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Van Romero

Van Romero, Vice President of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, gained lasting notoriety for candid remarks concerning the collapses of the Twin Towers. In a September 11, 2001 article in the Albuquerque Journal, Romero was quoted as stating that the collapses of the Twin Towers were the result of explosive devices.

Explosives Planted In Towers, N.M. Tech Expert Says

By Olivier Uyttebrouck
Journal Staff Writer

Televised images of the attacks on the World Trade Center suggest that explosives devices caused the collapse of both towers, a New Mexico Tech explosion expert said Tuesday. The collapse of the buildings appears "too methodical" to be a chance result of airplanes colliding with the structures, said Van Romero, vice president for research at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. "My opinion is, based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes hit the World Trade Center there were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse," Romero said.
Romero is a former director of the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center at Tech, which studies explosive materials and the effects of explosions on buildings, aircraft and other structures.
Romero said he based his opinion on video aired on national television broadcasts. Romero said the collapse of the structures resembled those of controlled implosions used to demolish old structures. "It would be difficult for something from the plane to trigger an event like that," Romero said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. Romero said he and another Tech administrator were on a Washington-area subway when an airplane struck the Pentagon. He said he and Denny Peterson, vice president for administration and finance, were en route to an office building near the Pentagon to discuss defense-funded research programs at Tech.
If explosions did cause the towers to collapse, the detonations could have been caused by a small amount of explosive, he said. "It could have been a relatively small amount of explosives placed in strategic points," Romero said.
The explosives likely would have been put in more than two points in each of the towers, he said. The detonation of bombs within the towers is consistent with a common terrorist strategy, Romero said. "One of the things terrorist events are noted for is a diversionary attack and secondary device," Romero said. Attackers detonate an initial, diversionary explosion that attracts emergency personnel to the scene, then detonate a second explosion, he said.
Romero said that if his scenario is correct, the diversionary attack would have been the collision of the planes into the towers. Tech President Dan Lopez said Tuesday that Tech had not been asked to take part in the investigation into the attacks. Tech often assists in forensic investigations into terrorist attacks, often by setting off similar explosions and studying the effects.
(C) 2001, 'Albuquerque Journal,'
Reprinted for Fair Use Only

Ten days later the Albuquerque Journal published this following article, describing a dramatic reversal of Van Romero's position.

Fire, Not Extra Explosives, Doomed Buildings, Expert Says

By John Fleck
Journal Staff Writer

A New Mexico explosives expert says he now believes there were no explosives in the World Trade Center towers, contrary to comments he made the day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
"Certainly the fire is what caused the building to fail," said Van Romero, a vice president at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
The day of the attack, Romero told the Journal the towers' collapse, as seen in news videotapes, looked as though it had been triggered by carefully placed explosives.
Subsequent conversations with structural engineers and more detailed looks at the tape have led Romero to a different conclusion.
Romero supports other experts, who have said the intense heat of the jet fuel fires weakened the skyscrapers' steel structural beams to the point that they gave way under the weight of the floors above. That set off a chain reaction, as upper floors pancaked onto lower ones.
Romero said he believes still it is possible that the final collapse of each building was triggered by a sudden pressure pulse caused when the fire reached an electrical transformer or other source of combustion within the building.
But he said he now believes explosives would not have been needed to create the collapse seen in video images.
Conspiracy theorists have seized on Romero's comments as evidence for their argument that someone else, possibly the U.S. government, was behind the attack on the Trade Center.
Romero said he has been bombarded with electronic mail from the conspiracy theorists.
"I'm very upset about that," he said. "I'm not trying to say anything did or didn't happen."

Handsome Rewards

A scan of some articles from New Mexico Tech's website suggests a motive for Van Romero's about-face.

This is the banner for the NMT website, which contains a series of articles boasting about Van Romero's success in lobbying Washington for millions of dollars in funding for his institute.
e x c e r p t
title: VP Van Romero Named Chairman of Domestic Preparedness Consortium
authors: George Zamora
Van D. Romero, vice president for research and economic development at New Mexico Tech, recently was appointed national chairman of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC), a partnership of public and private organizations committed to serving emergency first-responders by training them to respond efficiently and safely to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
e x c e r p t
title: Wall Street Journal Names Tech 'Hot School'
authors: Kathy Hedges
The Wall Street Journal, in an article published on Oct. 5, 2001, named New Mexico Tech to its list of "This Fall's Hot Schools." Tech made the list on the basis of its peaceful location, research in counter-terrorism, and scholarship money available.
e x c e r p t
title: New Mexico Tech Vice President Romero Named a Top Lobbyist
authors: George Zamora
New Mexico Tech Vice President Van Romero has been tapped as one of “six lobbyists who made an impact in 2003” in an article featured in this month's issue of Influence magazine.

Romero, who is in charge of research and economic development at the research university in Socorro, was profiled in “The Players,” a special year-end feature in the national magazine which identifies a handful of prominent Washington, D.C. lobbyists who made a mark in 2003.

“From his perch 2,000 miles outside of the Beltway, this physics Ph.D. understands exactly how Washington works,” the article states. “A major chunk of his job involves lobbying for federal government funding, and if the 2003 fiscal year was any indication, Romero is a superstar.”

Romero is credited in the article with being instrumental in procuring about $56 million worth of appropriations for New Mexico Tech for the current fiscal year. This notable achievement also recently caught the eye of editors at The Chronicle of Higher Education as they ranked the university first in the nation among institutions of higher education that receive federal earmarks.


The article in Influence also points out that “Van Romero is proof that the client can be the best lobbyist.”
e x c e r p t
title: Tech Receives $15 M for Anti-Terrorism Program
author: Amy Hoskins
U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today heralded the release of nearly $15 million to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech), which the institute will specifically use to provide two terrorism-preparedness courses for First Responders.

The funding award was made to the Socorro institution through the U.S. Justice Department's (DOJ) Domestic Preparedness Training and Technical Assistance Program. Domenici, a member of the Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, secured the program funding in the FY2002 CJS Appropriations Act and last year's emergency supplemental bill.

"New Mexico Tech plays a significant role in supporting our government's anti-terrorism activities. That is why I continue to work to see that federal resources are allocated to support their work," Domenici said. "First Responders from all over the country travel just to receive anti-terrorism training, including this terrorism-preparedness instruction. I fully expect this program to expand as we ramp up homeland security activities."

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Van Romero