FBI: Delivery of ATF Report on TWA Flight 800 Crash Page: 2 of 6
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ATF Report on the Cause of the Crash of TWA Flight 800
For the Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, Senate Committee on the
Did the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) forward to the National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) a January 20, 1997, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) report on
the crash of Trans World Airlines, Inc. (TWA) flight 800, as the FBI claimed in written and
oral testimony before the Subcommittee?
Central to a May 10, 1999, hearing before the Subcommittee was a January 20, 1997, ATF
report. That report concludes that the mechanical failure of the aircraft's center wing fuel
tank was the likely cause of the explosion that brought down Trans World Airlines, Inc.
(TWA) flight 800. At the hearing ATF Assistant Director Andrew Vita testified that he had
ordered the Special Agent-in-Charge of ATF's New York Office to deliver the report to the
FBI and, in the interest of public safety, to NTSB. On March 13, 1997, when ATF first
attempted to deliver the report, the then Assistant Director-in-Charge (ADIC) James
Kallstrom of the FBI's New York Office refused to accept it. Subsequently, ADIC Kallstrom
reluctantly received the report, but told ATF he did not want the report delivered to NTSB.
The Subcommittee determined that ADIC Kallstrom contacted Raymond Kelly, then Under
Secretary for Enforcement, Department of the Treasury, regarding the ATF report. Under
Secretary Kelly ordered ATF Director John Magaw not to deliver the report to NTSB. NTSB
officials informed the Subcommittee that they never received an official copy of the report
from the FBI.
Also at the May 10, 1999, hearing, Lewis Schiliro, the current ADIC of the FBI's New York
Office, produced a March 17, 1997, unsigned "transmittal letter" from ADIC Kallstrom to
NTSB Chairman James Hall as proof that the report had been delivered to NTSB. ADIC
Schiliro dismissed as "ludicrous" suggestions that the FBI did not deliver the ATF report to
* SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS
National Transportation Safety Board
Our investigation revealed that NTSB has no record of receiving the ATF report from the FBI.
Senior NTSB officials involved in the TWA flight 800 crash investigation are certain they
never received the ATF report, formally or informally, from the FBI. NTSB did receive an
unofficial or "bootleg" copy of the report from ATF. However, because this was not an
official copy of the report, NTSB was not able to refer to it in any of its public statements or
public documents. Hence, NTSB was not able to use it to help convince the Federal Aviation
Administration to force the airline industry to act faster to implement safety
recommendations concerning the center wing fuel tank on Boeing 747 aircraft.
GAO/OSI-99-18R ATF Report on TWA Flight 800
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United States. General Accounting Office. FBI: Delivery of ATF Report on TWA Flight 800 Crash, text, August 13, 1999; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302809/m1/2/: accessed December 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.