Suffolk County coroner, Dr.
Wetli, found shrapnel in 89 of
the bodies he examined.
June 10, 2002
TWA 800 Findings Challenged
By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid
THE TWA Flight 800 Independent
Researchers Organization, FIRO, has taken
the unusual step of filing a petition with
the National Transportation Safety Board,
NTSB, asking for reconsideration of the
findings on the probable cause of the
crash of TWA Flight 800
[in the Atlantic
after take off from New York].
Such petitions are entertained only if new
evidence has been found or a showing that
the NTSB findings were erroneous. FIRO
claims that some evidence that the NTSB
kept secret and which has now become
available for public scrutiny is new
evidence that shows that the official
findings were erroneous.
Their petition cites as one important
example metals of "unknown origin" that
were found in the bodies of many of those
who died in the crash on July 17, 1996.
The FBI asked the Brookhaven National
Laboratory to analyze pellets found in the
bodies. They contained zirconium and
barium, indicative of an incendiary device
foreign to a Boeing 747 airliner. The NTSB
acknowledges that the source of these
pellets is unknown and that the FBI did
not try to determine the source.
The Suffolk County coroner, Dr.
Wetli, found shrapnel in 89 of the
bodies he examined. The FBI compiled a
secret eight-page list describing the
metal found in each of the bodies. FIRO
has sued under FOIA
[the Freedom of
Information Act] to obtain this
list. The court ordered the FBI to release
it, but they are trying to get that
reversed on privacy grounds, claiming it
invades the privacy of the dead. That is a
spurious argument because the dead have no
privacy rights, but FIRO is not arguing
that point. It says it is not interested
in the names of those in whose bodies the
shrapnel was found. What it wants is its
description of the metal found in each of
those bodies. It is believed that a lot of
it will be pellets.
Retired Brigadier General Benton
Partin, who helped design missiles for
the Air Force, has said that the
Brookhaven Laboratory's analysis of the
composition of the mysterious pellets
suggests to him that they came from a
missile. The FBI and NTSB never showed
Gen. Partin or any other missile experts
the Brookhaven analysis. They were content
to list the shrapnel as coming from an
unknown source. Their throwing a secrecy
blanket over this evidence and their
failure to determine its source indicates
that they knew that sourcing it accurately
would undermine their claim that a
spontaneous fuel-tank explosion caused the
The penchant of the FBI and NTSB for
hiding, altering and finally destroying
TWA Flight 800 evidence is very revealing.
Last summer the NTSB, headed by a
Bush appointee, secretly sold all
the TWA 800 wreckage that had been kept at
the Calverton hangar as scrap metal to be
recycled. The buyer had to promise to keep
it secret to get the contract.
The NTSB claims that the reason the
buyer was asked not to tell anyone was to
keep away scavengers and souvenir hunters.
Why should the NTSB care about that once
it was no longer their property? We
believe they were determined to make sure
it was all recycled so that none of it
could be used as evidence to challenge
their finding of the cause of the
Reed Irvine can be reached at