Corrupted probe continues to reverberate

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Corrupted probe continues to reverberate
Exclusive: Jack Cashill looks at feds' silly science in light of this week's grounded planes

Posted: April 11, 2008
1:00 am Eastern

By Jack Cashill

Lurking behind the massive cancellation of flights this week due to faulty wiring is the explosion of TWA Flight 800 off New York's Long Island in July 1996 that killed all 230 people on board.

Although the plane in question was a Boeing 747, not an MD-80, the disaster, as the AP and other news sources have faithfully reported, "was blamed on fuel vapors ignited by wiring."

USA Today, in fact, quotes Bernard Loeb, the National Transportation Safety Board honcho, as saying that fuel tank issues are "very serious matters."

Loeb should know. As head of the TWA Flight 800 investigation, he did everything in his power to show how one could blow.

In fact, however, in its effort to avoid the obvious missile strike, the NTSB never got beyond rank speculation as to the cause of the TWA Flight 800 disaster.

To make the "fuel vapors ignited by wiring" theory work, the NTSB needed to establish at least two critical points.

The first was that the fuel-air mixture in the center wing tank was sufficiently volatile that the least spark could set it off. The second was that the aircraft was capable of spontaneously generating that spark.

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The theoretical spark itself would require two separate causes of its own – a break in the insulation of the wiring and a breakdown in the system that limits the strength of the current through those wires.

All these conditions were fully necessary to validate any mechanical theory for TWA Flight 800's destruction.

As the investigation evolved, NTSB officials steered their efforts to the realm of what scientists call the "unfalsifiable," the realm where theories can neither be proved nor disproved.

In early November 1996, Loeb told CBS's Ed Bradley that static electricity from a faulty Wiggins coupler most likely triggered the explosion. Loeb neglected to add that there was no evidence that any Wiggins coupler was faulty.

The FBI's James Kallstrom was reportedly furious at this indiscretion, but NTSB Chairman Jim Hall reassured Kallstrom that the NTSB "has more leeway to speculate because we're not bound by criminal legal standards."

With or without the Wiggins coupler, static electricity stood as Loeb's "pet theory."

It remained so, as AP reporter Patricia Milton noted, until "scientists at Wright Patterson laboratories had proved unable to produce a single scenario under which static electricity could have caused a significant spark."

After many fruitless experiments by outside labs, the NTSB contracted with Combustion Dynamics "to evaluate the consistency between the computer calculations of the full-scale CWT [center wing tank] combustion model and other information and evidence obtained during the investigation."

The NTSB had hoped "that by conducting this evaluation ... it would be possible to narrow the number of probable ignition location(s) within the CWT."

This hope was in vain. The NTSB had to concede defeat yet again: "Therefore, the rules-based analysis did not provide a definitive determination regarding the probability that any given location within the CWT was the ignition location."

With all of its investigative hypotheses reduced to rubble, the NTSB chose to reconstruct the results itself in a way more to its liking:

"Finally, analysis of the results of computer modeling of combustion in a full-scale CWT under conditions simulating those of TWA Flight 800 indicated that a localized ignition of the flammable vapor could have generated pressure levels that, based upon failure analysis, would cause the damages observed in the wreckage of the accident airplane's CWT."

Note all the "coulds" and "woulds." No outside scientific agency or person had made such a statement. In fact, all contracted testing and analysis ran counter to the NTSB speculation.

Even Patricia Milton, whose book on the crash – "In the Blink of An Eye" – read like an FBI defense brief, had to acknowledge that the CWT pieces retrieved and studied in one simulated explosion after another "bore no resemblance to those of Flight 800."

She consoled herself, however, with the thought that the government was at least "proving negatives."

By the year 2000, the NTSB had exhausted just about all possible scientific testing that might have reinforced its wiring and fuel vapor scenarios.

The scientific community had too much integrity to validate desperate theories either about fuel volatility or ignition sources. Accordingly, the NTSB ceased scientific inquiry along these lines.

From that point forward the board descended from modern science to old-fashioned alchemy and summed it all up in a fable worthy of Harry Potter, titled "Factors Suggesting the Likelihood that a Short-Circuit Event Occurred on TWA Flight 800."

In this report, aimless speculation goes on and on and on to the point of absurdity, considering the NTSB's acknowledgement that the computer modeling done by the two research laboratories – Sandia National Laboratory and Christian Michelsen Research – had failed.

"The results of that modeling could not be used to determine the most likely ignition location," said the report.

The NTSB officials, in fact, knew the whole exercise was a failure. At the final NTSB hearing, an honest staffer, Joseph Kolly, came to the following reluctant conclusion:

"The search for the probable ignition location was pushed to the limits of current technology. An accounting of the scientific uncertainties was meticulously maintained throughout the entire experimental, computational, and analytic processes.

"In the end, the uncertainties were too great to permit the identification of the probable location of ignition."

No, Joseph, the uncertainties were not too great at all. The ignition source was a missile. Mr. Loeb just did not let you in on it.

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The purpose of this archive is not to steal, but rather to preserve.  I always give full credit to the original source and have no profit motive or personal gain in presenting the above.  A link to the original post is always included for reference.  The original content is unaltered and the original appearance differs [if at all] mostly in the welcome absence of pop-up windows and advertisements.  Many of the outside links in the original article have been preserved as have most images (space allowing).  Over the last few years the internet version of " Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" has become all too common.  This archive is intended to act only as a backup resource in the event the original disappears.

Below is a table of all the articles in this series.  Clicking on any of the links will take you directly to that installment.

#01: New data prove CIA 'zoom-climb' a fraud #02: 270 people saw plane shot out of the sky #03: Richard Clarke's politicized exit strategy #04: One secret the Times has kept #05: What Jamie Gorelick knew
#06: Shrapnel evidence from victims holds key #07: How the FBI misled the public #08: An inconvenient truth for Al Gore #09: The man on the bridge and CIA deception #10: Key facts missing from CNN report
#11: More truth-tellers surface #12: Movement in D.C. on FBI cover-up #13: CNN and the disappearing zoom climb #14: Did Iraqi ops take out TWA 800 jetliner? #15: Spot-on report describes 3-missile attack
#16: Truth down the memory hole #17: The best evidence? #18: Not much 'discovery' at Discovery Channel #19: Missile witnesses needed now #20: Al Gore's Achilles' heel
#21: FBI suppressed video of TWA explosion #22: Stunning video of Flight 800 crash site #23: Clinton-Bush air disaster cover-up plan #24: 'Zoom climb' scenario falling apart #25: Are feds hiding crash imagery?
#26: 3 a.m. July 18, 1996 - Where was Hillary? #27: Corrupted probe continues to reverberate #28: Pilot sheds light on scandal #29: (may not be available yet) #30: (may not be available yet)

Check out the entire Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization (FIRO) website.

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