[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 139
NOVEMBER 18 1988
“There is a larger question here: What really happened in previous engagements where we think we know the historical record? We might have a far different view of the Mayaguez rescue of 1975, the Pueblo attack of 1968, the Tonkin Gulf battle of 1964 -or even the Battle of Midway in 1942 – if we had comparable records.” New York Times, Nov. 18 1988
On November 18, 1988, Pan Am was specifically advised by an FAA Security Bulletin that a Middle Eastern terrorist group had been found in Germany with a bomb concealed within a Toshiba radio designed to explode aboard airliners.
The alert called upon Pan Am to activate extra vigilance and a rigorous adherence to their regulations for baggage reconciliation. Pan Am was warned of the difficulty of relying on X-rays which would not detect such bombs.
At Last, a Reliable Witness to Flight 665
At last, the investigators of Flight 665 downing have found a reliable witness, the ship herself. With data tapes from the Vincennes, investigators have been able to recreate the digital displays the crew saw that day. Every move made at every one of the 17 consoles in the command information center is recorded.
Thus, it is possible to know precisely what happened and the order in which events occurred. Testimonies of crewmen are refuted by the data on all major issues.
One crewman observed the Iranian airliner at 445 knots at an altitude of 7,800 feet and descending during engagement.
However, the USS Vincennes’s system information showed the civilian airliner at an altitude of 12,000 feet, ascending and at 380 knots.
According to initial Navy reports which were based on crewmen testimonies, the Iranian airliner’s radio transponder was ”squawking” on Mode II, used only by military aircraft, and giving a code that was previously used by Iranian F-14 fighters.
From the tapes recorded by nine of the consoles in the command information center that were monitoring the airliner, we now know that every one showed a Mode III – used by both military and civilian aircraft – coming from the aproaching plane. Not one console showed a Mode II squawk.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
Witness to Iran Flight 655 — November 18, 1988