Speaking Truth to Power

Kudos to Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, two of the Times’s most-dogged reporters (and our old colleagues at the News), on their new book, “102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers.”

Last night, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, they talked about the best-seller in front of an audience which included several 9/11 victims’ relatives and surviving firefighters. And the discussion moderated by another News veteran, Joe Calderone, made clear some major flaws in the highly-touted 9/11 Commission Report and illustrated how many unresolved issues still remain regarding that tragic day:

1) Although the Bravest and the Finest now possess interoperable, same-frequency radios which allow them to communicate with each other, they have yet to work out the protocol

2) The city’s building code and variances obtained by certain landlords, elements of which complicated evacuation procedures on 9/11 – “the problem is the code written by the building industry. Meeting the code is like winning the booby prize,” says Dwyer.

The one statistic that inspired Dwyer to begin the project was “how many people survived the impact and could not get out of the building – 1600 – that’s why I wrote the book.”

Sally Regenhard, whose son died on 9/11, thanked the authors for “the first truth that has come out in 3 ½ years – for speaking truth to power.” Several others criticized the 9/11 Commission Report for concluding that firefighter communication problems were “not a significant factor” in the number of firefighter fatalities. That amounts to “cognitive dissonance,” according to Dwyer, because it assumes that firefighters in the South Tower were aware of the imminent collapse. “They weren’t suicidal,” affirms Dwyer.