The attack against James Sanders


Even though the Sanders were found guilty, in a verdict which appeared to surprise even the judge, the Sanders did not receive any jail time, but merely probation.

Click for full size image

The Sanders after the sentancing.

Click for full size image

The Sanders holding a press conference following the sentencing. During the trial, discovery revealed that the NTSB had knowingly and deliberatly lied to the American people about the red residue found on the wreckage of TWA 800. Needless to say, even though the media covered the trial (as can be seen above), the proven fact of the NTSB's lie was never reported to the public.

Here is how the story was put out in public.

UNIONDALE N.Y. (AP) - A TWA pilot who worked in the hangar where 
the wreckage of Flight 800 was reassembled pleaded guilty Wednesday 
to stealing two pieces of seat fabric.

Terrell Stacey confessed to theft of government property.  He has been 
suspended from flying pending the outcome of the federal probe, but not 
fired, said airline spokesman Jim Brown.

Stacey told U.S. Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky that he gave the 
seat fabric to James Sanders who wrote a book called "The Downing of 
Flight 800" [the actual title is:  The Downing of TWA Flight 800] that 
claimed a missile was to blame.

"I, of my own volition, took two small pieces and gave them to him," 
said Stacey, of Pottersville, N.J. [12-10-97 2201 EST] 


Under Title 49, Terrell Stacey, as an NTSB investigator had the LEGAL RIGHT to remove items from Calverton hanger for the purposes of conducting chemical tests such as those provided by West Coast Analytical Service, Inc., in Santa Fe Springs. This is the lab which produced the chemical analysis published in the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Stacey may be fined and even fired by the NTSB, but he is not liable for any criminal charges.

Title 49 does have one criminal section: 1155(b). Congressional intent is clear:

"...the act would be amended so as to provide for the imposition of criminal 
sanctions against persons who knowingly and without authority remove any part of a 
civil aircraft involved in an accident or any property which may have been aboard the aircraft.
The Board [NTSB] witness testified in the hearings that numerous instances
have occurred where souvenir hunters thoughtlessly and, on many occasions,
maliciously carried off parts of aircraft wreckage which are vital to the accident
investigation.  Criminal penalties proposed in this bill will assist materially in
alleviating this problem by providing a reasonable and effective deterrent.

Note that this provision DOES cover the recent admission in a news story about James Kallstrom in which he removed a piece of the wreckage and gave it as a souvenir to the family of a crash victim. Kallstrom's actions fir the letter of the law and its intent. Stacey's action are consistent with the legal authority granted to him as an NTSB investigator to remove materials for the express purpose of testing.

In effect, the Government has charged Jim and Elizabeth Sanders with aiding, abetting and conspiring with Terry Stacey to steal the residue, which Stacey had a legal right to possess and test.

Did the Justice Department and FBI make an innocent mistake, forgetting to actually read the law? Hardly. The handling of this case has been one deliberate misrepresentation after another after another.

"According to the criminal complaint," FBI spokesman Joseph Valiquette wrote on December 5, 1997, "despite the laboratory test results, James Sanders misrepresented those results in media reports for which he was a source." This FBI statement was obediently broadcast across America by the presstitutes of the mainstream media as the FBI attempted to vilify Sanders' actions and discredit the results of the lab tests.

The Downing of TWA Flight 800, pages 133-137, describe how Sanders had the residue analyzed, providing the results to personnel from Hughes and Thiokol, people who knew solid fuel missiles. The commercial lab, West Coast Analytical Services, knew so little about missiles they had to visit the Morton-Thiokol web site in order to determine what tests would be most likely to identify the elements in the residue. They were competent to run the tests but had no background in the interpretation of the elements.

When the commercial lab learned from news reports and the FBI that they had analyzed residue from TWA Flight 800, it should have alerted them to the fact that the sample had spent two or more weeks submerged in salt water. A vital piece of information for any competent interpretation of the results.

Magnesium is 18% of the residue. Magnesium chloride is one of the principle salts from the ocean.

An essential part of solid fuel is perchlorate, which is water soluble. Once submerged in water it washes away and cannot be detected. A lab technician with the competence to interpret residue elements would have immediately known these facts. Instead, according to the FBI complaint, someone from the West Coast Analytical Services lab said the lack of perchlorate, along with the presence of a large magnesium presence, essentially eliminated the possibility that the sample was from a solid fuel missile.

Yet another "misdirection" by the FBI was announcing that the residue was glue, while ignoring not only the fact that the residue was found on only three rows of seats, but the fact that glue is a major component of solid rocket motors. Powdered aluminum and the oxidizer are mixed into a liquid glue, and the mixture poured into a mold until it solidifies.

The FBI maliciously misrepresented the facts in an attempt to publicly vilify Sanders as they prepared to use the Justice Department to destroy him.

The Government, by its own admission, illegally seized Sanders phone records in March and August 1997. Case law prohibits the Government from seizing a journalist's phone records without first notifying him of its intent, giving the target an opportunity to go to court and block the seizure. Except in "national security" cases, the federal courts consistently refuse to allow seizure. But Attorney General Janet Reno personally intervened in Sanders case and authorized the FBI to illegally seize the phone records. She personally authorized the arrest warrant for the Sanders.

Terry Stacey did NOT violate any criminal law. The Justice Department phone record seizure was NOT legal. So why was Liz Sanders handcuffed with her hands behind her back? Twice paraded before a throng of reporters and cameramen, and thrown into a dirty, cold holding cell next to a male counterfeiting parole violator? Then once again handcuffed with her hands behind her back and paraded by the FBI through the courthouse? Because she was a Government hostage being used in an attempt to manipulate her husband into pleading guilty to a crime he didn't commit.

In April 1997, in a face-to-face confrontation with the FBI and Justice Department, Sanders and his attorney were told essentially that, if Jim did not immediately begin to cooperate, the Government would do its best to indict his wife. They kept their promise.

Instead of picking up the phone, calling the Sanders' New York attorney, Jeff Schlanger, to tell him an arrest warrant was being issued and to bring his clients to the FBI's Long Island office at a specified date and time as is the normal practice for this type of alleged white collar crime, the FBI initiated a rolling surveillance of the Sanders home in Williamsburg, Virginia, attempting to arrest and drag them through the federal prison transportation system. But the Sanders were not home.

It's important to note here that the younger FBI agents apparently objected to this "different" handling of Liz Sanders. By all accounts these younger FBI agents who did not want to handcuff Liz Sanders, and drag her before the press in a gratuitous display. She had, after all, done absolutely nothing. Contrary to the public statements of the FBI and by Stacey's own statement in the above Associated Press Report, Elizabeth Sanders DIDN'T induce him to remove the seat fabric from Calverton. She had committed no crime at all. However, the senior FBI agent, James Kinsley, who also wrote and signed the Sanders' arrest warrant, ordered his subordinates to treat Elizabeth as one would treat a violent criminal. So it was that Liz was handcuffed hands behind back and thrown into a jail cell.

The bottom line is this. With Stacey making the statement that he took the seat pieces of his own free will (which he was legally entitled to do under Title 49), the Sanders have committed no crime. Not only does the first amendment protect Sanders, but there are laws which protect journalists who receive evidence of criminal actions no matter how that evidence is obtained.


  Legal defense fund contributions should be
made out to the "Jim & Liz Sanders L.D.F." and mailed to:

Speed & Schlanger
60 East 42nd Street
Suite 750
New York, NY  10165

Back To The Top.

Back To The Crash Page.

Back To The TWA Page.

Mail to:

drupal statistics