UK based blogger Eliot Higgins has analysed hundreds of pieces of social media evidence in reaching his just published report destroying the made up assertions by Russian officials and the RT News agency that Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July, killing all 298 people on board, as well as its lucrative over flights business providing access and air traffic control for dozens of foreign airlines.
His efforts are a relief for journalists who have not only been hounded by these liars, but had their editors lobbied to fire or remove those who resist their claims, including in the case of Plane Talking, the Crikey editor, in the mistaken belief that this independent writer is an employee.
Higgins, who heads the Bellingcat online publication, made his reputation by his early identification of the use of barrel bombs on its civilians by the Syrian regime, among other scoops, and his career appears to be accurately reported by Wikipedia, despite its Russian friends having been caught rewriting that online encyclopedia’s copious coverage of various events and their history on a number of occasions where the fearless organisation doesn’t toe any Moscow line.
His demolition of the Moscow narrative that Ukraine shot down the Malaysian Airlines 777-200ER by ground missile, no make that, machine gunned it from a slow flying SU-25, no make that hit it with an air launched missile, can be read here.
Higgins and ‘his team of citizen journalists’ use analysis of social media videos and photos to identify time and place and try to match them to claimed narratives. It’s no longer possible to lie by having a very good memory and not being caught out by changing your story. It is necessary to ensure that claimed supporting media have such things as sun or shadow angles that fit rather than contradict those narratives, and avoid incriminating or inconsistent visual background components.
All of that said, trusting a word of narrative from Ukraine as well as Russian sources is unwise. Apart from being also a victim of an atrocity that scared away an overflights navigation charge revenue stream that has been put at being worth more than $US 200 million a year, Ukraine is engaged in a bitter struggle with the Russians in which a plane crash in disputed territory isn’t likely to rank very high in its list of top ten things to deal with.
It’s a shame Bellingcat doesn’t have enough material to sustain an investigation into the truth or otherwise of Malaysia’s narrative on the earlier disappearance of MH370. Maybe that’s a work in progress!