Alan Reiss – PANYNJ’s World Trade Center Director, and as such was considered “mayor” of the WTC. Reiss was employed at the WTC since 1984, working on building systems, the engineering and capital program, and eventually helping to secure major leases for tenants like Banker’s Trust and Fuji Bank. In 1988, he was promoted to the position of the World Trade Center’s supervising engineer, in charge of the complex’s major systems. He was later promoted to Special Assistant to the Director, and eventually, WTC Director.
MEANS, MOTIVE, OPPORTUNITY
Reiss took the lead in the response to the 1993 terrorist bombing at the WTC, and it was reported that — “As Special Assistant to the Director, he managed the design and construction team that restored the World Trade Center’s infrastructure, allowing the Twin Towers to reopen within a month.” At the time he was put in charge of reconstruction, “a job that required him to meet with top brass twice a day.” Reiss said about this period — “there were so many innovations we made…. After the 1993 bombing, we implemented a ten-year redevelopment program. We were spending half a billion dollars on upgrades. It was an engineer’s dream.”
Part of these upgrades involved constructing new command and control centers throughout the buildings. A new Security Command Center was built on the 22nd floor of the north tower (WTC 1), and a new Operations Control Center was constructed in the B1 level of the south tower (WTC2). Additionally, NYC officials responded to the 1993 bombing by establishing The Office of Emergency Management (OEM), over a period of years, “to promote unified operations between and among the various city emergency responder departments.” The OEM was controversial, in that it was not appreciated by the NYPD, which already had an emergency center. But ultimately, “on September 11, 2001, the OEM center located at WTC 7 became ineffective as WTC 7 was evacuated.” During Rudy Giuliani’s run for President, he and his former employee Jerome Hauer traded accusations about who made the choice of putting the OEM in WTC 7.
When interviewed after the attacks, Alan Reiss “compared the energy of the planes’ impacts to the detonation of a tactical nuclear weapon. But he said the buildings’ construction may have saved some lives.” Reiss had the highest level of access to the towers, as would be expected for the Director of the WTC. But what is most interesting about Alan Reiss is the evidence that he was not telling the truth after the attacks. The first part of this evidence has to do with his surprising story of what happened to him on that day, and the visible evidence of his experience.
Many senior managers at the PANYNJ who had knowledge of the buildings died on 9/11 trying to help others escape, but Reiss survived. In his testimony to the 9/11 Commission, Reiss stated — “We were stunned when 2 WTC was also hit by a plane. The police officers and I rushed to the rear emergency exit and looked up at the tower and realized we were at war…At the Port Authority Police’s request, I then returned to the vicinity of 6 World Trade Center to assess the condition of One World Trade Center with then-Captain Whitaker, commander of the PA Police at the WTC, just as the tower began to collapse. We were both enveloped by this churning black debris cloud as we ran north on West Street. It was darker than any burning building I have ever been in as a volunteer fireman, and it was next to impossible to breathe due to the debris in the air.”
One problem with Reiss’ testimony is that people who had been “enveloped by [the] churning black debris cloud” were completely covered in dust. But Alan Reiss, who is said to have narrowly escaped the 1993 bombing as well, did not appear to have any dust or debris on him despite having been covered by the dust clouds. An interview with Reiss just moments after the destruction of the towers, in which Reiss’ police escort turned his back on Reiss and appeared unusually uncomfortable, demonstrated this fact.
A second piece of evidence indicating that Alan Reiss was being less than truthful after the attacks includes this quote — “Even if someone had told me the threat was a missile, I don’t know what I could have done, let alone if someone had told me it was going to be a plane. No one ever thought about a hijacked plane being rammed into a building.”
The reasons that Reiss should have been aware of the possibility included the fact that several people Reiss would have known had thought about this very scenario, including the WTC tower’s design engineer, John Skilling. In a 1993 interview, Skilling said that, in the event of an airliner crash into one of the towers, “the building structure would still be there.” One of Reiss’ own staff members, Frank A. DeMartini, the Manager of WTC Construction, was videotaped explaining how the towers could have withstood multiple impacts from aircraft. Another person that Reiss would have worked with closely throughout the security upgrades, Brian Michael Jenkins, had also assessed the possibility of an airplane attack on the WTC.