Highest Quality Critics Of
Are Marginalized
Phil Weiss On TWA 800
From The New York Observer (excerpt)
I turn to my favorite government story, the one that tells us about TWA 800. The fascinating thing about this case is the way that the skeptics have been isolated in this country, notwithstanding their considerable stature. Begin with a member of the official government investigation that has bravely challenged the findings: The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has virtually ridiculed the claim that old wiring initiated the blast, and pointed to holes in the fuselage that seem to suggest a high-energy explosion outside the plane. You will =never read about that in the mainstream press. The machinists join an impressive company of marginalized critics.
On the center right, there is the Association of Retired Aviation Professionals (ARAP) and former staffers to Congressman Michael Forbes, whose district the plane went down in (notably his former administrative assistant Kelly O'Meara, now a reporter for Insight).
There's former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Thomas Moorer, there's Accuracy in Media. There's the Village Voice and the widow of a Lockerbie victim who was appointed to a select Presidential commission on airline safety and who has now sued the government, saying her dissent on TWA 800 was cast aside.
On the lib-left, there are Dr. Tom Stalcup and Graeme Sephton, who have brilliantly analyzed the government's radar data for the Flight 800 Independent Research Organization (or FIRO). There's former CBS producer Kristina Borjesson, who went out the door in part over this case. Not to mention all the eyewitnesses on Long Island, whose accounts are insulted in the latest National Transportation Safety Board report.
Some of the questions these people raise are so compelling four seconds of crucial data from the flight data recorder seem to have been removed, says former TWA pilot Howard Mannthat any reasonable person who hears them has to at least question the official version.
These questions have been taken up in countless places outside the mainstream. The French and Australian press have covered Stalcup and Sephton, for instance. Or, there's the respected travel writer Joe Brancatelli of, who has attacked the FBI for bullying the NTSB and corrupting the investigation. A poll by Aviation Week lately found that two-thirds of its respondents did not believe the government findings on TWA 800. But the Clinton court cannot abide the skepticism.
The critics are routinely written off as conspiracy theorists, their points blacked out. The idea that our government might lie about, say a blown military exercise off Long Island is simply too preposterous, and damaging to world progress, to ever be discussed. It's Wen Ho Lee all over again. Ralph Nader has called this a "democracy gap." In which affluent corporations want you to spend your citizen-time this fall arguing whether the journey of an overstuffed daddy's boy from Tennessee is more compelling than the journey of a moronic mama's boy from Texas, much as you spent August arguing whether the corporatist Richard Hatch or the bleeding heart Kelly Wiglesworth should get the $1 million on Survivor.
This column appears on page 19 in the 9-25-00 edition of The New York Observer.

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