Matthew Gannon is a civilian that is buried in Arlington. He was a CIA operative under State Department cover that had just finished an assignment in Beruit in 1988. He had requested to leave a day early and as fate would have it he end up on Pan Am Flight 103. He left behind a widow and two daughters. His family requested and was granted a waiver for his burial at Arlington. The same hand of fate that had taken Matthew had also saved his brother Dick.
Dick Gannon was a State Department Security Officer assigned to the United States Embassy in Beruit in 1983. Dick was at the the embassy the day a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with a ton of explosives into the lobby. Seventeen Americans and thirty-three foreign nationals were killed in the blast. Dick survived the blast.
CIA Officer Among Victims
Matthew Gannon Was Returning From Covert Mission In Beirut
Not Believed Bombers Knew He Was Aboard
His Father-In-Law, Also CIA, Believes Suspects Are ‘Right Guys'
One of the 189 Americans killed when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, just before Christmas 1988 was a CIA officer, reports CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv.
A new book, by former Time correspondent Ted Gup, says 34-year-old Matthew Gannon, an Arabic-speaking CIA officer, was returning from an undercover mission in Beirut “to gather intelligence on a number of terrorist cells.”
The Book Of Honor also reveals that Gannon's father-in-law, Tom Twetten, was director of covert operations at the CIA at the time who helped plan the airstrikes on Tripoli. It's believed the Pan Am bombing was in retaliation for those raids.
Now retired in Vermont, Twetten told CBS News he has assured himself the two Libyans on trial are the bombers — “the right guys” — but they probably didn't know a CIA operative was aboard the doomed jet.
And, until now, neither did Americans.
“The agency maintains that identifying its casualties, even decades later, would endanger foreign nationals who may have provided the CIA with intelligence,” writes Gup, a former Washington Post investigative reporter who now teaches journalism at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “But the oft-invoked argument wears thinner and thinner as the years wear on and bereaved families are asked to bear their losses in continued silence.”
Gup reports agency officials often lie to family members about how their loved ones died to maintain “plausible deniability” and keep the CIA from being linked to controversial overseas missions.
Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah are charged with murder, conspiracy to murder and endangering aircraft safety in the December 21, 1988, bombing, and are currently on trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law. The explosion occurred over the village of Lockerbie, Scotland, and plunged to the ground there, killing eleven residents on the ground, as well as all 259 aboard the 747 jet.
Prosecutors accuse the Libyans, said to be members of their country's intelligence agency, of concealing a bomb in a brown Samsonite case originating in Malta.
If found guilty al-Megrahi and Fhimah face life imprisonment in Scotland. They have pleaded innocent, blaming Palestinian factions based in Syria for the attack.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to hold the trial at a former U.S. air base in the Netherlands after nearly a decade of sanctions.
December 1, 1988: An attempt on an airliner in Mexico kills several passengers, including Mr. Amiriam Nir, involved with drugs- and arms trade for the CONTRAS. Mr. Nir was in close contact with the CIA-group of Mr. Matthew Gannon, Charles McKee, Oliver North and others!
Mr. Matthew Kevin Gannon, CIA/DEA, was also booked on december 16, 1988, from Cyprus to Heathrow by CY 504, and from there by PanAm-103 with “OK” booking on to Detroit on December 21, 1988
The PBS investigative program Frontline reported in January l990 that the bomb was put on the plane at London’s Heathrow Airport where a baggage handler switched suitcases belonging to CIA officer Matthew Gannon. According to the Frontline investigation, the only piece of luggage not accounted for from the flight belonged to Gannon. Frontline claims the intelligence officials were a “strong secondary target.”
HON. WM. S. BROOMFIELD
in the House of Representatives
TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 1989
Mr. BROOMFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I want to share with my colleagues a memorable and touching tribute paid to three young Foreign Service officers who recently gave their lives in the war against terrorism. These fine men perished, along with many other Americans, in the tragic sabotaging of Pan Am 103 over Scotland. My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of Matthew Kevin Gannon, Daniel Emmett O'Conner, and Ronald Albert Lariviere. Three eagles have fallen, but their dedication and service to country will never be forgotten.
The war against terrorism will not be won in one final and decisive battle. Nor will it be won in the near future. Victory over terrorism will take time, patience and perseverance. Someday the free world will succeed in isolating the practitioners and containing the ravages of this international menace. Unfortunately, this ongoing struggle will continue to claim the lives of other young men who bravely march forward to defend their nation. This is a price that we must be willing to pay to maintain the freedom that we all enjoy.
I commend my colleagues the following memorial service eulogy by the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, Robert E. Lamb, at St. Patricks Cathedral in January of this year. While words can do little to soften the anguish which their families now feel, Mr. Lamb effectively captures the deep commitment which these fine Americans had to our country, and the terrible tragedy of their untimely loss:
For the 1,400 men and women of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, this is a day of sadness and of irony. The Bureau was born out of our nation's commitment to protect all of the people who would do our nation's work abroad. It is a world in which DS has made a difference. It touches us deeply, therefore, to gather here today to mourn the lives of young men who dedicated their lives to protecting others.
These men represent the highest traditions of government service–America's best Ron Lariviere and Dan O'Connor were special agents. They had survived rigorous screening and a tough examination process to be selected from thousands of applicants for Diplomatic Security. As special agents, they were put through extensive training. Both endured long hours and demanding assignments to prepare them for the future–and their future was bright indeed.
Matthew Gannon was especially close to us in DS. The younger brother of our own Special Agent Richard Gannon, he worked closely with us as political officer in Beirut, his last post. So on both accounts, we consider him a member of our family.
All three of these men had volunteered for their last assignments, accepting without question, the dangers of their work–and dangerous it is.
The Foreign Service and the Department of State are for many of us like an extended family. But the members of the Diplomatic Security Service share a special bond drawn from the nature of our work, the frequent and difficult travel, the shift work, and the long hours.
Our families are often asked to make great sacrifices to accommodate our jobs. There are too many missed birthdays, and anniversaries; too many occasions when our wives and husbands have carried more than their share of the family responsibilities because we were unable to do our part; too many disappointments for our children when our work made it impossible for us to be there for the special moments in their lives. Our families grow accustomed to the sacrifices and accept them with love and understanding. Today, we are reminded how great those sacrifices can ultimately be.
We can almost count in months the time since these men arrived in Washington to start new careers in government. They left behind the beauty of the California coast, and the charm of old New England. They left behind admiring neighbors, and loving families. They entered a new world enthusiastically and bravely. Now, we can say to them: You have left us for a world we cannot pretend to understand. But you have left behind you here much that is good.
Matthew Kevin Gannon, Daniel Emmett O'Conner, Ronald Albert Lariviere–we are proud of you. We shall miss you.
From the Pan Am 103 Casualty List: Matthew Kevin Gannon, 611 North Ardmore, Los Angeles, California 90004
Matthew Kevin Gannon of Orange, California, assigned to the State Department's Middle East bureau and returning home from a stint as political officer in Beirut, Lebanon.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard