Accuracy in Media
Weekly Column

The Mystery Ships and TWA Flight 800

By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid
October 26, 1998

The mainstream media seem to have completely lost interest in the unresolved issues surrounding the crash of TWA Flight 800, which resulted in the deaths of 230 passengers and crew on July 17, 1996. President Clinton faces impeachment because he lied under oath. Many people think his perjury should be overlooked because he lied about sex, but most of the media have not been so forgiving. But few journalists know or care that much bigger and more serious lies have been told by U.S. government officials about the cause of the crash of TWA Flight 800. Suspicions that the U.S. Navy was not telling the whole truth about the crash surfaced when David Hendrix, a reporter for the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise, got a tip that military warning zones in the ocean off the coast of Long Island had been declared off-limits earlier that day to mariners and aircraft below certain altitudes because of military exercises that could pose hazards.

Hendrix asked the Navy for confirmation, and he was told that it was not true. But he was able to obtain a copy of the notice to mariners that the Navy had issued. Confronted with that, the Navy declined to comment, but obviously the first denial had been an official lie, the first of many that were to come from government officials involved in this case.

The Navy claimed that it had no ships closer to the site of the crash than the Aegis-missile cruiser Normandy, which it said was 185 miles to the south when the plane crashed. It turned out that the Navy subsequently had to acknowledge that it had some submarines closer to the site than the Normandy. Then it was learned that Dean Seward, a former Naval aviator, reported spotting an Aegis-missile cruiser just off the coast of Long Island only five hours before the TWA 800 crash. If it was the Normandy, it could not have been 185 miles away five hours later even if it had sailed at a steady 30 knots.

The Islip air control tower recorded four surface vessels that were only a few miles from the TWA Flight 800 crash site. One was only three miles away, and when the plane blew up, it sped out to sea doing 30 knots. Three others were closer to the shore. None of the four has been identified. Congressman James Traficant asked the FBI to reveal their identities in a letter last April. On July 27, the FBI sent him a letter saying they knew what three of them were, but they were precluded from revealing their identities for privacy reasons. They said the one that sped out to sea had not been identified, but because of its speed they knew it was at least 25 or 30 feet long, implying that it was a speedboat. They knew that was ridiculous because to be painted by radar at a distance of 29 nautical miles, it had to be over 100 feet tall.

On September 14, I asked James Kallstrom, the retired FBI assistant director who had charge of the TWA 800 investigation for the FBI, about the three vessels the FBI had refused to identify. His tape recorded reply was, "We all know what those were. In fact, I spoke about those publicly. They were Navy vessels that were on classified maneuvers."

"What about the one that went racing out to sea at 30 knots?' I asked. Kallstrom said, "That was a helicopter."

If Mr. Kallstrom knows what he is talking about, he has exposed another lie on the part of the Navy, because this would mean that there were at least three Navy vessels within five or six miles of the crash site. Kallstrom's claim that the fourth, the one that was only three miles from the crash site and fled the scene doing 30 knots, was a helicopter is highly suspect. Thirty knots is fast for a ship but dangerously slow for a helicopter at a low altitude. Kallstrom admitted he had no evidence to support this speculation.

The government's lies are hiding something. This involves the Navy, the FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board and the CIA. The CIA produced an animated video that was supposed to demonstrate that more than a hundred eyewitnesses who saw a missile blow up the plane were mistaken. It said what they really saw was the aircraft break apart when its center fuel tank blew up and then climb 3000 feet, trailing burning fuel as it ascended. The eyewitnesses say this is absurd and the CIA video is a bad cartoon. The CIA didn't interview any of them.

A video made by ARAP, a group of retired military and civilian aviators who are investigating the crash, shows what Paul Angelides, an engineer, saw and charted that night-a missile going up near Long Island and its seven-mile flight out to sea ending in two bright ordnance explosions and one fuel explosion. Angelides says the video shows exactly what he saw and heard. The CIA cartoon was widely televised, but the networks have displayed no interest in showing you a simulation that an authoritative eyewitness says is perfect.

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