"Altered Evidence" from Flight 800
How the Justice Department framed a journalist and his wife.
Available through Amazon.com
Kallstrom's quest for redemption
Why John Kerry talks about TWA 800
Deception for dollars
Exposing FBI's red herring:
Part 1 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24270
Part 2 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24296
The fight goes on
Cracks appear in fuel-tank charade
The incredible shrinking climb
All the AG's men
Demise of the TWA 800 cover-up?
Silenced no more!
Part 1 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23800
Part 2 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23815
The collapse of American journalism
Psychology of a cover-up
Feds muffle voice recorder data
Fateful 4 seconds
Unraveling the cover-up
TWA 800 controversy heats up
Cashill's five-part series, "Silenced: Flight 800 and the subversion of justice":
Part 1 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23078
Part 2 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23094
Part 3 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23106
Part 4 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23107
Part 5 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23109
Justice Department rips Flight 800 video
Haunting evidence of missile attack
New evidence of missile attack
TWA 800 and official lies
Investigator testifies to Congress
U.S. Stinger chief suspect
Donaldson called conspiracy theorist
Were missile parts hidden away?
Is there proof of a missile?
Was there a government cover-up?
How government stopped probers
What happened to TWA Flight 800?
TWA Flight 800 was 'shot down'
Editor's note: Jack Cashill and James Sanders will have eye-opening new information on the crash of Flight 800 and its cover-up in their new book, "First Strike," due out early next year from WND Books, a partnership of WorldNetDaily and Thomas Nelson Publishers. © 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue.
Editor's note: This is the first installment of a new two-part series by Jack Cashill and James Sanders, author of "The Downing of TWA Flight 800," examining the NTSB's claim of an exploding fuel tank bringing down Flight 800. © 2001 WorldNetDaily.com
As we have noted in previous articles, various agencies of government – including elements of the FBI, the Justice Department, the CIA and the NTSB – conspired, knowingly or otherwise, to suppress conspicuous evidence of a missile strike on TWA Flight 800.
This included the distortion or denial of eyewitness testimony, the falsification of witness statements, the apparent deletion of the final four seconds from the flight data recorder (FDR), the withholding of test results on the cockpit voice recorder, the suppression and possible deletion of radar data, the obvious manipulation of missile residue tests, and the removal or alteration of damaged parts (see collected columns listed at the bottom).
With so much evidence removed from play, the evidence that remained made little impact on an indifferent public. At the final NTSB hearing in August of 2000, for instance, Dr. Bernard Loeb acknowledged the explosive traces of PETN and RDX found inside the plane and out, but dismissed them casually: "We don't know how they got there but we do know it is not because of a bomb." Loeb's cagey avoidance of the word "missile" notwithstanding, NTSB insiders must have felt reasonably comfortable for some time in the knowledge that the physical evidence of a missile strike had been safely eliminated from public view.
Still, these efforts at concealment were contrived only to prove what did not happen to the plane. That was not enough. Those in control of the investigation needed to prove what did happen. At the very least, they needed to create the illusion of a science-based mechanical explanation for the crash to feed the all too mild curiosity of a much-too-easily-satisfied media.
From the beginning, the NTSB had been searching to find even one scientist from a reputable lab or university anywhere in the world who would confirm through testing that a specific mechanical event could conceivably have brought TWA Flight 800 down. They were not having much luck. No one within the scientific community seemed willing to squander his or her reputation on so transparently false a hypothesis.
To be sure, with millions of future federal research dollars at stake, scientists would reject the "mechanical" thesis tactfully. But in the final analysis, they all said the same thing: No level of scientific analysis, no series of tests, could confirm even the remote possibility that a catastrophic mechanical failure destroyed the ill fated plane in mid-air.
Early on, The NTSB tried to establish a very basic point – if a spark managed to enter the center wing tank (CWT) and ignite the fumes, the resulting flames would spread from compartment to compartment and create an "overpressure" capable of blowing the airplane to bits. In its own words, The NTSB "needed to investigate the phenomena associated with flame propagation in multicompartment, interconnected, and vented tanks representative of the accident airplane's CWT."
After two-years of exhaustive testing, here is what the investigating scientists concluded:
The ignition of Jet A fuel in one bay of the ¼-scale model resulted in transmission of the flame through the bay passageways and vent stringers and ignition in neighboring bays, illustrating the behavior of multicompartment flame propagation. Flamefront quenching was also observed to be a characteristic of flame propagation.
"Flamefront quenching" means that this fuel would actually extinguish the flames, almost like water. Jet A fuel does not ignite readily like, say, gasoline. The tests told the NTSB that even if a spark could be identified, it could not cause the violent explosion that ripped apart the airplane.
The NTSB did not give up. It contracted with two more research laboratories – Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and Christian Michelson Research (CMR) – "to develop computer code models of the combustion process that occurs in a 747 CWT."
Although their words were again ever so polite, the known phenomenon of flamefront quenching made it impossible for any honorable scientist to develop a scenario supporting the NTSB's. Knowing who was paying the bills, SNL and CMR went through the motions, but in the end these scientists likewise failed to find any reasonable way to justify an imaginary scenario. These experts concluded:
In all the computer solutions, conditions were calculated that indicated that quenching could have occurred in some of the vents and passageways of the full-scale CWT geometry. … Incorporating the effects of quenching in the calculations appeared to significantly affect the differential pressure histories that developed across the internal CWT structural members.
The NTSB grudgingly admitted to losing this battle, but given its easy access to the taxpayer's wallet, the agency was not about to abandon the war. By this stage it couldn't afford to. The NTSB needed some answer to steer the public away from the obvious missile theory. It would have to win by attrition, to wear the public and the media down.
So the NTSB contracted with Combustion Dynamics Ltd. (CDL) "to evaluate the consistency between the computer calculations of the full-scale CWT combustion model and other information and evidence obtained during the investigation."
By this time the NTSB had descended to hoping "that by conducting this evaluation ... it would be possible to narrow the number of probable ignition location(s) within the CWT." This hope was in vain. The NTSB had to concede defeat yet again:
Therefore, the rules-based analysis did not provide a definitive determination regarding the probability that any given location within the CWT was the ignition location.
But the scientists at CDL did discreetly extend the hope that if the NTSB were to expend a few million additional taxpayer dollars, the agency might walk away with at least some token of support from within the scientific community:
However, the rules-based analysis did reveal that the pressure differentials produced by an internal fuel/air explosion were consistent with the overall level of damage observed in the CWT.
With hope still alive, the NTSB headed for Bruntingthorpe, England, to blow up a 747 CWT and to pray that CDL's "rules-based analysis" would prove to be something more than a polite gesture by scientists dependent on future government contracts.
But by the time the dust had settled from the Bruntingthorpe explosion, the NTSB was forced to abandon rules-based analysis:
The Board observed that the test parameters used resulted in a significantly more dynamic and destructive explosion within the test plane's CWT than was indicated by the accident airplane's wreckage. (The catastrophic nature of the damage to the test plane indicated that if such an event occurred in flight, it would likely result in the airplane instantaneously separating into four major components: left wing, right wing, forward fuselage, and aft fuselage.)
The "rules-based" analysis had literally been blown away. With all of its investigative hypotheses reduced to rubble, the NTSB chose to reconstruct the results in a way more to its liking:
Finally, analysis of the results of computer modeling of combustion in a full-scale CWT under conditions simulating those of TWA flight 800 indicated that a localized ignition of the flammable vapor could have generated pressure levels that, based upon failure analysis, would cause the damages observed in the wreckage of the accident airplane's CWT.
No outside scientific agency or person had made such a statement. In fact, all contracted testing and analysis ran counter to what the NTSB was now saying. But it no longer mattered. By this point the NTSB had shifted from scientific fact to sheer propaganda. Only its own controlled personnel could be coerced into conclusions that defied all scientific testing and analysis:
Accordingly, the Safety Board concludes that a fuel/air explosion in the CWT of TWA flight 800 would have been capable of generating sufficient internal pressure to break apart the tank.
This is fiction. Jet A's lack of flammability, according to the exhaustive analysis conducted under contract for the NTSB, created a high probability that the liquid would have extinguished any flames ignited by any known internal ignition source. Nor could defendants find a hypothetical spark of sufficient strength to ignite Jet A.
To be sure, if an explosion in the CWT had occurred, it would have blown the CWT apart. In fact, an explosion had blown it apart. This, no one denied. But no scientific foundation existed to hypothesize how such an explosion could occur by purely mechanical means.
In its analysis, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers flatly rejected the hypothesis that an explosion occurred spontaneously. Said the IAMAW, "A high pressure event breached the fuselage and the fuselage unzipped due to the event. The explosion was a result of this event."
What the IAMAW is saying is that the initiating explosion occurred outside the plane, penetrated the fuselage, and caused the CWT to explode.
But the NTSB was no more interested in hearing the truth from the IAMAW than it was from the scientific community. So it ignored the IAMAW report and the scientific data and generally bypassed the inconvenient step of first demonstrating that the explosion could occur from within.
In that scientific testing had eliminated all hypothetical NTSB mechanical scenarios, the NTSB ceased scientific inquiry that would only cause further embarrassment and marginalize the mechanical conclusion it was charged with reaching.
From this point forward the board would descend from modern science to old-fashioned alchemy and sum it all up in a fable worthy of Harry Potter.
Editor's note: This is the second installment of a two-part series by Jack Cashill and James Sanders, author of "The Downing of TWA Flight 800," examining the NTSB's claim of an exploding fuel tank bringing down Flight 800. © 2001 WorldNetDaily.com
There is a well known principle of logic known as "Occam's Razor" – the simplest explanation is usually the best one.
Consider its application in the case of TWA 800: Hundreds of witnesses watch streaks of light head towards the plane; FAA radar picks up what appears to be a missile; and the plane explodes catastrophically without a word from the cockpit.
The New York Times adds detail. On Aug. 14, 1996, four weeks after the crash, Don Van Natta Jr. reported that "the pattern of the debris they [investigators] have recovered off the ocean floor has also persuaded them that a mechanical malfunction is highly unlikely." Van Natta acknowledged too that "in 10 field tests at Calverton, L.I., chemists have detected residue consistent with an explosive" on the recovered aircraft. These tests, he added, rarely show false positives.
But there is more. The Times article stated emphatically, "Now that investigators say they think the center fuel tank did not explode, they say the only good explanations remaining are that a bomb or a missile brought down the plane off Long Island."
Occam's Razor says, yes, missile – but the NTSB had little use for cutting to the clear conclusion.
If "senior investigators" were telling Van Natta that "the center fuel tank caught fire as many as 24 seconds after the initial blast that split apart the plane," NTSB "officials" were not so ready to concede. They needed a viable alternative explanation, a politically safe one like a mechanical failure, and would use their considerable powers to make the obvious explanation go away.
''I don't think anything rules out anything at this point,'' Robert T. Francis, vice chairman of the safety board, told Van Natta. Although, as Van Natta reported, this finding "deals a serious blow to the already remote possibility that a mechanical accident caused the crash," he also acknowledged that NTSB "officials" were "unwilling to rule out a mechanical failure." Van Natta then added prophetically, "By keeping open the possibility of a malfunction, safety board investigators can continue to pursue all possibilities, no matter how remote."
Truer words were never spoken. The NTSB would pursue the remotest possibilities imaginable, and with each new test, they would only move further from the truth. In the next four years they would not discover one new fact to revive a theory that was discredited within one month of the crash.
But as Van Natta noted, "While investigators, speaking not for attribution, said they have concluded that the center fuel tank did not explode, publicly they have refused to say that." They dared not. They understood the consequences. With the investigators silenced, the "officials" would control the microphone. In time, they would wear the media and the public down and make the story go away.
To make their strategy work, NTSB officials hoped to find a lab or university somewhere in the world that would validate a mechanical explanation for the crash in much the way the CIA animation had invalidated the eyewitnesses. As related in Part 1, they did not succeed. Despite all the temptations to comply, the science community refused to provide the necessary cover.
Without facts to back up its contrived hypothesis of mechanical failure, the NTSB resorted to fiction. It presented its conclusions to a distracted public and an increasingly docile media in a novella titled, "Factors Suggesting the Likelihood that a Short-Circuit Event Occurred on TWA Flight 800."
One is hard pressed to identify a single fact in this tortured report. Guesswork and supposition run rampant. To reveal the conspiratorial intent of the NTSB, at least an element within the agency, it is useful to quote this document at length. Only the italics are added:
Much of the insulation on the wiring recovered from the accident airplane was cracked or otherwise damaged, often exposing the inner conductor. When powered, such damaged wires would be vulnerable to short-circuiting. Although some of the damage to the accident airplane's wiring insulation probably occurred as a result of the accident or search and recovery operations, the degraded condition of wiring insulation found during inspections of other transport-category airplanes of about the same age as the accident airplane suggests that at least some of the damage to the wiring insulation of the accident airplane very likely existed before the accident. Given what was found during the inspections of other airplanes, it is also likely that metal shavings and other contaminants were interspersed with the wiring system on the accident airplane before the accident.
Evidence of arcing was found on generator cables routed with wires in the leading edge of the right wing, near the wing root. Although this arcing might have been caused by the breaking of the forward wing spar and subsequent fuel fire, it is possible that it could also have been caused before the explosion. Because this wire bundle included wires leading to the right main wing tank fuel flow gauge and right wing FQIS wiring that would have been routed to a connection in the CWT [central wing tank] at terminal strip T347, a short circuit in this bundle could have carried excess energy into the CWT FQIS.
A pause here is in order. Consider the choices the NTSB presents as to what caused the arcing found on the generator: a) the catastrophic breakup of the forward wing spar and the subsequent fuel fire, which did take place; b) a short circuit in the wiring, which might conceivably have taken place before the explosion. An honest investigation would focus on "a." The NTSB, however, focused on "b." To put this in perspective, it is as if the L.A. cops completely ignored OJ and went after the "Colombian drug dealers." The report stumbles forward:
In addition, two non-FQIS wires at body station (STA) 955, which would have been corouted in the same raceway as CWT FQIS wiring, were found with possible arcing damage. (Although the FQIS wiring recovered from this area did not contain evidence of arcing, it should be noted that some of the FQIS wiring from this area was not recovered.) These wires were located near structural repairs from a burst potable water tank and numerous other floor repairs. These repairs could have disturbed nearby wires, cracking or otherwise damaging the wire insulation, and could also have generated metal shavings. In fact, metal drill shavings were found adhered to fragments of a floor beam from STA 920, within 2 inches of where the CWT FQIS wiring would have been routed. This area is also near galley C, which was the site of numerous reported leaks in the 2 weeks preceding the accident. Leakage from this area could have dripped onto electrical wiring located immediately beneath the galley floor and caused a short circuit that affected the CWT FQIS wiring.
Repairs to the area around the upper flight attendant lighting panel could also have created conditions conducive to short-circuiting. A lighting wire and pin in that panel had been repaired on June 20, 1996, about a month before the accident. Although no evidence of arcing was found on the repaired wire, during the repair other wires bundled with it might well have been moved. The repaired wire was part of a bundle that branched off from a larger bundle that contained CWT and left wing FQIS wires that led to the upper deck AIDS unit and also contained high-voltage wiring for lighting; thus, manipulation of wires during the repair could have resulted in movement and cracking of these wires. In addition, there was evidence of extensive structural repairs in this area, and the cabin interior had been altered, both of which could have disturbed these wires and introduced metal shavings, possibly damaging the wire insulation. Further, condensation, which is common in transport-category airplanes, could have provided a mechanism for short-circuiting of such damaged wires when powered. Finally, in addition to being bundled with FQIS wires, the lighting wires were also bundled with CVR wires and No. 4 fuel flow wires along some portions of their path. Therefore, a short circuit involving these lighting wires could also explain the electrical anomalies indicated on the CVR recording and the No. 4 fuel flow indicator.
Curiously, this report contradicts what the NTSB experts had stated in December of 1997 at the Baltimore NTSB hearings. Although they acknowledged that the flight crew observed an erratic fuel flow indicator for engine number 4, 10 minutes after take-off, they rightly dismissed this as "a common occurrence in the 747."
But now, two and one-half years later, the NTSB was desperate. They were forced to grasp at any straw. So an erratic fuel indicator once thought to be routine suddenly became a major lead in pursuit of the mythical spark that jumped into Flight 800's center wing tank:
Although no evidence of arcing was found in any of the components connected to the CWT FQIS, investigators considered the possibility that a short circuit in one of those components could have been a source of excess voltage transferred to the CWT FQIS wiring. The interior of each of these components contained numerous complex wiring and circuit assemblies that could have obscured the evidence of a short circuit. Further, it is also possible that a short circuit at lower power or through moisture could occur without leaving evidence of arcing. Therefore, there are several possible locations at which a short circuit of higher-voltage wiring could have affected the CWT FQIS wires in the accident airplane.
Further, as noted previously, there are several indications that possible anomalous electrical events occurred in the airplane just before the explosion. First, the captain's CVR [cockpit voice recorder] channel recording has two "dropouts" of background power harmonics, indicating some type of electrical anomaly, less than a second before the CVR lost power. Second, captain's comment about a "crazy" No. 4 fuel flow indicator were recorded on the CVR about 2½ minutes before it lost power, which also suggests that some type of electrical anomaly occurred that affected the wiring. And third, the recovered CWT fuel quantity gauge from the cockpit displayed a reading of 640 pounds, which does not agree with the quantity recorded by the ground refueler (300 pounds). Safety Board testing showed that applying power to a wire leading to the fuel quantity gauge can cause the digital display to change by several hundred pounds in less time than is required to trip the circuit breaker. This suggests that an electrical anomaly might have affected the reading of the cockpit gauge.
These electrical anomalies were not necessarily related to the same event. However, it is possible that one or more of these anomalies were a manifestation of an electrical event that resulted in excess voltage being transferred to the CWT FQIS wiring. On the basis of this and other evidence previously discussed, the Safety Board concludes that a short circuit producing excess voltage that was transferred to the CWT FQIS wiring is the most likely source of ignition energy for the TWA flight 800 CWT explosion.
No other "evidence" was "previously discussed." All was vague guesswork, supposition heaped on top of speculation.
Exposed conductors on FQIS wiring (caused by either mechanical damage or cold-flow) within a fuel tank could provide a mechanism that would lead to arcing inside the tank, which in turn could ignite the flammable fuel/air vapor. Very little of the CWT FQIS wiring from the accident airplane was recovered, and, therefore, the degree to which the wiring in the tank might have been damaged before the accident could not be assessed. However, investigators found pre-accident damage, including exposed conductors, on some of the recovered FQIS wiring from inside TWA flight 800's wing tanks, and damaged FQIS wiring was found inside the CWTs of several of the other 747 airplanes examined by the Safety Board. In addition, the presence of a conductive material, such as metal drill shavings or safety wire, could have provided a mechanism that would lead to arcing of FQIS components. Although no clear evidence of arcing was found inside TWA flight 800's CWT, fire damage along the route of the FQIS wiring was severe enough that it likely would have obscured any such evidence.
Another potential source of ignition energy is resistance heating, which could have resulted from a thin filament being heated through contact with a wire, probe, or compensator exposed to excess voltage. Although no clear evidence of a filament ignition was found inside TWA flight 800's CWT, such evidence could also have been physically lost or obscured by fire damage. …
The Safety Board contracted with two research laboratories, Sandia National Laboratory and Christian Michelsen Research, to develop computer modeling in an attempt to determine potential ignition locations. However, because of considerable uncertainties in some aspects of the methodology, the results of that modeling could not be used to determine the most likely ignition location.
Nonetheless, investigators examined all the recovered CWT components, which included portions of all seven fuel probes, one complete terminal block and one partial terminal block, and the compensator. None of the recovered probes or terminal blocks exhibited any noteworthy signs of damage. However, several plastic parts inside the compensator's innermost tube were found burned, with an apparent upward-flowing burn pattern, which investigators hypothesized could indicate that a fire initiated inside the compensator. Similar burn patterns were observed on the compensator believed by the FAA to be the ignition source for the surge tank fire in the 747 that experienced a fuel tank explosion in May 1976 near Madrid, Spain. (Although the Safety Board discounted the compensator as an ignition source in its October 1978 report of the Madrid accident, a different conclusion might have been warranted given what is now known about sulfides and other ignition-related phenomenon.) However, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the damage to the CWT compensator occurred before the explosion, and, therefore, no determination could be reached regarding the likelihood that the compensator was the ignition location.
184.108.40.206 Possible Ignition Scenario for TWA Flight 800 Explosion. Therefore, the Safety Board concludes that the ignition energy for the CWT explosion most likely entered the CWT through the FQIS wiring, and, although it is possible that the release of ignition energy inside the CWT was facilitated by the existence of silver-sulfide deposits on an FQIS component, neither the energy release mechanism nor the location of the ignition inside the CWT could be determined from the available evidence.
Remember Occam's Razor – the simplest explanation is usually the best. The labored, labyrinthine explanation of the NTSB has "worst" written all over it.
The NTSB, however, was not the only organization to review the wiring. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers did its own assessment. These workers have far less interest in the hypotheticals of how a plane might work than in the reality of how it actually does. Unlike the NTSB, their analysis cuts right to the chase:
We conclude that the existing wiring recovered from flight 800 wreckage does not exhibit any evidence of improper maintenance or any malfunction that led to a spark or other discrepancy.
What did cause the center wing tank to explode? The IAMAW does not mince words:
A high pressure event breached the fuselage and the fuselage unzipped due to the event. The explosion was a result of this event.
The IAMAW is describing a missile or some other external force. But no one wanted to hear what the IAMAW had to say. "We feel that our expertise was unwelcome and not wanted by the FBI," read its final report. "The threats made during the first two weeks of the investigation were unwarranted and unforgettable." When released, the NTSB quietly tucked the IAMAW report away, and the major media never bothered to read it.
The actions and the motives of the NTSB are transparent. By August of 1996, it knew for a fact, as The New York Times reported, that "the initial blast that severed the plane occurred slightly forward of the spot where the wings meet the fuselage," not in the center wing tank.
The agency hoped, however, that somewhere along the line a scientific test would produce a hypothetical setting in which a contrived mechanical initiating event would enter the realm of the possible. A compliant media would then take the hypothetical possibility and turn it into an established scientific fact. Unfortunately for the NTSB, that scientific hypothesis never developed.
Instead, the NTSB reverted to what military people mockingly call SWAG analysis – as in "sophisticated wild-ass guess." But this time it was not even an honest SWAG. The NTSB case sums up thusly: We don't know how the mythical spark could have gotten inside the CWT and, once there, where the initiating explosive event occurred, but one thing we know for certain, it was not a bomb or missile.
Think about this: The NTSB combined a complete lack of physical evidence for mechanical failure with an equally complete lack of hypothetical scientific corroboration for mechanical failure to "prove" that Flight 800 was brought down by – what else? – mechanical failure, this despite the flat-out rejection of the same by the IAMAW and by "senior investigators" as early as August of 1996.
What is shocking is that the NTSB has gotten away with this, at least to date. This should not happen in America. Please share this with those who care.
Attorney General John Ashcroft; U. S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001
Congressman Dan Burton; Chairman, House Government Reform Committee
2157 Rayburn Building, Washington, DC 20515
May 31, 2001 TWA FLIGHT 800
Haunting evidence of missile attack
New video documentary makes compelling case for shootdown
By Julie Foster © 2001 WorldNetDaily.com
In light of recent FBI disclosures of buried evidence that have resulted in a postponement of the execution of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, new questions are being raised about other high-profile U.S. government terrorism investigations – including the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996.
Those questions are sure to multiply with the release today of a compelling new video documentary shedding light on evidence government agencies once again appear to have ignored or buried.
In "Silenced: Flight 800 and the Subversion of Justice," http://www.dxmarket.com/worldnetdaily/products/V0028.html footage of National Transportation Safety Board hearings and excerpts from government documents combined with eyewitness testimony and independent forensic analysis cast serious doubts on the veracity of government explanations of the tragedy.
While it has been reported before that 736 official eyewitnesses to the July 1996 mid-air explosion testified that they saw what appeared to be one or two missiles headed for the aircraft, the new documentary shows that several of them were experienced military personnel. One such witness was even flying a National Guard helicopter as he saw the tragedy unfold.
Major Fritz Meyer tells what he saw in the sky at 8:31 p.m. that summer night off the coast of Long Island where 230 people were killed. On site with the documentary's camera crew, Meyer says he saw a trail of white headed for the plane and then four explosions before the ultimate fuel-tank explosion that erupted into a fireball. But when Meyer approached the FBI to give his testimony, a five-minute interview with a single agent who took no notes was the only time he was given.
Meyer is a Vietnam war combat veteran who flew 46 rescue missions in Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. But despite the witness' credibility, the FBI never contacted him again.
Other eyewitnesses tell their stories. One, whose testimony the CIA says was used to create the agency's animated account of the plane's demise, said the animated explanation did not depict what he saw, and he was never contacted by the agency. Other witnesses also say the animated version did not reflect the real-life event. Indeed, according to the documentary, the CIA did not interview a single witness to the disaster, relying instead on FBI summaries of witness testimonies. And no witnesses were allowed to testify in the NTSB hearings about the crash.
Independent writer and producer Jack Cashill produced the documentary. An Emmy-award-winning producer, Cashill also developed the documentary "Triumph of Design" http://www.dxmarket.com/worldnetdaily/products/V0004.html about the life of Charles Darwin.
"Silenced" features investigative reporter James Sanders, a former California police officer-turned-journalist who has written books on prisoners of war and soldiers who were declared missing in action. He also wrote "The Downing of TWA Flight 800" in 1997. Three years after the Flight 800 incident, Sanders was convicted of conspiracy and theft after his research led to the exposure of physical evidence of a missile explosion.
Sanders and his wife, Elizabeth, a former TWA flight attendant and trainer, were both found guilty of the felony offense after one of TWA's top investigators assigned to Flight 800, Capt. Terrell Stacey, testified against them. The couple knew that Stacey, a pilot who flew the Flight 800 route from Paris to New York the day before the crash, was preparing to scrape a residue sample off the interior of the passenger compartment. But when scraping proved implausible, Stacey removed small pieces of the plane and seat cloth and sent them to Sanders, who had lab tests performed on the residue.
Test results confirmed what Sanders had suspected: The residue could have been produced by a "solid fuel missile or warhead explosion," Sanders says on the video. Government agents on the case dismissed the lab results, first saying the residue was glue and then claiming it was the result of a bomb-dog drill.
But Sanders' didn't have the opportunity to dig deeper as his investigation was cut short. After a California newspaper ran a front-page story about the missile theory, Sanders and his wife – both of whom had gone into hiding to avoid scrutiny – were arrested. Given a three-year probation sentence, Sanders' research has effectively been halted.
"I cannot go anywhere outside of the federal judicial area I live in without telling them where I'm going," he said, noting that his financial records are inspected every month as well. "They have effectively removed my ability to open any investigation of them whatsoever during the 3-year period and to have sensitive sources in those 3 years. You can't investigate them without sensitive sources."
During the couple's April 1999 trial, the jury was not allowed to know about Sanders' occupation as an investigative journalist, according to the documentary.
Experts in aviation, military personnel, a national machinists union and others all contest the CIA's explanation of the crash. Cashill's hour-long documentary looks into different explanations and theories about the catastrophe and gives voice to witnesses the FBI, NTSB and CIA chose not to hear. From tampered and stolen evidence to de-bunked theories about the plane's post-explosion trajectory and the modification of eyewitness testimonies, "Silenced" sheds a startling light on what government officials want to sweep under the rug.
Before beginning production on "Silenced," Cashill said he personally inquired into Sanders' research, saying he didn't want to commit until he was convinced. Once Cashill saw the evidence, his skepticism vanished.
While the documentary does not attempt to point a finger at who allegedly shot down Flight 800, it does condemn officials for covering up what may actually have happened.
"The cover-up is so spectacularly brazen, and the truth is so obvious, it stuns even a cynic. To watch 'Silenced' is to come away a believer," said Cashill, who says the problem in the investigation lies in the Justice Department and perhaps even higher.
Cashill also blames the media for merely accepting the government's explanation of the crash without investigating further.
What happened to the Federal Aviation Administration's radar data showing a high-velocity object colliding with Flight 800? Why hasn't the NTSB been able to prove a mechanical error caused the spark that ignited the fuel explosion? Who was driving the mystery boat at sea under the site of the explosion, and why did it speed away after the incident? What evidence was being removed from the aircraft's reconstruction site the night three FBI agents were caught fleeing the scene at 3 a.m.? "Silenced" explores these questions and many more.
Mar 5, 2001: SUNDAY Q&A
Geoff Metcalf interviews veteran journalist Christine Negroni about TWA Flight 800
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
"TWA Flight 800 broke apart and crashed into the Atlantic 13 minutes after taking off from JFK International Airport in New York, on July 17, 1996. Two hundred and thirty people were killed. Before dawn, I was on the scene, reporting the story for CNN," says veteran journalist Christine Negroni.
"It was tragic, horrifying, shocking. But what caused the plane to explode is not a mystery. A history of similar disasters over 35 years could have been used to forecast and prevent the tragedy."
One of the worst disasters in American aviation history, the in-flight explosion of Flight 800 was followed by the most expensive airline investigation in history. But the crash is still surrounded by a cloud of doubt, suspicion and multiple conspiracy theories.
In her just-released book, "Deadly Departure: Why the Experts Failed to Prevent the TWA Flight 800 Disaster and How it Could Happen Again," Negroni reveals what the aviation industry has known for 35 years -- that confined vapors in the fuel tanks can create a bomb-like environment.
But every time a plane blows up -- TWA Flight 800 was the 14th fuel-tank explosion on a commercial airliner in 35 years -- the airline industry has persuaded regulators to deal with symptoms and not the expensive causes of the problem.
In this interview, WND's Geoff Metcalf and Negroni probe the hotly contested theories in an attempt to shed light on the real cause of TWA Flight 800.
Question: We have heard all the conspiratorial scenarios about TWA Flight 800, from naval missiles to terrorists' schemes, but "Deadly Departure" explains why the experts failed to prevent that disaster, as well as the sad, frustrating and frightening fact that it could happen again.
What really ticked me off when I read your book was that Boeing, who manufactured the plane, and the FAA allegedly agreed to permit what they knew to be a design flaw to exist.
Answer: Well, they did. They started looking for ways of solving the problem short of really solving the problem. As a columnist here in New York wrote, and I wish I had written it in my book, "they looked at the sniper on the roof, and instead of trying to get the sniper on the roof, they went through the neighborhood and tried to find the ammunition ... " Essentially, I think that is analogous to what happened with flight 800.
Q: Specifically what?
A: Flight 800 had a problem that is common to Boeing's fleet of aircraft. It has a center wing tank with heat-generating equipment underneath. It's not actually in the wing. It's between the wings where the wings and the fuselage come together in the aircraft.
There is the tank. It is getting hot on a regular basis from this machinery underneath, and once it gets to a certain temperature that is over 115 degrees, if other conditions are right, you can have an explosion in that tank.
Q: We know that MBA types always go through their cost benefit analysis. How much is it going to cost, and is it cheaper to actually pay a few lawsuits than fix an expensive problem ...
A: That's required when the FAA makes a recommendation. The first thing that has to be done before a recommendation is enacted is that a cost-benefit analysis must be done.
In most cases, the cost-benefit analysis is heeded. Now there are cases where cost-benefit analysis does not sway the decision.
Q: In other words?
A: They will occasionally call for a fix to be made, even if it is going to more expensive than the cost of future accidents. But already they have solicited cost-benefit analysis on changing this fuel tank design on the fleet of Boeing aircraft.
Q: What did they discover?
A: They determined the cost of future accidents over the next 10 years would be $2 billion. But the cost of fixing it would far more than that. Any solution they examined would be more than that $2 billion.
Q: Which means essentially they are saying ...
A: It is cheaper to take a crash than to fix the problem.
Q: One of the key points you make regarding TWA Flight 800 is, it really didn't have to happen?
A: No. It didn't.
Q: What was particularly daunting was that you note Boeing knew about this fuel-system problem with its 747s before it even started making them?
A: Exactly. The surprising truth that comes out of flight 800 is that these fuel-tank explosions were happening for years and years and years. Thirty-five years before the crash of flight 800, a Boeing 707 exploded. Not even a year later, another 707 on the runway, a TWA 707 with the coincidental flight number 800, was taxiing, and had to abort the takeoff. The plane hit a piece of machinery and the ignition came through the vent of the wing and right into the center tank, and that airplane blew up -- 49 people died in that one.
So they had two fuel tank explosions in less than a year. The Civil Aeronautics Board, the precursor to the National Transportation Safety Board, went to the FAA at that time and said, "We need to do something about these exploding fuel tanks. We need to get technology on these aircraft that will prevent tanks from exploding." But the FAA didn't do anything about it. It wasn't until 1971, when the NTSB went back to the Federal Aviation Administration and asked for it a second time that the FAA even scheduled a hearing, and even then the hearing didn't happen until 1977 -- seven years after the second recommendation.
Q: What happened after the hearing?
A: Absolutely nothing. In 1996, after the crash of TWA flight 800, the NTSB went back to the FAA -- that's now the third time -- which said, "We've got to do something about exploding fuel tanks."
In the meantime, while the FAA was doing nothing with the problem airplanes, 13 civilian aircraft and 13 military aircraft were experiencing fuel-tank explosions.
Q: You submit evidence that Boeing deliberately withheld information about the problems experienced with military aircraft, and that the company was threatened with obstruction of a federal investigation?
A: The NTSB is none too pleased with Boeing's behavior following the crash of TWA flight 800. It felt Boeing was conducting an investigation on it's own, which it admitted it was doing, that it was not properly informing the NTSB of experiments it was conducting, and that it was being slow to inert on the subject of getting research and information that it had on other related incidents.
Q: What was the deal with the Air Force study you reference?
A: This E4B study that was an Air Force study was four volumes long. It was not a small document and it came out in 1979 because the Air Force was having trouble with heat-generating equipment underneath the center wing tank on the military 747.
Q: You say Boeing had this military study and sandbagged it?
A: Boeing never made that report available to the NTSB, even after the NTSB found out about it, which didn't happen until 1998. When they finally got the report it was through the Air Force, and Boeing was called to Washington by some investigators from the General Accounting Office wanting to know, "What has happened here and why wasn't the NTSB notified?"
My understanding of that meeting is they where threatened with being charged with interfering with a federal investigation ...
Q: Who did the threatening?
A: The General Accounting Office investigator. Boeing had given the excuse, the same excuse they had given me when I interviewed them on this very subject. What they told me was, "The military and the commercial side are separate, and therefore the commercial side didn't know what the military side was doing."
Q: That's a crock ...
A: I challenged that argument because there was a civilian incident in which a JAL flight lost an engine on takeoff for this very problem -- an overheated center tank -- and it was cited in the military report, and the military would have had no way of knowing about that unless the commercial side had made the information available.
Q: Before we move on to the conspiracy angles, have Boeing's lawyers contacted you?
A: No, not at all. They would have to challenge that the book is not true. Boeing has had this book since December. No, they have not challenged me.
Q: What is Boeing's reaction to the book?
A: Boeing's only criticism of the book, although I disagree with it, is that I have an overly simplified view of how decisions are made. I don't think that is the case. I recognize this is a very very complicated situation, but I don't think you can ignore 35 years of fuel-tank explosions, and then say, "Oh yeah, now we have a problem, now we need to fix it." As if there was no history, no precedent to what has happened. No, their lawyers have not contacted me and I can't imagine any reason they would.
Q: Your conclusions are that there was a conspiracy in the crash of TWA flight 800, but not all the others we have heard and read about. Navy Commander William Donaldson has been widely quoted.
A: I have spoken to William Donaldson. I have spent a great deal of time on the phone with him, and with Fred Meyers and Ian Goddard. I have a list of all those folks whose names are popping up on the Internet as the ones who have the real story of what happened with TWA 800. I have listened to them. I have listened to them plenty. They just don't have the evidence. Their hearts are in the right place, they think they are doing a good thing, but I think they are wrong. I think they are not only wrong about what happened, but they are wrong about whether they are doing a good thing.
Q: How so?
A: Because every bit that we allow the people to think that this is a missile that took down this plane or an act of terrorism or friendly fire or whatever is that much more fog that is over the real issue.
Q: Which is?
A: That we have an aviation safety problem here and it needs to be addressed. I think that it's a real harm that the conspiracy theorists are doing, and I don't think they are doing it advertently, but I do think it is a consequence of what they are doing.
Q: You suggest there was a conspiracy, but that it was a conspiracy of inaction.
A: Yes. I think the regulators and Boeing thought that if they went around and attacked all the symptoms of the problem -- that maybe static that was generated in the tanks, or pumps that might not be working properly, or lightning, or the length of the wing vent, or whatever little symptom had caused the last explosion -- that perhaps they could not worry about the bigger picture.
Q: Which is what?
A: Which is that these fuel tanks are in an explosive state 30 percent of the time.
Q: How many have suffered tragedies as a result of this particular fuel safety problem?
A: The number the FAA came up with in the public hearing in 1997 was 13 military fuel-tank explosions and 13 commercial fuel-tank explosions. But that is not all of them. The FAA number crunchers wanted to go back and take a look at some of the accidents that happened that were not fuel-tank explosions initially -- something else had gone wrong, such as a plane had crashed, the fuel tank had remained intact after the crash and then exploded, affecting the survivability of the people on board.
The quick and easy way is to think that the plane crashes and everybody dies. But that's not really the case. There was an accident near me in New Haven, where the plane crashed. One person died in the crash, 28 people failed to escape the burning aircraft and died in the subsequent fire. What the FAA wanted to know was: Could fuel tank inerting -- that is, putting something on board that prevents the tank from being in an explosive state -- could it have prevented those deaths? And the short and premature answer, because the study is still ongoing, is yes. They think more lives could have been saved, even in these post-crash explosions.
Q: The obvious question readers are going to have is, 'How safe is it to fly?'
A: I think it is safe to fly. I think it could be safer.
Q: What about the 140-something people who saw that white light rising just before the plane blew up?
A: I think those poor eyewitnesses have been so misrepresented they probably don't know themselves anymore what happened.
Q: Wait a minute. Some of these witnesses are aviation types.
A: I'm not arguing with what they saw. I think they saw what they saw. I think they knew what they saw the first time when they started telling people what they saw. But I think what they saw and what everyone out here and in the media and everyone watching the media was told they saw are two different things.
The biggest misconception is that hundreds -- I've even heard 'thousands' -- of people saw something rising in the sky and hitting the plane.
Q: I've heard from 110 to 140.
A: It's not true. You go through the witness reports, and I've seen them. There are only four out of 180 or something who actually turned in witness reports, who even acknowledge having seen the plane.
These people who said they saw something in the sky did see something in the sky, but they never said they saw the 747. A 747 is 230 feet by 230 feet wide, roughly, so it's pretty big. But it's two miles up in the air and ten miles out to sea. A missile, a big missile, is about 10 feet long and maybe 18 inches around.
So how can you not see a 747 and still see something so proportionately smaller? It doesn't make sense. It's illogical.
Secondarily, the missile experts say even if a missile had been fired at the airplane it would only have put out a flaring trail for the first half of its flight, but for the second half of its flight it is flying on momentum. So at the point in the sky where it would actually be approaching the plane, you wouldn't see it because there is no illumination.
Q: Chris, those people saw something. What did they see?
A: I'll tell you what I think they saw, and it's the same thing the CIA says they saw. They saw the plane after the initial explosion, before the secondary explosion. They saw it rising in the sky because the nose had, seven seconds after the first explosion, fallen off and the center of gravity shifted back. This is a 747 flying without the front end. The cockpit, the first-class section and a chunk of the business class section were already gone.
What happens to the center of gravity? It shifts back, the engines are still turning and they are propelling the airplane up into the sky, so they see the light of this explosion and the plane going up into the sky and then the wing tanks start to rupture because of the force of the airstream. And as the wing tanks rupture, they start atomizing a mist of fuel, which of course quickly ignites. And then they see a tremendous fireball.
Q: Are you saying that the CIA, like a broken clock, might be right twice a day?
A: (laughing) Yes ... I think in this case, they tried to put together what these witnesses saw along with the facts of what they had. Remember, there are facts here. There is a lot of wreckage coming up from the ocean, there are things they can tell from the radar data and from the places in the water where the airplane came apart.
Q: And for the allegedly confused witnesses?
A: I don't think these witnesses are crazy. I think the witnesses are right on. I think they have been misinterpreted from the get-go -- to the point where they may not even know anymore what they said they saw and what it is people are telling them they saw.
Q: I saw a line somewhere that said " ... you should never confuse bumbling with a conspiracy."
A: If the government was involved in shooting down this airplane, I don't think they are organized enough, or frankly in some cases smart enough to hide it for four years with the world looking on, and the number of reporters who were assigned to cover this crash. I just don't think it's possible.
Q: I'd really like to find out from someone, somewhere, somehow, how many of these fuel-tank type accident tragedies have actually happened. You tell us the FAA has acknowledged 13 commercial and 13 military accidents from failed fuel systems. I'd sure like to learn what the gross number is.
A: The point is, if you figure 26 accidents in 35 years, that's like once every two years. That's pretty common, and it is not the accident that never happened before and will never happen again.
Dec 13, 1999: THE DOWNING OF FLIGHT 800
- New evidence of missile attack
- Metal plume seen emerging from side of doomed airliner
By David M. Bresnahan © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
New evidence from radar data and analysis on the crash of TWA Flight 800 is "as convincing as a fingerprint in a murder case" that a missile brought down the plane, according to an independent investigator.
Radar images only recently available and analyzed by Ret. Naval Cmdr. William Donaldson http://twa800.com show what he describes as a plume of metal debris coming from the right side of TWA flight 800 at a very high rate of speed. Click HERE for a larger view.
Exclusive graphic shows new evidence of missile. The green numbered dots show pieces of metal traveling away from TWA flight 800 at high speed. The numbers begin with the first radar sweep after the transponder failed. Sweep 1 shows a piece of the plane. Sweep 2 shows two pieces of metal at a point about 7 seconds after impact. The farthest number 2 blip is thought to be the remains of the missile 3,200 feet from the impact point in just 7 seconds. Sweep 4 most likely shows the same piece of metal from sweep 1, according to Cmdr. William Donaldson.
"Only a missile body, with its hundreds of thousands of foot pounds of kinetic energy would have the inertia to perform this way on radar," Donaldson told Rep. John Duncan, R- Tenn., in a recent report to the Subcommittee on Aviation.
Donaldson claims the evidence is now irrefutable that a missile is responsible for the downing of TWA flight 800. He also claims that the FBI, CIA, and the National Transportation Safety Board have known about this evidence from the beginning.
Donaldson received help with the analysis of the recently acquired radar data from a member of the U.S. Air Force weapons guidance systems division. That source, who asked to remain anonymous because of fears of reprisals from Air Force officials, agrees with the conclusions of Donaldson.
Radar sends a signal out which is reflected off any object it hits and comes back. Each sweep of the radar creates a new echo, or image on the screen. The time between sweeps is 4.69 seconds, according to Donaldson.
"The one thing that you're going to focus in on tightly when you look at the radar is the sweep after the initial breakup of the aircraft. If it's hit by a weapon, you're going to have metal pieces going in the direction that the weapon hit the airplane. No matter if it's an anti-aircraft shell or a missile," explained Donaldson.
In the event of a missile strike to a large commercial aircraft, the extremely high speed of the missile would carry the warhead right through the plane "almost like it's not even there," said the Air Force source.
"I can't over emphasize this point. This is not theory, not speculation, but hard physical evidence," Donaldson told Duncan, who has not yet replied and could not be reached over the weekend.
TWA flight 800 crashed off Long Island, New York July 17, 1996 and the investigation has been one of controversy ever since. http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13064 The FBI and National Transportation Safety Board have ruled out the possibility of a missile or bomb as the cause of the crash, but Donaldson insists they are ignoring or covering up the facts.
Donaldson is the chairman of the Associated Retired Aviation Professionals, formed in early 1997. Its members are former military, civilian, and aviation professionals who organized to independently investigate the downing of TWA Flight 800. Donaldson has many years of aviation and investigation experience, as do many of the members of his organization.
Donaldson has testified before Congress, and continues to pursue evidence and witnesses.
WorldNetDaily learned the FBI had been given preliminary information immediately after TWA flight 800 went down from the same Air Force office. Even at that time, the Air Force advised the FBI to look for missile debris on radar. They even told the FBI where to look in the water for the debris.
"They (the Air Force) told the FBI that in order to find the missile body, you go to the radar and you look at the first sweep where you see the aircraft in trouble. If there's anything displaced laterally, take a look and get the ballistic line of that and when you search for the missile body it's going to be on that line when it hits the water," Donaldson explained.
The Air Force told the FBI that the missile body would be in the water between 1 and 3 kilometers beyond the track of the aircraft, if it were a shoulder-fired weapon, according to the Air Force officer.
"What you're describing is exactly what we told the FBI," he said. He didn't think the FBI agents recognized the importance of what was told them at the time because they didn't appear to show any interest in looking for a missile.
WorldNetDaily previously reported the discovery of secret FBI documents that revealed a search was made for missile parts. The captain of a scallop trawler used in the search operation made known that a part was found and the FBI very abruptly called off the secret search.
A number of private boats were used with FBI agents on board. Each captain was given a document describing items the FBI was looking for. A copy of the document was made available to WorldNetDaily. The items on the list were parts from a small surface to air missile that can be fired from a shoulder launch device.
The FBI has refused to comment on the document.
The radar data not only seems to verify Donaldson's theory, but it also supports accusations of a deliberate cover-up of the facts. Donaldson will present his evidence today at a press conference at the Surveillance Expo in Crystal City, Va.
"To me that's as good as any fingerprint would ever be in any kind of a mystery case. That takes away any doubt. It is (an) extremely high probability that is the actual missile body. I mean, how do you get a piece of metal to go that far -- half a nautical mile -- in seven seconds? There is no way. You're not going to get that amount of displacement in that amount of time (unless it is a missile)," described Donaldson in a phone interview from his home over the weekend.
Donaldson believes that just after the final transponder signal from TWA Flight 800 was received, the plane was hit by a missile. The loss of a transponder signal indicates that the plane lost power. The next radar contact shows debris to the side of the plane, which Donaldson claims is an indication that a high velocity projectile went right through the plane at that point.
Each sweep of the radar shows a radar echo for that moment only. There are 4.69 seconds between sweeps. Each radar contact upon successive sweeps shows the debris rapidly moving away from the side of the plane at a very high velocity.
Although the missile does not appear on the radar prior to hitting the plane, Donaldson said that is not unusual. It travels so fast that there were only one or two radar sweeps before it hit, and a missile is configured in such a way that it does not reflect radar very well. The jagged pieces of the missile exiting the plane are better radar reflectors and would show up more easily, according to Donaldson.
Some of the parts were blown as far as 3,200-ft. by the second sweep, in less than 9.4 seconds but more than 4.69 seconds. By measuring the course of the ejected material and back tracking to its intersection with the aircraft's track, the time of the explosive event can be calculated. The missile debris exited the plane and covered 3,200 ft. in 7 seconds, according to Donaldson.
"It's just like a murder detective in a shooting in an apartment. He'll stick a pencil in the bullet holes in the wall to see the angle the bullet entered the wall. You do the same thing here and it's pointing right back at a boat that was in range of a shoulder fired missile," said Donaldson.
"There's just no way that metal could be where it shows up unless it was hit by a missile," he added.
The radar blip showing a "suspicious boat" raises an important question about the possibility of a deliberate attempt by the FBI to cover up evidence, according to Donaldson.
The FBI provided a written report to Congress in which it claimed that all boats on the surface of the water had been identified except for one which was 2.9 nautical miles to the southeast of the plane. That would imply the FBI knows the identification of the "suspicious boat," because it was located 2.9 nautical miles to the northeast.
"If that statement is true, the FBI is guilty of withholding the existence and the identity of critical material witnesses from the interested parties, the Congress, and the people," accused Donaldson.
He also accused the FBI of discrediting nearly 100 witnesses who claimed to see a flare streak through the sky and hit TWA Flight 800. The FBI says those witnesses are all in error and what they really saw was the plane explode and come crashing down.
The FBI claims there were no witnesses closer than 10 nautical miles, but one witness was in the air less than 5 miles away, and Donaldson has interviewed 8 witnesses who were within 8 nautical miles.
"Navy Chief Petty Officer Dwight Brumley was on U.S. Air Flight 217 seated in seat 5F at the window on the right side of the aircraft. He saw a streak of light overtaking his aircraft from right to left. As he lost sight of the streak underneath his aircraft he saw a large fireball emerge from underneath his aircraft going from his left to his right. He then lost sight of the fireball as it disappeared underneath the right wing.
"This witness disproves the CIA and NTSB theory that the streak seen by eyewitnesses was the aircraft climbing and burning after an initial explosion. He clearly saw a streak coming from his right to left and TWA Flight 800 was coming from his left to his right," explained Donaldson.
Witnesses are not the only ones who have been discredited, according to Donaldson. Boeing, the maker of the plane, refuses to give in to demands from the NTSB to declare their own plane as being defective.
Boeing, the nation's second-largest defense contractor, recently filed court documents in a case involving some family members of passengers on TWA Flight 800.
"That the NTSB in over three years of exhaustive investigation has been unable to identify any potential ignition source aboard the aircraft suggests that an external source caused the explosion. Unless and until such time as a cause is determined, ignition sources external to the aircraft -- of any type -- cannot be ruled out," said Boeing in the statement.
Boeing does not go so far as to claim a missile brought down the plane, but they refused to rule out the possibility. The NTSB has tried to blame the accident on a mechanical defect for which Boeing may be held responsible.
David M. Bresnahan email@example.com is an investigative journalist for WorldNetDaily.com
Sept 10, 1999: TWA 800 and official lies
By Reed Irvine © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
Thanks to Mike McNulty, an independent film producer, Attorney General Reno and the news media have learned that the FBI's denial that incendiary devices were used in its assault on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco was a lie. It was exposed by McNulty's discovery of a pyrotechnic tear-gas canister among the evidence gathered after the compound was burned to the ground. This proof that the government agencies cover up wrongdoing should have persuaded the media to re-examine other charges of serious government wrongdoing that they have dismissed as "conspiracy theories."
But on the heels of the Waco exposure, the major media ignored hard evidence in the form of recently released radar data that the government has been lying big time with respect to the evidence in the crash of TWA Flight 800. A group called the Flight 800 Independent Research Organization (FIRO) got the data from the National Transportation Safety Board in June, after having been stonewalled for two years.
The NTSB had pawned off on the press and the public radar data that showed only radar targets that at the time of the explosion were within a circle with a 10-nautical-mile radius, centered on the crash site. Four of the eight ships in that circle were three to six nautical miles from the center. When the plane blew up, the ship that was closest hightailed it out to sea doing 30 knots, not pausing to see if it could be of assistance. The FBI claims not to know the identity of this ship, and it refused to identify the other three for privacy reasons. After he retired, Jim Kallstrom, who headed the FBI investigation, told me that those three were "Navy vessels that were on classified maneuvers." That's on tape.
The radar data also showed an additional 25 ships that were 10 to 25 nautical miles from the crash site. Their behavior is startling. Ten of them were in a military warning zone, W-105, that had been declared off limits to non-military ships that day. Fourteen of them were on nearly parallel courses that would soon take them into W-105. Four of the five that were closest to Long Island were on similar courses that would take them into W-105. Four of the ships heading for the off-limits zone were traveling at 30 to 34 knots, speeds characteristic of warships, not freighters.
All of this suggests that all or nearly all the ships mentioned above were warships. Eyewitness and forensic evidence indicates that TWA 800 was hit by one or two missiles that might have come from those warships. The Navy's defense is to deny that any warships were close enough to have done that. It took over a month for it to admit that W-105 was activated at the time of the crash. It then said no ships had "checked in to use it," but the radar data show that 10 ships were in the warning zone at the time of the crash and that another 18 probably entered it soon after. It is most unlikely that these were private yachts or freighters bound for Europe.
The radar data showed some aircraft whose presence had not been disclosed. One was flying back and forth, partly over the warning zone and partly beyond its northern border. It was making tight U-turns, slowing down and speeding up. No one has yet explained its strange behavior.
The new radar data also expose a serious fraud. The FBI got the CIA to produce a video animation to discredit the many eyewitnesses who saw something streaking upward, intersecting with TWA 800 and blowing it up. The CIA video claimed that what they really saw was the plane pitching up after its nose was blown off and climbing three thousand feet, trailing burning fuel. The radar proves that this did not happen. It shows that after the nose was blown off, the speed of the plane increased sharply because it was plummeting. If it had climbed, it would have slowed down.
The news media should be demanding that the government identify the armada revealed by the radar and explain what it was doing. Those with the most clout didn't cover the news conference. They haven't learned Waco's important lesson -- the bigger the crime, the bigger the cover-up. C-SPAN covered the three-hour news conference live, showing the public how the establishment media cheat them by ignoring very important news.
Reed Irvine is Chairman of Accuracy in Media, a media watchdog group based in Washington, D.C.
May 11, 1999: THE DOWNING OF TWA FLIGHT 800
- Investigator testifies to Congress
- Donaldson not encouraged by reception
By David M. Bresnahan © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
The leading private investigator of the crash of TWA Flight 800 has taken his case to Congress, but doesn't have much hope that anyone took him seriously. His claim that the ill-fated flight was shot down by a missile http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13064 is largely ignored.
Retired Navy Cmdr. William Donaldson, an experienced crash investigator, has spent the past two years working with other aviation professionals in an effort to learn what caused Flight 800 to fall from the sky on July 17, 1996 killing 230 people.
He recently made public extensive evidence http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13065 to support his claim that the commercial flight was the victim of a missile. That evidence includes actual FBI documents to show that a search for missile fragments was conducted. He claims the missile parts were found. http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13066
Donaldson testified Thursday before the Subcommittee on Aviation, chaired by Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn. He is not happy with the results, but is not discouraged in his effort to expose what he believes is an effort to cover up the real cause of the crash.
Duncan conducted the hearing to evaluate continued funding of the National Transportation Safety Board. A spokesman for Duncan told WorldNetDaily that he expects the committee to send a favorable approval to Congress.
Donaldson was highly critical of the NTSB in the way it has handled the investigation of TWA Flight 800. He told the committee that the NTSB should have a complete overhaul in structure, including firing the chairman, James Hall. Hall also testified at the hearing.
"Based on the performance of the NTSB while investigating the unexplained loss of Flight 800, I no longer believe the NTSB is capable of fulfilling its aviation mission," Donaldson testified. "Its abuse of power used to muzzle witnesses and interested parties proves that it has become so politicized that the board itself has become an aviation hazard."
Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., D-Ohio, was assigned by the committee to conduct an investigation. Early in that investigation, Donaldson claims he was taken seriously and his evidence was given careful consideration. About seven months along, he says, Traficant took an opposite view and became hostile.
"If, in fact, Flight 800 was downed by a missile and there is a cover-up going on, then hundreds, if not thousands, of government personnel are involved -- including me," Traficant stated in the hearing. At one point in the hearing, Traficant asked Donaldson if he ever thought the Canadians were responsible for firing the missile. Cmdr. Donaldson said this was just one example of the effort made to discredit him.
"Not once did I ever write anything anywhere of that opinion. That didn't go down on any document as something we seriously believed. He used it to try to say, 'See how much of a flake this guy is,'" he described, adding that he had been ambushed.
During his testimony, Donaldson restated claims that President Clinton had forewarning that a commercial flight would be shot down as early as October 1994. He said the president was only a few weeks from the 1996 election and had political reasons to cover-up the truth of the crash.
He also accused the NTSB and FBI of using intimidation tactics to control the investigation and to use fear to keep people who knew the truth from coming forward. Despite the comments made by Traficant, Donaldson does not believe a cover-up requires large numbers of people. He suggested only a few people in positions of power are able to control others and manipulate the press. http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13062
A major example of alleged manipulation of the press took place when Hall stated, "It wasn't a missile," which was reported in the Wall Street Journal in April 1997. At the time he made that statement to the press he was completing a successful covert search for missile parts http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13066 on the bottom of the ocean, according to Donaldson.
Despite the current effort to discredit the missile theory, Traficant was helpful in obtaining important information from the FBI for Donaldson. Radar records from the time of the event show a vessel very close to the location where the TWA 747 exploded in mid-air.
A list of questions was sent to Traficant to forward to the FBI for answers. One of those questions asked about the unidentified radar contact.
"They admitted for the first time ever that they did not identify the contact, that was only 2.9 miles away from Flight 800 when it exploded. This was after the investigation had been formally dropped," explained Donaldson.
Why wouldn't President Clinton take advantage of the downing of a commercial flight by terrorists just before and election? He could easily justify a missile attack on Iran in retaliation and become a hero in the eyes of the American public. That question has been asked more than once by those who do not accept the missile and cover-up theory.
"The problem is that we're not talking about Kosovo. We're talking about Iran with 40 million people, some of which are rabidly fanatic about anti-Americanism. Any shot at Iran could result in severe terrorist reprisals," explained Cmdr. Donaldson.
A spokesman from the NTSB told WorldNetDaily that Donaldson is just a conspiracy theorist http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13067 who is not to be believed.
Thomas F. Stalcup, representing the Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization, had been invited to testify but was canceled at the last minute. Donaldson arranged for his prepared testimony to be included in the official record even though Stalcup was not permitted to speak.
"The NTSB and FBI conducted incomplete testing of crucial pieces of evidence and are guilty of a high level of complacency about the contradictory results determined by the different agencies," charged Stalcup.
"Both agencies have failed to identify the nearest surface vessel to the tragedy. Eyewitness reports have been inaccurately portrayed by NTSB and FBI officials in at least two animations depicting the official crash sequence. At least one senior NTSB official finds it more important to 'put the thing to bed' than to conduct a scientifically sound investigation.
"The cause of the crash of Flight 800 is still unresolved. Other independent investigators and some journalists and writers claim to have discovered many other anomalies, gaps, failings and non-rigorous aspects of the official investigation. It now appears that any objective and close scrutiny of the more accessible facts in this closely held investigation leads to only one indisputable certainty. That is, that the most expensive inquiry ever, of the greatest disaster in U.S. aviation history has produced an inexplicably flawed and inconclusive official investigation," he concluded.
The NTSB reports that the investigation has cost $40 million to date. Hall told the committee that he hopes to have the investigation concluded by December with a report available soon after.
The Clinton administration has asked that NTSB funding be increased to $57 million in fiscal year 2000, $73 million in 2001, and $76.4 million in 2002. The requests will include 68 new employees for the NTSB.
After the hearing concluded, Duncan invited Donaldson to his office for additional discussion about his investigation. Once in his office, Duncan introduced him to Capt. Mike Coffelend, a pilot for Continental Airlines and a lobbyist for the Continental Airline Pilots Association.
"Here we go again," explained Donaldson of the meeting. "The guy with the power is going to hand the ball to a guy in the middle to be the filter, and he has a political cutout if he needs him." Duncan excused himself from the meeting and asked Donaldson to present his case to his pilot friend. David Bayloff, a spokesman from Duncan's office, confirmed the meeting and said he knew Coffelend personally as a constituent from Ohio. He said Rep. Duncan was trying to be fair and open-minded about the claims of Donaldson.
"This guy (Coffelend) tells me he's representing the Airline Pilots Association from Continental to Congress and he'd already missed one other congressional appointment and he can't afford to miss the next one, so 'here's my e-mail address.' So here I am, stuck again. It's not a good place to be," said Cmdr. Donaldson.
"This pilot made clear that I should make sure that Duncan's not portrayed as siding with me in promoting a theory. He's being fair and he's listening to the evidence," he added.
Cmdr. Donaldson is not discouraged and has no intention of ending his efforts to expose what he claims is a major cover-up by government agencies, and even by the president. He is considering holding an executive hearing at which members of Congress could attend.
"I have access to 119 eyewitnesses on 18 boats, four aircraft, and 31 locations ashore that surrounded the missile launch site. None of these witnesses were allowed to testify at the NTSB hearing," Donaldson told the committee.
He concluded by urging the committee to hold special hearings on the possible cover-up.
David M. Bresnahan firstname.lastname@example.org is an investigative journalist for WorldNetDaily.com
Apr 29, 1999: DOWNING OF TWA FLIGHT 800
- U.S. Stinger chief suspect
- Clinton refused to buy back missiles from Afghanis
By David M. Bresnahan © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
TWA Flight 800 was most likely shot down with a U.S. missile made available to terrorists because of a policy set by President Clinton, says an independent investigator.
U.S. Stinger missiles were provided to the Mujahadin for use against the Soviet Union in the Afghan war, according to numerous press reports at the time. Attempts to buy back 100 or more remaining missiles failed when the Clinton administration decided not to make the purchase. Some press reports claim an attempt was made to give the missiles back, an offer that was also refused by the Clinton administration.
The Stinger is very effective as a "point and shoot" weapon which can bring down low-flying aircraft. Very little training is needed to effectively use it. The CIA was able to train the Mujahadin fighters very quickly, and effectively. They used the Stinger to bring down hundreds of Soviet aircraft, from helicopters to MIG fighters.
Milt Bearden, CIA veteran of the agency's clandestine services, detailed the CIA training and use of the weapon by the Mujahadin in his book, "The Black Tulip."
The help given to the Mujahadin fighters may have been a political success at the time by President Reagan, but the failure to retrieve the remaining missiles by President Clinton may prove to be a major disaster now.
When the U.S. failed to recover the remaining missiles, they were sold at international arms bazaars to the highest bidders. The buyers included surrogates for rogue states like Iran, according to reliable military sources and press reports.
One of those missiles may have found its way back to the U.S. There are some who claim just such a missile was used to shoot down TWA Flight 800 July 17, 1996.
"After two years now in this investigation, after pursuing every lead that I could, I've come down to the conclusion that the aircraft in fact was shot down," Cmdr. William Donaldson, III told WorldNetDaily. "There's no question that it was hit in the left wing. The missile appears to have been one in a series of what they call MANPADS missiles. That's a man portable air defense system. Common name is 'shoulder-fired missile.'"
Donaldson heads a group known as Associated Retired Aviation Professionals. That group has spent the past two years independently investigating the cause of the controversial crash. Some members of the group are former government investigators who believe the true evidence of the crash is being purposely covered up. http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13066
The U.S. press has not provided any attention to the fact that 26 commercial airliners have been shot down in various parts of the world by missiles, according to Donaldson and his group. The White House is very much aware of this fact, even if the public is not, he added.
"The United States, up until Flight 800, had never lost an airliner to a hostile missile," Cmdr. Donaldson explained. "Now what the American public is not aware of is -- but the White House was very much aware of before this had happened -- that there had been 26 civilian airliners shot down worldwide since the '80s when these missiles began coming on line. A lot of these shoot-downs occurred in Africa and Asia where civil wars are going on. They'd shoot down a troop airplane or whatever."
Although the planes shot down were not American planes, many were made by Boeing, an American company. Often the planes are used to move troops and as a result become the target of hostile forces.
There is a level of communication between the White House and rogue governments that does not get portrayed to the public. It's a form of communication the administration does not talk about and the press has not covered, according to Cmdr. Donaldson.
In 1994 he believes a strong message was sent to the Clinton administration in a way it could not ignore, but apparently did. "In 1994 there was a French Mistral missile that was fully loaded ready to fire on its tripod. One man carries the missile and another man carries the tripod and it's an extremely potent point defense missile," explained Cmdr. Donaldson.
"The Maryland state police found it alongside a country road near Westminster, Md. At first you would jump to the conclusion that someone set it up, got scared and ran. I am learning now that it may have been set up there to specifically be found and reported as a warning that we are now, whoever that entity was, capable of shooting down an American airliner. You didn't catch this coming across your border. That's the kind of intelligence the White House would get," he described.
The Mistral and the Stinger are similar. Both are heat-seeking missiles. Once they lock onto a target, they do their job well. Civilian aircraft are sitting ducks with no ability to avoid being hit by such a weapon once it locks onto them, Donaldson explained.
The downing of Flight 800 began when President Clinton sanctioned Iran through executive orders. That action angered Iran, a country that considers themselves to be at war with the U.S.
"That was the setup," explained Donaldson. "One of their surrogates bombed a business complex at a military location in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in November of 1995. We lost a handful of soldiers. I think it was 6 or 8. As that was going on, this thing just feeds on itself because then Congress apparently lumped Libya and Iran together in the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act of 1996. This was not reported in the media for some reason, but it happened. The president signed the act, which severely economically sanctioned Iran. The Iranian Council was going berserk. They knew, obviously, what was going on, and they threatened that this would be considered an act of war. Well, Clinton signed it, and it goes into effect.
"The Iranians call a meeting and call in surrogates from nine terrorists that they fund and essentially control in nine surrounding countries. (Osama) bin Laden is typical of one of the attendees. They come into the Iranian Council, meet with the Iranian president behind closed doors, they adjourn, and within the month the massive attempt of an attack on Khobar Towers went down."
In that incident a terrorist drove a bomb-laden truck up to the security gate. When he was not allowed to pass he raced the truck along a fence as close to the barracks as possible and detonated the high-explosives killing 19 Americans. If he reached his intended target between the two buildings, the death toll would have been closer to 500.
"Now if you remember, the FBI was dispatched to go look at that and a year and a half later they came back with no results," said Donaldson. "That was three weeks before flight 800 was shot down."
About the same time as the attack on Khobar Towers, a civilian on Long Island, N.Y., captured a MANPADS missile on video. He was testing his new video camera when suddenly he noticed a missile launch from the water on Long Island Sound behind his home. He caught the image on video and called the FBI.
"The FBI gets that tape and in ensuing months take it to military experts that I've talked to that saw it," described Donaldson of his investigation. "There's no question there was an attempt made then. The aircraft was probably out of range or whatever. There was no hit," he explained.
Only weeks before Flight 800 went down there were two events intended to send a very specific message to President Bill Clinton in response to sanctions he placed against Iran. Khobar Towers and the Long Island missile were warnings that went unheeded. An explicit warning of another missile attack on a commercial flight was received in London and Washington, a warning that taunted Clinton.
Donaldson's investigation has found over 100 eyewitnesses who saw the actual missile fly up and hit TWA flight 800. He has found FBI documents that detail their efforts to locate pieces of a missile under the ocean -- a search that cost $5.5 million. He has also found significant evidence that a concerted effort has been made to cover up the missile evidence by the government.
"The witnesses' testimony essentially says it was a MANPADS missile. It was fired out in front of the aircraft. We have radar contact on a vessel that the FBI failed to identify that was almost precisely in that position," detailed Donaldson.
One female witness detailed to the FBI how she saw the missile launch, go up for six seconds, and actually saw it hit the aircraft on the left wing.
"Just after the TWA Flight 800 went down, President Clinton made a call to the FBI command post at the Atlanta Olympics. I think the quote I got from the guy was, 'We are at least 80 percent certain that Flight 800 was shot down by a shoulder-fired missile.' The implication is, be alert. You're next," described Donaldson of his investigation interview with a former FBI agent who took the call from the president.
The military and FAA worked together to change flight paths into and out of Atlanta after the TWA Flight 800 disaster. They believed a missile threat existed to more commercial flights, he explained.
"I think the whole thing is political motivation. If the general public knew that there was a threat ahead of time, that the White House knew there was a threat ahead of time and there was no warning given. If they'd warned the FAA controllers in New York, you could have randomly vectored the departing aircraft and recovering aircraft. That airplane was on the same track every other airplane had departed on for the previous hour -- targets going by at exactly the same position at a regular interval. You just sit out there, you get in range, wait for the next one and you bag them," described Donaldson, who was once a qualified air controller himself.
"If the general public even had a hint of background knowledge. (Such as) either the hostility that's in Iran and that part of the world towards us and the fact they're trying to find any d--- way they can to stick us to the point that we'll back off the oil and pull our culture away from their religion. They're going to do it," he warned.
Donaldson says he expects his investigation to continue, and the government cover-up to continue as well. The evidence he has compiled is already enough to bring indictments against many highly placed government officials, he adds.
David M. Bresnahan email@example.com is an investigative journalist for WorldNetDaily.com
Apr 29, 1999: Donaldson called conspiracy theorist
NTSB denies cover-up of plane crash cause
By David M. Bresnahan © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
A former U.S. Naval officer and other retired aviation professionals are wrong about their theory that TWA Fight 800 was shot down by a missile, according to a government spokesman.
Retired Navy Cmdr. William S. Donaldson III and others have obtained evidence they claim proves that the plane was shot down by a missile. They also claim the government is keeping the facts of the crash investigation from the public.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been investigating the crash and expects to have a final report completed within a year. Even though their investigation is not complete, they have firmly stated that TWA Fight 800 was not shot down and was not the victim of a bomb.
"We've been dealing with him (Donaldson) for a couple years. We just think he's wrong. He's off base," Paul Schlamm from NTSB public affairs told WorldNetDaily.
The Associated Retired Aviation Professionals is a group formed by Donaldson which brings together a number of experts who have concluded the FBI, FAA, and the NTSB have all deceived the public regarding the cause of the crash.
They point to evidence they have recently obtained which shows the FBI looked for and found parts of a missile. They also claim the NTSB is purposely covering up information from the flight data recorder http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13065 which proves the aircraft was struck by a missile.
"He made a big point of reading out the flight data recorders. Our people have been doing that for 30 years. He's just wrong," remarked Schlamm. The NTSB has already spent over $30 million on their investigation which will be three years old in July.
"We hope to bring it to a close this year. I can tell you we found no evidence that a missile impacted, exploded near the aircraft, or that a bomb exploded inside the aircraft," Schlamm added.
All investigators initially assumed the plane came down as the result of terrorist action, but subsequent evidence changed their thinking. The FBI looked into the potential for criminal action and the NTSB examined scientific evidence, explained Schlamm. Even though they ruled out any type of missile or bomb they are not able to explain how the plane suddenly exploded.
The FBI sent approximately 1,000 agents throughout the crash area within days of the tragic event to interview hundreds of eyewitnesses. Donaldson found and interviewed about 120 witness, including 17 who were never interviewed by the FBI. He says that many of the witnesses have technical backgrounds and military experience which make them very credible. The NTSB disagrees.
"They are not being ignored," claimed Schlamm. "You get into real questions about the reliability of witnesses. There have been a lot of studies done on this and we have people who specialize in this thing. People, you know, they read news stories, they talk to people, they tend to fill in things. There are a lot of instances of that and a lot of studies have been done on that.
"No witnesses were closer than 8 to 10 miles. What can the human eye really distinguish if you're talking about a hand-held missile or something like that? You know, at that range there's a question of what, this is another thing they're looking into, there's a question of what the human eye can actually see," explained Schlamm.
The NTSB and FBI have continued to discredit the eyewitnesses from the very beginning of the crash investigation, according to Donaldson. He agreed in general terms with Schlamm's statements on the reliability of witnesses, but only if the witnesses have no experience with aircraft and missiles. Many witnesses interviewed by Donaldson and the FBI have the experience to know and understand what they saw, and the large number of consistent descriptions supports the missile theory, he claims.
Schlamm classified the theories about Flight 800 as conspiracy theories and said they will be no different than the theories associated with the assassinations of President Abe Lincoln and President John F. Kennedy.
Apr 28, 1999: DOWNING OF TWA FLIGHT 800
- Were missile parts hidden away?
- New evidence of cover-up found by investigator
By David M. Bresnahan © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
Portions of a missile used to shoot down TWA Flight 800 have been recovered by the FBI, but have been secreted away according to one military investigator.
Retired Navy Cmdr. William S. Donaldson III is an aviation mishap analyst and former naval crash investigator with extensive experience. He has been investigating the crash for over two years with other concerned, retired aviation professionals. The organization, Associated Retired Aviation Professionals, has obtained evidence from official government investigators who are unhappy with what they see as a cover-up.
The FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the military knew from the beginning that the evidence and eyewitness reports pointed to a scenario that the commercial flight with 230 people on board was brought down by a missile, the independent investigators say. Cmdr. Donaldson claims they secretly searched for and found actual remains of the missile itself.
"What happened was it blew virtually all the top skin off that wing. That's a phenomenon that's never seen and cannot happen without the presence of a high-explosive weapon," he said of the initial evidence.
The Associated Retired Aviation Professionals interviewed more than 100 witness who were also interviewed by the FBI. Those witnesses all described seeing a missile go up from the water and hit TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996. The FBI discredited those witnesses.
"The bottom line is the witnesses saw it, the forensic evidence backs it up, now here comes the kicker. The FBI knew what it was because they were the first with the information -- with the witnesses and everything else. Apparently the missile team was pushing to go out there and look for the key parts that would be on the bottom from that missile," explained Donaldson to WorldNetDaily.
If a missile was fired at the commercial airline it would leave some physical evidence. This would include portions of the missile body, and part of the initial launch system of the missile.
"Whatever's left after it hits the aircraft and probably goes through it would land, considering where witnesses saw the missile go up, the missile body would land to the northwest of where the missile body exploded. That's a key point to remember," explained Donaldson.
The type of missile most likely used to hit the plane is known as MANPADS, for "man portable air defense system." Such missiles include the U.S.-made Stinger, which is available to terrorist groups. Other similar missiles could also have been used, according to Donaldson.
When such a missile is launched, it has a first stage which falls back to earth within 100 feet of launch. The portion which falls back, and would have landed in the ocean, is the ejector can. That item would be located on the ocean floor near the site where the launch took place, most likely on a small boat.
The FBI began a detailed, thorough search of the bottom Nov. 4, 1996. It hired four trawlers and stationed two FBI agents on each 24 hours a day until the search ended suddenly April 30, 1997.
"So the FBI was looking for that first stage," said Donaldson. "They put together a manual, which I now have, that they sent with the agents out to these scallop trawlers that they hired."
"The cover story was they were hired to clean the bottom for little parts, and also one story the British bought that they were looking for the last of the human remains," explained Donaldson. "Both stories were essentially just cover stories. The real purpose of the $5.5 million effort was to find these missile parts."
The captains of those four trawlers were given written descriptions of several high-interest items the FBI was looking for, without telling them what those items were. The FBI accidentally left behind the documents detailing what they were looking for when they completed the search. Those documents were obtained by the Associated Retired Aviation Professionals in the course of its investigation and have been made available to WorldNetDaily (see related documents, below).
"The ops (operations) orders were to the FBI agents that rode those boats, and there were always two agents that rode each boat. They were checking every load that comes in and tagging and bagging anything that wasn't organic. The rule was any of the three high-interest items you were to be discreet to keep the crew from recognizing that it's found, and to use a secure cell phone to report immediately back to headquarters. It specifically said, to avoid other interested parties from finding out that these things were found. I got it in black and white," explained Donaldson when he provided copies of the documents.
WorldNetDaily also received copies of the trawler maps 1which show that the main area of search by the trawlers was outside the known area of the TWA Flight 800 debris field. An area which is in the direction a missile would travel according to Donaldson. The search area corresponds to the range of a MANPAD missile.
"This trawling area is huge, and only a very small pie-shaped area in that huge circle actually had debris (from the aircraft) in it. There's no aircraft debris to the north of the track. But to the northwest, which would be the ballistic curve from where the eyewitnesses saw the missile come up, was trawled heavily. Just as much as the actual debris area was," explained Donaldson.
The ejector can had already been found before the FBI began a search for it. A trawler that participated in the search for debris found it very close to the area predicted as the launch site.
"The guy on deck pulled in a load about two miles from where Flight 800 exploded. The can was in the net. He looked at it and he couldn't figure out what it was. He thought it was a fuel filter or something. He picked it up, looked at it, sees two wires coming out of it, which are the ignition wires. He handled it for a while and then he threw it over board," described Donaldson of his investigative interview with the worker on board the trawler.
"When the FBI agents came aboard this same ship, just by happenstance, they hired them to do part of the trawling. When he (the worker) saw the pictures of what these guys were looking for he said, 'You're too late. I've already found one.' That trawler's where I got all the maps and the manual. These guys left all this crap on board, so I got it," he explained.
The captains of the four trawlers were surprised when it was suddenly terminated. They expected to continue searching for many months because they had not completed a search of the area shown in the maps. The FBI agents were under orders not to disclose when they found items.
Donaldson firmly believes a shoulder-fired, MANPAD missile is responsible for the downing of TWA Flight 800. He believes President Clinton most likely knew about the threat and did nothing about it.
He says the White House received a threat and knew of an attempt to down a commercial flight in the same area just a few weeks prior to Flight 800. The Federal Aviation Administration could have ordered flight controllers to randomly change the flight path of each flight to thwart efforts to target aircraft, according to Cmdr. Donaldson. That precaution was taken for flights from Atlanta during the Olympics where the military anticipated a threat to commercial aircraft.
"Before Flight 800 was shot down they were very concerned, they actually sent military people to work with the FAA and look at the approaches around Atlanta to see if they could change them randomly to make it more difficult for a shoulder fired missile operator to necessarily be in range," said Donaldson. "They looked at the approaches, and they may have manipulated some of them a little bit, but they essentially had full knowledge, or at least a suspicion that with missiles in country that that would be a likely target.
"The president made a call down there to the FBI command post and told them that 800 had been shot down. I think the quote I got from the guy was, 'We are at least 80 percent certain that Flight 800 was shot down by a shoulder-fired missile.' The implication is, be alert. You're next," described Donaldson.
He believes the cover-up will continue. The goal of Associated Retired Aviation Professionals is to bring about indictments of those responsible for covering up the truth of the downing of Flight 800 and exposing the reasons behind it. Their investigation is still underway.
"We've been dealing with him for a couple years. We just think he's wrong. He's off base," said NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm of Cmdr. Donaldson. The FBI and FAA have not responded messages left by WorldNetDaily.TWA spokesman Jim Brown said, "There is nothing to exonerate us for because there's nothing we've been accused of."
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Apr 27, 1999: DOWNING OF TWA FLIGHT 800
- Is there proof of missile?
- Investigator releases new evidence
By David M. Bresnahan © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
A former naval officer says the Clinton administration has evidence to prove TWA Flight 800 was downed by a missile and is doing all it can to cover it up.
More than 100 eyewitnesses interviewed by the FBI all describe seeing a missile, says retired Navy Cmdr. William S. Donaldson III, a former military crash investigator, trained flight controller and expert investigator. Portions of the missile have been recovered, but have been secreted away, he says. An operations manual for the search for missile parts was issued by the FBI, and an official government report was unable to rule out a missile and called for further investigation -- something that has not been done, according to Donaldson and other confirming sources.
For the past two years Donaldson has headed up a private investigation of the controversial crash. He is now convinced a missile brought down TWA Flight 800 causing the death of 230 people on July 17, 1996.
Donaldson claims the federal government has done everything in its power to cover up what really happened to Flight 800. The cover-up, he charges, has included prosecution of a journalist who was investigating flight debris evidence and was convicted on federal charges, as well as manipulating the official investigation to obtain the desired results rather than seek the truth.
During his two years of private investigation, Cmdr. Donaldson and a group of retired aviation specialists have interviewed over 100 witnesses who saw what they claim was a missile rise from the water and hit TWA Flight 800. Those witnesses were also interviewed by the FBI.
The witnesses were located in a full circle around the crash site on four aircraft, 19 boats, and 31 locations on shore. Many of the witnesses have expertise which would enable them to distinguish a missile from a burning aircraft.
The reports by these witnesses has been discredited by the government by claiming they did not understand that what they saw was the burning aircraft, not a missile, and by stating that after being confronted with the facts they no longer believe they saw a missile.
"Their live testimony alone will prove the aircraft was shot down," Donaldson told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview. "This is why the Justice Department has kept air crash investigators away from witnesses for two and a half years."
Donaldson believes he has obtained enough evidence to present to a grand jury and bring about indictments for "a cover-up of the felony murder of 230 innocent people."
The FBI confirmed that it used as many as 1,000 agents in the process of interviewing witnesses. The methods of interviewing and detailing what those witnesses told them were lacking, according to Donaldson.
The FBI investigators should have made recordings or even videotapes of the interviews with the witnesses. They also failed to ask technical questions which would have enabled them to perform a triangulation and identify where the missiles was launched. Donaldson complained that the FBI simply wrote a few notes about each interview.
"That means the agent goes back to his office, depending how aviation wise he is, and scribbles down a 302 form, which is a summary of the interview. He keeps the notes and puts it in a folder with the 302 form. The 302 form then becomes the judgment, which has been filtered by a non-aviation smart investigator," Donaldson explained.
The FBI did not use any special equipment to take bearing lines from each witness location. They also did not ask questions related to speed of what witnesses saw going up and hitting the airplane. Witnesses were also not asked how many seconds it took from the apparent launch to the time of contact with the airplane.
He said he blames the lack of proper questions by the FBI on "lack of skill as an investigator." He said he did not believe the agents were purposely trying to cover anything up. In fact, he said some of the agents were genuinely excited about what they were being told. That enthusiasm soon died. They were told to investigate only the evidence which supported the government claim of a center wing tank explosion, not a missile, according to FBI agents who cooperated with Donaldson's investigation.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration research ship Rude (pronounced "Rudy") was able to reach the crash site of TWA Flight 800 the morning after the crash. The very high-tech vessel is equipped with side sonar.
"Finally when Capt. Debeau got the last transponder position the aircraft had actually transmitted from, and got the course and the speed, he plugged into his computers and got a ballistic solution to where the airplane went," explained Donaldson.
He reported that Capt. Debeau was contacted by the National Transportation Safety Board and was asked to pick up surface debris. This was unusual because the ship was the best equipped of all units on the scene to look for items below the water, not recover floating items which could be more easily picked up by larger vessels which were better equipped to do that.
"There were six other Coast Guard Cutters that were bigger ships on scene and didn't have that vital gear on board that the Rude did," said Cmdr. Donaldson. "You start screwing around with something on the surface when you're a sub-sea observer -- it's a waste of your mission. The NTSB gives him a surface job and that screws up his looking for the debris on the bottom. Eventually he passed it off to a cutter."
Within just 10 hours of searching the bottom for debris, the Rude provided detailed maps to the NTSB which showed the exact location of the under water debris fields. Despite having such vital information so quickly, orders from the White House prevented any recover effort for almost a week.
Official Coast Guard logs indicate that a call was placed to Weeks Marine, Inc. with a verbal agreement for that company to begin salvage recovery immediately. That contact was made shortly after the crash. Weeks Marine had the largest salvage vessel on the East Coast just a short distance away in transit.
The large ship was equipped for just this type of operation with large cranes, 50 tethered divers, and plenty of deck space for the debris. The FAA also placed a call to Weeks Marine just after the crash. They were ready to go to work by the time the Rude had completed their maps of the location of the debris.
"What I'm telling you is, by the 19th in the morning, with divers on board they could have started extracting major sub-sea debris. Putting it on deck on the Weeks Marine barge," explained Donaldson.
A call from the White House changed all that. Rather than begin salvage of debris and bodies just a day and a half after the crash, recovery was delayed until the 23rd when Navy equipment arrived from Norfolk, Va., Donaldson says.
While FBI and NTSB investigators were telling the press and families of crash victims that they were working as fast as possible, they were really purposely slowing down that process, according to Donaldson. He claims that evidence was damaged and lost because of the delay.
Initial media reports of witnesses seeing a missile were immediately discredited by the FBI. The press willingly accepted the FBI explanation that the witnesses saw the burning plane, not a missile. Donaldson blames the media for being so willing to accept government reports without checking on the validity of those reports. He also says the government has been operating an organized plan to discredit anyone who does not agree with its explanation of the crash.
Donaldson has requested the results of government tests on critical parts of the debris from the crash. His requests have met with significant resistance and refusal to cooperate.
"The left-side body wall is a critical piece of hardware on the aircraft," he explained to WorldNetDaily. "It no longer exists. It's the common wall in the tank system between the center wing tank and the number two main, which is the first tank out on the left wing. That wall was blown in to the center tank at extremely high energy.
"Now the first thing they should have done, as soon as they had enough pieces that they could identify them coming from that side of the tank is make a determination as to which way that wall failed. Did it fail going out, or did it fail going in to the center wing tank number one? To lock it down, you send it for electron microscope work.
"What that will tell you is the stress line in the metal. They know the outer layers. They know the failure numbers on it. You can determine the rate that it failed, in other words did it, was it a shock, or was it a stretching failure? All of that is left in the edge metal."
An NTSB lawyer responded to Donaldson's request for info and admitted the proper tests were not done and will not be done on the section of the plane in question, and said the exam was done with a jeweler's eye piece.
"If they move on to the final report and they don't have an edge analysis on that side body wall then you can use that thing for toilet paper. It's not going to be worth a d---. I told him three of four more anomalies but I was wasting my time -- he's a lawyer," said Donaldson in frustration.
He now has pictures of the evidence. He says the government explanation does not stand up to the evidence and the reports issued by their own scientists who examined that evidence.
"In forensic evidence you have this huge shock damage to the left wing that blew out hundreds of square feet of side body wall and turned them into BBs. I mean, I'm not kidding you. Little pieces always mean high energy. Big pieces, or bulge pieces, mean a much lower energy state.
It's simple. But they won't even talk about it. That's what's so frustrating," he explained.
Donaldson has obtained copies of government documents which clearly indicate that the FBI conducted an intensive search of the ocean floor to specifically locate and find pieces of a missile. He has also found a witness who found one of those vital pieces.
Calls by WorldNetDaily requesting comments from the FAA, FBI, and NTSB public affairs officers have not been returned. TWA spokesman Jim Brown said, "Therefore, there is nothing to exonerate us for because there's nothing we've been accused of."
Apr 19, 1999: THE DOWNING OF TWA FLIGHT 800
- Was there a government cover-up?
- Former naval officer says airliner brought down by missile
By David M. Bresnahan © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
This is the second of a two-part series on the downing of TWA Flight 800. Part one describes efforts by the federal government to stop independent investigators from exposing evidence found in the crash for TWA flight 800.
A former naval officer says TWA flight 800 was downed by a shoulder-fired missile three years ago. He claims the federal government is doing all it can to cover up what really happened -- and stop his investigation.
Retired Navy Cmdr. William S. Donaldson, III is an aviation mishap analyst and former naval crash investigator with extensive experience. He has been investigating the crash for over two years with other concerned, retired aviation professionals. Their organization, Associated Retired Aviation Professionals, has issued a report to congress on the evidence they found.
That report was recently updated with additional information which Cmdr. Donaldson claims proves the government has something to hide. The new evidence clearly shows that the FBI, National Transportation Safety Board, the Department of Justice, and the Clinton administration knew within hours of the crash that the plane was brought down by a missile.
Cmdr. Donaldson just returned from a Long Island courtroom where he was a consultant in a case he says shows how desperate the government is to cover up the crash evidence.
Journalist James Sanders, 53, and his wife, Elizabeth, 52, investigated the crash of TWA Flight 800 and presented a theory of government cover-up in a book, news articles and in interviews. The two were convicted last week of conspiring to steal evidence from the wreckage of the controversial flight.
The couple claims they were given the evidence by a TWA pilot for independent testing. The test they paid for determined a piece of cloth from the wreckage had the ingredients of missile fuel on it. The government would not permit any discussion of the crash, evidence of a missile, or any other topic outside the charge of theft of the piece of wreckage during the manipulated trial, according to Cmdr. Donaldson.
The Sanderses were denied the opportunity to present their case in court, and they are now free on bail while they await sentencing in July. They could spend up to 10 years in a federal prison.
Cmdr. Donaldson has challenged the official NTSB position on the cause of the crash. Over the past two years, he has been working with other retired aviation professionals, including some previous crash investigators as well as persons inside the NTSB investigation itself.
They have uncovered significant new information that appears to show that Flight 800 was shot down by one or more shoulder-fired missiles, and that the FBI, the Justice Department and the Administration knew this from the beginning and are trying to cover up what really happened.
During preparation for the Sanders trial, Cmdr. Donaldson contacted the NTSB with questions about crash evidence. He says they did all they could to intimidate him and the Sanders' attorney.
"They went into a d--- panic mode," he told WorldNetDaily by phone. He had asked for a report on the edge analysis of the portion of the plane he believes was hit by a missile. The tests he expected to have been performed by the NTSB with an electron microscope were done with a jeweler's eyepiece.
"If they move on to the final report and they don't have an edge analysis on that side body wall, then you can use that thing for toilet paper. It's not going to be worth a d---. I told him three of four more anomalies but I was wasting my time -- he's a lawyer," he explained.
His request for information not only revealed inadequacy in the official investigation, it also pointed to efforts to derail the court case.
"They jumped all over Maffeo (Sanders' attorney) saying, 'We're going to file motions to deny your access to discovery and everything else based on the fact that Donaldson has looked at some close-up pictures of the left-side body wall.'
"They just can't stand to see the truth in the light of day. This is not rocket science. Mostly it's common sense. There are huge anomalies that have never been seen in a domestic crash before," he explained.
James Hall, director of the NTSB and head of the crash investigation, told the New York Times shortly after the crash that the plane came down as the result of an explosion in the fuel tank located in the left wing. Cmdr. Donaldson wrote to him and asked him to resign.
"It may have been overkill in the tactic category, but it was based on essential premises of a safety investigation," he explained to WorldNetDaily. "You don't have the leader of the investigation and the agency that runs the investigation making proclamations in a New York newspaper that it wasn't a missile and the cause was a center wing tank explosion when they only had about 80 percent of the airplane out of the water.
"It was a theory they were going on that was totally contravened by very serious anomalies. So here you have the leadership saying, 'OK folks, I'm going to listen to anything you have to tell me about a center wing tank explosion, but let's not waste our time looking for any other facts.'
"That's not the way these things work. You're supposed to put your experts in the field and look at everything. There's a process where you find things that are not in a normal crash situation and you highlight it," complained the former naval crash investigator who has seen what military planes look like when they are shot down.
There are essentially three theories about the cause of the crash. The NTSB has claimed it was an explosion of the center wing tank, most likely from an electrical failure. The FBI has accepted the theory of the wing tank explosion, but they think the explosion was caused by a bomb.
Both agencies have not been willing to look at any evidence that does not specifically contribute to their particular theories, according to Cmdr. Donaldson. He says the third theory, the missile theory, is getting no consideration from officials and anyone promoting the theory is being discredited.
The FBI agent in charge of the investigation, James K. Kallstrom had a friend who died on the flight and presented a flag found in the debris to the surviving family. Cmdr. Donaldson says that while the nation watched the presentation on national television, something far different was going on behind the scenes.
"At the same time he was doing that, they were preferring charges against Sanders, TWA pilot Terrell Stacey, and people that actually did lose a lot of people they were close to. Terrell Stacey knew just about all of those 53 TWA people that died on the airplane. He was a senior guy with TWA," explained Cmdr. Donaldson.
"Liz Sanders knew quite a few of the flight attendants," he continued. "She was a supervisor of training there. And the FBI put pressure on Lee Taylor. Threatened her with obstruction of justice. They scared her to death because she allowed Jim Sanders to use her apartment in Kansas City to write his book. She thought she was going to go to jail for that, so she testified as a government witness. In her case she lost a hell of a lot of friends on that plane.
"So here's Kallstrom weeping elephant tears on national television handing a flag to somebody who happened to be the survivor of a passenger on board. At the same time he's beating the (expletive) out of the TWA people that really did suffer on this -- psychologically and every other way."
Cmdr. Donaldson's investigation discovered that the one ship equipped with the best equipment for detecting crash debris under water was diverted into collecting surface debris delaying them from performing the task they were best suited for, and no other ship could duplicate.
He also reports that it only took that ship 10 hours to completely map out three different debris fields which would enable recovery to begin the morning of the second day after the crash. Recovery was delayed several more days, a fact not understood at the time by the press.
The very best recovery equipment in the world was immediately made available by Weeks Marine, Inc. and was on the scene ready to go to work. Instead orders came from the White House to wait for the Navy to send equipment from Norfolk, Virginia to conduct the salvage operation.
"What I'm telling you is, by the 19th in the morning (the crash took place on the 17th), with divers on board they could have started extracting major sub-sea debris. Putting it on deck on the Weeks Marine barge. Instead, the White House, I believe, made a deal where the Navy was going to do the salvage. That decision, the media never saw through this. They never realized that the five-day wait caused by waiting for the Navy to respond from Norfolk (Virginia) and other places to bring their salvage equipment to bear, those bodies were exposed to the elements down there for an additional five days, at least. They didn't start doing anything until the 23rd."
When families of crash victims call the NTSB to ask about Cmdr. Donaldson they are given information apparently intended to discredit him.
"They told me he doesn't know what he's talking about. They said he has no experience and that he's one of those extremists who sees a conspiracy under every rock. They said his witnesses have been contacted by the FBI and they saw the plane on fire, not a missile," said one family member contacted by WorldNetDaily who did not want to be identified, or contacted again.
Cmdr. Donaldson has no plans to give up his battle. He plans to continue to investigate the evidence and search for more.
David M. Bresnahan firstname.lastname@example.org is an investigative journalist for WorldNetDaily.com
Apr 16, 1999: THE MYSTERY OF TWA FLIGHT 800
- How government stopped probers
- Journalist, wife convicted of tampering with evidence
By David M. Bresnahan © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com
This is part one of a two-part series. Part one describes efforts by the federal government to stop independent investigators from exposing evidence found in the wreckage of the TWA Flight 800 crash. Part two will present evidence that the government is hiding something.
Journalist James Sanders, 53, and his wife Elizabeth, 52, aggressively investigated the crash of TWA Flight 800 and presented a theory of government cover-up in a book, news articles and in interviews.
One expert crash investigator believes the U.S. government is using them as an example to keep other members of the press in line.
The Clinton administration has become expert at controlling the press through intimidation, says Navy Cmdr. William S. Donaldson. Other elected officials, military commanders, law enforcement, and bureaucratic department heads have all learned how well the tactic works, he says. Reporters will not risk being labeled as right-wing wackos. Many stories of government corruption go unreported, not because of lack of evidence but because of fear of the consequences, according to Donaldson.
Donaldson is an aviation mishap analyst and has been independently accumulating evidence in the crash of TWA Flight 800 in which 230 people died three years ago in the waters off Long Island. He was asked to serve as a consultant for Mr. and Mrs. Sanders in their defense against federal charges related to the tragic crash.
The two were convicted on Tuesday of conspiring to steal evidence from the wreckage of the controversial flight. Cmdr. Donaldson says the trial was rigged against them from the very beginning.
When federal officials began the court case they carefully structured it to prevent the Sanders defense team from gaining access to crash evidence through the discovery process. Once the trial began they also managed to get the judge to restrict what could be discussed and what could not.
"What the government did is structure this thing almost as if they were totally afraid of getting into any of the technical aspects," explained Cmdr. Donaldson.
"The way this thing works, if they want to bring this thing down as narrow as they can, up to a point, the judge will allow that." Which he said means the Sanders defense could not include any presentation on the technical evidence or their theory of how the plane was shot down with a missile. They also could not describe their evidence of a government cover-up.
Why? If the prosecution did not mention the controversial subjects, neither could the defense. The trial was limited to theft of two small pieces of cloth from the plane. Sanders had the cloth tested and believes the results help prove a missile was involved in the crash.
"The whole idea is the Sanderses want to say this is nothing but government oppression of journalism. Which is exactly what it is," Cmdr. Donaldson told WorldNetDaily. "But the government managed to say 'no, this is about the theft of this piece of fabric, and we're going to send him to jail for 10 years for that and we don't want to hear anything else.' It's absurd," he complained.
Judge Joanna Seybert of the U.S. District Court of Uniondale went along with the prosecution and ruled that testimony and evidence must be confined to the theft issue only.
"The judge admonished the jury at least a dozen times that the essential government position was not one that was maintaining what happened to the airplane. It had nothing to do with it, according to their position. This is a simple case of somebody breaking a federal law, we're going to prove it, we're going to prosecute that, and we're going to keep it confined at that level," Cmdr. Donaldson paraphrased the judge's frequent instructions to the jury.
He said any time the defense mentioned anything about what happened to the aircraft, the prosecution objected. The judge always ruled to sustain that objection.
National media accounts of the trial, including news wire stories, commented that the Sanders defense team never brought up technical evidence, support for their missile theory, or First Amendment rights as an investigative journalist. The slant of the stories was that because these issues were not brought out in court the Sanders must have a weak case and cannot support their claims.
Cmdr. Donaldson pointed out that the press was being manipulated, and that they failed to report the true facts of the case just like they had ignored the astonishing evidence that he has compiled to support the missile theory.
"What the White House did was to go after a journalist who was publishing a story about the government," said Cmdr. Donaldson. "Unfortunately the left-leaning media never really picked up on this. I'm in this long enough that I'm no longer naive about the slant some of these major news organizations take."
The trouble all began for the Sanders when the Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, Calif. ran a front-page article featuring Mr. Sanders' theory and that a missile brought down TWA Flight 800 on that fateful day in July 1996.
Sanders is the author of several books and is an independent freelance journalist. His book "The Downing of TWA Flight 800" did not get him in trouble until he started getting press attention. Once the media were attracted to his evidence it was time to discredit him, according to Cmdr. Donaldson.
"The government was trying to prove a consciousness of guilt. The government was trying to make it seem that the Sanderses were on the run from the FBI. The case didn't start until 10 March 1997 when that article hit in Riverside," he explained. FBI agents admitted during the trial that the case began on the day the article came out.
"Someone up the chain of command probably realized Sanders was a problem, and ordered a full-blown no-holds-bared investigation when that Riverside press article came out. To me that's caveman logic," said Cmdr. Donaldson.
Mr. and Mrs. Sanders live in Williamsburg, Virginia. They were charged under a law approved by Congress in 1996, as a result of the Valujet crash in Florida. The law makes it a crime to remove, conceal, or withhold parts from the crash of a civilian aircraft. The purpose of the law was to stop souvenir hunters.
Mrs. Sanders worked for TWA and has since lost her job. She trained flight crews and knew many of the crew who died on Flight 800. Her crime? Two phone calls to a confidential source known as "Hangerman."
Mr. Sanders said he had been given a piece of cloth from a seat on the plane by a source he called "Hangerman" in his book. He had the cloth tested and found that it had a red residue which was amazingly similar to the fuel used in a missile.
The federal government threatened Mr. Sanders with criminal charges if he did not divulge the true name of his source. When he refused, the FBI went to work.
TWA employee Lee Taylor let Mr. Sanders use her apartment to write his book on a computer. It didn't take much intimidation to get her to sign an agreement for immunity and hand over the computer. The information in the computer and copies of phone records led straight to Hangerman -- TWA pilot Terrell Stacey.
It was Mr. Stacey who flew the Boeing 747 from Paris to New York the night before the crash. He had been called in by TWA to assist in the investigation. A little more intimidation from the FBI and Mr. Stacey testified against the Sanderses in exchange for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge.
It was the testimony of Mr. Stacey which led to conviction. The jury was out for two hours, but sources say they only deliberated for 45 minutes and spent the rest of the time eating. Members of the jury were escorted out the back of the building and refused to speak to the press.
James Sanders' attorney, Bruce Maffeo, told the press he will appeal the verdict. He warned that the federal charges against Sanders should send a "chilling message" to investigative reporters dealing with controversial stories of government corruption.
Mr. and Mrs. Sanders remain free on bail. They were forced to sell their home and use all their retirement plan to fight the charges against them.
David M. Bresnahan email@example.com is an investigative journalist for WorldNetDaily.com
November 23, 1998: What happened to TWA Flight 800?
By Joseph Cafasso © 1998 WorldNetDaily.com
Two years after the crash of TWA Flight 800, which exploded 20 minutes after takeoff on July 17, 1996 killing all 230 persons on board, the FBI's criminal investigation has gone inactive.
According to FBI Deputy Director Schirillo, "it was the biggest investigation in FBI History, we placed over 1000 agents in the field." The National Transportation Safety Board cannot place into evidence any ignition source and proof to support the center wing tank (CWT) explosion theory, and is now experimenting to see if electro-magnetic impulse (EMI) caused the crash.
Most real scientists would place a higher probability on sabotage by the tooth fairy, than wasting taxpayer monies studying potential EMI interference. The fact that a CWT explosion has never happened on any aircraft since the beginning of civilian jet transport, appears not to have been underscored. The fact that there is no potential source of ignition in the tank, appears not to have been underscored. The fact that the NTSB's own contract scientists tell them that even at 14,000 feet an unshaken tank will not even burn unless a very hot igniter is energized at the right place in the tank, appears not to have been underscored. The fact that these scientists also say the pressure generated in the CWT would be only 20 to 60 psi, not the hundreds of psi in evidence, appears not to have been underscored. The fact that technicians in the US Military Aviation Fuels Laboratories think the CWT theory is nonsense, seems not to have been underscored. The fact that forensic evidence is clear, the tank imploded before exploding, seems not to have been underscored. The fact that no qualified air crash investigator interviewed the hundreds of eye witnesses who observed supersonic points of light ascending to intercept the aircraft, seems not to have been underscored.
According to FBI Deputy Director Schirillo "It was the biggest investigation in FBI History we placed over 1000 agents in the field"
Both the FBI and the NTSB have painstakingly searched for any and all new leads to help explain the explosion, with no end in sight and no new answers being developed. According to FBI Spokesman Joseph Valiquette, the Bureau remained "unaware of any new evidence that would cause us to re-open our criminal investigation." The only facts and questions that remain in evidence or unanswered are not the new ones but rather more importantly the old ones. If Jack Webb was the Chief Investigator he would want "Just the facts, Just the facts" from the FBI.
The US received intelligence reports that stinger missiles crossed the U.S./Canadian border prior to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
The Times of London reports that Israel's Mossad warned both the French and U.S. Intelligence agencies that an American Airliner would be a target of sabotage or hijacking by Islamic extremists.
Military sources note that both the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. military made changes in the flight patterns around Atlanta and upgraded airport security precautions nationwide prior to the 1996 Olympics.
The FBI received a videotape shot by a Long Island man four days before Flight 800 is shot down, Military experts agree it depicts a single missile shot out at sea.
A U.S. reconnaissance satellite is positioned to observe Long Island before Flight 800 is lost.
The White House immediately informs the Atlanta FBI Command Post, that the president believes Flight 800 was shot down by a shoulder fired missile.
The CIA sends the Israeli Mossad the passenger list from TWA 800 for review.
Many witnesses describe the stinger's burnout of its sustainer motor, a residual thin smoke trail to an impact on the aircraft's left-wing root. Of the eyewitnesses, a senior FBI agent is noted.
Military experts provide the FBI with the stinger launch footprint criteria for successful intercept of TWA 800. It matches the eyewitnesses' accounts.
Military experts provide the FBI with thermal imaging of a B747-100 aircraft showing a stinger or any other heat-seeker missile fired from in front and below the aircraft would guide for three hot center line air pack vents just below the center wing tank.
The Times of London reports a piece of bottom wing skin was found pock marked from explosives.
Two fishermen report to the FBI they separately and at different times found a strange looking small canister in their drag nets, both threw the object back into the water.
Military experts provide photos of the ejector rocket motor canister from a Soviet copy of the American Stinger. The fisherman it's shown to says the canister is very similar but not exactly the same. (When fired the ejector motor drops off as the missile leaves the tube). American and Soviet ejector motors are slightly different.
The FBI's Schirillo, admits in response to congressional questions that the FBI was unable to identify the closest vessel to TWA 800 when it exploded.
That vessel fled the scene at 30 knots. That vessel was within the U.S. Stinger and Soviet MANPAD's successful firing envelope as defined by military experts when Flight 800 exploded.
The unclassified report prepared by China Lake Weapons Facility specifies four criteria that would be in evidence if a stinger or other MANPAD's missile penetrated a B747-100 full wing tank and exploded. All four are strongly believed in evidence on TWA 800 and are not otherwise explained.
The unclassified report discounts the physical evidence sold on assurance by the NTSB and FBI that there were no entry holes into the tank. Military missile experts touring the Calverton Hangar three weeks before the FBI dropped the Investigation, find a large area of missing left wing root suspicious.
According to FBI Spokesman Joseph Valiquette the Bureau remains "unaware of any new evidence that would cause us to reopen our investigation."
Retired FBI Chief Investigator James Kalstrom in a phone interview this past October states that the suspicious surface targets were actually U.S. naval vessels on a classified operation.
Prior to the crash, two eyewitnesses fishing at the end of Moriches Inlet rocks, watch a black 30 to 40 foot long racing boat come through the inlet, stop in the mouth for a minute, then race away at high speed to the south east.
Twenty minutes later the witnesses see a missile go up from exactly the area the boat disappeared into. Triangulation of multiple witnesses place that missile shot at the 30 knot surface track. The 30 knot surface target not identified by the FBI was 10 nautical miles from Moriches Inlet when Flight 800 exploded. A 30 knot speed boat travels 10 Nautical miles in 20 minutes.
None of these points have been answered by the FBI in any detail. For an investigation that has gone inactive, with no criminal wrongdoing found, it seems strange that the entire file is listed as "Secret." According to U.S. military sources the US Army Missile Command, Missile Space and Intelligence Command, China Lake Naval Weapons Research Facility, and the U.S. Air Force experts were canceled in the middle of their review. The reason given "lack of funding."
If these experts were canceled in the middle of their investigation, then we can assume that the findings as reported by the FBI suffers from severe lack of proficiency and appear not to have been underscored. While the findings by the NTSB look more like a international fishing contest in waters known not to be inhabited by fish, rather than a air crash investigation.
The questions that need to be answered are not yet the new theories, possibilities or potentials, it's the old theories, possibilities and potentials that seem to have fallen at the wayside for lack of funding. It's time we get to the truth, there are 230 reasons to know. If it takes an independent investigation ordered by Congress to get the answers, then so be it. Better we know exactly the cause of the downing of TWA Flight 800, rather than unlimited fishing trips at taxpayer expense. We already have too many of those.
Joseph Cafasso is legislative director of the Associated Retired Aviation Professionals.
July 21, 1998: TWA Flight 800 was 'shot down'
Investigator makes his case in Washington
By Steven Allen © 1998 WorldNetDaily.com
WASHINGTON -- "Somebody came into our waters and shot down -- for the first time ever -- a flag carrier of the United States," an expert on the explosion of TWA Flight 800 said at a Washington briefing yesterday.
Commander Bill Donaldson, a retired Navy pilot and accident investigator who has spent 15 months examining the case, said that two missiles were fired in the vicinity of the airplane, and that one of them exploded close enough to bring the plane down. It's no wonder, he said, that investigators did not find evidence of a direct missile hit; the missile was of a type specifically designed to explode near (rather than in contact with) its target.
Flight 800, Donaldson said, "was intentionally destroyed by a powerful, proximity fused, airbursting, anti-aircraft weapon launched from a position approximately one nautical mile off shore and three nautical miles east of Moriches Inlet, Long Island, New York."
In addition, the airplane was "engaged seconds later by a second missile fired from a closer position to the south of [the plane's] track."
There were 230 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 747 when it was destroyed, on the evening of July 17, 1996. The plane was bound for Paris and, at the time of the explosion, was eight miles off Long Island.
Government officials have suggested that the plane was brought down when a spark ignited fumes in a nearly empty fuel tank causing it to explode, but they haven't been able to explain the source for the spark. Donaldson based his claims on an analysis of physical evidence and eyewitness accounts, which he has detailed in a 109-page report (available at http://members.aol.com/fl800/ ).
Those appearing at the briefing to support Donaldson's theory included a helicopter pilot who saw the explosion, a man who saw it from the ground, and a now-retired TWA captain who had served as flight engineer on the same plane just a few hours before, on its flight from Athens.
Donaldson believes that a missile detonated on the plane's left side, about 20 feet from the hull and "probably slightly low," sending a shock wave that blew open the skin on the left wing. The airplane then moved violently to the right and rolled almost onto its back in an instant, some "144 degrees in one second."
The stress created by the missile explosion caused the plane itself to explode in bright flash followed by a dull red-orange fireball that fell to the water amid a cloud of black smoke.
In preparing his report, Donaldson analyzed the composition and distribution of debris from the plane, interviewed witnesses who claimed to have seen a missile streaking toward the plane (and turning as if homing in on the plane's radio signals), and examined all the official documents released in the case.
He said that he is apparently "the only trained accident investigator" who has interviewed most of the witnesses; the FBI allegedly blocked NTSB investigators from conducting their own interviews.
Among the eyewitnesses who saw what appeared to be a missile attack, Donaldson said, was an FBI agent. "He said he had seen a plane shot down."
Admiral Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attended the briefing in support of Donaldson. "This certainly appears to be an act of terrorism," Moorer said. He called the Donaldson report "very excellent" and said Congress should conduct its own investigation of the explosion.
Vernon Grose, a physicist and former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, attended the briefing as an observer. He said he was interviewed on CNN for six hours the night of the disaster and has been interviewed on the subject some 170 times.
"I've spent two years defending the NTSB," he said, only to find that the facts don't seem to line up with the official story. He told WorldNetDaily that he felt "betrayed" by the NTSB. The Donaldson briefing "disturbed" him, and he believes that government officials may have come to a conclusion first, then tried to make the facts fit their theory. "There ought to be an open, public hearing" to address the points made by Donaldson and others.
Grose said he's not a fan of conspiracy theories, and he believes there might be a reasonable explanation for the government's behavior in this case. "But if the truth contradicts what has been said, let it be heard," he said.
At the briefing, Captain Al Mundo, flight engineer on the same plane on its previous flight, said he finds the official theory "highly improbable." After the earlier flight, he had performed a procedure that cleared the center fuel tank.
"I question whether vapors were even in the tank," he said, due to physical processes that should have cleared any vapors that were present. The helicopter pilot eyewitness -- Fred Meyer, a lawyer and Vietnam veteran Naval aviator -- said at the briefing that, "Based on two combat tours, it is my firm belief to this day that it was military ordnance."
The government theory, he said, is "a government excuse for something -- totally mystifying. I know what I saw."
Richard Goss, a businessman who saw what appeared to be a missile, said that at first he thought it was part of a fireworks display. "Someone else at the Yacht Club [from which he saw the incident] even said, 'Look at the fireworks!' and we waited for the display."
His reaction to the government's version as seen in a CIA-produced computer simulation: "Personally, it was a joke to me. It was an insult. It was so different from what I saw."
Donaldson's report is full of tantalizing details. On the day of the explosion, a Beirut newspaper received a fax, apparently from an Islamic terrorist group, stating that "Tomorrow morning we will strike the Americans in a way they do not expect and it will be very surprising to them." The Flight 800 disaster occurred at 8:31 p.m. EDT -- which, on the Arabian Peninsula, was the next morning.
On November 17, 1995, eight months before the Flight 800 disaster, two aircraft off Long Island reported seeing a bright, fast-moving object trailing smoke and not registering on FAA radar. The object passed within 2,000 to 3,000 feet of the two aircraft.
Radar detected an object, apparently a surface vessel, only 2.9 nautical miles from Flight 800 when it exploded. It was traveling at 30 knots and "avoided the visual range of all other surface contacts" until it got out of range of Islip radar.
"This is a normal military tactic," Donaldson noted, not the action of someone who had just witnessed a plane crash. Donaldson reported that some of the strongest evidence for a missile explosion -- the drastic change in apparent altitude, speed, and other factors noted by the flight data recorder (FDR) at 8:31:13 p.m. -- appeared to have been removed from the official version of the FDR's readout.
"The first version of the digital readout of the flight data recorder the NTSB published on the Internet was correct. It showed [the] data record ending at the beginning of the 13 second line.
"The second version, handed to reporters at the Baltimore Hearings [conducted by NTSB], had the 12 second line penned out.
"The third version on the Internet, altered April 8, 1998, has now totally deleted the 12 second line."
NTSB officials claimed the numbers at the 13 second line are "garbage" akin to the "snow" that appears on a videotape between a newly-recorded segment and material that was previously recorded. But that doesn't make sense, Donaldson said, because the numbers are internally consistent (they relate logically to one another) and they are within the bounds of possibility (for example, degree measurements all fall between 0 and 360).
"You'll have a hard time finding an airline pilot, off the record," who believes the official story, Donaldson said. The NTSB, he said, "has been politicized."
"There is no organized cover-up" in the conspiratorial sense, he said. Rather, in typical bureaucratic fashion, top officials let the official version be known to the people under them.
In turn, lower-level investigators -- each of whom possessed only partial knowledge of the facts in the case -- assumed that the higher-ups had a basis for their theory, and set about to find the facts that would back it up. But who made the decision that the fuel-tank theory would become the official version? "You've got to go above the NTSB and above the Justice Department to get the answer," Donaldson suggested.