By Jack Cashill
In a comprehensive and otherwise commendable Topeka Capital-Journal article on the TWA Museum in Kansas City, reporter Nigel Duara casually observes, “On July 17, 1996, all 230 people aboard died when faulty wiring led to a fire and the disintegration of TWA Flight 800 over the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, N.Y.”
A Los Angeles Times reporter and a MU J-School alum, Duara visited the museum and spoke with several people there. He did not get the “faulty wiring” line from them. I have spoken to or with literally hundreds of TWA veterans in Kansas City, and I have not met one who signs on to the desperate government theory that a spark of mysterious origin in the center fuel tank destroyed a commercial airliner in mid-air for the first and only time in aviation history.
I have written two books on the subject, most recently TWA 800: The Crash, the Cover-Up, the Conspiracy. in fact, I did my Book-TV presentation at the TWA Museum in September. I began by talking about the 53 TWA employees killed in the crash. There is a memorial at the museum in their honor.
As I told the audience, most of whose members were TWA veterans, “If I were coming here to spread some conspiracy theory, I would be dishonoring their memory and insulting you.” Instead, I talked about what really happened, namely that the plane was destroyed by missile-fire, likely accidental, and that election-year politics inspired the most successful cover-up in peace time history.
A complicit media, particularly the New York Times, made that cover-up possible. Of the 257 official FBI witnesses to a missile attack, the New York Times interviewed exactly none of them. To learn more I would recommend reading the book or watching the Book-TV presentation.
The angriest letters I received after the book debuted in July for the twentieth anniversary were from aviation professionals who worked in and around the fuel tanks. Some samples:
“As an airline pilot I laugh at the notion of a spark igniting an intact center fuel tank. Can’t happen, fuel vapor mixture, especially Jet A-1, is too rich.”
“I personally witnessed this (while working inside a DC 10 right wing fuel tank with perhaps a 100 gallons of residual fuel 7 or 8 feet from the work area) a spark that was generated from striking a steel bolt with a steel punch while inside the tank with fumes. Needless to say nothing happened.”
“No way this was a spark in the center tank . . . convoluted nonsense.”
Before beginning his novel on TWA 800, best selling author Nelson DeMille conferred with retired TWA international captain, Jack Clary. “I don’t know what it was,” Clary told DeMille, “but I know what it wasn’t. It wasn’t a short-circuit spark in the center fuel tank.” As Clary asked rhetorically, “Do you see the FAA requiring any remedial action on the center fuel tank of the 747s?”
The answer was no, not even on Air Force One. There had never been a comparable explosion before and has not been one since. One Boeing engineer, in fact, told me that he and his colleagues thought the spark in the fuel tank theory “laughable.” However laughable, the media bought it, and, as the Capital-Journal article suggests, the media preserve it to this day without even an asterisk.
A few years ago, I was a guest on CNN’s “New Day.” With time running out host Alison Kosik asked why the White House would cover up the cause of the crash.
“This was Bill Clinton’s Benghazi moment,” I answered. “They [the Clintons] just wanted to kick this can down the road until after November, and so it would not affect the outcome of the election.”
CNN edited my answer out of the transcript, and that is how fake news becomes fake history.