9.07.2005

More Jamie Gorelick Links

I'm still reading Peter Lance's terrific book "Cover Up". At the end of chapter 6 Lance asks.
In short, why would the FBI's assistant director in charge of the New York office order the TWA 800 investigation to be terminated? WHat could James Kallstrom have possible learned in that August 22, 1996, Washington meeting with FBI director Louis Freeh, attorney general Janet Reno, and deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick that ultimately led him to call the man who was running the TWA 800 probe at Calverton and tell him to "shut it down"?

Lance is asking these questions after spending the previous 10 pages debunking the official explanation for remnants of RDX, PETN and nitroglycerine on TWA 800 as the poor handling of a canine unit at St. Louis International Airport. Kallstrom was the ADIC for the FBI for the TWA 800 investigation. His initial feeling was that TWA 800 was a criminal act of terrorism. After the Washington meeting his feeling changed dramatically.

Kallstrom was aware of the information that FBI informant Gregory Scarpa Jr. was gathering at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Scarpa was receiving "kites" -- small notes slipped through holes between cells -- from Yousef that he would then transport to Yousef confidants also being held at MCC. The FBI had given Scarpa a small camera to photograph the kites. The kites were messages with information on how to smuggle explosives onto an airplane. They also included schematics for a small bomb with a casio watch timer with explicit instructions as to where on the plane to place the bomb.

The information was alarming to the FBI. So much so that they created a phony mob front company that Scarpa used to gain the confidence of Yousef. Kallstrom knew from Scarpa's information and from phone taps collected from Yousef's phone calls routed through the phony mob front company. He knew Yousef was trying to get a mistrial. Yousef was trying to spoil the jury in the middle of his trial. Yousef spoke of killing the judge and prosecutors in his trial. Yousef was doing everything he could to corrupt his trial.

Lance unravels the official story of the presence of explosives on TWA 800 through multiple interviews with Herman Burnett, the officer responsible for the canine unit at the STLAP. Burnett swears that he didn't spill or mishandle any explosive material during his sweep of a 747 to test his canine unit. He makes several claims.
"I was pushed in a lot of directions back then," Burnett said.
...
"The truth is that I honestly can't say which plane we did the test on that day, But my notes, and my memory at the time the FBI talked to me, told me that It had to be the other plane. The one at Gate 52. I just wouldn't have had the time to do the test and finish by the time the TWA 800 plane took off. The feeling is, that it was a whole different plane altogether."

Burnett's feeling is pretty accurate. The day the TWA 800 aircraft left the STLAP there were two identical 747's parked at concourse C. One 747 departed at 12:35PM. The other at 1:45PM. The explosives test conducted by Burnett requires an aircraft that has four hours to spare. Burnett finished his test at 12PM.

TWA has its own standards regarding flights. They require that flight attendents arrive 90 minutes before their flight to prepare the cabin. The aircraft at gate 52 was not the TWA 800 aircraft. If it was the TWA 800 aircraft then flight crew checked, cleaned and stocked the cabin, filled it with passengers and departed STLAP in just 35 minutes. Or, a more plausible explanation, is that the aircraft at gate 52 was the one that departed at 1:45PM, a whole 105 minutes after Burnett concluded his test.

Our question remains, what happenned at the Washington meeting? Wouldn't we love to see those minutes? Wouldn't they seem relevent to the 9/11 Commission? Janet Reno, James Kallstrom and Louis Freeh all testified before the 9/11 Commission. One person at the meeting did not; Jamie Gorelick.

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