The Downing of TWA Flight 800: 25 Years Ago Today

By: Roger Aronoff | CCNS

July 17 marks the 25th anniversary of the downing of TWA Flight 800, in which 230 people were killed when the Boeing 747 blew up off the coast of Long Island, New York just 12 minutes into a flight from New York to Paris. Last week in Ashburn, Va., not far from the nation’s capital, the reconstructed fuselage of the plane was set to be scrapped, as if to wipe that memory from the nation’s memory bank.

Earlier this month James Kallstrom died. He was the FBI’s headman in New York, and he led the FBI’s criminal investigation into the explosion that brought the plane down. I was set to meet with Kallstrom, along with my correspondent Reid Collins while working on a documentary on the subject in 2001, but less than an hour before our scheduled meeting, he called me to reschedule, which never came about.

This was a story that I was intimately involved with, having participated in the investigations into the cause of the disaster, and having written and produced a documentary laying out the case at the time for the three leading theories as to what brought the plane down: a naval exercise gone wrong; a terrorist attack on the plane; or a mechanical and electrical failure, which is the official version of what happened.

On July 2nd, 2013, I saw the reconstructed fuselage of TWA Flight 800 at a press briefing put on by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), shortly after the wreckage was brought to the NTSB Academy in Ashburn, about 45 minutes outside of D.C.

At the briefing, the participants didn’t answer any questions that had anything to do with the evidence and theories that the plane was brought down by missiles. Their purpose was to put any so-called conspiracy theories to rest, once and for all.

I asked Joseph Kolly, director of the NTSB Research and Engineering division—who led the briefing—a question about the eyewitnesses. He had referenced the 736 eyewitnesses who saw the explosion, 262 of whom saw something streaking toward the plane. But he failed to mention the 92 of the 262 who saw something rise from the surface or horizon and streak toward the plane. I asked him how he explained those 92 people, a subset of the 262.

The FBI and NTSB have long claimed that what all the eyewitnesses actually saw was burning fuel coming down after the nose blew off, and the fuselage rose by about 3,000 feet, something that most experts, like Ray Lahr, have been able to easily disprove. Kolly told me that they didn’t make a distinction between those 92 and the 262. But after the years I had spent investigating, studying, producing a documentary, and working with other investigators, it was a very powerful and moving experience to finally get to see the wreckage up close and in person.

Ten years ago, when I was the Editor of Accuracy in Media, I wrote a detailed report called “Investigating the Mystery of TWA 800,” including interviews from some of the other investigators and reporters on the story.

And on the 20th anniversary I wrote a column for American Thinker called “Time to Reopen the Investigation,” and it includes the documentary I made called “TWA 800: The Search for the Truth,” which you can watch here:

Jack Cashill, the great investigative reporter, has probably done more than anyone to continue to pursue the truth of what happened that evening. He believes like I do that missiles definitely brought the plane down and a massive cover-up ensued. In his latest story on the subject, also marking the 25th anniversary, Cashill writes, “I can say with 100 percent confidence that missile fire destroyed TWA Flight 800. I can say with 95 percent confidence that the U.S. Navy fired those missiles.”

Twenty-five years later, as I reflect on that day, and how the government and the media conspired to cover up the story and spin an obviously false narrative, it’s clear to see that not much in that regard has really changed. It’s even gotten worse.

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