On 17 July 2014 Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over the Eastern Ukraine.
Although the precise circumstances were at that point unknown the western media were quick to blame Ukrainian “rebels”. The means by which MH17 was destroyed, the media alleged, was a surface to air BUK missile supplied to the “rebels” by Russia. For a host of reasons it was almost certainly not a BUK missile that caused the crash. The stage was set however, for a demonization of Russia in general as the alleged supplier of the missile, and President Vladimir Putin in particular. The relentless propaganda enforcing this view has continued unabated to this day, although the evidential foundation for the allegations remains at best remote.
The Russians produced an initial denial of involvement. Four days after the tragedy however, as anti-Russian hysteria was escalating to extreme levels, the Russian military held a press presentation. The fact of this presentation was barely reported in the western media. The content, more importantly, was either ignored or misrepresented.
The Russians disclosed, inter alia, their radar and satellite data. These data showed that MH17 had been diverted from its scheduled route so that it flew directly over the war zone in eastern Ukraine. They asked for an explanation but one has never been forthcoming. These data also showed that MH17 had been shadowed during its last minutes by two SU25 fighter jets, a model flown by the Ukrainian air force. Again the Russians asked why this had happened.
The main response was a claim that the SU25 could not fly above 10,000 metres. Not only is this untrue, as an examination of military resources readily demonstrates, but the Wikipedia entry on the SU25 had been altered days before the shoot down to claim that the SU25’s operating ceiling was only 7000 metres. Again the western media ignored this obvious alarm bell.
The Russians further disclosed that at the precise time of the shoot down an American spy satellite was directly overhead the scene and would have recorded the sequence of events. The Russians invited the Americans to share these data with the official investigation that had been launched, but to date the Americans have failed to do so. Again, the western media are singularly incurious as to the reason for this lack of cooperation.
Under IATA Rules, the parties responsible for the investigation would be the Malaysians, as owners of the plane and home country of the airline, and the Ukrainians over whose territory the atrocity occurred. It was the Dutch however, who took the lead role, citing two facts: the plane had departed from Amsterdam; and they had suffered the largest number of their nationals as victims. The Malaysians were initially excluded from the inquiry for reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained. They were finally invited to join the Joint Inquiry on 2 December 2014.
Instead, the initial inquiry group consisted of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia and Belgium. The Australians suffered the third largest loss of life but had no standing to be one of the investigatory nations, and certainly less of a claim than the Malaysians. The Australian Prime Minister and some other politicians had been at the forefront of making extreme allegations against Russia and President Putin. Why Belgium was included remains a mystery.
On 8 August 2014 these four investigating nations signed an agreement that the results of the investigation would not be published unless all four countries agreed. This gave one of the prime suspects in the atrocity, Ukraine, an effective veto over any investigations result that attributed blame to them. This is an astonishing situation and probably without precedent in modern air crash investigations.
More significantly however, is that the existence of this secret agreement was not announced by the Australian government, nor to the best of my knowledge has any report about the existence of the agreement or its extraordinary terms, been published in any mainstream publication.
The Dutch magazine Elsevier, under Dutch Freedom of Information laws, sought a copy of the agreement. On 19 November they announced that the request had been refused on the grounds that it “could endanger the relations with other countries involved.”
An Australian citizen (name redacted) wrote to the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development (Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss) seeking a copy of the agreement. By letter dated 15 October 2014 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) replied on behalf of the Minister, refusing the requester a copy of the agreement as its contents were “classified.”
The present writer wrote to DFAT on 21 August 2014 seeking a copy of the agreement of 8 August 2014 under the Freedom of Information Act. The department declaimed responsibility and said that they had passed my request on to the Attorney-General’s Department. This was odd, but even odder was advice from the Attorney General that my request had been passed in turn to the Australian Federal Police who were the responsible body.
This must be the first time in Australian history since 1901 that negotiations and agreements between sovereign nations had been conducted on Australia’s behalf by the Federal Police.
On 2 December 2014 the Australian Federal Police finally gave their decision on the FOI request. It was declined on the basis that disclosure of the document (which they acknowledged existed) under section 33 would, or could reasonably be expected to, cause damage to:
(i) the security of the Commonwealth; or
(ii) the defence of the Commonwealth; or
(iii) the international relations of the Commonwealth.
The refusal also relied upon section 37(1)(a) of the Act which exempts a document if it could reasonably be said to prejudice the conduct of an investigation.
Thirdly, the Federal Police relied upon section 37(1) (c) where disclosure could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of a person.
The fourth ground of refusal was under section 37(2)(b) which exempts disclosure where it might reasonably be expected to prejudice an investigation by disclosing methods of investigation or detection of unlawful activity.
In the circumstances of this case it is very difficult to see how any of those provisions would apply. The agreement, it should be remembered, is to give any one of the four investigating countries a veto over publication of the results. A final report would be entitled to withhold details of the investigation that would truly prejudice matters of national security.
An investigation of a crash of an aeroplane is however, carried out under IATA Rules and its procedures are well established and well documented. Whose life or safety might be endangered by releasing the agreement is unspecified.
One is left with the conclusion that 33 (iii) is the real ground and the “international relations” referred to are the difficulty Australia and other nations have got themselves into by prematurely blaming Russia when all of the emerging evidence points squarely at Ukraine.
Given the existence of this agreement it is difficult to see how anyone can have any confidence in whatever final report is published by the Dutch. The preliminary report was careful not to apportion blame or even state the cause of the crash other than to say that the plane was hit a by a large number of “high velocity objects” which were undefined.
Another major question is why have the mainstream media kept up a barrage of misinformation up to and including the recent G20 debacle, when they know, or ought to know that the investigation is a sham?
It is also difficult to see how the continued demonization of Russia and Mr Putin for manifestly geo-political reasons (and the probable reasons for the shoot down in the first place) represents any form of justice for the families of the 298 victims and in particular the 37 who were Australian citizens or residents.
It is clear that the Government’s professed support for Security Council Resolution 2116 (2014) for a “full, thorough, and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines” is no more than window dressing for a much wider geopolitical agenda.
James O’Neill is a former academic who has practiced as a barrister for the past 30 years. He has a special interest in international human rights issues. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Belgium has demanded explanations from the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) over allegations that it infiltrated major Belgian national telecom provider Belgacom.
The allegations against GCHQ were made after documents, leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, pointed to the British agency’s spying activities against Belgium.
According to reports in the German newspaper Der Spiegel, the Cheltenham-based intelligence agency has been accused of hacking the IT system of Belgacom by placing a virus in its network.
“Following the article in Der Spiegel, the government asked Belgian intelligence services to ask their British colleagues for more information,” said a source close to the Belgian government.
Prosecutors in Brussels are now investigating the case against the British spy agency.
A GCHQ spokeswoman declined to comment on the revelation.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament is also examining the activities of the GCHQ. European courts have launched a legal challenge against the agency’s surveillance programs over violating the privacy of millions of people throughout Britain and Europe.
However, London claims the EU does not have the authority to investigate these charges in European courts.
Snowden is currently in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum.
- Belgium seeks answers from Britain over telecom spying (dnaindia.com)
- UK intelligence spying on Belgium – Snowden leaks (voiceofrussia.com)
- GCHQ: EU surveillance hearing is told of huge cyber-attack on Belgian firm (theguardian.com)
- Privacy advocates vs. GCHQ: Groups launch EU court case against spy agency (RT)
Originally aired on BBC2 in 1992, Operation Gladio reveals Gladio, the secret state-sponsored terror network operating in Europe. This BBC series is about a far-right secret army, operated by the CIA and MI6 through NATO, which killed hundreds of innocent Europeans and attempted to blame the deaths on Baader Meinhof, Red Brigades and other left wing groups.
Known as stay-behinds these armies were given access to military equipment which was supposed to be used for sabotage after a Soviet invasion. Instead it was used in massacres across mainland Europe as part of a CIA Strategy of Tension. Gladio killing sprees in Belgium and Italy were carried out for the purpose of frightening the national political classes into adopting U.S. policies.
- The Strategy of Tension (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Former Italian President: CIA & Mossad Behind 9/11 Terror Attacks! (socioecohistory.wordpress.com)
foto: Tim Dirven/Vredesactie
As of 7:30 AM peace activists are using non-violent means to try and stop the departure of F16 airplanes from the base in Kleine Brogel. Starting today, Belgian pilots are training for the deployment of nuclear weapons together with their NATO-partners. Small groups of activists are going onto the runway to stop the taking off of the F-16s. Meanwhile, the main gate of the base is being blocked. In this way, Vredesactie and Action pour la Paix hope to prevent the preparation for war crimes.
From 15 to 26 October, Belgian F-16s from the military base of Kleine Brogel are participating in the NATO-exercise “Steadfast Noon” in the German air base of Büchel. This exercise is a way of training for the deployment of nuclear weapons. All NATO-countries that have American nuclear weapons on their territory are participating: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Holland and Turkey. Some other countries are taking on a supportive role.
“The American nuclear weapons stored in Kleine Brogel are not merely relics from the Cold War”, says Roel Stynen from Vredesactie. “This NATO-exercise makes it clear that the deployment of these weapons is being actively prepared. If these nuclear weapons no longer have any military purpose – as we are told – then which scenarios are being practiced?”
Benoit Calvi from Action pour la Paix: “The majority of the population wants these nuclear weapons removed from our country. But our minister dodges any attempt to a debate. Apparently being a member of NATO is more important than having a functioning democracy.”
Preventing the preparation of war crimes
Small groups of activists have entered the base. They head towards the hangars for aeroplanes to stop the departure of combat planes, risking life and limb. Meanwhile a colourful blockade at the main gate stops entry of personnel to the base.
With this action the activists are trying to prevent the preparation of war crimes in a non-violent way. The use of nuclear weapons and the preparation for said use is in violation of international humanitarian law. The International Court has pointed out the fundamental rules of the law of war as applicable to nuclear weapons in its verdict of 8 July 1996.
First of all a distinction must be made between enemy combatants and civilians. It follows that weapons that are incapable of making such a distinction can never be used. Second, it is forbidden to inflict unnecessary suffering to enemy combatants. Therefore, weapons that inflict such suffering can not be used. The consequences of using nuclear weapons cannot be limited in time and space. The nuclear weapons stationed in Kleine Brogel can never be deployed without violating these fundamental rules of the law of war and without committing war crimes.
Belgian criminal law also penalizes these acts of preparation, e.g. in art. 136sexies of the penal code: “the keeping of an object destined for such a crime or which facilitates the perpetration of such a crime”. Participation in this exercise amounts to an active preparation for the use of nuclear weapons and therefore for crimes of war. It also makes it clear that the storage of nuclear weapons in Kleine Brogel is a part of this active preparation.
Belgian peace organizations file a complaint
On October 9 several Belgian peace organizations – Vredesactie, Pax Christi Vlaanderen, Vrede vzw, CNAPD, Action pour la Paix en MIR-IRG – already filed a complaint with the police against this exercise. Tom Sauer (professor of International Politics at the University of Antwerp) participated in filing a complaint: “These weapons are useless and dangerous. It is unacceptable that Belgian pilots are practicing for the deployment of weapons of mass destruction.”
So far neither the department of defence, nor the judicial authorities have indicated that the participation in the nuclear exercise will be suspended.
- Independent Scotland would ban nuclear weapons but join Nato (telegraph.co.uk)
- NAM calls for total nuclear disarmament (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nuclear weapons should be banned from independent Scotland, says Alex Salmond (scotsman.com)
Police in Belgium have arrested some 483 peace activists from hundreds of protesters, who tried to break into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels.
The Sunday demonstration organized by the Belgian Association Action for Peace was called to protest NATO intervention in Afghanistan and Libya, and nuclear arming.
The activists crossed fields and sought to climb over fences leading to the NATO compound but were stopped by the five to six hundred police officers who were deployed to counter the protesters.
“We neither want the anti-missile shield, nor intervention by NATO in Libya or Afghanistan, nor nuclear bombs that are illegal in our country,” a spokesman for Action for Peace, Benoit Calvi said.
Demonstrators most of them in their twenties, came from 10 European countries including Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden.
“A military alliance that intervenes all over the world and has nuclear weapons is a threat to world peace,” Action for Peace said.
The protest came ahead of next month’s NATO summit in Chicago.