Yesterday, you'll recall, I began this two part blog by reviewing the following excellent article, shared with us by Mr. E.G., and by also referring to my interview with Ms. George Anne Hughes of The Byte Show which I gave within a week of Malaysia Air Flight 370's initial disappearance:
As the article notes, Mr. Weiss began to be suspicious of the satellite tracking data for MH 370, and, upon finding a glitch, began to entertain somewhat the opposite of what the public story - never a fully agreed upon story - was maintaining. He began by pointing out that the "black box" evidence for an Indian Ocean crash was anything but conclusive:
"Guided by Inmarsat’s calculations, Australia, which was coordinating the investigation, moved the search area 685 miles to the northeast, to a 123,000-square-mile patch of ocean west of Perth. Ships and planes found much debris on the surface, provoking a frenzy of BREAKING NEWS banners, but all turned out to be junk. Adding to the drama was a ticking clock. The plane’s two black boxes had an ultrasonic sound beacon that sent out acoustic signals through the water. (Confusingly, these also were referred to as “pings,” though of a completely different nature. These new pings suddenly became the important ones.) If searchers could spot plane debris, they’d be able to figure out where the plane had most likely gone down, then trawl with underwater microphones to listen for the pings. The problem was that the pingers had a battery life of only 30 days.
"On April 4, with only a few days’ pinger life remaining, an Australian ship lowered a special microphone called a towed pinger locator into the water.Fig. 8 Miraculously, the ship detected four pings. Search officials were jubilant, as was the CNN greenroom. Everyone was ready for an upbeat ending.
"The only Debbie Downer was me. I pointed out that the pings were at the wrong frequency and too far apart to have been generated by stationary black boxes. For the next two weeks, I was the odd man out on Don Lemon’s six-guest panel blocks, gleefully savaged on-air by my co-experts.
"The Australians lowered an underwater robotFig. 9 to scan the seabed for the source of the pings. There was nothing. Of course, by the rules of TV news, the game wasn’t over until an official said so. But things were stretching thin. One night, an underwater-search veteran taking part in a Don Lemon panel agreed with me that the so-called acoustic-ping detections had to be false. Backstage after the show, he and another aviation analyst nearly came to blows. “You don’t know what you’re talking about! I’ve done extensive research!” the analyst shouted. “There’s nothing else those pings could be!”
Thus, Mr. Weiss began to suspect that the satellite data had been doctored:
"By combining the data with other reliable information, we were able to put together a time line of the plane’s final hours: Forty minutes after the plane took off from Kuala Lumpur, MH370 went electronically dark. For about an hour after that, the plane was tracked on radar following a zigzag course and traveling fast. Then it disappeared from military radar. Three minutes later, the communications system logged back onto the satellite. This was a major revelation. It hadn’t stayed connected, as we’d always assumed. This event corresponded with the first satellite ping. Over the course of the next six hours, the plane generated six more handshakes as it moved away from the satellite."
And so he came to a reasonable conclusion:
"For one, I was bothered by the lack of plane debris. And then there was the data. To fit both the BTO and BFO data well, the plane would need to have flown slowly, likely in a curving path. But the more plausible autopilot settings and known performance constraints would have kept the plane flying faster and more nearly straight south. I began to suspect that the problem was with the BFO numbers—that they hadn’t been generated in the way we believed.14 If that were the case, perhaps the flight had gone north after all.
"For a long time, I resisted even considering the possibility that someone might have tampered with the data. That would require an almost inconceivably sophisticated hijack operation, one so complicated and technically demanding that it would almost certainly need state-level backing. This was true conspiracy-theory material.
"And yet, once I started looking for evidence, I found it. One of the commenters on my blog had learned that the compartment on 777s called the electronics-and-equipment bay, or E/E bay, can be accessed via a hatch in the front of the first-class cabin.15 If perpetrators got in there, a long shot, they would have access to equipment that could be used to change the BFO value of its satellite transmissions. They could even take over the flight controls."
And thus we have arrived at Mr. Weiss' theory, which we may call the "Putin did it" theory, which it would seem even Mr. Weiss himself is a bit uncomfortable with:
Why, exactly, would Putin want to steal a Malaysian passenger plane? I had no idea. Maybe he wanted to demonstrate to the United States, which had imposed the first punitive sanctions on Russia the day before, that he could hurt the West and its allies anywhere in the world. Maybe what he was really after were the secrets of one of the plane’s passengers.25 Maybe there was something strategically crucial in the hold. Or maybe he wanted the plane to show up unexpectedly somewhere someday, packed with explosives. There’s no way to know. That’s the thing about MH370 theory-making: It’s hard to come up with a plausible motive for an act that has no apparent beneficiaries.(Italicized emphasis added)
Now, if you've been paying attention to all of this, and to the interaction of Mr. Weiss' article written last moth of this year, and my interview of almost a year ago to the day with Ms. George Anne Hughes on The Byte Show last year, you'll notice that Mr. Weiss, in effect, is saying very much the same thing in a very general sort of way, though for different reasons, as I stated on Ms. Hughes' show last year: namely (1) satellite and radar tracking data can be faked, and, the longer the delay in releasing such data after the initial disappearance, the more skeptical one should be. Now one point separates Mr. Weiss and I, namely, (2) that he thinks only the direction of the flight satellite data was obfuscated and falsified, from a northward flight, to the south, whereas I think one has to entertain that all of it may be concocted. Which brings us to Mr. Weiss's "Putin did it" theory.
Of course, Putin is blamed for everything now, from financial corruption at the Federal Reserve to vitamin deficiencies in the American diet to falling tests scores in American schools. If there's a problem, it's Mr. Putin's fault. Mr. Weiss, again to his credit and for maintaining the reasonable and rational argument of his case, points out that he has difficulty assigning a motive to Mr. Putin hijacking such a scenario.
And that was my problem precisely one year ago, scarcely a week after the flight's disappearance, on Ms. Hughes' show: not only was there no credible geopolitical motivation for him to have done so, there was really no motivation for anyone else to have done so either: not the USA, not China, not even the always-blameable Israelis. As I pointed out then, in the highly charged geopolitical atmosphere following the US-sponsored Ukrainian coup, if the US had even suspected the tiniest whiff of such a stunt on Putin's part, for which he had little to gain, everything to lose in the court of world opinion, and a highly risky operation, the USA and various Western media organs would have been pouring out a stream of invective, while their intelligence agencies busily concocted the "evidence" to give the story some sort of life. The same thing holds true in reverse: if Russia or China suspected US or Israeli involvement, their media organs would be pouring out a stream of accusations and concocting the evidence to support it. Mr Weiss' scenario involves obviously complex planning to arrange the flight data obfuscation on board the plane itself, but I contend that this can be done anywhere, from the plane to the "receiving end" or, to put it more bluntly, by simply concocting it anywhere and "releasing it". In the Internet age of massive electronic surveillance, one cannot rule out the possibility that the information can be injected by those with access and ability to do so at any point in the data stream.
Which brings us back to my initial "wackadoodle" hypotheses that I advanced on Ms. Hughes' show, and time, and a year's distance from the event, has not caused me to back away from those hypotheses one iota. Indeed, it is the continuing silence of Russia, China, India, and the USA on the event that continues to tell me that something very big may have happened to MH 370, something big, and perhaps exotic, and that these nations would simply rather not talk about it, though they may, and probably do, have a suspicion on what it might be. For my own part, those wild and crazy hypotheses are (1) either a "hidden player", human, or otherwise, with some exotic technology made the plane go "poof" in the sense of disintegration(again, demanding a motive), or (2) made it go "poof" in the sense of an "instantaneous" teleportation to "elsewhere",and both with the ostensible purpose of sending a "message" (but again, if so, from whom to whom, and what's the message?) or, the most wackadoodle of them all, (3) the plane simply went poof for deeper cosmological and physical reasons, such as a fundamental breakdown in the physical constraints of this corner of the universe. And even that most "high octane speculation" of them all, might point to an exotic technology, perhaps one whose full implications are not fully understood. Which brings us to the matter at hand... perhaps the silliest, most bizarre, most wackadoodle high octane speculation of them all, to such nonsense I dare not mention it, but also to such potential mischief I dare not not mention it: we've seen the dire warnings of Mr. Hawking, and lately, concerning CERN's large hadron collider and the dangers that they - I sense - intuit in turning the machine back on. One gets the sense that this gentleman is not saying everything that he's thinking nor why he's thinking it. We've seen the physicists in Italy proposing, in the wake of LHC experiments, the notion of getting rid of the idea of dimensionality in their equations altogether, a notion that still leaves me somewhat breathless. It wouldn't be the first time in history that we've heard stories of powerful rotating magnetic fields and things that simply disappeared, or, in some versions of the story, disappeared and reappeared hundreds of miles distant in a matter of seconds, only to disappear again, and reappear...
One does wonder...
See you on the flip side...