- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2010

TOWERS REDUX

Convinced that the World Trade Center towers were “artificially exploded outwards,” a 1,000-member group of architects and engineers have unanswered questions about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and have taken their concerns to Congress. The group wants a new investigation about the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7, saying it could have implications in the forthcoming trial of “9/11 terrorist” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. The group has also faulted federal reports of the events in the aftermath.

Those weary of such argument continue to shake their heads. Inside the Beltway has heard much on the topic. Please, everyone remember we’re relaying information - not calling for an investigation ourselves, or taking sides.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is not backing down from its analyses issued in 2005 and 2008.

“NIST stands behind the findings of its two completed technical investigations into the collapses of three World Trade Center buildings - WTC 1 and 2 (the Towers) and WTC 7,” spokesman Michael Newman tells Inside the Beltway.

“During and after our two investigations, NIST periodically looked back at the findings from the studies to determine how we could address the claims made by those who believe alternative theories for the collapses of the three WTC buildings,” Mr. Newman continues.

The agency created three fact sheets to respond to the most frequent inquiries from the public, which can be seen at http://wtc.nist.gov or www.nist.gov.

“The two investigations were designed to scientifically and technically determine the most probable causes for the collapses of the three WTC buildings on 9/11, and then use the findings to make solid recommendations for improvements in building safety, both for occupants and first responders during emergencies,” Mr. Newman says, adding that 23 “major and far-reaching building and fire code changes” were adopted in the aftermath.

See the Federal Emergency Management Agency report on 9/11 here: www.fema.gov/ rebuild/mat/wtcstudy.shtm.

And as we said before, stay tuned.

MICROBE MANAGING

Some wonder, meanwhile, about President Obama’s promise to address the threat of bioterrorism, made during his State of the Union address and in the wake of a bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism that gave the nation an “F” for its bioterrorism readiness.

But the dithering bureaucracy may be in the way.

Onetime adviser to George W. Bush and Weekly Standard contributor Tevi Troy suggests that the federal government is indecisive over the best way to distribute its stockpile of countermeasures to anthrax and smallpox to the population. Maybe the post office could deliver these potential life-savers, or they could be distributed from designated centers. How about handy “home medkits”? The Food and Drug Administration has yet to even approve the labeling of the kits.

“As the Obama administration looks at options for improving its recent failing grade on rapid response to biological attacks, they should make sure to consider home medkits as part of their countermeasure distribution tool kit,” Mr. Troy tells the Beltway.

“Medkits let individuals prepare themselves and their families for possible biological incidents - be they naturally occurring or man-made - and they reduce the burden on federal officials who have to distribute desperately needed medications to thousands if not millions of people in a very short time frame,” he continues.

“Unfortunately, some public health experts and federal officials don’t like medkits because they fear that people can’t be trusted to use the materials only when necessary. This short-sighted mentality will make it much harder to get crucial countermeasures distributed appropriately when needed.”

BUMPER PATROL

“My car has better insurance than I do.”

Bumper sticker spotted in Silver Spring, Md.

WATCHING HEALTH CARE

The secret life of heath care reform and the testy mechanics of bipartisan cooperation will be exposed for all to see, beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday on C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other broadcast outlets as President Obama dukes it out, er, hosts a health care summit for Republicans.

Something to watch for: A group of 25 heavyweights - including Edwin Meese III, David Rifkin, Gary Bauer and Alfred Regnery - remind Republicans to ask the right questions about the constitutionality and legality of the legislation, via a letter to Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Jon Kyl of Arizona, plus Reps. John A. Boehner of Ohio and Eric Cantor of Virginia.

“Our concerns about the constitutionality of the bills center on the individual health insurance mandate. Attorneys among us have analyzed the issue and concluded that requiring Americans to buy health insurance does not fall within the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution,” the group says.

“Moreover, our analysis indicates that if the House or Senate bill were to be enacted and upheld by the courts, the result would be a trial lawyer-driven explosion of health care and insurance litigation. In other words, not only do these bills fail to constrain trial lawyers’ drain on the health care system, they actually make the problem substantially worse.”

See the letter here: http://web.committeeforjustice .org

AS THE SNOW FALLS

“We need to get the inspector generals involved. … Then we send that to the Justice Department.”

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, announcing his call for three federal agencies to investigate “ridiculous” global warming claims by Al Gore and others, to Fox News.

POLL DU JOUR

• 51 percent of U.S., voters “fear” the federal government more than private insurance companies when it comes to health care decisions.

• 39 percent fear the insurers the most.

• 77 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of unaffiliated voters fear the government most.

• 64 percent of Democrats fear the insurance companies most.

• 56 percent of voters overall oppose the proposed heath care plan, 41 percent favor it.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Feb. 21 and 22.

Squawks, talks, windshield scrapers to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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