TWICE AS FAR

 

SWISSAIR 111

CRASH INVESTIGATION

 

 

 

- EXTRACT FROM FILE NOTES -

 

 

FOR

- 2000 NOV 23 -

 

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00-11-23          0700    Morning routine.  Ö..

            Late this afternoon, John GARSTANG approached me to discuss the subject of the report that I had submitted to Insp. LATHEM on the Burn Tests of the insulation and end caps, and the possibility of a criminal involvement.  Vic GERDEN had raised the matter with him on the phone this afternoon.  Apparently GERDEN is quite upset with him for communicating too much to me and for mentioning anything about potential criminal matters.  He seems to feel that he should not be sharing information.  GERDENís position seems to be that the TSB is here to run the investigation, collect the information, and that is it.  There is to be no sharing of information with us, as is evident in GERDENís past actions regarding report requests, and above all there must be no mention whatsoever of anything regarding a criminal act.  GERDEN seems to feel that if something is blatantly illegal, then it will be obvious and there is no need to share information, as they will not touch on the matter at all.  If something is questionably criminal, then he doesnít have to tell us anything because he can use the old fallback that he didnít know or realize that it was a criminal matter.  Therefore, all information flow is in a one-way direction.  This certainly seems to be the philosophy of the TSB at their management levels, as has been related to me on several occasions from several TSB members.  Their reasoning for this is that if it is any other way, they will not get the cooperation of the aircraft companies.  That seems to me to be a poor way to run an investigation!  He mentioned that GERDEN would like some assurance that I would not report on anything further, and I told him that I could not give that assurance.  So, John asked me to be careful in quoting him, and to discuss anything with him before sending it forward.  He isnít really worried about his management as he is already in trouble with them, especially because of Air India, but he doesnít really need the extra flak.  While the above is not verbatim, it is a paraphrase of what was discussed for nearly 45 minutes.

            But this has me wondering if I should have sent the report.  I really didnít expect LATHEM to actually send a copy of the report to GERDEN, but merely to question him on it, preferably after he had spoken to me on the matter.  I had warned LATHEM several times in the past that I was on the edge here as far as information collection and should the TSB management learn just how much I was collecting, they might well shut me down completely by ordering their people not to talk to me.  That is the reason why I did not want my notes added daily to E&R, as they would have access to the updates.  I really have to question the rational of sending the report to GERDEN.  After all, it dealt with a criminal side of the investigation and that is something that GERDEN does not handle nor does he want to get involved in.  So why should he even get a copy?  To phone him and question him regarding the matter, being careful to protect the source, would seem to have been more feasible.  To do what was done seems to me to be inconsiderate of the position both John and I are in here at the hangar, to say the least.  Of course, the matter would definitely come out at a later date during criminal or civil litigation disclosure, but that would be several years down the road and most of the players would have changed by then, or hopefully the MOU will have been amended.  LATHEM told me that he had to send all such reports to GERDEN, but again, I question that because this deals with a criminal element of the investigation.  It gives the appearance to me that our management will go to no end to ensure that this file does not involve any criminal investigation.

            John indicated that GERDEN has to now address this matter to make sure that it is covered, especially for disclosure.  Once he does that, what will LATHEM do with the matter?  It will likely be some time before I ever find out, as LATHEMís memo of 00-11-03 received on 00-11-06 states:

ďThis is a Transportation Safety Board issue which is in the ďstill under investigationĒ process, and there is no identified requirement for you to have any further involvement.Ē

            It seems obvious that he did speak with GERDEN on the matter before writing the memo to me.  My position is that I acted on something that I thought was a problem, and I reported it to my management as I was supposed to do.  If they then burn the source by improper actions, then that becomes their problem in that my sources will dry up.  But above all, it will be reflected in the next file, when it happens, as there will be even less communications coming our way.  On the other hand, if anyone in the TSB management thinks that I owe him or her an allegiance because they are reimbursing the Force my costs here at the hangar and by doing that it means they can gag me, then they are very mistaken.  I feel this attitude was reflected in the comment by GERDEN that I was a mole.  However, I suggested, and we agreed that I would speak to GERDEN about it this weekend when he comes in.  I will simply tell him that I had been the one to raise the criminal element of the subject and that John had backed off as soon as he realized where I was going with it.  This is what I wrote and that is what happened.  If GERDEN takes a different slant on it, then thatís just too bad.  John and I discussed this for about ĺ hour until 1830, and in the end, in his usual manner he told me not to worry about it, that things would work themselves out in the end.





 

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