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Parry writes: "In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to pin blame for the crash of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – there is the same absence of professional skepticism that has marked similar stampedes on Iraq, Syria and elsewhere – with key questions not being asked or answered."

Ukrainian woman adds her floral tribute to the mountain of flowers placed in commemoration of MH17 victims at the Dutch Embassy in Ukraine. (photo: Sergey Dolzhenko/European Pressphoto Agency)
Ukrainian woman adds her floral tribute to the mountain of flowers placed in commemoration of MH17 victims at the Dutch Embassy in Ukraine. (photo: Sergey Dolzhenko/European Pressphoto Agency)

What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

21 July 14


n the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to pin blame for the crash of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – there is the same absence of professional skepticism that has marked similar stampedes on Iraq, Syria and elsewhere – with key questions not being asked or answered.

The dog-not-barking question on the catastrophe over Ukraine is: what did the U.S. surveillance satellite imagery show? It’s hard to believe that – with the attention that U.S. intelligence has concentrated on eastern Ukraine for the past half year that the alleged trucking of several large Buk anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia to Ukraine and then back to Russia didn’t show up somewhere.

Yes, there are limitations to what U.S. spy satellites can see. But the Buk missiles are about 16 feet long and they are usually mounted on trucks or tanks. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 also went down during the afternoon, not at night, meaning the missile battery was not concealed by darkness.

So why hasn’t this question of U.S. spy-in-the-sky photos – and what they reveal – been pressed by the major U.S. news media? How can the Washington Post run front-page stories, such as the one on Sunday with the definitive title “U.S. official: Russia gave systems,” without demanding from these U.S. officials details about what the U.S. satellite images disclose?

Instead, the Post’s Michael Birnbaum and Karen DeYoung wrote from Kiev: “The United States has confirmed that Russia supplied sophisticated missile launchers to separatists in eastern Ukraine and that attempts were made to move them back across the Russian border after the Thursday shoot-down of a Malaysian jetliner, a U.S. official said Saturday.

“‘We do believe they were trying to move back into Russia at least three Buk [missile launch] systems,’ the official said. U.S. intelligence was ‘starting to get indications … a little more than a week ago’ that the Russian launchers had been moved into Ukraine, said the official” whose identity was withheld by the Post so the official would discuss intelligence matters.

But catch the curious vagueness of the official’s wording: “we do believe”; “starting to get indications.” Are we supposed to believe – and perhaps more relevant, do the Washington Post writers actually believe – that the U.S. government with the world’s premier intelligence services can’t track three lumbering trucks each carrying large mid-range missiles?

What I’ve been told by one source, who has provided accurate information on similar matters in the past, is that U.S. intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms.

The source said CIA analysts were still not ruling out the possibility that the troops were actually eastern Ukrainian rebels in similar uniforms but the initial assessment was that the troops were Ukrainian soldiers. There also was the suggestion that the soldiers involved were undisciplined and possibly drunk, since the imagery showed what looked like beer bottles scattered around the site, the source said.

Instead of pressing for these kinds of details, the U.S. mainstream press has simply passed on the propaganda coming from the Ukrainian government and the U.S. State Department, including hyping the fact that the Buk system is “Russian-made,” a rather meaningless fact that gets endlessly repeated.

However, to use the “Russian-made” point to suggest that the Russians must have been involved in the shoot-down is misleading at best and clearly designed to influence ill-informed Americans. As the Post and other news outlets surely know, the Ukrainian military also operates Russian-made military systems, including Buk anti-aircraft batteries, so the manufacturing origin has no probative value here.

Relying on the Ukraine Regime

Much of the rest of the known case against Russia comes from claims made by the Ukrainian regime, which emerged from the unconstitutional coup d’etat against elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22. His overthrow followed months of mass protests, but the actual coup was spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias that overran government buildings and forced Yanukovych’s officials to flee.

In recognition of the key role played by the neo-Nazis, who are ideological descendants of Ukrainian militias that collaborated with the Nazi SS in World War II, the new regime gave these far-right nationalists control of several ministries, including the office of national security which is under the command of longtime neo-Nazi activist Andriy Parubiy.[See’s “Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass.”]

It was this same Parubiy whom the Post writers turned to seeking more information condemning the eastern Ukrainian rebels and the Russians regarding the Malaysia Airlines catastrophe. Parubiy accused the rebels in the vicinity of the crash site of destroying evidence and conducting a cover-up, another theme that resonated through the MSM.

Without bothering to inform readers of Parubiy’s unsavory neo-Nazi background, the Post quoted him as a reliable witness declaring: “It will be hard to conduct a full investigation with some of the objects being taken away, but we will do our best.”

In contrast to Parubiy’s assurances, the Kiev regime actually has a terrible record of telling the truth or pursuing serious investigations of human rights crimes. Still left open are questions about the identity of snipers who on Feb. 20 fired on both police and protesters at the Maidan, touching off the violent escalation that led to Yanukovych’s ouster. Also, the Kiev regime has failed to ascertain the facts about the death-by-fire of scores of ethnic Russians in the Trade Union Building in Odessa on May 2. [See’s “Burning Ukraine’s Protesters Alive.”]

The Kiev regime also duped the New York Times (and apparently the U.S. State Department) when it disseminated photos that supposedly showed Russian military personnel inside Russia and then later inside Ukraine. After the State Department endorsed the “evidence,” the Times led its newspaper with this story on April 21, but it turned out that one of the key photos supposedly shot in Russia was actually taken in Ukraine, destroying the premise of the story. [See’s “NYT Retracts Ukraine Photo Scoop.”]

But here we are yet again with the MSM relying on unverified claims being made by the Kiev regime about something as sensitive as whether Russia provided sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles – capable of shooting down high-flying civilian aircraft – to poorly trained eastern Ukrainian rebels.

This charge is so serious that it could propel the world into a second Cold War and conceivably – if there are more such miscalculations – into a nuclear confrontation. These moments call for the utmost in journalistic professionalism, especially skepticism toward propaganda from biased parties.

Yet, what Americans have seen again is the major U.S. news outlets, led by the Washington Post and the New York Times, publishing the most inflammatory of articles based largely on unreliable Ukrainian officials and on the U.S. State Department which was a principal instigator of the Ukraine crisis.

In the recent past, this sort of sloppy American journalism has led to mass slaughters in Iraq – and has contributed to near U.S. wars on Syria and Iran – but now the stakes are much higher. As much fun as it is to heap contempt on a variety of “designated villains,” such as Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, Ali Khamenei and now Vladimir Putin, this sort of recklessness is careening the world toward a very dangerous moment, conceivably its last.

Also See: Without Radar, Missile May Not Have Identified Jet your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+40 # Kwelinyingi 2014-07-21 13:07
Quote: "Yes, there are limitations to what U.S. spy satellites can see." Apparently, our spy and drone technologies that can zoom in on a single "terror" suspect from 50k feet up, but were unable to trace the "disappeared" Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 from March 8th. When it suits our government, we shall hear of yet more "credible" evidence of Ukrainian rebels shooting down this Malaysian plane with Russian missiles. And if indeed that were the case, we would have yet more grounds for a very dangerous confrontation with Russia our insatiable appetite for war. What of the Iranian passenger airliner shot down over the Persian Gulf by our own missiles?
+16 # tingletlc 2014-07-21 14:54
As we await uncontroverted evidence and the eventual judgment of history, here's a fun exercise to engage our critical faculties:

Please list the following items by order of size:

a) a beer bottle

b) a bread box

c) a Buk missile
+4 # Radscal 2014-07-21 22:31
lol. But I hear those Russian beer bottles are REALLY big.
-11 # Caliban 2014-07-21 15:55
Satellites can see a lot, but generally they have to be already looking in certain areas to see things in detail. In other words, we cannot see everything that happens anywhere on earth at the same moment. I am sure we can see the fallen plane, but--unless we were looking for an attack on that flight--even our best satellites could not see who pulled the trigger.

Thus, your ire seems a little misplaced.
+10 # Radscal 2014-07-21 22:34
Do you doubt that we've been keeping an eye on Ukraine?

Are you aware that satellites (and spy planes) take detailed photographs of entire regions in very short order (Blackbirds were traveling at mach 3)?
It's not like someone has to order a single snapshot of a specific target. I've no doubt that every square inch of eastern Ukraine is photographed by the US and Russia several times each day (and night).
-6 # kalpal 2014-07-22 08:31
So you believe that every square centimeter of Ukraine was under view at all times 24/7?

Any denial of the event being observed is sure to be met with derision and you full well know that. Had the event been observed, what would persuade anyone to withhold evidence? As usual a conspiracy is far more delicious than reality.
+5 # Radscal 2014-07-22 13:00
So, I write:
"I've no doubt that every square inch of eastern Ukraine is photographed by the US and Russia several times each day (and night)"

And you reply:
"So you believe that every square centimeter of Ukraine was under view at all times 24/7? "

Reading comprehension not you strong suit, I see.
+2 # wtvs 2014-07-21 15:56
We paid reparations to the families of the plane we shot down over the Persian Gulf
+1 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-22 20:14
wtvs, Over several recent wars (without counting previous wars) the USA has shot down many hundreds of planes over the Persian Gulf. Its considered part of the brave sport of driving an SUV nation. We 'need' SUV's because no compact car has enough room for the US driver's belly. How did their nations get over our oil? Describe name, place, country, date etc.
-9 # HowardMH 2014-07-22 11:31
Our biggest limitation on what the spy satellites can see and REPORT on is Obama the Wimp.
Did you see how Obama snuck out of the South side of the White House on a very narrow sidewalk to the smallest most in appropriate podium that was just about big enough to hold a mic and one sheet of paper to give his Really, Really strong objection to how Russia has been handling the MH17 disaster. Our leader, Obama the Wimp and the whole world knows it.
+1 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-25 19:30
HowardMH, Better a Wimp, than an 'Intellectual-C oward' who can not live as a full human being, has so little to say, but justifies bombing & shooting of women & children, that; when faced with the truth must hide behind state financed terrorism.

Is it all you can do to visit social media & drop comments of hate? Follow some of the e-links here & you might learn something about what really happened in the MH17 disaster, completely contrary to your indoctrination.

In order to not be an intellectual coward, one provides one's perceived-enemy with 'Dialectic -Rights' with the opportunity for both-sided, equal-time, recorded & published dialogues. Then one stands up to the court of public opinion which has heard both sides.
+29 # chemtex2611 2014-07-21 13:15
You could know. Go to Aviation Week.

It was seen. They can see down to the size of a person or less

Get a copy of Deep Black and read it. It is now nearly20 years old, but it is accurate and tells you that they are much better than that today.
+40 # Glen 2014-07-21 13:37
Spy satellites have been able to see even car tags from orbit. You cannot trust the U.S. government or military when reporting on what they see or do not see.

As I have written prior to this, when George H.W. stated his people did not know there were tanks on Kuwait's border, he lied.

And there are thousands of satellites up there.
+20 # geraldom 2014-07-21 15:40
Quoting Glen:
Spy satellites have been able to see even car tags from orbit. You cannot trust the U.S. government or military when reporting on what they see or do not see.

As I have written prior to this, when George H.W. stated his people did not know there were tanks on Kuwait's border, he lied.

And there are thousands of satellites up there.

By the way Glen, many people are not aware of this, but Saddam Hussein had asked George H.W. Bush for permission to invade Kuwait because Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil, and George H.W. Bush told Saddam that he didn't care one way or the other.

And when Saddam did invade Kuwait, we all know what happened, don't we?
+20 # Glen 2014-07-21 15:59
Right. As is said, George H.W. left Kuwait hanging out to dry. Good ole U.S.A. Always ready to bleed a friend. Hussein was used by the U.S. in their proxy war against Iran, also.
+15 # AMLLLLL 2014-07-21 17:13
Yes, apparently Kuwait (read Halliburton technology horizontal drilling) was reaching over the border for oil.
+16 # puppets 2014-07-21 17:57
Remember the false throwing babies out of their bassinets by SH's army to work up the American public for a war?
+18 # cmp 2014-07-21 13:57
I would have to wonder if the conditions are just not "quite right" for the fat cats and their IMF loan; as well as, their loans for mineral extractions, monopolies, etc..

I used to wonder if the media would care (dare) to ask these kinds of questions; as well.. That was a long time ago.
+2 # curmudgeon 2014-07-22 11:00
Within hours of coup, Biden's son and a fellow oil exec were appointed to Board of Ukraine energy conglomerate.

"just like the old days" quote from the exec
-33 # Gordon Berry 2014-07-21 14:09
I agree with robert parry most of the time, especially with his conclusions about the ny times reporting about the ukraine conflict -
however, in this case of shootingdown a passenger plane, the evidence from many other sources is overwhelming in the case of where the missile came from -
we might no know the person who pulled the trigger, but for sure he lives and works in eastern ukraine or nearby russia.

By not acknowledging all this, mr. parry tends to diminish the value and credibility of his earlier reports on the conflict in general.
+28 # pbbrodie 2014-07-21 14:37
Don't criticize Mr. Parry, when you write something as ludicrous as this.
What "evidence from many other sources?" How about provide a few sources for all of this other evidence, of which I have seen exactly none, other than the ones Mr. Parry references in his article, that are very suspect at best, considering the sources.
+11 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-21 15:39
Gordon Berry Russia For MH17 Shoot Down FABRICATED? Paul Joseph Watson InfoWars, Prison Planet, Time-stamps on recording show they come from the day before MH17 was shot down.
+ Ralph G WarCloud DestinDestin “In this article all what i said about Buk earlier (i'm an AAF officer in past). Buk & Buk M1 shooting range is 18-22km. Not 40km. Buk M1 is latest (1982 or 1986 year of production) that ukraine have. This complex is from USSR. 4 vehicles & a lot of specialists - i said it before. Yes, about 12-14 specialists they must have. They haven't.”
InfoWars video are some gems on the capabilities of the BUK system, which these experts believe is no where near capable. Evidence to Frame Russia For MH17 Shoot Down Fabricated? Paul Joseph Watson InfoWars, Prison Planet, Time-stamps on recording show they come from the day before MH17 was shot down.
Dahboo77 Busted! Kiev's Video Implicating Russia Posted to Youtube BEFORE Plane Was Shot Down, 18Jul’14!bip3I4
Shooting down a plane from 10,000 metres (33,000 feet) requires a fixed base missile launching pad or a mobile device of massive size with months of calibration, testing, a large multiple site radar system, well trained (months & years) technicians & a computer system with many integrated functions. Eastern Ukraine sovereigntists do not have the equipment, training or systems integration.
+4 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-21 15:46
Gordon Berry, Special Report: Malaysian Flight False Flag Evidence Revealed. This report from Info Wars as well debunks the lies you have been indoctrinated to so easily adopt.
+7 # Activista 2014-07-22 00:16
must watch -
Less than 24 hours after the devastating attack that downed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, Neocons and their state-run media would have us believe the case is closed...before an investigation has even been launched. We break down the repetitive false-flag narrative....
-2 # kalpal 2014-07-22 08:36
The minute you quote Alex Jones you demonstrate that you are less than sane.
+1 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-22 14:43
kalpal, THANK GOD FOR TROLLS. One of the marks of a Troll is attacking the messenger rather than the message. Rather than respond to specific issues of what has been said or even how issues are treated, the troll in ad hominem attacks the message bearer. Rarely do trolls read e-links, because they are chosen by their compliance to indoctrinated worldview & not expanding their worldview. Trolls have difficulty holding 2 seemingly contradictory ideas in their mind at the same time.

However if there were no paid trolls scouring Social-Media, then those actively discerning the truth from contrasting & comparing multiple perspectives, would not have such contrasts to remind us. Thus the multi-billion dollar troll economy paid for by our corporate government does a great service by enabling researchers to constantly contrast & compare the false narrative maintained by trolls.

Its interesting that corporate-artif icial-science, military, military aligned & mainstream corporations out of concern for self-image & public perspectives 'release' (from workday) soldiers & workforces to 'troll' the web & make sanctioned opinions known.

There's a also a small army of heart-led ex-soldiers, natural-science -based citizens & others who detach from corporate media to interact with the army of paid trolls. Trolls transform because 'dialectic' ('both-sides') information transforms mind.
+2 # Anarchist 23 2014-07-23 20:24
kalpal: Even a broken clock is right twice a day!
+39 # Anonymot 2014-07-21 14:14
And the NYT is as pitiful as everyone else. There's not a shred of journalistic objectivity left in a mainstream US news media.
+24 # Michaeljohn 2014-07-21 14:54
Gordon Berry
(..however, in this case of shootingdown a passenger plane, the evidence from many other sources is overwhelming in the case of where the missile came from -)

So Gordon, if the evidence from other sources is so overwhelming, why hasn't the US and/or other Western intelligence sources released the incontrovertibl e proof? Evidence for Saddam's possession of WMDs was 'overwhelming' too. There are too, too many examples of doctored information and downright deceit by all governments, including 'the shining city on the hill' to swallow this stuff.

As long as the West and Putin keep obfuscating on this, you can believe whomever you want to.
-4 # kalpal 2014-07-22 08:37
Conspiracists have no interest in proving what they claim. They want to profit by their claims.
+2 # Anarchist 23 2014-07-23 20:29
kalpal: Yes...looking at the wreckage of the Malaysian plane, obviously shot down by someone..there is wreckage, bodies, luggage, engines...compa re that to the 'plane' that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 or the 'wreckage' from flight #93 on 9/11...obviousl y the flimsy 'evidence' presented in the Official State History of 9/11 is the most outlandish. conspiracy theory of all! Those conspiracists also had no interest in proving what they claim!
+18 # moniker 2014-07-21 15:28
"What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?"

They saw what US wanted them to see, of course. Stupid question.
+21 # aljoschu 2014-07-21 15:36
Dear Americans,
how can you tolerate that your Government officials unisono with your leading media, within a consistent strategy of "Gleichschaltun g" of the media and press - so far only known by Hitler's fascist dictatorship - portray their own wishful and interest guided thinking as proven fact? - While disregarding all means of discrimination between assumptions and factual information, which is a sign of due professionalism in journalism?

These false charlatan journalists, newspapers and media who just recently wailed "mea maxima culpa" in regard to their failings during the attack against Iraq should be banned and ostracized publicly.
+11 # Radscal 2014-07-21 22:46
And crucially, the absurd "debates" about things as incontrovertibl e as the age of the universe, evolution and the warming of the climate have left huge segments of the US population incapable of evaluating claims and evidence.

The cynic in me says that is not accidental.
+17 # in deo veritas 2014-07-21 16:01
throughout the press conference today Obama harped on getting to the truth. What a hypocrite! When he was elected he promised to release the full content of the 9/11 report. He has steadfastly refused to release 28 pages of the report. We have given him 6 years to let the public have the truth about who was involved in the attack but have been protected by Bush and now by him. The Saudis have to be exposed. Also in regard to the shooting down of the airliner- the airlines were warned about flying over this combat zone but the fools at Malaysian Airlines ignored the warning. The families of the victims need to sue the company.
+27 # Constitutional Patriot 2014-07-21 17:36
If the corporate media blames Russia for downing MH17, why doesn't it blame the US for pummeling Palestine with its "US-made" weapons?
+14 # Constitutional Patriot 2014-07-21 18:17
The MSM bias is obvious and pathetic.
+11 # bonnettoboot 2014-07-21 21:18
Is anyone who is critisizing the people on the ground who are dealing with this mess. can anyone imagine the disaster they are dealing with, can anyone imagine the mass of body parts that had to be moved, they did what they could, at least one man took a childs body to the local hospital. They had the abilaty and sense to get a train that had frigeration, would we be able to provide this type of help here in California. The search for pieces must have been horrific Anyway why weren't the airlines ordered to by-pass the war zone we all knew two aircraft had already been attacked. These people should be praised for their efforts to save the bodies? The families are not being told the truth and are blaming the heroes for not doing enough. I am beginning to turn against president Obama, the Ex peacemaker.
+9 # Radscal 2014-07-21 22:51
"...would we be able to provide this type of help here...?"

Well, we could if we had "Heck of a job, Brownie" running FEMA again.

And yes, the constant references to bodies rotting, being mishandled and even robbed must be horrendous for the families. Propaganda at its most cruel.
-9 # sallyhamm 2014-07-21 21:35
don't forget to mention Putin's behavior is suspicious at best; of course, so was Saddam Hussein's.
+7 # kalpal 2014-07-22 08:39
Can you list 3 national leaders in opposition to the USA whose behavior is not suspicious? It depends who is doing the suspecting and why? I suspect the entire RW in America since it is in opposition to the majority of this nation.
+2 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-22 15:47
kalpal, Sally's 'suspicion' is directly linked to her media exposure. Sally's reading off of a media list of enemy targets, unaware of her deep indoctrination. Of roughly 200 countries worldwide, US media has for decades constantly denigrated the majority who are not: 1) white, 2) frequent US tourist destinations, 3) part of NATO.
Thus corporate Mainstream Media keeps passive viewers constantly prepared for war against 'suspicious' nations at anytime depending upon the Finance-Media-M ilitary-Industr ial-Legislative -Complex agenda for control at any time. Passive viewers react more susceptibly when fed a diet of monologues about "evil-dictators ". Sally thus keeps herself in the corporate Mainstream-Medi a 'judgement-chai r' & MSM has a faithful client.
Self-righteous judgement by passive audiences upon the peoples & nations of the world is a selling point in corporate MSM, which appeals to both LW & RW viewers. Both left & right are colonial traits of hierarchal division, when in fact we need both wings to fly.
+9 # Saberoff 2014-07-21 22:02
There are some excellent posts regarding this article tonight. Just sayin'.
+6 # Radscal 2014-07-21 23:18
RSN readers/comment ers often give me much hope for our country.
+1 # RnR 2014-07-22 19:09
Hey, did they see any native honeybees happily collecting non-gmo, healthy, non-lethal pollen?

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy :)
+4 # Nominae 2014-07-22 21:41
Good gawd, Robert Parry - here are all of these gobs of people busting their humps doing their level best to precipitate WWIII under *whatever* manufactured excuse will get the job done, and here *you* are - on about all of these niggling and pesky little questions regarding logic, rationality and common sense ?

What do you think this *is* - a Democracy ?
You're articles are enough to give a dedicated Fascist a case of apoplexy.

Keep up the good work !

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