sitemap Musings on Events Related to TWA 800

Musings from the Hull Thread

Some say there are nine Muses: but they're wrong.  
Look at Sappho of Lesbos; she makes ten.

Plato, no. 36; translated by Peter Jay in his edition of The Greek Anthology (1973)


Musing #1: No Answers, Many More Questions

William S. Donaldson, III - USN, Ret.
August 27, 1999

Transworld Airlines Flight 800 was the 27th Air Transport worldwide to be lost to Man Portable Anti-Aircraft Missiles. At 8:31 p.m. EDT, 17 July 1996, a shoulder-launched missile was fired from a small boat less than 3 nautical miles southeast of the aircraft. It punched through the Boeing 747-100's left wing root and detonated in the six-foot deep fuel of its inboard number 2 main wing tank. The warhead caused a massive Ram hydraulic over-pressurization of all three left wing tanks, blowing the top skin open on the left wing and blasting into the empty center tank. The fuel stopped warhead fragments inside the massive #2 tank. Secondary fuel/air explosions under and in the center tank were followed by nose, tail and left wing catastrophic failures.

The above paragraph is not just a theory. It's the way a non-political National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) final report should start. It is based on overwhelming forensic evidence of left wing damage and over a hundred eyewitnesses surrounding the missile engagement. Flight 800 was the 27th air transport aircraft lost to these weapons in the last 20 years. The 28th was a 727 downed in Africa in a civil war last year.

The American people will not read such a report because a political decision was taken immediately in the White House in deference to 1996 election goals. It appears the President or senior staff imposed an information blackout. Public officials in three departments suppressed witnesses, real evidence and intelligence linking the event to expected terrorist responses to severe economic sanctions imposed on Iran. Iran's Supreme Council considered the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act, signed into law by Mr. Clinton that spring, an act of war. Representatives from terrorist organizations in nine countries were called to Tehran the first week of June. The U.S. Air Force Khobar Towers barracks complex in Saudi Arabia was attacked on 25 June 1996, killing 19 service members. The attempt partly thwarted by alert Air Force police was an effort to replicate the Beirut mass casualties in the Marine barracks bombing that forced Reagan out of Lebanon. Three weeks later TWA was shot down. The FBI immediately blanketed both events and began a Justice Department stonewall. Not until August 1998, when two Embassies were blown up simultaneously in Africa, was the administration forced to admit a terrorist problem. Even then, they only scapegoated the operation's leader, Osama Bin Laden, instead of laying the blame on a sponsor state.

In historical perspective, the shoot down of Flight 800 was but one in a long series of murderous attacks on U.S. interests fomented by the Iranian revolution and carried out by surrogates since the 1979 fall of the Shah of Iran.

In August of 1996, 5 weeks after the event, the Times of London broke the Flight 800 story. They named an Iranian sponsored terrorist group, identified the route the missiles took to get here, had quotes from senior Iranian officials taking credit and even a statement from the White House staff admitting they were aware of intelligence reports of terrorists smuggling Stingers into the U.S.

The Media - Failure of Due Diligence

Most adults understand that if they fill their car with Kerosene, similar to Flight 800's fuel, it won't run. That's because, even with today's hot auto spark plugs, kerosene vapors can't be made to light. Yet the media willingly accepts the government theory of a kerosene explosion in a spark free aviation fuel tank. Furthermore, they bought the idea that this unexplained phenomena, that supposedly occurred for the first time in 12 million takeoffs, was concurrent with hundreds of witness reports of streaks of light rising from the surface to the aircraft, which is also an event never seen before in America. The media's acceptance that the identity of hundreds of eyewitnesses should still be held as "top secret", even after the FBI officially declared that no foul play was involved, is equally mystifying.

The apathy and gullibility of the American media, willing to repeat as fact anything spun by this administration, together with a handful of presidential appointees following orders in the White House, the CIA, the Justice Department and the NTSB are collectively responsible for the biggest political deception in American history.

The White House - If the truth is not being covered-up:

1. Why has the White House physical visitor log for 17July 1996 been secret for so long? White House staff stonewalled a FOIA request for over 11 months. They recently released a computer generated partial list and anti-terrorism personnel who met at 9:30 P.M. were not included.

2.. If Mr. Clinton wasn't anticipating such an attack, why was the US Military in the highest state of alert since the Cuban missile crisis?

3.. Immediately after the shootdown, hundreds of miles away, sailors aboard ship reported the captain of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy told his crew the airliner was downed by shoulder-fired missiles, inferring the ship may be called to action. If not informed by the chain of command, how could he know those facts?

4.. Why did the President call the FBI command post supporting the 1996 Olympic games in Hoover Alabama and tell them the aircraft was downed by a shoulder fired missile?

5.. Why did the President express great anxiety in a call to a civil servant on 18 July 1996 that Governor Pataki's New York State Police divers would recover TWA Flight 800's black boxes before the Navy could take over?

6.. Why did the President sign Executive Order 13039 on 11 March 1997 taking away the Whistle Blower protection act for Navy units participating in the Flight 800 recovery?

7.. Why did Presidential spokesperson, Mike McCurry, say, "Anyone in government who says this was a missile only has half a brain!", at the same time the administration was dredging for missile parts?

8.. Why did the administration breech a verbal agreement with Weeks Marine, Inc., properly contracted by the Coast Guard and the FAA the night of 17 July to begin a massive salvage effort the morning after the crash, only to wait 6 days for the Navy to arrive with far less capability?

9.. Why did the administration publicly empathize with surviving family members then excoriate the Suffolk County medical examiner at public hearings for not providing death certificates when the White House decision to delay underwater salvage 6 days for the Navy was the probable cause that forced 20 families to wait a year to have their loved ones remains recovered and identified by DNA testing?

The CIA - If the truth is not being covered-up:

1.. Why did the CIA, who has no role in air crash investigation or practicing aeronautical engineers, and failed to check their data with Boeing, produce a slick but impossible computer simulation video of a noseless 747 zoom climbing 3,000 feet?

2.. Why did they ignore computer ballistic curves done aboard the NOAA ship Rude that found all the major debris the next day, 18 July 1996? The Rude's computer proved the aircraft never climbed or flew, as alleged by the CIA, but fell on a normal ballistic curve from its last radar transponder point. When Rude went to that predicted impact point she found the main fuselage with her side-scan sonar.

3.. The CIA computer simulation of the wing and fuselage flight path varies radically, as much as 150 kts slower than its actual horizontal velocity vector captured on radar? Why did the CIA ignore the radar?

4.. Why didn't the CIA interview a single witness before producing this video used by the FBI on National television to slander hundreds of highly credible witnesses?

The Justice Department - Considering the NTSB had the only qualified air crash investigators, if not a cover-up:

1.. Why did the Justice Department violate Title 49 of the US Code by ordering NTSB investigators to stay clear of all the witnesses and any evidence developed by the FBI?

2.. Why are the names, positions and testimony of witnesses still being held secret by the Justice Department three years later and after the FBI dropped the case?

3.. Why did the Justice Department write off a dozen or more high explosive residue hits on Flight 800 debris as being contaminated from a dog handling exercise done 10 June 1996 in St. Louis when no written record of such training exists?

4.. Why would the FBI find the recollection of the dog trainer credible when his first two guesses as to the date of his training, the aircraft wasn't in St. Louis, and in the third guess the aircraft's recorded departure time was in conflict with his testimony?

5.. Why would the deputy Director of the FBI lie about identifying every boat when they failed to identify the one boat captured on radar almost underneath Flight 800 when it exploded? That boat was within Stinger missile range when it sped away?

6.. Why would he compound that cover-up by telling journalists it was a helicopter?

7.. Why would the FBI run a covert Stinger missile recovery effort for six months, replete with an operational order, drawings of missile parts and maps?

8.. Why would those maps be altered deleting stinger range rings before being published in the Navy's Supervisor of Salvage report?

9.. Why would the administration lie about the aircraft being outside the Stinger's range and altitude reach when the FBI had military computer modeling proving Flight 800 was well within range?

10.. Why would the FBI show a video to military experts of a missile shot in the same area a few weeks earlier, but not share that information with congress or other investigators?

11.. Why would the Justice Department publicly seek to arrest and begin to prosecute Captain Terrell Stacey, TWA's disgruntled Flight 800 investigator on trumped up theft of government property charges the day before the NTSB's December 1997 public hearings?

12.. Why did they do the same to James Sanders, author of the "Downing of Flight 800" and his wife Elizabeth, a TWA training supervisor.

13.. Why would the Justice Department publicly release multiple affidavits from Mob figures during the week of the NTSB hearings tying the district manager of the only Congressman questioning the FBI's TWA investigation to organized crime? After the manager pled guilty to two felonies, why is Justice holding his affidavit secret?

14.. Why would the FBI contract the Navy's China Lake Naval Air Weapons facility experts to study the debris for a year then ignore the engineering report that recommended detonating shoulder fired missile warheads in full 747 inboard fuel tanks and firing missiles at those tanks to replicate missile damage found on Flight 800?

15.. Why would the FBI deputy director assure the American public there was no evidence of a missile impact on TWA Flight 800? There is a 45 square foot hole in the front wall of the number 2 main tank and the wing root fairing in front of that tank was shattered and fell first into the debris field?

16.. Why make that statement when the massive left wing damage can only be explained by a high explosive detonation in or near the number 2 tank?

17.. Why did the Deputy FBI Director shut down the investigation when he received the China Lake report?

18.. Why were the seven recommendations in the China Lake military report (all intended to more easily detect shoulder-fired missile attacks and reduce the threat), ignored?

19.. Why did the FBI conceal from congress and the parties to the crash the reported discovery of shoulder-fired missile components only 2 miles from Flight 800's explosion point by the scallop boat Alpha Omega, in October of 1996?

20.. Why are the high explosive tests done by the FBI on a 747, front wall #2 main tank, at Bruntingthorpe England, secret?

21.. Why is the FBI keeping the identity of commercial and military ships secret?

The NTSB - If the truth is not being covered-up:

1.. Why does the NTSB insist a spontaneous explosion in the center wing tank caused the loss, when there is no source of ignition and they haven't even done the preliminary microscopic edge metal analysis to determine whether the center tank or it's next door neighbor, the more damaged number two main tank, exploded first.

2.. Why does the NTSB continue to insist jet fuel vapors spontaneously exploded the center tank @ 13,700 feet when their own Flight test showed flammable aviation kerosene vapors (six times heavier than air) don't even form well enough on the surface of the liquid fuel to be lit by a match until the aircraft climbs above 14,000 feet?

3.. Why did the chairman of the NTSB publish an article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Its wasn't a missile" at the very time he was funding a multimillion dollar covert FBI dredging operation to recover missile parts. The maps show that ¾ of the dredging was outside of the aircraft debris field?

4.. Why did the NTSB feign difficulty in finding underwater debris for weeks when the research vessel Rude, using its side-scan sonar, radioed them the dimensions of the debris field and locations of all large under sea objects the first day and provided detailed maps the second day?

5.. Why is there a 30-hour discrepancy between when the Navy recovered the black boxes and when the NTSB said they were found?

6.. Why is the NTSB mute about the strange 7-day failure of both black box Dukane underwater pinger locators that were later found to be operating normally when checked in the LAB?

7.. Divers assured this investigator that neither undamaged pinger was operating when they found the boxes. These failures are extremely unlikely and demand a formal explanation from the NTSB. Where is it?

8.. Why has the administration failed to mention the large number of surface vessels captured on radar on the Ambrose/Nantucket traffic lane, 10 miles south of the shoot down?

9.. Why has the NTSB stalled in completing a final report for over 3 years? Is it because the parties to the crash are prohibited by law from making independent statements or investigations until after the Final Report?

10.. Why did the NTSB produce fraudulent videos of exploding center wing tanks they filled with propane and highly explosive hydrogen gas, instead of aviation kerosene that won't even burn and release them to the media?

11.. Why did Dr. Loeb of the NTSB go on national television in June of 1997 and tell the American people 747's center wing tanks were dangerously hot?

12.. Why didn't they retract that statement when I showed them a simple, no cost, 2-minute procedure that proved them wrong?

13.. Why weren't the black boxes "officially found" on 18 July 1996 and when they weren't, why was there no urgency to do so?

14.. Why didn't the urgency to recover victim's bodies quickly, using the professional salvage crews of Weeks Marine, Inc. who were already on hand, override waiting six days for the Navy? Who made that decision?

15.. Why can't the NTSB explain the last data line on the Flight Data Recorder?

16.. Why is the NTSB holding results of cockpit voice recorder tests done in Bruntingthorpe England secret from NTSB and Party analysts?

On 6 May 1999, in testimony before the House Aviation Subcommittee, in the presence of the Chairman and senior staff of the NTSB, I recommended the NTSB be reorganized and the current leadership be replaced without political appointees. We brought forth proof of the administration's covert missile recovery operation and pointed out the deceptive role played by the NTSB Chairman. We also pointed out incredibly, the protocol to determine which aircraft fuel tank exploded first had not yet been done. I further stated if an NTSB final report comes out without these minimum, common sense tests and the missile tests recommended by China Lake Naval Air Weapons Systems Command, I would file the appropriate criminal complaints. Refusal to do these tests is an admission of cover-up, for the results would either confirm or irreversibly refute the administration's theory.

No public official, including the President of the United States, has the authority to conceal a fatal attack by terrorists on the American people. Such an act would be misprision of felony homicide and misprision of treason. The ball is still in the NTSB's court. After stalling for more than three years, protecting administration officials, it is well past time they do their duty or resign.

Musing #2: No Agreement - No Questions!

December 9, 1997     The New York Times
The National Transportation Safety Board, in its first thorough presentation of the last moments of TWA Flight 800, displayed its own video animation on Monday and painted a picture with significantly different details from the one laid out by the CIA two weeks ago. ..... In the Safety Board's simulation -- without the music or professional announcer of the CIA video -- the explosion in the center fuel tank took less than a second to spew debris from the plane's belly, including part of the keel beam, which provides much of the support for the fuselage. Then the breakup of the plane slows or stops, but the nose begins to droop and the sides compress, until the area in front of the wings breaks off, and begins an almost leisurely flutter to the water, taking about 90 seconds. The wings and everything behind them, however, continue for more than two miles and climb from about 13,700 feet to perhaps 15,000 feet, before twisting north and south and plunging to the surface, with the left wing breaking off shortly before impact, creating a fireball. The Central Intelligence Agency's version, in contrast, portrayed the wings and fuselage as climbing to 17,000 feet, trailing flaming fuel in a way that convinced witnesses on the south shore of Long Island that they were seeing a missile. And where the CIA has the major fragment of the plane veering to the north, the Safety Board has it twist first north, toward the beach, and then south. The first turn would have given observers the perspective that the plane was continuing to climb, Board experts testified on Monday. ..... The investigators integrated information from eight radar sites around the northeastern United States, radio transmissions from the Paris-bound jet itself, "witness marks" showing where interior parts of the plane crashed into each other, analyses of the trajectory that each part of the plane would be expected to take as the Boeing 747 blew apart, locations of the wreckage on the ocean floor, and analyses of thousands of fractures. They built a case for explosion of the center fuel tank from causes internal to the plane, although just what causes those were is not yet clear.

....... At the opening of hearings by the National Transportation Safety Board on TWA Flight 800, some 75 relatives of victims of the disaster sat silently Monday as engineers and scientists described in wrenching detail the destruction of the jumbo jet and its 230 passengers. Every detail except the critical one: what sparked the explosion in the center fuel tank that split the plane. ..... But for many others, the hearing offered a media spotlight for a variety of agendas they had developed in the wake of the disaster. Some are still pressing the theory that a missile downed the plane; some are urging new rules on airline safety or compensation for victims; still others continue to criticize the response of some officials to the disaster. .... Despite their deep concern about the outcome of the inquiry, the family members have no formal role in the hearings, which are limited to the technical aspects of the investigation. Frank Carven, a lawyer from Belair, Md., who lost his sister and nephew in the crash, said the frustration of some of the families built as the proceedings went on without any opportunity for critical questioning. .... Some relatives still doubted the federal government's conclusions that a missile was not the cause. When a man disrupted the opening moments of the hearing by raising a poster and yelling about a probable government cover-up, there was a quick smattering of applause from the tables reserved for families.


Musing #3: No Worries!

Date: Sun, 24 Aug 1997 10:05:49 -0400
To: Flight 800 discussion list <FLIGHT-800@HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
Subject: Reply to a posting entitled "Totally New Thought":

<< Here is my radical and heretical thought for the day. You have one chance in 500,000 of being killed on an airline flight. You have one chance in 30,000,000 of being killed on an airline flight that suffers a bomb, missile, or other foreign device blowing it up. Of all the crashes that kill people, half are CFIT (controlled flight into terrain). Of all crashes that kill people about 70 percent are caused by identifiable human error (pilot not paying attention, following wrong directions, misinterpreting readings, misreading charts, getting confused on which beacon is which (KA801, apparently), dozing off, crew exhaustion or sleep deprivation, language difficulties, whatever). Considering these data, maybe we should QUIT WORRYING ABOUT TWA 800, accept it as an aberration or VERY unusual occurrence, and start thinking about ways to improve the performance of flight crews and to reduce the human errors. No, I'm not BSing.....I'm serious....think about it. So one in sixty fatal crashes is caused by conspiracy, enemies, whatever. Would seem more useful to concentrate on the 40 or so that are caused by human (mistakes). Think about it. After all, no matter how hard we try, or how strongly we pitch our particular theories, the chances of it making any difference is nil.....might as well try to empty the ocean with a bailing bucket. >>

One day a man was walking along the beach with a friend and as he went his friend noticed that he would periodically pick up a starfish and throw it back into the ocean. After a while the friend asked why he did this. The man replied: "If they don't get back into the ocean they will die". His friend opined: "But there are millions of them - why are you wasting your energy - you are not making any difference!". The man pick up another one and tossed it into the ocean saying: "Well, I just made a difference for that one".


Musing #4: No Evidence?

Date: Wed, 24 Sep 1997 08:23:39 -0400
To: Flight 800 discussion list <FLIGHT-800@HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
Subject: "Because there is Zero Evidence..."

In the article below James Hall discusses TWA 800 and US Air 427.

September 24, 1997      Associated Press
Improved airline safety doesn't have to wait for a final ruling on the cause of accidents, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says. Jim Hall urged the airline industry to pay close attention to his agency's recommendations. The crashes of TWA Flight 800 and USAir Flight 427 have become two of the longest and most complex investigations in board history. While still unsolved, both have produced a series of safety recommendations, Hall noted to the Aero Club of Washington on Tuesday. "It is healthy that the industry engage in a thorough examination of the practicality and benefits of our recommendations,'' he said. "What I don't want to see, though, is a reflexive action by industry that leads to the recommendations being rejected out of hand.''...."We were told shortly after the crash of TWA Flight 800 that, even if the center wing tank exploded, it could not have brought down the plane. In addition, we were told that center fuel tanks of 747s are rarely in an explosive state,'' he said. "I think all of us are convinced by now that they are in an explosive state more than not,'' he went on, referring to tanks filled with fuel vapors ........ The safety board and FBI have been conducting joint investigations of the disaster, considering the possibility of mechanical failure, a bomb or missile as a cause. Hall said no evidence has been found of a bomb or missile. Hall said he hopes his agency will issue a final report on the crash of USAir Flight 427 by early next year. At 80,000 hours of work, the Sept. 8, 1994, disaster near Pittsburgh, in which 132 died, is the longest investigation in NTSB history. So far, Hall said, the agency has issued 20 recommendations for improvements in the rudders of Boeing 737 aircraft.......

US Air 427 sent out no distress signal and was reported to have exploded in flight. Further, human remains were found in the tree tops .........

September 8, 1994    (ENN) 2130 CDT
... a USAir 737-300 aircraft, enroute from Chicago to Pittsburgh, ... crashed into a field Northwest of Pittsburg International. The plane, Flt. 427, was scheduled to arrive in Pittsburgh at 7:09 p.m. (local time). Neither the FAA nor Pittsburgh International airport ...reported any distress signal being received from the stricken aircraft..... Rescuers ..... described the scene as "gruesome" with "body parts hanging from the trees". Unconfirmed reports have suggested that the plane had exploded prior to impacting the ground, which would account for the debris being spread over a very wide area. Other eyewitnesses have said that it "dove into the ground under full power". ... CBS News is reporting that the FBI has been called in to the case because of the mysterious circumstances under which the plane crashed. At least one unconfirmed report said that the .... explosion may have been altitude detonated.

Which is probably why Mr Condit, despite the 20 recommendations, does not seem to be worried about the rudder control mechanisms of Boeing 737s or the Center Fuel Tanks of 747s .......

October 9, 1997    New York Times
Airlines around the world will begin inspecting their planes' fuel tanks for conditions that could cause an explosion like the one that destroyed TWA Flight 800, the airlines and plane manufacturers announced Wednesday. . ........ The airlines are adamant that the equipment currently in use is safe .....The airlines made their announcement on the second day of a three-day conference here on the safety of transportation fuels. The conference is jointly sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration, which has also been unenthusiastic about the National Transportation Safety Board's ideas...... Hall said that the board's inability to identify the probable cause "masked a very important fact about the (TWA 800) investigation, and that is that we know what happened to the aircraft" -- the center fuel tank exploded.... But airline representatives Wednesday reiterated their contention that until the safety board knows the source of the spark that caused the explosion, or mechanics spot something on a plane that they can identify as a flaw, it is too soon to make any hardware or procedural changes. ..... Airlines and the FAA often differ sharply with the safety board, but this dispute stands in striking contrast to another now taking shape, over the crash of a USAir 737 near Pittsburgh in 1994. In that case, the FAA, Boeing and the airlines appear to agree on safety steps, modifying the rudder assembly, but Boeing still disputes that the rudder was the cause of the crash. In the TWA 800 case, the airlines and manufacturers are disputing the solution even though they generally agree with the safety board that the center fuel tank exploded.

August 17, 1997    NY Times Magazine Section   Interview with Condit, CEO Boeing
Q. Your company has been the target of a lot of criticism on safety issues. In promotional material, Airbus executives often hint that their planes are safer than yours. They allude to T.W.A. Flight 800 and to two 737 crashes, near Colorado Springs and Pittsburgh. How do you answer them?

A. I don't think it is beneficial to Boeing or Airbus who is safer in a world where both of us put safety at the very top of what we do. What we have is a very safe system. So why would you want to argue about who is safer?

Q. Federal authorities have been saying all summer that they're pretty certain that neither a bomb nor a missile took out T.W.A. Flight 800. They suspect, instead, an explosion in the fuel tank. Will you be recalling your 747 fleet to check the fuel tanks?

A. The first thing that has to happen is that you've *got* to determine what the cause was. You've got to fix the right thing, whatever it is.

Q. Early reporting on Flight 800 suggested that it had been downed by terrorists. As terrible as that would have been, did you almost hope for that -- as opposed to a mechanical problem?

A. One of the things I've learned is that you don't "hope" for anything. You try to find out the answer.

Q. But that would have been a better result for the company, wouldn't it?

A. I don't know how there can be a "better result" when people die.

Q. The Seattle Times won a Pulitzer Prize this year for a series investigating what it described as technical problems with the rudder system on the 737. Why haven't you recalled the 737 fleet while you've worked on the rudder problem?

A. Because there is zero evidence that that's where the problem is.

And TWA remains unconvinced too....

December 8, 1997   Aviation Week and Space Technology
Trans World Airlines officials aim to cast doubt this week on the NTSB's investigation into the crash of its Flight 800, even reviving the question of whether the 747 was downed by a missile. .... "We are not convinced there was a spontaneous explosion in the center tank," said Mark Abels, TWA's vice president of corporate communications. "We won't be until there is an ignition source identified and there is proof it set off the explosion. All we see now is circumstantial evidence."   In meetings and correspondence with the NTSB, TWA officials have indicated that they may challenge fundamental elements of the Flight 800 investigation, including: 1) How the NTSB tracked where each piece of the 747's debris was found on the ocean floor .... and how each was handled once ashore. .... 3) The safety board's limited access to the statements of witnesses who claimed to have seen a missile strike Flight 800 ... The FBI gathered and controlled those statements as part of its criminal investigation ... Although it has designated the investigation as inactive, the FBI has yet to give the accident investigation team full access to the witness reports.... The FBI's work "doesn't mean there wasn't a missile, it means the FBI has not found evidence of one," Abels said.


Musing #5:  No Kidding!

July 19, 1996  
The CIA's Counter-terrorism Center also has begun a worldwide search for any clues that terrorism may have been involved in crash. But so far, a CIA official said, "We have nothing that points us in one direction or another." There was some speculation that a surface-to-air missile, perhaps fired from a boat off the coast of Long Island, could have brought the plane down. A top Pentagon intelligence official told CNN such a possibility has been ruled out. The reason: a Stinger missile is heat-seeking, and analysts concluded it would have had to make too sharp a turn to hit the TWA flight ...

Why was a top Pentagon intelligence official talking to CNN about "too sharp a turn"? Too sharp a turn!   Some witnesses were using similar phrases in describing what they saw bring down the aircraft.  No kidding!

Anthony Curreri was sitting on the beach at the Bellport Dock at the South end of Station Road. Facing southeast towards Smith Point bridge he saw “a red streak rise from the horizon.” He said the streak “ascended at a slight angle to the right, very high then curved downward slightly and then leveled off and appeared to explode resulting in two similar objects falling down.”

Curved down and leveled off?  No Kidding!

Tom Dougherty: Interview by Cdr. Donaldson presented at the AIM conference October 18, 1997.
"I saw a red-orange flare go up which I thought was like a Guicci fireworks and I watched it go up away from me in a south-westerly direction towards West Hampton beach area and it .. what I was waiting for was the flare to reach its trajectory and to come down and explode like fireworks. And it didn't. What happened was it kept diminishing in size and then seemed to veer towards the east more."

Veered towards the east?  No kidding!

Richard Goss on Art Bell show (11/24/97): "I saw a flare coming was definitely going up, definitely going up! As it reached its peak, it took a sharp veer left  .... it moved horizontal at that point".

Veered sharply left?  Moved horizontal?  No kidding!

Lisa Perry - Dan's Papers, Long Island, May 15, 1998:  There was a plane in the sky ... out from the left, from the North, something was moving North to South over the dunes ... from the direction of the Great South Bay. The object came over the dunes of Fire Island. It was shiny, like a new dime; it looked like a plane without wings. It had no windows... It was as if there was a flame at the back of it, like a Bunsen burner .... It was like a silver bullet ... It was moving much faster than the plane.   The silver object took a left turn, and went up to the plane. The plane stopped for an instant, as something would when it had suffered an impact, not just an explosion. Then it began to fracture - as if you had slammed a frozen candy bar down onto a table.

Took a left turn?  Went up to the plane?  No Kidding!

Capt. Chris Baur: "Almost due south [of the helicopter], there was a hard white light, like burning pyrotechnics, in level flight,... It struck an object coming from the right and made it explode."

Level flight!? No kidding!

March 10, 1997      Aviation Week and Space Technology
Meyer's attention was first called to the area ...."by a streak of light moving from my right (west) to my left (east)," the same direction as the TWA flight  .... there was what Meyer describes as a hard, very sudden, yellowish-white explosion that looked identical to the detonation of an antiaircraft shell ....."It left a cloud of smoke just like a flak explosion does," Meyer said. "One to two seconds later, there was a second, hard explosion almost pure white in color ... almost immediately there was a third explosion and fireball....

From the same direction as the TWA flight?   No kidding!

Maybe the "top Pentagon intelligence official" had information from a spy satellite ....

July 23, 1996    The London Times
An American spy satellite positioned over the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island is said to have yielded important information about the crash. A law enforcement official told the New York Post that the satellite pictures show an object racing up to the TWA jet, passing it, then changing course and smashing into it.

Racing up?  No kidding!    

Passing it?  No kidding!

Changing course?  No kidding!

Smashing into it?   No kidding!

See Radar Evidence at:


Musing #6: No Good?

The NTSB handed off responsibility for TWA 800 to the FBI and the FBI got to the bottom of it!   Meeting with the families it told them .....

November 12, 1997    The Associated Press
The FBI has told families of victims of TWA Flight 800 that it "has found absolutely no evidence'' of a crime and is suspending its probe into the disaster, the father of one victim told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Michel Breistroff of Paris, whose 25-year-old son was one of the 230 people who died in the July 1996 crash, said he received the letter Wednesday from James Kallstrom, the FBI assistant director who headed the criminal probe. Kallstrom told families, "I must report to you ... that our investigation has found absolutely no evidence to cause us to believe that the TWA Flight 800 tragedy was the result of a criminal act,'' according to Breistroff, who read the letter to the AP during a phone interview .... The FBI plans a news conference next week to issue a comprehensive report on the criminal probe's findings, a law-enforcement source said.

So the NTSB found something that was almost as good .......

December 13, 1997     New York Times
The National Transportation Safety Board wound up a week of hearings on the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 Friday without uncovering what made the plane explode shortly after takeoff, but with something that its top officials say was almost as good: a consensus that steps should be taken to cut the risk of fuel tank explosions in all planes -- perhaps eliminating it entirely.

The Department of Defense handed off responsibility for the Saudi Arabian bombings  to the FBI
Q: Mr. Secretary, could you tell us and the families of those who have lost their loved ones, if this report gets you any closer to finding out who is responsible for this terrorist act, and also who, inside the Pentagon or inside the military chain of command, should lose their job over this? Is there serious consideration that that should be done?

Secretary White: Let me answer the first question by saying that the issue around the direct culpability for the attack itself is the responsibility, of course, of the Saudi Government and of the FBI and the Department of Justice -- not the Department of Defense. So we are not involved in the Department of Defense in terms of that effort. Secondly, let me say that our focus here has been on the fact that terrorists killed these people. Americans didn't kill these airmen, terrorists killed these airmen. Our focus then is on what we can do in order to make sure that we minimize and protect against these kinds of enormous, complicated, and sophisticated terrorist threats in the future.

Q: But the General was quite clear that years ago recommendations had been made that intelligence capabilities be improved. It's quite clear that from the report itself, that commanders were given information, yet they didn't act.

Secretary White: That's not true. The commanders acted extensively, and if it were not for the actions of those commanders we would not have saved the many lives that we did. Over 130 steps were taken at Khobar Towers alone. Based on the intelligence that we had, extensive steps were taken.

Q: This question for General Downing and also for the Chairman, if I might. Gentlemen, are you able to say yet, and I'm sorry, I haven't seen the report but let me get right to it, are you able to say yet, if groups harbored by Baghdad, in Baghdad, or the Iraqi Government had anything to do with this? There are also reports that the Syrians were allowing training of Saudi dissidents in their country by Iranians. Is Iran complicitous? Can you tell us anything about who's hitting us?

General Shalikashvili: The responsibility for the investigation of that incident is in the hands of the Saudi Government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those investigations are not yet completed. I have no information that could answer your question.

And the FBI got to the bottom of it!    Meeting with the families it told them .....

December 13, 1997     New York Times
A year and a half after 19 U.S. airmen were killed in Saudi Arabia, officials have told their relatives they still do not know who carried out the truck bombing of their barracks. Attorney General Janet Reno, FBI Director Louis Freeh and other officials met privately with families of the victims of the Khobar Towers bombing at a daylong counseling session and dinner Thursday at which they promised to press on with the stalled investigation. "There was great respect for us, but little information," Fran Heiser, the mother of Master Sgt. Michael G. Heiser, said Friday. "They don't have anything concrete." The meeting, which was closed to the press and not announced beforehand, was held at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va. Mrs. Heiser, who has been active in the efforts of the families to learn more about what happened, said that members of 18 families attended. .... The airmen were killed, and 500 other people wounded, when a large truck bomb exploded at the housing complex near Dhahran for Air Force personnel mounting patrols over the no-flight zone in southern Iraq declared after the Persian Gulf War. ...... Investigators had hoped for a break when a Saudi dissident, Hani Abdul Rahim Sayegh, was arrested in Canada on information from Saudi intelligence that he drove a scout car in the bombing. But Sayegh later reneged on a plea-bargain agreement with U.S. officials to provide information, saying he only made it because he feared execution if he was deported to Saudi Arabia. The Justice Department case against him collapsed for lack of evidence. He is now in custody of the immigration authorities, awaiting deportation hearings.

So the Department of Defense is looking for something that's almost as good!


Musing #7: No Witnesses!

The lawyers are worried that they may no be able to prove their case so they will follow the FBI example with the NTSB and have the judge refuse to hear from the eyewitnesses about missiles. In the December 14,1997 NY Times a Manhattan lawyer says that a difficulty could be trying to find a jury that did not have at least a few members who still believed that a bomb, missile or perhaps even a meteorite could have destroyed the plane. Even though, he says, the FBI has decided that there was no evidence that a criminal act caused the crash, and all manner of experts testified that the evidence makes a bomb, missile or meteorite almost impossible, he would try to persuade Judge Robert W. Sweet, who is handling the cases in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, to prevent the companies from reviving these theories. A hearing will be held next Tuesday before Sweet. Lee S. Kreindler, a Manhattan lawyer whose firm is representing families of 80 of the 230 victims, says the case is as basic as the ancient phrase of law: Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.

December 14, 1997    The New York Times
In 6,000 pages of documents and more than 35 hours of testimony presented last week, dozens of aviation engineers and scientists laid out their analysis of the explosion that destroyed Trans World Airlines Flight 800, seeking to assign a cause to the catastrophe. And no one listened more carefully during the National Transportation Safety Administration hearings than the bevy of lawyers who are trying to assign blame for the crash more ..... Just as the aviation investigators are seeking ways to guard against future fuel tank explosions without knowing precisely what ignited the one on Flight 800, the lawyers are trying to assess liability despite this critical gap in evidence. ..... The plaintiffs' lawyers and their aides studiously took notes in laptop computers or on legal pads, sitting just behind the three long sets of tables occupied by relatives of those who died. In the final hours of the hearing, the meeting halls became a hive of discussions and strategy sessions as lawyers, victims' relatives and officials of TWA and Boeing girded for would could be years of legal and financial wrangling. .... there is the challenge of proving a case for a particular cause of the crash. Several aviation lawyers who have represented airlines in similar lawsuits said that the absence of clues to what ignited the blast in the center fuel tank on Flight 800, which has proved exasperating to investigators, may also prove so to lawyers for the families as they try to build convincing cases. "It's a basic concept from Law 101: the party with the burden of proof has got to prove something," said Bonnie Cohen, a lawyer from San Francisco who for more than 15 years has represented airlines in suits resulting from plane crashes. ...... But Lee S. Kreindler, a Manhattan lawyer whose firm is representing families of 80 of the 230 victims, says the case is as basic as the ancient phrase of law: Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. The Boeing 747 exploded when one of many potential sources of a spark ignited fuel vapor in its overheated center fuel tank. Given those facts, the case is "garden-variety product liability," Kreindler said. .... Frank H. Granito Jr., a Manhattan lawyer whose firm is representing the families of 54 victims, said the hearings also provided a kind of casting call for witnesses. He and the other lawyers were able to observe the style and communications skills of dozens of experts, many of whom might be called to testify in coming liability and damage trials. .... Another potential problem, said Granito, the Manhattan lawyer, could be trying to find a jury that did not have at least a few members who still believed that a bomb, missile or perhaps even a meteorite could have destroyed the plane. The FBI has decided that there was no evidence that a criminal act caused the crash, and all manner of experts testified that the evidence makes a bomb, missile or meteorite almost impossible. Even so, Granito said, he would try to persuade Judge Robert W. Sweet, who is handling the cases in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, to prevent the companies from reviving these theories. A hearing will be held next Tuesday before Sweet. ..... And as the hearings continued, the lawyers continued to collect more bits of evidence suggesting hidden hazards in the giant jets. Particularly significant, the lawyers said, was Boeing's concession that it needed a new approach to preventing such explosions, saying that the 40-year-old design philosophy for fuel tanks on airliners -- focused on eliminating sparks -- needed to be augmented by a search for ways to get rid of flammable vapors. "That's just another way of saying their plane's defective," Kreindler said. He said the findings reported at the hearing provided a telling road map. Referring to photographs of frayed wires and tests showing that fuel vapors would have been overheated and highly flammable, he said: "They're not talking about theory here. We can prove this stuff has happened. This is no different than tobacco or a bad car. We can prove they made an unsafe product."

Apparently the "thing" can speak for itself but the witnesses can't!


Musing #8:  No Links?
TWA 800, The World Trade Center, and Oklahoma City

The Philippines is the basis an interesting link between Ramsey Yousef and the bombing of the World Trade Center, Terry Nichols and the bombing of the Murrah Building, the downing of TWA Flight 800, and Osama bin Laden....

April 25, 1997  Electronic Telegraph Issue 700
A prosecutor in Denver said yesterday that the "hate-filled" mastermind of the bombing in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people was involved in a Right-wing plot ...... McVeigh's lawyer, Stephen Jones, is expected to suggest that a foreign government, "probably Iraq" hired "a Middle Eastern bombing engineer" to detonate the explosion with the help of neo-Nazis. In a court petition, lawyers say the attack was "contracted out" through an Iraqi base in the Philippines and it was "possible that those who carried out the bombing were unaware of the true sponsor".

Was Stephen Jones on the right track and what was behind the evidence he wanted to introduce into the McVeigh trial but could not. Some clues may lie in another link with the Phillipines that involved McVeigh's co-conspirator Terry Nichols .....

November 22, 1994    (See NY Times December 24, 1997)
Terry Nichols left for a 59 day stay in the Phillipines. He left letters, with his ex-wife, Lana Padilla, explaining what to do in case he died. Three days after he returned on January 16, 1995, he was sharing a motel room in Kansas with Mr. Mc.Veigh.

What was the purpose of this visit? Why was he so concerned that he might die? Did he meet with Ramsey Yousef, who at the same time was testing a plan to blow up airliners in the Philippines and who was later convicted in the bombing of the World Trade Center? Did Nichols receive training there on how to construct and detonate large bombs? Was he fearful that there could be an accident during his training?

December, 1994   (See TIME magazine July 29, 1996)
Ramsey Yousef tests his plan for attacking U.S. carriers by boarding a Philippine Airlines flight on the first leg from the Philippines to Japan. He carried with him the components of a bomb, unassembled in his carry-on bag. On board he assembled the bomb, which was made of gun cotton, a nitroglycerine solution packed into a contact-lens bottle. He tucked the bomb under a cushion and left the plane after its first stop in the Philippine city of Cebu. Two hours later the device exploded killing a passenger.

Cebu is the city where in July 1990 Nichols travelled to find a mail-order bride and met Marife Torres. He was 35, she was 17 and they were married there on November 20, 1990. (NY Times December 24, 1997)

An associate of Ramsey Yousef, Edwin Angeles, had been arrested in the Phillipines where he was contacted by McVeigh's attorney, Stephen Jones. Angeles linked Nichols (a.k.a. 'the farmer') to Yousef in a meeting on the island of Mindanao. In his book 'Others Unknown', Jones describes that at a meeting in Davao, Angeles met an American who introduced himself as 'the farmer'. Among those present at the meeting were Ramsey Yousef, Abdul Hakim Murad, and Wali Khan Amin Shah. The meeting was to discuss terrorism and Murad, Khan and Yousef would later be defendants in the plot to blow up twelve U.S. airliners. All were convicted on September 5, 1996 and are in American prisons.  On April 19, 1995, Murad told his guard in his New York cell that the Oklahoma city bombing was the work of Islamic Jihad. 

But back to Yousef and the World Trade Center bombing where we find a link also between him and Iraq .....

September 15, 1996  The Telegraph  (U.K. Electronic Edition)   Issue 480
According to Dr Mylroie, the attempt to blow up the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York on February 26, 1993 .... was an act of Iraqi state- sponsored terrorism conducted by proxies. After studying the telephone records and document archives from the trial, she has concluded that the mastermind said to be behind the bombing, a shadowy figure called Ramsi Yousef, was working for Iraqi intelligence. The Justice Department did not address this issue in the official investigation. It concluded that the bombing was the work of Islamic fundamentalists loyal to a blind Egyptian cleric. Jim Fox, then head of the New York FBI office, suspected Iraqi involvement but says that the Washington headquarters refused to look at the evidence.

The use of proxies seems to be a common trait among terrorist organizations and Nichols acting as a proxy for the Iraqis would parallel a similar proxy situation in France involving French citizens ......

November 27, 1997    The New York Times
Forty people accused of helping Algerian Islamic militants plant bombs that killed eight people and wounded more than 170 in Paris in 1995 went on trial this week. They are charged with conspiracy to support a terrorist campaign to get the French government to drop support for the Algerian government......... The defendants .... were arrested two years ago, after French commandos and the police killed one of the suspected ringleaders of the bombings, Khalid Kelkal, near Lyons and arrested hundreds of Algerians or people of Algerian origin suspected of being part of an underground support network for the Algerian Armed Islamic Group in France. ...... Three of the defendants in this trial -- identified as Joseph Jaime, David Vallat and Alain Celle -- are French citizens who converted to Islam and underwent military training in Afghanistan, prosecutors said.

And British Nationals have been directly linked to Osama bin Laden acting as proxies to attack targets in Aden.  In the British case, however, they were apparently attracted by the excellent beaches .....

January 5, 1999   The Electronic Telegraph    Issue 1320
Evidence was mounting yesterday that the three British tourists killed in Yemen last week were the first casualties of Operation Desert Fox. As fear grew of more revenge attacks, it emerged that the "jihadists", holy warriors who seized the 16 Westerners, had apparently done so after failing to blow up the British consul in the port of Aden in southern Yemen. That plan was thought to have been a direct reprisal for the air strikes - making the three Britons the unwitting casualties of Tony Blair's inseparable alliance with Bill Clinton. Last night, British diplomats were trying to establish details about links between the Westerners' kidnappers and about five Islamic fundamentalists caught in Aden on Dec 23. They were carrying bombs and automatic weapons. The diplomats will want to focus in particular on suggestions by the Yemeni authorities that some of the bombers were travelling on British passports. All five bombers allegedly admitted they were under the command of Abu Hassan, the leader of the kidnapping team. ..... At the forefront of demands for revenge against Britain and America is the exiled Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden, who reportedly trained the Yemeni kidnappers. He called on Islamic fighters to drive both powers from the Middle East, claiming that the air strikes were undertaken at the behest of Israel.

January 8, 1999   The Electronic Telegraph   Issue 1323
The fallout from the hostage crisis in Yemen took a dramatic turn yesterday when it was claimed that the kidnappers were trying to secure the release of British nationals arrested for their alleged involvement in a plot to bomb British targets in Aden. The terrorist suspects are alleged by the Yemeni authorities to have been recruited in Britain before travelling to Yemen for training by the militant Al Jihad group. The men were said to have been recruited by Al Jihad's leader, Abu Hassan, to attack the British consulate, the Christchurch Anglican church and two hotels used by westerners in retaliation for air strikes on Iraq. Yemeni authorities claim they raided the suspects' rooms at the two hotels on Dec 23, five days before the kidnappers struck. A Frenchman was also arrested and explosives and automatic weapons allegedly seized. The Yemeni authorities claim to have acquired enough information after the arrests to begin looking for Abu Hassan. ... On Dec 28, Abu Hassan and other members of Al Jihad took 16 western tourists hostage near Mudiyah. The kidnappers demanded the release of the alleged plotters arrested on Dec 23. In a rescue attempt 24 hours later, three Britons and an Australian were killed. Three terrorists were killed and three, including Abu Hassan, captured. .... In a separate development, the families of five British nationals who went to Yemen said yesterday that they were under arrest. They named them as Mohsin Ghalain, 18, Shahid Butt, 33, Malik Nassar Harhra, 26, Samad Ahmeed, 21 and Ghulam Hussein, 25, but did not specify why they had been held. Three are from Birmingham, one from Luton and the fifth has addresses in Birmingham and London.

January 9, 1999    The Electronic Telegraph   Issue 1324
Five British men allegedly involved in a terrorist bombing campaign in Yemen were also connected with the Muslim fundamentalist behind the kidnapping of tourists, the Yemeni interior minister claimed yesterday. .... It was the first official word from the Yemeni authorities about the alleged terrorists. Relatives in Britain denied they were terrorists and said the men did not know each other before going to Yemen on holiday to learn Arabic. .... Mr Arab claimed the five men arrested were connected with Abu Hassan, the 28-year-old fundamentalist who led the kidnap operation of 16 Western tourists on Dec 28. Three Britons and an Australian died when Yemeni troops mounted a rescue operation. Earlier, a Yemeni security source in Aden claimed the kidnap operation had been organised to secure the release of the five Britons ..... Relatives said the men were not travelling as a group and, while some were friends, not all of them knew each other. They repeated their claims that the men were in Yemen on holiday. The 24-year-old wife of Mr Hussain, Monica Davis, said: "My husband is a quiet family man who is not even active in the community, let alone in politics. "We have saved up for two years to go on a family holiday during Ramadan and he had gone out before me. When he telephoned I was to join him. We chose Yemen because it has a nice seaside."

French proxies?  Yes.   British proxies?  Yes.   So let us return to the American proxies ......

June 3, 1997   Electronic Telegraph   Issue 739
Painted by prosecutors as a fanatical bomber obsessed with a warped sense of patriotism, Timothy McVeigh, convicted of the Oklahoma bombing, gave his attorneys no help in establishing an alibi.... Judge Richard Matsch kept a tight hold on the trial, ....the judge refused to allow Stephen Jones, McVeigh's lawyer, to present an alternative theory, gathered after spending $10 million travelling the world, that an international conspiracy was responsible. Many of the victim's relatives are so concerned at evidence of this aspect that they are suing the government, insisting that the FBI had prior knowledge of the blast.

March 30, 1997  Electronic Telegraph Issue 674
Dennis Mahon must lead a charmed life. The FBI has pursued endless leads into the 1995 Oklahoma bombing, collecting more than 26,000 witness statements. But it has never been to visit him at his bungalow in Tulsa. The omission is curious. Mahon, 47, is an associate of the government's chief suspect, Tim McVeigh. Indeed, McVeigh's defence team says Mahon sent a tape to their client in prison urging him to accept his "sacrifice" and reminding him in a subtle way that members of his family were vulnerable. Before the bombing on April 19, 1995, he was the subject of a terrorism investigation which generated allegations that he was plotting to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma. In case the authorities had overlooked this, an undercover informant reminded the FBI two days after the bombing that she had told them that Mahon had made three trips to Oklahoma City. On one visit in 1994, the informant said he "cased" the building that was attacked. A former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and now a leader of the more militant White Aryan Resistance, Mahon has never made a secret of his extremism. He has called for the overthrow of the United States government by "any means" and regards it as an honour to have been barred from Britain and Canada. "I always deliver my bombs in person, in disguise," he said mischievously. "I can look like a hispanic or even a Negro. I'm the master of disguise." He has kept his sense of humour, despite being the chief target of McVeigh's defence team in the trial that starts tomorrow. McVeigh's lawyers have introduced documents in court asserting a "high probability" that Mahon and his friend Andreas Strassmeir, a former German army officer, were behind the Oklahoma bombing. "This is where I make my bombs," he said, giving me a tour of a workshop attached to his house. "Just kidding. Everybody seems to think I did the bombing. Even the Iraqis think I did it," he explained, saying he had been on the Iraqi payroll as a propagandist for more than three years. "They paid me $100 a month."

And of course the loop through Yousef can be closed back to TWA 800. As just one example I will leave you with an article from the American Spectator .....

September 1997    The American Spectator
Letter from John B. Roberts II in reply to an earlier one from James Hall - Chairman of the NTSB ..

Early this summer Hall testified before Congress that a meteorite may have blown up TWA, an event about as likely as an attack by a UFO. Apparently, Mr. Hall is prepared to got to any length to avoid confronting evidence of terrorism in the crash of TWA 800..... minute traces of PETN and RDX were found in TWA 800. Hall would have us believe they came from a bomb-sniffing dog test. But the St. Louis Police Department test record says only that a "wide-bodied jet" was used in the test, and provides no serial number for the aircraft......As TWA's 800's debris was being hauled ashore, it was being tested by the EGIS high-tech explosives detection system operated by FBI technicians and BATF bomb experts. Within five days of the crash, EGIS registered the first of more than a dozen "hits" for PETN on the aircraft. The FBI laboratory--whose work, even before it was subsequently criticized by the Justice Departments's inspector general, was questioned by FBI agents working on EGIS--confirmed only two findings. Do the EGIS findings mean that there was once much more explosive residue .... Whether there were two positive findings or a dozen, the dog-test explanation is almost as zany as Hall's meteorite theory..... Hall states that the U.S. lacks intelligence leads, but at least one terorist has claimed credit for the TWA 800 bombing. World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Ahmed Yousef told authorities his group is responsible. Yousef's claim has not been made public, but it is in the FBI file.

Yousef's sponsor, Osama bin Laden, continues to build his base in the Phillipines.

December 3, 1998   Global Intelligence Update
(T)he terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, linked to Saudi terrorist Osama Bin Laden, has increased its activities in the southern Philippines, and a new Bin Laden linked group, the Salafiya Fighters, has reportedly surfaced near Zamboanga on Mindanao.

While Yousef and Nichol's partner, McVeigh, chat in a Federal prison.

March 11, 1999  The New York Times
When the nation's most infamous terrorists -- the Oklahoma City bomber, the Unabomer, and the World Trade Center bomber -- are allowed out of solitary confinement so that they can have one hour of exercise in the nation's most secure Federal prison, what do they do? Apparently, they just chat
. .... Timothy J. McVeigh is a right-wing extremist convicted of carrying out the Oklahoma City bombing, while Ramzi Ahmed Yousef is a Muslim terrorist who masterminded the World Trade Center attack. .... The prison, the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colo., is so secure that it is known as Super Max. McVeigh, Kaczynski and Yousef, who are otherwise allowed no contact with each other, are permitted to spend their one-hour exercise period in separate cages in the prison yard, speaking to each other through mesh fences. Because of their distance from each other, they must speak loudly, so guards can hear what they say. ... Lawrence K. Feitell, wrote to the judge that he had seen on a television news program that McVeigh, Kaczynski and Yousef were allowed to have their daily exercise chats in the prison yard. He asked that Felipe be allowed "to share" with the three "in their outdoor mutual recreation." ..... Precisely what the inmates discuss through the prison fence is not known. Yousef's lawyer, Bernard V. Kleinman, said by phone that his client has had conversations with McVeigh through the fence and also as they have been moved from their cells to the recreation area. "They talk about innocuous things like the movies," Kleinman said. "They don't talk about anything that they shouldn't be talking about."

[For further details see From Dublin to Oklahoma  Also recommended is the book 'Others Unknown' by Stephen Jones.]


Musing #9:  No Pressures!
The Tomb of the Unknowns

Dan Rather:  The Vietnam vet in the Tomb of the Unknowns is known. How did that happen?
CBS News - April 8, 1998

When those in power wish for an outcome it is made to happen, even when it involves the sacred site of the Tomb of the Unknowns .....

Engberg: In the early eighties the White House and Pentagon were under intense pressure from Veterans' groups and congressmen to inter remains of a Vietnam vet in the nation's most sacred war memorial - The Tomb of the Unknowns. But CBS News has discovered that pressure led to a known soldier going into the tomb. Here's how. Modern identification techniques made finding unidentifiable remains nearly impossible and the pressure to find an "unknown" fell hardest on the Army Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. David Kelly was the project's top enlisted man.

Kelly: There was a lot of pressure put on the people at the lab. There was people that had positions in power that did know that there was a possibility that this remains could be identified.

Engberg: Eventually a partial set of remains code named X26 was selected. They proved to be not unknown at all. The X26 remains were long believed to be Airforce lieutenant, Michael Blassie whose remains had been found where his plane had crashed in 1972 along with his I.D. papers. But in April of 1980 a military board issued this unusual order declaring that the remains which had long been filed as "believed to be Michael Blassie" weren't Blassie's. They were then formally designated "unidentified". As preparations continued to put an unknown in the tomb, then Major Chris Calhoun was summoned for an interrogation by superiors. He had led the patrol that recovered Blassie's remains behind enemy lines ten years earlier. Calhoun was given the 'third degree'.  He gave investigators his vivid eyewitness account of discovering Blassie's I.D. papers which by then had disappeared. It was something the "brass" didn't want to hear.

Calhoun: I was intimidated. You know, there is a guy from Washington interrogating me - I thought I was in big trouble of some kind.

Engberg:  Calhoun's testimony that the supposedly unknown remains were Blassie's was disregarded. Then another problem. Technicians believed X26 was Blassie and opposed its selection. They passed that information to higher-ups. For example in this cable Army Secretary Marsh informs Defense Secretary Weinberger - "The laboratory in Hawaii continues to indicate further concerns about the eligibility of any of the candidates". Then in 1984 this man, Johnny Webb, Head of the Hawaii lab, wrote this memo noting that on orders from higher up several documents tending to show X26 was Blassie were being removed from the file. Two months later those remains, almost certainly those of Michael Joseph Blassie, were buried at the hallowed tomb with full honors. The warnings had been ignored.  Just today a top Reagan National Security staffer told us how he had discovered holes in the selection process and warned colleagues. But no one did anything to stop it creating one more sad episode in a sad war. Eric Engberg, CBS News, Washington.


Musing #10: A Mother's Plea

"It was a missile - nothing else"

Flora Headley - Mother of Capt. Ralph Kevorkian

July 17, 1997   The Press Enterprise, Riverside, CA
On the second anniversary of what Flora Headley calls "my nightmare," the 87-year-old Glendale woman is convinced the truth about TWA Flight 800 will be told. She's just waiting for someone brave enough to come forward and tell what happened to her son, Capt. Ralph Kevorkian, who was piloting the Paris-bound Boeing 747 July 17, 1996. Kevorkian and 229 others aboard died when the jumbo jet exploded off Long Island two years ago today. To Headley, there's no mystery to the cause of the disaster. "It was a missile," Headley said Wednesday. "Nothing else." For two years, she has listened to the Navy, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI deny the tragedy was caused by a bomb or missile. She tried to accept the official explanation that the explosion was probably caused by a spark in a central fuel tank. Last year, she searched for answers among the "jillions" of mangled pieces of jet pulled from the Atlantic and shared her thoughts with relatives of the other victims of Flight 800. .... Headley remains haunted by what she believes is a cover up that goes "all the way to the top," from the Navy to the White House. She said the agony of losing her only child is only part of her nightmare. "I don't know who to believe in any more," she said. "He's gone because of someone's mistake. I know they have the facts. It's a cover-up. I just know." .... Headley said she tries not to let the mystery of her son's death dominate her life. She stays busy, counseling people on nutrition and herbs, a business she has operated from her Glendale home for 25 years. But the former interior decorator said there are just too many gaps in the government's version of the tragedy of Flight 800. If there were an explosion in the fuel tank, she is convinced that her son would have seen something, said something. Yet the flight recorder recovered after the crash revealed nothing that would indicate the crew was experiencing trouble. "There are so many monitors and gauges and warning systems," she said, "Don't tell me he didn't see or say anything. C'mon now, what are they trying to tell me? How come there's nothing in that damn (flight recorder) box?  It's insulting my intelligence." Headley is more inclined to believe one pilot's report of a mysterious yellow light intersecting Flight 800 at the moment of explosion. .... She recently abandoned a one-woman petition drive meant to draw attention to her search for answers. "It really hurts me too much." Today, she is more concerned about helping her 31-year-old grandson, Douglas, who is finally receiving counseling to deal with his father's death. She hopes that somebody who knows the truth, perhaps a serviceman who was involved, will someday come forward. She does not expect it in her lifetime. "It will stay covered up until I'm dead and buried." she said. There are moments she feels like giving up. She knows many will hear her words and see only a grieving mother who refuses to let go. "I guess I'm the only stupid one yelling about it," she said. Then she remembers the day her young son built his first plane, a balsa glider they flew together, "running from one room to the other" shouting with delight. She thinks often about the families of the other victims, who entrusted their lives to her son. "It would be nice to close this chapter," Headley said. "I'm glad they found him. I've got his body back. That's not enough. I feel lousy. I feel cheated. They cheated us because we don't know the truth."