Specter of Not Only 9/11, But the ’93 WTC Bombing, Haunts One World Trade Center

One reason for the failure of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to make as great an impact on America’s consciousness as it deserved may have been because that was all it was called. In other words, the incident was never properly branded like — however simply, but effectively — 9/11 (along with the other attacks of the day). Our concerns may also have been alleviated because “mastermind” Ramzi Yousef and other conspirators were rounded up post haste as opposed to the decade it took to locate Osama bin Laden.

How quickly we forgot that the 1,336-lb. fertilizer-based bomb — supercharged with hydrogen cylinders — tore a 30-yard-wide hole through four concrete sub-basements, killed seven, and injured thousands injured. From one perspective, along with swift apprehension of the suspects, the incident was viewed as a success because the buildinsg survived the bombing. (How did they survive that attack and not planes crashing into them? Oh, sorry. Down, you bad Truther.)

Since the structural damage to the building wasn’t significant, it couldn’t be demolished and insurance money collected. Lessors just had to soldier on. In the years between 1993 and 9/11, one couldn’t help wondering how distracting the threat of another attack must have been to employees of companies that leased space in those buildings.

But even 9/11 failed to prevent plans for the 1,776-foot-tall replacement for the Twin Towers, the Freedom Tower, the name of which was soon changed to One World Trade Center. As Ron Rosenbaum at Slate writes, “The new thinking, I guess: no use in unduly provoking al-Qaida—after all, they hate our freedoms!” But, he calls it a “never-ending security nightmare.”

Because the security concerns that were there from the beginning have not gone away, and the fixes for the flaws in the security have not been proven, and the site planners have been shown over and over again to be shockingly, scandalously inept.

Among the flaws:

One of the things the NYPD counterterrorism squad insisted on was that the base of the tower be moved further back from . . . heavy truck traffic. (Can you say “truck bomb”?) Of course, I may have missed it, but what’s the plan to prevent an explosion originating on one of the hundreds of trains that will be passing below the base of the tower?

As for ineptitude, Rosenbaum reminds us of

. . . the “confidential” floor plan leak last month. . . . Documents marked “confidential” and containing floor plans for One World Trade Center were posted and made available to terrorists on New York City’s website by mistake in May. . . . There are 17 documents stamped confidential showing every nook and cranny—including load-bearing walls, mechanical rooms, and ground floor entrances—of the still under construction tower.

What’s the big deal? After all, writes Rosenbaum, “al-Qaida has no reason lately for renewed interest in the World Trade Center anyway. That’s so 2001. Oh, right.”

In case you didn’t catch his meaning, that last comment is presumably an allusion to the raid on bin Laden’s compound. Perhaps most frightening of all (emphasis added):

Here’s what usually savvy NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly (probably under pressure from real estate types) had to say about it last December. See if you find it reassuring (emphasis added):

Landlords, managing agents and tenants will change over time, but the threat to the World Trade Center will persist. . . . the NYPD and the Port Authority are working together to make the World Trade Center the safest work environment in the world. . . . Now is the time for anyone with alternate ideas for securing the site to present them for consideration. They admit they don’t know if there’s a better plan than the one they’re putting in place!

Sounds suspiciously like a disclaimer . After all what could Kelly do “about a Stinger missile (widely available on the black market, I’m told) from across the river?” In the end the name change from Freedom Tower to One World Trade Center (emphasis added)

. . . has not diminished the folly of the whole building-as-symbolic-gesture, nor has it eliminated the fear factor in forcing thousands of middle-class and working-class employees to serve as live bait in World Terrorist Target No. 1. . . . Would you want to go to work in place people are scheming 24/7 to destroy?

If the Twin Towers looked like bowling pins just asked to be knocked down, consider that before conspirators had to make a split; now they need hit only one pin.