U.S. Officials: The Missile May Have Been Launched By a “Defector from The Ukrainian Military Who Was Trained To Use Similar Missile Systems”

Rampant Speculation … Few Facts

U.S. officials said earlier today that Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was probably shot down by mistake … and there was no proof that Russia was directly involved.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

U.S. intelligence agencies have so far been unable to determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the missile. U.S. officials said it was possible the SA-11 was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was trained to use similar missile systems.

In other words – despite the incessant beat of the war drums and false claims – the U.S. has little evidence that Russia is responsible.

Moreover, former AP and Newsweek report Robert Parry reported last week:

I’m told that some CIA analysts cite U.S. Regarding the shoot-down of the Malaysian jetliner on Thursday, I’m told that some CIA analysts cite U.S. satellite reconnaissance photos suggesting that the anti-aircraft missile that brought down Flight 17 was fired by Ukrainian troops from a government battery, not by ethnic Russian rebels who have been resisting the regime in Kiev since elected President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown on Feb. 22.

According to a source briefed on the tentative findings, the soldiers manning the battery appeared to be wearing Ukrainian uniforms and may have been drinking, since what looked like beer bottles were scattered around the site. But the source added that the information was still incomplete and the analysts did not rule out the possibility of rebel responsibility.

If true, then the U.S. might be grasping for a way to explain the Ukrainian uniforms.

As Parry writes today:

That statement about a possible “defector” might explain why some analysts thought they saw soldiers in Ukrainian army uniforms tending to the missile battery in eastern Ukraine.  But there is another obvious explanation that the U.S. intelligence community seems unwilling to accept: that the missile may have been launched by someone working for the Ukrainian military.

In other words, we may be seeing another case of the U.S. government “fixing the intelligence” around a desired policy outcome, as occurred in the run-up to war with Iraq.

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