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Goin' down the road feeling bad
July 13, 2004 6:43 PM   Subscribe

The Road to Tyranny (Realvideo). A sensational and informative film by Alex Jones. Ignore the presentation, or, consider it entertainment if you wish, but there's some pretty good content in there including some surprising news footage from the aftermath of the OKC bombing 19 minutes in.
posted by euphorb (18 comments total)

 
Yeah, I found this by downloading 'Fahrenheit 911' on Shareaza. It is what it is, 'conspiratorial' in one sense and informative in another.
posted by moonbird at 7:16 PM on July 13, 2004


Er, ah, what's this about there being several sophisticated bombs located within the Federal Building?

A quick google brings up a decent overview of the questions around it.

Is this common knowledge, or is this something that should be getting a better description on the mefi front page?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:11 PM on July 13, 2004


For my job i spent about a month going over pictures, engineering documentation, and first hand accounts (my boss was there 12 days after the event and wrote a book about the bombing and recovery efforts. my other boss is part of the USSAR (federal search and rescue team) and has spoken directly with those who arrived directly after the bombing and were there fore the entire cleanup operation. So that said, let me just give my personal opinion that this is bullshit.

When most people think of explosions they think of bright lights and allot of heat. what is actually doing the damage in an explosion is the air blast that occurs. This spherical compression wave of air produces extremely high pressures for extremely short durations (for the size of bomb used in oklahoma city your talking about something like 5000psi in 1.19 msec (as comparison a normal design wind load is 1psi staticly applied)). This compressive wave moves extremely rapidly (measured in thousands of feet per second) and deteriorates in pressure with distance at a cube root. when a weapon is sufficiently close to a wall (depending on bomb size) it can also breach materials through a disintigration process referred to as brisance in which the compressive wave reflects through the material (in this case concrete) and causes the material to shatter (for concrete this occurs as the cement looses bond with sourrounding aggregates). As the wave disipates it changes from a shattering effect to a flexural effect (bending) and allows the material to absorb energy as it fails. The examination of failed elements (such as windows or craters) allows for a backcalculation of the weapon size.

The truck was located within 20 feet of the north (rear) entrance (and directly next to the childcare center on the first floor of the building...needless to say i'm sure the children where instantaneously dead). within the first few miliseconds of the explosion, one to three major columns (definilty G20 and possibly G24 and G16) were failed by shattering. These columns where extremely critical as they were supporting transfer girders (girders which supported the upper 7 levels of columns, ie: they supported the entire north face of the structure). As the blast proceeded through the building it shattered glass (instantaneously) and caused the slabs and beams to bend upwards. As the slabs bended upwards they failed due to tension on the top face (typically slabs are designed for downwards (gravity) loads only and therefore have no upward loading strength). When bent sufficiently the concrete cracked and the slabs and beams failed. Additionally at column supports the slabs failed through puncture (when the slab shears at connections to the column, leaving a double hieght of column). Through back calculation it is likely that this failure mode occured up to the fifth floor. An aditional column in the center of the building also failed, possibly due to being hit with a large piece of debris.

At this point the blast effects have finished. now picture if you will a building which is 4 full floors of weight at the 5th floor with no support beneath. What follows is referred to as Progressive collapse. Gravity alone is sufficient to pull the structure down. Because the oklahoma city federal building was only 2 bays wide (ie: it was supported at the north side, the middle and the south side) the elimination of the north side columns resulted in the complete loss of the north side bay from column 12 on. The loss of the single interior column also resulted in a portion of the south bay to also be lost.

The reason that the single bomb in the north side of the structure failed a large portion of the building can be assessed to two causes: 1) the bomb was significant enough to result in the loss of several columns and floor systems 2) due to the use of transfer girders and 2 bay wide building the initial blast failure resulted in the occurance of progressive collapse which brought down the rest of the structure.

If several smaller bombs would have been used then you could expect some other signs: 1) there would have been multiple craters (there was only one) 2) if the weapons were large enough greater portions of the structure would have been lost as the slabs wouldn't have withstood the upwards load and the resulting loss of lateral support would likely have allowed the columns to buckle (ie: the whole damn thing would come down). 3) if the weapons were small you would not have failed the slabs or columns (or some limited localized failure) and the entire structure would have stood.

In the end the whole event is a tragedy and to me speaks a great deal about the stupidity of man. the fact that we can then use this tragedy to portray others as somehow at fault is just an added twist on my own personal opinions.

oh, sorry for the long text, but i hate non-technicians thinking the know something when they don't.
posted by NGnerd at 9:12 PM on July 13, 2004 [2 favorites]


Thanks, NGnerd! That was fascinating reading!
posted by SPrintF at 10:06 PM on July 13, 2004


Wow, thanks for that thorough and comprehensive explanation.

But did you watch the footage though? There are two separate claims going on. One is that there were indeed two separate explosions which is based primarily on seismographic evidence. The prevailing interpretation, which seems reasonable enough, is that the two seperarate waves are from the same source, that is, a single explosion.

But that isn't the interesting part, to me anyway. What strikes me as curious is the news footage from multiple television stations which report that there were several explosive devices inside the building that were found and defused after the blast. In all likelihood there probably were not more bombs. But what happened then? How could so many news organizations get something so wrong? Did a false rumor make it to air and then get propagated across several stations in a rush to be first with the scoop? Your boss is probably in good position to answer that if she was there shortly after the explosion.

The other shocker in the film was the story of Emad Salem.
posted by euphorb at 10:18 PM on July 13, 2004


actually, i'll admit i didn't watch the video because i don't have realplayer (dropped it a few years ago as the last time i used it it was crappy and full of spyware).

As for HOW the multiple news outlets get things wrong within the first few hours, well, that's pretty simple. In the first few hours NOBODY has ANY clue what the hell is going on at the scene of a major event and they have to fill air time, so why not just make shit up and hope your right.

My personal favorite story was from an engineer from thorton tommasetti describing his involvement in the 911 cleanup. When the WTC collapsed a portion of the facade gouged a 15 story chunk out of the Deutsche bank building. At some point a day or two after the collapse he's on site inspecting the damage when he gets a frantic call from his wife saying all the news stations are reporting the building as having collapsed. Of course he had to tell his wife they were wrong, as he was inside the building inspecting it.

just because it's on tv, doesn't mean that it's real.
posted by NGnerd at 10:45 PM on July 13, 2004


oops forgot...

my boss didn't get there until 12 days later. However, i'm sure the actual engineers on the scene weren't watching tv.

i'd be interested to see the actual seismic pattern but the blast to collapse lasted 6 seconds (based on a recording of a meeting occuring down the street). The article you linked suggested that the blast wave reflected somewhere underground (seems like a good explaination to me). i don't think you could time multiple devices in such a way to produce a several second split between the two (ie: one would set off the other), but i could be wrong.

also to give some warning, i was hired with the company last year just out of my masters degree program in structural engineering. Forensic engineering is as much a science as it is an art of applied experience, so there's always the possibility that i'm wrong (but i still think creating a conspiracy theory is WAY out there).
posted by NGnerd at 10:53 PM on July 13, 2004


It's worth noting that Alex Jones is a complete nutcase. Most recently, he's gained some notoriety for claiming that there was a government conspiracy to stage the Sept. 11 attacks to foster a future move to a global totalitarian state.

Yes, it's the same old "New World Order" stuff, complete with thinly-veiled anti-Semitism and general paranoid wackiness. They show his movies at militia meetings and so-called "Christian Patriot" gatherings.

Here's a page debunking some of the other spectacular claims he's made, like "the U.N. is taking over American lands in preparation for an invasion." You might also remember his efforts to re-build the Branch Davidian church.

He's popular in some circles because he's fervent and sometimes entertaining. What he says is at best utterly insane, though, and at worst extremely dangerous.
posted by jeffmshaw at 11:04 PM on July 13, 2004


In downtown OKC on April 19, 1995, there was mass chaos and confusion, and at least once, rescuers and mobile victims were hurriedly evacuated from the site due to reports of more explosives - but none were ever found. The film clip I saw is of live, contemporaneous television coverage that's not from Oklahoma City stations, but from stations somewhere else rebroadcasting OKC feeds and adding their own commentary.

You may also remember the belief of that day that Arab-looking men were seen fleeing the scene and were suspects, but we know better than that now, too.
posted by mdeatherage at 11:29 PM on July 13, 2004


wishes there was some way of adding NGnerd to friends list as "bomb muse". Gosh, thanks for all the interesting info guys.
posted by dabitch at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2004


NGNerd: Absolutely fascinating description of blast effects on a structure. Thanks!

[re your profile: I have a friend in Berkeley who is a single female architect. ;)]
posted by gkostolny at 11:26 AM on July 14, 2004


Yes, it's the same old "New World Order" stuff, complete with thinly-veiled anti-Semitism and general paranoid wackiness. They show his movies at militia meetings and so-called "Christian Patriot" gatherings.

I have no intention of defending Alex Jones who has some very fanciful ideas but also does some solid reporting based on actual documentary evidence and reports in major newspapers.

But unless you can back up your statement that his views amount to "thinly-veiled anti-Semitism", I'm calling shenanigans. I failed to see anything even remotely approaching anti-Semitism in either the film I linked to, your links, or a Google search on the topic. Maybe I'm "out of the loop" and need you to "break it down" for me.
posted by euphorb at 2:05 PM on July 14, 2004


Did a false rumor make it to air and then get propagated across several stations in a rush to be first with the scoop?

I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case. I started my first "real" fulltime job (system administrator and tech support) for ioNET in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Needless to say - it was an interesting first day. We spent the afternoon and evening doing what we could to get the news about what was happening up and out on the Internet, before "breaking news" @ CNN became commonplace. A while later, we won an award for the news coverage we'd done.

There were lots of rumors and bad information going around that day, and each station was taking feeds/news/etc from all of the other stations. It was more of a "spread info as soon as possible" situation instead of a "we want the scoop" situation. At ioNET, we were even "rebroadcasting" a video camera pointing at a TV showing a local news channel, in addition to web page updates, email, and people on IRC.
posted by mrbill at 2:26 PM on July 14, 2004


There is an entire branch of conspiracy theory that uses code phrases like "New World Order" or "one world government" to refer to a sinister cabal of totalitarians that plan to (or already do) run the world. It's usually explicitly stated that these forces are Jewish; if it's not, the intended audience understands the meaning.

It's this type of rhetoric that I called thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. People that want to be taken seriously can't say "Jews are trying to take over the world" these days, but they can say "globalist agenda" or "New World Order" and then talk (as Jones often does) about the U.N., Council on Foreign Relations, Rothschilds, et. al. as power-hungry would-be despots.

A good example of how Jones' rhetoric compares with the further-out wingnut rhetoric is here. When Columbia blew up, many anti-Semites speculated it was a conspiracy that the U.S. and/or Israel planned to foster unity between the two governments -- Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon was on board, and the thinking was that this would engender sympathy, forging a stronger bond between the U.S. and Israel.

The blatant anti-Semites come out and say "the Jews and Israel plotted this!" Jones says exactly the same thing, but uses more polite language, calling them "globalists":

"[T]here was a very good chance that the globalists would do something horrible concerning the latest Colombia (sic) mission ... This is the first Israeli in space -- the fact that he died on board is given twice as much attention than the other six are getting combined. This is being used as a type of tribal bonding mechanism for the coming war for empire in the Middle East. "Our champion warriors died with your champion warriors..."

Whether Jones himself, in his private moments, personally identifies the U.N., CFR, or Bilderbergers with Jews or not I don't know, though I suspect he does. It's not really relevant, though, since much of his audience does, and he almost certainly knows that. That's why militias eat up his material.

By the way, that Google search for "Alex Jones" and "anti-Semitism" that you linked yields 11,200 results, including the ADL link I posted above. It also includes lots of praise for Jones from kooks like the "American Patriot Freedom Network," which shows the market he panders to.

[Sorry for the longish post, felt some explanatory background was necessary.]
posted by jeffmshaw at 8:41 PM on July 14, 2004


There is an entire branch of conspiracy theory that uses code phrases like "New World Order" or "one world government" to refer to a sinister cabal of totalitarians that plan to (or already do) run the world. It's usually explicitly stated that these forces are Jewish; if it's not, the intended audience understands the meaning.

So everyone somehow knows that these are code words for Jews, and anyone who expresses concern about globalists is some kind of crypto-anti-Semite? As far as I can tell, that term refers to lots of international groups (like the Council on Foreign Relations), and government officials (like the Bushes the Clintons), some of whom are Jewish and some who aren't.

For you to assume everyone who uses the term new world order is anti-Semitic seems as off-the-wall as imagining everyone in the U.N. secretly desires a one world government. In both cases, it seems like people are just trying too hard to see things that aren't really there.

By the way, that Google search for "Alex Jones" and "anti-Semitism" that you linked yields 11,200 results, including the ADL link I posted above. It also includes lots of praise for Jones from kooks like the "American Patriot Freedom Network," which shows the market he panders to.

Nothing in the top 20 links or so that I looked at hinted or even implied that Alex Jones was anti-Semitic. You can play the same game of looking at Google results with whoever you want. It doesn't really have much meaning. And we aren't talking about what groups support Alex Jones and what their views are. I'm sure there are plenty of hate-filled people that listen to him. So what?

Rush Limbaugh (6,900 results),
Michael Moore (42,900 results)
George Bush (77,600 results)

Clearly, we see things differently and that's just the way it is, but there's nothing wrong with that. Keep on keepin' on.
posted by euphorb at 10:13 PM on July 14, 2004


Any Bill Hicks or Sacred Cow Productions fan knows that Alex Jones is, in fact, a highly entertaining, Grade-A Fruit Loop. Spend a few hours browsing the above linked site. Jones is one of the few people on this planet that make Joe Rogan look sane.
posted by Optamystic at 7:10 PM on July 15, 2004


Er, isn't Joe Rogan the guy who hosts Fear Factor? Isn't he a comedian of some sort?

I watch very little TV, so if Alex Jones is a comedian, little wonder I didn't know...
posted by five fresh fish at 7:23 PM on July 15, 2004


thanks for posting this to the front page matt, i wasn't expecting that (i guess that's what i get for being verbose while bored). As for gkostolny , feel free to give her my contact info (this internet thingy is just cool).
posted by NGnerd at 10:28 PM on July 20, 2004


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