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Chronology of Events From April 1999 - June 1999


April 5, 1999

(Note from website author:  Links are provided by the website author to give readers additional background material on the facts contained in the following letter)

Mr. Philip M. Condit
The Boeing Company
P.O. Box 3707, Mail Code 10-10
Seattle, WA 98124-2207

Mr. Gerald L. Gitner
Trans World Airlines
One City Center
515 North Sixth St.
St. Louis, MO 63101

Re: The unexplained loss of TWA Flight 800


Over the last four months our investigation into the loss of TWA Flight 800 has produced information far surpassing that contained in our July 20, 1998 Interim Report to Congress. We can now prove, before a jury or other independent fact-finding body, that the aircraft was shot down. We can also explain why the Administration covered it up and expose some of the methods they employed to do so.

Your corporations are being scapegoated and defrauded by Administration officials because, had the truth about this incident been reported before November of 1996, it could have derailed the reelection of Clinton/Gore. Exposed now, it could send guilty parties to jail for Misprision of Felony Homicide.

We can provide your attorney's with witnesses, documents, or reference material that will support the following text:

White House knowledge of a threat prior to the loss of TWA Flight 800

1. The Administration knew that in 1996, surrogates from rogue states had access to MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) or shoulder-fired missiles in mid-eastern weapons bazaars. $5,000 would acquire the least capable model, the Russian SA-7. $50,000 would buy the most capable, the Chinese Vanguard, a deadly new missile upgraded from US Stinger technology transferred to the Chinese in the early 90's. Superior to the Stinger, this missile has a much longer range. The Administration also knew Iran had a limited number of US Stinger missiles in inventory.

2. The Administration was aware that, worldwide, MANPADS missiles had already claimed 26 civil transport aircraft and was only a matter of time before a U.S. Flag carrier would be targeted and hit. They knew the Administration had dodged a bullet in 1994 when Maryland State Police found a fully armed French Mistral MANPADS missile ready to fire on its tripod directly under a busy northeastern air route. (October 11, 1994 Conservative Consensus Report)

3. In response to sanctions unilaterally levied against Iran by Mr. Clinton in 1995, Iranian surrogate's car bombed US troops in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and later smuggled MANPADS missiles into the US from across the Canadian border. Iranian officials warned the Administration that they considered enactment of the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act tantamount to an act of war!

4. When Mr. Clinton signed the Iran, Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, a decision was made by the Iranian Supreme Council to approve attacks on major American targets. Terrorist surrogate groups from nine countries were summoned to Tehran to meet with Iranian officials in June of 1996. Later that month, a huge truck bomb was deployed against the US Air Force barracks complex at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Three weeks later, TWA Flight 800 was shot down only hours after an explicit warning of an attack was received in London and Washington that taunted the President. (See Musing 3#)

5. The White House, the CIA and the FBI were aware of the threat and they knew preventing that attack was their primary responsibility.

6. We can show the Administration anticipated incorrectly that, if the missiles were used, they would be targeted against Olympic air traffic landing or taking off in the Atlanta area.

7. We can provide testimony that immediately after Flight 800 was shot down, Mr. Clinton called an FBI command post supporting the Olympics and informed them Flight 800 was downed with shoulder-fired missiles.

8. The White House, the CIA and the FBI political leadership have waged an unrelenting disinformation campaign from the onset. This has ranged from the White House spokesman stating, "Anyone in government that says this was a missile only has half a brain", and to the CIA cartoon that libeled hundreds of eyewitnesses.

Witnesses or "Untouchables"?

1. The day after Flight 800 was shot down, the Justice Department, helped by 1,000 FBI agents, began the process of converting hundreds of witnesses into the first American "untouchable cast". The political leadership of the NTSB aborted its mission in one surrender of its responsibilities after another. When the Justice Department illegally ordered the NTSB crash investigators to have no contact with witnesses or their statements, and the NTSB complied, the investigation was over, the cover-up and Misprision of Felony Homicide had begun.

2. At the NTSB Public Hearing in December of 1997, the word "witnesses" was not even mentioned. Before and since, they have been ridiculed, slandered and liabled in official videotapes and statements made by government spokesmen.

3. On March 15, 1999 the derailment of the Spirit of New Orleans after she hit a steel truck at a railroad crossing in Bourbonnaise IL, prompted a media wide call for witnesses by NTSB officials. It seems a witness was needed to prove the truck had driven around the safety gate. Apparently, investigations are much simpler and witnesses more creditable for the NTSB when there is no White House interest. (See Statistical Probabilities on Accuracy of Witness Statements)

4. We have access to 107 witnesses on 4 aircraft, 19 boats, and 31 locations ashore. They were located in a 360° circle around the missile engagement. Their live testimony alone will prove the aircraft was shot down. This is why the Justice Department has kept air crash investigators away from witnesses for 2 1/2 years and also one reason they are conducting a malicious show-trial prosecution of author and outside investigator James Sanders and his wife. It's hard to interview witnesses from a Federal prison. The FBI failed to identify and interview 17 of these people. Among these 17 are witnesses on a boat who may have seen the escaping shooter.

Justice Department suppression of Missile Evidence

1. It appears, aggressive FBI missile-team field agents eventually solved the problem as to the cause of the crash, but had no support in the FBI leadership. In fact, the FBI leadership seems to have deliberately withheld vital information from their own agents.

2. George Gabrial, the senior FBI Agent on Long Island and personal friend of Mr. Kallstrom, was a close witness on his boat. (See where you may hear an audio file, in part of which Mr. Kallstrom discusses Gabrial's observation) We can provide witnesses who overheard him say he believed what he observed was a missile. FBI missile-team members did not know he was a witness until we informed them.

3. The FBI has videotape that was shown to military experts of a missile shot from off the coast of Long Island that failed to engage a target. This first attempt was nearly coincidental to the Khobar Towers attack 3 weeks before Flight 800’s loss.

4. By late September, 1996, FBI missile-team members had established informal liaison with military missile guidance experts. By that time the FBI knew witnesses at sea on all sides were pointing to a missile launch a few miles southeast of Flight 800's explosion point. What they observed fit the profile of a MANPADS missile engagement.

5. In December 1996, FBI missile team members told military experts that two separate commercial fishermen dredged up and threw back a MANPADS first stage, the missile ejector-motor can. The ejector motor, about the size of a Coke can, fires in the tube, ejecting the missile, then drops in the water when the missile 2nd stage booster ignites.

6. The fishing vessel Alpha Omega recovered one of these motor cans in early October, 1996, while trawling for scallops about 2 nautical miles from Flight 800's explosion point. The crewman, not realizing the importance of his find, noted the two distinctive ignition wires attached to the can before he threw it overboard.

7. Despite overwhelming forensic evidence of a weapon impact in the number 2 main tank of the left wing and witness testimony of a missile attack, the Administration would not fund military missile experts or allow the FBI to trawl for missile parts until after the November 1996 elections.

8. The Alpha Omega was one of five trawlers contracted by the Navy Supervisor of Salvage for trawler operations. When FBI agents finally came aboard in November 1996 to begin trawling and brought pictures of three objects they were looking for, it was that point the crewman told them they were too late, he had already found and discarded an ejector can!

9. Responding to the previous findings, Special Agents Bongardt and Otto took a live ejector motor can from a Stinger missile aboard all the trawlers under contract, showing it to captain and crew.

10. Interrogated for hours, the Alpha Omega crewman insisted the can he found had the same features, ignition wires, etc. but was somehow different.

11. That interrogation should have prompted the FBI leadership to suspect they may have been dealing with the longer-range Chinese Vanguard or Russian SA16/18 missiles.

12. It is clear from the Supervisor of Salvage's operational trawling maps depicting "missile firing zones" and the FBI Trawling Operations Manual in our possession, that the Justice Department's intent was to find and hide from "other Interested Parties", missile ejector cans, missile battery cooling units and the last Flight 800 Scavenge Pump the NTSB was trying to blame as a source of a spark.

13. The $ 5 million trawling operation was funded by NTSB, contracted to civilian scallop boats through the Navy Supervisor of Salvage from 4 November 1996 until it was suddenly terminated on 30 April 1997, yet the trawlers were manned 24 hours a day by teams of FBI agents. Up until 30 April 1997 the scallop boat captains had been told the operation would continue indefinitely for months or even years. FBI agents got the word via cell phone to shut down the operations. On two of the boats, when the captains refused to stop until the Navy contractor on board told them to, the agents threatened force to make the captains shut down. The first agent backed down when the captain told him he would go anywhere at gunpoint, but the agent could expect to be charged with piracy on the high seas when they got ashore. The second agent backed down when the captain informed him that he was armed also and he was the captain and they weren't going anywhere!

14. The FBI's trawling plan was flawed in the following ways.

a. The missile firing zones depicted on the charts were 1.75 NM and 2.7 NM radius circles. These distances are accurate for two types of MANPADS but the Chinese Vanguard exceeds those ranges.

b. They used the last transponder response from the aircraft as the aircraft explosion point. The aircraft was travelling east over 2,900 feet between each transponder response. A two-second error would move the trawling off by 1/4 mile.

c. They failed to notice, until December 1996, a recorded surface radar contact only 2.9 NM from Flight 800 when it exploded!

d. They failed to identify that boat!

e. They failed to adjust the trawling lines to cover that boat's surface track while it was in range of TWA Flight 800.

15. The FBI told military experts they had a witness who perfectly described a MANPADS engagement terminating in an impact on Flight 800’s left wing root. It includes boost; sustainer-motor burn and total missile fly-out time typical of the US Stinger and its copies.

16. Military thermal imaging of B747-100’s provided to the FBI by China Lake Naval Air Weapons Facility, indicate a MANPADS missile fired from a low forward quarter would guide toward the three air pack exhaust ports, directly under the center wing tank and not, as publicly stated for the engine nacelles. See attached Thermal Imaging.

17. Military computer modeling of the TWA 800 engagement, using Stinger data, shows the missile’s velocity would degrade to 400 meters per second as it climbed through 13,700 ft. This would cause the circular error probability (CEP) to expand to 20 ft. or more, allowing an impact almost anywhere on the aircraft.

18. Stinger guidance technology provides a last instant steer-forward command to avoid a miss by flying through an engine exhaust plume. Such a command would explain a missile, fired from in front, steering for the air pack exhausts under the center wing, impacting forward on the left wing root leading edge.

19. The Stinger, for example, has a two-pound warhead with three fusing options, contact, penetration and time-out.

20. Using stinger missile fly-out data provided to the FBI by military experts, the combined velocity of missile body and aircraft at impact would be 1950 ft/sec.

21. If the cockpit voice recorder hasn't been tampered with, an audio laboratory should be able to discern this velocity through its analysis of recorded frequencies. This may be why the NTSB has refused to allow the Cockpit Voice Recorder group to convene and study the data generated from the Bruntingthorpe tests done in England.

22. E = ½ MV2 would predict kinetic energy available at impact of over 1.2 million foot pounds.

23. The kinetic energy from a missile body entering the number two main, ¾ full of fuel, at mach 1.8 would cause the tank to burst from hydraulic overpressurization.

24 .Fused for penetration, the two-pound high explosive warhead, bursting in the fuel could impart an additional 200-PSI spike of hydraulic ram overpressure.

25. Jet fuel is over 700 times the density of air. A MANPADS missile warhead’s fragments would be stopped in a few feet of fuel, negating high velocity fragment damage to aircraft components. Mr. Kalstrom’s public statements repeatedly used the lack of high velocity fragment damage as an excuse to ignore witnesses and shutdown the investigation.

26. The Navy China Lake missile impact "Quick Look Engineering Study" identified 4 criteria for expected damage if a shoulder fired missile hit a 747-100 inboard main fuel tank. All four are caused by hydraulic over pressurization of fuel tanks. All four are in evidence on the left wing. None of these criteria have ever been seen in previous air crashes.

27. The China Lake report’s first two recommendations were to detonate shoulder-fired missile warheads in fuel tanks to determine if the fragments would be trapped and to do live firing of these missiles at inboard main tanks to compare to left wing damage on Flight 800.

28. Mr. Kallstrom ignored all seven recommendations; cherry picked statements out of the China Lake report and used them out of context in the media to argue the aircraft was not shot down.

29. When Mr. Kallstrom was faced with having to take action on the China Lake report he chose to shut down the investigation.

30. At the time the FBI investigation was prematurely shut down in November of 1997, the FBI had failed to identify a fast moving boat captured on radar only 2.9 nautical miles from Flight 800 when it exploded. Mr. Schirilo, who replaced Mr. Kallstrom, admitted that fact in a letter to Congressman Traficant.

31. After his retirement, Mr. Kalstrom was taped (click for tape) stating the boat captured on radar was really a helicopter. Considering the radar target was non-transponder and was tracked on the surface at speed below 36 knots for 35 minutes prior to disappearing over the horizon, even FBI agents have acknowledged Mr. Kalstrom’s excuse is nonsense.

32. Witnesses afloat and ashore observed a six second missile burn (Stinger rocket burn is 6 ½ seconds) coming from the near vicinity of the unidentified boat.

33. Senior Justice Department officials need to be compelled to answer under oath why testing essential to determine if Flight 800 was brought down by a shoulder fired missile was not funded and why they ignored the forensic evidence, military experts, witnesses and their own FBI field agents.

The search for the Black Boxes

1. Discovery of the plight of the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder and their two Ducane pingers, after water entry, may be the key to unlocking the cover-up. We can show a Grand Jury how Mr. Clinton personally involved himself.

2. The NTSB is extremely sensitive to the subject of Black Boxes. They opened the boxes without any investigators from the Interested Parties present. They refused to allow TWA's investigator to listen to the voice recorder more than once.

3. The Voice Recorder has a "sound like damaged tape" precisely seven seconds prior to its end. Seven seconds prior to missile impact would be coincidental to MANPADS booster ignition. A visually bright event that could be seen by the First Officer.

4. Dr. Loeb has refused to release Addendum number two to the Flight Data Recorder Analysis that was written to rebut our interpretation of the last data line. The NTSB even refuses to let the Voice Recorder Analysis group reconvene!

5. The Administration's explanation of the circumstances under which the USS Grasp" divers found the Digital Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder is highly questionable.

6. According to divers we interviewed and the Navy Supervisor of Salvage Report, Navy divers from the USS Grasp found the recorders during Dive #2 and Dive #3 on the evening of 23 July 1996. The Administration maintains these same divers found them more than 24 hours later at 2330 hours on 24 July 1996. East coast TV news coverage ends at 23:30.

7. The most probable motive for this deception was to ensure investigators, who are Parties to the Investigation, were not witnesses when NTSB/FBI officials were alleged to have first opened the boxes in Washington during the early morning hours of 25 July 1996.

8. The boxes should have been found in the aircraft tail cone section, or within its debris. Instead, divers from the Grasp found each box 30 feet apart on a hard sand bottom, devoid of any attached debris and neither Ducane Pinger was operating. They appeared just as they would if dropped overboard from a boat!

9. Somehow both Ducane Systems fixed themselves while in FBI custody. They were found to be fault-free in laboratory test days later.

10. The small cylindrical Ducane Pingers are mounted on the narrow front face of each oblong rectangular box. They are protected from damage because they are bolted firmly to the inside angle of a short piece of angle iron. Because of their shape, the probability of either free falling box landing on the bottom with the pinger stuck in the sand, would be akin to a free falling domino landing on it's end and remaining standing in that position.

11. The only way Ducane Pingers can be silenced under water without evidence of damage is by partly unscrewing the battery connection.

12. The probability of both undamaged Ducane Pingers failing simultaneously in a shallow open ocean environment, on top of a hard sand bottom, approaches that of a spontaneous aviation kerosene explosion in an ignition-free Boeing 747-100 fuel tank.

13. We consider the fact the NTSB has remained mute about these alleged Ducane failures is Prima Facie evidence of either abject incompetence on the part of the NTSB who should have opened an inquiry into the cause, or proof of a cover-up of NTSB misconduct.

14. Weeks Marine, Inc. was verbally contracted by both the Coast Guard and FAA officials the night of the crash to position for salvage operations. They were on site the next morning with the best salvage equipment available in the Atlantic. It was superior to Navy assets, but Weeks Marine was stood down by the NTSB. It would be five more days before Navy divers would be on scene to recover recorders, bodies, etc! Why the forced wait?

15. Holding Weeks Marine, Inc. to standby while ordering Navy assets to respond from far away points deliberately condemned victims trapped in bottom wreckage to five additional days of ravage by natural elements. This grossly compounded the grief of the families and put at risk the ability of medical examiners to identify all remains. The White House was responsible for this order.

16. Circumstantial evidence indicates the Administration, knowing the aircraft to be shot down, may have ordered a covert recovery, laboratory examination and reinsertion of the recorders to ensure the aircrew did not describe the attack on audio tape. Scuba divers could have recovered the recorders on the afternoon of 18 July and dropped them back overboard after 10 am 22 July, before the USS Grasp and Navy divers were on scene. During that period of time NOAA research vessel Rude and the motor vessel Pirouette were simultaneously sent 5 miles off the main debris field on a "wild goose chase" by the NTSB. Both ships had been mapping that field with side scan sonar!

17. Properly done, a scuba team equipped with a Ducane locator amplifier tube, held over the side, could position a small boat directly over active Pingers, dive and recover the boxes in a single effort. Active pingers can be detected by divers300 yards away.

18. We have a witness that has passed a polygraph test and has provided a sworn affidavit that a member of the NTSB leadership told him the recorders were found and examined by 20 July. The Coast Guard told both TWA maintenance and Congressman Forbes that the recorders were found on 18 July. The next day, 19 July, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was told the aircraft was shot down by terrorists. Senators Hatch and D'Amato made public statements to the same effect.

19. White House, NTSB and Justice Department officials need to be compelled to explain these events and their actions under oath. We also have other individuals who have asked to remain anonymous who should be questioned under oath.

20. Despite a steep learning curve and the best efforts of some if its most aggressive field agents, FBI leadership has demonstrated itself to be functionally illiterate in the critical areas of; military weapons and tactics, radar interpretation and air crash investigation. The fact the White House failed to immediately assign appropriate elements of the Department of Defense as lead investigators in the missile inquiry is inculpatory.

21 .Gentlemen, we have the "FBI Trawler Operations Manual" and Operations Order as well as other documents left behind aboard a contract boat by FBI agents. If found, the Justice Department intended to hide from your companies; the last fuel scavenge pump, a missile ejector can and the missile battery cooling unit!

TWA Flight 800 was the 27th civil aircraft shot down worldwide by shoulder fired missiles. The Administration’s actions have greatly increased the danger of a recurrence, not only because of the deception of this case but because administration policy deliberately fails to link any terrorist act to the government of the Sponsor State. This provides political cover for the Administration's lack of action and sanctuary to deadly enemies.

I will point out the coincidence of the Clinton Administration's pro Arab, anti Israeli policy shift and the arrival on our shores of a creditable anti-aircraft threat under the control of rogue states. In 1994, the Maryland State Police found a fully armed French MANPADS missile, the Mistral, ready to fire on its tripod, directly under a heavily used air corridor near Westminster Maryland. (October 11, 1994 Conservative Consensus Report) (Note from website author: Though early reports indicated that this was a "missile" it may have been an anti-tank weapon).

Our research also found U.S. Stinger technology transferred to China in the early 90’s enabling them to produce the Vanguard, a quality shoulder fired Chinese missile. It was deployed first in 1996. If past history is an indicator, the China / Iran weapons transfer link bodes ill for future air commerce.

In a worse case scenario, absent a respected American Commander-in-Chief, Iran’s Supreme Council, or other rogue state, could successfully shutdown or disrupt major traffic hubs worldwide by activating surrogate cells armed with Vanguard. If they can shoot down one, why not a half dozen on a single day?

Gentlemen, the time to act is now, regardless of any arrangements you may or may not have had to accept. Once the American people understand the truth, your corporations will be indemnified against any further political extortion from this administration.

We would ask, in the interest of long term air safety, that you take an aggressive and public pro-active stance. Challenge the Administration; educate the media and the electorate. Severance from a politicized and fraudulent Federal investigation is no penalty and maintenance of the status quo is certainly no prize.

William S. Donaldson

April 7, 1999  The New York Times
When Trans World Airlines Flight 800 exploded and crashed off Long Island in July 1996, killing all 230 people on board, some investigators initially theorized that the jetliner might have been brought down by a missile. Among those who avidly pursued the theory -- to the annoyance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board -- were a self-styled freelance investigative journalist, James Sanders, 53, and his wife, Elizabeth, 52, who trained T.W.A. flight attendants and knew many of the crew members who died aboard the flight. The couple, who live in Virginia, were seated Tuesday at the defense table in United States District Court here, charged by the Federal Government with conspiracy and aiding in the theft of a small piece of seat fabric from the plane's wreckage. Sanders, who ultimately wrote a book about the results of his own investigation, has said the fabric contains a red dye that proves the plane was hit by an errant Navy missile. The Government, which has dismissed the missile theory, says the red substance is fabric glue. The trial is just one of many reverberations from the crash, which continues to hold a fascination for conspiracy theorists, half a dozen of whom were in the courtroom today for the opening arguments. .... "This is not a case about what caused the crash of T.W.A. Flight 800 or whether their actions obstructed justice," said the assistant United States attorney, David B. Pitofsky. "It's simply about their involvement in a conspiracy to remove parts of a plane involved in an accident." In response, J. Bruce Maffeo, who is representing Sanders, told the jury that the prosecution's case was "much ado about nothing," and represented a continuing effort by the Government to harass the couple. "Their only motive was to get at the truth," Maffeo said of the Sanderses, who are each free on $50,000 bond and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Jeremy Gutman, a lawyer representing Mrs. Sanders, told the jury that his client had trained and worked with many of the crew members who died in the crash and that her only intent was to help find the cause of the explosion. "The Government would have you believe that trying to find out the truth is a conspiracy," Gutman said. ..... The Sanderses, who live in Williamsburg, Va., are charged under a relatively new Federal law enacted by Congress in 1996 after a truck driver in Florida was accused of taking a piece of wreckage of the May 1996 Valujet crash as a souvenir. The law makes it illegal to remove, conceal or withhold parts of a civil aircraft involved in an accident. Among those in the courtroom supporting the Sanderses today were several people who said the Government was conspiring to suppress the truth about the crash. "The is a terrible miscarriage of justice," said William S. Donaldson 3d, a retired Navy crash investigator and attack pilot, who said during a break in the proceedings that he had proof the jetliner was brought down by a Chinese-made, shoulder-launched rocket fired by a terrorist. "I've sent a 130-page to the Congress last July, but the Government wants to suppress the truth," he said. "The White House sent out over 1,000 agents after the crash to prevent the public from finding out it was done by terrorists." Pitofsky told the jury that he planned to present 10 to 12 prosecution witnesses, including a former T.W.A. pilot, Capt. Terrell Stacey, who he said helped obtain the seat fabric from a Government hangar in Calverton, on Long Island, where investigators had reassembled the wreckage of the plane. He said that Captain Stacey had admitted to taking the plane part and giving it to Sanders. "He'll also tell you how he agreed to supply Jim Sanders with confidential documents." Pitofsky told the jury. "Captain Stacey will take you step by step and tell you about his and the defendants' participation in the scheme." Pitofsky said Captain Stacey had agreed to testify in exchange for a lesser charge, theft of Government property, a misdemeanor. ... "We have done nothing wrong," Sanders said as they left the courthouse late in the afternoon. "This is nothing more than a case of Government oppression."

April 7, 1999
TWA 800 defendant James Sanders was upbeat when reached by Inside Cover late Tuesday. His trial on charges of conspiracy to obtain secret evidence from the wreckage of the July 1996 air disaster was only in its second day and already presiding Judge Joanna Seybert had handed the prosecution a major defeat. "The judge quashed the illegal seizure of my computer hard drive, which is very good news for us, " Sanders said, referring to the FBI's confiscation of manuscripts which he argues should be protected by the First Ammendment. "They hadn't even bothered to get a warrant," Sanders complained. The story of Sanders' independent investigation into the still unexplained crash is told in his 1997 book, "The Downing of TWA Flight 800". As a working journalist, he obtained fabric swatches from the plane's seats and had them analyzed by a California laboratory. Their conclusion? Red stains on the material were identical in composition to missile exhaust. Despite more than a hundred eyewitnesses who told investigators they saw a streaking object strike TWA 800 that July night, the FBI and NTSB have discounted the missile theory. That's what makes Sanders' discovery of missile exhaust trace evidence so problematic for the government. Early courtroom reactions seem to favor Sanders, with several offering praise for his attorney Bruce Maffeo's opening arguments. But Wednesday's session will be key. That's when former TWA crash investigator Terry Stacey takes the stand. Stacey is now the government's key cooperating witness against Sanders and his wife Elizabeth, who is also named in the indictment. The conspiracy charge rests on the allegation that Sanders solicited Stacey to obtain the fabric samples. Elizabeth Sanders is charged on the basis of a single conversation with Stacey, during which her husband says the fabric evidence wasn't even mentioned. "Wednesday is going to be quite a day," Sanders told Inside Cover, eagerly anticipating public exposure of what may be one of the worst government cover-ups of the century.

April 7, 1999  From Charlotte Hunt, an attendee at the trial - Subject: A Productive Day in Court
Today was quite a day. The biggest moment came when the lead government prosecutor asked a question of FBI witness Kenneth Maxwell, a top official in charge of investigating the TWA 800 event. Maxwell had already explained his duties, the roll of various agencies, the action taken by them. He addressed questions on the Debris Field, red, yellow green, the goal of salvaging operations, ship employed for same, many areas of the investigation were covered. A video of the Calverton facility was shown, entrance, security, the various hangars assigned for different parts of the plane. The largest main hangar was used to assembly the 97 ft. fuselage, another area for wing parts, Pratt-Whitney engine parts in a side room. The floor space was sectioned off for specific parts of the plane, which were then laid out on the floor, wiring in one area, seats and cushions in another etc. A question asked by the government prosecutor of Kenneth Maxwell had to do with location when the aircraft "got shot". . . An AP reporter rushed out of the room and came back a few minutes later and said he got it in over the phone. Half a dozen people in the audience heard it and were abuzz about it. The jury was present during this period, some may have caught it too. Sander's lawyers were informed of the slip in the event they had not caught it. Other reporters from various news media were also present at the time. Capt. Terryl Stacey was the major witness of the day for the prosecution. What was drawn from this witness was that at some stage of the investigation Capt. Stacey became very frustrated with the manner in which the investigation was being conducted. FBI were slow or failed to share valuable, important information about witness testimony and other important bits of information not shared with NTSB. Defense lawyer was able to show that a deal was struck, a misdemeanor instead of a criminal charge of conspiracy, etc., for Capt. Stacey's testifying for government.

April 8, 1999 2:35 AM
On Wednesday, onetime TWA check pilot and crash investigator Tyrrell Stacey testified against James and Elizabeth Sanders ... Stacey, who was assigned to help with the NTSB investigation into the crash, is the government's key cooperating witness against the Sanders. Stacey testified that he gave Mr. Sanders swatches of seat fabric bearing a red residue. An independent lab analysis later revealed that the residue's composition was similar to that of missile exhaust. .... Sanders argues that First Ammendment protections cover his own independent crash investigation, including the gathering of evidence obtained from Stacey.  Stacey's account is the centerpiece of the government's case against the investigative journalist and his wife, who had trained some of the flight attendants killed in the 800 disaster as a TWA employee. It was the second day of setbacks for the prosecution. Stacey's testimony lasted most of the day but failed to score any significant points against the defendants. Reached late Wednesday at his Uniondale hotel room, Mr. Sanders told Inside Cover, "It was a fantastic day. Stacey got on the stand but he really didn't provide the government with any damaging information. In fact, I had one reporter come up to me afterwards and ask, 'Sanders, can you explain the government's case to me because I can't see it?'" Sanders said that his lawyer Bruce Maffeo was particularly effective in Wednesday's cross examination of Stacey, eliciting an account of how the FBI had coached another witness to trim his testimony. "Stacey admitted, based on his own inside knowledge, that one eyewitness to the explosion was ordered not to use the word missile," the defendant explained. The revelation, though already covered in Sanders book, was apparently new to most in the courtroom.  Sanders told Inside Cover that reporters sitting directly behind him were audibly stunned by Stacey's account of what seems like FBI witness tampering. Tyrrell Stacey is scheduled to continue his testimony on Thursday. Sanders added a postscript to today's court action, which may reveal even more evidence of bad faith in the government's TWA 800 investigation. "Back in December 1998, because I was under indictment, I was covered by rule 16 of the federal code, which gave me an absolute right to go back to Calverton and re-examine the wreckage," Sanders told Inside Cover. Calverton Air Force Base was used to reassemble pieces of the plane pulled from the ocean. 800's carcass is still at the Calverton hangar today. "I took 250 new photos of the plane and compared them with the NTSB shots taken in 1996 and 1997. After comparing the before and after photos, I can tell you there are significant, very significant alterations in a key area of the plane."

April 8, 1999   New York Times
The twisted remains of four passenger seats from the wreckage of Trans World Airlines Flight 800, which exploded and crashed off Long Island in 1996, were entered as evidence Wednesday in the trial of a couple charged with conspiring to steal parts of the wreckage to prove their theory that the jetliner was downed by an errant Navy missile. "They look like seats from Flight 800," said Capt. Terrell Stacey, a former T.W.A. pilot, as he stepped from the witness stand to take a closer look at the shredded metal and foam. Captain Stacey appeared as the chief Government witness against the defendants..... Captain Stacey told the jury .... that he had stolen the seating material from a Government hangar in Calverton, on Long Island, at the repeated insistence of the Sanderses. He said the Sanderses wanted the material because it contained a powdery reddish-orange substance that they believed was evidence of a missile explosion. The Government, which has rejected the missile theory, says its tests proved that the powder was fabric glue. ..... Captain Stacey, under his plea agreement, was charged with theft of government property, a misdemeanor, and has been promised leniency when sentenced. Captain Stacey said that as an employee of T.W.A. for 33 years, he had come to know most of the members of the crew of Flight 800, who were among the 230 people killed in the crash, and that like Mrs. Sanders, a flight-attendant supervisor and training instructor, he was anxious to find the cause of the explosion. He testified that he took part in the "conspiracy" because of his former friendship with Mrs. Sanders, who was an employee of T.W.A. for 10 years. "The parts that I took were dangling down off the seats," Captain Stacey said, pointing to the wreckage on display in the middle of the courtroom. Most of the fabric and cushioning was missing from the seats, torn away by the explosion and crash. Some of the pieces were held together by wire and set on a makeshift wood base. Tags attached to the bent armrests indicated that the seats were from row 17. The presence of the wreckage had a chilling effect on the courtroom and held the gaze of the jurors until Judge Joanna Seybert asked that the the pieces be taken away.

April 8, 1999
A former TWA pilot testified Wednesday that he agreed to steal evidence from the wreckage of Flight 800 after another airline employee begged him to help find out what caused the crash. Capt. Terrell Stacey ..... said he gave the data to investigative writer James Sanders, even though he knew he was breaking strict security rules set by federal investigators .... Stacey testified that Elizabeth Sanders, at the time a TWA training supervisor, first contacted him about helping solve the crash mystery. At the time, her husband was writing a book claiming that the U.S. Navy had inadvertently shot down the jumbo jet, and then engaged in a cover-up. Mrs. Sanders begged Stacey to help them solve the crash and "bring the information to the American public." Stacey, who had been assigned by TWA to assist investigators, said he and James Sanders conferred by phone and met four times to discuss the investigation and how the pilot might help Sanders' private probe. "I was quite nervous and uncomfortable," he said in describing the meetings. "The confidentiality had to be maintained, and it compromised my position in the investigation." .... The FBI rejected the missile fuel scenario, saying the stain was from glue used to fasten seat covers. But the agency and U.S. prosecutors - upset by the breach of security and spreading of what they called false information - brought charges against Stacey and the Sanderses. Later Wednesday, the prosecution displayed four battered seats from Flight 800 in the courtroom. Stacey testified that they looked like the ones from which he tore some fabric while working in the hanger in March 1997. The witness described putting the pieces in his pocket, walking out and mailing them to Sanders. He claimed that at the time, he didn't know he was committing a crime. On cross-examination, Stacey admitted he acted out of frustration. He said he thought the investigation was taking too long, and that the FBI was withholding key information from the National Transportation Safety Board and the airline.

April 8,  1999
The Honorable William Cohen
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1155

Dear Secretary Cohen:

Last year, at the request of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, I examined the federal government’s investigation of the July 17, 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, New York. Last July I submitted my report to the subcommittee (see enclosed).

My report concluded that there is no credible evidence to counter the preliminary findings of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the crash was likely caused by an internal explosion of fuel vapors in the center wing fuel tank. My report also concluded that there was no credible evidence that the crash was caused by a bomb or a missile. As part of my investigation, my staff interviewed key personnel at the NTSB, the FBI, the Suffolk County (NY) Medical Examiner’s Office and the Department of Defense’s China Lake facility. I also engaged in a lengthy correspondence with the NTSB, the FBI, the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency. Copies of this correspondence are included in the appendix of my report.

As I am sure you are aware, there are still a number of people who remain convinced that Flight 800 was downed by a missile. Some maintain that the United States Navy was responsible for firing the missile or in some way involved in the downing of the plane. I had originally intended to question the U.S. Navy about the proximity and actions of its vessels off the coast of Long Island on July 17, 1996. However, these questions were effectively answered through my questioning of the NTSB, the FBI and missile experts from China Lake. In addition, a member of my staff also closely examined the eyewitnesses’ statements. Based on conversations my staff had with missile experts at China Lake and the Congressional Research Service, I am convinced that what the majority of the eyewitnesses described was Flight 800 in various stages of crippled flight – not a missile launch. These are the same conclusions that the CIA’s missile experts came to when they were asked by the FBI to examine the eyewitnesses’ statements.

(Note from website author:  Traficant and the C.I.A. use the same terminology as see from this quote by C.I.A. spokeswoman Carolyn Osborn on September 24, 1997 -  “C.I.A. analysts have determined that the eyewitness sightings thought to be that of a missile actually took place after the first of several explosions on the aircraft. Our technical analysis concludes that what these eyewitnesses saw was in fact the burning [Boeing] 747 in various stages of crippled flight, not a missile.”)

Given all of the above-mentioned factors, I decided not to submit questions to the Pentagon. Regrettably, despite numerous assertions by my office, the NTSB and the FBI that there has not been a "cover-up" relative to the Flight 800 investigation, many people continue to contact me with allegations that the U.S. Navy was responsible, in some shape or form, for this tragedy. In order to "close the loop" on my investigation, I would appreciate it if you could answer the following questions for the record:

1. How many U.S. Navy vessels, including submarines, were within 300 miles of the crash site of Flight 800 at the time of the crash?
2. Could you please detail the names, vessel types and location for each of these vessels?
3.Did any of the above-named vessels fire any missiles at any time on July 17, 1996?

Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter. Should you or your staff have any questions relative to this request, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my chief of staff, Paul Marcone, at 202-225-5261.

James A. Traficant, Jr.
Member of Congress

April 9, 1999  2:29 AM Inside Cover
As the trial of TWA 800 whistleblowers James and Elizabeth Sanders entered its fourth day, a moment of unexpected drama nearly prompted federal Judge Joanna Seybert to void the government's entire case..... Inside Cover caught up with defense team consultant and leading TWA 800 expert Cmdr. William Donaldson late Thursday and he described the day's tense courtroom moments: "In fact there was a rather severe error made by the prosecution. (U.S. Attorney David Potofyski) attempted to read part of the grand jury transcript in open court. The content implicated Liz Sanders in the conspiracy. But the testimony was essentially false."  When the Sanders' two defense lawyers realized what was happening, they bolted out of their chairs "like two Polaris missiles on launch" to register their objections, according to Donaldson. Judge Seybert acted immediately. After having the jury escorted out of the room she had lawyers from both sides approach the bench.  "I think at that point she came very close to voiding the whole trial right there because it looked like the prosecution knowingly introduced false testimony," Donaldson told Inside Cover.  "But after the bench conference, while the jury was still out, the prosecutor mea culpaed himself about 15 times," said Donaldson. "When things finally calmed down Judge Seybert brought the jury back and vehemently chastised the prosecutor right there in front of them." Also on Thursday, TWA crash investigator and key cooperating witness Tyrrell Stacey took the stand for a second time. It was Stacey who secretly gathered up fabric swatches and gave them to Sanders for chemical trace analysis. But Donaldson suggested that Stacey's testimony on Thursday actually hurt the government's case against Mr. and Mrs. Sanders: "Again and again the defense got Stacey to admit that he gave the stolen evidence to Sanders because he was frustrated at the fact that the FBI was taking stuff but wasn't providing any data back. Meanwhile, the NTSB was running around trying to prove all these wacko theories on their own." FBI probers were ignoring one anomaly after another, said Donaldson, which drove a meticulous investigator like Stacey to seek other avenues to the truth.  Donaldson noted that prosecutors had enormous leverage over the TWA employee, which all but forced his cooperation against Sanders and his wife. Had Stacey not turned state's evidence, his conviction for his own role in the case would have torpedoed his career and cost him more than a million dollars in future salary and pension.

April 12, 1999  Associated Press
A prosecutor told a federal jury Monday that former California police officer James Sanders engaged in a "cloak and dagger" scheme to steal government evidence he needed to promote his theory that a missile downed TWA Flight 800. The prosecutor, David Pitofsky, argued that Sanders conspired with his wife, Elizabeth, a TWA employee, and a former pilot for the airline, Terrell Stacey, to take plane seat fabric in December 1996. "The evidence was stolen from a crime scene and that is a violation of the law," Pitofsky said during closing arguments at the couple's trial on conspiracy and theft charges. ..... In closing arguments, Pitofsky said Sanders considered the fabric "a slam dunk" for his missile theory, which became the basis for his paperback book, "The Downing of Flight 800." Defense attorney Bruce Maffeo denied charges that the Sanderses pushed Stacey to take the evidence, saying he acted on his own. The pilot, he said, was pressured by his own frustration in wanting to know the truth of what caused the explosion, which claimed the lives of 58 TWA employees. Maffeo told jurors the crash had a devastating impact on the families and employees of TWA. "This was not some news item to them. This was a tragedy which hit people in the heart of their very being," he said. Stacey, Maffia said, knew that the FBI had tested the suspicious looking seat fabric, and that it did not share its findings with the rest of the team, including the National Transportation Safety Board. "The pressure that drove him to get the residue tested didn't come from James Sanders, nor Liz Sanders, but because it was eating away at him that this investigation by the U.S. government had gone seriously off the ramp," he said.

April 13, 1999   The Associated Press
A self-styled investigative reporter and his wife were convicted
Tuesday of stealing scraps of upholstery from the wreckage of TWA Flight 800 in an effort to prove his theory that the airliner was shot down by a Navy missile. A federal jury took two hours to convict James Sanders, 53, and his wife Elizabeth, 52, a former TWA training supervisor, of conspiracy and aiding and abetting the thefts. The couple from Williamsburg, Va., could get up to 10 years in prison when sentenced July 9.  ... The government's case relied heavily on the testimony of Terrell Stacey, a former TWA pilot who admitted helping Sanders by stealing crash-related documents and scraps of the seat covering from the hangar where investigators had reassembled the plane's wreckage.  Stacey, who had flown the plane the day before the crash and was assigned by TWA to assist in the investigation, testified against the Sanderses in exchange for being allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge. Sanders' attorney, Bruce Maffeo, said he will appeal. He said Sanders was "a journalist trying to get the truth out'' and made no attempt to hide the fact that the evidence was passed to him.

April 13, 1999  The New York Times
American commandos are poised near the Afghan border, hoping to capture Osama bin Laden
. .... Capturing bin Laden alive could deepen the complications. American officials say that so far, firsthand evidence that could be used in court to prove that he commanded the bombings has proven difficult to obtain.According to the public record, none of the informants involved in the case have direct knowledge of bin Laden's involvement. ... But reporters for The New York Times and the PBS program "Frontline," working in cooperation, have found him to be less a commander of terrorists than an inspiration for them. .... "You can kill Osama bin Laden today or tomorrow; you can arrest him and put him on trial in New York or in Washington," said Ahmed Sattar, an aide to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric convicted of inspiring the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. "If this will end the problem -- no. Tomorrow you will get somebody else." Interviews with senior American officials and knowledgeable observers of bin Laden in Pakistan, Sudan and elsewhere suggest that there is widespread support among ordinary people in the Muslim world for his central political argument: that American troops should get out of Saudi Arabia. The embassy bombings, they note, took place eight years to the day after the GI's were ordered onto Saudi soil.

The interviews also raise questions about key assertions that have been made by the government about bin Laden. Senior intelligence officials concede that their knowledge of him is sketchy. "We can't say for sure what was going on with him from 1991 to 1996" -- most of the years covered in the indictment -- one senior official said. Present and former American officials and former business associates of bin Laden say he appears to control only a fraction of the $250 million fortune that the American government says he possesses. "Clearly, his money's running out," said Frank Anderson, a former senior CIA official who maintains close Middle Eastern contacts. .... "He is public enemy No. 1," Bearden said. "We've got a $5 million reward out for his head. And now we have, with I'm not sure what evidence, linked him to all of the terrorist acts of this year -- of this decade, perhaps." ....

Bin Laden was born into the ruling class of Saudi Arabia. His father was the favorite construction magnate of the Saudi royal family, who gave bin Laden's family huge contracts to renovate the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and build palaces for Saudi princes. American officials calculated bin Laden's fortune by estimating the family fortune at $5 billion and dividing by 20 -- the number of male heirs. But business associates of bin Laden said his family cut him off years ago, and are managing his share of his inheritance for him as long as he is disowned. Business associates say bin Laden has been living on a generous allowance from his eldest brother and that his assets in Saudi Arabia are now frozen. In 1980, at 22, bin Laden left Saudi Arabia and moved to the Afghan frontier. In Peshawar, Pakistan, bin Laden -- working alongside, but never directly allied with, the CIA -- used his money and his machines to help the Afghan rebels fight the Soviet Army invaders. The Afghan war shaped bin Laden, those who know him say. "He is an ordinary person who is very religious," said President Omar Bashir of Sudan, who met bin Laden often between 1992 and 1996. "He believes in the rule of Islam and where possible the establishment of an Islamic state". The time that he spent in Afghanistan led him to believe that this might be achieved through military means." Legend has it that bin Laden fought bravely against Soviet troops. But former CIA officers say he was a financier, not a warrior -- "a philanthropist supporting a number of health care, widows-and-orphans charity operations in Peshawar for Afghan refugees," as Anderson put it. He also helped create a headquarters called Al Qaeda, the Base. It was a way station in Peshawar where Egyptian and Saudi volunteers rested before setting off for battle in Afghanistan. Its name became a kind of flag uniting bin Laden's followers. American officials call it a global terrorist network. When the Soviet forces left Afghanistan in 1989, bin Laden went home to Saudi Arabia. He soon set his sights on the last remaining superpower. "He himself was very much wary about America," said Saad al-Faqih, a Saudi exile living in London, who worked as a surgeon for wounded Afghan fighters, "very skeptical about America and the Saudi regime."

He found a new enemy on Aug. 7, 1990, when the United States began sending half a million soldiers to Saudi Arabia, preparing for war against Iraq. .... To bin Laden, the deployment of Americans in the land of Mecca and Medina smacked of the Crusades, the Christian religious wars against Islam that began nine centuries ago. His rage transformed him into a stateless outlaw. In November 1991, Saudi intelligence officers caught bin Laden smuggling weapons from Yemen, his father's homeland. They withdrew his passport. Soon afterward he made his way to Sudan, which had decreed its borders open to all Muslims, with or without passports or visas. Veterans of the Afghan jihad, or Holy War, against Moscow followed bin Laden, under Al Qaeda's banner. But "when Al Qaeda was moved to Sudan, it lost around 70 percent of its members," Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, accused of being an associate of bin Laden, said during an interrogation by German police after his arrest in September. "This group didn't have a purpose except to carry out the jihad, and since nobody carried out the jihad, it lost a lot of its members," Salim said. There were three kinds of men in Al Qaeda, he said. First, "people who had no success in life, had nothing in their heads and wanted to join just to keep from falling on their noses." Second, "people who loved their religion but had no idea what their religion really meant." And third, "people who have nothing in their heads but to fight and solve all the problems in the world with battles." Bin Laden lived in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, "as an investor," said Bashir. "With his money, he was adventurous, and probably he gained this mentality by his experiences as a fighter." .....

In 1995, after the Saudi government rescinded his citizenship, he began sending scathing attacks on the royal family from Khartoum. "Bin Laden took a chance and started doing some political activities," Bashir siad, "not terrorist activities, but he started issuing political bulletins and communiques and faxes," denouncing the Saudi government as corrupt and repressive. The United States took notice. "There had been confusion" after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 about the nature of radical Islamic threats to the United States, said Johnson, the former senior counterterrorism official. "There were lots of theories, not very good intelligence, and so the intelligence community actually started generating a picture that Osama bin Laden was, if you will, the new face of terrorism," he said. On May 31, 1996, four Saudis were beheaded after confessing to bombing a Saudi National Guard post in Riyadh and killing five Americans. All told their interrogators that they had received bin Laden's communiques. Only 25 days later, a truck bomb tore through a military post in Dhahran, killing 19 American soldiers. Bin Laden was blamed by American officials for instigating the attacks. But no known evidence implicates him and the Saudi interior minister, Prince Nayef ibn Abdel Aziz, has absolved him. "Maybe there are people who adopt his ideas," he said. "He does not constitute any security problem to us." Shortly before the Dharhan attack, bin Laden and members of his entourage left the Sudan in a C-130 military transport. The Sudanese had asked him to leave -- at the request of the United States. Bin Laden landed at an American-built airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Three months later, on August 23, 1996, he declared war on the United States.

"The situation in Saudi Arabia is like a great volcano about to erupt," his declaration stated. "Everyone talks openly about economic recession, high prices, debt" and "the filling up of the prisons." Bin Laden's criticisms of Saudi repression and corruption closely corresponded with State Department reports and CIA analyses. They diverged by blaming the United States. "The root of the problem is the occupying American enemy, and all efforts should focus on killing, fighting and destroying it," bin Laden proclaimed. A second, more ominous warning came on Feb. 23, 1998: "To kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who is able, in any country where this is possible," until American armies, "shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam." Then came August's embassy bombings. American authorities say the men who attacked the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were controlled by bin Laden. But they still have no clear idea how. Despite efforts at the highest levels of the U.S. government, bin Laden and his closest associates remain isolated in Afghanistan, the nation he helped fight Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

It is difficult to say precisely where the criminal case against bin Laden stands. Prosecutors have obtained unusually restrictive court orders that bar the defendants and their lawyers from communicating with virtually anyone. Publicly, at least, the case has lost momentum. While two suspected bombers were quickly apprehended, many other suspects are still at large. The last arrest was more than six months ago. Now the hunt for bin Laden depends on whether the Taliban, his radical hosts in Afghanistan, will betray him. The United States has little leverage with the Taliban, and little fresh intelligence on how to capture bin Laden. It has no spies in Afghanistan, and little new information on precisely how he might have instigated the deadly bombings. "I do not have a clear picture yet of what happened when," said Prudence Bushnell, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, who was injured in the bomb blast, which killed 12 of her colleagues. "I may not ever have a clear picture of what happened when. None of us may."

April 14, 1999   New York Times
A Federal jury convicted a Virginia couple Tuesday of conspiring to steal evidence from the wreckage of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 to back up their theory that the jetliner had been hit by an errant Navy missile. The defendants, James Sanders, 53, the author of a 1997 book promoting the theory, and his wife, Elizabeth, 52, a former T.W.A. flight-attendant instructor, appeared stunned when the jury delivered its verdict after less than two hours of deliberation. The two were found guilty of conspiracy, as well as aiding and abetting in the theft of two small strips of passenger-seat fabric that contained a reddish-orange residue they said was left by a missile. They each face up to 10 years in prison when sentenced on July 9, but the assistant United States attorney prosecuting the case, David B. Pitofsky, said that under Federal sentencing guidelines, they would probably be sentenced to far less time. As the couple left Federal District Court here this afternoon, Sanders said: "We were surprised by the verdict and that the jury rendered it so quickly. It can't help but send a strong and obvious message to journalists seeking to tell the truth." Mrs. Sanders, who clutched her husband's hand, said only, "We did nothing wrong." They remain free, each on $50,000 bail. Sanders's lawyer, J. Bruce Maffeo, said he planned to appeal, asserting that the court had not adequately addressed his argument that the couple's actions were protected by the First Amendment. "This verdict," he said, "has to be a chilling one for any journalist seeking evidence of the truth." But Floyd Abrams, a constitutional lawyer and First Amendment expert, said he was doubtful about such grounds for an appeal. "It's an extremely tenuous First Amendment claim, absent any extraordinary showing that the prosecution was engaged in the purpose of suppressing the book or some other purpose," said Abrams, who added that he was stunned to have received 500 postcards from supporters of the couple. The seven-day trial drew nearly a dozen conspiracy theorists, who insisted that the Sanderses were being prosecuted as part of a Government cover-up of the cause of the crash. In his book, "The Downing of T.W.A. Flight 800," Sanders contended that tests indicated the reddish-orange substance on the seat fabric was residue from missile exhaust -- evidence that the plane had been accidentally fired upon when it exploded only 12 minutes after taking off from Kennedy International Airport on July 17, 1996. The Government has yet to determine the cause of the crash, but has rejected the missile theory and says its tests show that the residue is fabric glue. The Sanderses, who live in Williamsburg, Va., were charged under a law approved by Congress in 1996, after the Valujet crash in Florida, that makes it illegal to remove, conceal or withhold parts of a civilian aircraft involved in an accident. But the actual theft of the seating material from a Government hangar in Calverton, N.Y., where the wreckage was being reassembled, was committed by Capt. Terrell Stacey, a T.W.A. pilot who, like Mrs. Sanders, knew many of the crew members who were among the 230 people who died in the crash. Captain Stacey appeared as the chief Government witness against the couple, testifying that the three of them had conspired to steal the evidence. He told the jury that Mrs. Sanders had pleaded with him to help provide evidence for her husband's investigation into the crash. As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Captain Stacey pleaded guilty to theft of Government property, a misdemeanor. He faces up to a year in prison, but prosecutors are expected to recommend leniency when he is sentenced. During the trial, the prosecutor, Pitofsky, insisted that the case was not about what caused the plane to explode or about First Amendment rights, but "simply about the theft of wreckage from a civil aircraft involved in a crash." Judge Joanna Seybert agreed, barring testimony on those other issues. Pitofsky said today that he doubted that an appeal on First Amendment grounds would succeed. " Sanders published a book and no one stopped him from saying whatever he wanted to say," Pitofsky said. "And the jury understood that no responsible reporter would believe they could break into a place to get a story." The jurors, with the help of court officers, left the courthouse by rear exits and drove away without comment. One juror said as he was getting into his car: "All I want is to get home. We all agreed that we'd say nothing." Their verdict drew gasps from the supporters of the Sanderses in the courtroom. "They have been unfairly persecuted by the Government," said one of their supporters, Howard Mann, an airplane mechanic and pilot who worked for T.W.A for 40 years, as he waited for the couple in front of the courthouse. "They were only trying to inform the American people, and the Government wants it covered up."

May 1, 1999    The New York Times
In what U.S. officials described as a move they hoped would ease relations with Iran, the State Department on Friday dropped its designation of the Tehran government as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. In issuing its annual report on global terrorism, the department accused Iran and six other nations of sponsoring terrorist groups. But it did not single out Tehran as the worst offender, as it has in the past, even though evidence cited in the report suggests that Iran might still hold that distinction. .... In the report last year, Iran was identified as "the most active state sponsor of terrorism." The report in 1996 identified Iran as the "premier" terrorist state. The designation infuriated Iranian leaders, who have cited it as an example of why relations between the United States and Iran remain so hostile. The Clinton administration has sought to improve relations with Iran since the election in 1997 of a relatively moderate president, Mohammad Khatami. ...... The annual terrorism report, which Congress requires, found that the number of terrorist attacks fell again last year .....( M)ost casualties resulted from the nearly simultaneous bombings in August of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which about 300 people were killed. Twelve Americans died in terrorist attacks last year, all as a result of the Kenya bombing. The United States has blamed the attacks in East Africa on Osama bin Laden ..... who has recently operated from bases in Afghanistan and is being sought in the United States on murder charges ... Department officials insisted that the decision not to designate Iran as the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism was not meant as a gesture of good will toward Iran. Instead, they said, it reflected a reduction in terrorist attacks that could clearly be attributed to organizations supported by Iran. The report found that Iran apparently killed fewer Iranian dissidents abroad last year than in 1997. "There is a slight improvement in their record, and we wanted to reflect that in our conclusions," said a department official who insisted on anonymity. "We just didn't feel the need to single them out in the way we have in the past. We obviously want to encourage better behavior." Others in the administration said the report had been worded in a fashion that they hoped would make clear to Iran the willingness of Washington to improve ties. "It would obviously be tough for us to go out there and brand Iran as the world's premier terrorist state while at the same time talking about our hope for better relations," said a U.S. official who insisted on anonymity. "If the Iranians read this as a signal for better ties, fine." The report found that Iran "continued to be involved in the planning and execution of terrorist acts" and that it might have been responsible for the murders of five leading Iranian writers and political figures last year. The department also said Iran continued support a variety of terrorist groups in the Middle East, including Hamas, Hizballah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

May 4, 1999   Press Release Washington, DC
Cmdr. William S. Donaldson, III - USN, Ret.
Aviation Mishap Analyst
P.O. Box 90, Clements, Maryland 20624
Web site:

The committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U. S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Aviation will hold a hearing on the Reauthorization of the National Transportation Safety Board on May 6, 1999, Rm. 2167 Rayburn House Office Building. Cmdr. William S. Donaldson, USN, Ret. has been invited to testify at the above hearing and will call for the Congress to reorganize the NTSB and hold hearings into the handling of its investigation into the crash of TWA Flight 800. Cmdr. Donaldson has been an outspoken critic of the NTSB's handling of this $40 million investigation which has yet to determine a cause for the crash. Despite the fact that at least a hundred eyewitnesses saw a streak or flare rise from the surface and strike Flight 800 before it exploded, the NSTB has dismissed the possibility of missile involvement without interviewing the first witness. Nearly three years after the tragedy, the FBI still has not released its analysis of witness statements or identified a suspicious boat caught on radar speeding away at 30 knots from a spot below Flight 800 when it exploded. Cmdr. Donaldson has identified 119 eyewitnesses on 18 boats, 4 aircraft and 31 locations ashore that surrounded the missile launch site. Their testimony alone would prove a missile engagement. However, these witnesses were not allowed to testify at Mr. Hall's hearing. Instead, the NTSB played a laughable video depiction of a noseless 747 climbing 1,700 feet implying that's what the witnesses saw streaking upward. The FBI pulled the CIA's similar video from national media when Boeing engineers wouldn't support it. Cmdr. Donaldson will introduce physical evidence that the NTSB and FBI misled the American public about the nature of their investigation and the extensive dredging operation which they claimed was designed to recover every last piece of the aircraft and all human remains. In fact, the dredging operation was directed primarily at finding and hiding missile parts from a shoulder fired missile. The majority of area dredged was not in the area where aircraft debris was expected to be located and most of the actual debris field was not dredged.

May 6, 1999  Testimony of Cmdr. Donaldson on Reauthorization of the NTSB
The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U. S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Aviation

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Committee: Based on the performance of the NTSB and the actions of the Justice Department while investigating the unexplained loss of TWA Flight 800, I no longer believe the NTSB is capable of fulfilling its aviation mission. It's abuse of power used to muzzle witnesses and Interested Parties simply to promote the Administrations agenda proves that it has become so politicized that the Board itself has become an Aviation hazard.

The solution would be to recast the Aviation duties of the NTSB as a completely independent body, like the Federal Reserve, staffed with aviation professionals from every military and civilian career field, overseen by a joint committee of congress. At a minimum, the current leadership should be replaced and the portions of Title 49 and Title 18 that have been used by the Chairman to muzzle and abuse the Interested Parties must be reformed.

Under the current law, the NTSB leadership has basically mislead the American people since July 17, 1996. They did this through unfettered access to the media, unending pursuit of nonsense junk science theories without budgetary constraint, common sense or air crash investigation protocol. They have used aerodynamically impossible CIA cartoons, fraudulent videos of hydrogen filled fuel tanks exploding on television, and fear mongering appearances by Administration officials pitching a non-existent 747 flight hazard.

All of this goes unanswered by Parties already cautious and severely constrained because of the nature of their highly regulated industries. Their bottom line depends first on government bureaucracy's good will. The severity of current sanctions invites political abuse by barring far more competent independent investigations or even public statements by the Parties until after the NTSB Final Report. Silence by the parties is woefully misinterpreted by the media and the public and easily exploited by partisan politicians.

In this incident, 15 weeks before the 1996 election, where Mr. Clinton had motive to cover-up a successful missile attack, that he had clear forewarning of as early as October 11, 1994, the abuses are unprecedented.

An author of three books and his wife, James and Liz Sanders are now Felons, tried and convicted last month in federal court for receiving worthless passenger seat fabric. Captain Stacey, a no-nonsense TWA check pilot and Flight 800 crash investigator, gave them this material for outside laboratory analysis of a chemical stain. He admitted in court that he committed this heinous crime because he had lost all faith in the integrity of the NTSB and FBI and didn't believe that the act was illegal. All three will soon be sentenced.

As a past nuclear weapons delivery pilot and fleet nuclear war planner, it is bitterly disappointing to me that the same Justice Department that gave our trillion dollar special weapons technology to China because they didn't have the nerve to wire tap a spy before the 96 election, didn't blink when a federal judge found Jim Sanders suffered unconstitutional searches and seizures. Nor did the Justice Department mind the Neanderthal tactics of Special Agent Kinsley when he violated white collar crime protocols by dragging Mrs. Sanders, shackled behind the back, through a media circus on the way to arraignment after she and Jim had turned themselves in. Liz Sanders may weigh 100 lbs. After being manhandled the first time in her life by a Justice Department goon, Mrs. Sanders lost her job as a flight attendant training supervisor, lost her house fighting these charges and now faces the possibility of a ten year prison sentence. Her crime was a two-minute phone conversation with Captain Stacey that neither party understood to be illegal.

This rabid behavior to GET Stacey and Sanders at any cost and make an example of them, with the arrest the week before NTSB's Public Hearing, was tailored for maximum intimidation and is in stark contrast to the Justice Department's indifference in the case of Chinese espionage that could eventually threaten every American. If this wasn't a partisan political witch-hunt, what is?

This didn't happen without the tacit approval of Chairman Hall. In fact, Mr. Hall wanted Linda Kuntz, another exceptionally talented and respected TWA crash investigator arrested after she pointed out NTSB employees were changing passenger seat location data to conform to NTSB's nonsense theory. Linda had presence of mind to use two NYPD officers to help her photograph her evidence. TWA attorneys sent Mr. Hall a letter citing these facts. He backed off, but was still able to force Ms. Kuntz out of the investigation.

While acting as Defense Consultant for Mr. Sanders, I asked him to take close-up photographs of the few parts remaining of the center wing tank, left side body wall. The trial Judge allowed him to take photographs at Calverton during the discovery phase of trial. Six weeks ago I viewed those pictures and determined the few military experts that the Administration allowed to see the crash debris were right. The number two main tank exploded at extremely high energy into the Center Wing Tank, not the other way around. I then called Mr. Wildey of the NTSB and left a voice mail message asking where to find the microscopic fracture face edge-analysis of these side wall parts. I was stunned to get a call back in 30 minutes from an NTSB attorney informing me it hadn't been done. He was agitated that I had seen those photos as were Justice Department attorneys who threatened Sanders attorney, an hour later, with motions to deny the defense access to its own discovery materials.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the analysis wasn't done because it would prove the loss of the aircraft was caused by a high explosive initiating event in the Number 2 main tank.

I informed that attorney that if NTSB's Final Report comes out without a verifiable fracture face analysis of that side wall edge metal and without doing the warhead detonations in the number two main tank and missile shots at that tank recommended by China Lake military analysts, he could expect me to file criminal malfeasance and misprision of felony homicide complaints with the New York State authorities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, every time NTSB officials have testified on television or before you about TWA800, they have lied or shaded the truth. I will close with physical evidence of one of Mr. Hall's bigger deceptions. At the same time his letter to the editor was published in the Wall Street Journal in April 1997 titled, "It wasn't a missile", he was paying for the covert recovery of the very missile parts he denied existed.

The Scallop boat, Alpha Omega found and discarded overboard the first stage of a shoulder fired missile in October of 1996 two miles from Flight 800's explosion point. This is near the spot where Islip radar recorded a boat traveling away from the exploding aircraft at 30 knots. Through questions submitted for us by this committee, we forced the FBI to admit that they failed to identify that boat.

When I ascertained that fact I was dealing with special agent Steve Bongart. He has since been ordered not to answer questions or have further contact.

As Mr. Hall's letter was being written, Special Agents Hanson, Petry, Bowen, Lane, Francis, Pica, Mauzey and Bokal were manning the scallop dredgers, Nordic Pride, Alpha Omega, Christian Alexia and Kathy Ann, scouring the ocean bottom for missile parts.

Here is the FBI Trawler Operations Manual; replete with diagrams of missile parts and an operational order with highlighted and underlined instructions describing how to hide these parts from crew and other Interested Parties. Boeing, TWA and the Congress of the United States are "other Interested Parties".

Here is the precision-trawling map used by these men, clearly indicating the primary purpose of the operation was specifically tailored to recover missile parts. 7/8 of the area dredged didn't have crash debris, but instead fell within the assumed range of a Stinger missile from the explosion point. The existence of this map is one of the several reasons Mr. Hall wouldn't let the Navy's Supervisor of Salvage, Captain McCord take questions from the Parties at the Public Hearing in Baltimore.

In addition to hard forensic evidence, I have access to 119 eyewitnesses on 18 boats, 4 aircraft and 31 locations ashore that surrounded the missile launch site. None of these witnesses were allowed to testify at Mr. Hall's hearing and instead the NTSB played a laughable depiction of a noseless 747 climbing 1,700 feet and implied that's what the witnesses saw streaking upward. Even if this aerodynamically impossible event could occur, it would hardly appear to be streaking like a flare or rocket as described by witnesses. The sad thing is that the media bought it because it was a slick video perfect for television.

I have been an outspoken critic of this investigation ever since Mr. Hall signaled to his subordinates that any answer was OK as long as "It wasn't a missile" in his Wall Street Journal article. If the NTSB and FBI are truly searching for the "Real Killers" in this tragedy, why is it that in over two years not one person from the NTSB or FBI has ever called and asked me a single question about my findings and witness interviews? The reason is, "The dog didn't bark", because they knew the answer already.

Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to hold special hearings into the loss of TWA Flight 800 and take the actions recommended to reform the NTSB into a non-partisan air safety advocate. That concludes my oral statement, I will need the evidence back and I urge you to read the remaining documents submitted and visit our Web Site at

Thank You,
Cmdr. William S. Donaldson, USN Ret.

Curriculum Vitae - pdf file
Letter to the CEOs of Boeing and TWA - pdf file, Text file.
Response from Boeing - gif file
Thermal Imaging photograph of 747 - gif file
Wreckage Distribution Diagram - gif file
Dredging Map showing Suspected Missile Launch Zone -gif file
Radar Imaging from Islip Radar - gif file
FBI Trawling Operations Manual - gif file
Press Release related to the Sanders Trial- pdf file, Text file.

Disclosure: I have not received any Federal grants or contracts within the current fiscal year or any of the two previous years.

Organization (FIRO)- Testimony by Tom Stalcup - President
Note from website author:  Tom Stalcup's request to testify in person was turned down but his remarks were introduced into the written record. They may be read at   A statement by Chairman James Hall was permitted and the text can be read at

May 6, 1999   Reuters
Argentina's Interior Minister ordered an investigation Wednesday into an audiotape that has raised suspicions that the local police were involved in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy that killed 29 people. The Interior Minister, Carlos Corach, said he had asked the police to establish the authenticity of the police radio recording, which, officials said, includes an exchange between police officers and men in a patrol car carrying out a routine inspection at the embassy minutes before the explosion. On the tape, the officials said, the officers order the patrol car to leave the area immediately. ....... "There might have been some sort of administrative negligence, but it is totally out of order to think that the police were involved in this attack," he said. .... Two years after the 1992 attack, a Jewish community center here was bombed, killing 86 people, and Israel believes that Middle Eastern groups like Islamic Holy War and Hezbollah were behind both bombings. The Israeli Ambassador, Yitzhak Aviran, said it was vital to track down Argentines who he is sure helped carry out the embassy attack. "For years I have emphasized the importance of tracking down the local connection, which is much more important than the international connection because they just came here and got blown up," Aviran said. "This has surprised me greatly, that the tape should turn up magically after seven years," he said. "That doesn't even happen in Hans Christian Andersen stories."

May 7, 1999  Company Press Release   The Journal of Counterterrorism & Security International
The Journal of Counterterrorism & Security International has uncovered evidence that National Public Radio has deliberately censored stories on the activities of Middle Eastern terrorist groups, broadcast false stories and misleading information on Islamic extremist groups, allowed its editors and reporters to champion pro-terrorist propaganda, and has continued to execute a blacklist against journalists targeted by militant Islamic and Middle Eastern organizations. The Journal of Counterterrorism assigned journalist Steven Emerson with conducting a content analysis and investigation of NPR's reporting on Middle Eastern terrorism. In his methodical review of NPR coverage of Middle Eastern terrorism during the past four years, Mr. Emerson found the publicly funded broadcaster: to have engaged in deliberate misrepresentation of the activities of Islamic terrorist groups; to have intentionally withheld factual information from its listeners on the pro-terrorist, anti-American, anti-Semitic platform of American-based front groups for Islamic fundamentalists; and to have colluded with radical groups in continuing to blacklist Mr. Emerson and other journalists who have been the target of radical Islamic groups. The Journal of Counterterrorism assigned Mr. Emerson the story following disclosure of the original NPR blacklist against him. In August 1998, columnist Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe revealed a series of e-mail messages exchanged between NPR staffers and Ali Abunimah of the Arab American Action Network, an Arab-American advocacy group based in Chicago that has repeatedly defended militant Islamic terrorist groups. Mr. Emerson reviewed more than 4,000 NPR stories in his investigation. The Journal offers numerous examples of how those behind the censorship and blacklist at NPR selectively skew the news to downplay radical Islamic terrorism. Among them:

* NPR News has never once reported on the more than 50 radical conventions held in the United States during the past five years, where militant Islamic organizations' exhortations to commit violence and terrorism and solicitations for terrorist groups are made. For example, on May 24, 1998, on the campus of Brooklyn College, a large militant Islamic rally was held urging jihad against the Jews where incendiary racist language was used. The rally was sponsored by a dozen American Islamic groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others that are afforded uncritical status at NPR.

*The directors of the FBI and the CIA have repeatedly testified that the primary threat facing the United States today is from militant Islamic terrorist groups, both inside and outside the United States. Yet in the span of four years, NPR News has done only one short report exclusively focusing on the militant Islamic threat in the United States. Nor has NPR News ever reported that law enforcement and intelligence officials have repeatedly stated that militant Islamic groups pose the number one threat globally to American interests.

* In contrast, NPR repeatedly has broadcast uncritical interviews with, and profiles of, militant Islamic groups falsely masquerading as "civil rights" groups. For example, NPR had officials of the Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) as guests, but has never challenged them on CAIR's credentials or reminded them of its past statements openly lauding terrorist groups or its sponsorship of militant Islamic rallies in the United States featuring known fundamentalist extremists. NPR has never revealed to its listeners that: CAIR was created by a Hamas front group in Texas known as the Islamic Association of Palestine; its board of advisors and directors include someone named in a federal filing as a potential unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing; CAIR has fabricated or exaggerated scores of "hate crimes;" its leaders have openly proclaimed their support for Hamas leaders and refused to condemn terrorist operations; and CAIR has repeatedly defended the militant Islamic Sudanese regime, which is conducting a campaign of holy war against the largely Christian south. ......

* NPR has not broadcast any in-depth story about the investigative findings and incriminating documents released by the FBI in its ongoing investigation into the secret headquarters of the Islamic Jihad that operated out of the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa between 1990 and 1995.

* NPR News seems to be spiking reports from the nation's top law enforcement and intelligence agencies on the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Robert Blitzer, until recently Chief of the FBI Terrorism/Counterterrorism Planning Section, testified before Congress on October 2, 1998 on the threat of terrorism facing the United States. Mr. Blitzer described the greatest threat facing the United States as emanating from militant Islamic groups. Yet NPR ignored his testimony as NPR has ignored the testimonies of top FBI and CIA officials on at least 10 occasions during the past three years in their descriptions of the terrorist threats facing the United States. ....

* The Journal also revealed that in a live interview on August 20, 1998 on NPR's Talk of the Nation about U.S. retaliatory raids against Osama bin Laden. Mr. Emerson was yanked from the show as the result of threats made by a militant Arab group from Chicago. New evidence also shows that in response to the groups' threats, NPR interviewed the head of the group the next day on Morning Edition. .....

To arrange an interview with Steven Emerson, please contact Hiram Reisner at 703-623-1503, or by e-mail at To view the report, please go to or contact Hiram Reisner.

May 9, 1999  The Washington Post
In January 1997, six months after TWA Flight 800 crashed off the coast of Long Island, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms concluded that mechanical failure had caused the tragedy. But FBI officials, still convinced terrorists had downed the plane with a bomb or a missile, dismissed the 24-page report as "unprofessional and reprehensible," and even persuaded a Treasury Department undersecretary to help them suppress it. It wasn't until November 1997 that the FBI acknowledged publicly that a mechanical flaw had indeed ignited the Boeing 747's central fuel tank, a concession that finally put pressure on airlines to begin correcting the problem. For months, documents suggest, the bureau had stuck to its sabotage theory – despite private protests by the ATF, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Central Intelligence Agency and even some of its own scientists.  On Monday, a Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing on bureaucratic infighting during the Flight 800 probe, a hearing that is likely to bring about vigorous questioning of the FBI's role in the investigation. Part of the hearing will focus on the never-released ATF report, which furious FBI officials initially wanted to withhold from the safety board, although they apparently changed their minds. The hearing also will focus on complaints from safety board officials as well as the FBI's former chief metallurgist, William Tobin, that bureau officials repeatedly and angrily dismissed scientific evidence that pointed to a mechanical malfunction.  Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime FBI critic who is holding the hearing, said it will show that the FBI unnecessarily prolonged its criminal investigation, stoking widespread fears about terrorism that have been used to increase its budgets, fueling the discredited conspiracy theories about missile attacks, and giving airlines an excuse to delay action on safety board recommendations to protect fuel tanks. "The FBI didn't want to hear about anything but a missile or a bomb, because otherwise there was no FBI case," said Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on administrative oversight. "Their conduct was disturbing from the very beginning."   The FBI declined to comment on the ATF report, but the bureau remains proud of its Flight 800 investigation. FBI officials say that while they did suspect sabotage at the outset – arguably a reasonable law enforcement reaction after the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings – they reached the correct conclusion in the end .... But some of the witnesses who will testify Monday believe the bureau cared more about keeping its investigation alive than about finding the truth. They will complain that FBI investigators mishandled evidence, kept safety board investigators away from witnesses and even enlisted a psychic who attributed the explosion to a bomb near the left wing. Grassley will also produce a March 1997 report that the deputy director of the CIA sent to the FBI, concluding there was "absolutely no evidence" of a missile attack.  The most controversial aspect of the hearing, many suspect, will be the murky circumstances surrounding the ATF report, which was completed on Jan. 20, 1997. The report clearly infuriated James K. Kallstrom, then head of the FBI's New York office, who denounced it as "unprofessional and reprehensible" in a memo on March 14, 1997. According to notes scribbled at the time by ATF Assistant Director Andrew Vita, Kallstrom at first demanded that the report be withheld from the safety board, which by law was supposed to be leading the probe into the accident. Kallstrom apparently feared that releasing it to the board would "lock him into eliminating" the missile theory, Vita noted. When ATF Director John Magaw balked, citing public safety concerns, Kallstrom appealed to Raymond Kelly, who at the time was Treasury undersecretary for enforcement. To the dismay of the ATF brass, Kelly ordered Magaw not to forward the report. In his notes, Vita fretted that the decision "could result in another similar air disaster."   "We have what we believe, whether right or wrong, [is] evidence of possible design flaws in Boeing [747] airplanes which again we believe to be responsible for the downing of TWA Flt 800," Vita wrote. "And we are being ordered not to release that information to the appropriate authorities for no compelling good reason, to risk hundreds of human lives." ...... In a way, that is the question lingering behind the culture clashes that led to this hearing: Who's supposed to be in charge? Under current laws, the safety board is supposed to be the lead investigative agency after an aviation accident until there is an official determination that a crime has been committed. But from the frenzied opening hours at the crash site, the law enforcement-oriented FBI was clearly the only agency with the resources to handle much of the work, and the science-minded safety board reluctantly took a back seat. .....

May 10, 1999  AP
Using hand-scribbled notes to support his claims, a Senate subcommittee chairman today accused the FBI of bottling up another agency's report saying mechanical failure caused the crash of TWA Flight 800. "It's fair to say that the FBI hindered the investigation and the public's and the families' right to know. And, in the process, in my view, the FBI risked public safety," said Sen. Charles Grassley. The Iowa Republican's assertion, which came at the start of a hearing on the investigation of the TWA crash, was based on contemporaneous notes taken by an official of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which said the FBI had forbidden that agency from delivering its finding to the National Transportation Safety Board. But James Kallstrom, the former head of the FBI's New York office, denied today that the bureau had been overzealous in its pursuit of a terrorist cause of the explosion and crash of the Boeing 747 airliner in July 1996 off the coast of Long Island, N.Y. "With the massive, complex investigation conducted into this crash, if in the end the only criticism of the FBI is that we worked too hard, too long, and did too much, I will accept that criticism proudly," Kallstrom, now retired, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ..... "The FBI didn't want to hear about anything but a missile or a bomb, because otherwise there was no FBI case," Grassley told The Washington Post. "Their conduct was disturbing from the very beginning." ..... FBI spokesman Frank Scafidi said, "We didn't sit on this report. It is dated Jan. 20; it got to (then-Assistant FBI Director) Jim Kallstrom on March 13. Where was it during those months? He forwarded it to Jim Hall at NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) on March 17." .... "We had witnesses who thought they saw a missile and had (television commentator) Pierre Salinger running around talking about possible missile attacks," he said. ..... While Kallstrom denied that the ATF report was suppressed, he did say he did not want it publicized. He said it would have been misleading to the public to imply that a conclusion had been drawn in the crash when one had not yet been reached. "Even though I did not want the report because it was premature, as soon as I received it, I forwarded a copy to NTSB and to the terrorist task force," he said. "The report was a gross violation of the protocol of the investigation and totally unprofessional to issue a report before the investigation was done, but unfortunately that is the signature of ATF," Kallstrom added.

May 14, 1999  Dan's Papers - Article by Jerry Cimisi
The May 6 meeting of the House Subcommittee on Aviation in Washington, in which the tragedy of Flight 800 became a central issue, was inevitably a mixture of politics and emotion.  "Ladies and gentlemen, based on the performance of the NTSB while investigating the unexplained loss of Flight 800, I no longer believe the NTSB is capable of fulfilling its aviation mission. Its abuse of power used to muzzle witnesses and interested parties proves that it has become so politicized that the board itself has become an aviation hazard." Part of a prepared statement from Commander William S. Donaldson III (U.S. Navy-Retired) which he read before the subcommittee.

The House Subcommittee on Aviation was meeting to consider the reauthorization--and budget requests--of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)--the government organization charged with investigating transportation accidents. It was an organization that a good deal of the public had never heard of, until the tragedy of TWA Flight 800. The investigation into just what brought down that plane and killed 230 people on the evening of July 17, 1996, has been and continues to be the biggest, most complex investigation the NTSB has ever mounted. The reauthorization hearing specifically asked for additional funds to cover the cost of the investigation of Flight 800. And, not surprisingly, there was spoken and written testimony presented to the Aviation Subcommittee critical of the NTSB, especially from two independent Flight 800 researchers: Commander William S. Donaldson, whose investigation has been in conjunction with the Associated Retired Aviation Professionals, and Thomas Stalcup, a Ph. D candidate in physics at Florida State University.

In 1974, the NTSB became an independent agency; before that it had been under the Department of Transportation. The NTSB has investigated more than 100,000 aviation accidents and 10,000 surface transportation accidents. Overseen by a five-member board, the NTSB has no authority to issue transportation regulations and safety measures, but its findings often influence the FAA and Congress to act in this regard. When you look into the numbers you begin to see just how much the investigation into Flight 800 has shaped the present day NTSB. According to the Safety Board's own statements, it concludes its investigations in a period from 11-14 months, on the average. It normally closes the book on an aviation accident in 12 months. The Flight 800 investigation has been ongoing since July, 1996: two years and 10 months at this writing. The NTSB has just released a statement that it plans on closing the book on Flight 800 at the end of this year, which would bring the investigation time to three and one half years.  Aviation is indeed the focus of the NTSB. Out of its current staff of 402 people, 65 percent, or 259 employees, are involved in aviation investigations. To understand how much the investigation of Flight 800 has dominated the NTSB since mid-'96 one only needs to look at the figures. Contrast its 1999 budget of $53.5 million against the approximately $35 million spent thus far on that one investigation.

Cynthia C. Lebo of the RAND corporation, which had been hired by the government to assess the NTSB's future needs, said that although the number of aviation accidents has decreased, present investigations have become more complex and the Safety Board clearly needed more funds and manpower.  Of course, the more intriguing aspects of the meeting revolved about the continuing controversy into just what brought Flight 800 down into the Atlantic.

From the latter part of 1997 into the summer of 1998, Congressman Jim Traficant, a member of the Aviation Subcommittee, forwarded a number of questions based on the research of Commander Donaldson to the FBI. In interviews with Donaldson through the spring of '98, the commander seemed confident that Traficant was going to use his political leverage to at least get the FBI to release information it had hitherto withheld from the public. Last July, just as Commander Donaldson and others--such as retired TWA pilot and flight engineer Howard Mann of Southold--were presenting in a 100 page plus report the results of their analysis of the crash and the subsequent investigation, Congressman Traficant came out with his conclusions that though he felt there had been things that should have been done otherwise, he agreed with the findings of the FBI in that there was no indication the plane had been downed by a criminal act or naval accident and that there was also no indication that a coverup or conspiracy of the government was surpressing the truth.

In a recent phone interview, Donaldson said, "I had to laugh when Traficant says he reached this conclusion after his ten month investigation. His investigation consisted of what I had been feeding him. And if I had known then what I knew now about Traficant, I would have never gotten involved with him."  Donaldson was referring to Traficant's alleged connections to mob activities in Ohio when Traficant had been a sheriff in Mahoning County. It has been alleged Traficant's 1980 campaign for sheriff was financed in part by two Mafia crime families. The wife of an organized crime figure, Charlie "The Crab" Carabbia , who had disappeared and been presumed murdered, turned over tapes to the FBI that contained recordings of conversations between her husband and Traficant, detailing illegal activities. In 1982, Traficant was indicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office on the charge of accepting bribes. Traficant was going to use a mob attorney to represent him, but when Traficant got the idea to divert public attention by holding a press conference in which he detailed and denounced mob activity in the county, the mob lawyer dropped him. The government offered Traficant a deal: be a government witness and go into the witness protection program. Traficant rejected the offer and went on trial, acting as his own attorney.  At the trial the government played the tapes with Traficant and Charlie the Crab. A colleague in the sheriff's department testified that Traficant had asked him five times to inflict a minor wound on him so that he, Traficant could pretend he had gotten away from a mob assassination attempt.

Traficant relied on a former colleague, a deputy, to testify as to his character, even though that individual had been fired for allegedly threatening to kill the mayor of Youngstown. At any rate, Traficant contended that what the tapes contained was nothing more or less than a portion of his own sting operation to infiltrate the mob. He asserted that he had returned the bribe money that Charlie the Crab had given him. And Charlie the Crab was not around to testify otherwise. Traficant was acquitted. Traficant emerged from this arena of almost certain political doom as a man who had beat the establishment and now championed himself as someone who had also fought the mob. He was elected to Congress in 1984.  In 1987, Traficant was brought to civil court by the government--for failure to pay back taxes on the bribe money, which he had not declared. In court, Traficant claimed there was no tax on campaign contributions, though he had not listed this particular "contribution" on his campaign finance reports. Traficant was convicted and continued to serve in Congress. A former Chief of Staff of Traficant's, Charles O. Nesti, was indicted and eventually pled guilty to perjury and racketeering charges. "Traficant was plainly bothered that I had been called to testify," said Commander Donaldson after the May 6 subcommittee meeting. Since last summer the commander feels he and his research was used in a deceitful manner by the Congressman.

In his statement to the subcommittee, Donaldson accused the NTSB of having a "bottom line [that] depends first on government bureaucracy's good will." The NTSB's and FBI's oversight of the investigation "invited political abuse by barring more competent independent investigations."  Referring to the recent conviction of James and Elizabeth Sanders for obtaining a portion of seat fabric from an authorized investigator in the hangar at Calverton where Flight 800 has been reconstructed, Donaldson said, "As a past nuclear war planner, it is disappointing that the same Justice Department that allowed our trillion dollar special weapons technology to be compromised by China because they refused to wire tap a spy before the '96 election, didn't blink when a federal judge found Jim Sanders suffered unconstitutional searches and seizures, nor blushed when Mrs. Sanders, shackled behind the back, was dragged through a media circus on the way to arraignment. She lost her airline career and her house.... This rabid behavior to get [Terrell] Stacey [the TWA investigator and Sanders' source] and Sanders, with the arrest the week before the NTSB's Public Hearing, was planned for maximum intimidation."

Donaldson continued, "In fact, Mr. Hall [chairman of the NTSB] wanted Linda Kunz, another exceptional TWA crash investigator arrested after she pointed out NTSB employees were changing passenger seat location data to conform to NTSB's nonsense theory. Linda had the presence of mind to use two state police officers to photograph evidence. TWA attorneys sent Mr. Hall a letter citing these facts, but she was still forced out."

Some further interesting facts about the debris field and the FBI's trawling operations from October 1996 to the end of April, 1997 have come to light. While the FBI said it was continuing to hunt for debris from the plane, an FBI trawling manual, prepared especially for this operation, specifically stated the Bureau was looking for parts of a Stinger missile. In fact, the FBI trawled in areas that were plainly outside the debris field, but marked the circumference of from where a Stinger or Stinger-type missile could have been fired. The trawling manual had a diagram and a photograph of a Stinger ejector motor and had "a secure line" through which an agent could phone in such a find, to keep the knowledge from "interested parties."  It is indeed possible, according to interviews Commander Donaldson has conducted, that just before the FBI began its trawling operations, two crewman, in two separate incidents on two separate fishing boats, found what appeared to be the ejector motor of a man-fired missile and tossed it overboard.

Commander Donaldson said "the Alpha Omega, a trawler out of New Bedford, from October 1-4, 1996 was at the edge of the crash zone. During one of those days one of the crewmen found what might have been the ejector motor can from a Stinger. It had two wires sticking out of it. He thought at first it was some kind of filter. He could not figure out what it was and threw it back in the water. When he was later shown a photo or diagram by the FBI he said that was what he had found."  The FBI contracted five civilian boats to trawl for further evidence; on any given day there were four boats in the water. On each boat was an FBI agent. The FBI "Trawler Operations Orders" in the Trawler Operations Manual states: "Items of interest are in the attachments section. If one of these items is recovered, notify the command post immediately but be discreet while on the phone so as not to alert the crew."  On April 30, 1997, the trawling operation was abruptly shut down, with no prior notice to the trawling vessels. There is, naturally, speculation that the abrupt shutdown was the result of the FBI finding what it was looking for.

There have been 26 aircraft worldwide shot down by MANPADs--Man Portable Defense Systems; Flight 800 may have been the 27th. To prove that foreign MANPADs have been previously smuggled into the country, Donaldson recalled the curious case of the French-made Mistral, a Stinger-type missile that was found along a country road in Westminster, Maryland in October, 1994. The owner of a nearby convenience store had noticed it alongside the road; the Mistral was leaning on its side.  "Somebody brought it here," said Donaldson. "Normally a Mistral would not be in this country except for some type of joint military test. Westminister, Maryland is an area that is constantly overflown by airlines from the major airports on the east coast. It's a great place to try to shoot down a plane. But it's strange the way the missile was just left at the edge of a road--in plain sight. As if someone wanted it to be found. This is just my speculation, but it's as if someone was giving our government a warning that they could take down a plane of ours at any time."

Thomas Stalcup, a physics research assistant at Florida State University, had a good deal to say --and speculate on--in regards to the Aviation Subcommittee hearing.  "Who sent the hearing notice to the commander's address? Even the commander doesn't know. It was just the hearing notice, stuffed into a manila envelope....  "As the opening statement from Traficant continued, I knew that the hearing had multiple purposes... for Traficant to pay his dues with those whom he may have made a deal. He... praised the FBI and CIA in dramatic fashion." Stalcup refers to the "highly coincidental appropriations set for his district" as possible reason for Traficant's apparent flipflop last year in regards to Donaldson's investigation.  At the hearing, NTSB Chairman Jim Hall said, "It was a fuel-air explosion." Stalcup, who was not allowed to speak at the hearing but posted a website synopis, counters with: "Has your agency ever, in the nearly three years since the tragedy, been able to reproduce a similar fuel-air explosion, using only Jet A fumes?"

Traficant said, "Every piece of wreckage was thoroughly analyzed... I want the American people to know how meticulously and thoroughly every piece of evidence was examined." But, as Stalcup pointed out, a fragment of the center fuel tank, CW-504, showed a residue of nitrates; yet, this is not included in the NTSB report. Stalcup, who is the chair of Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization, contends that he has been "blacklisted by ranking members within the NTSB at gaining information from, until recently helpful NTSB employees. Why did an FAA FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) representative inform me that the NTSB will not allow the release of any radar data?" Although Stalcup expressed frustration with the hearings, he concluded his website synopsis of the hearing with: "I think we are a step closer to Congressional hearings on TWA Flight 800."

In Commander Donaldson's testimony, he said, "Every time NTSB officials have spoken publicly about TWA 800, they have lied or shaded the truth. I will close with physical evidence of one of the bigger deceptions. At the same time Mr. Hall's letter to the editor was published in the Wall Street Journal in April 1997 titled "It Wasn't a Missile," he was paying for the covert recovery of the very missile parts he denied existed."

May 17, 1999   Aviation Week and Space Technology
Federal squabbling over the investigations into the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 only serves to further undermine public confidence in the results of those probes. Mistakes were made, but the question is what to do in the future. .... The FBI seized control of the overall Flight 800 investigation. It hampered the NTSB's probe. It ignored and ridiculed expert investigators from other agencies. It sustained the theory that the 747 was downed by a bomb or missile long after explosives and aviation-safety specialists were convinced there was no evidence to support that theory. The FBI's insistence on pursuing possible criminal causes of Flight 800's downing is understandable. The crash followed by days a terrorist attack on U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia and preceded by days the Atlanta Olympics' bombing. A terrorist suspected of plotting to destroy 10 or more commercial aircraft, Ramzi Youssef, was on trial in New York on charges of bombing the World Trade Center. Flight 800's midair disintegration left most specialists suspecting a bomb had brought down the 747. Senior NTSB officials didn't challenge the FBI's dominance of the investigation early on, largely because they, too, were convinced that the probe quickly would become a criminal matter. ..... The NTSB for too long collaborated in cutting off the flow of accurate, detailed information on the status of the accident probe. This all fueled suspicions that the government was withholding what it really knew about the cause of Flight 800's downing. FBI officials stoked those suspicions with repeated leaks to the media of bomb-damage evidence on Flight 800's debris when in fact no conclusive evidence was in hand. Others erred, too. The ATF jumped to the conclusion that a design flaw was to blame for the 747's destruction before it had ruled out sabotage. Having ceded leadership of the probe, NTSB officials opted against waging a political fight to regain it. The legacy of this collective mismanagement and the resultant finger-pointing is widespread doubt about the government's conclusions on what really downed Flight 800. That doubt will linger for decades and serve as fodder for conspiracy theorists and television specials. The price? For one thing, the doubt allows the FAA and the airline industry to discount the NTSB's findings and avoid taking more aggressive action to eliminate the threat of future fuel tank explosions. For another, the friends and relatives of Flight 800's 230 victims may never find peace. Each new discussion of missile strikes and government cover-ups, groundless or not, will reopen their wounds. ..... (T)he FBI should vigorously pursue the work it has started with the Naval Air Warfare Center and other federal agencies to develop a comprehensive database of the forensic evidence left by a missile strike on commercial aircraft. One would like to believe that U.S. airliners are safe from missile attacks, but that may not always be the case.

May 20, 1999  New York Times
The government indicted a former U.S. Army sergeant Wednesday on charges of collaborating with Osama bin Laden in a global conspiracy to kill Americans abroad, and asserted publicly for the first time that the group linked to bin Laden had plotted to attack the U.S. Embassy in Kenya as early as 1993. In announcing the charges against the former sergeant, Ali A. Mohamed, who last lived in California, the authorities also acknowledged that he is the unnamed suspect who has been held in secret custody in New York since his arrest eight months ago by the FBI. Offering many new details about Mohamed, the indictment portrays him as a crucial figure in bin Laden's organization as early as 1990, just one year after his honorable discharge from the Army. He served as a supply sergeant assigned to a Special Forces unit at Fort Bragg, N.C. The indictment does not accuse Mohamed of a role in the embassy bombings in Africa last August, but it does assert that in the early 1990s, he offered guerrilla training to Haroun Fazil, who was charged last year with leading the Nairobi bombing and remains at large. Mohamed, 46, has been held under highly restrictive conditions in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan since he was taken into custody in a secret court proceeding last September. For the last eight months, the government had been negotiating with him to win his cooperation in the broad investigation of bin Laden and his organization. But those talks ultimately broke down ... The prosecution appears likely to be complicated and intriguing. If the charges are true, they suggest that Mohamed, a former major in the Egyptian army who immigrated to the United States in 1985, had long been living a shadowy double life, even before going to work for bin Laden. In 1984, for example, Mohamed made contact with the CIA in Egypt, seeking to work as a spy, officials have said. The agency ultimately branded him untrustworthy and his name was put on a State Department "watch list" intended to prevent terrorists and other security threats from getting visas, the officials said. Yet, within a year, Mohamed obtained a visa and moved to the United States, where he served three years in the Army, obtained citizenship and developed a relationship with the FBI, acting as an informant on the West Coast. It was during that period, the indictment contends, that he was also serving bin Laden as a logistics and training expert. It says he trained members of bin Laden's group, called Al Qaeda, in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan in urban and guerrilla fighting, and how to evade surveillance. In 1991, the indictment says, Mohamed helped to arrange for bin Laden to move from Peshawar, Pakistan, to Sudan, where bin Laden was relocating his base of operations. Within two years, the indictment says, Mohamed was plotting with other Al Qaeda members to carry out "a possible attack" against the American Embassy in Nairobi in retaliation for the U.S intervention in the civil war in Somalia. In late 1993 and early 1994, Mohamed traveled twice to Nairobi, the charges say, and on the second trip entered the U.S. Embassy in what appears to have been a surveillance operation, carrying his American passport. Later that year, the indictment says, Mohamed and other Al Qaeda members reviewed plans about "a possible attack" on the embassy.

May 22, 1999  The New York Times
Under cloak of secrecy, the government has taken another suspect into custody in the investigation of Osama bin Laden .... The suspect, Ihab M. Ali, was charged on Wednesday with perjury after he came to New York City. It appears that he was charged in a closed hearing in U.S. district court in Manhattan soon after he was asked to testify before a federal grand jury that has been investigating the bombings and what the government has described as a worldwide terrorist conspiracy led by bin Laden. Few details could be learned about Ali, who is said to be from Orlando, Fla. (Note from website author - See article "London Bridge is Falling Down") Charges against him are not listed in public court records, and his phone is unlisted. ..... It is believed that Ali, said to be in his 30s, was being investigated in connection with the broader look at the activities of bin Laden, and was not necessarily tied directly to the embassy attacks ...... It is known ... that the terrorism investigation by Ms. White's office has been focusing increasingly on the role of U.S. citizens and others in this country. The government has charged that bin Laden specifically recruited Americans into his organization, in part because they were able to travel more freely around the world on their U.S. passports. Two U.S. citizens are already in custody. They are Wadih el-Hage, an Arlington, Texas, man who has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring with bin Laden to kill Americans abroad; and Ali A. Mohamed, a Californian indicted this week, also for conspiracy. Both have also been accused of lying to a grand jury. A federal prosecutor has also said in a court hearing that a Muslim figure in Texas, an imam identified as Moataz al-Hallak, has been involved with members of bin Laden's organization, although the man has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing. It is extremely unusual for anyone to be charged in secret. The case of Ali may be following a similar track to that of Mohamed, who was held secretly for eight months after his arrest last September as prosecutors sought to win his cooperation in the investigation. Ultimately, those talks failed, and Mohamed was indicted publicly. .... The arrest of Ali, whose citizenship status could not be learned, brings to six the number of people known to be in custody in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in the investigation of bin Laden. Another eight suspects, including bin Laden, have been charged but not apprehended. Another suspect is awaiting extradition from Britain.

June 2, 1999  Muslimedia  (An Internet news and feature service from Crescent International, the newsmagazine of the global Islamic movement -
- US foreign policy has been reduced to a three-point agenda in the post-cold war era: unquestioning support of Israel, daily bombings of Iraq, and chasing Osama bin Laden. That the 'sole superpower' in the world should be reduced to this sorry state is strange indeed. Stranger still is the behaviour of Pakistani officials, at least in the matter of the Arab mujahid, Osama bin Laden, who has spent the better part of the last two decades in Afghanistan. Lately, there has been a flurry of activity by American, British and Australian 'diplomats' visiting districts in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan bordering Afghanistan, apparently without the knowledge or permission of the Pakistan foreign office or the interior ministry. .... The latest sighting of these diplomats was reported on May 13 when the Australian high commissioner Geoffrey Allen and his wife visited Dera Ismail Khan and then drove to Tank. This part of the NWFP gets so hot in summer that even the local buffalos spend most of their time in muddy ponds to keep cool. Why diplomats from western countries would wish to visit such inhospitable environs is baffling unless they had some pressing business to attend to, such as searching for three missing US commandos or the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. The Australian envoy met the commissioner of D I Khan, Mazhar Ali Shah, and political agent Arbab Mohammed Hanif of South Waziristan Agency which borders Afghanistan. They spent the night in D I Khan and held further meetings with the political agent who had also arrived in the city from Tank. A number of other foreigners, men and women, and travelling on Irish, British and Swiss passports, were also sighted in the area and they all visited Zhob in Baluchistan as well, according to media reports in Pakistan. From Zhob it is a short distance to Ghazni across the border in Afghanistan. But travelling to Zhob requires passing through South Waziristan agency which is tribal territory and hence designated restricted area. Even Pakistani citizens cannot visit the area without prior permission of the political agent and with an armed escort. Kidnappings and killings are rampant. Foreigners, especially American, British, Australian, Swiss and Irish, apparently seem to have no problems travelling there, given their recent flurry of visits. A week earlier, two US diplomats, Brad Hanson, principal officer at the US consulate in Peshawar, and his aide, Ms Valescoe, almost certainly a CIA operative also visited D I Khan and drove straight to Tank to meet the political agent for three hours. After the meeting, they returned to D I Khan to hold talks with the commissioner. They spent the night in the dusty city, which is also home to Maulana Fazlur Rahman, chief of the Jami'atul Ulama-e Islam, a close ally of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Commissioner Mazhar Ali Shah said the American diplomat was on a farewell visit because 'Mr Hanson is due to leave his present assignment in July.' He and the political agent must be the American's close friends to make the diplomat feel obliged to travel to that forsaken part of Pakistan at this time of the year. And what was the purpose of Ms Valescoe accompanying Hanson, when it is well-known that Pathans take a dim view of women in public, especially dressed in skirts? Or are we to assume that she was wearing the traditional tent-like burqa of Afghan women, an outfit suited for the mission at hand? If the US diplomat was on a farewell visit, what were the Australians, the Irish, British and Swiss doing there? Were they also saying farewell to 'friends'? Officials in the Pakistan foreign office said they knew nothing about the to-ing and fro-ing of foreign diplomats. An interior ministry spokesman simply said that diplomats did not need permission to go there, an assertion so absurd that it was immediately contradicted by the protocol officer at the foreign office. The truth is that three US commandos were sent on a secret mission to Zhob, from where they slipped into Afghanistan in search of Osama in Ladin. It is almost certain that the three have been captured. The body of one of them was found at the end of April and handed over to the Americans. Two others are still missing and are presumed to be in the hands of the Taliban or forces loyal to Shaikh Osama. It is believed that the sudden flurry of 'diplomatic' activity is designed to negotiate the release of the remaining two American commandos before they meet the same fate as their comrade. .... The commando story got further credence when Ali Mohamed, a former sergeant in the US army, was indicted in New York on May 19 in connection with Osama bin Laden. The indictment accused him of being an accomplice of Osama. Mohamed is a former major in the Egyptian army and had worked for the CIA in the eighties. This raised some eyebrows, as five years ago it was Emad Salem, another former Egyptian military officer, who did the FBI's dirty work in entrapping Shaikh Omar Abdel Rahman, currently serving a 57-year jail sentence in the US.

June 5, 1999 NY Times
A former United States Army sergeant accused of conspiring in terrorist acts told the F.B.I. after last year's embassy bombings in Africa that he knew the people who carried them out, but he refused to identify them .... Ali A. Mohamed, was indicted last month after talks with the Government broke down. The discussions were held to determine whether he would cooperate with the Federal investigation into Osama bin Laden..... The documents offer much more detail about Mohamed's dealings with the F.B.I., showing that the bureau began talking with him about bin Laden as early as 1993.... In a 1993 interview, for example, Mohamed told F.B.I. agents "that Osama bin Laden ran an organization called Al Qaeda and was building an army which may be used to overthrow the Saudi Government." In another interview with the F.B.I., in October 1997, Mohamed said he had lived in bin Laden's house in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1994, and had trained bin Laden's bodyguards after an attempt was made to assassinate bin Laden. .... Mohamed, (is) also known as Abu Omar ..... Mohamed's lawyer, James Roth, had no comment on the new disclosures. Mohamed recently refused to enter a plea at his arraignment, and a Federal magistrate entered a not guilty plea for him. After that hearing, Roth said his client was protesting the prosecution. " Mohamed has difficulty recognizing the jurisdiction of this court," Roth said. "He thinks basically that it's a political indictment.".... The documents also show for the first time the existence of three new confidential sources who are working with prosecutors in the investigation. Previously, the Government has confirmed only that one source, identified as CS-1, a convicted terrorist and former associate of bin Laden, was cooperating. The new documents cited confidential sources 2, 3, and 4 as having provided information about Mohamed and his activities with Al Qaeda in the United States and Afghanistan. What is not clear in the newly disclosed papers is the precise nature of Mohamed's relationship with the F.B.I. It has been previously reported that Mohamed, who had also sought unsuccessfully to work for the C.I.A. in the mid-1980's, had acted as an informant for the bureau on the West Coast in the early 90's. The documents ..... offer new suggestions that he tried to insinuate himself with sensitive United States Government agencies while he was associated with bin Laden.

June 12, 1999   NY Times
Two Muslim men from Texas have been subpoenaed to testify next week before a Federal grand jury in Manhattan investigating Osama bin Laden ..... Both men are friends of Wadih el-Hage of Arlington, Tex., who was arrested last year on charges that he had conspired with bin Laden in terrorist attacks on Americans abroad. el-Hage has been described in an indictment as a former personal secretary to bin Laden. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. One of the Texas men who received a subpoena is Moataz Al-Hallak, the imam at the Islamic Society of Arlington, where el-Hage was an active member. A Federal prosecutor said in court last spring that Al-Hallak "has served as a contact between members of the bin Laden organization." ...... Cohen said he expected his client would be asked about his relationship with el-Hage, and whether he knows bin Laden, whom he does not. "My client does not believe in violence, no matter what the source," he added. .... The other witness who has received a subpoena was identified by his lawyer as Khader Ibrahim. The lawyer described Ibrahim as a friend of el-Hage who may once have hired him to work in one of his tire shops in Arlington. The lawyer, Lynne F. Stewart, said she has been told that Ibrahim was subpoenaed as a subject of the investigation. She said her client had been interviewed repeatedly in Texas by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who visited him again last week with a videotape of the aftermath of the embassy bombings. After he watched it at their request, "they said, 'Will you speak with us now?' He said, 'No, I don't want to really speak with you any further,' " Ms. Stewart said. She said he was given the grand jury subpoena the next day.

June 17, 1999 NY Times
Two men who the authorities say are leaders of an Islamic terrorist organization were indicted yesterday by a Federal grand jury on charges that they had a hand in the bombing last summer of two American embassies in East Africa. Prosecutors say the two, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Khalid al-Fawwaz, are close associates of Osama bin Laden .... Like bin Laden, neither man is in United States custody, although Fawwaz is being held by British authorities and is awaiting an extradition hearing that could order him to New York for prosecution. Zawahiri is thought to be in Afghanistan along with bin Laden. .... Prosecutors said that Fawwaz has been running media operations for Al Qaeda; his duties include publicizing statements made by bin Laden, recruiting military trainees, transmitting confidential messages to members and purchasing communications equipment. .... Zawahiri was a leader in Jihad, a terrorist organization that authorities believe was responsible for the assassination of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, the authorities say. In 1995, the organization's leader, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, was convicted in a plot to bomb New York City landmarks, including the World Trade Center. Three years later, his group merged with bin Laden's Al Qaeda. Ken Katzman, a senior analyst for the Congressional Research Service, described Zawahiri as a military expert and a top lieutenant in Al Qaeda. "Once he lost his patron, he came under the wing of bin Laden, who has the organization and the money," Katzman said. He added that Zawahiri is wanted by Egypt for his role in the assassination of Sadat. ...... Last month, the Government indicted Ali A. Mohamed, a former United States Army sergeant on charges of collaborating with bin Laden in a conspiracy to kill Americans abroad, asserting for the first time that Al Qaeda was behind the embassy attacks in Africa. United States officials claim that Al Qaeda plotted against the United States to retaliate for the prosecution of its members and those affiliated with its terrorist groups, including Rahman.

June 18, 1997  The Times of London
A woman who lost her husband in the Lockerbie disaster and was appointed to a White House airline safety commission is suing Al Gore, the United States Vice-President, over the report into last year's TWA Flight 800 crash. Victoria Cummock has filed a suit in federal court against Mr Gore and the Department of Transportation, alleging that the Vice-President forced her to abandon a call for specific counter-terrorism measures and demands for their implementation. ..... Mrs Cummock has not endorsed the accepted theory that the Boeing 747 was brought down by mechanical failure and believes a terrorist bomb could have been the cause of the disaster. She claims that Mr Gore, as chairman of the commission, refused to publish her detailed dissent as part of the group's official recommendations after last July's TWA crash .... The report, when presented to President Clinton in February, was said to have the unanimous support of all 21 members of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. It recommended that special bomb detectors should be installed at only 54 of America's 450 airports and, even then, only bags deemed suspicious would be checked. Mrs Cummock refused to sign the report and, according to The American Spectator, she then received a fax from Gerry Kavauer, the commission's executive director, promising her dissent would be published if she relented. She was later told Mr Gore would not agree to include her comments...... In her suit, Mrs Cummock claims that the commission and the Department of Transportation intended to file the final report without her complete dissent. She says the body violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act which requires committees to publish full minority dissents.