Accuracy in Media

When FBI Director Louis Freeh testified before the House Committee on Government Reform in December 1997, he was asked about a charge that Ray Wickman, the former head of the FBI intelligence unit monitoring Chinese operations, had resigned rather than accede to Attorney General Janet Reno’s demand that he give them the names of his sources. Bob Novak had revealed this reason for Wickman’s retirement in his column three weeks earlier. He said that senior FBI officials claimed that “when Ray Wickman decided to resign, he was asked to turn in his sources on the Chinese account, but he declined to do so because he was concerned about their ‘low quality.'”

Novak said that colleagues close to Wickman derided that explanation. They said that Wickman’s sources were “the best in the bureau” and that they were “the most sensitive kept by the FBI.” He said that Reno’s demand for access to these most sensitive files had sent shock waves through the FBI. He added that Janet Reno was being blamed for this and that she was “viewed with fear and loathing throughout the FBI.”

Committee Chairman Dan Burton asked Freeh if he had looked into this and, if so, what could he tell the committee about it. Director Freeh replied that Ray Wickman had never indicated that he was leaving for any other reason than his desire to retire. He had been extended beyond the mandatory retirement age of 57. Freeh said he had been told that there was no truth to the story that Wickman retired because of demands that he reveal his sources to the Justice Department. Chairman Burton asked him to look into the matter further, and Freeh promised to do so.

Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the committee, denounced the column as “another off-the-wall Bob Novak story.” Freeh demurred, saying, “You raised a serious issue. It was a serious issue when it was raised in the article. I asked that people make an inquiry. I haven’t gotten back a written report, but as far as I have been told, he did not leave because he was being forced to turn over files and the notion that he had sources that he took with him. That’s not the way we do business….It’s a serious enough allegation that I will look into it more fully.”

The members of the committee brought up other matters, but as they were about to adjourn, Freeh said his general counsel had given him a note about Ray Wickman. It said that Wickman had been concerned about Justice Department attorneys seeking access to asset files. Those are files that give the names and addresses of informants. Freeh said they are the bureau’s most sensitive files. He said, “I am told that once the Department of Justice attorneys understood that the asset files were not substantive, that was the end of that issue. But let me get some more information, and I will report back to you.” This implies that Wickman retired rather than explain to the Justice Depart-ment that the files it had requested contained highly sensitive names and addresses of informants, not substantive information the informants had provided.

That is highly implausible, and Chairman Burton asked Freeh to do something that implied he wasn’t buying it. Burton asked him to find out if Wickman’s successor had given the Justice Department attorneys any information from those highly sensitive files. Freeh said, “I would be shocked if that is the case, but I have been shocked before. Let me report back to you.” Wickman recently told AIM that he did not know whether or not the asset files had been given to the Justice Department. The committee staff does not know what, if any, additional information Freeh gave the committee.

Was Freeh Lying?

It is hard to believe that the director was telling the truth when he testified that he had been told that Wickman’s retirement had nothing to do with demands that he give the Justice Depart-ment the names and addresses of his secret Chinese sources

Freeh must have known the real reason for Ray Wickman’s retirement, but he didn’t take any action to stop it. At a minimum, he could have informed Reno that what her attorneys were demanding was highly improper and that she should tell them to cease and desist. He should have demanded the names of those who were trying to get Wickman’s sources, together with an explanation of why they wanted them. Better yet, he should have ordered a thorough counterintelligence investigation, and its results should have been made known.

Freeh’s claim that he didn’t know if any of the names of Wickman’s sources had been turned over to the Justice Department attorneys is shocking. Who has been responsible for this entire matter has been hushed up for nearly four years. We have heard a lot about the success of the Chinese in getting highly secret information from Los Alamos about our most advanced nuclear weapons. It appears that there may have been a similar effort on the part of China to get highly secret information out of the FBI via the Justice Department. This cries out for an investigation.

A Spy Spots Spying

On July 12, Bob Novak revisited this matter. He had said in his 1997 column that the primary source of the information he had been given was a high official in the FBI. In his July 12 column he revealed the identity of that official, breaking the rule against revealing confidential sources. He had good reason to do so. That official was Robert P. Hanssen, the FBI counter-intelligence expert who has confessed to spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. Novak says Hanssen seemed genuinely worried about the FBI sharing its most sensitive secrets with the Justice Department. He quotes him as saying, “The purpose of the FBI is to safeguard sources. The whole idea is to keep sources secret from the Justice Department. If Justice is going to have full access to our files, we have no purpose.” Hanssen, the spy, apparently believed someone in Justice was spying for China. He tried to expose it, going to Novak, not Louis Freeh. He told Novak that Freeh had lied when he told a congressman he knew nothing about Wickman’s resignation.

Ray Wickman has steadfastly refused to discuss his case, probably because what he has to say would reflect badly on Louis Freeh and other senior officials at the FBI. He told AIM that he has no idea whether his successor bowed to the demands of the Justice Department lawyers. Freeh professed not to know the answer to that question when Chairman Dan Burton asked it, a dubious claim. Three months after Wickman’s retirement Freeh was saying he still didn’t know how the serious controversy with Justice had been resolved.

This is an important question. With Hanssen confessing having been a spy for the Russians, it is not unthinkable that agents of the Chinese were operating within the FBI and the Justice Department. What valid reason could explain the efforts of Justice Department attorneys to get the names and addres-ses of Ray Wickman’s sources, forcing him into retirement in the process? What could explain Hanssen’s use of Bob Novak to expose it, rather than going through normal channels?

Lee Radek And Robert Mueller

Paul Sperry in an article for WorldNetDaily quotes David Schippers, who prosecuted Clinton before the House Judiciary Committee, as saying that Lee Radek, the chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, was running the department under Janet Reno. He said his investigators had “information that Radek colluded with the White House on the direction of the Chinagate investigation.” Sperry says Schippers told him, “That was the guy we wanted. We wanted him bad. He was the one we planned to bring in, demand documents, and when he didn’t bring them in, we planned to put him in jail until he did.”

If David Schippers is right about Lee Radek running the Justice Department, could Justice Department attorneys have tried to get the China asset files from the FBI without Lee Radek’s knowledge? An investigation would seem to be in order. And why is Lee Radek still chief of the Public Integrity Section? Paul Sperry discloses that Robert S. Mueller, Bush’s nominee to succeed Freeh, has close ties to Lee Radek. Sperry says, “FBI agents frustrated with what they say has been the politicization of not only the bureau, but the entire department, have their doubts about Mueller’s will to clean house.” He points out that it was Mueller, who headed the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in the Bush I administration, who made Radek the chief of the Public Integrity Section. He says Radek, who feared for his job when Gore lost the election, breathed easier when Robert Mueller was nominated for the FBI post.


Jack Cashill, the producer of “Silenced: Flight 800 and the Subversion of Justice,” a new video that shows the evidence that TWA Flight 800 was shot down by missiles, was invited to appear on “The Point,” a show hosted by Greta Van Susteren on CNN, on July 17, the fifth anniversary of the shootdown that took the lives of 230 people. Cashill’s appearance had been arranged the day before. He was to be the only guest. The next day the producer told him that he would be joined by James E. Hall, the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, who cooperated with the FBI in covering up the evidence that the plane had been shot down by missiles

A few hours before the show was scheduled to begin, the producer called Cashill to tell him that Hall had refused to appear with him. Instead of reverting to the original plan to have Cashill on by himself, he was disinvited. Jim Hall was free to reiterate the official line without facing anyone who could show how he had collaborated with the FBI to discredit the hundreds of eyewitnesses who had seen a missile intersect with TWA Flight 800. In a column on WorldNetDaily, Cashill commented, “Someone upstairs told her (the producer) that responsible journalism means I can’t appear on the show without a counterbalance, but it’s okay for Jim Hall to appear by himself.” Bruce Perlmutter, the executive producer of the show, had a lame excuse for that decision. He said it was a legitimate decision because “it was the five-year anniversary of that event, which he (Hall) obviously had a big role in.”

Jim Hall’s Role In The Cover-up

Hall had a big role. Unfortunately it was to help cover up the real cause of the explosion that killed 230 people. Crash investigations are supposed to try to find out what caused the crash, not to cover up or discredit the evidence. That is what the NTSB and the FBI, with help from the CIA, did in the TWA 800 investigation. That is demonstrated in both Cashill’s video, which he produced in conjunction with James Sanders, and in Accuracy in Media’s video, “The Search for the Truth.”

Jim Hall meekly honored demands by the FBI that at its December 1997 public hearing, it (1) not allow any eye-witnesses to testify; (2) not show the CIA video; (3) not release any of the 244 FBI eyewitness reports that had been sent to the CIA for use in preparing their video; and (4) not invite any experts to testify on the reliability of eyewitness testimony.

The Dec. 3, 1997 letter signed by FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom emphasized that the NTSB should not do anything that might “undermine the CIA’s work.” This was a reference to a CIA-produced video that tried to prove that the hundreds of eyewitnesses who reported seeing a missile going toward TWA 800 were all mistaken. Kallstrom, who headed the FBI’s investigation knew that the CIA’s video and the theory on which it was based would be demolished if they were subjected to any expert critical scrutiny.

Documents Prove The 100 Percent Lie

Interviewing Hall on her show, Greta Van Susteren first asked him if he could say with 100 percent certainty that the people who say TWA Flight 800 was shot down are wrong. Hall avoided answering the question, giving a long spiel about the victims, their families and the “four-year exhaustive investigation.” Van Susteren tried again, asking, “Does that mean, Jim, that you are 100 percent certain that the conspiracists (sic) …who say they saw a white light traveling skyward, zigzagging, disappearing, and then an orange ball of fire, can you say with 100 percent certainty that they’re wrong?” Hall responded, “Greta, in my mind, with 100 percent certainty, our investigators, based on the facts that we developed, they are wrong. They are incorrect.”

The alleged proof that they are wrong, is found in an 85-page transcript of a talk given to the NTSB witness group by an unnamed CIA analyst on April 30, 1999. It is Appendix FF to the NTSB report on the TWA 800 crash. [It can be found on the NTSB Web site and on Bill Donaldson’s Web site,] The analyst said they had been trying to figure out what source there could be for the streak of light that 260 eyewitnesses said they had seen. He said that at 10 p.m., Dec. 30, 1996, he got the idea “that you can explain what the eyewitnesses are seeing with only the burning aircraft.”

He claimed this idea came from the FBI reports (called “302s,”) of their interviews of one man, who, he said, “may be one eyewitness” who saw the whole thing. He did not identify that eyewitness, but AIM was able to do so, thanks to two slips made by the FBI. He is Michael Wire, who six days after the crash told the FBI in a phone call what he had seen and then provided greater detail in an interview six days later. An FBI typist had neglected to capitalize the W in Wire’s name one time in one of the 302s. The person responsible for blacking out names before the 302s were made public didn’t recognize “wire” as a proper name and left it in, enabling us to locate him.

CIA Lies About Michael Wire

The FBI 302s say that standing on a drawbridge near Westhampton, Long Island, Michael Wire saw a zigzagging white light going “skyward from the ground” at about a 40-degree angle. He first saw it “just above the rooftop” of a house that blocked his view of the beach. It arched over and headed out to sea on a southeasterly course. He lost sight of it just before he saw an orange fireball falling into the ocean, trailing fire. It disappeared behind a house east of the one where he first saw the white light. He then heard the first and loudest of four explosions. It shook the 70-ton bridge.

This clearly did not fit the CIA analyst’s theory that the white light Wire saw was TWA Flight 800. Wire told the FBI he had seen the white light come “off the beach” and “off the ground,” first appearing just above the rooftop of a house. It was climbing at about a 40-degree angle and zigzagging. That could not have been TWA 800, which was about ten miles out to sea at an altitude of 13,800 feet, ascending gradually. It could not have appeared to Michael Wire as coming from behind a two-story house, zigzagging upward at a 40-degree angle and then going out to sea.

The CIA analyst knew that what Wire told the FBI did not support his theory. He told the witness group that there was a problem with Wire’s first interview, because if what he saw was TWA 800, it had to be higher in the sky when he first saw it. Trusting that none of the members of the witness group would take the trouble to check the FBI 302s, he told them that the CIA had the FBI do another interview and that Wire, whose name he never mentioned, had said that the FBI was mistaken and that what he saw was well above the rooftop when he first spotted it. The analyst didn’t mention the problem of the forty-degree-angle-zigzagging ascent. There are only two FBI reports of interviews with Michael Wire. One says he saw the white light coming “off the beach” and the other says “off the ground.” Both interviews were conducted five months before the CIA analyst dreamed up his theory. Wire says that he was interviewed only twice, that he has never changed his story and that the CIA claim that all that he saw was TWA Flight 800 is nonsense.

CIA Video Based On Lie

Nevertheless, the CIA produced a video based on this fabrication, showing a simulation of what their analyst claimed Wire saw?the plane high in the sky in line with the first house and a fireball falling into the sea in line with a house farther to the east. It shows a simulation of the crippled jet, minus its nose, climbing like a rocket, exploding again, and falling into the ocean. The FBI showed this video when they announced that they were ending their investigation. Portions of it were aired by the TV networks. Not one of them interviewed aeronautics experts who would have told them that the 3000-foot rocket-like climb was impossible. The NTSB had radar data that showed that after the explosion that blew off the plane’s nose, its speed accelerated sharply, showing that instead of climbing it went into a free fall.

One reason Jim Hall would not go on Van Susteren’s show with Cashill is because he didn’t want to be confronted on national television with the proof of the falsity of the government’s claim that every single eyewitness who said they saw a light streaking toward TWA Flight 800 had seen only the plane itself. Hall knows that the CIA video was based on a lie because the proof is in three documents his agency released? Appendix FF to the NTSB report on the TWA 800 crash and the two FBI 302s of eyewitness #571, Michael Wire.

Greta Van Susteren’s reference to those who thought they saw a missile as “conspiracists” was, to say the least, unfortunate. It implies that the hundreds of people who were interviewed by the FBI had met and agreed to tell similar stories. The fact is that very few of them have ever met. They are people who saw a terrible tragedy and thought they had a duty to tell the FBI what they had observed. A 1997 NTSB analysis of 458 eyewitness reports found that 96 of them said they had seen something going up from the surface.

The CIA Fabricates An Explanation

At first, some thought it was a flare and others thought it was fireworks. Others saw it when it was already high in the sky, streaking toward the jumbo jet. They realized that it was a missile when they saw TWA Flight 800 blow up and crash into the ocean. The government didn’t like that explanation. The CIA was apparently asked or ordered to come up with a way of discrediting all the eyewitnesses who said they had seen what appeared to be a missile. Unable to find a valid way of doing so, a CIA analyst came up with a scenario that ignored the descriptions given by Michael Wire and other eyewitnesses. Moreover, it defied the principles of aeronautics and ignored the radar data that showed that the plane did not climb after its nose was blown off by a high velocity explosion.

It is a shame that CNN decided that Jack Cashill should not be allowed to confront Hall with the proof that the government’s rejection of the eyewitness evidence was based on a Big Lie that originated in the CIA and was accepted by the FBI and the NTSB. All three were in possession of the evidence that proves that it was based on a fabrication. CNN’s substitution of Hall for Cashill in the name of “responsible journalism” was a disgraceful disservice to its audience. Hall has been concealing the truth about TWA Flight 800 for five years. It is time the television news divisions and the print media focused on those who have studied the evidence and exposed the lies our government has told to conceal the truth that the plane was shot down by missiles.

CNN May Right Its Wrong

CNN’s disgraceful treatment of Cashill was reported on the Internet by WorldNetDaily, which is marketing the Cashill-Sanders video, and AIM brought the matter to the attention of Philip Kent, the president of the CNN News Group. We wanted an explanation of why Cashill was disinvited. Kent promised that we would get an answer from Rick Davis, the vice president in charge of program standards, within an hour. Thirty hours later we had still not heard from Mr. Davis. A public relations staffer eventually told us that Hall was thought to be the best person to have on the program because he had been in charge of the investigation. She couldn’t explain why it was better to air one of the architects of the cover-up instead of an investigator who had evidence proving that there was a cover-up that the establishment media, including CNN, had never reported She said they were considering doing another program to present the other side. Van Susteren’s executive producer, Bruce Perlmutter, later called and confirmed that this was being considered. A week later, Perlmutter informed us that this program would air on Aug. 2 and that we would like it. In the meantime, we sent out a column about the cover-up and CNN’s unfair treatment of Cashill. Copies went to a number of well-known journalists, but we have seen no criticism of CNN’s treatment of Cashill except on the Internet

“Reliable Sources” Takes A Pass

We called the matter to the attention of Howard Kurtz, the media reporter for the Washington Post and host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” a weekly program that critiques the media. Kurtz promised to look into it, but not a word about it was said on his next program, which was mainly devoted to a discussion with Bob Woodward of the Post about the late Katharine Graham’s support of his and Bernstein’s investigation of Watergate, a cover-up the Post helped expose.

Bernard Kalb, Kurtz’s co-host commented that investigative reporting seems to have become an endangered species. He asked Woodward if the “journalism of Watergate” had “evaporated.” Woodward replied, “No, there is a lot of serious investigative reporting, particularly in the Washington Post. They’ve won two Pulitzers on major investigations about the city in recent years. I think it lives on.”

Howard Kurtz, who knew that CNN had just canceled an invitation to a guest who was to discuss the investigative reporting that exposes the lies of the NTSB, the FBI and the CIA about the TWA Flight 800 crash, said nothing. Nor did he mention it in his next column in the Post. Bringing it up might have been taken as criticism of both his employers, neither of which has lifted a finger to do for the two greatest scandals of the Clinton administration–the cover-ups of the cause of the crash of TWA Flight 800 and the murder of Vincent Foster?what the Washington Post did for Watergate.

What You Can Do

Send the enclosed cards or your own cards or letters to Bill Keller, Managing Editor of the New York Times, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Philip I. Kent, President, CNN News Group.

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