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Korean Airlines flight shot down by Soviet Union

Korean Airlines flight shot down by Soviet Union

Soviet jet fighters intercept a Korean Airlines passenger flight in Russian airspace and shoot the plane down, killing 269 passengers and crew-members. The incident dramatically increased tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.

On September 1, 1983, Korean Airlines (KAL) flight 007 was on the last leg of a flight from New York City to Seoul, with a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska. As it approached its final destination, the plane began to veer far off its normal course. In just a short time, the plane flew into Russian airspace and crossed over the Kamchatka Peninsula, where some top-secret Soviet military installations were known to be located. The Soviets sent two fighters to intercept the plane. According to tapes of the conversations between the fighter pilots and Soviet ground control, the fighters quickly located the KAL flight and tried to make contact with the passenger jet. Failing to receive a response, one of the fighters fired a heat-seeking missile. KAL 007 was hit and plummeted into the Sea of Japan. All 269 people on board were killed.

This was not the first time a South Korean flight had run into trouble over Russia. In 1978, the Soviets forced a passenger jet down over Murmansk; two passengers were killed during the emergency landing. In its first public statement concerning the September 1983 incident, the Soviet government merely noted that an unidentified aircraft had been shot down flying over Russian territory. The United States government reacted with horror to the disaster. The Department of State suggested that the Soviets knew the plane was an unarmed civilian passenger aircraft. President Ronald Reagan called the incident a “massacre” and issued a statement in which he declared that the Soviets had turned “against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere.” Five days after the incident, the Soviets admitted that the plane had indeed been a passenger jet, but that Russian pilots had no way of knowing this. A high ranking Soviet military official stated that the KAL flight had been involved in espionage activities. The Reagan administration responded by suspending all Soviet passenger air service to the United States, and dropped several agreements being negotiated with the Soviets.

Despite the heated public rhetoric, many Soviets and American officials and analysts privately agreed that the incident was simply a tragic misunderstanding. The KAL flight had veered into a course that was close to one being simultaneously flown by a U.S. spy plane; perhaps Soviet radar operators mistook the two. In the Soviet Union, several of the military officials responsible for air defense in the Far East were fired or demoted. It has never been determined how the KAL flight ended up nearly 200 miles off course.


The Korean Air disaster

The Korean Air disaster involved the shooting down of a civilian aircraft by Soviet fighter jets in September 1983, causing the deaths of 269 people, most of them American or South Korean. The incident was followed by a series of denials and cover-ups by Soviet authorities that heightened tensions with the United States. The cause of the attack was catastrophic human error at a time of heightened military readiness and Cold War paranoia.

On September 1st 1983, a civilian airliner, Korean Air Flight 007, disappeared over the Sea of Japan. The Boeing 747-230B was flying from New York City to Seoul, via a refuelling stop in Alaska. There were 269 people on board. The majority of the passengers were South Koreans and Americans.

Investigations soon revealed that Flight 007 was shot down by a Russian missile, probably while flying in international airspace. It had crashed off the southern tip of Sakhalin Island, a Russian possession to the north of Japan. All passengers and crew were killed.

The Korean Air disaster, as it became known, prompted horror and outrage around the world. It was strongly condemned by United States president Ronald Reagan, who described it as a “crime against humanity… violating every concept of human rights”. The shooting down of Flight 007 marked a low point in US-Soviet relations. According to some commentators, it brought the two countries closer to war than at any point since the Cuban missile crisis.

Military air clashes

Flying was a dangerous activity during the Cold War due to the political tensions of the era, along with air defence systems and heightened states of alert. This was particularly true when flying in or near border regions.

Between 1950 and 1970, no less than 15 US military planes were shot down by Soviet forces, while three Soviet planes were shot down by the Americans. The vast majority of these incidents in the Asia-Pacific region, off Russia’s Asian coastline or around the islands of Japan.

There were also attacks and near misses in Europe. In March 1953, a Czech-piloted Russian MiG jet shot down an American F-84 flying over German airspace. In September 1958, an American C-130 reconnaissance plane, carrying six crewmen and 11 intelligence agents, was shot down in Soviet territory by four MiGs all six crew were confirmed dead but the fate of the intelligence agents was never revealed. In January 1964, three American crewmen died when their training plane was shot down by a Soviet MiG over East Germany.

Incidents with civilian planes

Attacks on civilian planes were less common during the Cold War, though they occasionally happened.

In July 1954 Chinese-piloted Soviet fighters shot down a Cathy Pacific DC-4 flying to Hong Kong, killing ten people. Bulgarian MiG pilots shot down an Israeli civilian flight in July 1955, after it mistakenly veered into Bulgarian airspace 58 passengers and crew were killed. There were also several takedowns of civilian planes by revolutionary and proxy forces in the Middle East and Africa.

Portentously, Soviet forces had previously shot down a Korean Air Lines flight, the incident occurring in April 1978. On this occasion, the plane, a Boeing 707 flying from Paris to Seoul over the North Pole, had mistakenly entered Soviet airspace and failed to respond to radio and visual warnings. The Korean plane was struck by a Soviet missile and disabled but not destroyed. It made a forced landing on a frozen lake. All but two of the 109 passengers and crew survived and were quickly rescued by Russian helicopters.

Korean Air 007

Korean Air Flight 007 took off from New York City late on August 30th 1983. It was headed for the South Korean capital, Seoul, via a refuelling stop in Anchorage, Alaska.

The flight carried 246 passengers and 23 crew members. Most of the passengers were Korean (76), American (62) and Japanese (28). Among the passenger list was Larry McDonald, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, travelling to Seoul for the 30th anniversary of a Cold War defence treaty.

After refuelling in Anchorage, Flight 007 took off and headed south-west towards its destination. With the Boeing’s autopilot engaged, the pilots believed they were following a legitimate flight path over international waters – but several technical mishaps, coupled with pilot misjudgement, meant the plane was in fact headed towards Siberia. Flight 007’s course took it over Kamchatka, a mountainous peninsula peppered with Soviet radar facilities and military bases. It crossed over Kamchatka and on towards Sakhalin Island, another Soviet territory.

The Soviet attack

Soviet commanders spotted the Korean jet as it approached Kamchatka, classifying it as “unidentified”. They suspected the plane was an American intelligence-gathering aircraft that had been active in the region. They continued to track the 747 as it overflew Sakhalin, scrambling four fighters to intercept.

Flight 007 failed to respond to radio calls and did not spot warning shots fired by the Soviet jets. When the Korean plane climbed to a higher altitude, purely by coincidence, the Soviet pilots interpreted it as an evasive measure. Receiving an order to bring the plane down, they fired two air-to-air missiles at the Boeing.

The missile detonation did not destroy the plane immediately but caused significant damage, resulting in a loss of control in the cockpit. The plane remained in the air for several minutes, first screaming skyward then beginning a series of slow downward spirals. It crashed into the ocean near Moneron Island, off the southern tip of Sakhalin. All 269 on Flight 007 died, most likely after enduring several terrifying minutes.

Moscow’s denials and cover-up

What followed was equally diabolical. The Soviets launched an immediate search and rescue operation in the area – yet Moscow denied shooting down the plane or knowing its whereabouts. It would take five days for the Soviets to acknowledge their role in downing the Korean plane.

American, South Korean and Japanese ships were dispatched to search the area for bodies, debris and evidence. Their search attempts were continually hampered by interference from Soviet warships. This included the intimidation of civilian vessels, removing or sabotaging equipment, cutting moorings, sending decoy signals, orchestrating near collisions and even initiating missile ‘lock-ons’ against US Navy ships.

The joint American-Korean search team found comparatively little evidence – a surprise, given the considerable size of Flight 007. Very few bodies, body parts or pieces of luggage were found, either by the surface team or civilian divers. It appeared that the crash site had already been picked over by Soviet teams. The lack of bodies and luggage at the crash site later gave rise to several conspiracy theories.

Reagan’s furious reaction

The shooting down of a civilian airliner by a military plane invoked a furious reaction, both in the US and from other Western leaders. On September 5th, Ronald Reagan delivered a nationwide address and condemned the Soviets, both for the attack and their subsequent response.

The US and its Cold War ally Japan released audio recordings of the Soviet pilots and officers. Transcripts of these discussions suggested that an attack order had been given by Soviet commanders on the ground, despite scant information on the plane and uncertainty from Soviet pilots.

Soviet leaders maintained the official line, asserting that Flight 007 was being used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overfly and gather information from secret military bases. The Soviet Union faced swift recriminations, including a United Nations resolution condemning its actions (later vetoed by Moscow) and the cancellation of Russian airline Aeroflot’s licence to operate in the US. The attack on Flight 007 soured US-Soviet relations for months, if not years.

USS Vincennes incident

The Soviet Union was not the last Cold War superpower to mistakenly shoot down a civilian jet, however. In July 1988, an American naval cruiser, USS Vincennes, was on duty in the Persian Gulf when it fired two surface-to-air missiles at an incoming plane.

According to the testimony of the Vincennes’ crew, the plane was believed to be an Iranian F-14A fighter flying with hostile intent. In reality, it was Iran Air Flight 655, an Airbus A300 travelling to Dubai with 290 civilian passengers and flight crew onboard. The Iranian plane was struck by an American missile and obliterated. All onboard were killed.

Washington explained the attack as a valid response to a legitimate threat: an unidentified and uncontactable plane flying in a known war zone. There had been several attacks on US ships in the Persian Gulf in the previous 18 months. Like the Soviets in 1983, the US refused to issue a formal apology to Iran, though Washington later agreed to pay $US61.8 million to compensate the families of victims.

1. The Korean Air disaster refers to an incident in September 1983 when Soviet fighter jets shot down a Korean civilian plane, killing all 269 people on board.

2. Attacks on aircraft, both civilian and military, were not uncommon in the Cold War, due to elevated political tensions and the readiness by air defence systems.

3. Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down by MiG fighters after straying into Soviet airspace, north of Japan. Its incorrect flight path was caused by technical glitches and pilot error.

4. The Soviet response was evasive. Moscow at first denied any involvement in the crash or any awareness of its location. Later, Soviet ships interfered with the joint US-Japanese search effort.

5. The attack on Flight 007 heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington. President Ronald Reagan condemned it as a “crime against humanity” and authorised a range of recriminations against the Soviets.


What Really Happened to KAL 007?

Sources in this Story

Officials from the United States and Soviet Union eventually agreed that the event was the result of a fatal misunderstanding. The pilots innocently flew off course and the Soviets, with good reason to believe that it was a spy plane, shot it down without knowing that it was a passenger plane.

Asaf Degani of NASA&rsquos Aviation Safety Reporting System explains how the pilots may have flown so far off course. He details the navigation system of the plane and surmises that the pilots, weary from a five-day trip, did not notice that the &ldquoInertial Navigation&rdquo system, the most accurate system available to them, never engaged, leaving the plane to be flown under the far less accurate &ldquoHeading&rdquo system.

The indicator lights in the cockpit did not explicitly indicate the plane was in Heading mode, instead using a color-coded system to show that the Inertial Navigation system was not engaged.

Degani writes, &ldquoWhat we do know is that the lack of indication about the autopilot&rsquos active mode deprived the crew of an important cue. Such a cue might have drawn their attention to the fact that the Inertial Navigation was not engaged and that the aircraft was actually flying on Heading mode. Following the accident, all autopilots were modified to include this information. &hellip But this, as is always the case in accidents, is the blessing of hindsight. This design change came too late to help the crew and passengers of Flight 007.&rdquo

However, many believe there is more to the story. There have been a wide variety of conspiracy theories regarding the incident. Many claim that the U.S. government was involved in espionage, or that it did nothing to prevent the Soviet attack.

In 1984, an article by an anonymous author in the British magazine Defence Attaché claimed the plane intentionally flew into enemy territory to test the Soviet air defenses. The South Korean government called the article &ldquooutrageously distorted,&rdquo and one official said, &ldquoWe hope the court settlement will put an end to the seemingly endless speculations about unauthorized missions of Flight 007.&rdquo

The dearth of human remains found after the attack has also raised the question of whether there were survivors.

&ldquoA first in the documented history of air flight occurred. A designated crash site at sea with a declaration of &lsquono survivors,&rsquo but also with no bodies, body parts or tissues, and no luggage on the surface of the sea, and none of the above under the sea &hellip &rdquo writes Bert Schlossberg, the author of &ldquoRescue 007: The Untold Story of KAL 007 and Its Survivors,&rdquo and the director of The International Committee for the Rescue of KAL 007 Survivors, Inc. He and others maintain that the Soviets took the survivors of the missile attack into their custody.

In 1996, it was discovered that Chun Doo Hwan, the president of Korea at the time of the attack, had taken a nearly $4 million bribe from Korean Airlines to give it &ldquogovernment protection&rdquo during the event&rsquos investigation.

The action &ldquoimpeded and continues to hamper the investigation of the downing. The Korean courts failed to address the wrongful death claims of the surviving families,&rdquo wrote Hans Ephraimson, chairman of the American Association for Families of KAL 007 Victims New York, in a letter to the editor in The New York Times.


There Are Many Parallels Between The MH17 Crash And When Russia Shot Down A Civilian Airliner In 1983

Evidence continues to mount linking Russia to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, despite the country's denials and attempt to shift blame elsewhere. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine, while pro-Russian militants have floated bizarre conspiracy theories.

In fact, this situation bears eerie parallels to when the Soviet Union accidentally shot down a passenger plane on Sep. 1, 1983.

Korean Air Lines flight 007 from New York to Seoul (after refueling in Alaska) flew into Russian airspace due to a navigational error and was shot down by Soviet fighter jets. All 269 passengers and crew, which included 63 Americans, were killed.

The Soviets in 1983 initially thought the plane — on a direct heading toward its secretive naval base — was an American RC-135 reconnaissance plane, as at least five were in the area at that time, Marc Ambinder writes at The Week.

Murray Sayle, writing in the New York Review of Books, tells what happened next:

While the Soviet fighter was astern of him, KE007 called Tokyo Air Traffic Control, asked for and was given permission for a "step-climb," normal at the end of a long flight when the aircraft has burned off most of its fuel and can fly both higher and faster. A few seconds later the fighter, evidently on instructions from the ground, reports, "I have broken off lock-on. I am firing cannon bursts." The fighter was clearly making a hasty attempt at the Soviet interception procedure-wing waggling, firing tracer bullets, and calling on the emergency frequency-with no sign of response.

The fighter saw but misinterpreted KE007's step-climb, reporting, according to the air-to-ground transcripts: "The target is decreasing speed. I am going around it. I am already in front of the target." This is evidently some sort of maneuver intended to attract "the target's" attention, but it is brief. Twenty-four seconds later the fighter tells his ground controller: "It should have been earlier. How can I chase it, I am already abeam of the target [meaning that the fighter is flying alongside KE007, level with the airliner's wing-tip light, and all but invisible from the 747's cockpit]. Now I have to fall back a bit."

Just one minute later, the pilot radios back: "I have executed the launch. The target is destroyed." The radio communication from that day gives no indication the Soviet pilot knew it was a civilian airliner he was firing upon.

In another parallel to MH17, pro-Russian militants were reportedly caught on an audio recording shortly after the airliner went down, talking about shooting down what they thought was a Ukrainian AN-26 military transport. Their commander, Igor Strelkov, even boasted on social media that Ukraine was warned "not to fly 'in our sky.'"

In the aftermath of Korean Air 007, Soviet officials initially refused to admit the incident had even happened. Marshal Nikolai Ogarchov even insisted it was a "false flag" operation by the Americans, who he alleged had painted the 747 to look like a military RC-135, according to Ambinder.

As if to repeat this Soviet play from 1983, Strelkov on Friday suggested MH17 was a "false flag" operation by Ukraine, saying that many of the victims had died days before the plane had taken off, according to The Washington Times.

In the days since MH17 has gone down roughly 25 miles from Donetsk, Ukraine, pro-Russian militants have attempted to scrub their social media postings and videos and have blocked investigators from accessing the crash site.

Here again, a similar chain of events took place for KAL 007. In the months that followed, Moscow sealed off the crash site near Sakahlin Island from outsiders, and never revealed if it had found wreckage, flight data recorders, or bodies.

Still, a contrast between the two disasters is in where it happened, as MH17 went down over land and KAL 007 went down over water. This key difference seems to make the evidence of who brought down the passenger airliner over Ukraine easier to ascertain, and hopefully, would answer why.


The Death of Korean Air Lines Flight 007

As the fateful moment approached, Maj. Gennadiy Osipovich sounded tense and frustrated. It was an early morning hour on Sept. 1, 1983, and it had not been an easy time for Osipovich, an Su-15 fighter pilot assigned to the Soviet Union’s Dolinsk-Sokol Air Base on Sakhalin Island, north of Japan.

(Illustration by Zaur Eylanbekov)

He had been trying to find a target now looming a few thousand meters ahead of his aircraft. He was having no luck. Soviet tracking radars had produced inaccurate data, for one thing. For another, he and other scrambled pilots had been slow off the mark.

Now the target was close to leaving Soviet airspace after flying over Sakhalin, a sensitive and highly restricted zone. Osipovich radioed superiors for instructions but did not get an immediate response.

He could see that the mysterious multi-engine aircraft with blinking lights was apparently unaware of his presence. Suddenly it began to climb, slowing its speed. Osipovich’s air combat controller ordered him to open fire.

The authorization came too late. The speedy Su-15 was suddenly right next to the aircraft it was supposed to destroy.

“It should have been earlier. … I’m already abeam of the target,” radioed an agitated Osipovich, according to a transcript of his communications released by the US government.

The Soviet pilot turned and dropped below his lumbering prey. Then he pulled his nose up, lit his afterburners, and locked on with his own radar. At 3:26 a.m. Tokyo time, he fired two AA-3 air-to-air missiles. One of them, proximity-fused, exploded behind the target, severing a crucial control line. The other hit the aircraft but its effect remains unclear.

“The target is destroyed,” radioed Osipovich.

But it had not been. The aircraft, Korean Air Lines 007, remained airborne for at least 12 more minutes. Its pilots struggled to regain control until the airplane spiraled into the sea, near Moneron Island just west of Sakhalin.

The shootdown of KAL 007 three decades ago was one of the deadliest and most important events of the late Cold War. Two hundred sixty-nine passengers and crew died when the airliner hit the water. These included US Rep. Lawrence P. McDonald, a conservative Democrat from Georgia.

The infamous act pushed US-Soviet tensions to new heights and reinforced each side’s worst assumptions about the other.

Initially, Moscow denied the incident had taken place. Confronted by the US with intercepted air defense communications and other evidence, Soviet leaders admitted what had happened but said the aircraft was a spyplane sent to gather intelligence from sensitive military installations in the region.

The Reagan Administration, for its part, charged that the USSR had knowingly shot down an airliner and thus killed defenseless civilians in cold blood. President Reagan called the shootdown a “massacre” and an “act of barbarism.”

But US intelligence quickly discovered that the story was more complicated. National Security Agency intercepts showed that the Soviet Union had indeed thought the aircraft to be a spyplane, most likely an RC-135 eavesdropping aircraft that had been flying lazy-eights off the Sakhalin coast in advance of a forthcoming missile test.

Furthermore, US intelligence showed that, from the point of view of the Soviet military, anyway, the episode had been a messy disaster. A Boeing 747 had flown a slow and predictable path over Soviet territory for hundreds of miles, overflying the Kamchatka Peninsula, re-entering international airspace, then crossing above Sakhalin.

What Happened—Probably

Meanwhile the USSR air defense system had descended into “something bordering on chaos,” according to intelligence historian Mathew M. Aid. Fighters were vectored poorly, radar data was wrong, and pilots and their superiors on the ground filled the airwaves with expletive-laced rants directed at each other.

“Arguably the most significant revelation coming out of the KAL shootdown was the fact that the massive Soviet national air defense system had not performed well at all,” wrote Aid in his 2009 history of the NSA, The Secret Sentry.

How did a civilian aircraft flying straight and fairly level end up hundreds of miles off course in dangerous territory

That’s a central question of the KAL 007 event. Conspiracy theorists have long pushed the idea that some sort of dark US government plot lay behind the airplane’s actions that night. But the simple fact of crew error, combined with continued inattentiveness, appears to have put the Boeing airliner on a collision course with disaster.

KAL 007 originated in New York. At 4:00 a.m. local time, the airliner took off from its intermediate stop in Anchorage, Alaska, headed for Seoul. As it flew west it began to slowly deviate from its planned route. KAL 007 should have passed over a navigational waypoint at Bethel, Alaska, on its way to the open ocean, but when it reached Bethel it had already strayed 12 miles north of its intended path. As it flew on, the distance between its actual and intended flight paths only grew. By the time it neared an oceanic waypoint named “Nabie,” some 200 miles off the Alaskan coast, the airplane was already 100 miles away from where it should have been.

The airplane wasn’t on its way to Seoul. Instead, it was traveling at a heading of 245 degrees, flying like an arrow toward the eastern portions of the Soviet Union. According to an investigation conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization in 1993, following release of the airplane’s original flight recorder tapes by the new Russian government, the KAL crew activated an autopilot shortly after taking off from Anchorage and then turned to 245 degrees to comply with an air traffic control clearance. The aircraft maintained a heading of 245 degrees until it was shot down some five hours later.

Why did it go off course? The autopilot—more specifically, the pilots’ interaction with the autopilot controls—appears to be a large part of the answer.

When the autopilot used in the KAL airliner was set to “heading,” it directed the aircraft straight along that heading path. The KAL 007’s pilots used this setting just after takeoff. But when the autopilot was turned to the mode “INS Navigation,” it was designed to guide the airplane along a series of pre-entered waypoints to its ultimate destination. KAL was supposed to use this mode, riding the autopilot along a transoceanic route with 10 waypoints just outside of Soviet territory, all the way to Seoul.

That didn’t happen. Possibly, the pilots just forgot to turn the switch. It is also possible that they set the switch, but the INS Navigation mode did not activate.

In the model autopilot used in that particular 747, the aircraft had to be within 7.5 miles of its preprogrammed route for INS Navigation to take over. If it was farther away, or flying in the wrong direction, the autopilot stayed in heading mode until the gap closed. If the gap didn’t close, the aircraft just kept on jetting along the previous heading until the pilots noticed or something else intervened.

In 1993, after examining all the evidence, that’s what ICAO concluded had occurred.

“The maintenance of the constant magnetic heading and the resulting track deviation was due to the crew’s failure to note that the autopilot had either been left in the heading mode or had been switched to the inertial navigation system (INS) when the aircraft was beyond range for the INS to capture the desired track,” stated the ICAO in 1993.

The pilots had almost certainly been trained how to use the autopilot in the correct way, but human interaction with complex automated systems is often fraught with problems, according to a 2004 book on the issue, Taming HAL: Designing Interfaces Beyond 2001, by Asaf Degani, a scientist from the NASA Ames Research Center.

What if a pilot forgot the sequence of events that would engage the INS Navigation mode? What if they got the wrong number for how close they needed to be to their preprogrammed track stuck in their head—20 miles, say, instead of 7.5

That sort of mistake should have been unsurprising, because it had happened before.

“Such problems in operating this B-747 autopilot were not new, and the track deviation that resulted was not a fluke or a rare case. There were more than a dozen reported similar incidents in which flight crews selected INS-Navigation mode but did not detect that the INS system was not steering the autopilot,” wrote Degani.

So KAL 007 lumbered on, heading for Siberia instead of Seoul. After several hours it neared a buffer zone of international airspace monitored by the Soviet military for possible threats. Here a complication developed: A US Air Force Boeing RC-135 was already flying in wide circles in this area. Loaded with eavesdropping electronics, its mission was to spy on the USSR’s defenses in the Kamchatka Peninsula. Typically such missions involved flying right up to, but not over, the line into Soviet-controlled space.

No One Was Listening

At some point the tracks of these aircraft converged enough for Soviet air traffic controllers to misidentify the oncoming KAL 007. The presence of the US spyplane thus “resulted in confusion and the assumption by the USSR Air Defense that the aircraft proceeding towards the USSR was an RC-135,” according to the ICAO.

Nearly four hours after its takeoff from Anchorage KAL 007 entered the restricted airspace of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Four MiG-23s scrambled to intercept the aircraft and first flew east, then west to try and run down their unidentified target from behind. But the Soviet fighters ran low on fuel before they could catch up and had to return to base. KAL 007 continued on unaware, warm and well-lit in the cold of high altitude.

Crossing Kamchatka, the Boeing passed into international waters over the Sea of Okhotsk. But as it proceeded along its straight heading it soon hit another Soviet piece of land, Sakhalin Island. More Soviet fighters took to the air to find a target that air defense officials now suspected was military. The USSR military command was already tense, due to a recently concluded major north Pacific US Navy exercise and a Soviet missile test in the region scheduled for later that day. They were in a shoot-now, question-later mood.

One Soviet commander said that their orders were to shoot down the airplane even if it made it out to neutral territory, according to transcripts of their conversations. Another said that if it had four contrails, it must be an RC-135.

Osipovich, the attacking pilot, said that he saw the aircraft’s blinking light. He fired cannon shots to try and alert the pilots, but as he later admitted, his aircraft was loaded with armor-piercing, not incendiary, shells. The Soviets tried to hail the airplane on a radio frequency reserved for emergencies, but inside KAL 007’s cockpit, no one was listening.

Then Tokyo air traffic control ordered the airliner to climb to 35,000 feet. Soviet authorities took this as an evasive maneuver, sealing the airplane’s fate.

The USSR’s destruction of KAL 007 took place in the context of heightened Cold War anxieties. The Soviet Union, for its part, felt vulnerable: Its economy had begun to break up, its leadership was aging and sclerotic, and the tide of world events seemed to be turning against its communist system. Meanwhile, the US had moved to aggressively confront its superpower adversary via the Reagan Administration’s strategic defense initiative, a general increase in military spending, and ramped-up rhetoric about the failures of the Soviet empire.

The prospect of a US-launched nuclear war appears to have genuinely concerned Soviet officials. Soviet behavior made Washington so suspicious it believed the Kremlin might be capable of anything. Then came the KAL shootdown.

“The KAL 007 incident … touched off a dangerous episode in US-Soviet relations,” wrote intelligence analyst Benjamin B. Fischer in a 1997 monograph on the era for the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence.

The White House learned of the airplane’s destruction hours after it had occurred. US and Japanese eavesdropping equipment had captured the air-to-ground conversations of Soviet fighters involved, which revealed part of the story of what had happened. The next day at 10:45 a.m.—it was still Sept. 1 Washington time—Secretary of State George P. Shultz held a press conference and denounced the Soviet action.

“We can see no excuse whatsoever for this appalling attack,” said Shultz.

Confronted with this, the USSR dissembled. A Soviet diplomat visited the State Department and told Shultz that they had warned the airplane off and that it must have crashed afterward. The Soviet news agency TASS issued a statement to similar effect at about the same time.

Faced with this attitude—and with the knowledge afforded by its eavesdropping capabilities—the US intensified its rhetoric. On Sept. 5, President Reagan addressed the nation to denounce what he called a “crime against humanity.” He played an intercepted audio tape of Osipovich’s discussions with ground control, including a portion where Osipovich mentioned the airplane’s blinking light.

A Boeing 747 airliner is a distinctive shape, noted Reagan. It looks nothing like a US military spyplane.

“There is no way a pilot could mistake this for anything other than a civilian airliner,” said Reagan.

The problem was that Osipovich had indeed made just such a mistake and the US knew it. As early as the afternoon of Sept. 1, thorough NSA translations of more intercepts showed that the Soviet officials might have believed they were tracking an RC-135, according to Aid.

Yet Ambassador to the UN Jeane J. Kirkpatrick went before the Security Council the day after Reagan spoke and repeated his charge, using audio tapes and a map of the KAL 007 flight path to make her presentation more forceful.

“Air Force intelligence dissented from the rush to judgment at the time, and eventually US intelligence reached a consensus that the Soviets probably did not know they were attacking a civilian airliner,” wrote Fischer. “The charge probably should have been something akin to criminally negligent manslaughter, not premeditated murder. But the official US position never deviated from the initial assessment.”

On Sept. 9, Marshal Nikolai V. Ogarkov, the Soviet military’s chief of staff, held a press conference in Moscow at which he admitted that the airplane had been shot down but said the action was justified. Whether an RC-135 or a Boeing 747, the airplane had surely been on a US intelligence mission, he said.

His statement might not have been pure propaganda. It appears to be what the Soviet leadership truly believed. A classified memo to the Politburo from the Soviet military and the KGB asserted that KAL 007 was “a major, dual-purpose political provocation carefully organized by the US special services.”

This memo, cited in Fischer’s CIA study, went on to say that the first purpose of the KAL incursion had been to gather valuable intelligence. Second, if the USSR shot the airplane down, the US knew it could use the event to mount a global anti-Soviet campaign.

The fact that the US quickly moved to do just that only deepened the USSR’s paranoia. The Reagan Administration used the incident as an argument for its plans for increased military spending, while pushing for denial of landing rights to the Soviet airline Aeroflot and other civilian sanctions.

“For Washington, the incident seemed to express all that was wrong with the Soviet system and to vindicate the Administration’s critique of the Soviet system. For Moscow, the episode seemed to encapsulate and reinforce the Soviets’ worst-case assumptions about US policy,” concluded Fischer.

KAL 007 left behind little debris as evidence of its plunge into the cold ocean. A US Navy-led search for the wreckage, harassed by Soviet personnel, produced nothing.

Later that fall, Soviet leader Yuri V. Andropov entered the hospital and began a physical decline that culminated in his death the following February. Another aging caretaker, General Secretary Konstantin U. Chernenko, succeeded him. He died in turn after only 13 months in office. On March 11, 1985, Mikhail S. Gorbachev was named head of the USSR, and the rest is history. Gorbachev tried to revive the Soviet economy and relax superpower tensions, but he could not arrest the decline and the Soviet empire collapsed in December 1991.

Boris N. Yeltsin, Russia’s new president, was eager to turn the page on the Soviet past. One way he did this was by releasing Kremlin secrets related to KAL 007. In 1992, he made public Soviet memos discussing the shootdown and subsequent sea search for wreckage. Later that year, he released the airplane’s black boxes, which Soviet officials had recovered, and a transcript of the Soviet air defense communications surrounding the incident.

The airplane itself still lies at the bottom of the ocean, shattered into small pieces by the force of impact.


From the Archives: September 2, 1983: Soviets shoot down Korean 747

In 1983, in one of the most infamous incidents in the Cold War, a Soviet fighter plane shot down civilian Korean Air Lines Flight 007 after the jetliner strayed into Soviet airspace. All 269 people aboard, including 61 Americans, were killed.

The 747, which was en route from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seoul, South Korea, was far off course when it was shot down.

Soviet authorities at first denied that the airliner had been shot down, then charged that it had been on a spying mission for U.S. intelligence.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the story:

U.S. accuses Soviets of ‘barbarity’ in shooting down Korean jet 265 dead

Gromyko’s account called ‘inadequate’

From News Services

The United States said yesterday that a missile fired by a Soviet fighter pilot destroyed a South Korean 747 jumbo jet and doomed its estimated 265 passengers and crew to a 32,800-foot plunge into waters off the Kremlin’s island outposts near Japan. Thirty Americans, included Rep. Larry McDonald, D-Ga., were counted among the victims.

President Reagan, in California, declared his “disgust that the entire world feels at the barbarity of the Soviet government in shooting down an unarmed plane.” He added: “Words can scarcely express our revulsion at this horrifying act of violence.”

Secretary of State George P. Schultz said there is “no excuse whatever for this appalling act” and aides described an account forwarded by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko as “totally inadequate” — because it neither acknowledged that the plane had been shot down Wednesday nor accepted any responsibility.

Shultz’s startling announcement yesterday came after an erroneous statement by Korean Air Lines officials late Wednesday night that the airliner had landed safely on Russian-held Sakhalin Island.

Department spokesman John Hughes said the Gromyko message claimed the Korean plane was flying without lights and did not respond to signals of Soviet interceptors and their attempt to direct it to a landing site. The message did report that “signs of a possible crash have been found in the area of Moronen Island,” near Sakhalin, and in the Sea of Japan inside Soviet territorial waters.

But it made no mention that the plane had been shot down, Hughes said. And the Soviet Embassy “has been informed that the U.S. government finds this replay totally inadequate.”

Hughes said late yesterday that there were “30 plus” Americans on Korean Air Lines Flight 007, including McDonald, and there were no survivors. He said the United States and South Korea would demand an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council today “to air what is a heinous action on the part of the Soviet Union.”

Those who boarded the flight in New York, according to the airline numbered 238 adults, two unidentified infants, and a crew of 29. But a National Transportation Safety Board official, Jim Michelangelo, said four passengers got off in Anchorage, Alaska, leaving 265 on the final leg to Seoul

The jumbo jet was in Soviet airspace above Sakhalin, an island whose southernmost tip is within 100 miles of Japan, U.S. officials said.

A heat-seeking missile, called an Anad, was fired from an SU-15, a 1960s-vintage interceptor and one of eight fighters which tracked the airliner, according to Pentagon intelligence sources who asked that they not be identified. The Soviets have a fighter base on Sakhalin, a mountainous island 20 miles from the Soviet Union’s east coast.

The Soviet pilot was close enough to see the airliner, and the Soviets had tracked it for 2 ½ hours — ample opportunity to know it was a civilian flight, officials said. At first, defense officials said the plane which fired the missile was a MiG-23 — one of the Soviet Union’s best and fastest fighters. Later, however, they said it appeared to have been an SU-15 code-named Flagon.

Intelligence sources said the Soviets have about 35 SU-15s and 30 MiG-23s based at Sakhalin.

Late in the day, the Pentagon said a sophisticated AWACS radar warning plane had been sent from Okinawa to northern Japan, with five F-15s for fighter escort, to help in search efforts.

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September 6, 1983: Soviets Shoot Down Korean 747 Commercial Airliner (KAL 007)

On September 6, 1983, a Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 scrambled to intercept an airplane that had violated Soviet airspace over the Kamchatka Peninsula. Suspecting the jet liner was actually a U.S. spy plane, the Soviet fighter fired 2 air-to-air missiles, easily shooting down the lumbering commercial airliner that was flying from New York City to Seoul, Korea via Anchorage, Alaska.

Digging Deeper

Soviet officials at first denied involvement in the shootdown. Then they claimed the fighter had first called the airliner on the radio before firing warning shots with tracer ammunition. Years later, when the Soviet Union dissolved, more complete information about the incident finally became public. It was revealed that no attempt at radio contact had been made and that no warning shots had been fired.

The pilot of the Soviet interceptor expressed no regret when interviewed, claiming he and the USSR had a legitimate right to shoot the airliner down as any jetliner might easily have been converted for reconnaissance use by the U.S. military. The fighter pilot had killed 269 innocent people (including a U.S. congressman), but this apparently meant nothing to him.

With a U.S. electronic spy plane not far from the area where the 747 was shot down, speculation that the Soviets thought they were shooting down a USAF 707 circulated as did speculation about whether or not the U.S. had somehow tricked the Soviets into shooting down the wrong plane. Was the giant airliner purposely sacrificed by the U.S. to achieve a propaganda coup? Or, was the incident just a tragic mistake of the Cold War? Conspiracy theories have abounded ever since, and debate continues to this day.

Another interesting theory is that Korean Air Lines Flight 007 might have been drawn off course by the Soviets by electronic and magnetic means. The Soviets had already repeatedly done or tried to do so with American military planes.

What we do know is that the missiles sent shrapnel through the airliner, piercing the body of the 747 and cutting the hydraulic controls, resulting in rapid decompression. It is likely that most of the crew and passengers were not killed directly by the missiles and that many if not all of them were alive for the terrifying 12 minutes or so it took the plane to crash into the Sea of Japan from that high altitude.

The shocking barbarism of intentionally shooting down a civilian airliner led to a sharp increase in Cold War tensions and anti-Soviet feeling, allowing President Ronald Reagan to go ahead with military programs such as basing nuclear-armed Pershing II missiles in Germany.

We may never know why this incident happened, but we do know commercial airliners have been shot down before KAL 007 and even after. In 1988 a U.S. warship shot down an Iranian Airbus A300, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard. In 2014, separatists in the Ukraine used a surface-to-air missile that had been supplied by the Russians to shoot down a Malaysian airliner, also killing everyone aboard.

Question for students (and subscribers): What can be done to prevent these tragedies? If you have an idea, share it with us in the comments section below this article.

If you liked this article and would like to receive notification of new articles, please feel welcome to subscribe to History and Headlines by liking us on Facebook and becoming one of our patrons!

For another interesting event that happened on September 6, please see the History and Headlines article: “History and Headlines Reveals 10 Things History Got Wrong, Part Quatro!”


1978 photo of a Korean Airlines jet shot down by the Soviet Union

There were two Korean planes shot down by the Soviets? I know of Korean Air Flight 007 in 1983, but that plane was obliterated. Had no idea they shot down another and that it landed so intact.

Yeah, KAL 902 is an interesting story that seems to have been forgotten. Airliner shot down. Safely makes a crash landing on a frozen lake. International drama afterward. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Lines_Flight_902

How is the plane so intact, say compared to the last airliner they shot down a couple years ago?

The Buk missile which took down the malaysian airliner was surface to air. Much bigger, and designed to tear apart the fuselage of big planes. It destroyed the front of the plane and it subsequently disintegrated.

Not sure the exact missile used above but you can see it's left wing is much shorter. The missile used took off a section of the wing but it still flew until the Pilot was able to emergency land on a lake.


What Ronald Reagan Said When Korean Air 007 Was Shot Down by the Soviet Union in 1983

Move evidence for the case that the past was a different planet:

My Twitter feed is blowing up with the observation that "We had leaders, once," but I am just as interested in minor details, like the way Reagan evinced comparative respect for "the Congress," how he swerved between steely moral condemnations and detailed technical arguments, and how he topped the whole sundae with a call for…reducing nuclear weapons.

Also–for those making the usual hay about President Barack Obama going to fundraisers instead of aping Ronnie, do note that this speech took place five days after the event.

Matt Welch is an editor at large at Reason.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

do not that this speech took place five days after the event.

Do not what? Do not note? Do note?

It’s a typo, obviously. He meant to say “knot”.

Can’t be Massholian, there’s no superfluous “r” in it.

*Don Knotts that this speech

Well…there was also just a wee bit more incentive to score political points slamming the Soviets then there is in slamming the Ukrainian separatists.

Say what you want about Reagan, but that man knew how to talk to the citizens of this country and gave the impression that he actually gave a damn, unlike the disconnected piece of shit inhabiting the White House right now.

“Damn it, Jim, I’m a community organizer, not an actor!”

Unfortunately for us that’s all he was, a ventriloquist’s dummy. While he was blowing smoke up our ear he was shoving a d–k up the a$ of the average American for his puppetmasters on Wall Street.

In the eighties a lot of people in Wall Street went to jail. How many went to jail in the nineties, or later, smart guy?

Well said and absolutely true. Reagan actually did give a damn. This Marxist phony we have now doesn’t.

Reagan was a superior speaker than Obama.

“do not that this speech took place five days after the event.”

I believe the correct units of measure are either parsecs or light-years when expressing figurative distances of this magnitude.

Unless you’re talking about the Kessel Run, in which case it’s permissible to replace time with distance. Also, Han shot first.

“Also?for those making the usual hay about President Barack Obama going to fundraisers instead of aping Ronnie, do not that this speech took place five days after the event.”

It took longer to figure out exactly what happened back then.

I don’t remember, did Reagan go do Republican fund raiser the day it happened?

Reagan only took a weekly paper, so it took him longer to learn about world affairs and the internal workings of his own administration.

He didn’t have the luxury of ESPN to inform him of the daily happenings in his administration.

Most of what I know about how a president handles a crisis comes from Independence Day but is it normal for the POTUS to follow current events by reading the newspaper? You would think they would have competent advisers or at least access to the internet. I think the president should step into the modern world and ditch the newspaper so he (or she) can keep up with current events.

Two words mister President: “Plausible Deniability.

of course, it’s normal. What is worse than administration claims of Obama having learned of things through the media is the media’s acceptance of those explanations.

What do you expect from a corrupt media that is all in for Obama?

You’ve ruined my joke about Obama claiming to learn about nearly every crisis faced by his administration in the newspaper with overanalysis.

“Also?for those making the usual hay about President Barack Obama going to fundraisers instead of aping Ronnie.”

So, he didn’t let this crisis go to waste!

P.S. “Obama aping Ronnie” is racist.

+1 joe running back to lowell

If I recall correctly, in Reagan’s day, each morning his staff would assemble a daily briefing book of world affairs put together from various news outlets. I think this was the standard practice for all presidents of that era.

Even from the intelligence services…

They couldn’t necessarily track things like this back then. For all we know, our intelligence services could track the missile that shot the plane down–that technology didn’t necessarily exist back then. Our intelligence services would probably have to go through a deductive process, with people assets inside the USSR verifying this or that…

They just couldn’t know from their independent sources what actually happened, and you didn’t want to get it wrong. If Reagan had jumped the gun when it turned out to be a terrorist or engine failure, it would have made us look foolish. And back during the Cold War, there was a much lower tolerance for presidents who make themselves look foolish.

As long as the progtards get their Marxism and unrestricted infanticide they will tolerate any and all kinds of pathetic bullshit from one of their own.

God Damn Obama
God Damn the democrats

How do you really feel. Just so happens I agree completely.

And back during the Cold War, there was a much lower tolerance for presidents who make themselves look foolish.

Are you kidding? Nobody ever questioned the President and no President ever faced any type of punishment for Cold war screw-ups. What happened to Reagan for Beirut? He just invaded Grenada to make everybody forget.

Yup, nobody questioned Reagan. What, are you retarded? Or a recent college grad?

What do you mean by “questioned”. Did anybody ever do anything of consequence for anything Reagan did – even when he was actively violating Boland Amendment?

Yeah people talked and squawked but did absolutely nothing. In addition, it if the President or any of his staff didn’t want to answer questions nobody tried to force them.

The reason why it took four days is they were putting that stupid dog and pony show together with edited tapes to show “the bloodthirsty commies shot down the plane in cold blood without any warning”

Wasn’t it James Baker who famously said we can say something today and 200,000 people will read it. When we retract it 200 will.

The idea that the Reagan administration wanted to get it straight is an even bigger joke than Reagan himself.

You are a fool and the biggest joke on this site.

For Reagan to have absorbed anything they would have had to make a movie of it and convince Reagan on of the actors was him.

Hollywood generally likes to depict the US president like a modern King Arthur bravely riding into battle against evil forces. If there was really was an alien invasion, destroying everything with its superior forces, my guess is that the the president would probably be cowering and wimpering in fear. And I am not only talking about the current president, I would guess this would be the general behaviour from most politicians on both the left and right.

If the aliens come to destroy us our command structure would be target #1.

Maybe Obama and ACLU ton, but I. Doubt the Bushes or any previous presidents would cower. Hell, I think even Carter would go,out on his feet like a man.

I meant to reference Clinton in the first sentence, but my iPad has a strange notion of auto correct.

Pappy Bush and Carter were not cowards. GWB That’s debatable.

While it is rarely a poor choice to bet against the courage and integrity of any politician, in this case, we have an example to discuss.

In November of 2004, the President was visiting Santiago, Chile, when a scuffle brought out between Chilean security guards and some Secret Service men, only a dozen feet from where the President and the First Lady were standing.

What did the President do when confronted by a low-grade riot among a dozen heavily armed men? Cower and whimper in fear? Run away? Do absolutely nothing (which is what everyone else did)?

No, he strode over, pushed his way through the Chileans, grabbed one of the agents, and pulled him to safety.

Well, actually Kennedy was in combat as a PT boat commander. He was considered a hero by his crew for his actions after they were sunk.

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Kennedy, but I believe in giving a man credit when he does something good. I doubt I will ever have to do that with Obama.

Yeah, but it isn’t like he is reading “Family Circus”. When the President wakes up, he is given a collection of articles, selected for him by staff, as well as summaries prepared by White House analysts.

No 24 hour new cycle though. It took like weeks for the news to reach anywhere do to the fact it was all carried by horseback.

Obama still hasn’t made a national speech on the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, which has been ongoing to the point that even Dems are condemning him. And some of you are expecting him to make a coherent and sober comment about the plane being shot down in the Ukraine?

Hell, according to insiders, he was told of the incident by Putin. I guess he was waiting on the Rachel Maddow Show to get his dose of daily news.

Maybe nobody has told him about it yet, if only he knew he would do something. Somebody get him a major newspaper quick!

I bet the fuck stick got word of the tragedy from one of his staff members who read about it on the internet. Obama mentioned the crash for what, 2 minutes in his speech yesterday then continued with prepared remarks and got a pit beef sandwich? I mean, holy fucking hell, you can’t make this shit up. Obama just doesn’t care anymore, does he?

And sounded very wooden in the process.

If you guys should put yourselves in the shoes of Team Obama, you would understand that this poses a number of very difficult problems for them. As an empathic person, I really do feel their pain. Unlike the economy or the Middle East or the US messes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush’s policies with respect to Russia and its neighbors showed no signs of catastrophe. I imagine that Team Obama is racking their brains trying to figure out how to blame this on Bush and the recalcitrant House Republicans. It’s no wonder that it is taking time for some meaningful response.

Anymore? You’re giving him WAY too much credit. He just doesn’t bother to pretend anymore.

look, the man’s not gonna do a photo op for the sake of doing a photo op, or make a speech just to hear his own voice. Unless it involves a banquet hall full of Team Blue high rollers then it’s game on.

I’ve always thought he loved nothing near so much as the sound of his own voice. Fancies himself an orator, you know.

This is why I cringe whenever someone comments that the Left “cares” or “has a moral” this or that. The Left has no compassion or morals whatsoever. When your entire political party is made up of sociopaths and psychopaths, it’s not surprising that its leader can crack jokes, fundraise and play golf while the country goes up in flames.

The only thing that bugs me more is when they smugly talk about how intelligent their leaders are. Obama is a fucking moron. The man is stupid.

Indeed. Obama is neither intelligent nor wise. But I have to admit I don’t hear his sycophants talk about his brilliance as much as I used to.

Let us know when he launches a $1 trillion ground war against the wrong country.

It really is like that, isn’t it?

Bush has been out of office for six years now–and yet, somehow, no matter how stupid Obama behaves, it’s all supposed to be okay because what Bush did was stupid, too.

Is there anywhere else in the world where this kind of logic works?

Yeah, Office Bob, you accidentally shot an innocent mother of four, but don’t feel too bad–the last guy used to shoot babies on purpose!

Talking Reagan comparisons is fine but Bush?

Reagan was in more or less the same situation.

The comparison is between the situations, in other words.

Obama is in this situation. What did he do?

Reagan was in the same situation. What did Reagan do?

Do you see the difference between that and comparing Obama’s clear incompetence–in this situation–to anything and everything Bush ever did in every situation?

Because everyone else does see difference. Everyone else but you, Shrike.

But don’t you see, Obama is in the same situation as Bush, and he *hasn’t* invaded Iraq. Why, he goes for hours at a time not invading Iraq. No wonder his staffers are so star-struck.

Let us know when he launches a $1 trillion ground war against the wrong country.

I could not agree more with whoever is playing this part today. To a complex thinker who uses 8% more of his brain than everyone else there is the worst person who ever lived and there is everyone else. At no point at any time may any other person be criticized for their abject awfulness because by definition they are not the worst person who ever lived. Even when such a person who cannot be criticized laps the worst person who ever lived with incompetence he still is categorically above opprobrium because at one point he was not the worst person who ever lived. That is the standard I apply in politics and in every other aspect of my life.

Is that now the threshold for being declared “neither intellignet nor wise”? Because I know lots of people who are dumb as rocks and have never launched a $1 trillion ground war against the wrong country.

Dumbya proved his ignorance in every endeavor he undertook.

Dumbya proved his ignorance in every endeavor he undertook.

As has Obama. What’s your point?

He genuinely truly doesn’t understand why one person’s stupidity doesn’t justify another’s.

Can you imagine working with someone who thinks that way?

God forbid you ever had to work FOR anyone who thought like that!

If I thought Bush’s stupidity somehow justified Obama’s stupidity? I’d never say it out loud in the office for fear it might effect my career path!

“He genuinely truly doesn’t understand why one person’s stupidity doesn’t justify another’s.”

Of course he doesn’t. His entire mindset is “Yay TEAM. ” – a zero sum game. If Bush was stupid, somehow that makes Obama less stupid becuase TEAM!!

If you want to talk about stupid, talk about Clinton. He destroyed his legacy and the 2nd half of his presidency because he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants. How stupid is that. Also Clinton got a lot of credit for the economy because he listened to Gingrich.

Not true. Obama has actively worked to cut the deficit in half from the one he inherited and would eliminate it entirely if not for the House.

Sometimes that Derptard, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a Derptard, he’s got… lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’.

(Was rejected by Obama and the senate, making the house irrelevant)

How has he worked to cut the budget deficit, by spending more each year? Sometimes the deficit just goes down on it’s own.

Oh bullshit. Obama’s budget proposals re always struck down unanimously by his D controlled senate. The budgets are always just under $4 trillion.

So no, he isn’t planning on balancing shit. M’kay?

More liberal lies. The sequester resulted in reducing the deficit. Obama has done noting to reduce the deficit.

Let’s talk about the National Debt.
2008 – $9 trillion
2014 – $17.5 trillion.

He gets communism and unrestricted infanticide from Obama. So he is saying Obama has a free pass to be a worthless fucking piece of shit.

Obama is president currently you stupid fuck. Have you figured that out yet?

Or is it that as long as you shitbags get your communism from Obama he can be as big a stupid fuck as he wants. Is that your point?

And you prove yours with every post you make.

My comment was for MarkinLA.

I myself spent most of today not launching a $1 trillion ground war against the wrong country. I’ve been tempted several times, but I’m kept on the wagon, simply be knowing that if I succeed in not launching a $1 trillion ground war against the wrong country, Palin’s Buttplug will defend me against the accusation that I compare badly to Reagan.

Last I checked, a significant number of democrats voted yea for H.J Res 114 authorizing force in Iraq (including future president Clinton). Bush isn’t the only one complicit in that debacle.

Leave FDR and Truman and LBJ alone!

Seriously? You and your kind should be begging us for forgiveness for your support of this shitsack. Instead you want to double down.

Afghanistan surge ? How much was that colossal failure ?

I don’t think he’s dumb john, he vacillates and he self centered.

I’ve known real professors–smarter than Obama–who have no business being in positions of leadership whatsoever.

What brains Obama has, and I think he’s smart, don’t make up for the fact that he couldn’t lead a football team. He couldn’t successfully run a single fast food franchise.

Lots of smart people couldn’t because they’re incompetent leaders.

Obama is an incompetent leader.

Take away Barry’s checked boxes and he’s just another back bencher representative from Illinois. He’s demonstrated no intelligence whatsoever.

“I’ve known real professors–smarter than Obama–who have no business being in positions of leadership whatsoever.”

This. Smart is not what it’s about. Smart people often make terrible leaders because they are too busy himming and hawing over contingencies and can’t make decisions.

In my experience, I’ve seen dumb-asses who shoot from the hip make much better leaders than intelligent, highly analytical people simply because they can make decisions quickly (and decisively).

The problem with “leadership” is that sometimes you lead people off the cliff or to their doom. Hitler and Stalin were both great “leaders”. I just wouldn’t want such a leader.

Obama is an incompetent leader.

To be a bit more precise, Obama is an incompetent leader of any organization that does not rely on the blind faith of its followers.

Obama led an exceptional campaign organization, crushing his opponents in both the Democratic and Republican parties. I think Obama was an extraordinary leader of the faithful. One cannot deny his leadership success in organizing his ascent to the presidency.

The problem is that Americans do not agree that Obama’s policies are wonderful. The fault does not lie with Obama it lies with the American people.

Well put. To paraphrase what someone posted here a few days ago***, he excels at identifying grievances and leading the rhetorical attack on behalf of the aggrieved. He struggles when he can’t fit an argument into that framework.

*** insert shout-out here, if I could remember who wrote it…

Most smart people aren’t. They just memorize things well and therefore got good grades in school.

And, everyone told them their whole lives they were smart.

If all your decisions are poor, you aren’t smart.

He’s an incompetent leader.

And it isn’t just because of this one failure–it’s all the other leadership failures that are catching up to him.

There’s this weird dichotomy, where he believes a) that the government should be responsible for everything and b) that his responsibilities as president are basically nothing.

A leader can’t burn that candle at both ends for too long without people starting to feel instinctively like something isn’t right.

Thank you. Every time I hear some “journalist” or politician talk about how intelligent Obama is, I want to puke.

I have seen no evidence of his intelligence. He is a slippery, clever, lying weasel. Nothing more.

Au contraire.

The Left does have morals.

Trotsky wrote the definitive essay, Their Morals and Ours.

Following up in the tradition, Saul Alinsky, Obama’s inspiration, wrote, “The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He has no other problem he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost of means, only whether they will work. … The real arena is corrupt and bloody” and “the ends justify almost any means” and “you do what can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.”

I’d say Obama is no match for Reagan. Neither was Bush I or II or Clinton, Carter or Ford…
The man had to respond to this horrible crime and not start a nuclear war. The Soviets were out of their minds in the early eighties with with all the old men grabbing power and dying. What a time.

CSB: I was in grad school in the mid 80s, and my PhD advisor was Romanian (escaped from Ceaucescu). After one of the old guys (I think it was Andropov) kicked the bucket, I asked him, “So, what do you think about the Russian Premier dying?” He looked up at me from his desk, and without hesitating said: “They are bastards. I hope they all die.”

I’m sorry, but my pedantry must assert itself: Andropov wasn’t premier (nor were Brezhnev, Chernyenko, or Gorbachev). They were all general secretaries of the Central Committee of the CPSU and (eventually) chairmen of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet. The premier, back in those days was Nikolai Tikhonov (until 1985) and Nikolai Ryzhkov (for the rest of the 80s).

Obama sure is a lucky bastard. Right when the IRS scandal was hitting fever pitch the illegal minor scandal took over the 24/7 news cycle, and just when that was getting all the attention the Mayla downing now takes over. Fast & Furious —Benghazi—IRS—Illegal minors—Russian downing of plane.

And all the “minor” scandals in between like Snowden/NSA.

It’s interesting how the media, both broadcast and print, are holding him accountable for his incompetence? Wait, never mind, that’s alternate universe world.

You could not find one single mention of the IRS email scandal on NPR or CNN and probably still can’t.

There’s plenty of reasons to criticize CNN and NPR (bias, being one), but they do tend to cover pretty much everything that’s going on.

Shhhhh! The media is out to get Team Red, don’t you know?

Shhhhh! The media is out to get Team Red, don’t you know?

The media is out to get non-statists. That include your favorite media whipping boys.

Never saw it on front page and I checked daily.

Like I said, they cover almost everything… in a biased manner. And before P’s B can butt in, I’ll add that all major news outlets are obviously biased one way or the other. It’s how they make money.

Reagan blamed his Alzheimers for not knowing about the mother of all scandals – Iran-Contra.

The Teflon President is right.

Juvenile nonsense. No he didn’t.

Well, I miss real scandals like Iran-Contra. Today’s flimsy fake scandals are just chickenshit wanna-be’s.

Using armed bureaucracies to oppress your political rivals and quiet the press is pretty weak tea, all things considered.

Using armed bureaucracies to oppress your political rivals and quiet the press..

Catherine Engelbrecht the lady in charge of True the Vote one of the groups targeted by the IRS also had multiple government agencies show up at her home and business to “investigate” her.

These bureaucracies coordinated efforts to suppress and harass a target- that’s the very definition of a police state.

“Today’s flimsy fake scandals are just chickenshit wanna-be’s.”

So the border crisis, Benghazi, veterans who died while on waiting list, and victims fast and furious and drone attacks are just Onion satire?

Obama is also sending arms and other assistance to rebels. We were already doing that in AFG and he did nothing to stop it.

So basically, Obama has made all of Reagan’s mistakes but achieved none of his foreign policy success. The guy went on burger run and didn’t cancel his fund raising after the incident.

You don’t understand: the boarder, Benghazi, veterans, fast and furious, Obamacare, etc., those don’t really matter to US citizens.

However, exchanging arms for hostages with Iran, during an arms embargo? Funding contras in Nicaragua? That effected real Americans.

Reagan’s BS is central America is what has led to this current run of “refugees”. maybe you forgot Ronnie letting all of them in back then. Many got amnesty and started the chain migration. MS-13 was the result and should have named themselves the Reaganistas in honor of their founding father.

Reagan was a worthless turd.

Did you name test up? It is it some pablum you lapped up from Thinkprogress.

The cunt comment was intended towards PB. Apologies.

The refugees are coming because all the commie run countries are broken down shitholes full of starving people. This is why it’s important to exterminate communists.

They aren’t really refugees and they weren’t then. It was just some idiotic cold war extension of the Cuba policy that Reagan bought into.

Look we have your people coming here, aren’t we great!!

Unfortunately like the moron Carter, Reagan couldn’t see that those countries were happy to get rid of their peasantry.

Now they have a base in our country and the La Raza types catering to them to increase their political power and a gutless Congress. It was all perfectly predictable to anybody willing to see. However, the Reagan administration thought they would get their votes and destroy the wages of working people so were very supportive.

He never did any such thing.

Shrike can’t tell the difference between what Reagan really did and the voices in his head.

Well, he did have Alzheimers so give him the benefit of the doubt.

Give YOU the benefit of the doubt? About your bizarre long-demonstrated hatred of Ronald Reagan?

Reagan was forgetful about names. So am I.

The consensus is that his symptoms didn’t really materialize until 1992, long after he’d left office.

Certainly, he demonstrated more of an ability to reason during the last days of his presidency than you have in any random thread over the last…however many years.

This time with a better link:

Watch Reagan’s video above and compare to kne of your choosing of Obama. Then get back to us with your notes.

Reagan was an OK president but not nearly as libertarian as Carter or Clinton both of whom kept spending down.

Reagan was a big big spender and put the EITC into high gear – and defense went off the charts.

I’m so glad Clinton was around to stop the GOP-controlled Congress from ramping up spending and expanding the debt. He really showed them by vetoing all their ridiculous spending measures.

Nothing compared to Barry who holds the record for average spending a %GDP. Clinton only kept spending down because he completely lost control of congress in 94. And he gave us the biggest expansion of entitlements in 50 years. Oh, but it’s OK because he raised taxes even more!

Oh, and remind me who the speaker was during Reagan’s term. Starts with a T…

Carter libertarian. That’s rich.

Carter deregulated everything in sight.

And the largest spending cuts were passed by Clinton and the Dems with zero GOP votes in 1993.

And spending as a % of GDP peaked with Bush the Lesser and has fallen each year since.

What a lying sack of shit you are:

Liar. Your chart ends in 2009.

Here is a real chart with links:

Who controlled the House during the Reagan Administration, Dave?

“A big driver of that trend is the Budget Control Act, which both parties agreed to in 2011 to avert a disaster over the debt ceiling.

The Budget Control Act gave birth to the ill-conceived sequester — the arbitrary budget cuts that primarily hit domestic and defense spending and put a restraint on discretionary spending levels for much of the next decade.”

“Then deficits will starting to climb again, reaching 3.5% by 2023. And in the decade after, they will get bigger still.

That’s partly due to an expected rise in interest rates — and hence higher interest payments on the country’s accumulated debt.
But two other big reasons: Obama and lawmakers have yet to tackle the growth in spending on entitlements and to figure out how to overhaul the tax code.”

Congress reneged on budget reduction promises made to Reagan. As always, democrats don’t deal straight.

Current events really don’t deserve comparison to KAL 007, because back then, you didn’t have a third-world airliner, run by bean counters, taking chances with their planes over an area where an illegitimate regime could benefit from a convenient false-flag event.

Keep stroking, Putin approves!

To paraphrase what my first brother-in-law’s father said about Moe Bandy, I thought you had better sense than that. I really did.

Oh, and Reagan’s rhetorical skills were awesome. Without constructing straw-men or using ad hominem he built the case against the Soviets like a really good prosecuting attorney. Evidence based, bitches.

All Obama seems capable of is straw-manning and ad hominem.

From the single bar I’ve heard, he has a lovely singing voice.

Just as a side note, after the Korean airliner was shot down, Reagan made the decision to give GPS to the world.

At the time GPS was a military application only, but due to Reagan’s leadership, he made it available to civillians as a way to prevent this kind of tragedy from occurring.

We wouldn’t know it for 20 more years, but the decision to open up GPS really changed the world for the better for a lot of people, and opened up dozens of new industries of consumer goods.

Regardless of what one might think of its more cynical policy making, the Reagan administration was in fact made of more serious men and women than more recent administrations. And when the world burps up the inevitable, occasional crisis …. well, the current dorm room bullshit artist that is commander in chief should make us all nervous.

More criminals you mean. Weinberger, Watt, Ollie North come to mind immediately. Cap got pardoned, of course.

Yes, yes, one looks back nostalgically on those good old days, when the press wasn’t so servile, the political class not so thuggish, when the Justice department wasn’t so corrupt and the presidency not so sophomoric, sociopathic and imperial.

Who are all superior to the best of Obama’s people. His cabinet includes boosters of child molesters and traitors. You exalt these people. When the next Red Scare cones I hope you are destroyed by it.

Five years after the Korean 007 massacre, there was the Iran Air 655 massacre. Here is what Reagan said about that. (One should mentally do the strike-throughs and insert appropriate Ukraine, Malaysian and Russian reference in place of Persian Gulf, Iranian and US references.)

I am saddened to report that it appears that in a proper defensive action by the USS Vincennes this morning in the Persian Gulf an Iranian airliner was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz. This is a terrible human tragedy. Our sympathy and condolences go out to the passengers, crew, and their families. The Defense Department will conduct a full investigation.

We deeply regret any loss of life. The course of the Iranian civilian airliner was such that it was headed directly for the USS Vincennes, which was at the time engaged with five Iranian Boghammar boats that had attacked our forces. When the aircraft failed to heed repeated warnings, the Vincennes followed standing orders and widely publicized procedures, firing to protect itself against possible attack.

The only U.S. interest in the Persian Gulf is peace, and this tragedy reinforces the need to achieve that goal with all possible speed.

Yeah, but I guess that would be in contrast to Putin rather than Obama.

Exactly. Putin should simply reword Reagan’s statement to put it into today’s context.

I’m a fan of this Reagan classic: “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”

And as Reagan continued, “As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages. This runs counter to my own beliefs, to administration policy, and to the original strategy we had in mind.”

Those were the days when the press had at least a few watch dogs and a President would appoint a Tower Commission, which could do a credible and substantial assessment of an administration’s actions and misdeeds. Today, alas, it’s all servile lewinskies and a thuggish executive authority running on cynical, dormroom snark.

Same shit, different corn in the shit.

It cycles. But this current cohort is in contention to be the worst political class and the most servile press since the civil war.

What difference, at this point, does it make?

If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

In the immortal words of Hank Hill:

“Lord, I miss voting for that man.”

What’s with all the Reagan dick-sucking here? He was a fuckin’ idiot (followed by four more effin’ idiots).

Crude, but true. Who will the next fucking idiot be in 2016?

I’m afraid to ask. I really am.

He was not perfect, but he was probably more competent than most.

What’s with all the Reagan dick-sucking here? He was a fuckin’ idiot

Let’s see. Before Reagan, 1B human souls enslaved by Socialism. After Reagan, not nearly as much.

I named my daughter Reagan. Few humans have ever lived who have actually produced the Human Liberty that Ronald Reagan did. Even in spite of all those times when he was Liberty’s enemy.

Ron was a far better actor in the White House than he ever was in Hollywood.

Politics is Hollywood for ugly people.

Barry is a far better community organizer in the White House than he ever was in Chicago.

Reagan didn’t have brains enough to be the White House Ball Monitor. He was all talk unless he was doing the bidding of corporate America and screwing working people. He was their ventriloquist’s dummy set out with a set speech and a set mark like they trained him when he was selling soap. No questions allowed lest the ball fall off this trained seals nose.

He was behind “free trade”. Yeah he had that academic dufus Paul Craig Roberts also shilling for it. Now Roberts insists if he knew it was all about cheap foreign labor and not expanding exports like the corporate execs said he would have been against it. That shows what fools they were – no street smarts against the history of labor relations in the US.

He tasked the NSF with creating the big lie campaign of a “tech worker shortage” that resulted in H-1B visas and half the people with STEM degrees not working in that field.

He looked the other way while illegals were used to break unions even looking the other way while meatpacking companies sent buses to Mexico. Then he amnesties them for their vote after constantly talking about borders needing to be enforced.

But hey after shelling Lebanon and getting those Marines killed in Beirut, he invaded Grenada so the students could be “saved”. It only took two days since the maps were old and nobody bothered to get a new one from the medical school, but those are just minor details like that helicopters crashing and rangers dying needlessly.


Declassified: US secretly told Japan that USSR downed Korean Boeing in 1983 by mistake

Japan&rsquos Foreign Ministry has declassified diplomatic documents over 30 years old regarding one of the most terrible air crashes in history, the downing of the Korean Air Lines&rsquo Boeing 747-230B over Sakhalin Island, USSR, on September 1, 1983, reports TASS.

Tokyo has revealed that two months after the catastrophe, a high-ranking official of the US administration confidentially informed Japan&rsquos diplomats that Soviet Union had mistaken the ill-fated aircraft with an American reconnaissance plane.

The same US official also informed that Washington intended to locate and fish up the black boxes of the downed passenger jet using some sort of &ldquosecret means,&rdquo but the USSR was first to do so.

For decades, Washington and the international community have been insisting that the catastrophe that claimed 269 lives took place because Soviet Air Force deliberately shot down the passenger liner.

‘It remains our belief’: US insists rebels downed MH17 with BUK missile, ignores Dutch report http://t.co/yjwuCLSy3apic.twitter.com/8SGbFtr7wF

&mdash RT (@RT_com) October 14, 2015

Now that the wraps have been taken off some of Japanese diplomatic documents of 1970s and &rsquo80s, it has been revealed that the US always knew what happened to the ill-fortune Korean passenger aircraft.

On September 1, 1983, Korean Air flight KE007 undertook its regular route from New York to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska.

After taking off from Anchorage, the Boeing held a course for the South Korean capital, but for some still not decisively known reason severely, by 500km, deviated from its course, flying over the Kamchatka Peninsula and Sakhalin, territories where the Soviet Union had multiple military bases and other secretive installations.

It must be noted that KE007 was approaching Soviet airspace simultaneously with a Boeing RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, and at a certain point the radar marks of the two aircraft merged. Later on, one of these marks on military radars entered Soviet airspace.

Throughout the flight, the KAL Boeing was flying with navigation lights out and withstood from establishing radio contact with the Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 fighter jets that took off to intercept the intruder, with the intention to force it make a landing on a Soviet airfield.

The Soviet military pilots that approached the intruder could not identify the aircraft visually from a distance of several kilometers because it was too dark and they could not believe that a plane without identification that had just passed a restricted airspace over Kamchatka could be some sort of passenger liner.

Once it became obvious that the suspected reconnaissance aircraft was going to escape with the data obtained, the Soviet pilots were ordered to shoot down the intruder aircraft.

The South Korean Boeing dived into La Perouse Strait, which separates Sakhalin from Hokkaido Island, Japan, near the small island of Moneron, also belonging to the USSR.

The catastrophe considerably worsened relations between the Soviet Union and the US and broader international community.

The International Civil Aviation Association (ICAO) investigating the incident concluded that Korean pilots had incorrectly preset the autopilot.

Moscow has always insisted that the downed jet was performing a reconnaissance flight over the restricted area of the Soviet airspace in order to expose technical parameters of the air defense installations in the area.


Korean Airlines flight shot down by Soviet Union - HISTORY

“Governments lie. They do it all the time. And, much as we’d like to believe otherwise, the US government is no exception. There were times when we may have believed otherwise. But after Vietnam and Watergate, we know better.”

US Journalist Ted Koppel — “The USS Vincennes: Public War, Secret War.” – July 1st 1992 — ABC News

“The moral of the story [Korean Airliner Flight 007] is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first. (…) The story of KE-007 will be remembered pretty much the way the Americans told it in 1983 and not the way it really happened.”

Alvin A. Snyder — Warriors of Disinformation

Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (also known as KAL007) was a scheduled Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Seoul. On September 1, 1983, the airliner serving the flight was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor, near Moneron Island west of Sakhalin in the Sea of Japan. The interceptor’s pilot was Major Gennadi Osipovich. All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

Korean Airlines Flight 007

Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (also known as KAL007) was a scheduled Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Seoul.

On September 1st 1983, the airliner serving the flight was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor, near Moneron Island west of Sakhalin in the Sea of Japan.

The interceptor’s pilot was Major Gennadi Osipovich. All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed.

The Soviet Union initially denied knowledge of the incident, but later admitted shooting it down, claiming that the aircraft was on a MASINT spy mission.

Washington and the international community have been insisting that the Soviet Air Force deliberately shot down the passenger liner. [WIKIPEDIA]

RECENT DEVELOPMENT

In December 2015, Japan’s Foreign Ministry has declassified diplomatic documents revealing that two months after the catastrophe, a high-ranking official of the US administration confidentially informed Japan’s diplomats that Soviet Union had mistaken the ill-fated aircraft with an American reconnaissance plane.

The same US official also informed that Washington intended to locate and fish up the black boxes of the downed passenger jet using some sort of “secret means,” but the USSR was first to do so.

The NYT and Russian Disinformation

Last year, the New York Time just published an interesting piece regarding the “flood of distorted and outright false information” published and broadcasted by Russian Media.

Putin has invested heavily in a program of “weaponized” information, using a variety of means to sow doubt and division. The goal is to weaken cohesion among member states, stir discord in their domestic politics and blunt opposition to Russia.

The planting of false stories is nothing new the Soviet Union devoted considerable resources to that during the ideological battles of the Cold War.

Now, though, disinformation is regarded as an important aspect of Russian military doctrine, and it is being directed at political debates in target countries with far greater sophistication and volume than in the past.

The fundamental purpose of dezinformatsiya, or Russian disinformation, experts said, is to undermine the official version of events — even the very idea that there is a true version of events — and foster a kind of policy paralysis.

Do the Russian media really “massage” the facts — possibly at the request of their government — whenever it suits their agenda?

Of course, they do! All Governments lie. And, they do it all the time. And for those under the delusion that the US government is the exception, I will remind you of the particularly illustrating story of Iran Flight 655.

President Reagan’s Address to the Nation on the Soviet Attack on KE-007

President Reagan described the attack as a “massacre” and a “crime against humanity”.

“There was absolutely no justification, either moral or legal, for what the Soviets did.”

“Warriors of Disinformation”: The 5′ Gap

In fact, the US knew full well that the Russians had not been able to identify the airliner and truly believed that it was a spy plane.

The tape presented as evidence at the UN had been edited to remove 5′ documenting the relevant exchanges between the pilot and the Russian authorities.

In his book “Warriors of Disinformation” (Chapter IV : The Five-Minute Tape Gap), Alvin A. Snyder wrote the following:

The moral of the story is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first.

Izvestia correspondent Alexander Shalnev told me that our media show at the United Nations had been the most devastating propaganda blow his country received from the United States during the cold War.

“The most important rule in propaganda is to get the first word out on a given subject,” said Shalnev.

“Ninety percent of the time, the person who take the initiative wins the battle.You guys said the first word about the Korean airliner. And we lost it completely. It was devastating, terribly devastating.”

KE-007 was a victim of the cold war. Another casualty, always war’s first, was the Truth.

The story of KE-007 will be remembered pretty much the way the Americans told it in 1983 and not the way it really happened.

Post-Scriptum

In the aftermath of the KE-007 disaster, the US Air Force was asked how they would react if a civilian airliner was invading their airspace. The answer was clear:

“It certainly would not be up to the pilot to decide what action to take. That decision would have to be made at the Pentagon level, or at an even higher level.”

“Under no circumstances, would the American military shoot down such an aircraft, even were attempts to communicate with it unsuccessful. Planes would be sent to investigate and the intruder aircraft would be escorted to land.”

On July 3rd 1988, the USS Vincennes mistook Iran Flight 655 for a military aircraft. The warship opened fire, killing all 290 persons aboard.

President Reagan described the incident as “tragic” but “understandable”. On the campaign trail, Vice-President Bush promised that he would never apologize for this incident.

Dangerous Cold War Events: Seymour Hersh on Korean Air Lines Flight 007 – Interview (1986)


Watch the video: For All Mankind - S2, Ep. 7 - Korean Airlines Flight 007 (December 2021).