|Report on the NTSB Hearings
by Tom Stalcup - Chariman of FIRO
The NTSB Board meeting on TWA 800 was slanted heavily toward the spark
theory, as many FIRO members expected. The NTSB spent an inordinate
amount of time and effort researching and discussing possible ignition
sources, leaving their knowledge of the details of other theories severely
This was most evident in their discussion of the eyewitnesses.
Witness Group chairman Dr. Mayer made many mistakes while attempting
discredit eyewitnesses, including those published by TWAEWA (TWA
Eyewitness Alliance) in the Washington Times full page ad. I
critique Dr. Mayer's statements within the next few weeks.
But what disturbed me the most was the Q&A session. Board
suggested that the eyewitnesses who reported seeing a missile or ascending
object were drunk. The audience gasped and murmured after this
insinuation. Prior to this, Chairman Hall asked Dr. Mayer, "Is
conclusion that the witnesses that said they saw a streak of light
see a streak of light?"
I then yelled out from the audience, "Ask the eyewitnesses!" Security
then began to descend upon me, only to be called off by Chairman Hall,
warned me not to make any more outbursts. I apologized and made
Earlier in the day, David Neal and I met with Chairman Hall privately
his office. His personal secretary was also present. David
informed the chairman of our dissatisfaction with his opening
statement--specifically when he singled out the independent investigators,
saying that "they do a disservice to us all, but most especially to
the TWA 800 families, who have suffered so much in this tragedy."
informed the Chairman that there are several family members that deeply
appreciate our work and think that is the NTSB who is performing the
David and I also discussed some other differences, but remained cordial
and professional throughout the meeting. Chairman Hall appreciated
position and offered to meet privately with David, FBI Director Louis
Freeh, and myself some time soon, in an attempt to help answer any
remaining questions that we may have. Two separate times during
Hall told David and me that he is committed to setting up the meeting.
will definitely do our best to make this meeting happen.
Then at 6:00 PM today, at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, we held a press
conference to give our response to the NTSB meeting. Family member
Gross joined us in the press conference. C-span covered this
conference, which is scheduled to air later tonight at 2:45 AM, after
NTSB coverage. In summary, David did an excellent job representing
position, and Marge Gross looked into the camera and spoke directly
Chairman Hall, reversing his opening comment about the independent
investigators "with their own agendas." Hall will be quite uncomfortable
if he watches. I presented evidence the NTSB overlooked regarding
eyewitness testimony and highlighted inaccuracies in the NTSB Witness
presentation by Dr. Mayer. I also blasted member Black for his
about his suggestion that the "streak of light" eyewitnesses were drunk.
Family members Michel Breistroff and Donald Nibert were also present
the press conference and were scheduled to make statements. Each
during the press conference, and appeared quite disturbed after a family
member meeting with Chairman Hall.
Yesterday, I attempted to bring 25 copies of a letter to the Senate
NTSB investigator Hank Hughes into the board meeting. In the
Hughes complained about "an inexcusable absence of leadership" in the
investigation, among other things. NTSB security would not let
any in, but I objected because there were 10 individuals seated with
who wanted to see the letter. NTSB allowed me to bring in 11
Moments later, Reed Irvine (head of Accuracy in Media) was *carried*
of the meeting room for handing out copies of a full-page ad from the
eyewitnesses, and refusing to leave on his own. Irvine (> 80
on the floor before being carried out by NTSB security. Strict
over information was obviously a top priority for the NTSB.
There was plenty more that happened during the past few days, including
the fact that the first FIRO press conference, on Monday, was packed
cameras and media reps. from CNN, ABC, NBC, AP, AFP, TF1, local D.C.
stations and others. Many questions were asked of nearly all
presenters, but surprisingly, there was little to no splash made in
airwaves. I plan to spend the rest of the summer writing up a
critique of the NTSB's final report, and hope that other FIRO members
be willing to help.
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