From: Michael Rivero <rivero@ACCESSONE.COM>
Date: Saturday, April 17, 1999 12:00 AM
THE "OTHER VERDICT" IN THE
JAMES SANDERS TRIAL
Last week, in the case brought against investigative journalist James
Sanders by the United States government, the jury, to the surprise of
court observers including the judge, convicted James Sanders and his wife
Elizabeth of possession of a piece of seat fabric from the wreckage of TWA
They were charged under an obscure law intended to deter souvenir
hunters, and in one of the case's many bizarre twists, the FBI agent in
charge of the TWA 800 investigation, James Kallstrom, also broke that same
law. Kallstrom, as was reported in the newspapers and admitted to in court
documents, removed an item from the wreck of TWA 800 to give away as a
memento; the very act the law in question was written to deter.
In contrast, the seat fabric obtained by TWA pilot and crash
investigator Terrell Stacy and given to James Sanders was not handled as a
souvenir, but was sent to a lab for analysis of a strange red residue
which tainted three rows of seats in the wreckage of the 747.
Journalists are always exhorted to "check their facts". James Sanders
did just that. The government stated, as a fact, that the red residue was
3M seat glue, and James Sanders checked that fact.
For such insolence, James Sanders and his wife were arrested and charged
and convicted. Meanwhile, James Kallstrom, guilty of the same exact
offense of removing pieces of the TWA 800 wreckage, walks free.
But in the rush by the government to remove the Sanders from the public
eye, and in the concern for the Sanders by their friends and supporters, a
key point is being overlooked.
The results of the lab test on the Sanders' swatch of TWA 800 seat
fabric called into question the official government declaration that the
strange red residue was 3M seat glue. And evidence entered into the court
record proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the government not only lied
when it stated that the red residue was seat glue, more damning yet, did
The government claimed that a lab test done by a NASA scientist, Dr.
Charles Bassett, proved that the residue was 3M seat glue. On the basis of
that one result, the government maintained and maintains to this very day
that the red residue was seat glue.
But during the discovery phase of the Sanders trial, Dr. Charles
Bassett swore under oath that his tests did not link the red residue to
seat glue. More to the point, the tests he was asked to perform for the
NTSB could not have made such a determination. Even more damning, efforts
by Bassett to coax the normally pale green 3M seat glue into assuming the
reddish color of the residue all failed.
This is the "other verdict" in the trial of James Sanders.
The government lied when it said it had a lab test proving that the red
residue was seat glue. In fact, now documented in a court of law, what
they had was a lab test which proved exactly the opposite.
In the trial of James Sanders, regardless of the verdicts handed down by
the jury, it is the government that leaves the courtroom branded a liar.
It's official now. The government is lying to the public about TWA 800.
And not just about the red residue and bogus lab tests, many other lies
have been exposed, including the initial denial of the status of the
warning zones, the presence of military vessels near the crash site, the
workability of the pingers on the flight recorders; even the government's
explanation for a suspicious line of flight recorder data has been proven
to be a lie. The claim that a noseless 747 can maintain stable flight and
climb 1000 feet per the government's cover story is both aerodynamically
and structurally impossible.
But the government's claim that a lab test proved that the red residue
was seat glue is not only another in a long list of proven lies, it's a
lie which was exposed in a court of law.
Just think about what that really means, to know for a fact, proven in a
court of law, that the government is lying to the public about TWA 800.
It means, for one thing, that the mainstream media, which still parrots
the claim that the red residue is seat glue, is also lying; yet another
nail in the coffin of the mainstream media's credibility.
It means that the government is using your tax money to pay public
relations firms, intelligence operatives and media assets to lie to you.
Nowhere in the Constitution is the government given the right to lie to
the public, much less use the public's money to do so.
Most of all, it means that the government's story that TWA 800 was
brought down by a fuel tank explosion of undetermined origin, now proven
to be supported by lies, is itself a lie. Something else brought down that
747 and killed 230 people. Something the government is provably lying to
keep the public from learning about.
And behind it all is the red residue itself, and even though the
government has since stripped the seats in Rows 17, 18, and 19 of the TWA
wreckage right down to the bare metal, the existence of the residue is
recorded in photographs and lab results, both Dr. Bassett's and those from
the lab James Sanders used.
If the red residue had a benign origin, if it were, for example, tomato
sauce from the in flight dinner service, there would hardly be a need for
the government to misrepresent the results of Dr. Bassett's pab tests to
claim it was seat glue. Ergo, the government already knows what the red
residue is, and it has clearly decided that the public is not allowed to
know what that is.
James and Elizabeth Sanders are appealing their verdict. There is much
reason to be hopeful that the appeals court will throw out the verdict
based on the laws which hold that journalists are not legally liable for
the actions of their sources. But on the other hand, the government is
well motivated to make an example of the Sanders in order to deter other
investigative journalists from the heresy of doubting the official
explanation, and to judge by the actions of the Federal Prosecutors as
recorded in the trial transcript, they clearly do not feel required to
abide by the rules.
There is more here at stake than just the Sanders. If the convictions
stand, the government will move swiftly to silence any other journalist
who is daring to question the official explanation for anything, based on
the precedent set in this case.
James Sanders has a legal defense fund, and he needs your help.
Make check payable to: United States Justice Foundation, and mail
P.O. Box 336
Charles City, VA, 23030