Russia Wants Regular, Transparent Reports on MH17 Crash Probe

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Parts of wreckage are seen at the site where the downed Malaysian Boeing 777 flight MH17 crashed

MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow wants the investigation into the crash of a Malaysian Boeing 777 to be as most transparent as possible, and insists on regular provision if prove reports in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution, a diplomatic source told RIA Novosti.

“Investigation into the reasons of the catastrophe should be carried out under international control, should be all-encompassing and transparent for the wide international audience and mass media,” the source said. “We will keep pressing for it, demanding the implementation of the UNSC resolution 2166 which stipulates monthly reports about the course of the investigation.”

Resolution 2166 adopted by the UN Security Council in July calls for a thorough and impartial investigation into the MH17 tragedy and requires the secretary-general to provide the Security Council with investigation progress reports.

The source stressed that the majority of Western media “seem to have been ordered to avoid the investigation issue for about two weeks.”

“US official representatives who rushed to accuse Russia and Donetsk self-defense forces in the first hours following the tragedy, also maintain silence. America’s allies, particularly the British and the Australian, who were also among the first accusers, stick to the same policy. The international community has not yet seen the promised “incontestable evidence.” The explanation is that the truth could be inconvenient to Washington, London and Canberra,” the source told RIA Novosti.

The source added that Kiev’s official position is also telling.

“As the curtain of allegations is clearing, the specialists have more and more questions over the actions of the Ukrainian authorities and military toward the Boeing. Kiev still has not made public the recordings of the talks between air traffic control and the crew, which would allow to understand why the plane was in the combat area,” the diplomatic source said.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board, including 193 Dutch nationals, 43 Malaysians and 27 Australians.

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The Causes of the MH17 Crash are “Classified”. Ukraine, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium Signed a “Non-disclosure Agreement”

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On August 8, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia and Belgium signed a non-disclosure agreement pertaining to data obtained during the investigation into the causes of the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17

Globalresearch.ca

In the framework of the 4-country agreement signed on 8 August between Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia, information on the progress and results of the investigation of the disaster will remain classified.

This was confirmed at a briefing in Kiev under the auspices of the office of the Prosecutor General Yuri Boychenko. In his words, the results of the investigation will be published once completed only if a consensus agreement of all parties that have signed the agreement prevails.

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Anyone of the signatories has the right to veto the publication of the results of the investigation without explanation.

Following the signing of this agreement, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the agreement and allowed for the participation of  Malaysian staff to participate in the investigation.

International experts admit that for the survey of the wreck Malaysian Boeing 777 will take several weeks.

The second phase will involve searches pertaining to the remains of the victims of the crash of flight MH17.

Thus, it is safe to assume the results of the investigation are actually classified and the final expert opinion will not be released. (or only after a few years, when the political causes of the disaster will lose their relevance).

The conclusion is simple – the intermediate results of the investigation directly prove the innocence of Russia and/or the Donesk militia.

MH17: Boeing-777 was downed by Ukrainian MiG-29, Romanian expert says

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Ukrainian MIG-29

By Lyuba Lulko, Pravda, The milleniumreport

Romanian military expert, pilot and former deputy commander of Otopeni military airport, Valentin Vasilescu, presented his version of the tragedy of the Malaysian Boeing in the sky over Ukraine. According to the expert, the plane was shot down by Ukrainian MiG-29, possibly piloted by Polish pilot.

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Wreckage of B777 FLIGHT MH17 TAIL NUMBER 9M-MRD

Valentin Vasilescu refutes the theory, according to which the plane had been shot down by surface-to-air missile, which, according to American and Ukrainian versions, the militia launched from Buk-1M mobile unit.

“A surface-to-air missile, with a warhead weighing from 40 to 70 kilos, explodes not inside the object of destruction, but near it, at a distance of 50-100 meters. The detonation of the warhead produces a shock wave that disperses fragments with high velocities. They can puncture the fuselage of an aircraft, but given the size of the Boeing-777 (73 meters long, with a large wingspan), they can not lead to the destruction of the aircraft in separate smaller parts, as it happens with the aircraft that are 7-10 times smaller. Such fragments, when hitting a Boeing-777, can rupture the fuel system of the aircraft. The fuel can spread on the fuselage and wings, setting the whole plane on fire,” said the expert.

“Similarly, if the hydraulic system had been damaged, the Boeing 777 would have lost control of the flight. Thus, if such a large aircraft like Boeing-777 of Malaysia Airlines had been hit by surface-to-air missile, the crew would have been able to warn traffic control services of the situation on board. But we do not see anything like that in registers,” Valentin Vasilescu said.

The plane, as shown by black boxes, collapsed in the air, but this is only possible in case of a horizontal nosedive from the height of ten thousand feet, when the maximum speed limit is exceeded. “If the plane spins, the crew is very often unable to control the aircraft. Instantaneous depressurization of the cockpit may also occur,” the expert said.

Douglas Barrie, a researcher of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that the edges of a fragment of the cockpit fuselage on the right side were bent from the inside to the outside. This indicates an explosion that occurred inside the plane, which is impossible if the Boeing MH-17 had been shot down by missile equipped with a proximity fuse.

The plane could not be shot down by Buk-M1 as there was no electromagnetic radiation from the missile complex registered. There was no thick plume or white condensation of 10-35 kilometers from the earth, which appears and lasts for several minutes after launch.

The expert notes that he is not alone in his opinion. For example, Gordon Duff, a veteran of the Vietnam War, currently a security consultant, believes that the Malaysian Boeing could not be shot down by surface-to-air or air-to-air missile. According to him, it was either a bomb explosion on board, or “a gun of a Ukrainian fighter jet.” “It was a diabolical brain that planned the attack, as flight MH-17 was shot down from an onboard gun. The gun left traces that make one believe that it was a small bomb that exploded inside,” he said. Canadian expert Michael Bociurkiw wrote in his report that part of the aircraft fuselage was dotted with “shrapnel-like, almost machine gun-like holes.” He said the damage was inspected by Malaysian aviation-security officials. Bociurkiw believes that Boeing MH-17 was shot down from small arms or artillery weapons of a fighter aircraft that had a high fire rate.

The expert referred to the report from BBC correspondent Olga Ivzina from July 23, 2014, which was later censored by the company management. The report provided testimony from residents of the Donetsk region, who confirmed the presence of another aircraft in the sky over the area, where  the catastrophe occurred.


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#MH370 – #MH17 Vanishing point …

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By Pepe ESCOBAR, Asia Times

First, passenger airliner MH370 vanished from Planet Earth. Then MH370 vanished from the news cycle. First, MH17 was shot down by “Putin’s missile” – as Planet Earth was told. Then MH17 vanished from the news cycle.

Where’s Baudrillard when we need him? Had he been alive, the dervish of simulacra would have already deconstructed these two Malaysian planes as mirror images; from absolute vanishing to maximum exposure, then vanished again. They might as well have been abducted – and shot – by aliens.

Now you seen them, now you don’t.
Black boxes, data recorders – everything MH17 is now floating in a black void. The British are taking forever to analyze the data – and if they have already done so, they are not talking. It’s as if they were singing, I see a black box / and I want it painted black … void.

The Pentagon, with 20-20 vision over Ukraine, knows what happened. Russian intelligence not only knows what happened but offered a tantalizing glimpse of it in an official presentation, dismissed by the “West”. The best technical analyses point not to “Putin’s missile” – a BUK – but to a combination of R-60 air-to-air missile and the auto-cannon of an Su-25.

A reader led me to this fair assessment by former USAF and Boeing engineer Raymond Blohm: “With proper vectoring, a Su-25 need not be quite as fast as a Boeing 777 in cruise. It just has to get to a missile-firing position. Since the 777 was not maneuvering, it would be simple to pre-calculate when to get in a certain spot in the sky below the 777. From there, it’s the missile that has the speed and altitude capability to hit the 777. (The R-60 is a very capable missile.) After the missile takes out an engine, both the 777’s max speed and its max altitude are well within the Su-25 fighter’s speed & altitude capabilities. Then, the Su-25 can show off its cannon power.”

Follow the engine wreckage. Follow the cockpit wreckage. Follow the motive. One cannot even imagine the tectonic geopolitical plates clashing were the Kiev regime to be deemed responsible. It would be the vanishing point for the whole – warped – notion of the Empire of Chaos’s “indispensable” exceptionalism.


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Malaysian Press – Kiev Regime Shot Down MH 17

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By Alex Lantier, World Socialist Web Site

A Thursday article in the New Straits Times, Malaysia’s flagship English-language newspaper, charged the US- and European-backed Ukrainian regime in Kiev with shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 in east Ukraine last month. Given the tightly controlled character of the Malaysian media, it appears that the accusation that Kiev shot down MH17 has the imprimatur of the Malaysian state.

The US and European media have buried this remarkable report, which refutes the wave of allegations planted by the CIA in international media claiming that Russian president Vladimir Putin was responsible for the destruction of MH17, without presenting any evidence to back up this charge.
The New Straits Times article, titled “US analysts conclude MH17 downed by aircraft,” lays out evidence that Ukrainian fighter aircraft attacked the jetliner with first a missile, then with bursts of 30-millimeter machine gun fire from both sides of MH17.

The Russian army has already presented detailed radar and satellite data showing a Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 fighter jet tailing MH17 shortly before the jetliner crashed. The Kiev regime denied that its fighters were airborne in the area, however.

The New Straits Times article began, “Intelligence analysts in the United States have already concluded that Malaysia flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it.

This corroborates an emerging theory postulated by local investigators that the Boeing 777-200 was crippled by an air-to-air missile and finished off with cannon fire from a jet that had been shadowing it as it plummeted to earth.”
It cited “experts who had said that the photographs of the blast fragmentation patterns on the fuselage of the airliner showed two distinct shapes—the shredding pattern associated with a warhead packed with ‘flechettes,’ and the more uniform, round-type penetration holes consistent with that of cannon rounds.”

The New Straits Times cited several sources to substantiate its position. One was testimony by a Canadian-Ukrainian monitor for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Michael Bociurkiw—one of the first investigators to arrive at the crash site. Speaking to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on July 29, Bociurkiw said: “There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machine gun fire; very, very strong machine gun fire.”

Another source the paper cited was an article, “Flight 17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts,” by former Associated Press reporter Robert Parry, who now writes for the ConsortiumNews.com web site. Given the lack of any evidence supporting US charges that pro-Russian forces shot MH17 down with a Buk anti-aircraft missile, Parry said, “some US intelligence analysts have concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault, and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame, according to a source briefed on these findings.”

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Was Putin Targeted for Mid-Air Assassination?

Exclusive: Official Washington’s conventional wisdom on the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down blames Russian President Putin, but some U.S. intelligence analysts think Putin, whose plane was flying nearby, may have been the target of Ukrainian hardliners who hit the wrong plane, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com

U.S. intelligence analysts are weighing the possibility that the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a botched attempt by extremists in the Ukrainian government to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin whose aircraft was returning from South America the same day, according to a source briefed on the U.S. investigation.

If true, the direction of the investigation into the July 17 crash has veered dramatically from initial U.S. government allegations that eastern Ukrainian rebels, using a Russian-supplied anti-aircraft battery, were responsible for bringing down the plane killing 298 people onboard.

The Obama administration used those claims to whip up an anti-Russian hysteria that prompted European countries to ratchet up economic sanctions against Moscow, starting what now looks like an incipient trade war.

A side-by-side comparison of the Russian presidential jetliner and the Malaysia Airlines plane.

But the U.S. analysts dismissed those original suspicions because they could find no evidence that such a missile battery had been supplied by the Russians or was in the possession of the rebels, prompting a shift in thinking toward a scenario in which Ukrainian hardliners working with elements of the air force may have tried to ambush Putin’s plane but instead hit the Malaysian airliner, said the source speaking on condition of anonymity.

Putin flies in a plane with similar red, white and blue markings as the Malaysian airliner and was known to be on his way home after a six-day visit to South America. But his plane took a different route and landed safely in Moscow.

After the crash, as U.S. intelligence analysts pored over phone intercepts and other intelligence data, they began to suspect that the motive for the shoot-down was the desire among some Ukrainian extremists to eliminate Putin whom they had been privately vowing to kill – words initially viewed as empty bluster but which were looked at differently in hindsight – the source said.

If some Ukrainian authorities were hoping to ambush Putin’s plane, they also would have had only a matter of minutes to detect the aircraft’s presence and make a decision to fire, so it could be plausible that the attackers made a hasty decision to hit Putin’s plane before they realized that they had made a tragic mistake.

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FLIGHT CONTROL: Boeing’s ‘Uninterruptible Autopilot System’, Drones & Remote Hijacking

Following the apparent ‘vanishing act’ of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, many investigators and researchers began to question the likelihood of such an event happening in today’s high-tech world. At 21WIRE, we’ve also looked into the unprecedented disappearance of MH370 and the subsequent downing of MH17, as certain details have come to light regarding the history of the autopilot function within Boeing commercial airliners, seemingly opening the door to the events of 9/11…

By Shawn HELTON, 21ST CENTURY WIRE


The Boeing 777 along with other Boeing models, can in fact be flown remotely through the use of independent embedded software and satellite communication. Once this advanced system is engaged, it can disallow any pilot or potential hijacker from controlling a plane, as the rooted setup uses digital signals that communicate with air traffic control, satellite links, as well as other government entities for the remainder of a flight’s journey.

This technology is known as the Boeing Honeywell ‘Uninterruptible’ Autopilot System.

The mere existence of this technology would most certainly provide the final piece to a number of seemingly unsolved airline disaster puzzles in recent years…

IMAGE: ‘A jet for the 21st century’ – An interior view of a Boeing 777-200 ER cockpit (Photo becuo.com).

In the case of MH370, the aircraft’s Rolls Royce Trent 892 Engines sent ‘automated pings’ independent of the plane’s transponder, to a British Inmarsat satellite for several hours after subsequently losing contact with air traffic controllers. The automated information gave an up-to-date diagnosis as to the well being of the two engines, which according to data received, were fully operational and showed no signs of electrical damage. Rolls Royce has a partnership that requires the engine to transmit live data to its global engine health monitoring center in Derby, UK, every 30 minutes. Investigators are said to have used the ACARS information uploaded to the engine maker.

Uninterruptible flight control

On December 4th of 2006, it was announced that Boeing had won a patent on an uninterruptible autopilot system for use in commercial aircraft. This was the first public acknowledgment by Boeing about the existence of such an autopilot system.

The new autopilot patent was reported by John Croft for Flight Global, with the news piece subsequently linked by a Homeland Security News Wire and other British publications around the same time. According to the DHS release, it was disclosed that “dedicated electrical circuits” within an onboard flight system could control a plane without the need of pilots, stating that the advanced avionics would fly the aircraft remotely, independently of those operating the plane:

The “uninterruptible” autopilot would be activated – either by pilots, by onboard sensors, or even remotely via radio or satellite links by government agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency, if terrorists attempt to gain control of a flight deck.”

The Flight Global news wire goes on to report that the uninterruptible autopilot system was designed for increased security in the event of a manual hijacking situation, as Boeing itself describes the feature as a preventative measure, keeping unauthorized persons out of a cockpit, setting the stage for an industry wide safety protocol:

There is a need in the industry for a technique that conclusively prevents unauthorised persons for gaining access to the controls of the vehicle and therefore threatening the safety of the passengers onboard the vehicle, and/or other people in the path of travel of the vehicle, thereby decreasing the amount of destruction individuals onboard the vehicle would be capable of causing.”

Additionally, in the article entitled, “Diagrams: Boeing patents anti-terrorism auto-land system for hijacked airliners,” Croft outlines the clandestine oversight that government has with respect to the uninterruptible autopilot, making note of the auto-land function of the system and stating that the technology has its own power supply self-sufficient of the the aircraft:

To make it fully independent, the system has its own power supply, independent of the aircraft’s circuit breakers. The aircraft remains in automatic mode until after landing, when mechanics or government security operatives are called in to disengage the system.”

IMAGE: The United States patent for the Boeing Honeywell Uninterruptible Autopilot dated November, 28th 2006 (Photo flightglobal.com).

Boeing and Honeywell have been heavily involved in UAV technology for both civilian and military applications. Some researchers have suggested that both corporations could ‘recoup’ the cost of their applied science technology for military development from the commercial sector. It has also been said that Boeing and Honeywell developed existing patents for the Department of Defense for over 40 years including the BHAUP system.

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Interest in MH17 Fades as Sanctions and War Edge Closer

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Ukrainian SU-25 Fighter Jet, same as the one which trailed MH17 shortly before it crashed

By Tony Cartalucci, Activist Post

It is abundantly clear that a truthful resolution to the tragedy of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was never the goal of Washington, London, and Brussels. Citing baseless accusations surrounding the tragedy, the West has leveled a series of incrementally expansive sanctions against Russia while using the tragedy to justify increased military support for Kiev’s military forces even as they wage total war against their own population including the use of ballistic missiles, airstrikes, artillery barrages, and tanks. Clearly the goal then was to exploit the air disaster as long as possible before the truth began to emerge – and when that truth did emerge, to ensure the subject of MH17 altogether faded from the collective consciousness of the general public.

Surely if the facts surrounding the disaster tallied with Washington, London, and Brussels’ initial and baseless accusations, it would make the subsequent moves by the West to sanction Russia while propping up the regime in Kiev, Ukraine, all the more poignant.

Instead, the West appears to be intentionally playing down the actual investigation and pushing forward its gains made – wrought from the tragedy and hailed as a “game changer” in a conflict the West was decidedly losing.

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Flight MH17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts

Exclusive: From magazine covers to pronouncements by top politicians, Official Washington jumped to the conclusion that Ukrainian rebels and Russia were guilty in the shoot-down of a Malaysian passenger plane. But some U.S. intelligence analysts may see the evidence differently, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com

 

Contrary to the Obama administration’s public claims blaming eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, some U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame, according to a source briefed on these findings.

This judgment – at odds with what President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have expressed publicly – is based largely on the absence of U.S. government evidence that Russia supplied the rebels with a Buk anti-aircraft missile system that would be needed to hit a civilian jetliner flying at 33,000 feet, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Ukraine, on the South Lawn of the White House, July 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Ukraine, on the South Lawn of the White House, July 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Despite U.S. spy satellites positioned over eastern Ukraine, U.S. intelligence agencies have released no images of a Buk system being transferred by Russians to rebel control, shipped into Ukraine, deployed into firing position and then being taken back to Russia. Though the Obama administration has released other images of Ukraine taken by U.S. spy satellites, the absence of any photos of a rebel-controlled Buk missile battery has been the dog not barking in the strident case that Official Washington has made in blaming the rebels and Russia for the July 17 shoot-down that killed 298 people.

Given the size of these missile batteries – containing four 16-foot-long missiles – the absence of this evidence prompted caution among U.S. intelligence analysts even as senior U.S. officials and the U.S. mainstream media rushed to judgment blaming the rebels and Russians.

In making that case, Kerry and other senior officials relied on claims made by the Ukrainian government along with items posted on “social media.” These snippets of “evidence” included ambiguous remarks attributed to rebels who may have initially thought the shoot-down was another of their successful attacks on lower-flying Ukrainian military aircraft but who later insisted that they had not fired on the Malaysian plane and lacked the longer-range Buk missiles needed to reach above 30,000 feet.

If the U.S. intelligence analysts are correct – that the rebels and Russia are likely not responsible – the chief remaining suspect would be the Ukrainian government, which does possess Buk anti-aircraft missiles and reportedly had two fighter jets in the vicinity of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 at the time of the shoot-down.

Some independent analyses of the initial evidence from the crash site suggest the jetliner may have been destroyed by an air-to-air attack, not by an anti-aircraft missile fired from the ground. Yet, the working hypothesis of the U.S. intelligence analysts is that a Ukrainian military Buk battery and the jetfighters may have been operating in collusion as they hunted what they thought was a Russian airliner, possibly even the plane carrying President Vladimir Putin on a return trip from South America, the source said.

The source added that the U.S. intelligence analysis does not implicate top Ukrainian officials, such as President Petro Poroshenko or Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, suggesting that the attack may have been the work of more extremist factions, possibly even one of the Ukrainian oligarchs who have taken an aggressive approach toward prosecuting the war against the ethnic Russian rebels in the east.

Obviously, a successful shoot-down of a Russian plane, especially one carrying Putin, could have been a major coup for the Kiev regime, which ousted Russian ally, President Viktor Yanukovych, last February touching off the civil war. Some prominent Ukrainian politicians, such as ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, have expressed the desire to kill Putin.

“It’s about time we grab our guns and kill, go kill those damn Russians together with their leader,” Tymoshenko said in an intercepted phone call in March, according to a leak published in the Russian press and implicitly confirmed by Tymoshenko.

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American Intelligence Officers Who Battled the Soviet Union for Decades Slam the Flimsy “Intelligence” Against Russia

Senior U.S. Intelligence Officers: Obama Should Release Ukraine Evidence

WASHINGTON’S BLOG

Preface: With the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine turning a local civil war into a U.S. confrontation with Russia, former high-level U.S. intelligence veterans released a statement today urging President Obama to release what evidence he has about the tragedy and silence the exaggeration and rush to judgment. (The whole post is a must-read; but we at Washington’s Blog have added bolding for emphasis.)

Signatory Bill Binney – the former senior technical director at the NSA, and a man who battled the Soviet Union for decades – tells Washington’s Blog:

In my analytic efforts to predict intentions and capabilities down through the years, I always made sure that I had multi-factors verifying what I was asserting. So far, I don’t see that discipline here in this administration or the IC [i.e. the United States intelligence community].

Posted with permission of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Intelligence on Shoot-Down of Malaysian Plane

Executive Summary

U.S.–Russian intensions are building in a precarious way over Ukraine, and we are far from certain that your advisers fully appreciate the danger of escalation. The New York Times and other media outlets are treating sensitive issues in dispute as flat-fact, taking their cue from U.S. government sources.

Twelve days after the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, your administration still has issued no coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible – much less to convincingly support repeated claims that the plane was downed by a Russian-supplied missile in the hands of Ukrainian separatists.

Your administration has not provided any satellite imagery showing that the separatists had such weaponry, and there are several other “dogs that have not barked.” Washington’s credibility, and your own, will continue to erode, should you be unwilling – or unable – to present more tangible evidence behind administration claims. In what follows, we put this in the perspective of former intelligence professionals with a cumulative total of 260 years in various parts of U.S. intelligence:

We, the undersigned former intelligence officers want to share with you our concern about the evidence adduced so far to blame Russia for the July 17 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. We are retired from government service and none of us is on the payroll of CNN, Fox News, or any other outlet. We intend this memorandum to provide a fresh, different perspective.

As veteran intelligence analysts accustomed to waiting, except in emergency circumstances, for conclusive information before rushing to judgment, we believe that the charges against Russia should be rooted in solid, far more convincing evidence. And that goes in spades with respect to inflammatory incidents like the shoot-down of an airliner. We are also troubled by the amateurish manner in which fuzzy and flimsy evidence has been served up – some it via “social media.”

As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information. As Americans, we find ourselves hoping that, if you indeed have more conclusive evidence, you will find a way to make it public without further delay. In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary of State John Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to “poison the jury pool.”

Painting Russia Black

We see an eerie resemblance to an earlier exercise in U.S. “public diplomacy” from which valuable lessons can be learned by those more interested in the truth than in exploiting tragic incidents for propaganda advantage. We refer to the behavior of the Reagan administration in the immediate aftermath of the shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983. We sketch out below a short summary of that tragic affair, since we suspect you have not been adequately briefed on it. The parallels will be obvious to you.

An advantage of our long tenure as intelligence officers is that we remember what we have witnessed first hand; seldom do we forget key events in which we played an analyst or other role. To put it another way, most of us “know exactly where we were” when a Soviet fighter aircraft shot down Korean Airlines passenger flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983, over 30 years ago. At the time, we were intelligence officers on “active duty.” You were 21; many of those around you today were still younger.

Thus, it seems possible that you may be learning how the KAL007 affair went down, so to speak, for the first time; that you may now become more aware of the serious implications for U.S.-Russian relations regarding how the downing of Flight 17 goes down; and that you will come to see merit in preventing ties with Moscow from falling into a state of complete disrepair. In our view, the strategic danger here dwarfs all other considerations.

Hours after the tragic shoot-down on Aug. 30, 1983, the Reagan administration used its very accomplished propaganda machine to twist the available intelligence on Soviet culpability for the killing of all 269 people aboard KAL007. The airliner was shot down after it strayed hundreds of miles off course and penetrated Russia’s airspace over sensitive military facilities in Kamchatka and Sakhalin Island. The Soviet pilot tried to signal the plane to land, but the KAL pilots did not respond to the repeated warnings. Amid confusion about the plane’s identity – a U.S. spy plane had been in the vicinity hours earlier – Soviet ground control ordered the pilot to fire.

The Soviets soon realized they had made a horrendous mistake. U.S. intelligence also knew from sensitive intercepts that the tragedy had resulted from a blunder, not from a willful act of murder (much as on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people, an act which President Ronald Reagan dismissively explained as an “understandable accident”).

To make the very blackest case against Moscow for shooting down the KAL airliner, the Reagan administration suppressed exculpatory evidence from U.S. electronic intercepts. Washington’s mantra became “Moscow’s deliberate downing of a civilian passenger plane.” Newsweek ran a cover emblazoned with the headline “Murder in the Sky.” (Apparently, not much has changed; Time’s cover this week features “Cold War II” and “Putin’s dangerous game.” The cover story by Simon Shuster, “In Russia, Crime Without Punishment,” would merit an A-plus in William Randolph Hearst’s course “Yellow Journalism 101.”)

When KAL007 was shot down, Alvin A. Snyder, director of the U.S. Information Agency’s television and film division, was enlisted in a concerted effort to “heap as much abuse on the Soviet Union as possible,” as Snyder writes in his 1995 book, “Warriors of Disinformation.”

He and his colleagues also earned an A-plus for bringing the “mainstream media” along. For example, ABC’s Ted Koppel noted with patriotic pride, “This has been one of those occasions when there is very little difference between what is churned out by the U.S. government propaganda organs and by the commercial broadcasting networks.”

“Fixing” the Intelligence Around the Policy

“The perception we wanted to convey was that the Soviet Union had cold-bloodedly carried out a barbaric act,” wrote Snyder, adding that the Reagan administration went so far as to present a doctored transcript of the intercepts to the United Nations Security Council on September 6, 1983.

Only a decade later, when Snyder saw the complete transcripts — including the portions that the Reagan administration had hidden — would he fully realize how many of the central elements of the U.S. presentation were false.

The intercepts showed that the Soviet fighter pilot believed he was pursuing a U.S. spy aircraft and that he was having trouble in the dark identifying the plane. Per instructions from ground control, the pilot had circled the KAL airliner and tilted his wings to order the aircraft to land. The pilot said he fired warning shots, as well. This information “was not on the tape we were provided,” Snyder wrote.

It became abundantly clear to Snyder that, in smearing the Soviets, the Reagan administration had presented false accusations to the United Nations, as well as to the people of the United States and the world. In his book, Snyder acknowledged his own role in the deception, but drew a cynical conclusion. He wrote, “The moral of the story is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first.”

The tortured attempts by your administration and stenographers in the media to blame Russia for the downing of Flight 17, together with John Kerry’s unenviable record for credibility, lead us to the reluctant conclusion that the syndrome Snyder describes may also be at work in your own administration; that is, that an ethos of “getting your own lie out first” has replaced “ye shall know the truth.” At a minimum, we believe Secretary Kerry displayed unseemly haste in his determination to be first out of the starting gate.

Both Sides Cannot Be Telling the Truth

We have always taken pride in not shooting from the hip, but rather in doing intelligence analysis that is evidence-based. The evidence released to date does not bear close scrutiny; it does not permit a judgment as to which side is lying about the shoot-down of Flight 17. Our entire professional experience would incline us to suspect the Russians – almost instinctively. Our more recent experience, particularly observing Secretary Kerry injudiciousness in latching onto one spurious report after another as “evidence,” has gone a long way toward balancing our earlier predispositions.

It seems that whenever Kerry does cite supposed “evidence” that can be checked – like the forged anti-Semitic fliers distributed in eastern Ukraine or the photos of alleged Russian special forces soldiers who allegedly slipped into Ukraine – the “proof” goes “poof” as Kerry once said in a different context. Still, these misrepresentations seem small peccadillos compared with bigger whoppers like the claim Kerry made on Aug. 30, 2013, no fewer than 35 times, that “we know” the government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical incidents near Damascus nine days before.

On September 3, 2013 – following your decision to call off the attack on Syria in order to await Congressional authorization – Kerry was still pushing for an attack in testimony before a thoroughly sympathetic Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. On the following day Kerry drew highly unusual personal criticism from President Putin, who said: “He is lying, and he knows he is lying. It is sad.”

Equally serious, during the first week of September 2013, as you and President Vladimir Putin were putting the final touches to the deal whereby Syrian chemical weapons would be given up for destruction, John Kerry said something that puzzles us to this day. On September 9, 2013, Kerry was in London, still promoting a U.S. attack on Syria for having crossed the “Red Line” you had set against Syria’s using chemical weapons.

At a formal press conference, Kerry abruptly dismissed the possibility that Bashar al-Assad would ever give up his chemical weapons, saying, “He isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done.” Just a few hours later, the Russians and Syrians announced Syria’s agreement to do precisely what Kerry had ruled out as impossible. You sent him back to Geneva to sign the agreement, and it was formally concluded on September 14.

Regarding the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down of July 17, we believe Kerry has typically rushed to judgment and that his incredible record for credibility poses a huge disadvantage in the diplomatic and propaganda maneuvering vis-a-vis Russia. We suggest you call a halt to this misbegotten “public diplomacy” offensive. If, however, you decide to press on anyway, we suggest you try to find a less tarnished statesman or woman.

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