There is an enduring mystery that surrounds TWA flight 800. On the evening of July 17th 1996 TWA flight 800 took off from JFK Airport in New York. Minutes later it exploded killing all 230 people on board.
The government concluded it was a center fuel tank explosion that brought down the plane.
Others aren’t so sure about that explanation.
One such person is Jack Cashill who has written a book about TWA flight 800 titled “TWA 800: Behind The Cover Up And Conspiracy. Regenry Publishing).
Jack Cashill spoke with us about TWA Flight 800 and his book.
Q – Jack, where were you on July 17th, 1996?
A – I have to confess I don’t know where I was. I didn’t pay much attention to this for three or four years, but, when I did get involved I got involved with both feet.
Q – So, when you heard about TWA Flight 800 you didn’t think there was anything suspicious about it?
A – I was always alert to the possibility that there was more involved, but at that time, I like most Americans trusted the F.B.I., trusted our military, trusted are Navy. I had no reason to distrust them. I do now. It took me a while to reach that conclusion.
Q – Let me read you something from an Associated Press article: “The captain of TWA Flight 800 wondered about a crazy fluctuating fuel gauge and noticed how the jet was climbing faster than normal like a homesick angel in the final minutes before it exploded and crashed into the sea”. Shouldn’t he have tried to land immediately? I’d also seen something in a documentary on TWA Flight 800, when he saw the needle of a gauge going from left to right. When an engine light comes on a car’s dashboard, most people can’t run fast enough to their mechanic. Why didn’t the pilot or co-pilot immediately bring this to the attention of a mechanic?
A – There was some problem with one gauge but, it’s an irrelevant variable. It’s been proven. Even the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), never put any stock into it. They didn’t include it in any of their reports as having any meaning. It had nothing to do with the demise of TWA flight 800.
Q – Why didn’t he at least bring it to the attention of a mechanic?
A – From my understanding of it, neither of them thought it was particularly significant. There’s 100 things that could go wrong, some of which you’d worry about. Some of which you don’t. For instance in my car, my fuel oil gauge is always on. I stopped worrying about it a long time ago. (Laughs). It’s just one of those things in the system. These guys (Pilots and Co-Pilots) were experienced. They would not have taken off if they thought that was relevant. And besides, we know so much about what happened to that plane, that it had nothing to do with the fuel tank, nothing to do with the fuel gauges that were regulating the fuel tank.
Q – As I understand it TWA had a flight leaving New York for Paris every night.
A – Yeah.
Q – Had any other planes to your knowledge been sitting on a hot tarmac with the air-conditioning running and have any types of problems?
A – First of all, it wasn’t a hot day. The temperature at take-off was 71° which is relatively mild for a New York City summer. There are planes that sit in Cairo where the temperature is 120°F. So, it’s never been an issue. It’s a total red herring, the whole notion that it was one of those hot days. They kept aggravating the people creating the narration. They kept aggravating the variables that might have caused something other than a missile strike to down that airplane.
Q – Let’s say a missile did strike TWA Flight 800, so much time has passed could the truth ever be revealed?
A – It could be. I would say our best hope for that is a lawsuit that’s been launched by Tom Staleup a physicist, a non—partisan physicist who’s been hounding this case since it happened in 1996. A year ago his attorney John Roddy from the law firm of Bailey and Glasser filed a suit, technically on behalf of numerous family members. Based on the research of Staleup , the suit is stunning in its sophistication and detail. I read it. I met Staleup about 20 or so years ago. I interviewed him for a documentary that James Sanders and I did called “Silence.” He’s a no-nonsense guy and has been on this case almost within a year of it happening. No one knows more about the physics of it and the technical dynamics of it then Staleup does. It wastes no time in establishing what the central argument is. Here’s what it is: after the incident the Federal Government released a false report indicating that the explosion was a result of an electrical fire in the plane center. The real cause the suit argues was “Inherent United States Missile fired at aerial target drones flying nearby” Staleup describes the evidence as overwhelming. He’s gotten his information from the Freedom Of Information Act. A couple of suits that came out of it flowed out of his Freedom Of Information inquiries because people didn’t want to hear it.
Q – How soon would President Clinton have been told it was a missile that brought down that plane?
A – Almost immediately he would’ve been told that the plane had crashed. The question is, who told him exactly what, when and how? That is something of a mystery. Personally, I think Clinton knew immediately. The Navy is not capable of covering up a missile. They wouldn’t think to do it and they couldn’t have gotten away with it if they did not have the blessing of the White House.
Q – What if Pres. Clinton had gone public with the statement that a missile brought down TWA Flight 800, what would have happened? I know you’re probably going to say there would be a major lawsuit, but what else would have happened?
A – Well this is July 1996. Bill Clinton is running for re-election. He is running a desperate campaign. He almost didn’t get re-nominated after the shellacking Democrats took in 1994 in the house and the senate. They lost control of the house for the first time in 40 years it was unthinkable. So, they launched this remarkable illegal campaign to get themselves re-elected. They were finally back in a position to do it. Clinton’s great vulnerability in the eyes of the public was his role as Commander and Chief. If his Navy had shot down a plane off the coast of Long Island, it’s certainly would not have helped his re-election chances. It could have been catastrophic for that as well. Once he decided not to go with the truth immediately, it made it almost impossible for him to back up. Once they started giving out nonsensical answers it made it almost impossible for them to start over again and say, “Oh, we were wrong. It wasn’t a bomb after all. It wasn’t a malfunction. It was a Navy missile.” It would’ve looked horrible.
Q – How would you keep something like this secret? Wouldn’t it have leaked out by now? The guys on the ship would maybe have talked to their wives or girlfriends or parents or relatives.
A – Many of them talked. I’ve talked to 100 people literally who have a second-hand account of talking to someone. It’s a good question you raised. I raised that last month (July 2023). I met with a group of 80 veterans, many of them officers. Most of them retired. I said to them “here’s the question I get and tell me how you answer” because I was talking about TWA 800 why has no one come forward and put their name as witness to what happened?” They all kind of laughed. Of course no one has come forward. They wouldn’t have expected anyone to come forward. This was I’m sure a classified maneuver that the Navy was on at the time. They were testing out a new system. Whoever came forward would likely have lost their career and quite possibly have been arrested. Again, what’s worse is the New York Times wouldn’t have wanted to talk to them. It’s not what they wanted to hear.
Q – At the time.
A – No. They still don’t. So, for instance when Pierce Salinger comes forward in November, right after the election. He’s a good Democrat. He holds his fire and waits until after the election to come forward with this story in November 1996. He held a press conference in Cannes because the plane was on its way to Paris and there were many French people killed. The French media took a more objective interest in the case then the American media did. So, Salinger held a press conference. He’s factually correct. His information is on target. Within that month the New York Times runs four articles mocking Pierre Salinger, just imagine what they’d do to me. Salinger was the legendary J.F.K. Press Secretary and former U.S. Sen. and a Democrat and the media savaged him.
Q – The law firm that’s bringing this lawsuit, when is it going to happen?
A – Its in process now. Needless to say the government has thrown every roadblock they could in its path. I’m not sure of its ultimate outcome but, it’ll take a while. But, Staleup is persistent. I’ve met him and I can tell you he’s not a conspiring theorist. He’s the opposite of a conspiring theorist. And-he’s not political. He doesn’t like it for instance when I read politics into the dynamics of the case. But, I think it’s necessary to do that because nothing makes sense without it.
Q – And he has absolute scientific proof that TWA Flight 800 was hit by a missile, right?
A – For him, the smoking gun is the radar. I questioned him on this and it’s a smoking gun to him and other physicists. To a layman it’s difficult to interpret. What he sees happening on the radar is the way the debris flies out from the affected area of the plane which you can pick up on radar. They’re kind of being painted by the radar but, there is a transponder on a piece of wing. Having looked at it carefully. Having it interpreted, learned how to interpret it, he’s absolutely right. This is not an exploding fuel tank.
Q – I realized that there were quite a few eyewitnesses to this event, but police will be the first to tell you that no two people see the same thing the same way.
A – Curiously, it was the investigators that were the most helpful. The Suffolk National Police when they interviewed eyewitnesses who had GPS with them so they could actually trace their positions, much more accurately than the FBI could; the FBI were total amateurs in getting this information. You asked if you’re in different locations would you see different things; however according to the FBI’s own eyewitnesses more than 250 people saw this ascending object hit the airplane, 96 of those traced it from the horizon. Several of those were National Guard Pilots. They were other pilots. They were fishermen. They were people used to looking at the sea and know what they saw. These were serious people. Plus, we’re on the South Shore of Long Island this is a very wealthy area. These are people who are used to being taken seriously and they weren’t, because they couldn’t be. If they were… People will say there were a couple of eyewitnesses. No. There were over 250 eyewitnesses to a missile strike. There were 750 total eyewitnesses that the FBI interviewed. At the time the Internet was in its infancy so they weren’t capable of communicating with each other. Had they been able to, had the Internet been up and running in 1996, this case would have been busted in two days.
Q – Have you been threatened since the publication of your book?
A – I’ve had a ton of feedback on this book. I mean hundreds, maybe thousands of emails from very knowledgeable people in the aviation and military industry. To, almost a person they support me. I don’t worry about threats because I don’t have any first-hand information. All the information I have is information gathered from other sources. The people in danger from any kind of these incidents are the people who know something, someone on the inside. I’ve talked to a couple of these people who won’t go public. I can’t say I blame them because they have enough information to put their families and their jobs at risk.
Q – You have in your book that 90% of TWA pilots believe in a government cover-up. I’ve never seen that statistic before.
A – Yeah, and I would say that’s an accidental figure. How I got involved in this is in the year 2000 I attended a talk by James Sanders and his wife Elizabeth in Kansas City. I forgot. I just wasn’t making the connection that Kansas City had been the headquarter city of TWA. So, when I get to this meeting there are over 100 people there. They were angry and totally on the same side as Sanders. They believed there had been a government cover-up of a missile strike. About three quarters of them were TWA employees. When I did my book TV presentation in 2016, I did it at the TWA Museum in Kansas City before an audience of TWA veterans. As I said to them at the beginning, I would not dishonor the memory of those who were falling; 53 TWA employees were killed on the plane, by coming here in spreading some conspiracy theory. There wasn’t a person in that room who wasn’t on board with what I was telling them.
Q – TWA Flight 800 was probably responsible for TWA going out of business wasn’t it?
A – I believe it was. They certainly thought so. For them they had vested interest because there was an employee on the airline. They felt not only betrayed by the death of their colleagues, but screwed out of their livelihood and their money. By the year 2009, TWA was history.