Accuracy in Media

The ads run by the TWA 800 Eyewitness Alliance in the Washington Times stimulated many phone calls and letters from people all over the country. Callers were grateful to the eyewitnesses for speaking out and stunned by their story. One said, “I think that was such an incredible story that I’m amazed that there isn’t a federal grand jury being called right now.” Many talk radio shows wanted to discuss the topic.

Several calls responded to the request in the ad for information that would reveal why the government tried to discredit the eyewitnesses and cover-up the cause of the crash. Some of the calls were very interesting. An unidentified NTSB employee said that most of the bad decisions about the eyewitnesses were made by Dr. Bernard Loeb, the chief of accident investigation for the NTSB. He said, “The investigation would not have gotten to this point if it had been done fairly and objectively, but it seems that Dr. Loeb decided to make the decisions for everybody.”

Many NTSB and FBI employees know that the investigation was not conducted properly. The fact that only one has had the courage to say so anonymously and only in general terms shows how wrong it is to say that a cover-up would be impossible because someone in the know would talk.

Lt. CDR Thomas Strothers, USN/Ret., both called and wrote to tell what he knew. It had nothing to do with wrongdoing by the Navy. It showed that within a few weeks after the accident, a strike against a terrorist training camp in Sudan was under consideration as retaliation for the shootdown of TWA 800 by terrorists using Stinger missiles. He said that in the last week of August 2000, he was told that the joint Navy-Marine spotter unit he commanded was to be sent to Sudan to support an attack by an F-14 squadron on the camp where the terrorists were trained. He says this information came from the commander of the F-14 squadron, but the orders never came through. That could be because the information on which the plan was based may have been no better than the information that led to our destroying an aspirin plant in Sudan in 1998 in retaliation for the bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Two calls came from individuals who had information about U.S. Navy personnel who had allegedly claimed that they had knowledge of the missiles being launched from ships on which they were serving. One who left no name or number said that one of his friends had received a letter from her son, who was in the navy, saying that the ship on which he was serving had fired an unarmed missile at the plane expecting it to fall short of the target, but it hit it. It sounds highly implausible, but it can’t be checked because he left no name or phone number. He suggested getting the satellite records.

A similar call involved a caller’s mother, who had told him that the son of one of her friends knew a sailor who was on the ship that fired the missile. The caller said this was being spread by the women in his mother’s circle. They were visited by government agents who warned them that they could face criminal charges if they didn’t keep their mouths shut. The sailor was allegedly sent to a mental institution. The caller agreed to ask his mother for names. When he did so, he said she was very angry and frightened, crying, “Do you want to send your mother to jail?” If nothing else, this shows how easily people can be silenced.

One of the radio interviews that resulted from the ad was heard by Cong. John J. Duncan, Jr., chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee. He invited Reed Irvine to his office to discuss it. Duncan has his doubts about the NTSB/FBI investigation, but he doesn’t believe the leadership in Congress would support an investigation by his subcommittee. An Aviation Week Internet poll found that 66% of those who responded did not believe the NTSB finding of the cause of the crash was correct, but the Republican leadership apparently fears they will be criticized by the media if they question the NTSB’s decision!

The Machinists & Aerospace Workers International’s representatives in the NTSB investigation objected to the NTSB’s findings, but they were not permitted to discuss the evidence they had found persuasive at the NTSB board meeting in August. A hearing featuring them, the silenced eyewitnesses, NTSB employees who disagree with Dr. Loeb and relatives of the victims who want the truth to be told could not be ridiculed by any serious journalist. Congress should do it. If they refuse to do so, a citizens’ hearing sponsored by these groups will have to be held if the government’s cover-up of the true cause of the crash is to be exposed.


On September 3, “60 Minutes” aired an interview with China’s president, Jiang Zemin, who arrived here the next day to attend the United Nations Millennium Summit and meet with American business leaders. Wanting to polish his image for this trip, Jiang granted a long-standing request by Mike Wallace for an interview with him in China. In 1986, Wallace had interviewed Jiang, then the mayor of Shanghai. A CBS release said Wallace had asked “all the difficult questions, including those about illegal campaign contributions to U.S. candidates.”

That is a huge stretch. The one question Wallace asked about campaign contributions was inspired by Jiang’s response when he was asked what he would like to say to Al Gore and George W. Bush about U.S.-China relations. He responded, “I have a lot of friends among leaders of both parties, Republicans and Democrats.” Wallace fired back, “So you give money to both their campaigns?” Jiang responded, “Are you joking? We have never done such things.” That ended the campaign finance discussion.

Mike Wallace surely knows that large contributions to the Democrats in the 2000 campaign from such donors as Johnny Chung and Charlie Yah Lin Trie were funded by official Chinese entities or individuals with close ties to the Chinese government. China provided a safe harbor for Charlie Trie and Chung when they were being sought for questioning in this country. There have been no allegations that the Chinese government was involved in campaign contributions to the Republican Party. Wallace refrained from spoiling Jiang’s image-polishing appearance by exposing his efforts to help Clinton win reelection. Those efforts are laid out in a new book by Kenneth R. Timmerman titled Selling Out America, The Whole Story of Bill Clinton’s Corrupt Relationship to Communist China. What follows about Johnny Chung and Charlie Trie is based on this book. (It can be ordered on line from

Johnny Chung

Johnny Chung, the California businessman who compared the White House to a subway where you put in money to get through the turnstile, described the source of his donations in testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform in May of last year. He testified that when he was in China in August 2000, he got a call from Liu Chaoying, the daughter of a senior Chinese general. She was managing director of the Hong Kong subsidiary of the China Aerospace Corporation. She arranged for Chung to meet General Ji Shengde, the director of Chinese military intelligence and a close ally of President Jiang. Two days later General Ji confirmed that he would wire $300,000 to Ms. Liu’s account for transfer to Johnny Chung.

Ms. Liu told Chung that China was using him and several other intermediaries to buy influence with the Clinton administration. She said that China wanted to see Clinton reelected and that he could use the $300,000 to help achieve that goal. Justice Department records showed that $300,000 was transferred to Johnny Chung from a Citibank account in Hong Kong on August 14, 2000. Investigators traced the funds to J&A Securities, a big securities trading company in China started by the People’s Liberation Army. Chung was quizzed about his ties to this company and General Ji by Justice Department investigators in 1998.

General Ji sent an emissary named Robert Luu to warn Johnny Chung not to reveal the involvement of the general or China Aerospace in the campaign contribution scheme. Chung negotiated a plea bargain that involved recording his conversations with Luu, who said that if he kept quiet, China would take care of his legal expenses and his family. If he was sent to prison, they would try to get Clinton to pardon him. Gen. Ji has since been arrested, insuring his silence. He can’t tell all he knows, and if he could, the media would not dare report it.

Charlie Trie

Charlie Yah Lin Trie, Little Rock restaurateur and close friend of Bill Clinton, was another big Democratic donor, both to the campaign and to Clinton’s legal defense fund. Aides to Sen. Fred Thompson, who chaired a committee investigating China’s influence buying, claimed to have evidence that in 2000, Trie had received wire transfers of up to a million dollars from the state-owned Bank of China. His gifts to the Democrats helped Trie arrange for Wang Jun, a big Chinese arms merchant, to have tea with President Clinton in the White House. When these illegal contributions were exposed, Charlie Trie took refuge in China to escape being questioned by investigators for Senate and House committees. He hid out there for months, never being made available to American investigators. President Jiang may not have known all about Trie’s gifts, but he certainly knew that sheltering him in China hampered our investigation of China’s influence buying.

The Dictatorship Question

Americans have other reasons to mistrust China. It is a dictatorship that controls nearly 1.3 billion people. It is equipped with nuclear weapons and missiles and has displayed a propensity for causing trouble for the United States and other free world countries. Mike Wallace focused on trying to get Jiang Zemin to admit that he was a dictator, but he had no success. He raised no questions about the evidence that China has been helping other countries, notably Pakistan, develop nuclear weapons and missiles. Nor did he bring up the threat that China poses not only for Taiwan, a thriving democracy which Jiang is determined to take over, but for all the Pacific Rim countries that we are committed to defend.

Wallace introduced Jiang as one of the three “paramount leaders” that China has had in the last 50 years. Jiang’s official title is president. Paramount leader is a euphemism for dictator. Wallace said the previous paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, “chose him to restore civility after the brutality of Tiananmen Square.” Restoring civility meant hunting down and punishing the brave students who had led the Tiananmen Square demonstrations for freedom and democracy.

Jiang tried to portray himself as a champion of democracy and equal treatment for all. He said he had memorized the Gettysburg Address when he was a student, claiming he was very impressed by the phrases “all men are created equal” and “government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” In the complete interview, which was aired by C-SPAN the next day, Wallace asked why the people in China were not trusted to elect their leaders.

Jiang insisted that he too was an elected leader, saying that the system of election was different and that it was the right of each country to have its own individual system of elections. “Of course,” Wallace said, “But I don’t understand still why you have a one-party state. What would happen in China if there were two or three parties? Isn’t it conceivable that the competition between the parties to represent the majority of the people in that country makes for a better country?”

“Why is it necessary to have opposition parties?” the paramount leader asked. “It shows that you don’t understand Chinese history. Americans think the whole world should adopt American values and the American political system. I don’t think that is wise.” Wallace said it wasn’t just America. Multiparty democracy was all over the world. “You are the last major Communist dictatorship in the world,” he said. Jiang, a proponent of Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat who wears the mantle of Mao Zedong, the biggest mass murderer in history, insisted that it was a big mistake to call him a dictator. He asked Wallace to define the word.

Wallace replied, “When you do not have freedom of the press. And there is not freedom of the press here….We see a connection between freedom of the people and freedom of the press. You have said the press should be the mouthpiece of the party. You have also said, as Mao Zedong did, ‘Newspapers must be run by politicians.’ What do you fear from a free press?”

Asserting that individual countries and parties always have their own publications to promote their ideology, Jiang said that China has a multiparty system led by the Communist Party. Citing the number of television stations and the number of newspapers, magazines and books published in China, he claimed this showed that they had freedom of the press. He said, “Even Mao Zedong advocated the policy of allowing 100 different flowers to bloom and 100 different schools of thought to contend.”

The Hundred Flowers Fiasco

If Mike Wallace had been better prepared for this interview, he, rather than Jiang, might have brought up Mao’s short-lived policy of encouraging the Chinese people to speak their minds freely. He used the phrase “allowing a hundred flowers to bloom.” Wallace might have reminded Jiang that in Mao’s “hundred-flowers” speech delivered on Feb. 27, 1957, he said, “The only way to settle…controversial issues among the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, of criticism, of persuasion and education, and not by the method of coercion or repression.” (“Post Revolutionary Writings of Mao Tse-tung and Lin Piao”by K.H. Fan, Anchor Books, 1972, p. 158) References to this speech in scholarly books refer to a version published in June 1957, which was significantly different from the unpublished original version.

Robert Loh, a Shanghai native who returned to China to help the Communist Revolution after graduating from college in America, claims he heard a tape of Mao’s speech in April, two months after it was first delivered. In his book, “Escape From Red China,” Loh says Mao warned that those who did not openly express their criticisms “are not our friends,” and he promised that those who did so would not suffer any retaliation. Neither is found in the June version. Instead, it included a list of limitations on the freedom to criticize the Party and the government, something that would not have encouraged the outpouring of criticism all over the country in April and May.

According to Loh, Mao charged that Party members who decided which ideas were acceptable and which were not “showed a lack of faith in the people and were guilty of grievous wrong because they discouraged….the sort of criticism that alone could keep the Party’s ‘working style’ at top efficiency.” Mao said that “only the people could judge what was best for themselves.”

Loh thought Mao sounded very sincere, but he was already disillusioned with the revolution and was planning to escape to Hong Kong. He resisted the pressure to voice his criticisms because he feared doing so would ruin his chances of escaping. He was right. The outpouring of criticism was overwhelming, and the revised version of the speech which was published in June opened the door for reprisals against all those who had accepted Mao’s invitation to vent their grievances.

This new “anti-rightist” campaign reached its peak in the late summer of 1957 and extended into 1958. It destroyed many lives and careers. In addition to intensified repression, turmoil and disastrous policies, such as the collectivization of agriculture were introduced It has been suggested that the whole thing was a trap set by Mao to get the critics to reveal themselves.

Wallace responded to Jiang’s allusion to Mao’s speech, saying that it was a disaster. Jiang replied, “Yes, but the direction was right. Even today, we still pursue the same direction.” He should have been asked, “Which direction? Liberalization or its abrupt reversal when it produced a torrent of criticism of the Communist Party?”

Dej? Vu At Tiananmen Square

The slaughter at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the crackdown that followed showed that Deng Xiaoping, the author of China’s economic liberalization, was not prepared to accept a degree of political liberalization that could threaten the dictatorship of the Communist Party.

Wallace brought up Tiananmen Square. Jiang said: “You are right that during the disturbances of 1989 some students were chanting slogans against corruption. So on this specific point the Party shares the same position with the students. But the fact is there were some people with ulterior motives who were trying to use the enthusiasm of the students to overthrow the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and overthrow the socialist government. This will never be allowed. So we had to take resolute measures, and had we not done so we would not have the nationwide stability that we have today, a stability that benefits China and the rest of the world.”

The High Cost Of Oppression

Wallace should have challenged Jiang’s claim that political and cultural oppression in China benefits the Chinese people and the outside world. The oppression has cost China the services of many of its best and brightest, people who want more than their daily bread. The 20th century saw too much of dictators whose power to propel their countries into war resulted in bloodletting and international instability on a grand scale.

Jiang told Wallace that statesmen should ascend the highest peaks so they could get the longest view. Mike Wallace didn’t think to ask Jiang about his long view of the future. What does he see down the road for China and its neighboring countries 20 years from now? What are China’s long-term goals?peaceful progress or employing its great weight to humble the one remaining superpower and its allies?

After seizing power in 1949, China’s dictators made many disastrous decisions that resulted in millions of lives lost or ruined and enormously stunted cultural and economic development. They got away with this because they were not accountable to the people they ruled, and neither is Jiang Zemin.

Jiang ended his interview with Wallace by explaining why he had agreed to do it. He said, “I am convinced that this interview will further promote the friendship and the mutual understanding between our two peoples. That is all….I’m convinced of that. I trust America.”

Can America Trust Jiang?

That was the message that Mike Wallace transmitted for Jiang, but he failed to address the question of whether Ameri-ca can trust Jiang or whatever dictator may succeed him. Bill Gertz, the national security correspondent of The Washington Times, wrote about this in his book, “Betrayal,” published last year. He told how two American companies, Loral and Hughes, had helped China overcome problems that it was having with its Long March rocket in 2000, improving its reliability for both satellite launches and carrying nuclear warheads across the Pacific.

Gertz said the Chinese promise to use its nuclear missiles only for retaliation against a nuclear attack was shown to be hollow in 1995, when Gen. Xiong Guangkai, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence of the Chinese army, told Chas. W. Freeman, Jr., a senior official in the departments of state and defense in the Bush administration, that Taiwan was a matter of vital interest to China. He said, “We are ready to sacrifice a million people for Taiwan.” Recalling U.S. threats to use nuclear weapons to end the Korean War, the general said, “You could do that then because you knew we couldn’t retaliate. Now we can. In the end, you care a lot more about Los Angeles than you do about Taipei.” It’s too bad Mike Wallace didn’t discuss that with Jiang Zemin.

In The Washington Times of Sept. 12, Bill Gertz wrote about two reports on China, one by the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the other by Al Santoli, national security aide to Cong. Dana Rohrabacher. The Senate report was about the persistent problem of China’s failure to honor its commitments to the U.S. not to sell nuclear and chemical weapons material and missile parts to Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan.

It discussed 42 cases of China’s sale of items ranging from nuclear components to missile technology to these countries. Senator Fred Thompson, sponsor of an amendment to the permanent normal trading relations with China bill that would impose sanctions on China for these sales, was quoted as saying, “They (the Chinese) are engaging in activities that pose a mortal danger to the welfare of this country.” This is another important subject Mike Wallace overlooked.

The Santoli report warns that China “is showing surprising rapid advances in joint maneuvers between naval, air force, marine infantry, paratroop, armored and missile units.” It is also developing its ability “to initiate electronic and computer attacks on enemy computers and to penetrate and destabilize enemy information systems.” It warns that its tactics call for “paralyzing the high-tech strength of the United States and (its) allies through attacks on military, economic and governmental computer systems.” It said that China experimented with this against Taiwan last year, and Santoli notes that a recent air-raid drill in Shanghai could be preparation for a conflict over Taiwan. The report concludes that all this “poses an immediate threat to Taiwan’s military….and U.S. military forces.”

What You Can Do

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