Live from the White House South Lawn.
I don’t think the Guardian’s editors fully appreciated the bizarre disconnect between these two pieces on today’s front page.
“Rebels destroying all links to MH17 atrocity” … as … “Edward Snowden makes a new life in Moscow.” pic.twitter.com/pguDbcPQKA
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.
Russia Today, the Goebbelsian Putinist propaganda channel well-known for its rank dishonesty, has published “10 questions” to Ukraine based on the recent Russian Ministry of Defense press conference.
Questions 8 and 9:
8. Where did the launcher - from the video circulated by Western media and showing a Buk system being moved allegedly from Ukraine to Russia - come from? As the video was made on the territory controlled by Kiev, where was the launcher being transported?
“I’d like to say that the information we have presented here is based on objective and reliable data from various technical systems - unlike the groundless accusations made against Russia,” said Kartopolov.
9. Where is it right now? Why are some of the missiles missing on the launcher? When was the last time a missile was launched from it?
These questions do indeed correspond to the claims made by the MoD officials during the press conference:
[Chief of Staff of the Main Operations Directorate - deputy chief of The General Staff Andrew Kartapolov:] To conclude it I would like to mention that all the concrete information is based on the objective and reliable dates of the different Russian equipment in contrast to the accusations of the US against us made without any evidence.The good example of such fact is that some mass media showed transportation of the Buk-M1 missile system from Ukrainian to Russian territory.We can clearly see that its frame-up.
These pictures were made in the city of Krasnoarmeisk that is confirmed by a banner situated close to the road. This banner has an address of the car shop situated at the Dnepropetrovskaya, 34.
Since May 11 the Krasnoarmeysk city is under control of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
That is why we have some questions.
What kind of launching system is it? Where is it transported? Where is it now? Why is it unloaded completely? What was the last time it launched missiles?
To end my speech I would like to emphasize that the Russian Federation did not deliver to the militants any Buk-M1 missiles systems and other equipment.
There are 2 problems with this claim.
1. It’s not true.
2. It comes from an anonymous viral internet text, most probably distributed by the Kremlin trolls and bots.
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.
Another one of Russia Today’s “correspondents” resigned today: Russia Today Correspondent Sara Firth Resigns Over Coverage of Ukrainian Plane Crash.
Firth, who joined the channel in 2009, told BuzzFeed that she decided to resign from the Kremlin-funded news channel because she felt it was “disrespectfully” attempting to pin the blame for Thursday’s Malaysia Airlines disaster on the Ukrainian government.
“When this story broke I ran back into the newsroom and saw how we were covering it already and I just knew I had to go,” she said.
“It was the total disregard to the facts. We threw up eyewitness accounts from someone on the ground openly accusing the Ukrainian government [of involvement in the disaster], and a correspondent in the studio pulled up a plane crash before that the Ukrainian government had been involved in and said it was ‘worth mentioning’.
“It’s not worth mentioning. It’s Russia Today all over, it’s flirting with that border of overtly lying. You’re not telling a lie, you’re just bringing something up. I didn’t want to watch a story like that, where people have lost loved ones and we’re handling it like that.
“I couldn’t do it any more. Every single day we’re lying and finding sexier ways to do it.”
Uh, well, yeah. Good on Sara Firth for finally doing the right thing, but let’s face the facts: anyone who willingly goes to work for Russia Today knows what they’re getting into — the agenda is not exactly hidden — and they do it to advance their careers, truth be damned. These sudden attacks of conscience look more like belated concern for their own reputations.
Now that Rush Limbaugh has given them their predictable talking point, you can expect right wingers all over the Internet to start saying the crash of MH17 is a distraction from the border crisis.
LIMBAUGH: It’s a Malaysian Airlines jet and can you — I’ve got the British Open on the top menu, monitor, I haven’t had CNN on all day, what do you bet they have broomed everything and are covering wall-to-wall the Malaysian Airlines flight shot down by a missile? This is, I mean, you talk about — I don’t want to appear to be callous here, folks, but you talk about an opportunity to abandon the bad Obama news at the border, and no, I’m not suggesting anything other than how the media operates.