- 2000 DEC 02 -


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00-12-02          0700    Weekend morning routine.  Being here at the hangar this morning proves two things.  First, I am highly dedicated to this file, and second, that I am certainly a stubborn SOB.  Anyone else, after what I had gone through yesterday, would have tossed in the towel and told them to finish it themselves.

            First, on the way out of the hangar late last night, had a short conversation with Jim FOOT.  He has a wire that he wants added to one of the AES wire sources, and I told him that I would look after it today.  During the conversation, he mentioned the meeting, and the magnesium.  Jim, as he said in the meeting, feels that the magnesium is not their problem, is only a very small flag and is not indicative of anything criminal.  This is based on the fact that the amounts found are so small, and what he sees from the rest of the debris.  I told him that one of the problems is that we are seeing only one side, and do not have access to the reports and findings, so it is very difficult to judge.  But the fact of the matter is that magnesium exists and has been identified as a potential problem, so lets look for the source.  He had to agree.  He also dropped a comment of significance.  He said that during the very early stages of the investigation, and he did not elaborate on the dates, he felt that an incendiary device could have been the cause of the fire.  He now strongly doubts that.  Read this in conjunction with his comments in Zurich on my Zurich III trip, and it makes one wonder.  We have been told that at no time was there any indication of a criminal act.  So either he told no one, or - what?

            I have had a chance to think over the events of yesterday, and the following is added to yesterday’s notes.  During the meeting with the TSB members, Vic GERDEN indirectly mentioned my latest report by bringing up the subject of dealing with persons or companies who may have known that certain materials were faulty, etc.  He said that it is his experience that it is seldom desirable or beneficial (he used another term that I cannot remember) to prosecute under such circumstances.  He said that aircraft were much safer today than they were thirty years ago, and that is because they have dealt directly with the safety issues and did not prosecute.  He said that such actions could cause irreparable damage to their safety investigations and that they certainly prefer not to go that route.  There were no comments made to GERDEN’s statement.  So, I rather assume that is the end of my latest report, right or wrong.

            Comments were also made about too much cooperation between the two agencies.  Larry VANCE said that old timers with the Safety Board would be turning over in their graves if they knew of the level of cooperation that we have had between the two agencies.  Vic GERDEN added to this with some comments of his own in the same vane.  Jim FOOT made comments about the AES process, particularly that the process was not supposed to be a search for the magnesium source, and that he was going to make this clear to Dr. BROWN.  He did confirm that he had received the draft report from Dr. BROWN, but did not reveal anything that might be in it.  He also said that he had learned from Dr. BROWN last week that I was submitting more samples, and he thought that he would be examining them on the old bill rather than asking for more money.  He has not asked for money to undertake a new initiative, so he felt that he would be examining them as part of the old process.  BROWN had mentioned this fact to me a long time ago, as he wants to know the source.  I wonder sometimes if BROWN would have been so interested in magnesium if I had not been present at the tests.  I rather think that he would, as he seems to like being a sort of detective.  After all, that is what he really is, in a sense.  And everyone but the bag guys likes to play detective (in the general sense), especially someone with a scientific mind like BROWN.  Keep in mind too that FOGG was present at the tests, and he homed in on magnesium and iron from the very start.  So really, my presence has largely been to assure that the subject has not been dropped, and not that it was started in the first place.

            Insp. LATHEM made some comments about taking over the investigation should something be identified by the TSB as criminal.  But he emphasized that 00 DEC 15 was the end date for us in the hangar, and that the complete file would be moved to MCU.  Anything more would have to be contracted for by the TSB.  John GARSTANG went over his requirements, and the E&R program status was discussed, as was the need to locate certain exhibits, etc.  His requirement for me centres on trip notes, photo processing, and lab report analysis.  He was told to put forward a business plan for the time, and arrangements would be made.  Insp. LATHEM also went over the fact that nothing has been found in the way of photos, notes, etc. from the passengers indicating any problems on board the aircraft, including no notes on the bodies.  Three areas of concern were addressed on the aircraft.  These were the magnesium levels, the burnt carpets at the galley, and the high temperature burn on the ceiling tile above one of the forward doors.  There was even a round table to ensure that no one had any other problems. 

            Other incidents were gone over, including the Swissair partner crash in 1970.  The TSB members indicated that they knew nothing of it, and COOPER provided some of the details.  They suggested that a formal request be made of Swissair to provide the details.  Whether this will be done or not, we shall see.  I brought up the Northwest Airlines arson in Montreal in November 1993.  Jim FOOT immediately interjected by saying that he knew all about it as he had done the work on it.  He felt that matches had been placed amongst the blankets.  I indicated to LATHEM that this had been found out by me as a result of my conversation with Pat CAHILL of the FAA.  He just nodded.   I then brought up a recent news bulletin on the ROSS system dealing with drugs secreted above the ceiling panels of Air Canada aircraft in Toronto.  I was told that this was drugs and employees who had committed the offence.  I suggested that 40 Kg of cocaine would make a very large incendiary device, and that I certainly would arrange for an accomplice to be an employee who has knowledge and access to the aircraft to place it.

            Other things were discussed, but that sums it up in general.

            It is all well and good that everything seems to be above board by going around the table and allowing anyone to speak their piece, but it is difficult to bring up subject matters that one only has a partial knowledge of, or has been kept from ones view.  When one has not been given access to much of the evidence, especially the analysis reports of the examinations, one can raise few questions.  As well, the ambush was sufficient warning to me that I should be careful exactly what I say, or to say nothing at all.

            As for the meeting in my office, on leaving the TSB office, I knew that it was bound to take place after what had transpired in the previous meeting, and that there would be little if any discussion.  There has been no discussion of matters over here because I am considered to be only a photographer and exhibit taker, nothing else.  I am not to observe and I certainly am not to try to interpret anything because I do not have the knowledge or experience.  I have no need to report on anything because I only get the wrong slant of things and don’t understand them.  This is what I have been told and they are the impressions that I get during meetings and group discussions, although maybe not in those exact words.  So what was the use of trying to explain anything this time?  It would only have lead to an argument, and Neil FRASER was here as a witness - and not for my case.  I was also told that I had never been told to keep my mouth shut about the file, this after being reprimanded severely about talking to the FAA representative.  Just a question of what words are used, I guess.  I was also questioned about problems in contacting LATHEM if I had any concerns, or things to discuss with him.  He indicated that he had pagers and cell phones that he wears at all times.  It’s ironical that this is put forward now in the light of the previous correspondence and complaints about my not going through channels to send reports to him.  I was also reprimanded about showing outside people around the frame and talking about hot spots and incendiary devices.  This struck me as funny, because first, I have never taken any outside people around the frame, and certainly have not spoken to them about those matters.  However, I have been asked by some ex-members and very good friends of mine to see the frame, and I mentioned to Andy KERR that they would be coming in.  However, they never made it, so I certainly am not guilty on that count.  As for dealing with the FAA, Pat CAHILL is just another source for information, which is exactly what Policemen the world over do.  As for telling her anything, she was the one who asked me if I had ever been told to keep my mouth shut, not me who volunteered the matter.  Why would she bring it up if she did not suspect something in the first place? 

            Neil FRASER also told me that I should learn to say ‘no’ to people who ask me to do things.  So, I finally got up and walked out of the meeting, indicating that I had had enough from them, my way of saying ‘No’.  However, this whole matter has added to the already high stress level.  It is so reassuring to have supervisors that one can look up to for support and understanding and to whom one can entrust one’s well being!

            So, I will finish up the photography and the work that John requires, as I owe it to him to finish what he has worked so hard to produce.  I must say that I will be able to look back on this file and say that I have had the privilege of working with one of the very best physical evidence investigators in the world.  Certainly John is better than anyone else I have ever worked with, and I have worked with some of the best in the country during thirty years.  And there are others who have gone through this hangar who have been really good at what they do, Karl being one of them.  He is one of the few who have not been looking out for their own advancement, but have had a true concern for those who died in this crash.  I certainly cannot say that for my two immediate superiors. 

            It is also interesting to note that I checked the sign-in sheets for yesterday to see who accompanied LATHEM and when they came in.  The commissionaire advised me that they had entered via the back door and had never signed in.  This included all three - LATHEM, FRASER, and another Inspector by the name of Dan TANNER, who happens to be Karl CHRISTIANSEN’s boss, an intelligence officer for the division.  Yet, during this last TSB meeting, correct protocol was discussed and stressed by him to GERDEN regarding sign-in sheets, etc to keep track of who comes and goes for the new frame room.  In previous meetings with him present, this topic has been discussed, including the need to maintain this correct protocol throughout the file.


            On the way out late this afternoon, Jim FOOT approached me to say his goodbyes, as he is leaving in the morning and likely will not be back in the hangar.  Jim has worked very hard here in the hangar on wires, lights, panels, etc, and he has done a wonderful job in reconstructing the electrical and electronic systems.  With the help of Larry FOGG, his work has been key.  His work on wires has lead to the use of AES in an effort to determine the initiating wire.  That, of course, is his assumption that a wire caused the fire.  One thing that I have been wondering about is the fact that he has been working on the cause of the fire, as it pertains to a wire arcing event.  But the TSB has gone to great pains to say that they do not determine the cause, they only look for the safety aspects.  For this reason, they say they do not want to look at the magnesium issue.  Jim has stated that he does not want work done on magnesium, merely the wire events.  Jim FOOT has even stated to me that John GARSTANG’s work deals with post initiating events or environment, and will not lead to the initiating wire.  But John’s work has shown the safety problems involved in the aircraft materials.  It seems to me that they are indeed looking for the cause of the fire, so long as it is not magnesium, as that would be a criminal act.  It would seem that for this reason they would certainly have dropped the magnesium issue at the beginning if it had not been for our insistence that it be followed up.

            Jim also asked me why I had not been in on the week’s meetings, as I was part of the group.  When I told him that I had not been allowed to attend, he said that I certainly should have been in the meetings.  He said that some of the reports, etc couldn’t be made available to us, but that we can be briefed on the data.  One way to do this is in such meetings with overheads and presentations.




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