- With special thanks to J. Beck, Boudewijn Wegerif and
- Did US intelligence agencies allow the attacks on the
World Trade Center to proceed through criminal conspiracy, inexcusable
complacency, or White House orders to look the other way to avoid embarrassing
- Corrected casualty assessments now indicate that the
only major tenant of the World Trade Center to suffer suspiciously light
losses on the morning of Sept. 11 was the FBI.
- In pre-hardcover editions of All Fall Down: The Politics
of Terror and Mass Persuasion I quoted a very reliable source indicating
that the Twin Towers two biggest corporate tenants went nearly unscathed
by the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
- Recent emails from a Morgan Stanley survivor and others
resulted in a cross check of casualty lists showing that this big investment
firm suffered hundreds of fatalities in the Sept. 11 attacks. Goldman
Sachs apparently did suffer light casualties but its offices are located
in a nearby complex and not in the Twin Towers themselves.
- My original source citation reads:
- "Morgan Stanley, the largest tenant of the WTC
complex lost none of its 3500 employees occupying some 50 floors according
to the Washington Post. Neither did Oppenheimer Funds. [It was] also verified
that at least one Goldman Sachs Vice President had taken the day off to
go surfing. This may or may not be a lucky coincidence?"
- At the speed of networked news additions and corrections,
it was not my source's responsibility to update me. I should have checked.
I checked now. A quick response to my query late last week has explained
that the stories I had referenced were based on early reports by mainstream
media [including the Washington Post] who later corrected themselves
just as CBS amended its initial report that no jet interceptors were based
at Andrews Air Force Base.
- Removing Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs from the
low casualties equation removes the contention that these corporate giants
located on a Sept. 7 State Department worldwide warning that Americans
may be the target of a terrorist threat [from] extremist groups with
links to Osama bin Laden s al Qaeda organization.
- Could a fully occupied WTC have been evacuated in time
to account for the current casualty figures?
- Civil engineer Lowell Manning takes issue with Eamonn
O'Brien who in a recent interview calculated there should have been 38,500
people in both Trade Towers by 8:30 that morning plus at least 10 percent
additional visitors for a total occupancy, so around 41,000 people altogether.
- A Canadian evacuation expert who has run unannounced
drills in government office buildings, O'Brien figures that the World
Trade Center must have been less than 30 percent occupied" to account
for fatality figures now placed at 2,940 dead..
- Manning has conservatively assumed the tower population
at 100 per floor on average, to give a figure of 20,000 all told, because
there were at least 4 plant floors in each building and some unoccupied
floors undergoing refit/renovation. Press reports generally put the population
at around 25,000. There is absolutely no evidence that the buildings were
- Besides noting that Goldman Sachs was located nearby
not actually in the twin towers - Manning observes that Morgan Stanley
was spread over 21 floors (not 50 as claimed in the original quote).
- The New Zealander adds, I do not for one moment believe
Eamonn O'Brien's figures of about 30 percent. occupancy. Is he taking into
account that the South tower evacuation will have started before UA 175
hit it at 9.04 am? I think the order to evacuate would have been given
as a matter of routine disaster response pretty soon after the north tower
was hit at about 8.48 am.
- But it does not appear that an orderly evacuation began
in the South Tower until a second jetliner hit its upper floors. Survivors
report that security announcements in the South Tower instructed employees
to return to their desks after the North Tower suffered a massive explosion.
We appear to be all right, said security. Office workers quoted in All
Fall Down say they were nervously discussing the word appear when the
South Tower was struck.
- Since the South Tower collapsed before the North Tower,
could it have been evacuated in time to account for an estimated 660 casualties?
Here is Manning s view:
- THE WTC STORY - A TALE OF TWO TOWERS By Lowell Manning
- March 2002
- At the time of impact, there was nobody in the part
of the WTC South tower that UA Flight 175 crashed into. Most of the losses
in the South tower were caused when the building collapsed some 55 minutes
- Of an estimated 620 deaths in the south tower2, about
590 were people who were working above level 80 and only 30 or so below
level 803. The plane crashed into the building between levels 43 and 74,
occupied mainly by Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley was by far the largest
firm in either of the twin towers, occupying 21 floors and employing at
least 2000 staff. Of the nine staff there who lost their lives, 5 were
- A general evacuation of the South tower must have been
ordered soon after Flight AA 11 struck the North tower at about 8.48 am,
giving enough time for people to get into the stairwells before UA Flight
175 hit the South tower at about 9.04am. (Given the devastation caused
by AA Flight 11 to people in the North tower, the only other explanation
would be that Morgan Stanley was forewarned of the attack.)
- The 10,000 or so people in the building could only move
down the stairwells as fast as they could physically exit the building
and as fast as the stairwells themselves allow. Fire service teams fighting
their way up the stairwells against the flow of people moving down would
have slowed the evacuation and the initial rescue effort in both towers.
- Assuming the buildings were designed to be evacuated
in an hour, (any longer, in my view, would be irresponsible) the stairwells
would "pass" about 200 people a minute. So if there are about
100 people employed on each floor on average, the crowd in the stairwells
moves down about two floors each minute. People from around level 80 would
have been near the impact zone when UA Flight 175 crashed into it. Even
without severe structural damage to the building, heat and smoke in the
stairwells at and above the impact zone would make the descent more difficult.
Firms that were relatively slow to evacuate (like Eurobrokers Inc [level
84] who lost about 60 people, AON Corporation [levels 99,100] who lost
about 175 people and Sandler O'Neill [level 104] who lost about 50 people)
would have been at the top of the queue unable to speed up their exit.
Feeding into already choked stairwells would be difficult. Until UA Flight
175 hit the building, there was no obvious need to panic, and many people
would have waited in the stairwell lobbies.
- Following the South tower attack, some people would
be panicking, while others would be injured in the crush on the stairs.
An hour does not seem to have been enough to clear the South tower and
the end of the queue was trapped when the building collapsed.
- The story with the North tower is different. It collapsed
at about 10.28am, roughly one hour and forty minutes after impact. AA
Flight 11 crashed near level 100 towards the top of the building. Of some
1640 deaths in the north tower, just 50 or so were below level 92, (assuming
the 76 deaths among employees of the building owners, Port Authority of
New York and New Jersey, are distributed in proportion to the deaths elsewhere).
Thirteen of those 50 were General Telecom staff (level 84) who may have
evacuated very late.
- The largest tenant was rumoured to be the FBI (occupying
levels 64-76), followed by Marsh USA (levels 94-100). There are just
2 FBI deaths acknowledged in the victim list, including former FBI chief
John O'Neill who had recently been appointed WTC head of security.
- Windows on the World (levels 106-107) contributed an
estimated 450 deaths, made up of roughly 100 staff, all those on the victim
list whose firms were not on the list of tenants, and those on the list
for whom no employer is given. Cantor Fitzgerald was, like Windows on
the World, practically annihilated, suffering 660 casualties (levels 101-105).
Marsh US had 300 deaths (levels 94-100). Fred Alger Management had 30
or so deaths at Level 93 and Carr Futures about 70 deaths at Level 92.
The remainder are mainly the Port Authority employees who died.
- The Nishi-Nippon bank had an office on level 102, losing
just 2 staff, and Kidder Peabody & Co an office on level 101 also
losing just 2 staff. These offices must have been shielded from the crash
impact by the core of the building. This suggests the stairwells were
usable up to level 102, even if they were not usable further up.
- The Fire Service had to deal with dense billowing smoke,
fire, rescue and injuries as well as coordinate evacuation. While the
crash no doubt caused many deaths, and smoke inhalation many more, most
of the deaths occurred when the building collapsed. Rescuers didn't have
enough time to complete their work. The injured could not be quickly
evacuated. The top levels were apparently closed off by damage and heat,
trapping over 1000 people, preventing the emergency services from getting
to them. Given more time, some of them might have been saved.
- Fortunately, the South tower behaved better in an engineering
sense while it stood. If what happened in the North tower had happened
in the South tower, the final September 11th toll would have been more
like 6000 instead of 3000 because everyone still in the south tower stairwells
above the impact point would probably have been trapped. If AA Flight
11 had struck lower down the North tower at a similar level to UA Flight
175, and caused the same damage it did further up, the toll would have
been twice as much again. On balance, given the nature of the attacks
and the building design, luck and luck alone kept the casualty figures
- About 90 percent. of those in the towers at the time
of the WTC attacks got out safely. The Fire Service paid dearly for its
efforts, losing some 347 men. Given the enormity of the event, some will
argue the loss of life was not that bad. My point is that most of the
10 percent. who did lose their lives could have been saved by applying
tighter standards for egress from such buildings and by building lower
longer buildings instead of such massive towers. The WTC tragedy is a
very poor advertisement for skyscrapers.
- While the rapid collapse of the South tower, and the
chaos of the North tower are both extreme design cases, the events show
that providing nominal egress capacity, (as with the South tower) is insufficient
for the design of such high rise buildings. Instead, building heights
should be chosen so that even in such extreme cases the buildings can be
properly evacuated within an hour, maybe less, using completely independent
stairwell systems. This includes evacuating injured people. Failure to
do this cost up to 2000 innocent lives in the WTC attack. Unless there
are design changes, the next time, if there is a next time, is likely
to be much worse.
- The widespread official overstating of victim numbers
long after the number of victims was quite accurately known, suggests
the Bush Administration has been more intent upon boosting support for
its so-called "war on terror" than engaging in a public debate
about what really happened in the WTC towers. Perhaps we shouldn't be
surprised that so little has been publicly acknowledged. In "war",
heroes count while the truth often hurts.
- * * * End Notes:
- 1. A victims map was constructed to prepare this article.
The information used to create the map is available at www.september11victims.com,
to which I was originally linked from the NY Police Department website.
- 2. The September 11 casualty list as of 23/3/02, currently
stands at 3020, of which 81 are missing and the rest confirmed dead or
reported dead, is:
- North Tower:............about 1640
- South Tower::............about 620
- Subtotal WTC::............:.........2629
- Planes::............:............:............,, 266
- (Nurses and paramedic casualties are included in the
- 3. The exact location of everyone in the buildings
can never be known. For example, some of the 30 deaths below level 80 in
the South Tower and the 50 deaths below level 92 in the North Tower may
have occurred at Windows on the World, where many died. I could only list
them against their given firms. Similarly, some of those whose given firms
are not tenants or for whom no firm is given, may have been visiting other
areas where casualties occurred. Including them as visitors to Windows
on the World, as I have done, is a practical rather than exact analysis.
Likewise, I assigned nearly 50 construction and service workers to the
empty upper levels of the South Tower, assuming them to be part of the
WTC Project Renewal.
- PART II
- So where are we now? If the WTC occupancy on Sept. 11
was closer to 25,000 souls, an evacuation in the time allotted would have
left the pattern we see: those caught above the crash sites in each building
mostly died; those working below those floors mostly survived. It now appears
that early media reports of 40,000 to 50,000 occupancy included the entire
- Corrected corporate casualty figures at the World Trade
Center do not mean that no prior warnings were given. On the contrary,
key questions remain:
- 1. Despite repeated warnings of imminent attack by European
news and intelligence agencies, the CIA, FBI, State Dept., Mossad, Bronx
high school students and the FAA in the weeks leading up to Sept. 11 -
why weren t airport ticket agents and security personnel put on heightened
alert to watch out for fit young men of Middle Eastern extraction attempting
to board commercial flights? Two planes diverted to Canada were found
with box cutters left onboard. This indicates that some 25 terrorists
fitting the standard hijacker profile card posted at every airline registration
desk managed to board six target aircraft some waving bright red flags
by carrying no luggage and buying last-minute tickets with cash.
- 2. Why did the terrorists who hijacked Flight 93 fly
past an unopposed shot at the White House and hit the Pentagon wing under
- 3. How could Sept. 11 planners assume they would have
up to an hour to fly unopposed to their targets when newspapers reports
revealed that air force interceptors routinely swoop alongside off-course
planes within 21 minutes of receiving a scramble order?
- 4. Why were two ready alert fighters routinely launched
from Andrews within minutes of receiving FAA requests to intercept errant
aircraft kept on the runway for one hour after air traffic controllers
alerted NORAD air defenses to a series of hijackings? Why was all mention
of its two air defense squadrons stricken from the Andrews AFB website
on Sept. 11? If the surprise achieved by the terrorists was the result
of catastrophic military incompetence, why wasn t NORAD head Gen. Richard
Myers court-martialed like the Pearl Harbor commanders, or at least severely
reprimanded for launching distant interceptors too late to fly 129 miles
to the Pentagon - while keeping Andrews alert fighters on a runway just
12 miles from this key facility? On Oct. 2, Gen. Myers was promoted to
head the entire US military as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- 5. Why did extensive FBI offices in the Twin Towers
reportedly account for only one casualty on Sept. 11? (John O Neill, who
died while serving as security head of the WTC, had resigned from the
FBI in protest over blocked probes into the bin Ladens..)
- Only a full investigation into US security shortcomings
can prevent a repeat attack. But Bush and Cheney intervened to delay scheduled
Congressional probes for another year. [ Bush halts inquiry of FBI and
stirs up a firestorm Boston Globe Dec. 14, 2001]
- Earlier FBI investigations into the Bush s longstanding
relationship with the bin Laden family and the bin Laden s many donations
to Arab charities known to funnel funds to terrorist organizations
were also repeatedly halted by the White House. August probes by FBI agents
into known al Qaeda terrorists taking unusual flight training in the United
States were blocked by senior FBI officials and the Attorney General.
According to Washington bureaucrats, a terrorist assault on the US mainland
seemed less risky than offending Saudi royalty and businessmen who control
desert oil spigots and military bases vital to US interests. [ Clinton
White House axed terror-fund probe The Washington Times April 2, 2002;
FBI and US spy agents say Bush spiked bin Laden probes before 11 September
The Guardian Nov. 7, 2001; The White House connection: Saudi `agents
close Bush friends Boston Herald Dec. 11, 2001]
- At least, that s their explanation for actions bordering
- We still have many more questions than answers.
- -William Thomas April 8, 2002