sitemap January 21, 1998 Letter from FBI to House Aviation Subcommittee

Text of Response From FBI to a Letter
From the House Aviation Subcommittee

"... the FBI is not prepared to share all the information and evidence it has collected"

FBI's response to question submitted to Assistant Director in Charge James K. Kallstrom.


U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
26 Federal Plaza
New York, New York 10278
January 21, 1998

Honorable James A. Trafficant
U.S. House of Representatives
2446 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3517

Dear Representative Trafficant,

Enclosed, for inclusion in the record of the hearing before the Aviation Subcommittee on July 1997, please find the FBI's responses to the written questions submitted by your letter dated October 1, 1997 to then Assistant Director in Charge James K. Kallstrom. A copy of these responses is being forwarded under separate cover to Chairman Duncan at the Aviation Subcommittee.

If you have any questions regarding these responses, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at .... or my Chief Division Counsel, James J. Roth at .....


Lewis D. Schiliro
Acting Assistant Director in Charge


1) In a recent newspaper article a spokeswoman for the Central Intelligence Agency publicly stated that TWA Flight 800 was definitely not brought down by a missile. Through your previous correspondence, I was aware that the CIA was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the missile theory. I would like to know why the CIA felt it was necessary to issue such a categorical statement prior to the FBI reaching any final conclusions about the cause of the crash.

The FBI has no direct knowledge of the reason for the CIA statement and suggests that this question is more appropriately directed to the CIA.

2) Was the FBI aware of the CIA was going to go public with a statement?


3) It is my understanding that the FBI has conducted tests involving missile warheads and airplane fuselages. Has the FBI conducted any tests involving continuous rod warheads?

An analysis conducted by the FBI and government missile experts eliminated continuous rod warheads as the cause of the Flight 800 tragedy. Therefore, no tests were conducted involving such warheads.

4) Has the FBI consulted with any active or retired U.S. military personnel with expertise on missile warheads? If yes, do any of these experts have experience with continuous rod warhead missiles?

The FBI consulted with missile experts from the U.S. Navy, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, California who have experience with continuous rod warhead missiles.

5) If the answer to the above question is yes, have any of these experts been allowed to examine the wreckage of TWA Flight 800?

Yes. The China lake personnel made several visits to the Calverton facility to examine the wreckage of TWA Flight 800?

6) You indicated in your September 5, 1997 response that the FBI had an outside expert metallurgist examine the almost 200 holes, slits, punctures or penetrations identified in reconstructed areas of the aircraft, and that this task should be completed by September 30, 1997. Has this task been completed? If yes, what were the results?

The outside metallurgist's task has been finished. The metallurgist examined more than 1,500 penetrations, including 200 in the reconstructed portions of the aircraft. The metallurgist's examination did not find any signs of damage due to a bomb or a missile.

7) During the recovery process, was all the recovered wreckage taken to the Calverton, New York facility?

With the exception of certain technical items recovered from the wreckage, such as the flight recorders which were taken directly to NTSB in Washington, D.C., all recovered wreckage was taken to the Calverton facility.

8) If some wreckage was transported to sites other than Calverton, where were these sites? Was this wreckage eventually transported to Calverton?

All wreckage was transported to Calverton.

9) How much wreckage has been transferred to other locations for analysis?

One hundred eighty-five (185) items of evidence were taken to other locations for analysis, the vast majority going to the FBI and NTSB laboratories. Other laboratories used were the Department of Energy Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Defense Intelligence Agency Missile and Space Center Laboratory, Huntsville, Alabama, the National Aeronautic and Space Agency laboratory and the facilities of Boeing Corp.

10) There have been news reports of orange-colored wreckage being recovered, wreckage not linked to TWA Flight 800. Was orange-colored wreckage in fact recovered?

Several pieces or orange colored plastic or fiberglass debris were recovered.

11) If the answer to the above question is yes, has the FBI or the National Transportation Safety Board been able to identify the source of the orange-colored wreckage?

Yes. The FBI has conclusively determined that this orange debris is not part of a drone aircraft. Based on consultation with the United States Cost Guard, the FBI believes these pieces of debris are associated with marine buoys or flotation devices commonly used by fisherman and boaters.

12) Besides federal investigators, has the FBI or the NTSB asked any private citizens or officials from companies other than Boeing or TWA to inspect the wreckage of TWA Flight 800, as well as any unidentified wreckage that might have been recovered?

The FBI received on site assistance from metallurgists employed at the Brookhaven National laboratory and from project engineers employed by Northrup-Grumman Corp. and Teledyne Ryan Corp., chief manufacturers of drone aircraft. The Northrup- Grumman and Teledyne personnel conducted a thorough review of all recovered wreckage and debris and found no evidence of drone aircraft structure or components.

13) If the FBI determines, based upon an exhaustive review of the available evidence, that the crash of TWA Flight 800 was not the result of a criminal act, will the FBI share with the committee all the information and evidence it collected to reach such a conclusion?

As was noted by then Assistant Director Kallstrom at his press conference in November, 1997, there is a possibility, admittedly remote, that new evidence could be discovered in the course of the continuing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident inquiry, from intelligence sources or wreckage that heretofore has not been found that could cause the FBI to renew its investigation to the cause of this crash. Therefore, the FBI is not prepared to share all the information and evidence it has collected. The FBI will continue to answer specific questions directed to the FBI by the committee as are authorized by Chairman Duncan.

14) In conversation my staff has had with the NTSB, it has been postulated by the NTSB that most of the eyewitnesses were drawn to the explosion by a noise, and that, given the distances involved, they could not have possibly viewed the actual initial explosion of TWA Flight 800. Has the FBI examined the characteristics of some anti-aircraft missiles to determine whether or not a missile traveling Mach One or faster will cause a sonic boom audible from a distance of up to ten miles?

Yes. Based on discussions with both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Defense intelligence Agency (DIA) a MANPADS in its trans-sonic state is closer to a bullet than an aircraft, therefore lacking the mass to create a concussive sonic boom. Further, owing to its size limitations (approximately three feet in length and two and three quarter inches in diameter) MANPADS will not create a sonic boom that would have been perceptible to the witnesses at the distance involved in these circumstances. In short, while a MANPADS system does create a distinct sound, it does not create a perceptible sonic boom, particularly at the distances involved in this case.


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