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Chairman BOEHLERT. This hearing will resume. Members are making their way back from the Floor. The Chair is pleased to recognize Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee for five minutes.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to add my appreciation to you for holding this very important hearing. I don't think any of us who live in communities, regardless of whether they are urban or rural, could express ourselves in watching the tragic incidences of September 11. And to be able to find solutions, I think, is a key element to what this hearing is all about.
Having visited Ground Zero in the early stages and knowing what my New York colleagues have been through and how much they have fought so hard for finding a remedy to September 11, I think this hearing may begin to be part of the healing. And I, too, offer my deepest sympathy, and, as well, expression of concern to those who were victims of that terrible and tragic day. To the families, I expressly offer my deepest sympathy.
I realize that we have had a long hearing, but I am looking at today's New York Times article. And in reviewing this article, I am noting in particular that the first paragraph announces the adoption of new national standards for the construction of public and governmental buildings, to make them more resilient or resistant to catastrophic failures in the event of terrorist attacks. It notes that the leader of the investigation into the World Trade Center's collapse, and the director of the Federal agency that evaluates major fires and building failures, are calling for such standards.
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Now, I have listened to my colleagues. I have reviewed some of the testimonies in terms of the presented testimonies. I do apologize for being at another hearing at the same time. But I want to pointedly ask the question. Based upon this article, is it true that we are calling for the adoption of such? And are you advocating for these standards to be federalized, as many of us realize that we have little input at this point?
I would also like to find out how does the present standards systems or the present system work and who is responsible for oversight and implementation. I am also aware that there are many private groups or societies of engineers and others that have a great deal of impact on the design of buildings. And they also have a great deal, with all due respect to the professions, with interfering with the creation of new standards.
So I guess if I can start with some of the representatives here, Dr. Bement, and, Dr. Corley, are we today, at this hearing, calling for new standards? Have you called for them in this hearing? And are they to be Federal standards? That would be my first. And I have two other questions and I would like to—I am looking at the light—be able to at least have them raised before the time runs out.
Dr. BEMENT. I would say that right now we don't have the technical basis for new standards. We have a compelling incident. The compelling incident has to be backed up with a technical investigation and evaluation. So we need the technical basis that will go to a new standards development.
Now, standards development and code development in this country is done by a consensus process through various code development organizations. And there are at least two organizations, the ICC, and the Federal Fire Protection Agency(see footnote 1), that issues a number of model codes that are used throughout the country by local authorities to fashion their own codes for their own region.
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NIST provides some of the technical basis for those model code developments, but we are, by far, not the only source of technical information that goes into the development of those codes.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. So that wouldn't be you that the New York Times is speaking of, that you were calling for new Federal standards when announcing them today.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. You believe there needs to be a consensus.
Dr. BEMENT. I believe, first of all, we need to develop the technical basis, and that is the purpose of our investigation. So we will be working very closely with the code development organizations.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me ask Dr. Corley then, as my time runs out. Were you prepared to call for new Federal standards today and have—recommend those adoption of such?
Dr. CORLEY. No. I am not. It is premature to call for changes. Once the work that I have referred to that I believe needs to be done has been completed, and as it gets completed, there may, indeed, be things that come up that need to be considered by the standards-writing groups and may change the existing standards through the processes just mentioned. But it is premature at this point to pinpoint any one item and say that this is ready to be changed. And under no circumstances do I feel that the processes that are currently in place should be changed. They work well and should continue.
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, can I raise these additional questions for the record minimally, and maybe someone can give me a yes or no? I think they are quick enough to give me a yes or no.
Chairman BOEHLERT. If you can get the yes or no within the minute.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you so very much, Mr. Chairman. And, Dr. Corley, in particular, you were involved in the Oklahoma investigation, as I understand, and made several recommendations. I guess the question would be, and I imagine the families would want to hear, how quickly government can move. My question is, were those recommendations implemented? That can be a yes or a no. And then, finally, is any recommendation made for improving building codes, emergency responses, and evaluation? Are any of those being made? What are the obstacles to making changes in the codes? I think that needs to be answered today by those who have been victimized by this very tragic incident. Were any of your recommendations taken in? Yes or no?
Dr. CORLEY. The ones we made were, yes.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. They were taken in.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. The lady has very skillfully——
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. The additional time is—she is——
Ms. JACKSON LEE. And I will put the other ones in writing, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your time.
Chairman BOEHLERT. She is very adroit at doing that. And we are going to have another round. So, Sheila, don't go away. We are here to stay. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing, and thank the witnesses for being so diligent and patient over the last 2b, 3 hours.
My first question—of course, bin Laden was a construction engineer. And I'm just wondering, Mr. Shea, Dr. Astaneh, or whoever else, I am a—as a pilot and talking to other friends that are pilots, wondered at the preciseness of that apparent accident—other pilots and I can agree that these pilots had—were very good flyers to fly at that speed and hit that target. And I am curious, to make—put it on the record, if maybe it was on purpose, hitting it at that particular height. What would have happened if the plane hit in the top two stories or down in the bottom six stories?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. If the planes had hit at the upper levels, top ten stories, most likely we would not have this tragedy. I feel that you would have burned floors at the top. You could rescue people underneath and then later cut those floors and have a 100-story building. Page 175 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
If they had hit the lower part of building, you would not have the collapse again, because the plane could not enter as intact as it did. The columns there are very strong, very thick, and most likely the plane will be shattered, as I showed in my example analysis, and the fuel will be outside.
I don't know if they did it on purpose, but they really hit the worst part where the plane could enter and cause the fire and there was enough weight above the floors that they hit to collapse it under gravity.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Would you agree, Mr. Shea?
Mr. SHEA. Yes. Absolutely. There is no question in my mind that—there was an attempt made on this building in 1993. It failed. They spent the next 8 years figuring out how to do it.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. I chair the Subcommittee on Research that has oversight for the National Science Foundation. And, Dr. Corley, Dr. Bement, NSF has—well, they have done a lot, with the nanotechnology that we have developed in our research, to help search up there in those facilities. But I am wondering—it is my understanding that NSF now has eight teams out studying. And, Dr. Corley, Dr. Bement, how are the data collected by NSF and these funded researchers being utilized in both of your studies?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I can answer that they will be fully utilized in our study. Most investigators funded by the NSF would probably show results in the open literature and they would generally make available any of their—the results of their work. We would certainly want to have the full report—— Page 176 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Well, do you have some process or some organization that you are now inquiring and utilizing that in your studies or is it just going to be—is something—is it in——
Dr. BEMENT. No. Our study will be fully inclusive. We will use all sources of expertise that are——
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. But you haven't so far.
Dr. BEMENT. We are in very close contact with NSF. And, of course, we are participating in the American Society for Civil Engineering study, the BPAT study, and I imagine that some of the results of the NSF studies are being utilized in that phase of the investigation.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Dr. Corley.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. I might—if I could start by referring to bin Laden. My understanding, his degree is not in engineering and I do not have the opinion that if the—if it were studied exactly where to hit it, that he was the one that made the final decision on that. As far as——
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. And why is that?
Dr. CORLEY. His degree was not in—it is in public administration, I believe. He is not an engineer to the best of my knowledge. Page 177 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. But in terms of you would conclude that it wasn't him that made the decision——
Dr. CORLEY. I don't think he would have the knowledge to make that decision. The—in regard to your question about utilization of information, we are utilizing everything we can get our hands on. And the NSF was instrumental in putting together a workshop in December where researchers working on this did exchange information. So we were able to get some of it at that time. And we, of course, look for all the ways we can to get it.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Dr. Astaneh, do you agree?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. I wish we had more cooperation with other teams and utilize our results as well as data. So far I have done my research based on data that I have collected myself and I have not been able to have data from other teams, including drawings and other information that could be very useful to my research.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Will NIST be using Dr. Astaneh's steel that he collected as far as the evaluation and analysis?
Dr. BEMENT. We have it now, or at least we have the initial samples. And we have more coming. So I don't know piece by piece whether——
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Just shortly—Dr. Astaneh, you had just—— Page 178 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Yes. I hope that there—the studies that NIST is proposing would involve study of pieces that I have collected and others, as well as involvement from whole community of academia who are doing research.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I will look forward to the second round.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Dr. Bartlett.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you very much. Clearly, we need to understand the engineering of what happened here of this failure. I just signed on to a letter asking for additional money so that this can be properly done. I am really somewhat amazed that you were excluded from the site. Clearly, understanding what happened there, so that we could better design buildings and prevent this sort of a tragedy in the future, should have been the prime objective. I hope that you can get the information you need, even though you have been excluded from the site and still haven't got the drawings and so forth.
I would just like to ask a question about where we go from here. Clearly, the most inviting terrorist targets are where there are a lot of people closely pressed together. If it is a chemical attack, the more people that are in close confines, the better. If it is a biological attack where more people are going to be affected. If it is a bomb, the more people are going to be affected. If it is an event like this, the more people are going to be affected.
In today's world with mass communication, with computers, with teleconferencing, this information travels, what, 186,000 miles a second. It doesn't take very long to get from Manhattan to a corn field in Omaha. Help me understand why it is a good idea to build more skyscrapers that are just more inviting targets for terrorists? Yes, sir. Page 179 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. I think it is the human spirit.
Mr. BARTLETT. If you are building them for pride of ownership, I understand that. It is the equivalent of going to the moon and I understand that. But in terms of being concerned about protection of people and fighting terrorism and so forth, I—you know, I just—I am having some problems understanding why bringing more people together in close confines and building skyscrapers, with all the communication techniques now, we—that started when we didn't have the communication capabilities we have today. I am having trouble understanding why it is a good idea to keep on building skyscrapers.
Dr. CORLEY. If I may respond briefly to that, it is my—and this is a personal opinion—the city is not a city without tall buildings. If you have all one-story buildings, all you have is urban sprawl. You have no city.
Mr. BARTLETT. Washington is not a city?
Dr. CORLEY. But Washington does have some tall buildings——
Mr. BARTLETT. Not very tall buildings.
Dr. CORLEY. So my belief is that it is appropriate to design the tall buildings. And I would also point out that it is not just tall buildings that are the target. The Pentagon was not a tall building. Page 180 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. BARTLETT. That is correct. And the damage inflicted by the plane that hit the Pentagon was orders of magnitude less than the planes that hit those buildings, simply because it was not a tall building, which makes my argument that I am having some trouble understanding why it is a good idea to build more tall buildings. Yes, sir.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. And may I add one comment? What we have done is we have gone up and up over the last century or so without looking into the fact that you cannot expand everything without limit. There is a size effect in everything, in all our engineering work, that when you get to a certain size, you have to change the concept that you are using. We have, unfortunately, added up these floors without looking at the fact that you cannot reach the upper floors for fire fighting and you cannot really protect them against airplanes and other objects. I think it does not answer your question directly and I apologize for that. But I think what we are missed—and did not pay attention is that, in our effort to build tall buildings, we have not paid attention to protecting them.
Mr. BARTLETT. I am personally uncomfortable in a building that can't be reached by the longest ladder on a ladder truck. I know that you rely on other things in those tall buildings. But, you know, I am still—you know, repeat my initial question. This is—our society has been changed. The world we live in has been changed.
And I would submit that one of the things we ought to consider is whether it is, in fact, a good idea to build these inviting terrorist targets in the future. They are a good target for biological warfare. They are good targets for chemical warfare. They are certainly good targets for bombing and this sort of thing. And I am just—you know, we just need to stop and rethink what we are doing, and is that the right thing to be doing in the future? And I would question whether building more skyscrapers is, in fact, in our national security interest in the future. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Page 181 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. And we are welcoming, as a guest in the Committee, but an interested guest, Mr. Crowley of New York.
Mr. CROWLEY. First, let me thank the Chairman for allowing me to sit on the Committee today and for holding this hearing. I come to this Committee hearing with mixed emotions because I have over 105 families who lost loved ones on September 11. And we have members of the Ashton family who are here today who lost their son, Tom, at 21 years of age. I also lost my first cousin, Battalion Chief John Moran, and I knew at least seven people intimately, very well. So I have, again, mixed emotions.
But, recognizing the need to hold these hearings, once again, I commend you, Mr. Chairman, for taking on this responsibility. I have a number of questions that I think I would address to Mr. Shea, Dr. Corley, and Dr. Bement firstly. And one, can any one of you gentlemen tell me who was in charge of amassing the steel and other debris as a result from the attack of September 11 on the WTC?
Mr. SHEA. I am not sure I understand fully your question, but——
Mr. CROWLEY. In other words, who—what entity was in charge of collecting the material?
Mr. SHEA. FEMA commissioned the Building Performance Assessment Team, and it was that team, led by Dr. Corley, that would have embraced that responsibility. Page 182 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. CROWLEY. Did they determine which debris would be sold off as scrap? And if not, who did?
Mr. SHEA. I will—yeah, I will defer to Dr. Corley on that.
Dr. CORLEY. No. We did not determine that. That was determined, I understand, by the City of New York. We——
Mr. CROWLEY. When did you—when did you become aware that the steel from the World Trade Center was being sold off?
Dr. CORLEY. I think it was on the order of a week or so before we arrived on site, on October the 5th, I believe it was.
Mr. CROWLEY. So they were—they—in other words, the city was selling or was disposing of material within two weeks of the actual event, or was it prior to that?
Dr. CORLEY. It may have been prior to that. I am not sure when the first decision was made on that. But I didn't find out—we didn't find out about it until then.
Mr. CROWLEY. Were you disturbed by that—by finding that out? Were you disturbed to find out that the city was actually disposing of or selling off that material? Page 183 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. CORLEY. We had previously indicated that we definitely wanted to see the steel and select quantities that were——
Mr. CROWLEY. Did you or did FEMA or any other entity actually ask or tell the City of New York to cease and desist from disposing of that material?
Dr. CORLEY. As far as the team is concerned, we made it known that we needed steel. And I don't have any knowledge that anyone had the authority even to ask them to cease and desist.
Mr. CROWLEY. So no one even asked them politely to stop selling what, in all likelihood, could be evidence? Dr. Astaneh.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. But I believe I was the first one to find out that the steel was being recycled. New York Times Reporter Jim Glanz told me two weeks after the quake—after the collapse. And I tried to contact the city and also the New York Times reporters tried to make sure we could have access to the steel to do the research. It was not happening. And I went myself—directly contacted the recycling plant and made the arrangement. Through their cooperation, I started work there and collected the steel. And later, two weeks later, I believe, the ASCE team came also and they started their work.
Mr. CROWLEY. Now, Dr. Corley, you said that no significant loss occurred, or no significant difference, I think was the word you used.
Page 184 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Mr. CROWLEY. On any outcome that would be determined by the loss of that material.
Dr. CORLEY. That is my opinion at this point. Yes.
Mr. CROWLEY. So you don't believe that there was any material that was lost that was significant that day.
Dr. CORLEY. No. I really didn't say that. What I said was that I believe—or what I implied was that we will be able to draw supportable conclusions and analyze the building to understand what happened without the steel that has been disposed of.
Mr. CROWLEY. In my remaining time—excuse me, doctor. It is—my light is changing here. I just want to emphasize my support of what Mr. Corbett was talking about. I did not know that you were going to make the suggestion today, sir, of a commission. I was prepared to make a statement today that we should ask the President or ask Congress to initiate a commission, similar to what took place after the 1983 and '84 bombings of our embassies overseas, the Inman Commission, to determine what steps are necessary to secure the existing structures, because we can't simply flatten Manhattan or any other major city in this country. We have to deal with the problem because we have major tall structures.
I would—secondly, in the construction of future buildings and of future high-rises, suggest that they be made with the proper structure that could withstand a terrorist attack. Let me just say, and, Mr. Chairman, in closing, I am not so sure that this Subcommittee or this Committee can actually get to the bottom of this, which I think is your intent. I—although I think that your attempt is going to be admirable. I think we need to do more and let some more academics do this as well. Page 185 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
But I do believe that conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day with this. They are going to make the Warren Commission look like a walk in the park. And that is unfortunate not only for the Members of Congress who are trying to work on this issue, but for all the families out there that are listening very carefully to what we are talking about today, what these experts are saying. And I just think there is so much that has been lost in these last six months that we can never go back and retrieve. And that is not only unfortunate, it is borderline criminal.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah.
Mr. CROWLEY. And I will yield back with that, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Crowley. And the whole purpose of this hearing is to get as much information as we can so that we can be very prudent and very thorough in our analysis and make the appropriate recommendations. Let me point out, in response to your line of questioning, the decision was made by the City of New York to dispose of the material before the BPAT team was even onsite. And I understand fully what the City of New York was doing. Their first interest was the search and rescue operation and they had to get the debris out of the way. And it had a BPAT team, but on site, they would have immediately said, you know, we need this. This is evidence. We need this. This is very important, so get it out of site obviously. We don't want to hamper the research—rescue operation.
But at one time, they were even talking about dumping it into the sea to build a new reef for fish. But, in any event, it just points up to the fact that the material should have been saved. And had there been a timely response of a BPAT team, had we had a protocol in place to get people onsite, we know who is in charge and when, someone would have said that. Page 186 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
And, Dr. Corley, I must say this—I have never found any instance in this whole aftermath where anyone has indicated that the City of New York, which has been absolutely magnificent, was anything but cooperative. So you may not have had the authority legally to say, hey, listen, don't destroy this stuff. This is very important for evidence in our investigation. I am sure that if someone had said, in a timely manner, we would need this, we request that you save it, and you would have got the same response whether you had the authority or not. They were trying to be as cooperative as possible.
But we have to understand the whole circumstances. The world literally was collapsing around everything. And they were all in there—and everybody—and the FEMA people and the NIST people, when they got onsite, the NSF people, everybody was just trying to do everything they possibly could to tie everything together and to get to the bottom of it and to make recommendations on future actions so that it will never happen again, as much as we can prevent. And we hope and pray every day it never will happen again. So no one here is suggesting that people were intentional in some of their actions that didn't get us where we wanted to get in a timely manner.
But we have got an awful lot of questions and we are determined to continue this probe and—probe is—to continue this review to make certain we have good standing to make very specific and very timely recommendations. Who is next? I guess—I am next. All right. Well, that is good.
Mr. SHAYS. Time is up.
Page 187 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. Time is up. Dr. Corley, we understand that the blueprints were finally obtained when members of your team signed agreements with the Port Authority that you would not testify against it in court. And apparently that delayed getting the blueprints in a timely manner. Is this a routine procedure, and can we get copies of these agreements?
Dr. CORLEY. As far as the copies are concerned, I presume that those can be made available. Yes. As a routine, I guess I would have to say that this is the first time that I have signed one like that.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But why did it take—why did it take so long to sign these agreements and get the drawings?
Dr. CORLEY. The agreements were signed very early. The timing I would have to go back and see exactly what it was. But——
Chairman BOEHLERT. But it seems like—wasn't it something like four months later before you actually got the drawings?
Dr. CORLEY. That is roughly the way I remember it. I am not sure it is exactly four months, but it is on that order of magnitude of time. Yes. Three-and-a-half, I think.
Chairman BOEHLERT. January 8. Well——
Page 188 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. Yeah. January 8 is when we finally got——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, that is pretty close to four months.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Did FEMA help you in getting access to the drawings?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Very definitely they did.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And so you had to intervene. You had to step in.
Mr. SHEA. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT. What did you do? Can you tell us?
Mr. SHEA. We called New York City and asked them to release the documents.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And they immediately said yes?
Mr. SHEA. They did say yes.
Page 189 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. You mean—why didn't you just call them? If they immediately said yes to you, why wouldn't they say yes to your designee?
Mr. SHEA. I——
Chairman BOEHLERT. And when did you call? You—I mean, can you get that for the record?
Mr. SHEA. Yeah. I can get it for the record. Although I—Craig, you made the call. Do you know?
Mr. WINGO. We made a number of calls, I believe, the 20th and 21st of December, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Of December?
Mr. WINGO. Correct. Thursday or Friday.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Why so long?
Mr. WINGO. Well——
Chairman BOEHLERT. That is almost 2b months later.
Mr. WINGO. At that particular point in time, we felt that the BPAT team was working in a diligent manner to obtain the blueprints. We recognized that there were possible concerns that the city had legally in a host of other areas. But I will tell you that once we addressed it and focused on it, they—the Port Authority released the plans on December 26. Page 190 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Chairman BOEHLERT. Boy——
Mr. WINGO. Approximately four or five days after our discussions.
Chairman BOEHLERT. That is—I mean, I would hope you would have been working diligently immediately. And I—you know, and, boy, that is—2b months. That is an awful long time. And that is lost time. In the meantime, a lot of the evidence, if you will, the steel, is being dumped someplace, nevermore to be found for one—and I am not suggesting any sinister plots.
And, as Mr. Crowley has indicated, the tabloid press could have a field day with this. We are not interested in providing fodder for them. What we are interested in are facts. Learning from this experience, recommending corrective actions, working in partnership to see that that corrective action is initiated ASAP. All right. What else do we have here?
Oh, yeah. Dr. Corley, you also mentioned in your testimony—I was amazed by this—that you had some problems getting videotapes from news organizations. Why would they have any problem with giving you videotapes?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. We did have some problems. My understanding is that the tape that had not been played on the networks was not available to us. Anything that had been played eventually we were able to get access to, which is——
Page 191 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. But the one that wasn't played—I mean, you had a reason for requesting it.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. We did.
Chairman BOEHLERT. This is a very important review and investigation. And why wouldn't they—I understand that the networks didn't have some of the taped—tapes on television for all to see because they felt it was not appropriate. Is that your understanding?
Dr. CORLEY. There are more—very likely was tape like that also that they did not feel was appropriate. But my understanding was that what had not been used yet was not available to us. And I——
Chairman BOEHLERT. But so what you are suggesting to me that our TV networks were not cooperative in something critically important to the Nation.
Dr. CORLEY. I would say they—I felt that they were cooperative in many, many ways. And they did——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. I understand.
Dr. CORLEY [continuing]. Provide us with lots and lots of material.
Page 192 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. And then I applaud them for that and that is wonderful and I think they should as a civic responsibility. But are they going to be selective in what they provide you? Are you going to have a selective investigation review and recommendations? I mean, I would think they would want to be complete. Is there some liability questions or do you—what—when you asked for something and they didn't give it to you, what was the reason they gave you for not giving it to you?
Dr. CORLEY. I really did not personally hear those reasons. I simply was told that we would only get the tapes that we got which——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Was the request in writing or was it verbal?
Dr. CORLEY. I—it certainly was verbal. And to the best of my knowledge, it was also in writing.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Would you share, for the Committee, for the record, a copy of the written request and also a copy of the written response?
Dr. CORLEY. We can find that information. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. Thank you. Mr. Weiner.
Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am troubled by what I have heard first and my suggestion—my colleague, Mr. Bartlett, that we shouldn't build up—just build left and right. Perhaps that is true, but I doubt very much there is much demand for skyscrapers in rural Maryland. But I am also surprised by the characterization of the Chairman, however well-meaning, that the city was cooperative. We just heard testimony that the city was the opposite of cooperative. That they had refused to provide basic information. Page 193 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
And the issue isn't when members of the panel signed a document agreeing not to sue, it is where you get off agreeing not to testify. You are public officials gathering information for the public. You don't own it. You don't have the ability to say I won't use it here. I will use it there. You will use it wherever we say you will use it. If you come before us after looking at these blueprints and you decide that the Port Authority was at fault, and you raise your right hand because the Chairman asks you to, you are going to tell us, I don't care what you sign.
The idea that—and this is a government agency, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It is not a foreign planet. It is not a private company. These are—this is an organization that is funded with our taxpayer dollars, with our fees when we fly in and out of airports. The idea that they should demand that whatever information is collected should not be held against them, well, that is not, to me, being cooperative.
And let us not kid ourselves. Whenever you ask for it, Mr. Wingo, you aren't going to get it unless the New York Times ran a story on Christmas Day. All right. The truth be told, that if it weren't for the fact that attention was called to this and bright lights were shown on it, they would not have cooperated to this day—I would be surprised if you would have the blueprints that you needed.
And to give you a sense, the importance of the blueprints, so we all understand it, you know, if we are going to do an investigation of the strength and weaknesses of the trusses that firefighters speak so much about, well, you need the blueprints to find out where to even look—where do you look in the rubble. Page 194 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
And the idea that the city was cooperative—well, I am not so sure. You know, the two things are not mutually exclusive. Recovering someone and examining the steel that might have been laying on top of them, are not mutually exclusive. You can do that at Great Kills. You can do that on the truck before it is loaded onto the barge. You can do it on the barge.
The idea that there was some level of cooperation, I have to tell you, the anecdotal record is replete with stories of people having cameras confiscated from them, being stopped at checkpoints. You are officials of the United States Government. The idea that this should have to be a subject of a long negotiation over what information would be at your disposal, to me is most troubling.
But let me just ask one question. Mr. Shea, you got my mind spinning when you said the following. You said, you think that in 1993, after the failure of bombing of World Trade Center, they immediately went to work on some other ways to topple it. Did you?
Mr. SHEA. I am sorry?
Mr. WEINER. You said that in 1993, you believed that bin Laden and the terrorists immediately went to work on trying to figure out how to topple the building——
Mr. SHEA. Yeah.
Page 195 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. WEINER [continuing]. Since they failed. Did you? Did you immediately go to work on that? Did you start to contemplate, well, they failed this time. Let us look at why they failed and what we can do to make sure they don't succeed next time?
Mr. SHEA. Now, Congressman, the answer is no and——
Mr. WEINER. Did anyone in the United States Government do that?
Mr. SHEA. I have no idea. I do not know.
Mr. WEINER. Mr. Corbett, as an academic, are you aware of any academic studies that were done to say, you know what, they missed, but they only missed by a few inches, or they missed by a mile? Or if they would have done this or that, it might have been cataclysmic? Has anyone—did anyone do the same type of thinking, with all of our—there is about 150 years of experience in front of us—did anyone do what bin Laden—Mr. Shea says what bid Laden probably did, which is to say, well, we struck out this time—how are we going to get it right next time? Does anyone do that in the academic world?
Mr. CORBETT. Yeah. We certainly do. There was actually a mitigation report—survey team report from FEMA, Document #984-DR-MY, that looked into the issues of the 1993 incident. I don't know what of these issues that were ever applied to the building. I know there were improvements made to the Trade Center, certainly, as far as fire protection.
Mr. WEINER. Dr. Astaneh-Asl—and I apologize for getting your name wrong. Page 196 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Astaneh.
Mr. WEINER. Weiner, Weiner, Astaneh, Weiner, whatever—what—are you aware, sir, of any of the recommendations that were made following 1993 on structural performance that contemplated a large fire in the building?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. No. But that is because I am not in fire engineering.
Mr. WEINER. No. No. I understand. I just thought in—perhaps in your research.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. But I can comment that after tragedy of Oklahoma City, a large number of research and activity was conducted. I did, myself, quite a lot of studies of how you can prevent tragedies like that and GSA funded and recently finished the development of that.
Mr. WEINER. You know, but it is—if you will forgive me, my time is just about expired. But my concern is, the World Trade Center—you didn't need to have an imagination. You can see they came at us in the World Trade Center and they tried to do something. During the trial it was clear—in all the testimony—what they were trying to do was bring down the World Trade Center. You didn't need to think that far out of the box for someone to sit down at their computer and say, wow, now that we know what their target is, let us figure out whether or not we are safe from those targets and what steps you could take, not just stopping cars from getting into the garage, but figuring out you—because we might have—— Page 197 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Yes.
Mr. WEINER [continuing]. Stumbled upon information that might have been helpful. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Yes. There was some activity on——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr.—thank you, Mr. Weiner. Mr. Shays. And I would ask the audience to refrain from any expressions of support or disapproval of somebody's statement. This is a very serious, very important, hearing. And our witnesses are resources for the Committee and they are giving us their best counsel and best recollection. And we are trying all to be involved in something worthy of our best effort. Thank you. Mr. Shays.
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Perhaps, with a few number of members, we could even have a third round. I want to say that one thing I am pretty convinced of since September 11, is there is enough blame to go around for all of us. I mean, we can say what you all should have done and we can say what we should have done. We have been at war with terrorism for 20 years and acted like we didn't know it.
And if we had listed to what some of the terrorists were saying in their native tongues, we probably would have known about 9/11. So I am pretty convinced that we all need to look at ourselves as well.
I am pretty convinced, though, that what I have heard today leaves me less comfortable than before I started the hearing. And it started with Mr. Weiner's question of who is in charge, and I thought I knew. And then I asked one of the staff who I should ask my question to, and they told me the person I thought I should ask, I shouldn't. I was going to ask you, Dr. Bement—— Page 198 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Bement.
Mr. SHAYS [continuing]. What you were—Bement?
Dr. BEMENT. Bement.
Mr. SHAYS. Bement. Dr. Bement, I was going to ask you what you were going to do on all these things. And I realize it is not you—it is Dr. Corley that is really doing this investigation. You just want the investigation, but you have $2 million and would like more, and so on. And you want the authority maybe in the future to do hearing—do these investigations. So I have two sides to this. What?
Dr. BEMENT. Let me correct you. We have actually done some elements of this investigation.
Mr. SHAYS. Right.
Dr. BEMENT. And we have done some computer modeling. We have modeled the fire. We have modeled the——
Mr. SHAY. Right. But the overall investigation is not your responsibility. It is Dr. Corley's. Correct?
Dr. BEMENT. I—no. I would—I—— Page 199 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. CORLEY. Yeah.
Mr. SHAY. No. I can't have a no and a yes. I mean, I thought this was—yeah.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Mr. Shays, I did raise my hand that as far as the actual field work and——
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Dr. CORLEY [continuing]. The collection of data, I am in charge of that for the——
Mr. SHAYS. Right.
Dr. CORLEY [continuing]. FEMA ASCE team.
Mr. SHAYS. Well, in the five minutes that is slowly leaving me, I have two sets of questions. One is a set of questions that some of the families who are here would like to know the answer to. And then I would like to know—and I would like to maybe ask this question for my third round—I want to specifically know before I leave here exactly what you would be recommending to Congress. And, Mr. Shea, every time they call on you, I jump. But, Mr.—only because——
Page 200 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. Well, I will jump for you.
Mr. SHAYS. Yeah, okay. The bottom line is, I would like to know specifically what you want us to do, what powers you think we need to do so this chairman can recommend to others if it doesn't all go through his Committee—specifically what we should do so there is no question as to who has authority and things happen right away and people have the statutory power and the ability to demand information and to hold people accountable. So that you can start to think about. I want a list, before we leave, on that.
But the—for the families—they—is this investigation, Dr. Corley, looking at evacuation procedures? I want a simple question—answer—no, or, yes, if it is——
Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. Is it—is it going to report on the sprinkler systems not working?
Dr. CORLEY. We will mention that and recommend things to be done.
Mr. SHAYS. Access to roof eliminated. In other words, people couldn't get to the rooftop because it was blocked off, whereas the last time they could, so some went up rather than down. Will you be looking at why those doors were locked?
Page 201 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. No.
Mr. SHAYS. Reports of stairway doors being locked? Will you be looking at that?
Dr. CORLEY. That will be something in our recommendations. We are not specifically doing it here.
Mr. SHAYS. Well, will you be checking to see if they were, in fact, locked? Will you be interviewing witnesses?
Dr. CORLEY. No. That will be future work.
Mr. SHAYS. Overall safety procedures, i.e., fire drills, fire inspections, and so on—will you be making any comment about that?
Dr. CORLEY. Again, that is future work.
Mr. SHAYS. Lack of communication between the Port Authority and the rescue personnel?
Dr. CORLEY. Same answer, future work.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Page 202 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. We are not directly addressing that.
Mr. SHAYS. Is NIST going to do——
Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. All those things that you mentioned and more. And let me say that——
Mr. SHAYS. And by future, now future?
Dr. BEMENT. I am talking about the investigation that we have been talking about——
Mr. SHAYS. Right. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. During the hearing. This broader investigation that we are taking responsibility for, we will address all those issues.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Page 203 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. BEMENT. And we will start with the investigation that the American Society for Civil Engineers——
Mr. SHAYS. So we will have some answers to these questions.
Dr. BEMENT. You will have answers to those questions.
Mr. SHAYS. Doors were locked. And so some of what——
Dr. BEMENT. That is right.
Mr. SHAYS [continuing]. Dr. Corley responded as to future, that is basically——
Dr. BEMENT. We will take a much more deliberate approach to getting answers to all those questions.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. Okay. And, Mr. Shea, I am going to come back my second round to ask you and others what specific powers you—we need, who should have those powers, and so on. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. It seems to me, Mr. Shea, that BPAT did not get the aggressive support it needed from the minute this whole thing started from FEMA. I mean, I can't understand, for example, on the blueprints, why it took until December—December—no, it was actually January 8 before they finally got them. Wasn't it? Page 204 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. Uh-huh. Yeah.
Chairman BOEHLERT. I mean, wasn't that one of the first requests you made? And I understand you didn't drop everything on September 11. I mean, we were all shocked. And, once again, let me stress, rightly, everybody was focused on search and rescue—everybody.
But it seems to me that fairly soon thereafter—and I am talking about hours, not days—some action should have been launched to do things like protect the steel and the evidence, to gather the blueprints, to recognize that this was a disaster of monumental proportions, and it is going to require a most comprehensive investigation. And it doesn't appear that there was that instant response in the manner that I would like to have seen from FEMA. Can you address that?
Mr. SHEA. Well, Mr. Chairman, I will do the best I can. I——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, let me let you think a little bit more, because I wanted to get to Dr. Corley's statement. One of the things he talks about in his testimony—When studying damaged structures, it is important to understand the physical nature of the original structure as soon as possible—as soon as possible. And then later on he said, The delay in the receipt of the plans hindered the team's ability to confirm their understanding of the buildings. Delay—delay—and so they couldn't do the job that we expected them to do as rapidly as we wanted them to do. So, please talk to me a little bit about that, if you will. Page 205 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. Mr. Chairman, my reaction to your question is, frankly, I agree with you. There were many things that in hindsight now that we would have done different differently. But I have to also say this—it wasn't just a matter of being distracted by other things. We weren't, in fact, trying to react to the entire World Trade Center event. The agency was—had all its resources pulling——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, you were stretched to the limit. I understand that.
Mr. SHEA. I—there was no question in my mind that that was the case. And while, again, we would have liked to have done things better, part of the rationale here is this. My belief is—and this is somewhat in response to Congressman Shay's question as well—we started out this hearing by making a recommendation that the National Institute of Standards and Technology be the appropriate agency to carry this type of work out. Part of the reason, quite frankly, is because of the size and technical capability of our agency, I frankly, think they won't have the same kinds of issues confronting them should they address an issue of this kind in the future. So that is my recommendation. I mean, I am serious on that. I believe——
Chairman BOEHLERT. So——
Mr. SHEA [continuing]. That from a good government standpoint, it makes much more sense to have an agency not directly involved in the immediate response activity involved in this kind of an issue. Page 206 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Chairman BOEHLERT. So we learn from experience, and the experience in this unfortunate incident leads us to conclude that we were not as timely and as forceful as we should have been in some areas, including requesting that the debris be segregated and preserved for future investigation. Because, as Dr. Corbett points out, it is very important. Dr. Astaneh points out—Dr. Corley—they all agree it is very important. And that the blueprints—I think you have to be scratching your head and yourself wondering why it took four months to get those blueprints to begin.
I can only conclude that we have never been through something like this before and, boy, I hope we never go through it again. And we better darn well move forward very aggressively in developing a protocol that says if—and we hope it never happens—but if something like this ever happens again, we have got people onsite right away. We know who is in charge. We have got video teams and we have got oral history teams and we have got—bringing in Dr. Corley and his people right away. And we are getting—and we know what questions to ask and who to ask of them. And it is sorry that we had to learn the hard way. But I hope we have learned an awful lot from this experience. And, well, with that, let me go to Mr. Crowley.
Mr. CROWLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, once again. Dr. Astaneh, are you involved officially in the investigation of the World Trade Center disaster—attack?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Well, my involvement—I am not involved with the ASCE team at all.
Mr. CROWLEY. And, Dr. Corbett, are you? Page 207 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. CORBETT. No. I am not involved officially.
Mr. CROWLEY. Okay. Dr. Corley, are any academics involved in the investigation?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Forty percent of our core team is from the academic community.
Mr. CROWLEY. And is—Dr. Corley, is your—is ASCE in charge of obtaining oral testimony or oral evidence?
Dr. CORLEY. We are—I would not say we are in charge of that, but we are obtaining some oral—well, oral descriptions of what people saw, did, and what happened——
Mr. CROWLEY. I am assuming you know what you are looking for. In other words, the questions that would need to be asked from a technical term would have to come from either yourself or someone like yourself who knows what they are asking. Right?
Dr. CORLEY. Absolutely. We know what we are looking for in the areas that this study concerns.
Mr. CROWLEY. And is that ongoing?
Page 208 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. Yes. It is.
Mr. CROWLEY. And when did it begin? When were you getting that—when did you start collecting that oral or—testimony?
Dr. CORLEY. With—we started collecting some of that before we were onsite. We were in contact—people contacted us and we collected some of that information even before we got onsite. And we have continued to collect it when we can find people that have information we are after.
Mr. CROWLEY. Let me just ask this question, Mr. Corley—Dr. Corley. You mentioned future studies——
Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Mr. CROWLEY [continuing]. As opposed to the present study. Can you just clarify, for me—I mean, for the people in this room, what you mean by that?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. What I am referring to is that when we finish our report and it becomes—or is transmitted in the month of April, I am talking about whatever happens after that point.
Mr. CROWLEY. Are you running into any other roadblocks in terms of not only the city or the state or any other entity, in terms of obtaining information that you request? Page 209 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. CORLEY. Well, as—in any project like this, there are difficulties in collecting information because people don't know where it is, things like that. And we have the normal number of problems like that in this study.
Mr. CROWLEY. I mean, I am talking specifically about government agencies. Are you still running into roadblocks, like the one you experienced in January in which you had to sign a document saying you would not testify in court?
Dr. CORLEY. I would not be able to name you any additional ones than things that have been discussed today, but there—if I thought about it, I might come up with something. But I don't think of anything right now.
Mr. CROWLEY. Dr. Bement, you said earlier that—well, I don't know if you said this or not—but there apparently seems to be a problem in terms of being able to gather information and in terms of working cooperatively with local and city government. Is that correct?
Dr. BEMENT. No. We haven't run into any of those problems as yet. As a matter of fact, one of the most valuable sources of oral history will be from the New York Fire Department in the recounting of the events from the firefighters themselves. And we——
Mr. CROWLEY. Would you describe the events of early January as a problem? Page 210 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. And tell me what events you are referring to.
Mr. CROWLEY. In terms of Dr. Corley having to sign a document stating that he would not testify in court against the Port Authority or the city, I am assuming.
Dr. BEMENT. It certainly was an impediment to his study. I consider it to be a problem.
Mr. CROWLEY. I thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. Let us see—well, Mr. Shays.
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, to my—to the witnesses, I would like to know what powers are needed specifically and who should have these powers to do an investigation almost in with the—well, I don't want to prejudice this—to do a thorough investigation? Mr. Shea, do you want to start?
Mr. SHEA. From our perspective in FEMA, I think that we, again, would want to say that we feel the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the appropriate agency. They have some existing authority. But I think this Committee, through this hearing today, has already identified some areas where they would need some additional authority.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. So they should have the authority. Page 211 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. Yes.
Mr. SHAYS. And then what particular powers should they have or should it have?
Mr. SHEA. Well, again, I would defer to Dr. Bement on that. But my belief is they obviously want to have access to sites, ready access to the design and construction drawings, things of this nature.
Mr. SHAYS. Dr. Bement.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes. I think, first of all, we would have to have a reserve funding mechanism so that we could bring parties on board. We would have to have something like a National Construction Studies Board where people——
Mr. SHAYS. And let me ask you, in the National Constructions Board, was this what looked at L'Ambiance in Bridgeport when we lost 18 people?
Dr. BEMENT. No. The——
Mr. SHAYS. Well, who did that work? That was—was that——
Dr. BEMENT. There is a National Transportation Studies Board that has the authorities and the first response responsibility. Page 212 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHAYS. Is someone—can you consult with anyone who can tell you who did L'Ambiance? No. I don't——
Mr. SUNDER. We did the study and OSHA changed the mandatory standards——
Mr. SHAYS. Excuse me, sir. I don't know—you need to identify yourself.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Identify yourself for the record, please.
Mr. SUNDER. I am Shyam Sunder. I am the Chief of the Structures Division at NIST.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. I am sorry. And what was the answer?
Mr. SUNDER. And we did the study and OSHA changed the mandatory standards as a result of that.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. Thank you very much. So you all did the study. I interrupted you. So you talked about the construction board and then—I am sorry, Dr. Bement.
Dr. BEMENT. Well, we are all talking about a faster response. And what that means is there has to be an organization in place that is empowered to immediately arrive on the scene that has sufficient authority to gather evidence that has subpoena power and that has the adequate funding mechanisms to carry on whatever investigation at whatever scale is needed—whatever is necessary. Page 213 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
I would also add, it is almost a no-brainer that there is no reason why building blueprints have to be in paper or vellum format. They could be on electronic format, in which case everyone could have the zip file. I mean, the firefighters could have their disk and a lot of people could have that disk.
Mr. SHAYS. But there would some we wouldn't want to have that information. Yeah. Right. Anything else?
Dr. BEMENT. No.
Mr. SHAYS. To the gentleman that just came, could I invite you just to come back and just tell me with L'Ambiance was there subpoena power? Was there other powers that accompanied that investigation?
Mr. SUNDER. No. We have typically not required that because the statute, as you know, says that any work we do is not—cannot be used in a court of law. And also, Federal employees can't serve as expert witnesses in general. So——
Mr. SHAYS. And what was the purpose for not being in a court of law? What is the motivation for that?
Mr. SUNDER. Usually we draw a distinction between structural failures and failures after natural disasters. In the case of structural failures, there is usually litigation problems between different parties. And since we are doing a technical study, focusing on the technical issues, we don't go in to the issues of finding fault and negligence in our work. Page 214 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you. Dr. Bement, if you would help me a second, wouldn't you need also the authority to look at malfeasance, just a failure to—for someone doing their job—probably—wouldn't it have to involve not just structural issues, but other issues as well?
Dr. BEMENT. Again, our role is to do technical studies and not——
Mr. SHAYS. No. But that is maybe—suggests that maybe you should only play a part. And, Mr. Shea, that there needs to be some other organization that looks at this from a holistic point of view. I mean, if doors were locked, if processes aren't followed that should be, it would suggest to me that NIST wouldn't be——
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I think there would be many, many organizations that would get involved at that stage in——
Mr. SHAYS. No. But that is what we are trying to avoid.
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. Providing evidence.
Mr. SHAYS. We are trying to avoid if everybody is responsible, nobody is. We want one board ultimately or one group ultimately, it seems to me, to have the authority to look at every aspect of why something happened that shouldn't have happened. And so that really argues for you being a part of this, but somebody else having a greater role. Page 215 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I think the point here is that at what point do you want to get beyond conducting an independent, open, public, unbiased study that is inclusive to going to the other extreme of developing evidence and fault-finding and——
Mr. SHAYS. Yeah. But when NTSB looks at something, they look at pilot performance besides looking at structural issues. They look at a lot of issues. They don't just look at one part. So I mean, I understand where you are coming from. It may make sense for you to focus on just structural issues, but ultimately this Committee needs to make a recommendation that I think that is one that——
Dr. BEMENT. I agree with that.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes. I agree with that.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. Thank you.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Shays. You know, as I mentioned in my opening statement, this investigation seems to be unusually concerned with secrecy. Can you explain that to me, Mr. Shea, why that is so, and why—we know, for example, that the Port Authority did not take this approach after the '93 bombing. And what is the nature of the confidentiality agreements that BPAT participants were asked to sign?
Page 216 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. The nature is that the team members won't disclose publicly the conversations and opinions that are going on during the course of their deliberations. This is primarily intended to protect the scientific integrity of the process. That is——
Chairman BOEHLERT. You are saying—but that—Dr. Corley, didn't you say that is unusual?
Dr. CORLEY. My comment was that I don't recall when I have signed an agreement like that in the past.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Mr. Shea, do you recall requesting such agreements in previous instances?
Mr. SHEA. Yeah. Our confidentiality agreements are standard fare as part of the way that we have historically done these Building Performance Assessment Teams.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But why all the secrecy? I mean, we didn't have a spokesperson for FEMA out talking to the public? I mean, obviously, when you have got an ongoing investigation, you don't give chapter or verse——
Mr. SHEA. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. Along the way. But it seems that there was undue secrecy and people were just hungry for more information. Do you think I am unfair in characterizing the situation as one involving undue secrecy? Page 217 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. I guess I am a little taken aback by that, Mr. Chairman. I—my opinion of the situation is that what we were attempting to do was provide an environment for scientists and technical engineers and academicians to come to judgments—and this often involves opinions—and give them an opportunity to bring their opinions forward in an unbiased way and free from any undue influence from outside parties.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. But do you have a spokesperson to deal with the rest of the world, other than the—Dr. Corley and his team, the BPAT team, and those who are involved internally in the process? I mean, there are a lot of questions understandably from the rest of the world.
Mr. SHEA. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But was there a spokesperson to address those questions on behalf of FEMA?
Mr. SHEA. Well, as far as I understand, if we were asked questions that we did try and respond to them. Now, I am not aware of any circumstance in which we were unresponsive to somebody. In fact, I was interviewed as part of this process. I did engage in a conference call with some people who had some concerns about our issue. And I——
Chairman BOEHLERT. I am just reading from the SOP here, Standard Operating Procedures——
Page 218 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. Of March 2000, Building Performance Assessment Team Program. A BPAT media advisor's liaison is selected by the DFO public information officer to act as a liaison between the BPAT and media relations staff and the DFO and the media. All media contacts are referred to the media affairs liaison. So if I—if my office called up or just John Q. Citizen called up on the 17th of October and said, who is your media affairs liaison, who would you have referred?
Mr. SHEA. Well, that would have been somebody in our disaster field office in New York City. Frankly, I am sorry, I don't have a name to give you right now.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Okay. I don't expect you to know the names of all your employees.
Mr. SHEA. But, in fact, there was somebody there. There was a media liaison who would deal with issues of that nature.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. Well, counsel just points out to me that in some instances leaks to the media sort of backfired, because that is not a desirable way to do business—have leaks.
Mr. SHEA. I couldn't agree more, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But leaks only come about when there are people who are sort of frustrated in many instances that information isn't getting out to the public, and so they do it in bits and dribbles, and sometimes it compromises an ongoing investigation or works contrary to the desired result in terms of the ongoing investigation. And that is why I happen to believe public information is very important. And I would have thought that maybe a higher level person than just a person on the site in a field office, not having a great deal of authority and not being able to speak with authority for FEMA—that is really an awesome responsibility to put on someone like that. Page 219 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. I don't disagree with you. I—in those circumstances, I—my anticipation is that the field office would have brought that up to Washington and that they would have involved myself or Mr. Wingo or others in the response to any of those issues.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. Mr. Weiner.
Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First, let me begin by offering my apologies to you, Mr. Chairman, and to members of the panel if I got a little excited and loud earlier. Being from New York, we sometimes don't modulate our voices and——
Chairman BOEHLERT. I want you to know, Mr. Weiner, I also am from New York and I am proud of it.
Mr. WEINER. And I also, by no means, mean to imply that any of the members of the panel are responsible for these lapses. I believe you are cogs in a badly flawed—not to the extent that there are any cogs there—that you are cogs in a very flawed machine and a bad apparatus. And let me make that clear. But I think what we are seeing increasingly from both the Chairman's previous questions and others throughout the day is that the model you should be looking at is the NTSB.
The NTSB would be absurd—borderline ludicrous—for them to go to American Airlines and say, please let us see the diagram of your 767, please. We promise that if we find out that fibercarbons had weakened the tail, we won't tell anybody. It is mind-boggling. It is silly. I don't see any reason why the motis operandi should be any different from examining a building. Page 220 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
The NTSB has made a—has—did about a dozen or so briefings in the first five or six days. Sometimes they said, you know what, we can't tell you stuff because we just don't know it. As a matter of fact, you know, I had dozens of conversations with the head of the NTSB and I always commend her. I said, you know, the temptation must be to say, well, maybe it is this or maybe it is that, and they don't do that. And—but what they do do, is they do give regular updates. They let reporters throw the questions. They let members of the—of Congress know—they let the families know, we are going to be giving an update. And, as things are discounted or ruled in or ruled out, they let you know.
And the final thing that they do is they come out with a report. And by the time the report comes out, there is such credibility imbued in that document, that instantly airlines start reacting, the FAA starts reacting, and we, as citizens, start saying, I am glad they go to the bottom of that. The theory that I heard on day one turned out not to be exactly right.
So the easiest and best answer to give to the Mr. Chairman's—and to the Chairman's last series of questions was, you know what, we are going to start giving an update to you, the public, to members of the press, to you Members of Congress every so often. Even if we don't have all the answers, we are going to stand in front of you. We are going to clarify the chain of command. We are going to have the people there, the experts who are going to answer the questions.
Can—I don't know who to ask anymore, but can you assure that you will do that in the months to come? Say that, well, if we don't have a report in the next 6 months, we will come back and maybe not give it to you in Congress, but we will have regular briefings at the NIST headquarters on how things are going. Page 221 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Sir, yes. I can assure you that that will happen.
Mr. WEINER. Terrific. And let me just ask one other substantive thing, and as you proceed with your investigation. A couple of things that have come up—one has come up from the oral history given by the firefighters about the problems with communication. Part of it, sadly, was a reflection of 1993. They found there were problems with repeaters in the buildings that allow the radios to work. If one of the things that you could look at is ways to design into buildings a black box type of apparatus to allow the infrastructure of fire fighting to remain intact. To allow—you know, it is the old joke—you know they always recover the black boxes. Why don't they make the plane out of the black box materials so they can recover everybody.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes. And I am just delighted for you to bring that up because that is in our '03 budget request.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. What—but if you can look at that. And a second issue that has come up repeatedly, as I have spoken to the families—you know, something that unifies the families of the victims, almost to a person, is they were on the higher floors. If you can take a look at the idea of building into high rises is a place for a helicopter to land. Figure, I know what—all right, we need to have antenna and the like. Figuring out ways, as you design buildings, to think about the people who are on the Rotunda floors and thing about the ones that are not. And even if it is not, as Mr. Bartlett, perhaps, you know, would like us to take any building that is over six floors and chop them off and put them next to each other—— Page 222 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Mr. WEINER. If we can start thinking about the real world experiences of firefighters, that I don't care—you know, these guys were on the 50-something floor on their way up. We have witnesses who were talking about firefighters carrying enough gear to make up my body weight going up while people were coming down.
If we can think about this as not just an academic exercise—if we can think about ways to design buildings and retrofit buildings to think about the men and women who are going to be called in, in the worst possible case scenario. That doesn't mean tear the buildings down. But figure out a way to include in the infrastructure ways—who knows—I mean, I think it was—I don't know—it was Mr. Corbett or Mr. Shea who talked about how the wing cut through the——
Dr. BEMENT. Yes.
Mr. WEINER [continuing]. Pipe that carried the water. Maybe there is no way to avoid that. But I can tell you one thing—that, you know, there was only nominal thought given to what would happen if there was a fire up there. You know, to be honest with you——
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Mr. WEINER [continuing]. I don't know of anyone—even, you know, you can put a standpipe on the 103rd floor. If you are not thinking about how someone on the 103rd floor is going to talk to the base downstairs, what is the point? So if you can think of that as well, and make that part of your research—— Page 223 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Mr. Weiner, we are in violent agreement on that point and we will carry that out as a key part of our investigation without doubt.
Mr. WEINER. I thank you. And let me reiterate my thank you for you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Weiner, and, Mr. Shays. You two have been magnificent. You have been here all day. And it is obvious—it should be obvious to everyone in the audience that this isn't the first time they have been introduced to the subject. A lot of preparation goes into a hearing like this, a lot of discussions. And I really thank you for your diligence and your active participation.
And I want to clear up something for the record, Dr. Corley, because you said—just I want to make sure I understand it correctly—that shortly after September 11, you signed a confidentiality agreement, and you said you hadn't signed one like that before. Which confidentiality agreement were you referring to, the one from the Port Authority or the one from FEMA, or both?
Dr. CORLEY. I was referring to the one from the Port Authority.
Chairman BOEHLERT. So that is—an SOP, as Mr. Shea had indicated, the type of agreement you signed with FEMA.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. I think that agreement—— Page 224 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Chairman BOEHLERT. Standard.
Dr. CORLEY. That is a standard agreement I had signed——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah.
Dr. CORLEY [continuing]. Before.
Chairman BOEHLERT. I mean, it didn't sound out of line when he mentioned that to me.
Dr. CORLEY. Yeah.
Chairman BOEHLERT. So—but I wanted to make sure the record was clear.
Dr. CORLEY. Yeah. I am sorry if that—if I confused you.
Chairman BOEHLERT. No. No.
Mr. WINGO. Mr. Chairman, if I could, that was a standard agreement in the Oklahoma City report as well.
Page 225 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. Sure. I understand.
Mr. WINGO. Yes, sir.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But I just wanted to make sure for the record that we got that there.
Mr. WINGO. And for the past 20 or 30 or 40 BPATs——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, look, I think we have learned a lot of things this afternoon—some things that raised concerns and that underscore some of the points I made right at the beginning.
First, right now, there are no clear lines of authority as to who in the Federal Government is to conduct an investigation of a building failure. No one is in charge. No one is sure what powers the Federal Government can exercise. No one is sure of the scope of an investigation, and that has to be fixed right away. And I see a lot of nodding of heads from the Panel, and I appreciate that.
We need an enhanced disaster investigation protocol in place—thank you, Dr. Corbett—so that from minute one, someone will assume a recognized leadership role. Someone has to be in charge or no one is. And having no one in charge is unacceptable.
Some of it can be fixed by the Federal agencies, and I understand that handing the ball from FEMA to NIST, which I think is logical and makes sense, but some of it has to be fixed by those of us up here in the Congress with legislation. And we are going to be looking for very specific proposals. Page 226 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
For starters, we have to know right now who is in charge in the instant case. Second, NIST needs to move forward with its more extended work on the lessons of the collapse. We need to see that NIST has the authority and—and this is essential—the money to move ahead. And we are not talking about nickels and dimes. Money should not, and will not, be an obstacle if this Committee has anything to say about it—to a thorough and timely investigation and recommendations. But NIST is going to have to present a more detailed plan on exactly what it will spend its money on and when.
Dr. BEMENT. Now, Mr. Chairman, we can provide more detail for the record than what you have received so far. But the——
Chairman BOEHLERT. And we are doing that—one—a lot of questions have been asked. One question that hasn't been asked directly of you. You have had 14 different pronunciations of your name today. Would you pronounce it for the Committee so that we will have——
Dr. BEMENT. Well, Mr. Chairman, I have eight children and they all pronounce it differently also. It is Bement.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Bement. Thank you.
Dr. BEMENT. That is the official version.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. And let the record show that. I want to emphasize again that correcting these deficiencies will not only help in this case, but will help us learn from future events regardless of whether they are caused by nature or by man. This Committee is committed to following up on today's hearing to ensure that the confusion and uncertainty we have brought to light today does not persist into the future. Page 227 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
With that, let me thank the very patient panel, my colleagues up here who have given so much of their time and talent, and to all of you witnesses. You will be hearing further from us with written submissions, and we ask that you give us a timely written response. With that, if I can find the gavel, I will adjourn this hearing.
[Whereupon, at 3:57 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]