Those who accept the government’s claim that the crash of TWA Flight 800 was caused by a fuel-tank explosion dismiss the evidence that the plane was shot down accidentally by missiles launched in a Navy exercise off the Long Island coast. They say that such an accident could not have been covered up because a lot of Navy personnel would have known about it, and some of them would have talked.
One of them has finally done so. He recently said in an interview that I recorded that he was on the deck of a Navy submarine very close to the crash site and saw TWA 800 shot down.
He was brought to my attention by an acquaintance of his who told me that this retired Navy petty officer had said he was “underneath TWA 800 when he saw a missile hit it and the 747 explode overhead.” He had told this acquaintance that he had given a statement to the FBI when they returned to their port, and that the FBI had checked all their torpedo tubes and all their missile silos to make sure they had all the missiles on board that they had when they left port. Asked if there were other military vessels in the area, he had said, “Yes, several.”
When Pierre Salinger, at a press conference in March 1997, declared that TWA Flight 800 had been shot down accidentally by a U.S. Navy missile, this former presidential press secretary, U.S. Senator and ABC News correspondent, was mercilessly attacked by his former colleagues. They accused him of peddling unsubstantiated Internet gossip. Salinger said that his information had been confirmed by a source who learned of the Navy’s involvement from a friend who had a son in the Navy. The son was said to have personal knowledge that a Navy missile had downed the plane, but his father did not want to be identified, fearing his son would suffer retaliation for disclosing information the Navy was hiding.
There are hundreds of Navy and Coast Guard personnel, as well as some FBI, CIA, FAA, NTSB and former White House employees who know that the real cause of the crash of TWA 800 was papered over with a tissue of lies. Two of them, James Kallstrom and George Stephanopoulos, have made statements that indicate an official cover-up. Stephanopoulos, a Clinton adviser who is now an ABC News correspondent, mentioned on the air a secret meeting in the White House situation room “in the aftermath of the TWA 800 bombing.” Kallstrom, who headed the FBI’s TWA 800 investigation, told me – and I have this on tape – that three radar targets close to the crash site were Navy vessels on a classified maneuver. We know they were submarines because the radar tracks disappeared when TWA 800 crashed.
Our newly found talker was on one of those submarines. The Navy claims that it was at least 80 miles from the crash site, but he says it was very close, and that is confirmed by the radar tracks. In our taped interview, he was more guarded than he had been with his acquaintance. He said he didn’t want to do anything that might “mess up” his retirement.
He said he saw “something come up.” “I don’t know what in the hell it was,” he said, “but that’s what it looked …” Not completing what he started to say, he said, “You know, something went up.” He estimated that it went up about a mile from his location, which was only a few miles from the shore. He said there were a couple of other subs nearby. When told that the radar tracks of all three disappeared because they submerged when the plane went down, he said, “Yeah, that’s what we did.”
He acknowledged that a number of Navy vessels were heading for W-105, a large area of the ocean south of Long Island that is used for naval maneuvers. He said that nothing they did off Long Island was classified, but he was not comfortable in discussing it.
When I called him a few days later, he was scared to death. He feared the Navy would withdraw his pension if I reported what he had said. It was not possible to convince him that the Navy couldn’t do that. Not wanting to worsen his anxiety, his name and other details are being withheld as we try to get his and other interview reports that the FBI has withheld.
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“Altered Evidence” from Flight 800
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Reed Irvine is the chairman of Accuracy In Media, a media watchdog group based in Washington, D.C.