The International Center for 9/11 Studies has secured the release of hundreds of hours of video footage and tens of thousands of photographs used by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for its investigation of the collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7. This material is being released to the Center under the Freedom of Information Act, in response to a lawsuit the Center filed against NIST.
The Center filed a FOIA Request with NIST on January 26, 2009, seeking production of “all of the photographs and videos collected, reviewed, cited or in any other way used by NIST during its investigation of the World Trade Center building collapses.” Following several unsuccessful attempts to get NIST to even acknowledge receipt of the Request, the Center was forced to file a lawsuit on May 28, 2009. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the Request was assigned a reference number, and NIST began periodically releasing batches of responsive records. To date, the Center has received over 300 DVDs and several external hard disk drives that contain responsive records – more than 3 terabytes of data so far – and NIST has indicated that additional records will be released in the future.
We are currently looking at the best ways to distribute these materials to interested researchers and journalists around the world. It has taken NIST more than 8 months so far to produce a partial archive of photographs and videos in their possession, but we hope to be more efficient in our efforts. Because of the huge volume of data, we are working on a wiki-style website to facilitate review and discussion of any interesting items that are discovered by researchers.
Justin Keogh, our Chief Technical Officer, is preparing the website and materials for release. The first batch of materials we are releasing is a group of video clips sent to us on an external hard disk drive labeled “NIST WTC Investigation Cumulus Video Clips.” We believe NIST entered these clips into a searchable database called the Cumulus database, and used them as the basis for the investigation and reports. Researchers may be interested to see which video clips NIST determined were important to its investigation, and compare these clips to the raw footage we release at a later date. Justin will be posting more details about the data release in the next week or two. Any questions about the FOIA Request, lawsuit, or data release should be submitted via the Contact Us page at the Center’s website: http://www.ic911studies.org/Contact_Us.html
Although the Center has extremely limited resources with which it can review this mountain of data, several interesting items have already been discovered. Below are five items the Center has uncovered so far. The items below have not been altered from the original provided by NIST, except in three cases where a short section of footage was extracted from a much longer video. Otherwise, no alterations have been made to the video or audio. For the best viewing experience, you should watch all of the videos below in the highest resolution available. We will supplement the list below in the coming days and weeks.
1. Video Footage of Explosion Before Collapse
In the video below, at about the 0:59 mark, a high-pressure explosion occurs in one of the Twin Towers, below the impact zone, while the building is still standing.
In the final report on the collapse of the Twin Towers issued by NIST, it appears to attempt an explanation for this explosion by suggesting it is a smoke puff resulting from a pressure pulse inside the building, perhaps from a collapsing wall or ceiling, or sudden opening of a door. (See NCSTAR1-5A, p. 52) However, as can be seen from the screen capture below, it isn’t merely smoke and dust being ejected. There appears to be a massive object being ejected along with the explosion.
2. Audio Evidence of Explosions During Collapse
Several videos released to the Center have clear audio tracks that contain distinct sounds of explosions occurring at the World Trade Center. These audio tracks provide support to the many eyewitness statements referring to explosions occurring when the buildings collapsed. Explosions can be heard at the initiation of the South Tower collapse in the following two videos. The explosions are clear enough at normal volumes, but turning your speaker volume up a bit can help provide a full appreciation of the sound.
The video below contains distinct sounds of explosions occurring throughout the collapse of the North Tower. The native audio track is at very low volume, so your speakers should be turned up enough to hear the explosions. (Please be careful to turn your volume back down after watching this video.)
In the next video, a loud, low-frequency boom can be heard just before the east penthouse of WTC 7 falls.
David Chandler will soon be publishing a video that contains a more in depth analysis of this footage, including audio enhancements of the explosion.
3. Visual Evidence of Explosions During Collapse
Several videos also have clear visible explosions that occur above the airplane impact/collapse zone in the South Tower. In the video below, the collapse begins at about the 3:45 mark. If you watch the corner of the South Tower nearest the camera, at a point about halfway between the airplane impact zone and the top of the building, you will see puffs of smoke and a flash at about the 3:49-3:50 mark. The corner of the building also appears to lose structural support (or “kink”) at this same location. These are the obvious result of explosive charges severing the steel structure at the near corner.
In the next video, a similar phenomenon can be seen, but from a different angle and not quite as clearly.
The video below is raw footage from a news outlet of the South Tower exploding. Explosions can be seen ahead of the collapse front. The newscaster even calls it a “huge explosion.”
4. Missing Video
Several clips from the Cumulus database show signs of editing. In the two video clips below, the collapse of the penthouse of World Trade Center 7 is cut out of the video. These videos happen to have been filmed from close to WTC 7, and have a high quality soundtrack that would have picked up explosion sounds from the charges that severed the columns supporting the penthouse, especially the explosion heard in the last video clip presented in item 2 above.
Another clip from the Cumulus database (below) begins after initiation of the WTC 7 collapse. The soundtrack is curiously silent during the entire collapse, only to turn on after the collapse has already finished.
In the next video, the camera catches the South Tower collapse from very close to the building. The initiation of the collapse is missing and appears to have been cut from the original.
The video clip below also begins after collapse initiation.
There are many video clips in the Cumulus database that do not show collapse initiation – the only event even purportedly explained in the final report from NIST on the Twin Towers.
5. Footage of WTC 7 Before Collapse
The video below is a series of clips taken near World Trade Center 7 after at least one of the Twin Towers has collapsed. This video shows Michael Hess yelling for help from the 8th floor window, beginning at about the 1:09 mark.
Edited on 9/1/2010 to replace a video that was not working.