Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 9 Num. 63

("Quid coniuratio est?")


                         By Mike Blair
                 (The Spotlight, Nov. 18, 1996)

Investigative reporters have focused on the possibility that TWA Flight 800 was shot down by a missile-bearing submarine on July 17. A CBS News reporter contacted The Spotlight to exchange information regarding the downing of the airliner, which cost the lives of all 230 people on board.

The CBS reporter said she was particularly interested in The Spotlight's reports that U.S. spy satellites had photographed the downing of the aircraft (Spotlight, Aug. 12 and subsequently).

This is one of the few times that the mainstream media has joined The Spotlight in a probe of a news story in the populist newspaper's 21-year history.

The Spotlight reported that a U.S. infrared spy satellite was in orbit over Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and had actually photographed the airliner being downed by a missile. Similar reports have appeared in New York newspapers.

Most mainstream reports are moving to the conclusion that neither a missile nor a bomb downed the jet, rather that it was some sort of accidental internal explosion bringing the plane down.

-+- Photos Studied -+-

According to Spotlight sources, the National Reconnaisance Office (NRO) was studying "frame-by-frame" photographs taken of the downing of Flight 800 to determine the type and origin of the missile responsible for the tragedy.

The NRO is the nation's most secret spy agency, which operates and collects the data obtained from the highly-sophisticated spy platforms in space orbit.

According to internal CBS memoranda provided to The Spotlight, the network news department has determined that Assistant FBI Director James K. Kallstrom, who is heading the bureau's probe of the crash out of New York, is "convinced it's a missile [that destroyed the airliner] and that he thinks the Pentagon is withholding information."

The Spotlight has researched details regarding an American guided-missile cruiser that was operating in the vicinity of the plane crash, some 10 miles off Long Island's southern coast.

It has been determined that the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, USS Normandy (CG-60), a 567-foot, 9,466-ton vessel commissioned by the Navy in 1990, was about 180 miles from the TWA jetliner when it was blown from the sky.

The Navy claims that the Normandy's air search radar was not working at the time the TWA plane was downed. According to the Jane's Fighting Ships, published in Britain, guided-missile cruisers of the Normandy's class are equipped with at least three air-search radar systems, each apparently capable of providing the others back-up.

The original area of ocean off Long Island determined to be part of the "crime scene" of the crash by the FBI and other federal agencies measured an area of 2,400 square miles. That would place the missile cruiser well within the area.

CBS says that a Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion was airborne at 10,000 feet, about 60 miles from the TWA airliner, when the missile struck the jumbo jet.

The P-3 Orion is one of the nation's key sub-hunting aircraft.

According to a CBS memorandum, Paul Ragganes, a CBS expert in the field of military weaponry, "says that the fact that the Normandy (a cruise missile carrier) was nearby, and that the P-3 Orion was even closer makes him think that the Navy was at least responding to a threat. If that's the case, the threat turned into a really ugly and embarrassing reality."

It has been reported in the media that a Navy H-60 helicopter was in the area where the TWA plane went down.

According to Jane's, the Normandy carries two SH-60B Seahawk helicopters, the Navy's version of the Army's UH-60 Blackhawk.

The Seahawk is equipped with a LAMPS III (Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System III). The purpose of the LAMPS electronics is anti-submarine warfare.

The Seahawk is also capable of releasing submarine-detecting sonobuoys into the sea where submarine activity is suspected.

The Orion is also capable of releasing sonobuoys.

The CBS reporter has queried the TWA Task Force, which consists of the federal agencies involved in the TWA probe, about the presence of the P-3 Orion sub-hunter being in the area of the crash and notes "this kind of aircraft is usually around when they're looking for a submarine, or they know one is in the water."

Since the downing of TWA Flight 800, the FBI and other federal investigative agencies have received more than 100 reports from individuals who witnessed a missile streak up toward the aircraft, just before it burst into flames.

At first, it was speculated that the airplane was downed by terrorists using a small shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile (SAM), such as an American-made Stinger.

However, some military experts, including explosive weapons specialist retired Air Force Gen. Ben Partin, believe that a larger, far more powerful missile was used.

The retired general said he believes that a far more sophisticated and larger radar-guided SAM was used, one that is fired from a fixed launcher, either from a ship, the ground or some type of mobile launching system.

It was, some experts contend, the type of missile that would instantly destroy its target, just as Flight 800 was destroyed, and not a shoulder-fired weapon that could just cripple its target but still leave it airborne.

"The type of missile that hit Flight 800," the retired general said, "was of a type intended to destroy a large strategic bomber, not just damage it and leave it to limp along to its target to deliver nuclear weapons."

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