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.
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.