by Nicholas Levis
BBC World News started reporting that 7 World Trade Center had collapsed about 23 minutes before the building actually came down, as video of the news network’s live broadcast on September 11th shows.
BBC World News announced WTC 7 had collapsed, well in advance of the actual event. Discovery by blogger prompts controversy. Angered counter-attack from BBC avoids issue: What was the source of the information? New 3-minute video compilation of the key points from the BBC broadcast, demonstrating foreknowledge of WTC 7 collapse. Read more for complete coverage of the last three days.
The skyscraper also known as the Salomon Brothers Building was still standing and clearly visible over the shoulder of a BBC reporter in New York, even as the network provided accurate, past- tense details of its collapse. Jane Standley’s live report was interrupted about five minutes before WTC 7 actually came down at 5:20pm EDT. A video clip establishing this anomaly was discovered on the archive.org news service and first pointed out to the public Monday by the blog writer 911veritas at 911blogger.com .
The ensuing controversy has prompted a swift, unusually angry response from the BBC, which however has failed to address the substantive issue: Apparently the network’s personnel were unfamiliar with WTC 7, which is excusable. They were however reporting information culled from a source with advance knowledge of the building’s collapse. Who was that source?
The answer may be essential to settling the long-standing dispute over whether the third skyscraper to fall on 9/11, which was not struck by an airplane, was demolished using explosives, or collapsed entirely due to structural damage and fire.
Until Tuesday, a 1-gigabyte file record of the BBC World News live broadcast was freely available for download from the Television Archive at archive.org, at http://ia311517.us.archive.org/2/items/bbc200109111654-1736/ V08591-16.mpg
Presumably thousands of people downloaded the file before archive.org took it offline. The news archive service provided an .xml label in the same directory, indicating that the 42-minute video segment was originally broadcast starting at 4:54pm EDT on September 11th. Various clues within the segment amply confirm this start time (see below), although no time is announced or shown during the segment.
For information purposes under fair-use provisions we are making available a three-minute, 10-megabyte WMV video showing the key excerpts from the segment, with inserted time labels based on a start time of 4:54pm EDT.
— FREE DISTRIBUTION
WTC 7: Historical Footnote?
The 47-story skyscraper WTC 7 was located to the north of the North Tower, across Vesey Street. Prior to 9/11, this relatively obscure cousin to the Twin Towers was more commonly known as the Salomon Brothers Building after its largest tenant.
Built above and around an electrical substation, WTC 7 also housed other businesses and a number of federal agencies: the Securities and Exchange Commission, the IRS, the Department of Defense, and a secret CIA station that the Agency later described as its largest office in North America outside of the Washington area.
The Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, a high-tech nerve center built by the Giuliani administration and intended as the city’s command headquarters in a crisis, was on the 23rd floor. The location was criticized by officials at the New York Fire Department and others who considered it insecure.
The 9/11 events rendered OEM unusable. WTC 7 was evacuated in the morning, caught fire at some point after the Twin Towers fell, and collapsed completely at 5:20pm Eastern Daylight Time on Sept. 11, 2001. The building fell evenly within 6.5 seconds, leaving a pile of rubble contained almost entirely within the original footprint. The many external signs of a controlled demolition raised the prospect that explosives were used to bring it down. (See for example the video clips at http://www.wtc7.net/videos.html ).
Authorities have maintained the global failure was entirely due to the serious structural damage caused by the earlier collapse of the Twin Towers and subsequent fires (fueled by diesel tanks located around the building, the largest of which belonged to OEM). The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was charged with preparing a full report. Its publication date has been delayed several times over a period of almost two years, and is currently scheduled for April 2007.
BBC Coverage on 9/11
The file obtained from archive.org shows that the BBC’s uncannily clairvoyant news coverage of the event began at 4:57 pm EDT, 23 minutes before the building actually collapsed. [3:19 on the archive.org video]
Speaking from London, BBC World News anchorman Philip Hayton says, “We’ve got some news coming in — the Salomon Brothers Building in New York, right in that part of Manhattan, also has collapsed. This does fit in with a warning from the British Foreign Office a couple of hours ago to British citizens that… there was ‘a strong risk of further atrocities in the United States. And it does seem as if there now is another one with the Salomon Brothers Building collapsing. We’ve got no word yet on casualties, one assumes that the building would have been virtually deserted.” Hayton then reports that the US president is on a flight back to Washington from Nebraska, confirming that the broadcast time is just before 5pm EDT.
The collapse is noted again in the top-of-the-hour headlines, and Hayton gives a longer report at 5:10pm. [13:30 on the archive.org video] Significantly, the details are now revised, indicating Hayton has been given new information in the meantime: “Now more on the latest building collapse,” he says. “You might have heard a few minutes ago I was talking about the Salomon Brothers Building collapsing, and indeed it has… It seems that this was not the result of a new attack, it was because the building had been weakened in this morning’s attacks.” Thus Hayton is not only reporting on an event still 10 minutes into the future, but also accurately conveying how the authorities would explain that event, both then and for the next five years. He then introduces a live report from the network’s New York correspondant, Jane Standley.
Standley is seen in front of a window as smoke rises from the destroyed World Trade Center about 10 to 20 blocks behind her. WTC 7 is clearly visible on the right side of the shot, although the British reporter shows no sign she was in any way familiar with the building. She admits to Hayton that she only knows what he has already reported, then speaks for about a minute on the 9/11 events generally, before Hayton again asks about possible casualties at WTC 7. Again, she cannot say. Their exchange on other matters continues, with WTC 7 visible in the background until 5:14pm, when the feed from New York suddenly turns shaky and goes dead. [20:30 on the archive.org video]
The building collapsed about five minutes later.
The video leaves no doubt that the BBC received accurate information on the future collapse of WTC 7, and that the information included the later explanation for that collapse. We presume the BBC was innocent and unwitting in presenting this report in advance of the actual event, believing the collapse had indeed already happened.
We might reasonably guess that before making its way to the BBC by whatever means, the information originated among the authorities in New York. And that is the question here: Who was the original source of the information? Did the source also phrase the event in the past tense? How was the source certain the building would collapse?
The issue raising the most clamor among 9/11 skeptics is surely the timing. Even if the authorities are expecting the building to buckle and collapse due to damage, the exact time is still unknown. That the building does fall straight into its footprint on cue five minutes after Standley’s premature report breaks off is breathtaking.
The BBC Responds to the Controversy
Yesterday the head of BBC World News issued the following response to the controversy via his blog at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ theeditors/2007/02/part_of_the_conspiracy.html
Part of the conspiracy?
Richard Porter 27 Feb 07, 05:12 PM
The 9/11 conspiracy theories are pretty well known by now. The BBC addressed them earlier this month with a documentary, The Conspiracy Files, shown within the UK.
Until now, I don’t think we’ve been accused of being part of the conspiracy. But now some websites are using news footage from BBC World on September 11th 2001 to suggest we were actively participating in some sort of attempt to manipulate the audience. As a result, we’re now getting lots of emails asking us to clarify our position. So here goes:
1. We’re not part of a conspiracy. Nobody told us what to say or do on September 11th. We didn’t get told in advance that buildings were going to fall down. We didn’t receive press releases or scripts in advance of events happening.
2. In the chaos and confusion of the day, I’m quite sure we said things which turned out to be untrue or inaccurate – but at the time were based on the best information we had. We did what we always did – sourced our reports, used qualifying words like “apparently” or “it’s reported” or “we’re hearing” and constantly tried to check and double check the information we were receiving.
3. Our reporter Jane Standley was in New York on the day of the attacks, and like everyone who was there, has the events seared on her mind. I’ve spoken to her today and unsurprisingly, she doesn’t remember minute-by-minute what she said or did – like everybody else that day she was trying to make sense of what she was seeing; what she was being told; and what was being told to her by colleagues in London who were monitoring feeds and wires services.
4. We no longer have the original tapes of our 9/11 coverage (for reasons of cock-up, not conspiracy). So if someone has got a recording of our output, I’d love to get hold of it. We do have the tapes for our sister channel News 24, but they don’t help clear up the issue one way or another.
5. If we reported the building had collapsed before it had done so, it would have been an error – no more than that. As one of the comments on You Tube says today “so the guy in the studio didn’t quite know what was going on? Woah, that totally proves conspiracy… ”
Richard Porter is head of news, BBC World
“How to Exacerbate a Public Relations Crisis”
Porter’s phillipic is curious. It was well within his power to view the suspect footage and act to defuse the controversy in a calm, factual way. One might imagine something along these lines:
“Well, yeah it looks funny, at first sight, seeing our Jane talking about the collapse with the building still standing behind her. Shucks. But consider please the bad damage to WTC 7! The authorities were expecting it to come down at some point that evening or the next day. The streets were cleared in anticipation. So somehow a report was prepared and honestly, we don’t really remember who we got it from. And then it ended up broadcast prematurely. Oops, we regret this, but things like that do happen, it was a chaotic day…”
Instead, Porter chooses to identify purveyors of “conspiracy theory” as the enemy, and draws a direct link to the BBC’s recent documentary attack on 9/11 skepticism, as though this is in any way relevant to what BBC World News itself broadcast on September 11th.
He preemptively avers that the BBC has been accused of belonging to “a conspiracy” – which of course the Standley clip does not show, and which no reasonable person would claim on the basis of the clip.
Then he pulls out two unconfirmable claims that may sound all-too familiar: No one remembers exactly what was reported then. And all archived video of the day’s broadcasts has been lost.
There would be groans from the gallery, but normally these two claims amount to trump cards. Except for a decisive difference in this case: the footage is already circulating openly on the Web, where everyone can see it.
Did Porter not view the widely-available video of his network’s advance reports of the WTC 7 collapse, before writing his response? This would amount to an embarrassing lack of due diligence for a news director — in fact, an arrogance worthy of the Soviet media.
Or did Porter watch the segment? In that case, “we forgot” and “we lost our records” are not valid excuses. (Although they seem to be contagious ones: note the message below from archive.org, explaining why the video suddenly went off-line yesterday.)
Finally, note the careful phrasing of Porter’s first item: “We didn’t receive press releases or scripts in advance of events happening.” Of course, information also comes in forms other than press releases and scripts. So let’s repeat the relevant question to Porter:
Did the BBC get information that WTC 7 had collapsed on 9/11, before it actually did collapse? Or was it a guess that was “in error” when first reported, but magically turned out to be true just five minutes later?
Where did the information come from, Mr. Porter?
Appendix : E-mail from archive.org in response to our email
From: Renata Ewing (email@example.com)
Date: Feb 27, 2007 11:48 AM
Subject: Re: BBC Footage verification question
To: Janice Matthews
Thank you for your email.
The item you write about is not actually ready to be viewed. It is part of a test of a new collection on 9/11. It was not meant to be streamed or downloaded.
Since we are not the source of the footage, we are not able to verify the information contained in it.
The Television Archive is a division of the Internet Archive.
Our original email to archive.org:
From: Janice Matthews Date: Feb 26, 2007 5:55 PM Subject: BBC Footage verification question To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
First, please let me say thank you for the great work you’re doing!
A certain video, found at your site, has been making its way around the Internet like wildfire today, finding itself the source of live radio discussions today, phone calls to the BBC and american media, and generally causing quite a stir, as well it should. 911Truth.org is very cautious in our reporting, however, and would like to verify as thoroughly as possible that this information is accurate. Therefore, we decided to go to the source and ask you directly about a couple of things. Thanks for your time in helping us with this.
The footage in question is at: http://ia311517.us.archive.org/2/items/bbc200109111654-1736/V08591-16.mpg.
It is footage from the BBC World, broadcast between 4:54 and 5:36 pm EDT on 9/11/01, apparently being taped live in New York City. A woman correspondent is reporting with what appears to be live footage of the Manhattan skyline behind her, including WTC Building 7 just to her right on the screen (over her left shoulder). Yet she is reporting in her broadcast, at approximately 5pm, with WTC7 behind her, that WTC7 has collapsed. (Of course, WTC7 actually collapsed at 5:20pm that day.) Naturally, this is rather confusing! Our first questions are, obviously, 1) was the timestamp on the video accurate, 2) is the footage behind her real or greenscreen, 3) can this footage be verified as from the BBC or could it have been created by someone else, and 4) how can we reach “Television Archive” who is reported as being the original contributor?
We have reviewed the .xml files associated with this video, which appear to verify the validity of source of the footage is indeed BBC: (metadata)(identifier)bbc200109111654-1736 (title)BBC Sept. 11, 2001 4:54 pm – 5:36 pm (mediatype)movies (collection)sept_11_tv_archive (collection)BBC (collection)televisionarchive (publisher)BBC TV (creator)BBC TV (contributor)Television Archive (timezone)-4 (description) News from BBC TV was recorded by the Television Archive, a non-profit archive. Video available as a loan (stream) only. Click for next video , previous video , or program guide . Date: 2001-09-11 20:54:47 UTC Air Time: 2001-09-11 16:54:47 EDT Length: 0:41:41 (/description) (language)eng (date)2001-09-11 20:54:47 (Air_Time)2001-09-11 16:54:47 EDT (stream_only)1 (subject) Television News; September 11 Terrorist Attacks; 911 Terrorist Attacks
I am not able to view the video via the links in this file, however, and the associated “program file” and “thumbnails” are not available. We notice that this information was updated, at least the line re. “curator” on 2/18/07. Why is that? It appears this file was last modified February 18, 07. Can you tell us whether “curator” was the only modification then? … (short second xml file deleted for brevity)
Finally, I have been unable to download or view the stream on your site, as it “hangs” after an hour or so of downloading… Can you help me see the original footage you have posted?
Thank you for your help. We are prepared to present this information to high-level officials and news media once we can verify; I hope you understand the significance of this and why we are so intent on tracking it down. Please feel free to call me if you would prefer that to email. 816.268.3386 or 816.277.9375 cell. Sincerely,
Janice Matthews Executive Director 911Truth.org
___________________________________ From: Janice Matthews To: firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com date Feb 26, 2007 6:48 PM ———————
Why is it that most (not all) of the BBC footage segments from that day do not have links to be able to view the streaming video? I’m not finding that to be the case with other networks on that day, nor for the BBC on other days…?