Serious movement in D.C. – and if I hadn’t been there, I would not have believed it.
For several months Joan Wire and her daughter have been trying to secure an appointment with a highly effective government official we’ll simply call Mr. Washington. Joan Wire is the stalwart wife of Mike Wire. Mike is the storied “man on the bridge,” the single most critical eyewitness in the saga of TWA Flight 800, the 747 that was inexplicably blown out of the sky on the night of July 17, 1996.
The CIA built its notorious zoom-climb animation around Mike’s position on the Beach Lane Bridge in Westhampton. The FBI then used this animation to discredit all the eyewitnesses. To make Wire’s story work to its advantage, however, the CIA had to disregard what Mike actually told the FBI and fully fabricate a second FBI interview with Mike.
The CIA likely chose Wire because as a Philadelphia area millwright he would have less influence and less access to the media than the many of the wealthy vacationers in the Hamptons who had seen what Wire saw.
In one of those providential moments, when the Wires called to tell me they had secured an appointment, I was hanging out with my 50 or so closest relatives at our rent-a-compound in the un-Hyannis honky-tonk town of Seaside Park, N.J. The Wires were just about an hour way. On the night of July 26, they came over for dinner. On the morning of July 27, we hooked up at the Chesapeake House on I-95 and carpooled into D.C. together.
On the way down, we voiced our shared expectation that Mr. Washington would usher us into his office, listen to us politely for 15 minutes, fake some emergency, pat us on our heads, tell us he’d look into it and send us on our way.
As it turned out, Mr. Washington ushered us into his office at 11 a.m., listened to us more than politely, and at 1:30 p.m., after two and a half intense hours, I stood up and announced that I had family obligations back in New Jersey and had to go. Joining us for that entire period was Ms. Virginia, Washington’s chief intelligence aide. They were both all ears.
We began by showing them the eyewitness section of the video, “Silenced,” which I had put on DVD primarily for this occasion, never suspecting that I would be the one showing it. Mike Wire then elaborated on his own role. When he spoke, no one doubted him. Although there were 270 others who saw what Wire had seen, his testimony alone is enough to convince the unbelieving. The more-than-solid, 6-foot 6-inch Army veteran has a no-nonsense air that nicely grounded everything he and I said.
For my part, I connected the political dots: the players, the motivation, the rough logic, the ad hoc decisions and the likely connection to Bojinka, now much again in the news, and Sept. 11. None of this shocked our listeners. They had had their own indirect contact with the players who form something of a Clinton shadow government in exile. These players are now publicly contributing to certain 2006 congressional candidates in the hope of securing power anew, power enough to shut down any future investigation.
We also discussed Sandy Berger’s motivation in rifling the archives and shredding documents, the most under-investigated story since TWA Flight 800 itself. I speculated that Berger destroyed a Bojinka summary, which I know for a fact President Clinton had read and annotated in the late summer of 1996. The incriminating part of Bojinka, at least as it related to 9-11, I explained, was not the bombing of the planes, but the threat within to use planes as bombs. No one looked at me like I was crazy.
Mr. Washington was fully versed not only in Bojinka but also in the threat of its architect, Ramzi Yousef, to blow up a plane in the summer of 1996 to throw his New York City trial for Bojinka into mistrial. I could not verify that Yousef was responsible, but I could verify that he claimed to have been.
Toward the end of the session, Mr. Washington all but apologized to us for the state of government today. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” he lamented.
That provoked in me my “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” moment. On the up side, I encouraged him, just one night earlier the Wires and I had been plotting strategy over hamburgers with my siblings while various little nieces and nephew swarmed around our picnic table. The next day, we drove down, joking how absurd it was that three average Joes like ourselves had wangled a high-level meeting on a story that could dwarf Watergate if broken. “Is this a great country or what?” I laughed, but I meant it.
The Wires and I have taken this story about as far as our information and influence can carry us. Everything we know we have already said. Whether Mr. Washington can take it further I do not know. He could surely use a little help from the New York Times or others in the media or others in government. This may never happen, but then again, I never thought this meeting would have happened either.
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