2002-08-03 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

The editorial staff of The Wave gets lots of calls from people who have the "big story" for us to cover, the one that will win us the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism.

Some of those stories turn out to be interesting and they often provide us with a run-of-the-mill news story that needs addressing and that turns out to be a pretty good story. Other tips turn out to be the kind of story that is more fantasy than fact the kind of story that you see in novels, the kind of stories that cannot ever be corroborated. Few, if any, turn out to be the kind of world-beating stories that earn a journalist a Pulitzer.

The problem is, journalists never know which of these categories a story will fall into until it is pursued, at least at a rudimentary level.

The crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor touched off many bells at the Wave office. There have been many legitimate sightings of fire and smoke on the plane prior to the crash, and The Wave addressed them at a meeting held last month. There were others, however, that spoke of a missile chasing the plane down Beach Channel Drive, plots by Yassar Arafat and the "fact" that the plane was brought down on Rockaway because of the televised comments of one Rockaway firefighter after September 11. Most of those tips have been of the latter variety – more fantasy than fact.

Some, however, are interesting enough to follow up on. That was the case when Rich Friedman called us right after our witness meeting made the pages of the Daily News.

Friedman said that he had a document that explained the crash of flight 587, the attack on the World Trade Center, Kennedy’s assassination and many of the other horrific events of the last century.

Gary Toms (G-Man) and I met with him at the Sunset Diner. I spotted Friedman when I came into the diner because he looked somehow out of place, but he seemed to be looking for somebody else, so I let it pass. When we sat down with Kenny Good, who witnessed the crash, however, Friedman came over and introduced himself.

He placed a copy of the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note on the table – a copy of the first page of the note that had a grid superimposed on top of it.

Friedman told us that the killer of Ramsey who left that note at the scene meant it as a sort of insurance policy in case the shadow organization he worked for came after him in order to silence him and bury what he knows about them.

Friedman says that the man who did the Ramsey killing, the man who brought down flight 587 and the man who planned the attack on the World Trade Center are one in the same and the ransom message proves the genesis of all those events and more.

He said that it all goes back to World War II, to the beginnings of the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. The aim, he said was to insure that the military-industrial internationalists keep making money, and that goes directly to Yale University’s "Skull and Bones" organization, to the Bush family and to a secret group within the FBI that hires killers such as this one to keep the status quo and keep wars on the front burner.

At this point, I told Friedman that his story sounded more like a Robert Ludlum novel than a real story. Gary asked him straight out if he ever was under treatment for a mental illness. "Are you presently taking any drugs," he asked pleasantly as possible.

Friedman, told us that by training he is a mathematician. His avocation is code breaker and puzzle aficionado.

He assured us that he was neither insane nor on drugs. He pulled out a 300-page book that "proved" his thesis with hundreds of graphs and cryptograms.

He said that the man responsible is a "political terrorist who likes bringing down commercial airliners, destroying major buildings in big cities and who also likes torturing and murdering little girls."

He named the man who is doing all this, and told us that nobody else would print the name because of "liability problems." I pointed out that we would certainly have a liability problem with charging him without proof of thousands of murders.

He shrugged and told us that the killer had first wanted to bring down an El Al jetliner because he hates Jews, but could not get near one of their planes because of the tight security. He then settled for a jetliner carrying lots of Hispanics, "because he hates Catholics as well." According to Friedman, he meant to bring the plane down over water, but "screwed it up."

When Friedman saw the ransom note right after it was released, he knew at once that it was a cryptogram. He spent 18 hours a day for many months breaking the code, Friedman says. He says he was determined to find out why the letters lined up the way they did and why certain letter combinations were written the way they were written.

Since I have problems with the cryptograms in the New York Post, I had trouble following his explanation, but I had to agree that his work product was impressive.

He explained that it was when he discovered that the code was in Chinese Column Writing that he was able to quickly complete breaking the cryptogram.

Friedman has written a book detailing and "proving" his findings. The first 60 pages of the book explain how the killer set up his code and how the killer has used the same coding system for more than 30 years (I forgot to tell you, this man is the Zodiac Killer as well). The code includes homonyms, synonyms and repeated French words as well.

According to Friedman’s theory, the killer wants to build his "insurance policy" while showing people how clever he really is. And, if Friedman is right, he and his "masters" are clever. You see, the Muslims had nothing to do with the World Trade Center, Friedman believes. It is the military industrial complex keeping a war alive so that they can keep racking in the profits and so that they can gain complete control of an "E-Money" program that will revolutionize the internet and allow people to spend without using their credit cards. Osama bin Ladin and his people are only the scapegoats for the complex so that they can proceed with a war against Muslim nations as well as turn the United States into a "police state."

While I don’t believe that Friedman’s theory is correct by any stretch of the imagination (and, that’s what you’d have to have to accept his theory – an extremely active imagination as well as a belief in the conspiracy theory of world history), it is interesting enough to present to our readers for them to decide for themselves.

According to Friedman’s 400-page book, this secret cabal is not through with New York City nor with downing commercial airliners. He believes that a prominent New York City bridge is the next target.

On these pages you will find the first page of the ransom note with the grids drawn over its face. You will also find two "pages" of what Friedman says is the decoded message found in Chinese Column Writing when the grid is laid over the note. Some of the cryptograms say, "Bring the plane down over New York City," and relate to the World Trade Center Attack. Read them, if you will, and decide for yourself which of the categories Friedman’s story falls into. And, for that matter, what category the man himself might be placed into should we want to categorize him. In any case, it is an interesting story and fun to read on a hot, sticky day on the beach.

I would like somebody more proficient in cryptograms than I am to take a look at the work and let me know what they think. Perhaps somebody can corroborate Friedman’s finding – or, debunk them.

Is Friedman correct? I don’t think so and neither do any of the other journalists or police officials he has gone to.

If you think so, read the book. Perhaps you’ll see what we don’t see in the Chinese Column Writing cryptograms. That’s what makes story tips so exciting. You never know where they will take you.


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