TWICE AS FAR

 

SWISSAIR 111

CRASH INVESTIGATION

 

 

- FRICTION -

 

THE RESPONSE

LATHEM'S 'JUST THE FACTS' MEMO

LATHEM'S 'JUST THE FACTS' MEMO

 

During late April of 2000,

it was learned that the AES testing of the seawater short circuited wires was going ahead in June.

There had been considerable opposition to these tests put forward by the TSB,

and Gerden had only reluctantly allowed the making of the test samples.

They had then been submerged in ocean water for thirty days.

Upon their retrieval,

Foot and Sidla of the TSB offered an alternative set of tests instead of the AES testing of these wires.

However, Larry Fogg of Boeing pressured for the tests,

and Dr. Brown indicated that he needed these wires to produce a report.

As for the RCMP, Lathem was non-committal throughout.

I had to submit a memo to Lathem that provided my reasons for attending the tests.

In the initial memo, four very good reasons were provided.

However, that was not sufficient.

Gorman relayed the message that more reasoning had to be added.

So the following memo was written and printed on the only paper available in the hangar - green paper.

The memo was then placed on Gorman's desk upside down where it stayed for a week.

Meanwhile, Duncan and Lathem had a high-level finance meeting

during which it was agreed that the AES testing would be monitored, and I would attend.

All this time, the memo that was now not needed remained on Gorman's desk.

The last line reads as follows:

'and to photograph the results.  This is a continuation of the scientific'

 

LATHEM'S RESPONSE

 

Once Lathem finally read the memo,

he provided his response shown below.

As I indicated, the memo had gone to Gorman's desk for his perusal.

When it was initially read, he did not like all the points.

Lathem could easily have asked that changes be made.

That type of thing happened all the time.

However, that seemed not to be Lathem's way.

He seemed to want ammunition to discredit me at a later date.

As for whether or not my memo was proper,

I simply called it the way I saw it.

After the way things turned out with the AES reports,

perhaps I had hit the bull's eye.

However, no matter,

by this time Lathem and the TSB already knew that

they might have to discredit

AES, Dr. Brown,

and their physical evidence investigator who knew too much.

 

 

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GORMAN'S REPRIMAND

GORMAN'S REPRIMAND

 

On the 14th of July, 2000,

Gorman and Neil Fraser showed up unannounced in the hangar

to perform an equipment audit of my Ident Section.

Gorman spent four hours going through everything

when it all could have been done in half an hour.

When he finished,

he tried to take away equipment that was necessary for my daily work in the hangar.

Some of it was retrieved from his cart,

and a loud and serious argument ensued.

Three days later,

Gorman again showed up in the hangar,

However, this time it was to provide his version of a reprimand form.

When he delivered it,

he was immediately told to get out of the hangar and not come back!

Note the second to last paragraph.

Gorman confirmed in writing

that there was no criminal investigation undertaken by the RCMP for this file.

He also indicated in the first paragraph that Lathem instigated the whole matter.

His incorrect use of the word 'persuaded' instead of 'pursued'

might be considered by some as a Freudian mistake.

Keep in mind that this document

was, in fact, a legal, internal RCMP document.

Gorman's casual approach to it was telling.

There was a proper form 1004,

so a simple blank sheet of paper was not a substitute.

The improper grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling

were unacceptable for an official document

that represented Gorman's opinion of his subordinate's performance.

He represented the RCMP's management when he wrote this.

However,

perhaps he properly reflected the attitude of the RCMP's management team

for this file.

 

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FLAMMABLES IN THE AIRCRAFT

MEMO TO LATHEM

 

FLAMMABLES IN THE AIRCRAFT

2000 OCT 26

 

The following is the memo that created so much fuss with Lathem and Gerden

and resulted in me being called a 'mole.'

In the two months before I wrote the memo,

numerous pieces of aircraft material underwent test burns in the hangar.

They were all found to burn readily under normal conditions.

All of the materials had passed the FAA's burn tests

and then they were allowed to be installed in the aircraft.

The obvious question was -

How and why were the tests conducted so that all these flammable materials passed?

It may be noted that I ended the memo with a simple request for a review

without offering any direct method of doing so.

It seemed normal therefore that the recipient would consult with the writer

to determine how such a review might be undertaken,

especially since any police person should suspect the possibility of underhanded test methods.

Instead, Lathem handed the memo over to the TSB,

a non-criminal investigative group.

Lathem surely must have known that this would create difficulties

both for my information sources and for me.

The question was -

Why would Lathem turn the memo over to Gerden of the TSB

while knowing the implications of that action?

 

 

 

LATHEM'S RESPONSE

 

 

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DR BROWN'S EMAIL

DR. BROWN'S EMAIL OF 00 DEC 01

 

The following is part of my notes for 00 DEC 01 that includes an email from Dr. Brown.

 

 

 

Jim F. is Jim Foot, and Gus S. is Gus Sidla, both of the TSB.

Larry is Dr. Brown's associate at CANMET.

We had been discussing digital cameras during the last testing phase.

This email confirms that Foot had the first AES report

prior to the 28th of December, 2001.

Keep in mind that the TSB members all worked seven days per week during this investigation.

So the weekend cannot be used as an excuse for non-action.

 

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GERDENS MORNING MEETING

ATTENDEES AT GERDEN'S AES MEETING OF 00 DEC 01

 

The following are my notes for

 

 

This is the day after the 'ambush meeting',

and I am still making notes of what went on.

Keep in mind that I knew these notes were subject to review,

so I had to be somewhat careful what entries I made.

However, Tanner came in via the back door the previous morning.

He created quite the fuss when he was finally asked to sign in.

Then it was Neil Fraser's turn for the afternoon meetings.

 

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LATHEM'S ORDER TO TURN OVER NOTES

LATHEM'S ORDER TO TURN OVER NOTES

 

The following two pages provide a copy of Lathem's order to turn over my notes.

It was issued to me during the 'ambush meeting' of the 1st of December, 2000.

Of course, in keeping with Lathem's style,

there was a written threat of suspension without pay if I was non-compliant.

Some members of the RCMP have been accused and ultimately convicted

of very serious Criminal Code and Drug offences,

however, they were initially suspended with pay while awaiting trial.

Lathem agreed that the form was merely a formality,

that he did not believe that I would not turn over the notes.

However, it later turned out that

his actions were part of his plans to discredit me

if the Swissair matter ever did progress to civil court.

His comment at the time when asked was that

he knew the order was not necessary,

however, that it ensured compliance.

 

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PERFORMANCE LOG ISSUED BY LATHEM

PERFORMANCE LOG ISSUED BY LATHEM

 

The form below is a proper RCMP form 1004

otherwise called a Performance Log.

Lathem supplied this one

because I had walked out of his 'Ambush Meeting'

on the afternoon of December 1st, 2000.

Note that it said nothing of the issues he alleged I had incorrectly committed.

It merely stated that I had left the meeting before the 'discussions' were over.

Why were the subject matters of those 'discussions' not included on the form

unless the infractions were all bogus?

This was one of the points raised and won

when the assessment was finally grieved.

However, in the meantime,

it served its purpose of keeping me from being promoted.

 

 

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THE READING OF THE NOTES

THE READING OF THE NOTES

 

THE LATHEM/FRASER MEMOS

 

The following is the memo that Lathem wrote to Fraser

to request a review of all of my notes

that had been turned over to him on the 15th of December, 2000.

A few things are odd about the memo.

First of all,

no normal memo at that time within the Force

started off with the salutation of 'Dear'.

That line is just not put in an internal memo such as this.

Such memos are normally addressed to the senior position title in the office,

not the actual person who holds the position.

It could well have been that someone else in Fraser's office

such as his second in command,

could have received and handled the matter.

Adding the term 'Dear' makes the correspondence a personal matter

and not a professional, impartial request.

It reinforces the idea that it was all a planned and contrived personal action

that no one else in Fraser's office could oversee.

Then to say that I was 'associated with the Swissair investigation'

is certainly an understatement of the facts

and a most unusual way of putting it.

However, to have Gorman,

whom Lathem knew, influenced, and trusted,

conduct an objective review is sheer nepotism.

But of importance,

in the upper right box,

note the date of 2000-12-20.

It is the day after

Lathem's comment about a face to face meeting with Fraser

to discuss the issues.

The following is the response from Fraser to Lathem

after the 'reading of the notes' by the 'group of eleven'.

Again note the date of January 22, 2001.

Fraser provided three issues of concern

and the notes for those matters

have been provided in the 'Change the Notes' web page.

For this memo,

why include the names of all the individuals who conducted the reading?

Not one of them except Gorman

knew anything about the file or what had been found.

Neither had any of them ever conducted

such a major and involved forensic identification investigation.

The key to this was that their rank was provided,

thus adding an air of credibility and experience to the opinion

that the notes were improper.

As for the planned trip to Halifax in February,

Fraser certainly had not initially included a face to face meeting with me about the file.

First, nothing had been mentioned to me as to what was to be discussed.

Second, nothing during the meeting of February 20th dealt with

identification techniques

other than the matter of my notes

and how to 'correct the problem'.

As for providing an assessment,

Gorman was six months or more away from the file,

so it was not for him to provide the assessment.

That was Lathem's responsibility

as for more than six months, he had been my direct supervisor.

However, they now needed a negative assessment

and having it written by two supervisors tended to lend it more credibility.

 

 

 

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DR BROWN'S EMAIL ABOUT PRESSURE TO CHANGE REPORT

DR BROWN'S EMAIL

PRESSURE TO CHANGE REPORT

 

The following is a copy of the actual page in my notes that contains this email.

The date mentioned by me in the bottom paragraph should have been 00 DEC 01,

the date of Lathem's 'Ambush Meeting.'

 

 

 

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TSB INTERNAL MEMO ON CAUSE DETERMINATION

TSB INTERNAL MEMO

CAUSE DETERMINATION

 

The attached link

presents pages of an internal TSB memo regarding ‘cause determination’ in investigations

and it circulated the hangar on or about 2000-10-05.

The memo was written on 1999-04-12

by JOHNSON & TUCKER, given to GERDEN on 1999-04-22,

and is thirteen pages of written discussion

about the need to eliminate the ‘cause’ area

of their investigations and reports.

This is mainly because the areas become so controversial

and they take up so much time.

If their investigators were to just look for contributing factors,

and safety issues,

but stay away from ‘cause determination’,

the memo's writer believes that they could have the reports out much faster.

It recommends that they alter their legislation and methods to this effect.

 

When it came into my possession,

I was able to photograph the pages before having to pass it on.

Several of the TSB floor investigators were quite upset over the contents

and likely that was why I received it.

I quickly realized that there were serious implications to these proposed changes.

Since the TSB maintain

that they have priority access to all materials at a crash site investigation,

if they do not conduct a cause determination,

then who or how will any other department determine the cause?

This is especially critical

when the matter at a later date is determined to be of a criminal cause.

Since they do not follow normal investigative and evidentiary procedures,

and they refuse to give evidence in court,

but have priority in the investigation,

who would do the work if something ever developed into a criminal matter?

 

I felt that there was little if any regard

for the overall moral responsibility required of the lead agency

in a major accident investigation.

 

However, from my perspective of events with Swissair,

there were times when I could not see any difference between the actions described in the memo

and those actions being undertaken in certain areas of the TSB investigation.

Also.

I certainly felt that my management was setting an extremely poor example

as we had left everything regarding crash-cause determination up to the discretion of the TSB,

and RCMP management was unwilling to push them further

on any matter of investigative importance.

The areas that were stressed by my management team

involved administrative tasks such as the recording

and handling of exhibits, exhibit continuity, and security, etc.

These were all areas that the TSB management

had previously deemed as necessary

and my understanding was that

they were part of the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding).

While necessary for any future court case,

it was all pointless

if nothing was done to develop the actual evidence for such a court case.

 

-- TSB'S INTERNAL MEMO --

 

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