TWA 800 controversy heats up


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TWA Flight 800





© Jack Cashill
June 25, 2001 -

On a warm June evening in Kansas City, the historic home of TWA and the current site of its huge overhaul base, a group of 75 or so airline pilots watched the documentary "Silenced: Flight 800 and the Subversion of Justice" in stunned horror.

Afterwards, not a one among them, either publicly or privately, challenged the video's thesis that TWA Flight 800 had indeed been shot down. Offered instead were corroborating details, particularly from angry TWA pilots, about the money trail and the inexplicable Pentagon visits of then TWA CEO Jeff Erickson. Said one TWA pilot: "90 percent of us believe there was a government cover-up."

From the Boeing community in Seattle the response has been much the same. Writes one Boeing engineer, a man who had spent countless hours helping analyze TWA 800 on Boeing's Cray Supercomputers, "I brought it ("Silenced") to work today and showed it during lunch to eight of my fellow Boeing workers. The room was deathly quiet the entire time. ... My impression then was a missile strike, and it is even more so today."

Even more troubling is the response of Mike Wire, the Philadelphia millwright on whose presumed testimony the CIA based its notorious animation of TWA 800 rocketing upwards like a missile:

"The video 'Silenced' presents a factual reenactment of what I saw that night. My part of the video also is what I told the FBI a few days after the incident at an in-depth interview at my residence. As you can see, what I saw originated from behind the houses on the beach – that is why I at first thought it to be a firework. It most definitely didn't start up in the sky like the FBI/CIA story says. I don't know how they could (come) up with that scenario because it doesn't match what I saw and told the FBI or what other witnesses I have talked to since May of 2000 had reported."

Writes Dwight Brumley, a 20-year Navy vet who watched the tragedy unfold from above, after watching "Silenced":

"The CIA animation in no way represents what I saw that night. Based on the time line, as I understand it, the "flare" that I reported seeing off the right side of and below USAir 217 could not, I repeat, could not have been TWA 800 in crippled flight just before and after it exploded. There are two reasons why. First, TWA 800 would have been moving in my field of view from left to right, not from right to left as I clearly observed; and second, my understanding of the basic laws of aerodynamics leads me to conclude there is no way that TWA 800, with the nose section gone, could have possibly climbed 3,000-4,000 feet as the CIA video portrays."

Not all responses to the project, however, have been supportive. In the May issue of Kansas City business magazine, Ingram's, and comparably in a five-part WorldNetDaily series, I wrote of Peter Goelz, the then managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board:

"Instructive in Goelz's technique was his handling of Kelly O'Meara, a reporter for The Washington Times Insight Magazine. Some time after the crash, O'Meara interviewed Goelz about some radar data newly released by the NTSB itself.

"As soon as O'Meara left his office, Goelz called Howard Kurtz of the rival Washington Post to plant a story. Kurtz would quote Goelz as saying 'She really believes that the United States Navy shot this thing down and there was a fleet of warships.' As O'Meara's audiotape revealed, it was the mocking and evasive Goelz who raised the issue of missiles, not O'Meara.

"Wrote Insight editor Paul Rodriguez, 'In my experience as a veteran newsman, journalists would never roll over and allow government bureaucrats to use them to slime their colleagues. Yet that precisely is what recently happened.'"

Peter Goelz was quick to respond. In a letter dated, June 5, he wrote:

"Your story, like O'Meara's is a melange of half-truths, outright falsehoods and sheer stupidity. The sad thing about your piece and Ms. O'Meara's is the hurt that they can cause to the 100's of Navy personnel who worked 24 hour shifts to recover all 230 victims and for the family members of flight 800 who may read your groundless charges.

"In the end there were no missiles, no bombs, no mystery fleet, no fleeing ships, no terrorists, no U.S. Navy involvement. It was just a tired old 747 with an empty, explosive center wing tank.

"For all those involved it was a tragedy of incalculable pain. For 'pundits' like you, a topic for sport and financial gain. Shame on you. Shame on Ingram's."

When Goelz saw the WorldNetDaily series he responded once more, this time by e-mail under the subject heading, "GARBAGE."

"Just finished you [sic] five part WND series – it's really garbage – and to think you're trying to make a buck off it as well – I fear it's a new low. By the way, I just checked on and [James] Sander's book [Altered Evidence] is currently rated as the 92,000th most purchased book. Don't start the new pool just yet."

For the record, under President Clinton, Peter Goelz ascended from the ranks of the Missouri River gambling lobbyists to become chief administrator of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in just a brief few years. Ironically, he uses the same tactics against me that he denies having used against Kelly O'Meara: ridicule, intimidation, blind charges of profiteering, and the pious exploitation of the U.S. Navy and victim families.

In truth, neither in the article nor in the video, "Silenced," do I even imply that the Navy shot down Flight 800. In fact, three of the most compelling witnesses in the video are Navy people; a fourth is a family member. For the record, Goelz's NTSB refused to let any of the 736 official eyewitnesses – several of them experienced military observers – testify at either hearing, and it disallowed all discussion of explosive residue (found all over the plane) lest the FBI one day reopen the criminal case. And yes, as he knows and the FBI acknowledges, there was a fleeing ship.

As to the plane, it was not particularly old and certainly no more explosive than the average 747. If the NTSB had believed what Goelz has said, they would have recalled those planes quicker than you could say "Firestone." Ask the machinists union. Ask any TWA pilot. Ask a Boeing engineer. After spending $40 million, the NTSB was unable to identify a scenario that would allow the plane to blow up.

In the video, my partner James Sanders and I did something the NTSB refused to do – talk to the eyewitnesses, position them on site, review the drawings they made for the FBI, and much more.

The fifth anniversary on July 17 presents the last great opportunity to share this story with a mainstream media that definitely does not want to hear it. If the overwhelming public response in the last two weeks is any indication, this is one story that may well from the bottom up.





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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