On July 19, 1996, 22 years ago today, the major media reported the truth about the fate of TWA Flight 800 for the last time.
Two days earlier, a missile or missiles blew the 747 out of the sky off the south coast of Long Island. The plane was on its way to Paris. All 230 souls on board died in the crash.
On the 19th, CNN was still able to report, “radar records reviewed by military officials showed a mystery blip in the vicinity of the TWA flight path.”
Even the New York Times was playing it straight on July 19. “In public,” wrote the Times David Johnston, investigators were talking about an “accident,” but “in private” they hinted at a “terrorist’s missile.”
Johnston’s account was straightforward. Eyewitnesses “had described a bright light, like a flash, moving toward the plane just before the initial explosion, and that the flash had been followed by a huge blast – a chain of events consistent with a missile impact and the blast produced by an aircraft heavily laden with fuel.”
Then the Deep State – in form of the CIA, the FBI and the Clinton DOJ – moved in and took control. Although many people had an idea of what happened the night of July 17, 1996, only a few know enough to be dangerous, and to a person, they have kept their counsel.
In his 957-page 2004 memoir, “My Life,” Bill Clinton spent one paragraph on TWA 800, the No. 1 news story of 1996. “There was even speculation that the plane had been downed by a rocket fired from a boat in Long Island Sound,” wrote Clinton.
No, the 56 certified NTSB witnesses who claimed to see an object ascend all the way from the horizon traced its provenance to the Atlantic Ocean, south of Long Island. The Sound is north of Long Island.
In her 528-page memoir, “Living History,” Hillary spent just one-third of a sentence on TWA 800, which, for her, was merely one out of several “tragic events” that summer.
In his memoir, Louis Freeh, the FBI director at the time, mentioned the crash only in a footnote. No investigation during Freeh’s tenure generated more news coverage or demanded as much FBI attention.
In his memoir “Off With Their Heads,” presidential adviser Dick Morris teased his audience but did not deliver. He cited TWA 800 as one of “three attacks” in the “terror summer of 1996.” And then dropped the subject.
Although he was inadvertently open about his involvement in the TWA 800 investigation with ABC’s Peter Jennings on 9/11, George Stephanopolous did not spare the incident a single word in his 1999 memoir, “All Too Human.”
In the aftermath of the plane’s destruction, George Tenet served as acting director of Central Intelligence. CIA documents show him to have been involved in the investigation from very nearly the beginning.
Indeed, Tenet signed off on the CIA’s ultimate explanation months before the FBI shared that explanation with the public. Yet he too failed to even mention the disaster in his 2007 memoir, “At the Center of the Storm.”
Clinton’s chief of staff Leon Panetta called the president with the news of the plane’s downing. “The concern at that moment was that this might very well be a terrorist act,” Panetta would tell CNN. The concern was apparently not memorable enough to earn even the slightest mention in Panetta’s memoir, “Worthy Fights.”
TWA 800 would seem perfect fodder for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The committee’s “Special Report” for that period of time explored the terrorist bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia three weeks before the TWA 800 disaster and a variety of other intelligence-related stories in the news.
The report, however, was fully silent on the subject of TWA 800. This was all the more troubling given the CIA’s own acknowledgment that “the DI [Directorate of Intelligence] became involved in the ‘missile theory’ the day after the crash occurred.”
Tim Weiner covered TWA 800 for the New York Times. In his 2008 best-selling history of the CIA, Weiner had the opportunity to make amends for the paper’s failure to smoke out CIA mischief during the course of the investigation. To no one’s great surprise, he chose not even to mention TWA 800.
The Clinton operatives pulling the strings, then Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick and Deputy National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, kept their lips sealed.
Berger, who has since died, risked his career and freedom to steal and destroy unknown classified documents during the 9/11 hearings. It would surprise no one if those documents dealt with TWA 800.
I had for some time harbored the hope that FBI assistant director Jim Kallstrom, the public face of the investigation, would one day come clean.
Given his public support for Donald Trump, I contacted Kallstrom a week before the 2016 election and suggested that this would be a good time to go public. I got nowhere. Kallstrom will never budge.
This is not a secret the Deep State will ever yield on its own. Someone will have to blast it out of there, and that, although unlikely, is still possible.