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"Pulling" Building 7

A PBS documentary about the 9/11/01 attack, America Rebuilds, features an interview with the leaseholder of the destroyed WTC complex, Larry Silverstein. In it, the elderly developer makes the following statement:

I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, "We've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it." And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.

This statement seems to suggest that the FDNY decided to demolish the building in accordance with Silverstein's suggestion, since the phrase "pull it" in this context seems to mean to demolish the building. At least that interpretation appears to be supported by a statement by a Ground Zero worker in the same documentary:

... we're getting ready to pull the building six.

Building 6 was one of the badly damaged low-rise buildings in the WTC complex that had to be demolished as part of the cleanup operation.

An alternative interpretation of Silverstein's statement is that "pull it" refers to withdrawing firefighters from the building. However, according to FEMA's report there were no manual firefighting operations in Building 7, so there would not have been any firefighters to "pull" -- at least not from inside the building.

WTC 7 collapsed approximately 7 hours after the collapse of WTC 1. Preliminary indications were that, due to lack of water, no manual firefighting actions were taken by FDNY.

That Silverstein would admit that officials intentionally demolished Building 7 is bizarre for a number of reasons. Silverstein Properties Inc. had already won an $861 million claim for the loss of the building in a terrorist incident. FEMA's report states that the cause of the building's collapse was fires. Presumably FEMA and the insurance company would be interested in knowing if the building was instead demolished by the FDNY. Moreover, the logistics of rigging a skyscraper for demolition in the space of a few hours would be daunting to say the least, particularly given that demolition teams would have to work around fires and smoke.

An Overlooked Explanation

A third explanation is less obvious but makes sense of the non-sequiturs in the above explanations: perhaps Silverstein's statement was calculated to confuse the issue of what actually happened to Building 7. By suggesting that it was demolished by the FDNY as a safety measure, it provides an alternative to the only logical explanation -- that it was rigged for demolition before the attack. The absurdity of the FDNY implementing a plan to "pull" Building 7 on the afternoon of 9/11/01 will escape most people, who neither grasp the technical complexity of engineering the controlled demolition of a skyscraper, nor its contradiction with FEMA's account of the collapse, nor the thorough illegality of such an operation. Thus the idea that officials decided to "pull" Building 7 after the attack serves as a distraction from the inescapable logic that the building's demolition was planned in advance of the attack, and was therefore part of an inside job to destroy the entire WTC complex.

Web research supports the theory that Silverstein's remark was part of a calculated distraction. The pull-it remark is copied by hundreds of websites, many citing the remark from the Ground Zero worker about Building 6 as proof that to 'pull' means to demolish. However, searching sites specific to the demolition trade does not support this meaning of 'pull'. The following Google searches of the two best known controlled demolition sites in October of 2003 did not return any results indicating that pulling and demolition are synonymous.

Searching Google with the query demolition pull and filtering out sites referring to the Silverstein pull-it remark returns only one result in about 10 pages of results that uses 'pull' to mean demolish:

City staff have contacted the property owner by phone to request that he obtain a demolition permit and pull down and demolish the building

A review of the numerous websites that assert that Silverstein's remark constituted an admission of demolishing WTC 7 is revealing. Few such sites note that the physical characteristics of the collapse exactly match conventional demolitions, or that fires have never before or since felled steel-framed high-rise buildings -- two facts that constitute an overwhelming case for the controlled demolition of WTC 7. Instead, the pull-it controversy seems to have created a distraction, eclipsing the case for controlled demolition.


page last modified: 2007-01-24
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