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TWA Flight 800





By Jack Cashill


Scooped by the Washington Post on the second biggest political scandal of our time, Watergate, the New York Times had a chance to even the score. The paper had an all but proprietary lock on the most consequential political cover-up in recent American history, the case of TWA Flight 800. But the Times, alas, blew it, undone less by its ideological affinity for President Clinton than by old-fashioned journalistic hubris. On July 17, 1996 TWA Flight 800 exploded only 12 minutes out of JFK along the south shore of Long Island, New York Times territory to be sure. On July 18, the last day of official honesty, Times reporters were all over the place, and they were pressing for the truth..

On that day, unnamed “government officials”—most likely the FBI—told The New York Times that air traffic controllers had “picked up a mysterious radar blip that appeared to move rapidly toward the plane just before the explosion.”.

These officials and the Times unequivocally linked the radar to the eyewitness sightings and the sightings to a missile attack. According to the Times’ sources, “The eyewitnesses had described a bright light, like a flash, moving toward the plane just before the initial explosion, and that the flash had been followed by a huge blast—a chain of events consistent with a missile impact and the blast produced by an aircraft heavily laden with fuel.” As one federal official told the Times that first morning, "It doesn't look good," with the clear implication of terrorism..

This was the last day these officials were open with the media about the possibility of a missile strike. The words “radar” and “eyewitness” would all but disappear from the Times’ reporting after that. Nor would the Times investigate the role of the military in the downing of TWA 800, not one paragraph, and not one word about satellites and what they might have captured.




Posted: October 18, 2005

Special Note:

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.

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