William S. Donaldson, III - USN, Ret.
Associated Retired Aviation Professionals
P.O. Box 90, Clements, Maryland 20624
September 24, 1998
Mr. Louis J. Freeh - Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
Subject: TWA Flight 800 – Conflicting statements about surface vessels by FBI Deputy Directors James Kallstrom and Lewis Schiliro.
Reference: Interim Report to the House Aviation Subcommittee, July 17, 1998
My 3 December 1997 certified letter to you pointed out serious faults with both the NTSB and FBI investigations of the TWA Flight 800 incident. Nine months later I am still waiting for a response. Your office is apparently avoiding answering the fifteen questions posed in that correspondence. I have decided to post a series of letters to you addressing major findings of our investigation to keep you informed. They will also be published as sequential exhibits in our interim report to Congress and placed on the Internet at http://members.aol.com/fl800/index.html. We and the thirty thousand people who have read the report on the Internet would appreciate a response.
The subject of this letter addresses a simple dilemma. Both Deputy Directors, Kalstrom and Schiliro are now on record in direct conflict attempting to explain to congress and the American people the identities of suspicious surface radar contacts in the immediate vicinity of Flight 800 when it exploded.
On 2 April 1998, Congressman Trafficant’s office forwarded six questions to your New York office regarding the Flight 800 investigation that I co-authored. They addressed release of witness statements, identification of radar contacts, anti-aircraft warheads, etc.
On 27 July 1998, 10 days after our Interim report to Congress was released that highlighted highly suspicious radar contacts, Mr. Schiliro, the Acting Assistant Direcrtor of the FBI finally responded to Congressman Trafficant's inquiry. The one hundred and sixteen-day delay in answering the rather simple 6-question inquiry is unfortunate. That response is now posted as Exhibit 31 in the Interim Report. That response was also highly deceptive and will be the subject of additional correspondence.
Please recall Mr. Kalstrom’s quote in November 1997, “we turned over every rock 10 times.” That statement was offered up to the American people during the FBI’s Press Conference when you dropped the investigation. Apparently the FBI’s rock garden didn’t include a high-speed surface vessel almost underneath Flight 800 when it exploded. We have extremely credible witness testimony that implicates that vessel as a probable missile firing point (see Exhibit 15 of the Interim Report).
The FBI’s official representation to the Congress as to the identity of that 30-knot surface contact is in Mr. Schiliro’s incredible answer to Congressman Trafficant’s second question. He states “In January 1997, the FBI first noted the presence of a surface vessel, which because of its speed of between 25 and 35 knots, is believed to be at least 20-30 feet in length, approximately 2.9 nautical miles from the position of Flight 800 at the time of the initial explosion, …” and later, “the FBI has be unable to identify this vessel. However based on our investigative efforts, we are confident it was not a military vessel.”
Mr. Freeh, that first compound sentence is incredible. It admits; (1) the FBI took five months to examine the Islip ASR8 radar tape for surface contacts when witnesses were describing surface to air missile fire the first day; (2) the FBI dropped the investigation leaving this radar target unidentified although it was implicated by witness testimony as a possible source of missile fire.
Further, the answer to question two misleads the reader by inference that the contact was a small boat, “at least 25-35 feet in length.” This was a very strange small boat indeed, because loss of radar contact at over 26 nautical miles from Islip ASR8 radar antenna means the ship’s superstructure would need to be 100 feet tall to be illuminated due to the curvature of the earth.
Mr. Freeh, I would point out the mastheads and upper superstructures of Naval Surface Combatants range from about 100 ft. to 200 ft. above sea level dependant on the type of ship. I also have in my possession a taped conversation held on 14 September 1998 between Deputy Director Kalstrom (Retired) and Mr. Reed Irvine, Chairman of Accuracy in Media. That conversation puts Deputy Director Kalstrom on record with two startling new facts. He alleges:
- The 30-knot surface contact was a helicopter.
- Three of the surface radar contacts were U.S. Navy vessels conducting classified operations.
Mr. Kalstrom’s theory about the 30-knot surface contact being a helicopter is extremely improbable. Helicopters do not fly at 25-35 knots for extended distances because that speed range, (between hover and slow cruise) is a very uncomfortable flight regime. It requires inordinately high power and the airframe vibrates badly. It is unsafe at low altitudes because the pilot would have little or no time to transition to auto rotation on loss of an engine before water impact.
Please note, Mr. Trafficant’s fourth question. It asked if the FBI would identify all the surface vessels and aircraft in the vicinity of TWA Flight 800? Mr. Schiliro’s answer was NO, citing the Privacy Act, Title 5, US Code, Section 552a. This is absurd, US Naval Vessels don’t have privacy rights. Furthermore, if they were in close range and failed to assist in a disaster at sea, they would be violating both US and International law.
Mr. Kalstrom’s statements to Mr. Irvine are very disturbing because, if true, it brings the Department of Defense aboard with elements of the State Department, CIA, Transportation and Justice Departments already participating at some level in a cover-up of this incident.
Mr. Freeh, my career included years of sea duty assigned to airwings and to operations departments of aircraft carriers and even operations on a fleet staff. I can assure you the following:
- Navy ship movements are not normally classified after the fact.
- Exercises and routine training are done in deep water and in appropriate warning areas after notice to airman and mariners are provided.
- The Navy does not do classified operations in shallow water and in busy international shipping lanes unless there is a perceived real threat.
- They are rarely done without the concurrence of the civilian National Command Authority.
- We have eyewitnesses who place air-defense surface combatants loitering at various places along the Long Island beachfront during the afternoon and early evening before the incident. Two witnesses at Davis Park, 15 miles west of the incident sighted a combatant going slowly east just beyond the outer sand bar 2 ½ hours before the shootdown.
- Answers by the Navy to journalist’s FOIA requests and congressional inquiries into ships positions do not account for these eyewitness statements of sightings.
- Navy Captains and Naval tactical action officers anticipating any possibility of employment of naval gunfire or anti-aircraft missiles against a threat close to Long Island, would position as near to the beach as practical. Potential weapons fire would then be seaward, reducing the possibility of collateral damage or loss of life ashore.
Director, were Mr. Kalstrom’s classified naval operations ships in place because of the Shinnicock Coast Guard incident exactly three weeks earlier @ 22:29 EDT, 26 June 1996?
The Shinnicock Coast Guard incident will be the subject of later correspondence. A timely response will be appreciated by the American People.
William S. Donaldson, Cmdr. USN Ret.
Web address: http://members.aol.com/fl800/index.html
Exhibit 33: Soviet SAM 6 Missile The September 25, 1998 Donaldson Letter to the FBI.
Exhibit 34: Shinnecock Red Flare Incident The September 26, 1998 Donaldson Letter to the FBI. [Possible missile fire incident 22 days before the TWA 800 crash]
Commander Donaldson's TWA 800 Letters A chronological listing of Commander Donaldson's correspondence with the TWA 800 investigation.
The TWA 800 - Missile Website Roadmap
A comprehensive guide to the Missile Theory Websites.