U.S. sued over TWA 800 documents
Investigators claim officials covering up evidence of missile strike
MSNBC NEWS SERVICES
July 17 — A group of independent investigators
who remain convinced that a missile brought
down a TWA jumbo jet off New York four years
ago sued the government Monday, alleging that
several agencies have refused to disclose
findings about the crash.
‘The [government] theory
will never explain an object rising from the surface.’
— TOM STALCUP - Flight
800 Independent Researchers Organization.
THE FLIGHT 800 Independent Researchers
Organization charged that authorities have ignored Freedom
of Information Act requests for radar data and analysis of
metal found in crash victims’ bodies.
TWA Flight 800 fell into the sea in flames shortly after
takeoff from New York to Paris on July 17, 1996, killing all
230 people on board.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has
ruled out a missile or a bomb as the cause of the crash,
attributing it to an explosion of fuel fumes in the Boeing
747’s center fuel tank.
The exact cause of the blast has not been located, but
investigators have focused on a possible electrical fault. The
safety board has said it has found no “intrusion damage” or
explosives residue consistent with a missile or a bomb.
But the group, which filed the suit in Springfield, Mass.,
District Court, insists that the disaster was caused by one or
several heat-seeking missiles and have accused the
government of hiding or altering data to fit its conclusion.
NTSB REJECTED THEORY
Dozens of the 755 witnesses interviewed by the FBI
shortly after the crash reported seeing a streak of light rising
from the ground or the ocean and heading toward the plane.
“The center wing tank theory will never explain an
object rising from the surface,” said Tom Stalcup, chairman
of the Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization.
The NTSB said in March that the eyewitness accounts
were of little use, as the questions had been framed by FBI
investigators with a missile theory in mind. More than a year
after the accident, the FBI officially abandoned the theory
that a bomb or a missile was involved.
A final hearing on the crash is scheduled for Aug. 22-23.
MEMORIAL TO CRASH VICTIMS
The suit comes one day after families and friends of the
victims of TWA 800 broke ground for a new memorial on
the Long Island shore not far from where the plane went
down four years ago.
‘For the family members, it was an extremely
emotional time — this is something they have wanted for a long time.’
— FRANK LOMBARDI - Project spokesman
About 50 families from as far away as Australia were
joined Sunday by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and
Gov. George Pataki and U.S. Transportation Secretary
Rodney Slater, who attended on behalf of President Bill
“For the family members, it was an extremely emotional
time — this is something they have wanted for a long time,”
said Frank Lombardi, a spokesman for the memorial
project. “It’s a special place. It brings them as close as they
can to their family members.”
A private ceremony was held Monday.
Organizers have raised about half the money needed for the
$1.5 million project, which they hope to have built by next summer.
The centerpiece for the memorial will be a 12-foot granite wall
with the names of the victims.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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