TWA missile theory co-author apologizes
Says report was 'reckless'
November 5, 1997
Web posted at: 9:19 p.m. EST (0219 GMT)
From Correspondent Christine Negroni
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Ian Goddard, co-author of a report that claimed the U.S. Navy shot down TWA Flight 800, has told CNN that those charges were "reckless and a mistake."
In a written statement to CNN, Goddard apologized to "all those in the Navy I have wrongfully accused" and to "those who believed in my efforts and who are now upset with me for my change of mind."
Goddard co-authored the report with former ABC news reporter Pierre Salinger and a third man, Mike Sommers.
Ian Goddard's statement to CNN
"While many witness accounts remain a mystery to me, I believe 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 and who are now upset with me for my change of mind.
"We all need to put our support behind the families of the victims of TWA 800. Many who died left children behind who now need your support... Please give."
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Goelz, on learning of the Goddard apology, said that Goddard had done real damage, particularly to the victims' families, by promoting charges that the Navy's "friendly fire" caused the July 1996 crash.
"He has caused innumerable people great agony," Goelz said, adding that both the FBI and the NTSB had to spend time responding to what were basically groundless accusations.
Goelz comments on the Internet
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Joe Lychner of Houston, who lost his wife and two daughters in the crash, told CNN that Goddard and Salinger owe an explanation to the American public.
The so-called Salinger report laid out an elaborate conspiracy theory that alleged a huge government cover-up following the TWA crash. Goddard had kept the theory alive on a Web site he created, which now appears to have been discontinued.
Goddard has recently E-mailed associates about his report. In those messages, Goddard called his support of the conspiracy theory "a big mistake," and said he only pursued the charges because he "wanted to give the government a black eye by any means that looked opportune."
Goddard says he wanted to promote libertarian ideology by encouraging distrust of the government.
When contacted by CNN about Goddard's statement, Salinger said that he is moving on from his investigation into the TWA crash, although he did not retract any of his charges that a Navy missile brought down the 747. Salinger called FBI Deputy Director James Kallstrom last week and told him that he was giving up his probe.
In his statement to CNN, Goddard asked that the public support the families of the victims of TWA 800 and that donations be made to the Flight 800 Family Relief Fund.
TWA Flight 800 crashed off Long Island, killing all 230 people on board. The FBI and NTSB have not yet named an official cause of the accident.