Falmouth Man Presses CIA to Release TWA Flight 800 Documents
By: Christopher Kazarian, January 8, 2014
Fighting the law is one thing, but the Central Intelligence Agency is an entirely different matter.
But that is exactly where Thomas Stalcup of East Falmouth finds himself in an effort to shed new light on the government’s involvement in the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, bound for France from JFK Airport, in which 230 passengers and crew were killed shortly after takeoff.
His interest in the crash occurred when he was watching a CNN broadcast of an FBI press conference while he was a graduate student at Florida State University, finding it curious as to why the CIA was even involved in the investigation. And the agency’s final report was even more suspicious, he said, as it not only preempted the National Transportation Safety Board’s hearing on the matter, but neglected to account for 96 eyewitnesses who reported what appeared to be a missile launching roughly 10 minutes after flight 800 took off and which they believed subsequently struck the aircraft.
Dr. Stalcup’s research into the subject led him to uncover what he believes are a series of cover-ups at the highest level of government which has maintained the crash was the result of a gas tank explosion.
Over a decade’s worth of research, including scientific analysis of radar data, led him to producing a documentary titled “TWA Flight 800,” which aired last July on Epix. The film features six former investigators on the case who claim that the investigation ignored several important facts and allege a missile is the probable cause for the plane crash.
Since then the movie has drawn the attention of media, including CNN, NPR, 60 Minutes Australia and Fox News, where Dr. Stalcup has attempted to disprove the CIA’s theory and convince the public that the NTSB case should be reopened. And the film continues to do well with audiences, Dr. Stalcup said, having “received between 50,000 to 60,000 reviews on Netflix. And it even has a higher rating than Netflix’s own production with Kevin Spacey, ‘House of Cards.’ I couldn’t be happier with the success.”
But outside of that recognition, Dr. Stalcup still has yet to receive the validation necessary to substantiate his 17 years of work to reveal the truth of what really happened to TWA Flight 800.
At some point this year he may be closer to that point than ever before when the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston rules on a request he has filed to obtain CIA documents related to its analysis of the radar data. Although Dr. Stalcup has that 20-page report, his version is almost “entirely whited out,” he said. “I don’t have anything except the subject heading. They are not allowing us to see anything in the report because most likely it is quite embarrassing and would invalidate their theory.”
Court Brief Filed
Last Monday Dr. Stalcup’s attorney, Richard K. Latimer of Falmouth, traveled to Boston to drop off an 81-page brief that presents their legal argument as to why the CIA should provide his client with that report and other documents pertaining to the crash.
“The CIA had enough information to raise the question of an errant military American missile launch, whether it was human error or defective software,” Mr. Latimer said last week.
He questioned the CIA’s refusal to take eyewitness testimony into account before presenting its theory of what occurred. “Before the hearing by the NTSB and after the CIA had come out with its video the FBI director sent a letter to the NTSB chairman saying, ‘Let’s not call any of the eyewitnesses because we don’t want to undermine the CIA’s work,’ ” he said.
And when the eyewitness reports finally were revealed, Mr. Latimer said, government officials suggested “they all had faulty memories... These were all independent witnesses. I could understand if it was two here or three here, but 90 people who all see the same thing, some of whom are miles apart from each other, give the same stories to the FBI or NTSB within, at most, two weeks, but ‘Oh, they had faulty memories...’ What a wonderful world the CIA must think we all must live in.”
It is why he and Dr. Stalcup believe the CIA’s investigation should raise suspicion among the most casual observers.
Underlying the court case, Mr. Latimer said, is the fact that lives were lost and the airline, airplane manufacturer and insurance companies “have all been left on the hook and it wasn’t their fault. It is some serious [expletive] and why? Because the CIA is playing secret games out there on Long Island Sound? We don’t think this was intentional to kill people on that plane, but it is a cover-up of government ineptitude, colossal government ineptitude.”
To learn more about Thomas Stalcup's documentary "TWA Flight 800" visit the film's website here.
If the court rules in Dr. Stalcup’s favor there is an almost 100 percent chance the case would be sent to the Supreme Court. Dr. Stalcup explained that is because there is a similar case in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of California rejected a similar request so “you cannot have two courts disagreeing with each other.”
As to whether the court will side with Dr. Stalcup’s request is still unclear. Mr. Latimer said the next step is for the government to present its brief before the three judges who sit on the First Circuit Court of Appeals review the documents and hear oral arguments that should take place at some point in the spring. Mr. Latimer anticipated a decision should come in the summer.
And even if they do not receive a favorable opinion, Mr. Latimer said, he would ultimately file a petition to have the case heard by the Supreme Court.
As to why they would go to such lengths, Dr. Stalcup said yesterday the case would hopefully take a step toward correcting a larger problem in today’s society. “To be able to knowingly release fraudulent info which they have done is the definition of propaganda which should be and is illegal,” he said. “What else is important is the major news outlets allowed this to happen. They are remaining quiet while no one has challenged anything we’ve put forward because it’s based on evidence and whistleblowers coming forward. They are not stepping up to the plate and it is time to force them to. And it is why I think the lawsuit will prevail in the end and hopefully we’ll be one step closer to correcting a corrupt and harmful relationship between major news networks and elements in our government.”