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Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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The Gadfly Bytes -- April 25, 2006

The 9/11 Conspiracy: A Skeptic’s View

Ernest Partridge

Note:  This essay provoked more than five hundred responses.
The best of these, with my replies, follow this essay.
For still more,
follow this link.



No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish...

David Hume, On Miracles

This essay is certain to make many readers very angry with me.  But ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Last month I was a guest on a progressive radio talk show. About half-way through the hour-long program, the conversation was going well, until I expressed some doubts about the “controlled demolition” hypotheses of the collapse of the World Trade Center. That comment sealed the fate of the remainder of the hour, as it prompted an unvarying succession of angry rebuttals and a deluge of alleged “facts” supporting the view that the WTC towers were brought down by pre-set demolition charges, and that the Pentagon was not struck by a Boeing 757.  And so I felt obliged to take a closer look at the theories and evidence regarding the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

After many hours watching videos this weekend of long presentations by David Ray Griffin, Steven Jones and James Fetzer, several other videos both affirming and rejecting "the official version" (OV), and reading numerous articles, it appears to me that the OV of the destruction of the World Trade Center is not credible. Too many anomalies are not explained.  A closer look at the conspiracy theories (CTs) indicates that these too can not be true. Too many improbable assumptions. Thus one must conclude that the 9/11 attack on the WTC never took place.

No wait, that’s absurd. Of course it took place!  So what we are left with is an abundance of contrary claims, unconfirmable “evidence” leading to utter confusion and no firm conclusions -- none, that is, regarding the World Trade Center attack. The Pentagon attack, however, should present little doubt: American Airlines Flight 77 struck the building.

The Evidence Problem:

All accounts of the attacks, whether the official version or any of the numerous conspiracy theories, rest upon weak evidence – “weak,” that is, to all those who did not examine the evidence at the scene, or did not have access to evidence with a secure “chain of custody.” For all others,  including myself and presumably all who read this, the evidence is 2nd, 3rd and Nth-hand hearsay. The best evidence available to us, when relevant, are photographic and video images, and even these are subject to various interpretations.

Until recently, the public could rely on published evidence from government scientists and government-supported scientific research, as well as reputable media. But no more. We now know  that the Bush Administration alters or withholds scientific reports to conform to policy, dogma and pre-conceptions.  The Bushites also lie outright in defense of their policies. As for the media, even that most reliable and respected "newspaper of record," The New York Times, has become a font of misinformation, including the Clinton Whitewater non-scandal, false and misleading reports of the Florida 2000 vote count, and Judith Miller’s notorious reports of Saddam’s alleged WMDs.

Even so, the critical reader should be capable of identifying and dismissing bizarre assertions, such as Morgan Reynold’s claim that no aircraft struck the twin towers on 9/11 – this in spite of thousands of eye-witnesses and a vast number of photo and video images.

The same critical reader can identify and set aside pronouncements that are devoid of supporting evidence, such as this narrative by James Fetzer of the fate of American Airlines Flight 77 which, if it didn’t hit the Pentagon, as Fetzer contends, must be somehow accounted for:

Flight 77 went off the radar screen in the vicinity of the Kentucky/Ohio border. This whole dotted path [on a map displayed by Fetzer] is a hypothetical or an imaginary path that the plane may have taken, but it was not recorded on radar. And my belief is in fact the plane actually went down in the Kentucky Ohio vicinity... Then a plane, probably a n A-13 Sky Warrior was substituted here very close to Washington DC

Fetzer gives us no citation of the alleged disappearance from the radar screen. (I have heard nothing about this "radar disappearance."  Have you?)  Then it gets much worse: “hypothetical or imaginary path,” “may have taken,” “my belief.” Not a shred of evidence is offered in support of this fantasy.

The World Trade Center

Much of the “evidence” presented by the WTC conspiracy theorists is demonstrably false, fallacious or irrelevant. For example:

  • “The temperatures were not hot enough to melt steel.” True but irrelevant. This is a persistent criticism by the CT. However, the OV does not claim that the steel melted at the impact points (melting temperature, 2700°F), only that it was weakened. The temperature sufficient to weaken steel by fifty-percent (1170°F) was well within the range of the burning jet fuel and office supplies.

  • “The debris was quickly collected without inspection and shipped off to Asia for recycling.” False. It was relocated to a collection site at Staten Island, where it was examined by forensic engineers, and where personal effects were identified. (Here,  here, and here are three of the                          16,700 Google hits from a search for  “World Trade Center” and “Staten Island” and “Debris”)

  • “No steel frame building has ever collapsed because of a fire.” Another “fact” repeatedly asserted by CT-s. Irrelevant, even if true. The WTC towers were brought down by a combination of fire and structural damage caused by the impact from the planes.   (The collapse of WTC Building #7 was not caused by either fire or impact from planes -- a problem for the CV which we will discuss later).

Now look very carefully at these images of the collapse of the WTC towers.  First we have several videos from 911research.wtc7.net, (coincidentally, a website that emphatically does not buy the "official version").  Next, a video from a German language source.  (Note the onset of the  collapse at 4:37 and 4:47).  Finally, from encyclopedia.com (with an OV debunking of the CTs, note the images at 2:20 and 3:05).  In all these images, you will see that the collapse begins at the points of impact. Below the points of impact, the towers remain in place as the disintegration proceeds from the top down.

Next look at these video images of controlled demolitions (there are fifteen of them).   In all these cases, the collapse begins at the base, where the charges were set.

Assume now what your eyes plainly tell you: that (a) the collapse of each tower begins at the point of impact, and (b) that the collapse proceeds from that point downward. Next, try to weave these assumptions into the standard CT hypothesis that the towers were brought down by pre-located explosive charges. What results is this highly improbable scenario:

Charges had to be set beforehand at the points of impact, the 94th to the 98th floors of the north tower, and the 78th to the 84th floors of the south tower. Both aircraft, in stunning feats of piloting skill, succeeded in striking precisely at those pre-arranged locations.  However, all charges placed below those points of impact were either duds or were insufficient to precipitate collapses. The towers stood firm as the demolition moved downward from the impact points.

In rebuttal, one might point out that the towers were supported by both the outer walls and an inner core. Might not the charges at the base have caused the collapse of the inner core, while the outer walls remained intact? This would account for the downward vertical plunge of the north tower.

Nice try, but it won’t wash. If the core collapsed within, the accumulating debris from above would have demolished the outer walls below. This did not happen.

However, the official version is not without problems, and the conspiracy theory is not yet out of the contest. There remain some troubling anomalies for the OV:

Foremost among these is the collapse of WTC Building No. 7. Five hours after the towers came down, this forty story structure collapsed. And this time, as you can see here (1:05), the collapse followed the exact pattern of a controlled demolition: beginning at the base and falling uniformly on its own “footprint.” The best that the OV can offer as explanation is that the foundation was weakened by fire, by seismic shock of the collapsing towers, and by the overload of debris from the towers. It is not a compelling explanation, to say the least.  Perhaps this explains why an account of the collapse of WTC #7 is missing from the 9/11 Commission report.

Prof. Steven Jones, to my mind the most credible of the 911 critics, claims that melted and congealed steel was found in the rubble, and that it originated at the base of the standing buildings. The only plausible cause of melting with these properties, Jones claims, would be a high temperature explosive such as thermite. Jones is well-qualified to make this assessment. He is a professor of physics at Brigham Young University.

And this is just the beginning of a long list of anomalies that undercut the official version.  Among them:

  • There were numerous reports of explosions below the impact points at the time the towers were hit.  Others report that there were explosions before the planes hit.

  • Tapes of interviews with air traffic controllers were destroyed.

  • When news of the attack reached the Florida school where Bush was visiting, the Secret Service failed to remove the president from that previously publicized location.   

  • There was a flood of "put options" (anticipations of loss) on American Airlines and United Airlines stock, within the week before 9/11.

  • The website, 911research.wtc7.net lists numerous additional anomalies,  no doubt, many of these are bogus, but there are others that are troubling. 

The governments, New York City and State, and the Feds still have a lot of splainin’ to do.

The Attack on the Pentagon.

Unlike the WTC attacks, the Pentagon is rather simple and cut-and-dried. The official version is correct:  The west side of the building was struck by American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757. The evidence is clear, unequivocal and overwhelming. The alternative conspiracy theories (impact by a fighter plane or cruise missile) are plainly false, and at times simply pathetic.

This conclusion is compelling when we apply "the David Hume test” to the conspiracy theory: namely, the improbability of CT being true, despite the evidence for OV. Specifically, for CT to be true, we must also assume that:

  • Hundreds of  eyewitnesses on the George Washington Parkway at morning rush-hour were either (a) victims of mass-hallucination, or (b) taken aside and threatened or bribed to testify falsely that they saw a commercial aircraft.

  • Immediately after the impact, squads of conspirators rushed to the scene (including the inside of the burning Pentagon) to plant body parts, personal effects, and bogus aircraft parts (some, like the engines and landing gear weighing several hundred pounds). Others dumped aviation fuel, to "falsely" suggest involvement of an airplane.

  • Alternatively, eyewitness testimony of those claiming to find these parts were also coerced, and published photographic evidence faked. All press reports were also concocted to give credence to the official version.

  • Finally, some explanation must be presented as to the fate of Flight 77 and its passengers, which somehow disappeared without any further trace at the precise time the alleged military aircraft or cruise missile approached and struck the Pentagon.

Sorry, but its just too much for me to swallow.

What Does it all Mean?

How then are we to explain the Bush Administration inaction before 9/11, and its willingness to take full advantage of this “new Pearl Harbor?” I don’t know, but that doesn’t keep me from speculating. So here’s my hunch – and it’s only a hunch which I am willing to revise or abandon if and when more evidence appears. The Busheviks were forewarned (“Bin Laden determined to strike in the US”), but they expected attacks on the scale of the USS Cole and the African embassies: perhaps a few dozen casualties -- "acceptable.". They did not take countermeasures because they saw a strategic advantage in such a “mini-Pearl Harbor.” For such a purpose, the attack on The Pentagon would suffice. They did not expect the destruction of the World Trade Center. However, after 9/11 the die was cast, and so they eagerly launched their “the war on terror, along with the policy outrages that were to follow: the USA PATRIOT ACT, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo.  The Iraq War, we now know from Richard Clarke and the Downing Street memos, was on the drawing boards long before 9/11, awaiting just such an event to set it in motion.

All that is little more than a guess. But we can arrive at some more substantial conclusions from our unresolved examination of the 9/11 attacks.

First of all, it is clear that the 9/11 Commission is a travesty. Too many phenomena are unexplained. The evidence must be revisited and validated, and the critics’ anomalies explained.  And this must be done fearlessly and independently of any political biases or agendas.

Second, the critics of the official version should, as much as possible, get their facts straight, whereupon they must then cease presenting falsehoods as evidence; e.g., that the debris was shipped immediately, uninspected, to Asia; that the the OV assumes and claims that steel melted; that no physical evidence of the plane was found at the Pentagon, etc.

Third:  there is no shame in suspending belief -- i.e., in being skeptical.  Conversely, it is shameful to jump to a conclusion and a conviction on insufficient and conflicting evidence.  Acceptance of the official version, or conversely of the conspiracy theory, are not our only alternatives. Both views are vulnerable and leave many crucial questions unanswered. Far better that we admit to ourselves and tell the world that we simply do not know. Suspension of belief is not a conspicuously American trait. But it is a stock-in-trade of honest scholars and scientists. And it is spur to further investigation, which is most assuredly called for in this case.

Finally, partisan passions should not get in the way of a rational assessment of the evidence.  Personally, my web publications testify that I yield to no one in my contempt for Bush and his crime syndicate. I would like as much as anyone to see these crimes pinned on Bush, Inc. But the evidence (however weak) is what it is.

What happened on 9/11? Who is responsible? The questions remain open even as they remain urgent. The American people deserve answers, and more immediately, competent and sustained investigation leading to these answers.

Copyright 2006 by Ernest Partridge

"The 9/11 Conspiracy, the Skeptic Replies to his Critics."

Prefatory Remarks

May 2, 2006

Ernest Partridge

It turns out that the most accurate prediction of the essay was in the opening sentence: "This essay is certain to make many readers very angry with me." And so it did, as you will read below. It also provoked by far the most voluminous response to any of the more than 133 essays that I have published on the web: more than five hundred to Democratic Underground,  The Smirking Chimp, Commmon Dreams, and directly to The Crisis Papers.  I will deal here exclusively with the Crisis Papers collection.

Many responses, both pro and con, were civil, intelligent, and well thought-out. In addition there was the usual hate mail. On balance, the response was more positive than I had expected, for which I am duly gratified.

Below are the very best of the responses, which I have selected because most of them prompted me to make a careful and often lengthy reply.

First, some general remarks:

Perhaps the most pivotal paragraph in my essay, regrettably disregarded by many of my critics, was the following:

All accounts of the attacks, whether the official version or any of the numerous conspiracy theories, rest upon weak evidence – “weak,” that is, to all those who did not examine the evidence at the scene, or did not have access to evidence with a secure “chain of custody.” For all others, including myself and presumably all who read this, the evidence is 2nd, 3rd and Nth-hand hearsay.

Case in point: The Pentagon attack. Dozens of e-mails presented "irrefutable evidence" that an airliner could not possibly have struck the Pentagon on 9/11. But after I posted the essay, I was directed to a website, http://www.911myths.com , with which I was unfamiliar. There I found the following, from several independent sources:

(From USA Today,  September 13, 2001). When [Sgt.] Williams discovered the scorched bodies of several airline passengers, they were still strapped into their seats. The stench of charred flesh overwhelmed him.

More evidence:

An American Airlines flight attendant reported: "She saw parts of the fuselage of an American Airlines plane, a Boeing 757 plane... She recognized the polished aluminum outer shell, an unpainted silver color that is unique to American Airline planes, and the red and blue trim that is used to decorate the fuselage... One area of fuselage had remaining window sections and the shape of the windows, curved squares not ovals, was also distinct to the 757's she had flown. She also saw parts with the A/A logo, including parts of the tail of the plane... She spent approximately 15 minutes in the crash area looking at parts of the wreckage, all of which she recognized as coming from a Boeing 757 American Airline plane, the same planes she flew regularly. She did not see any rubber, only metal pieces of fuselage, engine parts and sections of the inside of the plane." 

"During an interview earlier this week, Koch delicately handled eerie mementos of the crash found during cleanup: Whittington's battered driver's license... a burnt luggage tag and a wedding ring lie on a book dedicated to those lost in the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The wedding ring belonged to Ruth's daughter and the luggage tag belonged to one her granddaughters."

“Suzanne Calley died aboard American Airlines Flight 77 when terrorists hijacked the plane and sent it crashing into the Pentagon...  Rescue crews were able to pull Calley’s body from Flight 77’s wreckage. Jensen [Calley’s husband] spent last year’s anniversary of the national tragedy in Washington, D.C. There, a Pentagon official - assigned to Calley’s family as a liaison - gave Jensen his wife’s wedding ring,
which had been recovered from the plane.”

If the sources of these report are authentic, then that cinches the case: game, set, match. Flight 77, a Boeing 757, struck the Pentagon. But there's the rub. How do we know that all these "reports" were not still more made-up stories concocted and released to the press to tie down the official version?  Not too long ago, we could rely on an independent press to report and confirm the facts, and to print retractions and corrections if they somehow allowed error or unverified claims into print.

But no more. Now even the "flagships" of American journalism, The New York Times and The Washington Post have, by their own misbehavior, critically compromised their credibility and that of the media at large, as they have reported:

Bill and Hillary Clinton were engaged in illegal activity in "the Whitewater Deal."

Chinese-American physicist, Wen Ho Lee, was suspected of spying for China.

A consortium analysis of the 2000 Florida vote "proved" that Bush would have won despite the Supreme Court decision.

Al Gore claimed to have "discovered" the contaminated Love Canal site.

Saddam Hussein was importing aluminum tubes for production of nuclear weapons, and had weapons of mass destruction "at the ready."

George Bush's "early departure" from the Air National Guard, his insider trading, and his reported drug use were unworthy of public attention.

And much more.

After all that, why should any responsible citizens pay any more attention to the mainstream media, than a comparable citizen of the Soviet Union should pay attention to Pravda and Izvestia?

The erosion of credibility of the US media and the US government were the source of much of the "skepticism" that I announced in the title of the essay.

Several critics were quick to conclude that since I was unconvinced by one or another "conspiracy theory," I was therefore a firm believer in the official version. This conclusion filtered out my clear assertion that I was convinced by neither version of the 9/11 events. At the head of my essay, I quoted David Hume "On Miracles:" "No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact that it endeavors to establish." But then Hume continues:

"...and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force which remains, after deducting the inferior."

Put more simply, this might be called "the principle of net credibility." Just as receipts less expenditures leave the profit, so too doubts about contradictory theories diminish the credibility of the stronger theory.

As was clear to the careful reader, I am more inclined to accept the official view of the WTC attacks, but that acceptance is diminished by some plausibilities in the conspiracy theories. This makes me, as I said at the outset, a skeptic. (Incidentally, Hume's analysis of "miracles" applies, not only to miracles, but also to explanations of any extraordinary events).

Finally, a word about "physical laws," to which physicist Steven Jones and philosopher of science James Fetzer, among others, repeatedly refer, and upon which they seem to base much of their arguments.  Prominent among these physical laws is Galileo's formula for free-falling objects in a vacuum: d=1/2gt2 . (D=distance, t=time, and g=earth-gravity).

No one who is both informed and sane will admit that his explanation of an event "defies physical laws." (Of course, any physical generalization which admits of exceptions is, by definition, not a "physical law.") Yet Jones, Fetzer, et al insist that to deny their version of events is to deny physical laws.

That assertion is disingenuous. Any explanation of a singular physical event (such as the collapse of the WTC towers) rests upon several assumptions ("premises") not all of which are physical laws. Some of these other premises may be false (based upon faulty information) or weak, as is most of the evidence regarding the 9/11 attacks. The falsity of a non-law empirical premise may suffice to invalidate the conclusion. ("Invalidate," but not prove false. A point that students of logic will understand. I.e., "If A then B" and "Not A" does not imply "not B." It yields no conclusion).

I'll not trouble the reader further with this academic minutiae. However, Prof. Fetzer, an acclaimed philosopher of science, is familiar with the structure of scientific explanation and confirmation, and thus the fallacy of his appeal to "irrefutable physical laws." He should be ashamed of himself.

Case in point: The CT critics claim that according to physical laws it was impossible for the WTC towers to fall at near-free-fall velocity if, as OV claims, the upper floors "pancaked" on to the lower floors. Therefore, physical law being inviolable, the towers did not collapse as OV claims. But notice how CT attempts to sneak a base on us: they assume and would have us accept that the towers in fact fell at near-free-fall speed. There is clear evidence that they did not. Watch some of the videos of the collapse, and you will see that the free-falling debris alongside fell faster than the towers.

So who are you goin' to believe?  Prof. Fetzer or your own lyin' eyes? 

In sum: The "you-can't-violate-natural-law" argument works only if all additional premises to the argument are (a) identified, and (b) demonstrated to be rock-solid indubitable. In principle, all empirical arguments fall short of that perfection. Especially so in the case of the 9/11 attacks about which, as we have noted, the evidence is contradictory and weak.

I have much more to say in reply to my critics. But for that, read the letters and my replies below.


Dr. Partridge,

I read your article on Common Dreams about 9-11 skepticism. I agree with most of your points. I have studied the events surrounding that day in some depth since it occurred. I am still very unsure of what transpired and I think I know much more than most average people.

One thing I am certain of is that top US officials were involved in some capacity and to some degree.

I did a tremendous amount of research about three years ago into most of the events of 9-11. I felt at that time that controlled demolition was a distinct possibility. However, about six months ago I decided to focus exclusively on the collapse of WTC7, as to try to get one's head around the whole 9-11 event was rather overwhelming. I took an approach that did not rely on any 9-11 Truth Movement conclusions or opinions - not that they were necessarily incorrect - but I chose to only use recognized sources: recognized media, academicians, professional people, official reports and investigations (BPAT-FEMA, NIST, Nat. Sci. Foundation, Kean Comm., WTC Task Force, etc.). This way I could not be accused of perpetrating 9-11 "conspiracy theories".


While doing this, I gathered from the Internet mostly, hundreds and hundreds of pieces of information; so much so, it amounted to a book-size amount of data. I then gleaned and reduced it to a more manageable amount. I discovered that the fire fighters and officials were the best witnesses for a number of reasons: they were there almost the entire time - all day; they are professional; they are trained to handle fire and other disaster situations; they have a combined long history of experience - practical and otherwise; as there were numerous accounts, they tended to corroborate one another. The sources of the firefighters and firefighting officials were Fire Engineering magazine, Firehouse Magazine, the Kean Report testimonies, WTC Task Force Interviews, and the Oral Histories that the NYT obtained in Aug. 2005 from NYC (Bloomberg had refused to release them) through the FOIA. This last source produced 503 accounts mostly of firefighters and officials and emergency medical personnel. I obtained probably 50-80 or more excellent accounts of what transpired that day which I sorted into chronological order.


This gave me an account of what occurred from the first response after the first plane struck the North Tower to the time of the collapse of WTC7. The information is very revealing. It tends to support the argument that there was not a controlled demolition at WTC7. Very early on the fire officials had felt the building would collapse. It had a huge bulge in the west wall; it had sustained massive structural damage from debris at the southwest corner - extending for about 10 floors up to about the 18th floor. It had a massive hole in the center of the south facade. This building stored over 43,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Some was recovered later but a lot was not. Little was seen to have seeped into the ground so maybe it had burned up. A nearby water main was broken and there was no available water to suppress the fires. At various times of the day, the south side was heavily engaged in fire from ground to roof. There were 26 fires in various locations - not the handful that most 9-11 skeptics mention. No fire suppression efforts were undertaken. Officials withdrew fire personnel early in the afternoon. During the late morning and on into the afternoon, numerous officials stated a collapse was imminent. By about 3:30, they created a "collapse zone" in preparation for this. A transit was used to determine that the building was leaning. Creaking was heard.

Most 9-11 skeptics consider Larry Silverstein's comment to "pull it" as the Rosetta Stone. In actual fact, by the time of this phone call with a fire official, virtually everyone at the site was certain of a collapse. He was just agreeing, in my opinion, to what the fire officials had decided: to pull back and allow it to collapse because there had been a huge loss of fire personnel already. A very logical decision.

Silverstein had an office on the 88th floor of the North Tower and two of his three children worked there sometimes. He was at his Fifth Avenue office when the attacks occurred and was in his office worried sick about his kids. A female employee of his walked down 88 flights of stairs and managed to walk to his Fifth Avenue office, covered in dust, and saw her boss. He was shaking "in every bone of his body" she said. She told him you look worse than me. He was a life-long Democrat. I don't believe he was involved in a controlled demolition; this would imply he was involved in the attacks. He also lost four of his employees that day. It just doesn't make sense. Yes, he profited by having an insurance policy with a gigantic payout. Some may say that is bad taste or greed, but those attributes are not crimes.

Many skeptics of the official version say WTC7 fell in about 6.6 seconds (as does Stephen Jones). This is absolutely incorrect. It fell between 14 and 16 seconds. This is how I know:

There are quite a few videos of the collapse. I discovered one that clearly shows the penthouses on the roof. One can easily time the collapse of the east penthouse to the point when the central penthouse (really the west penthouse) starts to collapse: it is 7 seconds. This jibes with NIST's timing. After the collapse of that penthouse (7.9sec.) one can count the time until the main body of the structure falls; however, one cannot see the ground in any video. The video has a building in the foreground with a convenient corner (about half way down WTC7). I timed the fall to that point and counted the floors. I then determined the rate of fall per floor as the building went down nice and smoothly and evenly. I then noticed when the dust rose up and roughly gauged when it hit ground. I estimated the total collapse at about 14.9 sec. However, as I really couldn't see the ground I use a range of 14 to 16 seconds. It certainly is not 6.6 as the penthouses have not even collapse by that time. All the 9-11 skeptics are providing a false time, whether intentional or not. I tend to think most of them are sincere, but perhaps a bit careless or carefree with the facts. They also tend quote and refer to one another, just passing around the same info.

None of the firefighters or officials or others who were around WTC7 all afternoon reported seeing and/or hearing explosions. Not one. Yet, many of them reported seeing and/or hearing explosions in or at the two towers. WTC7 was, by the nature of its fall, closer to a controlled demolition collapse than the towers.

Do I think controlled demolition did not occur with any of the buildings? Not necessarily. There is evidence it could have occurred. The concrete was pulverized to 10 microns or less; like talcum powder. The only way that could happen is if there was tremendous energy to blow apart the concrete. A chunk hitting the ground would have broken into smaller chunks; the same if large pieces of steel or other heavy things had fallen on a piece of concrete. Concrete does not break into that size particle by hitting the ground or being struck. In places around the area, the dust was up to 5" thick. Most of the debris, other than steel components, had been reduced to dust. Very few items were found intact (firefghters attest to this).

There were numerous accounts, as you know, of explosions at the towers. Capt. Karin Deshore, Emerg. Med. Serv., stated:

"Somewhere around the middle of the World Trade Center, there was this orange and red flash coming out. Initially it was just one flash. Then this flash just kept popping all the way around the building and that building had started to explode. The popping sound, and with each popping sound it was initially an orange and then a red flash came out of the building and then it would just go all around the building on all sides as far as I could see. These popping sounds and the explosions were getting bigger, going both up and down and then all around the building."

Were all the explosions the many witnesses saw and heard a result of the fire? The jet fuel would have burned off very quickly (as evidenced by the smoke becoming very dark fairly quickly). A lot of fuel was burned outside the building as witnessed by the orange fireball outside the building. Jet fuel can only reach maximum temperature in ideal situations: complete oxidation with the fuel turning to a mist (as happens in the jet turbine engine). The ideal burning temperature would not have occurred in the building. There were survivors - one only 20' away from a wing (he still remembers seeing the "U" on the tail as the plane struck the building) as he huddled under his desk. The wings carry fuel. Several people - on the same floor as the impact - were on an elevator and were knocked on their backsides by the heat - they were unhurt. Survivors walked down past the impacted floors and escaped. Fire crews made it up to the 78th floor - the impacted area of one of the towers.

Both towers fell more-or-less straight down very quickly. In other words, all the mass below the impacted area offered no resistance whatsoever to the mass above. Quite impossible. With the damage being asymmetrical, why didn't the buildings topple over? WTC7 suffered damage to the front area, but it fell almost perfectly vertically. Every single structural member had to give way simultaneously like butter to cause such a result.

You stated that the debris was available for forensic investigators at Fresh Kills. This contradicts what many investigators themselves said and other observers. [Remember, I am NOT referring to 9-11 skeptics' sites or opinions; I use ONLY official or recognized sources]. The NYT (12/25/2001): "...some structural engineers have said that one serious mistake has already been made in the chaotic aftermath of the collapses: the decision to rapidly recylce the steel columns, beams and trusses that held up the buildings...Dr. Frederick W. Mowrer, an associate professor of fire protection engineering department at the University of Maryland, said he believed the decision could ultimately compromise any investigation of the collapses. "I find the speed with which potentially important evidence has been removed and recycled to be appalling."

FEMA officials and investigators told the House Science Committee on Mar. 6, 2002:

"...a significant amount of steel debris - including most of the steel from the upper floors - was removed from the rubble pile, cut into smaller sections, and either melted at the recycling plant or shipped out of the US. Some of the critical pieces - including the suspension trusses from the top of the towers and the internal support columns - were gone before the first BPAT team member ever reached the site."

Bill Manning (editor Fire Engineering magazine, Jan 2002) said,


"For more than three months, structural steel from the World Trade Center has been and continues to be cut up and sold for scrap...the 'official investigation' blessed by FEMA and run by the American Society of Civil Engineers [the 23 engineers who volunteered for BPAT] is a half-baked farce...We are literally treating the steel removed from the site like garbage, not like crucial fire scene evidence."

Glenn Corbett, one of the BPAT (Building Performance Assessment Team) investigators working with FEMA told Congress:  "The lack of significant amounts of steel for examination will make it difficult, if not impossible, to make a definitive statement as to the specific cause and chronology of the collapse."

He also said, "The current World Trade Center disaster inquiry has exposed a gaping hole in the way that we investigate disasters." (Daily News, 3/7/2002)

The NIST agency said it collected 236 pieces of steel and stored them in their facility.

The National Science Foundation sponsored an investigating team but was stonewalled and stymied by government officials. Neither this team nor the BPAT could initially get drawings, blueprints, documents, etc. from the WTC owners (Port Authority) until months later. FEMA only provided $600,000 to the BPAT investigators for the initial investigation of the worst crime in America's history. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the team $500,000. The 23 engineers had volunteered their services on Sept. 11. The fact that the national government gave so little funding for this key inquiry says a whole bunch about the Bush administration.

The Dec. 25, 2001 NYT's article also noted, "...they [BPAT] has at various times been shackled with bureaucratic restrictions that prevented them from interviewing witnesses, examining the disaster site and requesting crucial information like recorded distress calls to the police and fire departments.  '...our hands are tied,' said one member...Members have been threatened with dismissal for speaking to the press.  'FEMA is controlling everything,' the team member said."

NYT 3/7/2002: "The Giuliani administration started to send World Trade Center steel off to recycling yards before investigators could examine it to determine whether it might hold crucial clues as to why the buildings fell. The full investigative team set up by FEMA [BPAT] was not allowed to enter ground zero to collect other potentially critical evidence in the weeks after the attack..."

Stephen Jones has suggested that an explosive agent like thermite may have been used to bring down the towers as there existed a hot pool of molten steel for weeks (all the way into early December) underground. From my understanding, it would have taken a very large amount of thermite to have brought down those two giant towers. Each one had about 94,000 tons of steel and about he same weight in concrete. The thermite would have to be applied to critical load-bearing structural joints, perhaps to a thickness of 3 inches. How would one get access to the bare steel embedded in walls? In fact, any controlled demolition would require considerable preparation time and material and equipment. Surely, people would have noticed some unusual activity prior to September 11. Another factor is that the people preparing for this demolition would have to be aware this was to be done for a massive, deadly crime. Who would willingly do this and keep this hush-hush? Controlled demolition is a highly specialized profession. There aren't that many companies doing this I would think. Terrorists, or people who hate America, may be able to carry this out without any compunction, but to hire an American company to undertake this doesn't seem likely.

When one learns of the details of the collapses of all three buildings, one considers that controlled demolition is a possibility, but yet some things seem very illogical or unlikely for this to have occurred, as mentioned above. There are some sound arguments for uncontrolled fires in combination with serious structural damage to have caused the collapses.

I have considerable amount of knowledge of most of the events of that day, yet I am undecided and confused still. So much, though, points to involvement of American participation in various ways and degrees. I think that is the most honest temporary conclusion that I can arrive at.

I would not be so set on what occurred at the Pentagon either. There are some very odd things pertaining to that event as well. It is true, there were a lot of witnesses who saw a passenger airliner go into the Pentagon. But, someone has to explain to me how the 2 or 3 very large cable spools directly in front of the impacted area were completely untouched and why the lawn was unmarred. How did the plane strike exactly at the first floor and curiously hit at the location of the recently renovated section where the fewest people were working. Why aren't the security films made available to show the plane striking it and why were videos from the gas station across the highway and the nearby hotel immediately confiscated? Why did the Arlington County fire chief say there was only a puddle of fuel and no large pieces of fuselage? There were some pieces of aircraft debris, but where were the two large engines, each one 9' in diameter and partly manufactured of titanium with a very high melting temperature? The hole in the 3rd ring of the complex shows a large round hole. Where is the engine? There should be two holes. Each of those turbines would have had the greatest mass and would have broken free of their wings (the weakest elements of the plane - Boeing 757, not a 747) and shot forward through the walls. It is unlikely the nose of the plane would have crashed through six walls to emerge through the 3rd ring. Why? Because it is constructed of material like a fibre-glass consistency.


If the two massive, dense, very hard engines did not survive and emerge somewhere, how could a relatively soft nose plow through very thick walls? Aluminum could have melted, but not the titanium. There were objects right next to the crash site on the third floor I believe, which were unburnt: one can see a stool and a computer monitor; completely intact; unmelted, yet the most of the plane melted????? Please explain. The windows right next to the impact area were not broken. Yes, they were shatterproof, but they were RIGHT next to the impact area. How did the plane do the 270degree turn in the air which professional pilots have said is virtually impossible for that plane and for a lousy pilot like Hani Hanjour apparently was? He couldn't fly a small Cessna two weeks prior to that. Did he just get lucky? Maybe. There was a lot of tiny debris on the lawn and some floated out to the traffic on the highway nearby. Shortly after the crash, numerous men quickly scooped up the debris outside and also many were seen carrying a huge box containing something. All these men were dressed in ties and dress pants. Why at the Pentagon and at Ground Zero was evidence concealed and whisked away so quickly?

This event at the Pentagon is also mysterious. It seems very likely that Flight 77 struck the building because so many witnesses could not be wrong or lying. Also, if it didn't strike the building, where did it go? For a certainty, the two planes in NY hit the towers as a number of firefighters and officials saw even the first one strike the North Tower. As they arrived at the WTC, they saw bodies and B-767 debris. As mentioned, one employee in the tower saw the "U" on the tail as it hit.

If the US government was honest with the people and forthcoming with evidence, there wouldn't have to be all these conspiracy theories or doubts and skepticism. It is clearly hiding a lot of incriminating evidence. It was involved in the crime of the new century. That I know for a fact; some of the exact particulars I am not certain of.

Like the JFK assassination and many other crimes in America, what really happened on 9-11 will no doubt remain shrouded in secrecy and covered up. As long as these cases remain unsolved and the truth kept from the people, America will never belong to Americans.

From a Canadian citizen just interested in the truth,

Richard Stevens  (5/2)

Ernest Partridge replies:


I will let most of your thorough investigation of the WTC attack stand without rebuttal.  My disagreements with and doubts about particular parts of that account will be found in my many comments which follow.


Your analysis of the Pentagon attack, it seems to me, stands on shakier ground.  I've read enough of these accounts of anomalies, all apparently undocumented and not attributed to eye witnesses, that I am beginning to suspect that they are "self-supporting" -- i.e., that the "validation" is "incestuous," consisting of references to "each other," with no foundation in confirmable fact.  Like wild horses tethered to teach other, but none to a hitching post.


On the other hand, eyewitness reports, and reports of engine parts, aircraft fragments, body parts and passengers' belongings seem to be grounded on more substantial evidence.  That is my impression, but it must be the task of others to prove it.  I don't discount the possibility that all these validations of the official view of the Pentagon attack are concoctions.  But that would entail a conspiracy of silence and intimidation which, I believe, not even the Bush crime syndicate could pull off.


Much more in the comments that follow.  And note especially the final entry in this collection by A. D. Kay.


In closing, let me say that I find your thorough and open minded investigation of 9/11 to be admirable.


Dear Mr. Partridge,

I read your article, 9/11 Conspiracy: A Skeptic's View. Did you actually look at the Pentagon photos? NO DAMAGE TO THE LAWN. They had to make up that cockamamie story about Flight 77 making "a 100 foot hole in the ground", which is ludicrous, because they realized that the damage caused by whatever else hit the Pentagon was so light.

Also, real scientific investigators like Griffin are afraid of the whole movement being discredited by outlandish theories, such as the holographic planes. That is basically what you are doing: Discrediting the evidence because of such theories. Mr. Partridge, the photographic evidence is clear: A Boeing 757 did not crash into the lawn. That means it must have hit it head on. Which means there should have been a hell of a lot more damage done. So for you to say, "The Pentagon attack, however, should present little doubt: American Airlines Flight 77 struck the building.", is so outrageous.

Furthermore, about the demolition of the WTC: The same company that cleaned up Ground Zero, Controlled Demolitions, has also destroyed buildings from the top down. So it is entirely plausible that this same company placed the charges in the WTC and detonated them in such a manner. Amazing how the steel wreckage was in 30 foot increments, just small enough to fit onto dumptrucks. Demo companies will destroy buildings in such a fashion to make it easier for cleanup.

Take a closer look at the testimonials and the video and photographic evidence. I was very disappointed to see this lazy analysis, especially from you.


Alan M. Lederman, Alton, IL

Ernest Partridge Replies:

I can't respond to all your points, for I have dozens of letters ahead of me to deal with. So for this letter, and all that follow: do not assume that if I fail to address a criticism that I am conceding it.

The "pristine lawn" is a common argument by the CTs, who then present us with a photo of the Pentagon lawn. It is worthless "evidence." Most of the Pentagon lawn was untouched, of course. There is no guarantee by one photo that ALL of the Pentagon lawn was untouched.

As for the 30-foot beams: Watch the BBC documentary and take note of the scenes of the construction of the WTC. There you will find that beams of (approximately) 30 foot length were joined during construction. That they would break at the joints presents no mystery.


This is regarding your article, "The 9/11 Conspiracy: A Skeptic's View", posted at Common Dreams. 

You claim to examine both the Official Version and Conspiracy Theory with equal skepticism, but the article makes it quite clear which one gets the benefit of doubt--it is the Official Story. I am renaming OV as OS, since it is also a "conspiracy theory" with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda being the conspirators, yet you reserve the "conspiracy" label for Alternative Stories (AS), which generally brings scorn by readers upon those who tell such "tales". In such matters, articles which attempt to cast aspersions upon AS quite often take the tack of appearing to be equally skeptical of both sides, even somewhat sympathetic to critics, so as to appear more "objective" to readers who wish to dismiss critics but want to feel like they are being fair. Your article is a good example of this.

I am stating my qualifications now to preclude even the thought that I can be snowed by "scientific" jargon. I have a degree in mechanical engineering (CCNY, 1970, 3.47 GPA, 3.6 in my major), and have for many years worked for the UC Berkeley School of Engineering, doing workshops in second year calculus, the foundation of engineering and physical sciences.

I will focus on your statements in "The World Trade Center" section.

The temperatures were not hot enough to melt steel. True but irrelevant. This is a persistent criticism by the CT. However, the OV does not claim that the steel melted at the impact points (melting temperature, 2700°F), only that it was weakened. The temperature sufficient to weaken steel by fifty-percent (1170°F) was well within the range of the burning jet fuel and office supplies.

BOGUS! Analyses by Jim Hoffman, Kevin Ryan, Steven Jones, David Ray Griffin,....have been very careful to state that the temps were not hot enough to even WEAKEN steel, LET ALONE "melt it", and quite specific that the OS is that of WEAKENING, not melting, at least after the first day or two. Your claim is the one made in the Scientific American article by Michael Shermer supposedly debunking "conspiracy stories" from a year ago, an article thoroughly debunked by Jim Hoffman ...

Indeed, the very title of the SciAm article, "Fahrenheit 2777,"  is based upon a falsehood, as 911research never used that figure, as claimed by Shermer.

In fact, experiments done by Corus Construction in Britain were not capable of producing temps higher than 680 degrees F in fossil fuel fires set in steel and concrete structures, even with furniture and computers and....

And the NIST investigation, also discussed by Hoffman in a home page essay, could not find any evidence of temps higher than 500 deg F, way below the 1170 level.

And go to http://911research.wtc7.net/mirrors/guardian.html .  Click on link, in index see article How Hot which has a careful calculation for the possible temp of a fire that could have been produced under ideal circumstances with the given, with the result being about 560 deg F.

The debris was quickly collected without inspection and shipped off to Asia for recycling. False. It was relocated to a collection site at Staten Island, where it was examined by forensic engineers, and where personal effects were identified. (Here, here, and here are three of the 54,000 Google hits from a search for "World Trade Center" and "Staten Island" and "Debris")

Fire Engineering Magazine in Jan '02 bitterly complained about the lack of access to the debris before it was shipped off, as did Prof Astenah-Asl of UC Berkeley, who headed the investigation by ASCE, he did so in front of a congressional committee in March '02.

"No steel frame building has ever collapsed because of a fire." Another "fact" repeatedly asserted by CT-s. Irrelevant, even if true. The WTC towers were brought down by a combination of fire and structural damage caused by the impact from the planes. (The collapse of WTC Building #7 was not caused by either fire or impact from planes -- a problem for the OV which we will discuss later).

Two theories have been put forth, the Truss Failure Theory, and the Column Failure Theory. Both theories were shown to be impossible via analysis and computer modeling done by Underwriters Laboratories, as shown by Kevin Ryan's article "Propping Up the War on Terror" which can be found at http://www.scholarsfor911truth.org under "articles". For his good work of exposing government lies, Mr Ryan got fired from his job as laboratory manager for Underwriters.

Jim Hoffman has further debunked both these theories, as has the writer of the "guardian" mirror site, see previous reference, under the article about Prof Eagar.

As for the collapses starting for the top, what's the big deal? Why couldn't demolition be set up to try to MAKE IT LOOK LIKE the result of plane impacts and fires? Interesting that you note the towers disintegrating, but do not note, or pretend to not note, the contradiction between the lower portions offering no resistance to the falling debris if you wish to explain the short collapse time, vs the top portions disintegrating as if encountering massive resistance.

So, which is it, Mr Partridge? Did the lower portions offer zero resistance to explain the short collapse time (videos show the lower portions offering no more resistance than the nearby air), or did they offer high resistance, to account for the upper portions disintegrating ABOVE THE COLLAPSE ZONE, IN MID-AIR? I know, it's a total contradiction, but only if you insist upon the OS.

Also at the 911Scholars site, you can see an article by Judy Wood, ME professor at Clemson (specializes in structures) titled Billiard Balls, a matter of the collapses' timing. And Wayne Trumpman does a thorough physics analysis of the collapse of the first few floors, shows the build-up of a deficit of energy required to disintegrate the floors as is visible in comparison to energy available from the potential energy of the standing towers, not even discussing the energy required to expand the debris cloud as far as it did, or throw out large pieces of steel hundreds of feet.

As for the Pentagon, researchers have disagreements. But where are the photos of human parts, or plane parts? Rescuers did not find human parts, had to use DNA remnants (which somehow remained behind even though the fire left virtually nothing of the plane, as even the salvage crews said) And of the hundreds of witnesses, only a few actually claimed to see the plane not simply fly in the vicinity, but actually hit the Pentagon, and each one of them made claims that are downright physically impossible, not just conflicting with the evidence, such as that the plane dragged its wing along the ground, though the lawn shows no such gouge, and if such contact had been made, the plane would have flipped or had its wing shear off. See http://davesweb.cnchost.com/nwsltr68.html  including all five addendums, the last of which deals with "witnesses" (I dissociate myself from the stupid stuff at other pages on that site)

As you can see, this is being copied to other researchers, and will be posted. If commondreams was a fair site, I would have requested it to post this response, but it has proved itself totally closed to any genuine questioning of the OS unless it is a defense of the OS that masquerades as a critique, as your article is.

Jeff Strahl

Ernest Partridge Replies:

An impressive rebuttal, until we got to the part about "collapsing from the top." Then you wrote: "Why couldn't demolition be set up to try to MAKE IT LOOK LIKE the result of plane impacts and fires?" This is pure ad-hoc-ery: positing an unsupported fact to prop up a favored hypothesis. It is also a highly improbable supposition, since it assumes that the planes could be aimed to hit the precise location of the pre-set charges. Or do you further assume (ad hoc), as I have read below, that numerous charges were set "contingently" at several different floors in case of bad aim by the pilots? That strikes me as a stretch.

Now follow this link.  Read the text and watch the included video. There you will find that free-falling debris is falling faster than the towers.

RE: the Pentagon. Your claim that rescuers did not find human parts or plane parts is flatly contradicted by the testimony cited and documented in my opening remarks above. What is the evidence and citation for your claim? If you present same, then we are in a quandary: someone is lying. As I wrote at the outset, given the mendacity of this administration and the media, I am open to the idea that the "evidence" cited in my "Preface" is a concocted falsehood. But so too may be your "evidence." Until I see the contrary evidence (no body parts or plane parts), my evidence seems more plausible if only by reason of "the Hume test:" the conspiratorial concoction and promulgation of the OV myth along with its continuing resistance to exposure, strikes me as more improbable than the simple fact that USA Today, etc., were reporting the truth in the first place.

Sadly, due to the dissolution of government and media credibility, there is no "solid evidence." All putative evidence is tainted. Thus, as so many of my critics so readily forget despite the title of my piece, I am a skeptic. If I am unconvinced of CT, this does not entail that I uncritically and entirely accept OV. I can be, as I am,  unconvinced of both. That is what it means to be a skeptic.

Your 911 essay makes no comment about Shanksville and Flight 93.

I saw the German documentary interview with Ernie Shull, mayor of Shanksville and first on the scene, who said there was no airplane. Many others said the same, no evidence of an airplane.

Also, I must have seen other Pentagon video than you. The ones I was showed a 16 foot hole and no debris beyond one engine part that can't be matched with the plane accused.

I would like to hear your views on Flight 93 anomalies.

Steve Gibbs

Ernest Partridge Replies:

There were no devious motives for my decision not to deal with Flight 93. My motives were simply these: (a) I chose to limit the scope of my analysis, (b) my sources (Griffin, Jones, Fetzer, etc.) did not deal with Flight 93, and (c) I studied less and thus knew less about Flight 93 than about the other events. From what I have read, I am simply in no position to come to a decision. There is an abundance of weak evidence on both sides.

Dr. Partridge,

I read with interest your article on 9/11 conspiracies and have the following comments:

Taking a step back from the specifics of the 9/11 debate, have we not seen this same general pattern repeated in historical events related to "critical national security" post WWII? I. e:

#1 Major event with far-reaching political effects occurs;

#2 Official investigation is formed;

#3 Official conclusions do not match up with much of (fairly obvious) contradictory evidence;

#4 Little or no effort is made to rectify official versions in light of contradictory evidence (and/or contradictory evidence is suppressed);

#5 Mainstream media ignores #3 and #4, and takes official conclusions at face value;

#6 "Conspiracy theorist" industry self-launches (perhaps with help?) surrounding event #1;

#7 Extreme "nutjob theorists" and skeptics are occasionally featured in MSM, to imply that all such skeptics (of the official narrative) are also nutjobs;

#8 Case is then closed -- official version stands, except for skeptics (some honest) who find voluminous evidence which does not support it;

#9 Virtually all skeptics concerning event are then forever marginalized -- tarred with same "nutjob" label and ignored;

#10 Repeat as necessary.

Conclusion: Conspiracy theorists industries may in some cases be created and fueled by deliberately constructing false official narratives which ignore key information of the event. Such false accounts actually serve, in a sophisticated manner, to control the master narrative by those in power. It is basically an effective propaganda strategy. The benefits of such a strategy are obvious, are they not?

With some work I believe you can identify this scenario playing out in several very large, politically important events in the United States post-WWII. This may be a more useful line of inquiry (and future essays) than examining the individual quirks of arguments of fringe nutjobs who may or may not be bona fide skeptics. The latter is divisive and produces "more heat than light", as the expression goes.

Best regards,

Rich Walker, PhD
Sebastopol, CA

Ernest Partridge Replies:

An insightful and generally accurate analysis. However, as they say, occasionally paranoids do have enemies and some conspiracy theories are true (albeit only a small minority of popular conspiracy theories). Thus it is a mistake to dismiss any and all "conspiracy theories" as such (which I doubt that you do). Some turn out to be true. Examples: the official White House version of Watergate ("third-rate burglary") was false and eventually a conspiracy was uncovered. The official Bush/Cheney/Rice/Powell (and disgracefully, the mainstream media) reasons for going to war (the Saddam/al Qaeda connection, WMDs, avoiding "the smoking gun qua mushroom cloud") were fraudulent, while the Downing Street memos, Joseph Wilson's column and hopefully the Fitzgerald investigation prove that there was a conspiracy afoot. Additionally, I am personally unable to "buy" the Warren Report version of the JFK assassination, and there is strong statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections were fraudulent.

The WTC towers were somewhat unusual in that they had bearing walls, support cross-members which carried the floors. Unusual in very tall buildings, as was touted when they were built, but actually a very old way of building buildings, and there are lots of mid-19th century examples in lower Manhattan. When they burn -- and several tons of kerosene does burn pretty nicely -- and the joists are weakened, it is entirely normal for such buildings to pancake. Ask any urban fireman; it is, I have been told, a worst-case nightmare. Interestingly, this seems to be a consensus view of the engineers' report on the collapse.

7 WTC did not actually collapse on its own footprint. It did not appear in any way like that of the towers. I was there, and I watched it slide east into (my college's) Fiterman Hall. (For all sorts of reasons, having to do with the Byzantine character of the City University among other things, you can still see the impact from this collapse.) I have heard different explanations for the way in which things happened there; I have no convincing explanation and the evidence is inconclusive. However, it does seem that there was a substantial fuel bunker for backup generation at the ConEd substation located in the lower level of that structure. I am not sufficiently learned in such matters, as to judge if such a fuel supply could catch fire, and weaken the lower levels of the (conventionally built, internal-framework) building, so that they would collapse and sort of spread out at the bottom, under the weight of relatively undamaged upper floors. An additional difficulty: That-asshole-Giuliani's emergency command center was on the 23rd floor, and quite early on, that command center had to be abandoned; apparently even then doors would not open and things were "out of true" enough that evacuation was difficult -- even a chancy thing. (Not chancy enough; Giuliani is still among the living.) ...

Don Jenner  (5/2)

Dr. Partridge,

I guess we have to assume then, that everybody you talk to feels that 9/11 was an inside job. Looks like word's getting around. Funny how you can try to stop it, but the truth seems to overcome. It happens inside a person too.

Tom Foti
NY 911 Truth Movement

Ernest Partridge Replies:

Surely it is not the case that "everybody you talk to feels that 9/11 was an inside job." Maybe "everybody" Tom Foti talks to. However, as you can see from this sample of letters, not "everybody" agrees. But what if (almost) everybody "felt" (as apposed to "rationally believed due to evidence") that 9/11 was an inside job? At one time "everybody" believed that the earth was flat. Didn't make it so. Argumentum ad populum (i.e., the nose count) has often proven to be very unreliable.

I liked your essay, which seemed to me far more balanced than what is available elsewhere on the internet. I found the lack of an official explanation for WTC-7 troubling also and did some searching this evening. I found the following, which is NIST's provisional explanation for the collapse.

I think you'll find it's far more credible than the various points of evidence purported to support collapse by demolition, as is claimed by virtually every website seeking to establish a coverup of some sort.

You might want to amend your essay to include it, as the slides in the NIST presentation provide analysis of CNN footage that one of the top penthouses collapses seconds before the rest of the building begins to fall. You mention in your article that "the collapse followed the exact pattern of a controlled demolition..." This is a point of evidence from a fairly trustworthy source that contradicts that statement.

A reasonable argument against demolition in my mind is why seven hours later? I know this is commonly cited as actual substantiation of the demolition claim, but it seems to me that if the demolitions were part of a larger plan to wreak sufficient destruction or to ensure a complete insurance claim, why not trigger the demolition sooner after the collapse of WTC 1 & 2?

My personal feeling after reading through volumes of this stuff (I was tripped into action via your essay, so thank you), is that the real conspiracy lies in the inaction of Cheney, Meyers, and Rumsfeld during the time that the four airliners were hijacked and crashed (or shot down). I suspect there was some advance knowledge of the plot, and the plan of action was to disable air defences and allow it to proceed.

For me, this explanation dovetails nicely with the puzzling aspects of the case.

Spencer Kimball

Dear Dr. Partridge,

As one who has been subjected to the rants of the 9/11 conspiracists during recent public speaking engagements (where I am discussing the Bush administration's fraud in connection with prewar intelligence) please accept my congratulations and gratitude for taking the time to do what I have had no will to do. I think your theory -- that the Bush administration might have known something was going to happen but did not fully appreciate the extent of it -- is entirely plausible. As one who spent more than 20 years working for the federal government, I am absolutely positive that they could not possibly have orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.

Elizabeth de la Vega

Ernest Partridge Replies:

I am honored to receive your comments, having read your online essays with great interest and admiration. Your voice is an invaluable asset in the growing resistance to the Bush/GOP oligarchy.

Is it just possible that the Bushevik regime might collapse before the November election? If so, I suspect that it will come about through the weight of a combination of factors: (a) the Libby/Rove/Plamegate investigation, about which you written so well, (b) the election integrity issue which, at long last, is now entering the courts, (c) Bush's plunging poll numbers, (d) a slowly awakening mainstream media, and (e) the onset, at last, of the economic disaster toward which Bush, Inc. has led us.

If the Democrats take control of at least one house of Congress, the investigations will begin, with horrendous consequences to the Bush regime.

They know this full well, and I dread what they might attempt to avoid it.

Dear Editor,

In the recent article "The 9/11 Conspiracy: A Skeptic's View", by Ernest Partridge, the author states categorically that the official version of what happened at the Pentagon has to be right. However, he fails to address many questions. Granted, he does talk about the more ridiculous conspiracy theory claims but he does not address simple questions such as "Why have we never seen the footage of the plane hitting the building?" We've seen the planes hitting the towers too many times to count. Are we to assume that the Pentagon, the most secure building in the world, doesn't have any security cameras? Also, why was the footage from CCTV cameras at the Pentagon gas station and nearby Sheraton hotel confiscated immediately and never shown publicly?

There are also many other questions such as "In the official version it states that the wing dug into the ground before striking the facade of the building, however, in photographs you can clearly see that the lawn in front of the building is basically undisturbed." And the fact that the building didn't collapse until 20 minutes AFTER impact is suspect as well. There is photographic and video evidence showing the facade of the Pentagon with some windows blown out, a circular hole, and some fire damage. Yet there is no indication of where the tail section and wings would have struck the building.

[Here] is a link to a movie somebody made about the Pentagon strike. Of course you have to take it with a grain of salt, but it does make some good points. Also, Mr. Partridge admits that there are many unanswered questions about WTC7 and notes the fact that it's collapse wasn't talked about in the 9/11 Commission Report. If the story about WTC7 is not entirely true, how are we supposed to believe the rest of the story?

Colin Cromwell
Santa Monica, CA

Ernest Partridge Replies:

You write: "the author states categorically that the official version of what happened at the Pentagon has to be right." I stated no such thing. Instead, I wrote that neither version is convincing, and the available evidence is weak. (You did read my essay, didn't you?)  Several critics have stated that a Boeing 757 couldn't have punched a small hole (16 feet by some accounts) in the side of the Pentagon, and a picture of said hole is often displayed with the assertion. That sounds reasonable. The implication is then drawn that a 757 did not strike the Pentagon. But that conclusion only follows if the indicated hole was the only damage to the side wall. I have found no compelling evidence that this was the case.


Thanks for an interesting essay on 9/11. It is rare to find someone who can admit that there are unknowns, even in the counter-theories to the Official Version.

For me, the big problem of 9/11, not just for us "conspiracy theorists" but for the Official Version as well, is a crisis of information confidence.

For instance, just this month, 5 years late, an FBI officer testifies that they found exactly the documents they needed to identify the perpetrators..  what am I to make of this? Why 5 years late? Can I really trust this information?  [The link is broken.  EP]

Also, why, pray tell:

1.) does the FBI not release footage actually showing flight 77 hit the Pentagon. They have it -- why let the debate rage? To what end?

2.) why did the put option investigation stall?

3.) why were the flight traffic tapes cut up and dropped in multiple trash bins by someone?

4.) why is it such a big deal to release information from the Moussaoui trial to 9/11 families?

...if it is just the Official Version, what's the big deal?

So I am left agreeing with you -- the only thing I can say is that I am not convinced of the Official Version. A mere opinion. For every expert, one can find a counter-expert.

So I don't know either. But my armchair psychological sense says that there were too many anomalies that day. At the least highly suggestive of criminal negligence.


Alan Gillette
Ph.D. Candidate, May 2006
UCLA Mathematics

Dear Mr. Partridge,

No, I am not angry with you.

I found your article to be a reasonable statement of your position, and you seem to have a healthy respect for facts and evidence. And, given all the implications of a controlled demolition theory of the WTC towers collapse, skepticism, at the very least, is in order. Regardless, I do believe there are significant flaws in your reasoning as to why the WTC towers could not have been subject to a controlled demolition, in particular your assertion that the collapse started from the point of airplane impact in each case, and that those who would need to place explosives could not have anticipated the impact points and had their explosives rigged to start from those points. To quote your article:

"Charges had to be set beforehand at the points of impact, the 94th to the 98th floors of the north tower, and the 78th to the 84th floors of the south tower. Both aircraft, in stunning feats of piloting skill, succeeded in striking precisely at those pre-arranged locations. However, all charges placed below those points of impact were either duds or were insufficient to precipitate collapses. The towers stood firm as the demolition moved downward from the impact points."

First of all, there is not a consensus that the collapses started precisely at the point of the airplane impacts. In the case of the North Tower, there does seem to be agreement that the television antenna atop the building was the first thing seen to move. And, as Steven Jones points out (see the attachment of excerpts from his paper), there is no reason why a controlled demolition cannot be done starting at the top and proceeding downward.

"Unlike WTC7, the twin towers appear to have been exploded “top-down” rather than proceeding from the bottom – which is unusual for controlled demolition but clearly possible, depending on the order in which explosives are detonated. That is, explosives may have been placed on higher floors of the towers and exploded via radio signals so as to have early explosions near the region where the plane entered the tower. Certainly this hypothesis ought to be seriously considered in an independent investigation using all available data."

An additional problem with the collapses, that I do not believe you cover adequately, is the violations of basic laws of physics that must occur if only structural damage by the airplanes and fires combined with gravity to bring down the towers. Steven Jones considers one example:

Those who wish to preserve fundamental physical laws as inviolate may wish to take a closer look. Consider the collapse of the South WTC Tower on 9-11.  [The] top ~ 30 floors of South Tower topple over.  What happens to the block and its angular momentum?

We observe that approximately 30 upper floors begin to rotate as a block, to the south and east. They begin to topple over, not fall straight down. The torque due to gravity on this block is enormous, as is its angular momentum. But then – and this I’m still puzzling over – this block turned mostly to powder in mid-air! How can we understand this strange behavior, without explosives? Remarkable, amazing – and demanding scrutiny since the US government-funded reports failed to analyze this phenomenon. But, of course, the Final NIST 9-11 report “does not actually include the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached.” (NIST, 2005, p. 80, fn. 1; emphasis added.)

I have attached another article along the same lines by Nila Sagaderan about free-fall physics, and how the fall of the WTC towers is not consistent with gravitational theory.

Finally, there is your statement about the handling of the evidence--the rubble left from the collapses:

Much of the “evidence” presented by the WTC conspiracy theorists is demonstrably false, fallacious or irrelevant. For example: ... "The debris was quickly collected without inspection and shipped off to Asia for recycling.” False. It was relocated to a collection site at Staten Island, where it was examined by forensic engineers, and where personal effects were identified. (Here, here, and here are three of the 54,000 Google hits from a search for “World Trade Center” and “Staten Island” and “Debris”)

I checked the links that you provided in your article. Indeed, much effort went into sifting through debris for evidence that would fit in with the official theory of the attack and collapse. However, I see no evidence in the sites you link to that much effort was put into looking for evidence of the use of explosive cutter charges on the main steel beams of the towers, or in following up such evidence. While the blanket statement that "The debris was quickly collected without inspection and shipped off to Asia for recycling" is certainly an overstatement, it is a fact that much of the structural steel was held only a short time and then sent off for recycling. Here is Steven Jones again, on this very subject:

I agree with this urgent yet reasoned assessment of expert fire-protection engineers, as boldly editorialized in the journal Fire Engineering... This editorial does not mention the controlled-demolition hypothesis, but rightfully objects to the rapid destruction of the structural steel which would provide crucial evidence from the crime scene. We agree that such destruction of evidence is wrong, and that a thorough investigation is imperative.

" For more than three months, structural steel from the World Trade Center has been and continues to be cut up and sold for scrap. Crucial evidence that could answer many questions about high-rise building design practices and performance under fire conditions is on the slow boat to China, perhaps never to be seen again in America until you buy your next car.

Such destruction of evidence shows the astounding ignorance of government officials to the value of a thorough, scientific investigation of the largest fire-induced collapse in world history. I have combed through our national standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere in it does one find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings over 10 stories tall." (Manning, 2002; emphasis added).

Over the course of my own research into the events of 9/11, I have found many theories of what happened that were demonstrably false, encountered many statements that were ill-considered. But the fact that some critics of the official version are guilty of these lapses does not mean that all of them are.

If you have not already done so, I would urge you to go to http://www.scholarsfor911truth.org  and read through Steven Jones peer-reviewed paper, "Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?", which I have quoted from above. As I have sought to demonstrate, he answers most of your objections to the controlled demolition theory.


Robert Auld  (5/2)

Attachments : StevenJonesexcerpts.rtfd.zip  (0.02 MB), 9-11Picture8(sotower).jpg (0.01 MB), 911blimpProof-Free-FallPhysics(thetowersfelltoofast).html (0.03 MB)

Ernest Partridge Replies:

My quarrel is not with "the laws of physics" (I am quite sane, after all), it is with the putative "evidence" which, combined with the "laws of physics," serve as premises for Jones' (etc.) arguments. I do not insist that this evidence is false, but I am not convinced that it is true. The foundation of evidence on both sides of the argument is very weak. Hence my skepticism. For more, see the comments that follow the next letter.

Dear Dr. Partridge,

I’m a Crisis Papers fan.

I just read your 4/25 piece on the 9/11 conspiracy. There is one point where I’d like to get my opinion in.

You compare the collapse of the towers with that of WTC building 7, and you point out that building 7’s collapse, like most controlled demolitions, seems to begin at the building’s base, while each tower’s collapse seems to begin at the point of impact, and you conclude that this means it is highly unlikely that the towers were brought down by explosive charges.

I ask you to consider the towers’ columns. Each of the WTC towers was supported by 47 columns at its core. Remember that the columns were what held the towers up. As you can see from the videos, as the tower floors fell, the columns that had been supporting them never showed up. Steel is most vulnerable to failure in buckling; it takes extraordinary circumstances, like explosives, to cause steel to break. And steel columns that simply buckled would be expected to stick out of the tops of the collapsing towers. They would not disappear (or fail to show up) as the towers’ columns did.

The towers’ floors presumably failed because of the weight of the upper floors collapsing on them. The columns, on the other hand, bore no such extra load; each column was designed to do its part to hold up 110 floors, and 110 floors is all they were ever required to support: When the floors collapsed, they fell onto other floors, not onto the columns. Of course, the floors were connected to the columns, and the shock of each pancake impact must have imposed an extra load on the columns – but while that mechanism could have caused buckling, it would not explain the columns’ disappearance.

But the towers could have collapsed the way they did if explosives – successful ones, not duds – were planted at frequent intervals along the columns *below* the point of impact of the airplanes.

You point out, rightly, that this is not how controlled demolitions are usually done, and this is not how WTC building #7 fell.

It could be that the two situations are different because there are reasons to set them up differently. I don’t know much about controlled demolitions, but I can imagine that the goal is usually to cause as much of a building as possible to fall into the building’s footprint. That is, it’s best if the building falls straight down. The debris will fall straightest if there’s nothing underneath it interfering with its fall. So you could have all pieces start to fall at once, or you could start the lower floors just a little sooner, but in any case the upper floors would not be made to fall first. And you would have explosives on many floors, so that you would not be left with huge pieces of columns that would fall over far outside the footprint, or continue to hold up several floors.

On the other hand, if the towers were brought down by a controlled demolition, it could not look too much like a controlled demolition. That pancake theory went a long way toward making the story fly. So if the explosive theory is correct, it might make sense for whoever planned it to make that pancaking thing happen. And that would work if the collapse started from the top. The towers’ columns could have been set to collapse at predetermined intervals, so that the towers would collapse from the top, each lower floor collapsing a fraction of a second later. I can’t think of any other way the floors would have pancaked the way they did.

The OV says each floor, already carrying the weight of the floors on top of it, collapsed into the floor below, causing that floor to accelerate downward and hit the next floor even harder. But that theory does not explain what happened to the columns. And the towers fell nearly as fast as they would have fallen with no resistance. That means that most of the towers’ potential energy (energy of position, which became energy of motion as they fell) went into accelerating them in their collapse – so what was the source of the energy that ripped out all the connections holding up the floors, blew out the glass windows, accelerated the air between the floors into hurricane-force winds on the street, and pulverized the towers’ concrete into so much powder that Gov Pataki commented that it was 3 to 5 inches deep from river to river? There had to be a source. It could have been explosives.

It is interesting that Wikipedia says the top 20 floors of the south tower (which were above the point of impact) pulverized in mid-air a few seconds into the collapse. Even in a collapse, a section of a building would need forces to act on it to cause it to disintegrate. What force besides ever-present gravity would be acting on a building section in free-fall? But perhaps those 20 floors – and the rest of the tower – disintegrated because they had been wired with explosives.

Certainly there are problems with the explosive theory. The biggest, IMO, is the question of how and when those explosives could have been planted. But from a physical point of view, the explosive theory is the only explanation that makes any sense to me.

Thanks for listening.

Jill Hacker

Ernest Partridge Replies:

Remember first of all, that I am a skeptic. By expressing doubt about one side, I am not affirming the other. That said, I would repeat that the best evidence I have are my own eyes as I examine the available images. And it seems quite apparent to those eyes, that the collapse began at the points of impact.

Next, I understand that load of the towers were sustained by both the core and the outer walls, and further by the connecting trusses.  According to the BBC documentary, the planes cut through the outer walls and the heat weakened the struts, when they failed, the walls collapsed, and when the core could no longer sustain the weigh above, it collapsed. And why did the south tower, hit second, fall first? Because it struck lower and thus there was greater weight above the impact point. That's the official version, as I understand it. I am neither a civil engineer nor a physicist, so this is a layman's view. Experts seem to be on both sides of this issue, which accounts, in part, for my skepticism.

As for "laws of physics," see my reply to the previous and my opening comment.

Thank you for publishing Dr. Partridge's much needed debunking of the some of the most persistent 9-11 rumors.

I have been trying to do so as well. To my dismay, the minister of my church, First Unitarian-Universalist of Austin, Texas, has fallen prey to the unfounded claims of David Ray Griffin and other conspiracy theorists. It is very distressing that otherwise sensible people are falling prey to this hysteria. One of the most unsettling aspects of the conspiracy theory movement is that they seem to have become fellow travelers with far-right conspiracy theorists like Holocaust denier Christopher Bollyn (because of course the "Zionists" were really to blame). Not the company I want to keep!

Partridge's explanation of the improbability of demo charges being the cause of the WTC collapses is one of the best I have read. And I applaud his common-sense reaction to the ludicrous claim that an airliner did not crash into the Pentagon.

My only objections to Dr. Partridge's article are that he unwittingly perpetuates some misconceptions about 9-11, and does not seem to be aware of readily available information that explains the items he describes as anomalies. Allow me to elaborate.

Like most, Partridge errs in assuming that it was the 9-11 Commission which was tasked with investigating the WTC collapses. It was not. Their scope was to investigate just about everything BUT the causes of the physical collapse of the towers. (See pg. xv of the introduction to the 9-11 Commission Report.) Rather, the tower investigations were the responsibility of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the National Institute of Safety Technology (NIST), FEMA (please don't laugh, the careerists are very professional, not like the hapless political appointees), and many academic institutions. These professionals took metallurgical samples onsite and from landfill sites. An oft-repeated canard is that investigators were prevented from accessing the site, or were not allowed to retrieve sufficient samples. Untrue. Here is an interview with just one of the researchers, who risked his own health and safety to get samples:

The claims that investigations were either disallowed or unfunded are simply nonsense.

It is important to note that these trained professionals have provided the results of their investigations for all to see. No one is hiding anything! These collapses are the most studied building collapses in history. Here are just two of the official report sites: National Institute of Safety Technology, FEMA.

Regarding the collapse of WTC 7,
the ASCE has said this:  [Broken link.  EP]

Although the tower [WTC 1] appears to collapse in its own footprint, subsequent review of aerial photographs of the site after the collapse—as well as damage to adjacent structures—will suggest that debris impacted the Marriott Hotel (WTC 3), the Customs House (WTC 6), the Morgan Stanley building (WTC 5), WTC 7, and the American Express and Winter Garden buildings located across West Street. The debris field extended as far as 500 ft from the tower base.

I urge you to read the whole ASCE article. It puts many 9-11 claims to rest.

Part of the conspiracy claims swirling around WTC 7 have to do with the fact that initial footage of the building appeared to show minimal fire damage. In fact, fires triggered by debris from WTC 1 inflicted massive damage on WTC 7,  leading to its eventual collapse. Firefighters at the scene reported a hole 20 stories tall on the south side, while the north and east sides appeared undamaged.

Partridge is mistaken when he states the official explanation of the collapse of WTC 7 is "not a compelling explanation." In fact, there is no scientific controversy about the cause of its collapse. It was massively damaged by falling debris and the fires triggered by the falling debris. There was no "controlled" demolition, as conspiracists insist. And as I mentioned earlier, the 9-11 Commission Report does not discuss the WTC 7 collapse because that was outside the scope of the commission.

The NIST website has the following 42-page PDF summary of the causes of the WTC complex collapses.

I am sure that Dr. Partridge would concur that believing controlled demolitions took out the WTC complex is on the same level as believing in intelligent-design creationism. The reasoning and tactics of the 9-11 conspiracists differs little from those of creationists or other fringe groups: false claims, unsupported claims, and a general ignorance of the scientific method, for starters.

Regarding Dr. Steve Jones, he has a physics degree and is respected in the specific field of his expertise, but he is NOT qualified to comment on the temperatures of the steel found in the collapse site. I've read his paper. I'm certainly not technically qualified to critique it at length, but my layman's assessment is that he made unsubstantiated claims and claims that contradict those of the professionals who actually investigated the collapses. For example: there were no pools of molten steel, as he claims. Jones quotes engineering professor Thomas Eagar to substantiate his claims, but Eagar himself explained  that it was not necessary for the fires to reach temperatures hot enough to melt steel.

Further, Dr. Jones's area of expertise is not structural engineering or fire engineering, but a type of cold fusion unrelated to the technical background needed to investigate a building collapse. Simply put, he did not investigate the collapses and is little more qualified than I am to offer an opinion on what brought the towers down.

Partridge also mentioned several "anomalies" that he believes undercut the official version. His concerns, however, are unfounded.

There were numerous reports of explosions below the impact points at the time the towers were hit. Others report that there were explosions before the planes hit.

The "numerous reports" of explosions below the impact point have already been debunked: people either heard sounds of collapsing metal which sounded like explosions, or they SAID it sounded like explosions, and their words were taken literally.

Dr. Partridge links to a blog that gives only a single example of a witness who implies he heard explosions before the plane hit. This blog gives only one working link about this claim: a story on The Conservative Voice (which, disturbingly, also refers to Holocaust denier Christopher Bollyn). Survivor William Rodriguez, who was in the basement of WTC 1 at the time of the attack, heard sounds he characterized as "explosions". Please note that he was in the basement. How could he possibly say that a noise he characterized as an "explosion" could have occurred before the first plane hit? A more rational explanation was that the first sound he heard was that of the plane striking the building, while subsequent sounds were those of collapsing metal and other debris.

Just because someone thought he or she heard explosions is no proof that there were explosions. Collapsing metal structures sound like explosions. We should be more surprised if witnesses didn't report explosion-like sounds. Really, what else would massive amounts of collapsing metal and debris have sounded like? Witnesses to a crane collapse in Milwaukee reported that it sounded like explosions. Why has no one claimed that the crane collapse was due to a bomb?

Tapes of interviews with air traffic controllers were destroyed.

The link to the story about air traffic control tapes being destroyed is broken, so I cannot address that issue. I suspect this issue will amount to very little. [Now replaced with a valid link. EP]. (FWIW, every similar claim that I have investigated has either turned out to be untrue or innocuous.)

When news of the attack reached the Florida school where Bush was visiting, the Secret Service failed to remove the president from that previously publicized location.

So what? The President was in Florida. The attacks were in NYC. If Secret Service agents thought the President was in immediate, life-threatening danger, they would have hustled him out of there. Also, consider this: we do not know whether the Secret Service agents on the scene had the same information about the second attack that Bush and Andrew Card did. Even if the agents did know, there was no reason to believe that multiple simultaneous attacks were taking place across the U.S. The hysterical story at WhatReallyHappened.com makes unproven claims and sweeping generalizations, and indulges in baseless rumor-mongering. The author demonstrates no knowledge of Secret Service protocol or security issues in general. Frankly, it's not worth wasting time on this nonsense.

There was a flood of "put options" (anticipations of loss) on American Airlines and United Airlines stock, within the week before 9/11.

This claim has already been discredited. The high volumes traded in the days before 9-11 were in response to bad news about both airlines. No great mystery.

The governments, New York City and State, and the Feds still have a lot of splainin’ to do.
Actually not. Now, the Bush administration has a lot of 'splainin' to do: Why they ignored the President's Daily Brief of Aug. 7, 2001, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S.'” Why Bush refused to answer questions under oath--and why he insisted that Cheney baby sit him during his questioning. Why Bush cowered in Air Force One instead of flying to Washington to take charge. Why Cheney and other administration officials ignored the warnings of Richard Clarke. But as far as the state and local governments--not so much.

Finally, while I welcome Dr. Partridge's well-founded skepticism about 9-11 claims, I take issue with statements like this: "First of all, it is clear that the 9/11 Commission is a travesty. Too many phenomena are unexplained."

Dr. Partridge has failed to prove that the 9-11 Commission report is a travesty. The commission members were working under unfair restrictions placed upon them by the Bush administration, but did their best to produce an accurate report under those ridiculous conditions. If he has specific criticisms of the report, I would be glad to hear them. What "phenomena" exactly are unexplained? As I pointed out earlier, it was not the Commission's job to investigate the cause of the WTC collapses. Their job was to discover the failures in intelligence that allowed a small band of hijackers to gain controlled of several planes and destroy the WTC complex.

I want to stress that Dr. Partridge has injected a much-needed note of skepticism into 9-11 speculation, I just wish he had taken it farther.


A.D. Kay

Ernest Partridge Replies:

I am awestruck! This is a terrific [contribution] to this discussion. There is more confidence here in "the official view" than I am able to share, but it presents a vigorous and worthy case for OV. A. D. Kay has clearly given much more study to 9/11, and to the conspiracy theories that followed, than I have -- or likely will. Thus I am grateful for this case for "the official view."

The May 9, 2006 Collection:

Note:  An expansive reply to many of these letters will be found at the end of this collection.  EP

I read your essay entitled "The 9/11 Conspiracy: A Skeptic's View". I have to say that I share some common ground with you in that I don't believe that the official version of what happened on 9/11 is a reality, nor do I necessarily believe any of the "conspiracy theories" that are out there. However, the way the "investigation" was handled by the Bush administration really makes me angry and very skeptical of everything.

The main reason I felt inclined to write to you was your part of the essay about the Pentagon. You write that the "evidence is clear, unequivocal and overwhelming" in support of the official version. I would love to share your opinion. I just can't get around the pictures of the Pentagon wall before it collapsed. To me, these pictures show clearly that no large aircraft struck the Pentagon. Ever since I have seen these pictures, nobody has bothered to explain how the aircraft could have made that kind of impact.

I would love to be wrong about this. I would enjoy it intensely if you could explain these images to me since everyone else in the world seems to ignore them. My own father told me when looking at the pictures: "You don't know how it's supposed to look when a big plane hits the Pentagon." This might be true. But these pictures do nothing to reinforce my belief in the official version of
the story.

would like it if you could explain this for me since you seem to think that the evidence against the official version isn't very compelling. If you don't know what pictures I am referring to, please e-mail me and I'm sure I can dig a few up for you.

Thank you,
Tre Hoffman.  (5/9)

Dr. Partridge,

Likely you are receiving many emails on your piece on 9/11... and rightly so.  I've spent that past almost 2 years researching this subject, and I am amazed that you can conclude what you do about the event. I'm sure it will do no good to go into scientific detail, or evidence detail, so all I'll ask is that you continue to research the collection of DVD's and websites available and look at the accumulated amount of evidence that creates major questions about the government's story.

I'd also ask you to consider that our government is a rogue element in this country and was directly responsible for another disaster of their making... O.K. City bombing. You can view the 10 minute video evidence yourself here... http://100777.com/media/911.ram For OK City clip, go to 17 minutes, 27 seconds to begin this section. This is also presented in the DVD 911 in plane site, better quality.

If hundreds of PhD's and others who have reviewed the evidence believe thetowers and building 7 were demolished, with hundreds of thousands of others as well once they see the evidence, it makes it a bit hard to cast this off as conspiracy nutism.

I believe the evidence will soon be revealed which will show you to be wrong in your assessment...

Dr. Jeffrey Maehr
thecountyguard.org    (5/9)

Ernest Partridge replies:

With all due respect, I sincerely doubt that "hundreds of Ph.Ds ... have reviewed the evidence [and] believe the towers and Building 7 were demolished." Dozens, perhaps.   However, I am confident that at least as many Ph.Ds (including this Ph.D) who have examined the evidence are unconvinced by the hypotheses of David Ray Griffen (Ph.D), Steven Jones (Ph.D) and James Fetzer (Ph.D).

Thus is validated Partridge's First Law of Expertise: "For every Ph.D, there is an equal and opposite Ph.D."

Dear Dr. Ernest Partridge,

I read your provocative article The 9/11 Conspiracy: A Skeptic's View, posted on OpEdNews.com

I do not know how long you have studied the 9/11 issue. I have done so for over 3 years. Hundreds of people have been looking - without any outside help and without vested interest - at thousands of statements, documents, photographs, videos and other available evidence, in order to make sense of these events. A wide consensus has emerged in the 9/11 truth movement that the official account on 9/11 cannot be true. There is also a growing consensus, based on a large number of facts, that the WTC was demolished by explosives. Prof. Griffin lists 11 reasons to believe this. His listing makes sense.

In your article you mention eyewitnesses as one of the reasons to believe the official account on the Pentagon crash. Prof. Griffin and others equally cite numerous witnesses who have heard, seen and experienced multiple explosions shortly before and during the collapse of the WTC. You do not seem to take note of these witnesses' account in your rejection of the "controlled demolition" thesis. In addition it is necessary to account for the energy necessary to pulverize most of the buildings into extremely tiny dust. The official account does not even address this crucial fact. Now, if it can be demonstrated that the WTC was demolished by explosives, there is no escape from the conclusion that the US government has had its hand in the crime and questions must be equally asked regarding the other crashes. If only for this reason, it is important to establish how the buildings collapsed. Why should the government be so loath in establishing the reason for the collapses? Why didn't the Kean Commission invite the witnesses of explosions to testify? Why did it lie regarding the core steel columns?

Many questions remain regarding the Pentagon crash. Apart the known questions regarding debris and damage to the building, as well as the lack of video evidence of the crash, here is an analysis by an aeronautical engineer and pilot regarding the physical impossibility of flying AA77 into the Pentagon and the capabilities of any of the alleged hijackers to have accomplished this deadly feat. . You are right in citing the numerous eyewitnesses who claim to have seen AA77. However, their evidence is not uniform. A number of witnesses claim to have seen more than one aircraft. Others suggest that it was a missile. Because of the multiple variations in their evidence, we cannot make definitive conclusions. We must also take into account the possibility that a military aircraft was painted in AA colors to deceive witnesses. Your claim that the AA77 story is settled cannot be sustained.

And finally, just a small comment: It is not our duty to disprove the Government's conspiracy theory. It is the Government to prove that its own allegations against a host of named individuals are well-founded. If it cannot prove its allegations, it is not only engaging in terrible defamation against these people and their families, but lying to the entire world. A person is innocent unless proven guilty in due process. Not a single person has been yet proven guilty for this mass murder. The US government has not even produced a shred of evidence that any Muslim boarded the four aircraft which were allegedly hijacked on 9/11. I have offered $1000 for any such evidence. No one has claimed the prize. And if there were not Arabs on board, then how were the crime committed? We do not even know for certain whether the aircraft which crashed on the WTC had passengers on board, because the US government refuses to produce evidence that links the debris to the departing aircraft. AA11 and AA77 were not even scheduled to fly on 9/11, according to the database of the Department of Transportation (BTS), when consulted one year after the events. The record on these flights in the BTS was amended belatedly, after skeptics discovered the missing record. Your apparent "neutrality" between the government's official account and the various alternative theories is, with all due respect, misplaced. There is an enormous disparity in the capacity of the Government to deceive and cover up and that of ordinary citizens to reveal the crime. In view of the the mountain of contradictions, lies, anomalies and secrecy surrounding the government's account, and in the light of the motive, means and opportunity possessed by the US government to commit the crime of 9/11, there is a prima facie case to consider the US government as the main suspect. A presumption of guilt towards the government is fully warranted.

With my kind greetings,

Elias Davidsson  (5/9)

Dear Dr Partridge,

I have just read your piece on 9-11 on Guerilla News. A pleasing blast of sanity! I have occasionally debated with the 9-11 people over here (in the UK) but have pretty much given up. There is no dialogue: just two conflicting views. My base line, I suppose, is trying to imagine the meeting - or series of meetings - in which "the conspirators" agree to do all the extraordinary things they are supposed to have done. How would that go?

"So, we're agreed, then: we wire the WTC buildings with explosives then persuade a bunch of Jihadists to hi-jack them and fly them into the buildings as a cover story. All those in favour?"  This is preposterous at best.

All that remains of real interest, as you suggest, is the fall of WTC7.  This does appear to have been demolished. In which case the question is: where did the demolition charges come from? It takes a long time to wire a small building for the vertical drop. It would take days - maybe weeks - to wire something the size of WTC7.


Robin Ramsay  (5/9)

Hi Ernest,

Well I read your so called balanced piece, and all the letters pertaining to it, and I noticed that you conveniently ignored answering some of the best letters. Such as the following one which makes some good points:

Art (Jim) T.  (5/9)

Dear Ernest,

I read your essay regarding the OV and the CTs out there regarding what really happened on 9/11. It was very interesting. I am of the opinion that our government at least knew the attacks were going to happen. But, like almost all Americans, don't want to believe that our government somehow played a role in these attacks.

Regarding the Pentagon attack, a few things you did not discuss:

1. Video tapes that would show what actually DID hit the Pentagon, from the Citgo gas station as well as the Sheraton hotel, were confiscated minutes after the Pentagon attack by the FBI. These tapes would provide documented evidence that a 757 did actually hit the building. Where are these tapes and why does the government not show them to dispel any CT that a missile hit the building. The only video that was provided was from the Pentagon showing only 5 frames of the attack which does not show a 757 hitting the building.

2. Hani Hanjour was supposedly the pilot that flew the 757 into the Pentagon. Hanjour could not even fly a Cessna, let alone maneuvering a 757 at 400+ MPH into the Pentagon building without leaving a scratch on the Pentagon lawn. The Loose Change video discusses this. I am sure you have already seen the video, but if not... here is the link .

3. Cell phone calls were supposedly made from Flight 77. In 2001, the technology to make cellphone calls from an airplane flying at 30,000 ft. and flying at 400 + MPH was simply not available.

Regarding the WTC 7 collapse:

It is inexplicable how a building with limited fires collapsed in its own footprint as if pulled down by controlled demolition. However, there is documented evidence that the building was "pulled" based on an interview Larry Silverstein gave weeks after 9/11 where he specifically said the decision was made to "pull it". I really believe that the collapse of the WTC 7 building is the smoking gun that 9/11 was premeditated by our government.

I would be interested in knowing if you have taken the time to read both of David Ray Griffin's books, "The New Pearl Harbor..." and the "9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions". I agree with you that a TOTALLY INDEPENDENT commission needs to be created to take a second look at the gaping holes in the OV. There are just too many unanswered questions with the Commission Report.

Again, thanks for your skepticism regarding the OV and the CTs that are out there.


Kurt Watson (5/2)


Ernest Partridge replies:

"Conveniently ignored"? Do I detect a note of sarcasm here?

My essay generated about 500 responses, over one hundred of which (I would guess) might have warranted a reply. But clearly I could not answer all of them. I did, however, reply at some length to many of the letters. Those replies may have made redundant, my responses to others that raised similar points. I believe that was the case with the letter by Kurt Watson, which you quoted above.

Very early in my essay, I clearly stated that the evidence on all sides of the issue was very weak. If so, then all citations of evidence should be qualified with the words "reportedly," "allegedly" and (as above) "supposedly."

For example, consider your points #2 and #3, above.  If Hani Hanjour was incapable of flying a Boeing 757, this may indicate, as you suggest, that the OV is false.  But it also suggests that (a) reports of Hanjour's incompetence were false, or (b) that Hanjour did not, in fact, pilot the aircraft.  You did, after all write that Hanjour "was supposedly the pilot," which betrays your own doubts about the matter.

RE: #3.  I also found the story of the cell phone calls from United 93 to be incredible.  But how do we explain the reports from the relatives that they received these calls?  Were they all liars?  Then I was told that the calls were made by on-board phones (that one finds behind the seats).  So what is the truth? I don't have the authenticated facts.  Do you?

Returning to the attack on the Pentagon:

Now suppose I accepted the CT claim that Flight 77, a Boeing 757, did not hit the Pentagon. In that case, I would be hard-pressed to explain the photos of airplane parts (allegedly) taken at the scene, or the (alleged) eyewitness reports of an airliner, or the (alleged) reports of body parts identified by DNA analysis, and of personal belongings (allegedly) recovered at the scene. Is it possible that all this testimony was false and the result of threats and bribes, and that the photos and evidence were faked and planted? Yes, it is possible.

If, on the other hand, I were to accept the official version, then I would have to come to terms with the (allegedly) seized and unreleased videotapes, the (reportedly) pristine lawn, the (supposedly) impossibly small hole in the side of the Pentagon, and the (alleged) total absence of airplane parts at the scene -- that latter allegation in total contradiction to the (alleged) evidence cited above. In addition, defending the official version, I would not have to deal with the huge question of the fate of Flight 77 and all its passengers. Is it possible that the reports of the pristine lawn, of the confiscated tapes, of the incompetent pilot, etc. are all unfounded? Yes, it is possible.

Summing up, there is no clear-cut resolution of the dispute, so long as the evidence remains weak. It is logically impossible for all this "evidence" and testimony to be true. Some of it, on one side or the other (and quite likely both sides) is plainly false and the result of "elevated rumors," coerced or bribed testimony, or falsification of physical evidence.

Whichever version one believes, one is left to deal with troublesome anomalies -- "facts" cited by the opposing side that can not easily be dismissed. My inclination is to believe that a Boeing 757 struck the Pentagon. But it is just that: an inclination. Give me some solidly confirmed evidence for the "conspiracy theory," and some persuasive grounds for discounting the alleged eyewitness accounts and the reports of physical evidence, and I might be persuaded to change my tentatively held opinion.

Many Americans seem to share a cultural disinclination to take skepticism seriously. Instead, our compatriots too easily assume that if someone does not accept one hypothesis, he must therefore firmly believe another. The very idea that someone might be unconvinced of any and all accounts seems incomprehensible to many individuals. Well, I am a skeptic. No account of the Pentagon attack, the destruction of the World Trade Center, or the fate of United 93 over Pennsylvania, convinces me, though I am inclined, on the basis of incomplete and weak evidence to accept the "official versions."  I do so through no loyalty to Bush or any motive to absolve the Bush crime syndicate of all suspicion of guilt.  I believe that they are fully capable of such a heinous crime.  My "inclination" follows my assessment of the incomplete and weak evidence before me, not my political convictions.

Other "official versions," for example the Warren Report on the JFK assassination, as well as the assassinations of RFK and Martin Luther King, strike me as not credible. Moreover, I find that accounts that I have read of the "accidental" death of Paul Wellstone simply do not add up.

If we had a government and a media that we could trust, then we might at last come to some firm resolution of these questions.  But of course, we do not have such a government or media.

Posted May 16, 2006

Dear Dr. Partridge.

RE: Your article The 9/11 Conspiracy: A Skeptic’s View.

Please note that the official states that the 757 hit the wall of the Pentagon at 530 miles per hour. According to the scene something did seem to have hit the Pentagon basically at ground level and since there were entry and exit holes which were on a plane level it follows that what hit the Pentagon hit it horizontally. It then follows that what hit the Pentagon had to approach the Pentagon horizontally basically at ground level. Remember it was at 530 mph. At that speed you don't have time for anything really. The plane moves at 800 feet per second so it's quite obvious that to be able to hit the building horizontally basically at ground level your approach for at least a mile has to be basically at ground level.

Now; witnesses need to describe this turn of events of course. They have to describe a 757 zooming by, virtually hugging the ground. The guy in a car right outside the pentagon who described that plane going 30 feet over his car needs to explain how he and his car managed to miss the horrid noise and pressure from the plane at 850 mph.

The testimony has to fit the crime and the scene of the crime. Otherwise it's pretty much useless unless you want to refute the official story.

We have an official story about this event.

This story is unsubstantiated. They do not explain how that 757 managed to approach the Pentagon at 530 mph. A 100-ton airliner zooming at this speed virtually feet off the ground would have profound effects on the environment, cars would careen from the pressure and people would at least lose their hearing.

This is just the most nonsensical part of the official story here.

Before we start figuring out what happened to that plane we better get it to the building - at 530 miles per hour. I can't wait to see a follow-up article explaining that. Maybe you can even find a single pilot in this world who will confirm that it's physically possible to fly a 757 at 530 mph horizontally just feet off the ground. Remember that there is no substantiated official THEORY
here. In order for that story to be at theory level it has first to be proven physically possible.

Best regards,


Dr Partridge,

I think you may have missed a few obvious points:

You say:  "...highly improbable scenario:

Charges had to be set beforehand at the points of impact, the 94th to the 98th floors of the north tower, and the 78th to the 84th floors of the south tower. Both aircraft, in stunning feats of piloting skill, succeeded in striking precisely at those pre-arranged locations. However, all charges placed below those points of impact were either duds or were insufficient to precipitate collapses. The towers stood firm as the demolition moved downward from the impact points. "

It is quite obvious from observing the videos that explosives were planted on many floors, about every third floor for the whole height of the buildings. Thus it is no coincidence that the collapse started from the floor of impact as the demolitions could be triggered remotely to begin wherever the perpetrators wanted. Explosions proceeded both up and down from the point of impact and the sequence could be programmed after the plane impact. No coincidence required.

You are trying to remain in the LIHOP (let it happen on purpose) camp. But that would require that there exist a real terrorist group, Al CIAda, independent of the CIA, capable of committing the crime. There is absolutely no evidence for that. There is plenty of evidence that Al CIAda is a squad of patsies run by the CIA/DOD and controlled through a program called Able Danger. The dramatic testimonies of Condi Rice and Richard Clark at the 911 commission hearings were nothing more than a classic 'good cop, bad cop' routine designed to pin the blame on the patsies. You should read Webster Tarpley's "Synthetic Terror".

*Bottom Line*: if you accept that WTC7 was taken down with controlled demolitions (which your article suggests you do) then you are a confirmed CT. To prepare the building for CD requires weeks of preparations which means they had foreknowledge of the attacks, and the coverup of the crime scene requires government complicity. That, my friend, means you think our government is responsible for the attacks! Everything else is just detail, which we will not know for sure until we have a real criminal investigation.

Matt Sullivan

Ernest Partridge replies:

Quite frankly, I'm about burnt out on this topic, and much of what I might say in response to your letter I have said earlier.

Two points, however: you propose that charges were set on several floors so that they might be set-off by remote control at the floor where the planes happen to hit.  I've received a few other letters that said the same.

This strikes me as a desperate attempt to salvage an improbable hypothesis by making it still more improbable -- adding ad-hoc "explanations" with no independent warrant, that serve only to hold up the theory.  E.g.:  "Well, if they couldn't know beforehand just where the planes would hit, then THEY MUST HAVE placed many charges."  And why believe this?  Because it props up the foregone conclusion of controlled demolition.  (Its the sort of thing one encounters in "young-earth" creationist "explanations" of the formation of the Grand Canyon).

Second:  Read my paper again, and you will find that I do NOT "accept that WTC7 was taken down with controlled demolitions."  I just don't know.  There are non-CD explanations for the CD like collapse of WTC7.

Still more letters here.


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .