Home / Robert Farley / Shit, Meet Fan

Shit, Meet Fan



A Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agency Interfax reported Thursday.
The jet is a Boeing 777, according to Interfax.
The plane reportedly went down near the border between Russia and Ukraine.

The only conclusion that I’m prepared to leap to is that this is going to stir up even more trouble than the last Malaysian jet that crashed. Russia and Ukraine are actively contesting this area, they both have surface-to-air missiles, Russian partisans have shot down several Ukrainian planes over the past weeks, and the Russian Air Force has reportedly been testing Ukrainian air space in recent days.

So, yeah. Should’ve taken the long way around.

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  • bargal20

    Obama’s bloodlust is insatiable. How many more jets will he pull down from the sky to further his dark agenda?

    • joe from Lowell

      You joke, but there are plenty of people who are going to respond to this horror by denouncing the US and the Ukrainian government.

      • bargal20

        I joke, but I also don’t swallow everything the pro-Ukrainian and pro-US propagandists tell me.

        I read part of Stephen Poole’s book “Unspeak” over the weekend, in which he writes about the American penchant for replacing the word “propaganda” with “information”.

        Then, lo and behold, several nights later I see Hillary Clinton on The Daily Show, telling Jon Stewart that America’s international image problem doesn’t stem from its invading nations under false pretenses or torturing innocent people or helping foreign governments suppress their people, but from not being able to spread “information” about its actions as effectively as it did during the Cold War.

        I was drinking water at the time and literally did a spit take.

        • Jon H

          Everything would be better if we could still send Duke Ellington to perform for, say, an audience of Pakistani elites.

        • joe from Lowell

          This isn’t too obvious or anything.

      • cpinva

        “You joke, but there are plenty of people who are going to respond to this horror by denouncing the US and the Ukrainian government.”

        to be honest joe, those people really don’t need an “extra special” occasion, to do that, they will more than happily do it as just a regular, daily thing, like brushing their teeth in the morning.

        “So, yeah. Should’ve taken the long way around.”

        whoever was responsible for setting up that flight plan, should have their eyes gouged out. it’s pretty damn clear they aren’t using them to any good purpose anyway.

  • Barry Freed

    While this is a horrible thing to have happen I can’t wait to see what crazy conspiracy theories will arise linking this to MH 370.

    • Julia Ioffe won Twitter today with “They found the plane!” but then apparently had an attack of good taste & took it down.

      • tonycpsu

        The fact that someone can “win Twitter” with such a tasteless an offensive joke in the wake of something so tragic makes me happy that I’m not on Twitter, and I say that as someone who enjoys Ioffe’s reporting on the Russian conflict.

        • People deal with horrors all kinda ways. You haven’t noticed?

          • tonycpsu

            Of course I’ve noticed. The problem is that the viral nature of the medium encourages some pretty shitty ways of dealing with it. Everything needs to be pithy, trivial, and retweetable.

        • Nick

          Also, when we talk about ‘dealing with horror through humour’ it usually refers to people who are suffering the horror, not bystanders pointing and laughing.

          • Well now you know to skip reading my comments in future.

            • Nick

              I didn’t realize you were so sensitive to having other people comment on your comments, sorry! Mistook this for a conversation.

              • tonycpsu


              • Johnny Sack

                Anderson, like Jordan, tends to be childishly oversensitive. Dilan, an underrated commenter despite occasionally being a dick or obtuse, takes 10x the abuse and doesn’t whine about it (big snark debate notwithstanding, and he actually made arguments in addition to complaining).

                • Warren Terra

                  Dilan gets abuse for their behavior in ACA/Green Lantern threads, which left a strong impression.

                • wengler

                  I avoid those threads like they are Nader.

          • cpinva

            “Also, when we talk about ‘dealing with horror through humour’ it usually refers to people who are suffering the horror, not bystanders pointing and laughing.”

            I seriously don’t think she meant it to be offensive. it was black humor, to deal with a horrific situation. an incident like this plane going down, with apparently everyone on board killed, does affect us all, directly and indirectly, we aren’t just “bystanders pointing and laughing”. well, maybe you are, but the rest of us aren’t.

        • I know that “political correctness” is sometimes a pernicious concept, but of all the “PC” rules that DO exist, “don’t joke about tragedies” has got to be the absolute worst.

          Mel Brooks jokes about Hitler all the time, FFS. It’s OK. One of the reasons humor is so important is precisely to deal with horrifying situations that life throws at you.

          Ioffe’s comment was funny. Declining to tell jokes about tragedies does nothing to bring any of those dead people back to life. It’s just a stupid, unrealistic, phony “rule” being enforced by self-appointed arbiters of taste.

          • John Revolta

            Mel Brooks jokes about Hitler all the time

            Aaaannd, black guys say “nigger” all the time, amirite?

            • That’s not the point I’m making.

              The reality is EVERYONE jokes about Hitler. Ever seen “Downfall” parodies? You think all of them were made by Jews or members of other groups that Hitler victimized?

              People joke about plane crashes, 9/11, the Iraq War, etc. All the time. There’s just nothing intrinsically wrong with doing that.

              Particular jokes can be unfunny, or unoriginal, or whatever. But “don’t joke about tragedy” is a stupid rule.

              • joe from Lowell

                Hitler died 70 years ago.

                Are you familiar with the phrase “Too Soon?”

                • Yeah. I think it’s dumb. Like joking about something today will prevent the resurrection of the victims, but joking tomorrow won’t have that effect.

                • joe from Lowell

                  So, when you think about the purpose of not joking about tragedies, your thoughts immediately go to resurrection of the dead?

                  That’s what you think this thing that everyone else instinctively gets, and you don’t, is about?

                • cpinva

                  “So, when you think about the purpose of not joking about tragedies, your thoughts immediately go to resurrection of the dead?”

                  joe, you and the rest are completely missing the point, or being intentionally obtuse. it wasn’t meant to be a joke “Ha Ha”, but a “joke”, “oh my god this is fucking horrible, and this is my way of dealing with that horror, short of running down the street, shrieking in agony, while pulling my hair out.”

                  “Are you familiar with the phrase “Too Soon?”

                  why yes, yes I have. most recently by the NRA and their acolytes, when attempting to divert the conversation from the most recent mass shooting horror, and possible tighter controls on guns and the people allowed to possess them legally, to daisies.

                  but I’m sure that’s not what you meant, right?

                • joe from Lowell

                  The only time you’ve come across the phrase “Too soon” is from the NRA?

                  Wow. Good for you.

                • joe from Lowell

                  it wasn’t meant to be a joke “Ha Ha”, but a “joke”, “oh my god this is fucking horrible, and this is my way of dealing with that horror, short of running down the street, shrieking in agony, while pulling my hair out.”

                  Yeah, no. You don’t actually have to type out your coping-response humor and hit send so everyone can see it.

          • Anyone of a certain age can remember the quick correlation between the horrible explosion and a string of Bud Light commercials.

            • … Sorry, the reference to the Challenger explosion somehow vanished in typing. I blame the NSA.

              • Autonomous Coward

                Need Another Seven Astronauts?

                • The punch line, if that’s the term, was “No … Bud Light!”

          • Nick

            Yes, Ioffe’s comment was funny — it was funny because it referenced a tragedy that’s already several months old, has a huge amount of commentary and thought behind it, and which has become a mystery as well as a tragedy. Unfortunately, to make her joke, she needed a second tragedy that had just happened, and isn’t funny. I don’t think the ‘don’t crack jokes immediately upon hearing 295 people died’ rule is unrealistic and phony.

            I see you hate the self-appointed arbiters of taste — why don’t you point out the independently-appointed arbiters of taste? I’d like to know who they are.

            • I don’t think the ‘don’t crack jokes immediately upon hearing 295 people died’ rule is unrealistic and phony.

              Why? What’s so important about timing?

              This is one of those things that people repeat to themselves over and over again, but never examine. The same people will still be dead tomorrow, and they will still be dead six months from now. Nothing will have changed.

              • Francis

                Why? What’s so important about timing?

                I see that your deep understanding of comedy matches your deep understanding of intellectual property.

                Comedy, Grief, Money: All of these things have a time value.

                • “Timing”, in the sense used by comics, is totally different than the “timing” that we are talking about.

                  I’m not claiming something might not be funny. But Ioffe’s comment WAS funny. The COMIC timing of it was fine.

              • Brad Nailer

                Oh good, let’s all be ghoulish in service to comedy! I’ll tell you what, Dilan, if I’d had a friend or loved one on that plane and I heard you joking about it I’d have punched you in the face. Showing compassion and shutting the fuck up when hundreds of families have lost someone may not be funny but it’s what decent people usually do. As noted above, comic timing involving tragedy usually involves years if not never and it also doesn’t use murder victims as a punch line.

                I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.

              • cpinva

                “Why? What’s so important about timing?”

                well, as I noted above, the NRA seems to feel timing is critical. not sure anyone here really wants to use the NRA as a role model of etiquette though.

          • Lurker


            Especially when the tragedy hits close, black humour is a way of coping with it.

            • Nick

              What bullshit! Do you think the families of the people who died are cracking jokes and laughing now? The opposite is true, black humour is funny to people who aren’t close at all and have nothing invested in it.

              • cpinva

                “What bullshit! Do you think the families of the people who died are cracking jokes and laughing now?”

                was there a sale on strawmen tonight? since the “Black Humor” in question wasn’t meant for them, your question is irrelevant. it was meant for the author, and the rest of us, to help cope with the horror of the tragedy. a simple concept really.

                • joe from Lowell

                  since the “Black Humor” in question wasn’t meant for them…

                  …then they can’t read anything on the internet.

                  You know what’s a simple concept, really, for people capable of functioning in polite society? You don’t say things that are likely to cause pain to people who’ve suffered a recently tragedy in public where they might overhear you.

                • New internet rule: don’t post anything that might possibly hurt someone’s feelings.

                  I presume this includes puppy and kitten pix, because someone out there undoubtedly just endured the death of their beloved pet.

                • Every single thing ever needs a trigger warning.

  • rea

    New accounts indicating probably Russian-armed partisans . . .

    • ajay

      I don’t buy partisans with the sort of weapons that can hit an airliner flying at 35,000 feet…

      • “Multiple reports said the plane was shot down at cruising altitude. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister told The Associated press that the plane, carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew people onboard, was shot down.

        “Gerashenko says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday 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.”

        • The Atlantic Wire makes an observation:

          This report comes from Viktor Gerashchenko, who served as the Chairman of the Soviet and later Russian Central Bank. In 2000, he received the Order of Merit for the Fatherland. His longtime ties with the Russian government, and Putin directly, make him an especially interesting source for this report.

          Also, the Wire says the airspace in question was supposedly closed thru Oct. 31.

          • efgoldman

            Also, the Wire says the airspace in question was supposedly closed thru Oct. 31.

            But the NY Times story says:

            Despite the turmoil in eastern Ukraine, the commercial airspace over that part of the country is a heavily trafficked route and has remained open.

            • NYT seems correct, since other airlines are now saying “we won’t use that airspace now.”

              • So-in-so

                I have seen a report saying the airspace was closed below a certain altitude, 7900 ft or something similar. Range of a shoulder fired SAM perhaps?

          • Might there be a difference between Anton and Viktor?

          • cpinva

            “In 2000, he received the Order of Merit for the Fatherland.”

            completely off topic, but that just sounds like an honor hitler would have conferred on Himmler or Goebbels.

        • What the hell are ‘partisans’ doing with ground to air missiles that range 33000 feet?

          • Autonomous Coward

            They’re “partisans” only in the sense that Kremlin doesn’t want to have to do all the paperwork to put them on their insurance?

            • Aimai

              They are keeping them to 29 hours a week to avoid Obamacare.

              • LOL! Need all the smiles I can get on this sad stuff. Watched a blurred but heartbreaking (and probably journalistically-unethical) Russian TV video of the crash scene. Nope, not linking to it.

                Some folks are finding out their loved ones were on the plane because their passports are being picked out of the wreckage & filmed. Not so sure what I think about that.

              • Marek

                In post-Soviet Russia, employer interns you!

              • joe from Lowell


              • cpinva

                “They are keeping them to 29 hours a week to avoid Obamacare.”

                and making them wear their own clothes on the job. you’d be surprised how expensive a good, face and head covering balaclava is these days.

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        If they captured them from Ukrainian government forces, then sure.

        • ajay

          Fair point.

        • Marek

          Or got them from Russia, of course.

          • daveNYC

            There’s probably enough ex-military types in the separatist forces that someone knows how to use a piece of equipment like this, but Russian advisers lending a hand is also a possibility.

        • joe from Lowell

          Oh, is that where the Russian backed, pro-Russia separatists who want to join Russia get their advanced weaponry?

          • cpinva

            “Oh, is that where the Russian backed, pro-Russia separatists who want to join Russia get their advanced weaponry?”

            either there, or Wal-Mart. if you check their circulars, they sometimes have really good sales.

      • Ukraine national security council has said rebels now have weapons able to shoot down planes at high altitudes, incl Buk missile @InfoResist— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) July 17, 2014

        • If that’s what they have, it would be more than capable of doing the job. It’s a pretty scary missile.

          • June report of rebels acquiring Buk (in Rooshian).

          • Tyto

            For a triple-seven, almost any SAM is scary. But your point stands.

          • Pseudonym

            Ever faced one?

            • Lurker

              USA has never been in a war with a country operating the BUK system. So, if Major Kong has faced this system in earnest, the information is definitely classified. Even the information to the contrary should have some intelligence value so it is likely classified.

              What is sure is that he has practiced penetrating an area defended with it. If not, the USAF would be derelict in duty.

            • No. I trained against older systems like the SA-6, which I never wanted to meet. This thing is one or two generations advanced beyond the SA-6.

              I had what I’m pretty sure were SA-2s or SA-3s shot at me but was able to maneuver against them.

              I had what was probably an SA-8 fired at me but it couldn’t reach our altitude.

              • cpinva

                nothing like having an explosive telephone pole charging at you, to lend some excitement to an otherwise boring day.

      • Afwan

        Well, they can’t afford one on the open market, but the partisans have a patron that’s been sending tons of weapons and personnel into the region.

        Earlier today the AP reported seeing a missile launcher that could hit a plane that high in Snizhne, a rebel-held town.

        • Twitter claims there’s a June 29 TASS report of insurgents taking possession of a Buk system. Here’s the Russian-language tweet (I used Google Translate, so disbelieve this comment).

          ИТАР-ТАСС, 29 июня. Представители (ДНР) взяли под контроль часть №А-1402 ПВО с зенитно-ракетными комплексами “Бук”

          • Morbo
            • drkrick

              Which reportedly was deleted not long after the news of the downing of the airliner broke today.

          • cpinva

            “Twitter claims there’s a June 29 TASS report of insurgents taking possession of a Buk system.”

            Russian General: “oh my gosh, we seem to have misplaced one of our very valuable, very dangerous to high altitude planes, Buk systems! we really should send a couple of privates to go look for it. President Putin will be very upset with me, he wouldn’t want that to fall into the wrong hands.”

    • Joe Bob

      Interfax is currently quoting a Ukrainian interior ministry official that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian rebels with a surface-to-air missile. The plane was flying at about 33,000 feet. So yeah…no idea what weaponry the rebels got their hands on but that is what we know.

      • Strobe Talbott on Twitter says separatist chief Strelkov has admitted shootdown, thot plane Ukrainian. Apparently rebels were crowing about shooting down another “military” plane around time jet crashed. Oops.

        • panda

          The link to the FB post of Strelkov, the main separatist military guy Tallbot posted seems legit. They apparently thought it was a Ukrainian АN-26.

          • Donetsk PR now denying that’s their FB page …

            • panda

              Clearly, the NSA hacked it..

              • To cover up the CIA’s shooting down the plane.

                • panda

                  Well, someone did have to divert attention from Benghazi!! and this will do in a pinch.

                • h rr d kt r b ml r

                  I am informed via Limbaugh that the goal of this shootdown was actually to divert attention from border-crossing incidents in southern US states.

    • Johnny Sack

      I thought you were referring to *commenting* accounts and that all these armed Russians had flooded LGM

      • Alexander Hamilton

        Thank goodness I wasn’t the only one to think that. And double thank goodness I kept reading the thread instead of confessing.

        • cpinva

          “And double thank goodness I kept reading the thread instead of confessing.”

          yeah, remember what happened the last time you did that.

  • Afwan

    Well, my only conspiracy is that this was ordered by the Kremlin to punish the west for the new sanctions. Maybe that’s nuts, but maybe not…

    • Touch-and-go Bullethead

      I am thoroughly non-expert, so my opinion is worthless, but I will be surprised if this was the result of orders from on high, meant to achieve a policy goal. It seems more likely to have come about because someone at the scene–or, at most, a little further up the chain of command–reacted with “Plane! Not one of ours! Shoot it down!”

      • Usually a good bet. Never blame on malice, etc.

    • rea

      Well, if the Kremlin wanted to punish the West, I don’t think attacking Malaysia is the most efficient means . . .

      • Afwan

        Fair enough, although it was Netherlands to Malaysia, so plenty of westerners on board. And launching a Buk isn’t like launching a shoulder-fired missile. Buk missiles are expensive and require expertise to launch.

    • mds

      Well, my only conspiracy is that this was ordered by the Kremlin to punish the west for the new sanctions.

      Yeah, because if the Kremlin ordered a commercial 777 flight shot down, the West’s response would almost certainly be “Heavens! We’d better stop imposing any sanctions on Russia!” Merkel’s take aside, I’m not convinced that Putin would be that crazy.

      • steve

        Yeah, Putin was already rethinking his decision to stir the pot in Crimea. It certainly didn’t seem to benefit him much given that the other countries in the area panicked and started bolstering their military ties with Europe. This certainly won’t help him.

        • mud man

          Where DO people get the idea that this is a reasonable man??

          • Marek

            By looking into his soul, obviously.

            • John Revolta

              Heckuva job, Marekie.

            • cpinva

              “By looking into his soul, obviously.”

              I thought it was his eyes. on the other hand, how far down can you see, through solid black?

          • steve

            Was amusing to hear the Republicans claim that Putin was running circles around Obama over this. He didn’t turn out to have been such a masterful strategist after all, did he?

            • joe from Lowell

              Putin was managing a pretty effective minimization of losses throughout this crisis – a geopolitical Dunkirk.

              To say he was winning is absurd, but he has been playing the hand he was dealt very well.

              • runsinbackground

                My take (which I think I picked up here, credit where it’s due) was that he decided to err on the side of making damn sure he held onto the Port of Sevastopol, on the theory that tightening his hold on the Black Sea would increase the risks involved in an aggressive war by Western nations against Russia sufficiently that, combined with the fact that the American public just got done with more than a decade of war in Iraq and isn’t feeling especially hawkish, the only reaction he’d get would be economic sanctions which he could bend to serve his domestic narrative of plucky Russians fighting to protect their traditional moral structure from the dissolute and tyrannical West. I bet that when the Serious History Texts about this era in geopolitics are written there will be a lot of praise for both sides for the way that they gauged popular opinion abroad and cynically manipulated it at home.

                • Warren Terra

                  Given that you can bottle up the Black Sea with a well-placed dinghy, and that any attempt to use naval force within the Black Sea would easily be countered by ground-based aviation, what is the point for Russia in building its military resources there?

                • ajay

                  Given that you can bottle up the Black Sea with a well-placed dinghy, and that any attempt to use naval force within the Black Sea would easily be countered by ground-based aviation, what is the point for Russia in building its military resources there?

                  Warren would like to inform the last 200 years’ worth of Imperial, Soviet and Russian governments that they are DOIN IT RONG.

                  More specifically, this is what you can do with naval power in the Black Sea:
                  you can influence events in any of the Black Sea littoral countries, most of which are Russian neighbours, some of which are historically Russian allies, and the rest of which are important regional rivals

                  you can, assuming Turkey is neutral, move your fleet out into the Mediterranean from a port which (unlike Murmansk, Archangel or Kronstadt) is not iced in all winter

                  you can protect your import and export trade from your warm-water ports

                  you can use naval force to threaten Turkey, in particular its Black Sea ports such as Trabzon, and its largest city, Istanbul

              • weirdnoise

                Well, considering that he dealt that hand himself…

                • joe from Lowell

                  I wouldn’t say that. The Maidan revolution showed up and screwed up Russian dominance of Ukraine, and the Syrian revolution threatened another important ally’s regime. These were both situations imposed on him by events.

              • cpinva

                “To say he was winning is absurd, but he has been playing the hand he was dealt very well.”

                since he dealt himself the hand, I don’t know that I’d agree with this assessment. like Rumsfeld complaining about going to war with what you have, rather than what you wish you had, in a war we started.

                you don’t get extra points for only partially screwing up, when you’re the one that created the problem.

                • joe from Lowell

                  since he dealt himself the hand

                  Putin created the Maidan protests/uprising?

                  Now that’s a CT I haven’t come across.

          • joe from Lowell

            By looking at his record.

            Putin in a cold-eyed, cold-hearted realist. He’s not a madman. We’re not talking about Kim Jong Il here.

            Look at his climbdown in the Syria chemical weapons crisis. Putin is a rational actor; that doesn’t mean he’s a good fella.

            • njorl

              “good fella” might not have been the clearest term to use there.

              • joe from Lowell


          • BobS

            Putin has been reasonable since the US backed coup in February.

    • BobS

      Because Russia has everything to gain by shooting down a passenger airliner.

  • Ruviana

    And poor Malaysia Airlines (yes, I know they’re a big ol’ company but there are certainly employees thinking right now “what the fuck?”). And that on top of any Russia/Ukraine stuff that will probably ensue. Don’t we (I mean Earth) have enough trouble?

    • drkrick

      The Earth is fine. It’s we humans who seem to keep shooting ourselves and each other in the foot.

  • David W.

    I hope the Ukrainians get to the wreckage before the Russians do and safeguard the plane’s flight recorders. What a terrible act.

    • Stan Gable

      Doubtful the recorders will show much if anything that isn’t already known by all. Maybe precise location when it was hit but that’s maybe not super important.

      • This assumes the recorders are recovered, since Ukraine has announced it can’t reach the plane because it is in rebel-controlled territory.

        • Midwest_Product

          Reuters’ twitter feed claims the separatists have already found the black box.

        • Brett Turner


          Donetsk separatist leader Alexander Borodai said Thursday that the pro-Russian rebels were at the scene of the crash, where they had found many dead children. Purgin said that the separatists would turn over the flight recorders from the downed jetliner to Moscow for testing, according to Interfax.

    • The separatists are allegedly handing over the black boxes to the Ministry of Emergencies of the Russian Federation.

      • David W.

        Does anyone here know how difficult it would be to tamper with the flight recorders? A lot is riding on this so the temptation to alter or destroy evidence is high.

        • Warren Terra

          What would be the point? Unless the pilots saw the site of the missile launch (or are altered to claim they saw it), the cockpit recorder can’t really add much insight. Even if they did see the launch, the notion they could distinguish government-held from separatist-controlled regions is laughable.

          • Ronan

            The pilots reaction would give insight into what happened, though obviously not specific enough to conclusively blame 1 particular factio.

            • Ronan

              although, scratch this as irrelevant

      • Autonomous Coward

        How can the people of the independent Donetsk People’s Republic tolerate this infringement on their proud (and not at all fake) nation’s sovereignty?

        Surely the civil aviation authorities of the DPR can handle this!

        • Just Dropping By

          Meh. Developing countries routinely turn over flight recorders to US or EU aviation officials for analysis, so the inability of some place to do its own analysis of a flight recorder doesn’t mean much of anything about its political legitimacy or lack thereof.

      • ericblair

        Yes, a Malaysian airliner flying from the Netherlands built by an American company operating under the auspices of the ICAO shot down over Ukraine and they’re handing the black box to…Russia.

        • Trollhattan

          Your wish is their command.

          19:28: Flight recorders have been found at the crash site, Konstantin Knyrik, a spokesman for the pro-Russian rebels, has told Interfax news agency. Earlier reports quoted rebels as saying they intended to send the flight recorders to Moscow for checking.

          • Trollhattan

            ETA Russie’s intentions will be revealed by whether they allow Boeing, Honeywell and the airline to inspect and pull data from the recorders. Am having my doubts, but it’s too early to leap to the obvious cynic’s answer.

            The VDR could actually contain a missile strike the the plane’s breakup.

            • Trollhattan

              (Now, when’s that edit button coming?)

              • Autonomous Coward

                Whenever our masters at the Kremlin approve it, tovarich!

            • David W.

              Agreed. President Obama must demand that the plane’s recorders be immediately turned over to international authorities, as it is clear that Russian involvement with the rebels makes them untrustworthy investigators in this matter.

              • Maybe we should let the people actually in charge make the calls?

                Obama is the president of the United States, not the emperor of the earth.

              • wengler

                Presumably, the most interested parties are Ukraine, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

        • How does jurisdiction work with plane crashes? I would assume that the country where you crash handles the investigation, with the airline and other interested parties (countries of origin and destination, country where majority of passengers originated) observing.

          Not that I don’t find handing the evidence over the Russia suspicious, but I don’t think Malaysia, the Netherlands, or the US have standing here.

          • David W.

            You assume correctly about the country where a crash occurs handling the investigation, but it’s abundantly clear that in this case an international authority will have to handle it.

          • Just Dropping By

            The country where the crash has occurred takes the lead in the investigation, but developing countries virtually always call in US and/or EU aviation officials to assist.

  • Guardian: “Sources among the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic said they were not linked to the downing of the plane and suspected Ukrainian forces of being involved, according to comments carried by Russian news agencies.”

    Yes, I’m sure that Ukraine figured that was a rebel transport jet.

    • Afwan

      Don’t forget the old “you committed an atrocity and made it look like we did it” explanation.

    • Stan Gable

      From the Guardian link:

      Several airlines, including Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Russia’s Transaereo announced they would avoid east Ukrainian airspace with immediate effect.

      I’m very surprised that they weren’t routing around eastern Ukraine already. A couple of military planes have definitely already been shot down – shouldn’t that have been ample warning to avoid the area?

      • The airlines were definitely going to take that up at their August meetings.

      • Just Dropping By

        The previous shootdowns were all of aircraft flying well-below normal cruising altitude for international flights and reporting suggests that it is only very recently that concerns arose about the separatists obtaining high-altitude capable SAMs.

  • Lurker

    Most likely, NATO intelligence can say who was responsible: assuming that the flight was at the normal altitude for commercial jets, the missile attack must have been a heavy, vehicle-based missile. Shoulder-mounted SAMs don’t have the range. (Ukrainian government claims it was a BUK. That is a fine missile, indeed. A college friend of mine was trained as a reserve officer for it and he loved the system.)

    If it was a BUK or a similar system, the SIGINT assets monitoring Ukraine have detected the missile’s emissions signature, which can give an idea about the software and hardware versions used, and therefore, about the operator. This is not a good indication, however, because the Russian army captured a number of Ukrainian BUKs at Crimea and the separatists seem to have captured more. However, if the unit had been a Russian one, it might be detectable.

    However, the satellite reconnaissance has probably detected the unit responsible for the missile launch and can give the indication about the owner of the missile.

    None of this has any importance, however, because most likely, Russia will launch a massive all-fronts media attack (including comment sections at political blogs) to claim Ukrainian responsibility. The question is whether this will be a pretext for Russians to involve themselves openly in the fray.

    • Autonomous Coward

      +1 (Insightful)

    • wengler

      The more useful information will be where the missile originated on the ground.

      • Stan Gable

        Not really, I don’t think there’s much doubt that the missile originated in an area with heavy separatist activity.

        • wengler

          Figuring out where it came from specifically allows investigators to go to the area and ask the people who was operating there.

          • Stan Gable

            I can answer that already – “I didn’t see nuthin”

            • BigHank53

              “Also, I have no idea who parked a BUK surface-to-air missile battery in this lake. Nope. Not me.”

  • rea

    It is, indeed, a terrible act, and we can all feel superior knowing that our country would never do such a thing.

    • Look, you’re not a major power until you’ve accidentally shot down a jetliner or two. This is known.

      • bargal20

        Also, you’re not a major power unless 30 years later you continue to deny responsibility or apologize for shooting down a jetliner.

      • sharculese

        So are you saying every couple of years we need to take some crappy airline and slam it up against the wall?

    • Or for that matter ….

      MOSCOW, Oct. 13 [2001]— In strained language that acknowledged only a ”tragic coincidence,” Ukraine’s president, Leonid Kuchma, stated today that he accepted investigators’ preliminary finding that his military accidentally destroyed a Russian airliner over the Black Sea last week with an errant missile.

      • postmodulator

        Christ, I never even heard about that at the time. I suppose all our minds were elsewhere in mid-October 2001.

      • Aimai

        What a blast from the past (as it were). Ariel Sharon criticized the Urkainians for not taking responsibility when 78 people from another country were killed. Irony, also, apparently was found in the wreckage.

        • ajay

          Ariel Sharon criticized the Ukrainians for not taking responsibility when 78 people from another country were killed.

          From the article:

          Seventy-eight people, most of them Russian émigrés to Israel, died

      • Lasker

        I’m no expert but based on what seems most likely so far, this seems much more comparable to Iran Air 655 (shot down by the US) or Korean air 007 (shot down by Russia). Both of those incidents involved intentionally shooting down planes due to mistaken identification in a situation of high military tension.

        The plane shot down by the Ukraine in 2001 was more of a freak accident. As I understand it, the Ukrainian military fired two missiles at a drone in a training exercise, the first destroyed the drone, and the second kept flying and automatically re-targeted a passenger plane hundreds of miles away.

        Obviously that is no comfort to those who died in the crashes, but the difference in the nature of the errors involved seem to me to be worth clarifying.

    • Andrew

      What about their country?

    • wengler

      TWA 800 too, though the US government concocted a whole web of lies around that one.

      • Stan Gable

        Is this snark or are you serious?

        • wengler

          Serious. I don’t know what brought it down but the government’s theory didn’t fit the evidence.

          There was a good documentary released about it not too long ago where the NTSB investigators talked about how they were hampered in their investigation by the FBI and asked not to write an analysis on what brought down the plane.

          • Stan Gable

            Faulty electrical wiring leading to an uncontained fire on an older aircraft doesn’t strike me as terribly controversial.

            • wengler

              It wasn’t claimed that it was caused by a fire, but rather an undetermined voltage short outside of the center fuel tank.

          • Stan Gable

            Also I wouldn’t be shocked that there were investigators who were asked not to write their analysis, particularly if they were arguing in favor of a shoot down since it was (a) inflammatory to the public and (b) wrong.

          • Arouet

            Didn’t think we had many conspiracy loons around here, good to know.

            • wengler

              I believe in all sorts of crazy stuff, like that the government lied to us about Iraq having ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction.’

              • Arouet

                Or that we landed on the moon, crazy shit like that. As you can see with the WMDs thing, the most secret of this shit comes out. The government simply can’t keep morally abhorrent policies quiet forever, because a lot of government employees are required to cover up something like that and plenty of them are going to talk about it. TWA800 theories approach Loose Change on the spectrum.

                • wengler

                  This is not a helpful reaction though. It’s the evidence that matters, not whether or not it appears a certain way.

                  Loose Change doesn’t even have a unifying theory. Planes landed somewhere in Ohio and everyone got out and disappeared forever or they didn’t. A missile hit the Pentagon and that plane was diverted elsewhere. There simply is no evidence for the stories presented in that film.

                  The TWA documentary does a good job of presenting the theory that the government suppressed some evidence and favored other evidence and cut many of the NTSB investigators out of the loop. It doesn’t do as good a job of validating its alternative shootdown theory.

          • Stanley

            That piece of garbage was in no way a good documentary. It’s on par with Loose Change. Tom Stalcup has been at this for years, and has yet to produce a single piece of compelling evidence to support his outlandish claims. And according to the documentary, we’re now supposed to believe that there was not one, but three missiles with proximity fuses that detonated next to the fuselage without leaving any blast holes. That’s how far out he has to go to make the supposed radar evidence fit with his preferred narrative.

            Also “the NTSB investigators” did not claim they were hampered. A small number of them claim that. The majority supported the final report and do not agree with the claims of the conspiracy theorists.

            If you haven’t read the NTSB Report, I recommend taking a look. It’s a serious and thorough examination of the available evidence, unlike anything the conspiracy theorists have ever put forth:


            • wengler

              I don’t know if the shootdown theory is the correct one, but the film raised a number of intriguing questions arguing against the official explanation and the fixing of the facts around the official explanation.

              I read through your link and the offical report doesn’t add any additional evidence. It describes sequencing of the breakup of the aircraft and then tests they conducted in an attempt to bolster their ignition scenario of the center wing fuel tank. There was some interesting sections where they dismiss cell phones (electromagnetic interference from ‘Personal Electronic Devices’) and meteorites as possible causes though and also a detailed attempt to debunk eyewitnesses who claimed they saw another light streaking toward the plane.

              The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of
              the TWA flight 800 accident was an explosion of the center wing fuel tank (CWT),
              resulting from ignition of the flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank. The source of
              ignition energy for the explosion could not be determined with certainty, but, of the
              sources evaluated by the investigation, the most likely was a short circuit outside of the
              CWT that allowed excessive voltage to enter it through electrical wiring associated with
              the fuel quantity indication system.

              I don’t think you have to be a fan of the shootdown theory to be skeptical of this conclusion. It reeks of ‘the central wing fuel tank blew up and we don’t know why so we’ll go with this.’

              • ajay

                I don’t think you have to be a fan of the shootdown theory to be skeptical of this conclusion. It reeks of ‘the central wing fuel tank blew up and we don’t know why so we’ll go with this.’

                It doesn’t just reek of it; that’s actually what it says. So I don’t understand why you should be sceptical. I could understand “dissatisfied” – it would be good to know where the ignition came from. But sceptical? Which bit don’t you believe?

      • Pierre Salinger
      • BobS

        Dammit! Just when I was ready to believe the ‘expert’ on MSNBC who said we really won’t know the truth until the US military and intelligence agencies have an opportunity to analyze the evidence.

  • Derelict

    I think the Russians now hold the record for shooting down civilian airliners:

    Korean Flight 902

    • ajay

      The record’s probably Zimbabwe, actually; ZANU shot down at least two that I can think of, deliberately, and then cut the survivors to bits at the crash site. Russia’s probably got the record for casualties, though.

  • LeeEsq

    As Oscar Wilde was won’t to say; to lose one plane is an accident, to lose two planes is just careless.

    • jon

      Those guys can’t catch a break.

      • jon

        Unless… the plane shot down is the same plane that went missing. That would really confuse the narrative.

        • “These bodies have been dead for weeks!” That would make a pretty cool opener for an X-Files episode.

          • John (not McCain)

            Or Kitchen Nightmares.

          • Just Dropping By

            That was sort of the opener for the pilot episode of Fringe, as I recall.

            • Warren Terra

              It also shows up in Bumblebee Kumquatdish’s BBC detective show, I believe.

              • Really? Cool.

              • Not a fan, I see?

                • Warren Terra

                  Very much a fan. I merely happen to take a juvenile pleasure in mangling the fellow’s name.

  • shah8

    I think we should resist the temptation for russophobic paranoia, ok? For instance, the Russians turned out to be right about where that gas laden shell came from, in Syria. Right now, it’s just pretty much fog of war.

    • SIS

      What, don’t you understand that Putin is the real fascist in this crisis, and thus this website must stand up to the Hitler on the Moskva?

      • joe from Lowell

        Oopsie. The separatists – the fascist, pro-Russian separatists, supported by the fascists Putin – admitted shooting down the plane.

        • wengler

          Putin isn’t a fascist. He’s a statist that represents the equilibrium between the oligarchs and organized crime in Russia.

          • joe from Lowell

            European fascists have always been cozy with oligarchs. Why would the mafia-like character of Russian oligarchy make him less fascist?

            He certainly is ultra-nationalist, militarist, intolerant of minorities, and eager to harken back to an earlier era of great national power.

            • wengler

              This guy is who you are thinking about. Putin is moderate compared to him.

              • joe from Lowell

                Nope, Putin is who I’m thinking about.

                Yes, he’s less extreme than Zhiriniovsky, just as Mussolini was less extreme than Hitler.

          • He’s a statist that represents the equilibrium between the oligarchs and organized crime in Russia.

            Replace “Russia” with “Germany” in that sentence …

            I don’t think Putin’s a fascist (tho happy to make use of fascist support), FWIW. Fascists have more principles. At least it’s an ethos.

            • wengler

              Fascists also have many more national programs and initiatives.

              • joe from Lowell

                You got a point there.

              • ajay

                Fascists also have many more national programs and initiatives.

                At least it’s an ethos!

        • SIS

          Are you a child? Sorry, I shouldn’t ask the obvious.

          So the Syrians can blame the US and KSA and Turkey for every helicopter shot down by the rebels? I wonder why they haven’t yet declared war on us for such bellicose acts.

          • joe from Lowell

            …and the walk back begins.

            OK, OK, the pro-Russian rebels being backed by Moscow did it, but you can’t blame Moscow!

            • SIS

              and I see you didn’t answer the question.

              • joe from Lowell

                You’re right, trolly: you’re not going to get to hijack this thread.

                • SIS

                  Oh, I forgot, hijacking a thread is your job. So, when do you demand we bomb the Kremlin?

    • ajay

      For instance, the Russians turned out to be right about where that gas laden shell came from, in Syria

      Really? The Russians, as far as I remember, said that the rebels had gassed their own people in order to gain international sympathy. I don’t think this has been shown to be true…

      • shah8

        My overall understanding of the situation and retrospective view of events makes me lean strongly towards the gas attack being a false flag attempt. There was a lot of this sort of stuff: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin . The UN report was pretty carefully and usefully vague about culpability.

        In any event, I think that it is extremely likely that we’ll know who did this shootdown with little ambiguity due to sat coverage. Most likely, selected personell already know. I find it *relatively* unlikely that the Russian normal forces shot it down, because I think they are very unlikely to not know it was a civilian plane, and they are unlikely to wish to escalate, unless they’re about shooting planes down in retaliation for sanctions, which I find a dubious notion. As for the rebel forces, maybe. They may or may not have the missiles needed to reach 30k feet, and if they do, those things don’t grow on trees. If one of them shot it off, people are going to be extremely pissed at the local commander for a variety of reasons. The Ukrainian government, given their history, is certainly incompetent enough to shoot down civilian aircraft, and they have the ready means.

        Of course, it could also be a bombing, but that’s out there in lala land.

        • Autonomous Coward

          I think it’s more reasonable to suggest that it was one rebel group fragging another one.

          I mean, after all, it’s not like the Syrian resistance is as well-organized as the armed forces of the glorious Donetsk People’s Republic obviously are.

        • joe from Lowell

          It’s sad what’s happened to Seymour Hersch in his old age.

          Remember when Time Magazine ran his story about US Special Forces using chemical weapons in Vietnam, and then had to retract it?

        • Ronan

          hersh’s article has been pretty conclusively demolished (and was rejected by a number of other mags before lrb took it)

          • Morbo

            One should also point out that “a lot” implies more than one.

        • ajay

          OK, so you lean strongly towards one explanation. That’s not the same as “The Russians turned out to be right”.

          I find it *relatively* unlikely that the Russian normal forces shot it down, because I think they are very unlikely to not know it was a civilian plane,

          Several armed forces, including the Russians, have in the past mistaken civilian planes for military planes in much calmer situations than the one in Ukraine.

          As for the rebel forces, maybe. They may or may not have the missiles needed to reach 30k feet,

          They do, or at least they say they do and Reuters reporters have seen them.

          The Ukrainian government, given their history, is certainly incompetent enough to shoot down civilian aircraft, and they have the ready means.

          Doesn’t really answer why the Ukrainians would do it even by mistake. The rebels haven’t got any large transport aircraft. Or, really, any aircraft at all.

    • True, the Russians did turn out to be defending themselves vs the Crimean menace!

      • panda

        Right now, the Russian media is claiming that the Ukrainians shot down the plane, thinking it was Putin’s airplane coming back home from BRIC conference. Clearly, any self respecting anti-fascist like shah8 must accept this, because Russians never concoct insane conspiracy theories.

        • shah8


          How idiotic.

          • joe from Lowell

            You should either post a retraction or never comment here again.

            I don’t think simple stupidity can explain you on this. I think it’s deliberate blindness.

            • shah8

              Now, what?

              • joe from Lowell

                …now I’m getting what you meant, and take it back.

                Sorry about that.

    • joe from Lowell

      I think we should resist the temptation for russophobic paranoia, ok?

      The rebels admitted shooting down the plane.

      Someone here is letting their stupid prejudices about the sides in the Ukraine conflict blind him, and it’s not Farley.

    • Dick Gregory

      I think we should resist the temptation for russophobic paranoia, ok? For instance, the Russians turned out to be right about where that gas laden shell came from, in Syria. Right now, it’s just pretty much fog of war


  • SIS

    I am a bit confused – a few days ago Ukrainian authorities claimed that the rebels did not have the ability to shoot down the transport plane that was shot down because it was too high and thus it must be Russia, while the rebels claimed they did have the ability. Now, the Ukrainians say the rebels have the ability to shoot down planes going that high, while the rebels deny it….

    So who is wrong when?

    But please, everyone, rush to believe whomever you want to believe for convenience sake.

    • wengler

      Russia and Ukraine’s positive attitude toward bullshit has been similar since the start of the conflict.

    • joe from Lowell

      The separatists have admitted shooting down the plane.

      Some people have reliable instincts, and some people don’t.

      • SIS

        Yeah, you clearly don’t good instincts.

        Also, for God’s sake, be able to at least recite facts correctly you warmongering chickenhawk imbecile:

        There is evidence that the rebels thought they had shot down a Ukrainian military transport (the find spoken about above) and then when it was clear it was a civilian craft, they moved to deny involvement.

        Also, dear poor Joe, that does seem to show that the Ukrainian government lied a couple of days ago when it claimed that the rebels couldn’t have shot down their An-26 Transport because they lacked the weapon systems capable of doing so, and thus it had to be Russia.

        Yeah, joe, good show of instincts on your part.

        • joe from Lowell

          Clearly, my instincts are terrible.

          Anyway, I want everyone to notice the formulation of this particular troll:

          1. Undefined accusation of getting the facts wrong

          2. Written in a maximally insulting manner, to elicit a response

          3. Restatement of the facts in different words without any change of facts.

          So, LGMers, now I’m supposed to get pissed off at being insulted, while seeing my opportunity to call him out on the missing misstated facts, and end up in a Kafka-esque dialogue about some distinction that doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, the thread is supposed to get so filled up with said Kafka-esque argument that the thread gets jacked from the actual matter of the pro-Russian rebels shooting down a civilian airliner.

          But that’s not going to happen, SIS. Buh bye.

          • SIS

            I speak to you contemptuously because you have a history of being someone to be held in contempt when discussing these issue, and you calling me a troll does not hide your past behaviors. I had tried in the past to discuss things with you, but you are not one open to discussions and certainly not one willing to accept ambiguous facts. I don’t hide my disgust or anger well.

            And yes, you did misstate facts; the separatists did not admit to shooting down this plane. That runs counter to their statements to the press. There is evidence is that they made claims to have shot down what they thought was a Ukrainian military flight – and that when investigation of the site showed it was a civilian flight, they sought to hide these claims and now deny it. That is not the same as claiming they admitted anything, as you stated.

            And what facts did I misstate? That a few days ago an An-26 transport of the Ukrainian air force was shot down? That the rebels claimed responsibility then? That the Ukrainian government at the time chose to claim that the rebels lacked the ability to shoot down a plane flying at over 20,000 feet and thus it had to be the Russian military? That when this plane was shot down, at 36,000 feet, the Ukrainian government blamed the rebels for having shot it down? That the rebels then claimed not to be guilty because they lacked the means to do so?

            • Arouet

              I’m pretty sure we can agree that both sides have pancakes and are capable of pouring maple syrup on those pancakes, so there’s really no way to know for certain whose maple syrup got on that french toast over there.

            • cpinva

              ” I had tried in the past to discuss things with you, but you are not one open to discussions and certainly not one willing to accept ambiguous facts.

              “ambiguous facts” are not facts at all, they are speculation. this would be known as an “oxymoron”. hence, very few posters here will accept them.

              the “facts” in this case have changed pretty quickly, as more information was known. however, as it stands at present, the Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists have now accepted responsibility for shooting down the plane, mistakenly believing it was a Ukrainian military plane.

              I was always taught to be certain of my target, before pulling the trigger. my guess is that someone was so excited, at the prospect of getting credit for shooting down a Ukrainian military transport plane, they didn’t take the time necessary to confirm that’s what it actually was, they just pushed the launch button.

              then the wreckage was checked. lo and behold, it wasn’t that prime military target, but rather a civilian airliner, with children on board. they freaked out, realizing what they’d done, and just how bad it was going to look for them. they denied having anything to do with it. finally, when all the evidence available pointed towards them, they admitted it, and apologized (kind of) for the horrible mistake. no doubt someone will get a vicious tongue lashing over this.

            • joe from Lowell

              From under the bridge comes a piteous wail…

    • Ok, fine. My go-to scapegoat this week is… the freemasons. Freemasons shot down this plane in a cowardly ambush of the high-ranking Knights of Malta known to be on board.

      • A beaver

        Jacques de Molay, thou art avenged!

  • wengler

    My first reaction is I’m surprised that planes were still being routed through the conflict zone. My second reaction is that this doesn’t change much unless someone else wants to get deep into this conflict.

    UPDATE: John McCain announces he wants to start WW3…again.

    • McCain is nothing if not predictable.

      • No, he’s just nothing.

        Or to get all Norse about it, what he really is, is nithing.

        • Warren Terra

          In the spirit of making peace: he’s both a nothing and predictable.

          Maybe not so predictable, or so perfectly? There must be someone he hasn’t wanted to use military force against. Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi’s blockade of Ole Miss in 1962, perhaps? McCain is definitely old enough he should have had an opinion at the time.

          • ajay

            There must be someone he hasn’t wanted to use military force against. Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi’s blockade of Ole Miss in 1962, perhaps?

            “We don’t want to have the 82nd Airborne escorting kids to school” – Condoleezza Rice.

  • jon

    It’s pretty likely that the Ukraine government didn’t shoot down the airliner. (But maybe they are just that devious. Because it benefits them in some unexplainable way) Ukraine says that separatists damaged one fighter, and that a Russian fighter shot down another of their fighters in the past few days. I have not heard of the Ukraine firing any missiles – indifferently aimed artillery, sure.

    So that leaves separatists, who may or may not have access to those weapons. Or elements of the Russian military (who certainly have access to that sort of weaponry) either under some level of command, or on their own initiative. Whoever took the action to shoot the plane down probably wasn’t referring to accurate IFF, or other aeronautical information, which suggests a lower level decision. Though the Soviet fighters that shot down KAL 007 should have had more than sufficient access to that sort of information, as would have the US ship which downed the Iranian airliner.

  • wengler

    Shorter US cable news stations: We don’t know anything at this time, but we will continue to blame Russia and give you belligerent statements from Republicans as they come in.

    • Blaming Russia is entirely appropriate, if their clients shot down the jet. Doesn’t make war sensible; at most it might get a wavering EU on board with sanctions, which I think would be a good idea, tho not of course a panacea (because there ain’t no panaceas).

      • wengler

        Actually blaming Russia at the moment is stupid, because you have no idea who or what brought this plane down.

        • No idea” is mistaken, as this thread demonstrates. We have some idea. It may be erroneous, but this isn’t like the last time Malaysian lost a jetliner.

          • wengler

            Speculation is fun, but it isn’t evidence.

            • joe from Lowell

              No, the significant evidence that has come out is evidence.

            • Peggy Noonan

              I beg to differ. Now get me a Mimosa and bring it in the Magic Dolphin glass

            • David W.

              From the BBC news feed:

              21:43: The American ABC News network quotes a US official as saying the US believes that a surface-to-air missile brought down the plane. It is unclear who fired the missile or whether it was fired from inside Ukrainian territory or Russian territory, the official said.

        • Marc

          Russia would be a surprising source. But the partisans armed by Russia are, by a wide margin, the most likely source. And no amount of blame deflection by Putin sympathizers is going to deflect that.

          • wengler

            Waiting for evidence now makes me a Putin sympathizer?

            • joe from Lowell

              Your sudden, out of character insistence on waiting for evidence demonstrates you to be a Putin sympathizer.

              • Rob in CT

                You’re being really wierd about this. What the hell?

                • joe from Lowell

                  Slapping down bullshit conspiracy theories is weird?

                • Rob in CT

                  Wengler isn’t peddling conspiracy theories, Joe. Wengler said we don’t really know sh*t yet, and with developing news stories that’s generally accurate. You sure seem sure of yourself, though.

                  Wengler: Putin sympathizer for saying “we really don’t know anything for sure yet, this just happened.”

                  So yeah, my read of that is you’re being weird.

                • David W.

                  I read it as not weird, but exasperated. YMMV.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Wengler is peddling conspiracy theories, in exactly the same way that people who insist that they don’t know where Obama was born are peddling birtherism.

                  I don’t know! I just need more evidence!

                  Of course, there is sufficient evidence, but what’s great about the internet is that you can always say you need more evidence.

                  And for this coyness to be coming from Wengler, who particularly stands out for leaping to conclusions that fit his beliefs without, and even in the face of, evidence is significant itself.

                • daveNYC

                  Except we actually do know some shit about what happened.

                  1) A 777 has crashed.
                  2) There’s no indication of a distress call from the jet.
                  3) There’s a US official saying it was hit by a SAM.
                  4) The altitude it was flying at puts it outside the range of anything shoulder launched.
                  5) The Ukrainian separatists boasted they had gotten a hold of a BUK SAM system.
                  6) The same guys posted a boast that they had shot down a Ukrainian transport at the same time and location of the 777 crash.

                  More info will come out, but we’re not exactly in the dark right now.

              • wengler

                Is this another Libya for you Joe?

                • joe from Lowell

                  There is only one Libya.

                  The habit of playing mad libs with different conflicts is one of yours, Wengler, and one I frequently denounce.

                • wengler

                  Nah, it’s just that you tend to get bent out of shape over particular things, the most famous being Libya.

                • joe from Lowell

                  I thought the most famous was the Syrian chemical weapons attack.

                  I get bent out of shape by bullshit. You peddled a lot of bullshit about Libya. People peddled a lot of bullshit about Syria.

                  I hardly think that my hostility to bullshit is a novelty.

                • wengler

                  I guess ‘let’s not get involved in this’ is tantamount to bullshit in your world.

                • joe from Lowell

                  And that is exactly why you are so terrible at this, and end up looking so bad so often: because instead of thinking about whether the facts are right, you leap right to “What policy do I want the facts to support?”

                  A great deal of the factual representations and arguments from “principle” you made in order to advance the position “let’s not get involved in this” were bullshit. They do not become less bullshit because you found them momentarily convenient for you in arguing for that policy.

                  You don’t understand what a terrible own-goal you just scored, and it’s clear that you never will. You will always be a Lysenkonist – you will always define truth vs. bullshit based on what fits your political narrative, and facts and integrity be damned.

              • wengler

                I’m such a Putin sympathizer that I have said in the past there is evidence he may have been behind the Moscow apartment bombings blamed on Chechens.

                What you don’t seem to understand is that I am very skeptical about corporate media flinging shit at the wall right after an event and declaring it the gospel truth. In these times they also tend to uncritically report whatever any ‘official government source’ decides to tell them.

                • David W.

                  Oh please. It’s wise to be critical when hearing news reports of an unfolding story, but it’s silly to be skeptical to the point where you cynically discount everything as shit-flinging.

                • joe from Lowell

                  What you don’t seem to understand is that I am very skeptical about corporate media flinging shit at the wall right after an event and declaring it the gospel truth. In these times they also tend to uncritically report whatever any ‘official government source’ decides to tell them.

                  No, you aren’t. You are very selectively “skeptical” about news reports, ramping up your “skepticism” only when you don’t like what the reports are saying.

                  Skepticism that only goes one way isn’t skepticism; it’s bias.

                • wengler

                  Oh for fuck’s sake. The best thing any thinking person can do in the light of a major news event is turn off the cable networks for a couple of days because most of the initial reports end up being total shit.

                  And please tell me joe from Lowell, why do I not ‘like’ what the current reports are saying?

                • joe from Lowell

                  And please tell me joe from Lowell, why do I not ‘like’ what the current reports are saying?

                  Because they make parties that the United States doesn’t like look bad, and you can’t fucking stand it.

    • jon

      Most Republicans I’ve heard tend to reflexively back Putin, because he’s a strong daddy who’s not afraid to use the military, happily buddies up to the biggest business, and supports an ultra conservative Church. After all W found a soulmate deep in his eyes. And he wrestles bears bare chested.

  • Jeff Zucker


  • John Fogerty

    And I wonder, still I wonder, who shot the plane?

  • Morbo
  • FWIW my company says that we’ve been avoiding that airspace since February.

  • Harry Huntington

    Two options:

    (1) False flag. Where were the F-22s?

    (2) It was a Ukraine rebel BUK trying to shoot down a US drone following just behind the airliner. Missed the drone. Hit the airliner. Ooops.

    You that even if it was a BUK it need guidance b/c it had no way to know to look for an airliner (and turn on its radar) unless someone told it that something was going to cross through the air space. BUKS targeting radar needed help.

    • That system has its own acquisition radar, which is mobile along with the TELs (launchers).

      Most SAM systems have some inherent search capability, although they do much better as part of an IADS (Integrated Air Defense System).

    • daveNYC

      You’re assuming that whoever was running the thing was worried about Ukraine running SEAD operations on them and therefore would keep the system dark until a likely target was suspected of being in the area.

      Not to mention that the Mk.1 eyeball works pretty good at spotting things like commercial jets.

      • Some of these systems have optical trackers as well.

      • Harry Huntington

        I am assuming whoever is running the system is worried about Americans finding them. My second point was that the real target could have been an American drone flying in a commercial air route. If you turn the radar on too soon, you might be giving the American drone exactly what it is looking for.

        My scenario is shoot at the American drone, miss, hit the airliner.

        • h rr d kt r b ml r

          I dunno. Are there US drones flying at 10 km altitude? The whole point of drone surveillance is to fit into niches and obtain the close-range access which cannot be provided by old-school high-altitude planes.

  • joe from Lowell

    Remember the Iraq War pundits?

    How they were completely wrong over and over again about important matters, always in the same direction, but continued to hold forth, and be respected as, serious voices in discussions of international affairs?

    I hate that. Don’t you hate that?

    Man, I hope we aren’t like that.

  • Heliopause

    This must be the best day the Neocons have had in years. Israel invades Gaza, an atrocity they can blame on the Russkies. And the day is still young.

  • Daragh McDowell

    At this point one would have to be obtuse to the point of wilful ignorance to believe this was anything other than the separatist militias. Let’s review –

    A) Ukraine has air superiority over the area – while it does have SAMs, it has no need to use them. The separatists are the only ones firing explodey things skywards these days.

    B) The flight went down over rebel held territory with debris pattern consistent with missile strike.

    C) Just prior to confirmation that plane was actually a Boeing 777, separatist social media feeds all began crowing about downing another AN-26, before hastily trying to delete them (many are cached).

    D) On June 29 separatists were showing off a fancy new BUK launcher on their Twitter feeds and claiming they would shoot down Ukrainian planes. Said posts similarly memory holed.

    Let’s also add the fact that the BUK is a pretty sophisticated piece of kit, was virtually certainly supplied by Russia and equally certainly Russia trained separatists in how to use it. I’m pretty comfortable painting Russia as the bad guy here, even if it puts me on the side of John McCain.

    • Brett Turner

      Mostly agree, but maybe a bit strong on Russian involvement. The separatists might have captured the BUK from Ukraine. If Ukraine had BUKs available to be captured, it had people who knew how to use BUKs, and some of them might have joined the separatists. So it may well not have been a Russian BUK.

      Also *somewhat* questionable whether the Russians would have trusted the separatists with a Russian BUK. Too much potential to blow up in Russia’s face and too little plausible deniability.

      I lean toward incompetent target ID by a separatist battery commander.

      • Daragh McDowell

        The Russians have actually been surprisingly generous in their equipment thus far, and the rebel position has been getting desperate. Mark Galeotti (who is the king of this kind of thing currently) has given a rundown on why the BUK was probably Russian supplied.

        But yes – almost certainly incompetence rather than malice. In fact it may have doomed the rebel cause.

        • Brett Turner

          Great link—thanks. Definitely makes the case for Russia providing the BUK.

  • shah8

    Wow, lots of hawks here who want us all in a tither before we really have all that much in the way of facts.

    Certainly, circumstantial evidence sez that rebels did it, but it’s basically *really* circumstantial. We’re not even talking bits and pieces of hard evidence, motives, and a good narrative stringing everything together. I mean, guys…mostly hearsay and propaganda war out there, you know guys…you might want to wait until the bullshit gets cut, especially as that there is a trove of hard evidence, and it seems very unlikely that we still won’t know (secret or otherwise) anything in the near future. Remember all of that crazy talk after the *first* Malaysian Air flight gone bad?

    And don’t feed joe. He’s nuts right now.

    • Ronan

      The evidence is the evidence. You dont have to be a ‘hawk’ to draw conclusions from context, facts etc

      • Ronan

        also, I havent read the thread but Id assume no one is saying the US should invade Russia or Eastern ukraine..so Im not sure what your hostility to this is

        • shah8

          You do not have possession of the evidence. You don’t have posession of the physical evidence, nor has it been presented to anyone except via unprofessional camera-work.

          You do not have possession (or access to) of the sat-pics, radar, black box, witnesses, or much of anything else. Half or more is pretty much from hysterical tv news and gleamings of deleted tweets and facebook quotes.

          Seriously, DUDE. WHAT IS WRONG WITH SIMPLY HAVING A LEVEL HEAD? Have some of you all have lost your goddamned minds? It’s not conspiracy theory to say, well we don’t know the rebels did it, for sure. While we may never know, we probably should make our conclusions after real data has had a chance to come out, you know. It’s not even impossible that the Western Ukrainians shot it down out of some mindless craziness, since there has been some heavy fighting in the last few days.

          And since the hell when I’ve ever been concerned that the US would invade Russia? I’d most like the fighting to stop soon and a real government (properly elected by all Ukrainians) put in place. You know, so Ukrainian civilians stop dying, and they won’t be cold and hungry next winter.

          • Ronan

            This is a fucking stupid burden of proof you expect

            • shah8

              Like I said, seriously…

              Remember Richard Jewell, for example? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Jewell

              Admit it, you just want to get in on the torches and pitchforks and poke someone with glee. Any excuse will do.

              • Ronan

                (1) no i dont remember richard jewell (2) this is a blog comment section not a policy meeting. That doesnt mean that opinions dont have to be supportable, but that there are virtually no real world consequences so people can spitball from the facts(context) as it is (3) im personally not hawkish on FP. I dont even know what that means in this context as (afaict) no one is calling for any specific policy (4) you are ignoring the actual evidence as laid out above and making ridiculous demands such as:

                “You do not have possession of the evidence. You don’t have posession of the physical evidence”

                • shah8

                  Merely citing an example of egregious rush to judgement essentially on “he was there” and effectively rumors.

                  Or that poor missing kid the guys at Reddit thought they so cleverly detected as the culprit of the Boston Bombings.

                  Or the Yellowcake incident.

                  Heck, why not The Maine, too?

                • shah8

                  My attitude from the start was to encourage people to come at this incident with a neutral perspective, because we’ve been getting progressively sillier about Putin, Russia, and whatever. I see no reason not to vocally support a more uplifted discussion.

                  I don’t particularly care whether you say you’re a hawk or not. I just go by the quacks, and you know, there were plenty of those here.

                  I’m not ignoring evidence. I’m saying that there *is* no evidence, no such that we can make any sort of conclusions! We barely have got to the point that people can firmly say that it was a ground-air missile! Saying that someone is guilty because they tweeted something and then deleted it is not real evidence. Saying that the rebels are the most likely to have done it is plenty justifiable, but look at the thread here. Much of it is crass demonization of Putin, because of ‘coz he had somtink t’do wit it!

                • Ronan

                  There’s plenty of evidence/analysis saying it was more than likely the rebels


                  this(not being snarky) is the way a conversation works. If you dont agree, then offer an alternative hypothesis (with some reasonable supporting story. Really, i dont think many people here have strong priors on this one way or the other

                • shah8

                  That is an essay, tying together “what we know”, from, you know, REPORTS (and author assumptions). There was virtually nothing of substance in there (other than the fact that it wasn’t an accident). The idiocy of Daragh McDowell’s comment was a part of why I wrote what I did at the top of this thread.

                • Ronan

                  By your logic no debate could ever take place. The internet might as well shut down

                • A beaver

                  whether you say you’re a hawk or not. I just go by the quacks

                  I must reluctantly question shah8’s ornithology here.

              • I absolutely don’t think Jewell had anything to do with this jetliner.

                Not that I believe he’s dead, necessarily.

                • What about Jewel?

                • N__B

                  I’m fairly certain Jewel is not dead but we should have an autopsy performed just to be sure.

                • “Cause of death: autopsy.”

                • Autonomous Coward

                  “Cause of death: glitter overdose.”

          • ema

            A radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the plane went down, the senior U.S. official said. A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit, the official said. The United States is analyzing the trajectory of the missile to try to learn where the attack came from.


            Ukraine’s state security chief accused two Russian military intelligence officers of involvement and said they must be punished.

            Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said he based his allegation on intercepts of phone conversations between the two officers. “Now you know who carried out this crime. We will do everything for the Russian military who carried out this crime to be punished,” he told reporters.

            • jon

              I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more information like this coming out in the next few days. Beyond what is already known, this area is of great interest to many parties. There must be a great deal of data gathered by satellites, radar, collection of electronic communications, visual observation and photography. Russia, Ukraine, NATO, US, German, French, British, Turkish, and other parties have been paying attention.

              Someone(s) has more than a good idea what has happened, whether or not they choose to release that information. But working back from where the plane was stuck and where it landed, and the trajectory of the missile signal, it should not be difficult to determine where the missile was launched. The launch site will within the area of some forces’ control, and that will provide a strong indication of who is responsible.

              SAM’s are not quite as plentiful as bullets, so a quick check of inventories should pinpoint origin. Portions of the expended missile may also be recoverable and yield information to establish the chain of custody of the weapon. Opportunities will also present themselves for the suppression and fabrication of evidence. So some of the initial news and data streams we’ve heard today, and some of the crash site photos may prove very important at a later date.

              • ema

                A bit more on the intercepts:

                A recording provided by Ukrainian Security Service and supplied to The Washington Post purportedly captured separatists and Russians conferring about the attack. The Post could not independently verify the authenticity of the recording or the individuals identified in it. One voice on the tape — identified by the Ukrainian intelligence agency as Igor Bezler, one of the leaders in the pro-Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine — says a phrase in Russian that can be translated either as “we have just shot down a plane” or “they have just downed the plane.”

              • Warren Terra

                SAM’s are not quite as plentiful as bullets, so a quick check of inventories should pinpoint origin.

                This will work great, so long as you trust everyone to accurately describe the state of their inventory before and after this tragedy.

          • joe from Lowell

            Also, Ronan, you do not have in your own physical possession either Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate, or a printout of the atmospheric temperature reports from the world’s monitoring stations.

            Jeez, what’s wrong with keeping a level head? Why must you jump to these totally unsupportable conclusion before the facts are in?

    • joe from Lowell

      Wow, lots of hawks here who want us all in a tither before we really have all that much in the way of facts.

      Someone’s political bias is dictating their view of the facts, that’s for sure.

      Gee, I wonder who it will turn out to be?

  • I love Putin’s reaction to this, which is to essentially blame the Ukrainians for this because they won’t give the “separatists” what they want/.

    • cpinva

      pres. putin has obviously been reading rightwing American political pundits, who claim that pres. Obama could get a lot more accomplished, if only he would give the republicans everything they wanted.

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