MH-17’s Unnecessary Mystery

Exclusive: Nearly 18 months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, one of the troubling mysteries is why the U.S. government after rushing to blame Russia and ethnic Russian rebels then went silent, effectively obstructing the investigation into 298 deaths, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

As the whodunit mystery surrounding the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 nears the 1½-year mark, the Obama administration could open U.S. intelligence files and help bring justice for the 298 people killed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Instead, a separate mystery has emerged: why has the U.S. government clammed up since five days after the tragedy?

Immediately after the crash, senior Obama administration officials showed no hesitancy in pointing fingers at the ethnic Russian rebels who were then resisting a military offensive by the U.S.-backed Kiev regime. On July, 20, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on TV talk shows claiming there was a strong circumstantial case implicating the rebels and their Russian backers in the shoot-down.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

After mentioning some information gleaned from “social media,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “But even more importantly, we picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar.”

Two days later, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a “Government Assessment,” also citing “social media” seeming to implicate the rebels. Then, this white paper listed military equipment allegedly supplied by Russia to the rebels. But the list did not include a Buk missile battery or other high-powered anti-aircraft missiles capable of striking MH-17, which had been flying at around 33,000 feet.

The DNI also had U.S. intelligence analysts brief a few select mainstream reporters, but the analysts conveyed much less conviction than their superiors may have wished, indicating that there was still great uncertainty about who was responsible.

The Los Angeles Times article said: “U.S. intelligence agencies have so far been unable to determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the missile. U.S. officials said it was possible the SA-11 [the designation for a Russian-made anti-aircraft Buk missile] was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was trained to use similar missile systems.”

That uncertainty meshed somewhat with what I had been told by a source who had been briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts shortly after the shoot-down about what they had seen in high-resolution satellite photos, which they said showed what looked like Ukrainian military personnel manning the battery which was believed to have fired the missile.

There is also an important distinction to make between the traditional “Intelligence Assessment,” which is the U.S. intelligence community’s gold standard for evaluating an issue, complete with any disagreements among the 16 intelligence agencies, and a “Government Assessment,” like the one produced in the MH-17 case.

As former CIA analyst Ray McGovern wrote: “The key difference between the traditional ‘Intelligence Assessment’ and this relatively new creation, a ‘Government Assessment,’ is that the latter genre is put together by senior White House bureaucrats or other political appointees, not senior intelligence analysts. Another significant difference is that an ‘Intelligence Assessment’ often includes alternative views, either in the text or in footnotes, detailing disagreements among intelligence analysts, thus revealing where the case may be weak or in dispute.”

In other words, a “Government Assessment” is an invitation for political hacks to manufacture what was called a “dodgy dossier” when the British government used similar tactics to sell the phony case for war with Iraq in 2002-03.

Demonizing Putin

Yet, despite the flimsiness of the “blame-Russia-for-MH-17” case in July 2014, the Obama administration’s rush to judgment proved critical in whipping up the European press to demonize President Vladimir Putin, who became the Continent’s bete noire accused of killing 298 innocent people. That set the stage for the European Union to accede to U.S. demands for economic sanctions on Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Austria on June 24, 2014. (Official Russian government photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Austria on June 24, 2014. (Official Russian government photo)

The MH-17 case was deployed like a classic piece of “strategic communication” or “Stratcom,” mixing propaganda with psychological operations to put an adversary at a disadvantage. Apparently satisfied with that result, the Obama administration stopped talking publicly, leaving the impression of Russian guilt to corrode Moscow’s image in the public mind.

But the intelligence source who spoke to me several times after he received additional briefings about advances in the investigation said that as the U.S. analysts gained more insights into the MH-17 shoot-down from technical and other sources, they came to believe the attack was carried out by a rogue element of the Ukrainian military with ties to a hard-line Ukrainian oligarch. [See, for instance,’s “Flight 17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts” and “The Danger of an MH-17 Cold Case.”]

But that conclusion if made public would have dealt another blow to America’s already shaky credibility, which has never recovered from the false Iraq-WMD claims in 2002-03. A reversal also would embarrass Kerry, other senior U.S. officials and major Western news outlets, which had bought into the Russia-did-it narrative. Plus, the European Union might reconsider its decision to sanction Russia, a key part of U.S. policy in support of the Kiev regime.

Still, as the MH-17 mystery dragged on into 2015, I inquired about the possibility of an update from the DNI’s office. But a spokeswoman told me that no update would be provided because the U.S. government did not want to say anything to prejudice the ongoing investigation. In response, I noted that Kerry and the DNI had already done that by immediately pointing the inquiry in the direction of blaming Russia and the rebels.

But there was another purpose in staying mum. By refusing to say anything to contradict the initial rush to judgment, the Obama administration could let Western mainstream journalists and “citizen investigators” on the Internet keep Russia pinned down with more speculation about its guilt in the MH-17 shoot-down.

So, silence became the better part of candor. After all, pretty much everyone in the West had judged Russia and Putin guilty. So, why shake that up?

The Ukrainian Buks

Yet, what has become clear after the initial splurge of U.S. blame-casting is that U.S. intelligence lacked key evidence to support Kerry’s hasty judgments. Despite intensive overhead surveillance of eastern Ukraine in summer 2014, U.S. and other Western intelligence services could find no evidence that Russia had ever given a Buk system to the rebels or introduced one into the area.

Russian-made Buk anti-missile battery.

Russian-made Buk anti-aircraft missile battery.

Satellite intelligence reviewed both before and after the shoot-down only detected Ukrainian Buk missile systems in the conflict zone. One could infer this finding from the fact that the DNI on July 22, 2014, did not allege that Buks were among the weapons systems that Russia had provided. If Russian-supplied Buks had been spotted and the batteries of four 16-foot-long missiles hauled around by trucks are hard to miss their presence surely would have been noted.

But one doesn’t need to infer this lack of evidence. It was spelled out in a little-noticed report by the Netherlands’ Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) that was made public last October when the Dutch Safety Board issued its findings on the causes of the doomed MH-17 flight. (Since the flight had originated in Amsterdam and carried many Dutch passengers, Netherlands took a lead role in the investigation.)

Dutch intelligence, which as part of NATO would have access to sensitive overhead surveillance and other relevant data, reported that the only anti-aircraft weapons in eastern Ukraine capable of bringing down MH-17 at 33,000 feet belonged to the Ukrainian government.

MIVD made that assessment in the context of explaining why commercial aircraft continued to fly over the eastern Ukrainian battle zone in summer 2014. MIVD said that based on “state secret” information, it was known that Ukraine possessed some older but “powerful anti-aircraft systems” and “a number of these systems were located in the eastern part of the country.”

But the intelligence agency added that the rebels lacked that capacity: “Prior to the crash, the MIVD knew that, in addition to light aircraft artillery, the Separatists also possessed short-range portable air defence systems (man-portable air-defence systems; MANPADS) and that they possibly possessed short-range vehicle-borne air-defence systems. Both types of systems are considered surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Due to their limited range they do not constitute a danger to civil aviation at cruising altitude.”

MIVD noted that on June 29, 2014, “the Separatists captured a Ukrainian armed forces military base in Donetsk [where] there were Buk missile systems,” a fact that was reported in the press before the crash and attracted MIVD’s attention.

“During the course of July, several reliable sources indicated that the systems that were at the military base were not operational,” MIVD said. “Therefore, they could not be used by the Separatists.”

In other words, it is fair to say based on the affirmative comments from MIVD and the omissions from the U.S. DNI’s “Government Assessment” that the Western powers had no evidence that the ethnic Russian rebels or their Russian allies had operational Buk missiles in eastern Ukraine, but Ukraine did.

It also would have made sense that Ukraine would be moving additional anti-aircraft systems close to the border because of a feared Russian invasion as the Ukrainian military pressed its “anti-terrorism operation” against ethnic Russians fighters. They were resisting the U.S.-backed coup of Feb. 22, 2014, which had ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was in the east.

According to the Dutch Safety Board report, issued last October, a Ukrainian warplane had been shot down by a suspected air-to-air missile (presumably from a Russian fighter) on July 16, 2014, meaning that Ukrainian defenses were probably on high alert. The Russian military also claimed that Ukraine had activated a radar system that is used to guide Buk missiles.

Gunning for Putin?

I was told by the intelligence source that U.S. analysts looked seriously at the possibility that the intended target was President Putin’s official plane returning from a state visit to South America. His aircraft and MH-17 had similar red-white-and-blue markings, but Putin took a more northerly route and arrived safely in Moscow.

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

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

Other possible scenarios were that a poorly trained and undisciplined Ukrainian squad mistook MH-17 for a Russian plane that had penetrated Ukrainian airspace or that the attack was willful provocation designed to be blamed on the Russians.

Whoever the culprits and whatever their motive, one point that should not have remained in doubt was where the missile launch occurred. Remember that just three days after the crash, Secretary Kerry had said U.S. intelligence detected the launch and “We know where it came from.”

But last October, the Dutch Safety Board still hadn’t pinned down anything like a precise location. The report could only place the launch site within a 320-square-kilometer area in eastern Ukraine, covering territory then controlled by both Ukrainian and rebel forces. (The safety board did not seek to identify which side fired the fateful missile).

By contrast, Almaz-Antey, the Russian arms manufacturer of the Buk systems, conducted its own experiments to determine the likely firing location and placed it in a much smaller area near the village of Zaroshchenskoye, about 20 kilometers west of the Dutch Safety Board’s zone and in an area under Ukrainian government control.

So, with the firing location a key point in dispute, why would the U.S. government withhold from a NATO ally (and investigators into a major airline disaster) the launch point for the missile? Presumably, if the Obama administration had solid evidence showing that the launch came from rebel territory, which was Kerry’s insinuation, U.S. officials would have been only too happy to provide the data.

A reasonable conclusion from the failure to share this information with the Dutch investigators is that the data does not support the preferred U.S. government narrative. If there’s a different explanation for the silence, the Obama administration has failed to provide it.

Amid the curious U.S. silence, the most significant public finding by Western intelligence is that the only powerful and operational anti-aircraft-missile systems in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, belonged to the Ukrainian military.

Nevertheless, the mainstream “conventional wisdom” remains that either the ethnic Russian rebels or the Russians themselves shot down MH-17 and have sought to cover up their guilt.

Some of this certainty comes from the simpleminded game of repeating that Buk missiles are “Russian-made,” which is true but irrelevant to the issue of who fired the missiles, since the Ukrainian military possesses Russian-made Buks.

But much of this “group think” can be credited to the speed with which the Obama administration got its narrative out immediately citing dubious “social media” and exploiting the West’s disdain toward Russian President Putin. He was a ready-made villain for the story.

Lying First

A similar case occurred in 1983 when Korean Airlines Flight 007 penetrated deeply into Soviet territory and was pursued by a Soviet fighter that after issuing warnings that were ignored  shot the plane down believing it was an enemy military aircraft. Though the Soviets quickly realized they had made a terrible mistake, the Reagan administration wanted to use the incident to paint the “evil empire” in the evilest of tones.

So, Reagan’s propagandists edited the ground-control intercepts to make it appear that the Soviets had committed willful murder, a theme that was presented to the United Nations and was gullibly lapped up by the mainstream U.S. news media.

The fuller story only came out in 1995 with a book entitled Warriors of Disinformation by Alvin A. Snyder, who had been director of the U.S. Information Agency’s television and film division. He described how the tapes were edited “to heap as much abuse on the Soviet Union as possible.”

In a boastful but frank description of the successful disinformation campaign, Snyder noted that “the American media swallowed the U.S. government line without reservation. Said the venerable Ted Koppel on the ABC News ‘Nightline’ program: ‘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.'”

Snyder concluded, “The moral of the story is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first.”

In the case of MH-17, however, the falsehoods and deceptions are not simply some spy-vs.-spy propaganda game of gotcha, but rather obstruction of justice in a mass murder investigation. Whatever evidence the Obama administration has, it should have long since been made available to the investigators, but so far the official Dutch reports have indicated no such assistance.

While the U.S. government maintains its official silence, the Russian manufacturer has tried to provide details about the functioning of various generations of Buks and challenged the conclusion from the Dutch Safety Board of precisely which model likely brought down MH-17. The Dutch Safety Board cited a 9M38M1 missile using a 9N314M warhead that dispersed “butterfly or bow-tie” fragments that ripped through MH-17’s fuselage.

But Almaz-Antey reported that only older warheads and missiles of the 9M38 type have that signature. “The 9M38M1 missile has no H-shaped striking elements,” Almaz-Antey executive Yan Novikov said. According to the manufacturer, the Russian army had phased 9M38 missiles out years ago, but they remained part of Ukraine’s arsenal.

On Jan. 14, the Russian aviation agency issued its own report critical of the Dutch Safety Board’s understanding of the Buk models, saying that “the strike elements” in the 9N314M warhead did not match the composition of what was recovered from MH-17. Yet, the Dutch-led criminal investigation, which is being partly run by the Ukrainian government, has shown little interest in the Russian information.

‘Citizen Journalists’

The inquiry has been much more welcoming of leads from Bellingcat, a group of “citizen journalists” led by British blogger Eliot Higgins.

Despite having made significant mistakes in an earlier investigation of the Syria-sarin case in 2013 including misstating the range of suspect missiles Higgins has been treated as something of a savant on the MH-17 case, basing his analysis on photographs that popped up the Internet purportedly showing a Buk missile system heading eastward from Donetsk shortly before MH-17 was shot down.

Although one of the first lessons anyone learns about the Internet is to be cautious about what you find there, Higgins and Bellingcat relied on the images to conclude that this battery was dispatched from Russia under the command of Russian forces. The bloggers went so far as to send a list of Russian soldiers’ names as suspects to the MH-17 criminal investigators.

There are, of course, problems with this sort of theorizing. First, it assumes that the photos on the Internet are genuine and not cleverly photo-shopped fakes. The Internet can be a devil’s playground for both amateur and professional disinformationists.

But even assuming that the photos are real, there is the question of why if this cumbersome weapons system was lumbering around eastern Ukraine apparently for weeks did Western intelligence services not detect it from overhead surveillance either before or after the shoot-down? From Bellingcat’s Internet photos, it appears there was no effort to conceal the Buk system, which curiously was headed eastward toward Russia, not westward from Russia.

Correspondent Michael Usher of Australia’s “60 Minutes” claims to have found the billboard visible in a video of a BUK missile launcher after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014. (Screen shot from Australia’s “60 Minutes”)

Correspondent Michael Usher of Australia’s “60 Minutes” claims to have found the billboard visible in a video of a BUK missile launcher after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014. (Screen shot from Australia’s “60 Minutes”)

Higgins also directed an Australian TV film crew to the supposed site in Luhansk where the Buk battery, minus one missile, supposedly made its getaway back into Russia. However, the location that the Australian crew filmed clearly was the wrong place. None of the landmarks matched up, but this journalistic fraud did nothing to diminish Bellingcat’s sterling reputation with mainstream Western news outlets which routinely repeat the group’s allegations. [See’s “A Reckless Stand-upper on MH-17.”]

It turns out that it is an excellent business model for “citizen” bloggers to find “evidence” on the Internet to reinforce whatever the U.S. government’s propagandists are claiming. Since the U.S. government’s credibility is shaky at best, young hip Internet readers are more inclined to trust what they hear from bloggers and when the bloggers echo what Washington claims, the mainstream media and well-funded think tanks will join in the applause.

A screen shot of the roadway where the suspected BUK missile battery supposedly passed after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014. (Image from Australian “60 Minutes” program)

A screen shot of the roadway where the suspected BUK missile battery supposedly passed after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014. (Image from Australian “60 Minutes” program)

Latest Speculation

Earlier this month, Bellingcat’s speculation identifying Russian soldiers as MH-17 suspects based on their assignment to a Buk battery was splashed across the international press, including Dutch television, London’s Telegraph and the British Guardian. The U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty headlined its story, “Russian Soldiers Said Involved in Downing of MH17 Airliner,” complete with photos of Russian soldiers with their eyes blacked out, courtesy of Bellingcat.

“The Britain-based Bellingcat group said it had identified up to 100 Russian soldiers who may have knowledge of the movements of the Buk missile launcher that destroyed the Boeing 777 on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 on board,” RFE/RL reported, citing a quote that Higgins gave to the Telegraph: “We have the names and photos of the soldiers in the June convoy who traveled with the MH17 Buk, their commanders, their commanders’ commanders, etc.”

Higgins told Dutch TV channel NOS that Belligcat believed that at least 20 soldiers in an air-defense unit based in Kursk “probably” either fired the missile or know who fired it.

The Dutch-led prosecution team, which collaborates with the Ukrainian government and nations that suffered large numbers of deaths from the crash including Australia and Malaysia, welcomed the Bellingcat information and promised to “seriously study it.”

Not that the prosecution team has asked or appears interested, but one could also give the sleuths a list of Americans who almost certainly have knowledge about who fired the missile and from exactly where: CIA Director John Brennan, DNI James Clapper, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama.

Any one of those officials could end the strange silence that has enveloped the U.S. government’s knowledge about the MH-17 shoot-down since five days after the tragedy and by doing so perhaps they could finally bring some clarity and justice to this mystery.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

34 comments for “MH-17’s Unnecessary Mystery

  1. Occams
    January 17, 2016 at 12:10

    Obama promised the Cockpit Voice Recorders would “prove everything”.

    Odd that we never heard another peep, isn’t it?

    No, actually it’s not, given that ‘The Proof Is In: The US Government Is The Most Complete Criminal Organization In Human History’ ~ Paul Craig Roberts

  2. Abe
    January 16, 2016 at 18:05

    Eliot Higgins and the Bellingcat site are at the center of a Propaganda 3.0 disinformation campaign using so-called “open journalism”, “social media journalism”, “open-source intelligence” as conduits for deception.

    Bellingcat is working with major corporations like Google and Youtube in support of the US/NATO “hybrid war” against Russia.


    Corporate giant Google, seed funded by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has been promoting Higgins “arm chair analytics” since 2013.

    Indeed, a very cozy cross-promotion is happening between Higgins/Bellingcat and Google.

    In November 2014, Google Ideas and Google For Media, partnered the George Soros-funded Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) to host an “Investigathon” in New York City. Google Ideas promotes Higgins’ “War and Pieces – Social Media Investigations” on their YouTube page.

    In addition, Google Earth, originally called EarthViewer 3D, was created by Keyhole, Inc, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funded company acquired by Google in 2004.

    Google’s partnerships with military contractors like SAIC, Northrop Grumman and Blackbird is just more more evidence of how snugly the company is in bed with the US military-surveillance complex.

    Google also is a recent joint venture partner with the CIA. In 2009, Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel each invested “under $10 million each” into Recorded Future shortly after the company was founded. Recorded Future is described as “a company that strips out from web pages the sort of who, what, when, where, why — sort of who’s involved,[…] where are they going, what kind of events are they going to,” even monitors blogs and Twitter accounts.


    Alphabet, Inc. (parent company of Google and several other companies previously owned by or tied to Google) is all in with Bellingcat. In October 2015, Google for Media announced that it was providing direct funding for Bellingcat.

    In addition, YouTube is getting in on the game of promoting Higgins and Bellingcat.. On July 18, 2015, the first anniversary of the MH-17 crash), YouTube announced the launch of three new initiatives, namely the YouTube Newswire, the First Draft Coalition and the WITNESS Media Lab, all a

    YouTube partnered with Storyful, a so-called “social news agency”, to produce YouTube Newswire, described as a “curated feed of the most newsworthy eyewitness videos of the day”.

    The First Draft Coalition is described as an “educational resource created by experts such as Bellingcat (a site founded by Eliot Higgins, a British citizen journalist) which will teach people how to verify eyewitness footage”, videos purportedly taken by individuals at the scene of an incident.

    The WITNESS Media Lab homepage highlights “Bellingcat’s Ukraine Conflict Vehicle Tracking Project” as a prime example of what it calls “citizen video curation projects”. Promoting “videos created and shared by eyewitnesses”, WITNESS Media Lab funds projects that “find, verify, and contextualize” eyewitness video to “tell a story”.

    Higgins and and Bellingcat have a long history of telling stories using video.


    In March 2012, using the pseudonym “Brown Moses,” British citizen Higgins purportedly began “investigative” blogging on the armed conflict taking place in Syria, claiming this to be a “hobby” in his “spare time”.

    A mainstream media darling, Higgins “arm chair analytics” were promoted by the UK Guardian and New York Times, as well as corporate sponsors like Google.

    Higgins’ “analyses” of Syrian weapons were frequently cited by MSM and online media, human rights groups, and Western governments seeking “regime change” in Syria.

    Higgins’ accusations that the Syrian government was responsible for the August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack were proven false, but almost led to war.

    Richard Lloyd and Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology observed that “although he has been widely quoted as an expert in the American mainstream media, [he] has changed his facts every time new technical information has challenged his conclusion that the Syrian government must have been responsible for the sarin attack. In addition, the claims that Higgins makes that are correct are all derived from our findings, which have been transmitted to him in numerous exchanges.”

    Despite the fact that Higgins’ accusations have repeatedly been disproven, he continues to be frequently cited, often without proper source attribution, by media, organizations and governments.


    On July 15, 2014, the day of the airstrike on the separatist-held town of Snizhne in eastern Ukraine, and three days before the MH-17 crash, Higgins launched the Bellingcat website.

    Vice News, Rupert Murdoch’s 70 million dollar Gen Y-targeted media channel, crowed about how “Citizen Journalists Are Banding Together to Fact-Check Online News”.

    Higgins repeatedly claimed to have “indisputable” open source “evidence” that MH-17 was destroyed by a Buk missile supplied by Russia.

    Higgins’ primary “pieces of evidence” — a video depicting a Buk missile launcher and a set of geolocation coordinates — were supplied by the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) and the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior via the Facebook page of senior-level Ukrainian government official Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs.


    The Atlantic Council, a “regime change” think tank, recently released a report titled, “Hiding In Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine”.

    A key author of the Atlantic Council report, Higgins is listed as a Visiting Research Associate at the Department of War Studies at the King’s College in London, UK.

    On page 1 of the report, the Atlantic Council praises “the ingenuity of our key partner in this endeavor, Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat. The information documented in this report draws on open source data using innovative socialmedia forensics and geolocation”.

    The Atlantic Council claim that “Russia is at war with Ukraine” and is summarized in the following key statement on page 8 of the report:

    “Separatist forces have been relying on a steady flow of Russian supplies, including heavy weapons such as tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, and advanced anti-aircraft systems, including the Buk surface-to-air missile system (NATO designator SA-11/17) that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014. 26″

    The Atlantic Council’s claim that Russia supplied a Buk missile that shot down MH-17 has a single footnote. Footnote 26 directs the reader to the Bellingcat website and a pdf report by Higgins titled “MH-17: Source of the Separatist’s Buk”.

    On page 3 of the November 2014 Bellingcat report, Higgins claims:

    “It is the opinion of the Bellingcat MH17 investigation team that there is undeniable evidence that separatists in Ukraine were in control of a Buk missile launcher on July 17th and transported it from Donetsk to Snizhne on a transporter. The Buk missile launcher was unloaded in Snizhne approximately three hours before the downing of MH17 and was later filmed minus one missile driving through separatist-controlled Luhansk.

    “The Bellingcat MH17 investigation team also believes the same Buk was part of a convoy travelling from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade in Kursk to near the Ukrainian border as part of a training exercise between June 22nd and July 25th, with elements of the convoy separating from the main convoy at some point during that period, including the Buk missile launcher filmed in Ukraine on July 17th. There is strong evidence indicating that the Russian military provided separatists in eastern Ukraine with the Buk missile launcher filmed and photographed in eastern Ukraine on July 17th.”


    Higgins’ November 2014 claim of “undeniable evidence” has become the Atlantic Council’s May 2015 claim that “pieces of evidence create an undeniable—and publicly accessible—record”.

    Higgins “fact checks” the disinformation produced by the Pentagon and Western intelligence regime, rubber stamps it with the Bellingcat “digital forensics” seal of approval.

    The Atlantic Council is managed by Western “policy makers”, military leaders, and senior intelligence officials, including four heads of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    The Atlantic Council used video of Higgins and Michael Usher from the Australian “60 Minutes” program “MH-17: An Investigation”(see video minutes 36:00-36:55) to promote the report.

    Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of Programs and Strategy at the Atlantic Council, is a co-author with Higgins of the Atlantic Council report, highlighted Higgins’ effort to bolster Western accusations against Russia:

    “We make this case using only open source, all unclassified material. And none of it provided by government sources.

    “And it’s thanks to works, the work that’s been pioneered by human rights defenders and our partner Eliot Higgins, uh, we’ve been able to use social media forensics and geolocation to back this up.” (see video minutes 35:10-36:30)

    However, the Atlantic Council claim that “none” of Higgins’ material was provided by government sources is an obvious lie.

    Higgins’ primary “pieces of evidence” — a video depicting a Buk missile launcher and a set of geolocation coordinates — were supplied by the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) and the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior via the Facebook page of senior-level Ukrainian government official Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs.


    The Atlantic Council, founded in 1961 at the height of Cold War, is managed by a Who’s Who of Pentagon and Western intelligence, including four former Directors of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

    In February 2009, James L. Jones, then-chairman of the Atlantic Council, stepped down in order to serve as President Obama’s new National Security Advisor and was succeeded by Senator Chuck Hagel.

    In addition, Atlantic Council members Susan Rice left to serve as the administration’s ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke became the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, General Eric K. Shinseki became the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Anne-Marie Slaughter became Director of Policy Planning at the State Department.

    Senator Chuck Hagel stepped down in 2013 to serve as US Secretary of Defense. Gen. Brent Scowcroft served as interim chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors until January 2014.

    The Atlantic Council hosts events with US policymakers such as Secretary of State John Kerry, and sitting heads of state and government such as former Georgian President (and newly appointed Governor of Odessa in Ukraine) Mikheil Saakashvili in 2008, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in 2014.

    The Atlantic Council has influential supporters such as former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh (Fogh of War”) Rasmussen, who called the Council a “pre-eminent think tank” with a “longstanding reputation”. In 2009, the Atlantic Council hosted Rasmussen’s first major US speech.


    In an interview with the Kiev-based Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (Ukrayins’ke Nezalezhne Informatsiyne Ahentstvo) or UNIAN, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated:

    “evidence published by the media, NGOs and from Russian soldiers themselves that Russia is supporting the separatists” in eastern Ukraine. Think tanks have also published reports, most recently the Atlantic Council, which gathered proof from various open sources, including satellite imagery.”

    Stoltenberg cited the Atlantic Council report based almost entirely on Higgins and Bellingcat’s dubious “open source” disinformation and discredited “forensic analysis” of satellite imagery.

    Dr. Neal Krawetz, founder of FotoForensics, has decried Bellingcat’s “faulty analysis”. Krawetz called Higgins’ Bellingcat report, “Forensic Analysis of Satellite Images”, a “how to not do image analysis”.

    The Bellingcat site provides a guide for accessing imagery in Google Earth, claiming that “the findings of Bellingcat regarding the July 21 Russian MoD satellite images will be reaffirmed, along with a walk-through for anyone to verify Google Earth imagery via free and precisely dated image previews on Digital Globe”.

    Google Earth maps the Earth by the superimposition of multiple images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and geographic information system (GIS) 3D globe.

    Google Earth satellite images are provided by Digital Globe, a supplier of the US Department of Defense (DoD) with direct connections to US defense and intelligence communities.

    The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is both a combat support agency under the United States Department of Defense, and an intelligence agency of the United States Intelligence Community.

    Robert T. Cardillo, director of the NGA, lavishly praised Digital Globe as “a true mission partner in every sense of the word”. Examination of the Board of Directors of Digital Globe reveals intimate connections to DoD and CIA.

  3. Abe
    January 16, 2016 at 16:16

    As Ray McGovern pointed out in “Propaganda, Intelligence and MH-17” on Consortium News (August 17, 2015)

    “The key difference between the traditional “Intelligence Assessment” and this relatively new creation, a “Government Assessment,” is that the latter genre is put together by senior “White House bureaucrats or other political appointees, not senior intelligence analysts. Another significant difference is that an “Intelligence Assessment” often includes alternative views, either in the text or in footnotes, detailing disagreements among intelligence analysts, thus revealing where the case may be weak or in dispute.

    “The absence of an “Intelligence Assessment” suggested that honest intelligence analysts were resisting a knee-jerk indictment of Russia – just as they did after the first time Kerry pulled this “Government Assessment” arrow out of his quiver trying to stick the blame for an Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus on the Syrian government.”

    The primary source in both “Government Assessment” episodes — both the 2013 chemical attack in Syria and the 2014 crash of MH-17 in Ukraine — the one person in common who generated the “pseudo-intelligence product, which contained not a single verifiable fact”, was British blogger and media darling Eliot Higgins.

    In March 2012, using the pseudonym “Brown Moses,” Higgins purportedly began “investigative” blogging on the armed conflict taking place in Syria, claiming this to be a “hobby” in his “spare time”.

    A mainstream media darling, Higgins “arm chair analytics” have been continuously promoted by the UK Guardian and New York Times, as well as corporate sponsors like Google.

    Higgins’ “analyses” of Syrian weapons were frequently cited by mainstream and online media, human rights groups, and Western governments seeking “regime change” in Syria.

    Higgins’ accusations that the Syrian government was responsible for the August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack were proven false, but almost led to war.

    Richard Lloyd and Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology observed that “although he has been widely quoted as an expert in the American mainstream media, [he] has changed his facts every time new technical information has challenged his conclusion that the Syrian government must have been responsible for the sarin attack. In addition, the claims that Higgins makes that are correct are all derived from our findings, which have been transmitted to him in numerous exchanges.”

    Despite the fact that Higgins’ accusations have repeatedly been disproven, he continues to be frequently cited, often without proper source attribution, by media, organizations and governments.

    Higgins and the Bellingcat site serve as deception “conduits” as defined by the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Joint Publication 1-02), a compendium of approved terminology used by the U.S. military.

    Within military deception, “conduits” are information or intelligence gateways to the “deception target.”

    A “deception target” is defined as the “adversary decision maker with the authority to make the decision that will achieve the deception objective.”

    The primary “deception targets” of MH-17 propaganda are key “policy makers” and the civilian populations of the United States and Europe Union.

    The Internet offers a ubiquitous, inexpensive and anonymous “open source” method for rapid propaganda dissemination.

    This new capacity for “open source” deception was demonstrated in Syria-Sarin attack.

    As noted by journalist Phil Greaves in “Syria: Media Disinformation, War Propaganda and the Corporate Media’s ‘Independent Bloggers’…

    “The working relationship between Higgins and the corporate media became almost uniform during the course of the Syrian conflict; an unsubstantiated anti-Assad, or pro-rebel narrative would predictably form in the corporate media (cluster bombs, chemical weapons, unsolved massacres,) at which point Higgins would jump to the fore with his YouTube analysis in order to bolster mainstream discourse whilst offering the air of impartiality and the crucial ‘open source’ faux-legitimacy. It has become blatantly evident that the ‘rebels’ in both Syria and Libya have made a concerted effort in fabricating YouTube videos in order to incriminate and demonize their opponents while glorifying themselves in a sanitized image. Western media invariably lapped-up such fabrications without question and subsequently built narratives around them – regardless of contradictory evidence or opinion. Yet such media, and more importantly, the specific actors propagating it fraudulently to bolster the flimsiest of western narratives has continued unabated – primarily as a result of the aforementioned ‘old media’ organs endlessly promoting it.

    “Following award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s groundbreaking essay in the London Review of Books, which exposes the Obama administrations intelligence surrounding the alleged chemical attacks in Ghouta as reminiscent of the Bush administrations outright lies and fabrications leading to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, Higgins took it upon himself to rush through a rebuttal, published by the establishment media outlet Foreign Policy magazine – a predictable response as Higgins represents the principal source for the ‘Assad did it’ media crowd. Accordingly, the ‘old media’ stenographers that originally promoted Higgins became the vanguard force pushing his speculative Ghouta theories above Hersh’s – to hilarious effect.

    “A particularly revealing example of Higgins’ unwillingness to depart from mainstream discourse came shortly after the alleged Ghouta attacks. The findings of a considerable open-source collaborative effort at the WhoGhouta blog were repeatedly dismissed as ridiculous or unverifiable by Higgins. The bloggers at WhoGhouta drew more or less the same logical, and somewhat scientific conclusions outlined in the Hersh piece, but in much greater detail. Yet Higgins chose to ignore WhoGhouta’s findings and instead rely on his own set of assumptions, dubious videos, and an unqualified ex-US soldier that seems determined to defy both logical and scientific reality. The estimated range of the rockets allegedly used in the attack, with the alleged azimuth that pointed to Syrian army launch points breathlessly promoted by Higgins and his patrons at Human Rights Watch (HRW), and of course corporate media, were convincingly debunked mere weeks after the attack at the WhoGhouta blog, yet Higgins chose to stick to his orchestrated narrative until the bitter end, only revising his wild speculation on rocket range once the obvious became too hard to conceal.

    “As Higgins is a self-declared advocate of ‘open source investigative journalism’, it is perplexing that he attempted to marginalize and dismiss the many findings from independent observers and instead concentrated on bolstering the dubious narratives of the US government and western corporate media. Unless of course, he is tied to a particular narrative and desperate to conceal anything that contradicts it.”

  4. Abe
    January 16, 2016 at 15:44

    American missiles already surround Russia; NATO’s military build-up in the former Soviet republics and eastern Europe is the biggest since the second world war.

    During the cold war, this would have risked a nuclear holocaust. The risk has returned as anti-Russian misinformation reaches crescendos of hysteria in the U.S. and Europe.

    A textbook case is the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in July. Without a single piece of evidence, the U.S. and its NATO allies and their media machines blamed ethnic Russian “separatists” in Ukraine and implied that Moscow was ultimately responsible.

    An editorial in The Economist accused Vladimir Putin of mass murder. The cover of Der Spiegel used faces of the victims and bold red type, ‘Stoppt Putin Jetzt!’ (Stop Putin Now!) In the New York Times, Timothy Garton Ash substantiated his case for ‘Putin’s deadly doctrine’ with personal abuse of “a short, thickset man with a rather ratlike face”.

    The Guardian’s role has been important. Renowned for its investigations, the newspaper has made no serious attempt to examine who shot the aeroplane down and why, even though a wealth of material from credible sources shows that Moscow was as shocked as the rest of the world, and the airliner may well have been brought down by the Ukrainian regime.

    (Why did the BBC pull this news video showing witnesses claiming they saw a military aircraft flying beside MH17?)

    With the White House offering no verifiable evidence – even though US satellites would have observed the shooting-down – the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent Shaun Walker stepped into the breach.

    ‘My audience with the Demon of Donetsk’ was the front- page headline over Walker”s breathless interview with one Igor Bezler, where he wrote:

    ‘With a walrus moustache, a fiery temper and a reputation for brutality, Igor Bezler is the most feared of all the rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine …nicknamed The Demon … If the Ukrainian security services, the SBU, are to be believed, the Demon and a group of his men were responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 … as well as allegedly bringing down MH17, the rebels have shot down 10 Ukrainian aircraft.’

    Demon Journalism requires no further evidence.

    Demon Journalism makes over a fascist-contaminated junta that seized power in Kiev as a respectable “interim government”. Neo-Nazis become mere “nationalists”. “News” sourced to the Kiev junta ensures the suppression of a U.S.-run coup and the junta”s systematic ethnic cleaning of the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine.

    That this should happen in the borderland through which the original Nazis invaded Russia, extinguishing some 22 Russian lives, is of no interest. What matters is a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine that seems difficult to prove beyond familiar satellite images that evoke Colin Powell”s fictional presentation to the United Nations “proving” that Saddam Hussein had WMD.

    Wrote a group of former senior U.S. intelligence officials and analysts, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

    ‘You need to know that accusations of a major Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the ‘intelligence’ seems to be of the same dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.’

    The jargon is “controlling the narrative”. In his seminal Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said was more explicit: the western media machine was now capable of penetrating deep into the consciousness of much of humanity with a “wiring” as influential as that of the imperial navies of the 19th century. Gunboat journalism, in other words. Or war by media.

    Yet, a critical public intelligence and resistance to propaganda does exist; and a second superpower is emerging — the power of public opinion, fuelled by the internet and social media.

    The false reality created by false news delivered by media gatekeepers may prevent some of us knowing that this new superpower is stirring in country after country: from the Americas to Europe, Asia to Africa. It is a moral insurrection, exemplified by the whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. The question begs: will we break our silence while there is time?

    Breaking the Last Taboo: Gaza and the threat of world war
    By John Pilger,6901

  5. Mike Lamb
    January 16, 2016 at 14:11

    Just a simple reminder.

    A July 4, 2014 photo by AP photographer Dmitry Lovetsky accompanied a variety of

    news stories about a Ukrainian government victory in Eastern Ukraine against those who

    opposed the Coup of February 2014.

    The caption below the photo reads: “Ukrainian government forces maneuver anti-aircraft

    missile launchers Buk as they are transported north-west from Sloviansk, eastern

    Ukraine Friday, July 4, 2014.”

    One such site with the story and photo is:

    Within a couple of weeks of the crash of MH-17 there is no credible evidence of any Buk

    missiles under “rebel” control in the area. There is evidence from a pro American source

    of at least one Buk missile battery in Eastern Ukraine within a few hours drive of the

    suspected firing location to bring down MH-17 under the control of the Ukrainian

    government, brought to power by a U.S. supported Coup (it violated the Ukrainian

    Constitution and the U.S. government did not object to this violation).

    But then again, the Administration of American President Barak Obama seems to mimic

    a scene from the Humphrey Bogart movie ” Treasure of the Sierra Madre” of “badges,

    we don’t need no stinkin’ badges” to “evidence, we don’t need no stinkin’ evidence.”

  6. Abe
    January 16, 2016 at 14:06

    Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama have on file three pieces of evidence showing both of them knew what had caused the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17, and of the deaths of all 298 souls on board. They knew it little more than two hours after the crash had occurred in eastern Ukraine. They also knew each other knew it, because they discussed what had happened in a telephone call which took place before 19:45 Moscow time, 11:45 Washington time, on Thursday, July 17. MH17 was downed that day at 16:20 Ukraine time, 17:20 Moscow time, 09:20 Washington time.

    The first piece of evidence is the agenda paper for the telephone call. This had been negotiated and formalized by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Embassy in Washington, the State Department and the White House before July 17. The second piece of evidence is the tape of the Putin-Obama conversation, as recorded by the Kremlin. The third piece of evidence is the tape of the Obama-Putin conversation, as recorded by the White House.

    This evidence establishes that Putin believed, and Obama believed Putin would announce, not that a ground-to-air missile had brought MH17 down, but that other weapons had done so. The story that a Russian-made Buk missile had caused the disaster began after Obama had spoken to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at about 19:00 Kiev time, 20:00 Moscow time, 12 noon Washington time.

    Take away that story, because Obama knew it to be false when he had spoken earlier to Putin, and what do you have? A war crime by two governments. How to prove innocence and guilt? The tapes at the Kremlin and the White House.

    According to the Kremlin statement dated July 17, 2014 at 20:30 hours: “In line with a previous agreement, Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States Barack Obama. The parties had a detailed discussion of the crisis in Ukraine… The Russia leader informed the US President of the report received from air traffic controllers immediately prior to their conversation about the crash of a Malaysian airplane over the Ukrainian territory.”

    Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, was asked yesterday to clarify what the time stamp on the release meant. He was also asked to explain the phrase in the opening line, “a previous agreement.” He has responded, identifying 20:30 as the time when the release was posted; the telephone call of the presidents had already taken place. The agreement for the call, Peskov confirmed, including the agenda and the issues for discussion, had been negotiated through diplomatic channels of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and formalized in writing before July 17.

    Until now, the precise timing and sequence of telephone calls which Obama made on the morning and afternoon of the fateful day have not been understood as evidence for the cause of the MH17 disaster. Precise timing is possible because of this record of Obama’s flight from Washington to Delaware, his time of landing at Delaware, and his time of takeoff from Delaware to New York. The White House press secretary Josh Earnest also made a public record at the time that Obama and Putin had completed their call at the White House, before 12:30 local time.

    Two additional pieces of evidence on what Putin and Obama said have taken a year to surface. One comes from the Dutch police officer and state prosecutor leading the MH17 case investigation, Fred Westerbeke.

    A year ago, on September 12, 2014, Westerbeke announced publicly that 25 pieces of metal had been recovered. This count hasn’t improved in the 14-month long investigation of the crash, of the aircraft debris, and of the remains of those killed. For Westerbeke’s statements to Dutch, British and German press, read this.

    Westerbeke’s testimony is, he admits himself, ambiguous. He acknowledges that he doesn’t (didn’t) know, or isn’t (wasn’t) certain, what the origin of the metal had been.

    The second piece of evidence, which reveals what Westerbeke meant by his disclosure, came weeks later from the Coroners Court of Victoria, an active participant in the multinational post-mortem investigation of the MH17 victims.

    Three Australians – pathology professor David Ranson, deputy Victorian state coroner Iain West, and Victorian state coroner Ian Gray – released the evidence they had gathered and verified with the Dutch and the five-state Joint Investigation Team at the Hilversum military base, near Amsterdam. This evidence became public in November and December of last year. It was classified secret last week. For the detailed documentation which has been preserved of this evidence, click to read here. A Coroners Court spokesman refuses to say when the evidence was officially classified, or on whose order.

    According to the Australian coronial evidence, there was almost no metal in the bodies or body parts of the MH17 victims. According to Westerbeke, just 25 particles had been found. Before the Australian coroners had seen the metal assay evidence, they ruled that “causes of death from explosive decompression – similar to the pressure wave from a bomb – included hypothermia, hypoxia, massive internal organ injury, embolism and heart attack. Exposure to very low temperatures, airflow buffeting and low oxygen at 30,000 feet would also result in death in seconds.” Detonation, lethal explosion, and breakup of aircraft had occurred, the Australians have reported — but with insufficient traces of shrapnel to confirm that a Buk missile warhead had been cause.

    Coroner Gray is responsible for the blackout of evidence he and his subordinates had painstakingly made public last year, for the benefit and comfort, they said at the time, of the families of the victims. Ranson, the most talkative of the Australian official investigators, has been obliged this week, not only to keep silent on what he has already published, but to contradict what he has already said. The Australian Federal Police (AFP), Westerbeke’s counterparts in the joint international investigation process, are withholding all evidence papers compiled by the pathologists, and the evidence summary file they continue to discuss with the investigators.

    The AFP was headed by Tony Negus at the time of the MH17 crash. He was replaced by his deputy, Andrew Colvin, on October 1, 2014. The evidence release is irreversible, however. The Dutch and Australian records make the Buk story impossible as cause of death.

    The Kremlin statement, following the presidents’ conversation of July 17, 2014, ends with this disclosure. “The Russia leader informed the US President of the report received from air traffic controllers immediately prior to their conversation about the crash of a Malaysian airplane over the Ukrainian territory.” The Kremlin summary expressly identifies “air traffic controllers” (ATC). It doesn’t say whether they were civilian or military. Since both were at work monitoring Ukrainian airspace, using different equipment in parallel, the identification is a pointer whose significance hasn’t been appreciated before; that is, until in retrospect the Dutch and Australian evidence is understood as ruling out a Buk ground-to-air missile attack on MH17.

    Putin made his sources of evidence explicit to Obama. Why was the ATC reference made public? Answer: because Putin told Obama the lethal explosion which killed MH17 and everything in it originated from the air, not from the ground.

    In retrospect today, the Dutch and Australian evidence corroborates what Obama heard from Putin that the ATC evidence (radio and radar) was showing an air-to-air attack against MH17. Obama, and his advisors listening in to the call or to the tape afterwards, had their own reasons to believe what the Kremlin announced curtly but publicly not long after. The Russian explanation for cause of crash and for cause of death was an aerial cause, not a terrestrial one.

    MH17 – The Lie to End All Truths, and the New Evidence
    By John Helmer

  7. January 16, 2016 at 14:02

    Robert Parry neglects to mention that zero evidence exists for a BUK missile launch and the associated heat signal and rocket trail and that if any such launch had actually occurred it would be impossible to miss and plenty of evidence (pics etc.) would have been posted on the net.

    ALL of the hard evidence points to Kiev having downed MH17. It is extremely UNLIKELY that it was downed by a BUK missile. This INCLUDES the evidence contained in the report by the Dutch Safety Board in October, which directly contradicts the conclusions it presented to the public and blindly accepted by almost everyone.

    The crash of the Russian passenger plane over Sinai confirms that if a BUK missile had been launched, US surveillance would have picked up the heat signal and the exact location of the launch site would be known. No such evidence has ever been presented.

    US Surveillance Report on Egyptian Air Crash Confirms that MH17 was NOT shot down by a BUK Missile

    • January 16, 2016 at 14:47

      The DSB’s own report confirms that MH17 was NOT downed by a BUK missile – latest evidence

    • Dan
      January 17, 2016 at 00:18

      That is true, no BUK system was used at all in the MH17 incident.

      Although the Almaz-Antey experiment proves that the impact holes on the left side cockpit were not from the suggested warhead as claimed in the corrupt DSB Final report, if one is too listen carefully to something else critical they have said in their findings with the experiment, it is suggested that the kill shot entered on the longitudinal axis of he aircraft.

      This means the fragments from the missile entered from almost literally directly side on, and not from atop and above as seen in the BUK system warhead, which is designed to explode in this way.

      It is impossible for this to occur unless MH17 just happened to be tilting away from any of the ‘apparent’ 9M warheads, which does not correspond with DSB Final Report which said that MH17 did not change altitude, course and airspeed at any time during the attack, which also does not match early media reports, eyewitness sightings and Russian Defense Ministry radar data release in its live media broadcast (which had no mention in the slightest way in the MSM).

      There is one other missile that can hit the cockpit of an aircraft in this same way, which hones on radio frequency, rather than heat emitted from engines or exhaust. The Python 5 AA missile which can be fitted to a modified SU25.

    • Abe
      January 17, 2016 at 03:05

      According to investigative report leaked to Russian media in July 2015, the Israeli-made Python-5 air-to-air missile is a primary suspect for the aerial weapon that destroyed Malaysian Air flight MH17

      Based on analysis of the aircraft hull damage, aviation security experts determined that the type of the weapon used against Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was a short range air-to-air missile:

      “The Python is equipped with a matrix-imaging IR seeker. It enables a relatively moderate power warhead to effectively engage big aircrafts. The warhead is armed with a set of ready strike elements. Even more importantly, some open military sources suggest that in early 2000s a number of Sukhoi Su-25 assault fighter jets we refurbished to use fourth and fifth generation Python missiles, which look very similar to the Su-25’s standard air-to-air R-60 missile.”

      The Python-5 air-to-air missile, built by the Israeli weapons manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense System, is capable of “lock-on after launch” (LOAL), and has all-aspect/all-direction (including rearward) attack ability.

      The Python-5 is currently the most capable air-to-air missile in Israel’s inventory.

      As a beyond-visual-range missile, the Israeli-made Python-5 is said to have full sphere launch ability, meaning it can be launched at a target regardless of the target’s location relative to the direction of the launching aircraft.

      • Curious
        January 21, 2016 at 02:18

        As I have said before, the manufacturer of the BUK system marked this as a system Russia no longer uses but the BUK-1s are in Ukraine with outdated tech. Russia has not used them in years. The same manufacturer has shown that the vapor trail of a launch, especially to that height would leave a trail of at least 20 minutes depending in the wind at the time. Why the Dutch ignore that fact and have no witness seeing the trail proves the are ‘reaching and falsifying the data and feel the US will cover for whatever comes out of their report. They don’t care about the horrors their citizens went through, they care about their jobs and have created a false and misleading, vacuous report. Shame on the Dutch.

  8. Joseph
    January 16, 2016 at 12:32

    The MH 17 incident is only one of a long list of provocations by this administration. The sanctions. of which Obama boasted has put the Russian economy ” in tatters,” continue till this day.Previous articles have described how Obama has brought US-Russia relations to their lowest point since the depths of the cold-war. Now, however the stakes are even higher as the number and power of today’s weapons virtually guarantees that the next world war will be one of extinction. Hillary, if any thing, is even more eager to prove her “manhood” and bring on confrontation will Russia and China. As for the Republicans, need more be said?

  9. Pretina
    January 16, 2016 at 12:17

    explain how was this faked.

  10. Yonatan
    January 16, 2016 at 10:30

    Google Earth had an image dated 16 July 2014 that showed a large vehicle exactly where the Russian military said there was a BUK launcher on the day. It was approximately 800 meters south east of the center of Zaroshchenske, at a dog-leg in the road right on the northern edge of the area idenified by Almaz Antey as the launch area.

    Google have now removed this image from their history of satellite images over the area. The closest images are 12 June 2014 and 27 August 2014.

  11. Dr. Ip
    January 16, 2016 at 06:07

    Yes, you are right that the silence helps cement the “Russians to blame” narrative, but it also gives the US government a club to hold over the heads of their Ukrainian servants, namely the threat to release the actual evidence if the Ukrainians try to bite the hand that feeds.
    The cynical use of the evidence which must exist in some super max security safe is typical of the behind-the-scenes type of maneuvering that governments are wont to use. Machiavelli 101.

    • David Smith
      January 16, 2016 at 13:43

      Dr. Ip, you see to the core of the entire charade.100% agree with your comment.

  12. January 16, 2016 at 03:30

    Dear Robert, thanks for your excellent article again.

    One thing must be straightened out though. The location of the Luhansk BUK with truck vid has definitely been established as the right one, also by dissident citizen researchers.

    More important, it has been proven this video could well have been made BEFORE the plane was downed, as follows from pressers by Ukrainian official Andrei Lysenko. See

    Our investigations are focussed now on other questions, like: Has this video been faked all along? (see or was there already a (broken) BUK in the region controlled by separatists, which renders the Bellingcat “track-a-trail” chain of evidence useless (see

    Second, the whole media hype around the 20 Russian soldiers – probably supported by NATO affiliated PR firms to put Bellingcat in the market to blame the Ruskis – is pivoting around one very questionable assumption. According to Bcat this Kursk convoy, from where these soldiers would have been sent, has delivered the BUK. This is allegedly proved by the infamous Paris Match pictures, the ONLY link – and a missing one in fact – between convoy and the 17 july BUK.

    We have proven these pictures are probably fake, so the whole chain of evidence pointing to the Russian soldiers has already collapsed. Bcat tries to gain momentum again by recycling old stories over and over again, stories seriously debunked (see

    Bellingcat will issue their report between 21-25 january. But next to the issue mentioned above there is already a lot more counter-evidence available to debunk their claims. Stay tuned!

  13. January 16, 2016 at 01:06

    As I wrote after reading an article on MH17 by Shaun Walker, which appeared in the Guardian last July, citing Bellingcat as one of its sources:

    “Instead of drawing the conclusion that the most likely source of a Buk missile would probably be from the side proven to have lots, Walker tries to find one where probably none existed.”

  14. Curious
    January 15, 2016 at 22:23

    Thank you Robert for keeping this story alive and for the update. Also, thank you for mentioning flight 007 (which, if you think about it cynically, is a very British idea, and matches their famous film agent) I was in Europe at the time of the 007 shoot down and as a civilian, was aghast at the narrative/propaganda on radio free Europe vs the Soviet English channel telling a completely different story.

    This contradiction has sat with me since that time and this is why I paid particular attention to the MH-17 tragedy.

    If you could please update us on a few obvious contradictions this would be helpful too.

    For example:
    -If the Dutch safety investigation were sincere, why did they not explain the reason for giving London the ‘black box’? I find it hard to believe the Dutch don’t have the expertise to open it on their own.
    – for Kiev security forces to seize the tapes/recordings from their ATC immediately after the shoot down points to advance knowledge of the target and the result.
    – also, what has been scrubbed from the internet are the high res photos of MH-17 plane parts on the ground. What appears to be 30mm holes, showing both entry and exit patterns, especially in the flight deck, would indicate there was another variable involved in bringing MH-17 down. Kudos to the pilots who have snapshots of this damage and have explained it. Why the Dutch can’t do this in an investigation taking so long points to people trying too hard to avoid the facts and the disinformation…. but the longer they take, the populous will have moved on, given their gnat-like attention spans.
    – it’s difficult to imagine there was not a lot of pre-planning here. To fire a BUK-1 and hit an object 33,000 ft in the air is not ones average ipad game. These older BUKs take an older knowledge of technology and expertise, but there are plenty of photos of the current politicians in Kiev power admiring their BUKs in a facility in Kiev.

    It’s all rather sick and contrived. Please shed as much light on MH-17 as you can given your insider connections. The US gov has dumbed this down so much there has to be some gaping holes in their story.

  15. R. Roy
    January 15, 2016 at 21:54

    There was an investigation some time ago by a German aeronautical expert who proved that M17 was shot down by another aircraft. I believe the report was published by Global Research Newsletter.

    • David A Palmer
      January 25, 2016 at 14:29

      I am an ex RAF aircraft engineer (and qualified pilot), ever since those very first photographs were published of MH17 I have stated that it was 30mm Cannon fire holes, as plain as daylight, seen so many of these (Mostly 25mm for me, working on Phantoms with SUU Cannon – underslung) but the every 4th round explosive is so evident. And a lot of hearsay evidence from Ukraine service personnel that even gave the tail number and pilot of the SU25 responsible. IMHO it is still CIA/USA happy to stay silent as they threw enough shit to stick it on Russia and not their NeoNazi puppets in Ukraine!

  16. Zachary Smith
    January 15, 2016 at 21:33

    In the case of MH-17, however, the falsehoods and deceptions are not simply some spy-vs.-spy propaganda game of gotcha, but rather obstruction of justice in a mass murder investigation.

    That’s the part that bothers me the most. A mass murder happened, and Obama’s pet neocons are permitted to withhold and/or distort evidence needed to bring the guilty parties to justice. I wonder how BHO will fare in the “conscience” area in the coming years. If he doesn’t have one at all, perhaps quite well.

  17. Gary Hare
    January 15, 2016 at 20:44

    There is no way we “arm-chair critics” can assign guilt for the shooting down of MH17 to any party, based on data publicly available. The most telling evidence we have is the “non-data”. The Russians made available for critical examination, a lot of evidence immediately after the tragedy, and therein asked reasonable questions of both the US, and the Ukraine Government – 1. What did the observed US spy satellite show?, and 2. What were the discussions between the plane and Ukraine’s civil aviation authority that could explain the plane’s flight path. To my knowledge the answers to these questions remain “secret”. If Russia, or those Ukrainians it supports are to blame, one must conclude that we would know this in no uncertain terms. The fact that these answers are not forthcoming leaves us with the only possible conclusion – they do not fit the “Western” narrative, and thus should be withheld.

  18. January 15, 2016 at 20:41

    The US silence tells us everything we need to know of course. If our satellite and or radar surveillance clearly showed a rebel or Russian anti aircraft missile being fired at the plane THAT EVIDENCE WOULD BE ALL OVER THE PLACE in the news and on TV endlessly. Instead our own government is now an ACCESSORY to murder.

    Just as David Ray Griffin said about what struck the very heavily filmed and photographed pentagon on 9/11….IF IT HAD BEEN an American Airlines jet, our government WHICH HAS ALL THE FILM OF THE PENTAGON IMPACT [or explosion] would most certainly have released the film to the public.

    Our Government’s silence in both of these cases is literally CRIMINAL…..EVERY INDIVIDUAL WHO HAS SEEN THE REAL EVIDENCE OF EITHER OF THESE EVENTS

    2LT Dennis Morrisseau USArmy [armor – Vietnam era] retired. POB 177 W Pawlet, VT 05775 802 645 9727 [email protected]

    • Ian56
      January 16, 2016 at 14:58

      EXACTLY. The evidence that is missing is as important, if not more so, than the cherry picked “evidence” that has been reported in the DSB report or in the mainstream media. We KNOW that the CIA and the US has much better evidence than has so far been divulged to the public.

      Its exactly the same as the Damascus chemical weapon attack in Ghouta in August 2013, where Kerry publicly stated the US had “concrete evidence” that the rocket had come from Assad’s forces, but this has since been categorically disproved as the rocket launched did not have the range to have come from Assad ( this is confirmed by Carla Ponte the head of the UN weapons inspector team). Other evidence such as rebels launching missiles with chemical weapon warheads has also come to light.

      Seymour Hersh’s report on Ghouta stated that the rocket attack was part of a Turkish plot to get the US more seriously involved in toppling Assad with a mass bombing campaign against him. The plot failed due to the lack of international support, the lack of support within Congress and the CIA’s own evidence that led to serious doubts about Kerry’s assertions shortly after the attack.

      Benghazi gun running is the real scandal – the red line and the rat line

  19. Abe
    January 15, 2016 at 19:36

    The US State Department has condemned what it claims is an increase in “civilian casualties” due to Russian military operations in Syria […]

    Careful readers will notice however, that it is not actually civilian casualties that are on the rise, but rather merely “reports of” them that are increasing. By examining the nature of both the reports, and those who are making them, it is revealed that this latest media campaign pursued by the West is entirely disingenuous, and puts into jeopardy real oversight and genuine human right advocacy […]

    The Amnesty International report titled, “Syria: ‘Civilian Objects Were Not Damaged’: Russia’s Statements on its Attacks in Syria Unmasked,” even in title alone appears politically motivated in nature. However, it is under the report’s section, “Methodology,” that reveals the true deception at play.

    Amnesty International’s report admits that (emphasis added):

    “Amnesty International researched remotely more than 25 Russian attacks in Syria between September and December 2015. It interviewed by phone or over the internet 16 witnesses to attacks and their aftermath and spoke to more than a dozen Syrian human rights defenders and representatives of medical organizations supporting work in the areas of the attacks. It obtained and reviewed audiovisual imagery relating to all of these attacks or their aftermath, and commissioned advice from weapons experts on munitions visible in them. It reviewed statements published by the Russian Ministry of Defence and relevant articles in Russian and other media. It also reviewed reports of Syrian and international human rights organizations, humanitarian organizations, UN agencies, military and weapons analysts and open-source research networks.”

    In other words, the entire report is based on hearsay from the very people fighting against the Syrian government, and/or in league with the very armed, terrorist organizations Russia, the Syrian military, and allegedly even the United States and its allies are supposedly fighting in Syria and across the region.

    The report also admits that it is in contact with the discredited Rami Abdulrahman, a UK-based anti-Syrian “activist” who regularly coordinates with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Amnesty International disingenuously refers to this one-man operation as the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.”


    Considering various conflicts of interests, including open bias against the Syrian government and funding coming from governments bent on overthrowing that government, how Amnesty International finds Abdulrahman’s information credible is a mystery. How Amnesty International finds his information convenient, on the other hand, is no mystery at all.

    Physicians for Human Rights is also referenced by Amnesty International. It has been behind previous and equally dubious accusations leveled against Russia in Syria, and is a US State Department-funded, US-based front – making the US State Department’s recent statements not only baseless, but disingenuously self-referencing.

    The equally discredited Eliot Higgins, a sofa-bound unemployed British man who now openly works as a “contractor” for Western defense companies and is clearly engaged in biased propaganda, not objective analysis, was also referenced in Amnesty International’s report. Under methodology, Amnesty International claims it “reviewed” what it called “open-source research networks.” This is a euphemism for people like Higgins who sit at home and watch YouTube videos, and draw conclusions most suitable to sustain the West’s narrative.

    US Desperately Paints Russia as Villain in Syria
    By Tony Cartlaucci

  20. mike
    January 15, 2016 at 19:34

    If it was not for independent media the case would have been closed with Russia being the culprit no questions asked!

    • Michael D
      January 17, 2016 at 09:48

      If as much of 10% of the media were independent we would simply not be having this conversation.
      I am happy to praise the 2%, but it is the 98% I am furious with.

    • Kiza
      January 20, 2016 at 00:47

      Mr Perry writes: “all government lie”, to soften up that it is our, Western governments which lie all the time and get away with it because of the concentration of ownership of the MSM. I challenge Mr Perry to quote one lie by the current Russian Government, for example, to prove his thesis that “all governments lie”, or one Chinese Government lie (an outright lie such as MH17 or Iraqi WMD, not some embellishment).

      But, ultimately, we should not blame the Western governments for their constant lying. Those lied to are as much to blame as those doing the lying. If you are so stupid to believe the lies, then the problem is with you, not with the liar. An intelligent and psychologically sound person would make great effort to seek the truth (just like Mr Perry here), not wallow in prejudiced and comfortable government lies.

  21. Marcus
    January 15, 2016 at 18:59

    On the topic of “leaving the impression of Russian guilt to corrode Moscow’s image in the public mind” the BBC’s respected Newsnight reported that the Dutch investigation had found that the BUK was fired by Russian-backed separatisits (Newsnight, Nov 6 2015 – ironically crowbarring it in on a segment about the downing of the Russian plane over Sinai). When challenged through their complaints dept. they responded:

    We raised your complaint with Newsnight and have published the following on the BBC’s Corrections and Clarifications page:

    “In a report about the crash of a Russian airliner it was stated that an official report had determined that Flight MH17 was brought down over Ukraine by a rocket launched by ‘Russian backed rebels.’ Although the report by the Dutch Safety Board did cite the use of a Russian made missile and surface to air missile system, it did not state who had launched the missile.”

    An admission of error, though a huge qualification in line with Robert Parry’s recognition of the ‘guilt by association’ that BUKs are made in Russia (though no such claim of guilt when Saudi bombs civilians in Yemen with UK made weapons.

    Narratives lead us to war….

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