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Text of FBI letter to TWA Flight 800 families

FBI Letter November 13, 1997
Web posted at: 10:13 a.m. EST (1513 GMT)

In a letter to the families of TWA Flight 800 victims, FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom informed them that the FBI had ended its criminal portion of the crash investigation. The following is the text of that letter.

In early summer, I wrote to you stating that the FBI had entered what could be the last phase of the criminal investigation into the TWA Flight 800 tragedy and that I would communicate to you as soon as we were in a position to reach a conclusion and prior to any release going to the public in general. We are now in that position.

As you all know, the FBI's investigation into this tragedy has been one of the most far-reaching, thorough, exhaustive and expensive ever conducted by this agency. The FBI and the law enforcement team interviewed more than 7,000 individuals, conducted extensive forensic testing, engaged in extensive and unprecedented research and analysis and accomplished the largest aircraft reconstruction mock-up in commercial aviation history.

Our agents have worked in a team effort with the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and in close collaboration with all the members of the United States intelligence community, pursuing every theory with equal vigor, including conspiracy theories, such as "friendly fire" that gained media prominence at various times over the past sixteen months.

While I am totally confident that these conspiracy theories have no factual basis, I realize that those who want to believe that a conspiracy exists or sadly, seek to profit for promoting such theories will seldom admit they are mistaken. In sum, every lead has been covered, all possible avenues of investigation exhaustively explored and every resource of the United States government has been brought to bear in this investigation. In my 28 years of FBI service, I have never encountered such exceptional interagency cooperation at every level.

As I have stated repeatedly since the beginning of this investigation, we have been dedicated to conducting the most thorough, complete, finest investigative effort that the FBI can produce with the sole goal of determining with a high degree of certainty, if there is any evidence that the TWA Flight 800 catastrophe was the result of a criminal act, including a missile, or a bomb, and if so, to bring those responsible to justice. Having conducted just such an investigation, I must report to you, and in the near future will be reporting to the public that our investigation has found absolutely no evidence to cause us to believe that the TWA Flight 800 tragedy was the result of a criminal act.

For the future, we will maintain a presence to preserve the evidence, continue our liaison with the NTSB's investigators and provide whatever support and assistance we can to NTSB's efforts. In the event that any new information is developed that warrants FBI scrutiny, we are prepared to immediately undertake whatever additional investigation that may be necessary.

In closing, I, personally and on behalf of all the men and women of the law enforcement team, want to thank each of you for your support and patience throughout this tragic ordeal. Your dignity, strength, and support have inspired us throughout this investigation. We will be ever mindful of your loss and our prayers will always be with you. You have my warm and personal regards and thanks for your understanding.


James K. Kallstrom
Assistant Director in Charge


TWA Flight 800


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