TWA 800: The Great Untold Story of Our Time

On the pleasant summer evening of July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 left JFK Airport in New York bound for Paris. Twelve minutes after takeoff, about ten miles south of the popular south shore of Long Island, at least two surface-to-air missiles blew the 747 out of the sky, killing all 230 people on board.

I write the above with 100 percent confidence. I owe that confidence to the efforts of a small corps of committed individuals -- eyewitnesses, independent researchers, whistleblowers from within the investigation, and family members who have turned their grief into action. In attempting to get at the truth, at least three of these people were arrested, several others were thrown off the TWA 800 investigation, and every one of them was ridiculed.

In TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up, The Conspiracy (Regnery: July 5), I get to tell their story, an epic one. What makes the story so compelling is that these everyday citizens have struggled against a Goliath that could not have been more powerful. The opposition includes, among other powers, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the FBI, and the CIA.

In a totalitarian country, authorities can suppress information at will. In America, the media have to collaborate in that suppression, and this they did, closing their eyes to the obvious and accepting without evidence the government’s unproven theory of a spontaneous fuel tank explosion.

The fact that TWA 800 went down during the reelection campaign of a popular Democrat contributed mightily to the ensuing psychosis. This was less a media conspiracy than a collective pathology, as unwitting as it was unhealthy. So locked were the media into their delusions they quickly came to mock those who did not share them.

Whatever its flaws, America is not the Soviet Union. Thanks to the various sunshine laws, the U.S. government proved surprisingly helpful to researchers. Once the NTSB wrapped up its case in August 2000, citizens had access to a wealth of data, much of it visual. This included an animation of the crash created by the CIA, NTSB animations, hours and hours of video from the NTSB hearing, all seven hundred or so of the FBI witness interviews, scores of eyewitness drawings, and a vast library of charts and photos and technical data.

Working through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), researchers have kept the pressure on ever since. This past year, either through indifference or carelessness, authorities released two distinct items that remove virtually all doubt as to what happened on that July night in 1996 and in the months that followed.

One is the video of a missile test in the waters south of Long Island shot five days before TWA 800 was destroyed. The second and more comprehensive is a mother lode of CIA documents. These memoranda spell out in detail how the CIA covertly assumed control of the investigation and corrupted it. They also point to a scandal within the scandal, one whose implications are no less than historic.

The reader might recall the testimony of George Tenet, then the Director of Central Intelligence, before the 9/11 Commission in March 2004. It was Tenet who first introduced America to “the wall that was in place between the criminal side and the intelligence side.” He was referring specifically to a memorandum issued by the Department of Justice in 1995.

Said Tenet for the ages, “What’s in a criminal case doesn’t cross over that line. Ironclad regulations, so that even people in the criminal division and the intelligence divisions of the FBI couldn’t talk to each other, let alone talk to us or us talk to them.”

In his testimony to the 9/11 Commission John Ashcroft explained the impact of this memorandum on national security. “The single greatest structural cause for Sept. 11 was the wall,” he noted, then added the kicker, “Full disclosure compels me to inform you that its author is a member of the commission.”

That commissioner, one of only five Democrats, was a Clinton-era deputy attorney general named Jamie Gorelick. As Hillary’s go-to-person in the DOJ it was she who oversaw the TWA 800 investigation. On her watch, as the CIA documents show, the FBI and CIA regularly breached the allegedly ironclad “wall” to collaborate on the subversion of that investigation. Tenet himself was deeply involved.

Although authorities have tried to make TWA 800 a story of “physical evidence,” such as frayed wires and bent metal, it has always been a political story, one that the media have done their best to avoid, if not delete.

I got a good sense of their complicity three years ago. Following the release of Tom Stalcup and Kristina Borjesson’s excellent documentary, TWA Flight 800, I was invited to discuss the crash on CNN’s “New Day” with host Allison Kosik. At the end of this short segment, Kosik asked me why there might have been a cover-up.

“This was Bill Clinton’s Benghazi moment,” I said. “They [the Clintons] just wanted to kick this can down the road until after November so it would not affect the outcome of the [1996] election.” When CNN released the transcript the next day, someone had edited out my answer.

The major media will do their best to ignore the evidence reported in my book, but American Thinker will make it a little more difficult. In the weeks that follow, readers will get to hear from some of the people who have fought in the front lines of this battle over the last twenty years.

Their story is so compelling that no dispassionate observer who reads these accounts or my book will be able to deny the unsettling truth of TWA 800’s final flight.

If you experience technical problems, please write to