Prelude 9/11 morning Flight 11 hijacked Flight 175 hijacked WTC 1 hit Flight 77 hijacked WTC 2 hit Flight 93 hijacked Pentagon hit WTC 2 collapses Flight 93 crashes WTC 1 collapses WTC 7 collapses Epilogue

Claim

The third explosion brought down the tower0.

Background

The claim stems from a Youtube clip of a live television broadcast from the American WCBS. Thomas Torrent from the Danish Truth Movement published on July 19th, 2012 a link to the clip with the headline “The third explosion brought down the tower”. The clip was not accompanied with any comment0.

Facts

The full transcript of the clip:

“CNN is now reporting that there was a third explosion at the WTC, probably an explosion from the ground that caused WTC 1 to collapse on top of itself. Again, there was a third explosion. It is unclear what caused it, whether it was a bomb or whether the first plane that crashed into the tower has somehow been booby trapped with a bomb that was timed to explode later after the crash had occurred, but CNN is reporting that there was a third explosion that caused WTC 1 to collapse within itself and then collapse on other surrounding buildings, but, you know, it is interesting to reflect upon the timing on what appears to be a terrorist attack.”

First comes the news, then comes the truth.

The news coverage on September 11, 2001 was intense all over the world. Journalists were scrambling to report news stories as they came in, an impossible job in the ensuing chaos. It took some time before stories could be investigated further and possibly confirmed. When reporting live from disasters, information pours in, making it impossible to verify on the spot. The only thing a journalist must do is take care in his reporting and not state things too categorically at the time. At a later time, when things have died down, journalists can get a better overview and report more correctly.

The clip exemplifies this: In one instance, the reporter says: “CNN is now reporting…”, a classic phrase used when a reporter has received information that hasn’t been independently verified by multiple sources. Another example of caution is: “It is unclear what caused it”.

Despite caution and reservation, mistakes often happen which require retraction later on or simply slips through. That is what happens in this clip: The reporter says: “…an explosion from the ground that caused WTC 1 to collapse…”, but WTC 1 is not the South Tower but the North Tower which is, at the time of reporting still standing, albeit on fire as is evident from the footage.

As the day and events unfolded on that fateful day, the news media and the authorities gradually got a better overview of the events and incoming information. As it later became obvious, by an overwhelming amount of physical evidence, witness accounts, audio- and video recordings, and other technical evidence, both towers collapsed due to fire and damage from the planes1.

There were several explosions that day, some of which are documented by witnesses and video recordings. The explosions typically stemmed from exploding car tires, pressure tanks, computer monitors, and gas tanks. Subsequently, no evidence of explosives have been found in the ruins of the World Trade Center.

Logic

There are two obvious problems with the claim:

  1. Thomas Torrens and the Truth Movement argue selectively by claiming that an explosion was the cause of the collapse of the South Tower. Not only are other reports and investigations that point to other causes discarded, it is ignored that the reporter is cautious about possible mistakes and, of course, that the reporter actually makes a mistake.Additionally, Thomas Torrens and the Truth Movement contradict themselves by taking the news report literally: It is clear from the report that there is a terror attack under way, “…what appears to be a terrorist attack….”, and that the tower during collapse damages the surrounding buildings, “…and then collapse on other surrounding buildings…”. But the Truth Movement claims that there wasn’t a terror attack but instead a so-called inside job. Likewise, the Truth Movement claims that both towers collapsed in their own footprints, thus they couldn’t have damaged the surrounding buildings. In other words, Thomas Torrens and the Truth Movement choose to focus on what ostensibly support their own conspiracy theories and ignore everything that disproves them.
  2. The claim that a bomb was either placed in the building or on board the plane contradicts a central claim, also made by the Truth Movement, namely that huge quantities of explosives and top secret military-developed nanothermite were placed in the World Trade Center 1, 2, and 7.

Conclusion

The claim is therefore:

  • Unconfirmed by other sources
  • Not supported by technical evidence
  • Self-contradicting

Sources

  1. Thomas Torrens, i11time.dk
  2. 9/11 Commission Report
    NIST NCSTAR 1, Undersøgelse af WTC 1 og 2

Q & A