By Jack Cashill
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is saying out loud what others have been thinking since the news broke that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed soon after taking off from the airport in Tehran — namely, that “the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” likely unintentionally.
According to the New York Times, American officials also had a “high level of confidence” that the Iranians destroyed the airliner by mistake. One official specifically cited two SA-15 missiles fired from an Iranian air defense system.
If Trudeau proves right, this will not be the first time an anxious military accidentally shot down a non-threatening commercial aircraft. On July 17, 1996, a comparable missile strike destroyed TWA 800 off the coast of Long Island shortly after the Boeing 747 took off from JFK.
We know why the Iranians were antsy earlier this week. Their military fired off multiple missiles late Tuesday night at American targets and were likely expecting retaliation. On July 17, 1996, the American military had reason to be on edge as well.
Two days before the start of the Atlanta Olympics, the Clinton administration had the U.S. Navy on the highest state of alert since the Cuban Missile crisis. In this hair-trigger environment, accidents could happen.
Accidents had happened before in such an environment. On July 3, 1988, at the tail end of the Iran-Iraq War, an Aegis cruiser in the Persian Gulf, the USS Vincennes, fired two Standard Missiles at a commercial Iranian Airbus, IR 655.
IR 655 had reached 13,500 feet, a final altitude almost identical to TWA 800’s, when Capt. Will Rogers III gave the order to fire. Rogers and his crew had mistaken the ascending passenger jet with 290 people on board for a descending Iranian F-14, a fighter plane.
With the media’s help, the truth about the Vincennes ultimately surfaced. With the media’s help, the truth about TWA 800 was successfully buried, but here is what we have been able to dig up.
- In the last several years, researchers have unearthed an astonishing treasure trove of CIA documents and secured a confirmed video of a Long Island missile launch on July 12, five days before TWA 800’s demise on July 17. The CIA conceded that at least four witnesses had reported seeing a missile launch on July 7, 1996, as well. Note the dates. There is a pattern here.
- According to an air traffic controller at NY TRACON, “[a] primary radar return (ASR-9) indicated vertical movement intersecting TWA 800,” and then “TWA800” disappeared.
- As Clinton anti-terror czar Richard Clarke tells it, he immediately called a high-level meeting in the White House situation room after the crash.
- Illegally, but publicly, the FBI seized control of the investigation from the NTSB within hours of the crash.
- According to CIA documents, “[t]he DI [Directorate of Intelligence] became involved in the ‘missile theory’ the day after the crash occurred.”
- According to the CIA, within two weeks of the disaster, FBI agents had interviewed 144 “excellent” eyewitnesses to a likely missile strike and found the evidence for such a strike “overwhelming.”
- The CIA analyst boasted of discouraging the FBI from releasing its missile report. He seems to have succeeded.
- Two weeks later, the FBI permitted the New York Times to interview one and only one eyewitness. He saw the event out of the corner of his eye and thought it was a bomb.
- The NTSB eventually identified 258 eyewitnesses who had seen a glowing object streaking towards TWA 800. At least 56 had followed the object from the horizon.
- The Times interviewed none of the 258.
- At the FBI’s direction, the Times ran an above-the-fold, front-page headline on August 23, 1996, “Prime Evidence Found That Device Exploded in Cabin of TWA 800.”
- On September 19, the Times signaled the government’s switch from a “bomb” to a “mechanical failure alone” explanation.
- On September 20, to make sense of the switch, the FBI claimed that the TWA 800 aircraft had “previously been used in a law enforcement training exercise for bomb-detection dogs.”
- As was easily proved, the test in question did not take place on the TWA 800 plane, and the training aids did not match in placement or in composition the explosive residue found.
- The eyewitnesses were not so easily explained away. With the NTSB illegally shut out of witness review, the FBI turned the task over to the CIA.
- Working with just one third of the witness statements, the CIA concluded that the eyewitnesses saw the nose-less aircraft ascend more than 3,000 feet, mimicking the path of a missile.
- In April 1997, a dissenter on the FBI missile team, Steve Bongardt, demanded to know why the CIA failed to account for the eight witnesses who saw an object “hit the aircraft.”
- To sell its lie, as the CIA documents prove, the CIA created at least three critical witness statements from whole cloth and flagrantly corrupted more than two hundred others.
Let the Iranians worry about Iranian screw-ups. It is past time we investigate our own.
Jack Cashill is the author of TWA 800: The Crash, the Cover Up, the Conspiracy and, with James Sanders, First Strike.