AE911's new billboard (on the left), with some additional quotes for context.
The group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911) is devoted to popularizing the theory that the World Trade Center buildings were secretly demolished by explosive devices that were placed in the building ahead of time, somehow survived the plane impacts and an hour of raging fire, and then triggered to make the buildings collapse in a way that fooled most experts into thinking that there were no explosives.
To promote this theory, AE911 likes to rent billboard space in New York's Times Square (AE911 has a yearly income of around $500,000). In particular they like to rent a billboard opposite the offices of the New York Times, admonishing the NYT for ignoring them. Here's the billboard in place:
This latest billboard (which will be there for the month of September) is promoting favorite claim of evidence of AE911, that there were multiple reports of explosions on 9/11. The text reads:
Sounds persuasive, if it were actually true. In fact by the very account of the Fire Marshal they quote, the idea that the building exploded was something he very quickly figured out did not happen, and he explains why he initially though it happened. Basically he went into the situation knowing it was a terrorist attack, so was very concerned about secondary explosive devices. Then when the building collapsed, he did not report hearing any explosions, but instead said that the building looked like it had exploded, he continued to think this for several hours, but he later realized (probably after seeing the collapse on TV) that this was just the angle from which he was looking at it.COLLAPSE OR EXPLOSION?
Ask the 118 FDNY members who spoke of explosions in the oral histories The NY Times sued the City of New York to obtain
"Everybody I think...thought these things were blown up."
— FDNY Fire Marshal
So did everyone think the buildings were blown up? Who is "everyone", and how long did they think this for? The key thing here is in what was removed from the quote, and the surrounding context:
Notice what AE911 removed, "... at that point still ...". They removed that because the reality of the marshal's statement is that the belief he (and others) had in explosions was a brief one (and as he later explains, a mistake). He brought it up to explain why they moved from the "Jewish memorial" (likely the Museum of Jewish Heritage, just west of the Battery Park Underpass), because there was concern it would be a target of a secondary attack using explosives.Then I heard on the radio all marshals are to report to — and I have no idea where it was. Oh, near the Jewish memorial thing.
I made my way over there, found [the other firefighters]. All the guys who were with us were okay. We stood there for a few minutes, and eventually I said, "We shouldn't even be here. This is the Jewish thing. This is a terrorist thing. This is a dumb place to be standing. This thing might blow up. No. Everybody I think at that point still thought these things were blown up. So I fully expected anything else to blow up.
I think we mentioned that or somebody mentioned it to one of the supervisors, and then they said "Oh, yeah, okay." Then they took us down to the very end of Battery Park.
Here are all the quotes relating to explosions or explosive devices from the marshal.
Here he explains very clearly that it was a mistake. It was just the angle, the perspective, he was looking up at. Yes it looked like it was exploding from down on the street, and since he'd been trained that there were secondary explosive devices in terrorist attacks then he assumed it had exploded, as he said perhaps "there had been some device on the plane that had exploded". later he figured out what had actually happened.
“That was the only thing I remembered from terrorist training was watch out for
“The tower was -- it looked to me -- I thought it was exploding actually. That’s what I thought for hours afterwards, that it had exploded, or the plane, or there had been some device on the plane that had exploded, because the debris from the tower had shot out far over our heads. It was raining down.”
“But nobody knew what had happened. I still thought it had exploded, something had exploded.”
“At that point I had no idea what had happened. It seemed that the thing had blown up.
”Everybody I think at that point still thought these things were blown up. So I was fully expecting anything else to blow up”
“I still didn’t realize what had happened. I totally thought it had been blown up. That’s just the perspective of looking up at it, it seemed to have exploded out.”
Notice also that his account of how he perceived things blowing up differs greatly from the theory popularized by AE911. He just says "It seemed that the thing had blown up.", "something had exploded", "some device". So he's just describing one big explosion. AE911 on the other hand describe every floor being rigged with sophisticated explosives that were carefully timed to go off one at a time to simulate the appearance of a progressive collapse.
Another thing the AE911 like to promote is the idea that lets of people heard explosions that day. Now of course this is perfectly expected, there were the explosions of the plane impacts, fuel explosions, the loud sounds made by debris falling hundred of feet, and things like gas canisters exploding in the fires. But what of their star witness, how does he describe the sounds of what he mistakenly thought were explosions.
He actually never mentions the sound of explosions. In fact his account strongly suggests that he did not hear any. The first tower (WTC2, the south tower) fell while he was stationed by the pedestrian bridge in front of the World Financial Center Building, a few hundred fee from WTC2.
So he didn't hear any explosions. And he was incredibly close. It simply looked like an explosion, because he was nearly directly underneath it.I remember glancing to my right, and Joe ... was at that moment looking up. I suddenly saw this face like a look of complete terror, and he just turned on his heel and took off running. I started running after him and looking over my shoulder.
The tower was -- it looked to me -- I thought it was exploding actually. That’s what I thought for hours afterwards, that it had exploded, or the plane, or there had been some device on the plane that had exploded, because the debris from the tower had shot out far over our heads. It was raining down.
So the very person that AE911 quoted on their poster basically debunks their theory in the statement from which they cherry picked a quote (and then had to remove part of, because it didn't fit their story). He didn't report hearing explosions. He initially got the impression that there had been a single large explosion, but then later realized there had not, and it was just, as he said, perspective.
I encourage people to read the oral histories of 9/11. They provide a visceral view into what really happened that day: the horror, the fear, the chaos, and the bravery. But don't read them like AE911 did - simply combing through them to find sections that might seem to support their odd theory when taken out of context and edited a bit. Read them in depth. These brave men and women gave their all that day, and they each suffered deeply for it. Don't use them. Honor them. You want 9/11 truth? It's in these histories.