U.S. Government Lied to Pretend that Accidental Russian Shootdown of Commercial Plane Was Intentional … Three Decades Ago

George Washington's picture

We noted yesterday that Ukraine, Russia, the U.S., Israel and China have all accidentally shot down commercial airplanes.

Ray McGovern – a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their vice presidents, secretaries of state, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials – provides vital details on an accidental shootdown by Russia – and America’s disinformation campaign to make it look intentional – 3 decades ago:

The U.S. press might pause to recall how it’s been manipulated by the U.S. government in the past, including three decades ago by the Reagan administration twisting the facts of the KAL-007 tragedy.


In that case, a Soviet fighter jet shot down a Korean Air Line plane on Sept. 1, 1983, after it strayed hundreds of miles off course and penetrated some of the Soviet Union’s most sensitive airspace over military facilities in Kamchatka and Sakhalin Island.


Over Sakhalin, KAL-007 was finally intercepted by a Soviet Sukhoi-15 fighter. The Soviet pilot tried to signal the plane to land, but the KAL pilots did not respond to the repeated warnings. Amid confusion about the plane’s identity — a U.S. spy plane had been in the vicinity hours earlier — Soviet ground control ordered the pilot to fire. He did, blasting the plane out of the sky and killing all 269 people on board.


The Soviets soon realized they had made a horrendous mistake. U.S. intelligence also knew from sensitive intercepts that the tragedy had resulted from a blunder, not from a willful act of murder ….


But a Soviet admission of a tragic blunder regarding KAL-007 wasn’t good enough for the Reagan administration, which saw the incident as a propaganda windfall. At the time, the felt imperative in Washington was to blacken the Soviet Union in the cause of Cold War propaganda and to escalate tensions with Moscow.


Falsifying the Case


To make the very blackest case against Moscow, the Reagan administration suppressed the exculpatory evidence from the U.S. electronic intercepts. The U.S. mantra became “the deliberate downing of a civilian passenger plane.” Newsweek ran a cover emblazoned with the headline “Murder in the Sky.”


The Reagan administration’s spin machine began cranking up,” wrote Alvin A. Snyder, then-director of the U.S. Information Agency’s television and film division, in his 1995 book, Warriors of Disinformation.


USIA Director Charles Z. Wick “ordered his top agency aides to form a special task force to devise ways of playing the story overseas. The objective, quite simply, was to heap as much abuse on the Soviet Union as possible,” Snyder recalled.

Snyder noted that “the American media swallowed the U.S. government line without reservation. Said the venerable Ted Koppel on the ABC News ‘Nightline’ program: ‘This has been one of those occasions when there is very little difference between what is churned out by the U.S. government propaganda organs and by the commercial broadcasting networks.’”


On Sept. 6, 1983, the Reagan administration went so far as to present a doctored transcript of the intercepts to the United Nations Security Council (a prelude to a similar false presentation two decades later by Secretary of State Colin Powell on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction).


“The tape was supposed to run 50 minutes,” Snyder said about recorded Soviet intercepts. “But the tape segment we [at USIA] had ran only eight minutes and 32 seconds. … ‘Do I detect the fine hand of [Richard Nixon's secretary] Rosemary Woods here?’ I asked sarcastically.’”


But Snyder had a job to do: producing the video that his superiors wanted. “The perception we wanted to convey was that the Soviet Union had cold-bloodedly carried out a barbaric act,” Snyder wrote.


Only a decade later, when Snyder saw the complete transcripts — including the portions that the Reagan administration had hidden — would he fully realize how many of the central elements of the U.S. presentation were false.


The Soviet fighter pilot apparently did believe he was pursuing a U.S. spy plane, according to the intercepts, and he was having trouble in the dark identifying the plane. At the instructions of Soviet ground controllers, the pilot had circled the KAL airliner and tilted his wings to force the aircraft down. The pilot said he fired warning shots, too. “This comment was also not on the tape we were provided,” Snyder wrote.


It was clear to Snyder that in the pursuit of its Cold War aims, the Reagan administration had presented false accusations to the United Nations, as well as to the people of the United States and the world. To these Republicans, the ends of smearing the Soviets had justified the means of falsifying the historical record.


In his book, Snyder acknowledged his role in the deception and drew an ironic lesson from the incident. The senior USIA official wrote, “The moral of the story is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first.”

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mendigo's picture

Best situation for us is rebels get a hold of the black box and it disappears for long enough to have time to fix any irregularities.

AdvancingTime's picture

For decades a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, 2013 that taboo came silently to an end with the implementation of a new law passed in January.

This unleashes thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption. This "reform" was criticized by many human rights activist as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. When governments spy on their people and government propaganda programs intersect it is very dangerous and the potential of abuse is huge. More on this subject in the article below.


franzpick's picture

I have a 9-1-83 VHS videotape of John Chancellor live on network tv explaining immediately after the KAL007 news, that the u.s. often spies on Russia by 'hiding' a recon plane alongside a scheduled civilian passenger flight in the radar track of the commercial plane which is flown off course for strategic purposes.

The Chancellor segment was never repeated, was immediately 'disappeared' from the replays and then from the tapes and archives, and I knew as I captured his pre-censored blunder that the video was a historic revelation of the truth of u.s. collusion, lying and cover up. 

JoJoJo's picture

KAL 007 was a 747, thought to be taking pictures or carrying bombs? It was intentionally shot down. Should Iron Man Reagan have given the Russkies a pass? Considering the times - Cold War - of course not. Magnus did not play to lose - like Obama.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Unfortunately, real-life isn't a football game where you deceive the other team about the next play in order to score, while the fans go rah, rah, rah. A government deceiving its citizens may accomplish short-term goals, but ultimately, it damages the credibility of its institutions, and worse, it surrenders the moral high ground. No amount of additional deception can contain the anger of the masses when they lose all trust in the system. And yes, the masses do get angry enough to roll heads from time to time.

novictim's picture


Aidan White of the Ethical Journalism Network just handed that shrill, silly woman at RT news her butt in a bonet.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

WTF are you even talking about? Are you tired of working overtime at Langley this weekend?

novictim's picture

Hey, man.  I get to listen in on everyones private phone conversations and emails all day long!

How could I ever give this up?

And did I mention the "benees".  Good lordy aunt jamimey!

Stanley Lord's picture

You ZHers need to get a life, you blame America first for everything, you think like Obama.


novictim's picture


Zero Hedge like RT news are Princess Putin's chief cock polishers. 

Salsipuedes's picture

Stanley old chap. We don't blame "America" at all. We blame the braindead Lords.

tempo's picture

60 minutes on multi billionaires and their compassion charity trusts that protect their wealth and allow them to act like they care about anything other than power and protecting their billions from ever being taxed. Its ugly.

Notsobadwlad's picture

Maybe when the US government starts acting like an adult instead of a spoiled petulent rich brat with a magnifying glass frying ants on the sidewalk and cackling with glee at its cleverness, then maybe it will deserve some of the respect it so desperately craves.  

HardAssets's picture

Skepticism regarding what is said by politicians, used to be a long honored trait among Americans. The point of the article is that they lie all the time & you need to be aware of that.

You also use the fallacy of a vague term. We don't blame 'America' for 'everything', but it's obvious that certain individuals in the Reagan administration lied to the public.
Lies have been used to bring people into wars. This has cost millions of lives. So, it just might be wise to remain very skeptical.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Life you say? Many people would have a life it wasn't for the Satanists at the Pentagram.

tony bonn's picture

the kal 007 story has never been told except by me and the sources from whom i got my story - all internet based. the reagan administration lied its ass off about the incident. the kal007 was not shot down killing all passengers. all passengers survived. the plane was a spy plane. it suffered engine problems, possibly from a missile which exploded without reaching its target. soviet life boats came for the survivors...the survivors were taken into captivity, many of whom are probably alive today. there is evidence that congressman mcdonald was still alive a few years ago.

the attack was another planned event by the bush crime syndicate to start ww3 and dramatically escalate military spending. ussr was controlled by rockefeller nazis and rothschild satantists and they were not about the launch a war at that time.

all investigations into the "attack" have been viciously sabotaged...the american fools believe yet another lie from the military industrial complex.

daveO's picture

The fact that McDonald was on that plane means there's more to this story than was ever told. GHWB having a part in it makes perfect sense. I've read that Hinckley's dad was a business associate of his. They couldn't kill Reagan, so they went after one of his closest allies, probably hoping to get Jesse Helms, as well.  

HardAssets's picture

Article Links & sources please?

The Alarmist's picture

Channeling some serious Tom Clancy there, dude.  How much for rights to the screenplay?

conscious being's picture

Alarmist - take a minute and look into it.

More loose ends than a Richard Simmons / Obama / Reggie picnic.

HumanResourceProblem's picture


No matter how many times Valerie Jarrett says he isn't intellectually challenged by the presidency, he keeps proving that he just doesn't understand what the challenges are.

The Alarmist's picture

Therein lies the tautology ... someone who is incapable of being intellectually challenged cannot be intellectually challenged.

VWAndy's picture

Its one hell of a thing to be able to just straight up lie with impunity. But that some would follow without question? How the f does that work? I been married 20 fn years and she dont trust me that much. The wierdest thing is when I ask them they will addmit they know they were lied too to many times. I just dont get it. All parties in this are proven to be full of it.

 Pimps and whores all of them. I am more likely to get the truth about this from my cat.



 PS Great work GW!

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Pimps and whores are a good analogy. The average American is a whore, and they know it, but they also want to believe they're more than just a whore. They want to believe if they please their pimp in DC and take it in the ass one more time, they'll finally be treated better. About the time a whore stops believing the lies, the pimp has moved on to a fresh whore in the new generation.

VWAndy's picture

Thats not how I meant it, but if the shoe fits?

Jano's picture

AM really surprised.
WH and not telling the truth?

roadhazard's picture

So I guess that makes this OK. Check

The Wedge's picture

"on an accidental shootdown by Russia – and America’s disinformation campaign to make it look intentional – 3 decades ago"

It wasn't an accident. Russia absolutely meant to shoot it down you dipshit. Why? Because the US was outfitting airliners with spy equipment. Of course they lied about it. And I'm almost certain there was never another "spy plane" in the vicinity. The Korean airliner was the spy plane. Yes folks, the US, probably Russia too, used airliners with real passengers as spy planes. The Russians may or may not have known that real passengers were aboard.

joethegorilla's picture

At night from 30,000 feet? Spying?

Try again Red,  

conscious being's picture

joe, PETA is gonna come after me for beating a dumb animal, but listen, according to SpaceToday, PHOTOINIT satilites fly at 100 miles above the Earth and what is 30,000 feet, less that 6 miles and you think 6 miles is too high??

How about this "Spysats and military communications satellites dominate space from 600 to 1,200 miles altitude."

The internet is your friend.  Use it and you might learn something.

In the mean time, TDs, the site was better with CAPTCHA.

joethegorilla's picture

A plane flying at night is not spying. Get that through your head.

oudinot's picture

You are correct.  

In the 80's the CIA got the Boeing 747 wired while in the manufacturing stage which was to be delivered to the Chinese premier (forget his name) as his China 1 plane so that the Americans heard everything they talked about in the plane.

dexter_morgan's picture

at least this provides a good distraction for what is going on in Gaza

the grateful unemployed's picture

ronnie raygun almost got the nobel for winning the cold war, and obama got the nobel, for doing what?

pupdog1's picture

...organizing communities in the biggest shithole in the Western hemisphere.

ObamaDepression's picture

This is pure bullshit propaganda you'd expect straight from RT News.

Shooting down a plane that you have no idea whom it belongs to is murder

medium giraffe's picture

I find all of the accounts made circa 3 years ago suddenly becoming active very interesting...

HardAssets's picture

iMO it doesn't really matter when someone signs up. As the shit hits the fan it's likely that more people will be fed up with msm and look for alternatives. It also doesn't matter where they come from or what are their motives. Strong arguments backed with facts win in this kind of format. Usually people come to see through bullshit.

Everybodys All American's picture

Get a thicker skin GW if you're going to post your slanted views of history. I've been here a long time and I know this story on Reagan is once again supporting your liberal point of view. Anything you can do to tear down Reagan is ultimately your goal is it not? Btw I'm also old enough to have been around when KAL007 happened and there are some similarities but I just do not see a conspiracy.

The difference today is that everyone wants to see this as a false flag knowing what troubles the US economy faces. How would that change anything other than getting it off the front page for a day? Our foreign and economic policy is all over the place primarily because of an extremely poor president who has no courage to stand up to those that want to weaken the dollar.

Titus's picture

Wow, you really don't get it.

No red team blue team bullshit here. The dollar is being systematically weakened because of the endless GRIFT BY THE KLEPTOCRATIC CLASS. Their hand is up every president's ass. 

The US isn't just going to let the $4 billion it invested in the regime change go.

THis airline crash provides a reason for western incursion into ukraine, and Israel is using it at cover to invade Gaza.

ObamaDepression's picture

I was Missiondweller for 4+ years before my login was deleted by someone who didn't like me questioning the political motivation of non-economic posts on ZH.

So fuck off!

COSMOS's picture

Take a hike OD, listen if you fly over sensitive military space at night and dont identify yourself you are going to get it.   We dont know if that plane flew close on purpose to eavesdrop on communications etc.


disabledvet's picture

This current civilian jet liner shot down by Russians (with Putin not giving a rats ass about the victims as well) was not "spying."

If that plane was "spying" was shooting it down the right answer?

Kinda crazy don't you think?
That would mean the plane WAS ORDERED TO BE BLOWN TO BITS!
(And also means you agree with that sentiment.)

HardAssets's picture

Vet - the evidence isn't in yet. Usually it takes some time for crash investigations to be completed. And that's under peace time conditions. IMO too many people are anxious to assign blame to one party or another before all the facts are in.

oudinot's picture

Vet:  I gave you a few greens only because you seem chronically short of green.  At first I couldn't decfide if you are a genius, a nut or a genius only when on meds.

I can't understand your above comment .  Can you kindly please elucidate what you mean?

ramacers's picture

reagan was for sure open to exploiting the soviet mistake but he wasn't tryin' to start a war.

blackwater is tryin' to start a war with russia, and sent the mysterious MH370 in there and probably brought it down.

don't believe a thing you hear or see on broadcast/cable tv.