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US Spy Sats See Everything, Except when the Government Says They Didn’t

There is something fishy going on in the way the US is talking about civilian plane crashes that are in some way linked, or said to be linked to Russia.

In the case of the latest tragic mid-air break-up of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268, which killed all 224 people aboard on a flight from Egypt back to Russia a few days ago, CNN is reporting US that intelligence sources say US spy satellite showed a “heat signature” that could indicate an explosion aboard the plane.

Here’s the CNN report:

A U.S. military satellite detected a midair heat flash from the Russian airliner before the plane crashed Saturday, a U.S. official told CNN.

Intelligence analysis has ruled out that the Russian commercial airplane was struck by a missile, but the new information suggests that there was a catastrophic in-flight event — including possibly a bomb, though experts are considering other explanations, according to U.S. officials.

Analysts say heat flashes could be tied to a range of possibilities, including a bomb blast, a malfunctioning engine exploding or a structural problem causing a fire on the plane.

Now note that this information about a spy satellite image comes just days after the crash.

Meanwhile, it’s been over a year and a half since the 2014 crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine — an incident that also saw a civilian airliner destroyed in midair. In this case, the US insists the crash was caused by a Russian-built BUK anti-aircraft missile provided to, and launched by pro-Russian separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine.

The US has made this claim ad nauseum, but has never provided a shred of evidence to support its charge. Meanwhile, as a number of critics have pointed out, with Ukraine in a hot civil war in which one side — the post-coup Ukrainian government forces — were getting NATO backing, and the other, the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, were receiving Russian backing, it is a certainty that the US had moved not one but multiple spy satellites into position to monitor the region around the clock by the time of the Flight 17 shoot-down.

So where are the satellite images to support a claim that a BUK missile fired from rebel-held territory and by rebel forces downed that plane, killing all 298 people aboard?

As critics like award-winning journalist Robert Parry and retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern have pointed out, if the US had satellite imagery showing a BUK missile contrail — and this large, fast-moving rocket leaves a dramatic contrail all the way from its launch site to its high-altitude target (see below), making assessing of blame quite easy — it would long since have been released or leaked to a US corporate media that have been quick to rub with anti-Russian assertions and propaganda put out by the US government.

This leaves us with two possibilities to ponder:

Either there simply are no satellite photos showing a BUK launched by ethnic Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine at Flight 17, or those photos that exist show something quite different, like a BUK being launched by Ukrainian government forces, or else, perhaps the current claim that satellite images show a heat signature around the Russian plane in Egypt are false (no image has been provided to back up the assertion of a heat signature).

Of course, there may eventually be evidence pointing to a bomb – the Russians are now looking for signs of explosive residue on the wreckage. But until such evidence is found, why, one might ask, would the US jump to make a false claim of a bomb being responsible for the Russian plane crash over the Sinai Desert, when it could as easily have been a fuel tank or engine explosion that wrecked the plane?

Well, consider that at the moment, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been trumping the US in a number of conflict regions, stymying US plans to bring Ukraine into NATO, blocking a US plan to establish a no-fly zone over Syria by openly sending fighter-bombers and cruise-missile-equipped ships to Syria to attack President Bashar al-Assad’s Islamic State and Al Nusra enemies at Assad’s invitation, and backing Iran in its support of both Assad and the embattled Iraqi government. All the while, Putin’s popularity at home has been soaring into the high 80-90percent range according to polls.

Perhaps the thinking at the White House is that by suggesting it was a bomb, and not a structural defect that brought down a Russian civilian aircraft, killing hundreds of Russian citizens, the Russian people might logically link that purported bombing to Putin’s actions in Syria and his antagonism of IS and Al Nusra, and might then turn against him.

On one NPR program last week, the reporter was fishing for exactly that idea in an interview with a Washington analyst, saying, “Isn’t it likely that if it turns out to have been a bomb by ISIS that took down the plane Russians would get upset about Putin’s backing of Assad in Syria?” A listener couldn’t miss the unseemly enthusiasm the interviewer had for this gruesome notion.

Whatever the investigation of Flight 9268’s flight recorders and wreckage concludes, one thing is clear: If the US has satellites monitoring the Sinai, where there is no war going on, it most certainly had satellites monitoring Ukraine at the time of the downing of Flight 17, and if it’s willing to announce that its satellite caught the moment of the explosion of Flight 9268 and is willing to talk about that, it should also be willing to show what its satellites saw when Flight 17 was downed.

The American people, and the people of the world, should demand this of the US government.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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