Perhaps we’re overthinking the vulnerabilities of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, at least to the Russians. If this pathetic attempt at propaganda is any indication of the talent level in the FSB, then we can, er … just focus on China, Iran, and so on. A recording of two supposed CIA agents plotting the attack on Malaysian Air 17 a year ago is so bad, anyone who speaks English would have thought it was a Funny or Die video poking fun at Russian conspiracy theorists. Not only is the English clumsy and stilted, but one of the supposed agents goes from having a British accent to a flat American accent about halfway through it:
The two men alleged to be Americans, identified by Komsomolskaya Pravda in its Wednesday posting as David Hamilton and David Lloyd Stern, speak with accents and in words and phrases that resemble Russian manners of speaking that have been translated into English and read from a script.
An attached photo is of freelance journalist David Stern, who is based in Kiev and has reported for the BBC on events in Ukraine. The other is supposed to be a David Hamilton who works as an international affairs consultant and an adviser to USAID, a US website reported.
“Hello. How are the preparations?” the voice identified as Hamilton opens the call said to have been made on June 25, 2014, about three weeks before MH17 was shot out of the sky by what investigators have widely suspected was a Russian-made ground-to-air missile.
“Everything is according to plan,” answers “Stern” in British-accented English.
It’s only British-accented until about the four-minute mark. The conversation between “Hamilton” and “Stern” is barely understandable as it is, thanks to constant garbling in the audio, but one can mostly make out the conversations about the “complex” and Stern’s demand for a mole hunt in the operation. That’s ironically when “Stern” switches from a British accent to one more familiar to Midwestern ears. Maybe “Hamilton” should have taken “Stern” #1’s advice, eh?
Actor’s scale must be pretty high in Russia these days, although it doesn’t get much. The second “Stern” practically redefines wooden in performances.
Foreign Policy called the performances “comically bad” on Wednesday, noting that not all state-produced propaganda meets the highest quality. Reid Standish must have had to listen to the tape a hundred times to figure out what these two “English-speaking” spies were actually plotting:
Throughout the recording, they discuss “preparations” for an operation that involves shooting down a plane with a surface-to-air missile and an eventual Plan B, which involves placing a bomb inside the plane — all for the purpose of staging a crash to discredit Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine and the Kremlin itself.
But you don’t have to listen long to question the recording’s authenticity. The men’s accents are curious to say the least. One sounds British for half the recording until he switches to a more American accent. The other man does his best to hide his Russian accent, but it pops up at the beginning as he clumsily asks his co-conspirator, “How are the preparations?” But the most glaring hole is in the conversation itself. The men do not talk with each other like native English speakers and use turns of phrase that sound as if their dialogue was translated to English from Russian via Google Translate. Before signing off, the two say “Luck!” to each other, a common farewell in Russian.
The Dutch-led investigation team is expected to report soon on the cause of the downing of MH17, and an anti-aircraft missile fired from a Russian Buk system in Ukraine is the leading theory. The Russians desperately want to avoid being tarred as responsible for the civilian airliner explosion, and this recording shows how desperate.