TWA 800: 25 Years of Deep State Deception
On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Paris-bound 747 out of JFK, blew up off the coast of Long Island. It seemed somehow fitting that James Kallstrom, the public face of the FBI investigation into the plane's destruction, would die two weeks before the 25th anniversary. As a patriot, a Vietnam vet, and an outspoken critic of all things Clinton, Kallstrom once held promise as the insider most likely to come clean. He never did.
As to my own involvement with this story, until the evening of February 23, 2000, I was as naïve as a CNN anchor. Before that evening, I would have dismissed out of hand anyone who dared suggest that elements of the FBI and CIA would conspire with the White House and the New York Times to cover up the cause of so public a disaster.
February 23, 2000, was the night my education began.
Earlier that evening I had listened with some interest at a Kansas City country club as investigative reporter James Sanders spoke about his inquiry into the 747's fate. At a dinner afterward, I found myself sitting next to James's wife, Elizabeth. A sweet and soft-spoken woman of Philippine descent, she filled me in on the personal details. At the time of the disaster, she was a trainer for TWA. She had been a flight attendant for some years before that.
Of the 230 people killed on that ill-fated flight, 53 were TWA employees, many of them Elizabeth's friends. At one of the numerous memorial services, Elizabeth introduced James to Terry Stacey, a 747 manager, and pilot who was working on the investigation.
"We need to talk," Stacy told Sanders. And so began a relationship that would end with James and Elizabeth being convicted of conspiracy in a federal court. Elizabeth's crime? Introducing her husband to her friend—it went no deeper than that. James's crime? Reporting that the U.S. Navy had inadvertently shot down TWA 800—it went no deeper than that. Meeting Elizabeth and hearing her story was what opened my eyes. A government that arrested and tried Elizabeth could arrest my wife, my sister, my daughter.
At the time, I was producing corporate videos and TV commercials. I was curious enough to meet the Sanders for breakfast to talk about making a documentary. Still skeptical, I explained that I wanted nothing to do with a 'might have, could have' scenario. James had to prove to me beyond reasonable doubt that the plane had been shot down before we proceeded.
Willing to try, James invited me to the couple's Fort Lauderdale condo to review his materials. Before leaving, I read the two mainstream books written on the crash, one by Patricia Milton of the Associated Press, the other by Christine Negroni of CNN. At the time, I found it difficult to believe that major media reporters could miss a story as large as a missile strike on a 747. After three days chez Sanders, my only question was why they missed the story.
So began my deep dive into this doomed flight. One documentary and two books later, I can say with 100 percent confidence that missile fire destroyed TWA Flight 800. I can say with 95 percent confidence that the U.S. Navy fired those missiles. As James Sanders will attest, I resisted that latter conclusion until the evidence overwhelmed me. I did not want to believe it to be true.
Along the way, I have communicated with scores of witnesses either to the crash itself or the investigation. I have had lunch with the then NTSB chairman Christopher Hart and had a couple of interesting phone calls with Kallstrom. I have met with relevant reporters from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox News, the latter of whom slipped me an eye-opening video that his network was too timid to air.
Let me recount one unexpected phone call that speaks to the way the Deep State works when protected by the media and the White House. I took the call in the spring of 2009. The caller introduced herself as Witness 73.
"Do you know who I am?" she asked.
I did indeed. She was arguably the single most important eyewitness. According to her FBI 302, Witness 73 "observed an aircraft climbing in the sky, traveling from her right to her left." This would have been from the west, JFK airport in New York City, towards the east, eventually Paris, the original destination of TWA 800.
"While keeping her eyes on the aircraft," the FBI report continued, "she observed a 'red streak' moving up from the ground toward the aircraft at an approximately 45 degree angle. The 'red streak' was leaving a light gray colored smoke trail. The 'red streak' went passed [sic] the right side and above the aircraft before arcing back toward the aircraft's right wing."
"She never took her eyes off the aircraft during this time," the 302 continued. "At the instant the smoke trail ended at the aircraft's right wing, she heard a loud sharp noise which sounded like a firecracker had just exploded at her feet. She then observed a fire at the aircraft followed by one or two secondary explosions which had a deeper sound. She then observed the front of the aircraft separate from the back. She then observed burning pieces of debris falling from the aircraft."
Weeks before the FBI and the NTSB were able to piece together the break-up sequence of the aircraft, Witness 73 had nailed it. According to a later FBI 302, however, when agents went back to Witness 73 for a second interview, she admitted she had been drinking "Long Island Iced Teas" before the crash and wasn't quite sure what she had seen.
When I asked her about the drinks during our 2009 conversation, she told me, "I don't even know what a 'Long Island Ice Tea' is."
"Could it have been another drink?" I asked.
"No," she told me. "I don't drink, not at all. And there's something else you don't know, something stranger. There was no second interview. They made it all up."
"There's something you may not know," I added. "You're not the only witness they did that to."
Witness 73 was one of more than 700 witnesses to the crash that the FBI interviewed. By the NTSB's count, she was one of 258 eyewitnesses who saw a rising streak of light and one of 56 who followed that light from the horizon to the plane. Of the 56, the New York Times, which more or less owned the story, interviewed exactly none.
Illegally, but publicly, the FBI seized control of the investigation from the NTSB within hours of the crash. Illegally, but covertly, according to CIA documents, "The DI [Directorate of Intelligence] became involved in the 'missile theory' the day after the crash occurred."
According to the CIA, within two weeks of the disaster, FBI agents had interviewed 144 "excellent" eyewitnesses to a likely missile strike and found the evidence for such a strike "overwhelming." The CIA analyst boasted of discouraging the FBI from releasing its missile report. He seems to have succeeded. At the FBI's direction, the Times ran a front-page headline on August 23, 1996, "Prime Evidence Found That Device Exploded in Cabin of TWA 800."
For nearly a month, the Times ran with the bomb scenario. On September 19, however, the Times signaled the government's switch from a "bomb" to a "mechanical failure" explanation. On September 20, to explain away the explosive residue, the FBI claimed the TWA 800 aircraft had "previously been used in a law enforcement training exercise for bomb-detection dogs."
As was easily proved, the test in question did not take place on the TWA 800 plane, and the training aids did not match in placement or in composition the explosive residue found.
The eyewitnesses were not so easily explained away. With the NTSB illegally shut out of witness review, the FBI turned the task over to the CIA. Working with just a 1/3 of the witness statements, the CIA concluded that the center fuel tank spontaneously exploded, blowing the nose off the 747. The eyewitnesses saw the nose-less aircraft ascend more than 3,000 feet, mimicking the path of a missile.
The Steele dossier was more substantial than this concocted nonsense. To construct it, the CIA created at least three critical witness statements from whole cloth, Witness 73's included, and flagrantly corrupted more than two hundred others.
With a massive assist from the New York Times, the CIA got away with the scam. Having to account for only a tragic mechanical failure, Bill Clinton was re-elected president in November, and the denizens of the Deep State let out a deep sign of relief.
No one breathed more easily than the deputy attorney general who successfully oversaw the investigation, Jamie Gorelick. With a nod from Clinton, Gorelick left the DOJ in 1997 to take a job with Fannie Mae. There, lacking any relevant experience, she would make more than $26 million in salary, bonuses, performance pay, and stock options over the next five-plus years helping run Fannie Mae into the ground. In 2004, patriot that she is, Gorelick left that lucrative gig to become just one of five Democrat appointees to the 9-11 Commission. Deep state, anyone?
In 2016, I did a C-SPAN II presentation for my book,
"TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover Up, The Conspiracy" at the TWA Museum in Kansas City before an audience of TWA veterans. There were no dissenters. TWA employees learned about the Deep State before the rest of us did.
With the 25th anniversary at hand, we have one last chance before this story becomes history to break it as news. James Sanders continues to push the FBI and DOJ for the buried evidence he knows will prove out his theory, but to overcome media resistance someone with serious first-hand information needs to come forward. If that person is you, please contact me through Cashill.com.
Jack Cashill's latest book, Barack Obama's Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply, is now widely available. See www.cashill.com for more information on TWA 800.
Image: Dean Morley via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.
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