Home Australia Propaganda v Impropaganda – MH17, Brand 60 Minutes, & Shell-game Journalism

Propaganda v Impropaganda – MH17, Brand 60 Minutes, & Shell-game Journalism



by Greg Maybury

“A Huge and Embarrassing Mistake?”

The following anecdote may be apocryphal, but either way given the geopolitical zeitgeist the “moral” of the “fable” is a telling one. The story goes that during the 1980s a group of American journalists were hosting a visit to the U.S. of one of their Soviet counterparts. After proudly showing their visitor the “ropes” as to how it all works stateside, most of them expected their guest to express unbridled envy at the professional liberties they enjoyed in the Land of the Free Press. Later, whilst comparing notes about how they respectively went about plying their trade, the Russian scribe was indeed compelled to express his unabashed “admiration” to his hosts – but it was for the “superior quality” of American “propaganda.”

Now it’s fair to say his hosts were taken aback by what was at best a backhanded compliment. After some collegial argy-bargy about the stereotypes customarily associated with Western “press freedom” versus those of the controlled media in the Soviet system, one of the Americans called on their Russian colleague to explain himself. In fractured English, he replied with the following:

“It’s very simple. In Soviet Union, we don’t believe our propaganda. In United States, you actually believe yours!”

Many people familiar with this relatively obscure yarn might this week have once more been reminded of its enduring pertinence in this the post-Cold War and post-9/11 eras with the airing last week on “60 Minutes” Australia of a report claiming to have solved the mystery of the Malaysian Airlines MH-17 shoot-down disaster last July 17 over the Ukraine. This would especially have been the case with those of us who’ve had singular difficulty with the official Western position on who was actually responsible for the incident, one to which the “60 Minutes” segment seemed to go out of its way to give its seal of approval.

Along with reviving a major international story that for almost six months now has all but gone missing in media action, the “60 Minutes” crew ostensibly have added fuel to the fire that still attends the broader Ukraine situation, along with that of the resultant standoff between Russia, and America and its Western allies, over what is happening in that country. In this context the introductory anecdote (above) takes on additional resonance.

I will return to the actual “60 Minutes” segment shortly along with some reactions to it. However, given the long dormant status of the story, it is necessary to revisit some of the key aspects of this international tragedy, one in which Australia lost 38 people, second only to the Netherlands, which lost 193 nationals.

The significance of the MH-17 story cannot be underestimated, despite – or indeed because of – its extended absence from the news cycle. This, not least because of the large number of family members and friends both in Australia and worldwide of those who perished and who themselves are still, some 10 months later, looking for answers and some closure. Moreover, the very fact this incident took place within the supercharged geopolitical atmosphere that is the Ukraine crisis, one even more charged now than it was then, is also of considerable importance.

From the outset, Western governments and politicians from across the political spectrum including here in Australia – led by the nose by the neoconservative cabals in Washington and dutifully buttressed by their propaganda shills in the corporate or mainstream media (MSM) – relentlessly sought to assign blame to Russia for the shoot-down. This was a textbook media case study reinforcing the old adage about never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. In the course of doing so, they recklessly inflamed an already intense standoff between the two countries over the Ukraine crisis, one that it has to be emphasized, is largely of America’s own making.

Despite official denials from Washington, this “crisis” we now know was custom-designed and purpose-built by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and her posse of regime changers in the State Department, dutifully backed up by their neoconservative cronies (including Nuland’s husband Robert Kagan), to say little of the liberal interventionists in the Obama administration and in the broader Official Washington community.

As for what actually happened to MH-17 and who was responsible, Washington and the MSM in the West continued to maintain their rage for Russia despite being unable to provide concrete evidence of their claims, all the while singularly failing to provide news consumers and the general public with the full story, at least to the extent it was known.

If nothing else (and with this story there is plenty “else”), the MH-17 fallout was emblematic of the MSM’s long, well (if not fully) documented, and not so illustrious history of venal complicity in blindly validating Western governments’ approved narratives, along with sanctioning their official agendas and, whether through sins of omission or commission, suppressing their secret ones. This is not conspiracy theory; it’s conspiracy reality. In fact it remains one of the key reasons why the generic MSM brand is in such decline among discerning news consumers seeking timely truths and authentic realities about the world in which we live and the forces which shape it.

For those folks highly skeptical, even dismissive, of the official narrative of the events leading up to and attending the MH-17 disaster, it was and has always been a “put up or shut up” proposition. This is something even the “60 Minutes” folks would have known from the start. And although we can say those promulgating this official narrative were unable to “put up” (albeit not for the want of trying), they eventually did “shut up.”.

A Media Blame Game 

It seems then the politicians and their praetorian guard-dogs in the MSM were unable to sustain the breathlessly hysterical, one-sided “blame game” they collectively indulged in with respect to Russia, all the while reserving particular animus for its President Vladimir Putin. The “blame game” then was called off, though it was always something of a “shell-game” in disguise.

The hypocrisy was breathtaking in its scope, duration and intensity. Indeed, so “hysterical” was the backlash, Western leaders appeared to be outdoing themselves in carrying the can for Washington, with arguably Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott leading the pack by earlier threatening to “shirt-front” the Russian president over the issue during his official visit to this country last November for the 2014 G20 meeting in Brisbane. Coming from a national leader on the world stage, this unprecedented, petulant outburst was something to behold. But such was the fervor of the times regarding MH-17 especially, and more broadly, the anti-Russian mood that prevailed earlier in the year over Russia’s “invasion” of the Ukraine in the aftermath of the U.S.’s prefabricated coup d’état.

Yet even putting aside the reality, Abbott was doubtless playing to local audiences given the number of Aussies killed in the shoot-down (to say nothing of his rock-bottom domestic political stocks at the time), it was clear from this moment the anti-Russian mood across the West at least within official circles – if the effective G20 snubbing of Putin was any indication – had indeed reached a crescendo if it hadn’t taken on a life of its own.

The MH-17 incident proved to be a powerful lightning rod through which the bear baiting could effectively be channeled by all and sundry. It was the gift that kept on giving for the neoconservatives and their interventionist confreres, along with those American allies wanting to ingratiate themselves with the Beltway Bandits on both banks of the Potomac.

Then, after the G20 in Brisbane, the collective Western umbrage died out. The intensity and duration of the ongoing anti-Russian feeding frenzy was completely at odds with the abruptness with which the MH-17 matter disappeared from the news cycle. The silence on MH-17 might have been deafening, yet it spoke volumes at the same time, and still does. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Danger of an MH-17 ‘Cold Case’.”]

That said, in retrospect it seems it was only a matter of time before someone somewhere sought to revisit the story complete with the “Putin did it” narrative. Cue here “60 Minutes” Australia!

The Dogs Not Barking

Now we can only surmise that this recent revelation purporting to be the definitive account of what actually happened to, and who was responsible for, the MH-17 shoot-down was the end result of a decision by the “60 Minutes” folks to boldly go where their colleagues in other MSM outlets feared to tread, fears based one suspects on the old adage that it’s better to let sleeping media dogs lie after all.

Moreover, one suspects this may have been an attempt by “60 Minutes” at brand “rehab,”, since for those of us with a more nuanced view of how the MSM really works have known for some time said “brand” has become somewhat shop-soiled over the years. And given “60 Minutes” status as a flagship MSM marque – whether in Australia or in the U.S. – going down this path was always going to attract people’s attention. For this reason alone it was fraught with peril, so they just had to get this one right!

Which is to say, this was the only way they could go if they were attempting to revive the MH-17 story. Considering the basic laws governing the media news-cycle, efforts to do so had to be accompanied by some groundbreaking new insights, or at least the next best thing. And one can only wonder what the “next best thing” might have looked like short of finding the “smoking gun” (or should we say the ”‘smoking BUK”) and identifying the persons who fired it. This was especially the case given the hammering the same media gave the issue from the outset.

But in declaring unequivocally they had indeed done all this, in the process correspondent Michael Usher and his “60 Minutes” team of investigators may have not only opened up a can of worms, they might also have bitten off more than they can chew and dug themselves into an even deeper hole in one fell swoop. They are going to look awfully silly if they aren’t able to sustain the narrative they have assembled from their investigations. The proof will be in the pudding going forward one imagines, the “pudding” in this case being largely whether the general public in Australia or anywhere else accepts their conclusions, and whether other MSM outlets pick up on the story and continue to run with it. And as of this writing, there appear few signs their MSM confreres – either in Australia or in the U.S. – are chomping at the bit to do so.

With this in mind, if Robert Parry of Consortium News has anything to do with it, rather than gaining any ongoing traction, the story as it stands will be stopped in its tracks. Although his profile Down Under may not be high, Parry is one of America’s most respected investigative journalists working in the alternative, independent media space. He’s also someone who has taken a very strong interest in the MH-17 incident, and in the broader situation in the Ukraine. After viewing the “60 Minutes” report, he was to put it mildly less than impressed with Usher and Co.’s “findings.”

Now because readers can decide for themselves by viewing the various links herein and doing their own research if so inclined, there’s little point rehashing the minutiae of the “60 Minutes” revelations or providing a blow-by-blow account of Parry’s own responses. It is however worth noting some of the key points.

A Video Mismatch (Made in Ukraine)

To begin with, Parry suggests that “60 Minutes” might have “faked” a key piece of evidence in arriving at its conclusion – in claiming that it had located the spot where a video was taken after the shoot-down and showing what appears to be a BUK launcher making a getaway. The “60 Minutes” team claimed the spot was in rebel-controlled Luhansk and the launcher was fleeing back to Russian territory. However, Parry noted that the scene in the earlier video didn’t match the site shown by “60 Minutes.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Fake Evidence Blaming Russia for MH-17?”]

Further, Parry pointed to one of the main bones of contention for those of us who have had great difficulty accepting the official position, that being “the dog-not-barking question of why the U.S. government has withheld its intelligence data.” This is a not unimportant consideration by any means and one to which we’ll return.

Not unexpectedly the “60 Minutes” folks in response took considerable umbrage at Parry’s suggestion they were engaging in journalistic “sleight-of-hand” in the way they had framed their narrative and presented their “ground-breaking new insights.” One member of the investigative team tweeted that Parry had made a “huge and embarrassing mistake” – but didn’t say what it was.

However it was the segment’s producer Stephen Rice who adopted an especially righteous stance. Describing Parry’s claims as “nonsense, and demonstrably wrong,” he then went for the journalistic jugular by declaring Parry’s piece “an amateurish attempt to discredit our story, embarrassing even for him.” Now the loaded phrase “even for him” is a measure of Rice’s “umbrage” to be sure, and suggests that for reasons about which we can only speculate he had little regard for Parry’s journalistic integrity even prior to his outburst.

There was certainly a whiff of the “methinks he doth protest too much” about it. Yet one is left wondering if Rice is so convinced they got their story right and that the facts speak for themselves, whether this decidedly nasty additive at the end of his salvo was actually necessary, or for that matter was becoming of any self-respecting journalist. But they left themselves wide open to Parry’s follow-up response, again noting that the two images – one from the night of July 17 and the other from the “60 Minutes” show – simply don’t match up and that all the hostile rhetoric won’t change that fact. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “You Be the Judge.”]

And in respect to any further consideration of who the real culprits were and as to what actually happened to MH-17 – the sole focus of the “60 Minutes” story – the significance of the “question” regarding why U.S. intelligence data has been withheld cannot be overstated. With this in mind, in the course of their investigation, why didn’t the “60 Minutes” folks seek out someone from the U.S. Government to provide corroboration or otherwise from their own intelligence data as to the veracity of their findings?

Or to put it in even simpler terms, why didn’t “60 Minutes” ask the U.S. Government point-blank why they have thus far refused to release all the satellite imagery and related intelligence data on the MH-17 shoot-down that by most objective accounts would put the matter to rest once and for all? We might safely surmise herein this is because of the same reason there is still much evidence yet to see the light of day regarding the JFK Thing, or the 9/11 Thing, or the Iran/Contra Thing or any number of other memorable “Things” for which full explanations and revelations from the U.S. government remain outstanding.

More Revelation, Less Accusation

Taking then a broader view, there are a myriad range of other issues and angles to be considered for anyone revisiting the whole MH-17 tragedy: the geopolitical milieu in which the MH-17 incident took place and the narrative framework in which its story continues to play out – the ongoing Ukraine crisis created by Washington; the West’s diplomatic marginalization of Russia coupled with the economic sanctions; the incessant saber-rattling and continuing encroachment by NATO around Russia’s borders; the resentment and suspicion that America through its belligerent foreign policy machinations is fomenting with nations such as Iran, China and others – all has the potential to determine the fate of nations and the geopolitical landscape for years to come. And not it needs be said, in a good way. And that’s without considering the “nuke” factor!

In this context then, the MH-17 disaster in realpolitik terms may not even matter that much anymore. This may explain why the story disappeared so quickly from the media radar. In reality and again with the benefit of some rear-view-mirror gazing, the MH-17 tragedy was always a geopolitical football from the beginning, and in that sense it has long since served its purpose. To underscore this and at the same time point to some of those myriad issues and angles regarding the MH-17 shoot-down that have all been swept under the carpet – including it should be noted by our intrepid “60 Minutes” journalistic “gumshoes” – the documentary by Peter Vlemmix is a must watch.

To be sure there are “plenty” of other folks who have questioned and indeed openly challenged the rationale for the official response from Western politicians and the MSM. But Vlemmix’s film is as good a place to begin for those looking to gain a more complete – and more dispassionate – perspective. And for those wishing to explore an alternative summary of the evidentiary minutiae specifically addressed by “60 Minutes,” the link herein is also highly recommended.

Further, it may also be instructive to consider the following. Over three months ago and well after the MH-17 story disappeared from the radar, I personally sent to Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop an email presenting her with a number of queries regarding the Australian government’s official position on MH-17 at that point. These are some of the questions posed to the Minister then, and they remain pertinent now:

  1. What countries are currently involved in [the MH-17] investigation, and what specific role is Australia playing? At what stage is the investigation itself and when does the Minister expect that it will be completed and a report available? 
  2. Can the minister confirm or deny speculation/reports that the findings of the investigation will not be released? If they are not to be released as has been reported, can the Minister please explain why this is the case? 
  3. If it is found the Ukrainian separatists were responsible – which seems to be the official position of most stakeholders – will this change the position of the countries involved as to whether the findings indeed will be released if at this stage there is – as reported – no plans to do so? 
  4. If the report is not to be released, will the relatives of the victims be privy to the findings, regardless of the outcome of said findings? If not, why not? If so, what conditions might be placed on them re: confidentiality if indeed the report is not going to be released in full un-redacted? Will they still be able to seek compensation from those responsible, regardless of who that is? 
  5. If it is found that the Russian separatists were not in fact responsible for this disaster, will the Australian government lift the sanctions imposed on the Russian government in the wake of the disaster? Will the Australian Prime Minister also apologise to the Russian president for both the imposition of the sanctions, and the manner in which he was treated during the Brisbane G20? 
  6. If in fact it is found that the Ukrainian regime was responsible, will the Australian government seek compensation for victims and reimbursement for the cost of the recovery operation and investigation? Will it seek an official apology from and/or impose economic sanctions on the Ukraine regime in response? Will the relevant members of the Ukrainian regime face possible criminal charges in international courts? 

Now there was no response from the Minister’s office despite a follow-up query, which for most may not be surprising. And we can only speculate as to whether we might have received a satisfactory and timely response had the questions been posed by a “60 Minutes” investigative reporter. For others, especially after all the brouhaha surrounding MH-17, the no-reply might also be something of a fashion statement.

But the point herein is this: Like all Western governments, the MH-17 tragedy had served its purpose. The harsh reality – especially so for the victims’ families – is that there was and remains no political dividend in continuing to flog the proverbial dead horse.

The Perpetual Siren Call of Realpolitik

As brutal as it sounds, the Australian government’s priority was not finding closure for the victims’ families, determining the real cause of the tragedy, or ensuring as far as is possible those responsible faced justice, and it would appear that the Netherlands is no different in this respect.

In response to the additional controversy over the release of a report on the investigation and as to who would actually get to see it, the Dutch Prime Minister’s office issued a statement late November 2014 that said the following, which wasn’t much in words, but spoke volumes in meaning:  “….the benefits of disclosing information about the MH17 investigation were outweighed by the risk of damage to the Dutch state’s relations to other states and world bodies.”

Although no one has yet coughed up hard-core evidence against the Kremlin (including it would seem most key figures in the U.S. intelligence community), the Western powers led by Washington have flagrantly exploited the disaster in order to bolster their propaganda campaign against Russia. This is, after all, the Washington Way. Within the geopolitical realm though and in the final analysis, the perpetual siren call of realpolitik dictates that there are more often than not bigger fish to fry.

Moreover, with the possible exception of the consideration the Russian separatists did shoot down the airliner deliberately and did so at the Kremlin’s instigation (a scenario that no one takes seriously), regardless of what happened and who was responsible for the disaster, the Americans themselves have to shoulder most if not all the blame for this lamentable, avoidable tragedy. Their track record of “regime change” is one that is well documented, with the commensurate blowback from such interventions constituting a narrative deep, wide and long enough to justify its own unique classification and index number within the Dewey library catalogue system.

In this context then the MH-17 tragedy appears to be, in a word, more “blowback” – the direct outcome of another of those meddling interventions, collateral damage as a direct consequence of playing the Great Game in the relentless pursuit of empire. For that matter, Ukraine itself may also be destined to take a back seat in the Great Game going forward. This observation was underscored by Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times recently, wherein he reports on an apparent thaw in the U.S.–Russia relationship, one instigated by America.

As for the “60 Minutes” folks, they may or may not have had the best intentions in their fearless efforts to uncover the truth. And they may or may not have covered all the bases and considered all the relevant facts, evidence and issues in delivering their final verdict. If they haven’t then, this would not be the first time by any stretch one of the MSM’s flagship brands has been caught short and found wanting in any or all of the above criteria.

As far as the “60 Minutes” brand itself is concerned, in this respect we only have to recall “Rathergate”. This referred to the Dan Rather imbroglio in 2004 erupting from revelations about George W. Bush’s National Guard duty in the lead-up to the presidential election of that year, “revelations” which were based in part on questionable documents. The botched story it should be remembered culminated in the veteran newsman’s downfall, along with the firing of several lesser known colleagues. And we can only speculate as to what impact the fiasco had on the outcome of the election.

In concluding then, for the moment and for the sake of argument, let’s give the “60 Minutes” crew the benefit of the doubt. They may have acted in good faith, approached their investigation with an open mind from the start and then even genuinely believed when they went to air the program they were on the right track. Yet such was the nature of this story that in the final analysis even this was never going to be enough. Their findings had to be more than convincing, even more than conclusive; they had to be bulletproof.

For his part Robert Parry has raised sufficient doubts, enough to render their findings significantly less than conclusive if not indeed less than credible. It is difficult then to accept that this high-wire adventure in investigative journalism had less to do with arriving at a truth or reality that most of us could get our heads around. It was more about reinforcing an official narrative – one that has never been explained or evidenced satisfactorily by those who were best positioned, and upon whom it was always incumbent, to do so – and more to do with journalistic one-upmanship, MSM grandstanding and brand refurbishment.

Of course as to whether they – like our American journalists in the opening anecdote – ended up believing their “own propaganda” is possibly a story for another time. About this we can only speculate.

And judging by the singular lack of interest from other MSM outlets in taking up the “60 Minutes” story, even their own colleagues apparently aren’t that convinced they in fact, did get it right. Until and unless this happens, Messrs Usher and Rice and their crew it seems will have two options, neither of which one imagines would be very palatable for Brand “60 Minutes.” They can dig in their heels, “maintain the rage” on their Pat Malone, or stop “mentioning the war.”

Doubtless though, it will be fascinating to see which path they take going forward. Tick, tock!… Tick tock!.. Tick tock!…

Greg Maybury


  1. I like this question that Maybury put to Ms Bishop:
    “If it is found the Ukrainian separatists were responsible – which seems to be the official position of most stakeholders – will this change the position of the countries involved as to whether the findings indeed will be released?”

      • Hi Mary,
        Although I suppose you could argue they reinforce each other, I’m inclined to stick with what I wrote. My own reading of history tells me that it’s the media more often than not that falls into line with what the “Secret Elites” and the Agenda Benders are promulgating. This was reinforced from my reading of Hidden History – The Secret Origins of World War One (see my previous piece for Gumshoe, “From Great Games, Come Great Wars”; see link below), and more recently by Matt Taibbi in a Rolling Stone piece (see link below) called “Forget What We Know Now: We Knew Then the Iraq War Was a Joke”. In this case the self referential “we” is the MSM.


        • Greg, I now agree with you if what you meant by government was the Secret Elite, as you described in your recent review of the Docherty/Macgregor book. Hence I will read the sentence to mean “Media blindly validates the Secret Elite’s narratives.”

          I think they are one and the same entity — the Secret Elite and the media. I don’t see any media (except the Gumshoe variety) having any independence from them. In my youth I thought the Boston Globe had some independence, and even in the 1980s I thought the Adelaide Advertiser could host a ‘debate’ — especially the weekend edition, which had a few intellectual pages. (By the way, the Advertiser was still a broadsheet then.)

          Looking back I suppose I was wrong and that there was “no way” the Globe was going to challenge anything that matters.
          Oddly, Murdoch’s HarperCollins Press does turn out some dissident books. Can anyone enlighten me as to why?

  2. Well channel 9 and 60 minutes, be interesting to see if you are prepared to answer the matters raised.
    If you don”t, you might as well bugger off and Australia can be better informed by turning you lot off.

    • Never happen. I’m already hearing the Murdoch Press-reading colleagues at work going all “did you see 60 minutes? It WAS the Russians after all…(pause for breath/response/praise whatever). It must be true because its on 60 Minutes.

      We have a long way to go.

      • Well then, channel nine successfully misinformed some of the public.
        That is deceit in any international language …………. and they would be proud of their success.
        So for our democracy and freedoms …… to be competently informed.

  3. I think Greg has presented a correct cautious questioning attitude towards the MH17 event which has been wrapped and soaked in contradicting tales and counter tales from both sides of the battle front in Eastern Ukraine.
    The Sixty Minutes report is significantly based upon the Belliingcat open source investigation of MH17 which must be given due respect and due scrutiny.
    Let us not be naive and fail to subject the Kremlin allied account to the same level of scrutiny and appropriate skepticism that all “Government” statements deserve.
    Russia is subject to all the flaws and tendencies of power.

    I think the evidence suggests both Russia and the US are negotiating a false version of events that can best serve their particular advantage and audience.
    How is responsibility weighed in a war zone?
    I puzzle at Parry’s faulty criticism of the Sixty Minutes report when he could have drawn attention to the larger objectivity regarding the war and why civilian airlines were placed in such potential danger.
    Why would a man of Parry’s experience pick a fight with Sixty Minutes on a flimsy distracting issue?

    If the US produced evidence, that Russia was, in response to a desperate separatist state of civilian exhaustion and rebellion brought on by merciless Kiev bombing over Eastern Ukraine, sneaking BUK assistance into Ukraine, surely heavy responsibility then lands at the feet of Kiev/CIA.
    The US will avoid this conclusion by relying on a trial by media which has already convicted Russia of the crime in the West.
    The official investigations are now superfluous because their narrative of demon Putin is locked in the public mind.

    Russia has a different constituency to manage and possibly had no other option than urgent air defence support for the Separatists that were on the brink of capitulation.
    Russia played a straight bat of denial because any other approach was political suicide on the world stage and on the home front.

    Russia was in effect at war and truth is just what serves the defence of the Nation.

    I accept there are many loose ends and possible twists to this analysis that we are not likely to uncover any time soon or by reading the results of the “official” investigation when it is eventually concluded and made public.

    Clearly the critical nub is the catastrophe of secrecy, non-accountability and arrogance of our political servants and the media who now serve as an impenetrable wall of defence in protection of the galloping policy of monopoly and dictatorship, assisted by, the general populous mindset that nothing major is out of order.

    • Wow Christopher, “The catastrophe of secrcy, non-acountablity (IMAGINE IT!), and arrogance (well, it really isn’t arrogance it is patheticness) protecting the GALLOPING POLICY of monopoly and dictatorship.”

      say no more, old buddy, you have said it all.

    • Hello Christopher,

      Thanks for your considered response. You’ve raised a number of interesting points to be sure, and I’ll do my best to address them. Let me begin by saying your last paragraph I think got to the crux of the matter: to wit: “Clearly the critical nub [of the MH-17 controversy?] is the catastrophe of secrecy, non-accountability and arrogance of our political servants and the media who now serve as an impenetrable wall of defence in protection of the galloping policy of monopoly and dictatorship, assisted by, the general populous mindset that nothing major is out of order.”

      The sentiments expressed therein are at the heart of my piece, and making that point was a primary purpose of the exercise. Some might argue I didn’t make this clear, but I feel in trying to make that point any clearer, I ran the risk of labouring the point. (My purpose was not I should emphasise to provide directly or indirectly a defence of Russia; I’ll leave that part of the debate for another time, if for no other reason than it lends itself to another separate piece altogether).

      I also think, with respect, it would be difficult to argue that anything to do with MH-17 is “flimsy [and/or] distracting”, especially within ‘earshot’ of the family members, friends, and loved ones of the victims of the disaster who are looking for closure, with many presumably hoping they might’ve received some from the “60 Minutes” segment. If there is one point I do regret not “labouring” more it is this one. In all the argy-bargy over the MH-17 fallout, this is the one genuinely tragic factor that all too frequently gets overwhelmed, sidelined, indeed ignored.

      With this paragraph, you have also touched on why I think Robert Parry in part was willing to “pick a fight” (I prefer the word “challenge”) with not just “60 Minutes” over their report, but in doing so I believe his intention was to raise the broader considerations and issues identified in your last paragraph. Which is to say, Mr Parry’s – and Consortium New’s contributors in general – track record in challenging the MSM insofar as transparency, accountability and credibility issues are concerned is well documented. I would also argue that “track record” is a highly credible and admirable one, even if it has not always – given the collective insularity, arrogance and venality of the MSM – been effective.

      Moreover, I feel sure he would argue that challenging the MSM in those areas where/when it is not just appropriate to do so but essential, is very much a part of Consortium’s mission. The “60 Minutes” MH-17 story was another of those times. Short of a wholesale Road to Damascus conversion in the immediate future upon the part of the Fourth Estate regarding matters of journalistic integrity, fairness, accuracy, transparency, accountability etc. enacted in the interest of public enlightenment, no doubt there’ll be plenty more going forward.

      As to whether his criticism was “faulty”, that may or may not be open to ongoing debate. For your own part, if you feel strongly enough his criticism was “faulty”, you are of course welcome to articulate that argument on the Consortium site itself. That said, as an occasional contributor to Consortium, I have found in my dealings with Mr Parry that he is a scrupulous, exacting editor (sometimes ruthlessly so), occasionally picking me up on factual errors and/or interpretations of people, situation and circumstance in my own pieces. This is something for which I am very much appreciative of and grateful for; for those of us working in the alternative independent media space are keen to avoid making the same mistakes and errors of judgment that appear to be so common in the MSM, and which have been so detrimental to open, honest discourse in public debate in our so-called, self-styled ‘democracies’. And I expect he applies the same “ruthless” quality control to his own pieces. In short, if you wish to take up the “faulty” argument with Mr Parry, a word to the wise though is apposite: make sure you’re on solid ground.

      For his part I imagine though he feels he has said what needs to be said and he doubtless will stand by his responses to the “60 Minutes” MH-17 story. As I do!



      • Hi Greg, appreciating your contributions and responses.

        Terminology choice aside, my puzzle is that Parry accused the Sixty Minutes report of presenting “fake evidence” based on their set up position during an interview that did not provide an exact visual match with the alleged “video” of the BUK minus 1 missile traveling the alleged path “back to Russian territory”.

        The issue is reported at the Bellingcat link.

        My thoughts remain pondering why risk a distracting storm with a pedantic point instead of focusing on important background and historical context that was missing from the report and should have been included in any honest full investigation.

        Robert Parry is very experienced.

        Of course we do understand, Sixty Minutes has not responded to all the other points where Parry makes a challenge.

        The deeper I read into the MH17 tragedy, the more complex the subject appears.

        The Matrix of information and the operation of our “Governing agencies” are designed to have no discernible visible certitude. Our first task is to gather agreement around this factual reality towards planning and action to recover truth and integrity in human affairs.

        The biggest lies are the most dangerous for exposure but they are also the most heavily and cleverly guarded.

        • Hello Chris,

          Many thanks again. I guess for me if/when it comes down to trusting the judgment of either parties, I’ve pitched my tent inside Consortium’s Camp, whether to do with the decision by RP to challenge them, or on what basis he chose to do so. 60 Minutes have not done themselves any favours by not addressing the complaints and effectively ignoring the criticism, regardless of where it is coming from. The ball is in their court in a sense. But as I indicated in another comment above, what will be interesting is to see whether this ‘expose’ goes anywhere from here, or disappears into the ether of the commentary that has attended the MH-17 controversy from the off.

          Best, GM

  4. Greg, thanks for a useful and informative contribution to the discussion. I have been following this matter since July last year and have published two articles on the topic: in Counterpunch in December 2014 and New Eastern Outlook in April this year. I won’t repeat the arguments made there and those interested can easily go to those web sites and put my name in the search engine.

    I will however briefly address the issue disclosing the results of the investigation that you mention, and your quote from the Dutch authorities is pertinent in this regard.

    On 8 August 2014 Ukraine, Belgium, Netherlands and Australia signed an agreement that the results of the investigation into MH17 would not be disclosed unless all four parties agreed. This is extraordinary as it effectively gives the prime suspect, Ukraine, a veto over the publication of any damaging conclusions about their involvement.

    I have been pursuing under FOI the terms of that agreement. The battle is ongoing. The main reason advanced by the Australian government is that disclosure of the terms of the 8 August agreement would jeopardise foreign relations. This is of itself extraordinary as there is surely a legitimate public interest in the results of an investigation under ICA Rules into what was foremost a criminal act.

    Dutch colleagues have faced a similar response under their FOI requests.

    What is also very important is that the existence of this agreement has been suppressed by the Australian msm. It is not only the terms that are secret but even the existence of the agreement. Perhaps needless to say the 60 Minutes program made no mention of the agreement.

    The other point I would briefly make is that the Dutch investigation has done the forensic tests on the fuselage of MH17. Such tests are capable of determining exactly what those “high velocity objects” referred to in the interim report actually were. You can be assured that if those tests confirmed that the source was a BUK missile we would have heard about it long before now.

    In fact, based on a number of sources, the overwhelming probability is that MH17 was brought down by a combination of 30mm cannon fire and an air to air missile fired by a jet from the Ukrainian air force.

    As you know, the Russians gave a detailed press conference on 21 July 2014 setting out their satellite and radar data. That conference received no coverage in the Oz media. In the course of their presentation the Russians stated that there was an American spy satellite directly overhead at the time of the shoot down. They invited the Americans to release their data. The Americans have refused. One is entitled to draw an appropriate negative inference from that refusal.

    Don’t expect any of this to be discussed in the msm. As you point out, there are wider geopolitical considerations at work here, and the victims and their families are just collateral damage as far as the Australian, USA and Ukrainian governments are concerned.

      • Dee, the penultimate paragraph says “The [Australian] government remains focused on finding, prosecuting, and punishing the perpetrators of this cowardly act.”

        Would any member of the Gumshoe Legal Team care to show how a nation-state would go about — in the ordinary course of things, unrelated to this particular case — the finding of the baddy and then the prosecuting, when it happened in a foreign country.
        In whose court, for example? What about extradition treaties?

        And, in this case of apparent shootdown of a plane, what crime would he be charged with?
        Certainly that is better than two nations going to war, if the baddy did what he did in some way that was not an act of war.

        I personally do not think Bin Laden did the 9-11 attack on the WTC but, in those days when we were busy thinking he did, I could at least know from ordinary law that the proper response was to prosecute him, not go on a major bombing ‘tour’ of Afghanistan. The US should not have chosen the latter, by law.

        Please, somebody, walk us through it. First, walk us through a case where an Aussie in Ukraine was stabbed by a robber.

        Then walk us through two scenarios regarding MH17:
        In Scenario A, please posit Russia as the culprit.
        In Scenario B, “rebels” did it.

        Maybe a member of the Gumshoe Insurance Underwriters Team could also tell us what the proper procedure is if the “finding” is that the crash was an accident. How do the families get paid? How do the owners of the jet get paid? Indeed even if the finding is that it was an act of terrorism, how do the families and the jet owners get paid?

      • Dee, thanks for the copy of the letter. It confirms what some have doubted; that such an agreement exists. I made my initial FOI request to DFAT. They referred it to the Attorney General’s office who then passed it to the Australian Federal Police. Completely missing from the above letter, and the stalling I am currently getting from the AFP, is an explanation as to how non-disclosure of the results unless all four countries agree could possibly jeopardise a criminal investigation.
        There is also no reasonable explanation as to why the msm refuse to even print the fact of the existence of the agreement. They may have received a D Notice. I am aware that some of the victims family members are aware of the agreement and to say they are baffled would be an understatement.

        Mary: you ask questions that are not possible to answer in the comment section. Most of the answers to your questions are found in the international civil aviation regulations to which Australia is a party. The estates of the victims get paid a specified amount. If an Aussie is stabbed in Ukraine then his/her perpetrator is prosecuted under Ukrainian criminal law. It is trickier with airline disasters. In this case it was a Malaysian airliner, in Ukrainian air space, with non-Ukrainian victims. As it was almost assuredly an act of terrorism the perpetrators could be prosecuted in the international criminal court. The Ukraine is unlikely to submit to that jurisdiction. The US, who are also almost certainly culpable, do not recognise the ICC.
        There are historical precedents. Ukraine shot down an Israeli civilian airliner some years ago. A US warship also shot down an Iranian civilian airliner. It took many years for the americans to even acknowledge they were wrong. They have not paid compensation to this day. The captain of the ship (USS Vincennes) was awarded a medal!

        Scenarios A and B are not worth arguing as they are beyond remote in terms of probabilities.

        Happy to discuss this over a drink when you are next in Brisbane.

        • Dear James, I don’t know why you don’t want to comment on A and B, but thanks for the other answers.

          I had better correct something I said about Bin Laden, lest anyone think I subscribe to the idea that there is such a thing as international law. I don’t. I believe the ICJ, the ICC, and IHL are delusory. I am Rubinesque all the way (Alfred P Rubin).
          So when I said that America “by law” should not bomb Afghanistan I meant the US prez should not do any such thing unless there is a war declaration from Congress. To me, the separation of powers is top priority. Or, should I say, supporting one’s nation’s constitution is hygienic.

          I do realize that the ICC says it will start to enforce the crime of aggression in 2017. OK, I’ll have another look-in at that point.

          The crime of the stabber as you say was not international; the Ukraine criminal court would presumably handle it.

          Our bombing Afghanistan (I am dual citizen US-Oz) on October 8, 2001, you know about a minute after Dee found the bones on top of the bank, was a horrific sin. But not a crime, as there is no such thing as international crime.

          I published an Open Letter to Col Gadaffi when he was wanted at the Hague, asking him to please turn himself in so he could state his case. Of course they would have had a conniption if he had showed up.

          • Mary, I didn’t comment on your scenarios A and B for the reason stated. I try and work within the available evidence, plus reasonably logical inferences to be drawn from that evidence. There is zero evidence (as that term is understood by a lawyer) that either Russia or the “rebels” shot down MH17. It is therefore pointless to speculate on either scenario unless and until there is some evidence. Unfortunately, as we see in our msm, assertions and allegations are substituted for analysis.

            I am afraid that we will have to disagree about international law. It is an area I have worked in for the past 30+ years. It may be imperfect, but that is true of all legal systems. where it commonly falls down is in not having effective enforcement mechanisms when States choose not to be bound by its principles and mechanisms. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal under international law to take two examples where Australia was involved. Are we likely to see Bush, Blair or Howard before the ICC? Almost certainly not. That is not to say it shouldn’t happen but it is not the fault of international law that it won’t happen.

          • I would say: the fact that the miscreants can’t get punished means there is no law. There is no enforcer higher than the state. (Not counting victor’s justice, which is a strong state punishing the weaker one.) Who might that enforcer be?
            God forbid we should have a global enforcer. (TPP?)

            IHL is a shameful delusion. I say it ENABLED the Abu Graib atrocities. American folks are told that their boys in the field actually restrain themselves per “Geneva Conventions.” But they do not and their commanders would not let them. Why live with falsity?

            In this instance there is parallel domestic law. A soldier who breaks the Geneva’s is liable as a war criminal in US, per
            18 USC 2441(a) Offense. “Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.”

            What would it take for a prosecution to happen? The Executive Branch refuses to prosecute. Men in war want to kill the enemy. Natch. Civilians want to back their dear soldiers. IHL is a lie. When decades and decades go by and this law is not enforced I think it is correct to say the law is impossible and therefore “there is no international law.”

            It would be better, in my opinion, for us all to admit that we will do horrible things in war. Then we could begin a discussion and make decisions based on reality and not delusion. We also conquer, as in days of old. Funny thing is, we are not safe from being conquered. Does not the Bilderberg group say it is bent on knocking off the rich countries, at least economically.

            Behold our pitiful obedience to such clever fellows as are described in “Hidden History” by Docherty and Macgregor. Thank God for that book. It is so carefully documented. Now let’s do something about it. Let’s identify traitors.

    • G’Day James,

      Many thanks for you response. Your views and insights on MH-17 I found invaluable. This is of course one of those issues about which few people can have all the information, and I certainly do not lay claim to having that. I do now recall your Counterpunch piece as I am a regular subscriber, and remember being impressed by the insights then. I have no doubt it was one of the many pieces that have formed my overarching views on MH-17 since the tragic event. (After reading your post I went back to it again.)

      Let me say at the outset, I am not an investigative journalist nor do I purport to have any expertise in this respect. But I didn’t need to be, as the focus was not on the “evidentiary minutiae”. I made my own judgment call on how that was being presented to the public, all the while attempting to view the bigger picture. My focus was less so on the specifics of “60 Minutes” segment than it was on the broader implications of segment’s findings, what significance they might have for the geopolitical landscape going forward, and what the response from all stakeholders might be.

      As for the “60 Minutes” report claiming to have solved the mystery of the MH-17 disaster – what actually caused the plane to crash and exactly who was responsible – has left many with nagging doubts about their findings to be sure and how they arrived at this conclusion. Some might even argue they have raised more questions than they have answered. But it has also brought into sharp relief the manner in which of the mainstream media (MSM) has reported this tragedy from the outset, and its larger role in supporting official narratives without due diligence and accountability. Not just with MH-17, but with more incidents and events than we have time/space herein to contemplate. Iraq WMDs anyone? 9/11 anyone?…to name just two of the MSM’s Greatest Hits!

      A key point here is this. One wonders what the investigative team will make of the “60 Minutes” ‘expose’ now and going forward as they try to determine who the culprits were. This to say nothing of those authorities/agencies charged with the responsibility of taking action against those accountable for this crime?/tragedy? once their report is completed. When all is said and done, with all the resources (intelligence data, technology, people, time, money etc.) that presumably are available to them, the investigative team has still 10 months down the track failed (or “refused” seems the more likely scenario when all things are considered) to provide a definitive account of the disaster most of us can accept as authentic and unassailably verifiable.

      And yet seemingly out of the blue, a team of self-styled “citizen investigative journalists” using open-source information and data and presumably not endowed with an unlimited budget comes up with all the “answers”. They then engage the services of “60 Minutes” brand (in Australia, not America) as the medium through which to impart those findings to the international community at large, and in the process, not simply trumping the investigative team, but making them look like a bunch of plodders.

      One also wonders if the open-source folks came up with a very different conclusion (and we know what we’re talking about here), whether the “60 Minutes” folks would have been as eager to come on board with such revelations. About this of course we can only speculate, but nonetheless, an enticing “what if” counterfactual to be sure. But it would have I feel truly qualified as a “groundbreaking” adventure in investigative reportage – a high-wire act of an entirely different kind to be sure. All things being equal, for many that really would have enhanced their “shop-soiled” rep.

      As the old saying goes, “What be Wrong with this Picture?”

      All that said James, I’ve now posted a slightly edited/updated version of my piece at Op Ed News, my usual ‘watering hole’ in the U.S. In this I have name checked your Counterpunch piece in a pre-post comment by way of introducing my piece to readers, along with selectively quoting some of your remarks above. I expect this will be published sometime this week. Between us and a few other dedicated folks maybe we can do our little bit to keep the story on the radar.

      Once again, thanks for your input and support.

      Best, GM.

  5. Well TCN and 60’minutes, what do you say?
    Are you able to face the inevitable inferences that you are deliberately misinforming your viewers?
    So why should we support businesses that advertise on a media mob who are not fairdincum, let alone listen to TCN.

  6. Well, 60 minutes just finished.
    Pity they seem not to have read this site and faced the matters raised,
    Won’ t be buying a jeep or following whoever advertised some insurance they advertise.

    • Let’s all of us not buy jeeps. Hmm, there are 8 of us on this Comment belt today. Hey, that’s pretty good; we didn’t used to have 8.
      And not one is a Husketeer. I kind of miss the Huskateers.
      (Shows you what a dull life I lead…)

    • Hello Ned,

      I didn’t watch the program and frankly had no interest. I make it a point of avoiding watching mainstream commercial TV, and especially so-called news and/or current affairs programs. If indeed “60 Minutes” made no reference to my piece I’m hardly surprised, even though they would have been aware of it as I tweeted the key players on the link. And not having watched the show I don’t even know if they made reference to Robert Parry’s responses which for me would have presented the more interesting highlight of their ‘wrap-up’. If they did it would not be difficult to imagine their take on the to and fro of the various points of contention, which they’d had already made clear throughout the week. If they didn’t that in itself would’ve spoken volumes. Either way, it points to the unadulterated venality and seemingly unassailable arrogance of the corporate media, something that my piece was intended to highlight.

      Thanks for your contribution to the discussion.

  7. Some excellent commentary exchanged on the subject in all comments.
    You have to applaud 60 min for identifying the lamppost and taking the time to venture into E Ukraine and “braving” the Ukrainians (sorry 60 min – I mean “rebels”). A pity Australian mainstream media only ask SOME of the questions.

    It is a minefield on information and disinformation.
    All MH17 Gumshoe articles – (at least 15) here.

    But this sums it up too. Team Australia vs Team Russia

    “I’m going to shirtfront Mr Putin” T Abbott

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