Fateful 4 seconds
© Jack Cashill
Editor's note: The following column by independent filmmaker Jack Cashill explores how the official explanation of the TWA Flight 800 disaster fell apart upon examination in his new video documentary "Silenced: Flight 800 and the Subversion of Justice," available through WorldNetDaily's online store.
James Sanders, a former police officer turned investigative reporter, co-wrote this report. Sanders is the author of "The Downing of TWA Flight 800" and "Altered Evidence," among other books.
On Dec. 12, 2000 – more than four years after the tragic crash of TWA 800 – Jim Hall, chairman of the NTSB, sat uncomfortably across from Don and Donna Nibert. There was good reason for his discomfort. The Niberts, from Montoursville, Pa., had lost their 16-year-old daughter in the crash and had journeyed to Hall's D.C. office to find out why. Hall, arguably the least qualified and most political chair in NTSB history, surrounded himself with his director of research and engineering, legal adviser and two flight data recorder specialists.
At the request of Don Nibert, Glen Schulze, a Flight Data Recorder expert, joined this group as well. For the record, the FDR is a device that records precisely what the plane is doing, microsecond by microsecond. If a mechanical problem had begun to unfold within the center wing tank, the Flight Data Recorder would have picked up clues as the event spread throughout the 747. The same holds true if the plane had been blasted by a missile warhead explosion. Clues would begin to appear on the Flight Data Recorder.
As the meeting unfolded, Schulze made a lengthy, highly technical presentation to the NTSB's top FDR experts. He paused briefly after explaining the first four of his five explanatory flip charts, looked the NTSB experts in the eye and challenged them boldly:
"Hard evidence extracted from the NTSB's own reports is consistent with the FBI and NTSB withholding the last 4 FL 800 FDR one second data blocks and over 3,000 data bits from the public."
In a world with more honor, these would have been fighting words. Schulze had presented factual evidence, all of which originated within the NTSB laboratories, that its final Flight 800 FDR report was missing the last four seconds and 3,136 digital bits of flight parameter information. He also charged that, in response to at least three Freedom of Information Act petitioners, the NTSB had provided highly edited CD copies of the Flight 800 Cockpit Voice Recorder tape that were also missing those four seconds.
By the year 2000, however, at least at the top rungs of the NTSB, "honor" was only a memory. If the science here is complex and not easily transcribed, the reaction of the accused needs no explanation. As Schulze notes reveal, "No NTSB staff member commented on or objected to the 4 missing seconds claim."
Instead, incredibly, Jim Hall made a petty complaint about the wording used by Schulze in a letter to the Niberts. In the letter Schulze had asserted that the characteristics and properties of the (NTSB) CD waveforms were "consistent with this CD being a crudely manufactured and bungled forgery of the actual TWA FL 800 FDR tape." Hall had little stomach for straight talk.
Brushing Hall's complaint aside, Schulze presented more hard evidence to back up his charge that the CDs were crude forgeries. As he asserted, each CD released under FOIA should provide one consistent set of FDR information. This was not the case. Instead, each CD presented highly inconsistent data at the precise location on the tape 4 seconds of data appear to have been removed.
Schulze contended that the NTSB withheld from the public the fact that the FDR has the precise time, to the second, that the FDR ceased recording data. But instead of sharing that data – "too accurate" in the damning words of one NTSB expert – the NTSB used FAA and Navy radar data to manipulate the numbers and regain the four seconds missing from the FDR.
In fact, the embedded code shows that the FDR stopped recording at 00:31:08 Greenwich Mean Time, almost four seconds earlier than the cockpit voice recorder and radar data indicate. The implications of this discrepancy are huge. These four missing seconds would provide evidence as to what did happen to TWA 800 and may very well conflict with the official government theory that Flight 800 exploded due to mechanical failure.
The NTSB experts presented no information to refute Schulze's factual presentation. They lamely offered the excuse that the "transient pulse" or spike marking the end point of altered data on the FDR was "normal and is the result of the erase head losing AC power." The experts could not, however, explain why this spike was removed from one of the three FDR versions the NTSB has fobbed off on the public.
The only means by which scientific testing and analysis can confirm or deny NTSB/FBI tampering with the FDR is to release the original FDR tape to an independent laboratory. Don Nibert asked Jim Hall to approve such an independent test. Hall asked for the request to be put in writing. It was.
More than six months have now passed since Jim Hall and senior NTSB officials were presented with evidence that data they were releasing had been altered. A week after this meeting, with two years left on his tenure as chairman, Hall abruptly quit the NTSB.
The NTSB has been given ample opportunity to turn the original FDR tape over to an independent testing facility for analysis. This testing would either disprove criminal conduct on the part of senior government officials or provide the basis for felony indictments on a conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The NTSB has "completely ignored and failed to respond to Mr. Nibert's perfectly legal and proper request as a FL 800 Family Member," Schulze recently revealed.
Based on the evidence, including the NTSB's refusal to place its own critical evidence to the test, Schulze unabashedly concludes, "It is my strong belief that the NTSB cannot release the FDR accident tape from FL 800 for the purpose of independent read-out and analysis without revealing their complicity in tampering with this most important piece of TWA FL 800 accident investigation."
Last week WND readers were presented compelling evidence that the FBI created a fictional witness report to enable the production of the CIA Flight 800 animation – a criminal act, conspiracy to obstruct justice. Now WND readers are presented with compelling evidence that the Flight 800 FDR was tampered with, quite possibly to remove any evidence contrary to the NTSB's claim that a mechanical failure doomed TWA Flight 800.
Only two agencies exist within the federal power structure that can deal with such specific criminal allegations: the Justice Department and the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform.
In that some senior career Justice Department officials may well have placed themselves criminally at risk by their conduct during the TWA Flight 800 investigation, Attorney General John Ashcroft would need almost superhuman political ability to force the department to investigate the system itself. But he must be encouraged to try. Please mail this article and last week's WND article on Mike Wire and how the cover-up unraveled to: Attorney General John Ashcroft, U. S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001.
Congressman Dan Burton's Committee on Government Reform operates under no such handicap. He must be encouraged to investigate the prima facie conspiracy to obstruct justice. Please mail these same two articles to: Congressman Dan Burton, Committee on Government Reform, 2157 Rayburn Building, Washington, DC 20515.
Ask the attorney general and congressman to act now to protect and defend the Constitution. If you don't ask, they have no reason to act and you have no right to complain.
Jack Cashill and James Sanders' First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America is now available. First Strike explains how a determined corps of ordinary citizens worked to reveal the compromise and corruption that tainted the federal investigation. With an impressive array of facts, Jack Cashill and James Sanders show the relationship between events in July 1996 and September 2001 and proclaim how and why the American government has attempted to cover up the truth.