From Consortium News
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
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One positive thing about a change in party control of the White House is that the new occupants sometimes release information that the old residents kept hidden because the facts were politically embarrassing or did not support some favored policy.
We saw this in the first days of the Obama administration when President Barack Obama declassified some documents relating to President George W. Bush's internal policy debates about torture and other abuses from the "war on terror."
However, as yet, we have seen nothing similar from the Trump administration even though some truth-telling might work very well for President Donald Trump, especially given his reputation for getting facts wrong. A commitment to transparency -- giving some truth to the American people on important topics -- could change Trump's image for the better.
Plus, by releasing information that was unjustifiably kept hidden during Obama's second term, Trump could underscore how Obama grew increasingly obsessive about secrecy the longer he remained in the White House, treating the American people as objects to be manipulated rather than citizens to be informed.
For instance, Obama kept the clamps on CIA analyses relating to the Ukrainian crisis, even regarding the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing 298 people and leading to a dangerous escalation in the New Cold War with Russia.
After the crash, the Obama administration quickly steered the Western media toward blaming President Vladimir Putin and got the European Union to join in economic sanctions against Russia.
However, after exploiting the rush to judgment against Putin, the Obama administration went silent, withholding U.S. intelligence evidence even from the official crash investigators. The more the administration learned about the tragic event and who was responsible the less it wanted to say.
At the time, I was told that the reason was that some senior CIA analysts were uncovering evidence that went in an inconvenient direction, suggesting a rogue Ukrainian operation connected to a hardline oligarch with the intent of shooting down a Russian jetliner, possibly even the one carrying Putin back from a state visit in South America, but instead brought down MH-17, which had similar markings.
To spread confusion and create some deniability for the attack, the scheme supposedly called for launching the missile from as deep inside "rebel-controlled" territory as possible.
A Closed File
The source described getting this briefing from U.S. intelligence analysts, but I was unable to get the CIA or the Office of Director of National Intelligence to provide any guidance. Instead, they clammed up, claiming that they didn't want to "prejudice" the official Dutch-led investigation (although I pointed out that the hasty U.S. finger-pointing at Russia had already done that).
President Barack Obama discusses the crisis in Ukraine for 90 minutes on March 1, 2014, with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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The refusal of the Obama administration to open its MH-17 files allowed the "Dutch-led" Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to be effectively taken over by Ukraine's unsavory SBU intelligence agency, which oversaw the care and feeding of Dutch and Australian investigators who decamped for long periods in Kiev.
The SBU's "evidence" became central to the JIT's investigation although the SBU was deeply involved in the war against the ethnic-Russian Ukrainian rebels and was even denounced by United Nations investigators for blocking access to alleged SBU torture centers. Beyond that, part of the SBU's mandate was to protect Ukrainian government secrets, so the SBU had obvious conflicts of interest.