You’re Doing Counter-Propaganda Wrong, Hand-Picked Journos Edition

I’ve been so buried in Netroots Nation and related issues I’ve only followed the top-line coverage of the MH17 shoot-down. I think the version the Administration released yesterday — that Ukrainian rebels shot down the airliner by mistake — is the most plausible explanation, though I’m aware of questions about that story.

All that said, there’s something about yesterday’s dog-and-pony show offered at the Office of Director of National Intelligence that seriously discredits the US story.

As the WSJ account of it makes clear, the reporters brought in for that dog-and-pony were explicitly told the dog-and-pony was being held to “not let[] a Russian narrative get out there.”

The Russian government is making a “full-court press” to spread a Russian version of events that try to pin the shoot-down on the Ukrainians, which is “not plausible to us,” one senior intelligence official said.

A key goal of Tuesday’s presentation, said one senior intelligence official was “not letting a Russian narrative get out there,” said one senior U.S. intelligence official.

(Apparently this senior intelligence official is not honest enough to admit both sides are already in a game of full court pressing — and John Kerry has already gotten beyond what the government released yesterday.)

Here’s the thing. While the Russians have not offered as much proprietary intelligence as the US offered yesterday, the presentation this dog-and-pony show is meant to rebut involve their Ministry of Defense providing a televised briefing on their questions about the event.

By contrast, noted liar James Clapper’s office invited hand-picked journalists in, and swore them to silence about who actually gave the briefing, and only afterwards released a transcript and other materials on the briefing. Spencer Ackerman was among the obvious journalists who should have been but was not invited.

Some of the evidence provided by US intelligence – whose fiscal 2013 budget was $68bn – included Facebook posts. “After it became evident that the plane was a civilian airliner, separatists deleted social media posts boasting about shooting down a plane and possessing a Buk (SA-11) surface-to-air missile system,” a senior intelligence official said in the briefing, held on condition of anonymity. The Guardian was not invited to the briefing, a transcription of which was later made available.

Look, if the US government has a case, they can release it publicly. But what they appear to be doing instead is creating their own official press corps and presenting their case there.

That’s especially true given that something else said at the briefing undermines the US case against the rebels.

They noted that it can be difficult to track the transportation of weapons because they are often moved at night, and the Russians have provided the separatists with types of weapons that the Ukrainians also have in order to maintain “plausible deniability.”

If the Russians have gone to some length to hide their role in arming rebels, why would they also give them a weapon that would draw so much attention (the Ukrainian government has them as well, but they haven’t used them)? (Though I actually think the point is they have been fired, but weren’t considered so fancy until they took down a civilian jet.)

I suspect at this point both sides are hiding interesting details they know. But the US has the more plausible case, thus far. So why are they unwilling to present their case publicly?

12 replies
  1. TarheelDem says:

    Ukraine is awash in Soviet-era and post-Soviet-era weapons purchased from Russia primarily because that is what their military has been trained on.

    On one level the conflict between the US and Russia is about who is going to profit from the arms trade. That is why John McCain keeps wanting the US to arm the Ukraine government even though they have more than enough arms as it is.

    And pinning the air crash on Russia allows the US to punish Russia with financial and trade sanctions for the BRICS Summit without actually saying “BRICS Summit.”

    And of course, Nuland’s War to bring the Russians to their knees continues.

  2. Ben Franklin says:

    Much has been made of the separatists having, using then scuppering away with PHOTOS from several angles. Note the photocredit is Barcroft Media.

    “Major U.S. broadcast and cable news organizations all say the same thing: they don’t pay for news. But with tabloid stories—many derived from dubious and often cash-up-front sources—becoming ever more important audience drivers, those guidelines can become very hazy very quickly. And that’s where Barcroft Media comes in.
    Growing out of the venerable pay-for-play world of the British media, Barcroft, which controversially brokered the story of the Texas man who lost his face to a power line is more than willing to go where the American media won’t.
    “Sometimes we operate purely as a news agency and sometimes we might have [contractual] arrangements with people,” says Alex Morris, London editor at Barcroft, just a bit elliptically. “We straddle a few different lines.”

  3. Don Bacon says:

    CTVNews, Jul 22
    No direct link to Russia in downing of Flight MH17: U.S. officials

    WASHINGTON — Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. . . .The officials said the most likely explanation for why the plane was shot down is that the rebels made a mistake.. . .The officials made clear they were relying in part on social media postings and videos made public in recent days by the Ukrainian government, even though they have not been able to authenticate all of it.

    The CIA has been watching those fake youtube vids. Good for them. Pass the popcorn. It shows that the “intelligence community” can do something with all those tens of billions of dollars they suck up every year.
    As far as “creating the conditions,” the US did that when it sponsored the Feb 22 coup in Kyev which deposed a democratically-elected president and installed a fascist-oriented junta which is anti-Russian when a majority of folks in eastern Ukraine are ethic Russians. State’s Victoria Nuland said the US (with our money) spent $5 billion on the project.
    So it wasn’t Russia that instigated this whole affair, but who would expect the “intelligence community” to know that.

  4. bevin says:

    Is there any evidence at all that the federalist militias have the capacity to employ the Buk system and bring down an aircraft flying 10km above the ground?

    Or to put it another way, who besides the Ukrainian forces- which the former Natioinal Socialist (now Freedom) party leads by the nose-can possibly be responsible for shooting down the plane?

  5. Don Bacon says:

    DefenseNews, Jul 22, 2014
    Shelton: Russia’s Doubt Over US Satellite Capabilities Shows ‘Desperation’

    Russian statements expressing skepticism that the US can produce satellite images showing a surface-to-air missile shooting down the Malaysia Airlines jet on July 17 shows “desperation” on Russia’s part, the top Air Force space official said today.

    Gen. William Shelton, commander of US Air Force Space Command, would not confirm that the Air Force’s Space Based Infrared Systems constellation of satellites was involved in detecting the surface-to-air missile launch that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. He said, however, that the system is made up of “very good satellites. They are very sensitive, and they are very accurate.”

    ..Russian officials called on the US to release any satellite images from the incident. “We also have some questions for our U.S. partners,” Russian Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartopolov said, according to Reuters. “According to the U.S. declarations, they have satellite images that confirm the missile was launched by the rebels. But nobody has seen these images. If the American side has pictures from this satellite, then they should show the international community.”

    Shelton said Kartopolov‘s dubiousness over the U.S. capability sounded “like an act of desperation to me. ..What I found somewhat humorous in that quote is the thought that we wouldn’t have global coverage,” Shelton said. “We do have global coverage, 24/7.”

    “I didn’t fire him [General MacArthur] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three quarters of them would be in jail.” — Harry Truman

  6. John Ely says:

    This is going to be a really interesting case I think. I generally believe the USG/NATO/Western MSM materials, and actually I think is shows good sense the the intelligence community is grinding through social media evidence, where there is mounting quantities of circumstantial evidence.

    But there are some interesting issues. The Counterpunch crowd, including an RT journalists, is emphasizing that the flight path of the Airline was 100 miles off course, that the Ukrainian Security Service have confiscated all the records of air traffic that day, and that there are extant tweets from a Spanish Air Traffic Controller (quoted below) that suggest if they are in any way true a much more complicated story:

    * “The B777 was escorted by 2 Ukrainian fighter jets minutes before disappearing from radar (5.48 pm)”

    * “If the Kiev authorities want to admit the truth 2 fighter jets were flying very close a few minutes before the incident but did not shoot down the airliner (5.54)”

    * ”As soon as the Malaysia Airlines B777 disappeared the Kiev military authority informed us of the shooting down. How did they know? (6.00)”

    * “Everything has been recorded on radar. For those that don’t believe it, it was taken down by Kiev; we know that here (in traffic control) and the military air traffic control know it too (7.14)”

    * ”The Ministry of the Interior did know that there were fighter aircraft in the area, but the Ministry of Defense didn’t. (7.15)”

    * “The military confirm that it was Ukraine, but it is not known where the order came from. (7.31)”

    I would like to think that an urge to win the propaganda war, always a part of the intelligence community’s portfolio, will not get in the way of also collecting facts and filling out the true story.

    I also have the sense that the Ukrainian Gov’t is going to try and win this war asap before a really clear picture of this appears….

  7. sandra says:

    Aren’t we justified in being suspicious of the US explanation of any incident when the US has jumped into using it in to define hostilities? It’s again a comic repetition of so many excuses they have used to go to war that were later proved to be fabrications. Getting caught in that Syria lie recently demonstrated that people don’t believe these stories any more, despite the role of the press,

  8. lefty665 says:

    Robert Parry has reported intelligence community analysis of satellite photos showing people in what appear to be Ukrainian military uniforms operating the missile system that shot down MH17. It is a model in service in the Ukrainian military and is similar to a missile system that the Ukrainian military used to accidentally shoot down a Russian airliner in 2001.
    Is there any point at which people start asking the Ukrainians questions?
    Perhaps, We have pictures of people in your uniforms manning a missile system that is a model you own and routinely operate, and it shot down MH17. It seems you have a motive, and you guys have done this before. Why should we blame it on the Russians instead of you?
    We have seen a false flag operation in Syria that killed more than a thousand people according to the USG. It was designed to stampede us into war with Syria.
    Why is no one asking if this is a Ukrainian (also neo con inspired?) attempt to stampede us to war with a nuclear armed Russia?

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