Accuracy in Media

James Sanders is a well-known journalist. But his latest book about the TWA 800 crash has gotten him into serious trouble. Working with a whistleblower who was part of the investigation into that crash, Sanders obtained a small part of foam rubber from a seat on the plane, and had it tested. The results were consistent with missile fuel exhaust. The results had the effect of undermining the government’s claim that a mysterious fuel tank explosion brought the plane down.

That helps explain why the federal government is prosecuting Sanders. The charge against him is that he asked for and received from an official investigator part of the plane wreckage. This, according to the government, is a serious crime. Sanders told his story at a recent Accuracy in Media conference entitled, “The Corruption Epidemic: Where have all the heroes gone?” Sanders and his wife, Liz, who is also being prosecuted, are two such heroes. Liz, who worked for TWA, has been forced to retire from TWA. Eventually, they hope to win the case, but in the meantime their lives are being torn asunder and the government is trying to financially destroy them.

This sends a message to other journalists – don’t work with whistleblowers and don’t contradict the government storyline. The government also seized, without a warrant, Sander’s computer hard drive, including records of his e-mail messages and faxes.

As a journalist, Sanders had the right to work with that whistleblower and publicize his findings. The courts have long recognized that right. But the government is arguing that it didn’t know he was a journalist. It claims that, in an article in a California paper that labeled him as an author and journalist, he was not clearly identified as a journalist. This would be laughable were it not so serious.

However, it gets worse. Sanders had provided one piece of the foam rubber to CBS News so this news organization could do its own analysis of the red residue that was found on it. The FBI found out and threatened to raid CBS News to confiscate the material. Faced with that threat, this spineless news organization capitulated to the FBI and turned the material over to the government. This independent test could have confirmed Sanders’ analysis that the residue is consistent with missile fuel exhaust. Government officials claimed the residue was only glue but the scientist who did the test said the method they told him to use was not appropriate.

It is becoming increasingly clear to many people that the government hasn’t been telling us the truth about what happened to TWA 800. What’s more, the prosecution of Sanders shows that the government is determined not to let the truth out, and to discourage others from uncovering the real facts. Why would the government want to conceal the fact that a missile or missiles brought the plane down? Either terrorists shot the plane down or it was a friendly fire incident staged by our own military forces. In either case, the Clinton Administration comes out of this looking either vulnerable or incompetent. What cannot be debated is that the government’s cover-up amounts to criminal behavior that tramples on Sanders’ constitutional right to practice journalism and our right to know the truth.

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