Live from the White House South Lawn.
A wave of WTFs went through Twitter this afternoon when the Associated Press tweeted this:
BREAKING: US officials: Intel suggests Malaysia plane shot down by separatists, no link to Russia found.
Because of course, the BUK surface-to-air missile was supplied by Russia, the people who used it had to have been trained by Russia, and Russia’s links to the separatists are very well known and thoroughly documented.
A few minutes later the actual AP story was posted, and lo and behold… the headline didn’t tell the full story. In fact, it almost seems designed to mislead: US: No Link to Russian Gov’t in Plane Downing.
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the intelligence officials said, citing intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.
But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were not certain that the missile crew was trained in Russia, although they described a stepped-up campaign in recent weeks by Russia to arm and train the rebels, which they say has continued even after the downing of the commercial jetliner.
In terms of who fired the missile, “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” one official said, adding at another point, “There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here.”
So what this really looks like is that some intelligence people were asked to give details about MH17, and carefully parsed their words to be as equivocal as possible. Basically, there’s no real news here at all — except the headline. And the headline is contradicted by the story.
But guess who jumped all over that headline within minutes?
BREAKING: US intelligence: No link to Russia in Malaysia plane downing http://t.co/iZ5yKSJBiC
Clearly, this is going to be a propaganda bonanza for the Kremlin.
The Associated Press has now changed the headline, presumably responding to criticisms like ours: US: Russia ‘Created the Conditions’ for Shoot-Down.
Here’s an interesting piece by Julia Ioffe at the New Republic on the massive propaganda effort being pushed out by the Kremlin to the Russian population: Russia Conspiracy Theories Trap Putin Malaysia Airlines MH17.
Did you know Malaysia Air Flight 17 was full of corpses when it took off from Amsterdam? Did you know that, for some darkly inexplicable reason, on July 17, MH17 moved off the standard flight path that it had taken every time before, and moved north, toward rebel-held areas outside Donetsk? Or that the dispatchers summoned the plane lower just before the crash? Or that the plane had been recently reinsured? Or that the Ukrainian army has air defense systems in the area? Or that it was the result of the Ukrainian military mistaking MH17 for Putin’s presidential plane, which looks strangely similar?
Did you know that the crash of MH17 was all part of an American conspiracy to provoke a big war with Russia?
Well, it’s all true—at least if you live in Russia, because this is the Malaysia Airlines crash story that you’d be seeing.
Ukrainian intelligence service SSU has released this new video on YouTube with verified evidence that Russian operatives and Ukrainian separatists worked to find and conceal the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight 17’s black box flight recorders.
Reuters released the following video showing the actual moment one of the flight recorders was discovered by separatists.
By all accounts the situation at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 in eastern Ukraine is an absolute nightmare — and now the Ukrainian government is accusing Russia of helping separatists destroy evidence.
The government in Kiev said militiamen have removed 38 bodies from the crash site in eastern Ukraine and have taken them to the rebel-held city of Donetsk. It says the bodies were transported with the assistance of specialists with distinct Russian accents.
ABC News’ Terry Moran is at the site:
Just leaving the MH17 crash site in Ukraine. You can walk right up to the wreckage, the personal items, the bodies. Still unsecured.
More appalling details from Max Seddon at Buzzfeed: Chaos at Malaysia Airlines Crash Site Leaves Victims by the Roadside.
HRABOVE, Ukraine — A muted sun baked golden fields of hay and sunflowers. Bloated and mangled bodies gave off a fetid stench. A burly gunman who called himself Grumpy stepped into the road as a convoy of international observers snaked along the bumpy country road to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
“I will let none of you pass! I have an order!” he shouted. Motley gunmen in ragtag uniforms flanked out alongside him. A lanky rebel in a beekeeping suit who reeked of alcohol folded his automatic rifle in his arms. The observers wandered out, then meekly retreated.
Very bad news from Ukraine, where a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 295 people aboard has reportedly been shot down by Ukrainian separatists.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian official said a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
As with all stories like this we need to be skeptical of early reports, but this isn’t looking good. Check the comments for this thread for further updates.
Yes, the United States has made huge progress in gay rights in an amazingly short period of time, but our religious fanatics are doing incredible damage in places like Uganda.
The latest from the New York Times on the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala notes that at the time of attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, he told other Libyans he did it to take revenge for that anti-Islam video that sparked protests and riots across the Middle East.
What he did in the period just before the attack has remained unclear. But Mr. Abu Khattala told other Libyans in private conversations during the night of the attack that he was moved to attack the diplomatic mission to take revenge for an insult to Islam in an American-made online video.
An earlier demonstration venting anger over the video outside the American Embassy in Cairo had culminated in a breach of its walls, and it dominated Arab news coverage. Mr. Abu Khattala told both fellow Islamist fighters and others that the attack in Benghazi was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.
One of the linchpins of the confused Republican narrative on Benghazi is that the anti-Islam video had absolutely nothing to do with the attack, no how, no way, and Obama invented this story to cover up … something.
If interrogators confirm that the video played a part in motivating Khattala to order the attacks, it would factually destroy that linchpin argument.
Not that destroying linchpins has any effect in the right wing echo chamber; they’ll continue to make up conspiracy theories about Benghazi forever. It’s become a mass hallucination on the right, and they don’t want to come down.
But facts is facts. And the New York Times’ reporting on this subject has been consistent since shortly after the attack.
An interesting new detail has emerged in the Sgt. Bergdahl story; the reason why the Obama administration had to act in relative secrecy to free Bergdahl: the Taliban threatened to kill him if the deal leaked.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration has told senators it didn’t notify Congress about the pending swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials because the Taliban had threatened to kill him if the deal was made public before it happened. That’s according to three congressional officials who spoke to The Associated Press.
Given the history of leaks from Congress, and the completely deranged state of the Republican Party, keeping the deal as quiet as possible was the only sane course of action.
What you see in the video: Bergdahl appears pale, gaunt and disoriented, blinking and rubbing his eyes as if he’s not used to the direct sunlight. As he walks to the helicopter, he looks very unsteady and a soldier has to help him along.
This is an edited version of the video; the full version is over 8 minutes long, but it’s mostly a lot of shots of Taliban standing around. Quick, punchy editing is not the Taliban’s strong suit.