This July marks the 20th anniversary of the shoot down of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island. As such, it may well represent the last opportunity for those with inside information to come forward.
In the last week or two, as I have started to promote my new book on this subject, “TWA 800: The Crash, the Cover-Up, and the Conspiracy,” I have heard from a number of people with stories to tell. If you know something or know someone who does, please email me at [email protected]
Although most have given me permission to use their names, some have preferred that I not. To equalize things, I will refer to each of my correspondents only by a first name pseudonym.
Sam, the air safety chairman for the Airline Pilot’s Association, arrived at the crash scene on the first day. “From the get-go the FBI was all over us, no notebooks, no cameras, no nothing,” said Sam.
This was unprecedented. Sam worked through the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB was supposed to be in charge of the investigation. Under orders from the Clinton Justice Department, the FBI seized control on Day 1.
Sam soon identified a part of the plane that showed obvious damage from an external explosion. He had it tested it for explosive residue on site. It tested positive.
The next day he asked what happened to the part. He was told the FBI sent it to Washington for further testing. It was never seen or discussed again.
Sam began to speak out about the bully-boy tactics of the FBI and the misdirection of the investigation. The authorities responded by physically escorting him to a room where he was grilled by a psychologist.
Less than two weeks after he started, Sam was deemed unfit to work on the investigation. “To be removed unilaterally is unheard of,” he told me, but removed he was.
Mark, an air traffic controller (ATC), worked the night of July 17, 1996 – the night TWA Flight 800 was destroyed–at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) located in Westbury, New York.
Mark prefers anonymity. He believes the government “will seek revenge, retribution and/or any other remedy they feel like. I would be fearful my pension would be at risk.”
Mark saw the radar tape of the incident. In his opinion – and those of his colleagues – “A primary radar return (ASR-9) indicated vertical movement intersecting TWA 800.”
Asked by his supervisor if he had ever seen anything like this before, Mark said yes – while in his Navy days doing missile test fires at sea.
A day later, now knowing the full scope of the tragedy, Mark asked if he could take another look at the radar tape. “Can’t, it’s gone,” said his supervisor.
This was unprecedented. In incidents involving fatalities, the FAA demands that the tapes be preserved as evidence of fault or no fault. Said Mark, “So – no tape, no fault. What a sham!”
Joe was a pilot for TWA. Although he did not work the investigation, he knew many people who did. One was a Secret Service agent. He and Joe began passing information back and forth.
The agent went so far as to describe to Joe the types of missiles that were believed to be TWA 800’s undoing. He confirmed, too, that parts were regularly disappearing from the hangar.
Like so many TWA people, Joe remained curious about the fate of Flight 800. In his inquiries, he kept hearing the same refrain from a variety of informed sources, “Your suspicions are justified.”
John Picciano, real name, is a former FBI agent. He recently published a novel, “Liam’s Promise,” that uses the TWA Flight 800 disaster as the factual background of the story.
In the book, based on considerable research and interviews with other former agents, Picciano concludes that the Clinton White House covered up the destruction of the plane by an Iranian/PLO-sponsored missile attack.
Although I disagree with the source of the attack, Picciano’s sources picked up on the disinformation coming out of the White House in the first weeks of the investigation.
Among Picciano’s best sources was the recently deceased Robert Knapp, a supervisory special agent with the FBI who worked at high level within the investigation.
When Picciano asked Knapp what he thought of the government’s conclusion that a spark in the center fuel tank blew the plane up spontaneously, Knapp replied, “What a load of bulls–-.”
Even secondary sources have their value in the construction of the larger story. Jake tells of a business associate whose neighbor was on reserve duty with the Navy for two weeks on a ship based in Virginia. The reservists were offshore in New Jersey practicing missile takedowns of drone aircraft. TWA 800 was shot down during that reserve duty.
According to the neighbor’s wife, her husband called and said they had accidentally shot the plane down and were not being released to go home. Reportedly, the FBI visited her and warned her what she heard was hearsay. If she repeated it she could be charged with a national security violation.
If we are to break this story out before the November election, I need to hear more from primary sources. This may be the last good chance to share what you know. All confidences honored.
Media wishing to interview Jack Cashill, please contact [email protected].