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Profile: Robert Shaler
Robert Shaler was a participant or observer in the following events:
Thermal hot spots detected by satellite on September 16, 2001. Red and orange indicate the hottest locations. The World Trade Center Twin Towers footprint is in the lower center and the center of World Trade Center Building 7 is in the upper right.
[Source: USGS]In response to requests from the Environmental Protection Agency, through the US Geological Survey, NASA flies a plane over the site of the WTC complex, equipped with a remote sensing instrument called AVIRIS. AVIRIS is able to remotely record the near-infrared signature of heat. Analysis of the data it collects indicates temperatures at Ground Zero of above 800 degrees Fahrenheit, with some areas above 1,300 degrees. On September 16, dozens of “hot spots” are seen, but by September 23, only four or five remain. [US Geological Survey, 11/27/2001; US Geological Survey, 10/2002 ] Robert Shaler, the scientist who leads the forensic examination by the New York City medical examiner’s office to identify 9/11 victims, later will state that the “DNA in the bodies” of WTC victims “was in pretty bad shape. These bones were exposed to extreme temperatures.” [US News and World Report, 12/5/2005] Don Carson, a hazardous materials expert, later will say, “There are pieces of steel being pulled out [of the WTC rubble] that are still cherry red. It’s like the charcoal that you put in your grill.… You light it and it stays hot.” [New York Daily News, 11/1/2001] And Dr. Jonathan Barnett, a member of FEMA’s WTC investigation team, will describe steel members in the debris pile that appear to have been partly evaporated in extremely high temperatures. [New York Times, 11/29/2001] Despite the WTC rubble being pumped with an almost constant jet of water, eventually totaling thousands of gallons, almost 12 weeks after 9/11 at least one fire is still burning, making it the longest-burning structural fire in history. [New Scientist, 12/3/2001; CBS News, 12/19/2001] As well as the hot spots, numerous witnesses describe molten metal being found at Ground Zero (see September 12, 2001-February 2002).
Robert Shaler. [Source: Publicity photo]Robert Shaler, the scientist who led the forensic examination by the New York City medical examiner’s office to identify 9/11 victims, releases a book about this investigation, called Who They Were: Inside the World Trade Center DNA Story: The Unprecedented Effort to Identify the Missing. According to Shaler the investigation eventually identified three of the 9/11 hijackers. However, he writes that they were not identified by name because the ten DNA profiles supplied by the FBI had no names attached. Shaler writes, “No names, just a K code, which is how the FBI designates ‘knowns,’ or specimens it knows the origins of. Of course, we had no direct knowledge of how the FBI obtained the terrorists’ DNA.” He also believes the three hijackers they identified were in the backs of the planes, stating, “I still doubt the pilots have anything remaining to collect or analyze.” [Publishers Weekly, 8/22/2005; New York Daily News, 10/12/2005] The medical examiner’s office concluded its efforts at identifying the remains of those killed at Ground Zero in February 2005, having been able to identify 1,588 of the 2,749 victims. [Shaler, 2005; New York Daily News, 2/23/2005]
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