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FBI Stifled TWA Report, Paper Says

May 10, 1999|Reuters

WASHINGTON — The FBI suppressed a report blaming mechanical failure for the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 because its own theory was a bomb or missile, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Washington Post said that in January 1997, six months after the crash off the coast of Long Island that killed all 230 people on board, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms issued a report that the crash was caused by mechanical failure.

But the FBI dismissed the report as "unprofessional and reprehensible", according to the newspaper, because it was convinced the flight had been attacked. The agency declined to comment Sunday.

The paper said the FBI stuck to its missile theory despite protests from the ATF, the National Transportation Safety Board, the CIA and some of its own agents until agreeing in November 1997 that a mechanical problem caused a fuel tank to ignite on the Boeing 747.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who is conducting hearings on the issue today, told the Post they would show the FBI prolonged its investigation to boost its budget.

The newspaper said witnesses to be called at the hearings today will testify that the FBI was more interested in prolonging the investigation than finding the truth, that the FBI mishandled evidence and even enlisted the help of a psychic who attributed the explosion to a bomb in the left wing.

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