Paul Marcone - Chief of Staff to Rep. Trafficant
Saw your press conference on C-SPAN2. I have a couple of comments.
The only evidence you presented that Flight 800 was downed by a missile was the eyewitness statements, unexplained radar tracks and the unclassified China Lake report. Allow me to comment on each:
1) Eyewitness statements.
Having reviewed all of the statements given to the FBI, I am convinced that what the over-whelming majority saw was Flight 800 in crippled flight. Even if you don't buy the NTSB/CIA breakup scenario -- how do you explain the fact that many of the eyewitnesses that heard something also -- at almost the same time they heard a bang -- saw the fireball (Flight 800's fuel tanks exploding) meaning that (given Fl. 800's distance to the shore) that the bang they heard was from an explosion that occurred some 40 to 50 seconds earlier.
It's hard to dispute physics. Given the know travel time of sound, it is a given that 40 to 50 seconds before Fl. 800 exploded into a fireball(s) there was a loud explosion. Missile experts have told me that a Stinger missile or similar shoulder-fired missile would not emit a sonic boom or similar noise.
So, we have an event that lasted from 40 to 50 seconds. Not a single eyewitness saw the event from start to finish (from the time of the loud explosion to the time Flight 800 crashed into the ocean). Let's say it takes a Stinger 10 to 15 seconds to hit its target. How do you explain the original loud noise?
I am convinced that the CIA was right -- what the eyewitnesses saw was Fl. 800 in various stages of crippled flight. Keep in mind that the CIA's role was NOT to re-interview eyewitnesses. It was to analyze their original statements and determine whether or not these witnesses were describing a missile launch. The CIA analysts were some of the top missile experts in the world. I was told by some sources I have (retired CIA -- excellent sources who do not b.s. me) that these analysts were gung ho about solving the Flight 800 riddle. Proving Fl. 800 was shot down by a missile would have made their career. These analysts were not trying to cover anything up.
As far as Boeing is concerned, I met with their engineers. They told me that the NTSB's breakup scenario was credible. If one examines the document they released in the wake of the CIA video release, one would find that Boeing does not disagree with the scenario depicted in the video, they merely state that they did not participate in the actual creation of the animation. In their opinion, a 747 could continue flying after a CWT explosion and loss of the nose, and gain altitude. I questioned them very closely on this. I did not get the impression that they were lying.
This brings us to the breakup scenario. You're whole theory rests on debunking the break-up scenario. You have not presented one expert to debunk it. I couldn't find anyone to debunk it either. The clincher for me was when Boeing said it was credible.
As noted above, even if you don't subscribe to the NTSB's breakup scenario, how do you explain the timing of the explosion? If it were a missile, what caused the loud noise heard by so many people?
2) The unexplained radar tracks.
I agree that the NTSB and FBI should have been more forthcoming about the radar data. It would have dispelled a lot of questions. In fact, the Congressman has been advocating quite strongly for the past year that the NTSB, FBI, CIA and Navy have an all-day joint press conference to explain how they came to their conclusions on Fl. 800 and how they conducted their investigation.
The Navy finally responded to our inquiry. According to the Navy, there were 15 Navy vessels within 300 nautical miles of the crash site, a one just outside a 300 nm arc. Of the 16 vessels, eight were submarines. The vessels, as relayed to the Congressman by the Navy, are listed below:
USS NORMANDY (CG 60)
USS ALBUQUERQUE (SSN 697)
The Navy also replied that none of these vessels fired any missiles on 7/17/96.
Unless your Navy is lying to a Member of Congress, most of those radar hits were not Navy vessels. Once again, I agree that the Navy should come clean and fully explain its activities that evening.
Let me point out, however, that if your theory is correct (i.e. that Flight 800 was downed by a terrorist missile and the Navy was attempting to "track" or "intercept" the terrorists) then hundreds of Navy personnel and officers are involved in the "coverup."
3) The China Lake report.
I had two long conversations with the report's author Richard Bott. In those conversations, he made it clear to me that, in his opinion, and that of his team, there was no evidence based on his exhaustive review of the evidence, that Flight 800 was hit by a missile, missile fragment or over pressure from a proximity blast of a warhead.
You selectively quote from the report to give the mistaken impression that the fact that the FBI/NTSB did not conduct certain tests compromised their investigation.
Let me quote from Bott's report:
"The possibility that a shoulder-launched missile was launched at TWA Flight 800, failed to impact, self-destructed in close proximity, and initiated the breakup of the aircraft is highly improbable. This theory would be nearly impossible to prove or disprove even with extensive analysis and testing. However, this effort would be useful in identifying methods to counter future terrorist attacks." (Bott report, p. 3)
The experts at China Lake closely examined three scenarios:
1) A fully operational missile impacted the aircraft and the warhead
2) A missile impacted the aircraft but the warhead did not explode.
3) A missile was launched at the aircraft but failed to intercept. The self-destruct feature of the missile detonated the warhead in the proximity of the aircraft. (Bott report, p. 7)
Bottom line: the China Lake experts did examine all likely missile scenarios.
As for the damage to the left wing area of Fl. 800, let me again quote from the report:
"Detailed examinations of the TWA Flight 800 wing fuel tanks were conducted. The left upper wing skin, the left side-of-body rib, and the left leading-edge spar exhibit different and more severe damage from their right wing counterparts. Figures 3, 4, and 5 show comparisons of the damage to the upper wing skins, side-of-body ribs, and inboard leading-edge spars, respectively. Close inspections of the wreckage in these areas revealed no evidence of penetrations by foreign objects and no high-velocity fragment damage consistent with a missile impact." (Bott, p. 10).
Let me quote again from the report:
"Nearly all wing wreckage was recovered downrange in the green zone, but several sections of the wing root leaning-edge fairing, pieces A449 and A551, were recovered in the red zone, indicating very early release from the aircraft. Attaching too much importance to these
findings should be avoided for the following reasons:
1. Both pieces of leading-edge fairing were from a location immediately adjacent to the fuselage skin, indicating a missile flight path would have to be exactly parallel to the fuselage and on a reciprocal flight path. Based on missile simulations, this engagement is not likely.
2. Although both pieces were conclusively recovered in the red zone, each had intact sections of Nomex honeycomb structure attached, which could have provided some degree of buoyancy. This buoyancy may have led to the components drifting on the surface before sinking or shifting on the ocean bottom before recovery.
3. No visible signs of foreign object impact, other than those associated with water impact, are on either these components or the adjacent components that have been identified. (Not all adjacent components have been identified.)
4. The two components were from the same area of the wing fairing but opposite sides of the aircraft. A449 is from the right wing fairing and A451 is from the left wing fairing. Examination of the reconstruction clearly reveals fractures and curling of the adjacent fuselage skin in these areas, Based on analysis conducted by the NTSB, fractures in the area of these components occurred very early (Reference 5) This determination implies the fairings were torn off as the fuselage broke up immediately after the center wing tank explosion.
Conceivably, a missile impact in the wing-root fuel tank area could create enough damage to cause the side-of-body rib to collapse into the center wing tank. This collapse could occur without significant release of material from the wing structure, but the preponderance of evidence suggests this did not occur on TWA Flight 800. Most compelling is the fact that both wings remained with the aft fuselage section until they were well downrange. If the severe left wing damage had been caused by a missile impact the expected result would be an early release of that wing, or at least numerous pieces of it, well up range in the red recovery zone." (Bott, p. 10-14)
As for the severe damage to the left wing, Bott states that "This wing damage may be typical for severe water impacts but has gone unnoticed in previous mishaps due to the lack of recovery and reconstruction of debris. Further, the left and right wings of TWA Flight 800 impacted the water in different attitudes, as evidenced by the damage to the engines, which may explain the disparity in damage between the two structures." (Bott, p. 14)
Yes, Bott does recommend further testing and analysis relative to shoulder-launched missiles. I AGREE THAT THESE TESTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE. But the fact remains that the experts at China Lake maintain that "very compelling evidence exists that the wings on TWA Flight 800 were damaged downrange during in-flight breakup and water impact." (Bott, p. 14).
Not to be disrespectful or flippant, but no one at ARAP has closely examined ANY of the wreckage. Bott and his team from China Lake spent months analyzing every piece of wreckage. I find their findings, which are based on first-hand analysis, much more credible than individuals who only have access to photos and sketches.
As I have said previously, if your theory is to be believed, then Bott and his team at China Lake are either involved in a cover-up or are extremely incompetent. In fact, the heart of your theory rests on two pillars: that ALL of the individuals who were involved in the investigation are either grossly incompetent or involved somehow in a coverup.
One final point. I do not appreciate the character assault you have made on Congressman Traficant. He is a man of high integrity. Throughout his career he has taken unpopular stands. He has been THE NUMBER ONE CRITIC IN CONGRESS OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. To imply that he was somehow intimidated or blackmailed by the FBI to alter his TWA Flight 800 investigation is preposterous, to say the least. Yes, his district director pled guilty to racketeering and other charges. But the Congressman was never named, and has never been named, in any of these charges. Mr. O'Nesti's conviction had no impact, zero, on the Congressman's Flight 800 investigation.
The Congressman and I deeply appreciate your expert advice and input throughout the Congressman's probe. But we strongly disagreed with many of your public statements and letters to the NTSB in which you made ad hominem attacks on Chairman Hall and made unsubstantiated claims. It is one thing to ask good questions. It is another to jump to conclusions without any conclusive evidence.
As for the article you chose to post on your web site about the Congressman and the Mafia, all I can say is that the author of that article is NOT a journalist. Most of the outrageous assertions in that article are not based on fact but on hearsay. If you are interested in the truth, please call me and I will provide you with some hard facts about the author of that article.
The fact is, the Congressman continues to be an outspoken critic of the Justice Dept. Next week he plans to introduce legislation calling for the appointment of independent counsels to investigate the Waco affair and the Clinton Administration's attempt to cover-up illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic party made by the Chinese government.
In the name of fairness and honor, I certainly hope you will post these facts on your web site.
We may disagree about what happened to Flight 800. But that is what America is all about. I am telling you, man to man, that the conclusions reached by Congressman Traficant were based on his honest views and were not influenced, in any shape or form, by any outside events or pressures. Period.
There, I've said my piece. As always, please feel free to call me.
Paul P. Marcone