Cooper - 360
COOPER: All this week we're taking a close look at
stories which may be out of the headlines but on the Internet and
are still at the center of controversy. Tonight, TWA flight 800. Eight
ago, after the plane blew up in mid-air off the coast of Long Island,
York, killing all 230 people aboard, the questions still linger. The
government says it was an accident, probably caused by a spark in the
fuel tank. But to this day there are many who believe otherwise,
former TWA pilot who tonight in an exclusive interview talks for the
time about what he thinks really happened to flight 800. CNN's Gary
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terrell Stacey was a pilot
for TWA, occasionally flying the very same Boeing 747 that exploded in
mid-air on July 17, 1996. TWA flight 800's fate was probably the result
an explosion in the center wing fuel tank, says the National
Safety Board. But Captain Stacey doesn't buy it.
TERRELL STACEY, FORMER TWA PILOT: I certainly do not believe it was the
center wing tank.
TUCHMAN: Stacey was one of TWA's representatives in the NTSB
STACEY: The FBI and NTSB are political animals. They will do whatever it
takes to cover their political rear ends.
TUCHMAN: More than eight years after this tragedy, many still believe a
real cause is being covered up.
MIKE WIRE, TWA FLIGHT 800 EYEWITNESS: I think it was a missile that went
TUCHMAN: Mike Wire was interviewed by the FBI after he said he saw a
flame-like object streak up in the sky and strike the plane. Sixteen
after the disaster the government produced this video explaining its
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the flare-like object he saw almost certainly was
flight 800 just after it exploded. Not a missile.
TUCHMAN: But the 747 was said to be flying at 13,000 feet. Witness Mike
Wire says he saw the streak at...
WIRE: 45 feet.
TUCHMAN: There have been books and documentaries about an alleged
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All leads pointed in one direction. But for reasons
still uncertain, no one in official Washington wanted to go there.
The late Pierre Salinger made a claim the U.S. Navy accidentally shot
PIERRE SALINGER, FMR. JOURNALIST: Did it show the missile reaching the
plane? Yes, it did.
TUCHMAN: The man who led the NTSB investigation says the facts do not
support what the skeptics say.
ROBERT FRANCIS, FMR. NTSB VICE CHAIRMAN: A missile doesn't hit an
and you recover 98 percent of the airplane and still not see a single
scratch or indication on the airplane that a missile hit it.
TUCHMAN: But the NTSB and the FBI do say the investigation can be
at any time if there is new evidence. Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, we wanted to make sure we cover all the angles on this
So tonight joining me from Washington is Jim Hall, the former chairman
the National Transportation Safety Board at the time of the TWA
Thanks for joining us, Jim. And from Agoura Hills, California,
journalist Peter Lance, author of the book "Cover Up: What The
Still Hiding About The War on Terror."
Jim, I want to start with the missile conspiracy theory. Some witnesses
claim they saw streaks of light rising from the surface to the sky. We
saw that in the piece. How do you explain that?
JIM HALL, FMR. NTSB CHAIRMAN: Well, I think the explanation obviously
what came out in the work of the CIA and the NTSB in terms of the streak
being the fuel from the airplane that had exploded in mid-air as it
higher in the air after the explosion.
COOPER: And Peter, you also -- you believe there was a conspiracy there,
but you don't think it was a missile. You believe a terrorist bomb in
fuel tank caused the explosion. What proof do you have of that?
PETER LANCE, AUTHOR, "COVER UP": Well, we have new evidence and evidence
think that merits reopening this case, and I'm sure Mr. Hall has never
this, that Ramzi Yousef (ph), the original World Trade Center bomber who
with his uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the architect of 9/11, while
awaiting trial in New York passed information to an FBI informant, and
information in the form of FBI 302 memos is on my website,
said we want to put a bomb on the plane to get a mistrial. He was about
be tried, Anderson, for what was called...
COOPER: Where do you come up with this?
LANCE: I got it from a forensic investigator, Angela Clemente (ph), who
it from the actual FBI informant, who's now serving time in federal
And these are actual FBI 302s in which Yousef says...
COOPER: Have you told the FBI about this?
LANCE: Have I told them? I interviewed James Calstrom (ph) for the book.
But here's the thing. Not only do we have evidence of a bomb on board in
area of the center fuel tank. It mirrors forensically the precise bomb
Yousef set off in...
COOPER: Wait a minute. You say you have evidence of a bomb on board. And
Jim, let me bring you in here. Trace amounts of explosives residue were
found on I think three pieces of the wreckage, and I think in issuing
final crash report NTSB concluded, I want to get this right, quote, "we
don't know exactly how the explosive residue got there but we do know
the physical evidence that the residues were not the result of the
detonation of a bomb." Jim, how comfortable are you with that?
LANCE: Anderson, one of the main reasons that this was the longest
investigation in NTSB history, took almost five years, and was the most
expensive investigation, was we went over every possibility that there
been any type of bomb, missile, et cetera, that caused this particular
accident. The reason that the FBI got involved so actively at the
of this investigation was because Ramzi Yousef was in prison for trying
blow up ten planes in the Pacific and this had occurred also at the time
right near the Atlanta Olympics.
COOPER: In the airport the other day I was told I had bomb residue on a
of mine which was probably from the time I was in Iraq. So you can have
residue and it not really mean anything.
LANCE: Well, no, Anderson frankly, the bomb that Yousef set on an
747 as a test bomb in The Philippines that he was about to be tried for
involved nitroglycerin. He also passed notes to this informant saying
was an alternative. Both RDX and nitroglycerin were found in the area of
center wing fuel tank. And the only explanation of the FBI and the NTSB
that a bomb-sniffing dog test was conducted five weeks earlier in St.
and that somehow the officer had spilled the explosive test aids. Well,
got to that officer. He did the test on a different plane. And I would
Mr. Hall right now, were you aware that the FBI had 302 memos in which
Yousef was predicting he was going to put a bomb on board a plane?
COOPER: I've got to let you answer and then we've got to go.
HALL: I am not aware of what the FBI did during their investigation. But
assure you that the people in official Washington are honorable men and
women that serve our country well.
COOPER: Jim Hall, appreciate you joining us. Peter Lance as well. Thank
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