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‘If there is actual evidence, US should show it or stop accusing Russia’

Published time: July 31, 2014 11:34
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

US officials are making groundless assertions about Moscow’s involvement in the downing of flight MH17, former CIA and US State Department official Larry Johnson told RT.

On July 29 Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) issued an open letter to President Obama calling him to immediately release the evidence on the Malaysian airplane downing in eastern Ukraine.

RT: Could you briefly explain what this letter is about, and the main concerns that you've raised?

Larry Johnson: The fundamental concern is that there is a rush to judgment on the part of President Obama and particularly Secretary John Kerry, they are making assertions about the Russian government’s involvement into the terrible incident of the downing of the Malaysian airplane which, from what we have been able to see in terms of evidence that they have marshaled, does not justify the case. It appears very much that it was a terrible accident and yet, there is a group of people in the US who seem to have this longing to reignite the Cold War and to portray Russia in the most negative light possible.

Many of those of us who signed this letter, we can remember the "battle days" when the Soviet Union and the US were at each other's throats. And we recall very specifically how President Reagan in 1983, when the Soviet Union shot down a civilian airliner, had in fact intelligence pointing out at that time that it was an accident, it was not a deliberate provocation by the then-Soviet Union. Yet, the US played it in a very political manner to portray the Soviet Union in the darkest light possible. And candidly we see some of that same kind of misuse and abuse of intelligence going on right now. I would say that the government is incompetent under President Obama and the US intelligence community if they actually have evidence implicating Russia in this, they must make it public and prove the case, but we don’t think they actually have that evidence and at that point we are looking to ratchet down the tensions.

RT: Do you think Washington actually does have solid evidence that it can produce against Russia?

LJ: From what I have seen and what we have heard from friends inside the intelligence community, we have actually heard the exact opposite that some in the intelligence community believe they actually have imagery of Ukrainian military personnel involved with the operation of a Buk system. The issue is that when we are in the situation when the relations between the US and Russia are so critical, we think it is incumbent to have absolutely the best evidence out there, and this rush to judge and the politics being played in this are sickening. The US and Russia should actually be working together, the interests we share in common are far greater than any of the sideshows that are being advanced as a way to try to drive a wedge between Moscow and Washington.

RT: The letter criticizes the way the US government used social media to release the data. But in fact, a lot of news makes it onto social media first... Is there really any practical difference between using a verified Twitter account, and using a mainstream media outlet?

LJ: What we saw particularly in the case almost a year ago with respect to Syria, where again the US tried to make a case which was not based upon evidence, suggested that it was the Syrian government that used sarin gas against Syrian civilians, when in fact it was ISIS/Al-Qaeda rebels operating in Syria that used it. And in that case again Russia played a very important role in keeping the US from doing something very stupid, but as you recall and we note it in our memo, John Kerry made several references condemning and accusing Russia of being implicated in this kind of operation. It’s simply not the case, so it’s a double-edged sword. The social media can be used to smear a country but also the social media provides another very important outlet for getting truth out there. Our point is very simple: if there is actual evidence - marshal it, show it if it is indisputable, but as we have seen repeatedly from the US intelligence community, whether it was in the lies used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, up to the information that was leaked last year with respect to Syria, more often than not there are lies being produced that have a bigger intention to mislead the American public and to justify actions against Russia that we don’t believe are justified.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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