Looses FOIA Appeal
March 31, 2006
Last Friday (31st) Attorney Dan Stotter phoned me to tell me that he had
just learned we lost the appeal. The appeal judges ruled very simply,
without any analysis, that the lower court made the correct judgement.
We had started to think that because they were taking so long, that they
were struggling with the details or issues in the case. Apparently not
much struggle for them after all. Maybe just embarrassment?
I apologize that I took a further week to pass this unhappy news on. I
actually sat down to start writing on a few occasions but it was too
hard to write anything. So much has changed in America since 1996 and
even 2000 when the court case began. Now it is OK to torture, kidnap
(extraordinary rendition), leak classified information, and ignore
habeas corpus rights, so it shouldn't have been too surprising to me
that the government would consider a few lies around an aviation
disaster as mere collateral damage.
Besides my great disappointment and frustration, I feel badly that our
joint decade-long quest for integrity and honest government was not
supported by the judiciary. The checks and balances are not working as
well as they should.
Dan went on to explain to me that there were two more possible steps - a
request for an "en banc" appeal to the full bench of the Boston appeals
court and then an appeal to the US Supreme Court. Up until now he had
figured we had a "good chance", but for those further steps from here he
stated the odds were heavily against us.
Very briefly, this litigation effort has at least established that the
FBI collected hundreds of objects during the autopsies, did extensive
forensic testing, did not share the forensic details with the coroner,
or the NTSB, or with congressional hearings. The FBI now claims now they
cannot find any of it.
I will write a detailed report for the benefit of those who might feel
inspired or challenged to delve further into Flight 800, summarizing
what was learned from the approx FBI 600 pages that were released to
me. And of course none of those pages explained or described what the
most direct forensic evidence about the explosion revealed. And then I
will try and remember how to update my website for any who might want to
For those who lost family I hope this arduous litigation process has not
just ended up as feeling like more salt in deep wounds. And for those
who lost friends, colleagues and eventually TWA itself I also apologize
that this has not born any immediate fruit.
I closed the FOIAC bank account and the PO box a few weeks after the
final appeal hearing and you should all at least be happy and be proud
to know that over the 5 years of litigation your contributions versus
the fees and expenses all came out pretty even. I (and especially my
wife who was pretty anxious about many aspects of this whole effort) am
very grateful for that support. And thank you for sticking with this
and encouraging me over the years not to feel alone in this struggle nor
If I can work out how to take this lawsuit further, even to the Supreme
Court, without having to ask anyone for any more financial help, then I
will probably pursue that course of action. So many ordinary folk who
have gone before us have made unstinting sacrifices to establish and
defend our rights to decent lives and honorable government. I feel
humbled by those who have sacrificed all and feel compelled to continue
with this, my relatively safe and modest protest. I cannot just sit by
and figure that I already tried, or pretend all is well, or that I have
no responsibility for the current trends and low expectations and
ubiquitous gloominess and cynicism. We have to imagine and believe in
something better before it can ever manifest.
I know many of you feel similarly and I am very grateful for that.
Robert E. Donaldson. All