Pilot Sheds New Light on TWA 800 Scandal
© Jack Cashill
I received the message above from retired USAF Lt. Col.-- and TWA Capt.--Allen Strasser. He was responding to my invitation to conceal his identity.
Had there been a few others of his character in the TWA Flight 800 investigation, the cover-up would have come undone a long time ago.
In late March 1995—sixteen months before the July 1996 destruction of TWA Flight 800--Strasser was a guest on the USS Normandy, a ship that would find itself at the center of the TWA 800 controversy.
The ship was positioned off the coast of Wallops Island, Virginia, the home of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. About five to ten miles away from the Normandy was the USS Knox.
That night, slightly after midnight, a target missile was launched from Wallops Island. The Knox then launched an intercept missile. Strasser stood on the starboard wing bridge of the Normandy and watched the Knox missile ascend.
After the launch, Strasser returned to the ship’s control room where fewer than ten people monitored its computer systems, reprogrammed to put all of their computing power into the Knox intercept shot.
The purpose of the test was to help upgrade the US Navy Standard arm missile from a ship-to-air, anti-aircraft missile to a ship-to-air, anti-missile missile.
The test proved fruitful, the first after two previous failures. Prophetically perhaps, the successful intercept took place high over the ocean just south of Long island.
According to Strasser, on the night TWA 800 went down off the south coast of Long Island, an American Airline Captain reported seeing a missile ascend from Wallops Island.
Strasser argues that if the USS Knox had fired the fatal shot, the crew may not have known the missile had a booster rocket capable of propelling it farther and higher than a typical Standard arm missile.
The missile would have been loaded in the vertical Aegis launcher, which was not visible to the crew. This may help answer the question of why no sailor has come forward to report the incident.
Wallops Island uses a special radar site to record these tests. When Strasser inquired, he discovered that all the data and radar tapes from the TWA 800 timeframe had been removed.
During the TWA 800 investigation, there proved to be a great deal of confusion, likely intentional, as to the location of the USS Normandy on the fateful night of July 17, 1996.
In her book, In the Blink of an Eye, written with the cooperation of the FBI, Pat Milton reports that FBI agents “verified the precise location of the Normandy by military logs, radar maps and satellite data.”
The FBI, continues Milton, confirmed the Navy’s claim that at the time of TWA Flight 800’s destruction the Normandy was positioned “181 miles southwest of the crash site, at latitude 37 degrees, 32.8 minutes north, longitude 74 degrees, 0.92 minutes west, off the Manasquan inlet in New Jersey.”
Milton obviously failed to check the coordinates the FBI had given her. These coordinates place the ship not off the coast of New Jersey, but almost precisely off the coast of Wallops Island, Virginia.
When former JFK press secretary Pierre Salinger involved himself in the case in November 1996, he pressed the authorities for information about the Normandy.
Again echoing the FBI, Milton writes, “The agents told him that the ship had been 181 miles south of the crash site when Flight 800 exploded, and not in the position to hit the plane with any of its armaments.”
This information is also misleading. In the test that Strasser observed, the Normandy programmed and monitored the Knox missile. It did not fire any missiles itself.
“I believe the loss of TWA 800 was by a missile,” says Strasser, “and there is a 75-85% chance it was our own missile.”
That much said, Strasser does not rule out the possibility that the Iranians might have retaliated for the accidental 1988 shoot down of the Iranian Airliner by the USS Vincennes.
“Getting a radar missile to track and shoot down TWA 800
would be quite a feat,” Strasser cautions, “but it is possible.”
The fact that the TWA 800 incident took place on July 17, National Liberation Day in Saddam’s Iraq, raises the odds of terrorist involvement, from either Iran or Iraq.
The June 25, 1996, bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. Air Force personnel—a suspected Iranian hit—had ratcheted up the alert level worldwide.
Security concerns about the Atlanta Olympics, scheduled to begin on July 19, 1996—as it turned out, two days after the TWA 800 disaster--further added to the tension.
Given the threat level, the Clinton White House had ordered Special Operations forces to pre-position in the Persian Gulf.
As reported in May 2006 edition of Leatherneck.com, a publication for Marine veterans, the military concealed the purposeful Gulf build-up under the cover of a routine training exercise, called EXERCISE RUGGED NAUTILUS.
Almost assuredly, the “routine” U.S. Navy exercises taking place off the Long Island coast on the night of July 17, 1996, were no more routine than those in the Persian Gulf and for the same reason.
In an environment this fraught with potential terror, it is possible that a Navy missile intercepted not a target, but a terrorist plane or missile, and that TWA Flight 800 was destroyed in the ensuing blast.
In any case, the night of the disaster found Jeffrey Erickson, president of the employee-owned TWA, in London. According to Strasser’s best information, Erickson chartered a jet upon learning of the incident and flew first to JFK and then to Washington.
At the Pentagon, Erickson got a briefing from the military before proceeding to the White House. After the White House meeting, Erickson reportedly told the TWA union president, “We have to play ball with them or they're going to f--- us.”
Play ball TWA did, but it did not stop them from getting f---ed in the end.
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.
|- About Mega Fix: The Dazzling Political Deceit that Led to 9/11 (DVD) -
- Buy the Mega Fix DVD -