‘Democracy Now’ focuses on ‘TWA 800′ documentary by Borjesson and Stalcup

Israel/Palestine
Trailer for Shadows of Liberty, directed by Jean-Philippe Tremblay.

Seventeen years ago TWA flight 800 crashed over the Atlantic shortly after takeoff. All 230 on board perished. Within two days the FBI commandeered the investigation into the crash, backed-up by Navy divers. Journalists who questioned the official narrative of “mechanical failure” were taken off the story. But the media did have reason to search for more answers. Witnesses reported seeing a projectile launched from the sea hit the plane, and at the time of the crash, July 1996, the Navy was conducting live-fire training exercises.

It was going to be a big story. The Navy activities should have been examined, and the CIA even made a (laughable) video for network television offering a scenario of the crash that ruled out a missile strike as a possible cause. CBS journalist Kristina Borjesson was investigating the case. At the peak of her inquiry she was given a sample of fabric from the plane that tested positive for materials found in missiles. However, CBS went over Borjesson’s head and gave the sample to the FBI, slashing the only hard evidence available.

Now the case is being reopened at the behest of six investigators who originally looked into the crash. The affair is now regarded as a watershed in government and media collaboration to suppress honest investigation and is the subject of the new documentary Shadows of Liberty.

On Thursday Democracy Now! played excerpts of the film and interviewed Borjesson along with Tom Stalcup, her co-producer in a second film about TWA flight 800, which will premier next month. Shadows of Liberty includes interviews from dozens of activists and journalists, including Mondoweiss’s Phil Weiss who had developed some expertise on the crash by reporting on it for the New York Observer. Check out the segment with Weiss from last week’s broadcast:

                                  Democracy Now on Shadows of Liberty.

Although the plane crash occurred pushing two decades ago, its relevance goes beyond reopening the investigation into the Navy’s culpability. Government intervention into the media couldn’t be timelier. Audiences are required to be their own editors as corporate media bows into a ditch for private and political interest. On this site, we try to present information that doesn’t make the cut into the mainstream. Shadows of Liberty aims to highlight what stories are silenced, what’s missing from public discourse.

Weiss adds:

I’m gratified that Allison chose to write about Kristina Borjesson’s new documentary and its remarkable reception. While the underlying case, TWA 800, is hardly front and center in our work here, the case clearly involved secrecy and government perceptions of national security, and Borjesson is a wonderful tenacious journalist and Tom Stalcup is a tireless investigator. My belief that we were not told the truth about the crash off  Moriches Bay was based on speaking to so many ordinary people who saw some type of rocket trail proceeding toward the doomed plane, later on Tom’s documentary revelations, including radar data establishing that one ship bore steadily away from the crash site at 25 or 30 mph SSE at a time when every boat in the area was going toward the crash site, and the FBI had no explanation for the odd behavior.

It is bracing and inspiring to see so many former investigators now questioning the investigation, thanks to Kristina and Tom’s hard work. I hope that enough time has passed that the government will be more interested in discovering the truth of the matter now.

On a personal note, the case played an important role in my alienation, and Kristina’s, from the mainstream media, which was not really interested in questioning the official version. It’s nice to see leftwing media, Amy Goodman’s show, taking an interest in the case. I chalk this achievement up in part to the courageous Edward Snowden, who has demonstrated that the left and right have a lot to share on national security issues.

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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72 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    June 23, 2013, 1:58 pm

    i’m really glad they’re opening the investigation again, i didn’t know about that.

    phil, exciting to see you in the interview ‘cbs caved like an ice cube in the sun’ (paraphrasing as i recall).

    thanks for the report. me, a always believed it was shot down because so many witnesses saw it. but i never knew why it happened. if it was by mistake or what. it’s a pretty big ‘mistake’ if that’s what it was.

    • lysias
      June 23, 2013, 5:02 pm

      I’m not so sure it was an accident. Wasn’t an El Al plane supposed to take off at the time that TWA 800 did, only to have its takeoff delayed?

  2. just
    June 23, 2013, 2:07 pm

    One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to understand that our government does plenty that is wrong. Thank you Phil, Allison, Amy, Kristina and Tom. We need to know the truth.

  3. Mike_Konrad
    June 23, 2013, 2:56 pm

    This is an odd aspect, but it still must be addressed.

    Claimants were awarded money over wrongful death, because of mechanical failure.

    I think the incident contributed to TWA’s demise.

    If it turns out it was not a mechanical failure, do all the awardees have to return their financial payouts from misappropriated lawsuit awards?

    This is going to get nasty.

  4. justicewillprevail
    June 23, 2013, 4:14 pm

    Perhaps they would also like to disinter the case of the USS Liberty, given the name of the program. About time for a dispassionate, comprehensive investigation.

    • Citizen
      June 23, 2013, 7:31 pm

      I was also thinking of the USS Liberty. The leftover crew won’t be around much longer. Can U imagine being one of those guys, muzzled all these years by their own government, in the interest of a foreign state they knew cared nothing about them?

      • Eva Smagacz
        June 24, 2013, 7:43 am

        I did wonder about CIA involvement in the investigation. Was it because friendly foreign military units/troops were taking part in the live fire Navy exercises that were taking place?

      • Shingo
        June 24, 2013, 8:55 am

        I was thinking of the last time the FBI intimidated witnesses by telling them what they did not see – the Kennedy assassination. And even more disheartening is that all 3 incidents (TWA800, USS Liberty and Kennedy Assassination) took place under a Democratic administration who subsequently covered it up.

  5. American
    June 23, 2013, 4:29 pm

    Glad to see this revisited too. Never seemed conclusive to me. I guess because I read so many witness statements that were adamant about the ‘flash trail’ traveling from the ocean surface “upward” to the plane—not as the FAA tried to claim went from the plane ‘downward’ as something ‘expelled from’ the plane by explosion.

    When ”all” the witnesses describe it the same way there’s about zero chance ”all” of them saw it wrong.

    But the puzzler is who would do it?…..if it had been some terrorist group they most likely would have claimed it as a successful attack against the US, yet none of them did. …the US investigators wouldnt have been able to prevent them from broadcasting their strike on US object to the world.

    • CloakAndDagger
      June 24, 2013, 6:29 am

      But the puzzler is who would do it?

      My memory is a little fuzzy as it was a long time ago, but I seem to recall that there was a Navy drill in progress at that time.

      Funny how there is always a drill on at the same time that an actual event occurs: 9/11, 7/7, Boston, …

      …..if it had been some terrorist group they most likely would have claimed it as a successful attack against the US, yet none of them did.

      Not counting the fake videos of OBL (with no grey hair), there were no claims to having perpetrated 9/11 or 7/7, as I recall.

  6. Denis
    June 23, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Military goofs. The Vincennes shooting down Iran Flt. 655 (1988, 290 dead) was a pretty major “goof,” too. And KAL 007 (1983, 269 dead). And of course the USS Liberty getting shot up.

    Goofs happen, people die, governments lie. Just be glad for the Borjessons, Stalcups, and Weisses doing their best to throw light into these dark corners of history.

    The FBI clown in the movie clip tried to denigrate the NTSB whistle-blowers by saying they waited until they had their pensions before blowing their whistles. No, they came forward now b/c the Internet can provide them enough public exposure to help protect them. Imagine if Snowden had made such revelations in 1980 — no one would ever know who he is except his cell mate.

    The FBI has become Stassi, the CIA has become Mossad. The second to the last line of Hastings’ last Em was:
    “Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.”

    This has to be one of the most frightening things I’ve seen on the Internet since those CCTV shots of Mossad agents slithering around in the Dubai hotel setting up the Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh hit.

    • Shingo
      June 24, 2013, 9:01 am

      The FBI clown in the movie clip tried to denigrate the NTSB whistle-blowers

      What is always amazing is how irrational and incoherent that asshole sounded. There we saw footage of him ordering a reporter to be ejected from a news conference for daring to suggest the Navy was a suspect, and yet he expects the public to believe that he was willing to hear dissenting opinions?

      I hope this documentary haunts him for the rest of his life and that he becomes a public pariah as a result. What a vile, cowardly and pathetic human being.

      • Denis
        June 25, 2013, 1:19 am

        Set you off, too, eh?

        What set me off even more than that FBIdiot was the one who threatened one of the people who witnessed the missile. “You did not see anything.” That is illegal. It is obstruction of justice, essentially subornation of perjury, or even extortion.

        If any FBIdiot said something like that to me, it would set me off like the missile itself and I’d probably end up with a bullet in the brain like Ibragim Todashev, who was killed by the FBI during questioning — shot six times, once in the crown of his head, although he was unarmed.

        The FBI has become Stassi; the CIA Mossad. Americans who are not directly victimized by these spooks are paying them to victimize other Americans. In the end apathetic Americans get the quality of government they deserve and the ones who deserve better get persecuted.

      • Shingo
        June 25, 2013, 6:25 am

        What set me off even more than that FBIdiot was the one who threatened one of the people who witnessed the missile. “You did not see anything.” That is illegal.

        What creeped me out about that was how similar is was to the scene from Oliver Stone’s JFK when an eyewitness was told she did not hear 5 shots but only 3 and that what she heard were echoes…and that she was not to discuss what she saw with anyone.

        If any FBIdiot said something like that to me, it would set me off like the missile itself and I’d probably end up with a bullet in the brain like Ibragim Todashev, who was killed by the FBI during questioning — shot six times, once in the crown of his head, although he was unarmed.

        And no doubt, the FBI would have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

        New documents reveal the FBI has cleared its agents in every single shooting incident dating back two decades.
        link to democracynow.org

      • Sumud
        June 25, 2013, 8:45 am

        What creeped me out about that was how similar is was to the scene from Oliver Stone’s JFK when an eyewitness was told she did not hear 5 shots but only 3 and that what she heard were echoes…and that she was not to discuss what she saw with anyone.

        Exactly the same thing was done to the young lady sitting on the fire stairs at the hotel RFK was shot in. She witnessed the famous lady in the polka dot dress (seen earlier with Sirhan Sirhan) fleeing the hotel after RFK was shot saying “we shot him we shot Kennedy” or something like that. Extensive witness badgering – see documentary “RFK Must Die”.

        So many secrets the US Government is hiding. Manning, Snowden, we need more!!!

    • Denis
      June 26, 2013, 8:41 am

      “This has to be one of the most frightening things I’ve seen on the Internet. . .”

      Gotta’ reconsider that line in view of . . .

      Richard Clarke, Clinton’s and Bush II’s top security guy until he was booted for objecting to the Iraq “thing,” has explained that Hastings’ Mercedes could have easily been hacked. He told HuffPo

      “What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,”

      Salon picked up the thread in an article yesterday:
      link to salon.com

  7. lysias
    June 23, 2013, 5:00 pm

    Somebody remind me: why should we believe this lying government’s account of 9/11?

    As for the passage of time, we’re still not being told the truth about the JFK assassination.

    • Citizen
      June 23, 2013, 7:36 pm

      There’s no reason we should believe the government’s account of 9/11. Nor of the USS Liberty. Nor of the JFK assassination. All we have is conspiracy theories because the US government keeps so much classified. Hence: Snowden. And Manning. Those guys are truly the “last of the white Mohicans.” It figures they are being treated like they are.

    • Eva Smagacz
      June 24, 2013, 7:48 am

      lysias, are you saying that there is anybody out there who believes the official account of 9/11? I just divide people into two groups: those who don’t and those who never read official account.
      I mean, I assume you guys do physics at school, right?

    • Shingo
      June 24, 2013, 9:01 am

      Ditto!!!

  8. Hostage
    June 23, 2013, 5:20 pm

    The Democracy Now! report conveys a mistaken view that it’s safe for the investigators to come forward, now that they are retired.

    While that may be the case with regard to investigators for the Flight Attendants or Pilots unions, millions of current government retirees were forced to sign contractual agreements with the government (SF 181, SF181A, & SF312) during their careers in order to do their jobs. Those agreements prohibit them from ever disclosing information that the government has decided to keep classified. Being retired is not a defense or an exception to the applicable provisions of the Executive Orders, Title 18, or Title 50 of the US Code, i.e criminal sanctions can still be applied.

    Here are some links to a couple of the briefing books. Every agency that handled classified material was required to publish one of these during the Reagan and Bush eras:
    link to dtic.mil
    link to wrc.noaa.gov

    Here’s the standard boilerplate about the Background and Purpose of the agreements:

    As an employee of the Department of Defense or one of its contractors, licensees, or grantees who occupies a position which requires access to classified information, you have been the subject of a personnel security investigation. The purpose of this investigation was to determine vour trustworthiness for access to classified information. When the investigation was compieted, your employing or sponsoring department or agency granted you a security clearance based upon a favorable adjudication of the investigation results. By being granted a security clearance, you have met the first of three requirements necessary to have access to classified information.

    The second requirement that you must fulfill is to sign a “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement,” which is now the SF 312. The President established this requirement in a directive that states: “All persons with authorized access to classified information shall be required to sign a nondisclosure agreement as a condition of access.” The SF 312 is a contractual agreement between the U.S. Government and you, a cleared employee, in which you agree never to disclose classified information to an unauthorized person. Its primary purpose is to inform you of (1) the trust that is placed in you by providing you access to classified information; (2) your responsibilities to protect that information from unauthorized disclosure; and (3) the consequences that may result from your failure to meet those responsibilities. Additionally, by establishing the nature of this trust, your responsibilities, and the potential consequences of noncompliance in the context of a contractual agreement, if you violate that trust, the United States will be better able to prevent an unauthorized disclosure or to discipline you for such a disclosure by initiating a civil or administrative action.

    The third and final requirement for access to classified information is the “need-to-know;” . . .

    • Shingo
      June 24, 2013, 9:04 am

      The Democracy Now! report conveys a mistaken view that it’s safe for the investigators to come forward, now that they are retired.

      I agree, though this was in response to the former FBI director’s allegations. Still, even in the absence of those contractual agreements with the government, I wouldn’t put it past any US government to persecute them.

      Look at Snowden – he’s just had his passport revoked. Truly Stalinist.

  9. American
    June 23, 2013, 5:21 pm

    OT but related to the ‘gov’.’
    So far so good, the gov hasnt gotten it’s hands on Snowden yet.

    link to antiwar.com
    REPORT: SNOWDEN HEADED FOR MOSCOW
    Justin Raimondo, June 22, 2013

    The South China Morning Post is reporting:
    “Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong and is due to arrive in Moscow by this evening, the South China Morning Post can confirm.
    “The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, who was last known to be hiding in Hong Kong, took off from city’s airport at 10.55am on Sunday morning was en route to Moscow’s Shermetyevo International Airport. He scheduled to arrive at 5.15pm.
    “The Post was able to confirm that Snowden had been on an Aeroflot SU213 flight and headed to Moscow. Moscow will not be his final destination. Possible final destinations are either Iceland and [sic] Ecuador, according to previous media reports.”
    If true, this means Snowden has successfully evaded the authorities, although he is not quite yet home free. I can hear the howls of rage coming from Washington even as I write this — music to my ears.”

    rt and tweets say Snowden is in Russia now, will fly out to some other destination tomorrow.
    link to rt.com

    • Citizen
      June 23, 2013, 7:40 pm

      Iceland is a very remarkable country, in so many ways. It’s way above most of the world in its moral and ethical conduct. Why is that?

    • Shingo
      June 24, 2013, 9:06 am

      Snowden is apparently on a flight to Ecuador as we speak.

  10. Les
    June 23, 2013, 5:25 pm

    Welcome to our modern world. Thomas Drake, NSA whistleblower, points out that 9/11 would not have happened had the NSA shared the information it had. For its silence the NSA was granted vastly more power to spy on Americans. Most of our politicians call for the jailing of Edward Snowden for espionage, among those very same politicians are the ones calling for Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard who actually did commit espionage.

    • Citizen
      June 23, 2013, 7:41 pm

      Yep. There’s a pattern. If You like Pollard, you don’t like Snowden or Manning. And visa-versa. Why is that?

  11. Blank State
    June 23, 2013, 5:44 pm

    “Seventeen years ago TWA flight 800 crashed over the Atlantic shortly after takeoff. All 230 on board perished. Within two days the FBI commandeered the investigation into the crash, backed-up by Navy divers”

    Actually, the divers were not all Navy. There was also a contractor involved. I met one of the divers, civilian, who worked for the contractors. Long story.

    He said “we will never know the truth”. He also claimed there was a huge amount of cash in the cargo hold that was removed and turned over to the feds.

    • Citizen
      June 23, 2013, 7:42 pm

      Reminds me of all that cash that vanished in Iraq.

    • W.Jones
      June 24, 2013, 7:03 am

      Blank,

      This is the only conspiracy theory for the “Why” that I’ve read anywhere. The story goes that there were large amounts of debt bonds being sent to France where they would be redeemed, thus drastically hurting the US economy.

  12. Elliot
    June 23, 2013, 6:22 pm

    I remember the TWA disaster well. I followed the investigation. The official version took years to release. It was that the was an electric wire running through the gas tank of the plane. It was a hot day and the plane was delayed, so the tank overheated. The gas tank was relatively empty so the space filled with vapor which became volatile in the heat. The electric wire’s insulation was frayed and it released a spark that ignited the vapor.
    This conclusion was delayed for years. I saw a cover-up in the government’s attempt to shield the airline industry from the consequences of these findings.
    I look forward to hearing arguments for the theory that the plane was actually attacked.
    Regarding the lone boat that moved away from the crash, the conclusion you draw is not inevitable. There are any number of other possible reasons why this boat acted the way it did.

    • MRW
      June 23, 2013, 7:54 pm

      Elliott,

      “The gas tank was relatively empty.” ????

      On the contrary, the plane’s tank was gassed up for a transoceanic flight to Paris.

      Without resorting to a google search on my iPad right now, and without access to my drives with archived docs on the issue, I remember an ex-military guy named Bowman who secured a copy of classified Naval manoeuvers in the waters around the crash. There was evidence of anti-missile exercises that were never officially reported, although attested to by eye witnesses.

      • Elliot
        June 24, 2013, 7:13 am

        MRW – this was New York – Paris, considerably shorter range than maximum. So the plane would not have needed to carry a full load of fuel.
        Reasonable, no?

      • Shingo
        June 24, 2013, 9:10 am

        Elliot, the flight time from New York – Paris is nearly 8 hours. Of course they are going to fill the tanks.

      • Elliot
        June 24, 2013, 9:58 am

        Boeing 747’s range: 8350 miles
        New York- Paris: 3462 miles

        Why would TWA800 have hauled the dead weight of a full tank of gas for less than half its full range?

      • Inanna
        June 24, 2013, 10:36 pm

        It’s still considered long-haul Elliot. And not only that, the NTSB requires planes to have a certain amount of fuel left in the tanks on arrival. Those tanks would have been pretty full.

      • Shingo
        June 25, 2013, 2:04 am

        Why would TWA800 have hauled the dead weight of a full tank of gas for less than half its full range?

        For the simple reason that tanks are not half filled for long haul flights.

      • Elliot
        June 25, 2013, 6:29 am

        I honestly don’t know. I’m just following (my own) common sense.
        If you have knowledge that this is not the case, post your source.

      • American
        June 25, 2013, 5:08 pm

        Elliot says:
        June 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

        Boeing 747′s range: 8350 miles
        New York- Paris: 3462 miles

        Why would TWA800 have hauled the dead weight of a full tank of gas for less than half its full range?>>>>

        Because there are no gas stations in the sky you can pull into if you have to alter your flight path or destination or delay landing due to some problem.

      • Elliot
        June 26, 2013, 7:15 am

        More hypothesizing. Still, no informed facts.

      • Hostage
        June 26, 2013, 8:13 am

        More hypothesizing. Still, no informed facts.

        There is no prohibition against flying with an empty tank, so long as the other requirements of the FAA’s Federal Aviation Regulations on fuel supply are satisfied:

        Sec. 121.623 Alternate airport for destination; IFR or over-the-top:
        Supplemental operations.
        (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, each person
        releasing an aircraft for operation under IFR or over-the-top shall list at least one alternate airport for each destination airport in the flight
        release.
        (b) An alternate airport need not be designated for IFR or over-the-top operations where the aircraft carries enough fuel to meet the requirements of Secs. 121.643 [turbo prop] and 121.645 for flights outside the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia over routes without an available alternate airport for a particular airport of destination.

        Sec. 121.645 Fuel supply: Turbine-engine powered airplanes, other than turbo propeller; flag and supplemental operations.
        (a) Any flag operation within the 48 contiguous United States and the
        District of Columbia may use the fuel requirements of Sec. 121.639.
        (b) For any certificate holder conducting flag or supplemental operations outside the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, unless authorized by the Administrator in the operations specifications, no person may release for flight or takeoff a turbine-engine powered airplane (other than a turbo-propeller powered airplane) unless, considering wind and other weather conditions expected, it has enough fuel–
        (1) To fly to and land at the airport to which it is released;
        (2) After that, to fly for a period of 10 percent of the total time
        required to fly from the airport of departure to, and land at, the airport to which it was released;
        (3) After that, to fly to and land at the most distant alternate airport
        specified in the flight release, if an alternate is required; and
        (4) After that, to fly for 30 minutes at holding speed at 1,500 feet above the alternate airport (or the destination airport if no alternate is
        required) under standard temperature conditions.
        (c) No person may release a turbine-engine powered airplane (other than a turbo-propeller airplane) to an airport for which an alternate is not specified under Sec. 121.621(a)(2) or Sec. 121.623(b) unless it has enough fuel, considering wind and other weather conditions expected, to fly to that airport and thereafter to fly for at least two hours at normal cruising fuel consumption.
        link to webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu

      • MRW
        June 26, 2013, 9:58 am

        Elliot,

        FAA regulations state that a plane must take off with enough fuel to reach its destination [climb, cruise, approach and landing...also subject to NOTAM (alerts: NOtice To AirMen)], plus enough to reach its most distant alternate airport, based on conditions, and enough to fly at normal cruising speed for 45 minutes (calculated at the holding burn at 1500 feet). For a 767, that’s around a full tank, which is roughly 24,000 US gal, depending on weather conditions.

        Here’s the long-winded version:
        link to ecfr.gov

        EDIT: it’s 30 minutes now. It was 45 minutes at holding burn in 1996.

      • MRW
        June 26, 2013, 11:33 am

        According to Boeing’s Web site, the 747 burns approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile. So do the math and add the extras.

  13. W.Jones
    June 23, 2013, 6:29 pm

    My main impression after reading the mainstream news, was that there was not a strong conclusion about what happened, and that the media’s official line about an internal combustion seemed possible, but pretty unlikely too, considered that airplanes generally don’t just automatically combust. Besides, there were reports about witnesses seeing a missile, and wasn’t there some issue with passengers or cargo getting on the plan without explanation? (or maybe that was another plane event?)

    So I took it that the official story was most likely the correct one, but I had alot of doubt in my mind too. At the same time, there didn’t seem to be a strong explanation for why someone would want to attack the plane.

    In any case, I am very glad that this documentary is coming out now, with the investigators coming out, as well as Phil writing on the topic and Democracy Now reporting it.

    • Dutch
      June 23, 2013, 11:30 pm

      @ W. Jones
      “… and wasn’t there some issue with passengers or cargo getting on the plan without explanation?”

      I think this is the incident you were looking for – The El Al plane that crashed after leaving Schiphol Amsterdam Airport.
      link to en.wikipedia.org

      • W.Jones
        June 24, 2013, 5:27 am

        TWA 800 was scheduled to depart JFK for Paris around 19:00, but the flight was delayed until 20:02 by a disabled piece of ground equipment and a passenger/baggage mismatch. After the owner of the baggage in question was confirmed to be on board, the flight crew prepared for departure

        link to en.wikipedia.org
        How would the airport personnel think for over one hour that there was a “passenger/baggage” mismatch?
        Do they mean that there was a bag listed as belonging to someone who did not show up as sitting on the plane until one hour after the plane was scheduled to depart?

      • Elliot
        June 24, 2013, 9:51 pm

        Again, perfectly reasonable. With so many moving pieces, it’s quite possible for this to happen. I’ve been in similar situations. I don’t remember how long it took to resolve but it was considerably longer than a few minutes,

    • Shingo
      June 24, 2013, 9:13 am

      Agree W. Jones.

      If this was a case of internal ignition, then why didn’t Boeing recall all the planes and make the necessary modifications to fix this fault? Why were all Boeing 747-100’s not grounded and all inspected right away for this possible fault?

      • Elliot
        June 24, 2013, 9:56 pm

        The media explanation at the time was that it was exorbitantly expensive to do so. After doing the math of cost vs. risk to human life, the US government had to decide what the monetary value of a passenger was. That’s why the report took so long to come out.

      • Shingo
        June 25, 2013, 6:17 am

        The media explanation at the time was that it was exorbitantly expensive to do so.

        When was the last time you heard that as an explanation from a car manufacturer for not fixing a potentially fatal flaw? Even if what you say was true, it would never have been reported. That alone would have been a scandal.

      • Elliot
        June 25, 2013, 11:48 am

        Timing is everything. They kicked the release of the report down the road until a time when it wasn’t dominating the news. Then they buried important information in details. Standard stuff.
        I don’t remember if this analasis made headlines or came out in alternative investigative journalism, or if it was the price tag (I remember that it was in excess of $1b per passenger) or that a commitment was eventually made to do some kind of a fix, or that the likelihood of this happening is rare – that made this slip past the public’s radar.

  14. MRW
    June 23, 2013, 7:04 pm

    I was gripped by this story at the time, having just left Manhattan. I pored over the blackbox numbers in the ‘official’ release versus a copy of the real blackbox data released by investigators at a press conference (Waldorf? Hilton? In midtown, nonetheless) that became available on the net for about 24 hours before going down a dark hole along with the (subsequent destruction of the) reputation of the people who announced the discrepancy.

    I remember Borjesson’s reporting and what CBS did to her and the evidence. It was the first time I became aware of the writing of Phil Weiss in the New York Observer although he had done some pieces about Vince Foster that rang true to me.

    I haven’t watched the Democracy Now! segment. I will do it now.

    I simply wanted to note for those of you too young to remember the TWA800 story, or who were otherwise occupied at the time, Phil Weiss was one of the seminal reporters in that story, in New York City, who pursued and told the fucking truth. Take it to the bank; he’s being modest above. Under more honest times, he and Borjesson would have been awarded Pulitzers.

    The consequence for me was following his work thereafter, from his mondoweiss blog at the Observer, and his subsequent firing by the cocky son of the jailed-in-Jersey NY Observer owner…to here.

    This story is another example of what the dissolute Clinton administration wrought. Rot.

    • W.Jones
      June 24, 2013, 7:06 am

      Oh, what was the blackbox story?

      • MRW
        June 26, 2013, 11:51 am

        The FBI released what it purported to be the final blackbox data, with electrical measurements and the pilots’ voices.

        Then some investigators discovered the FBI lopped off the final 10 or 30 seconds, and produced those final seconds. They held a press conference in midtown with copies of both versions for reporters. Both versions were on the web for about 24 hours. I have both copies somewhere.

        I won’t say more because I’m winging it.

      • W.Jones
        June 27, 2013, 12:47 am

        I’m certainly curious what those seconds said.

  15. Blank State
    June 23, 2013, 7:26 pm

    “Hastings’ last Em was:
    “Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.” ”

    The Hastings thing reeks. I think that he was about to reveal that the feds are, in fact, spying on individuals illegally, rather than simply mass data mining. They killed him, in my opinion.

    The longer Obama is in office the more sinister he and his administration become. I believe we “conspiracy theorists” aren’t really paranoid enough. Its beginning to look like we are far closer to being a fascist state than even our tin-foil hats have allowed us to believe. The “party” thing is a charade. Our politicians ceased having national interests long ago, their aspirations are global, and they well sell the citizens of the United States out in a heartbeat if it increases their power.

    Why, after the last two decades, should we believe anything that comes out of DC, or these complicit traitors in our media that hawk the script?? Mondo doesn’t like any comments about 9/11, but honestly, only an idiot can possibly swallow the swill that the “official explanation” consists of. And the bullshit they fed us running up to the Iraq invasion should convince even the most ardent “patriot” that these DC maggots have no qualms about sacrificing truth for agenda.

  16. Nevada Ned
    June 23, 2013, 11:24 pm

    A while after the TWA 800 tragedy, I spoke with a professor involved (in a minor role) in the inquest. He agreed with the conclusion: that a mixture of jet fuel vapor in the fuel tank of the airplane could have exploded when started by an electrical spark from a wire with frayed insulation. (Jet fuel vapor will only catch fire or explode when the vapor has a certain concentration: if the concentration is too high or too low, jet fuel won’t ignite.) My contact stressed at the time that nobody really knew for sure what happened, and probably nobody would ever know for sure. But the official scenario was plausible, he thought.

    The NTSB ordered electrical wires in or near fuel tanks to be inspected and replaced if necessary.

    Whatever happens in this case (TWA 800) , I hope it won’t reinvigorate the 9/11 “truthers,” because they’re really nutty.

    • Shingo
      June 24, 2013, 9:46 am

      He agreed with the conclusion: that a mixture of jet fuel vapor in the fuel tank of the airplane could have exploded when started by an electrical spark from a wire with frayed insulation.

      It was already explained that none of the wiring within the vicinity of the fuel tanks could possibly have carried a high enough voltage to create such a spark. So regardless of the vapor pressure, or the mixture of jet fuel vapor in the fuel tank, there was no way a spark could have been created to begin with.

      Whatever happens in this case (TWA 800) , I hope it won’t reinvigorate the 9/11 “truthers,” because they’re really nutty

      Physics isn’t nutty. The NIST report, which was supposed to have explained the events of the day, ignored the results of their own experiments.

    • Tom Suarez
      June 24, 2013, 10:21 am

      Many “9-11″ Truthers are indeed nutty. The government’s own conspiracy explanation is even nuttier. Then there’s the rest of us, who simply want to know what happened … whatever that is, and it is demonstrably not what we’re being told.

      • Shingo
        June 25, 2013, 2:02 am

        Nicely put Tom.

    • Denis
      June 25, 2013, 2:08 am

      Lots of things that never happen are “plausible.” It’s a weasel-word used by lawyers and academics — and, yes, the conspiracy crowd.

      There are multiple technical issues raised in the DN! vid debunking the fuel tank theory.

      One was that the only electrical current to the fuel tanks was low voltage wires required to operate the fuel-level senors. Those wires are varnished and heavily insulated, as one would imagine. And it would take a spark of over 1000 v. to ignite the gas inside the tank. Wing tanks are built to contain vapors.

      Second, damage to the fuselage indicated an external explosion according to the NTSB w-blowers. Looking at pics of the reconstructed fuselage, what you don’t see is the whole tail end of the plane is gone. Why would the tail end disappear when the wing tank exploded? The tail end of commercial airliners are famous for being the most structurally sound part of the plane, and the one you want to be sitting in if a plane goes down. Heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles hit the rear of aircraft where the exhaust is. 2 + 2 = 4.

      Third, there was radar evidence of debris being ejected laterally out of the side of the fuselage, which is entirely inconsistent with a center wing fuel tank explosion but totally consistent with a missile moving at Mach4 hitting the plane.

      Fourth, there is the testimony of witnesses of nitrates detected on some of the debris, which could only come from explosives.

      All in all, I don’t know how reliable or smart your professor friend is, but the loose wire theory sounds pretty far-fetched to me — plausible, yes; likely, no.

      What seems to me to be the most “plausible” explanation going is that this was a Navy f-u and Clinton covered it up — not that Bill or the FBI would ever lie, mind you.

      I look forward to seeing the documentaries.

  17. Hostage
    June 24, 2013, 6:07 am

    I can’t help commenting about the great job the editors did in juxtaposing the litany of eyewitness statements about the bright light they all saw shooting up into the sky and the conclusion of the government report that there was no such evidence. It’s too bad Directv doesn’t offer Epix, I’d love to see the whole thing without having to wait for it to get picked-up by Netfix, Amazon, or Hulu.

    • Elliot
      June 24, 2013, 10:02 pm

      At the time, those eyewitness reports did not seem convincing to me. I suppose I would feel differently if I knew any of the eyewitnesses personally. For instance, if I knew an eyewitness who was not predisposed to conspiracy theories and could describe in details a plausible connection between the flash of light and the plane, an so on, so I’m not discounting them out of hand.
      My baseline is that eyewitness accounts of traumatic events are notoriously unreliable.

      • Shingo
        June 25, 2013, 1:13 am

        At the time, those eyewitness reports did not seem convincing to me. I suppose I would feel differently if I knew any of the eyewitnesses personally.

        That’s an understandable and predictable response, but when you

        My baseline is that eyewitness accounts of traumatic events are notoriously unreliable.

        Based on what examples? I would agree if you were basing that argument on one eyewitness account, but if you include multiple eyewitness accounts, then it suggests you are prone to denial.

      • Elliot
        June 25, 2013, 8:04 am

        Shingo – that’s silly. not prone, just aware. Unless you have evidence to show otherwise.
        That more than one person comes in with a similar report is well known to be unreliable.
        Lots of people claim to have seen all manner of remarkable events. You have some unusual phenomenona, at about the time of an unresolved mystery. Add trauma and predisposition to a particular belief and all sorts of memories and naratives get created.
        How d’you think religions get started?
        Again, I look forward to learning more from credible folks such as Phil who have spent time studying the case. My point here is that the eyewitness reports a not sufficient.

      • Shingo
        June 25, 2013, 9:18 am

        That more than one person comes in with a similar report is well known to be unreliable.

        Really? So based on that astounding logic, Usain Bolt didn’t win the 100m sprint in London because 1 billion people watched it.

        Add trauma and predisposition to a particular belief and all sorts of memories and naratives get created.

        What trauma? Most of the eye witnesses said they though the missile was a flair or a firework.

        My point here is that the eyewitness reports a not sufficient.

        Not sufficient on it’s own, but it is by far the most relevant. It was your kind of backward logic that was used to dismiss all the eye witnesses, including those who were actually shot at, in the case of the USS Liberty cover up.

      • Elliot
        June 26, 2013, 5:24 pm

        Shingo: “what trauma?”
        The loss of TWA800 was pretty traumatic. We’re still talk about it now.
        And regarding the USS Liberty, let’s make an agreement: I will not insinuate that you are a conspiracy freak if you will, from now on, refrain from implying I’m in denial of anything that’s not official.

      • Shingo
        June 26, 2013, 6:55 pm

        The loss of TWA800 was pretty traumatic.

        For some yes, but those witnessing the missile striking the plane would have only been aware of the trauma after the fact.

        And regarding the USS Liberty, let’s make an agreement:

        What agreement is that? The one that says the official version and only the official versionof he story is the legitimate one, in spite of all the heads of the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, and Joint Chief’s of Staff saying it’s bullshit?

      • Hostage
        June 25, 2013, 5:32 am

        At the time, those eyewitness reports did not seem convincing to me. I suppose I would feel differently if I knew any of the eyewitnesses personally. For instance, if I knew an eyewitness who was not predisposed to conspiracy theories and could describe in details a plausible connection between the flash of light and the plane, an so on, so I’m not discounting them out of hand.

        I’m more concerned with so-called crash investigations that don’t follow the evidence and facts where they actually lead, because it might point to a crime, conspiracy, or a blunder by the military. For instance, if a piece of the wing had a false positive test for traces of explosives, how many subsequent negative tests were performed on that same piece of evidence in order to rule out the use of explosives?

  18. Qualtrough
    June 24, 2013, 6:49 am

    On 3 Mar 2001, a Thai 737-400 exploded on the tarmac. Interestingly, the Thai Prime Minister at the time was to board that flight during the next 30 minutes. Popular with the masses, he was and is hated by the elites that run the country, so much so that he was deposed in a coup a few years later and then convicted of a relatively minor crime to keep him away. His sister is PM now and quite popular, but hated by the same crowd, who feel, with some justification, that she is a proxy for her brother. Back to the explosion, initial reports said that traces of an explosive were found, and it was strongly suspected that this was an assassination attempt, but later it was found that it was a center tank explosion like the one on TWA Flight 800 and another airplane in the Philippines. Any investigation by Thai authorities would have to be taken with a very large grain of salt, there would have been no such thing as an impartial investigation dedicated solely to finding the truth. I find it interesting that in this case too traces of explosive were found and then one day ‘not found’. The wreck sat at the gate for some time, I passed in once with my family on the way to board our plane, always a reassuring sight, not! BTW, if I recall correctly, it was relatively intact, burnt in the center. A steward was on the plane at the time and died in the fire.

  19. Talkback
    June 26, 2013, 8:37 am

    It’s more interesting what Democracy Now doesn’t focus upon.

  20. irishmoses
    June 26, 2013, 2:59 pm

    I listened to the Terry Gross Fresh Air segment on this. Just one side was presented. It sounded compelling but good lawyers can always make their client’s case seem compelling. So, I’ll withhold judgment until we get some responses from the folks that signed off on the original report. If the appeal to NTSB is granted, so much the better. If it is denied I’ll want to see the reasons given by NTSB for the denial. Then I’ll be able to better measure the conflicting claims.

    One comment I recall from the program was that the center fuel tank (?) that exploded had only an inch or a few inches of fuel in it as it was used during takeoff. That means it would have been “filled” with jet fuel vapor, a necessary ingredient for such an explosion. That is not to say it actually exploded, only that it apparently was not full.

    Weight is a critical factor in aircraft fuel consumption. Carrying extra fuel beyond the legal safe minimums costs money. So, if the flight required only a 70 percent fuel load for that flight, that would be roughly what would have been carried. I don’t know what it carried, but I do know it wouldn’t have been tanked up merely because it was a long flight.

    I think Elliot offered some measured comments that expressed some reasonable concerns about some of the statements made. For instance as an ex-cop and an attorney, I know personally the inadequacies of eye-witness testimony. More than a few later-found-innocent “murderers” have served long terms or have even been executed based on multiple eye witness testimony from reasonable people who genuinely thought their observations were accurate. The Innocence Project has done a lot to reopen many of these cases. That is not to say that all eye witness testimony is unreliable.

    Finally, I’m wondering why this story and the NTSB appeal happened just a month before the release of the documentary film? It certainly seems more than coincidental, and it certainly will provide the producers with one hell of a lot of free publicity. If I was a hot shot reporter interested in uncovering the truth, I’d want to look into whether any of the key government accident investigators (now retired) who seem to have some involvement have been given an interest in this enterprise. Probably not, but certainly a reasonable area of inquiry.

    I tend to be a sceptic when it comes to conspiracy theories. As some of you will recall, I engaged at great length in long, ponderous discussions and cites to conflicting evidence with some of you about the 9-11 conspiracy. Despite all our brilliant efforts, none of us changed our minds. Fortunately, MW finally intervened to stop those discussions because of their irrelevance to the I-P issue.

    I note will some glee that Phil’s reopening of the TWA Flight 800 issue has allowed my old conspiracy friends to reopen the wide spectrum of conspiracies on this thread, starting with JFK. Way to go Phil!

    Now, before your apoplectic reactions causes you a stroke, I reassure you that I could be convinced that the Flight 800 investigation was flawed, but it would take hard evidence and a thorough look at both side’s arguments to convince me. This discussion has not.

    Gil Maguire

    p.s. I feel honor-bound to reveal that I once worked for an NSA-affiliated military unit, and (more ominously) during the time of JFK’s presidency and mysterious assassination. I would reveal more but I would have to kill some of you if I did.

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