If "Building Seven" says nothing to you, you have lots of company.  On 9/11 it caught fire and fell to the ground, all 47 stories.  Yet today, two and a half years later, no one knows why--that is, unless they are privy to some inside knowledge.  When World Trade Center Tower One (WTC 1) collapsed so inconceivably at 10:28 a.m., WTC 7, to its north, began sprouting fires that could be seen through windows, here and there.  Seven hours later it was a heap of smoking debris that looked exactly like a demolition by use of explosives, a pile of rubble within its own footprint.  

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded a contract October 27 to an engineering firm to find out why.  The results in draft form are due September 30.  The "9/11 Commission," chaired by Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, won't be including it in their "full and complete account of the circumstances of 9/11," even though it is the only independent commission set up to bring us the truth.  NIST is a federal agency whose purpose is to recommend ways to build things safely.  Do I see a crack that this subject could slip through?  WTC 7 was such a large structure--in volume about two thirds of a Trade Tower--that doesn't seem possible.  Yet stranger things have happened, if you will recall the year following November 23, 1963.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a report in May, 2002 saying it hadn't the foggiest.  The New York Times labeled the collapse "strange" and "mysterious."  One of the engineers involved in construction of WTC 7 said: "There's something that doesn't compute."  After many hours scrutinizing photographs and studying testimony, I have come to the same conclusion, with an addendum: one thing that did not cause it was "burning debris from the towers," alluded to both by the Times and FEMA even though they did not have the foggiest.  

FEMA listed 56 buildings damaged in the 9/11 attack, with the entire set of World Trade Center buildings shown as "collapsed."  WTC 3, 4, 5, and 6 were struck by heavy debris, crushed to one degree or another, and set afire, but these buildings, unlike WTC 7, were all close enough to be partly within the "heavy debris" circle laid out by FEMA.  Two buildings at the south edge of the circle were struck by burning debris and caught fire, but did not collapse.  Other buildings hit by heavy debris such as steel support columns were damaged but did not catch fire because what hit them was bare steel.  The heaviest item in "lighter debris" was aluminum cladding which covered the outside of the towers.  No fire came with those metal pieces flying through the air.  Any lighter debris had to buck a headwind to reach WTC 7 that day.  

The building burned out of control all afternoon because New York City didn't have enough fireboats to pump water from the Hudson River to supply both the tower debris fires and WTC 7.  (That's my explanation; FEMA only said that a 20-inch water main broke when one of the towers fell.)  But even so, no steel-structured building in history had collapsed due to fire.  In the case of the towers, engineers are speculating that damage caused by two large airplanes was a major factor in the towers' collapse.  WTC 7, with no significant damage, held diesel oil instead of jet fuel--44,000 gallons of it to supply emergency electric generation--but it was in tanks that did not catch fire until the collapse.    

The FEMA author almost apologetically suggested that a fuel line that leaked near a critical support at a certain rate could support a fire for seven hours, but found that best theory improbable.  Unlike gasoline, diesel fuel at room temperature needs more than a spark or a match to set it afire.  And what about all those other fires, here and there, isolated from one another?  If we're asked to picture a skyful of firebrands flying through windows, breaking fuel lines all over the building--that didn't happen.  

But here's what gets the conspiracy analysts in a lather: WTC 7 was a treasure chest of evidence, now lost.  The CIA's most important office outside Washington was there, unidentified by name, where major counterterrorist operations were handled--the East African embassy attacks, the U.S.S. Cole, and Osama bin Laden.  (The Saudi Arabian connection got cut out of the Congressional Joint Inquiry report, too.)  The Securities and Exchange Commission had a major office in WTC 7 dealing in securities fraud cases, with at least 100 current (then Enron-era) prosecutions damaged or dropped.  Whose?  Were any cases transferred to that office just before 9/11?  

I'm too suspicious, you say.  The Department of Defense had offices there; along with their industrial pals, they were among the few beneficiaries of 9/11.  No?  Then how about the Secret Service, which had two floors in WTC 7?  This is the same outfit that kept a straight face while the President, aware both towers had been hit, chatted with the second graders until it was time for his public appearance, then they drove him 80 mph (for the cameras) in order to board Air Force One to fly for an hour without a fighter escort, as if all that time they were sure he was safe.  

New York City's Office of Emergency Management was there, on which the city had spent millions of dollars to make it an attack-proof bunker with its own electricity, water, and even air supply.  When Mayor Rudy Giuliani arrived, before either tower collapsed, no fire yet, he found that "authorities" had ordered WTC 7 evacuated.    

No one died in WTC 7, which may be why it has appeared unimportant.  It was empty all day--even the firemen left--unless there was someone in there stoking fires.  At about 4 p.m. firemen were told to keep everyone away from the building, because it was going to collapse.  They were about to witness a historic anomaly: a steel-structured building collapse caused solely by fire.   There's more, but I don't want to get the conspiracy analysts too excited.  We're excited enough, as it is.