Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
NTSB Covers Up Tragedy of TWA Flight 800
By Christopher Bollyn
Federal investigators have dismissed wholesale at least 96 eyewitness accounts and concluded that the explosion that downed TWA Flight 800 off Long Island, killing all 230 on board, on July 17, 1996, was "most likely" caused by an electrical short circuit that ignited the fuel vapors in the center wing tank.
In a well-rehearsed and carefully staged two-day presentation of the draft of the accident report held in a converted movie theater Aug. 22-23, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accepted the findings of Dr. Bernard Loeb and his staff, which simply discarded problematic eyewitness and radar evidence that contradicted its accident scenario. This concluded the longest and most expensive investigation of its kind, costing Boeing and the NTSB $67 million.
When The SPOTLIGHT asked NTSB investigator James Wildey if the presentation had been well rehearsed, he said "Sure, you don't think we would wing it with all those slides, do you?"
The investigation has been called "totally phony" by a veteran 747 pilot who wonders "why are they going to such extraordinary attempts to conceal the truth?"
Donald Nibert, whose daughter, Cheryl, was one of the 16 French club students from Montoursville, Pa., headed for Paris aboard TWA 800, said that he still "perceives a cover-up."
Nibert noted that the two-day NTSB hearings failed to mention even once that the Navy had "an armada of ships" assembled in the area where the plane went down and that concerning the presence of this unidentified naval task force, "we were lied to in the first week and I've seen this continue."
"I find it disturbing that three satellites covering this area at the time of the crash ... failed to function -- at the same time -- on the closest pass to the accident," Nibert said. "I find that hard to accept."
The NTSB began its hearings by attacking the independent investigators who have presented evidence that indicates that the streaking light that was reported by 96 eyewitnesses as rising from the surface and resulting in a fireball "four times larger than the sun," was a missile.
The NTSB insists that "the witness observations of a streak of light were not related to a missile -- and the streak of light reported by most of these witnesses was burning fuel from the accident airplane in crippled flight during some portion of the post-explosion pre-impact breakup sequence."
Dr. David Mayer, a non-engineer whose specialty is human psychology, who was recently hired by Loeb to deal with the problem of the more than 100 accounts that contradict the official accident scenario, dismissed the eyewitness evidence. Mayer called the eyewitness testimonies unreliable since they did not agree with the physical evidence, al though what physical evidence he meant was not explained.
NTSB member George Black suggested that eyewitness accounts could not be relied on since he assumed that many of them had been drinking, given the time of day and location of the accident.
NTSB Chairman Jim Hall, an ally of Al Gore, said at the outset, "I take exception to those who consistently distort the record and persist in making unfounded charges of a cover-up. They do a disservice to us all."
Hall insisted that there was no evidence found to suggest that the crash of TWA 800 was caused by a bomb or a missile. However, the FBI has confiscated a great deal of evidence from the NTSB investigators, which it still refuses to release.
Marge Gross, who lost her brother on TWA 800, said at a press conference after the hearings that it was the NTSB that was distorting the facts. Gross has been trying for years, to no avail, to obtain the shards of shrapnel that were found in her brother's body.
Hundreds of metal fragments were retrieved from the bodies of the victims and independent investigators insist that this evidence is crucial to understanding what happened to TWA 800.
Comdr. Bill Donaldson (Navy Ret), who has independently investigated TWA 800 and has conducted similar investigations of military aviation accidents for decades, called the NTSB panel "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."
Donaldson said that the radar evidence proves that a missile struck TWA 800. He went on to say "the initiating event was not the center wing tank. It was a high-pressure event on the left side of the aircraft."
Donaldson maintains that a missile struck the first wing tank on the left side of the plane and that the physical evidence proves that the resulting explosion blew into the center wing tank which then exploded. He has also released radar data that shows metal fragments exiting the plane at Mach 2 speeds. These high-velocity fragments, he concludes, can only be pieces of a missile that passed through the plane.
As Hall was leaving the hearings, Gross and attorney John Clarke handed him a summons in which he and Loeb are named along with former deputy FBI director James Kallstrom and five other government officials, as being involved in a conspiracy to conceal the truth of the accident.
The plaintiffs in the suit are former police officer and investigative journalist James Sanders, the author of Altered Evidence,* and his wife Elisabeth.
Sanders' suit charges that in pursuance of a conspiracy eight individuals from the NTSB, the FBI and the Justice Department, trampled the civil and constitutional rights of the former law officer.
Sanders charges that government agents violated his First Amendment rights when they arrested him and his wife, unlawfully searched his phone records and seized his computer without a warrant, and broke into his files.