Sherman H. Skolnick
by Sherman H. Skolnick 08/9/01
We called it the Watergate Plane Crash. As our private investigation continued, the National Transportation Safety Board, N.T.S.B., set public hearings for February, 1973. Conducted in a large meeting hall in one of the very large motels near O'Hare Airport, Chicago. They started with the witness list. After some of the witnesses testified, we were able to interview some of them in the hallway.
One witness was a former four-motor military bomber pilot with loads of aircraft and air-tower experience. Retired from the military, he worked for a firm that supplied materials for the paving of parking lots. By a strange coincidence (or on purpose?) someone at his firm told him to measure the parking lot starting at 2 p.m., Friday afternoon, December 8, 1972, which turned out to be right under the in-coming flight path of United Air Lines Flight 553. He observed some things which fit in with our probe that it was sabotage.
With his help and that of others including witnesses, we compiled a list of details showing that the NTSB panel were carefully evading from going into. I went home and began quickly putting together a lawsuit against the Safety Board for covering up airplane sabotage. We filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court and arranged with the County Sheriff to have one of his deputies accompany us as we together went to the NTSB hearings in session. I had prepared over a hundred copies of the lawsuit, all suitably stamped with the Clerk's Office markings just like the original filed copy. The deputy sheriff had a copy of the lawsuit together with a summons commanding the NTSB officials to appear in court.
As we arrived, the Safety Board panel was already proceeding with testimony. "How do you want me to do this" the deputy sheriff whispered to me. I instructed him, "Go right up to the stage on which the Safety Board panel of five is sitting. Do not wait for a recess. Serve the papers, as provided by law, on the woman in the middle, the Chairperson." That is what he did. As he approached her with the court papers, she asked him "What is this?" He politely answered, "It is for you, ma'm." The minute the Safety panel boss looked at the court papers, she was alarmed. She abruptly recessed the hearing. Most of those in the large meeting room spilled out into the hallway.There we handed out copies of the lawsuit to whosoever seemed interested. The Safety Board's general counsel came up to me, "I have to have a private talk with you away from this crowd, Mr. Skolnick."
We went down the hall to be alone. "How much do you want?" he barked at me. "If it is within reason, we'll take care of it today. It'll be cheaper than litigating this. You have to sign an agreement not to further divulge any of this."
I must have had an angry look on my face when I responded. "Hey, where did you get the idea that my charges of sabotage are a shake-down?" And I began hollaring, "Listen you mouthpiece, your job is to show up in court to answer our charges. I AM NOT FOR SALE. Go back to the panel and tell them. SKOLNICK IS NOT FOR SALE! You're not going to buy me like some crooked judge."
Thereafter another lawyer sat down and talked to me in the motel restaurant. "Mr. Skolnick, I represent the families of those who died in that crash. We have pending claims against United Air Lines. Your assertions of air sabotage tend to let United Air Lines off the hook. Please for the sake of these families, drop your lawsuit. You are undermining our multi-million dollar claims and that is not fair."
I responded, "Are you saying I should also be part of this cover up? Our motto is, 'Let the truth be told, though the Heavens crumble'. Do you realize that United Air Lines is part of covering up the sabotage of one of their own planes? One of Nixon's closest pals is the head of United Air Lines. The cover up included Mrs. E. Howard Hunt's documents showing Nixon was part of an FBI/CIA plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. You want me to shut up about all that? No way. I am sorry."
The lawyer took a narrow view as if he did not understand any of that. As if he were suddenly stupid. "I do not want to know anything about all that. I simply want to push our claims against United Air Lines. Can we somehow make it up to you?" He said. Miffed, I replied, "Hey, hey, don't start offering me a piece of your deal in return for my silence."
In Chicago my discussions about air sabotage and the Watergate Plane Crash caused some student groups to invite me to speak at their college or university. As a result, persons showed up at such meetings who later spoke to me privately.
"Here. Look at my credentials. I drive an ambulance for one of the hospitals. On the afternoon of the crash, I was sent to the crash zone. Hey, but get this. They did not allow me to approach the burning airplane. I was on a mission of mercy and these strange types stopped me. There were about 150 to 200 of them. They refused to show me their credentials." That is what one eyewitness told me. He continued, "Friends of mine in the fire and police departments told me also they were not allowed to approach the airplane. These apparent federal types were there on location ahead of both the fire and police."
After the crash, we made public statements that 200 FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency, DIA, operatives, refusing to show their credentials, had taken over the crash zone, coincident with the crash or even shortly BEFORE. We were called "liar". Then, on June 13, 1973, Chairman John Reed, of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the House Government Activities Subcommittee, that he sent a letter to the FBI, that (a) never in living memory had the FBI acted as in the Flight 553 crash. Reed said 50 FBI agents came into the crash zone shortly after the crash; (b) one FBI agent proceeded into Midway Control Tower and took over the tape relating to Flight 553, without asking permission; (c) before the N.T.S.B. investigation could do so, the FBI conducted 26 interviews, including of surviving flight attendants. The FBI interviews were completed within 20 hours of the crash.
For 6 months, they claimed we were "liars" when we said 200 FBI and DIA agents were in the crash site concident with the crash. Thereafter, the FBI admitted that 50 were there.
How is that possible? The Chicago Fire and Police Department people responded in a couple of minutes. The FBI and DIA headquarters is downtown Chicago. Even if they immediately after the crash took a helicopter, they could not have arrived, as they somehow did, AHEAD OF THE FIRE AND POLICE. We took up this angle with a member of Congress who quizzed the FBI about this. Back came a letter that the FBI had apparently been surveilling the plane and had jurisdiction because of what they termed federal statutes relating to "Air Piracy". This was in a letter signed by the Acting Director of FBI [this was about a year after Director J. Edgar Hoover had been poison murdered in his home, May, 1972, just as the Watergate matter was about to occur].
FBI having jurisdiction because of AIR PIRACY? Did someone on the plane, radio the FBI that someone else on that plane was either trying to steal Mrs. Hunt's two million dollars of "hush money", in negotiables, she and her husband got from the Nixon White House. Was someone trying to steal her baggage enroute to Chicago; containing documents proving Nixon was part of a FBI/CIA plot to assassinate President Kennedy? Mrs. Hunt, worried about her valuables, bought a separate first class seat right near her on which she piled her luggage. So AIR PIRACY was one way the FBI had of trying to explain away why upwards of 150 of their agents were already waiting in or near Midway Airport that afternoon, for the in-coming flight with the Watergate 12.
>From various sources we found out that the FBI and the DIA were under Nixon White House "national security" orders to arrest Mrs. Hunt and others on the plane for being part of a plot to blackmail Nixon. That is how and why the FBI/DIA was already there ahead of the local authorities.
A Chicago Fire Department official we interviewed told us, "Nobody explained to us how and why the FBI was able to keep us out of the crash site. The plane had pancaked on top of one or more residences and was smoldering."
In an interview, a supervisory offical of the Chicago Police Department informed us, "I was told to assemble my men in Marquette Park which is several blocks away from where the plane crashed. We were forbidden by our brass from approaching the crash site. The higher ups said it was upon orders of the FBI and the DIA and the White House. Someone mumbled something to me about 'national security' ".
Saturday, the day after the crash, parts of the airplane fuselage were quickly buried in a city dump. An official of the city department told us, "The orders came from the top. Someone of authority did not want parts of flight 553 to be examined at all. We came with heavy equipment, a special select crew, pledged to silence, and buried deep parts of the plane in a city dump. I am in trouble if you ever use my name."
A few months after the crash, at a United Air Lines company meeting, one of their stewardesses got up and began loudly complaining the company bosses were covering up sabotage in the Flight 553 crash near Midway Airport. She was quickly hooted down. Security people shoved her out of the meeting. Later, she was fired.
So the air sabotage cover up pieces were one by one falling to place. On Decemnber 9, 1972, one day after the crash, Nixon White House aide Egil (Bud) Krogh, Jr., also involved in the Ellsberg burglary caper, was appointed Undersecretary of Transportation, supervising the National Transportation Safety Board and The Federal Aviation Administration, F.A.A., the two agencies supposedly going to "investigate" the crash of Flight 553.
On December 19, 1972, White House deputy assistant to Nixon, and secretary to the Cabinet, Alexander P. Butterfield, was appointed as the new head of the FAA. Butterfield, an air officer for 20 years, was also CIA aviation liason. (See, for example, Jack Anderson's column, Chicago Daily News, 5/8/73.) During the Senate Watergate Committee hearings, summer of 1973, Butterfield as a witness suddenly blurted out that Nixon had everything occurring in or near the Oval Office taped. These tapes, which Nixon originally refused to disclose, became the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court decision against Nixon, as well as part of the Nixon impeachment matters resulting in ihis resignation, August, 1974.
Dwight L. Chapin, Nixon's appointment secretary, became, five weeks after the crash, a top executive of United Air Lines. Chapin reportedly had no prior business experience. At the original NTSB crash hearings in February, 1973, he reportedly threatened media people with reprisals if they mentioned sabotage; reprisals such as using Clay Whitehead, Nixon's communications czar, to seek the break-up of the networks on anti-trust charges. Remember- in the 1970s, the Rockefelles were the largest stockholder of UAL, Inc., parent of United Air Lines. Further, in the 1970s, the Rockfellers owned all three major news networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC. To an extent even now, the Rockefelles still have a heavy presence in the ownership of the major networks.
Even before the crash, Herbert W. Kalmbach, Nixon's personal attorney, was the lawyer for United Air Lines and Marriot Corp., which at the time had an airplane in-flight food catering service.
So, if I was right about Flight 553 and United Air Lines, at the time, largest air carrier in the U.S., they could have lost their certificate to fly. The Rockefellers orchestrated the media against our investigation. This was long before the era of internet, long bbefore TV on the web through video streaming, long before more open-minded radio talk shows, and many years before public access Cable TV used by some like us to get around the press whores. [Our one hour weekly public access Cable TV Show, "Broadsides", cablecast within Chicago, reaches some 400,000 viewers each week, on a public access Cable TV system that is the largest in the U.S. Portions of our show, on video streaming, are on our website.] The latest technology and changes like that, for the moment, help the underdogs tell the awful truth. Such as about a forbidden subject, "The Secret History of Airplane Sabotage".
More parts of this coming. Stay
Since 1958, Mr.Skolnick has been a court reformer. Since 1963,
founder/chairman, Citizen's Committee to Clean Up the Courts, disclosing
certain instances of judicial and other bribery and political murders.
Since 1991 a regular panelist, and since 1995, moderator/producer, of
one-hour,weekly public access Cable TV Show, "Broadsides", Cablecast on
Channel 21, 9 p.m. each Monday in Chicago. For a heavy packet of printed
stories, send $5.00 [U.S. funds] and a stamped, self-addressed business
sized envelope [4-1/4 x 9-1/2 #10 size] WITH THREE STAMPS ON IT, to
Citizen's Committee to Clean Up the Courts, Sherman H. Skolnick,
Chairman, 9800 South Oglesby Ave., Chicago IL 60617-4870. Office, 7
days, 8 a.m. to midnight, (773) 375-5741 [PLEASE, no "just routine
calls]. Before sending FAX,