Skip to comments.MSNBC and the missing videotape: Jack Cashill examines network's role in TWA Flight 800 cover-up
Posted on 02/15/2005 1:19:18 AM PST by JohnHuang2
On April 20, 2001, a Peruvian military jet pilot confused a small plane carrying missionaries for one carrying drug runners and shot it down. In the last two weeks, MSNBC has been leading the charge to bring this case to closure.
Its on-air personnel Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough in particular have been asking hard questions about why no charges have been brought against CIA agents who may have lied about the nature of this crash. The MSNBC website invites citizens to communicate their concerns about this presumed cover-up through MSNBC to the U.S. government.
This would be all well and good were it not for the likely role that MSNBC played in the cover-up of TWA Flight 800. On July 18, 1996, about 12 hours after TWA Flight 800 exploded off the coast of Long Island, a military officer off the record told a very tired Fox News senior reporter that "a major screw-up" had occurred and that the "White House" had ordered the military to "stand down" for 48 hours until policy decisions were reached.
This did not surprise the Fox journalist. For hours the previous evening, Fox News had reportedly been involved in a bidding war for an amateur video tape of the 747 being destroyed by what appeared to be missile fire. When the electronic bidding war reached $50,000, Fox was eliminated from the process.
The high bidder seems to have been NBC and/or its new sister network, MSNBC. This makes market sense in that MSNBC had been launched just two days prior, and the publicity would have been well worth the cost. Still, I say "seems" because my sources here will not speak on record, nor will MSNBC follow up on queries. Here is exactly what I know, no more, no less.
In the summer of 2001, my partner James Sanders, and I were negotiating with Broadcast Network News (BNN) the world's largest independent news producer to distribute our documentary on the subject of TWA Flight 800, "Silenced." These were serious negotiations. The person with whom we were communicating was BNN's chief executive officer, Steve Rosenbaum.
One day that summer, Rosenbaum called me in a state of high excitement. "Jack," he said, "you will not believe the conversation I just had." Although Rosenbaum thought our video had market potential, he was not at all convinced of our thesis, namely that missiles had been fired at TWA Flight 800. The conversation in question eliminated just about all doubt.
As Rosenbaum explained, he had been interviewing a candidate for a position as BNN's technical director at a rooftop cafe when an airplane passed overhead. The conversation moved naturally to airplanes and then, with Rosenbaum taking the lead, to TWA Flight 800.
"I've seen the video," said the candidate, who had until recently been working at MSNBC.
"You mean 'Silenced'?" said Rosenbaum, a little surprised.
"No," the candidate answered, "the video, the actual video of the plane being shot down."
As the candidate told Rosenbaum, late on the night of the crash, editors at MSNBC had the tape on their monitors when "three men in suits" came to their editing suites, removed the tape, and threatened the editors with serious consequences if they ever revealed its contents.
The threats worked all too well. Despite my repeated requests, Rosenbaum could not get the technical director, whom he hired, to go on record. Over the years, I have asked various producers at MSNBC to follow up, but if they did, they kept what they learned to themselves.
Earlier in his research, Sanders had been approached by a technician at another station who had monitoring the competition's feeds from Long Island and made a bootleg copy of that same amateur video. What is more, he withheld a copy from the FBI when its agents came to confiscate whatever relevant tapes his station might have. Despite a series of phone calls, Sanders could not persuade the technician to hand over the tape. His fear was palpable enough, however, to convince Sanders that he was telling the truth.
Although I have not seen the video myself, I have heard from scores, if not hundreds, of credible people who swear they saw it on television in the first hours after the crash. That at least one among the hundreds of eyewitnesses would have had a video camera handy during a beautiful summer sunset evening makes perfect sense. The FBI admits to having confiscated two still photos and predictably writes off the images to dirt or scratches on the lens. A video would have been much harder to dismiss.
Nelson DeMille has obviously heard these stories as well and perhaps more. In his best-selling novel, "Night Falls," a confiscated amateur video drives the plot. Although he spices the video up a bit in the retelling, DeMille is not just spinning fantasy. His insider details have the ring of authenticity about them.
What makes the MSNBC involvement all the more ironic is that the CIA was responsible for producing the 15-minute animated video used successfully to discredit the eyewitness testimony. If the MSNBC producers are interested in exposing not just a routine CIA cover-up, but the most consequential cover-up in American history, my fellow investigators and I will be happy to lead them right to the source.
There is admittedly much we still do not know about the explosion of TWA Flight 800, but we know enough about the CIA cover-up to bring indictments. Before turning on the CIA, however, MSNBC might want to look inward. The CIA at least had the excuse of national security. If MSNBC had reasons for betraying its journalistic ethics, I am not sure I know what they are. Indeed, had its new executives stuck to their guns that night, they might very well have prevented Sept. 11.
Apparently their journalistic ethics may have been trumped by the liberal ethics to protect a Democrat President's re-election chances...
I need a better explanation of:
"Despite a series of phone calls, Sanders could not persuade the technician to hand over the tape. His fear was palpable enough, however, to convince Sanders that he was telling the truth."
The video only needs be made public and then the technician has nothing to fear. He is only in danger if he keeps it quiet while keeping the tape. That's why this claim makes little sense in this article.
Bump for later this morning; back to sleep, cats are fed.
Generally, I would agree with you. I threaten to kill you if you expose it and you name names, you might be safe. However, if I mention your pretty bride and little girl and your dog by name, you may not be as forthcoming. Especially if you believe that those threatening you have the means to make it happen and look unrelated and coincidental.
If any of you are looking for a great political thriller, Jack Cashill has written it. It is called:
2006: The Chautauqua Rising
For more info, go here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0967235715/103-9483700-2527036
When I got to about page 30, I couldn't put the book down. It's fiction and Algore is in his second term as president. Lots of twists and turns and suspense. Everyone that I know who read it, loved it.
By George, I think you've got it!
There has been hideousness for centuries on the part of even the best governments.
However, during Dillbo and Shrillery's reign, new lows were reached in the land of the fadingly free.
Jack Cashill ping! A snapshot of the media's role in the sticky web of government coverups.
Not if the video holder feels differently from his perspective regarding his and his family's welfare.
Logic may not play near as much into it as fear.
And, there are forces who are quite happy to exact retribution regardless of whether the tape is in the public domain or not.
Easier said than done. Ever had the FBI on your ass? Ever had them slander you in front of your employer, your landlord? Trust me, it's not that easy.
And yes, I saw the video, so did how many others on the night FL800 went down. It was shown constantly on TV until 11:30 pm, then mysteriously disappeared. The missile flew right over a lady in a tacky cocktail gown.
Was the missile launched from the grassy knoll?
I was in the states when this happened. I had to get on a flight a week after. I just knew someting was dodgy about TWA 800. It was fishy just like OKC bombing.
If you come out publicly with the tape and said you and your family are being threatened nothing much can happen. If it did there'd be investigations up the yeng-yang digging under every dark corner of the government. The last thing the FBI or CIA want...
Once it is out, there is nothing further gained by going after him.
Also, absolutely nothing prevents him from making copies and dropping them off at various news organizations anonymously.
BTW, I think I saw the video as well if its the one with streaks of light rising in the distance.
That does not surprise me in the least. That is BILL CLINTON'S MO! Clinton was THE PERSON most helped by covering up TWA 800.
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