Dr. Paul Mlakar

Submitted by Kevin Ryan on Fri, 10/15/2010

In October of 2007, a letter was written to Dr. William F. Marcuson, President of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), by Professor Raymond B. Seed of the of the UC Berkeley department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Professor Seed was very concerned about the ASCE and obstruction of the investigation into the breakage of levees in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. That obstruction was coordinated by Dr. Paul Mlakar of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), who claimed that his assignment was to “spar” with the independent investigators.

Mlakar is well known by independent investigators, as he was one of the four engineers who conducted the FEMA “investigation” into the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The other three were Gene Corley, Charles Thornton, later of the NIST WTC Advisory Committee, and Mete Sozen, who has been a leading spokesman for the official story about the WTC.

Mlakar also led the ASCE investigation at the Pentagon after 9/11, along with Sozen.

Professor Seed, who led one of the independent investigations into the breaking of the levees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, claimed that Paul Mlakar obstructed his investigation. Below are some relevant quotes from the letter, but the entire letter is well worth reading.

“These past two years, both the USACE and ASCE have been dishonored by the unacceptable, and even unfathomable, actions of a few. These are two of the most important civil engineering organizations in the world. If that cannot be reversed and repaired, and if recurrence cannot be prevented, then the ethics and the very soul of the Profession are in peril.”

“Two of the Corps field team escorting us around were different, however; their role was to keep the Corps personnel from speaking too openly with the rest of us and thus potentially spilling any beans.”

“The problem was: the “deal” between them and the Corps was such that our field teams were not permitted to have learned anything while in the field.”

“In the end, Larry and John, along with Dr. Mlakar, put their foot down; if we did not all “play ball”, then the further planned field work of the “week two” teams already beginning to arrive would be cancelled. A direct threat to the two investigations.”

“Cover-up!!…A bit later, the active ASCE members in that room considered resigning (from ASCE) in protest.”

“Larry Roth explained to me back in September that ASCE had been ingloriously kicked out from the 9/11 investigation of the World Trade Centerr, and that they had learned their lesson and would never again make those same mistakes.

“At the end of the session, Sen. Collins leveled her formidable stare nearly directly at poor Paul and said something very close to the following: “Dr. Mlakar, I understand that you have been sent here to tell us nothing. As a good soldier, you have done thatadmirably. I want you to go back and tell those who sent you, however, that this committee will not tolerate that, and that we will also not tolerate continued failure on the part of the Corps to provide requested documents and data to these other investigation teams.”

“Led jointly by Larry Roth and Dr. Paul Mlakar, the mantra was repeatedly espoused at the first ERP meeting that the investigation “would look only forward”; there would be no looking back, and no consideration of fault or blame.”

“Now, we were informed, that all we needed was final clearance from some fellow named Dr. Paul Mlakar.”

“It was also during this period that we learned more than we wanted to know about ASCE’s being expelled from the 9/11 World Trade Center investigation….to put an end to what they viewed as a cover-up masquerading as an investigation.”

“I have met personally with faculty from our Civil Engineering Department here at Berkeley, and also with faculty at the University of Maryland, who had NSF grants for investigations of the World Trade Center disaster and who assure me that this was, at several stages, a very bad business indeed.”

“And at least one member of our Department’s structural engineering faculty feels that the investigation of the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing, which ASCE was involved in (for a reported fee of $1 million in that case), was less than fully rigorous with regard to both the vulnerability of the Murrah Federal Building to lateral blast forces, and its propensity for collapse if damaged.”

“In his view, it is generally known within the high end of the structural engineering community that the investigation of that event was “a bit of a cover-up” (his choice of wording.) I would perhaps not mention this, except that nearly a year ago I learned that Dr. Paul Mlakar (of the Corps) was also much involved in that investigation.”

“[Mlakar] had told them that a significant portion of his assignment was to “spar” with the two independent investigation teams….“Sparring” or otherwise obstructing the independent investigations was inexcusable behavior in my view….And shame on Dr. Mlakar, and those that apparently continued to send him.”

“Indeed a coordinated campaign appears to be still underway to partially re-write history and to downplay some of the key issues. And ASCE (at least at the HQ level) appears to be deeply involved in this still ongoing effort.”

“An investigation should be undertaken to determine how this came to pass, and who within ASCE was responsible (unless this is already known). Those responsible should be fired, or removed from office….ASCE should publish an apology to the people of the New Orleans region, to the Nation, and to the Profession.”

“There is no way that I can simply do nothing, and allow the worst of the actions of the past two years to pass, and appear to be condoned at the highest of levels within two of the most important civil engineering institutions in the world….People depend on engineers to get it right, and nothing less than full effort, and dedication to public safety above all else, is acceptable.”