On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board, mostly Dutch citizens, died.
“The US government issued a sketchy report on the… shoot-down citing ‘social media’ and other flimsy data implicating eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia, but then — as hard intelligence became available — went silent,” the memorandum from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) said. “Now, US intelligence veterans are demanding release of that intel.”
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government refused to release an international report on the disaster, intensifying widespread concerns that it pointed to Ukrainian rather than Russian or rebel culpability in the crash.
“On July 29, 2014… VIPS suggested that the United States government report publicly what intelligence it actually had relating to the shoot-down lest the incident turn into another paroxysm of blaming Russia without cause. We are still waiting for that report,” the memorandum said.
The memorandum noted that tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine “are fast reaching a danger point.”
A major contributing factor to this danger, the memorandum said, was the American public’s negative perception of Moscow over the MH17 disaster.
A public report detailing the investigation of the incident by the Dutch authorities is expected by October 2015, but the draft is reportedly already in the hands of the United States government, the intelligence veterans noted.
“As the relationship with Moscow is of critical importance, if only because Russia has the military might to destroy the US, careful calibration of the relationship is essential,” the VIPS group advised.
If the United States signs on to a conclusion that implicates Russia without any solid intelligence to support that contention, the intelligence officials warned, it would further damage an already fractious bilateral relationship.
“It is… possible that the downing was deliberately carried out by the Kiev government or one of Ukraine’s powerful oligarchs to implicate the anti-Kiev forces and Russia in this mass murder,” the memorandum pointed out.
The VIPS group urged the Obama administration to issue a coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible.
“If the United States government knows who carried out the attack on the plane it should produce the evidence. If it does not know, it should say so.”
The memorandum was signed by 16 former US intelligence officials including National Security Agency (NSA) former Technical Director World Geopolitical and Military Analysis William Binney and former NSA Senior Executive Thomas Drake.