Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Ongoing Pentagon Insurance Scam Exposed

Scott Thewn, Agence France Presse

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I just got home from a screening at the 15th Annual Hamptons Film Festival of a documentary named Body of War. It beautifully tells the story of Tomas Young, an Iraq war casualty who was paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet wound to his spine at age 25, who has since become a leading anti-war activist. It was made by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue, and it was a treat of the festival to hear the pair describe making the film, and take questions afterwards.

Anyway, I'd been in a funk for some time pertaining to my efforts here at having to do with feeling under-appreciated--but nothing could have snapped me out of my malaise any faster than this documentary, so thank you Tomas, especially. I'd been sleepwalking like most of the rest of America and I'd missed cognition of the history of the political run up to war, but to hear Senator Robert Byrd in his 48th year of Senatorial service sound out the clarion call put that into perspective.

The perspective that Tomas' story brings me is even better though. I've never felt prouder of what I've been doing here, the intent, my execution, and the likely consequences of my study, insight, and reportage, which in the absence of positive feedback about my efficacy must remain theoretical.

I've been stuck trying to move forward with this story, which reduces the 9-11 Pentagon "event" to a fundamental truth: it was really just an insurance scam by a corrupt takeover of government by private industry, on a par with Blackwater's profitable takeover of the actual war. As such it's a pretty long, hard story to tell.

So, I'm going to lead with this portion as Part 1. It will tell of the manipulation of imagery of the visual damage of the only portion we were truly allowed to see: the aerial images of an absurdly damaged roof of the Pentagon building, a full two wedges, or two-million square feet of a heavily constructed, poured-concrete, fire-proof building were said to be affected as a result of this fraud.

To come, will be an exploration of apparently missing firewalls, an exposition of the effects on a supposedly completed $258-million, Wedge 1 renovation, and a non-exoneration of the privately controlled renovation project crew--those dear, dear patriotic Americans who feathered their nests with at least half a billion dollars.

As we left the theater they handed out palm-sized, hardbound copies of the United States Constitution, something which, (luckily for them,) those who attempted to perpetrate this crime will have in place when it comes time to prosecute and punish them. Too bad the million dead to date didn't have the same protection.

You're in good hands, with...

The giveaway of insurance fraud is not in the use of depleted uranium, or white phosphorous, or whatever it was that made for the pretty fires in the night (although it will be interesting to see how a jury will interpret these pictures,) but rather, it's in this effort at a review:
It's all about POV isn't it? Nowhere in these pages of a Hughes Associates report do the firematics professionals make it clear what we are looking at: that under the decorative slate shingles mounted on a wooden subsurface, is a structural roof made up of cast concrete slabs on beams. We were led to believe that the Pentagon roof fire got out of hand and burned for 48 hours causing enormous water and smoke damage to virtually the entirety of Wedges 1 and 2 underneath it.

In fact, the point of this report appears to be the need for firebreaks within the surface structure itself.

So, before we go any further, lets establish what the Pentagon roof is and what it is made of.

Found on the web is a wonderful personal reminiscence of a man, Stanley Nance Allan, who as a boy worked as a carpenter to build the Pentagon, then in a bit of symmetry,
"Twenty-five years later, in 1967, guided by what only could be a mysterious flow of destiny, the architectural design of the Pentagon Metro Station became my responsibility as project manager at the Washington office of Harry Weese Associates."
Mr. Allan writes, "The repetition of the production techniques and the coordinated division of work perfected efficiencies as construction continued upward for each of the five floors and finally for the construction of the sloping concrete roof slabs."

In this FEMA image of the reconstruction is the gable roof over one of the corridors, where the new work will meet the old, and where we get a good glimpse of the thickness of the roof slab.
In a second FEMA image, we see the construction of the wooden base for mounting the decorative slate shingles, on top of the concrete slab, visible to the right.

In a thumbnail, we see the interior of the fifth story of the E-ring, with the underside of the cast-in-place, slab-and-beam roof visible.

This high-resolution aerial image shows the nature of the damage from the roof fire, which worked its way under the old heavy slates and into the wooden substructure, stuffed with horse-hair insulation we were told.

But hair is neither here nor there. The concrete structural roof would protect the building underneath from the superficial effects of fire and smoke on top, or the water used to fight it. (And in the photo above, what are the men collecting on the blue tarp?)

In the Pentagon Building Performance Report of January 2003, (commonly called the ASCE report for the volunteer members of the American Society of Civil Engineers who undertook it,) on page 34, they say this:
"Fire damage in the second story appeared most severe around the region of collapse and near the breach in the second-floor slab. Generally, the most obvious fire damage was between the fire walls to the north and south of the area directly damaged by the aircraft debris. (duh) The most severe fire damage occurred on the first and second floors.The team noted no impact damage above the second story.

"The subsequent fire fed by the aircraft fuel, the aircraft contents, and the building contents caused damage throughout a very large area of the first story, a significant area of the second, a small part of the third, and only in the stairwells above."
So apparently, fire doors to staircases were left open, allowing fire to climb into the upper stories. But this doesn't mean the fire could get up into the roof, unless a roof access door was also deliberately left open to facilitate the spread of fire.

According to Lee Harvey Evey--

These are not lessons learned, it is propaganda. Additional fire breaks in the roof would only reduce the spread of drama. But then, they wouldn't be able to steal half a billion dollars!

Could that figure possibly be right? I think so.

First let's put it in the context of the remarks delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, at the Pentagon, on Monday, September 10, 2001, where he said $2.3 trillion in DoD budget spending was unaccounted for.

Arlington Fire Chief Ed Plaughter, answers questions about the "very stubborn fire fight" firemen were still engaged in, at a 10am press briefing. News Transcript Presenter Victoria Clarke Wednesday Sept. 12, 2001
Q: Why it is so difficult in that apparently attic area that continues to burn? What is it about that?

Plaugher: They type of the construction of the Pentagon is very, very, I would call, stout World War II type of construction. A lot of concrete, a lot of very thick masonry. On top of that is a wooden roof structure. On top of the wooden roof structure is slate, and so it's just a very very difficult system to get through to extinguish, and it takes a lot of cutting with special tools and equipment, and then a lot of hand work by the firefighters to get up in there. And we're trying to get ahead of the fire right now.

Q: Question, but with a very brief prelude. Yesterday, earlier, of course, most of the smoke and the fire seemed to be fuel from the plane, and then late yesterday afternoon, that had dissipated or been put out, and there was light smoke, and actually very little late in the afternoon. Now there's a lot more. So, there are two questions, or a two-part question: One, what is burning? And two, what's caused the fire, apparently, to start up again?

Plaugher: Okay. We were never able to fully extinguish the fire in the roof structure. We were able to get it mostly knocked down, and again because we're having extreme difficulty making access under the slate roof, it's to be expected to take awhile to get there. We have had the fuel from the jet catch fire again, and we're now in there with some additional hand-lines and some foam-lines, with aircraft fire-fighters inside of the insides of the Pentagon trying to suppress it, this time with fire-fighting foam.

Q: Will you have to get onto the roof in order to put out that fire?

Plaugher: Yes. We're up on the roof, we're up there now. We have our fire-fighting forces up there with great support from all the area fire departments -- Washington and --
Q: Are you removing sections of the roof to get at the fire?

Plaugher: Yeah. We're doing what's called a "trench cut" which is a slice of the roof, which then lets the fire gases out of that part of the roof. We then bring water streams into the back part of the fire cut, and so that the fire actually sucks the water up to it and helps to extinguish the fire up there. Please excuse me, I've been up all night, so. But that's basically the technique that's used.

Q: Could you describe the extent of the damage caused by the fire now? I mean, Corridors 2 through 6 are closed. Is there fire damage now throughout that -- through all the rings?

Plaugher: Not through all the rings, but to the two rings on each side of the crash site that -- we have some covered walkways and we have fire going down those covered walkways, that has gone out to those covered walkways and now going down those corridors.

Q: When you say the fire is stubborn, does that mean there are spots of fire in different portions, or --

Plaugher: Up in the roof section. It's hard to get to.

Q: I see. Can you tell me where the fire is now?
The next building update wasn't held until Friday afternoon, September 14th, when James Schwartz, assistant chief of the Arlington County Fire Department makes a statement,

DoD News Transcript Presenter: John F. Irby, Federal Facilities Division Friday Sept. 14, 2001

Schwartz: I'll give you one more piece in terms of recent events, and that is an update from the situation regarding the fire that occurred last night. The situation is -- the fire occurred in that collapsed area. I have continually stated that from the very beginning the fire situation in this particular incident has been extremely difficult. It was not a typical fire when we arrived on Tuesday morning, and it does not -- it has not ever gone into a typical fire situation.

We have heavy fire in an area where there was collapse, and there is an awful lot of material beneath that collapse that is still quite hot. I'm not surprised at all by the idea that there is still burning going on underneath there; it's just that you're not seeing a whole lot of it because it's very deep-seated. As that burning continues, or as the rubble starts to shift, we get air in there and then we see a little bit of flame come out, as we did last night.

We continue our fire watch operations; continued them after the fire was extinguished last night, and continue them today as we go further with this operation, and we'll continue that as we see necessary for the remainder of the incident.
At the same press briefing, John F. Irby, Director of the Federal Facilities Division, answers some questions about the extent of damage.

Q: I have a question for Mr. Irby. How much do you estimate it will cost to repair the damage?

Irby: I think it's too soon to know that. We don't have a -- well, as the chief pointed out, all of the damage hasn't occurred yet. We're still having problems that we're having to deal with, and certainly there's a lot of testing that needs to go on before we could give a reliable estimate.

Q: But as a ballpark figure, could it be in the tens of millions of dollars? Or is it likely to be --

Irby: Oh, it's much more than that.

Q: Much more than tens of millions?

Irby: Yes.

Q: Mr. Irby, when the clean-up effort is completed, about how much of the building will be usable for office workers?

Irby: Well, I think we'll need some more engineering analysis before we can make that -- turn the answer into a number. Right now we're at about two-thirds, and we expect to be expanding that. But the engineers are going to have to work with us on that and --

Q: They're studying the structural safety of the parts that appear to be intact?

Irby: Pardon?

Q: They're studying the structure, the parts that appear to be intact?

Irby: That's correct. That will take some time to look at the potential settling and those kinds of things. And it's, again, an area where we're all cooperating together and we're all working at the priorities of what has to come first. And reoccupying is going to be the last thing in line, so there are a lot of other higher priorities.

Q: I'm sorry to belabor, but you said a moment ago that while you can't give a precise estimate on how much it's going to cost to repair, it's certainly going to be more than in the tens of millions of dollars. Can you, in a ballpark way, characterize where you think it's going to end up -- a billion, several hundred million?

Irby: Well, I think it'll be less than a billion, but certainly more than a hundred million by quite a bit.

Q: Mr. Irby, could you tell us what it cost to renovate that wedge of the Pentagon and what the budgeted amounts are for each of the other wedges?

Irby: Again, I'm operation and maintenance. Lee Evey would be a better one to answer that for you. He's the director of the -- or the program manager of the Pentagon reservation.

Quigley: Renovation.
At the sixth month mark after the attack, Lee Ivey, director of the Pentagon Renovation project, in a DoD News Briefing March 2, 2002, makes a subtle reference:
"After that, we will begin putting the gabled roof above it. It actually has two roofs in that section of the building."
Which, typically, the news reporters didn't pick up on.

The Hughes Associates report is something of a mystery to me. Who commissioned it? What was its purpose? Was it designed to augment the Arlington County After-Action report? If that's the case, was the intent to justify the enormous damage to the Pentagon building that is being claimed? If so, why does this report also include these two illustrations, which are the closest to being truthful summaries?

To the report's credit, it's damage summaries reflect reality far better than the more commonly seen illustrations. They even separate out the different floors. Compare that with the next two put out by the renovation office, or the one following, published in the Washington Post.

This illustration published in the Washington Post is especially misleading. It is part of a pattern of misinformation in graphics published in WAPO. The collapse area is overstated by 500 percent. Likewise, the fire, smoke and water damage is over stated by a geometric percentage.

All have a single-minded objective, I think. To indicate to the public mind that a full two wedges, in other words two million square feet of space, was damaged or destroyed.

The Pentagon Renovation Program "Phoenix" page leaves no doubt of the extent of the damage claimed, saying:
"Reconstruction cost for two million square feet, approximately $526 million---$200 million less than originally anticipated"
or $236 a square foot, as claimed.

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