When the people who planned 9/11 thought about what to do with WTC 7, they had four options: leave the building standing, bring it down earlier than they did, bring it down at the end of the normal workday, or bring it down later than they did. Which do you suppose they chose?

Bring it down at the end of the normal workday, naturally. Attack planners want to be home with their families in the evening, like everyone else. They could have brought the building down in the middle of the night, when cameras were less likely to catch the action, but that would have been more inconvenient. Let’s wrap up the day’s work during rush hour, while the sun still shines.

The same thing happened when an army rolled into Boston on April 19, 2012, to find Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, then stood down around 7:00 o’clock, about two hours before someone found him hiding in a boat. The occupying army was a show of force, to show an entire city how to ‘shelter in place’ under orders, to show an entire city what militarized police can do when they want to go door to door with guns drawn. You think you’re scared of terrorists? Watch what we can do to you.

These remarks about the way the national security state manages its spectacles are a little ironic, I know. How else does one respond, though, to the collossal deceptions practiced on us? Look at the fine calculations that must have gone into destruction of World Trade Center 7:

  • If we don’t destroy the building at all, the information in there might distract everyone from the stories we have to tell. Too much classified stuff is at stake. We can’t be sure of destroying the information in there any other way.
  • If we destroy the building mid-day, that looks a little suspicious, as the fires in there just aren’t that big. People aren’t going to overlook a third building when it comes down right after the first two.
  • If we destroy the building during the night, that would feel like yet another inexplicable shock, an operation conducted under cover of night. Also, people would ask, if the building held up all day, why would it come down twelve to fifteen hours later? The office fires were waning by that time.
  • If we destroy the building at 5:20 pm, at the end of a long day, we may have a sweet spot for credulity and turning a blind eye. The trauma of the day has not worn off – people still have a sense of shock – yet people are also starting to think about what they have to do next. Bring the building down during that transition phase.

I am just trying to think why you would conduct a controlled demolition of a forty-seven story skyscraper, three hundred fifty feet from the North Tower, a little over seven hours after the towers blow up. If you want to destroy the building’s contents, it seems planners would think of a less conspicuous way. On the other hand, given what people say, or don’t say, about the building’s destruction today, over thirteen years later, perhaps planners calculated correctly after all. How many people have criticized government for poor stage management in this case?

I would say that if you want to pull off an attack on this scale, you need to manage the details a little better than we witnessed on September 11. People began to talk about bringing down Building 7 that afternoon, not long after the Towers blew up, but well before Building 7 collapsed. The operation seems almost like an after thought. You imagine authorities who ring up owner Larry Silverstein to say, “We have this loose end, you know? We really can’t leave Building 7 standing. You know what we mean… What do you say? Will you sign off on pulling it?”

So that’s what the planners did: they pulled it at 5:20 pm the same afternoon.

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