Official TWA 800 Findings Challenged
The TWA Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization, FIRO, has taken the unusual step of filing a petition with the National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB, asking for reconsideration of the findings on the probable cause of the crash of TWA Flight 800. Such petitions are entertained only if new evidence has been found or a showing that the NTSB findings were erroneous. FIRO claims that some evidence that the NTSB kept secret and which has now become available for public scrutiny is new evidence that shows that the official findings were erroneous.
Their petition cites as one important example metals of "unknown origin" that were found in the bodies of many of those who died in the crash on July 17, 1996. The FBI asked the Brookhaven National Laboratory to analyze pellets found in the bodies. They contained zirconium and barium, indicative of an incendiary device foreign to a Boeing 747airliner. The NTSB acknowledges that the source of these pellets is unknown and that the FBI did not try to determine the source.
The Suffolk County coroner, Dr. Wetli, found shrapnel in 89 of the bodies he examined. The FBI compiled a secret eight-page list describing the metal found in each of the bodies. FIRO has sued under FOIA to obtain this list. The court ordered the FBI to release it, but they are trying to get that reversed on privacy grounds, claiming it invades the privacy of the dead. That is a spurious argument because the dead have no privacy rights, but FIRO is not arguing that point. It says it is not interested in the names of those in whose bodies the shrapnel was found. What it wants is its description of the metal found in each of those bodies. It is believed that a lot of it will be pellets.
Retired Brigadier General Benton Partin, who helped design missiles for the Air Force, has said that the Brookhaven Laboratory’s analysis of the composition of the mysterious pellets suggests to him that they came from a missile. The FBI and NTSB never showed Gen. Partin or any other missile experts the Brookhaven analysis. They were content to list the shrapnel as coming from an unknown source. Their throwing a secrecy blanket over this evidence and their failure to determine its source indicates that they knew that sourcing it accurately would undermine their claim that a spontaneous fuel-tank explosion caused the crash.
The penchant of the FBI and NTSB for hiding, altering and finally destroying TWA Flight 800 evidence is very revealing. Last summer the NTSB, headed by a Bush appointee, secretly sold all the TWA 800 wreckage that had been kept at the Calverton hangar as scrap metal to be recycled. The buyer had to promise to keep it secret to get the contract.
The NTSB claims that the reason the buyer was asked not to tell anyone was to keep away scavengers and souvenir hunters. Why should the NTSB care about that once it was no longer their property? We believe they were determined to make sure it was all recycled so that none of it could be used as evidence to challenge their finding of the cause of the crash.
Reed Irvine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org