Was 9/11 Debris Intentionally Placed in Tiny Space?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 27 2013 11:37 AM

How Did 9/11 Landing Gear Get Wedged in Such a Tiny Space?

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A police officer stands in front of the building on Park Place in lower Manhattan where a piece of landing gear believed to be from one of the planes destroyed in the September 11 attacks has been discovered

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly gave two very conflicting messages after what is believed to be debris from one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 was discovered more than a decade later: Perfectly understandable but also quite strange.

“If you see how confined this space is, and you realize the chaos that existed on this street, I think it's understandable. It's not that surprising,” Kelly said. But wait. How does a component that is some 17 inches wide and 4 feet long get stuck in a an 18-inch-wide space, according to the Associated Press, between a luxury apartment building and a mosque site? "We are also looking into a possibility it was lowered by a rope," Kelly said, noting that there appeared to be a piece of rope entwined within the part, points out CNN.

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Adding to the mystery is that the area, located some three blocks north of the World Trade Center site, is inaccessible from the street, points out the New York Times. “The odds of it entering that space at exactly that angle that would permit it to squeeze in there,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, “it had to come in at almost precisely the right angle.”

Why would anyone intentionally place a piece of debris in such a tight, inaccessible space? That remains a mystery. For now, all we know for sure is that land surveyors stumbled across the piece of debris on Wednesday morning and called 911. Investigators quickly discovered the debris had a Boeing serial number. The area is now being treated as a crime scene and investigators are likely to scour the zone to see if they can find any human remains.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.