by Tony Seed
In the absence of clear information, there is bound to be speculation about Malaysia Airline Flight MH-370. The biggest unanswered question is: how can a huge plane simply disappear with all the modern technology and satellite images that can identify a car number plate from several miles up in the air? A great number of countries are withholding crucial information. There is much more to the mystery than meets the eye.
Friday April 11, 2014, 12:49 DST
THE 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard are still missing. The search continues for the aircraft, which took off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8. It is now in its fifth week, and the only credible information that may give clues to the whereabouts of the missing plane came from satellite images and ‘pings’ from the floor of the Indian Ocean.
The images publicly cited have all come from Chinese, French and Thai satellites. At the time of writing, not one single image revealed to the public has emanated from a US satellite. Why?
Never mind that the US empire undoubtedly has more satellites than the rest of the states in the world combined, that the US has a major base on the Diego Garcia island in the western Indian Ocean with advanced surveillance capability. Or why it is that – if US spy planes and satellites can pick up all the evidence of chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq (including the tracks on the ground carting them off into the desert) – they could not also simply inform Malaysia as to the direction or trajectory of a jumbo aircraft, let alone where it crashed? Finally, CNN’s celebrity host Wolf Blitzer on March 27 – in the context of “new information” that the US is indeed all involved – asked the question on everyone’s mind, only to dismiss it as an issue. The answer? Because the US wants to protect, he assured his audience, “the sources and methods of collecting information, which are classified.” The issue facing the search was that, despite the”secret, classified information” ”the credibility of US satellite imagery has gone.”
The politicization and manipulation of what is being termed “data analysis” raises legitimate questions. How is that US military is very involved, perhaps even directly calling the shots for the Malaysian forces in a geopolitically sensitive area, and has formed an “International Working Group.” Twenty-six countries, 43 ships and 58 planes are involved, but it is its NATO allies that are at the core. It has supplanted Malaysia, which has responsibility for the search under international aviation law. Australia has been designated “lead state” under the pretext that the competent organs of the Asian state are “overwhelmed” and “simply not up to scratch” and that ”data analysis” places the lost aircraft off the west coast of Australia. With daily press briefings, the prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, has emerged as the human face of the militarized aid. The number of US agencies involved in the search for the Boeing 777 aircraft is described as unprecedented since the terrorist attacks of September 2001: the Seventh Pacific Fleet, Pacific Command (now based in Japan), FBI, CIA, the Pentagon and Interpol are all very involved.
It is worth recalling that immediately after the catastrophic Indian Ocean Tsunami on December 26, 2004 the Bush regime tried to set up a similar group with Australia, Indonesia, Japan and Canada to militarize aid, interfere in sovereign countries in the name of providing “aid”, and eliminate the United Nations.[i]International condemnation forced Bush to drop the plan shortly thereafter, which was assumed by the United Nations.
This time the central aim is to present the involvement of the vast military forces of the US Seventh Fleet and intelligence agencies and their expansion in South and East Asia as a form of humanitarian intervention and something to be accepted as normal, routine and vital.
The 24/7 “mystery” covers up that, regardless of the origin or nature of the tragedy, the US and its allies, including Canada, are part and parcel of Obama’s Pivot Strategy to move more US troops and military assets from around the world into East Asia to threaten China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and to establish US hegemony in East Asia. The Malacca Straits is one of the major sea lanes in the world connecting the oil-rich West Asia and the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea and East Asia. Furthermore, as part of its Asia Pivot strategy, Obama, during his state visit to Australia in November 2011, revealed a hitherto unknown agreement to the surprise of Australians that allows the United States to station some 2,500 US Marines in Darwin, a remote port on the northern coast and the closest to the People’s Republic of China.[ii] An expanded US military base in Australia and the extension of NATO into the South Pacific and Indian Ocean is deemed vital for the implementation of this strategy. The Australian government does not defend the rights of its people. Australia is a hub of the Echelon communications-intercept network with the US, Canada and Britain. The US is increasing its combat capacities in the coastal regions of East Asia as well as building or renting new military bases in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and Guam to improve its rapid response ability.
Only on March 23 did the Wall Street Journal note “the first public indication” of “the US intelligence community’s prominent role,” which was data analysis. The curious timing of the revelation seemed to justify the newly-formed “International Working Group”:
The “search” is characterized by a turf war of mutual suspicions amongst rivals and an indifferent “business as usual” attitude amongst participating military and intelligence agencies as they work out the modus operandi of the militarized working group. One of the central objectives seems to be to institutionalize and make permanent the ad hoc crisis group. The revelations in the Wall Street Journal and other news agencies are a criminal indictment of the “humanitarianism” of these self-serving powers:
Australian officials didn’t initially fully identify the origin of the images and didn’t mention any US or UK involvement. A spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which has nearly 15,000 employees and provides imagery for a wide range of US military and intelligence uses, declined to comment. ...
... a centralized UK analysis center didn’t review them for three days ‘due to the significant volume of imagery’ it was handling.
The extent of the involvement of the American and British intelligence agencies has given the countries participating in the search more confidence that they are pursuing the strongest leads so far.
[The Pentagon’s NGA] is part of “a network, dubbed ‘five eyes’ that shares imagery and other intelligence among close allies. Under this practice, NGA often takes the lead in collecting and analyzing imagery for a group of the four other participants, according to a former high-ranking intelligence official. Those countries are Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.”
From the first day the jetliner dropped off civilian radar, however, Malaysia, Thailand, China and other countries in the region appeared reluctant to share radar or other surveillance data out of concern about revealing the full capabilities of their national systems.
But that has been changing.[iii]
Want China Times, Taiwan[iv] also reported:
The United States has taken advantage of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight to test the capabilities of China’s satellites and judge the threat of Chinese missiles against its aircraft carriers, reports our sister paper Want Daily.
Erich Shih, chief reporter at Chinese-language military news monthly Defense International, said the US has more and better satellites but has not taken part in the search for flight MH370, which disappeared about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of March 8 with 239 people on board. Shih claimed that the US held back because it wanted to see what information China’s satellites would provide.
In a March 28 news item titled “Geopolitical games handicap hunt for flight MH370,” Reuters reported:
The search for flight MH370, the Malaysian Airlines jetliner that vanished over the South China Sea on March 8, has involved more than two dozen countries and 60 aircraft and ships but has been bedevilled by regional rivalries.
… With the United States playing a relatively muted role in the sort of exercise that until recently it would have dominated, experts and officials say there was no real central coordination until the search for the plane was confined to the southern Indian Ocean, when Australia largely took charge.
Part of the problem is that Asia has no NATO-style regional defence structure, though several countries have formal alliances with the United States. Commonwealth members Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia also have an arrangement with Britain to discuss defence matters in times of crisis.
As mystery deepened over the fate of the Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers and crew, most of them Chinese, it became clear that highly classified military technology might hold the key.
But the investigation became deadlocked over the reluctance of others to share sensitive data, a reticence that appeared to harden as the search area widened.
“This is turning into a spy novel,” said an envoy from a Southeast Asian country, noting it was turning attention to areas and techniques few countries liked to publicly discuss.
At an ambassadorial meeting in the ad hoc crisis centre at an airport hotel on March 16, Malaysia formally appealed to countries on the jet’s possible path for help, but in part met with polite stonewalling, two people close to the talks said.
Some countries asked Malaysia to put its request in writing, triggering a flurry of diplomatic notes and high-level contacts.
‘It became a game of poker in which Malaysia handed out the cards at the table but couldn’t force others to show their hand,” a person from another country involved in the talks said.
An all-out assault on the human factor/social consciousness
In the name of the “moral duty” and “bringing closure” to the families of the passengers and staff, the media monopolies like CNN, Fox News, CBC and CTV spread 24/7 every manner of unverifiable speculation about this or that “criminal act” or what the CNN WOLF celebrity Blitzer deigns to call, “CONTINUING OUR ANALYSIS.”
As many as five “experts” are assembled at any one time along with real flight simulators as a theatrical prop for studio demonstrations to perpetuate that “analysis.” Selective photos of “new objects” in the search for debris from the lost aircraft are described as “exciting” by “intelligence professionals.” ”New promising leads” turn out later in the day to be dead jellyfish. Transcripts of communications “leaked” by Malaysian “sources” to CNN are later described as “routine.” The media monopolies consider this kind of “analysis” and “news” the most “compelling,” despite the angry demand of the families to cease and desist speculating on unverifiable rumours and isolated “facts.”
What is this exercise all about? The question is not only why a huge jumbo jet has not been found but why the US media monopolies have devoted enormous resources to produce the non-stop, 24/7 broadcasts that are now in their fourth week. They have swept aside just about anything else that can pass for news. Writes Tom Engelhardt, editor of TomDispatch: “Given a media that normally rushes heedlessly from one potential 24/7 story to another, this was striking. In the case of Flight 370, for instance, on the 21st day after its disappearance, it still led NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams (with the mudslide, one week after it happened, the number two story).”
Writes salon.com: “It is disaster porn 24/7 in the form of conspiracy theories. Rather than focusing on closure for grieving families, the search has taken on Hollywood-like proportions. Even MSNBC’s Chris Hayes has had enough. Watch as he calls out CNN and Fox News for using “boogeyman” scare tactics, baseless speculation and filling the news hole” with foreign agencies and foreign enemies based on a political agenda. (See link in endnote [v])
This kind of speculation should be itself considered a crime under international law. It is fear-mongering – a kind of psychological warfare aimed at intimidating people into accepting the elimination of the responsibility of the United Nations to co-ordinate international search-and-rescue operations and the usurpation of the sovereignty of Malaysia, a UN member state. Furthermore, it is premised on the medieval dictum of “Guilty until proven innocent.”
Far from “giving people what they want,” this psychological warfare constitutes an all-out assault on the human factor/social consciousness. The forms of this fascist outlook are multifarious, including:
The central thesis propagated by the stream-of-consciousness reporting and commentary of “continue our analysis” is the justification the involvement of US imperialism and its militaristic expansion in South and East Asia. The whole outlook of the non-stop TV news is centred round confusing and mystifying this aspect. American intelligence, security and aviation “experts” – many with undisclosed but discernible links with the military-industrial complex – are paraded through successive broadcasts 24/7 as the judges of the “continuing analysis,” before whom the waiting world should fold their hands and wait for their verdict.
Humanitarian search-and-rescue operations must be coordinated and carried out under the auspices of the United Nations. It has the duty and responsibility to work with the government of the affected country, in full respect of that country’s sovereignty, to coordinate international resources and search-and-rescue efforts on a non-partisan basis and assist victims of disasters wherever they may be.
It is of grave concern to Canadians, the families of the passengers and crew, and peace loving people the world over that the US, Japan (the US’ closest economic and military ally in East Asia), Britain and Canada are sending military forces into the disaster area in the name of humanitarian intervention to serve their own interests. Militarizing the search operation in the case of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is to strengthen the hand of the United States.
This is the last thing that the families of the missing passengers or the rest of the world want.
Our hearts are with them.
[i]The main US ocean monitoring centre in Hawaii, part of America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), did contact in advance the littoral states that were hit, but alerted the US base at Diego Garcia in the western Indian Ocean. I remember an official saying they had not contacted Sri Lanka, where tens of thousands died, as they could not find the prime minister’s telephone number. Same with the massive Typhoon Haiyan in the Philipinnes (also known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines) that caused so much loss of life and destruction in November. (The precedent is not the “mystery” involved with the search for Air France Flight 447, lost on 1 June 2009, and which was also highly militarized but for a far briefer period.)
[ii]”“The city is now a “lily pad” (the base America has when it doesn’t need to build a mini-city, just permanent access to a subordinate state’s geographic and strategic resources), adding to the largest empire of “not-really-bases” the world has ever known.” “Of course, well before becoming a lily pad for the Pentagon’s pivot to Asia, Darwin became an important part of the global-technological security apparatus when, in the 1950s, mining began at Rum Jungle, 60kms to Darwin’s south, to supply uranium to the British and American nuclear weapons programs.”“
Tess Lee, “Darwin: Australia’s most militarised city, and a lily pad for the Pentagon,” the guardian.com. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/31/darwin-a-complicated-but-dazzling-history
[iii]”Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: U.S., U.K. Deeply Involved in Sparking Indian Ocean Search,” March 23, 2014
[v]Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 update: MSNBC blasts CNN and Fox News coverage www.salon.com Cable wars: Chris Hayes and Chuck Todd call out competitors for ridiculous “news” coverage of the missing flight VIDEO
[vi]The racist hierarchy of human beings and human life
Raw insensitive interviews with grieving, bewildered families is a staple of bourgeois disaster journalism. The majority of families are from China. All the networks have bureaus in China. Not a single Chinese family member was interviewed in the first three weeks and after that only when they organized. CNN celebrity anchor Anderson Cooper the other night said they haven’t been interviewing relatives “out of respect.” That didn’t stop them from interviewing (1) the Florida-based fiancee of the missing US passenger Phillip Wood; or (2) relatives from those lost or missing in the massive mud slide in Washington. CBC did interview a survivor -- of the Air France flight that went down in the South Atlantic several years ago. The Chinese families have organized as a collective on an impressive basis and are acting as a collective. They have angrily staged a protest march against Malaysia, which they say is hiding the truth and refusing to give accurate answers. They walked out of a briefing conference. Their two slogans are: “Return my family” and “We want the truth.”
There has been no interview with their spokesman. Instead we have Sanjay Gupta, the CNN celebrity doctor, giving “expert” psycho-analysis of the grieving process, including hormonal levels and a stage he called the “heroic period,” as if the families’ response is emotional, and just frustrations and what he called “visceral pain.” When people of colour resist, they are always dismissed as “emotional.” Another “expert” on grieving advised that the passengers “need to be toned down with information.”
[vii] The Boeing Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) combat aircraft uses technology, materials and manufacturing processes from the experience of its commercial 777 and 737 airliners, both of which were designed to achieve low weight and cost in the competitive race with Airbus for markets (Keith Hartley, Defence Economics and the Industrial Base Centre for Defence Economics, University of York. England, 1999). In 2o12 Australia purchased 24 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jets due to delays in the trouble-plagued and costly F-35 program of US rival Lockheed Martin. October 2013 ”Boeing Co. officials were in Ottawa … to promote the Super Hornet fighter jet as the best choice to replace Canada’s CF-18s (Boeing), using the U.S. budget crisis to raise doubts about the long-term viability of the rival Lockheed Martin F-35 program.” Boeing is the supplier of the CH-147F Chinook helicopter fleet to the Royal Canadian Air Force.
If we take the line to justify all the speculation that “nothing can be ruled out” to its logical conclusion, then how is it that Boeing itself, the manufacturing process and the capitalist system itself is not investigated. Boeing is among the largest global aircraft manufacturers, is the second-largest aerospace and military contractor in the world based on 2012 revenue and is the US’ largest exporter by dollar value. The Boeing 777 is the largest twinjet in the world, in service since 1995, and without a fatal crash in 18 years. Yet Boeing 777 Asiana Flight 214 from South Korea with 307 passengers onboard crashed on July 6, 2013 in San Francisco, killing three and injuring 181 others, 12 of them critically. Four lawsuits or motions or court motions for discovery have been filed against Asiana Airlines and Boeing Aircraft Company. In addition to alleging product defects, Wikipedia reports, the lawsuits focus on the training provided to the Asiana crew. This outsourced pilot training has been controversial within Boeing for many years. Boeing’s own pilots voted unanimously that they had “no confidence” in their management over the decision to outsource customer crew training to CCL Aviation.
On February 25, 2014 the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined Asiana Airlines US$500,000 for failing to keep victims and family of victims updated on the crash.
It is no mystery that the loss of the Boeing 777 occurs at the same time that General Motors is admitting that it knew about a fatal ignition switch on one of its cars and did nothing about it and that Bombardier still can’t get its latest model – the Learjet 85 in the C Series – right.
Or would probing Boeing affect the stock market? Boeing stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
It is openly admitted without comment that the technology exists for (a) “black boxes” that retain the flight data, which would last far longer than the current 30-day battery life; and (b) for seamless transmission of flight data to a combination of ground-based radio transmitters and satellites, when aircraft are out of range of the ground.
Rolls Royce, the British manufacturers of the engines, was constantly monitoring the engines on their computers. Why was this information not communicated to Malaysia Airlines or the government earlier?
[viii]Iran has been accused as a possible culprit and the Israeli Defence Forces put on alert as part of preparations for pr-emotive war and aggression while at the same time the IDF admitted they have no evidence to justify such a bellicose move. According to the “Northern Trajectory” hysteria, the Taliban did it and landed the plane in a remote field in Pakistan. The Taliban had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers but that didn’t stop the Anglo-American powers from invading and occupying Afghanistan.