Paper: FBI Sat on TWA Flight Report

Saturday, May 8, 1999; 11:51 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had concluded
within six months after TWA Flight 800 crashed off the coast of Long Island
that mechanical failure was to blame, but the FBI sat on the report, The
Washington Post reported.

The paper says in Sunday's editions that FBI officials, still convinced
terrorists had downed the plane, dismissed the 24-page ATF report, prepared
in January 1997, as ``unprofessional and reprehensible'' and even persuaded a
Treasury Department undersecretary to help them suppress it.

The Post said it was November 1997 before the FBI acknowledged publicly that
a mechanical flaw had ignited the Boeing 747's central fuel tank, causing the

A Senate subcommittee headed by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, is holding
hearings on the investigation Monday.

``The FBI didn't want to hear about anything but a missile or a bomb, because
otherwise there was no FBI case,'' Grassley told the Post. ``Their conduct
was disturbing from the very beginning.''

The Post cited a number of internal memos and confidential sources for its
report. It said the FBI declined to comment.