Or read the transcript below:
Discussion with Jack Cashill, Mike Larkin and John Clarke, hosted by Roger Aronoff
The “Take AIM” show on BlogTalkRadio, July 15, 2011.
ROGER ARONOFF: Good morning, and welcome to Take AIM, Accuracy in Media’s weekly talk show on BlogTalkRadio. AIM is America’s original media watchdog, and every week we point out biased coverage and bring you the stories the mainstream media ignore. I’m Roger Aronoff, the Editor of Accuracy in Media and of The AIM Report, which you can subscribe to at aim.org. We also encourage you to visit our website, aim.org, and sign up to receive our latest daily E-mail so you can keep track of what the media are up to. Today we’re going to cover a lot of ground as we discuss the fifteenth anniversary of TWA Flight 800, the demise of TWA Flight 800, with our guests. We have Jack Cashill, who has written books and documentaries about this subject. We had him on recently as a guest discussing his new book, Deconstructing Obama. We’re also going to have with us today Mike Larkin, a former TWA pilot who is now talking about this issue, and a little later in the show we’re going to have John Clarke, an attorney who worked with Accuracy in Media on Freedom of Information cases. He’s been handling the most recent case that is involved, still, with TWA 800, which involves Ray Lahr. They’ve been working to get documents from the NTSB. But we’ll get into that a little later.
For a little background: On July 17th, 1996, TWA Flight 800 took off from New York’s JFK Airport, heading for Paris. Twelve minutes into the flight, the plane exploded and crashed into the Atlantic, killing all 230 people aboard. Eventually there was an official version of what caused the explosion. We’ll get into all that, but there’s much evidence that the official version is false, and that a cover-up took place at the highest levels of government. The first person I’m going to talk to—we have all of our guests on the lines right now—is Jack Cashill, who, as I mentioned, most recently authored the book Deconstructing Obama, but in the past has written a book and a documentary about TWA 800. Jack has won Emmy Awards for his documentaries. I could go on and on with his background as a journalist, as a producer, but we’re going to get into this subject right away. The other person I’m going to introduce right now, Mike Larkin—Mike, you’re on the line with us?
MICHAEL LARKIN: Yes, I’m with you.
ARONOFF: Great. Thank you. Mike is a former TWA pilot, and a former Air Force man. He was flying for TWA for more than 30 years, and he has agreed to come on and talk to us. Actually, he was someone who could have been the pilot that day, but, fortunately, was not—but, unfortunately, a good friend of his was. So let’s get started. Jack, tell us how you first got involved in this story.
JACK CASHILL: Yes. That’s very specific. It was in, I believe, the fall of 2000, four years after the crash. I live in Kansas City, as Mike Larkin does, too. It’s a TWA town. They used to be headquartered here. James Sanders and his wife Elizabeth came to speak—in fact, Mike may even have been at that talk—and afterwards, I went out to dinner with them and with some other people, and I ended up sitting next to Elizabeth Sanders. Now, James is an investigative reporter, a former cop, and he had written an early book on this called The Downing of TWA Flight 800, and for his efforts at trying to get at the truth of what happened that night—this is hard for people who are not involved in the case to believe—he and Elizabeth were arrested and convicted of federal conspiracy charges. The charge was, specifically, “Conspiring to steal airplane parts, which was actually a law designed to prevent people from rummaging through crash sites and scavenging materials. So I sat next to Elizabeth, and she’s a sweetheart. She’s this very pretty Filipino woman, Filipino-American—I mean, she could be your sister, your mother, your wife. And when you see that someone like her was arrested and convicted of conspiracy for—here was her crime—introducing her husband, a reporter, to her friend Terry Stacey, who was the lead 747 manager at the investigation site—that’s all she did, and she was put on trial for this?—then you know that something is amiss. That’s what got me curious.
ARONOFF: So what happened? We had already been working with Jim [Sanders] for a couple of years. When I came to AIM in 1997, this was just hitting. Sanders had come to AIM, so had Commander Bill Donaldson, and both of these gentlemen were investigating this. Both had different ideas of what had happened. Sanders’s idea was that this had been a naval exercise gone wrong.
ARONOFF: One of the things that he talked about in his first book, Altered Evidence, was that they were in the Situation Room at the White House that very night, watching what happened in real time. I’d like you to talk about that. Commander Donaldson, a former Navy crash investigator, was looking at it from the point of view of a terrorist act that had happened. Reed Irvine, the founder and Chairman of AIM, was fascinated with both views, and they both seemed to have strong cases, so we basically got involved, backing their investigations both financially and by writing about them and doing Freedom of Information requests. So tell us a little more, then, about your view, and how your’s and Jim’s view kind of melded and then, possibly, changed.
CASHILL: It’s a good question, Roger. By the way, you’re right: Without Accuracy in Media, this case would have died years ago. You guys were the ones who sustained it. You know, this happened in ’96, just before the Internet matured, but had this happened ten years later, they could not have gotten away with what they did. They simply couldn’t have. But, at the time, The New York Times controlled the whole information flow, and the FBI was speaking exclusively with The New York Times, so they could control the information, and they did. But I got into it a little later than those guys, and I had no preconceptions. In fact, when I first met with Jim and Elizabeth—and I’m a documentary producer—I said to them, “Has anyone ever done a documentary on this? Any serious video?” At that time, no one had. I think you guys were working on one around the same time—I didn’t know that, by the way! So they said they were willing to talk about it. I said, “Listen: I don’t want to get involved in something that’s a ‘maybe’ kind of thing, like one of those 9/11 inside job kind of things, or a JFK thing. I want a case that’s clear cut. I don’t want to risk my reputation”—such as it was—“on something that’s dubious.” They invited me down to their home in Florida, where they were living at the time. I spent about four days with them. Before I got there, I read the couple of mainstream books, which were pretty useless, except that they had some unwitting nuggets in them. One was by an AP reporter, another was, I believe, by a Newsweek reporter. Christine Negroni was one, Patricia Milton, the other. Those books were totally unconvincing. Then I went down, and I looked through the Sanders’ material. What I had not seen—what no one, really, had seen up until that point—was the reams of eyewitness testimony, which I still find the most compelling of all the evidence. What I also found, Roger, the deeper I got into this—because it’s like a college course, it’s not just something you just pick up in a day or two and make believe you know what you’re doing—what I saw was that every single bit of evidence pointed in the same direction, and that direction was an explosion, external to the plane, that blew the plane out of the sky.
Now, on the question of who fired that missile, I still remain agnostic. I don’t feel like I have enough information conclusively to blame someone. I have suspicions, and I know what the evidence is, but I’m reluctant to go any further than that. In the book First Strike—by the way, in our documentary, Silenced, we’re fully silent on the question of who fired the missiles—which Jim and I put out in 2003—and Jim has always believed it was a Naval accident, I’ve never been fully convinced of that—we had some inside sources as telling us of a possible scenario that blended, oddly, both scenarios, and that is that the Navy wasn’t just casually misfiring, but that they were targeting a plane filled with explosives, they hit the plane, and the plane blew up near TWA Flight 800 and took it out. There was enough evidence out there to at least speculate that as a possible scenario. I would say that in the years since, I have not been able to close that case, either, so I’ve lost confidence—I mean, I was never fully convinced that it was correct, but I’m not any more convinced now than I was then that it’s correct. It’s just that there were multiple sightings of a second airplane, and there were some very interesting inside sources pointing us in this direction—but they may have been pointing us in that direction on purpose, to establish a scene that they could live with.
ARONOFF: Right. One more thing, and then we’ll go to Mike. The strongest evidence, I agree with you, is the eyewitness evidence, of which there were over 260 people who saw something streaking toward the plane just before the explosion, and of those, 96 saw it rise from the surface. All people were completely unrelated, they didn’t know each other.
ARONOFF: The other thing that Sanders was involved in was through Stacey, who you mentioned before, and who Mike Larkin knows. We’ll talk about that in a minute. He had passed along something that showed that there had been explosive residue found in the wreckage of the cabin. Tell us a little more about the evidence, the hard evidence, that we have that this was a missile that took this down.
CASHILL: You know, it’s interesting, because I have an article up on World Net Daily today. It’s called “‘The Clinton Tapes’ and TWA Flight 800”. About once a month over the course of his Presidency, Clinton would unburden himself to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch. Last year, Branch published the taped revelations—of course, it’s very edited and embellished and whatnot—and there’s a lot that he conceals, but sometimes a little nugget sneaks out. One of them occurred when he was interviewing Bill Clinton in the White House on August 2nd, 1996. This would have been two weeks after the crash, a little more than two weeks after the crash. Here’s what Clinton tells Branch—this is a quote—on that night. He says—this is a quote—“Unless some telltale chemical survived the brine, [the investigators] must try to reassemble the plane to determine the cause.” During that same taping, Clinton tells Branch that the FBI was rechecking its interviews with, quote, “Some fifteen ground witnesses who saw a bright streak in the sky near the plane.” As you and I know, there were more than 200 by that time, but that’s neither here nor there. What Clinton is telling Branch—and he’s likely establishing this alibi for posterity’s sake—is that he traced the likely attack, [Branch] believed [Clinton] was saying to him, as either a missile or a bomb, on August 2nd. He traced the likely attack to Iran. He says, “They want war.” This is a quote—Branch is quoting him—on August 2nd. This I’d never seen before. Now, what I think Clinton is doing is setting up his alibi. I think on August 2nd he was hoping for two things. One is that they could suppress the eyewitness evidence, because that was controlled entirely by the FBI. The second is that they would not find any telltale residue because of its immersion in the ocean. They had hoped that perhaps, when they pulled this out, they wouldn’t find anything—but in fact the opposite is true. They found PETN and RDX all over the plane, especially around the right wing, where the eyewitnesses saw a missile hit the plane, some of them very specifically. Some of them described the break-up sequence of the plane before the FBI even knew what that break-up sequence was. So starting about August 14th, The New York Times started reporting this, that the FBI was finding telltale evidence all over. Then, on August 23rd—this is now, we’re talking, five weeks after the crash—The New York Times headlines its story, quote, “Prime Evidence Found That Device Exploded in Cabin of Flight 800.” Now, on that same day—and this is critical, because there’s no understanding this crash without the political element of it—that this is above-the-fold left, the TWA explosion—biggest news story, by the way, of 1996—above-the-fold right is the headline “Clinton Signs Welfare Reform Bill on Eve of Democratic National Convention.” One of those headlines had to go, and the headline that went was the TWA Flight 800 headline. After August 23rd, all reporting—both by the FBI to The New York Times and by The New York Times—changed. The investigation ended on that day. Actually, it ended the day before when the Deputy—the story The New York Times heard already had been leaked out by the FBI. But on the day before that, the Deputy Attorney General, the woman who ran this show, Jamie Gorelick—and she was rewarded for her efforts a few months later—called Jim Kallstrom of the FBI to Washington for a “Come to Jesus” meeting, and everything changed thereafter. Now, after reading The Clinton Tapes, here’s what I believe happened, and this is speculation, but I think I’m right. I think that Clinton told Kallstrom what he told Branch: Iran wants war. If we acknowledge a missile attack, we will have to go to war. For national security purposes, we cannot let that happen. Now, Clinton’s real motive, of course, was to protect his big lead over Bob Dole, selling peace and prosperity to the Democratic National Convention, et cetera. Kallstrom, I really think, has been tortured by this ever since. Here’s what he said, for instance, on September 11th. He was being interviewed by Dan Rather on the very morning of September 11th, 2001. He said, “We need to stop the hypocrisy—” He just blurted this out, and then he caught himself, and he said, “Not that hypocrisy got us today, I’m not saying it did.” But that first part of his sentence, that’s the honest part: “We need to stop the hypocrisy.” Throughout the Branch book—this occurred at Oklahoma City, and it occurred with the World Trade Center bombing—Clinton was telling Branch, “The investigation can’t go beyond the water’s edge.” He does not want any investigation of terrorism to lead overseas, for a variety of reasons. And TWA Flight 800? What an ambitious thing. I think they’re just trying to push it back until after November, but then they realized they could get away with it—and they have.
ARONOFF: Right. A couple more things, in terms of the context: Just a month or so before that was the explosion at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia—
ARONOFF: —which, of course, Louis Freeh [FBI Director], later on, claimed was an act of the Iranians—
ARONOFF: —that they were behind that. And, as well, the Atlanta Olympics. There were all sorts of reasons—you’re pointing out the reelection—that they would want to suppress this story and make sure that people didn’t feel unsafe in the air. There’s one other thing, as I was kind of going back and looking—and then we’re going to talk to Mike. On September 11th, George Stephanopoulos was talking to Peter Jennings, and he made the statement that President Bush would actually be at the Situation Room in the White House rather than at that Air Force base in Nebraska. He said there are facilities in the White House—not the normal Situation Room, which everyone has seen in the past—but a second Situation Room, behind the primary Situation Room, which has video-conferencing capabilities. The Director of the Pentagon, the Defense Chiefs, can speak from a National Military Command Center at the Pentagon. He said, “In my time at the White House, it was used in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, in the aftermath of the TWA Flight 800 bombing, and that would be the way they would stay in contact through the afternoon.” So someone who was there in the room, George Stephanopoulos, referred to it as “The TWA Flight 800 bombing.” I think it’s a very important slip—
ARONOFF: —we noticed, a lot of—yeah, go ahead.
CASHILL: One other thing, Roger: When he wrote his memoirs, which I think was called Only Human or Too Human or something, Stephanopoulos—now this is the biggest news story of 1996—is in the Situation Room. Regardless of the outcome of that, you would think it would deserve a sentence or two. Not a sentence in his memoirs. Louis Freeh—not a sentence in his memoirs. George Tenet—not a sentence in his memoirs about TWA Flight 800, even though he was the assistant CIA guy. Hillary Clinton—she was there that night, I traced her record—one-third of a sentence on TWA Flight 800. Dick Morris, who’s talked about it—two words in his memoirs. Bill Clinton—in his 900-page memoirs—one paragraph. He dedicated more paragraphs to school uniforms in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a couple of days before that than he did to TWA Flight 800. There is a cover-up going on here.
ARONOFF: Okay. I want to now talk to Mike Larkin. Mike, as I said, you were a TWA pilot for 34 years, I believe, and you were certainly a pilot during this period. Tell us your experience, what you were doing that day, and what your knowledge of the event was, what it was about—because, of course, you knew the actual pilot. Tell us your story, Mike. Give us a little introduction to you.
LARKIN: Okay, Roger. It’s hard to follow Professor Cashill.
LARKIN: He’s so eloquent, and I’m just a country boy here in Kansas City. But I’ll do my best! I was flying that particular trip that month—[Flight] 800 to Paris and 801 back home—and had traded out of a trip about that time to a trip to Rome with my two teenagers. So we’d been in Rome for a couple of days, and had just gotten back the night before, and had actually considered going back over to Paris on a summer vacation, but my mother was at a rest home in Iowa, and we decided we’d go up, visit her, and that’s when it happened, the next evening. Quite shocking. Unbelievable. Of course, I found out later that Ralph Kevorkian, my classmate in the Air Force pilot training, was captain, and Steve Snyder was his instructor. I slowly began phone calls to other crew members, getting names of people. The flight engineer was a good friend. Of course, I knew most of the crew. One little story that’s cute, and it’s in my poem: the flight service manager was Jacques Charbonnier, a Frenchman, world traveler, a multilingual, elegant, eloquent gentleman, and he was married to a little girl from Iowa named Connie. They were kind of the Odd Couple, because there was no couple on the airline—they flew together all the time, I flew with them many times—that would seem more unlikely to be married, but they were. They flew together all the time. We loved them. Everyone loved them. So they’re mentioned in my poem. I just wanted people to know who they were. But there were a lot of people—the young engineer student that sat by his mother on the way home from Paris a few weeks later. It was pretty devastating to my family and to me and to the entire TWA family. I, to this day, don’t know what happened. I think the FBI knows what happened—they had a satellite parked out over New York that night that would have filmed the entire event. Those films are locked up at Langley. The Navy shot down an Iranian airliner, I believe, back in ’88, and they tried to lie their way out of it. It was the same class, AEGIS destroyer. They claimed that this airliner was diving at them, accelerating, and the fire control officer gave the order to fire. Unfortunately, the Russians had a satellite parked over the Gulf, and they said, “No, no, the airliner was at 22,000 feet, in level flight, in the middle of an airway.” So the Navy tried to lie their way out of that one, but the Russians caught them. Now we had the same satellite parked over New York that night, and the FBI has those tapes. So any time the Congress gets the courage to demand the FBI release the evidence they have locked up, we’ll know who’s responsible.
ARONOFF: So what, to you, is the strongest evidence that the government was lying, that it wasn’t—what the government’s official version of what happened is that there was a spark in the center-wing fuel tank from a still-unknown source, and because there was a certain amount of diesel and fumes in the tank, that’s what caused it to explode. Then what actually happened, they say, is that the nose fell off, the fuselage rose 3,000 feet—this was all created in a CIA animation—and that the burning fuel coming down is what all of the eyewitnesses mistook for missiles going up. So that was the official version. Did you buy that? What do you think of that?
LARKIN: No, an airplane is not going to climb 3,000 feet with one wing missing. What convinced me that a cover-up was taking place was when Major Meyer, the helicopter pilot, and his co-pilot were out there, hovering, just waiting for darkness to put on their goggles and do a night training exercise. Major Meyer was a combat veteran. He knows what ordnance looks like. He and his first officer both saw the missiles. First of all, the FBI wasn’t interested in talking to him. They sent some flunky out to him with a pad, didn’t even copy down what Major Meyer had to say, and then never followed up with him at all. So it was obvious that there was a cover-up taking place. We don’t know who the Clinton administration was covering for, whether it was Iran or the Navy. But definitely, a missile brought the airplane down. I think everybody—you mentioned Terry Stacey, Captain Stacey, earlier: He removed some orange residue from a seat-back and gave it to Jim Sanders, and for that he was threatened with federal penitentiary time, for removing evidence from a crash site. It was obvious that they were not looking for any kind of truth. They wanted that center fuel tank theory to be the lead story in The New York Times, and, as Jack Cashill said, from then on that was the official line, and nothing that would contradict that official party line was published or expanded on. Boeing spent millions of dollars to reconstruct that center fuel tank, which is about the size of the bedroom I’m sitting in now, twelve-by-twelve. They tried every way in the world to get it to explode—I think they even tossed a highway flare into it! Everyone knows that diesel, JP-4, is not volatile, it’s very difficult to even ignite. So the idea that there was an explosion caused by an electrical spark is just nonsense.
ARONOFF: What was going on inside the company at that time? Were you given instructions? Guidance? “Here’s what you should say, you shouldn’t talk to officials or the press”? Was there a way that employees and other pilots of TWA were communicating with each other and following the investigations?
LARKIN: Actually, I don’t think the company ever issued any guidelines as far as talking to the media. The only anecdote that I can offer is that one of my fellow captains started adding 4,000 or 5,000 pounds of fuel, every flight, to his center tank. At the time we were trying to conserve fuel, so he was called into the front office to explain why he was adding fuel to the center tank. He said, “Well, I just don’t take a chance. Maybe that explosion theory might be correct, and I don’t like flying around with an empty center tank.” Whatever flight manager he was talking to said, “Ah, don’t be silly. That was a missile that brought 800 down. Stop worrying!” Things like that, the scuttlebutt around the hangar—there were all kinds of theories and stories. But I think the company just went along with the FBI and the NTSB investigation, and whatever they decided was okay.
ARONOFF: You also told me about one of your other friends, a pilot, I guess, who cut his hand—he was in the Calverton hangar? Tell us that story.
LARKIN: Yeah. I won’t mention his name.
LARKIN: He was the official representative of the Airline Pilots Association on the investigation. As you know, there are teams from Boeing and ALPA and NTSB—there are all sorts of representatives who are there. He was in the hangar one day and he cut his hand on a piece of metal. They sent him to the infirmary to get it sewn up, a shot, or whatever, and a cute little nurse out by the infirmary asked the captain how things were going in there. He said, “It’s terrible. The FBI is so messed up. They’ve got everything fouled up. Blah, blah, blah.” He denigrates the FBI. Next morning, guess what? I think it was James Kallstrom who ordered him off the investigation, out of the hangar, off the property, blah, blah, blah. Of course, [Kallstrom] later found out that he didn’t have that authority over the Airline Pilots Association’s representative, so this friend of mine stayed on the investigation for, I think, about six weeks before he was able to go back to Los Angeles and be with his wife and children. But she was a spy—she was an FBI plant. He’d been turned in by the nurse! That’s how your government operates—a lot of transparency.
ARONOFF: Tell us what finally happened to TWA, for those who don’t recall, and then I would like you to recite your poem that you’ve referred to a couple of times here. Was this what ultimately led to the demise of TWA?
ARONOFF: What was the demise? What happened?
LARKIN: Yeah, definitely, this was the end of TWA, just as PanAm 103 was the end of Pan American a few years later. Everyone, pretty much, knew this was the end of Trans World Airlines. We’d been in bankruptcy once or twice, and the summer of ’96 was supposed to be our redemption. Everyone made hundreds of millions of dollars that year—our bookings were so heavy that we actually had to lease five extra 747s just to cover our routes that we had booked that summer. Of course, this was right in the middle of July, the tourist season, and that just took everyone’s attention away from flying, and onto the investigation. And, of course, millions and millions of dollars had to be spent to reply to the accident. We lasted, I guess, five more years, off and on, with American trying to buy us, and eventually American Airlines bought our assets.
LARKIN: They merged the seniority lists, painted our airplanes. That was the final blow, but I think this Flight 800 was the initiating event that led to our demise.
ARONOFF: Mike, why don’t you read your poem to us, the one you sent me? I think it’s something that our listeners and readers will very much like to hear or read. Take it away, Mike Larkin.
LARKIN: Thank you!
ARONOFF: The title?
LARKIN: I am a published poet. I want to get a plug in for my friend Colonel Helmut Reda’s book. Because I Fly is an anthology of aviation poetry that, I think, anyone in the flying game would really enjoy, enjoy reading his book. Because I Fly, by Helmut Reda. This is my tribute to the crew that evening. It’s called “Flight 800.” Pardon my attempt to speak French, I’m not fluent.
From out of the night, she soared red and white,
Her tail aglow from the logo light.
Proudly she climbed, a ship tried and true,
Bound for Paris showing red, white, and blue.
Her nose she held high in that eastern sky,
Oui! No one could doubt that day;
She carried her flag, and she carried it high;
Vol huit cents! TWA!
Captain Ralph had turned off the seat belt sign; the cabin team starting their work;
Each crewmember eager to do their job, not one who was willing to shirk.
For on that night of ill-fated flight, two crews were crossing the miles;
It was gay repartee, “Let’s go to Paris!”,
There were kisses and hugs and big smiles.
Now Jacques Charbonnier to Connie would say, “J’t’aime, ma cherie, j’t’dor,
Let’s not make a fuss; we’ll have beer on the bus! Our captain is sure not a boor!”
Then a horrible sound, seen and heard on the ground—a missile strikes out from the sea!
The aircraft implodes, descends, then explodes! “Au revoir, au revoir, ma cherie.”
In that moment of terror, they still would not error,
For their training took over, you see,
And not a one cried, tho’ everyone died,
As they fell from the sky to the sea.
No, they died the way they lived, my friend, and they lived the way that they died,
With courage, dedication, professional crews, with dignity, honor, and pride.
And now we the living must do our best to honor their lives each day,
For I think we all know their final request: “God save our TWA!”
Protect Her, preserve Her, all those who would serve Her
For Her future is bright we can see;
And in all that you do, remember our crew;
Au revoir, au revoir, mes amis!
LARKIN: That . . .
ARONOFF: That’s beautiful. Very moving. Thank you for doing that. Let me turn to John Clarke. John, as I mentioned, is an attorney. He did work for AIM back at the time where we were doing Freedom of Information Act requests to get information about TWA 800, and other cases, and now he is working on what I believe is the only remaining legal case involving TWA 800. John, welcome to Take AIM!
CLARKE: Thank you for having me on, Roger. I wanted to do a couple of follow-ups to some of the comments that have already been made.
CLARKE: Jack mentioned that he didn’t think the government could get away with this now, but they could when the Internet was in its infancy. I couldn’t agree more. I just don’t see how they could get away with that now. There were over 600 eyewitnesses to this. I mean, it was a beautiful day on the coast of Long Island, a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, and there were hundreds of people out who saw this thing. Six of them, actually, as you know, Roger, placed a full-page advertisement in The Washington Times titled “We Saw Flight 800 Shot Down, and We Won’t Be Silenced Any Longer” along with their eyewitness accounts. Also, you guys were talking about the evidence, about what all the evidence points to. I think that’s commendable—that’s what we should be doing. What you do, when you look at the evidence, virtually all of the evidence, every piece of scientific, forensic, eyewitness evidence points to only one thing, is consistent with only one thing, and that is missile fire. Just think about how outrageous this is. When we think about what happened—I mean, who shot the missile?—I really think there are only three possibilities: It was a military exercise that had gone awry, it was a terrorist, or it was some combination of the two. To have that happen in front of 600 witnesses—it’s just incredible that they could actually get away with that. And again, I don’t think they could now. Aside from the evidence, aside from every single piece of evidence being only consistent with a shoot-down, is the government’s explanation. To my mind, the government’s explanation is the most damning piece of evidence. As you mentioned, the CIA put out a video that they released to the national news, played on all three networks and CNN, depicting the nose of the aircraft being blown off from the center fuel tank explosion—incidentally, that fuel tank was empty—then falling off, and two-thirds of the aircraft climbing 3,000 feet. It’s absolutely ludicrous! And it’s impossible—when we filed Ray Lahr’s Freedom of Information act suit, we had 29 witnesses, a dozen experts, and they all said that it was impossible. Number one, it’s impossible for the fuel tank to have exploded, but, more importantly, if the nose had actually been blown off, and the balance of the aircraft had remained intact, it’s absolutely impossible for the aircraft to have climbed. It would have stalled right away.
LARKIN: That’s very true.
ARONOFF: What is the status, John, of your current legal actions?
CLARKE: Ray’s [Lahr] suit has concluded. We did get quite a few documents, and they’re all posted on Ray’s website, and you can Google that, “The Impossible Zoom Climb.” Also, a number of the eyewitnesses’ videos are at that website, including Major Fritz Meyer, who was a pilot, and he knows missile fire from his days in the Vietnam War, and he said it was unequivocally a missile, absolutely military ordnance. So, again, it’s all the evidence pointing to the same thing. But as to the status of the legal case, Ray’s suit is finished. We did prevail—we were what’s called the “substantially prevailing party” in that lawsuit—and Judge Matz, in the Central District of California, wrote—and I’ll quote from his opinion just very briefly. He said, “Taken together, all the evidence—” the evidence we’d filed—“this evidence is sufficient to permit plaintiff to proceed based on his claim that the government acted improperly in its investigation of Flight 800, or at least performed in a grossly negligent fashion.” Now, there was one portion of that—it was on legal grounds—which was reversed on appeal, but that finding remains undisturbed.
ARONOFF: Okay. I’d like to get a little conversation going between you three. Any questions any of you want to bring up to the other, or ask? Mike, you have anything you’d like to comment in regard to what John was just saying?
LARKIN: Well, I followed this along as a lay person, not as an investigator, but I think that this mystery could be cleared up very easily if the President—or perhaps our new President—orders the FBI to release the tapes of the satellite that evening. I think that would answer everyone’s questions real quickly. Also, the tapes of the air traffic control radars that the FBI confiscated and are locked up down at Langley. Someone knows the answer. The thing that puzzles me was, we had this little Navy admiral assigned to the case for some strange reason. He was never interviewed—the fire control officers on the ships were never interviewed, none of the sailors on the ships were ever interviewed—as to as to whether a missile had been fired that evening, whether it had gone awry, whatever. I found that very strange, that no one ever followed up with the Navy. As I say, we shot one down in ’88, over the Persian Gulf, and tried to lie our way out of it, but the Russians caught us. We had the evidence. It’s in FBI hands, and when someone gets the courage to demand that they release all the evidence in this case, then we’ll find out the truth but it may be not in our lifetime.
ARONOFF: Jack, Any thoughts on any possible Congressional investigation that still could take place? Is there anyone in the House or the Senate that cares about this issue? What do you think?
CASHILL: Well, I think that John will verify the answer to that is, really, there is a price to pay when you do care. I had been talking to Congressman Curt Weldon, of Pennsylvania, who is one of the few souls brave enough to look at this seriously, and that was—I guess it would have been 2006 or 2008, and this was amazing, what happened to Weldon. Not many people know this story but it’s worth talking about because I talked to him in the summer of whatever year he was, it was either 2006 or 2008, and what they had done, the Clinton shadow government, headed by Sandy Berger, who was orchestrating the campaign, put forward Joe Sestak to run against Weldon in his district—Sestak was an admiral who’d been, actually, sort of thrown out of the Navy for poor command performance—and they ran his campaign. Clinton came into [Weldon’s] district to take him out. Weldon was very popular, had served ten terms. He was going after the Clintons on all manner of intelligence abuses. And then, three or four days before the election, the FBI came in and raided Weldon’s offices. They were greeted by a series of signholders saying ‘Caught Red-Handed.’ These were people from the local Democrats who had been orchestrated in advance. This got huge headlines. Weldon loses, he’s out, Sestak is in. Sestak, in fact, even ran for U.S. Senate last year, and that was kind of controversial because he was more ambitious than the Obamas wanted him to be. But that’s what happens. I hate to say it—I mean, [former Rep. James] Traficant may have his—I don’t know what he was up to otherwise, but the fact that he was also taken out when he started investigating this, was sent to prison for some sort of charges, but I suspect if you look hard you could send every Congressman to prison on something.
But, yeah, it’s a dangerous game for anyone who wants—any political figure—who wants to get involved now, fifteen years out. I hate to say it, but they’ve gotten away with It. They’ve won. I don’t know right now what could happen, except—you know, my serious greatest hope is that Jim Kallstrom—who’s got to be a tortured soul after all these years, because he was not a bad guy, he’s a former marine, he didn’t want to do what he did, and the first five weeks of the investigation he ran it seriously and he talked to all those family members and he held a lot of hands and hugged a lot of people—this has got to be weighing on his conscience. It’ll take someone like that to come forward and say—probably on his death bed—“Enough. I’ve got to get this off my chest. I’m gonna go meet my maker, I don’t want to go meet him with this massive lie on my soul.” You know? The other person of interest, I think, is Jamie Gorelick. Now, Jamie’s had an interesting career. She was the one who essentially orchestrated the White House’s strategy. And in May of 1997, after this was pretty much safely put to bed, the most plum job in Washington came open. This job would pay $4.2 million a year for the next six years. That was the Vice Chairmanship of Fannie Mae. Of all the people in Washington—where you would think that having mortgage experience or financial experience would be critical, but no—the Fannie Mae board chose Jamie Gorelick to take that job. She would make, according to The New York Times, $25.1 million over the next six years. Then she would leave that post to be one of the five Democrats appointed to the 9/11 Commission. I’m convinced her job was to keep TWA Flight 800 off the table, and I think that by keeping that off the table from 1996 to 2001 we invited September 11th. I think, whatever happened on that night, by our failure to be able to talk about aviation terrorism, we left the door open for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his buddies to move right in.
ARONOFF: Let me follow up on that with a couple things. Yes, I produced a documentary for AIM called TWA 800: The Search for the Truth, and in that we show there was a Congressional hearing that was basically—and the person who went before that committee, and we show it in the documentary, was Hank Hughes, who is the—
ARONOFF: —for the NTSB, he was in charge of the sort of reconstruction or re-putting-back-together all the debris, making it to look like an actual plane so that they could investigate at that Calverton hangar. He talked about—very specifically—he came in and he found where they were destroying and tampering with evidence, hammering on panels to make it look, instead of the fact that something had struck from the outside and knocked it in, like that hadn’t happened. They took out material and just threw it away. He just directly accused the FBI, the FBI agents of doing that. That was, it was in front of [Senator] Chuck Grassley’s committee for the Senate. So that’s one thing. And Kallstrom originally agreed to give us an interview. We had an interview all set. I was there with my correspondent, Reid Collins. We were on Long Island, all set, and just minutes before we were scheduled to have an interview with him, he called me on my cell phone to tell me that he couldn’t do it. He said he had a scheduling conflict, and he never agreed to another time.
CASHILL: And when was that, Roger? When was that interview scheduled?
ARONOFF: That would have been in . . . let’s see . . . that would been 2000.
CASHILL: Yeah. You know, on the fifth anniversary—and this would have been July 17th, 2001—I was scheduled to be on Greta Van Susteren—
CASHILL: —with the head of the NTSB at that time, the Clinton flunky Jim Hall.
CASHILL: As the show approached—and I was doing mine remote, I don’t know where he was—I said, “No, this isn’t gonna happen.” Someone said, ‘Are you worried?” and I said, “No, I’m not nervous, because the show will be canceled.” They said, “Why?” I said, “Because they can’t allow me on with Hall. I can—in two or three questions I could dismantle this whole investigation, this whole cover-up. Two or three critical questions: ‘What’d you do with the 750 eyewitnesses?’ ‘Why’d you suppress that?’ ‘What about the radar data?’” Just a few key questions. And, of course, an hour before show time, I got the call—no, you can’t come on—and instead of having anyone else on with Hall, they had Hall on by himself. Greta van Susteren lobbed him a few softballs, and that was the end of the show.
CLARKE: I remember that, Jack. I remember telling someone that you wouldn’t be on.
CLARKE: Lo and behold, I was right. I also wanted to add—we’re talking about the keepers of the evidence, Valerie Caproni is currently serving as general counsel, FBI.
CASHILL: Scary thought.
CLARKE: She was the prosecutor who prosecuted James and Elizabeth Sanders in the Southern District of New York for those criminal violations that we talked about. I had the pleasure of representing James and Elizabeth in a civil rights case that we filed, along with co-counsel Mark Lane, that ultimately was thrown out in New York. The venue was transferred from Washington, D.C. to New York. But Valerie Caproni—if I wanted to keep the lid on this, I think I’d put somebody in the FBI who would know, if some of the evidence started to come forward, to put the kibosh on it—and that’s exactly what they did.
CASHILL: Yeah. She was the one also—by the way, John—as you know, who was responsible for removing the NTSB from the investigation and inserting the FBI, which was patently against the law.
CLARKE: Right, they were playing a jurisdictional “Hide the Ball.”
CLARKE: They couldn’t—they didn’t declare it a crime scene, so they couldn’t exercise jurisdiction as the FBI, but they did it anyway—
CLARKE: —even though they didn’t have what’s called “primary jurisdiction.” Also, I wanted to mention that all Hank Hughes testimony, which Roger was nice enough to mention there, is at Ray’s website. Virtually all the video tapes of the various witnesses are on Ray’s website.
ARONOFF: Tell people how they can find that website again.
CLARKE: “Impossible zoom climb.” Just Google it. It’s really a quite well-done website.
ARONOFF: So, it’s not impossiblezoomclimb.com, but they should put “impossible zoom climb” in Google and then it’ll come right up, huh?
CLARKE: Right. It’ll be right at the top of the page.
CASHILL: The other possible way to get—hit the surface is to find a serious mainstream journalist whose willing to take it on—
CLARKE: Well, Jack, there have been a few, but they can’t get past their editors.
CLARKE: I think that if even James Kallstrom were to come forward, they wouldn’t give him a voice. Or they’d say he’s gone crazy, or—
CASHILL: “He’s gone crazy!” or something. Right.
CASHILL: “He’s a birther!” or, you know—[laughs.]
CLARKE: Yeah. Yeah, something.
CASHILL: You know, I will say I spoke, a few months ago, about my book Deconstructing Obama to a group of FBI agents, mostly retired, but some active, here in Kansas City. I was surprised how little they knew, how compartmentalized their knowledge was. And I talked about—you know, I was also surprised at how anti-Obama they were—openly. I thought they might be a little sympathetic. So I said, “You know, I was supposed to talk about my book, [but] I have some questions for you guys. I’d like to talk about TWA Flight 800. Who can help me out here?” Of the group of about 30 people, several of them active, only one of them was hostile, and I had enough information to make him begin to question his own resistance. But the others, their information—and they weren’t being coy, it’s just that their knowledge bases were so compartmentalized that they had no idea. Some of them didn’t remember the crash. I mean, I had to explain what it was and when it was.
CASHILL: That’s part of how they succeeded in Long Island. Each individual agent had such a narrow focus that they really didn’t know they weren’t seeing the whole big picture.
ARONOFF: There is a good story of a mainstream journalist who did attempt to tackle this story—and actually I reached out to her to be on this show today, but the E-mail I had for her was no longer good, I tried reaching her through Facebook and didn’t hear from her—that’s Kristina Borjesson—
ARONOFF: —who was a producer for CBS at the time. She was assigned a story, didn’t think much of it, and she went out and started investigating. All of a sudden, within a week, she had come to believe it was a missile or some explosive device that brought the plane down, and she kept pressing for that story to be aired. “At least air what we’ve got here!” They refused to do it, and ended up firing her, which led her to edit a book called Into the Buzzsaw, in which she wrote about a 50-page essay or chapter that described her experience and really changed her dramatically. Anyway, it’s quite a, quite a story. So that’s an example of what happened. Mike, do you have any other comments or thoughts here?
LARKIN: I was just going to add a little tidbit about Jamie Gorelick, who served under Janet Reno: She actually built the wall between the FBI and the CIA between 1996 and 2001. Our FBI agent in Phoenix reported to Washington that there were Arabian, Saudi Arabian, students going to flight training at Embry-Riddle there who did not want to learn how to take off or land a large jet liner. They just wanted to know how to fly it once it was the air. This raised some suspicions, so it was reported to Washington, and never followed up on. These nineteen saboteurs on 9/11 were trained, by Embry-Riddle in Phoenix, how to fly a big jet airliner once it’s in the air. So that just shows you how incredibly incompetent our FBI is, and our Department of Justice—and, as Jack said, compartmentalized, where nobody sees what the right hand is doing. So if nothing else indicts them, that certainly should—and should indict her, but, as Jack said, she’s been rewarded with several very cushy positions, and was very instrumental in the Fannie Mae fiasco and the crash of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, she and—
CASHILL: Yeah. She’s got disaster written all over. The last time I read about her she was working for BP and the whole oil thing. I mean, if you put Jamie Gorelick—if you’re having a picnic or something, don’t invite her! It’s like a tornado hit her! By the way, I’ve read Mike’s poetry. He’s an excellent poet and that book is very good. Mike, what’s the name of that again?
LARKIN: Because I Fly. It’s not my book—it’s a book by Helmut Reda, a colonel in the Air Force—
CASHILL: Right, but several of your poems are in there, and—
LARKIN: —if you want to see that book, it’s called Because I Fly, from McGraw-Hill.
LARKIN: It can be found on online at New Issues, I believe. It’s out of publication, but it can be found online at the online bookstore—Amazon. You go to amazon.com, or just Google “Because I Fly.” It’ll come up with Helmut Reda’s picture and a picture of the book. He did an excellent job on this book. I think anyone in aviation would really appreciate it.
CASHILL: I will say, too—and, Roger, you know this—I discovered this in spades with my new book, Deconstructing Obama, in which my thesis is that Bill Ayers is the primary craftsman of Dreams from My Father, which I proved about ten times over, it’s not even worth arguing about. What I did find is what I found with TWA Flight 800—and this is a real flaw in the way the media work today, and no one quite understands it unless you’ve butted your heads against it—that the respectable conservative media—that is, their Beltway friends at the National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, Washington Times, Wall Street Journal—when it comes to actual reporting, are worse than useless. I mean, they don’t want to—what, are they afraid they’re not going to get invited to Georgetown cocktail parties? I don’t know. But they won’t touch this stuff.
CLARKE: You know, Jack, I was just thinking, when people say, “You know this happened such a long time ago, why should you care now?” Well, in 1996, the news media was better off than it is now. I mean, all the students of the news media tell us that there are less and less major corporations owning these outlets, and so since things have gotten much, much worse. In 1996, if they could cover up, what I think pretty clearly are 230 homicides, even if it was an accident—it would be reckless disregard of the safety of others if it was a military exercise in the most heavily trafficked air spaces in the world, that would be homicide—if you could cover that up, resulting in 230 deaths seen by 600 people, when the news media was better off than it is now, I think that sort of drives the point home of why this is important now.
CASHILL: It does, and it—
ARONOFF: Listen, we’re going to wrap it up here. I’m going to give each of you a last comment. We’re going to have all of this on our website, we’ll send it out—I know it’ll be picked up, as these articles are, by numerous other websites. This is going to be out there, and people might say, “Oh, this is a bunch of conspiracy theorists sitting around with this, the issue was all looked into years ago.” Let’s go around the horn. I want you to each give your website, if you have one you want people to look at, then your final thoughts and comments on this and what you want people to take from this discussion we’ve had today. Mike, why don’t you start?
LARKIN: I’ll just finish by quoting Lord Acton: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I think we have the most corrupt federal government in history. It’s growing larger every day, and if we don’t wake up soon, it’ll be too late to reverse.
CASHILL: I would say, to those who are interested in the development of this story, go to my website, cashill.com. I think I have a special section for TWA Flight 800 articles. You don’t have to be a technical person to understand the ways behaviors were deformed by this event. I’m not an aviation expert, but what I’ve tracked is how the government responded to a major subject about which they could not talk. What that meant, for five years, from 1996 to 2001—and it’s not just 230 deaths, it’s 230 deaths plus 3,000 deaths.
CLARKE: I would just add, as a closing comment, that this case is not over. It really never will be over. So I would encourage the listeners to see Jack’s website, and, also, go to “The Impossible Zoom Climb” and see some of the videos there, some of the eyewitnesses who saw the missile intersect with the aircraft—and see whether or not you think this is an important matter. I think it is.
ARONOFF: Our documentary you can see—the website is twa800video.net, Anyway, look: This has been great. It’s important that we don’t ever let this story die. It’s important to all of us. We’ve all been deeply involved, and have emotions as well as a lot of time that we’ve put into this. It involves a lot of human lives that were needlessly taken, and I’m grateful to all three of you—Mike Larkin, former TWA pilot; Jack Cashill, journalist, documentary producer; John Clarke, lawyer who’s been involved with this case pretty much non-stop for fifteen years. I want to thank you all for tuning in today—yeah, did you have a final comment there? Did I hear someone?
CASHILL: Well, thank you, Roger. Excellent job. I appreciate your doing this.
ARONOFF: You bet. Thank you, Jack, John, Mike. So this will be up on the website and out there pretty soon. Thank you to you all. We’ll be back soon for another episode of Take AIM. So long!