Pan Am 103 Why Did They Die?

Washington says Libya sabotaged the plane. Provocative evidence suggests that a Syrian drug dealer may have helped plant the bomb -- and the real targets were intelligence agents working for the CIA

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Johnston also described how CIA agents helicoptered into Lockerbie shortly after the crash seeking the remnants of McKee's suitcase. "Having found part of their quarry," he wrote, "the CIA had no intention of following the exacting rules of evidence employed by the Scottish police. They took the suitcase and its contents into the chopper and flew with it to an unknown destination." Several days later the empty suitcase was returned to the same spot, where Johnston reported that it was "found" by two British Transport Police officers, "who in their ignorance were quite happy to sign statements about the case's discovery."

Richard Gazarik, a reporter for the Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Tribune- Review, spent many months probing the major's secret mission. He found, hidden inside the lining of McKee's wallet, which was retrieved from the Pan Am wreckage and returned to his mother, what he assumes was McKee's code name, Chuck Capone, and the gangster code names (Nelson, Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde) of the other team members.

The theory that Jibril targeted Flight 103 in order to kill the hostage- rescue team is supported by two independent intelligence experts. M. Gene Wheaton, a retired U.S. military-intelligence officer with 17 years' duty in the Middle East, sees chilling similarities between the Lockerbie crash and the suspicious DC-8 crash in Gander, Newfoundland, which killed 248 American soldiers in 1985. Wheaton is serving as investigator for the families of the victims of that crash. "A couple of my old black ops buddies in the Pentagon believe the Pan Am bombers were gunning for McKee's hostage-rescue team," he says. "But they were told to shift the focus of their investigation because it revealed an embarrassing breakdown in security." The FBI says it investigated the theory that McKee's team was targeted and found no evidence to support it.

Victor Marchetti, former executive assistant to the CIA's deputy director and co-author of The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, believes that the presence of the team on Flight 103 is a clue that should not be ignored. His contacts at Langley agree. "It's like the loose thread of a sweater," he says. "Pull on it, and the whole thing may unravel." In any case, Marchetti believes the bombing of Flight 103 could have been avoided. "The Mossad knew about it and didn't give proper warning," he says. "The CIA knew about it and screwed up."

The CIA may still be trying to find out more information about why McKee and Gannon suddenly decided to fly home. Last year three CIA agents, reportedly following up on their hostage-rescue mission, were shot dead in a Berlin hotel while waiting to meet a Palestinian informant.

Beulah McKee has given up trying to find out if Pan Am's bombers were after her son, although she says, "The government's secrecy can't close off my mind." Twice she called and questioned Gannon's widow Susan, who like her husband and her father Tom Twetten worked for the CIA. "The last time, I was accused of opening my mouth too much," says Mrs. McKee.

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