Statement by Bert Schlossberg, International Director of the Committee, Concerning the Shooting Down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 On August 31, 1983
February 14, 2002
- On August 31, 1983, Korean Airlines Flight 007 was downed by a Soviet Sukhoi interceptor off of Sakhalin Island in the Soviet Far East. Aboard Flight 007 were 269 passengers and crew of various nationalities including 61 Americans. Included among this number was a sitting congressman, Lawrence Patton McDonald, Democrat, 7th District, Georgia. There were also 22 children aboard the plane. Ever since it has been generally understood that all 269 passengers and crew perished as the aircraft plunged to its destruction in the waters of the Tatar Strait.
- In the early 1990’s, new immigrants from the Soviet Union arriving in Israel—immigrants who had been in the Soviet military—told a different story. The story they told was of a plane, damaged but not destroyed, tracked by Soviet radar as it descended gradually and under control to a landing on the water. It was a story of the passengers and crew being rescued by KGB patrol boats, imprisoned and then interrogated. It was a story of children being placed in orphanages along the Sino-Soviet border and in Kazakhstan.
- This news traveled to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Upon further investigation the ranking Minority Member, Senator Jesse Helms sent to Boris Yeltsin a letter asking him to look into the matter and provide information on the final disposition of the plane and the whereabouts of those aboard. This brought about the admission—after years of denial—that the Soviets did indeed have the Black Boxes. They then turned them over to the United Nations.
- Analysis of the Black Box Cockpit Voice Recorder and Digital Flight Data Recorder, coupled with information from Soviet and Japanese radar trackings previously released, showed that the aircraft was damaged only slightly and that:
- Passenger and crew were supplied with sufficient oxygen
- Pilots had regained control of the aircraft and had succeeded in retarding its descent rate—overturning the former understanding that the plane had plunged to its destruction
- Almost all the parameters of normal flight were regained, including normal function in all four engines
- Most startling of all was the handing over by the Russian Federation of transcripts of the real-time communication between the Soviet High Command and subordinates right down to the pilot squeezing the trigger. These transcripts show the following:
- KAL 007 ditched successfully off the tiny island of Moneron after having circled it twice
- Russian rescue missions were ordered just 21 and 29 minutes after the ditching. These missions involved rescue helicopters, KGB coastal patrol boats and civilian trawlers already in the vicinity of the landing site.
- Both the shoot down and the rescue effort had been ordered by the highest echelons of the Soviet Military. Some of those involved in the shoot down, the rescue efforts and the Soviet cover-up and damage control were men of great power—some still retain power—such as General Anatoli Kornukov who, on January 22, 1998 was appointed Russia’s new Air Force commander by Boris Yeltsin, and Marshal Valentin I. Varennikov who now serves in the Russian Federation State Duma as Chairman of the Committee for Veteran’s Affairs.
- Subsequent investigation and informant reports show that the passengers and crew were probably alive in the 1990’s and may well be alive today.
We call for the Russian government and President Putin to conduct a thorough investigation of their records and the records of the former KGB related to KAL 007, the existence of which was revealed by President Boris Yeltsin on June 17, 1992, to ascertain the disposition of its passengers and crew and their current whereabouts. We also call on them to release those who are still alive to their families and loved ones in the US and other countries.
We call on our own government and on President Bush to open a thorough investigation of this matter and to seek the full cooperation of the Russian government in this matter.
In relation to this, we will, this day, present hundreds of petitions addressed to Presidents Bush and Putin to this effect.