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Crash Theory Challenged

  • Independent investigators and witnesses called a press conference on the anniversary of the tragic crash of TWA Flight 800 to insist that a missile or missiles shot down the Paris-bound 747 jetliner after departing New York's JFK airport.
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By Christopher Bollyn

A panel of eyewitnesses and independent accident investigators has challenged the government's version of what happened to TWA Flight 800.

The TWA Eyewitness Alliance held a press conference in Washington on July 14 to mark the fourth anniversary of the downing of TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747, on July 17, 1996, over Long Island and demand that the government consider "overwhelming evidence" that a missile caused the explosion that brought down the plane killing all 230 people aboard.

The alliance is comprised of eyewitnesses, victims' relatives, independent investigators, and members of Accuracy in Media. They presented eyewitnesses Dwight Brumley and Michael Wire, who both described what appeared to be a missile striking the plane and causing a huge fireball.

There are 260 eyewitnesses who told the FBI that they saw a streak of light rocketing toward the plane followed by a huge explosion. Of these eyewitnesses, 96 testified that the streaking missile originated from the surface.

The CIA, however, maintains that the eyewitnesses are wrong to believe that what they saw was a missile. The government barred all 755 people who witnessed the crash from a public hearing on the disaster in Decem ber 1997.

The alliance demands that they be heard when the National Transporta tion Safety Board (NTSB) holds the final open hearing on TWA 800 on Aug. 22-23.


Wire observed the disaster from a high bridge on Long Island and said that the CIA video bears no resemblance to what he saw that night. He described seeing what appeared to be "cheap fireworks" zigzagging as it rapidly rose from the surface leaving a squiggly smoke trail, and then disappearing for a second and erupting in an explosion.

Brumley is an expert eyewitness whose USAir Flight 217 crossed above TWA 800's path by 8,000 feet while en route from North Carolina to Rhode Island. He is a master chief petty officer (USN Ret.) with 25 years experience in electronic warfare.

He was sitting by a window and noticed a small plane fly below him at a dangerously close distance (this plane was later identified as a Navy P-3 Orion). A few moments later he saw a flare-like object ascend quickly into the night sky for 7 to 10 seconds followed by a flash that developed into a huge yellow-orange fireball. Brumley turned to the passenger behind him and asked if he had also seen what had just happened, which he had.

Although both naval intelligence and the FBI debriefed Brumley, more than three years passed before an investigator with actual aviation accident expertise, Cmdr. William Donaldson (USN Ret.), interviewed him.

Donaldson is chief investigator for the Associated Retired Aviation Profes sionals. ARAP is comprised of aviation professionals with extensive crash in vestigation experience and senior re tired military officers including Adm. Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Moorer stated in 1998 that regarding TWA 800: "All evidence would point to a missile. All those witnesses who saw a streak that hit the plane -- you have to assume it was a missile."

Donaldson said that TWA 800 was shot down by Mideast terrorists and that three missiles were fired. His evidence is based on eyewitness accounts, radar data and military tests that demonstrate that the official version of events as depicted in the CIA scenario of the accident is simply not possible.

Donaldson said that there are "major problems with how the NTSB handled the investigation" and to approve the final report without having conducted the necessary tests or taking into account all the evidence is criminal mal feasance.

He has threatened, therefore, to "come after" Jim Hall, NTSB chairman, and the four other appointed executives if they sign the final report, which blames the accident on an inexplicable explosion of the center fuel tank, meaning that he will file lawsuits charging those officials with a cover-up.

James Sanders, author of Altered Evidence: How The Justice Department Framed a Journalist and His Wife (see review below), presented photographs of the wreckage and described how pieces of the wreckage have been bent and tampered with to fit the official version of events.

Sanders and his wife have been prosecuted by the government for having obtained fabric swatches from seats in the jetliner. Sanders said the fabric contains missile propellant residue proving that a missile passed through the cabin of TWA 800.

Later, in an interview with Fox News, Sanders said that there is "no doubt" that a missile brought down the plane and that "virtually everything of substance that the government has to say about this we can now prove beyond any doubt that they lied."

Marge Gross, a former TWA flight attendant who lost her brother on TWA 800, expressed her belief that the NTSB and FBI were being less than truthful about the accident. She related that she heard FBI Deputy Director Kallstrom, early in the investigation respond to Serge Kovaleski of The Washington Post: "Yes, it was a missile, but if you quote me I'll deny it."