When Intelligence Isn’t

First published at http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/05/when-intelligence-isnt.html

In my career in the Canadian government I was never formally in “intelligence” but I did participate in writing many “intelligence assessments”. Facebook, Twitter and other kinds of social media didn’t much exist at that time but, even if they had, I can’t imagine that we would have ever used them as sources of evidence: social media is, to put it mildly, too easy to fake. In writing intelligence assessments, while we did use information gathered from intelligence sources (ie secret), probably more came from what was rather pompously called OSInt (Open Source Intelligence; in other words, stuff you don’t need a security clearance to learn). What was, however, the most important part of creating an assessment was the long process of discussion in the group. Much talk and many rewrites produced a consensus opinion.

A typical intelligence assessment would start with a question – what’s going on with the economy, or political leadership or whatever of Country X – and would argue a conclusion based on facts. So: question, argument, conclusion. And usually a prediction – after all the real point of intelligence is to attempt to reduce surprises. The intelligence assessment then made its way up the chain to the higher ups; they may have ignored or disagreed with the conclusions but, as far as I know, the assessment, signed off by the group that had produced it, was not tampered with: I never heard of words being put into our mouths. The intelligence community regards tampering with an intelligence assessment to make it look as if the authors had said something different as a very serious sin. All of this is preparation to say that I know what an intelligence assessment is supposed to look like and that I have seen a lot of so-called intelligence assessments coming out of Washington that don’t look like the real thing.

Intelligence is quite difficult. I like the analogy of trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle when you don’t know what the picture is supposed to be, you don’t know how many pieces the puzzle has and you’re not sure that the pieces that you have are actually from the same puzzle. Let us say, for example, that you intercept a phonecall in which the Leader of Country X is telling one of his flunkeys to do something. Surely that’s a gold standard? Well, not if the Leader knew you were listening (and how would you know if he did?); nor if he’s someone who changes his mind often. There are very few certainties in the business and many many opportunities for getting it wrong.

So real raw intelligence data is difficult enough to evaluate; social media, on the other hand, has so many credibility problems that it is worthless; worthless, that is, except as evidence of itself (ie a bot campaign is evidence that somebody has taken the effort to do one). It is extremely easy to fake: a Photoshopped picture can be posted and spread everywhere in hours; bots can create the illusion of a conversation; phonecall recordings are easily stitched together: here are films of Buks, here are phonecalls. (But, oddly enough, all the radars were down for maintenance that day). It’s so easy, in fact, that it’s probably easier to create the fake than to prove that it is a fake. There is no place in an intelligence assessment for “evidence” from something as unreliable as social media.

An “intelligence assessment” that uses social media is suspect.

So why are there so many “intelligence assessments” on important issues depending on social media “evidence”?

I first noticed social media used as evidence during the MH17 catastrophe when Marie Harf, the then US State Department spokesman, appealed to social media and “common sense”. She did so right after the Russians had posted radar evidence (she hadn’t “seen any of that” said she). At the time I assumed that she was just incompetent. It was only later, when I read the “intelligence assessments” backing up the so-called Russian influence on the US election, that I began to notice the pattern.

There are indications during the Obama Administration that the intelligence professionals were becoming restive. Here are some examples that suggest that “intelligence assessments” were either not being produced by the intelligence professionals or – see the last example – those that were were then modified to please the Boss.

If one adds the reliance on social media to these indications, it seems a reasonable suspicion that these so-called intelligence assessments are not real intelligence assessments produced by intelligence professionals but are post facto justifications written up by people who know what the Boss wants to hear.

We have already seen what appears to have been the first example of this with the “social media and common sense” of MH17. And, from that day to this, not a shred of Kerry’s “evidence” have we seen. The long-awaited Dutch report was, as I said at the time, only a modified hangout and very far from convincing.

Russia “invaded” Ukraine so many times it became a joke. The “evidence” was the usual social media accompanied by blurry satellite photos. So bad are the photos, in fact, that someone suggested that “Russian artillery” were actually combine harvesters. In one of the rare departures from the prescribed consensus, a former (of course) German Chief of Staff was utterly unconvinced by thse pictures and explained why. By contrast, here is a satellite photo of Russian aircraft in Syria; others here. Sharply focussed and in colour. The “Russian invasion” photos were lower quality than the Cuban Missile Crisis photos taken six decades earlier! A hidden message? See below.

The so-called Syrian government CW attack on Ghouta in August 2013 was similarly based on social media; heavily dependent, in fact, on “Bellingcat”. Quite apart from the improbability of Assad ordering a CW attack on a suburb a short drive away from arriving international inspectors, the whole story was adequately destroyed by Seymour Hersh. (Bellingcat’s “proofs”, by the way, can be safely ignored – see his faked-up “evidence” that Russians attacked an aid convoy in Syria.)

A dominant story for months has been that Russia somehow influenced the US presidential election. As ever, the Washington Post led the charge and the day after the election told us “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House“. But when we finally saw the “secret assessments” they proved to be laughably damp squibs. The DHS/FBI report of 29 December 2016 carried this stunning disclaimer:

This report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the DNI report of 6 January 2017 was the space – nearly half – devoted to a rant that had been published four years earlier about the Russian TV channel RT. What that had to do with the Russian state influencing the 2016 election was obscure. But, revealingly, the report included:

We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.

In other words, DHS told us to ignore its report and the one agency in the US intelligence structure that would actually know about hacking and would have copies of everything – the NSA – wasn’t very confident. Both reports were soon torn apart: John McAfee: “I can promise you if it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you it was not the Russians”. (See 10:30). Jeffrey Carr: “Fatally flawed“. Julian Assange: not a state actor. Even those who loath Putin trashed them. In any case, as we now know, the NSA can mimic Russians or anyone else.

In April there was another suspiciously timed “CW attack” in Syria and, blithely ignoring that the responders didn’t wear any protective gear in what was supposed to be a Sarin attack, the Western media machine wound up its sirens. The intelligence assessment that was released again referred to “credible open source reporting” and even “pro-opposition social media reports” (! – are the authors so disgusted with what they have to write that they leave gigantic hints like that in plain sight?). Then a page of so of how Moscow trying to “confuse” the world community. And so on. This “intelligence assessment” was taken apart by Theodore Postol.

So, we have strong suggestions that the intelligence professionals are being sidelined or having their conclusions altered; we have far too much reliance of social media; is there anything else that we can see? Yes, there is: many of the “intelligence assessments” contain what look like hints by the authors that their reports are rubbish.

  • Absurdly poor quality photos (maybe they were combine harvesters!).

  • Including a photo of damage to the port engine intake which contradicts the conclusion of the MH-17 report.

  • DHS “does not provide any warranties”.

  • The one agency that would know has only “moderate confidence”.

  • Irrelevant rants about RT or assumed nefarious Russian intentions.

  • “Pro-opposition social media reports”.

There are too many of these, in fact, not to notice – not that the Western media has noticed, of course – they rather jump out at you once you look don’t they? I don’t recall inserting any little such hints into any of the intelligence assessments that I was involved in.

In conclusion, it seems that a well-founded case can be presented that:

Where done? By whom? That remains to be discovered. More Swamp to be drained.

MH17 For Dummies

According to this source, the US intelligence budget for 2014 was 67.9 billion US dollars. That’s about 130,000 kilometres of $100 bills laid end to end or about three times around the world at the equator. Which is quite a lot of money, even if a lot goes to administration, overhead and the like.

So, you’d think that if an airliner was shot down over an area that was being closely watched, all this money would have bought quite a lot of information.

And, US Secretary of State John Kerry said it did and here he is saying it: “we observed it” (1.15)

But, two years later we still await the US intelligence evidence.

Instead we have

Well common sense would suggest that, if we haven’t heard about the other stuff then

  • it isn’t there or
  • it contradicts what Washington has been saying.

QED. It’s not that complicated.


Malaysia left out of MH17 Inquiry


“We could not view the aircraft and were not invited to attend certain meetings.”

The DSB report on MH17 is looking shabbier and shabbier. The latest is this from The New Straits Times Online of 24 October. When we add this to all the other omissions – radar data, Russian evidence of aircraft, damage to port wing and engine, the trivial number of lethal fragments – I realise that I was wrong to call it a “limited hangout“. It’s an incompetent limited hangout.

Responding to points made in the DSB final report on the incident, which stated that Malaysia did not extend its full cooperation in the initial stage of the investigation, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said this was because Malaysia’s role was not honoured as it denied full access and privileges to the probe. He said the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) was not made a full member in the joint investigation and unlike other members, Malaysian representatives were only granted limited access. “We were the owner of the aircraft. How can we be prevented full access? “We could not view the aircraft and were not invited to attend certain meetings.” “In the end, we cooperated when they gave us full access after acknowledging our role. It even says so in the news report,” said Abdul Aziz, referring to a recent foreign news article alleging Malaysia’s initial reluctance to cooperate.

MH17 Final report is Not a Final Report; It’s Just a Limited Hangout: It tells as much of the truth as it has to. But no more.






“Limited hangout” is spy jargon for a partial admission of the truth to attempt to control the exposure of a clandestine operation. The hope is that the partial truth will satisfy the questioners and they will look no further. The phrase came into popular awareness during the Watergate scandal in 1973 as the cover story unravelled. The Dutch Safety Board report on the MH17 disaster is an example. It’s a partial statement: something very important is left out; but it is not completely left out because there may be a later need for “reconsideration”.

The sources and abbreviations I use are below.

  • Russian MoD briefing July 2014 (MoD) (English)
  • Dutch Safety Board Final Report October 2015 Video (DSBV) Text (DSBT)
  • Almaz-Antey First Report June 2015 (AA1) (Video) (Almaz-Antey is the manufacturer of the Buk family of SAM systems which has been in service in many countries since 1979. Over the years, as is common with evolutionary Soviet and Russian weapons systems, there have been several different rockets and warhead designs.)
  • Almaz-Antey Second Report October 2015 (AA2) (Slideshow in English)

In August I published a piece at RI named “Questions a Real MH17 Report Would Answer“. The DSB report fails my test but it fails it in an interesting way: in a limited hangout way, in fact. I said there were four vital points that must be addressed:

  1. The “black boxes” will tell us where MH17 was when it was hit, what direction it was going in, what speed it was travelling.
  2. Analysis of the damage pattern of the wreckage will show where the missile was when it detonated.
  3. Backtracking from that point will show from where it was launched.
  4. Lethal fragments will show what weapon hit it.

The report deals with 1 satisfactorily, there is a question about 4 but it is in its answer to numbers 2 and 3 that we see the limited hangout.

The report was delivered by its Chairman, Tjibbe Joustra, [quondam the Netherlands’ National Antiterrorism Coordinator – is that significant? You decide, Dear Reader – and Chairman of the DSB since February 2011] who stated that it was not the DSB’s job to assign blame. The DSB’s conclusion was that MH17 was brought down by the explosion of 9N314M warhead as carried on 9M38 series Buk surface-to-air missile (SAM) (DSBT-9); other scenarios were considered, analysed and excluded. It offers an area from which it believes the missile was launched.

The Flight Data Recorder (both “black boxes” were in good shape) showed MH17 flying at 33,000 ft heading 115° at 293 kts (542kph). The recording stopped at 13.20:03 UTC at 48.12715N 38.52630538E (DSBT-47).

I begin with my principal conclusion that the DSB report is a “limited hangout”.

By ignoring the damage to the port wing and port engine, the Board was able to shift the approach route of the missile away from Kiev-held territory south of MH17’s route to rebel-held territory in the south-east.

The importance of leaving out the wing and engine

The Dutch Safety Board did not take into account the damage to the port wing and the port engine (see below). While it did provide a photo of the damaged port engine intake ring at DSBT-50, there is no other discussion of damage to the engine and I believe that the inclusion of the photo provides the DSB with an “out” should there be a need for a later “reconsideration” of the evidence. To summarise (see below): the DSB established a point at which the detonation occurred; the DSB understood the blast pattern of the warhead (DSBT-130 but see a better representation at AA2-35). But it ignored the fact that the existence of damage to the port wing and port engine proves that the missile had to have come from the side of MH17 and not from in front of it. That is the key point: everything up to that point in the analysis of the destruction of MH17 (leaving aside the rather small number of “bow-ties” – see below) is closely reasoned. The sleight of hand occurs when the wing and engine are forgotten. Concentrating only on the damage to the cockpit allows the path of the missile to be twisted from the south to the south-west as is required by the “rebels did it theory”. A launch point from the south rules that possibility out.

This is illustrated at AA2-21. Both Almaz-Antey reports calculated the firing point as being near Zaroshchenskoye while the DSB calculates it as being near Snezhnoye. AA2-21 shows a damage comparison: a Buk fired from Zaroshchenskoye damages the port wing and port engine, a Buk fired from Snezhnoye does not. The damage to the cockpit is similar in each scenario.

Because the damage to the port wing and port engine was ignored by the DSB report, they were able to make the approach line of the missile closer to the direction MH17 was heading, which allowed them to calculate the launch point so as to include rebel-held territory. Had they included the port wing and port engine damage, they would have been forced to accept a launch point farther south into Kiev-held territory.

In short, they told as much truth as they could without compromising the required answer. A “limited hangout” indeed.

But there are some other – less significant, to be sure – points that should be considered.

Missing Radar Data

The first point worthy of attention is the radar data or, rather, its absence. We are told that “The Ukrainian civil primary radar stations in the area were not functioning at the time of the crash due to scheduled maintenance. The military primary radar stations were also not operational. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence stated that this system was not operational, because there were no Ukrainian military aircraft in the sector through which flight MH17 flew” (DSBT-38). NATO had an AWACS aircraft in the air but that said MH17 was out of its range (DSBT-44). Thus only limited radar information was available from Ukraine and nothing from NATO.

This is not believable. Ignoring the “scheduled maintenance” stuff, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence statement that there were no military aircraft in the area is contradicted when DSBT-185 informs us that Kiev claimed that a military aircraft was fired at in the Donetsk area on that very day. That is less than 40 kms away from MH17. As to NATO, it is absurd to think that NATO had an AWACS aircraft up that was not looking at the fighting area. The DSB accepts these statements without comment.

Russia also provided limited radar information because, it said, as the crash occurred outside of Russian territory, it did not record the primary data (DSBT-42). The report spends some time chiding Russia for this.

Flight Path

Another of the points that I made in my RI piece was the change in the flight path as recorded in the FlightAware website. No mention whatsoever is made of that in the DSB report. I did notice, however, that the flight plan as shown at DSBT-212 shows a slight turn to the left at the Germany-Poland border and a slight turn to the right at the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border. If we remove this slight deviation, we have a straight line flight path that goes over the Sea of Azov as the earlier routes did before they were changed on FlightAware.

I still believe that this is a point that has been insufficiently discussed and I remind readers of the screen shots taken of the FlightAware tracks showing previous routes well south of the track taken that day by MH17 shown here and here. I remember noticing the change at the time and thinking that the flight path of 17 July was the first question that had to be answered. Again, the DSB makes no mention of any other routes taken by this daily flight.

Fighter planes

As to the fighter plane story the flat statement is made that there are no aircraft shown on the Ukrainian radar tracks except MH17 and two other commercial flights (DSBT-114). No mention whatsoever is made of the Russian presentation (MoD 9th illustration) that showed a fighter plane close to MH17. (But note the careful statement that there is nothing on the Ukrainian radar tracks. Perhaps the DSB is leaving space for a later “reconsideration”.) The report rules out cannon fire because 1) there are too many holes in the fuselage for a limited number of cannon rounds; 2) the presence of “bow-tie” fragments (see below); 3) there were no military aircraft in the area (DSBT-126). It returns to the issue at DSB-131 where it argues that all penetrations of MH17 came from a single point.

Personally I do not find this very convincing and I do not believe that the presence of a fighter as well as a SAM is excluded, although it is clear that the SAM was sufficient to bring the plane down and kill the cockpit crew. But the DSB ought to have said something about the Russian statement that there was a fighter plane nearby. And certainly there are many holes in the wreckage that look as if they may be caused by cannon fire. And then there are the numerous claimed eyewitness statements of fighters in the area. All this should have been discussed and, if rejected, rejected with serious arguments and evidence.

The reconstruction and the damage

We now come to an analysis of the reconstructed aircraft. Or – and this is a point of great significance – the partly reconstructed aircraft. DSBV gives a good view of the reconstruction at 22:44. We see that the cockpit and part of the lower forward passenger section is all that has been constructed. Missing are the port wing and port engine. This is the key to the limited hangout.

DSBT-55 begins a long section detailing what parts were recovered and from where they were recovered. Everything is accounted for except – an important exception – missile parts consistent with an Buk 9M38 missile (DSBT-80). No location is given for them and there is no chain of custody given. Are these the parts reported to have been found only as late as August 2015? We are merely informed they were found “in the wreckage area”. Photographs appear at DSBT-82.

A long section analyses the sounds from the Cockpit Voice Recorder and establishes a source outside the the upper port side of the cockpit (DSBT-112) This is assumed to be the location of the centre of the explosion. This location is verified by analysing the holes (DSBT-124). All this is perfectly convincing.

About 75 fragments were found in the human remains. Some of these are argued to have come from outside through the aircraft skin; some photos at DSBT-89. Two of these (three?) are claimed to be “bow-tie” shaped (DSBT-92). These two – or is it three or four? – “bow-tie” shaped fragments are conclusive as far as the DSB is concerned: their assertion that it was a Buk warhead type 9N314M completely depends on these two or three or four fragments. John Helmer has argued that there is a suspicious amount of secrecy and national security about these vital pieces.

This is a point of contention with Almaz-Antey’s reports which maintain that the Buk used did not have a “bow-tie” warhead. AA2, which used a static test of a Buk with “bow-tie” (Almaz-Antey calls them “I-beam”) shaped particles in its warhead, argues that the resulting destruction pattern shows bow-tie/I-beam shaped holes (AA2-27) (which DSBT does not) and many more bow-tie/I-beam fragments – there are more than 2000 in that particular warhead design – in the wreckage than two or four. From this Almaz-Antey concludes that the warhead used was not the 9N314M (which has bow-ties/I-beams) but the B9N314 which does not. Their point is that this is the type of Buk in Ukrainian service but no longer in Russian service.

Launch point of missile.

DSBT-144 gives the estimated launch point for the Buk. It chooses a rather large area to the east of Torez more-or-less in front of MH17. In that area is a smaller one it claims to have been provided by Almaz-Antey and a still smaller one provided by the Kiev authorities. Therefore a missile fired from any of these positions would have been approximately head-on to MH17 (from directly head-on to about 30°). This is one thing to which I will return, but I must say I do not understand what the DSB is talking about when it includes an Almaz-Antey estimate of the launch point in this area: neither Almaz-Antey presentation gives an origin in that area. As we saw above, Almaz-Antey gives an estimated firing point that would place the missile launch point much more to the right of MH17 – at roughly 60° from its course. Which brings us back to the key point: ignoring the damage to the port wing and port engine allows the DSB to make the missile track more to the front of MH17’s course. Such an origin is impossible if the damage to the wing and engine are taken into account. The DSB report elides the issue altogether but does provide an “out” by showing a photo of the engine damage.


There are a number of questions that can be raised about the report: the lack of primary radar data from Ukraine and NATO is just not believable and the authors should not have blandly accepted it: there were Ukrainian fighters in the air and no one should possibly believe that NATO assets weren’t watching the area.

The report airily ignores the Russian MoD claim of a fighter plane near MH17 (although leaves itself an out by saying the Ukrainian data showed nothing).

The “flight route question” is completely unaddressed.

Too much hangs on the very small number of bow-tie/I-beam pieces.

By the main thing is that, because it has ignored the damage to the port wing and port engine (although leaving a photo of the latter in the report so as to provide an out), it is able to shift the approach line of the missile away from Kiev-held territory to the south of MH17’s route to rebel-held territory in the south-east.

So what happened?

I agree that we will probably not know until the regime in Kiev collapses or some Edward Snowden reveals something. (Although, as it now appears that the Kiev regime is actually questioning the official “heavenly hundred” sniper story, discussed here by Gordon Hahn, who can say what’s next?).

I would suggest the following possibilities.

The media dog is no longer barking

I would draw the reader’s attention to the media coverage. A media campaign blaming the rebels and Russia began almost immediately after the crash; on the other hand, the media has been very silent about the DSB report. The Daily Mail can serve as an example of both: “Anything to confess, Putin? Russian president in church as world leaders warn him you can’t ‘wash your hands’ of MH17 disaster” 18 July 2014 (“Amid growing evidence that the flight was hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile, launched from areas controlled by pro-Russian rebels in the separatist eastern regions of Ukraine, fingers have increasingly been pointed at Russian president Vladimir Putin, who denies involvement.”) and “Russian missile killed pilots and cut jet in half but passengers could have been conscious for up to a minute as plane plunged, reveals official report into MH17 downed over Ukraine” 17 October 2015 (rather neutral coverage full of “he said, she said”). And the story seems to have disappeared. A cynic might be excused for wondering if some central agency puts out the story line. I find this suggestive.

To watch

As for further developments I recommend Alexander Mercouris’ piece on RI – there are some legal cases coming up that may prove interesting. I also recommend John Helmer’s writings on the subject at his blog Dances with Bears. The story appears to be unravelling in several places at once. He also goes into more details on the tiny number of bow-tie/I-beams on which the DSB hangs so much of its case.

Stay tuned, there may be more to come.

Questions a Real MH17 Report Would Answer: If it doesn’t, it’s a coverup













We are promised a report of the MH17 crash by October. Or is it already completed but you and I can’t see it? Anyway, something that we can all see is supposed to appear in a couple of months – which would be about 15 months after it happened.

Personally, I don’t expect much: the “Putin killed my son” meme has been implanted by thousands of MSM expectorations and nailed down by politicians like Australia’s Julie Bishop demanding that Moscow “accept responsibility for the death of 298 people“. I do not expect a report produced by Ukraine (a beneficiary of that meme), two NATO members, Bishop’s Australia and Malaysia (especially as it was added to the group as an afterthought four months later) to dissent. And I expect even less form the report now that we know that “All parties to the criminal investigation have signed a non-disclosure agreement, which requires consensus among the parties before information regarding the investigation will be released“.

Furthermore we all know perfectly well that if there were radar tracks or satellite photos or air traffic controller conversations or electronic intercepts or “black box” data supporting Bishop’s assertions we would have heard about them. More than once. The fact that we have not is eloquent: “a dog that did not bark in the night”.

But one can hope.

I enumerate here some issues that a real report would discuss and that a coverup would ignore. In my opinion the list can be used to assess the seriousness of the report. If few or none are addressed, then it’s just not a real investigation. If all we have is “must haves…” or “might haves…” or “large number of high-energy objects” or twitter, or Bellingcat, then it’s a coverup. After more than a year, with all the access claimed by the Joint Investigation Team, there should be real evidence and real conclusions based on that evidence.

There’s lots of stuff I don’t think we need to worry about. I don’t believe that it was really MH370; there’s no need to take anything Bellingcat says seriously; this is obviously not a Boeing 777 crashing; this so-called missile launch video is fake; this photo of a fighter and MH17 that appeared in one Russian media outlet probably is too; this alleged recording from a Russian newspaper doesn’t convince me. I know there’s a whole industry of fakery out there and a lot of incentives. On the other hand, the Western news media told plenty of lies about “looting the site” and so on. While it’s not in the remit of the JIT to apologise, it might be honourable if it were to acknowledge that as good and respectful a job as possible was done.

The report must address the questions listed below. Maybe the answers can’t be known, but there must at least be indication that the investigators took them into account and either accepted or dismissed them for logical or evidential reasons. For example, pretending that the people who say they saw MH17 shot down by fighter planes do not exist is not acceptable. Drawings like this, or “social media” are not good enough: we have to be shown some boulders from the famous “mountain of evidence“.

Real evidence, real discussion, real consideration, real answers. A real investigation.

I have noted below in italics what, in my opinion, are the truly unavoidable issues. But here’s the summary, if you don’t want to read it all.


The “black boxes” and other data available to the JIT will tell us where MH17 was when it was hit, what direction it was going in, what speed it was travelling.

Analysis of the damage pattern of the wreckage will show where the missile was when it detonated.

Backtracking from that point will show from where it was launched.

Lethal fragments will show what weapon hit it.

These facts, and the route change, are the most important of the important facts. A report that doesn’t deal with these is a coverup.


Earlier routes of this daily Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight travelled well south of the fighting area, over the Sea of Azov. This day the plane was sent over the fighting area. Who did it? Then the Flight Aware tracks were changed. Who did that? (Note: this question is very important. First the re-direction and then the falsification. Prima facie evidence of a purposeful conspiracy and one that could not possibly be attributed to Moscow or to the rebels. At the time I looked the routes up on FlightAware and saw the earlier ones well south of the fighting. Then, a few days later, I saw that all the earlier tracks had been moved north. But I didn’t have the wit to make screen captures of the earlier tracks. Others did, however, and here they are.)

Does Carlos the Spanish traffic controller exist? If so, what he says is extremely important evidence. Effort should be made to track down the story.

Where are the recordings of flight traffic controllers’ communications with MH17 in the zones it passed through?


The Russians have provided radar plots showing the route of MH 17. Where are those from Ukrainian or Polish air traffic controllers? Were there fighter planes near it? (Especially important is the Russian-alleged presence of fighter planes near MH17. That cannot be sloughed over: true or false?)

We know US/NATO exercises were being carried out within radar or satellite observation. Where is this information?

Robert Perry says his contacts in the US intelligence establishment have evidence that the missile was fired from Kiev-held territory. Yes or no?

Numerous people claim to have seen MH17 shot down by fighter planes. Conversations of the first people on the scene reiterate this. “Carlos the flight controller” says it. These testimonies must be investigated and verified or rejected; if the latter, with reasons. (Another of the key points: all this would have been visible on radar. Is it, or isn’t it?)

Many people claim the phone intercepts and social media cited by the US State Department are fakes. True or false?

It is claimed that a Ukrainian air force ground staff member, now in Russia, says he saw Ukrainian fighter planes take off that day, one returning without missiles. Perhaps he’s lying, but the investigation cannot ignore his testimony: he must be interviewed and his statement assessed.

A Buk missile leaves a very prominent trail. Where are the witnesses?

Here’s a report that sources in the Ukrainian security structure say Ukrainian forces shot it down by accident. Why should this particular story, of the innumerable assertions of this and that, be considered, you ask? Because it wouldn’t be the first time Ukrainian air defence units shot down a civilian aircraft by accident and then lied about it. That fact alone makes it worthy of at least a paragraph in a real report.


If the cause was an internal explosion, the wreckage should show unmistakeable evidence. This possibility must be ruled out. (Of course an internal explosion – which no one expects to have been the case – would change everything.)

Graham Phillips tells us the area still has many fragments and that the investigators seem to be incurious about them. Is this true?

What do the autopsies on the pilots tell us? Is this story about a coverup true? Are those bullet holes in the pilot’s chair? Are those bullet holes in the pilots’ section of the nose? These questions should be fairly easily answered one way or the other. (A serious report must account for the apparently circular holes shown in many photographs).

The wreckage probably contains missile warhead fragments and/or bullets. These are carefully designed – they are not random bits of langrage. A Buk warhead has thousands of distinctive fragments; depending on their shape, the type of Buk warhead can be determined. Likewise a piece of linked rod warhead would be apodictic evidence of an air to air missile (is this one? source). A cannon round would be apodictic evidence of gunfire. The shape, composition and weight of lethal fragments are diagnostic in identifying the weapon that brought it down. (If bullets or non-Buk warhead fragments are found, the conventional Western accusation is decisively contradicted.)

There should be enough evidence from the destruction pattern of the wreckage to show where the warhead was when it detonated. That combined with the location and direction of travel of MH17 at the moment of detonation will tell us from where the missile was fired. The omission of this information would be another fatal flaw. (Another key piece of evidence: for example Almaz-Antey’s analysis concludes it was a Buk, of a model no longer possessed by Russian air defence forces, and that it could only have been fired from Kiev-held territory).


Why does Ukraine have a veto on publication?

Why was Malaysia – the owner of the aircraft, after all – only added to the JIT in November 2014?

Why are Belgium and Australia on the investigation team at all? Especially after the Foreign Minister of the latter already decided Russia was culpable?

We had remarkably full information on the Germanwings crash in the Alps within weeks, with many details from the “black boxes” including sound in the cockpit. Why has this investigation taken so long?


We are told (recently) that the investigators believe they may have recovered fragments of a Buk missile from the crash site. Does this make sense to you? It doesn’t to me. MH17 was heading south-east at an altitude of 10,000 metres. The US scenario has the missile fired from north-west (head on), the Almaz-Antey reconstruction has the missile coming from the south-west (starboard side). The fragments of the aircraft would continue with their momentum, the fragments of the missile body and engine with their momentum; in neither case would one expect to see wreckage from the two very close to each other.

Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

(especially when you know that any real evidence would have been

plastered on every front page, news program and op-ed piece.)

Bubble Media Confuses Itself: But not us


An Australian MSM outlet known as news.com.au has published a video and transcript with the breathless title of “Full transcript: Russian-backed rebels ransack the wreckage of MH17 in shocking 17-minute video”. The sub-title is :”For 17 minutes, they ransacked the luggage of innocent people who had just been shot out of the sky. The full transcript of the never-before-seen footage reveals what they were looking for.” We are helped to the correct feelings with comments like: “No respect … Rebels taking what they want ” “Disgusting … A rebel going through the bag of a victim”.

Here it is: see for yourself.
So, this news outlet thought it had a scoop that would further cement the Accepted Western Story about MH17 and put more all-round blame on the rebels in eastern Ukraine.

But instead….

The problem with living in the bubble is that you don’t know that you are inside the bubble. You do not understand that 1) there is no evidence worthy of the name that the rebels or the Russians shot MH17 down and 2) that your job is to manufacture more fake evidence.

What being in the bubble really means is that you are so far inside the bubble, that everybody you talk to is in the bubble with you, that everything you read or see is selected for the bubble-view that the bubble-view becomes the only view. And you come to believe that there’s no one outside the bubble except conspiracy theorists and Putin trolls. The walls of the bubble are thick and impenetrable. So you do not know what a “Sukhoi” is because you’ve never seen the evidence that a Ukrainian Sukhoi-27 shot MH-17 down.

So you have no idea when you rush to publish another smear job that what you have actually done is add another piece of evidence to the Sukhoi shoot down theory.

Here is some of the evidence (there is more)that MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter plane:

  1. The suppressed (but not suppressed enough) BBC report of eyewitnesses.
  2. The witness of the Ukrainian air force technician.
  3. Not necessarily on order from Kiev, by the way.
  4. An eyewitness.
  5. Another eyewitness.
  6. A report arguing an air-to-air missile destroyed it.
  7. And, thank you news.com.au, now there is your evidence.

Read these excerpts from the transcript. These people are not looting; they are trying to figure out which bits are from MH-17 and which from the Sukhoi fighter they shot down. They are going through the wreckage trying to understand what they have here.

Here are the excerpts that the inhabitants of Bubble-land didn’t understand:

They say the Sukhoi (Fighter) brought down the civilian plane and ours brought down the fighter.

Background: But where is the Sukhoi?

There it is … it’s the passenger plane.


Background: [Undistinguished]. Where is the Sukhoi then?

Background: It’s confusing. No idea where the Sukhoi is, it’s burning here and there and debris everywhere

Background: Who’s opened a corridor for them to fly over here?


Cmdr: Hello, yes. They saw a pilot crawling at Rassipnaya. A pilot was seen crawling.

Cmdr: It’s a civilian.

Cmdr:…F***. Passenger plane was f*****.


Cmdr: The other plane that fell down, they are after them, the pilots.

Background: The second one?

Cmdr: Yes, there’s 2 planes taken down. We need the second.

Background: The second one is a civilian too?

Background: The fighter jet brought down this one, and our people brought down the fighter.

Background: They decided to do it this way, to look like we have brought down the plane.


Yes Kalyian. I understood you, but we’re already at the crash site. A passenger plane was brought down. They brought down the passenger plane and we brought down the fighter.

We’re at the crash site.


Cmdr: The parachute jumpers are there.

Background: But there are two planes, from my understanding.

Background: And what’s the other one? A Sukoi?

Cmdr: A Sukhoi.

The Sukhoi brought down the plane and we brought down the Sukhoi.

Is it far from here? Where did it fall?

Looks like … Where’s the smoke coming from?

Somewhere else is burning, the 49 village.

I mean … the two pilots landed on parachutes.


Cmdr: Five parachutes jumped off this plane. Five people jumped off this plane on the bird site. How to get there?


I’ve been doing these Sitreps for 14 years; I have never done a special before. But I have never felt that we were close to war before either. To go to war is bad enough, but to go to war over lies…

RUSSIAN MILITARY BRIEFING. The key points are 1. There was a Ukrainian fighter plane at the same altitude and 3-5 kilometres away from MH17; the radar traces are shown. It stayed on station as the Boeing was shot down; the radar traces are shown. 2. Ukrainian Buk air defence systems were in range; satellite pictures are shown. 3. The film supposedly showing a Russian Buk TEL being taken back to Russia was in fact taken in a city under Kiev’s control as is proven by a background billboard. 4. The US was watching and the device doing the watching is named. The original full briefing; RT summary; another summary. Your local media outlet probably hasn’t even mentioned it.

WASHINGTON AND KIEV REACTION. The Russian briefing was on Monday apparently about 1600 Moscow time; plenty of time for the USA to reveal its own radar tracks, satellite pictures and intercepts contradicting the Russian evidence. So far nothing. We have selections from social media. (This “social media” evidence doesn’t make State’s cut. Nothing either about the Spanish air traffic controller. Who may or may not exist; but that’s the thing about tweets and twitters isn’t it? Some of it’s real and some of it isn’t. Selective.) And bluster: “I would say that we are not two credible – equally credible parties…” (State Department, Monday). Well, maybe there is no direct link to Moscow, after all (“senior US intelligence officials”, Tuesday). This AP report of the US intelligence briefing is worth reading carefully. “Offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement” “cautious” “no direct evidence” “likely” “did not know” “not certain” and so on. This is the best the multi-billion dollar US intelligence industry can produce? Social media and “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality”? The only significance of this piffle is that it suggests the US intelligence community wants to distance itself from State and the White House but isn’t prepared to come right out and say they are lying. Where are the US radar tracks, satellite photographs and comms intercepts? (well, a photo of Rostov, but what’s that got to do with MH17?) Nor the air traffic control recordings from Ukraine (taken by the security services says the BBC; go to 15:29).

WHAT ELSE? Moscow waited through four days of “Putin killed my son” “There’s a buildup of extraordinary circumstantial evidence” and otherwise watched the hole dug deeper before dropping its bombshell. What other information is Moscow sitting on? The complete flightpath of the Ukrainian fighter? Missile launch information? Missile tracks? Recordings from the MH17 pilot? Recordings from Ukrainian or Polish air traffic controllers telling him to fly over the fighting? They have to be wondering in Washington and Kiev.

RUMOURS. Was MH17 shot down by an air-to-air missile? Here’s an argument: note that the deduced position of the shooting aircraft is consistent with the radar data. Or was a missile fired from a Kiev position? The two are not exclusive. By the way, the Buk leaves a huge contrail behind it; why no films?


MORE LIES. Site looting; grave robbers and ghouls; evidence tampering: all lies. Bottom line: little to no looting (this video is a perfect example of how your media is manipulating you); bodies respectfully treated; black boxes handed over to Malaysian authorities.

CREDIBILITY. On 30 August 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry said “We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.” This was false. His predecessor implied Qaddafi was using cluster bombs against his own people when, in fact, he wasn’t. The same people and news media so certain then are equally certain today.

CUI BONO? Certainly not the rebels and certainly not Moscow. But what about changing the subject? Winding up the anti-Russia siren? Getting Europe to impose sanctions? Tightening up the NATO alliance? Passing the Russia Aggression Prevention Act? You decide.

MEANS, MOTIVE, OPPORTUNITY. Things to keep in mind when trying to solve a mystery.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/ http://us-russia.org/)