TWA 800: The Crash, the Cover-Up, and the Conspiracy by Jack Cashill
The author confides that he did not initially buy into any type of conspiracy--"I never intended to become a conspiracy theorist." Well, you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that there are lots of issues with the official investigation and reviews. Jack Cashill does a creditable job of documenting these problems.
Using much of his prior research, the author documents, in minute detail, the eyewitness accounts that appear to so starkly contradict the official version of the investigation. What is especially troublesome is that there are SEVERAL HUNDRED eyewitness accounts that strongly suggest a missile, not some equipment malfunction, caused the loss off TWA 800.
Furthermore, many of the witnesses are professional--even military personnel. That is, they are NOT pig farmers in the middle of nowhere, looking for publicity. They are not loons, looking for attention. Here is one of the clearest examples:
"Witness 558 was on fire duty for the Air National Guard at Gabreski Airport...He watched the flare ascend for as long as thirty seconds, lost it for a split second, and then observed ‘a large fireball erupt in the sky’ before becoming “a ball of fire which separated into two equally sized balls dropping from the sky with no audible sound.' "
Here's another one--eerily similar: "Witness 221 was sitting on the beach in Fire Island with his wife watching the surf come in. He saw a commercial jet fly by, surely TWA 800, and then 'saw a streak of light travel up from the water into the sky. [He] described the streak of light as though it was like a rocket or shooting star only going upward.' "
Many of the witnesses report very similar accounts. These accounts were brushed aside by the FBI; that agency concluded that they were seeing something AFTER the plane had exploded. (Of course, how can something go UP from the surface if that were the case?)
Making the whole investigation so odd is that the investigators seemed so drawn to blame equipment (fuel tank) problems--even though that possibility could never actually be proven--only inferred: "Its experts spent four years desperately trying to find the cause of the explosion other than the obvious, and the best its expert could conclude was that “the source of the ignition for the explosion could not be determined with certainty."
In a bizarre conclusion the FBI reported at a November 1997 press conference: “No evidence has been found that would indicate that a criminal act was the cause of the tragedy of Flight 800.” I agree with the author that it is absurd to conculde that there is "no evidence." Of course, there is LOTS of evidence, which of course, needs to be interpreted. It's that interpretation of the evidence that invites such criticism.
The eyewitness accounts are the most compelling feature of TWA 800. The author has done a great job of documenting, and questioning what appear to be irrational interpretations of these accounts. He rightly questions why invetigators seemed so rapt with ignoring the missile possibility.
On the other hand, I thought the weakest part of the book is when Mr. Cashill accuses the White House of a huge cover-up: "...the uncorrected wrong began after the plane’s destruction. The Navy could not have—and would not have—concealed its responsibility unless authorized to do so. Nor would the FBI and CIA have intervened on their own initiative. These authorizations could only have come from the White House. This was the rare White House in American history, perhaps the only one, reckless enough to have authorized a cover-up this bold."
In my opinion, the author would have served his cause better by sticking with the facts of the case, and letting readers make up their own mind about cover-ups. In any case, TWA 800 presents a mountain of evidence that calls into question the objectivity of the investigation. The reader will have to weigh the evidence for themselves, and see if they agree with Mr. Cashill's conclusions. TWA 800 documents perhaps one of the oddest investigations in U.S. history. I think Mr. Cashill has done a good job of marshalling the facts.