Foreign Firms Destroyed Crucial Evidence
August 14, 2002
Why did a foreign company - headed by a knight of the British Empire - manage the controversial "clean-up" of the rubble at the World Trade center and the Pentagon? Although the terror attacks of 9-11 were clearly criminal acts of mass murder, no effort was made to preserve the integrity of the crime scenes and the essential evidence was disposed of like garbage.
The editor-in-chief of Fire Engineering magazine, William A. Manning, issued an urgent "call to action" to America's firefighters at the end of 2001, calling for a forensic investigation and demanding that the steel from the site be preserved to allow investigators to determine what caused the collapse. "Such destruction of evidence," Manning said, "shows the astounding ignorance of government officials to the value of a thorough, scientific investigation of the largest fire-induced collapse in world history."
"I have combed through our national standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere does one find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings over 10 stories tall," Manning said. "Clearly, there are burning questions that need answers. Based on the incident's magnitude alone, a full-throttle, fully resourced, forensic investigation is imperative."
Three months later, the Science Committee of the House of Representatives reported that the WTC investigation was "hampered" by the destruction of crucial evidence. The committee report of March 6 says, "Some of the critical pieces of steel...were gone before the first investigator ever reached the site." The investigation Manning called for never happened and never will, because the essential evidence is now destroyed.
"The FEMA-sponsored building performance assessment currently being conducted of the World Trade Center is just that: an assessment, not an investigation," Prof. Glenn Corbett of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City told the Science Committee in March. Corbett had previously called the FEMA-led investigation "uncoordinated" and "superficial." "You would think we would have the largest fire investigation in world history. You would be wrong," Corbett wrote. "We are literally treating the steel removed from the site like garbage, not like crucial fire scene evidence."
WHO'S IN CHARGE?
The New York Times was unable to find out who was behind the destruction of evidence. On Dec. 25, 2001, the Times reported, "Officials in the mayor's office declined to reply to written and oral requests for comment over a three-day period about who decided to recycle the steel and the concern that the decision might he handicapping the investigation."
"I must say that the current investigation - some would argue that 'review' is the more appropriate word - seems to be shrouded in excessive secrecy," said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.). "There are no clear lines of authority," he said. "No one is in charge."
Before the dust had settled on Sept.11, the mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani, and Kenneth Holden of the city's Dept. of Design and Construction (DDC), contracted 4 major construction management companies to begin the removal of the debris from the World Trade Center. Three of the four major companies involved in the clean-up were foreign owned: AMEC, Bovis Lend Lease, both headquartered in London; and Turner, a subsidiary of Germany's Hochtief. Only Tully Construction of Flushing, N.Y., is a truly American-owned company.
Peter Tully, president of the company, was the only contractor willing to speak openly with me about his work at the WTC site. "I was there every day," Tully said. "The mayor's office and DDC called us on Sept. 11...on the site we had at least three meetings a day with Ken Holden and Mike Burton."
The WTC site was initially divided into four quadrants and Tully Construction was assigned to Quadrant 3. Tully said his company had worked on the South Tower, WTC 4 and 5, and the 425,000 square foot underground retail mall.
'EVERYTHING WAS PULVERIZED'
"Think of the thousands of file cabinets, computers, and telephones in those towers - I never saw one - everything was pulverized," he said. "Everything that was above grade - above the 6th and 7th floor - disintegrated...it was like an explosion." Tully Construction specializes in concrete. I asked Mr. Tully if he had ever seen concrete pulverized as it was at the WTC.
"No - never," he said.
Tully said that there were hot spots where he observed "literally molten steel." Asked about what could have caused such intense heat, Tully said, "Think about the jet fuel."
The London-based firm AMEC, ranked by Engineering News-Record magazine as "the world's largest firm," oversaw the actual management of the debris removal at both the Pentagon and the WTC. "AMEC was the only construction company working at both disaster sites," the company's web site says. "AMEC is managing Hudson River barging operations to transport the rubble from the entire WTC site to a landfill on Staten Island and to steel recycling operations in New Jersey."
AMEC had just finished the renovation at the Pentagon when it was called to manage the removal of debris there and at the World Trade Center. "AMEC was placed in charge by the City of New York of organizing and engineering the around-the-clock clean up operation in the northwest sector," the web site says, which included the North Tower and WTC 6 (U.S. Customs House). The company also cleaned up the 47-story WTC 7, which mysteriously collapsed late in the afternoon of 9-11.
AMEC co-managed the WTC site with another London-based firm, Bovis Lend Lease, from January 2002. Bovis was a somewhat troubled construction subsidiary of Britain's P&O. Bovis was acquired by Australia's Lend Lease Corp in 1999. Bovis is headed by Sir Frank Lampl, a Czechoslovakian who immigrated to England at age 42. Lampl, who claims to have been imprisoned in Auschwitz and Dachau during the Nazi era, has become a British knight.
I spoke with Mary Costello, spokesperson for Bovis in New York. Costello said the company had assumed "overall responsibility" for the WTC site on Jan 4. She didn't want to discuss what buildings Bovis had worked on and said, "You should not be contacting us. You should be speaking to DDC." Calls to DDC public affairs department are neither answered nor returned.
Turner Construction, the third foreign firm, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hochtief AG, headquartered in Essen, Germany.
AMEC & THE PENTAGON
AMEC is an "informal acronym" for Asset Management and Engineering Consultancy, according to the firm's communications director David Paterson. Paterson told me that oil and gas extraction provides 25 percent of the company's revenue. AMEC operates the North Sea oil rigs for Shell and British Petroleum, he said.
AMEC had just completed a project to strengthen and renovate a section of the Pentagon. Wedge 1, when the building was attacked. The damaged area is between Wedges 1 and 2. Marcella Diaz, communication director for the firm's U.S. subsidiary, AMEC Construction Management, told me that the company's work in the Pentagon had been completed on the Friday just before Tuesday, Sept. 11.
Paterson said that AMEC is the "prime contractor for the U.S. Dept of Defense on environmental work." The firm was paid some $752 million for its 2-year renovation and clean-up at the Pentagon, according to Rachel Decker, spokesperson for the Pentagon's renovation entity known as PENREN. The fact that a British firm had been given the contract to renovate the Pentagon was "not a problem," Decker said.
Asked about who was in charge of the clean-up at the WTC, Paterson said, "The City of New York was the project manager." The director of DDC, Kenneth Holden, was named as the person in charge at the site according to Paterson. AMEC is in line for further construction work at both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center according to the Daily Mail, a British newspaper.
The company's London-based chief executive, Sir Peter Mason, said about the Pentagon clean-up: "The target is to have it reopened for business by Sept. 11, 2003, as a point of principle." Mason is a knight of the British Empire.
The former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, who gave the management of the WTC site to the two British firms, AMEC and Bovis Lend Lease, received an honorary knighthood in the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II on 13 February 2002. When Giuliani was made a knight of the British Empire he joined an exclusive club which includes George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Colin Powell, Wesley Clark, Norman Schwarzkopf, and Steven Spielberg. Bush and Reagan are also both knights in the Order of the Bath.