod." It and I went out of
business 33 years ago. The Saab then as now was a Swedish car, and I now
believe my failure as a dealer so long ago explains what would otherwise
remain a deep mystery: Why the Swedes have never given me a Nobel Prize
for Literature. Old Norwegian proverb: "Swedes have short dicks but long

Listen: The Saab back then had only one model, a bug like a VW, a two-door
sedan, but with the engine in front. It had suicide doors opening into the
slipstream. Unlike all other cars, but like your lawnmower and your
outboard, it had a two-stroke rather than a four-stroke engine. So every
time you filled your tank with gas you had to pour in a can of oil as
well. For whatever reason, straight women did not want to do this.

The chief selling point was that a Saab could drag a VW at a stoplight.
But if you or your significant other had failed to add oil to the last
tank of gas, you and the car would then become fireworks. It also had
front-wheel drive, of some help on slippery pavements or when accelerating
into curves. There was this selling point as well: As one prospective
customer said to me, "They make the best watches. Why wouldn't they make
the best cars, too?" I was bound to agree.

The Saab back then was a far cry from the sleek, powerful, four-stroke
Yuppie uniform it is today. It was the wet dream, if you like, of
engineers in an airplane factory who had never made a car before. "Wet
dream," did I say? Get a load of this: There was a ring on the dashboard,
connected to a chain running over pulleys in the engine compartment. Pull
on it, and at the far end it would raise a sort of window shade on a
spring-loaded roller behind the front grill. That was to keep the engine
warm while you went off somewhere. So, when you cam back, if you hadn't
stayed away too long, the engine would start right up again.

But if you stayed away too long, window shade or not, the oil would
separate from the gas and sink like molasses to the bottom of the tank. So
when you started up again, you would lay down a smokescreen like a
destroyer in a naval engagement. And I actually blacked out the whole town
of Woods Hole at high noon that way, having left a Saab on a parking lot
there for about a week. I am told old timers there still wonder out loud
about where all that smoke could have come from. I came to speak ill of
Swedish engineering, and so diddled myself out of a Nobel Prize.


Your Guess Is as Good as Mine

By Kurt Vonnegut

Most of you, if not all of you, like me, feel inadequately educated. That
is an ordinary feeling for a member of our species. One of the most
brilliant human beings of all times, George Bernard Shaw said on his 75th
birthday or so that at last he knew enough to become a mediocre office
boy. He died in 1950, by the way, when I was 28. He is the one who said,
"Youth is wasted on the young." I turned 83 a couple weeks ago, and I must
say I agree.

Shaw, if he were alive today, would envy us the solid information that we
have or can get about the nature of the universe, about time and space and
matter, about our own bodies and brains, about the resources and
vulnerabilities of our planet, about how all sorts of human beings
actually talk and feel and live.

This is the information revolution. We have taken it very badly so far.
Information seems to be getting in the way all the time. Human beings have
had to guess about almost everything for the past million years or so. Our
most enthralling and sometimes terrifying guessers are the leading
characters in our history books. I will name two of them: Aristotle and
Hitler. One good guesser and one bad one.

The masses of humanity, having no solid information to tell them
otherwise, have had little choice but to believe this guesser or that one.
Russians who didn't think much of the guesses of Ivan the Terrible, for
example, were likely to have their hats nailed to their heads.

We must acknowledge, though, that persuasive guessers—even Ivan the
Terrible, now a hero in Russia—have given us courage to endure
extraordinary ordeals that we had no way of understanding. Crop failures,
wars, plagues, eruptions of volcanoes, babies being born dead—the guessers
gave us the illusion that bad luck and good luck were understandable and
could somehow be dealt with intelligently and effectively.

Without that illusion, we would all have surrendered long ago. But in
fact, the guessers knew no more than the common people and sometimes less.
The important thing was that they gave us the illusion that we're in
control of our destinies.

Persuasive guessing has been at the core of leadership for so long—for all
of human experience so far—that it is wholly unsurprising that most of the
leaders of this planet, in spite of all the information that is suddenly
ours, want the guessing to go on, because now it is their turn to guess
and be listened to.

Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going
on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information
that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and
investigative reporting.

They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they want standards,
and it isn't the gold standard. They want to put us back on the snake-oil

Loaded pistols are good for people unless they're in prisons or lunatic

That's correct.

Millions spent on public health are inflationary.

That's correct.

Billions spent on weapons will bring inflation down.

That's correct.

Industrial wastes, and especially those that are radioactive, hardly ever
hurt anybody, so everybody should shut up about them.

That's correct.

Industries should be allowed to do whatever they want to do: Bribe, wreck
the environment just a little, fix prices, screw dumb customers, put a
stop to competition and raid the Treasury in case they go broke.

That's correct.

That's free enterprise.

And that's correct.

The poor have done something very wrong or they wouldn't be poor, so their
children should pay the consequences.

That's correct.

The United States of America cannot be expected to look after its people.

That's correct.

The free market will do that.

That's correct.

The free market is an automatic system of justice.

That's correct.

And so on.

If you actually are an educated, thinking person, you will not be welcome
in Washington, D.C. I know a couple of bright seventh graders who would
not be welcomed in Washington, D.C.

Do you remember those doctors a few years back who got together and
announced that it was a simple, clear medical fact that we could not
survive even a moderate attack by hydrogen bombs? They were not welcome in
Washington, D.C.

Even if we fired the first salvo of hydrogen weapons and the enemy never
fired back, the poisons released would probably kill the whole planet by
and by.

What is the response in Washington? They guess otherwise. What good is an
education? The boisterous guessers are still in charge—the haters of
information. And the guessers are almost all highly educated people. Think
of that. They have had to throw away their educations, even Harvard or
Yale educations, to become guessers. If they didn't do that, there is no
way their uninhibited guessing could go on and on and on.

Please, don't you do that. But let me warn you, if you make use of the
vast fund of knowledge now available to educated persons, you are going to
be lonesome as hell. The guessers outnumber you—and now I have to guess—
about ten to one.


What follows is a conversation between Kurt Vonnegut and out-of-print
science fiction writer Kilgore Trout. It was to be their last. Trout
committed suicide by drinking Drano at midnight on October 15 in Cohoes,
New York, after a female psychic using tarot cards predicted that the
environmental calamity George W. Bush would once again be elected
president of the most powerful nation on the planet by a five-to-four
decision of the Supreme Court, which included "100 per-cent of the black


Requiem for a Dreamer

By Kurt Vonnegut

TROUT: I've never voted in my whole damn life. I didn't want to be
complicit. But is it time I did?

KV: The planet's immune system is obviously trying to get rid of us, and
high time! But sure, go vote for somebody. What the hell.

TROUT: Everybody's so ignorant.

KV: The overwhelming popularity of President Bush, in spite of everything,
finally shows us what the American people, whom we have so sentimentalized
for so long, a la Norman Rockwell, really are, thanks to TV and purposely
lousy public schools: ignorant. Count on it!

TROUT: You ever meet anybody who was really smart?

KV: Only one: Saul Steinberg, the graphic artist who's dead now. Everybody
I know is dead now, present company excepted. I could ask Saul anything,
and six seconds would pass, and then he would give me a perfect answer. He
growled a perfect answer. He was born in Rumania, and, according to him,
he was born into a house where "the geese peeked in the windows."

TROUT: Like what kind of questions?

KV: I said, "Saul, what should I think about Picasso?" Six seconds went
by, and then he growled, "God put him on Earth to show us what it's like
to be really rich." I said, "Saul, I'm a novelist, and many of my friends
are novelists, but I can't help feeling that some of them are in a very
different business from mine, even though I like their books a lot. What
would make me feel that way?" Six seconds went by, and then he growled,
"It is very simple: There are two kinds of artists, and one is not
superior to the other. But one kind responds to the history of his or her
art so far, and the other responds to life itself."

I said, "Saul, are you gifted?" Six seconds went by, and then he growled,
"No. But what we respond to in any work of art is the artist's struggle
against his or her limitations."


KV: You seem unimpressed.

TROUT: I said, "OK."

KV: You said it so emptily.

TROUT: Sorry. You know me: Always running on empty.

KV: Somebody else smart? OK, try this: After the Second World War I
enrolled in the graduate division of the Anthropology Department of the
University of Chicago, the most conceited university in the country. And
in a seminar for about eight of us, half of us vets on the GI Bill of
Rights, my favorite professor, in fact my thesis advisor, put this
Socratic question to us: "What is it an artist does?"

TROUT: Hold on: What makes Chicago so conceited?

KV: That it isn't Harvard.

TROUT: Got it: That it isn't high society.

KV: Bingo. Anyway, I'm sure we all came up with smart-ass answers, since a
graduate seminar in any subject is a form of improv theater. But the only
answer I remember is the one he gave: "An artist says, 'I can't do
anything about the chaos in the universe or my country, or even in my own
miserable life, but I can at least make this piece of paper or canvas, or
blob of clay or chunk of marble, exactly what it should be.'"


KV: Did you forget to take your Viagra today?

TROUT: Very funny. But what he said an artist does is what I do every time
I brush my teeth or tie my shoes. You thought this guy was smart? He's an

KV: Look, when you put a piece of paper in your typewriter, don't you try
to make it exactly what it should be?

TROUT: No, I just effing write.

KV: What are you effing writing now?

TROUT: It's about how the future has as much to do with the present as the
past does. Giraffes can only have come from the future. There's no way
evolution in the past would have let something that defenseless and
impractical live for 15 minutes.

KV: If you say so.

TROUT: Try this: The First World War was caused by the second one.
Otherwise the first one makes no sense, wasn't about anything. And all
Picasso had to do was paint pictures that were already hanging in museums
in the future.


TROUT: Just trying to be Einstein. You never know. But hey, the two people
you said were so smart were both men. Women say smart things, too. I went
walking with a woman the other day, if you can believe it, and I stopped
to retie my shoes, and she said, "Every time I go for a walk with a man he
always has to stop to retie his shoes. Why won't men tie double knots? A
fear of commitment?" How's that for anthropology, the science of man? I'll
bet they didn't teach you about men and shoelaces at Chicago.

KV: That isn't anthropology. That's sociology.

TROUT: What's the difference? I've often wondered.

KV: A sociologist is paid by the Sociology Department. An anthropologist
is paid by the Anthropology Department.

TROUT: Glad to have that cleared up.

KV: Knowledge is power.

TROUT: Well, I'm off. Ciao, adios and aloha.

KV: Whither bound?

TROUT: Back to Cohoes for an AA meeting.

KV: But you're not an alcoholic.

TROUT: It's the only place I can pick up women. They have their defenses
down. "Hello, I'm Kilgore Trout and I'm an alcoholic." And I've met this
babe named Flamingo who is a professional psychic. She's going to tell me
our country's fortune. Who'll win the next election.


TROUT: Take care.

KV: You too.


Kurt Vonnegut at Ohio State - 1 March, 2006.

The conversation started with politics. Vonnegut first asked what he was
allowed to say – "How dirty," he asked, "Are we allowed to talk?" The
moderator gave him a bemused grin and told him it was an adult audience.
"I know," replied Vonnegut, "But I suspect that there are some young
ladies here away from home for the first time, so let me try it out on
you." He stood up, walked over the moderator, and whispered something into
his ear. "I think that'll be ok," was the reply. Vonnegut smiled, returned
to his seat.

"George Bush is so stupid, he thinks Peter Pan is a washboard in a

(A brothel is the most likely place where you'd need a pan to wash your

"War is so reputable still, because of Hollywood that George Bush can say
'I am a war president'. That's like saying 'I am a syphilis president'.
War is the most horrible disease that the planet could experience but he
though it was beautiful and glamorous to be a war president".

From near the end of a recent interview with Harriet Gilbert of the BBC
World Book Club Program. You can hear the entire interview by going here

and finding it in the list under Listen to previous World Book Clubs

What is wrong with this country?

Vonnegut turned serious, and said:

The reason so many people want to come to America is that the payoff for
crime is bigger than anywhere else in the world. What other people call
embezzling we call executive compensation; fraud= public relations. The
biggest cash cow is a casino named wall street. But the big payoff is war.
You know, the treasury just gets empty and money gets thrown in the
direction of people who ride the government. Vietnam made millionaires
into billionaires. And now the iraq war is going to make bil into tril.

The moderator asks, "It's disturbing, but you write that George Bush has
made this country – or at least the American people - appear to be war
loving. What can we as individuals do about that?
"Look, the neocons say 'we gave you free speech, say what you want.'
That's cuz no matter what we say it makes no difference. All the protests
against Iraq, by decent middle class people, was not covered by the press.
We have created a small class of people actually richer than some nations.

This is about the point that Mr. Vonnegut realized that no matter what he
said, the crowd loved him and would cheer.
"I can say anything I want tonight, can't I? What the hell? I wish someone
would give the president a blowjob, so we can finally get rid of him."

The economy isn't doing so well, there aren't a lot of jobs – what advice
do you have?"
"As I say, the world is ending – I dunno what the hell they should do.
We'll have to ask the Native Americans what the hell THEY did when they
lost everything."

The moderator asks, "You talk about the arts, etc – doesn't that suggest
that one answer is a personal revolution?"
"I have said we should be kind to one another. Just be civil, you don't
even have to be kind."

Mr. Vonnegut then goes on to tell the story from Timequake about his uncle
– the short summary is, his Uncle never understood why people always
noticed when they were having a bad time, but never noticed when they were
having a good time. As a reaction against this, his uncle would frequently
stop – perhaps with a glass of lemonade on a sunny day – and say, out
loud, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."
Recognize it when you're happy, and say it. I got a letter from a guy the
other day, he says he says it during sexual intercourse.

Then Kurt Vonnegut said something that surprised me and most of the other
people in the room. He said that the very first time he had ever spoken on
a college campus for money was here at Ohio State, many years ago. And he
said that this evening was the very last such speech he would ever do. It
was oddly touching and somehow terribly sad to hear this bit of news.

"And by the way," he said, to lighten the suddenly somber mood:
You can feel safe from terrorists because I took my shoes off at the
airport. If there's one thing terrorists can't stand it's the smell of
feet. If this isn't nice, I dunno what is.

"You have put forth, in your books, the idea that we are here on earth to
fart around. What do you mean by that? How do you yourself fart around?"
I run errands. I write letters, go to the mailbox, buy stamps. I don't use
email and I have no answering machine, all of my communication is through
letters. So I run out to buy an envelope and a stamp, I run into people,
say hi. If a fire engine goes by, I give it a thumbs up – I never get
tired of fire engines. We are here on earth to fart around.

Sometimes I'll be getting ready to go out and my wife will ask"Where are
you going?" I say, "To buy an envelope!" She says, "Kurt, you are not a
poor man. Why don't you buy 100 envelopes, and put them in your closet?" I
pretend not to hear her.

A creative writing student asks: "Should writers maintain a social
consciousness in order to be great?"
You should maintain a social consciousness in order to be alive!

If you want a lesson in creative writing, here is a brief one: Do not use
semicolons. They stand for absolutely nothing. They are transvestite
hermaphrodites. All they do is suggest you went to college. I'll be
reading something and it's going along fine with periods and colons and
commas, and all of a sudden there's this goddamn semicolon, and everything
stops. I'm wondering, what the hell am I supposed to do with this thing?
So don't use them.

Also, since we're on the subject of creative writing, the best short story
ever written was "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce.
Please read it if you haven't.

Next student question. There was a lot in front of this, but the gist of
the question was "Can humans truly learn and forgive?"
Well, war is like what George Bernard Shaw said about marriage. … … I
can't remember what Shaw said about marriage. But! I do remember a great
line from Susan Sontag. She said that 10% of any population is cruel no
matter what. 10% is merciful. The middle 80% can be pulled in either
direction. So yes, people can be pulled that way.

I've been asked, I'm 83, what's the biggest change I've seen in my life.
Well, Jesus used to be merciful and loving of the poor, but now he's a

I lived through the Great Depression. It was almost hopeless for white
people, so I was always worried about how terrible it must have been for
the black people. I asked my uncle, the same one who said "If this isn't
nice I don't know what is," and he told me something great. "The poor," he
said, "take care of the poor."


3/6/06 - Kurt Vonnegut's "Stardust Memory"
Harvey Wasserman
Columbus Free Press (Ohio)

On a cold, cloudy night, the lines threaded all the way around the Ohio
State campus. News that Kurt Vonnegut was speaking at the Ohio Union
prompted these "apathetic" heartland college students to start lining up
in the early afternoon. About 2,000 got in to the Ohio Union. At least
that many more were turned away. It was the biggest crowd for a speaker
here since Michael Moore.

In an age dominated by hype and sex, neither Moore nor Vonnegut seems a
likely candidate to rock a campus whose biggest news has been the men's
and women's basketball teams' joint assault on Big Ten championships.

But maybe there's more going on here than Fox wants us to think.

Vonnegut takes an easy chair across from Prof. Manuel Luis Martinez, a
poet and teacher of writing. He grabs Martinez and semi-whispers into his
ear (and the mike) "What can I say here?"

Martinez urges candor.

"Well," says Vonnegut, "I just want to say that George W. Bush is the
syphilis president."

The students seem to agree.

"The only difference between Bush and Hitler," Vonnegut adds, "is that
Hitler was elected."

"You all know, of course, that the election was stolen. Right here."

Off to a flying start, Vonnegut explains that this will be his "last
speech for money." He can't remember the first one, but it was on a campus
long, long ago, and this will be the end.

The students are hushed with the prospect of the final appearance of
America's greatest living novelist. Alongside Mark Twain and Ben Franklin,
Will Rogers and Joseph Heller and a very short list of immortal satirists
and storytellers, there stands Kurt Vonnegut, author of SLAUGHTERHOUSE
books these students are studying now, as did their parents, as will their
children and grandchildren, with a deeply felt mixture of gratitude and

Nobody tonight seems to think they were in for a detached, scholarly
presentation from a disengaged academic genius coasting on his
incomparable laurels

"I'm lucky enough to have known a great president, one who really cared
about ALL the people, rich and poor. That was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He
was rich himself, and his class considered him a traitor.

"We have people in this country who are richer than whole countries," he
says. "They run everything.

"We have no Democratic Party. It's financed by the same millionaires and
billionaires as the Republicans.

"So we have no representatives in Washington. Working people have no
leverage whatsoever.

"I'm trying to write a novel about the end of the world. But the world is
really ending! It's becoming more and more uninhabitable because of our
addiction to oil.

"Bush used that line recently," Vonnegut adds. "I should sue him for

Things have gotten so bad, he says, "people are in revolt again life

Our economy has been making money, but "all the money that should have
gone into research and development has gone into executive compensation.
If people insist on living as if there's no tomorrow, there really won't
be one.

"As the world is ending, I'm always glad to be entertained for a few
moments. The best way to do that is with music. You should practice once a

"If you want really want to hurt your parents and don't want to be gay, go
into the arts," he says.

Then he breaks into song, doing a passable, tender rendition of "Stardust

By this time this packed hall has grown reverential. The sound system is
appropriately tenuous. Straining to hear every word is both an effort and
a meditation.

"To hell with the advances in computers," he says after he finishes
singing. "YOU are supposed to advance and become, not the computers. Find
out what's inside you. And don't kill anybody.

"There are no factories any more. Where are the jobs supposed to come
from? There's nothing for people to do anymore. We need to ask the
Seminoles: 'what the hell did you do?'' after the tribe's traditional
livelihood was taken away.

Answering questions written in by students, he explains the meaning of
life. "We should be kind to each other. Be civil. And appreciate the good
moments by saying 'If this isn't nice, what is?'

"You're awful cute" he says to someone in the front row. He grins and
looks around. "If this isn't nice, what is?

"You're all perfectly safe, by the way. I took off my shoes at the
airport. The terrorists hate the smell of feet.

"We are here on Earth to fart around," he explains, and then embarks on a
soliloquy about the joys of going to the store to buy an envelope. One
talks to the people there, comments on the "silly-looking dog," finds all
sorts of adventures along the way.

As for being a midwesterner, he recalls his roots in nearby Indianapolis,
a heartland town, the next one west of here. "I'm a fresh water person.
When I swim in the ocean, I feel like I'm swimming in chicken soup. Who
wants to swim in flavored water?"

A key to great writing, he adds, is to "never use semi-colons. What are
they good for? What are you supposed to do with them? You're reading
along, and then suddenly, there it is. What does it mean? All semi-colons
do is suggest you've been to college."

Make sure, he adds, "that your reader is having a good time. Get to the
who, when, where, what right away, so the reader knows what is going on."

As for making money, "war is a very profitable thing for a few people.
Jesus used to be so merciful and loving of the poor. But now he's a

"Our economy today is not capitalism. It's casino-ism. That's all the
stock market is about. Gambling.

"Live one day at a time. Say 'if this isn't nice, I don't know what is!'

"You meet saints every where. They can be anywhere. They are people
behaving decently in an indecent society.

"I'm going to sue the cigarette companies because they haven't killed me,"
he says. His son lived out his dream to be a pilot and has spent his
career flying for Continental. Now they've "screwed up his pension."

The greatest peace, Vonnegut wraps up, "comes from the knowledge that I
have enough. Joe Heller told me that.

"I began writing because I found myself possessed. I looked at what I
wrote and I said 'How the hell did I do that?'

"We may all be possessed. I hope so."

He accepts the students' standing ovation with characteristic dignity and
grace. Not a few tears flow from young people with the wisdom to
appreciate what they are seeing. "If this isn't nice, we don't know what

Not long ago we spoke on the phone. I asked Kurt how he was. "Too fucking
old," he replied.

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posted by u2r2h at 1:14 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Scientists examine the World Trade Centre Collapse

The Ghost in the Machines: The Mystery of the WTC Hard Drive Recoveries
by Michael Fury

Many are aware of the surge in put options purchased on American and United Airlines
as well as several major tenants of the WTC in the days preceding 9/11, purchases the
9/11 Commission Report waves away in a footnote on pg. 499 as having no connection
with the events of 9/11 since there were no ties to al Qaeda. More obscure, and nowhere
mentioned in the Commission Report, are the facts of the WTC computer data recovery
operation undertaken in late 2001 by Convar GmbH, a German firm. Under conditions of
hermetic secrecy, Convar used its proprietary technology to salvage data from the
damaged hard drives of WTC tenants, as reported in December 2001 by Reuters and

From the Reuters article:

"The suspicion is that inside information about the attack was used to send financial
transaction commands and authorisations in the belief that amid all the chaos the
criminals would have, at the very least, a good head start," said Convar director Peter

“Richard Wagner, a data retrieval expert at the company, said illegal transfers of more
than $100 million might have been made immediately before and during the disaster.”
"There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time
of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million," Wagner said.
"They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the
main frames were destroyed."

“Henschel said the companies in the United States were working together with the FBI to
piece together what happened on September 11 and that he was confident the destination
of the dubious transactions would one day be tracked down.”

Convar’s website features a video confirming that Convar GmbH did in fact process the
WTC hard drives. The widely disseminated claim that Kroll Associates--the powerful private-intelligence firm responsible for some elements of WTC security on 9/11--acquired Convar in June 2002 remains
unsubstantiated. What can be verified is that Kroll purchased Ontrack Data Recovery, a
U.S.-based rival of Convar with offices in Germany.
After the CNN article of December 20, the U.S. media were stricken mute on the Convar
investigation. Of the media blackouts shrouding 9/11, none has been more absolute.
Notice that Convar, its unnamed WTC clients and the FBI possessed these data, and that
the FBI would have no reason to withhold the results of its investigation had they proven
benign or consistent with the Commission’s account of the attacks.
It is worth remembering what Sibel Edmonds told Jim Hogue: “I can tell you that the
issue, on one side, boils down to money--a lot of money. And it boils down to people and
their connections with this money…”

Consider again Wagner’s inference: “They thought that the records of their transactions
could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed." The locations of the
computers in question within the towers is unknown, but if Wagner is correct, two
possibilities emerge: (1) either the “insiders” had foreknowledge of the precise impact
points of the aircraft (otherwise why assume that the main frames would be destroyed?)
or (2) they had foreknowledge of the total destruction of the towers. Upon reflection,
for numerous reasons the first possibility recedes into remote improbability. But why
would the “insiders” assume the total collapse of the towers when there was no historical
precedent for such an event and the towers had been designed to survive the impact of
fuel-laden 707s at 600 mph? If in fact the
WTC towers were demolished by explosives, incendiaries or other means, whoever
initiated these transactions should be considered suspect for complicity in those acts.
No legitimate reason—in fact no reason whatsoever--for withholding the Convar data has
to date been offered.

The Sustainability of the Controlled Demolition Hypothesis for the Destruction of the Twin Towers

Tony Szamboti, mechanical engineer April 24, 2007

Abstract: In the past year there has been an exponential growth in the number of people questioning the explanations we have been given, by official U.S. government bodies, concerning the collapses of the three WTC buildings in NYC on 9/11/2001. It is probably safe to say that much of this growth can be attributed to the Internet publishing of a paper by Physics Professor Steven Jones in November 2005, which put forth the hypothesis that the Twin Towers and WTC7 were actually demolished with prepositioned cutter charges.3 This hypothesis is in tension with the present government explanation of aircraft impact damage and/or fires being the causes for the complete collapses of the buildings. My intent here is to show that any honest and objective look at all of the theories, for the destruction of the twin towers, including the present government explanation, will cause one to realize that only the controlled demolition hypothesis is sustainable. I believe an honest look at the evidence will convince anyone that the controlled demolition hypothesis provides the best explanation for the complete collapses of the towers, as well as the damage to the buildings and objects surrounding them. The remarkable collapse of WTC7 seems to have had a separate cause in its own controlled demolition. Video of the collapse of WTC7 can be viewed quickly at before continuing, as it plays a part in understanding what probably occurred in NYC on Sept. 11, 2001.

It can be shown that due to the design and volume of the towers, the aircraft impacts and fires could not have been enough to cause them to collapse. The link below will provide an idea of how the towers were constructed, with photos seen in articles from the Engineering News Record at the time they were built.

The following points then need to be understood to follow this line of reasoning:

• The twin towers were designed to handle multiple loads: their own weight (dead loads), live loads (due to people, furnishings, and equipment), wind loads, ice loads, and seismic loads. The dead and live loads are normal gravity loads. The central core was designed to handle 60% of the normal gravity loads of the building and the perimeter beams to take the remaining 40% of the normal gravity loads, and all of the wind, ice, and seismic loads.1 While wind loads are usually quite low, tall structures need to be designed to handle extremes. The towers where designed to handle the overturning moment and shear stresses generated by 100 mph winds acting on their considerable surface area and height. 2 Although heavy icing would be rare, the towers would still need to withstand the extra weight, which glaze ice would bring at 56 lbs./ft3, not insignificant on a structure with approximately 1.3 million square feet of outside surface area. Seismic loads can generate horizontal accelerations, which would cause high overturn moments, similar to those caused by high wind loads. Due to the need to withstand rare high wind, ice, and seismic loads, the tower’s perimeter beams had a minimum factor of safety of 5.00, when considering normal gravity loads only. The central cores were designed with the more standard factor of safety of 1.67, since they took normal gravity loads only. Prior to the attacks, on a low wind, warm sunny day, with no earthquakes, such as Sept. 11, 2001, the beams in each tower would have had no more than 33% of their total load sustaining capacity used.

• Upon impact with the buildings, the wings, tail, and engine fan assemblies of the aircraft would have certainly been shredded prior to completely entering the buildings. This would leave only the fuselage, center portions of the engines, and the landing gear, with greatly diminished energies, to cause damage to the central core columns.10,11 The central cores were comprised of 47 large steel columns interconnected at every floor in a three-dimensional matrix, encompassing a plan area of 137 feet x 87 feet. The fuselages of both Boeing 767-200ER aircraft, which hit the towers, were 16.5 feet in diameter.4 The spacing of the central core columns ranged from approximately 11 to 21 feet apart,11 so by volume alone there would be a limited number of columns which the remains of the fuselage, could contact.

The aircraft engines were approximately 9 feet in diameter, much of which was the fragile fan assemblies, which would have been decimated going through the outer wall. Only the much smaller diameter turbojet portions of the engines and their rigid shafts would have had much ability to cause additional damage to the central core columns. The damage to the perimeter columns is visible in photographs. It is known that no more than 20% of the perimeter columns were affected in either tower. It is the damage to the core columns, which was not visible, that needs to be scrutinized. Analyses can be done to show what the remaining energies and volumetric probabilities would be for impact damage to occur to the core columns. NIST did analyses of this type and in their base cases, for both towers, less than 20% of the central core columns were severed or heavily damaged.

• The towers were designed as virtual structural pyramids, with the wall thickness of the beams thicker at the bottom and thinning with greater vertical height location. The bottom beams were thicker due to heavier loading, and the top beams thinner due to lighter loading. Since the tower beams varied in wall thickness, depending on their vertical location, it could be ascertained which beams were in the aircraft impact and fire affected areas. With it being important to know the actual temperatures that the beams experienced, in the fire affected areas, NIST used the known microstructure characteristic of spheroidization to determine those temperatures.8 Temperature will change the spheroidization of the steel microstructure in a linear, predictable, and permanent way. In their testing of the beams it was found that only a few percent of them ever experienced temperatures above 250° C (482° F) and none above 600° C (1,112° F). None of the central core columns tested showed they experienced temperatures above 250° C (482° F). The chart below, which shows the proportional loss of strength in steel, as it’s temperature is increased, is from Corus Construction, with temperatures in degrees C.

As the chart shows, steel does not lose any of its strength until its temperature rises above 350° C (662° F), and only loses half of it at 600° C (1,112° F). So the evidence shows that no more than a few percent of the beams lost any of their strength due to the fires. While NIST includes this data in their report it is essentially ignored and an argument attempted that higher steel temperatures existed, even though there is no physical evidence for it. The amount of jet fuel, which actually entered the towers, could not have been any more than half of the 10,000 gallons on board each aircraft. Spreading the remaining 5,000 gallons, in each case, over an acre (one floor of one tower) results in a jet fuel film thickness of .015 inch. This film would have burned up quickly, leaving nothing more than office materials to fuel the fires. The fact that high temperature effects were not found in the microstructure of the steel should not be surprising.

To summarize, it can only be shown that approximately 20% of the beams, in the cases of both towers, had their strength significantly affected by the aircraft impacts and fire. That leaves approximately 80% of the beams, in both cases, with their full strength intact. Grid like structures, such as the twin towers, redistribute loads when individual beams are damaged. This occurs in a bridge like fashion, since the vertical beams are interconnected horizontally at every floor. In the reference section of this article, I show that if 20% of the central core and perimeter columns were totally incapacitated, 9 or 10 central core and 48 perimeter, the perimeter would have maintained a factor of safety of 4.00, and the central core a factor of safety of 1.34. The remaining factor of safety of 1.34 for the central core is not insignificant. What it means is that for the yield point of the steel to even be reached, and collapse to be incipient, an additional 20% of the core strength needed to be lost due to fire. In terms of the number of beams needing to be affected, an additional 19 out of the remaining 38 core columns would need to reach 600° C (1112° F) to lose half of their strength. This is not a likely scenario and there is no physical evidence for it, as shown above in the discussion of the beam temperature testing data gathered by NIST. It would appear that the initiation of vertical collapse, due to fire weakening and gravity, was improbable. So how then did the towers collapse?

The answer is obviously that another mechanism must have caused the collapses. The fact that the twin towers both collapsed due to a cause, which must obey the laws of physics, cannot be disputed. It is that cause which some claim is in dispute at the moment. The alternative collapse causation theories, which have been proposed to counter the insufficient U.S. government theory, are

1. A directed energy weapon was used to destroy the towers.

2. Mini-nukes were used to destroy the towers.

3. The towers were destroyed via controlled demolition with the use of incendiaries and explosives.

The first and second proposed causes have been shown not to be serious hypotheses, by scientifically based papers. These papers show that these two theories have no basis. These papers also explain away any perceived anomalies, and provide reasons for the observations, which are more natural and consistent with the controlled demolition hypothesis for the destruction of the towers. To date these papers have not been challenged in writing, or shown to be incorrect in any way, by those who have supported these first two theories. These papers can be found at The physical evidence for the third theory, controlled demolition, is due to the characteristics of the twin tower collapses. In one of his many writings on the subject of Sept. 11, 2001, Dr. David Ray Griffin lists the eleven characteristics of controlled demolition, which both of the towers exhibited in their respective collapses.

Sudden Onset Dust Clouds Molten Steel

Straight Down Horizontal Ejections Sliced Steel

Almost Free-Fall Speed Sounds Produced by Explosions Demolition Rings

Total Collapse Pulverization of Concrete and Other Materials

Dr. Griffin’s full article ‘The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True” can be found at

Any close viewing of video, of the collapses of the towers, will physically show most of the characteristics of controlled demolition listed above. Witnesses, photos, and taped audio from that day, have attested to, molten metal, demolition rings, sliced steel, and sounds produced by explosions.

It was the revelation of the presence of molten metal, in the rubble of all three buildings which collapsed in NYC on Sept. 11, 2001, which caused Dr. Jones in 2005 to begin to question whether the present U.S. government explanation for the collapses was sufficient. It is provable that the molten metal in the rubble was not aluminum and that diffuse flame fires cannot achieve temperatures sufficient to melt steel. Steel can only be melted in the controlled environment of a blast furnace or with the use of incendiaries. There is very credible witness testimony of seeing, hearing, and feeling explosions, in many areas of the towers, both before and during the collapses. This testimony can be found in the Oral Histories of the 503 NYC firefighters and emergency personnel, who were on the scene that day and survived. Their testimony was taken and transcribed in late 2001 and early 2002 by order of the NYC fire commissioner. However, afterward the mayor of NYC repeatedly refused to release these testimonies to the public. They were only released by a court order from the New York State Court of Appeals in August of 2005, after earlier court challenges had failed to gain their release. There was no testing done for explosive residue on the beams during either the NIST or FEMA investigations of the building collapses. An article by Dr. David Ray Griffin discussing and quoting these Oral Histories can be found at

It is also worth mentioning the fact that the buildings were designed to take an impact by a fully loaded Boeing 707 at 334,000 lbs. and moving at it’s cruise speed of 607 mph. While the NIST report mentions this, it claims that documentation supporting this contention could not be found. However, the late John Skilling, who was the head structural engineer on the tower design project, is quoted in 1993 as saying that a white paper was done on this design feature. The towers were actually hit with Boeing 767-200ER aircraft, which had only 10,000 gallons of fuel on board for their trips to the West Coast of the U.S. from Boston. While the 767-200ER is rated at a 395,000 lb. max takeoff weight, this is for a full fuel load of 23,980 gallons, which would be used for a longer flight as the aircraft had a 7,700 mile range4. Subtracting the weight of 14,000 gallons (at 6.825 lbs./gallon) from the max takeoff weight gives an aircraft weighing approximately 300,000 lbs. The 767-200ER had a cruise speed of 530 mph (there are various estimates by radar, and other timing methods, which put the actual speeds of the aircraft at impact at lower values). However, even using the higher 530 mph value and the equation

K = 1/2mv2

where K = kinetic energy

m = mass

v = velocity

it is found that the designed for 707 impact would have contained at least 1.4 times or 40% more kinetic energy than what the 767-200ER aircraft could have provided. The buildings obviously survived the impacts and thus the present theory we are given is that fire caused the collapses. The fact that fires have never in history caused the complete vertical collapse of a steel framed structure, let alone any built as robustly as the twin towers, has been amply documented. Serious doubt of the present government explanation has been emanating from qualified credible people for the last several years.

Editor Bill Manning wrote in Fire Engineering magazine in 2002 that: “Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the ‘official Investigation’ blessed by FEMA… is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure… Respected members of the fire protection engineering community are beginning to raise red flags, and a resonating [result] has emerged: The structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers….”. A letter was sent by a C. Thurston to Tucker Carlson of MSNBC, after he hosted Dr. Steven Jones on one of his nightly shows in November of 2005. In it he lists ten withering reasons for not believing the gravity driven collapse theory. It can be found at The NIST report wants to tell us that it was the perimeter columns that buckled and caused the collapses. The report says this was due to their deflection and bowing, caused by fire affected sagging floor trusses pulling on them, and the central core itself sagging due to plasticity and creep.6 The probable collapse sequences, as hypothesized by the NIST report, were issued at a press conference in NYC in April 2005.

That press release is available here.

It appears the press release and report want to say that the entire interior structure was sagging. It is interesting that the NIST press release and report don’t seem to concern themselves much with the fire testing of the floor deck and supporting truss assembly models, done under contract for them by Underwriters Laboratories. Full scale models of the floor deck and supporting truss assemblies were fire tested, under load for two hours, per ASTM E119. These tests did not produce a collapse and the 35 foot long trusses only sagged 3 inches at midspan, not likely enough to buckle the perimeter wall columns. In fact, NIST needed a non-evidence supported 42 inch floor truss deflection in their computer model to cause buckling of the perimeter columns. Their large heat capacity and ability to transfer heat to other areas of the building would have certainly made the core columns even less susceptible to weakening than the trusses. The lack of high temperature evidence on the core columns is a testament to this point. Curiously, the press release does not mention either the floor assembly fire testing or the low percentage of beams found to have experienced high temperatures in the microstructure testing. Both the press release and the report attempt to point towards a theory of dislodged fireproofing materials as the reason for the alleged interior steel weakening. Although they don’t say it out loud, it is a virtual certainty that NIST did floor assembly fire testing without fireproofing.9 If the trusses, in this case, had much more significant sagging or collapsed it would have proven their hypothesis. However, there is no mention of failure, so apparently the tests didn’t produce the results which would back up their theory. It is important to note that NIST has not been able to cause physical models to fail with their fire induced collapse theory.

It is instructive that the first visible signs of failure on the North Tower are when the antenna mast moves downward by ten to twelve feet before the perimeter roof line moves. This is indicative of the central core suddenly and completely failing first. If you haven’t seen this watch it frame by frame at the link below.

These frames don’t show slow creep, they show sudden failure of the central core itself. They certainly don’t show the perimeter walls failing first. If the central core failed first it would cause the trusses not to sag, but to follow them downward, applying a tremendous bending moment on the perimeter beams, which would certainly cause them to bow inwardly. Even with their high factor of safety against vertical loads, the perimeter beams would be dragged down with bending moments much more severe than the wind load induced moments they were designed to withstand. By demolishing the core, the destruction of the building could also be done with the added advantage of the demolition being mostly hidden from view. It appears that the central core failed first and that is what caused the floor trusses to move downward and pull on the perimeter beams, causing them in turn to fail. The central core needed to have a minimum loss of 40% of its total strength before collapse could begin to occur. Since the evidence for column damage, due to aircraft impact and fire, can only account for a maximum 20% loss of strength in the central core, it does not appear collapse initiation can be accounted for without controlled demolition being involved.

It would seem that any honest and objective look at; the design of the buildings, the true damage potential of the aircraft impacts, the physical evidence of the low beam temperatures, the physics of the collapses, the evidence of molten metal in the rubble, and the witness testimony, should cause one to conclude that the towers must have been destroyed via controlled demolitions. In addition to the evidence mentioned so far, there is also evidence of the presence of incendiaries, in the chemical analysis of the dust from an apartment near the towers, and slag from a monument using salvaged twin tower steel, which have both been analyzed by Dr. Jones and others.

The present U.S. government explanation, for the collapses of the buildings in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, is simply not sustainable. The evidence, which has surfaced in support of the controlled demolition hypothesis, in the last two years, is overwhelming. The obvious controlled demolition of WTC7, at 5:20 PM on Sept. 11, 2001, proves that charges were pre-positioned, as there would not have been time to rig the building that day, especially with fires in it. With this in mind, the demolition of WTC7 lends considerable weight to the notion that charges could also have been pre-positioned in the twin towers. The spectacular collapses of the twin towers, which were in reality caused by controlled demolitions, shocked us all, and caused us to demand action against the entities who we were told supported the hijackers. It is very plausible that the aircraft impacts were used as causal ruses, to allow the collapses to be blamed on outsiders, as the placing of the charges, which actually caused the spectacular collapses of the twin towers, would have required access that outsiders simply would not have. One may wonder who would want people in Afghanistan and Iraq to be blamed if they didn’t do it. A good hard look at the soon to be built U.S. oil company controlled gas pipeline in Afghanistan, and the virtual takeover of Iraq’s oilfields by U.S. oil companies, would be a start at solving that puzzle for oneself. Neither of these situations would have been possible, without the support of the American people, for the use of the U.S. military, to overthrow the previous governments of these countries. Endnotes and References:

1. Determination of the minimum factor of safety against gravity caused vertical collapse of the Twin Towers after sustaining aircraft impact and fire damage. While the actual detail drawings of the twin tower design have been withheld from the public (the recent release of blueprints was for architectural floor plan views only), the size of the central core’s largest beams are known, from magazine articles published in the Engineering News Record during the time the towers were being built. A link to these articles is provided at the beginning of this paper.

Below is a depiction, from one of those articles, of the base of the largest of the core columns. What the architectural plan views do tell us is that there were a total of sixteen of these size columns, with eight along each outside edge of the long span of the 137 foot x 87 foot central core. The remaining thirty-one columns were most probably 36” x 16” columns. Below is a sketch of the cross section of a 36” x 16” column, also from the Engineering New Record, which was located approximately half way up the tower.

It can be inferred that the bases of the 36” x 16” columns would have been built proportionally to the 54” x 22” columns, with 4” plates in lieu of 5” plates and a 5” plate in the center in lieu of the 6.25” plate on the larger beam. This would be done to increase the cross section to gain the needed resistance to the vertical compressive load.

Using the dimensioned pictorial view above, the total cross sectional area of the 54” x 22” columns is approximately 898 in.2. The total cross sectional area of a proportional 36” x 16” column, built with 4” plates, would be approximately 467 in.2. With sixteen columns at 898 in.2 and thirty-one columns at 467 in.2 the total cross sectional area of the base of the central core, to resist compressive loading and vertical collapse, would be 28,845 in.2.

The AISC manual,7 used for the design of steel framed structures in this country for the last eightyfive years, has specified, since long before the erection of the twin towers, that the allowable compressive stresses on vertical columns not exceed 0.60Fy, and thus have a factor of safety of 1.67. This means the actual stress cannot exceed 60% of the compressive yield strength of the material used for the column. The central core columns at the base were made from ASTM A36 steel which has a compressive yield strength of 36,000 psi. 60% of this strength gives an allowable stress of 21,600 psi. Coupling this allowable stress with the total cross sectional area of the forty-seven core columns shows that, as a group, they could support a vertical load of 311,526 tons. This is approximately 60% 8 of the reported 500,000 ton gravity load of each of the twin towers. The remaining 200,000 tons of gravity load would need to be supported by the perimeter columns.

On the far right of the pictorial below, is a dimensioned sketch of the cross section of the lowest 60 per side perimeter columns, which were actually located at five floors above the ground level on the buildings. These columns transitioned three into one near the fifth floor level and thus there were 20 larger perimeter columns per side, which would have actually went down to the base. Since no cross section sketches of the 20 per side perimeter columns exist in the public domain, of which I am aware, this sketch can serve as the cross sectional reference, to find a minimum total cross section of the perimeter columns at the base. The actual total cross sectional area of the perimeter columns, at the base, twelve stories down, would only be larger, so the analysis here can be considered conservative. The center view is of the cross sectional dimensions further up on the towers and the view on the left is of fireproofing on the steel with aluminum cladding over the fireproofing. Judging from the sketch on the right, the cross sectional area of one of the 60 per side columns at its base was approximately 88 in.2. There were 240 perimeter columns of this size in each tower so the total cross sectional area of the perimeter columns at their base would have been no less than 21,120 in.2. The compressive stress induced by 200,000 tons of gravity load on this area provides an actual stress of 18,939 psi. These perimeter columns were made from steels ranging in yield strength up to 100,000 psi. The lowest of the 60 per side columns would have had the highest strength, as that is where the maximum overturning moment and shear stress, from wind and seismic loads, would have existed. When considering gravity loads only, the perimeter columns would have provided a minimum factor of safety of approximately 5.00 against vertical collapse since Factor of safety = yield strength/actual stress

Although only the base loads and their stresses are considered here, it can be inferred that this would be true for all of the beams, over the full height of the towers, as they would be designed to maintain the same factor of safety throughout. The core columns would have had a factor of safety of 1.67 and the perimeter columns a factor of safety of 5.00, against vertical collapse, throughout the full height of the building, when considering gravity loads only.

The vertical load capacity of the beams, at their base, due to compressive loads only, was

Central core 300,000 tons x 1.67 = 500,000 tons

Perimeter 200,000 tons x 5.00 = 1,000,000 tons

Using the base as a reference, the actual load vs. the beam capacity, during a low wind day like Sept. 11, 2001, would have been

Actual Load/Beam Capacity = 500,000/1,500,000 = 33%

If 80% of the base central core columns had their strength unaffected by damage and/or fire they would have provided a remaining factor of safety and load capacity of 0.80 x 1.67 = 1.34 for a 300,000 ton load = 402,000 ton remaining capacity If 80% of the base perimeter columns had their strength unaffected by damage and/or fire they would have provided a remaining factor of safety and load capacity of 0.80 x 5.00 = 4.00 for a 200,000 ton load = 800,000 ton remaining capacity The remaining unaffected 80% of the tower structure would still have been capable of supporting 1,202,000 tons or 2.4 times the actual 500,000 ton load.

Standard design practice dictates that the beams in the upper part of the building would have had the same factor of safety as the beams at the base of the towers. So knowing the design of the columns at their base, the total gravity load of the buildings, and the percentage of damaged beams, we have deduced what the remaining factor of safety was for the beams at the aircraft impact and fire sites. The remaining factor of safety against vertical collapse in the aircraft impact and fire affected areas would have been at least

1.34 for the central core columns

4.00 for the perimeter columns

This is with the assumption that 20% of the central core columns were lost, which is improbable.

Buckling can occur at stresses below the compressive yield strength of a material. The critical buckling stress is dependent on the slenderness ratio of a column and whether its ends are fixed or free. The slenderness ratio is related to the stiffness of the cross section of the column and the unsupported length between the column’s connections to supports. The end condition for the best buckling resistance is fixed at both ends, which the columns were in the aircraft impact and fire affected areas. The design of the tower columns would have precluded buckling as an earlier mode of failure, due to the short vertical length of the columns between horizontal supports and the stiffness of the cross section of the beam. The design would have followed AISC guidelines, which would have required that the critical buckling stress not be less than the compressive yield strength.7

2. NIST NCSTAR 1-1A, WTC Investigation, Chapter 2, page 34, paragraph 2.3.2.

3. “Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Completely Collapse” by Physics Professor Steven Jones rBuildingsC ompletelyCollapse.pdf.

4. Boeing Technical characteristics for the 767 family of aircraft. See tables for the 767-200ER.

5. Executive Summary of the Final Report of the National Construction Safety Team on the Collapses of the World Trade Center Towers, extracted from NIST NCSTAR 1.

6. Final Reports of the Federal Building and Fire Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster

7. Manual of Steel Construction, 8th edition, 1980 printed by the American Institute of Steel Construction Inc.

8. Examples of microstructure of steel which has been heated and cooled. At bottom of page.

9. NIST photos of fire experiment setups. See uninsulated truss setup in next to last picture at bottom.

10. Photo of the aircraft impact damage to the exterior of the North Tower As the aircraft was at an angle, the wings would have had to go through the perimeter beams plus 60 feet of floor decking of multiple floors edge on. The tail would have also had this situation due to its height.

11. Graphic of central core column spacing vs. fuselage and central engine

87 feet

137 feet

North Tower aircraft

approximate orientation to the central core

Perimeter Beams

Central Core

208 feet

Wings, engine fan assemblies, and the tail would have been shredded after going through perimeter beams and multiple floors edge on, leaving only parts of the fuselage, landing gear, and 4 foot diameter center portions of engines, with greatly diminished energies, having any chance of causing damage to the Central Core 4 foot dia. central portion of engine South Tower aircraft approximate orientation to the central core with fuselage and central portion of engine shown in relative sizes

Relative size of 16.5 ft. dia. fuselage



Analysis of Mass and Potential Energy in the World Trade Center Twin Towers

Gregory H. Urich

B.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering


The mass of one of the Twin Towers is calculated based on available data and estimated live loads. The potential energy for one of the Twin Towers is calculated based on the mass of the tower distributed over the various floors. The mass for each floor is established based on the average mass per floor adjusted for differences in mass due to stronger steel structures lower in the tower. All floors including mechanical floors and the basement floors are treated equally with regard to superimposed dead-loads.


Many references can be found with different values for the mass of and the amount of potential energy stored in the WTC twin towers. A number of references are shown in Table 1 below. None of these references provide any data or calculation method on which the mass and potential energy are based. The purpose of this paper is to establish a substantiated value for the mass and potential energy of one tower.

Table 1: Different values for mass and potential energy given by references

Source Mass Potential Energy

Ashley 7 500,000 tons

Bazant and Zhou 6 = 480,000 tons (metric)*

Hamburger, et al. (FEMA) 4 4 E+11 J

Tyson 2 500,000 tons

Wikipedia 5 500,000 tons

* calculated based on mass given for upper part of North Tower = 58 E+6 kg


In the design documentation for WTC1 and WTC2 the structural loads are divided into deadloads, super-imposed dead-loads, and live-loads. These divisions are also used here. Dead-loads


The mass of the foundation is provides no load on structural components other than itself and contributes a negligible amount to potential energy. The mass of the foundation is nonetheless approximated based on the film footage from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.1 Dimensions are established by comparison to objects of known size, i.e. humans. The foundation for the core columns was comprised of steel reinforced concrete footers and steel grillages built up out of I-beams. One steel grillage is made up of 17 I-beams with approximate dimensions 0.75m x 0.2m x 2m with a plate thickness around 0.03m. Each grillage also had a base plate for the core column with approximate dimensions 1m x 1m x 0.3m. It is assumed that there is one grillage per core column. Using a density of 7.784 metric tons per cubic meter for the density of A35 steel, the total mass for the grillages is approximately 484 metric tons. Each grillage was placed on a concrete footer with approximate dimensions 2.5m x 2.5m x 2m. Using a density of 2.4 metric tons per cubic meter, the total mass for the concrete footers is approximately 1410 metric tons. The foundation for the external columns was comprised of a continuous, steel reinforced, concrete footer and base plates ranging from 7 to 9 square feet (approx. 0.74 m2). The reference for this value is unsure but it is most likely from FEMA or NIST. The thickness of the base plate is unknown but a thickness of 3 cm is assumed. Using a total number of 80 exterior columns (transition to 238 columns at 7th floor), the total mass of the base plates is approximately 14 metric tons. The concrete footer for the external columns had a perimeter of 252 meters. The other dimensions of the footer are unknown but are approximated using 2 meters for depth and 2 meters for width. The total mass for the concrete footer is thus 2420 metric tons.

Table 2: Mass of foundation

Component Mass (short tons)

Mass (metric tons)

Core steel grillage w/ base plate 534 484

Core concrete footer 1555 1410

External column steel base plates 15 14

External column concrete footer 2670 2420

Total mass foundation 4774 4328

Structural steel

NIST’s value for the mass of steel used in one tower is 100,000 short tons.3 A simplified approximation based on averaging component dimensions provided by NIST demonstrated that this value is reasonable.

The actual mass of the upper floors is less than the lower floors due to heavier supporting structures lower in the building. FEMA describes a variation in thickness of exterior column plates from 4 inches at the base to ¼ inch in the upper stories.4 This indicates a ratio of 16 to 1 for structural steel from bottom to top. The mass of the steel can be scaled linearly as a function of floor number from the bottom to the top as follows: msteel (f) = mavg • (-30f + 3710)/1955

f is the floor number, mavg is the average mass of steel per floor (= 99,451 tons/116 floors; foundation components are subtracted)

Mass above grade:

Mass below grade: . mavg • (-30f + 3710)/1955 = 10,035 short tons 6 . mavg • (-30f + 3710)/1955 = 89,416 short tons


f = 7

f = 1

Table 3: Mass of structural steel per floor in short tons (Note: floor 116 has been transposed
to 110 to correspond to the normal floor numbering. Also, 549 tons has been used for floor 0,
i.e. steel in the foundation.)
floor mass floor mass floor mass floor mass floor mass floor mass
110 101 90 364 70 627 50 890 30 1153 10 1416
109 114 89 377 69 640 49 903 29 1167 9 1430
108 127 88 390 68 653 48 917 28 1180 8 1443
107 140 87 403 67 667 47 930 27 1193 7 1456
106 153 86 417 66 680 46 943 26 1206 6 1469
105 167 85 430 65 693 45 956 25 1219 5 1482
104 180 84 443 64 706 44 969 24 1232 4 1495
103 193 83 456 63 719 43 982 23 1245 3 1509
102 206 82 469 62 732 42 995 22 1259 2 1522
101 219 81 482 61 746 41 1009 21 1272 1 1535
100 232 80 496 60 759 40 1022 20 1285 0 1548
99 246 79 509 59 772 39 1035 19 1298 -1 1561
98 259 78 522 58 785 38 1048 18 1311 -2 1574
97 272 77 535 57 798 37 1061 17 1324 -3 1587
96 285 76 548 56 811 36 1074 16 1338 -4 1601
95 298 75 561 55 824 35 1088 15 1351 -5 1614
94 311 74 574 54 838 34 1101 14 1364 -6 549
93 325 73 588 53 851 33 1114 13 1377
92 338 72 601 52 864 32 1127 12 1390
91 351 71 614 51 877 31 1140 11 1403

Concrete floor slabs above grade (Floors 1-110)

Floor slabs outside of the core were constructed primarily of light concrete. The mass of light concrete can be calculated using the floor area outside of the core (approx. 28,225 sq ft), the floor thickness (4 in. 8), and the density of light concrete (109.3 lb/ft3). 28,255 sq ft/floor x 0.33 ft x 109.3 lb/ft3 x 110 floors x 1 ton/2000 lbs = 56,600 short tons Floor slabs inside the core were constructed primarily of normal concrete. The mass of normal concrete used in these floors can be calculated using the floor area (11,745 sq ft), the floor thickness (5 in. 8), and the density of normal concrete (150 lb/ft3). 11,745 sq ft/floor x 0.4167 ft x 150 lb/ft3 x 110 floors x 1 ton/2000 lbs = 29,400 short tons Concrete floor slabs below grade (Floors B1-B6)

Floor slabs below grade were constructed primarily of normal concrete. The mass of normal concrete used in these floors can be calculated using the floor area (40,000 sq ft), the floor thickness (8 in. 8), and the density of normal concrete (150 lb/ft3). 40,000 sq ft/floor x 0.6666 ft x 150 lb/ft3 x 6 floors x 1 ton/2000 lbs = 8,700 short tons

Superimposed Dead-loads

Superimposed dead-loads are considered permanent non-varying loads from non-structural components such as wiring, plumbing, heating and cooling aggregates, elevators, etc. Unfortunately the dead loads are very difficult to approximate due to the lack of information about what elements comprised them. Superimposed dead-loads in the WTC towers are considerably higher in the so called mechanical floors. This is however ignored for simplicity and an average superimposed dead-load is approximated and distributed throughout all floors. The design documents give a superimposed dead-load of 8 psf for most floors outside of the core. 8 This value is most likely larger than the actual loads but is used for all floors to take into account the much larger actual loads of the mechanical floors.

Mass of superimposed dead-loads above grade:

40,000 sq ft/floor x 8 lb/ft2 x 110 floors x 1 ton/2000 lbs = 17,600 short tons

Mass of superimposed dead-loads below grade:

40,000 sq ft/floor x 8 lb/ft2 x 6 floors x 1 ton/2000 lbs = 960 short tons


Live-loads are approximated using 1/4 (as used by NIST) the maximum design loads. Above grade, the most predominate design load outside of the core was 100 lbs/sq ft.8 25 lbs/sq ft x 28,255 sq ft/floor x 110 floors x 1 ton/2000 lbs = 38,850 short tons Above grade, the most predominate design load inside the core was 50 lbs/sq ft. 8 12.5 lbs/sq ft x 11,745 sq ft/ floor x 110 floors x 1 ton/2000 lbs = 8,075 short tons Below grade, the most predominate design load inside the core was 500 lbs/sq ft. 8 125 lbs/sq ft x 40,000 sq ft/ floor x 6 floors x 1 ton/2000 lbs = 15,000 short tons

Total Mass

The total mass is 279,000 short tons or 254,000 metric tons.
Table 4: Mass above grade
Component Mass (short tons) Mass (metric tons)
Concrete floor inside core area 29 400 26 671
Concrete floor outside core area 56 600 51 347
Structural steel 89 416 81 117
Live-load inside core 8 075 7 326
Live-load outside core 38 850 35 244
Superimposed dead-load 17 600 15 966
Total mass above grade 239 941 217 671
Table 5: Mass below grade
Component Mass (short tons) Mass (metric tons)
Concrete foundation 4 221 3 829
Concrete floor 8 700 7 893
Structural steel 10 035 9 104
Live-load 15 000 13 608
Superimposed dead-load 960 871
Total mass below grade 38 916 35 304
Potential Energy
The potential energy (u) due to gravity (close to earth) of any object can be calculated as:
u = mgh
m = mass, g = acceleration due to gravity, h = height
A reasonable approximation for potential energy relative to ground level (above grade) can be made using:

mnon.steel is the average mass (converted to metric) of one floor excluding structural steel, msteel (f) is the value for the mass of steel for a particular floor from Table 3 (converted to metric), g = acceleration due to gravity, f is the floor number, 414,53 is the height of the tower above grade in meters

The sum is from 1 to 110 to include all floors above ground and the roof and their underlying support structure. Potential energy per floor is show in Table 6 below. The total potential energy is 3.98 x 1011 J.

Table 6: Potential energy per floor (above grade)
floor PE(MJ) floor PE(MJ) floor PE(MJ) floor PE(MJ) floor PE(MJ) floor PE(MJ)
110 5415 90 5223 70 4680 50 3783 30 2534 10 933
109 5413 89 5205 69 4643 49 3729 29 2463 9 844
108 5411 88 5185 68 4606 48 3674 28 2390 8 753
107 5408 87 5164 67 4568 47 3618 27 2317 7 662
106 5405 86 5143 66 4529 46 3562 26 2242 6 570
105 5400 85 5121 65 4489 45 3504 25 2167 5 477
104 5394 84 5097 64 4448 44 3446 24 2091 4 384
103 5388 83 5073 63 4406 43 3386 23 2014 3 289
102 5380 82 5048 62 4363 42 3326 22 1936 2 194
101 5372 81 5022 61 4320 41 3265 21 1857 1 97
100 5363 80 4996 60 4276 40 3203 20 1778
99 5353 79 4968 59 4230 39 3140 19 1697
98 5342 78 4939 58 4184 38 3076 18 1616
97 5330 77 4910 57 4137 37 3012 17 1534
96 5318 76 4880 56 4089 36 2946 16 1450
95 5304 75 4849 55 4040 35 2880 15 1366
94 5290 74 4817 54 3991 34 2812 14 1281
93 5275 73 4784 53 3940 33 2744 13 1196
92 5258 72 4750 52 3889 32 2675 12 1109
91 5241 71 4715 51 3836 31 2605 11 1021
. (mnon-steel + msteel (f) ) • 9.8m/s2 • (414,53m • f/110) = 398,000 MJ
f = 1


One difficulty in approximating the potential energy is that the dimensions for core columns
are unknown. Since the structural components are stronger (i.e. heavier) lower in the building,
it is necessary to know how these components varied over the height of the building. Some
dimensions for core box columns given by NIST are not correct. For example, the dimensions
“as large as 12 in. by 52 in., comprised of welded plates up to 7 inches thick” must be
incorrect. It can be seen from the photographic evidence that the thickest plates are used for
the larger dimension of the rectangular box columns. Thus, the width dimension would need
to at least 14 inches to accommodate the 7 inch thick plates.
Accuracy of the calculation

Due to certain limitations of available information and also the method of calculation, the
values for mass and potential energy are not perfectly accurate. Factors which may affect the
accuracy are listed in the below along with estimated effects caused by reasonable deviation.
Factor Deviation Effect on mass
and PE

A significant part of the floor
space inside the core was used
for elevator shafts and such so
the actual floor space could be
- 10% - 1%

Structural steel was mostly
below the level of the floor
rather than at floor level as
used in the calculation.
<< 1% of the
(PE only)

Mass of structural steel per floor
could vary more or less than
93.75% with height.
± 5% (PE only) < 1%
Value given for steel by NIST
could be inaccurate.
± 10% ± 3%

Estimated live-load and
superimposed dead-loads could
be inaccurate.
± 10% ± 3%
Floors 1-6 were special purpose
floors so dead-loads, live-load
and superimposed dead-loads
are probably inaccurate.
± 10% < 1%


The calculated mass of one tower is 253,000 metric tons. The total potential energy above grade is 3.98 x 1011 J. This indicates that the value for mass given by Ashley, Bazant and Zhou, and Wikipedia are nearly 80% more than the actual mass of one tower. The value for potential energy given by FEMA is probably correct. It is interesting to note that the mass of the upper part of the North Tower (i.e. above floor 96) given by Bazant and Zhou is nearly three times higher than if calculated by this method. References

1. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, “Building the World Trade Center.” (1983)

2. Tyson, P., “Towers of Innovation.” PBS/NOVA

3. Gayle, F.W., et al., “NIST NCSTAR 1-3 Mechanical and Metallurgical Analysis of Structural Steel.” NIST Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster

4. Hamburger, R., et al., (May 2002) “World Trade Center Building Performance Study, Chapter 2: WTC1 and WTC2.” FEMA 403 http:/

5. Wikipedia, “World Trade Center.” Wikipedia

6. Bazant, Z.P., Zhou, Y., (in press 9/13/01, Expanded 9/22/01, Appendices 9/28/01) “Why Did the World Trade Center Collapse?—Simple Analysis.” Journal of Engineering Mechanics ASCE

7. Ashley, S., (October 09, 2001) “When the Twin Towers Fell.” Scientific American

8. Lew, H.S., Bukowski, R.W., Carino, N.J., “NIST NCSTAR 1-1 Design, Construction, and Maintenance of Structural and Life Safety Systems.” NIST Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster


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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Anarchy will stop wars

The following is an excerpt from Howard Zinn’s new book, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, published earlier this year by City Lights. For Howard’s upcoming speaking schedule, see the City Lights Web site:

Fifty years after the executions of Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti, Governor Dukakis of Massachusetts set up a panel to judge the fairness of the trial, and the conclusion was that the two men had not received a fair trial. This aroused a minor storm in Boston.

One letter, signed John M. Cabot, U.S. Ambassador Retired, declared his “great indignation” and pointed out that Governor Fuller’s affirmation of the death sentence was made after a special review by “three of Massachusetts’ most distinguished and respected citizens—President Lowell of Harvard, President Stratton of MIT and retired Judge Grant.”

Those three “distinguished and respected citizens” were viewed differently by Heywood Broun, who wrote in his column for the New York World immediately after the Governor’s panel made its report. He wrote:

It is not every prisoner who has a President of Harvard University throw on the switch for him….If this is a lynching, at least the fish peddler and his friend the factory hand may take unction to their souls that they will die at the hands of men in dinner jackets or academic gowns.

Heywood Broun, one of the most distinguished journalists of the twentieth century, did not last long as a columnist for the New York World.

On that 50th year after the execution, the New York Times reported that: “Plans by Mayor Beame to proclaim next Tuesday ‘Sacco and Vanzetti Day’ have been canceled in an effort to avoid controversy, a City Hall spokesman said yesterday.”

There must be good reason why a case 50-years-old, now over 75-years-old, arouses such emotion. I suggest that it is because to talk about Sacco and Vanzetti inevitably brings up matters that trouble us today: our system of justice, the relationship between war fever and civil liberties, and most troubling of all, the ideas of anarchism: the obliteration of national boundaries and therefore of war, the elimination of poverty, and the creation of a full democracy.

The case of Sacco and Vanzetti revealed, in its starkest terms, that the noble words inscribed above our courthouses, “Equal Justice Before the Law,” have always been a lie. Those two men, the fish peddler and the shoemaker, could not get justice in the American system, because justice is not meted out equally to the poor and the rich, the native born and the foreign born, the orthodox and the radical, the white and the person of color. And while injustice may play itself out today more subtly and in more intricate ways than it did in the crude circumstances of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, its essence remains.

In their case, the unfairness was flagrant. They were being tried for robbery and murder, but in the minds, and in the behavior of the prosecuting attorney, the judge, and the jury, the important thing about them was that they were, as Upton Sinclair put it in his remarkable novel Boston, “wops,” foreigners, poor workingmen, radicals.

Here is a sample of the police interrogation:

Police: Are you a citizen?

Sacco: No.

Police: Are you a Communist?

Sacco: No.

Police: Anarchist?

Sacco: No.

Police: Do you believe in this government of ours?

Sacco: Yes; some things I like different.

What did these questions have to do with the robbery of a shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts, and the shooting of a paymaster and a guard?

Sacco was lying, of course. No, I’m not a Communist. No, I’m not an anarchist. Why would he lie to the police? Why would a Jew lie to the Gestapo? Why would a black in South Africa lie to his interrogators? Why would a dissident in Soviet Russia lie to the secret police? Because they all know there is no justice for them.

Has there ever been justice in the American system for the poor, the person of color, the radical? When the eight anarchists of Chicago were sentenced to death after the Haymarket riot (a police riot, that is) of 1886, it was not because there was any proof of a connection between them and the bomb thrown in the midst of the police; there was not a shred of evidence. It was because they were leaders of the anarchist movement in Chicago.

When Eugene Debs and a thousand others were sent to prison during World War I, under the Espionage Act, was it because they were guilty of espionage? Hardly. They were socialists who spoke out against the war. In affirming the ten-year sentence of Debs, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes made it clear why Debs must go to prison. He quoted from Debs’ speech: “The master class has always declared the wars, the subject class has always fought the battles.”

Holmes, much admired as one of our great liberal jurists, made clear the limits of liberalism, its boundaries set by a vindictive nationalism. After all the appeals of Sacco and Vanzetti had been exhausted, the case was put before Holmes, sitting on the Supreme Court. He refused to review the case, thus letting the verdict stand.

In our time, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were sent to the electric chair. Was it because they were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union? Or was it because they were communists, as the prosecutor made clear, with the approval of the judge? Was it also because the country was in the midst of anti-communist hysteria, communists had just taken power in China, there was a war in Korea, and the weight of all that could be borne by two American communists?

Why was George Jackson, in California, sentenced to ten years in prison for a $70 robbery, and then shot to death by guards? Was it because he was poor, black, and radical?

Can a Muslim today, in the atmosphere of the “war on terror” be given equal justice before the law? Why was my upstairs neighbor, a dark-skinned Brazilian who might look like a Middle East Muslim, pulled out of his car by police, though he had violated no regulation, and questioned and humiliated?

Why are the two million people in American jails and prisons, and six million people under parole, probation, or surveillance, disproportionately people of color, disproportionately poor? A study showed that 70% of the people in New York state prisons came from seven neighborhoods in New York City—neighborhoods of poverty and desperation.

Class injustice cuts across every decade, every century of our history. In the midst of the Sacco Vanzetti case, a wealthy man in the town of Milton, south of Boston, shot and killed a man who was gathering firewood on his property. He spent eight days in jail, then was let out on bail, and was not prosecuted. The district attorney called it “justifiable homicide.” One law for the rich, one law for the poor—a persistent characteristic of our system of justice.

But being poor was not the chief crime of Sacco and Vanzetti. They were Italians, immigrants, anarchists. It was less than two years from the end of the First World War. They had protested against the war. They had refused to be drafted. They saw hysteria mount against radicals and foreigners, observed the raids carried out by Attorney General Palmer’s agents in the Department of Justice, who broke into homes in the middle of the night without warrants, held people incommunicado, and beat them with clubs and blackjacks.

In Boston, 500 were arrested, chained together, and marched through the streets. Luigi Galleani, editor of the anarchist paper Cronaca Sovversiva, to which Sacco and Vanzetti subscribed, was picked up in Boston and quickly deported.

Something even more frightening had happened. A fellow anarchist of Sacco and Vanzetti, a typesetter named Andrea Salsedo, who lived in New York, was kidnapped by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (I use the word “kidnapped” to describe an illegal seizure of a person), and held in FBI offices on the 14th floor of the Park Row Building. He was not allowed to call his family, friends, or a lawyer, and was questioned and beaten, according to a fellow prisoner. During the eighth week of his imprisonment, on May 3, 1920, the body of Salsedo, smashed to a pulp, was found on the pavement near the Park Row Building, and the FBI announced that he had committed suicide by jumping from the 14th floor window of the room in which they had kept him. This was just two days before Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested.

We know today, as a result of Congressional reports in 1975, of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program in which FBI agents broke into people’s homes and offices, carried out illegal wiretaps, were involved in acts of violence to the point of murder, and collaborated with the Chicago police in the killing of two Black Panther leaders in 1969. The FBI and the CIA have violated the law again and again. There is no punishment for them.

There has been little reason to have faith that the civil liberties of people in this country would be protected in the atmosphere of hysteria that followed 9/11 and continues to this day. At home there have been immigrant round-ups, indefinite detentions, deportations, and unauthorized domestic spying. Abroad there have extra-judicial killings, torture, bombings, war, and military occupations.

Likewise, the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti began immediately after Memorial Day, a year and a half after the orgy of death and patriotism that was World War I, when the newspapers still vibrating with the roll of drums and the jingoist rhetoric.

Twelve days into the trial, the press reported that the bodies of three soldiers had been transferred from the battlefields of France to the city of Brockton, and that the whole town had turned out for a patriotic ceremony. All of this was in newspapers that members of the jury could read.

Sacco was cross-examined by prosecutor Katzmann:

Question: Did you love this country in the last week of May, 1917?

Sacco: That is pretty hard for me to say in one word, Mr. Katzmann.

Question: There are two words you can use, Mr. Sacco, yes or no. What one is it?

Sacco: Yes

Question: And in order to show your love for this United States of America when she was about to call upon you to become a soldier you ran away to Mexico?

At the beginning of the trial, Judge Thayer (who, speaking to a golf acquaintance, had referred to the defendants during the trial as “those anarchist bastards”) said to the jury: “Gentlemen, I call upon you to render this service here that you have been summoned to perform with the same spirit of patriotism, courage, and devotion to duty as was exhibited by our soldier boys across the seas.”

The emotions evoked by a bomb that exploded at Attorney General Palmer’s home during a time of war—like emotions set loose by the violence of 9/11—created an anxious atmosphere in which civil liberties were compromised.

Sacco and Vanzetti understood that whatever legal arguments their lawyers could come up with would not prevail against the reality of class injustice. Sacco told the court, on sentencing: “I know the sentence will be between two classes, the oppressed class and the rich class…That is why I am here today on this bench, for having been of the oppressed class.”

That viewpoint seems dogmatic, simplistic. Not all court decisions are explained by it. But, lacking a theory that fits all cases, Sacco’s simple, strong view is surely a better guide to understanding the legal system than one which assumes a contest among equals based on an objective search for truth.

Vanzetti knew that legal arguments would not save them. Unless a million Americans were organized, he and his friend Sacco would die. Not words, but struggle. Not appeals, but demands. Not petitions to the governor, but take-overs of the factories. Not lubricating the machinery of a supposedly fair system to make it work better, but a general strike to bring the machinery to a halt.

That never happened. Thousands demonstrated, marched, protested, not just in New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, but in London, Paris, Buenos Aires, South Africa. It wasn’t enough. On the night of their execution, thousands demonstrated in Charlestown, but were kept away from the prison by a huge assembly of police. Protesters were arrested. Machine-guns were on the rooftops and great searchlights swept the scene.

A great crowd assembled in Union Square on August 23,1927. A few minutes after midnight, prison lights dimmed as the two men were electrocuted. The New York World described the scene: “The crowd responded with a giant sob. Women fainted in fifteen or twenty places. Others, too overcome, dropped to the curb and buried their heads in their hands. Men leaned on one anothers’ shoulders and wept.”

Their ultimate crime was their anarchism, an idea which today still startles us like a bolt of lightning because of its essential truth: we are all one, national boundaries and national hatreds must disappear, war is intolerable, the fruits of the earth must be shared, and only through organized struggle against authority can such a world come about.

What comes to us today from the case of Sacco and Vanzetti is not just tragedy, but inspiration. Their English was not perfect, but when they spoke it was a kind of poetry. Vanzetti said of his friend Sacco:

Sacco is a heart, a faith, a character, a man; a man lover of nature and mankind. A man who gave all, who sacrifice all to the cause of liberty and to his love for mankind: money, rest, mundane ambition, his own wife, his children, himself and his own life…. Oh yes, I may be more witful, as some have put it, I am a better babbler than he is, but many, many times, in hearing his heartful voice ring a faith sublime, in considering his supreme sacrifice, remembering his heroism I felt small, small at the presence of his greatness, and found myself compelled to fight back from my eyes the tears, quench my heart throbbing to my throat to not weep before him—this man called chief and assassin and doomed.

Worst of all, they were anarchists, meaning they had some crazy notion of a full democracy in which neither foreignness nor poverty would exist, and thought that without these provocations, war among nations would end for all time. But for this to happen the rich would have to be fought and their riches confiscated. That anarchist idea is a crime much worse than robbing a payroll, and so to this day the story of Sacco and Vanzetti cannot be recalled without great anxiety.

Sacco wrote to his son Dante: “So son, instead of crying, be strong, so as to be able to comfort your mother…take her for a long walk in the quiet country, gathering wild flowers here and there, resting under the shade of trees…But remember always, Dante, in this play of happiness, don’t you use all for yourself only…help the persecuted and the victim because they are your better friends…. In this struggle of life you will find more love and you will be loved.”

Yes, it was their anarchism, their love for humanity, which doomed them. When Vanzetti was arrested, he had a leaflet in his pocket advertising a meeting to take place in five days. It is a leaflet that could be distributed today, all over the world, as appropriate now as it was the day of their arrest. It read:

You have fought all the wars. You have worked for all the capitalists. You have wandered over all the countries. Have you harvested the fruits of your labors, the price of your victories? Does the past comfort you? Does the present smile on you? Does the future promise you anything? Have you found a piece of land where you can live like a human being and die like a human being? On these questions, on this argument, and on this theme, the struggle for existence, Bartolomeo Vanzetti will speak.

That meeting did not take place. But their spirit still exists today with people who believe and love and struggle all over the world.

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