Skip to comments.What really happened to TWA Flight 800?
Posted on 02/01/2003 6:04:24 AM PST by JohnHuang2Edited on 02/01/2003 6:05:10 AM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]
In this exclusive interview, author Jack Cashill explains why he doesn't buy the government's explanation of the tragedy and presents some of the compelling evidence detailed in "First Stike."
Question: From the title of your book, can we assume that terrorists destroyed TWA 800?
Answer: Ultimately, yes. On the night of July 17, the military was on the highest state of alert since the Cuban missile crisis. They were looking for something.
Q: Terrorist missiles?
A: No, although terrorist missiles were capable of hitting the plane, they were not capable of creating so massive an explosion.
Q: If not terrorist missiles, then what?
A: A terrorist plane filled with high-energy explosives. This is a complex story, one that would have been difficult to explain to the American people in 1996 or now.
Q: Why should anyone believe you?
A: According to the FBI, 270 people several of them in the military saw flare-like objects with smoke trails converging on TWA 800 in the seconds before it exploded. FAA radar technicians saw an object merging with TWA 800 at the moment of the first explosion. These facts are indisputable.
Q: What is the government's line?
A: The NTSB tells us that these were all optical illusions or computer glitches and that at that very second, for the first time in the 75-year history of commercial aviation, without a word from the cockpit, an airplane spontaneously self-destructed in mid-air because of a fuel tank explosion.
Q: Wouldn't thousands of people have to participate in this conspiracy?
A: No. This was a genuine issue of national security. The few military who really knew what happened followed legitimate orders not to disclose any information, even to the FBI. The eyewitnesses have been eager and willing to talk from day one, but no one would listen, even the media, and that in itself is scandalous. Actual "conspirators" could be counted on one hand.
Q: When did the Clinton White House learn the truth?
Q: Why would they conceal it?
A: After two desperate years of raising money to keep the presidency, Clinton knew that telling the truth would have meant the end of peace and the end of prosperity. We would have had to impose the kind of air restrictions we did after Sept. 11. Clinton was also famous for his indecision, and once he hesitated, it would have been highly problematic to explain the delay.
Q: If we had told the truth, would there have been a Sept. 11?
A: No. The authorities would have been alert to other air-terror schemes, and the American people would have been motivated and prepared.
Q: How sure are you that a spontaneous fuel tank explosion did not destroy the plane?
A: One hundred percent. We disprove this theory 20 times over. A month after the crash, investigators were telling the New York Times that chances of mechanical failure were "remote" and getting "more remote" with every passing day.
Q: What changed investigators' minds?
A: It certainly wasn't the evidence. There was none. It was largely the need to find some explanation that would not suppress air travel all the better to raise campaign cash from the airline industry.
Q: Didn't the NTSB tests prove an explosion in the center fuel tank?
A: Just the opposite. After four years and $40 million, the NTSB could not even find a credible theoretical scenario. In the final report, moreover, the aerospace mechanics union (IAMAW) forcefully rejected the NTSB's position and argued instead for a massive explosion outside the airplane.
Q: What caused that explosion?
A: U.S. Navy missiles destroying a terrorist airplane. To learn the details, please read the book.
Q: How confident are you of this thesis?
A: Ninety percent. All available evidence leads to this conclusion, but we have not identified the servicemen that pulled the trigger or spoken to them. We would, however, be willing to share all of our evidence with any interested parties and challenge the authorities to do the same.
The Afghanistan Connection
In 1986, when Afghan rebels were fighting the Soviet Union for control of Afghanistan, the United States gave the rebels approximately 900 Stinger missiles to use in the war. The Afghans were able to shoot down hundreds of Soviet helicopters using the Stinger missiles they received.
The rebels are thought to still have in their possession a number of the missiles. When you hear news reports that indicate that American bombers are flying at high altitudes over Afghanistan, fear of these left-over Stinger missiles is one reason why. It is also thought that Iran, Iraq, and Palestinian groups have Stinger missiles obtained through various channels.
Missile An Unlikely Cause of TWA Plane Crash, Says ArmyBy Bradley Graham
The Washington Post
Amid speculation that a shoulder-fired missile may have downed TWA Flight 800 last week, the Army has run computer simulations to determine whether a U.S.-made Stinger or equivalent weapon could have hit the plane and concluded it was possible but not likely, defense officials said yesterday.
A Stinger fired from ocean waters beneath the 747 jumbo jet could have reached the aircraft, which had just climbed above 13,000 feet when it exploded 10 miles off the New York coast. But such a scenario would have pushed the missile's limits in effective range (2.4 miles) and altitude (11,000 feet).
"Could a Stinger have done it? That's not an easy-to-answer question," said Lt. Col. Mike Monnett, an Army spokesman. "While not directed to do so, the Army's Missile Command did some computer modeling, crunched all the data and determined it was not outside the realm of possibility, but it's also not likely."
Investigators have expressed skepticism that a missile struck the TWA plane. But they continue to cite such a possibility, given numerous witnesses who have reported seeing something streak toward the aircraft instants before it burst into flames.
Stingers carry infrared guidance systems that zero in on aircraft engines or other heat sources. Direct hits on military planes often have resulted not in the kind of fiery explosion seen when the TWA flight blew up, but rather in the noncombustive loss of an engine or wing, followed by the aircraft's free fall.
Nonetheless, some combat aircraft have been known to explode in midair when hit by a shoulder-fired missile, and commercial airliners may be even more prone to do so because they are not hardened for battle like military planes.
"If a missile hit a wing full of aviation fuel," Monnet said, "you'd have the fuel mixing with the atmosphere, which could produce an explosion."
Because aiming the Stinger requires some steadiness, defense officials said a water launch would need a rather large, stable platform, something more than a small boat.
The Army first fielded the Stinger in 1982, and the missile is available in 16 other countries, according to Pentagon figures. The Soviet Union produced a similar missile, the SA-14, also now in use around the world.
Two later Soviet models, the SA-16 and SA-18, have longer ranges (3 miles) and are not impeded as easily as the SA-14 by flares or metallic chaff. Their availability outside Russia is limited, defense officials said.
"With respect to how easy it is to use a shoulder-guided weapon, that's a matter of range to the target. During the very low altitude, takeoff phase, IR-guided (heat-seeking) SAMS (surface-to-air missiles) would be effective," Paul Kaminski, the Pentagon's undersecretary for acquisition, told reporters Tuesday.
Copyright 1996,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on July 24, 1996.
Volume 116, Number 29.
This story appeared on page 2.
This article may be freely distributed electronically, provided it is distributed in its entirety and includes this notice, but may not be reprinted without the express written permission of The Tech. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.
When Pierre Salinger, at a press conference in March 1997, declared that TWA Flight 800 had been shot down accidentally by a U.S. Navy missile,
... Pierre was the victim of one of the biggest frauds perpetrated on the internet:"After his debacle of last November, when he mistook a widely circulated Net posting for a "secret" government document, "
The overall story from: TWA 800 and Friendly Fire: The Rest of the StoryMedia BombEditors Note: Here at 60GCAT, we honestly dont know how much our readership overlaps with that of the New York Times, but a few of our more devoted followers may have noticed that back on Nov. 17, your humble (read: self-aggrandizing, career-obsessed) authors published a little piece in the Times Sunday magazine detailing how the TWA 800 conspiracy theory got started and the tortured path it took through the Internet and into the mainstream media. As much as wed like you to believe that it was just a little something we dashed off in our copious free time, in between checking the point spread on the Nebraska game and desperately trying to get the VCR to tape Xena: Warrior Princess, the fact is, we actually worked on this thing. We wrote plenty more than the Times could fit into its 1,670 word space.
Here, then, is an earlier, much longer version of the story. This version runs through developments up to Oct. 15, 1996. Plenty happened after that, so for updates, consult Conspiracy Currents No. 26 and Conspiracy Currents No. 30. But for now, just remember that the whole thing is
© 1996 by Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen
A scant 11 minutes after 230 people settled in for a sleepy, seven-hour night flight to Paris from New York's JFK International Airport, their Boeing 747-100 burst into a fireball and plummeted, in pieces, 2 1/2 miles into the ocean waters off of Long Island. No one on board survived. The known facts of the July 17, 1996 TWA Flight 800 calamity remain sketchy to say the least. Investigators continue looking at three possibilities: a massive mechanical failure, a bomb or a missile. None of them have been confirmed or ruled out.
That, anyway, is what they want you to believe.
But we, the people, are not fooled. We know the dark secret of TWA 800. A United States military missile shot it down and now the government, right up to President Bill Clinton, is determined to cover up the terrible truth.
Another crazy conspiracy theory?
Just like the theories that crop up anytime there's a major public crisis, tragedy or scandal? Perhaps. And there doesn't seem to be any strong evidence to support it. So why should we give this conspiracy theory any further attention? Because the TWA 800 theory ushers the culture of suspicion into the age of the Internet. And it shows how conspiracy theories -- traditionally dismissed with a sneer or a chuckle by the "mainstream" media -- are beginning to play a part in shaping important public debates, thanks largely to the buzz they generate on the global information network.
With an alternative media as ubiquitous as the Internet, and one capable of transmitting large chunks of information withthe speed of a mouse click, conspiracy theories are no longer easy to ignore. Unlike most pre-Net conspiracy theories, the TWA 800 theory made a swift impact on the major media. In mid-September, with little else besides the rampant discussion of the theory on the Internet to go on, reporters began quizzing crash investigators about the "friendly fire" scenario.
As Kallstrom put it earlier in the investigation, conspiratorial speculation is bound to flourish "in a vacuum of information, because the evidence is sitting at the bottom of the ocean." The complicating factor that few anticipated was the Internet, a potent new medium that would rush to fill that informational vacuum with an ether of instant conjecture, prompting the traditional media to respond, in turn triggering a whole new round of speculation on the popular bandwidth of the information superhighway.
But, I must say, that when I saw the video a few weeks ago that purported to show what the shoe bomber's explosives could have done, I thought it was eerily reminiscent of TWA 800.
Different type of aircraft, I know; but the nose section fell off after the explosion and I couldn't help but wonder.
Hey, watch your asterix!
I was in Greater NY area at the time and news casts reported this being caught on video and the FBI had confiscated the tape "for analysis".
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