A year ago, the U.S. government issued a sketchy report on the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shoot-down citing “social media” and other flimsy data implicating eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia, but then – as hard intelligence became available – went silent. Now, U.S. intelligence veterans are demanding release of that intel.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Releasing an Intelligence Report on Shoot-Down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
It has been a year since the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, resulting in the death of 298 passengers and crew. The initial response by the U.S. government supported the contention that the likely perpetrators were anti-government forces in southeastern Ukraine (the customary media misnomer for them is “separatists”), and that they were possibly aided directly by Moscow.
On July 29, 2014, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) suggested that the United States Government report publicly what intelligence it actually had relating to the shoot-down lest the incident turn into another paroxysm of blaming Russia without cause. We are still waiting for that report.
Tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine are fast reaching a danger point. A major contributing factor in the American public’s negative perception of Moscow is last year’s downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
A public report detailing the investigation of the incident by the Dutch Safety authorities is expected by October but the draft is reportedly already in the hands of the United States government. There is speculation that the report will dovetail with media and leaked government sources that have placed primary blame on the ethnic Russian Ukrainians in southeastern Ukraine opposed to the government put in place after the Western-engineered coup of Feb. 22, 2014, in Kiev.
As the relationship with Moscow is of critical importance, if only because Russia has the military might to destroy the U.S., careful calibration of the relationship is essential. If the United States signs on to a conclusion that implicates Russia without any solid intelligence to support that contention it will further damage an already fractious bilateral relationship, almost certainly unnecessarily. It is our opinion that a proper investigation of the downing would involve exploring every possibility to determine how the evidence holds up.
Currently, the only thing the American public and worldwide audiences know for sure is that the plane was shot down. But the shoot-down might have been accidental, carried out by any one of a number of parties. Or it might have been orchestrated by anti-government forces, with Moscow either conniving in some way in that action or not. It is also possible that the downing was deliberately carried out by the Kiev government or one of Ukraine’s powerful oligarchs to implicate the anti-Kiev forces and Russia in this mass murder. And finally, though less likely, it might even be that based on the available intelligence it is impossible to determine who did it.
(See full memo here.)