Plane politics: MH17 'truth' enforcers and the New McCarthyism
The findings of a Dutch-led investigation, that MH17 was taken down from rebel-held territory by a BUK missile system from Russia, have been used as conclusive evidence that Russia was to blame for the appalling tragedy in which killed 298 people.
At first sight the report does seem fairly damning. It certainly would fit with a narrative that the ill-fated passenger plane was accidentally shot down by rebels, who then, realizing what they had done, wanted to get rid of the ‘evidence’ as soon as possible.
But nevertheless, I doubt if Ellery Queen, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or indeed any famous detective would be saying "case closed" at this juncture.
For starters, just how impartial and independent was the JIT investigation? Imagine a domestic homicide investigation in which one of the leading suspects was involved in putting together a report that pointed the finger of blame at someone else. That report wouldn’t be taken too seriously would it? Yet the JIT team included prosecutors from Ukraine, whose national forces have been accused by Russia of being the guilty party.
Ukraine has, of course, a vested interest in incriminating Russia or ‘pro-Russian rebels’, and so it was no surprise to see the authorities there claim that the JIT report "points to the direct involvement of the aggressor state in the downing of the aircraft". The Ukrainians would say that, wouldn’t they? - to paraphrase the late Mandy Rice-Davies.
Never had an opinion on #MH17, but what I never understood is how a country on the suspect list was part of the official investigation team.— Danielle Ryan (@DanielleRyanJ) 28 September 2016
It’s not just the composition of the investigative team, however, that gives one cause for concern; it’s the actual decisions the team took during their investigation. The Russian manufacturer of BUK missiles, Almaz-Antey, passed over ‘top secret’ information on missile characteristics to the investigators. But JIT instead preferred to study a "similar" missile from the US to model the impact. Why did they do this? Key evidence to back up claims made in the report is also missing.
Computer simulation - not video evidence - was used to display the flight of the missile, which was supposed to have downed the plane. Just imagine if someone was accused of burglary and the prosecutors relied on a computer simulation and not real CCTV footage as 'evidence' of how the alleged perpetrator committed the crime. Would you take that as conclusive proof of the person’s guilt? No, me neither.
The report is more interesting for what it leaves out than what it actually contains.
I doubt if Ellery Queen, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or indeed any famous detective would be saying "case closed" at this juncture.
"Witnesses", who we’re told saw what was going on, have not been named. The data from the US - which we’re led to believe proves that the missile was "launched from a site about six kilometers south of the village of Snizhne [Snezhnoye]” - was not included. Other flaws in the investigation have been outlined here.
Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room is that Ukrainian radar data has yet to be released. Again, if Ukraine has nothing to hide, why has it not done this? Especially as legitimate questions have been asked on why passenger aircraft were still cleared to fly over a war zone where ten aircraft had been shot down in previous weeks.
In the end, the JIT investigation doesn’t settle anything. It is perfectly possible that ‘pro-Russian separatists’ did accidentally bring flight MH17 down. But it’s also possible that the plane was downed by Ukrainian forces, who also have BUK missiles. However, to even suggest such a scenario in the West, in the current hysterical anti-Russian climate, is enough to get one attacked as a 'Putin/Kremlin stooge'.
In a piece published yesterday in Rupert Murdoch’s Times, entitled ’The West must stand up to Putin’s lie machine’, Iraq war cheerleader David Aaronovitch took a swipe at those who dare to question what he calls the "Bellingcat theory of events".
Yours truly was named in the article as a "British writer… who appeared on Russia Today in the wake of MH17 to decry the theory that Russia had anything to do with it". In fact, I said that while I thought there was "strong likelihood" that the Ukrainian authorities were responsible, we should "stay calm" and "stay very forensic" and wait "until the evidence is produced".
"The most important thing is somehow we get to the truth", I told RT viewers. "We may actually not get to the truth because of course if they find that the plane was shot down, everybody is going to deny it and it is going to be very hard to prove it".
And that’s exactly what has happened. Neocons with a grudge against Russia and Putin attack ‘Russian state media’ for putting out ‘disinformation’ on MH17, yet cite sources with strong links to the Western defense establishment - like Bellingcat, as if they are truly impartial, independent sources with no political bias.
The Imperial Truth Enforcers are, it seems, determined to make sure there is no deviation from the NATO party line on MH17. Keeping an open mind and saying that we must "stay very forensic" won’t do; we must publicly declare that it’s been proved conclusively that Russia was responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the terrible tragedy. Or else face the full McCarthyite onslaught.
From those great humanitarians and crusaders for 'free speech’ who assured us that the Iraq war was right.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.