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Robert Parry Falsely Accuses 60 Minutes Australia of Using Fake MH17 Evidence

May 19, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

This weekend 60 Minutes Australia aired a segment where they investigated the Buk missile launcher that shot down MH17, using information gathered by Bellingcat to follow the route of the Buk through separatist held territory. As with previous investigations by news organisations visiting the locations Bellingcat identified in our earlier MH17 research the 60 Minutes Australia investigation confirmed the locations Bellingcat identified as being correct.

As with all reports of this nature attempts were made to debunk the findings, notable among which was an attempt by veteran journalist Robert Parry. Like other veteran journalists, Robert Parry has relied on unnamed sources for his recent work, releasing articles that attack the narrative that separatists downed MH17 with a Buk missile launcher on his Consortium News website.

In his article, Fake Evidence Blaming Russia for MH-17?, Parry claims there appears to be “some fakery involved in the Australian documentary”.

However, for one crucial scene – the image of an alleged “getaway” BUK launcher lacking one missile and supposedly heading back to Russia after the shoot-down – the documentary broke with that pattern. The program showed the earlier video of the truck moving past a billboard and then claiming – based on information from blogger Eliot Higgins – that the TV crew had located the same billboard in Luhansk, a rebel-held city near the Russian border.

This was the documentary’s slam-dunk moment, the final proof that the Russians and particular Vladimir Putin were guilty in the deaths of 298 innocent people. However, in this case, there was no overlay of the two scenes, just Australian correspondent Michael Usher pointing to a billboard and saying it was the same one as in the video.

But the scenes look nothing at all alike if you put them side by side. While Usher is standing in an open field, the earlier video shows an overgrown area. Indeed, almost nothing looks the same, which might explain why the film crew didn’t try to do an overlay this time.

This refers to the well known video showing the Buk travelling through Luhansk, which the Russian Ministry of Defence notoriously claimed to have been filmed in a government controlled city, a claim which was later exposed as a lie.

Parry provides the following image comparison in an attempt to prove his hypothesis

parry1

 

Parry then repeats his damning accusation that 60 Minutes Australia faked evidence.

The significance of the Australian news show’s sleight of hand is that if the BUK launcher was making its “getaway” through government-controlled territory, not through Luhansk on its way back to Russia, much of the Russia-did-it scenario collapses. It also means the Australian audience was grossly misled.

Unfortunately for Parry, his accusation is entirely unfounded, and reveals his lack of investigative skill when it comes to this kind of open source information. Had Parry spent a few minutes on Google he could have easily found Bellingcat’s work on the video, and realised his error.

As we detailed in this July 22nd 2014 post, it was possible to establish the position of the camera, which is key to understanding what’s visible in the video. This image from a traffic camera shows the intersection featured in the video.

levitskogo-chernomorskaya

As we can clearly see the area has groups of trees, and in this image we can see apartment buildings to the west of the intersection, where the video was filmed from.

BtJ-AMmCMAEdW98

 

What Parry thinks is an overgrown field is in fact the top of the trees visible in the satellite imagery and traffic camera image. Because Parry apparently has very poor skills in examining and investigating these kinds of images he’s falsely accused 60 Minutes Australia of faking their report, extremely serious allegations for a veteran reporter like Parry to make against another news organisation.

Update

Crikey contacted 60 Minutes for a response who replied with the following:

RPletter

 

Eliot Higgins

Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat and the Brown Moses Blog. Eliot focuses on the weapons used in the conflict in Syria, and open source investigation tools and techniques.

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365 Comments

  1. Rob

    In Robert Parry’s latest publication (the third one about the Luhansk lamp post), he publishes this picture :
    https://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Screen-shot-2015-05-26-at-2.42.46-PM.png?55ac53

    With the note : “A screen shot from Australia’s “60 Minutes” update supposedly showing a utility pole in the “getaway” video and matching it up with a pole in an intersection of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. However, note that the inset partially obscures the spot where a house appeared on the original video.”

    However, no matter how many times you watch Australia’s “”60 minutes” update, here
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syVNYLkmgPA
    there is STILL no point where we can see that blue sign with 4 red cyrillic letters on it on the lamp post on the right in Parry’s picture.

    Looks like Robert Parry is the one doing the “faking”…

    Reply
    • bellingcatadmin

      It’s at 2:57. We’ll be doing a lengthier post on the Luhansk video tomorrow.

      Reply
      • Gtsim

        It better be indisputable evidence with the right angle and every detail in the video comfimed. We had enough of this #dancing around a pole” so put up or shut up!

        Reply
        • Rob

          Gtsim, is this your first post at Bellingcat ?
          If so, your “It better be indisputable evidence” comment does come across as a wiseacre.

          And specifically a wiseacre without evidence for his own opinions, nor evidence against Bellingcat’s analyses.

          Reply
      • Rob

        You are right. That frame matches close enough with Parry’s image.
        It was late, and I made a mistake.

        My apologies to Robert Parry for falsely accusing him of faking this screenshot.

        And I hope that Parry will offer a similar apology to “60 minutes” Australia, and to Bellingcat when he finally realizes that the location where the BUK and the 60 minutes video were taken are the same intersection in Luhansk.

        Keep up your great work, and THANK YOU Bellingcat, for bringing more and more clarity to what really happened on that dreadful morning of the 17th.

        Reply
  2. someone

    Shame on you, Bellingcat staff, whoever you are, for supporting this war. A still ongoing killing is based on this lie and you are backing and endorsing it – do you think it is the right thing to do? Do you think your parents would be proud of you for this? Please, think about it.
    And the small road (that is perpendicular to the BUK path) doesn’t match, it’s too small and too perpendicular on the BUK video.

    Reply
  3. stephen porter

    If the buk was travelling in the morning, then going by the slight shadow, it was travelling away from the east!

    Reply
    • stephen porter

      If the time tagged in the video has not been altered, and states that it was taken in the morning, then even though in the video the buk is shown moving from the left of the screen to the right of screen (an implied eastwards journey) it begs the question, why is bellingcat using a simple video deception to back up it’s assertions. Clearly a faint shadow can be seen in the Buk video, and this shadow falls on the near side of the road and so the actual path of the vehicle, was westwards, and this video should be shown from it’s true position, which is on the far side of the road, travelling from right to left on the screen, and therefore travelling westwards!

      Reply
  4. stephen porter

    All of this may be simply coincidental, but at the time I was surprised it did not raise more eyebrows. A week after the downing of MH17 the Prime minister of Ukraine resigned, and even though according to reports, he was forced to withdraw his resignation, the timing and significance of his initial resignation is incriminating!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/world/europe/ukraine-parliament-takes-step-toward-elections.html?_r=0

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/24/ukrainian-prime-minister-arseny-yatseniuk-resigns

    I could post many more links to the events surrounding his, and others, resignation, but it is the timing of these events that matters!

    Reply
  5. gsgs

    can we have the house in the background, please, from the last seconds
    of the “getaway-video”, that Parry was/is so concerned about ?

    Reply
    • gsgs

      OK, I convinced myself that the position is right.
      The getaway video was shot from 48.54600,3926274 looking East.
      The Usher-grass-video was shot from 48.54592,3926391 looking East.
      The house must be the one seen on google maps at 48.54525,39.26683.
      The “pole” (streep lamp) is at 48.54560,39.26565 .

      So, what is this Parry vs. Usher thing all about ? My summary, how I see it :

      Usher was at the right place in the first video but didn’t make it clear enough
      or easily verifyable. He could have given the coordinates of the camera or shown
      the street lamp from the getaway-video (which I think was exactly covered by
      the other street lamp on the right) or the house (behind the tiny hill, but seen
      from the 4th floor in the getaway video).
      With some effort Parry could have figured it out, the screen shot which he showed
      had only one of the advertisement signs and has not the church – deliberate ?
      At least after the debate started with Usher,Bellingcat,metabunk , he should have
      figured it out and clarified or if this video-matching is not his area of expertise
      he could have asked others.
      Basically Parry was/is just critisizing Usher for bad journalism, not making
      it easy enough to verify the position. Then Usher,Bellingcat took it for him
      accusing Usher of not being at the correct place, crying foul, then Parry
      felt provoked and repeats the accusation until now without admitting
      the position was right. Or could it be, that he still things the position was wrong ??
      I’ll ask him.

      on 2015/10/20 Parry writes:
      > However, when I published screen grabs of the getaway video and the Luhansk location,
      > it was clear to anyone that the scenes didn’t match up.
      > Yet, instead of simply admitting that they were in error, the “60 Minutes” host did a follow-up
      > insulting me, asserting that he had gone to the place identified by Higgins and claiming that
      > there was a utility pole in the video that looked something like a utility pole in Luhansk.
      > At this point, the Australian program went from committing an embarrassing error to
      > engaging in journalistic fraud. Beyond the fact that utility poles tend to look alike, nothing
      > else matched up and, indeed, the landmarks around the utility poles were markedly different,
      > too. A house next to the pole in the video didn’t appear in the scene filmed by the Australian
      > crew. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “A Reckless Stand-upper on MH-17.”]

      Does the DSB mention the video ? Is it a Buk ?

      Reply
      • boggled

        So obviously Parry still feels it is the wrong location.
        And you feel he is wrong in that statement, which I do also as well as most of the modern world that have taken time to look at all the images and videos and can think logically.

        Hence in conclusion, should you feel he is a credible investigative journalist or blogger?
        Or truthful in the things he states?
        Should you give his site the time of day?
        You know my answer.
        Yes, it is a BUK the missiles on it confirm that as well as other items.
        DSB mandate is not to find guilty party, their job was to find out what hit MH17 and brought it down from the sky, its general launch location, and what should be done to prevent it from happening again.
        JIT will discuss the criminal and civil lawsuit aspect of it.
        Mostly the criminal and who fired it.

        Fare thee well

        Reply
        • gsgs

          he looks bad here. Let’s see whether he will reply.
          It’s also maybe that competition between journalists.
          He wants to be better than others, attacks them when they
          are not clear enough with their proofs, as he thinks they should be.
          See the title of his article : “New (Higgins,Usher) vs. Old (Parry) journalism”

          Reply
        • gsgs

          I retract what I wrote above about the house. It’s too small on the video.
          I calculate a distance of about 165m from the camera to that street lamp
          and a distance of 360m from the camera to that house.
          Assuming the truck-cabin-height is 2m then the house would be
          only 1.60m . So it was either very small or much farther away on a small hill.

          Reply
          • boggled

            From your coordinates for the house, I get the location of the bent chimney.
            Regardless it is close.
            You do notice that there is both a house and a smaller garage there?

            You do understand there is a bridge there and the road is higher in elevation then the home?

            I get about 350 m from house to camera, but close enough.
            You understand the BUK on the road is about halfway between the two.
            You understand the photo is 2nd or third floor apartment?
            You understand as things are closer they look bigger in perspective?
            Truck cab height is about 3 meters.
            You can look up Volvo FH 13, I think it is.

            Use that head you have on your shoulders.
            It is the right place.
            Parry is flat out wrong, and just acting in denial.
            Believe what you want, I can only explain it as simply as I can.
            I believe that is a garage, rafter beams are about 3 meters long, and it is ~ 2.5 meters in height from where it ties into the wall studs.
            Overall height of a garage like that at the peak is about 5 meters and that garage is sitting below the road in elevation (remember overpass bridge)
            It is all about perspective and distance.

            It is the right geolocation, Bellingcat did a great job finding it and sharing it with the world.

            Fare thee well

          • gsgs

            boggled wrote
            > From your coordinates for the house,
            > I get the location of the bent chimney

            I read about the chimney, but didn’t understand where it was.
            It’s hardly seen in the getaway-video.
            For a while I thought that was the house, but the
            angles are wrong.

            > Regardless it is close.

            that’s the question. Could be far away on a hill

            > You do notice that there is both a house and a smaller garage there?

            yes, South to the chimney. The “garage” has a white roof
            and is probably covered behind trees for the camera.

            > You do understand there is a bridge there and the road is
            > higher in elevation then the home?

            maybe. But this looks small in the panorama picture

            > I get about 350 m from house to camera, but close enough.
            > You understand the BUK on the road is about halfway
            > between the two.You understand the photo is 2nd or third
            > floor apartment?

            does it matter ? Except maybe for the house being below the bridge.
            Billy Six said 4th floor.

            > You understand as things are closer they look bigger in perspective ?

            yes, linearly

            > Truck cab height is about 3 meters.
            > You can look up Volvo FH 13, I think it is.

            big truck. So multiply by 1.5. Gives 2.4m for the house, still too small.

            > Use that head you have on your shoulders.
            > It is the right place.

            ??

            > Parry is flat out wrong, and just acting in denial.
            > Believe what you want, I can only explain it as simply as I can.

            he should read the explanations and comment.

            > I believe that is a garage, rafter beams are about 3 meters long,
            > and it is ~ 2.5 meters in height from where it ties into the wall studs.
            > Overall height of a garage like that at the peak is about 5 meters
            > and that garage is sitting below the road in elevation (remember
            > overpass bridge) It is all about perspective and distance.

            you can see the walls and one side of the roof and the panorama picture.
            It doesn’t match IMO. And it should be behind the trees.
            I drew the lines on google earth pic, but google earth hasn’t it directly
            from above, so I’m not sure.

            > It is the right geolocation, Bellingcat did a great job finding it
            > and sharing it with the world.

            Billy Six did a video from that window, the house should be on it.
            60minutes should have filmed the house..
            Usher stands flat on the grass and the bridge covers the houses,
            but you see the top of the lamps in the background.

            Well, a nonexisting house wouldn’t be put there in a faked video,
            so there is probably an explanation. The correct location is
            sufficiently verified by other details.

          • boggled

            The house and garage have the same colored roof and are orientated the same way.
            But they are slightly separated.

            Your coordinates for the house, I get the BUILDING with the bent chimney.
            white/grey roof is for the carwash, the building with the chimney (not bent in BUK video, bent for BillySix video.

            The house and garage roofs are brown on Google Eart and brownish-grey in the BUK video.

            The chimney (part of the carwash building) is to the left of the garage, it is seen in the BUK video.

            If you go on the roofs of the apartment building, to NW of camera location you can get a wide view of the direction the camera took the video of the BUK. Wide view or panaramio (spelling) photo.

            That image is also in this article or the other Bellingcat article I linked above.

            I do not believe it is house you see but garage.

            Not sure of your 1.5 number.
            It is twice the distance. a Squared + b Squared = c squared.
            twice the distance from camera location to BUK as camera distance to garage to figure out scale.
            So if garage is same height as BUK truck hauler, then garage should be double ~3 meters? or 6 meters with quarter of it below level of main road.

            You and everyone is guessing location of the camera taking the video.
            I think BillySix was slightly off.
            I think it is roughly 48°32’46.02″, 39°15’45.47″ second or third floor.

            Chimney location is about ~ 1 cm SSW of your coordinate for the carwash (you called house).

            Getting the image from inside the apartment may be easy for BillySix since he is proKremlin, proDNR etc.
            60 minutes was not given permission so they did the best they could do.

            I have not seen Parry go over there.
            If he did, he would see it is wrong for himself, but knowing him, he would still deny it.
            BillySix did both interview with RT and with Bellingcat.
            His interview with Belllingcat can be found by typing his name in search box.

            Fare thee well

          • gsgs

            we have a big house with center at 48.54491,39.26698
            a small house (garage?) with center at 48.54504,39.26699
            and a tiny, lengthy house (plant-house ?) with white roof
            centered at 48.54501,39.26687

            the factory buildings (chimney ?) look different at google maps
            and in the panorama picture. Maybe a new tract was added inbetween.

            Now, both, big house and small house look way too big
            to me to be the house in the getaway/Lugansk/BUK video.
            Small house should be 8m not 2.4m ?!
            It fits 2.5 times into the truck-cabin but is only double as far.
            3/2.5*2=2.4

            I do see something in the BUK-video which could be your chimney,
            but it’s not clear to me. Could also be a gap in the trees.
            I guessed the camera position from the gapratio
            ad-sign-1st streetlamp / 1stlamp – 2nd lamp
            And from the angles 1st lamp – bushes on bridge
            at 48.54536,39.26553.
            The 6th building in the upper-right row is closer to the street
            than 7-9 and presumably has windows towards the East.
            Project it to the floor to get 48.54612,39.26262

            ————
            > 48°32’46.02″, 39°15’45.47″ = 48.54612,39.26263 , close enough
            I changed the coordinates from my first post after re-thinking,retrying

          • boggled

            BillySix may not be proKremlin, just searching for truth, but he not with big investigative group like 60 minutes who must announce who they are and get permission for everything officially from LNR.

            proKremlin people inside apartment would recognize 60 minutes and think – they are west reporters trying to frame RF, so we no help them, or then KGB (FSB) or LNR police come ask us questions.

            Fare thee well

          • boggled

            gsgs
            from apartment building at ground level photo taken.
            note, that the ground goes up and you cannot see the houses or carwash because it is hidden by bridge of overpass –
            therefore the ground covers up 1/4 to 1/3 of the height of the garage in the video.
            https://wp4553-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/5783696.jpg

            photos of carwash building with chimney ( note garage in bottom section of photo and the grey metal roof that has tree hiding it. I think tree came down with Big storm that caused major flood in Georgia in summer 2014, remember?)
            This image also has the zoomed in part of BUK video that shows chimney.
            https://wp4553-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/carwash.jpg

            All come from this page –
            https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/05/29/whos-lying-an-in-depth-analysis-of-the-luhansk-buk-video/

            When truck passes in front of garage, garage comes up to 3/4 of truck height.
            1/4 of garage is hidden and below ground level of BUK hauler.
            BUK and garage (not small house) are about same height when you account for different altitudes or elevation.

            Garage is place to store (park) automobile out of weather, do you understand this word?
            Usually is next to or attached to main house and have same color roof.

            double distance to garage means double height of BUK = height of garage.
            3mx2 = ????? m
            It is about right with much of math being round numbers.

            Fare thee well

          • boggled

            Like you acknowledge, there are a few things that can change with age of the photos.
            Parry refuses to acknowledge it, so keeps up his ‘righteous crusade’ against Bellingcat because they pointed out he was wrong.
            That is it they did not attack him or his job or his articles.
            Mainly just his point about the BUK.

            I have done this and dug into his other articles, and I have found enough to form my opinion.
            I think I have expressed my opinion clearly.
            During Kremlin’s covert separatism hybrid war in Georgia he attacked Georgian citizens just the same as he did in Ukraine.

            We can debate the Georgian war another time, needless to say he helped the Kremlin demonize Georgian citizens in America to attempt to prevent GWB or the Senate or the USA State Department from getting pushing to get involved.

            Not that many paid attention to him then either, but he is a dog with a big bark.

            Anyways, truth always comes out.
            Just as all the lies of Kremlin sponsored media gets proved wrong.
            Ukraine has been saying all along it was a BUK, it was this special kind, and it was shot from this location.
            From the DSB, we have seen they have been telling the truth all along.
            Bellingcat’s proof’s have stood the test of time.

            Kremlin media and MoD have failed miserably over and over again.
            All because they are ordered to lie by vova and the elite of Moscow.

            vova is hurting Russian citizens and their children and their children very badly.

            The people of the world that Russian citizens label Russaphobes because they expose the lies of the Kremlin are not hurting RF, just the Kremlin and its media that is full of paid liars.

            Fare thee well

          • gsgs

            They figured it out in the Ukrainian forums.
            Anatoly Vorobey on 2014/07/20 started the thread in livejournal
            xeningem posted the picture identifying the house and other
            items on 2014/07/24.
            They also had a picture, looking from the street lamp, you can just see
            the roof of the “house”. They do not explain the Google Earth buildings,
            which are quite different, afaics.
            It’s in Ukrainian language.
            ( link allowed ? )

            крыша = the roof

  6. RAB3L

    If you post anything faintly anti-chekist on Parry’s site, it will be removed on the same day. I have had three posts removed in the last week, containing nothing more than links to the Guardian and quotes from Wikipedia. Rather than the ‘Independent Investigative Journalism’ shouldn’t it be ‘Independent Investigative Journalism sponsored by the FSB’?

    Reply

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