Jack Cashill's TWA 800: Time to Reopen the Investigation

No media organization worked harder to get at the truth behind the destruction of TWA Flight 800 than the DC-based, Accuracy in Media. AIM founder Reed Irvine got involved in this project several years before I did and opened doors for me that I could not have opened. AIM has remained committed to the project and has never hesitated to share its research. -- Jack Cashill

When I arrived at AIM in 1997, we were just getting involved in the story behind the tragic downing of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, New York, in July 1996. We worked with two different groups of investigators -- those pursuing the naval exercise gone wrong theory, and those pursuing the notion that it was terrorism that brought the plane down. At the end of the day, we all agreed that missiles brought the 747 down.

“There’s no question about the fact that that airplane was shot down,” former Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer told us. This theory had been reinforced well before Moorer’s comment when investigative reporter and former cop James Sanders obtained “some fabric from the wreckage that proved to contain explosive residue,” as we noted in 2011 in an article entitled “Investigating the Mystery of TWA 800.”

While most of the mainstream media condemned the idea that the plane was brought down by a missile or missiles as a conspiracy theory, Accuracy in Media fought to expose the government cover-up through the use of the Freedom of Information Act. We also produced a documentary titled TWA 800: The Search for the Truth, which maintains that TWA Flight 800 did not simply explode. The flight was brought down by one or more missiles.

The FBI interviewed 736 eyewitnesses who saw TWA Flight 800 fall out of the sky. As AIM reported, “Eyewitnesses were not allowed to testify, and their words were only summarized in FBI reports which they could not personally review.” Accuracy in Media’s founder Reed Irvine scoured the eyewitness statements for additional clues to this mystery and discovered that one of the statements mentioned the word “wire,” which was in fact a name that the redactors failed to redact.

AIM tracked down witness Mike Wire, a millwright, who said he saw “a white light that was traveling skyward from the ground at approximately a 40-degree angle,” after which he saw an “orange light that appeared to be a fireball.” The CIA animation that aired on national television during a press conference claimed that Wire had said there was fire coming from the plane and not a missile moving toward it. As we reported, “He [Wire] never realized that it was him they were talking about in the CIA video until he received the call from Irvine some three years later.”

This July marks the 20th anniversary of the crash. Yet the media continue their virtual blackout, failing to ask questions as to whether this was a terrorist incident or a naval exercise gone wrong. Last year the anniversary of the flight’s demise was greeted, at most, with local media reports. It remains to be seen whether this year the mainstream media will take seriously the deaths of the 230 people on board that flight.

Both the terror incident and naval exercise theories remain credible. But what is not credible is the government’s ongoing official narrative that the plane’s fuel tank simply exploded due to a wiring short-circuit that ignited the fuel. Yet it is likely that the mainstream media will continue to swallow the government’s story.

After all, if the plane had simply exploded, why would the Federal Bureau of Investigation have tampered with the evidence afterward? Hank Hughes, a senior National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, told Congress that he saw an FBI agent “in the middle of the hangar with a hammer in the process of trying to flatten a piece of wreckage. In investigative work you do not alter evidence.” Said Hughes, “Not to our surprise, we found that seats were missing and other evidence had been disturbed.”

Hughes is not the only one claiming that the FBI tampered with the evidence during the investigation. Last year 28-year airline veteran Andrew Danziger came forward and explained why he thought that the government was covering up the facts behind the downing of this plane. “Lots can go wrong with an airplane. Engines can fail; they can catch fire. Devices can malfunction. Pilots make errors,” he wrote. “But jets do not explode in midair.”

Danziger says that a lead investigator of the Flight TWA 800 wreckage told him that “During the investigation, the FBI periodically required everyone to leave the hangar due to ‘national security issues.’” When they returned, the area had been sterilized.

Yet according to the mainstream media, this story is settled and requires no more investigation, even if witnesses believe they saw something moving toward the plane. Not only are the media uninterested in litigating the facts, reporters seem to have forgotten the importance of unearthing inconvenient facts that might contradict a political narrative that they endorse.

The mainstream media have shown themselves to be content to rely on government narratives that suit the administration in power -- especially if it’s Democratic -- instead of pushing for real facts to substantiate those narratives. As the 20th anniversary of TWA Flight 800 nears, the media should reopen this case and demand that the government explain why it continues to cover up the facts.

In 2013, I got to see the wreckage of the plane reassembled. It had been moved to the NTSB facility near Washington, D.C. It was a powerful and moving experience for me, having been so intimately involved in investigating the story and producing a documentary that looked at the government’s explanation, as well as the two missile theories. You can watch that documentary here.

With investigative reporter Jack Cashill’s great new book coming out in July -- which I got an early look at -- we are getting closer to having a definitive answer.

Roger Aronoff is one of the family members, whistleblowers, researchers and others who have not given up the pursuit of the truth. He is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org