Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue. His latest book is the blockbuster "Deconstructing Obama."More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of a five-part series this week in WorldNetDaily of commentaries by independent writer and Emmy-award-winning producer Jack Cashill detailing what he has learned in the course of producing “Silenced: Flight 800 and The Subversion of Justice,” a documentary video which presents compelling evidence that TWA Flight 800 was indeed shot down by missile fire and of the massive cover-up that followed that tragic event by the federal government.
At this juncture, the NTSB hearing – as it often does – gets bizarre and Clintonian. No one likes to lie, not even David Mayer. So he fudges. In a “hypothetical missile attack,” Mayer testifies, a witness would first have seen one streak of light, the hypothetical missile. Then he would have seen a second streak of light, the “airplane in crippled flight.”
“What horrible luck!” I say to Creech in a darkly humorous moment. “First the nose falls off the plane spontaneously, without any hint of an explosion, and then it gets hit with a missile.” No other reading of Mayer’s testimony makes sense.
“We could not find anyone describing this scenario,” says Mayer semi-honestly, “one that began with two sequential streaks of light and concluded with a fireball.” Of course, no one saw that scenario. It is preposterous. Nor can Mayer’s double talk be written off to nervousness or confusion. It was all scripted and rehearsed.
Other witness drawings might have proved even more awkward to explain away than 649′s. But fortunately for the NTSB, at least 30 of the drawings have turned up missing.
According to an NTSB exhibit, however, 96 witnesses did report seeing the streak come off the horizon. Still, this did not deter the agency from creating its own animation, one that also showed a noseless plane ascending from a starting point 20 degrees above the horizon.
“We studied all the witness reports,” said Mayer fatuously. “They are consistent with crippled flight, not a missile.”
Cmdr. Donaldson strenuously disagrees. His disgust for the NTSB theory of breakup is palpable.
“They got smart when the CIA got laughed out of town by aviators,” he scoffs. “The NTSB figured they’d get away with half of it. So they said it climbed 1,700 feet. It didn’t.”
To sell the NTSB theory, Mayer had to discredit all the witness testimony and each of the key witnesses one by one, Mike Wire included. As he did in the case of 649, Mayer unveiled a stunning series of rationalizations, one more contrived than the next.
In the case of consulting engineer, Paul Angelides, Mayer claims that in his July 21, 1996, interview with the FBI, Angelides mentions seeing only “a red flare descending.” Adds Mayer, “He makes no mention of other details.”
This is nonsense. Angelides – whom we interviewed at length – gave the FBI a detailed, point-by-point sketch of what he saw from the deck of his beach house, and this included an object streaking out to sea, a second streak rising off the horizon, a ship, as well as the climactic fireball.
This charade climaxed with his discussion of the “fifth witness,” Major Fritz Meyer. Through an elaborate series of charts, Mayer made a specious, almost comical, case that, given the time it took the National Guard helicopter to reach the crash site – it arrived, in fact, when bodies were still falling from above – Major Meyer “saw a fireball, not a missile.”
It is a good thing Major Meyer was not present at the NTSB hearing. Despite the similarity of their names, the contrast between the major and the “doctor” could not be starker. To visualize the laconic, no-nonsense Major Meyer, imagine John Wayne in his gruff, mature period. Unlike Mayer, Major Meyer got his experience with missiles the hard way, rescuing downed pilots in Vietnam. He completed 46 missions in Vietnam, many north of the DMZ, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He describes what he saw on July 17 without hesitance:
It was definitely a rocket motor. What I saw explode was definitely ordnance. I have enough experience. I saw one, two, three, four explosions before the fireball. The explosion of the fuel tank was the last event, not the initiating event. The initiating event was a high velocity explosion, not fuel. It was ordnance.
The FBI agent in charge of the investigation, Jim Kallstrom, specifically denounced Major Meyer and these other key witnesses. “I have no idea why they say what they say,” he blustered. “It’s nonsense. It’s stupid. It has no base in fact at all.” Remember, the FBI investigated Major Meyer for all of five minutes.
There is some question, however, as to whether even the NTSB believed in the ascending plane theory. Asked Jim Hall of Mayer in a telling exchange during the 2000 hearing, “If you could show that the airplane did not climb after the nose departed, would that change your analysis?”
“No, sir,” Doctor Mayer replied. “Though we believe the plane climbed after the nose departed … our analysis is not dependent on it.”
They believe the plane climbed? Their analysis is not dependent on it? This, from the same expert who testified an hour earlier that “We studied all the witness reports. … They are consistent with crippled flight not a missile.”
The questions remain. Why did no one in the major media challenge so demonstrably weak a theory, let alone the CIA’s inexplicable role in creating it? Why did no one critique Mayer’s appalling testimony? And a more vexing question: Why did the NTSB and the CIA champion a theory in which they themselves had little faith and in which almost no one else had any?
“What troubles me most,” says physicist Dr. Thomas Stalcup of the NTSB, “is their insistence that there is no physical evidence of a criminal act or explosion and that’s completely false.”
Even by the generous standards of the Clinton administration, this was a troubled investigation. Not just in the witness testimony, but in every salient detail. A quick review here gives some sense of the problem’s breadth.
Let’s start with the radar. Although the FBI confiscated the radar data from all reporting stations, they did an imperfect job of controlling them. As mentioned earlier, the FAA reported a possible missile strike to the White House immediately after the crash. In December 1996, the NTSB leaned on the FAA to make it go away. Wrote Bernie Loeb, NTSB Director of Aviation Safety:
I would appreciate it if you could verify that all specialists and/or managers … agree that there is no evidence within the FAA ATC radar of a track that would suggest a high-speed target merged with TWA 800.
But the FAA was not quick to roll over. “Although we understand and share your desire to allay public concern over this issue, we cannot comply with your request,” responded David Thomas, FAA Director of Accident Investigation. “By alerting law-enforcement agencies, air-traffic control personnel simply did what was prudent at the time and reported what appeared to them to be a suspicious event. To do less would have been irresponsible.”
At a House hearing in July of 1997, the NTSB argued lamely that the radar tape showing the projectile “might not be authentic,” but there is no good reason to doubt its legitimacy. The FBI was concerned enough about leaked radar data to confiscate a copy from retired United pilot Richard Russell.
“I’m offended by it,” Russell told the AP. “They took my property away, but that’s the way they operate. I knew that they would be doing this. It’s a cover-up.”
One of the Navy radar tapes, RP44, raises eyebrows as well, not for what is on it, but for what isn’t. The last sweep of the Riverhead data shows four data points deleted right where Flight 800 was supposed to be.
“It’s just like any investigation where evidence comes up missing, there might be a reason,” Dr. Stalcup argues, “but when you have data that’s not just missing but deleted that doesn’t happen by itself.”
Radar sweeps also picked up a good-sized ship speeding away from the crash site at a brisk 30 knots. At first the Feds refused to acknowledge its existence. Nearly six months later, Louis D. Schilioro, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI, admitted, “Despite extensive efforts, the FBI has been unable to identify this vessel.”
And then there is the issue of explosives. The FBI found traces of PETN on the plane and RDX, a combination commonly found in missiles. The FBI’s best explanation for their presence borders on the comical – a careless canine bomb-sniffing exercise.
In September of 1996, just as The New York Times was zeroing in on a likely explosion, the FBI interviewed a patrolman for the St. Louis Airport Police Department responsible for such exercises. He admitted having planted explosives on a TWA “wide-bodied” a month before the crash. This, argued the FBI, must have been the source of the explosive residue, even if the residue type was different and even if the officer placed it other than where it was found on Flight 800.
It gets worse. The officer was not required to write down the ID number of the plane or the gate, but he did keep highly-detailed time logs on the exercise. During the time his dog was happily romping through an empty plane, the “Flight 800″ 747 was filled with Hawaii-bound passengers, ready to back out of the gate. One gate over at that very moment was an empty TWA 747, quite likely the exercise site for our valiant pooch. This is still another bit of easy reporting the major media chose not to do.
There were problems with the flight data recorder as well. Glen Schultz, an expert in the field, made a compelling case to the top NTSB brass in December 2000, that the last four seconds were deleted. The NTSB promised to get back to him. Schultz is still waiting.