The MH17 tragedy: The biggest act of stupidity in aviation history

Sepratists and their toys
Sepratists and their toys -

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2014 — A top pro-Russia rebel commander in Eastern Ukraine has come up with a novel defense for shooting down the airplane.

Novel as in “Dracula,” by Bram Stoker.

Sepratist commander Igor Girkin says that eyewitnesses said the bodies were decomposing and “drained of blood.” He suggested that the people on board had been dead before the plane took off. Girkin also claims that a large amounts of blood serum and medications were found in the wreckage.

So of course it is the work of the supernatural, not dunderheads with missiles, even though a missile is clearly seen among the wreckage.

And as the passenger list included some of the world’s most important scientific minds — top AIDS researchers who were traveling to Australia for a conference — it is possible there were blood samples on the plane.

These reports were found by AP on the site, which includes horrific video of the crash site. (Warning: extremely graphic. We will not publish; you cannot unsee them.)

It seems the blame game for what was most likely an act of massive stupidity will be played on many levels. Russia says the missile that shot down MH17 came from (perhaps was stolen from) Ukraine’s store of armaments, but who taught the dunderheads how to shoot the thing?

Ukraine says with some support that separatists fired the missile, but they have yet to come up with a good reason for allowing the plane to fly over an area of active hostilities. Malyasia Airlines is not talking about the fact that they ignored several warnings to avoid the airspace over Ukraine.

MH17 may have taken the Ukrainian route to save fuel; diverting north or south would have taken longer, while passing through Ukrainian airspace allowed a faster, cheaper trip. And that would be an incredibly stupid reason for

In April, the European Aviation and Safety Agency warned:

Taking into consideration the recent publication by the Russian Federation of a series of notices to airmen (NOTAMs) modifying the Simferopol FIR which is under the responsibility of Ukraine, and their intent to provide air traffic services (ATS) within this airspace, the Agency draws the aviation communities’ attention to the possible existence of serious risks to the safety of international civil flights.

Warnings to avoide that airspace were issued as recently as last monday.

U.S. intelligence reports are that the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile. Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., has said the missile was probably fired from an area known to be held by the rebels and near the Russian border. A Ukrainian newspaper released audio of a conversation supposedly between Russian intelligence officers, then a second conversation between separatist commanders. Igor Bezler, who the Ukrainians claim is a Russian intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, says in one recording, “We have just shot down a plane about 30 minutes ago.”

In a more complete recording, a rebel nicknamed “Major” says the Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down by “Cossacks from the Chernukhino roadblock,” then says, “It is definitely a civilian plane … there was a lot of people on board.”

“Major” tells a comrade with the codename “Greek” it was “100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.”

Greek asks, “What kind of aircraft?” Major replies, “I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main site. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.”

Greek, still hoping at that point a military craft had been downed, asks, “Is there anything left of the weapon?”

Major: “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”

Greek: “Are there documents?”

Major: “Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson.”

Just after the attack, rebel Igor Strelkov posted a heartless message, “We warned you — do not fly in our sky” on Twitter.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, calling for an international investigation, called the missile attack an act of terrorism. But no one had anything to gain by shooting down the airliner; MH17 may be the single biggest act of stupidity in aviation history, as one dunderhead after another made a bad choice.

Listen to senior political editor Dr. Jim Picht and editor in chief Lisa Ruth discuss the real story behind Ukraine and Russia

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