November 6, 1997 in Nation/World

Web Accuser Apologizes For Twa Missile Charge Says Targeting Navy For Flight 800 Crash Was Attack On Government

Larry Mcshane Associated Press

A man who used the Internet to accuse the Navy of shooting down TWA Flight 800 told CNN Wednesday that his actions were “reckless and a mistake.”

Ian Goddard said he just wanted “to give the government a black eye by any means that looked opportune,” according to Cable News Network. “TWA 800 was just a vehicle for my larger agenda.”

In March, Goddard released a report on the Internet claiming that the government was covering up that a Navy missile brought down the plane in July 1996, killing all 230 people on board.

The report, co-authored by former White House press secretary Pierre Salinger and Mike Sommer, contained few documented facts and was packed with unattributed quotes, technical jargon and rambling speculation.

Goddard identifies himself as a Libertarian and investigator into various purported government plots.

In a brief message to CNN, Goddard acknowledged that “my effort to pin the crash of TWA 800 on the Navy was reckless and a mistake. I apologize to all those in the Navy I have wrongfully accused.

“I also apologize to those who believed in my efforts who are now upset with me for my change of mind,” Goddard concluded. “We all need to put our support behind the families of the victims of TWA 800.”

A message left by The Associated Press at Goddard’s Maryland home Wednesday was not immediately answered.

Salinger said Wednesday that Goddard, in a recent conversation, had not mentioned his change of heart.

Salinger, who says he still believes the government was behind the disaster, added that he had called New York FBI boss James Kallstrom about 10 days ago to say that he was no longer actively investigating what brought down the plane.

“I was attacked so much by the press and by the FBI that I decided I would not speak about TWA 800 right now,” Salinger said Wednesday. “I told (Kallstrom) I was pulling away from talking about it, but not my views on it.”

FBI spokesman Joe Valiquette confirmed that Salinger called Kallstrom last week in a “brief and cordial” conversation. He refused to provide any details.

Searches of the Internet for Goddard’s work showed an index of pages referring to Flight 800 and its cause. But the actual pages were taken off the Internet and unavailable Wednesday.

The military has steadfastly denied any involvement in the explosion that brought down the Boeing 747 off the coast of New York’s Long Island shortly after it took from Kennedy International Airport en route to Paris.

Investigators say the blast was caused by an explosion in the plane’s center fuel tank, but the trigger for that explosion remains undetermined.

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