Skip to comments.Seeking New Light On TWA Flight 800
Posted on 07/09/2002 5:02:41 PM PDT by Swordmaker
The deadliest U.S. airline disaster prior to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was the July 17, 1996, midair explosion that destroyed TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, N.Y. Six years later, while the official investigation has been closed (or forever forgotten in "inactive pending" status), the nature of the explosion that killed the 230 passengers of the Paris-bound jumbo jet is very much on the radar of independent investigators. Indeed, investigators now have used the government's own regulations to petition the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for a reconsideration and modification of official findings.
Having spent more than two years and $40 million, federal authorities had concluded that the probable cause for the crash of Flight 800 was an explosion within the aircraft's center-wing fuel tank. The investigators admitted that neither the ignition source nor its location within the tank "could be determined from the available evidence."
On the sixth anniversary of the downing of the jumbo jet, the Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization (FIRO), a nonprofit international group made up of professionals, engineers, scientists, former crash investigators and survivors of those killed in the explosion, believe the evidence of what happened now is clear. Based on physical evidence and eyewitness accounts, both those considered during the investigation and many that were not considered, FIRO is convinced it can prove the official determination was wrong.
Tom Stalcup, a physicist who is chairman of FIRO, tells Insight that it was "during a meeting with former NTSB chairman Jim Hall that we became aware of the federal regulation that allows us to file the petition [for reconsideration]. Hall met with us and said if we had more questions we should send them to him. We did have more questions, but our letters went unanswered. Then Hall left the NTSB and Chairwoman Carol Carmody responded to our letters, basically saying that we weren't going to get answers to the questions that it wasn't in anyone's interest even to correspond with us."
Having established that the NTSB was unwilling to cooperate with FIRO, Stalcup challenged the ruling under NTSB Regulation 845.41(a)) and put together a 20-page petition, plus 70 pages of attachments. "The criteria for the petition," explains Stalcup, "is that you have to show that, based on the evidence, their findings were erroneous and that there was evidence that wasn't considered that there is new evidence. We met each of these criteria and made at least 100 other points."
The petition, which can be found at www.flight800.org, touches on nearly every aspect of the official investigation, including eyewitness statements, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), radar analysis and recently declassified FBI reports about the wreckage. One of the major points of the petition cites "the Brookhaven [National Laboratory] report [that] was classified by the FBI as 'secret'" and never was made part of the NTSB public docket. It contains the laboratory results of wreckage items of "unknown origin" that were sent to an external laboratory for examination. The secrecy undermined the NTSB's ability to conduct a thorough analysis of the physical evidence. According to senior NTSB investigator Hank Hughes, group chairman of the Airplane Interior Documentation Group, "there are still unanswered questions concerning evidence sent for examination."
Stalcup says, "One of the interesting points in the 'secret' report is that there were investigators complaining that they hadn't been given enough information about the wreckage," saying there was "little forensic documentation or guidance on large-body-aircraft missile engagements."
According to Stalcup, "More than that, we have information that shows that 20 unusual .2-inch-diameter round pellets that were found in bodies were withheld from the NTSB but analyzed by the FBI and found to have been made of aluminum titanium matrix and other elements like zirconium, barium and cerium. These are pyrotechnics or incendiary devices, and the matrix structure of these objects is consistent with pellets used in antiaircraft missiles."
The FIRO chairman continues: "In fact, I found a quote in National Defense magazine that was referring to warheads that said 'pellets imbedded in titanium matrix' are used in antiaircraft warheads. The 'secret' [Brookhaven] report analysis concluded that the origin of the pellets is 'unknown' and that one of the pellets was submitted for identification because of its dissimilarity in appearance with TWA 800 debris. ...'"
While the petition winds its way through the bureaucratic maze at the NTSB, a lawsuit also has been brought by FIRO against the FBI for failure to release information duly requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Graeme Sephton, a member of FIRO, brought the action in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts because of the FBI's refusal to produce information. "The essence of the problem," explains Sephton, "is that Dr. Wetli [the Suffolk County Medical Examiner] will confirm that the FBI never shared with him any of the forensic information even though it was taken from him during autopsy, and it is he who must have all the available information to make the determination of the cause of death."
Sephton continues: "One of the reasons for a safety investigation is to find out what is flying around inside the plane so they can eliminate those things in another crash that maybe people will survive. What we're looking for is the list of shrapnel that shouldn't have been in the aircraft, and the hope is that the FBI will explain these unknown foreign bodies and ultimately bring us closer to finding out what caused the explosion."
Apparently the FBI didn't feel compelled to share this information with the NTSB investigators and, short of a court order, it is unlikely to be provided to FIRO. Stalcup says, "I'm not convinced that the petition will go anywhere. Not because it doesn't have merit, but because the NTSB doesn't have the guts to honestly search for and report the truth."
Kelly Patricia O'Meara is an investigative reporter for Insight magazine.
Sometimes I think the final scene of the first Indiana Jones movie is insider knowledge of how much the government stashes away to keep the populace in ignorance.
< sarcasm >I wonder how long it will be before Asmodeus and _Jim show up to inform us the titanium pellets were actually the balls out of ball point pens carried in the pockets of passengers < /sarcasm >
Clinton considers sanctions (February 25, 1996)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton was considering a series of punitive steps against Cuba Sunday, one day after Cuban military aircraft shot down two unarmed private planes carrying four members of a Cuban exile group called Brothers to the Rescue.
"A missile hit the airplane and just blew it to pieces," said one man shortly after disembarking from the Majesty of the Seas. "Hardly any wreckage. No debris."
Helms-Burton measure tightens sanctions (March 12, 1996)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying it "will strengthen the embargo in a way that advances the cause of freedom in Cuba," President Clinton signed the Helms-Burton Bill into law on Tuesday, capping a bi-partisan effort to tighten sanctions against the communist island nation.
Congress passed the measure after the Cuban military shot down two U.S. civilian planes over the Straits of Florida on February 24, killing four members of the Cuban-American exile group, Brothers to the Rescue. Clinton dedicated the bill to their memory
I thought that the private planes were shot down in International airspace.
After three months of investigation, the ICAO ruled that the two downed planes were operating in international airspace and were not given proper warning by Cuban authorities, who ordered them destroyed.(U.S COURT: CUBAN AGENTS WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR KILLING U.S. CITIZENS: Castro's proxies guilty
A federal jury in Miami found five Cuban agents guilty of conspiring to spy on the United States in connection with the 1996 shootdown of two private U.S. airplanes by Cuban Air Force MiG jets in international airspace.
Castro was the first culprit that came to my mind July 17, 1996, here on Long Island, because I felt Cuba might have wanted to exert some leverage (aka, a power play) in response to the Helms-Burton act and any other US sanctions against Cuba. I hadn't consciously thought of the two smaller planes that had already been shot down. I only thought that Castro might be "ticked off" at the hardening of the US position against him.
Clinton issues sanctions against Cuba for downing planes (February 26, 1996)
Clinton wasn't originally going to sign the Helm-Burton act but he did end up signing it. He "had to" sign it, because of the public outcry after the two small planes were shot down. I think he would have preferred keeping on Castro's good side. I think Castro was livid because, according to the act, the Cuban embargo had to be lifted by Congress, not merely by the President.
CUBAN DISCORD & HELMS-BURTON (PBS ---FRIDAY 7/19/96)
In the past, when Washington has turned up the pressure on Cuba Castro has responded by increasing repression or threatening the United States with a wave of illegal immigration similar to the Mariel exodus or the boat exodus of two years ago. If Castro reacts in a similar way this time, Washington will once again have caused the situation to deteriorateBill Clinton on Sanctions Against Cuba (November 8, 2000 interview)
Helms-Burton has now codified the embargo and made it practically impossible for there to be any change in Cuba policy while Castro lives.
But it wouldn't have happened if Castro hadn't shot those planes down out of the air, in blatant violation of international law. It was just murder. There is no other ... there is no way to put a fine point on it. I mean, and we were ... sometimes I think he doesn't want the embargo lifted, because it is an excuse for the problems that he has with his own administration. Because he knew where we were going, he knew we were moving to reconcile. [Castro] knew good and well that it was a total violation of international law to murder people who were in unarmed airplanes.
It was knocked out of the sky by either Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds.
OKC, Flight 800, 587......all the same. Ashcroft won't tell the truth........how can he? end of the Republic......
Below is a response from the Boeing Co. re: the "spheres" alluded to in the (FBI report from Brookhaven National Labs, 1997) and just recently declassified. (note one sentence in the below transmission was a little skewed, however, that is the way it was received)
Thanks for your inquiry [name redacted]
I am unaware of anything on a Boeing commercial airplane that would use those chemicals in a matrix (or other form.)
We do not use Aluminium /Titanium matrix type metals since their differing thermal expansion rates will tend to tear a part fabricated from them apart when subjected to the rapid change in temperatures that jet aircraft encounter.
We use a temperature differential of +180 degree F to -70 degrees F in 20 minutes as a design criteria. The +180 was a measured skin temperature of an airplane sitting in the sun in Saudi Arabia. Also, we try to limit the amount of Titanium we put into the airplanes because it costs so much. We use it where strength and fatigue requirements make Aluminium inappropriate.
Hope this helps.
Associate Technical Fellow
The Boeing Company
Yes. And Castro thinks shooting down unarmed planes without proper warning is okay. And Castro exacts revenge on innocent people when he is angry. Castro does follow different rules than many other world leaders.
He must be seeing "red" about now. I wonder what he'll do next.
.."That Night" =
...TWA Flight 800 went down...
...just as HILLARY's White House Chief of Staff CRAIG LIVINGSTONE was to give National TV Senate Testimony about her hiring him for the FBI Files he would be getting her on Repulicans in Congress...
...or, just as bad, Plead the 5th instead to protect HILLARY.
...TWA Fight 800 went down =
...LIVINGSTONE's TV Senate Testimony cancelled.
HILLARY Lifetime M.O. =
..-It's the TV, Stupid,
...no matter WHO pays for it-
...Friends of CASTRO since the 1960's =
...HILLARY RODHAM & BILL CLINTON...