Accuracy in Media

Time.com reported on January 27th that a second videotape has been seen by the National Transportation Safety Board that may help solve the mystery of what happened to American Airlines Flight 587. That was the plane that fell out of the air on November 12th shortly after leaving New York’s Kennedy Airport. It crashed into a residential neighborhood of Queens, New York. But as NewsMax.com has pointed out, the revelation that there is a second video actually raises more questions than it answers.

In previous commentaries we’ve pointed out how this case is starting to resemble the downing of TWA Flight 800. In both cases, the official version of what happened doesn’t correspond to what numerous credible eyewitnesses reported seeing. With TWA 800, hundreds of eyewitnesses saw a missile hit the plane. Ninety-six of them told the FBI they saw it rising from the surface. With flight 587, more than a dozen eyewitnesses, including a police lieutenant and a firefighter, said they saw an explosion before the vertical stabilizer and both engines separated from the plane.

The NTSB continues to say they have no evidence of an explosion causing the crash of 587, but they have been sitting on the second traffic surveillance tape that was given to the FBI in mid-November. The New York Daily News reported on November 16th that Tom Kelly, the Transportation Authority spokesman, had confirmed that the agency had given surveillance videos from two locations to the FBI. Both were taken from toll-booths on freeways that run near JFK airport.

The Daily News article said that only one of the cameras, the one that was the greatest distance away from the plane, captured the plane’s breakup. Kelly said he had not viewed the tape, but had handed it over to the FBI, who, he said, passed it on to the NTSB. Time reported that the NTSB, which is responsible for crash investigations, did not see the tape from the camera closest to the plane until late in January. The NTSB source told Time that the second tape showed the plane “flying along normally and intact, and suddenly things start to go very wrong.”

What went wrong is that the plane suddenly went down instead of up. But the NTSB did not cite anything on the video that cast any light on why it went down. The source said the tape doesn’t show the plane hitting the ground, but it does show smoke rising from the scene. The question is, is the video good enough to confirm or refute the eyewitness testimony.

Time said that the first tape was “virtually useless.” That was disputed on November 17 by a Daily News reporter who had seen the footage. His article described a white outline of the jet in steep decline. Seconds later, the outline disappeared, and all that could be seen was a white, undefined patch, which he described as “a puff of white smoke in the sky.” That would be more meaningful if it could be seen on the video when the plane began its fall. The NTSB ruined its credibility with its TWA 800 cover-up. Its handling of Flight 587 is doing nothing to restore it.




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