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Investigative reporter slams 'coverup' of Flight 800 explosion

In an email thick with the language of the bureaucracies, National Transportation Safety Board chairman Christopher Hart eliminated any realistic hope of re-opening the investigation into the crash of TWA Flight 800, the 747 destroyed off the Long Island coast in July 1996.

“Our regulations are clear,” wrote Hart to investigative reporter Jack Cashill on September 12, “that a petition that is repetitious of a position previously advanced will not be accepted.”

This email culminated an exchange that began with a July 8 lunch in Washington arranged by former NTSB board member Vernon Grose.

A day earlier Grose had attended a press conference on TWA Flight 800 held at the National Press Conference and sponsored by Accuracy in Media (AIM). In impromptu remarks, Grose told the audience, “I am absolutely convinced there was a cover-up.”

An applied physicist and a former air traffic controller, Grose made for an unlikely conspiracy theorist. He did on-air commentary for CNN the night of the crash and more than 170 interviews during the next two years before losing faith in the investigation.

Like many people within the aviation industry, perhaps most, Grose does not buy for a minute the NTSB’s eventual claim that a spark of unknown origin caused TWA 800’s fuel tank to explode.

After the press conference, Grose invited Cashill, author of “TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up, The Conspiracy,” to join him and Hart for lunch at Harry’s Smokehouse Burgers & BBQ in the Pentagon Mall. In his most recent email Hart claims he was “blindsided” by the invitation.

“He may have felt that way,” said Cashill, “but he was gracious enough, and we did not press him on TWA 800. We even established a point of connection.”

What if September 11, 2001 WASN’T the first aerial attack on the American mainland? Legendary investigative journalist Jack Cashill unveils the shocking truth behind TWA Flight 800 – and tells you what the powerful don’t want you to know. “First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America” by Jack Cashill, available now in the WND Superstore.

Hart, Cashill learned, had served on the board from 1990 to 1993. When Cashill wrote in his book about Hart’s replacement by political hack Jim Hall, he knew that Hart had superior qualifications, but he did not know that Hart was both African American and a Democrat.

“Hart’s a pilot with a masters degree from Princeton in aerospace engineering,” said Cashill. “I quoted the Washington Post to the effect that Hall’s best qualification was his driver’s license. Hart apparently saved the Post article.”

This revelation opened Cashill’s eyes. As he saw it, Clinton had loaded boards of these historically independent agencies not just with Democrats but with political operatives.

By the time of the TWA 800 incident, Hall was chairman, and Clinton had three members of the five-member board in place. In 1996, Hall and his colleagues stepped aside and let the FBI and CIA illegally take control of the investigation.

“Hart may care about regulations,” said Cashill. “These people sure as hell didn’t.”

Hart was re-appointed to the board in 2014 and named chairman. After the lunch, Cashill sent Hart a copy of the book and an outline of its new findings, specifically the role the CIA played in manufacturing eyewitness interviews. Cashill also heard from NTSB general counsel Dave Tochen who mentioned he bought the book and was reading it.

“I do not envy you your position,” Cashill wrote to Hart on September 9, “but you have the potential to do something truly heroic – reopen the investigation. If not, the cynicism and distrust within the industry will only fester.”

Cashill had not been optimistic. In 2013, the TWA 800 Project Team made a concerted effort to reopen the investigation. The Project Team included a half-dozen high-level whistleblowers from within the investigation. They walked their petition carefully through the bureaucracy before finally being rejected. Hart represented a potential back door.

“Hart was untainted by the TWA 800 investigation,” said Cashill. “Plus, he had no obvious debt to the Clintons. I entertained the outside hope he might rise above the bureaucracy. Didn’t happen.”

On Saturday, September 24, at 1 p.m. Cashill will be doing a presentation on his book at the TWA Museum in Kansas City.

“TWA 800 was shot down,” says Cashill bluntly. “All the TWA people know it was. Some 53 of their colleagues died on the plane, 230 people in all. Hart had a chance to bring their families some measure of justice – still does, actually.”

What if September 11, 2001 WASN’T the first aerial attack on the American mainland? Legendary investigative journalist Jack Cashill unveils the shocking truth behind TWA Flight 800 – and tells you what the powerful don’t want you to know. “First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America” by Jack Cashill, available now in the WND Superstore.

 

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