Contrary to the Obama administration’s public claims blaming eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, some U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame, according to a source briefed on these findings.
The source added that the U.S. intelligence analysis does not implicate top Ukrainian officials, such as President Petro Poroshenko or Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, suggesting that the attack may have been the work of more extremist factions, possibly even one of the Ukrainian oligarchs who have taken an aggressive approach toward prosecuting the war against the ethnic Russian rebels in the east.
Yet, given how far the U.S. political/media establishment has gone in its Flight 17 judgment pinning the blame on the rebels and Russia even before an official investigation was started, it’s not clear how those power-brokers would respond if the emerging analysis fingering Ukrainian forces turns out to be correct.
The embarrassment to high-level U.S. officials and prominent mainstream U.S. news outlets would be so extreme that it is hard to believe that the reality would ever be acknowledged. Indeed, there surely will be intense pressure on airline investigators and intelligence analysts to endorse the Putin-is-to-blame narrative.
And, if the investigators and analysts won’t go that far, they might at least avoid a direct contradiction of the conventional wisdom by suggesting that the Flight 17 mystery remains unsolved, something for historians to unravel.
Such has been the pattern in other cases of major mainstream mistakes. For instance, last year, some of the same players, including Secretary Kerry and the New York Times, jumped to conclusions blaming the Syrian government for an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb.
On Aug. 30, Kerry gave a bellicose speech filled with “we knows” but providing no verifiable evidence. A punitive U.S. bombing campaign against the Syrian government was averted at the last minute when President Obama decided to first seek congressional approval and then accepted President Putin’s assistance in working out a deal in which the Syrian government surrendered all its chemical weapons while still denying a role in the Aug. 21 incident.
Only later did much of Kerry’s case fall apart as new evidence pointed to an alternative explanation, that extremist Syrian rebels released the sarin as a provocation to push Obama across his “red line” and into committing the U.S. military to the Syrian civil war on the side of the rebels. But neither U.S. officialdom nor the mainstream U.S. press has acknowledged the dangerous “group think” that almost got the United States into another unnecessary war in the Middle East. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]
It may seem cynical to suggest that the powers-that-be in Official Washington are so caught up in their own propaganda that they would prefer the actual killers of innocent people – whether in Syria or Ukraine – to go unpunished, rather than to admit their own mistakes. But that is often how the powerful react. Nothing is more important than their reputations.