US spies say incriminating flight MH17 recordings are genuine

Malaysia Airlines crash site near DonetskBy IAN ALLEN |
American intelligence officials said on Tuesday that the intercepted conversations between pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, in which they admit shooting down a plane at approximately the same time Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, are “authentic”. The officials were speaking on condition of anonymity at a press briefing in Washington, organized by the United States government to provide its own take on the tragic incident, which killed almost 300 people last week. On Monday, Russian military officials said Moscow had evidence that a Ukrainian fighter jet was trailing the civilian airliner shortly before it crashed. But American officials told reporters on Tuesday that satellite images, voice traffic, as well as information gathered from social media used by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, “point overwhelmingly” to direct rebel responsibility for the attack. The officials said that the possibility that Ukrainian military forces might have shot down the plane was “not a plausible scenario”, because Kiev had “no antiaircraft missile system within range of the Malaysian flight at the time it was struck”. They added that photos from the crash site showed damage consistent with that caused by a Russian-made SA-11 missile, though they stressed that the data backing this assertion is still preliminary. They also pointed out, however, that US intelligence experts had verified the authenticity of the intercepted telephone conversations released shortly after the plane disaster by the Security Service of Ukraine. The voices in the recordings are allegedly those of senior pro-Russian rebel commanders, as well as of officials in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, known commonly as GRU. In one conversation, recorded 20 minutes after the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down, Igor Bezler, a leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, tells GRU Colonel Vasily Geranin: “We have just shot down a plane […]. It fell down beyond Yenakievo”. American intelligence officials said on Tuesday that voiceprint analysis confirmed that the voices in the recordings, including that of Igor Strelkov, defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, were authentic. But US officials cautioned that American intelligence agencies had not yet come to any conclusions about “the identities or even the nationalities” of those directly responsible for shooting the surface-to-air missile that brought down the Malaysian Airlines plane. They added that Washington had not been aware of the existence in eastern Ukraine of SA-11 surface-to-air missile systems until after the civilian airliner was brought down.

4 Responses to US spies say incriminating flight MH17 recordings are genuine

  1. GenIR says:

    Do intelligence analysts take anonymous officials as serious sources of information? It would seem to me that there is a lot of room for abuse if the actual officials know that even anonymous officials will be taken by the press at their word.


  2. jp muntal says:

    No!really? We are shocked! American intelligence says? Wow

  3. intelNews says:

    @GenIR: That clearly depends on the nature of the disclosure and the relationship of trust between source and reporter. But if you read the Washington Post article, you will see that the information did not come from a leak, but rather from an authorized forum organized for reporters by the White House. This is not hearsay, it presents the official view of the US IC. One may question the validity of the data behind the intelligence, but it seems to me that this information -unlike the identities of the messengers- has been authorized for release by the US government. [IA]

  4. GenIR says:


    Thanks for responding!

    Okay, I guess I’m curious if the “authorized forum organized for reporters by the White House” is a place where the IC, or other relevant actors, would communicate strategically. I realize this particular event is not a leak. It is just a coincidence, but earlier this year the MDRB released a new version of the KUBARK manual and, from my understanding, some of the newly declassified sections, talk about editing audio sources for operational benefit. Are there no suspicions here given the nature of the disclosure? What would a state (or an analyst in a state) that is politically ambivalent to the this situation make of this?

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