Skip to comments.TWA Flight 800 - "CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS A LIE? I CAN'T"
Posted on 02/28/2002 9:31:30 AM PST by Asmodeus
AIM Report: 2002 Report # 03 - CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS A LIE? I CAN'T
By Reed Irvine
|2002 Report #03||February 25, 2002|
| CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS A LIE? I CAN'T
My by-line is on this article because it involves some very sensitive conversations that I have had and opinions about them that are best discussed in the first person. I am revealing the name of the Navy master chief who last November told an acquaintance of his that on the evening of July 17, 1996, he was on the bridge of the USS Trepang, a submarine that was practically underneath TWA Flight 800 when the plane exploded and crashed into the sea.
His acquaintance, whose name I wont disclose because it adds nothing to the story, had called me the night before on a line in my office that had been used to take calls for the TWA 800 Eyewitness Alliance generated by an ad placed in The Washington Times on August 15, 2000. He shared our views about the cause of the crash, and we had a good conversation. The next morning he called again to tell me that he had just run into a casual acquaintance who was a retired Navy petty officer. Because of his discussion with me the night before, he brought up TWA 800. Here is an edited partial transcript of our conversation. [H for him and I for me]
H: Have you ever heard of the submarine Tripanga?
I obtained Beers phone number from information and found him willing to talk. In our taped interview, he was somewhat more guarded than he had been with his acquaintance. He said he didnt want to do anything that might mess up his retirement, but nothing was said about the conversation being off the record. I told him that I was with Accuracy in Media and recommended that he visit our Web site, where he would find a lot of articles we had written about TWA 800. The following is a partial transcript of the taped interview. I did not begin taping at the very beginning of the conversation. The transcript begins where the taping started. This was Thurs., Nov. 15 at 10:00 a.m.
B: I told everything, you know, when the Navy came on board with everybody else on my submarine.
I called Randy again the next morning, Friday, Nov. 16. He asked me to call him back Monday morning, Nov. 19. I did, and I found myself talking to an entirely different person. The confident, courageous master chief had been transformed into a quivering moral coward. He said he had talked to his skipper over the weekend and that he had been reminded that he had signed certain papers when he retired from the Navy. Whoever it was that he had talked to had scared him to death. He feared that he was going to lose his retirement because of what he told me. He claimed he had spoken off the record, but I told him that was not so and that was very clear from the tape that I had recorded.
I said I didnt want to hurt him and that there was no way the Navy could rescind his disability pension because he told the truth about what he had seen on the evening of July 17, 1996. Something had obviously gone wrong and they had successfully covered it up, but that too was wrong. It would be a scandal if they tried to deprive him of his pension because he had helped expose an illegal, immoral cover-up of a mistake that had cost the lives of 230 people. Cmdr. William S. Donaldson, who tried very hard to pin the blame on terrorists, told me several times that if it turned out that the Navy was responsible he would spearhead a demand that the officers behind it be court-martialed.
I told Randy that he had a moral obligation to go public with what he knew and to help us expose the cover-up. I cited the example set by another chief petty officer, Kathleen Janoski, who was in charge of photography for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Dover Air Force Base. She had found and photographed the perfectly round hole, about the diameter of a .45-caliber bullet, in the top of the head of the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. She had also photographed what was called the lead snowstorm inside his skull that showed up on the head x-ray. She took photos of the x-rays that were up on a light box, and it was a good thing that she did, because the one showing the lead snowstorm was destroyed. The colonel in charge rejected recommendations of three lieutenant colonels that an autopsy be performed on Browns body.
Kathleen Janoski had put her job at risk when she was still on active duty. She was relieved of her duties, and she feared she was going to be court-martialed. But she nevertheless shared her photos with Chris Ruddy who reported on the suspicious hole in the top of Ron Browns head and the lead snowstorm in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I suggested that he ought to show as much courage as she had. Kathleen Janoski retired and is drawing her pension.
Nothing I could say had any effect. He explained that he had lost his job, and although his wife was working, they would be in deep trouble if he lost his pension. I can sympathize with him, but there are whistleblowers in the government who risk their jobs by exposing wrongdoing. If we want to encourage more government employees to follow their example it would make sense to reward the whistleblowers and punish those who see the wrongdoing but seal their lips and close their eyes. I couldnt budge Randy Beers, but one of the significant things about that conversation was that he did not deny the truth of anything he had told me when we first talked.
When Pierre Salinger held a press conference in March 1997 and declared that TWA Flight 800 had been shot down accidentally by a U.S. Navy missile, this former presidential press secretary, U.S. Senator and ABC News correspondent, was mercilessly attacked by his former colleagues in the media. They accused him of peddling unsubstantiated Internet gossip. Salinger said that his information had been confirmed by a source who had a friend whose son was in the Navy. The son was said to have called home and told his family that we shot down the airliner. Salinger said the father did not want to be identified, fearing his son would suffer retaliation for disclosing information the Navy wanted to keep hidden. That, of course, was dismissed as hearsay.
We succeeded in verifying that Randy Beers was a chief petty officer on the Trepang and that he was the ships corpsman. We verified that Lt. Michael Leitner, with whom he drank Diet Pepsi on the Trepangs bridge on the evening of July 17, 1996, was also a member of the crew. What Beers said about the Navy ships in the area that night and the exercise that was being conducted confirmed what we already knew from the radar data obtained by the Flight 800 Independent Research Organization, FIRO, and what Jim Kallstrom had told me about the three Navy vessels on a classified maneuver.
I wrote a column about what Randy Beers had revealed, but I did not include in it his name or the name of his submarine. Finding someone in the Navy who was willing to talk as freely as he did was an important breakthrough. He was the answer to those who were sure that the Navy could not have been responsible for shooting down TWA 800 because it would have been impossible to keep a secret like that when so many Navy personnel would have known about it. In the five and a half years since TWA 800 was shot down we heard stories about Navy personnel who had told family or friends that the Navy did it, but we were never able to make contact with them.
The response to the column was encouraging even though it did not get the attention of the big media. I was persuaded by the e-mail I received that we should reveal Randy Beers name and the name of his submarine. The Navy had claimed that the Trepang was 117 miles from the TWA 800 crash site. The exposure of that lie and the fact that it took so long for someone on the sub to expose it should have shaken up those who have so confidently insisted that a secret like that could not remain hidden for long. However, I was surprised to get a few responses from individuals who completely missed this important lesson. The claim that the Navy couldnt have done anything wrong because someone would have revealed it, dies hard.
My last conversation with Randy Beers was on February 5. I wanted to tell him that I was going to reveal his name, and I left a message saying it was important that he call me. He did. He first asked me if I was recording the call. I wasnt and I said so. He then said that he was so upset that he had experienced trouble sleeping for two months. But he had found a solution to his problem. He told me that he was notorious for telling tall tales and that all that he had said about where the Trepang was and what he had seen was false. He claimed he just made it up.
He said the submarine was at its homeport in Groton, Connecticut that night, not beneath TWA Flight 800 when it was blown out of the sky. He said he didnt know anything about any exercise that was taking place and he had never heard of W-105, the large area off Long Island that is regularly used by the military for testing and training. He said at least twice that this was his story and he was sticking to it. That is a gag line that says, in effect, I am lying but dont expect me to admit it.
The transcripts of his conversations with his acquaintance and me have been printed out because they are the best evidence that he was not lying. He had no reason to lie to either one of us. What he says and the way he says it has the ring of truth. It is consistent with what we know from other sources. I asked him for references who would attest to his propensity to lie. He gave me one name, someone who had served on the Trepang. He doesnt know where he is now. The office manager of the firm where he worked for over a year attested to his honesty.
The fact that he was worried sick when we had our second conversation and was virtually begging me not to report what he said shows that the idea of claiming that he had told tall tales had not yet occurred to him. If he were a habitual liar, he would not lose a lot of sleep worrying about his lies. Unfortunately his stratagem casts a cloud over his credibility, giving the media an excuse for ignoring anything he says. We are printing a list of the officers and petty officers who were on the Trepang in 1996. We will try to locate and question them and FOIA their FBI 302s (interview reports). Your help is invited.
LEADING PETTY OFFICERS
Do you believe TWA Flight 800 was the victim of a bomb?
September 11, 2001: Mr. George Stephanopoulos, former assistant to President Clinton, on ABC TV with Peter Jennings in mid afternoon talked about the two situation rooms in the White House.
Stephanopoulos: "There are facilities in the White House, not the normal situation room, which everyone has seen in the past, has seen pictures of. There is a second situation room, behind the primary situation room, which has video conferencing capabilities. The director of the Pentagon, the defense chief, can speak from a national military command center at the Pentagon. The Secretary of State can speak from the State Department, the President from wherever he is, and they'll have this capability for video conferencing throughout this crisis. In my time at the White House it was used in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, in the aftermath of the TWA Flight 800 bombing, and that would be the way they would stay in contact through the afternoon." (quote verified 9-17-01 )
Jennings: "Just a couple of short questions." (Asks if the president has any say about following Secret Service orders.) (Editor's Note: The reference to "bombing" could have been a slip of the tongue, I am sure he meant to say shootdown.) [end quote]
James Kalstrom was quoted on network television yesterday as saying: "this is the first time since TWA 800," inferring that TWA was an act of terrorism. (revised quote) (Editor's Note: Mr. Kalstrom denied making any such statements today (9-17-01) when I asked him to comment on these reports.) If anyone has video tape of Mr. Kalstrom's comments, please contact ARAP so we can get a verified transcript. [end quote]
What does revised quote mean? Has anyone been able to locate a tape or transcript of Kallstroms alleged comments. The Editor of TWA800.com is, of course, Bob Donaldson, brother of the late Bill Donaldson. <>
By the way, some of the readers may remember this from that same "shootdown" website:
If you have information pertinent to this investigation:
E-mail to: ARAP
I think it's time to reassess your opinion of Irvine.
And can we all finally agree that Irvine's Navy witness is bogus?