An ABC News headline this week tells us without intending to just about all we need to know about the state of contemporary news: “CIA Chief: Not Ruling Out Terrorism in Malaysia Airlines Tragedy.”
That CIA chief would be John Brennan, an Obama appointee. Brennan first made the news in relation to Obama when one of his employees was caught tampering with Obama’s passport in 2008.
As to the president, liberal First Amendment lawyer James Goodale accurately summed up his trustworthiness in a New York Times op-ed, “President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom.”
As to the CIA, in the investigation of the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, its agents were recruited to create an animation to discredit the 270 FBI eyewitnesses to a missile strike.
Given what we know about Obama, Brennan, the CIA and the corruption of the TWA Flight 800 investigation, why would anyone even ask Brennan what he thought?
The one safe thing we can say at this point about the “unprecedented mystery” that is Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is that the authorities are not sharing what they know and probably never will.
Unfortunately, the involvement of American authorities like Brennan does not increase our confidence that the truth will out. No, in the case of TWA Flight 800, we created the model for covering-up an air disaster and have since exported that model.
The case of TWA Flight 800 is well enough known. On the night of July 17, 1996, hundreds if not thousands of people on Long Island’s south shore watched as unknown objects streaked up from the horizon and arced over toward TWA Flight 800 in the seconds before it exploded.
At that exact same moment, FAA radar operators out of New York picked up an unknown object on their radar screens “merging with TWA Flight 800.”
Indeed, when Ron Schleede of the National Transportation Safety Board first saw the radar data, he exclaimed, “Holy C––-, this looks bad.” He added later, “It showed this track that suggested something fast made the turn and took the airplane.”
Four years after the crash, NTSB officials came up with their own unverifiable explanation. According to the NTSB, at the very moment that these hundreds of eyewitness and FAA technicians were witnessing what appeared to be a missile attack, the airliner self-destructed in mid-air because of a center wing tank problem, the first such event in the 75 year history of commercial aviation.
While authorities were still working hard to sell the mechanical failure theory, they got another case to consider. In March 2001, a Thai Airways Boeing 737 exploded on the tarmac in Bangkok.
The Associated Press report on the day of the Thai explosion was admirably straightforward: “A passenger jet Thailand’s prime minister was to board exploded and went up in flames 35 minutes before its scheduled departure Saturday.”
“Thailand has a history of coups and violent overthrows of governments,” the AP reported. “The explosion came two days after Thaksin gave Thailand’s Constitutional Court 21 boxes of documents as part of his defense against a corruption indictment that could evict him from office.”
According to the AP, the Thai Airways president had said that there was “a loud noise that sounded like an explosion” before the fire started.
The AP paraphrased the plane’s captain as saying, “It was impossible for the plane to explode from an internal malfunction if the engines had not yet been started. The fully loaded fuel tanks, located in the plane’s wings, were intact … indicating that burning fuel was not the cause of the explosion.”
The New York Times was even more specific: “Minutes before Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was to board a Thai Airways jet this weekend, an explosion from beneath his assigned seat blew apart the plane.”
The investigation in Thailand took a page right out of the TWA Flight 800 playbook. This time the explosive residue, like all other evidence of a bomb, disappeared in a hurry.
On April 11, the NTSB issued a press release that reads like a crude parody of the TWA 800 investigation: “Air conditioning packs, which are located directly beneath the center wing tank and generate heat when they are operating, had been running continuously since the airplane’s previous flight, including about 40 minutes on the ground.”
Note the apocryphal TWA 800 scenario now transposed to a 737 on a Thailand tarmac: the heat, the overactive air conditioning, the center wing tank explosion.
The parody grows cruder still: “Although chemical traces of high-energy explosives were initially believed to be present, samples have been submitted to the FBI for confirmation. … The FBI has found no evidence of high explosives in any of the samples tested to date.”
How or why the NTSB and the FBI both got involved in a Thailand explosion was not at all clear. What was clear, however, was the dissembling.
Again, the NTSB imposed its patented center wing tank scenario, this time not in four years but in four weeks. Again, a 40-minute layover on a 95-degree day was made to seem unusually perilous. Again, the explanation held off the media.
The New York Times headlined only its second piece on the Thai Airways crash, “A Similarity Is Seen In 2 Plane Explosions.” The headline implies both the NTSB strategy and the Times’ passivity.
That no member of the major media expressed even the faintest bit of skepticism reveals all too much about the state of American journalism.
The American involvement in the Thai case was too quick and expedient. Still unable to identify an ignition source for TWA 800, the NTSB needed a parallel explosion to justify its miscellaneous rulings on that doomed flight.
As to the Thai prime minister, the one who was about to indict his buddies in a corruption scandal, the one who was about to board the plane, he would have welcomed an alternative explanation, one that would make him look less vulnerable and victimized.
The Malaysians are likely looking for an alibi as well. It took our authorities eight days to “find” the TWA 800 black boxes in 100 feet of water 10 miles south of the Hamptons.
I suspect it will take the Malaysians that long to find their black boxes as well. Then, they can figure out the most useful story they think they can get away with.
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