How else to reconcile an important narrative element from September 11th, 2001, in which high-ranking officials hold diametrically opposite views about a matter of critical importance---whether the collapses of the World Trade Center towers were unanticipated, or a foregone conclusion given sober consideration.
The dominant meme disseminated in the mainstream media has it that structural engineers and firematics experts rightly predicted the collapses---just not in enough time to save the hundreds of first-responders who climbed the towers and were crushed when they fell.
That point of view---of a gut knowing of imminent collapse---is nicely summed up in the oral history of Division 1, Chief Peter Hayden, who played a central and early role in the lobby of the north tower. He said
"Shortly thereafter a number of the uniformed and civilian staff of the department arrived in the lobby, Commissioner Von Essen, Commissioner Fitzpatrick, Commissioner Feehan. The tour commander, who was Joseph Callan arrived on the scene."But that judgment is completely contradicted in an oral history of a high-level officer, John Perrugia, who was headquarters chief, or an EMS Division Chief, in charge of planning for the Chief of Department's office. (He puts it better when asked about his role:)
"He [Callan] asked me at some point in time if we were thinking of collapse. I said yeah, we have to, a plane just struck the building...So the potential and reality of -- or possibility of a collapse was discussed early on."
"There were numerous discussions in the lobby. The chief of safety came in. He discussed his concern about the collapse. His advice to us was to let the building just burn, you know, get the people down and get out. We said that's exactly what we're planning to do."
"My mission at that time was not that of an EMS Chief responding to the operation. My mission was, as the Chief of Planning for the Fire Department, to respond in to handle the agency liaison stuff."Perrugia was the liaison with the city's Office of Emergency Management, which positioned him in the vicinity of Building 7 for much of the morning. He is explicit about what he believed was the potential for the buildings to fail in the manner they did
I repeat for emphasis: "We were always told by everyone, the experts, that these buildings could withstand direct hits from airplanes. That's the way they were designed."
"I was in a discussion with Mr. Rotanz and I believe it was a representative from the Department of Buildings, but I'm not sure. Some engineer type person, and several of us were huddled talking in the lobby and it was brought to my attention, it was believed that the structural damage that was suffered to the towers was quite significant and they were very confident that the building's stability was compromised and they felt that the north tower was in danger of a near imminent collapse.
"I grabbed EMT Zarrillo, I advised him of that information. I told him he was to proceed immediately to the command post where Chief Ganci was located. Told him where it was across the street from number 1 World Trade Center. I told him "You see Chief Ganci and Chief Ganci only. Provide him with the information that the building integrity is severely compromised and they believe the building is in danger of imminent collapse." So, he left off in that direction.
Q: They felt that just the one building or both of them?
A: The information we got at that time was that they felt both buildings were significantly damaged, but they felt that the north tower, which was the first one to be struck, was going to be in imminent danger of collapse. Looking up at it, you could see that, you could see through the smoke or whatever, that there was significant structural damage to the exterior of the building. Very noticeable. Now you know, again, this is not a scene where the thought of both buildings collapsing ever entered into my mind.
"I was there in 1993, 14 minutes after the bomb went off. I operated some 16 hours at the building and with all the post-incident critiques and debriefings with various agencies. We were always told by everyone, the experts, that these buildings could withstand direct hits from airplanes. That's the way they were designed. They went through all of this architectural stuff, way beyond the scope of my knowledge.
"It was hit by an airplane. That's okay. It's made to be hit by an airplane. I mean I think everyone may have believed that. We were all told years ago it was made to be hit by an airplane."
And: "It was hit by an airplane. That's okay. It's made to be hit by an airplane. I mean I think everyone may have believed that. We were all told years ago it was made to be hit by an airplane."
Who are we to believe? Is it possible that an honest difference of opinion could have been held that day by various senior managers? Who then is to blame for the excessive loss of life that befell the fire department? Why does Pete Hayden's opinion sound so off-the-cuff, like a vernacular shrug of the shoulders,
He asked me at some point in time if we were "thinking" of collapse.[...]The chief of safety came in. He discussed his concern about "the collapse."while Perrugia's forceful, unambiguous view is clearly based in extensive prior experience---even in the face of a contrary opinion (and is he shielding the name of "some engineer type person" from the public record?) Could that opinion be commonly held by others in the department, members who are forced somehow to keep it a secret? As the conspiracy unravels, will they be able to come forward?
In the meantime, my hat's off to John Perrugia, and others like him---men and women who were able to place their honest analysis and truthful reporting into the permanent record, with their oral histories.