Mega Fix Preview Part IV: Khobar TowersPart V: TWA Flight 800
By Jack Cashill
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
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On July 17, 1996—Liberation Day in Saddam’s Iraq and two days before the Atlanta Olympics—at least 270 people see streaking objects zigzagging off the horizon and culminating in the destruction of TWA Flight 800 off the south coast of Long Island.
At the time of the crash Richard Clarke is serving as chairman of the Coordinating Security Group on terrorism (CSG). Within thirty minutes of the plane’s crash, Clarke tells us, he convenes a meeting of the CSG in the White House situation room.
“The FAA,” Clarke reports, is “at a total loss for an explanation. The flight path and the cockpit communications were normal. The aircraft climbed to 17,000 feet, then there was no aircraft.”
In fact, the FAA does have an explanation. Its radar operators in New York saw on their screens an unknown object “merging” with TWA 800 in the seconds before the crash and rushed the radar data to Washington. For reasons that will become clear later, Clarke also deceives the reader about the altitude of TWA 800. The last altitude the FAA actually recorded was about 13,700 feet. This is easily verified and beyond debate.
And remember the concept of planes as bombs, Ramzi Yousef and the Bojinka-related plot? President Clinton, in fact, reviews these plans in the summer of 1996, after TWA Flight 800 has been destroyed. USAF Colonel Buzz Patterson, who carried the “nuclear football” for the president, relates in his book, Dereliction of Duty that he was returning a daily intelligence update from the president’s desk to the National Security Council when he notices the heading “Operation Bojinka.” He keys on a reference to “a plot to use commercial airliners as weapons.” As a pilot he has a keen interest in the same.
Beyond doubt, Clinton is aware of the potential use of planes as bombs in the summer of 1996, but he does nothing about it. Patterson also tentatively identifies Deputy National Security Advisor and political consigliere, Sandy Berger, as the one person holed up on the night of July 17 with Clinton in the family quarters. No document could be more damaging to the Clinton legacy than Clinton’s handwritten notes on Bojinka and related plans. Pilfering these might be worth the risk of getting caught.
About four weeks after the crash, based on his own rough timeline, Richard Clarke visits the site of the TWA 800 investigation on Long Island. There he casually stops to talk to a technician, who shares with Clarke the astounding fact that, despite all evidence to the contrary, an exploding fuel tank destroyed TWA Flight 800.
That same day, Clarke tells us that he returns to Washington and breathlessly shares his exploding fuel tank theory with chief of staff Leon Panetta and NSA director Tony Lake, even sketching the 747 design.
“Does the NTSB agree with you,” Lake asks Clarke.
“Not yet,” says Clarke. In one chance stroll through the hangar, the amateur Clarke discovers something that the NTSB has not yet discovered itself.
Clarke then adds the telling comment, “We were all cautiously encouraged.” They are “encouraged” because the political people do not want to face the consequences of terrorism. It could derail their cakewalk to reelection.
At this same time in the investigation, however, the FBI is ignoring the politics. Its agents are telling The New York Times that explosive residue has been found throughout the plane and especially along the right wing. Plus, the FBI’s Washington lab has identified the residue as PETN, a component of either missiles or bombs. The same Times article calls the finding “a serious blow to the already remote possibility that a mechanical accident caused the crash.”
Something has to give, and it’s the FBI. On August 22, future 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick—as the Clintons’ Deputy Attorney General she was also field commander at Oklahoma City--summons the FBI’s Jim Kallstrom to Washington for a come to Jesus meeting.
Kallstrom has been a good soldier the past five weeks. He’s kept all talk of eyewitnesses and satellites and radar and missiles out of the news. But the evidence has led him to a terrorist scenario of some sort, and there’s no easy way to turn back.
No account of the meeting provides any more than routine detail, but behaviors begin to change immediately, especially after the New York Times breaks a headline story the next day, top right, above the fold—“Prime Evidence Found That Device Exploded in Cabin of Flight 800.” This article steals the thunder from Clinton’s election-driven approval of welfare reform in that same day’s paper and threatens to undermine the whole peace and prosperity mantra of the Democratic convention just days away. Greg Norman indeed!
From this point on, the administration spends all its energies making Clarke’s exploding fuel tank theory stick. When the FBI is forced to change its story so does The New York Times. And America lets its guard down once more.
Next in the series: Mega Fix Preview Part V: The Atlanta Olympics
Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue.
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