December 22, 2013 - The Constantine Report    
March 5th 2020 12

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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

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Obama Plans to Spend $335 Billion on Nuclear Arsenal Expansion Despite Disarmament Pledges

This is a modified py-6 that occupies the entire horizontal space of its parent.

Cuts in the food stamp program and Medicare explained …

” … Not only [has] Obama announced that there is going to be a 350 billion dollar upgrade of nuclear weapons, not only did the British Defence Secretary announce the same thing, but the Senate two days ago voted to authorize the creation of two new huge secret underground plutonium production labs that will expand plutonium production for the next 150 years. … “

Dec 22, 2013

Interview with Brian Becker

Press TV has conducted an interview with Brian Becker, with the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition in Washington, to discuss US President Barack Obama’s plans to modernize the nuclear arsenal of the country with a budget of about USD 355 billion, thus reneging on his earlier disarmament pledges.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview: Press TV: It started out in 2011 as 75 billion dollars to maintain US nuclear weapons. Then it increased to 300 billion in 2012, and now as the year is drawing to a close: 355 billion dollars or 450 billion dollars over the next decade, depending on which report you are looking at, also with costs likely to increase after 2023. What is your reaction when you hear about these astronomical figures being spent on the nuclear program of the United States which includes nuclear weapons?

Becker: The US has spent seven trillion dollars on nuclear weapons since they first used them in 1945. They kept the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima clean. In other words, they did not firebomb them as they did Tokyo so that they would have the opportunity to see for themselves and to show the world the destructive power of nuclear weapons when they were used. So, yes. They did incinerate 200,000 people. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were civilian cities. They were not military targets. It was an act of the most coldblooded brutality. The US was hoping to have a monopoly for nuclear weapons to be able to bully, to press the Soviet Union, to push around the rest of the world. It was their great fear that others would overcome their monopoly and the Soviet Union did in 1950. Your other guest said there has been a period of prolonged peace because of US nuclear weapons. Well, I would say, what was the Korean war where five million Koreans perished according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica or the Vietnam war where three million died?

The United States uses nuclear technology and nuclear weapons in order to bully other countries. The new expansion by the United States, the upgrade, the new generation of nuclear weapons is an expansion and it is a clear violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which states clearly that there is an affirmative obligation by all of the nuclear powers to begin the process of nuclear disarmament so that the other countries could be dissuaded from getting nuclear technologies themselves. 

Instead of acting as they are obligated to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, not only the United States but Britain too just announced the major refurbishment of its nuclear weapons program. They say to the Iranian government that the mere possession of nuclear plants, even those for civilian energy purposes, somehow constitute an existential threat to humanity. They tell the Iranian people that they will be sanctioned brutally, deprived of that which is necessary to sustain life and a civilian economy in a modern world because they have a nuclear program. And as the Iranian government goes ahead and tries to come to some negotiated settlement to create an easing of sanctions, the United States and Britain arrogantly announce that they are not only going to impose new sanctions on Iran in spite of its compliance with the interim agreement in Geneva, but they are in fact planning to spend hundreds of billions of new dollars on new nuclear weapons and that is a contravention of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a complete violation of the spirit and the letter of the nuclear negotiations that are taking place.

Press TV: Mr. Becker, what is your reaction to George Lambrakis [the other guest of the program]?

Becker: The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is very very clear. It says that non-nuclear powers are agreed to not become possessors of nuclear weapons in exchange for the major nuclear powers to begin the process and go forward with the process of nuclear disarmament. That is the quid pro quo. Now, nobody can say that the United States is moving towards nuclear disarmament. In fact, not only is that Obama announced that there is going to be a 350 billion dollar upgrade of nuclear weapons, not only did the British Defence Secretary announced the same thing, but the Senate two days ago voted to authorize the creation of two new huge secret underground plutonium production labs that will expand plutonium production for the next 150 years. That is a very important fact and I think the world is not yet learning about it or just learning about it. This was going to be in Los Alamos, the nuclear facility in New Mexico and the US government has just announced in spite of environmental impact statements, in spite of everything, to rush forward for the creation of two new plutonium factories, modules that will be producing plutonium for as decades and decades to come. That is to enrich and enhance nuclear weapons. The United States is moving nuclear weapons into outer space that is one of the big projects. They see nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons possession as a form of creating dominance. It is not keeping the world safe.

Nuclear weapons are by their own use inherently a war crime. They cannot distinguish between soldiers and civilians. That was certainly true when the US dropped nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima wiping out 200,000 people instantly. That is a war crime. That is a crime against humanity and a crime against peace. And the US has continued to be addicted to nuclear weapons ever since. 

[In response to the other guest of the program]…You know, that is disgusting. Because I disagree with the US government, then I am talking like an Iranian? Really? You know, people here have the right to disagree with their government. I think we have the right to speak up. We have the right to speak out. We have the right to say to the government that speaks in our name and continues to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on nuclear weapons. By saying that, we do not say we are from some other countries.

There is no proof that Iran has a nuclear weapon. The United States government does not say that Iran has a nuclear weapon. The Iranian government has agreed in negotiations to not enrich uranium over 5 percent. That process is under way. The Iranian government does not right now have a nuclear weapon. I want to say one other thing. The reason the US has 5,000 nuclear weapons is not because they are going to be overwhelmed by North Korea or if Iran gets a bomb. The reason they have 5,000 weapons is for dominance. In other words, you do not need five bombs or ten bombs. They have 5,000 bombs, 5,000 nuclear weapons and they are building a new generation of nuclear weapons. That is not a defensive operation. That is an offensive operation.

When you put up missile defense shield around the world, it is not only to stop nations from carrying out strikes. That is for a first-strike strategy… Well, if you have no answer, that is your problem. I cannot really help you with that one. Who is threatening the United States? The United States keeps invading and occupying other countries. I do not see what entity is threatening the United States. What country is threatening the Untied States? We are not sitting back. Is Iran posing a danger? Is Iran going to invade the United States? I mean, just be real about this. The last time the United States was invaded was in the War of 1812, that was 200 years ago. …The CIA has coordinated the arm shipment fueling the civil war in Syria. I know, you do not want to talk about the United States. You ignore the United States’ role in what is going on in Syria… OK, can I answer the question then?

The CIA for the past two years through Jordan has coordinated mass of arm shipments from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar and from Turkey, to fuel a civil war in Syria that has taken the lives of a hundred thousand people. You act as if al-Assad and the al-Assad government killed all the people. The United States government purposely fueled the civil war because the Syrian government must go. No, it was the United States government, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey that did this.


Also see: Noam Chomsky and the Willful Ignorance of 9/11

MIT’s  Noam Chomsky, at a recent lecture in Florida, explained why the official account of 9/11 is true and academics who argue otherwise are obviously wrong and wrong-headed: “There’s a consensus among a miniscule number of architects and engineers. They are not doing what scientists and engineers do when they think they’ve discovered something. What you do when you think you’ve discovered something is write articles in scientific journals …  go to the civil engineering department at MIT or Florida or wherever you are, and present your results, then proceed to try to convince the national academies, the professional society of physicists and civil engineers, the departments of the major universities, convince them that you’ve discovered something. …””

Is the sage of the establishment left correct? Or is he a useful idiot who peddles status quo programming on 9/11?

In fact, it is “official investigations and reports on this topic [that are] not peer-reviewed” (see report below). 

Checking the number of articles publshed in the journals “simply requires access to at least one of the relevant databases, which are available through most major universities and research libraries. Indeed, anyone can do spot checks using Google Scholar (; e.g., keywords ‘controlled demolition’ WTC returns 436 results.” Does 426 scholarly articles constitute “miniscule?”

And If the many authors of these studies are not publishing in leading peer-reviewed technical literature (see below again), then I am the King of Portugal. I have as much claim to that title as Chomsky does his reputation as a credible spokesman of the left. Please direct all tithings, requests for imperial clemency and harem applications to me (sniff). – Alex Constantine

Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

WTC Destruction: An Analysis of Peer Reviewed Technical Literature

2001 — 2012

Timothy E. Eastman, Ph.D. (Geophysics), and Jonathan H. Cole, P.E.


The importance of understanding the mechanisms of collapse for the three World Trade
Center buildings on September 11, 2001 cannot be over-estimated, for these unusual
collapses and their disputed causes raise questions regarding all future steel-frame building
design. A literature review was conducted to identify the evolving trend in research results
in this area, which have become increasingly diverse over time. Recommendations for
further research are presented.


Over the past decade there have emerged two primary hypotheses regarding the mechanism of
destruction for World Trade Center (WTC) buildings 1, 2 and 7, namely, the official fire-induced
Progressive Collapse (PC) versus the alternate Controlled Demolition (CD). The question of
which of these two hypotheses is correct is singularly important because its current lack of
resolution leaves unmet the following critical needs (assuming PC):

(1) Thousands of other structures may also be subject to such catastrophic destruction by
office fires, and inspections and upgrades based on determination of what caused the
WTC buildings to collapse may be needed to ensure public safety;
(2) Significant structural design analysis tools and computer models need upgrades
to account for the potential of such catastrophic destruction;
(3) major revisions to building codes for high-rise steel-frame buildings are critically needed
(Bement, 2002).
Our goals here are to fully document the available peer-reviewed literature on this important
question, and to promote more open and in-depth research by a broader community of scholars.

Although much relevant evidence from portions of the events of 9/11 remains unavailable to
researchers as well as the general public, substantial evidence is available concerning the
destruction of WTC 1, 2 and 7 that is relevant to resolving the key question of PC versus CD.
Nevertheless, the diversity and complexity of the 9/11 events make it very difficult for most
citizens, and even many researchers, to obtain the quality information needed to address and
resolve the above questions. In particular, information provided officially is notoriously
incomplete; e.g., the official 9/11 Commission Report (2004) makes no mention of destruction of
the third high-rise steel-frame building, WTC 7. Further, relevant official reports produced by the
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the Twin Towers are incomplete in that

Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

they stopped their efforts at “collapse initiation” and could not explain total destruction. Finally,
the same NIST reports have been surrounded by controversy that remains mostly unreported in
mainstream media sources (see peer-reviewed papers referenced herein).

This controversy has been fueled in part because official investigations and reports on this topic
have been very tightly controlled and not peer-reviewed.1 Basic documentation of such work has
not been made available to independent researchers in spite of repeated Freedom-of-Information-
Act (FOIA) requests; e.g., most of the detailed documentation, coding, methodology and
assumptions employed by NIST in their finite element analysis model of WTC 7. Related to these
technical impediments to independent research, in addition to essentially no funding for such
research, the “conspiracy theorist” or “truther” label has often been used to discourage or truncate
debate on many critical questions, leaving the official theory as the default. For the most part, and
somewhat understandably, the science and engineering professional communities have stayed on
the sidelines, perhaps in part to protect their reputations and in part to avoid putting their federal
research grants at risk. This condition of obstructed research continues in spite of the fact that a
“conspiracy” by definition is “an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime.”
Thus, by definition, both the official PC hypothesis and the alternative CD hypothesis addressed
here are necessarily associated with a conspiracy theory of one form or another. Setting such
labels aside, the fundamental question remains, “which hypothesis is best supported by the
evidence?” Unfortunately, this basic question and its resolution have been systematically
subverted for the past decade.

Evaluating the Merits of Competing Hypotheses

Nevertheless, more than a hundred serious and independent researchers have taken up the question
and are actively working to examine the available evidence and report their results to the broader
research community. The subset of their research work that has been independently evaluated (i.e.,
peer-reviewed2) and published in scholarly journals, provides a critically important sample set for
addressing key questions and, in particular, the following:

Key technical question: What is the mechanism of collapse for WTC 1, 2, and 7?
Was it through Progressive Collapse (PC) or Controlled Demolition (CD)?

We propose that one of the best available solutions to this critical question can be obtained
through an evidence-based approach and a concentration on results derived from the available
peer-reviewed technical literature. Although peer-reviewed papers are a small subset of the
available literature on these topics, they generally (not always) represent higher quality, better
argued, and better referenced materials than papers that lack such peer review. Thus, an analysis
of the peer-reviewed literature over time should provide an excellent basis for evaluating the
merits of the competing hypotheses that are here in question.

We recognize that any conclusions are limited by the necessity for decisions between competing
claims and hypotheses within that literature. Further, as stated in a recent study of the National
Academy of Sciences, “Research has deepened knowledge about the fallibility of human decision
making, particularly the many cognitive biases to which people are subject.” For example,
“People have a proclivity to ignore evidence that contradicts their preconceived notions
(confirmation bias),” (NRC, 2012, p. 57).


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

In scientific practice, a key methodology to compensate for such inevitable fallibility is to
reproduce, when possible, the results for oneself. In the present case, the means for reproduction
are available. Indeed, we encourage the reader to personally check results of this analysis of
the peer-reviewed technical literature; e.g., spot checks can be easily done using

Resources and Methodology

For this analysis of available peer-reviewed technical literature relevant to the key question above,
we have used two major databases, each accessing more than 3500 peer-reviewed journals

(1) Academic Search Complete database, from EBSCO, 1965 to present
This database provides advanced search capability and full-text access for more than 5,100 peer-
reviewed journals.

(2) The Thomson Reuters Web of Science database, similarly, provides advanced search and full-
text access for more than 3500 notable peer-reviewed scientific and technical journals, 1956 to
In addition to these standard sources, we have searched the contents of a few additional journals
which, at this time, are not included in the above databases.

Open Chemical Physics Journal, indexed by six services, among them Chemical Abstracts,
the premiere world service for chemistry; also Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Open
J-Gate, Genamics JournalSeek, MediaFinder®-Standard Periodical Directory, Astrophysics Data
System (ADS).

Open Civil Engineering Journal, indexed in Scopus, Compendex, Directory of Open Access
Journals (DOAJ), Open J-Gate, Genamics JournalSeek, MediaFinder®-Standard Periodical
Directory, PubsHub, J-Gate.

Journal of 9/11 Studies

Both the Open Chemical Physics Journal and the Open Civil Engineering Journal are open
access, online journals of Bentham Open.3 The Journal of 9/11 Studies is the primary peer-
reviewed venue for the independent 9/11 research community, and has published papers on both
sides of this question (e.g., Greening (2006) argues for the PC hypothesis). Since its initiation in
2006, articles published in this journal have always been subject to two independent peerreviews.
4 Although papers prior to 2012 are not uniform in format, we have found this journal’s
reviewing standard to be comparable overall to other journals publishing on this topic.

For completeness, we have also included the Journal of Debunking 911 Conspiracy Theories.
Even though its submission guidelines make no reference to peer review, the phrase “Peer-
Reviewed Papers” appears in its index of papers. Unlike all other journals used for our analysis,
this journal’s title itself presupposes preferred study outcomes (to which all papers conform), and
it did not provide sustained service to its research community
(ten papers appeared in 2006, plus only one more in 2007). We encourage readers to
judge the quality of peer review from this journal for themselves.


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

The methodology that we employed in this literature search was as follows:

-Systematic keyword selection based on index terms applied to known publications;
-Comprehensive search yielding 9,856 records, which is the sum of subtotals
in columns 1, 3, 4, and 7 of Table 1;
-Clear specification of selection criteria;
-Manual check of all retrieved records (titles and abstracts);
systematic identification of all cases that meet selection criteria;
-Compilation and recording of all publications meeting selection criteria
(see Table 2).
The selection criteria were as follows: (1) paper’s title and abstract and, when available, its full-
text content must support either the official (PC) hypothesis or the CD hypothesis; and (2) the
associated paper must give some specific technical argument on behalf of that claim.

Results of the Literature Search

The search keywords and number of records obtained for the two databases are recorded in Table

1. A larger number of retrieved records were obtained with the EBSCO database because it
included more non-technical journals. More specific keywords and search terms would have
substantially expedited the searches; however, for this analysis, we considered it a high priority to
avoid overlooking any relevant paper. As shown in Table 1, the aggregate number of records
evaluated based on the EBSCO Academic Search Complete database searches was 6,404 records
and, for the more technically-focused Web of Science database that we used, a total of 3,452
search records were obtained and analyzed.
The primary work in this analysis is that of reading and evaluating all titles and abstracts derived
from search results given in Table 1. We effectively carried out our search-and-analysis process
three times over: first, using only the EBSCO database for a preliminary study; second, using an
independent set of search strategies by co-author Cole (applied to the latest version of EBSCO) to
check the first analysis and to identify any additional papers (see “Cole” column in Table 1); and
third, using both databases as a double-check and to assure comprehensive search and analysis.

Final results of this search-and-analysis process, using both the EBSCO Academic Search
Complete and Thomson Reuters Web of Science databases, are given in Table 2 (presented
at the end of this paper). This table provides, in order, each paper’s date, title, author(s), journal
name, journal volume and issue number. Finally, some notes are given as needed. Among the
9,856 records initially obtained via the keywords given in Table 1, and including papers from the
four additional journals discussed above, a total of 84 papers were identified that are relevant to
our focus. These papers include four by Cherepanov, who hypothesizes a propagating fracture
hypothesis that does not easily fit within the PC/CD categories. In the first column, these papers
are designated “F” for the Fracture hypothesis. In some cases, a paper discusses related technical
considerations about the towers but does not provide arguments for one of the two hypotheses;
these cases are left as a blank in the first column (e.g., Newland, 2002). In some cases, a
discussion, closure5 or commentary paper (e.g, Sivakumar, Nov. 2003; Gourley, 2007) either
replicates arguments given in a previous paper (e.g., Sivakumar, July, 2003), or simply offers
commentary on related points, but without arguing (as needed for the second criterion above) for a
particular inferred hypothesis (e.g., Gourley, 2007; Flint, 2007). Several closure papers merely


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

replicate arguments given in their associated base paper. Bazant’s original paper of December
2001 was basically replicated, with the same title, in two journals and, with its Addendum of
March, 2002, is treated here as simply one paper (Bazant and Zhou, 2002). These latter cases and
the closure cases are represented with parentheses and are not here treated as distinct papers.

Table 1. Results of Keyword Search from Two Major Databases.

Thomson Reuters Web of Science EBSCO Academic Search Complete
10 Yrs 11 Yrs Sept. 2011
-Dec. 2012
10 Yrs 11 Yrs 11 Yrs,
by Cole
Sept. 2011
-Dec. 2012
1158 1319 193 245 298 427 76
World Trade
937 1022 87 4712 4894 6128 321
…collapse 201 212 12 116 118 129 4
65 70 6 7 8 7 1
WTC 427 473 52 399 439 659 60
…collapse 113 119 7 52 56 55 5
…mech. of
9 9 0 0 0 81 0
…building 7 9 9 0 2 2 2 0
…demolition 2 2 0 0 0 2 0
Building mech.
of collapse
311 368 64 4 5 1 2
World Trade
119 124 6 110 113 116 9
…demolition 0 0 0 1 1 1 0
Twin Tower(s) 90 95 8 413 442 591 53
…collapse 25 25 0 18 19 19 3
7 7 0 0 0 0
Totals 3042 3401 410 5883 6191 7922 521
Notes: “…” denotes addition to above keyword; “mech.” = “mechanism; Cole’s results are based on a newer
version of the EBSCO database whereas other EBSCO results were accessed at the Library of Congress.

After applying these distinctions, a total of 59 distinct papers were identified that met both
selection criteria above. These were given a designation (see first column) of either Progressive
Collapse (PC) or Controlled Demolition (CD). In many such cases, the paper in question discusses
only a mechanism of destruction for WTC 1 or 2. In cases where a paper addresses a mechanism
of destruction for WTC 7 as well, the designation “PC/7” or “CD/7” is given.

Summary of Analysis Results

In summary, important insights emerge from this literature search and analysis:

(1) Within the first ten years after “9/11” (namely September 11, 2001 through September 11,
2011), the mainstream peer-reviewed literature, worldwide, contained no paper on WTC 7
that concludes with the Progressive Collapse (PC) hypothesis (Note: Two such PC papers
appear in the short-lived Journal of Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories);

Journal of 9/11 Studies
Volume 37, April 2013

(2) Within the first ten years, there are 31 distinct CD papers (i.e., arguing for the Controlled
Demolition hypothesis, including 14 that address WTC 7) versus 19 distinct PC papers
(i.e., arguing for Progressive Collapse, including only 2 as noted immediately above that
address WTC 7);
(3) Overall, from 9/11/01 through 12/31/2012, there are 34 distinct CD papers versus 25 PC
papers; among these, 15 of the CD papers address WTC 7 whereas only 4 PC papers do so,
again indicating overall the importance of the CD hypothesis;
(4) Although most CD papers (and one PC paper) derive from the Journal of 9/11 Studies, six
qualified and distinct CD papers appear in mainstream journals.

What is most striking about our results is the fact that there is serious disagreement as to how
the WTC structures fell on September 11, 2001. While precise sequences of every building
component failure cannot be determined, the overall basic mechanism of destruction (i.e. some
type of fire-induced natural gravitational collapse (PC), or some type of planned demolition
CD) is clearly in dispute. There is no consensus. At this point, almost 12 years later, there
should not be any significant disagreement about such a fundamental issue as to how three
buildings were destroyed so completely given the magnitude of the event, the implications of
the event, and repercussions for existing and future structural design.

We note that in the early years, from 2001 to 2005, essentially all published papers supported
the official narrative of some type of progressive collapse mechanism. Subsequent years,
however, have generated numerous papers challenging the official narrative, and a substantial
number of peer-reviewed papers were published concluding that the failures were due to

The vast majority of independent investigations about other catastrophes narrow down and
converge on the solution as more and better information is obtained. Theories that do not, or
cannot, explain the additional information are discarded, resulting in a theory that earns general
scientific consensus. Precisely the opposite has happened over the past decade with the study
of how the WTC structures fell. That is, the more information that has been unearthed, the
more unanswered questions have arisen with the official hypothesis, with more people
questioning the initial theory. Thus, the demolition hypothesis is strengthened, and the
hypothesis of fire-induced collapse is further weakened. Therefore, rather than converging on
an answer, the study of 9/11 diverges over time as the scientific rift has grown and the early
consensus for the official story is undermined.

If it is true that steel-frame buildings can collapse from fire alone, it is crucial for owners of
existing structures and insurers to understand the risk of a sudden fire-induced collapse so that
structural repairs and risk adjustments can be factored in. Given the official story, it is
remarkable how little insurance premiums, or even design parameters and building construction
codes,6 have been modified (if at all) to address the possibility of catastrophic fire-induced

Journal of 9/11 Studies
Volume 37, April 2013

progressive collapse. The fact that they have not been modified indicates that insurance
companies do not accept the PC hypothesis.

Given the fact that before September 11, 2001 no high-rise steel-frame building has ever
collapsed from fire alone (Taylor, 2011), extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. The
NIST Reports did not address the total collapse of the Twin Towers, truncating their study at
“collapse initiation.” Overall, our peer-reviewed literature results collectively yield a very
strong prima facie argument for CD.

Other than two papers appearing in the Journal of Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, the
only papers that address WTC 7 and argue for PC are brief summaries by McAllister et al.
(2012) of the non-peer-reviewed NIST report on WTC 7 (NIST, 2008). McAllister, it should be
noted, was herself one of the co-project leaders for the NIST report. Thorough critiques of this
paper and associated results of the NIST report are given in Legge (2009) and Brookman

When applying the scientific method, independent confirmation of an unexpected result is a
very strong form of support. Such independent confirmation occurred twice with regard to 9/11
dust contamination. First, Harrit et al. (2009) published detailed evidence for active thermitic
material in relevant dust samples, thus supporting explosive demolition. This paper also
appears to be one of the most extensively researched and professionally written of all 84 papers
appearing in Table 2. Entirely independent of Harrit’s work, Wu et al. (2010) published a case
report of lung disease in WTC responders. They reported an “unexpected” discovery of
extremely fine carbon (nanotube) structures in responder lung tissue, which are associated with
dust, thus independently confirming Harrit et al., who found the same such structures in 9/11
dust samples.

Well-qualified scientists, including physicists, have pointed out inconsistencies and violations
of basic physics contained in many PC papers. For example, Dr. Crockett Grabbe, Applied
Physics Ph.D. from Caltech, has raised many such critical problems (see Grabbe, 2007, 2010,
2012). Physics teacher David Chandler and co-author Jonathan Cole also document many basic
physics issues at their Website And Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth
(, as of April, 2013, is comprised of 1,877 certified professionals who
reject the PC hypothesis and jointly call for a new, independent investigation.

The integrity of science itself is compromised when an argument that proceeds from authority
alone is given precedence over the presentation of relevant, demonstrable facts (e.g., more than
a hundred documented reports of explosions (MacQueen, 2012)), or even basic laws of physics
(e.g., violations of conservation of energy and momentum, see Grabbe (2012)).

Compiling all relevant peer-reviewed publications on this focused topic, as done here, enables a
systematic, integrated analysis to address our key question in a way analogous to how Paul
Thompson’s 9/11 Timeline has served so effectively to help integrate a large range of 9/11related
issues (Thompson, 2004). 7

The first submitted draft paper on the mechanism of collapse is that by Bazant, submitted
September 13, 2001 (see first entry of Table 2, including its footnote). It is our professional
opinion that, by any measure, a responsible, professional research paper on this complex event

Journal of 9/11 Studies
Volume 37, April 2013

that was not begun until September 11 could not have been completed and submitted by

September 13.


Greater recognition is needed for the importance of evidence-based scholarly analyses
(e.g., MacQueen’s detailed analysis of eye-witness accounts of explosions), in addition
to more in-depth technical analyses and scholarly works that reveal the broader context
of 9/11 events;

We stress the importance of scientific, technical and scholarly research on these questions,
followed up with peer-reviewed publications; lacking this, the discussion
tends to be dominated by essays driven mostly by advocacy-based thinking. In contrast, the
best of science is evidence-based with systematic testing of alternative hypotheses,
falsification, and model-making (where appropriate);

In contrast to current conditions that have suppressed research and dialogue on these world-
changing collapses, achieving improved understanding of these critical questions requires
transparency, avoidance of cognitive bias (especially confirmation bias), peer-review, checks
and balances, and efforts to reduce research misconduct.8
Challenge to the Reader

Although every reasonable effort was made to locate all relevant papers, we fully acknowledge
that some papers or publications meeting the criteria herein may have been overlooked in our
search. Accordingly we challenge the reader (especially professional engineers and scientists) to
leverage the resources referenced in Table 2, and then perform for themselves such a synthesis
and, if appropriate, submit the results of such a study to a peer-reviewed journal, especially if they
conflict with our conclusions.

Such a check simply requires access to at least one of the relevant databases, which are available
through most major universities and research libraries. Indeed, anyone can do spot checks using
Google Scholar (; e.g., keywords “controlled demolition” WTC returns 436
results, and “progressive collapse” WTC returns 920 results.


We are thankful for all the independent researchers throughout the years who have courageously
stepped forward providing evidence, research, testing and analysis concerning this
catastrophic event, especially when such works contradicted official claims. In particular, we
gratefully acknowledge detailed technical and editing inputs provided by David Ray Griffin, Tod
Fletcher and two independent reviewers. Finally, we respectfully acknowledge the open access
available through the internet and public libraries, both critical infrastructures for democracy,
which makes this research possible.


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

Table 2. Peer-reviewed Publications Focused on
Mechanism of Collapse for WTC 1, 2, and 7
(mm/yy) Title Author(s) Publication Vol/Issue
(PC) 12/01 Why did the WTC collapse? Simple
Analysis Bazant, Zhou Int’l J. Struct.
Stab. Dyn.
Vol. 1, No. 4,
PC 12/01
Why did the WTC collapse?
Science, engineering, and
Eagar, Musso J. of Materials
Science (JOM)
Vol. 53, No. 12,
PC 01/02 Why did the WTC collapse? Simple
Analysis Bazant, Zhou
J. Engineering
Vol. 128, No. 1,
(PC) 03/02 Addendum to “Why did the
WTC…” Bazant, Zhou JEM Vol. 128, No. 3,
— 07/02 Could the WTC have been modified
to prevent its collapse?
Cebon JEM Vol. 128, No. 7,
PC 05/02 Dissecting the Collapses ASCE
Vol. 72,
Issue 514
PC 10/02 A suggested cause of the fire-
induced collapse of the WTC
di Marzo,
Fire Safety
Vol. 37,
Issue 7,
p. 707
— 07/03 Discussion [see above; Bazant and
Zhou, 2002] Sivakumar JEM Vol. 128,
Issue 7, 83915
(PC) 07/03 Closure [see above; Bazant and
Zhou, 2002] Bazant, Zhou JEM July 2003,
PC 10/03 How did the WTC towers collapse:
a new theory
Fire Safety
Vol. 38,
Issue 6,
— 10/03 A suggested cause of the fire-
induced collapse of the WTC Lane Fire Safety
Journal (letter)
Vol. 38,
Issue 6,
— 11/03 Discussion [see above; Newland,
2002] Sivakumar JEM Nov. 2003,
p. 1360
— 11/03 Closure [see above; Newland, 2002] Newland,
Cebon JEM Nov. 2003,
PC 05/04 Progressive analysis procedure for
progressive collapse Marjanishvili JEM May 2004,
Use of high-efficiency energy
absorbing device to arrest
Progressive collapse of tall building
Zhou, Yu JEM Oct. 2004,
PC 01/05 Structural responses of WTC under
aircraft attacks Omika et al. J. Structural
Eng. Jan. 2005, 6-1520
PC 06/05
Stability of the WTC twin towers
structural frame in multiple floor
Usmani JEM June 2005,
F 2005 September 11 and fracture
mechanics -a retrospective Cherepanov Int’l Journal of
Fracture 132: L25-L2622
— 06/06 WTC 7: A short computation Kuttler J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 1, 1-323
CD/7 06/06
9/11 -Evidence for controlled
demolition: a short list of
Legge J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 1, 4-16
CD/7 06/06 9/11 -Evidence suggests complicity:
Inferences from actions Legge J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 1, 17-27


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

Table 2. Peer-reviewed Publications Focused on
Mechanism of Collapse for WTC 1, 2, and 7
(mm/yy) Title Author(s) Publication Vol/Issue
— 06/06
Momentum transfer analysis of the
collapse of the upper storeys of
Ross J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 1, 32-39
CD/7 08/06 What is 9/11 truth? -the first steps Ryan J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 2, 1-6
PC 08/06 To whom it may concern Greening J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 2, 7-1224
— 08/06 Reply to Dr. Greening [see above;
Greening, 2006] Ross J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 2, 13-1825
CD/7 08/06 Intersecting facts and theories on
9/11 Firmage J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 2, 19-4726
CD 08/06
118 Witnesses: The firefighters’
testimony to explosions in the twin
MacQueen J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 2, 47-106
CD 08/06 NIST data disproves collapse
theories based on fire Legge J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 2, 107-121
F 08/06 Mechanics of the WTC collapse Cherepanov Int’l Journal of
Fracture 141: 287-28927
CD/7 09/06 Why indeed did the WTC buildings
completely collapse? Jones J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 3, 1-47
CD 09/06 Seismic proof -9/11 was an inside
job Furlong, Ross J. 9/11 Studies Sept. 2006,
CD/7 11/06 9/11 -acceleration study proves
explosive demolition Legge J. 9/11 Studies Nov. 2006, 1-5
CD 12/06 The NIST WTC investigation -how
real was the simulation? Douglas J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 6, 1-28
F 01/07 Progressive collapse of towers: the
resistance effect
Int’l Journal of
Fracture 143: 203-20628
CD 01/07 Statement regarding thermite,
part 1 Moore J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 7, 1-9
— 02/07
The overwhelming implausibility of
using directed energy beams to
demolish the WTC towers
Jenkins J. 9/11 Studies Feb. 2007,
PC 03/07
Mechanics of progressive collapse:
learning from WTC and building
Verdure JEM March 2007,
CD/7 04/07
Jones v. Robertson, a physicist and
a structural engineer debate the
controlled demolition of the World
Trade Center
Roberts J. 9/11 Studies April 2007,
CD/7 04/07 9/11 and the twin towers: Sudden
collapse initiation was impossible Morrone J. 9/11 Studies April 2007,
— 05/07 NIST and Dr. Bazant -simultaneous
failure Ross J. 9/11 Studies May 2007,
CD/7 05/07
The sustainability of the controlled
demolition hypothesis for
destruction of the twin towers
Szamboti J. 9/11 Studies May 2007,
CD/7 05/07 Revisiting 9/11/2001 -applying the
scientific method Jones J. 9/11 Studies May 2007,
PC/7 05/07 Good Science and 9-11 Demolition
Theories Mike King JOD 911
Vol. 1, Issue 2,
Sept. 2006


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

Table 2. Peer-reviewed Publications Focused on
Mechanism of Collapse for WTC 1, 2, and 7
(mm/yy) Title Author(s) Publication Vol/Issue
Theories (updated
13 May 2007)
CD/7 06/07
Some physical chemistry aspects of
thermite…system as applied to the
demise of three WTC buildings on
Lobdill J. 9/11 Studies June 2007,
CD/7 07/07
High velocity bursts of debris from
point-like sources in the WTC
Ryan J. 9/11 Studies July 2007, 1-8
CD 08/07
Direct evidence for explosions:
flying projectiles and widespread
impact damage
Grabbe J. 9/11 Studies Aug. 2007, 1-7
CD/7 09/07 9/11 -Proof of explosive demolition
without calculations Legge J. 9/11 Studies Sept. 2007, 1-8
— 10/07 The great steel caper: DEW demolition
contrary evidence Jenkins J. 9/11 Studies Oct. 2007, 1-63
— 11/07 Appeal filed with NIST Gourley et al. J. 9/11 Studies Nov. 2007,
— 12/07 Analysis of the mass and potential
energy of WTC tower 1 Urich J. 9/11 Studies Dec. 2007,
CD 12/07 9/11 and the twin towers: Sudden
collapse initiation was impossible
Szamboti J. 9/11 Studies Dec. 2007, 1-3
— 12/07 Structural response of tall buildings
to multiple floor fires Flint et al. J. Structural
Dec. 2007,
CD/7 01/08 Extremely high temperatures
during the WTC destruction Jones et al. J. 9/11 Studies Jan. 2008, 1-11
PC 01/08
Engineering perspective of the
collapse of WTC-1
J. Perf. of
Vol. 22, No. 1,
PC 02/08 Progressive collapse of the WTC:
simple analysis Seffen JEM Feb. 2008,
CD 04/08
Fourteen points of agreement with
official government reports on the
WTC destruction
Jones et al. Open Civil Eng.
J. Vol. 2, 35-40
PC/7 05/08 On Debunking 9/11 Debunking Ryan Mackey
JOD 911
Vol. 1, Issue 4,
31 Aug. 2007
24 May 2008)
CD 06/08 9/11 and probability theory Legge J. 9/11 Studies June 2008, 1-4
CD 07/08 The top ten connections between
NIST and nano-thermites Ryan J. 9/11 Studies July 2008, 1-12
F 07/08 Collapse of towers as applied to
September 11 events Cherepanov Materials
Science Vol. 44, No. 434
PC 10/08 Discussion [see above; Bazant, 2007] Szuladzinski JEM Oct. 2008,
CD 10/08 Discussion Gourley JEM Oct. 2002,
(PC) 10/08 Closure [see above; Bazant, 2007] Bazant, Le JEM Oct. 2008,
PC 10/08 What did and did not cause collapse Bazant et al. JEM Oct. 2008,


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

Table 2. Peer-reviewed Publications Focused on
Mechanism of Collapse for WTC 1, 2, and 7
(mm/yy) Title Author(s) Publication Vol/Issue
of WTC twin towers in New York? 892-906
CD 01/09
The missing jolt: A simple
refutation of the NIST-Bazant
collapse hypothesis
Szamboti J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 24, 1-27
CD 02/09
Active thermitic material
discovered in dust from the 9/11
WTC catastrophe
Harrit et al. Open Chem.
Phys. J. Vol. 2, 7-3136
CD/7 05/09
Controlled demolition at the WTC:
An historical examination of the
Legge J. 9/11 Studies May 2009, 1-5
PC 07/09
Dominant factor in the collapse of
WTC-1 Miamis et al.
J. Perf. of
Vol. 23, No. 4,
CD 02/10 Destruction of the WTC north
tower and fundamental physics Chandler J. 9/11 Studies Feb. 2010,
CD 03/10
Falsifiability and the NIST WTC
report: A study in theoretical
Legge J. 9/11 Studies March 2010,
CD 04/10 Discussion [see above; Seffen, 2008] Grabbe JEM Vol. 136, No. 4,
PC 06/10 How fast does a building fall? Denny European J. of
Vol. 31, 94394838
CD 07/10 Discussion [see above; Bazant et al.
2008] Bjorkman JEM Vol. 136, No. 7,
(PC) 07/10 Closure Bazant et al. JEM Vol. 136, No. 7,
PC 01/11 Why the observed motion history of
WTC towers is smooth Le, Bazant JEM Vol. 137, No. 1,
PC/7 01/12
Analysis of structural response of
WTC 7 to fire and sequential
failures leading to collapse
et al.
J. Structural
Vol. 138, No. 1,
PC 01/12
Using numerical simulations and
engineering reasoning under
uncertainty: studying the collapse of
Aided Civil and
Vol. 27, No. 1,
PC 07/12 Temporal considerations in collapse
of WTC towers Szuladzinski Int’l J. Struct.
Vol. 3, No. 3,
PC 08/12 Structural analysis of impact
damage WTC 1, 2, and 7
et al. Fire Technology Vol. 49, No. 3,
— 10/12
A discussion of “Analysis of
structural response of WTC 7…”
(see McCallister et al. above, Jan.
Brookman J. 9/11 Studies Oct. 2012,
Vol. 33
CD 10/12 Discussion [see above; Bazant, 2011] Grabbe JEM Vol. 138, No. 10,
PC 10/12 Closure [see above; Bazant, 2012] Le, Bazant JEM Vol. 138, No. 10,
CD 11/12
Were explosives the source of the
seismic signals emitted from New
York on September 11, 2001?
Rousseau J. 9/11 Studies Vol. 34, 1-23


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

Table 2. Peer-reviewed Publications Focused on
Mechanism of Collapse for WTC 1, 2, and 7
(mm/yy) Title Author(s) Publication Vol/Issue
PC 12/12
Equation of motion governing the
dynamics of vertically collapsing
Pesce JEM Vol. 138, No. 12,


The 9/11 Commission Report, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,
2004 (

Bement, Arden L., Jr., “Learning from 9/11: Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade
Center,” statement by Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), before the
Committee on Science, House of Representatives, United States Congress, March 6, 2002.

Brookman, Ronald H., A discussion of “Analysis of structural response of WTC 7 to fire and
sequential failure leading to collapse,” J. 9/11 Studies, Vol. 33, Oct. 2012.

Grabbe, Crockett L., Direct evidence for explosions: flying projectiles and widespread impact
damage, J. 9/11 Studies, 1-7, August, 2007.

Grabbe, Crockett L., Discussion on “Progressive collapse of the WTC: simple analysis” by Seffen,

J. Eng. Mech., Vol. 136, No. 4, 538-539, 2010.
Grabbe, Crockett L., Discussion on “Why the observed motion history of WTC towers is smooth”
by Le and Bazant, J. Eng. Mech., Vol. 138, Issue 10, 1298-1300, 2012.

Greening, Frank R., To whom it may concern, J. 9/11 Studies, Vol. 2, 7-12, August, 2006.

Griffin, David Ray, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official
Report About 9/11 is Unscientific and False, Olive Branch Press, 2010.

Harrit, Niels H. et al., Active thermitic material discovered in dust from the 9/11 WTC
catastrophe, Open Chem. Phys. J., Vol. 2, 7-31, Feb. 2009.

Legge, Frank, Controlled demolition at the WTC: An historical examination of the case,

J. 9/11 Studies, 1-5, May 2009.
MacQueen, Graeme, “Eyewitness Evidence of Explosions in the Twin Towers,” Chapter 8 in The
9/11 Toronto Report: International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001, James
Gourley, ed., International Center for 9/11 Studies (, pages 171-191, 2012.


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

McAllister, Therese et al., Analysis of structural response of WTC 7 to fire and sequential failures
leading to collapse, J. Structural Eng., Vol. 138, No. 1, 109-117, 2012.

NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology), Final Reports from the NIST
Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster, 2012 (including Releases of 2005, 2008, 2009,
and 2012) (

NRC (National Research Council), Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy, Committee on the
Use of Social Science Knowledge in Public Policy, K. Prewitt, T. Schwandt, and M. Straf, eds.,
Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2012.

Ryan, Kevin, “Are Tall Buildings Safer as a Result of the NIST WTC Reports?” from
Dig Within blog of Kevin Ryan, posted Sept. 7, 2012.


Taylor, Adam, Other Collapses in Perspective: An Examination of Other Steel Structures
Collapsing due to Fire and their Relation to the WTC, June 4, 2011.

Thompson, Paul, The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A
Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11 — and America’s Response, HarperCollins, 2004.

Wu, M. et al., Case Report: Lung disease in World Trade Center responders exposed to dust and
smoke: Carbon nanotubes found in the lungs of World Trade Center patients and dust samples,
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 118, No. 4, 499-504, Apr. 2010.


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013


1 On December 16, 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) formally issued its “Final
Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.” Section II of the Bulletin “requires each agency to
subject “influential” scientific information to peer review prior to dissemination.” Official reports
on the destruction of the WTC buildings (NIST, 2012) were among the most “influential” such
reports to appear in the last decade and yet, contrary to requirements of this OMB Bulletin, they
were not peer reviewed.
2 Scholarly peer review is the process of subjecting research papers to critical analysis by experts
in the same or related field to help enhance the quality, value and objectivity of any final
publication (see “Peer review” in With the exception of the Journal of Debunking
9/11 Conspiracy Theories, journals included in our database represent publication venues that are
recognized by their associated research communities as providing a valuable, and sustained peer-
reviewed service.
3 The online journals of Bentham Open are described at
4 Information on the Journal of 9/11 Studies is available at its website
(, and confirmed by co-editor K. Ryan (private
communications, 2013).
5 JEM author guidelines provide for the submission of both Discussion papers and a final Closure
paper by the original author(s), both limited to 2000 words.
6 Chemist Kevin Ryan (2012) has shown that building code changes, traceable to basic causes
cited by NIST for the destruction of WTC buildings, have never been adopted, whether by the
international building community, or even New York City.
7 The History Commons website is an experiment in open-content civic journalism
(, providing dynamic timelines with summaries of over twenty
thousand events.
8 In considerable detail, David Ray Griffin has shown that “the NIST report on WTC 7 should be
exposed by the scientific community for committing scientific fraud in the strict sense.” (Griffin,

9 PC = Progressive Collapse hypothesis; CD = Controlled Demolition hypothesis; F = Fracture
wave theory; “7” added for papers applying process to WTC 7; (PC) or (CD) denotes papers not
treated as distinct papers.
10 Submitted September 13, 2001 as stated at bottom of first page; expanded version submitted to
JEM on September 22.
11 Claims steel “experienced temperatures” above 750 degrees C (inconsistent with later results).
12 Simple 1D model (same as Dec. 2001 paper but in new venue; see also 03/02 Addendum).
13 Simply presumes PC without arguing for it; paper is about adding energy-absorbing collapse
14 Basically, a Civil Engineering Committee call for more study; notes no prior case of such
15 Essentially argues for PC but refers to it as “pancaking.”
16 Applies a simple finite element analysis model.
17 Basically assumes PC without arguing for it; calls for further investigation, including controlled
demolition (CD).
18 Excellent summary of PC hypothesis, which is simply assumed. Focuses on describing four PC
procedures; however, does not specifically state that PC applies to the WTC case.
19 Does not address cause of collapse (p.1178).


Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 37, April 2013 Volume 37, April 2013

20 Uses LS-DYNA computer program; presumes PC without arguing for it.
21 Seriously qualifies proposed mechanism in introduction.
22 Fracture wave theory (not PC); full text at
23 CD hypothesis not specifically stated but clearly implied.
24 Supports possibility of gravity-only collapse, but does not specifically claim “PC” hypothesis.
25 Denies Greening’s claim of gravity-only collapse; CD conclusion implied, consistent with
Furlong and Ross (2006).
26 CD hypothesis not specifically stated but clearly implied.
27 This fracture wave theory results in predicted collapse times much longer than actual fall times.
28 Resistance added to fracture wave theory.
29 As in previous work, uses a simple one-dimensional (1D) model.
30 Ross here focuses on critique of PC hypothesis, but CD clearly implied by context of this

and later paper by Furlong and Ross (2006).
31 Significant qualifications given; results applied only indirectly to WTC.
32 Requires core temperatures to get above 700 degrees C. (inconsistent with later results).
33 See critique by Grabbe (April, 2010).
34 Refutes PC hypothesis and advances hybrid model.
35 Refutes all basic claims of Bazant’s 2007 paper.
36 Confirms CD hypothesis using multi-instrument laboratory analyses of dust samples with clear
37 Refutes all basic claims of Seffen (2008); emphasizes inadequacies of 1D models using by bothSeffen and Bazant.
38 Uses simple 1D model and presumes “natural pancake collapse,” which is inconsistent with
basic observations. 39 Provides simply a review of 2008 NIST study results; no new results are presented.


An 11-month FT investigation reveals the extent of mismanagement at the €5bn-asset bank

On June 28 this year, Italian police arrested a silver-haired priest, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, in Rome. The cleric, nicknamed Monsignor Cinquecento after the €500 bills he habitually carried around with him, was charged with fraud and corruption, together with a former secret service agent and a ­financial broker. All three were suspected of attempting to smuggle €20m by private plane across the border from Switzerland.

Prosecutors alleged that the priest, a former banker, was using the Institute for Religious Works – the formal name for the Vatican’s bank – to move money for businessmen based in the Naples region, widely regarded in Italy as a haven of organised crime. Worse still, Scarano (who, together with the other men, has denied any wrongdoing) had until only a month earlier been head of the accounting department at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the treasury of the Vatican.

The arrest, and the headlines that screamed across the Italian press, was the latest shock for the Holy See. The year had already witnessed an emotional upheaval in the church with the resignation in February of the aged Pope Benedict XVI – the first time in 700 years a pope had stepped down voluntarily. But this new crisis demanded cold, hard resolve. For regulators and politicians in Europe who had pushed for change in the Vatican’s scandal-plagued bank over the previous four years – from the Bank of Italy under Mario Draghi to officials in Mario Monti’s government and in Brussels – it served as evidence of their concerns. Those worries also jolted a number of international financiers determined to press for reform.

In early July, Peter Sutherland, non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International and the former attorney-general of Ireland, flew into Vatican City. His mission – although described by some insiders as simply a “bit part” in the wider drive for change – was an illuminating one. Sutherland, a practising Catholic and an unpaid consultant to the Vatican’s treasury, had been asked by reformers in the church to speak with the council of cardinals, the most senior advisers to the pope. His message to the men who filed into a room near Doma Santa Marta, the plain-fronted residence of Pope Francis, was respectful but direct.

The banker, who declined to comment for this story, added his voice to the many in and outside the church asking the world’s smallest city-state to change its ways. “Transparency is important and necessary,” Sutherland said, according to two people who were informed of proceedings in the closed-door meeting.

The cardinals, known for long, contemplative consultations, were surprisingly receptive, said one of those informed. After a decade of paedophilia scandals, the allegations of financial impropriety seemed set to unleash another storm of criticism and had to be addressed. Outside auditors as well as financial risk consultants were already coming into the Vatican but the arrest of Scarano made the case for reform unavoidable. “We cannot have any more scandal. It is so shameful,” a senior member of the Vatican’s financial administration said.

How God’s bank ended up as a financial penitent this year is a bracing chapter in the history of financial reforms that have swelled up in the aftermath of the 2008 credit crisis. Untouchable havens such as Switzerland and Liechtenstein were forced to open their chocolate-box palaces to the probes of international regulators. This year the power of the popes was challenged.

The FT interviewed two dozen bankers, lawyers, regulators and Catholic insiders over 11 months to understand how the murky operations of a bank with €5bn in assets, and which says its aim is to serve the global mission of the Catholic Church, had unnerved bankers, regulators and governments across Europe and the US.

The reforms now under way at the Vatican have come about in part because of the pressure brought to bear by banks such as Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and UniCredit, all of which found themselves in the sights of regulators because of their business relationships with the Holy See. About three dozen banks, including some of the world’s biggest financial institutions, were for years “correspondent” banks to the Vatican, providing services when the pope’s business went beyond the boundaries of Vatican City. As with other institutional clients, the banks gave the Vatican access to foreign financial markets. Correspondent banks moved as much as €2bn a year from the Vatican’s bank to other accounts across the globe, according to a Vatican spokesman. It was the bankers’ fear of being tarnished by their links with the Vatican bank after the credit crisis – and fears of fines from emboldened regulators – that led them to take steps that forced it to clean up its act.

Several financial professionals talked in detail to the FT about their dealings with Vatican staff and provided documents about the bank’s structure. None wanted to speak on the record, citing sensitivities in both their banking and religious worlds. All told the FT that they were speaking out in order to help the bank keep to its programme of reform.

Senior executives from some correspondent banks had been questioned by regulators over the past two years and several had the same refrain about their dealings with the Vatican bank: it operated unlike any other bank they had encountered. Some who spoke to the FT reinforced what later emerged from reports by European officials on the bank’s workings. There were surprisingly few checks and balances on cash flow – and far less documentation than expected. The staff was small – 112 people, largely Italian until this year, with cardinals acting as supervisors. Many of the staff seemed unversed in customer due diligence, according to some. “They would not answer basic [Know Your Client] requests,” a senior manager at an international bank says.

The Institute for Religious Works issued its first annual report in early October, which showed that the bank has 19,000 clients, from around the world, 33,000 accounts and €5bn in assets. Few loans are made; the bank holds deposits, transfers money and makes investments. Half the bank’s clients come from religious orders; another 15 per cent are Holy See institutions, 13 per cent are cardinals, bishops and clergy, 9 per cent are from Catholic dioceses around the world. The rest of the clients are split among those who have, or should have, some “affiliation to the Catholic Church”, the report says.

Vatican insiders also revealed that the bank is awash in donations and cash, from Sunday collections and charitable giving. As much as 25 per cent of the bank’s business is done in cash – a feature that regulators said raised red flags for money laundering. About a third of its business comes from donations rooted in charities.

Laura Pedio, a Milan anti-Mafia prosecutor who specialises in white-collar crime, was one of the few sources willing to speak publicly to the FT. Pedio, who had been investigating the bankruptcy of a Catholic hospital in 2011 and needed access to Vatican bank information, said she was astonished to find a complex system of proxies, the authorisations given to representatives to execute transactions on behalf of often unidentified beneficial account holders.

She found multiple people often had proxies but details about the proxy holders were apparently not recorded anywhere in the bank. Some, she said, could be verbally identified by only a few people within the Vatican bank. There was, she said, literally no way to force an answer. “The issue was always: ‘Who is the ultimate beneficiary of this account?’” she says.

One adviser to the Vatican, who lives hundreds of miles from the marble colonnades of Rome, says the pursuit by prosecutors and regulators of the Vatican created a shift in mood among bankers to the Holy See. Under pressure themselves from a clampdown by European regulators, the banks were no longer open for business with a secretive Vatican. “There was a no-nonsense approach from the correspondent banks,” this adviser says. “‘We are not here to cover the ass of the Vatican.’”

. . .

Vatican City, a sovereign state that fiercely guards its privacy, has some of the trappings of a small town, with a supermarket, pharmacy, petrol station and a post office within its borders. But its hometown bank has the plummiest of addresses: the Apostolic Palace.

Popes Benedict and John Paul II both had their bedrooms two floors above the bank. An elevator was installed in the Apostolic Palace for John Paul II when he became too infirm to take the stairs. The elevator’s ground-floor entrance is next to the back door of the bank. (Pope Francis has opted for a less palatial residence, notably on the opposite side of Vatican City to the bank.)

Debate about what the popes knew about who came and went through the bank’s doors has occupied generations of Vatican watchers. The bank’s forerunner was created in 1887 as “an administration” to gather and use money for religious works. In 1942, in the chaotic war years, Pope Pius XII gave it a new name and a clear banking purpose.

The Institute for Religious Works was to provide for “the custody and the administration of monies (in bonds and cash) and properties transferred or entrusted to the Institute itself by fiscal or legal persons for the purposes of religious works, and works of Christian piety”. In the decades that followed, questions about some of that work – notably relationships and business deals examined by David Yallop in his 1984 bestseller, In God’s Name – would stir intrigue about possible Mafia connections. A 1996 book, His Holiness by Marco Politi and Carl Bernstein, offered a more benevolent view of Vatican cash flow in the 1980s: Pope John Paul II had systemically sent money to Solidarity, the Polish resistance movement, through a papal discretionary account, in an effort to break the back of communism in eastern Europe.

Roberto CalviMafia victim: Roberto Calvi?

The most infamous publicity surrounded revelations about the Vatican bank’s dealings with Milan’s Banco Ambrosiano, one of the most high-profile bank collapses in Italy’s history. The Vatican bank was Banco Ambrosiano’s main shareholder. After its demise in 1982, Banco Ambrosiano’s chairman, Roberto Calvi, was found hanged under London’s Blackfriars Bridge. Prosecutors in Rome concluded that he was killed by the Sicilian Mafia but no one has ever been convicted of his murder.

In recent years, the bank has again featured in media reports for its funding of religious and humanitarian activities across the world. Former and current Vatican officials have confirmed to the FT that the bank has been used to channel cash, often secretly or with ­limited information given to correspondent banks, to vulnerable Christian groups in Cuba and Egypt.

But Vatican insiders, bankers and prosecutors admit that a system aimed at quickly getting money to difficult places has also potentially been open to abuse by tax cheats and by organised crime. “The issue is that once you start doing opaque transactions in an institution, people don’t know where to draw a line and to stop. What started in effect with moving money to Poland got out of control,” says a senior European banker at a US bank with a longstanding relationship with the Vatican. “There were no rules,” a Vatican insider commented. “So if you add to that someone with a criminal [motivation], you are finished.”

Up until 2008, according to one former senior Vatican banker, regulation of the Vatican bank was “indulgent”. This person says that no pressure was brought to bear on the Vatican to clean up its act either by regulators overseeing its correspondent banks or by officials within the Holy See.

But the euro crisis changed all that. Pressure from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Europe’s Financial Stability Board and the Financial Action Task Force led to a crackdown on states that failed to comply with international rules. At the same time, prosecutors in Rome were probing suspicious transactions that appeared to be emanating out of the Holy See into the Italian banking system. Their focus was a branch of UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank by assets, that sits on the road leading up to Vatican City.

Poland's Solidarity MovementFlow of funds: Pope John Paul II is said to have used the Vatican bank to channel money to Poland’s Solidarity movement

A routine Bank of Italy anti money-laundering investigation at the branch had stumbled upon inconsistencies in its dealings with the Vatican bank, and it referred the issue to Rome prosecutors. According to a source familiar with the matter, payment slips from unnamed holders of Vatican bank accounts were found in the branch, ringing alarm bells for anti-money laundering investigators. The investigation was shelved later that year but not without consequences for the Vatican. UniCredit says it cut off all contact with the Holy See. It would not be the last bank to do so.

Forcing change was a challenge. Part of the problem was that the European Union had no regulatory power over the Vatican’s bank. So it was decided that the Bank of Italy, at the time headed by Draghi, would put pressure on the banks that did business with the Vatican. A former Italian minister with direct knowledge says: “That is the way you do it in these situations, when you have a state that you do not have regulatory powers over but you want to enforce changes. You make their life very difficult. You tell the banks they are not allowed to do business with them.”

By 2009, the Vatican bank was caught in various financial crosshairs. As prosecutors continued their line of questioning, the Bank of Italy was putting on the pressure by making life tough for the correspondent banks, according to several people with direct knowledge of events.

The Vatican, with an increasingly frail Benedict at the helm, tried to put its own stamp on the probes by appointing a well-connected conservative banker, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, to take over the presidency of the bank. It also made a request to the Council of Europe for an investigation by Moneyval, the council’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism. Pope Benedict even gave his blessing to the creation of a financial supervisor within the walls of the Vatican.

Gotti Tedeschi was well known to the central bank. He was the head of Banco Santander in Italy and considered to be the right-hand man of Santander’s powerful executive chairman Emilio Botín in the country. He also sat on the board of Italy’s giant state financing agency, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. But according to people familiar with the events, Gotti Tedeschi was viewed with distrust among some members of the council of cardinals which he tried to encourage to be more transparent. Personal battles with the Vatican hierarchy took their toll as well: in May 2012 he was ejected from the presidency after a no-confidence vote by the board. He even faced criminal charges that were later dropped after an investigation by Italian prosecutors.

That year, correspondent banks also grew increasingly worried. The Vatican’s failure to comply with international anti-money laundering rules had the potential to affect their own businesses. As regulators cracked down on tax cheats in offshore havens such as Switzerland, the banks feared regulators would turn on them for working with a Vatican that was still guarding its own banking secrets.

In March 2012, JPMorgan closed the bank account it held for the Vatican because the Vatican bank was providing insufficient information about funds that it was asking the US bank to move around the world, according to two sources at two different financial institutions. Other banks started to push back against the Vatican. “We would say, ‘We need to answer the regulator on this matter.’ They would say, ‘We answer to God,’” says another manager at a large European bank.

The EU’s Moneyval reinforced the sense of embattlement at the Vatican with its report in July 2012. Moneyval said that the Financial Information Authority, the regulator set up with Pope Benedict’s blessing, lacked the legal powers and independence needed to monitor and sanction the Vatican’s financial institutions. It had found that the regulator had no clear right to demand access to books or information. The Vatican bank was deemed to be compliant or largely compliant on only nine out of 16 core standards.

Moneyval provided ammunition for other banks and the crunch came when regulators turned to Deutsche Bank, the German financial powerhouse. Its Italian subsidiary had managed the Vatican City’s 80 cash machines and credit card payment services since 1997. In the summer of 2012, the Bank of Italy began questioning Deutsche about whether it possessed a licence to operate cash machines for the Vatican state. The central bank said that the Vatican was not compliant with international rules; was Deutsche breaking the law by servicing the ATMs? The Bank of Italy then sent another letter, seen by the FT, that ordered Deutsche Bank to close its accounts with the Vatican bank by the end of the year.

Deutsche did what regulators had hoped it would. On January 1 2013, a peak holiday time, there were no ATMs functioning anywhere inside Vatican City. Lines of visitors to the Sistine Chapel were unable to enter unless they paid in cash. “The message sent was simple: if you want to participate in the modern world, you have to adopt modern rules,” says a senior banker at another correspondent bank.

In the waning days of his papacy, Benedict made appointments that would help steer the church towards some sort of financial resolution. He appointed Rene Bruelhart, a Swiss lawyer who made his name as the head of Liechtenstein’s ­financial intelligence unit, as head of the Vatican’s financial regulator. Among the pontiff’s last official decrees was to appoint a new Vatican bank chief, Ernst von Freyberg, a mergers and acquisitions banker and aristocratic German who in his spare time led pilgrims to the healing waters of Lourdes.

Bruelhart, the younger of the two men, was involved in the return of assets owned by the regime of Saddam Hussein to the new Iraqi government. He also helped to uncover the Siemens contract scandal of 2006, which involved bribery of government officials. This legal profile, combined with his crisp good looks, led some in the media to dub the 41-year-old the James Bond of the financial world.

Bruelhart worked swiftly to restore ATM services in Vatican City. By February 12, he had engaged Aduno Group, a Swiss ­company, to take over operation of the cash machines, neatly circumventing Italian and EU regulatory pressures.

In March 2013, there was a new pope – a Jesuit evoking the poverty and humility of St Francis of Assisi – and he quickly set a tone on financial correctness. Pope Francis spoke out against the “idolatry of money”, “all-encompassing corruption” and “tax evasion that had reached global dimensions”. Behind the scenes, he sent out another sign: Pope Francis moved his ­personal residence away from the Apostolic Palace and the Vatican bank.

Francis also began issuing papal decrees that helped speed inspections and made changes within the upper ranks of the cardinals. According to Bank of Italy sources, the new pope “marked important steps toward real reform of the legal and institutional framework”. Backed by Francis, the Financial Information Authority was strengthened with broader powers of supervision.

The pope had also asked for a review of the bank’s activities and appointed two boards made up of senior clergy and lay bankers to give advice regarding the future of the institution so that “it was in harmonization with the mission of the Catholic Church”, according to Vatican statements.

So far, Bruelhart and von Freyberg have complemented each other in their approach to reform, insiders say. Bruelhart quickly set up a crisis management team to review accounts and track money transfers. Within months of the two financial outsiders arriving, Sutherland flew in from London to discuss the virtues of transparency with the cardinals.

Before the meeting, Sutherland went into the dining hall of the Doma Santa Marta. Pope Francis was also there, eating breakfast, according to a witness. “I could not believe my eyes. I thought this is impossible,” says this person. “The pope in one corner and one of the world’s best-known bankers in the other.”

By this summer, von Freyberg had sought out Promontory Financial, a global risk-control group that specialises in regulatory and compliance issues. Promontory’s contract, according to von Freyberg, costs “well above seven digits”.

On a bright morning in late October, nine Promontory Financial employees sat in an office beneath a painting of the crucifixion of Christ, sorting through computer scans of account holders’ passports. They were manually and methodically cross-checking the names and faces with newly filled-in bank forms. Promontory employees now comprise 25 per cent of the staff of the Vatican bank, according to the Vatican.

Next door sat Rolando Marranci, a former chief financial officer for BNP Paribas’s Italian subsidiary and now the Vatican bank’s new director-general. He was hired in the wake of the arrest of Scarano, the Vatican accountant.

By next year, these new employees are expected to have closed hundreds of bank accounts listed in the Vatican ledgers, according to people familiar with the situation. Vatican bank officials say it will take well into next year to review them all. Accounts are being targeted when a client has been found to no longer have links to the Holy See. Where accounts are missing basic information or a client is found not to have such links, those accounts have been handed over to Bruelhart and his team. Bruelhart then judges whether to close these accounts when he reviews them in the light of the Vatican’s new, stricter anti-money laundering rules, according to bank insiders.

Both Bruelhart and von Freyberg have tried to calm internal fears about the Vatican’s suspected links to money laundering. Its volume of transactions – about €2bn in and out annually – is too small to be much of a threat, say people familiar with their thinking. But suspicions remain that the bank may have been a refuge for tax cheats from Italy, which European officials admit has a problem with tax evasion.

Bankers familiar with the transition between popes describe the past year as marking an epochal change. The Vatican hierarchy is taking steps to appoint experienced regulators to head a new, prudential supervisor, Vatican insiders say. Big Four auditors are looking at its accounts. The Vatican bank staff was once dominated by Italians; now it is opening its doors to foreign bankers with global experience. The clean-up has also extended to enhanced oversight of the Vatican’s treasury, known as the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (Apsa), which controls the Catholic Church’s real estate portfolio and oversees holdings of government bonds. Sutherland and fellow international financier Bob McCann, chief executive of UBS Americas, are listed as two of five “consultors” or advisers at Apsa, according to a 2013 Vatican directory. The Vatican announced in October that its consultors would become part of a newly created supervisory board. Neither man would respond to questions about the board but there is work to be done there as well.

A handful of current accounts was recently discovered within Apsa – to the surprise of auditors and Vatican officials – and they are in the process of being moved to the Vatican bank, according to people with direct knowledge of the events. The very existence of these accounts is yet another sign, these people say, of how the financial system operated for years without any clear rules.

More changes are ahead. Bruelhart has signed a memorandum of understanding to swap information on suspicious transactions with the US, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Slovenia, and it has another 15 to 20 in the pipeline. He has also reached out to the Egmont Group, an informal network of national financial intelligence units that swaps information about suspicious transactions, according to the Vatican.

There is a cautious sense of optimism among technical ­advisers in Rome and beyond. But they admit that there is still tension between the high priests of finance and the Vatican. “It is a case of political will in the end,” says an adviser to the bank. “Though what is happening here is surprisingly unpolitical. This is about IT and handbooks, and staff training and processes and fact-checking.”

Pope Francis in October in St Peter’s SquarePope Francis in October in St Peter’s Square

How far the Vatican reforms go depends on the man at the top. Named after a saint who was plain-spoken and happy with simple pursuits, Pope Francis’s approach so far has inspired the bank investigators to work some long and late hours. For them, his early reflections on what banking should be – in this bejewelled city of saints and sinners, or anywhere in the world – is worthy of some meditation. “Some say the best thing is to have a bank, others say it should be a relief fund, other recommend it be closed down,” Pope Francis said in July. “I trust the work the [Vatican bank] team is doing . . . But whether it’s a bank, a fund, a whatever, it should be based on transparency and honesty.”

In Italy, there is a sense that Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, was chosen in part because he was an outsider. He understands that the Vatican’s insular nature has hurt the image of the Catholic Church and raised concerns about its relevance. His papacy will be a mission to prove that the church remains a touchstone for morality – and, to some observers, he has defined the bank scandal as an opportunity.

Massimo Faggioli, an academic and author from Bologna who has studied the Vatican for the past 20 years, says that other pontiffs in his lifetime had no reason to think that the bank was important to the outside world. But now it is – and Francis, by speaking out about it early, has signalled its importance. “Pope John Paul II didn’t touch the bank because it served his purpose of funding Solidarity from the Vatican. Pope Benedict did not touch it because he had no interest in controlling it,” says Faggioli. “Pope Francis is different because he knows the damage that has been done to the credibility of the church by this very small bank and its history of scandals.”

More questions of modernity also will test the church: ongoing paedophilia scandals, the role of women, the possibility that priests may marry. For now it seems the newest occupant of St Peter’s throne wants the church to set an example and do what most everyday people must: get its finances straight.

 December 19, 2013

America’s Great Game, by Hugh Wilford

Basic Books, 384 pp., $29.99

“The genius of you Americans,” Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdel Nasser once mockingly told a CIA operative, “is that you never made clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves.”

After finishing “America’s Great Game” (Basic Books, 384 pp., $29.99), Hugh Wilford’s lively, informative study of early Cold War American diplomacy and spy plots in the Middle East, one inclines to believe Nasser was right.

The book’s title deliberately echoes the term used by British diplomats and spies to describe their 19th-century strategic rivalry with Russia in Central Asia. Rudyard Kipling later popularized the idea of this “Great Game” in his novel “Kim.”

Wilford appropriates the conceit in detailing the high-spirited, swashbuckling – and largely counterproductive, if not disastrous – actions of a clutch of American spooks who succeeded the British in the region after World War II.

Wilford, author of “The Mighty Wurlitzer,” an account of CIA front organizations, centers his narrative here on a handful of colorful figures.

Most prominent are members of the “triumvirate that would dominate the Agency’s first covert operations in the Middle East.” Two were patrician grandsons of Theodore Roosevelt: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt and his cousin Archie. The unlikely third musketeer was a not-so-blue-blooded, one-time Alabama jazz musician, Miles Copeland.

americasgreatgamejpg-3703592baea16afbAn upper-class public-service ethos, anti-communism, a fascination with Arab culture and a thirst for adventure combined to animate the Roosevelts. Subtract the noblesse oblige, and the same was true of Copeland. All performed intelligence work during World War II. Finding it congenial, they signed on with the newly created Central Intelligence Agency following the war.

Posted to Damascus, Syria, as CIA station chief, the freewheeling Copeland was on hand for the Middle East’s first Cold War military coup. In 1949, a Syrian army officer attuned to perceived U.S. strategic interests – access to oil, thwarting the Soviets – ousted the country’s democratically elected president.

Historians still debate the extent of CIA involvement, ranging from mere encouragement to an active role. What’s “painfully clear,” asserts Wilford, is the “legacy of instability, authoritarianism, and anti-Americanism” this episode left in Syria, all harmful to our long-term interests in the region.

While there’s uncertainty surrounding the degree of CIA culpability in the Syrian affair, there is little concerning the 1953 Iranian coup. Kim Roosevelt, acting in concert with his British MI-6 counterparts – and authorized by the highest levels of the U.S. and British governments –orchestrated the overthrow of Iran’s prime minister, who had dared to nationalize his country’s oil industry. In his place, the Anglo-Americans installed a military government under the Shah, whose authoritarian rule ultimately provoked the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Wilford aptly quotes prophetic words spoken to Kipling’s fictional Kim: “Thou hast loosed an Act upon the world, and as a stone thrown into a pool so spread the consequences thou canst not tell how far.” Memories of 1953 still fuel Iranians’ hostile views of the United States. As one scholar puts it, there’s a direct path “from the Great Game to the Great Satan.”

Other bungled plots included trying to turn the nationalist Nasser into a U.S. asset. But even more fascinating than foreign cloak-and-dagger exploits is Wilford’s examination of clandestine CIA attempts to weaken domestic U.S. support for the new state of Israel.

Kim Roosevelt was deeply involved in this anti-Zionist activity. Like other CIA and State Department Arabists, his motivation wasn’t vulgar anti-Semitism, but rather a sincere belief that backing the Jewish state was inimical to U.S. strategic interests. These efforts foundered, too.

As Kim or Archie might have said, Wilford’s book is a ripping good yarn. Moreover, it sounds salutary warnings about Americans’ inflated sense of our ability to influence local developments and the dangers of unintended consequences.

Cate teaches history at University School in Hunting Valley.