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Ed from OC

Poland Decapitated

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This morning I woke to hear that a plane crashed in Russia, killing some 97 people. Among the passengers where the heads of the Polish government: the president, the military chief of staff and other top officers, central bank governor, deputy foreign minister, members of parliament and other senior officials. Among them was the head of the National Security Office, which (I presume) is the equivalent of the CIA.

What caused the crash? The immediate, official response from Russia was pilot error: "The jet hit treetops in fog as it approached the runway at Smolensk airport in western Russia and broke up in flames, regional governor Sergei Antufiev said."

Given the circumstances, I have doubts this was accidental. I'm not given to conspiracy theories, but there are actual facts to consider

Russian animosity toward Poland goes back at least 70 years. This flight was to a memorial service to a massive WWII slaughter of Poles by the Soviets. More recently, in 2008, Russia threatened Poland over their missile defense deal with Bush:

Russian Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Poland's decision on Thursday to host a U.S.-backed missile defense system had made the former communist bloc country a "target" for Russian military action.

"By hosting these, Poland is making itself a target. This is 100 percent," said Gen. Nogovitsyn, according to wire service reports. "It becomes a target for attack. Such targets are destroyed as a first priority."

Also, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been put in charge of a commission investigating the crash, the Kremlin said. "Put in charge" is an odd phrase; surely the most powerful man in Russia CHOSE to head the investigation. Why else but to cover things up?

Of course other things of note happened this week.

Obama announces a radical change from Bush's posture on preemptive strikes, by ruling out using nukes against countries without them. While this wouldn't rule out using them against Russia, and their may be wiggle room against nations like Iran and North Korea which are not cooperating with nonproliferation treaties, the visible signal is one of backing down from keeping pressure on Russia. What better time, then, to test the new US president with a covert assassination of a close ally? Russia has deniability, and can control the investigation (since it happened in their territory and Putin is running the investigation). Obama is unlikely to push Russia in any way on this issue, allowing this crime to succeed.

But getting little mention was the revolution in Kyrgyzstan. A close US ally was violently thrown out of office, replaced with pro-Russian leaders. This will likely cost us a crucial US military base we've had there for several years.

Russian-backed coup or not, the uprising in Kyrgyzstan means the United States may have to bargain hard to keep its last military base in Central Asia.

...

The base is crucial for President Barack Obama's plans to send more U.S. soldiers into Afghanistan and last month about 50,000 troops passed through the base. Russia also has a military base in the country and had tried to get a second under Bakiyev.

...

"In Kyrgyzstan there should be only one base -- Russian," a senior Russian official told reporters in Prague after Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed a landmark treaty to reduce vast Cold War arsenals of nuclear weapons.

This has been a very bad week for US defense. It's unclear how Poland's relationship to US, Nato, and Europe will be in a few months. We've lost a crucial ally in holding off Russia, and the new government may be intimidated by these events to cozy up to Russia (which is what may be happening with Georgia, as their pro-Western leader Mikheil Saakashvili is under increasing political opposition, which may lead to a more pro-Russian replacement).

Even if the plane crash was an accident, the timing could not be more perfect for Russia. The US will be tied up with Poland and Kyrgyzstan at the same time, making it harder to handle either one, while also fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will also test Obama's resolve and diplomacy skills, informing the Kremlin of how he is likely to respond to a greater threat to US interests.

It is a sad day for Poland and for the US.

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Regarding the conspiracy, two things immediately came to mind:

1. it crashed in fog, yet there were several eye witnesses? Perhaps the tree's serial number starts with SA, it is Mach 3-capable, and created the fog?

2. In Confessions of an Economic Hitman, Perkins describes how "annoying" heads of states were sometimes gotten rid off by thoughtful sabotage of the aircraft prior to take off. That was what immediately flashed to my mind as I heard the news.

That being said, it is strange that important government persons were allowed to board a Tupolev :D

Interesting, also, that Russia feels confident enough to do this so openly (especially after the above quote). Medvedev/Putin must feel really confident in BHO's lack of balls (misplaced confidence, in my opinion, since BHO has ordered assassinations already - imagine if GWB had dared do so!).

I look forward to reading Stratfor's take on the matter.

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rtg24: I agree. The circumstantial evidence is compelling and building.

What assassinations ordered by Obama are you referring to? (Would you cite something? Thanks.)

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I am surprised that the entire executive branch of the Polish government flew on the same plane. That sounds like very bad management.

Here are the facts:

one Polish pilot + one over age Tupelov jet + one very foggy day at Smolensk = one disaster.

The news accounts that I read indicated that the pilot was instructed to seek an alternate landing site but he came in anyway.

The first impression is pilot error. But further investigation must be made. Question: is there going to be a neutral participant in the crash investigation? They should get in some experts from Canada or Britain to join in.

Bob Kolker

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rtg24: I agree. The circumstantial evidence is compelling and building.

What assassinations ordered by Obama are you referring to? (Would you cite something? Thanks.)

Can't remember where I read it first but here's the top result in Google:

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/apr2010/pers-a08.shtml

The interesting part is:

"Word of Obama’s decision has been intentionally leaked by multiple intelligence officials"

and

"The killing of citizens declared by the executive branch to be “terrorists” was first announced as state policy by Obama’s director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, in February congressional hearings."

which is highly amusing considering how big a part of Obama's campaign "playing by the rules" (or rather, the lack of mention of "not playing by the rules" as a tactic) was.

(I should add that I approve of such assassinations. War is war, and - surprise - it involves killing. Cheaper to send a Tomahawk or Hellfire on a house in the middle of enemy territory than to send the US Army to secure the country first. Poland is obviously different since Poland and Russia were not at war.)

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The articles I read suggest that there was no foul play. Those Tupolevs are apparently nicknamed "flying coffins".

I don't see the Russkies finally agreeing to a ceremony in Katyn and then turn around to kill off the Polish government. This would have only made sense if it had been followed immediately by an invasion.

I think this is sloppiness and entropy at work, mostly.

It's true that the conservatives are going to be in a bind to find a potential candidate. The other twin could be a strong candidate, but he must be deeply traumatized right now, poor guy.

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[Well-written post, Ed. If you're thinking of a career change, why not mainstream journalism? Where else could you be paid little in a moribund, vanishing field, surrounded by people who detest your values, and have no interest in objectivity or facts? What's not to like?]

To the problem at hand; There is, as yet, no objective reporting of the crash -- it's all from the Russians and Putin's in charge, which means he controls all reporting of the event.

Early indications pointed to pilot error in heavy fog as a factor in the crash, officials said.
And the Russian press is aware that their livlihoods and their lives depend on the favor of Putin -- if he can poison an opposition leader, fake a revolution in Georgia, or overthrow a Kyrgz government, let alone assassinate the heads of state of a former satellite, he can certainly dispose of an inconvenient journalist. Once again, as the old joke went, when asked what the difference was in the two Soviet newspapers, "in Pravda there is no news and in Iszvestia there is no Truth."(*)

At this point, accident or deliberate sabotage look pretty much the same from the outside. Putin could easily see to that. As far as the event that lured the Poles, I have no problem believing that setting it up as a ruse would have appealed to Putin, if it would severely cripple an enemy. The irony, I think would amuse a former head of KGB. These are the kinds of plots that entertain such minds.

As far as Kyrgyzstan,

"In Kyrgyzstan there should be only one base -- Russian"
pretty much sizes that up. Absent any credible threat from The United States leadership, Putin is reconstituting his beloved Soviet Union, in form and function.

Even if we throw the bums out in Washington, the country and the world left to the next administration will be a mess that may take a generation or more to clean up.

(*) In English: Pravda - Truth, Iszvestia - News

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We know Putin is capable of such things, so there is good reason to be suspicious.

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We know Putin is capable of such things, so there is good reason to be suspicious.

Quite true. He may even be relishing the event despite his outward demeanour. That said, pilot error is not off the table, especially if as maintained, the pilot was instructed not to land but to proceed to an alternate. After all, only the pilot had his hands on the controls, and only he could make the decisions on where to take the plane. I would not jump to conclusions here.

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