Fact Checking Goelz

The following is a reply from the TWA 800 Project to former NTSB Managing Director Peter Goelz’s inaccurate and misleading information, which he published on his personal website on July 8, 2014.

Goelz: Ms. Borjesson, Mr. Stalcup and their team continue their sadly misplaced and fundamentally toxic campaign to prove that they and only they can “connect the dots” and prove that the tragedy of TWA Flight 800 was the result of a shoot down by either the U.S. Government or terrorists.

–Ms. Borjesson, Dr. Stalcup, and their team never stated, nor do they believe that only they can connect the dots in this case. The evidence is abundant and clear enough now so that nearly anyone can. All the members of the team and others who have contributed to the Team’s work have connected the dots, and they include senior NTSB investigator (Ret) Hank Hughes, former top TWA safety official Captain Robert Young, Chief medical pathologist during the TWA 800 investigation Colonel Dennis Shanahan, former Suffolk County Medical Examiner in charge of all victim autopsies Dr. Charles Wetli, Party Coordinator of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers during the TWA 800 investigation Rocky Miller, and almost 120,000 citizens who have rated the Team’s documentary ‘TWA Flight 800’ on NetFlix giving it a very high 4/5 star rating.

–Mr. Goelz has been misinforming the public on this crash for nearly two decades. The Team’s film documents the TWA 800 Project Investigative Team exposing the malfeasance in which the NTSB leadership (which included Mr. Goelz), the FBI and the CIA engaged during the official investigation. So far, in their responses to the Team’s work, current and former NTSB representatives like Mr. Goelz have resorted to lobbing emotionally charged insults and making inaccurate statements. None have provided substantive, factual information to counter the contents of the documentary or the Team’s work.

Goelz: Luckily for the public the NTSB has, over the years, released tens of thousands of pages of evidence available to the public. Conspiracy entrepreneurs like Borjesson/Stalcup take advantage of this extraordinary openness by simply cherry picking what meets their twisted view and ignoring the preponderance of the evidence.

–Again, Mr. Goelz’s emotional statements have no bearing on the facts and evidence. What is the definition of a “conspiracy entrepreneur” and what evidence can Mr. Goelz provide of Ms. Borjesson, Dr. Stalcup, or any team member’s status as one?

Goelz: Let me reference three important documents that will put their efforts in perspective.

Goelz: First is a report prepared by the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake in December 1997.

–While Mr. Goelz helpfully provides a link to this report, he fails to mention a critical fact written therein: the report specifically states that it “is intended as a quick-look engineering summary, not a detailed scientific analyses”. But more importantly, the report clearly states that its purpose was “to investigate the possibility that a shoulder-launched missile was responsible for destruction of the aircraft.”

–The idea that a shoulder-fired missile was responsible for the crash was dismissed early on by experts at the CIA, Pentagon and various news outlets. Flight 800 was flying eight miles offshore and at 13,800 feet, putting it well out of range of any shoulder-fired missile launched from land, and very unlikely to have been successfully intercepted by a shoulder-fired missile fired from a boat. The absence of the unique damage signatures from these missiles was expected, and not surprising.

–The key question to ask Mr. Goelz is: Where is the report with a detailed scientific analysis investigating the possibility that a proximity-fused missile was responsible for the destruction of the aircraft? Our Team formally challenges Mr. Goelz to provide a link to any such report.

–TWA Flight 800 was well within range of many different proximity-fused missiles, which are designed to explode a significant distance away from their targets.

Goelz: It states “No conclusive evidence of missile impacts exists on any of the recovered wreckage of TWA Flight 800.

–The key word here is “impact,” which shoulder-fired missiles do. It is the actual impact that triggers their warhead to detonate. Proximity fused missiles do not hit their target, but are designed to explode a significant distance away from the target, inflicting damage with a blast wave and penetrating structures with occasional low and high velocity particles. Evidence consistent with such a missile was found throughout the wreckage, such as inward penetrations into the fuselage, high energy fractures, and explosive traces.

Goelz: No evidence of high-velocity fragment impacts exists, which indicates a live warhead did not detonate within or near the exterior of the aircraft.

–Again, note the language of “within or near”. Proximity fused missiles do not explode in close, but at a significant distance away from their targets. Therefore, they would leave no interior or close-in tell-tale high velocity pitting signatures at all. Particles ejected by a warhead decelerate extremely fast in the atmosphere due to air resistance, so by the time any particles/objects reached the aircraft their velocities would have been greatly reduced. However, other signatures such as those described above were prevalent throughout the recovered wreckage. Furthermore, multiple radar sites detected high speed particles exiting the area of the aircraft, further supporting the evidence of a high-velocity detonation of a proximity-fused missile.

Goelz: Additionally, a detailed inspection and analysis of all areas that a missile with a dud warhead could have impacted revealed no evidence of foreign object impacts consistent with this scenario.”

–A missile with a dud warhead scenario, if it had hit the aircraft, would have created its own unique straight-line path damage that the Team, like the author of this report, did not find. The actual evidence is consistent with the detonation of a warhead at a distance, so the Team does not believe a dud missile was responsible for the crash.

Goelz: The second is the testimony of “team member” Hughes before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on May 10,1999. Under oath Mr. Hughes was given the unfettered opportunity to tell his tale. The result? Nothing but a long whine about the FBI being bullies on scene and not following protocols Hughes thought important. FBI big footed smaller agency-dog bites mailman. What is new?

–Describing the fundamental evidence-gathering problems that Mr. Hughes described as a “whine about the FBI” raises serious questions about Mr. Geolz’s understanding of the bottom-line necessity of untainted evidence-gathering and how this is done in a major investigation. Even the FBI was concerned about their lack of experience in this area, which resulted in Mr. Hughes having to train most of the FBI’s Evidence Recovery Team in basic forensics so that evidence would not be altered or tainted. Among the problems Mr. Hughes detailed were: FBI agents at the Medical Examiner’s office failed to establish chain of custody on clothing and particulate matter taken from the ME’s office; blood-soaked passenger and crew clothing were improperly stored in a refrigerator trailer and when the trailer ran out of fuel, mold was left to grow on the evidence; FBI agent Ricky Hahn attempted to flatten pieces of wreckage, which altered that wreckage as evidence; the FBI took charge of victim recovery but failed to use GPS fixes to verify recovery location[s]; chemical swabbing wasn’t done on an ongoing basis; agents stuck knives and screw[drivers] into seat back [sic] which destroyed any chance of trajectory analysis.

–Mr. Hughes’s testimony had nothing to do with the FBI “big-footing” the NTSB and everything to do with FBI agents altering and tainting evidence as a result of their lack of experience—which Mr. Hughes was asked to rectify by training most of the members of the FBI Evidence Recovery Team.

Goelz: Finally I recommend an article from Scientific American entitled The
Conspiracy Detector. It is a short read but puts the efforts of Ms. Borjesson and her team in the appropriate perspective.

–The article Mr. Goelz recommends does not mention TWA 800. It is written by Michael Shermer who is an author of Skeptic Magazine and who has published excellent reviews on other subjects.

–The information above provided by Peter Goelz was published by Mr. Goelz after the TWA 800 Project released a Media Bulletin warning news outlets of the inaccurate information he has provided over the years. The relevant clip from this Media bulletin is below, and our rebuttal to his appearance on CNN where he provided many more inaccurate statements related to the crash of TWA Flight 800 can be seen here: http://youtu.be/9wEl8rMbXKA

–Our July 8, 2014 Media Bulletin: https://flight800doc.com/pr/

–Our Media Bulletin’s relevant section: Former NTSB Managing Director Peter Goelz: Mr. Goelz is not an airline crash investigator. While he did serve as NTSB Managing Director, his experience at the NTSB and elsewhere is in public relations. Even today, Mr. Goelz is a senior Vice President at O’Neal and Associates, a public relations and lobbying firm. Like Mr. Kallstrom, Mr. Goelz spread misinformation regarding TWA 800. In June 2013, he appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” where he misinformed the public throughout his appearance. See: http://youtu.be/9wEl8rMbXKA . Mr. Goelz echoed Mr. Kallstrom’s inaccurate statement that “nearly all” the eyewitnesses heard a sound first, and then looked up. Like Mr. Kallstrom, Mr. Goelz has resorted to insulting those who correct his inaccurate statements using official documents from the investigation.