Opened Minded or Single Scenario Driven?

By Tom Stalcup

March 22, 2000

After nearly four years, the federal investigation into TWA Flight 800 is coming to a close. In June, the National Transportation Safety Board plans to release its final report on the incident, costing approximately 40 million dollars.  The June report will represent a long and expensive investigation, but will it have been thoroughly and properly compiled?

To answer this question, certain investigative guidelines can be compared to the NTSB's report.  Some of these guidelines were discussed by former FBI Assistant Director and lead FBI investigator Jim Kallstrom, during an interview on the Charlie Rose show, which aired on November 19, 1999.

Kallstrom: "You need to put all possibilities up on the board or on the table.  Obviously, you put them in a priority order.  You don't waste your time on things that are three or four standard deviations out from the middle.  But you have to have an open mind.  You cannot have a preconceived notion of what happened."

But a detailed review of existing NTSB exhibits on the Flight 800 tragedy show obvious contradictions to this investigative protocol.  It appears that the NTSB did, in fact, "waste [their] time" on things that were many standard deviations from the middle.

A citizen group critical of the federal investigation into the crash, has studied the NTSB exhibits in detail.  Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization (FIRO) alleges that the federal animations depicting the official crash sequence were several standard deviations away from middle (or mean) of the radar data.  According to FIRO, this not only means that the NTSB failed to follow proper investigative protocol, but that the official crash sequence is flawed.  Federal
investigators have not yet responded to requests for explanations of these large discrepancies in their analyses.

Another seeming disregard for investigative protocol is the Board's tendency to "fit" data to one scenario, rather than considering all possible scenarios.

NTSB Exhibit 18A: "The [Metallurgy/Structures Sequencing] Group strove to fit a proposed scenario to all relevant observations in a given area...In some cases, the Group had to accept that some feature(s) either could not be explained by the proposed scenario or might even be in conflict with the proposed scenario."

No where in this report is it mentioned that alternative scenarios were considered that may fit the available evidence.

The most widely reported contradictory evidence to the official theory are the eyewitnesses.  The sights and sounds reported by eyewitnesses appear to describe a secondary object in the sky on the night of the crash.  The reported sounds were so violent that they allegedly caused homes to shake.

Paul Angelides viewed the disaster from the porch of his summer rental, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.  Angelides reported what he originally thought was a flare streak toward the area of the sky where Flight 800 was traveling.  After this object ended in violent explosions, Angelides reported hearing noises that he attributed to this "flare."

Angelides: "There was a very loud and prolonged boom, which reminded me of thunder rolling above the house.  The noise continued and concluded with a series of two distinctly louder bursts and a final extremely loud burst.  The sounds shook the house."

Experts believe that a center wing tank explosion would not have enough energy to shake houses at distances close to ten miles.  During a February 1997 meeting at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, NTSB officials were briefed by an acoustic expert.

NTSB Exhibit 5A: "An acoustic expert in the area of explosions who was at the meeting noted that the sound of the explosion as noted in witness accounts is not consistent with an explosion only of the center fuel tank. The data he has analyzed indicates that the explosive force, as
determined by witness accounts, is equivalent to about 1 ton of TNT. This is many times more than what would be expected in only a center fuel tank explosion."

But not only are the sounds compelling evidence of a highly explosive event, the visual observations by the eyewitnesses seem to indicate that an object other than a plane rose from the surface and caused the loud explosion(s).

NTSB Exhibit 4A: "Of the 183 who observed a streak of light, 102 gave  information about the origin of the streak.  Six said the streak originated from the air, and 96 said that it originated from the surface."

Although there appears to be overwhelming evidence of a secondary object, federal investigators have dismissed the eyewitness accounts, while keeping official interviews and statements hidden from the public.  And paradoxically, the NTSB has recently deemed the eyewitness evidence "of little use" in its investigation.

Reuters (3/21/00): "Air safety investigators have concluded that witness accounts of the 1996 explosion of a TWA jumbo jet off Long Island, New York, are of little use in their nearly  completed probe of the crash."

And two years earlier, the FBI went further by informing a US congressman that what the eyewitnesses reported seeing was not what actually occurred.

In a July 27, 1998 response to Congressman James Traficant Jr., FBI Assistant Director Lewis D. Shiliro wrote:

"...because the position and distance of the eyewitnesses are known, as is the position and altitude of the aircraft, a relatively straightforward mathematical analysis does show that what these people [eyewitnesses] reported seeing was not, in reality, what occurred."

Mr. Shiliro has not responded to requests for this mathematical analysis.

On the Charlie Rose show, Jim Kallstrom made three points regarding investigative protocol: 1) to put all possibilities on the table; 2) to disregard those that are several standard deviations from the middle; and 3) not to come in with any preconceived notion of what happened.

It appears that the NTSB has disregarded all three by deciding to take the eyewitness evidence off the table, to replace them with animations that are several standard deviations from the middle, and to base existing reports on a preconceived scenario.

Tom Stalcup

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