Former US Intel Officers Warn President Obama on US Actions Against Russia

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FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Intelligence on Shoot-Down of Malaysian Plane

U.S.-Russian intensions are building in a precarious way over Ukraine, and we are far from certain that your advisers fully appreciate the danger of escalation. The New York Times and other media outlets are treating sensitive issues in dispute as flat-fact, taking their cue from U.S. government sources. Twelve days after the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, your administration still has issued no coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible – much less to convincingly support repeated claims that the plane was downed by a Russian-supplied missile in the hands of Ukrainian separatists. Your administration has not showed any satellite imagery showing that the separatists had such weaponry, and there are several other "dogs that have not barked." Washington’s credibility, and your own, will continue to erode, should you be unwilling – or unable – to present more tangible evidence behind administration claims. In what follows, we put this in the perspective of former intelligence professionals with a cumulative total of 260 years in various parts of U.S. intelligence.

We, the undersigned former intelligence officers want to share with you our concern about the evidence adduced so far to blame Russia for the July 17 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. We are retired from government service and none of us is on the payroll of CNN, Fox News, or any other outlet. We intend this memorandum to provide a fresh, different perspective.

As veteran intelligence analysts accustomed to waiting, except in emergency circumstances, for conclusive information before rushing to judgment, we believe that the charges against Russia should be rooted in solid, far more convincing evidence. And that goes in spades with respect to inflammatory incidents like the shoot-down of an airliner. We are also troubled by the amateurish manner in which fuzzy and flimsy evidence has been served up – some it via "social media."

As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information. As Americans, we find ourselves hoping that, if you indeed have more conclusive evidence, you will find a way to make it public without further delay. In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to "poison the jury pool."

Painting Russia Black

We see an eerie resemblance to an earlier exercise in U.S. "public diplomacy" from which valuable lessons can be learned by those more interested in the truth than in exploiting tragic incidents for propaganda advantage. We refer to the behavior of the Reagan administration in the immediate aftermath of the shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983. We sketch out below a short summary of that tragic affair, since we suspect you have not been adequately briefed on it. The parallels will be obvious to you.

An advantage of our long tenure as intelligence officers is that we remember what we have witnessed first hand; seldom do we forget key events in which we played an analyst or other role. To put it another way, most of us "know exactly where we were" when a Soviet fighter aircraft shot down Korean Airlines passenger flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983 over 30 years ago. At the time, we were intelligence officers on "active duty." You were 21; many of those around you today were still younger.

Thus, it seems possible that you may be learning how the KAL007 affair went down, so to speak, for the first time; that you may now become more aware of the serious implications for U.S.-Russian relations regarding how the downing of Flight 17 goes down; and that you will come to see merit in preventing ties with Moscow from falling into a state of complete disrepair. In our view, the strategic danger here dwarfs all other considerations.

Hours after the tragic shoot-down on Aug. 30, 1983, the Reagan administration used its very accomplished propaganda machine to twist the available intelligence on Soviet culpability for the killing of all 269 people aboard KAL007. The airliner was shot down after it strayed hundreds of miles off course and penetrated Russia’s airspace over sensitive military facilities in Kamchatka and Sakhalin Island. The Soviet pilot tried to signal the plane to land, but the KAL pilots did not respond to the repeated warnings. Amid confusion about the plane’s identity – a U.S. spy plane had been in the vicinity hours earlier – Soviet ground control ordered the pilot to fire.

The Soviets soon realized they had made a horrendous mistake. U.S. intelligence also knew from sensitive intercepts that the tragedy had resulted from a blunder, not from a willful act of murder (much as on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people, an act which President Ronald Reagan dismissively explained as an "understandable accident").

To make the very blackest case against Moscow for shooting down the KAL airliner, the Reagan administration suppressed exculpatory evidence from U.S. electronic intercepts. Washington’s mantra became "Moscow’s deliberate downing of a civilian passenger plane." Newsweek ran a cover emblazoned with the headline "Murder in the Sky." (Apparently, not much has changed; Time’s cover this week features "Cold War II" and "Putin’s dangerous game." The cover story by Simon Shuster, "In Russia, Crime Without Punishment," would merit an A-plus in William Randolph Hearst’s course "Yellow Journalism 101.")

When KAL007 was shot down, Alvin A. Snyder, director of the U.S. Information Agency’s television and film division, was enlisted in a concerted effort to "heap as much abuse on the Soviet Union as possible," as Snyder writes in his 1995 book, "Warriors of Disinformation."

He and his colleagues also earned an A-plus for bringing the "mainstream media" along. For example, ABC’s Ted Koppel noted with patriotic pride, "This has been one of those occasions when there is very little difference between what is churned out by the U.S. government propaganda organs and by the commercial broadcasting networks."

"Fixing" the Intelligence Around the Policy

"The perception we wanted to convey was that the Soviet Union had cold-bloodedly carried out a barbaric act," wrote Snyder, adding that the Reagan administration went so far as to present a doctored transcript of the intercepts to the United Nations Security Council on Sept. 6, 1983.

Only a decade later, when Snyder saw the complete transcripts — including the portions that the Reagan administration had hidden — would he fully realize how many of the central elements of the U.S. presentation were false.

The intercepts show that the Soviet fighter pilot believed he was pursuing a U.S. spy aircraft and that he was having trouble in the dark identifying the plane. Per instructions from ground control, the pilot had circled the KAL airliner and tilted his wings to order the aircraft to land. The pilot said he fired warning shots, as well. This information "was not on the tape we were provided," Snyder wrote.

It became abundantly clear to Snyder that, in smearing the Soviets, the Reagan administration had presented false accusations to the United Nations, as well as to the people of the United States and the world. In his book, Snyder acknowledged his own role in the deception, but drew a cynical conclusion. He wrote, "The moral of the story is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first."

The tortured attempts by your administration and stenographers in the media to blame Russia for the downing of Flight 17, together with John Kerry’s unenviable record for credibility, lead us to the reluctant conclusion that the syndrome Snyder describes may also be at work in your own administration; that is, that an ethos of "getting your own lie out first" has replaced "ye shall know the truth." At a minimum, we believe Secretary Kerry displayed unseemly haste in his determination to be first out of the starting gate.

Both Sides Cannot Be Telling the Truth

We have always taken pride in not shooting from the hip, but rather in doing intelligence analysis that is evidence-based. The evidence released to date does not bear close scrutiny; it does not permit a judgment as to which side is lying about the shoot-down of Flight 17. Our entire professional experience would incline us to suspect the Russians – almost instinctively. Our more recent experience, particularly observing Secretary Kerry injudiciousness in latching onto one spurious report after another as "evidence," has gone a long way toward balancing our earlier predispositions.

It seems that whenever Kerry does cite supposed "evidence" that can be checked – like the forged anti-Semitic fliers distributed in eastern Ukraine or the photos of alleged Russian special forces soldiers who allegedly slipped into Ukraine – the "proof" goes "poof" as Kerry once said in a different context. Still, these misrepresentations seem small peccadillos compared with bigger whoppers like the claim Kerry made on Aug. 30, 2013, no fewer than 35 times, that "we know" the government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical incidents near Damascus nine days before.

On Sept. 3, 2013, just three days after, despite Kerry’s hyperbole, you called off the attack on Syria in order to await Congressional authorization, he was still pushing for an attack in testimony before a thoroughly sympathetic Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. On the following day Kerry drew highly unusual personal criticism from President Putin, who said: “He is lying, and he knows he is lying. It is sad.”

Equally serious, during the first week of Sept. 2013, as you and President Vladimir Putin were putting the final touches to the deal whereby Syrian weapons would be given up for destruction, John Kerry said something that puzzles us to this day. On Sept. 9, 2013, Kerry was in London, still promoting a U.S. attack on Syria for having crossed the "Red Line" you had set against Syria’s using chemical weapons.

At a formal press conference, Kerry abruptly dismissed the possibility that Bashir al-Assad would ever give up his chemical weapons, saying, "He isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done." Just a few hours later, the Russians and Syrians announced Syria’s agreement to do precisely what Kerry had ruled out as impossible. You sent him back to Geneva to sign the agreement, and it was formally concluded on Sept. 14.

Regarding the shoot-down of July 17, we believe Kerry has typically rushed to judgment and that his incredible record for credibility poses a huge disadvantage in the diplomatic and propaganda maneuvering vis-a-vis Russia. We suggest you call a halt to this misbegotten "public diplomacy" offensive. If, however, you decide to press on anyway, we suggest you try to find a less tarnished statesman or woman.

A Choice Between Two

If the intelligence on the shoot-down is as weak as it appears judging from the fuzzy scraps that have been released, we strongly suggest you call off the propaganda war and await the findings of those charged with investigating the shoot-down. If, on the other hand, your administration has more concrete, probative intelligence, we strongly suggest that you consider approving it for release, even if there may be some risk of damage to "sources and methods." Too often this consideration is used to prevent information from entering the public domain where, as in this case, it belongs.

There have been critical junctures in the past in which presidents have recognized the need to waive secrecy in order to show what one might call "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" or even to justify military action.

As senior CIA veteran Milton Bearden has put it, there are occasions when more damage is done to U.S. national security by "protecting" sources and methods than by revealing them. For instance, Bearden noted that Ronald Reagan exposed a sensitive intelligence source in showing a skeptical world the reason for the U.S. attack on Libya in retaliation for the April 5, 1986 bombing at the La Belle Disco in West Berlin. That bombing killed two U.S. servicemen and a Turkish woman, and injured over 200 people, including 79 U.S. servicemen.

Intercepted messages between Tripoli and agents in Europe made it clear that Libya was behind the attack. Here’s an excerpt: "At 1:30 in the morning one of the acts was carried out with success, without leaving a trace behind."

Ten days after the bombing the U.S. retaliated, sending over 60 Air Force fighters to strike the Libyan capital of Tripoli and the city of Benghazi. The operation was widely seen as an attempt to kill Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who survived, but his adopted 15-month-old daughter was killed in the bombing, along with at least 15 other civilians.

Three decades ago, there was more shame attached to the killing of children. As world abhorrence grew after the U.S. bombing strikes, the Reagan administration produced the intercepted, decoded message sent by the Libyan Peoples Bureau in East Berlin acknowledging the "success" of the attack on the disco, and adding the ironically inaccurate boast "without leaving a trace behind."

The Reagan administration made the decision to give up a highly sensitive intelligence source, its ability to intercept and decipher Libyan communications. But once the rest of the world absorbed this evidence, international grumbling subsided and many considered the retaliation against Tripoli justified.

If You’ve Got the Goods…

If the U.S. has more convincing evidence than what has so far been adduced concerning responsibility for shooting down Flight 17, we believe it would be best to find a way to make that intelligence public – even at the risk of compromising "sources and methods." Moreover, we suggest you instruct your subordinates not to cheapen U.S. credibility by releasing key information via social media like Twitter and Facebook.

The reputation of the messenger for credibility is also key in this area of "public diplomacy." As is by now clear to you, in our view Secretary Kerry is more liability than asset in this regard. Similarly, with regard to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, his March 12, 2013 Congressional testimony under oath to what he later admitted were "clearly erroneous" things regarding NSA collection should disqualify him. Clapper should be kept at far remove from the Flight 17 affair.

What is needed, if you’ve got the goods, is an Interagency Intelligence Assessment – the genre used in the past to lay out the intelligence. We are hearing indirectly from some of our former colleagues that what Secretary Kerry is peddling does not square with the real intelligence. Such was the case late last August, when Kerry created a unique vehicle he called a "Government (not Intelligence) Assessment blaming, with no verifiable evidence, Bashir al-Assad for the chemical attacks near Damascus, as honest intelligence analysts refused to go along and, instead, held their noses.

We believe you need to seek out honest intelligence analysts now and hear them out. Then, you may be persuaded to take steps to curb the risk that relations with Russia might escalate from "Cold War II" into an armed confrontation. In all candor, we see little reason to believe that Secretary Kerry and your other advisers appreciate the enormity of that danger.

In our most recent (May 4) memorandum to you, Mr. President, we cautioned that if the U.S. wished "to stop a bloody civil war between east and west Ukraine and avert Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, you may be able to do so before the violence hurtles completely out of control." On July 17, you joined the top leaders of Germany, France, and Russia in calling for a ceasefire. Most informed observers believe you have it in your power to get Ukrainian leaders to agree. The longer Kiev continues its offensive against separatists in eastern Ukraine, the more such U.S. statements appear hypocritical.

We reiterate our recommendations of May 4 that you remove the seeds of this confrontation by publicly disavowing any wish to incorporate Ukraine into NATO, and that you make it clear that you are prepared to meet personally with Russian President Putin without delay to discuss ways to defuse the crisis and recognize the legitimate interests of the various parties. The suggestion of an early summit got extraordinary resonance in controlled and independent Russian media. Not so in "mainstream" media in the U.S. Nor did we hear back from you.

The courtesy of a reply is requested.

Prepared by VIPS Steering Group

  • William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
  • Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
  • David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)
  • Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)
  • Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret)
  • Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret); Foreign Service Officer (ret.)

23 thoughts on “Former US Intel Officers Warn President Obama on US Actions Against Russia”

    1. What has happened to our lame duck Nobel prize winning "peace" president whom the American people elected twice? He either has come to believe the incredible nonsense that he is spewing about Russian aggression, or he doesn't have the backbone to stand up to the War Party. If he wants to secure a favorable legacy, all he has to do to stop this foolish march to war armageddon is to refuse to further subsidize the fascists in Ukraine, condemn their aggression, and meet with Putin forthwith. I'll bet our puppet Euro allies would be relieved. But changing the War Party juggernaut, with the presstitude media on board, would be like turning around the Titanic before it hits the iceberg. Why are no dissenting voices allowed on our corporate owned msm? Is the free press gone except for the Internet?

  1. But maybe we can make them realize that aiming to achieve a Disarming First Strike Capability is Suicidal because of Launch On Warning. What else can they do ? First Strike Capability 2018/Launch On Warning 2017=Suicide. Bloody fools in the Pentagon !

  2. USG is a militarism regime which needs a new enemy/s but to keep the old enemy/s under theirs intelligent microscope. The newer created enemies, or terrorists, are secured in Iraq and Syria, so, fir USG to have something to start wars or just keep on bluffing or lying or even challenging when it comes to Russia, then Russia's needs to be the new enemy. You don't hear much of "war on terror" lately, that's because they are shifting their war strategy from terrorism to a bigger war with a bigger and newer "enemy" Russia. They already have secured their terrorist in Iraq and Syria by letting the Iraqi, Syria and even Iranian government to fight these Saudis barbarians, so that Barack Hussein Obama can concentrate more of his and his advisor time to find a new lies, bluff and above all deceptive ideas to get Russia involved in Barack Hussein Obama's wars.

  3. NATO countries are victims of their own sensitive approach to dealing with Russia. By keeping their membership low – only 28 countries against all of 1 of Russia – they tried not to offend them unnecessarily.

    Obviously it didn't work. Instead they should increase their membership to at least 56 countries. This could also double up their courage when dealing with those cowards – the Russians.

    1. But are Micronesia and the Domenican Republic near enough to the North Atlantic to meaningfully participate in this new Coaltion of the Willing Against Putofascitorrism?

      1. I'm just saying, it's little bit easier to work up a courage when you are 56 against one, than 28 against one. I didn't mean to criticize anyone or anything…. obviously both scenarios are pretty heroic, except the second one is maybe little bit less.

  4. I am Russian.
    I used to respect the Americans and the United States. But now I do not respect.
    It is a country of lies and dishonesty in relation to other countries.
    Well done, Former US Intel Officers.
    You are the first who told the truth

  5. The excellent memorandum for the president written by these esteemed VIPS is extremely informative. Much scorn is heaped on clueless SOS Kerry – and rightfully so. It also paints Kerry as a loose cannon who shoots from the lip without the facts and before consulting with Obama. If that is the case, he seems to have gone rogue and should be fired. Of course, Obama may agree with everything Kerry is saying – which is even worse for the US and the world. Kerry should have remained one of a hundred in the Senate where he could bloviate meaninglessly to his heart's content. He and his undiplomatic predecessor, Hillary, are fine examples of why professional diplomats, and not loose-lipped politicians, should be appointed to sensitive positions like SOS.

  6. Bolivia just declared Israel as a terrorists state and revoke the no visa agreement with Israeli visiting Bolivia. We need the world to do the same and have the "bull" as Bolivian president. Viva Bolivia.

    Perhaps the Turkish Erdogan government, or the EU government as the Swedish, Norwegian, Danish Germany French could come up with such idea, that is to say if they have the "bull"!

  7. Some people say that replacing MAD with Disarming First Strike Capability not is to worry, it's only for Blackmail. Blackmailing the Russians ? At any rate, they'll likely feel forced to adopt Launch On Warning by 2017 and we are finished. If the crazy Pentagon forces the Russians to adopt LOW, only future is Suicide. Suicidal bloody fools in the Pentagon !

  8. Sadly, I caught Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity in an outright deception of past events in Libya.

    Here is my response to them:

    I certainly agree with the main premise of this article warning President Obama against US actions with Russia. It is surprising that you do not mention the quite substantial risk of nuclear Armageddon, even if accidental — perhaps the single most frightening part of this entire affair.

    And it's clear that we always run the risk of the facts being fixed around the policy, as they historically have been.

    But, it's odd that you would use the case of KAL007 as an example, since there is a sizable percentage of people who neither believe that the aircraft "strayed" accidentally, nor that the shootdown was accidental, as you have described. Were the intercepts ever released and confirmed by the Soviet Union, thus proving your case?

    Secondly, even more odd is that you should use the example of the bombing at the La Belle Disco in West Berlin, where you state:

    "Intercepted messages between Tripoli and agents in Europe made it clear that Libya was behind the attack. Here’s an excerpt: 'At 1:30 in the morning one of the acts was carried out with success, without leaving a trace behind.'"

    That intercept is both too vague to prove anything, and yet too incriminating for Libya to have broadcast if they were actually involved — and certainly not their style. From a Cui Bono standpoint, Libya's involvement made, and still makes, no sense.

    More to the point, are two pieces of information which directly contradict your assertions about the validity of the intercept — information which points to both the bombing and the intercept being the work of the Mossad.

    First, Victor Ostrovsky, the ex-Mossad agent and author of the Mossad exposé "By Way of Deception," which the Israeli government sought to ban publication of, claimed that the Mossad was responsible for the intercept. According to Richard Curtiss, in a 2001 piece on Media Monitors:

  9. The manner in which Israel’s Mossad tricked the U.S. into attacking Libya was described in detail by former Mossad case worker Victor Ostrovsky in The Other Side of Deception, the second of two revealing books he wrote after he left Israel’s foreign intelligence service. The story began in February 1986, when Israel sent a team of navy commandos in miniature submarines into Tripoli to land and install a “Trojan,” a six-foot-long communications device, in the top floor of a five-story apartment building. The device, only seven inches in diameter, was capable of receiving messages broadcast by Mossad’s LAP (LohAma Psicologit—psychological warfare or disinformation section) on one frequency and automatically relaying the broadcasts on a different frequency used by the Libyan government.

    The commandos activated the Trojan and left it in the care of a lone Mossad agent in Tripoli who had leased the apartment and who had met them at the beach in a rented van.“By the end of March, the Americans were already intercepting messages broadcast by the Trojan,” Ostrovsky writes.

    “Using the Trojan, the Mossad tried to make it appear that a long series of terrorist orders were being transmitted to various Libyan embassies around the world,” Ostrovsky continues. As the Mossad had hoped, the transmissions were deciphered by the Americans and construed as ample proof that the Libyans were active sponsors of terrorism. What’s more, the Americans pointed out, Mossad reports confirmed it.

    “The French and the Spanish, though, were not buying into the new stream of information. To them it seemed suspicious that suddenly, out of the blue, the Libyans, who had been extremely careful in the past, would start advertising their future actions… The French and the Spanish were right. The information was bogus.”

    Ostrovsky, who is careful in what he writes, does not blame Mossad for the bombing, only a couple of weeks after the Trojan was installed, of La Belle Discothèque in West Berlin, which cost the lives of two American soldiers and a Turkish woman. But he convincingly documents the elaborate Mossad operation built around the Trojan, which led the U.S. to blame Libya for the bombing of the Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S. soldiers. The plot was given added credibility since it took place at a time when Qaddafi had “closed” the airspace over the Gulf of Sidra to U.S. aircraft, and then suffered the loss of two Libyan aircraft trying to enforce the ban, which were shot down by carrier-based U.S. planes

    This information is reiterated by Robin Ramsay in Lobster #60, Winter 2010, p. 118, who clearly feels that the claims are more than credible.

    Second, an article from the WSWS website from August of 1998, summarizes a German TV documentary broadcast of the program "Frontal" which arrives at the following conclusions:

    1) The lead defendant presently on trial, Yasser Chraidi, is very possibly innocent, and is being used as a scapegoat by German and American intelligence services.
    2) At least one of the defendants, Musbah Eter, has been working for the CIA over many years.
    3) Some of the key suspects have not appeared in court, because they are being protected by Western intelligence services.
    4) At least one of those, Mohammed Amairi, is an agent of Mossad, the Israeli secret service.

    Information for this report was corroborated by both the East German and Russian secret services.

  10. The report concludes with this timely admonition:

    "These secret service intrigues present a task for the Berlin court that is almost insoluble," concludes the Frontal report. "But one thing is certain, the American legend of Libyan state terrorism can no longer be maintained."

    There are striking parallels between the 1986 bombing of Libya and last week's missile strikes against targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. Once again Washington claims to have "proof" to justify its use of deadly force. But as the Frontal report shows, such claims cannot be trusted. Twelve years after the bombing of Libya, Reagan's proof turns out to be anything but irrefutable. Instead there is powerful evidence that the La Belle attack was a carefully prepared provocation.

    There appears to be a pattern of Israel's Mossad supplying bogus intercepted communications to the US and Europe, as evidenced by the spurious communications intercept appearing to implicate Assad in the use of chemical weapons, later disproven.

    Which leaves us with several questions: Was the CIA tricked, even though French and Spanish intelligence wasn't? Did the CIA know that Libyan "responsibility" was faked, and not tell the President? Or, did Reagan actually know that he was presenting faked evidence to the world? Or did the U.S. government not know that the evidence was fake, and that it was Israel alone who was responsible for this horror?

    In light of US intelligence expenditures approximately equaling the rest of the world put together, either of these three possibilities are fairly disconcerting.

    In a 2008 Truthout article, Milton Bearden states, "Washington was willing to give up a sensitive intelligence method – its ability to break the Libyan codes. But once the rest of the world absorbed this, international grumbling subsided and many considered the retaliation against Tripoli justified," almost word for word what you argue.

    The question is — how do those nations who "grumbled" now feel knowing that they were lied into a grudging consent? Where exactly is US credibility on the international stage — with other countries seeing this as only one of many instances of the US lying to get what it wants at the expense of the rest of the world?

    Which begs the point, how could it be possible that that the esteemed VIPS Steering Group, including one member who prepared the President's Daily Brief during this period of time, as well as senior CIA veteran Milton Bearden, not know that this sensitive intelligence source, which you claim the President waived secrecy and boldly revealed, was false? And how does the President revealing information which other governments know is false show what you call "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind?"

    In light of the history of US lies and criminal attacks on Libya over a span of decades, culminating in the complete destruction of the country which had the highest standard of living in Africa, the assassination of its leader and our Secretary of State publicly gloating to the world about it, the theft of hundreds of billions of dollars from its treasury — actions which completely alienated China and Russia and destroyed the US's credibility on the world stage –, how do further lies, especially from an "opposition" source which depends upon reputation for effect, help the US? And isn't pretending to reveal something sensitive, which turns out to be a lie, even more damaging to credibility than a plain vanilla lie?

    Not to belabor the point, allow me to explaining just why this issue of credibility is so important. You state:

    "If the U.S. has more convincing evidence than what has so far been adduced concerning responsibility for shooting down Flight 17, we believe it would be best to find a way to make that intelligence public – even at the risk of compromising "sources and methods." Moreover, we suggest you instruct your subordinates not to cheapen U.S. credibility by releasing key information via social media like Twitter and Facebook.

    The reputation of the messenger for credibility is also key in this area of "public diplomacy."

    Yes, the reputation of the messenger is key, and with a history of making false intelligence public, while appearing to "compromise 'sources and methods,' it is hard to know how any disclosure that could not be independently verified would help.

    I'm sure that VIPS is a good group, with its heart in the right place — but, if you want to engender the type of credibility that would move the public debate forward, you simply MUST be accurate with the information in your examples. And if you don't want to be seen as a "limited hangout," you must do more than simply encouraging the government to put on a fake show of disclosure, which could only serve to convince your more gullible reading public, and not foreign governments. For the US at this point, in the eyes of the rest of the world, there is no trust without verification.

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