I never understood why they’re called black boxes as they are pained International Distress Orange, but let that go. Washington Post today publishes a story indicating the separatist forces had turned over the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder, to give them their proper names, to Malaysian authorities. For some reason, the story is careful to say “the rebels handed over what they said were the plane’s black boxes” rather than saying it was the CVR and FDR. Perhaps that’s an excess of caution in the direction of accuracy, or maybe tomorrow we’ll read they actually got a fire extinguisher and a toilet paper dispenser, who knows? The story doesn’t come right out and say this, but I got the impression the separatists are now trying to allege they were not trying to hinder the international crash investigation, they only wouldn’t let the Ukrainians out on the site. I think that’s kind of iffy, myself, but it’s also possible it’s bias on my part as I do not have a high moral or ethical opinion of the separatists. Plainly, the crash happened in a war zone, and this would hinder access to investigators with all the will in the world. I also suspect the Russians– the Russian Russians, a/k/a Putin’s heroes, as opposed to the Ukrainian Russians– are just a tad leery of the international investigation as it seems unlikely the separatists could have brought down the plane without Russian help; see my blog posts here and here.
Possibly more importantly, the rebels are supposed to be pledging site access to the investigating team.
Late Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that a Malaysian team would take custody of two black-box data recorders later that night from rebel fighters who had retrieved them and had previously refused to turn them over. He also said international investigators would be guaranteed safe access to the crash site.
It has to be good news the rebels are pledging to allow the international investigators on the site, but there’s some question as to just how much they can accomplish. The investigation team has repeatedly cautioned the crash site has been compromised by the separatists allowing their own troops and, apparently, sightseers as well to climb all over it.
On the humanitarian front, a train bearing the of the victims (282 are alleged to be recovered, leaving 16 unaccounted) left the station at Torez, Ukraine, near the crash site and in the rebel-held sector, bound for Kharkiv, Ukraine where the Dutch military had sent coffins to contain them, which is presently controlled by the Ukrainian government. There was a minor battle occurring not far from the train station at the time the train departed, apparently. The remains will be surrendered to, and the lead investigators of the international team are Dutch. Most of the passengers (193) were of Dutch nationality and Amsterdam was the originating airport of the flight.
May the Almighty have mercy on them. I have blogged, in the above links and elsewhere, the Russians need people to not be paying attention in order to resurrect their former empire; they can not do it with the world’s attention focused on their encroachments. Thus, insofar as the light of day has been focused there, it can at least be argued the poor innocents on the flight died in a good cause. Neither am I a rabid Obama-hater. The President can not be blamed for this tragedy; the aircraft was shot down by the Ukrainians, the Russians or the separatists. Even so, as I have also blogged in the above links and elsewhere, the President bears by concatenation some of the responsibility for establishing the conditions under which it happened.
“There is a price for leading from behind.”