The photograph shows the faces of three guests at a party in a beachside restaurant at East Quogue, Long Island, NY, on July 17th 1996. High in the darkening sky behind them is the small silhouette of a slim black object at one end of which some luminous efflux is visible. An enlargement of the object in the main photograph shows what appears to be a long cylindrical tube, perhaps 25-30 ft in length, travelling more or less horiontally with a rocket-like exhaust -- in other words, some kind of missile.
In case this story has not appeared in the news in the U.S. at this time, I will now quote the whole 'Mail on Sunday' story:
It is a photograph of a party in full swing. But this seemingly innocuous snapshot may hold the key to the appalling disaster that took place just ten miles away.
The date of the party at a beachside restaurant at East Quogue, Long Island, was July 17, nearly four months ago. Linda Kabot began photographing her friends at 8.21 pm. She was still snapping away when, at 8.48 pm, TWA Flight 800 exploded 29 minutes after take-off and plunged into the sea, killing 230 people.
In the corner of one of Mrs Kabot's pictures is a mysterious long shadow, high in the night sky and brightly lit at one end. It is heading south-west on, claim some observers, a collision course with the doomed Boeing 747 which had just left John F Kennedy Airport for Paris.
The extraordinary image has fuelled the often fevered speculation among Americans that the plane was destroyed by a missile. The theories about the tragedy are numerous -- accident, mechanical failure, bomb -- and some have taken on the proportions of an X-Files plot. The FBI has spent 100 days and more than $20 million (13.5 million pounds sterling) investigating the explosion without producing an explanation.
When Mrs Kabot, a local government worker, had her film developed four days after the tragedy, she thought the strange image was a scratch. But her school teacher husband Lance was fascinated by the cylindrical shape and had the image enlarged. Alarmed by what they saw, the Kabots alerted the FBI. The photograph was whisked by helicopter to Washington to be examined in the FBI's laboratories while the couple were taken back to Docker's Restaurant to pinpoint where the picture was taken.
Helicopters plotted a possible trajectory for the object, and the Kabots were interviewed several times. But days later the FBI returned the negatives saying the photograph did not prove anything. However, they instructed Mrs Kabot not to show the photos or talk about them to anyone.
For three months she obeyed the edict, but became increasingly uneasy about the imposed silence. "They spent several days here but all they would tell me was that they could not draw any conclusion", she said. Officially, the FBI thinks the involvement of a missile 'highly improbable', with some investigators suggesting that the object in Linda Kabot's picture is a discarded cigar.
But what cannot be denied is that the photograph appears to corroborate numerous other sightings that night of a bright light crossing the sky seconds before the plane exploded. Conspiracy theorists believe the disaster may have been caused by 'friendly fire' -- a US missile fired in error from a ship or a land base.
They predict that Linda Kabot -- and the American people will learn the truth about her extraordinary photograph only when the presidential election is safely over. Or when Mulder and Scully get there.
(The Mail on Sunday, London, 3rd Nov 1996)
The conclusion that TWA800 was struck by a surface-to-air missile has been strengthened considerably in recent weeks. There appears to be no sign whatever of chemical traces on recovered bodies and seats, etc., from within the fuselage, which would certainly have been the case with an on-board terrorist bomb. The case for mechanical failure in the form of a massive explosion of the central fuel tank now seems implausible with the recent announcement that fuel sensors, previously suspected as a potential cause of the explosion, have now been removed from the list of possibilities.
Although there were, according to reports, sightings by ten or more separate observers of a streak of light travelling towards the aircraft just before the explosions which destroyed it, the investigating authorities seem to have deliberately played down the suggestion that TWA800 was struck by a missile. Having always been of the opinion that a missile was the cause of the tragedy, I was recently able to make some inquiries about the disaster and the people I asked were likely to be among those best informed.
A month ago during the course of a long stopover at St Louis Airport (home of TWA) I had the chance to talk about the matter with a number of TWA flight crew. The unofficial word among TWA employees was that TWA800 had indeed been struck by 'friendly fire'. Although specific details as regards who fired this missile were not forthcoming, it was said that it almost certainly came from a US Navy ship which was among a number on exercises in the waters off Long Island. Whether it was fired accidentally or deliberately fired by some criminal madman was not known.
Naturally all of these TWA employees were horrified and distressed by what had happened and there were instructions that the subject should not be discussed publicly. They were unanimous that nothing about this would be revealed by the government until after the presidential election. There would, of course, be an inquiry but most believed that the true cause of the disaster would remain deliberately concealed and a verdict would be given that the fatal explosion was due to unknown causes. To concede that the tragedy was caused either by an accidental or deliberate act by a US citizen was so totally unacceptable that it would most likely never be revealed.
I was also told that the CEO of TWA had twice been summoned to the Pentagon during the preceding month (September). No public announcement about this had been made. This link between the inquiry into the accident and the US military was seen as additional indication that the cause may have been 'friendly fire'.
A senior scientist at JPL in California has also told me that he had heard the disaster was caused by a missile launched from a USN ship. This had come from people who one would certainly expect to have access to reliable information on these matters.
As American voters go to cast their votes this week they should certainly ponder whether they want the sort of government that apparently keeps the truth from its citzens -- however hard that truth might be to bear. But this is not a partisan matter since both Democrats and Republicans have long supported such policies in the name of security. It is more a question of whether the Cold War mentality of the last fifty years should be allowed to prevail at the expense of truth.
Original file name: CNI - Conspiracy.TWA800
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