Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Obama State Department: The Russians Did It Because That's What We Learned From YouTube And Social Media
AP reporter Matt Lee is apparently the only mainstream reporter inside the Washington Beltway who is challenging the Obama administration to produce what evidence it has to support its conclusion that the Russians and the rebels they back are responsible for firing a missile that allegedly blew Malaysia Airlines Flight #MH17 out of the sky at 33,000 feet, killing all 295 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 777 aircraft. What Lee learns from State Department spokesperson Marie Harf after much poking and prodding of her is that the American assessment that the rebels and the Russians are likely responsible for bringing the airplane down is primarily based on a YouTube video and supposed social media posts in which the rebels claimed credit for downing the airplane.
There are reasons to doubt the authenticity of the social media posts that were quickly taken down. A YouTube video claiming that the Russian-made Buk missile launcher that was allegedly used in the attack was observed returning to Russia shortly after the attack has been completely debunked. As it turns out, the video was taken back in May at an entirely differently location in Ukraine. The evidence almost immediately produced by the Ukrananian government of audio of a supposed exchange between a Russian commander and a rebel leader discussing the plane being shot down also appears to be of dubious origin.
Russian officials presented satellite and radar evidence to make its case that neither they nor the rebels were responsible, while the Ukranian and American governments are withholding any forensic evidence they have to support their contentions. A second aircraft that was likely a Ukranian fighter jet was shown on radar very near MH17 before it crashed according to the Russians. Satellite imagery produced by the Russians also showed several Buk ground-to-air missile launchers in the area close to where the plane crashed. The Russians insist those missile systems could only belong to the Ukranian government. No explanation has been offered as to why the airplane veered off its planned route, traveling further east over an area of the Ukraine commercial pilots knew was unsafe for air travel. Even more troubling is a report by investigative reporter Robert Parry, who claims a source within the U.S. government has told him that U.S. satellite imagery actually shows that the likely missile battery used to shoot down MH17 was under the control of Ukranian government troops dressed in Ukranian military uniforms.
It is unclear to me why the American news media is so quick to accept the Obama administration's rapid conclusions about what happened to MH17 given its recent track record. The administration completely lied to the American public and Congress about the circumstances of the attack on the Benghazi consular outpost that claimed the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. It then falsely accused the Assad government of launching chemical weapons attacks in Syria as an excuse for escalating American military intervention in that country's civil war on the side of the rebels, whom have been trained, funded and armed by the U.S. government. We later learned that the rebels and not the Assad government was responsible for the chemical weapons attacks. Those same rebels, now calling themselves the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ("ISIS"), have spread their war into Iraq, seizing large portions of that country while inflicting a large number of civilian casualties. One doesn't have to like the Russians to question our own government's motives in laying the blame for the loss of MH17 at their doorstep regardless of where the real evidence points.
UPDATE: Watch CNN's Chris Cuomo and a Russian Times correspondent Peter Lavelle quarrel over responsibility for the downing of MH17. Cuomo claims without substantiation that the U.S. government has been forthcoming with forensic evidence that supports its assessment. Contrast Cuomo's questioning of Lavelle with Lee's questioning of Hart. It's not hard to conclude which is a real journalist.