|Letter to Senator Inhofe
from Reed Irvine - Acuracy in Media
December 30, 2000
Dear Senator Inhofe:
Mr. Tenet should be replaced at the earliest opportunity. Let me tell you why.
He was at least negligent in the handling of the serious security breaches of his predecessor, John Deutch. That alone is reason enough, but what is most troubling about Mr. Tenet is that the CIA has helped the Clinton White House cover up evidence of serious wrongdoing.
In 1997, the CIA produced a video that was supposed to be a simulation of the crash of TWA Flight 800. In April 1999, a CIA analyst explained the origins of this video to the National Transportation Safety Board witness group. The NTSB made a transcript of this briefing public earlier this year. It tells how the analyst developed a theory that would discredit the testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses who had told the FBI that they had seen what appeared to be a missile on a collision course with TWA 800. The analyists solution was to claim that the only thing any eyewitness saw in the sky that night was the airliner after it blew up. The CIA video simulation of the crash was based on that theory. It was shown at the news conference held by James Kallstrom in November 1997, when he announced that the FBI investigation of the crash was being closed. Parts of it were aired by the TV networks.
This video made the ridiculous claim that after the plane's center-wing-fuel tank exploded and broke the nose off the plane, the jumbo jet proceeded to climb 3,000 feet, trailing burning fuel. It claimed that this was the streak of light that many of the eyewitnesses saw. It also claimed that some of them mistook the plane when it was falling into the sea for a rocket going up from the surface of the ocean.
The radar data that were released by the NTSB in 1999 prove that this is false. After the first explosion blew the nose off the plane, it immediately began its free fall into the ocean. The radar showed that its speed increased from 385 knots to 460 knots. That proves that it was falling, because heavy planes slow down when they ascend and speed up when they go into a free fall. Having lost its nose and its power, TWA 800 could not possibly have climbed 3000 feet. Aeronautic experts were astonished by the claim that it did, and eyewitnesses were insulted and angered by this clumsy effor to discredit their testimony.
One of them was Michael Wire, the eyewitness the CIA analyst said may have been the only person to see the whole event from beginning to end. Mr.Wire emphatically denies that the CIA video bears any resemblance to what he told the FBI agents who interviewed him. The CIA analyst told the NTSB witness group that the CIA had a problem with the FBI report on Wire's first interview and that the FBI to interviewed him again at their request. He claimed that in the second interview Wire corrected a statement he had made in the first interview, solving the problem.
This is false. Wire was interviewed twice by the FBI, once briefly by phone and again six days later face-to-face. That was months before the CIA became involved in the case. Wire says that he told them essentially the same thing both times -- that he had seen what appeared to be a firework rising from the far side of a house near the ocean, ascending high in the sky and then arching over and speeding out to sea. Seconds later he saw a fireball fall from the sky and very soon after that he heard and felt four strong explosions.
Dwight Brumley, a former Navy master chief, was also described as an excellent witness by the CIA Brumley was flying north on USAIR Flight 217 when he saw what appeared to be a missile speed past his plane at a lower altitude. He then saw an explosion ahead of his plane at the lower altitude. He said he did not see TWA 800, but he told the FBI that the passenger in the seat behind him, a Mr. Nugent, told him he saw its cabin lights before it was blown up. Brumley saw a missile overtaking his plane traveling north. Nugent saw TWA 800 in front of their plane traveling northeast. They both saw TWA 800 explode. Brumley and Wire alone should be enough to discredit the phony theory on which the CIA built its video simulation of the crash, but there are many more eyewitness reports that do the same.
It appears that the White House ordered the CIA to come up with something that would discredit the eyewitnesses because it could not accept the missile theory, which was the only explanation for the crash that was supported by both the forensic evidence and the witnesses. Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Navy aviator, is one of many aviation professionals who has looked at the evidence and concluded that it clearly shows that TWA 800 was downed by missiles. He has called for a congressional investigation.
That should not be necessary. If the Bush administration puts individuals dedicated to the truth in charge of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, the Defense Department and the National Transportation Safety Board, it should have no difficulty in finding evidence in the files that will expose the cover-up of the cause of theTWA Flight 800 crash. Those appointed to head those departments, agencies and bureaus should be individuals who can be trusted to do just that. The absurd CIA video was a major part of the cover-up, and the head of the CIA should investigate it, release a report disavowing it and get rid of those responsible for producing it. George Tenet will obviously not do that.
Please allow me to cite two other cases in which the CIA is covering up wrongdoing by refusing to honor FOIA requests for documents that clearly should be available to the public.
My organization, Accuracy in Media, is suing the CIA to obtain the report of a debriefing that they conducted on the morning of July 21, 1993. They called in Kevin Fornshill, the U.S. Park Police officer who had been the first officer to see the body of Vincent Foster in Fort Marcy Park. A source who talked informally to Fornshill that morning, as he was waiting to be questioned at CIA Headquarters, says Fornshill told him that he saw very little blood and it looked like Foster's body had been dumped in the park. Presumably that is what he told his debriefer. It is claimed that Fornshill did not file a report with the U.S. Park Police, even though he should have done so because he was the first officer to see the body. The CIA debriefing report is probably the only written record of what Fornshill saw at Fort Marcy Park and what conclusions he drew.
The CIA response to our suit was that it neither affirms nor denies that it has such a document. There is no way that the CIA can claim a legitimate reason for refusing to release it. The fact that they have refused to do so is itself evidence of a cover-up. There is abundant evidence that Foster did not die where his body was found and that Fornshill and other Park Police officers were pressured to cover this up.
Miquel Rodriguez, the prosecutor hired by Ken Starr to conduct the grand jury investigation of Foster's death that began in January 1995, apparently believed this. The Park Police were upset by his questioning and demanded to know if they were targets of his investigation. Starr's deputy, Mark Tuohey III, a Democrat and friend of both Janet Reno and her deputy, Jamie Gorelick, reined in Rodriguez, who resigned because he sensed a cover-up in the making. We need someone in charge of the CIA who, like Miquel Rodriguez, will refuse to be a party to a cover-up in a homicide case.
Finally, the CIA under Mr. Tenet has refused to grant an FOIA request for documents in its possession about POWs that we left behind in Vietnam. It is being sued by Roger N. Hall, who is trying to get the government to release all the POW/MIA documents that President Clinton ordered declassified soon after he took office. The CIA has simply ignored that order. Hall has incurred large legal bills in this noble effort. He tells me that the CIA has shown the judge in the case a list of POWs who were left behind and their last known location, but the judge was told that he should not to show that document to Roger Hall. We need a CIA director who will respect the lawful orders of the president and the right of the public to know what has happened to those POWs. Clinton promised not to normalize relations with Vietnam until the POW/MIA questions were answered. He soon broke that promise. The least the Bush administration can do is level with the families and the public and pledge to make at serious effort to find out what has happened to the men we left behind.
I urge you to join Senator Shelby in pressing for the replacement of
George Tenet with someone who respects the right of the public to information
held by the CIA if its disclosure does not impede the performance of its
mission or endanger national security.
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