It’s hard to believe that this week will mark the 20th anniversary of the downing of TWA Flight 800. I remember it vividly; returning home from some family event or other and flipping on the television to catch the news and being confronted by the images of burning wreckage of a passenger jet that had crashed into the Atlantic soon after takeoff. Dialing in CNN, (Fox News had launched just a few months prior and MSNBC was literally only 2 days into its 24 hours news schedule, so CNN was the go to choice for news) I was confronted with a pretty boy anchor absurdly asking a member of one of the search and rescue agencies on the scene if darkness was hindering the search and if in the morning, daylight would make things easier?!
From that point forward I was deeply intrigued by the story; the recovery of the shattered pieces of the plane, the nascent investigation and what quickly became clear to me, the larger forces that were at play when it came to getting at the truth of what happened to TWA 800. It didn’t take long for folks with either a level of curiosity or a level of expertise to start to raise questions about the direction of the investigation and the conclusion that fumes in a center fuel tank caused the plane to explode.
Among the list of folks that included James Sanders and Lt. Col. William Donaldson, Ret., was writer, researcher and later filmmaker Jack Cashill. I had the opportunity to interview Cashill a couple of times and he seemed to be coming at this from a similar perspective to mine; the way the government was handling this and telling the story, just did not add up.
Cashill is one of the most reasoned voices when it comes to spelling out what some have dubbed the conspiracy theory of TWA 800 and 20 years on he has collected thousands of documents, interviewed countless eye witnesses, and compiled a thorough timeline of the events following the crash in the form of his new book, TWA 800: The Crash, the Cover-Up, and the Conspiracy.
Cashill clearly details example, after example, after example, of how countless witnesses clearly spelled out what they saw that fateful night, only to be ignored, misrepresented, wrongfully discredited and in a number of cases outright lied about by the people who were tasked to investigate the event. Instead of allowing the folks with the expertise to handle the investigation, the Clinton administration, choose to turn the investigation over to the FBI and even more oddly the CIA. Cashill cites chapter and verse where the lack of knowledge of airline operations and technology resulted in facts being missed, questions being left unasked/answered, and the overall bungling of witness interviews.
He also dismantles the ridiculous animation the CIA tried to pawn off as to what “really happened” to TWA 800. Cashill ties together so much information that points to and raises questions about so many moving parts of this story that clearly point to a desperate Clinton White House flailing to cover up a terrorist attack or military exercise gone bad in an attempt to retain the Presidency.
Cashill writes in great detail about the parade of usual suspects that a part and parcel of so many Clinton scandals. He raises questions about fingerprints of folks like Clinton Lawyer Jamie Gorelick, who erected a so-called “Chinese Wall” between security agencies that would come back to bite us on the ass in the events leading up to 9-11. Cashill properly raise the question how Gorelick later ended up on the 9-11 Commission panel rather than being questioned by it and how with NO level of experience she was handed the plum job (pay off) by Clinton, of running Fannie Mae with a multi-million dollar salary.
Cashill also raises questions about Clinton National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, who was intimately involved in the TWA 800 debacle and who later got in legal hot water for “accidently’ stuffing classified documents into his pants at the national archives, while prepping for the 9-11 Commission. Was he attempting to remove documents that referenced plots to use airplanes to commit terrorist attacks? We will never know, since Berger illegally destroyed classified materials.
While Cashill draws no conclusions in the course of TWA 800, he simply stings together mountains of evidence that paint a wildly different picture of what happened on July 17, 1996 than what the government would have you believe.