Bott(ched) Report

Although I read with great interest Robert Davey's article "The FBI and Flight 800" [July 20], I feel compelled to set the record straight regarding references Davey made to a report prepared by Dr. Richard Bott— specifically, the section in which Bott discussed damage to the left side of TWA Flight 800. Mr. Davey did a disservice to your readers by omitting key sections of Dr. Bott's comments. I'd like to quote from the report:

"Some unexplained damage characteristics on these structures [the wings] have puzzled investigators, for example, the severe shattering of the left wing upper skin. While the damage mechanisms involved may not be completely understood, the recovery and reconstruction of TWA Flight 800 is the most comprehensive undertaking of its type ever made. This wing damage may be typical for severe water impacts but has gone unnoticed in previous mishaps due to the lack of recovery and reconstruction of debris. Further, the left and right wings of TWA Flight 800 impacted the water in different attitudes, as evidenced by the damage to the engines, which may explain the disparity in damage between the two structures."

In the course of a congressional review of the Flight 800 investigation, on behalf of Representative James A. Traficant Jr. of Ohio, for whom I am chief of staff, I interviewed Dr. Bott. He made it clear that his team had found no evidence that Flight 800 was hit by a missile. I also examined all of the FBI eyewitness interviews. The overwhelming majority gave accounts consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board's breakup scenario. The breakup of Flight 800 lasted approximately 49 seconds, from the time of the initial explosion until the time the wreckage hit the ocean. There are few, if any, eyewitnesses who saw the event from start to finish. This fact accounts, in large part, for some of the diversity of statements.

Paul Marcone
Washington, D.C.

Robert Davey replies: Bott's report contains far more questions than answers. Bott speculates, for example, that damage to the left side of the plane possibly could have been caused by a missile hitting the left wing near the fuselage and exploding inside the inboard fuel tank, creating enough pressure to shatter the wing's upper skin but leaving little obvious shrapnel damage. We are left to guess whether that passage should carry more or less weight than the one Marcone quotes. The missile expert quoted in my article came to the conclusion that the eyewitness reports are reliable indicators that a surface-to-air missile did indeed bring down TWA Flight 800. Marcone ignores the fact that (according to a draft NTSB report) 96 eyewitnesses saw a streak of light rise from the surface, and 128 saw a streak that terminated in an explosion, flash of light, or fireball.

Details, Details

James Hannaham ["Missing Persons," July 13] chastises playwright Naomi Wallace for a "lack of attention to detail," yet Hannaham appears to have written his review of the The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek untroubled by the detail of reading Wallace's text.

What Hannaham calls director Lisa Peterson's "experimental touches" that "tend to upstage the text"— tossed dishes and blowing feathers— are, in fact, stage directions, printed in the published script. Regardless of Mr. Hannaham's opinion, his analysis of the writer-director collaboration was needlessly superficial and uninformed.

In a city where reviews have a tangible impact on the lives of new plays (and playwrights), is a little groundwork too much to ask?

Karen Hartman

James Hannaham replies: Alright, I'm busted. I don't read every script. However, I don't think I was way off base to guess that those high-concept moves were a directorial choice. "The lack of attention to detail" was in the dialogue, not the stage directions.

John Bull

In response to William Mersey's article about prostitute review sites on the Internet ["They Shoot, They Score," July 6]: Mersey stated that there is no site for prostitutes to review their clients. But there is! It is called the "Bad Client List," and can be found at http://www.casualforums.com/thepit/BadClientList.

Chelsea Madrid
Los Angeles, California

William Mersey replies: Thanks for the information. Sorry I missed it.

Silent Slight

Re James Ridgeway's item "Blackout on Serbia Damage" [Mondo Washington, July 20]: Very sad that no one wants to hear about the "humanitarian intervention" that could have launched World War III. We now know that there was very little damage to the Serbian military. However, as Ridgeway pointed out, civilians took many more casualities than the military.

Nick Stecky
Denville, New Jersey

You Goal Girl

As a student athlete, I applaud Denise Kiernan for her article "Brandi Has a Ball" [July 13].

Being a senior who plays three sports in high school, I've found myself constantly trying to explain to the younger students that my role models, such as Julie Foudy and Martina Hingis, could kick the shit out of their role models, such as Kate Moss and Calista Flockhart.

There is a veil blinding the eyes of young girls today. They think skinny and waifish— degrading images that piss me off— are ideal feminine characteristics. I don't want to be skinny, and smoke 50 cigarettes a day, and have my "man" run around town showing me off. I want to be strong and independent and intelligent— qualities that the U.S. women's soccer team embodies. They should be the role models, not Jennifer Lopez, who makes her living shaking her ass and singing trite pop tunes.

Next Page »