SALINGER VS. FBI: AN UNFINISHED PUZZLE
Sherman Skolnick tells me that he demonstrated quite an aptitude
for mathematics in his younger days. But, since he attended
school in a time when sensitivity to challenges (e.g. opening
doors, climbing stairs, etc.) faced by the "differently abled"
(Skolnick contracted polio at the age of 6) was low, his gift was
not nurtured as it should have been. He was eventually forced to
discontinue his formal schooling.
I suspect that many so-called "conspiracy theorists" have some
facility for, or derive some pleasure from, solving puzzles. If
there is such a thing as mathematical aptitude, I'd bet
conspiratologists would show statistically significant numbers in
that category. That is what most or all areas of conspiracy
research have in common: an unsolved puzzle. For example, the
facts show that Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot President
Kennedy. Yet the FBI and other alleged experts have continued to
sit on their hands, refusing to "solve the puzzle" and insisting
that Oswald was the culprit and there was no conspiracy. So, to
those of mathematical and/or puzzle solving inclinations, the
natural thing is to begin turning the thing over in your mind.
That may be why some don't quite understand conspiracy theorists:
people have different aptitudes: some are more language
oriented, others show talent in the mathematical realm. Those
skilled in language perhaps cannot fathom what fun there could be
in solving a puzzle.
The latest puzzle begins with Pierre Salinger claiming that TWA
Flight 800 was brought down by a U.S. Navy missile. Then, of
course, the FBI and other officials deny it happened. One would
naturally expect that next, Pierre Salinger would be interviewed
on, say, CNN's Larry King show. Instead, the guest is, of all
people, basketball player Magic Johnson. (Huh?)
So the puzzle is left hanging there, unsolved. The unreconciled
dispute has disappeared into Limbo, displaced now by the
convenient eruption of an Army sex scandal. And so, the
conspiratologists begin sifting through the evidence, even while
FBI's Kallstrom pounds on the lectern in a temper fit deleted
from later broadcasts.
My thanks to a CN reader for putting me in touch with reports
from Paris Match magazine and for assisting me with the following
translation of their reportage. The following translation is
admittedly awkward. I will forward the original articles, in
French, to those who request it.
"You are invited to attend a function on Long Island," read
the invitation. The function was to be held at Docker's
restaurant. It was that evening that Linda Kabot began
taking the photos. And she was taking photos minutes later
when an explosion occurred over the ocean. It was soon
learned that TWA 800 had exploded in flight.
Linda Kabot has just brought back from the developer the
pictures she took in the evening of July 17. She is about
to put them aside but her husband, who watches over her
shoulder, intrigued by a detail, wants to study the
picture. He notices a long, unusual object that crosses
the sky. Immediately making the connection with the Boeing
catastrophe, the couple calls the FBI. An hour later,
police arrive and show great interest in the photo. They
leave with the first positive and the negative. Sometime
later, helicopters will hover over the restaurant, probably
to obtain ballistics data. Anxious to learn the experts'
findings, the Kabots are told, "No conclusion can be
obtained from this photo." As they insist on knowing the
reason for the intriguing detail, one expert tells them,
"It could be a cigar thrown by a guest." They are not
The cylinder that crosses the sky appears, in its
extremity, incandescent, which may indicate the combustion
from the propulsion system of a rocket.
The hypothesis of a missile having destroyed TWA Flight 800
was transmitted to Paris Match magazine by e-mail about a
month ago. With great support from technical
demonstrations, our mysterious correspondent, supposedly a
captain of a Boeing 747, explained the tragedy to us with
an astonishing verisimilitude. We did not immediately go
with the story, because a journalist's role requires that
we verify the sources. The transmission of an e-mail, as
it was in this case, gave us no guaranty of reliability.