American Thinker has long taken a skeptical attitude toward the official account of the TWA 800 disaster. Jack Cashill, who also wrote a book on the subject, has an impressive body of work on the subject, some of it published on these pages. Co-founder Richard Baehr took up the subject. Now comes news of a new documentary film that says it has proof of a cover-up. Via Fox News:
A group of whistle-blowers, including a number of aviation experts, have come forward in a new documentary to claim that the official explanation for the crash of TWA Flight 800 was wrong and a gas tank explosion did not bring down the flight off the coast of Long Island 17 years ago.
However, the six whistle-blowers, all part of the original investigation team, stopped short of saying the plane was shot down.
Flight 800, a Boeing 747, had just taken off from JFK airport with 230 people aboard on July 17, 1996, en route to Paris when it exploded and crashed off the coast of nearby East Moriches, Long Island, killing everyone on the plane.
"..This team of investigators who actually handled the wreckage and victims' bodies, prove that the officially proposed fuel-air explosion did not cause the crash," reads a statement by the producers of the film, which will debut on cable network EPIX next month. "They also provide radar and forensic evidence proving that one or more ordnance explosions outside the aircraft caused the crash." However, the statement said they did not speculate about the source or sources of any ordnance explosions.
News of this is not making a huge splash beyond Fox News, and I fully expect a media cofferdam to be erected, confining concern about a huge government cover-up to the 30% or so of the population reached by the conservative media. The CBS website features coverage that raises questions:
CBS News' Pat Milton spent 11 months at the scene of the investigation covering the story for the Associated Press, and wrote an authoritative account of it in a book called "In The Blink Of An Eye ." She told CBSNews.com many of the theories raised by the film have long been discounted, but part of the reason competing theories to the official finding keep springing up is that "they never found the tell-tale piece" of evidence.
"There were people at the end that wished they could've pinpointed exactly what happened," Milton said.
She said investigators admitted bomb residue was found at the scene, but they concluded that a police officer training his bomb-sniffing dog had used the exact same plane a few weeks before the crash, and sprinkled the residue as part of the training. She said investigators painstakingly reconstructed thousands of pieces of debris, lining up holes to see if there was any evidence a bomb ripped up part of the plane, and found nothing to indicate that.
Former Department of Transportation Inspector General Mary Schiavo expressed skepticism about the film's assertion.
"If this really troubled them at the time and they had this conclusive evidence -- they said they kept quiet to keep their jobs -- well, there's a duty beyond that and there's ways to report this," she told CNN. "I was the inspector general. They could have reported it to the Office of the Inspector General, to say the least. We protect whistleblowers. So, I'm very critical of them not coming forward before now if what they have is really new."
Schiavo added, "I think that the NTSB got it right."
The investigators have filed a petition with the NTSB asking for the investigation to be re-opened.
CNN notes what may be the excuse for doing nothing:
The National Transportation Safety Board acknowledged receipt of the filmmakers' petition -- signed by a number of former investigators -- requesting that the investigation be reopened.
"As required by NTSB regulation, a petition for reconsideration of Board findings or a probable cause determination must be based on the discovery of NEW evidence or on a showing that the Board's findings are erroneous," said board spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.
I expect the media to errect a cofferdam around this story. According to CBS, the film will premier on the EPIX cable network, which I have to admit I never heard of. According to Wikipedia, it is a hybrid pay cable channel that reaches 9.5 million subscribers.
Richard Baehr sums up my thinking:
When you have a Democrat in the white house, and there is a big national security blunder, a cover-up is to be expected. Clinton in 1996 with TWA 800, Clinton and Obama in 2012 on Benghazi. This is a HUGE story and it is getting almost zero attention except from Fox.