US faces intel hurdles in downing of airliner

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US faces intel hurdles in downing of airliner
Ukrainian soldiers carry coffins with the remains of a victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry coffins with the remains of a victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry coffins with the remains of a victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen carry a coffin that contains the body from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during a sombre ceremony in Kharkiv on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 23 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen (L) carry a coffin that contains the body from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during a ceremony in Kharkiv on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 23 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry coffins with the remains of a victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A Hercules transport aircraft of the Royal Dutch Airforce (L), carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, takes off from Kharkiv airport, as a C17 aircraft of the Royal Australian Airforce prepares to taxi on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 23 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEY BOBOK (Photo credit should read SERGEY BOBOK/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen carry coffinS that contains the body from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during a ceremony in Kharkiv on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 23 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A Hercules transport aircraft of the Royal Dutch Airforce, carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, takes off from Kharkiv airport on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 23 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEY BOBOK (Photo credit should read SERGEY BOBOK/AFP/Getty Images)
A Hercules transport aircraft of the Royal Dutch Airforce (Top), carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, takes off from Kharkiv airport, as a C17 aircraft of the Royal Australian Airforce prepares to taxi on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 23 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ ANP / EVERT-JAN DANIELS ** NETHERLANDS OUT ** (Photo credit should read Evert-Jan Daniels/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a victim of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash to a military plane during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a victim of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash to a military plane during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a victim of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash to a military plane during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a victim of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash to a military plane during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a victim of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash to a military plane during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a victim of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash to a military plane during a ceremony at the airport of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 23, 2014. The first plane carrying bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left eastern Ukraine for the Netherlands on July 23 following a sombre ceremony. The Dutch military aircraft took off from the airport in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv bound for Eindhoven after the first group of victims' remains were loaded onto the plane in wooden coffins. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: Peter van Vliet (L), leader of the Dutch forensics team investigating the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, watches a plane containing the bodies of crash victims takes off to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
The press wait in front of the military airport, as the first plane carrying corpses recovered from the crash site of Malaysian flight MH17 readied to leave for the Netherlands, in Eindhoven on July 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO/JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: Peter van Vliet (L), leader of the Dutch forensics team investigating the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, watches a plane containing the bodies of crash victims takes off to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: Volodymyr Groysman (C), Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, speaks at a departure ceremony for the victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A Dutch military transport plane containing the bodies of crash victims from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 prepares to take off for the Netherlands following a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: Members of the Ukrainian military stand to attention after coffins containing the bodies of victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 were loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: Dignitaries wait for a plane containing the bodies of crash victims from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 to take off for the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A Dutch military transport plane containing the bodies of crash victims from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 takes off for the Netherlands following a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: Members of the Ukrainian military stand to attention as coffins containing the bodies of victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: Members of the Ukrainian military stand to attention as coffins containing the bodies of victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - JULY 23: A Dutch flag flies at half mast on July 23, 2014 at Eindhoven Airport, Netherlands. Later the first 50 bodies will be repatriated to Eindhoven military airbase. Today the people of the Netherlands are holding a national day of mourning. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in eastern Ukraine killing all 298 passengers. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue to find the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - JULY 23: A Dutch flag flies at half mast on July 23, 2014 at Eindhoven Airport, Netherlands. Later the first 50 bodies will be repatriated to Eindhoven military airbase. Today the people of the Netherlands are holding a national day of mourning. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in eastern Ukraine killing all 298 passengers. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue to find the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - JULY 23: A Dutch flag flies at half mast on July 23, 2014 at Eindhoven Airport, Netherlands. Later the first 50 bodies will be repatriated to Eindhoven military airbase. Today the people of the Netherlands are holding a national day of mourning. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in eastern Ukraine killing all 298 passengers. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue to find the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JULY 23: A coffin containing the body of a victim of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is loaded onto a plane for transport to the Netherlands during a departure ceremony on July 23, 2014 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
The Dutch flag flies half mast at Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands, on July 23, 2014. The Dutch government has declared a day of national mourning due to the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine. At 04.00 PM, when the first 50 bodies of the 298 victims will arrive on Eindhoven Airport, the country will hold a minutes silence. AFP PHOTO/ANP ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN netherlands out (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman mourns at Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands, on July 23, 2014. The Dutch government has declared a day of national mourning due to the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine. At 04.00 PM, when the first 50 bodies of the 298 victims will arrive on Eindhoven Airport, the country will hold a minutes silence. AFP PHOTO/ANP ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN netherlands out (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
MAGADAN, RUSSIA - 23: Roads, many buildings and residential areas get damaged during flood disaster happened in Magadan, Russia on July 23, 2014. (Photo by Ilya Kovyakin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MAGADAN, RUSSIA - 23: A plane, exhibited in a museum, is adrift in flood water on July 23, 2014 in Magadan, Russia. Roads, many buildings and residential areas get damaged during flood disaster happened in Magadan. (Photo by Ilya Kovyakin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MAGADAN, RUSSIA - 23: A plane, exhibited in a museum, is adrift in flood water on July 23, 2014 in Magadan, Russia. Roads, many buildings and residential areas get damaged during flood disaster happened in Magadan. (Photo by Ilya Kovyakin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A picture of Bryce Fredriksz, right, and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers, left, who died on flight MH17, is surrounded by flowers at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Sunday, July 20, 2014. An attack on a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine on Thursday killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations, more than half being Dutch. Worshippers at church services across the Netherlands prayed Sunday for the victims of the Ukraine air disaster and their next of kin, as anger built over the separatist rebels' hindering of the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)
THE HAGUE , NETHERLANDS - JULY 23: A flag flies at half mast outside the Dutch parliament building as the Dutch government declares a national day of mourning to commemorate the victims of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, on July 23, 2014 in The Hague, Netherlands. Flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Robin Utrecht Photography/Getty Images)
VOLENDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 20: A couple embrace sitting at the waterside in the traditional Dutch town of Volendam as the Netherlands tries to come to terms with the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 20, 2014 in Volendam, Netherlands. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
VOLENDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 20: A photograph of Neeltje Tol (L) and Cor Schilder, who were victims of crashed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, is displayed outside her florist shop which is festooned with floral tributes on July 20, 2014 in Volendam, Netherlands. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
VOLENDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 20: A reflection of vistors coming to share their condolences in the florist shop window owned by Neeltje Tol and Cor Schilder, who were victims of crashed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 20, 2014 in Volendam, Netherlands. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
VOLENDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 20: A woman signs a book of condolence in memory of Neeltje Tol and Cor Schilder, who were victims of the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, outside the florist shop owned by Neeltje Tol on July 20, 2014 in Volendam, Netherlands. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A woman kneels by flowers layed at a remembrance spot at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam, on July 20, 2014. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which took off at Schiphol airport, was blown out of the sky on Thursday by what is believed to be a surface-to-air missile, killing 298 passengers and crew and dramatically raising the stakes in Ukraine's bloody three-month conflict. AFP PHOTO / ANP / VALERIE KUYPERS ***Netherlands out*** (Photo credit should read VALERIE KUYPERS/AFP/Getty Images)
A traveller looks at flowers layed at a remembrance spot at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam, on July 20, 2014. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which took off at Schiphol airport, was blown out of the sky on Thursday by what is believed to be a surface-to-air missile, killing 298 passengers and crew and dramatically raising the stakes in Ukraine's bloody three-month conflict. AFP PHOTO / ANP / VALERIE KUYPERS ***Netherlands out*** (Photo credit should read VALERIE KUYPERS/AFP/Getty Images)
A sea of flowers flowers lays at a remembrance spot at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam, on July 20, 2014. A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH17 with more than 280 passengers, including 193 Dutch passengers on board crashed in eastern Ukraine on 17 July. AFP PHOTO/ANP VALERIE KUYPERS netherlands out (Photo credit should read VALERIE KUYPERS/AFP/Getty Images)
The Dutch flag flies half-mast at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam, on July 20, 2014. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which took off at Schiphol airport, was blown out of the sky on Thursday by what is believed to be a surface-to-air missile, killing 298 passengers and crew and dramatically raising the stakes in Ukraine's bloody three-month conflict. AFP PHOTO / ANP / VALERIE KUYPERS ***Netherlands out*** (Photo credit should read VALERIE KUYPERS/AFP/Getty Images)
People look at flowers laid in memory of Willem Grootscholten, a victim of flight MH17, who worked for 12 years as a bouncer at the cannabis-selling cafe Andersom in Utrecht, Netherlands, Sunday, July 20, 2014. An attack on a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine on Thursday killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations, more than half being Dutch. Worshippers at church services across the Netherlands prayed Sunday for the victims of the Ukraine air disaster and their next of kin, as anger built over the separatist rebels' hindering of the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
A woman signs a condolence register for the victims of MH17 at the City Hall in Amsterdam, Sunday, July 20, 2014. An attack on a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine on Thursday killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations, more than half being Dutch. Worshippers at church services across the Netherlands prayed Sunday for the victims of the Ukraine air disaster and their next of kin, as anger built over the separatist rebels' hindering of the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)
A photo of the crash scene of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 is displayed at St.Vitus church, in Hilversum, Sunday, July 20, 2014. An attack on a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine on Thursday killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations, more than half being Dutch. Worshippers at church services across the Netherlands prayed Sunday for the victims of the Ukraine air disaster and their next of kin, as anger built over the separatist rebels' hindering of the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)
A picture of Steven Noreilde from Brasschaat, Belgium, a victim of flight MH17, lays next to a soccer shirt surrounded by flowers, at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Sunday, July 20, 2014. An attack on a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine on Thursday killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations, more than half being Dutch. Worshippers at church services across the Netherlands prayed Sunday for the victims of the Ukraine air disaster and their next of kin, as anger built over the separatist rebels' hindering of the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)
A bunch of flowers with a picture and a message for John Allen, a British lawyer who died with his Dutch wife and three sons on flight MH17, is placed at Schiphol airport, in Amsterdam, Sunday, July 20, 2014. An attack on a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine on Thursday killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations, more than half being Dutch. Worshippers at church services across the Netherlands prayed Sunday for the victims of the Ukraine air disaster and their next of kin, as anger built over the separatist rebels' hindering of the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 22: People lay down flowers to commemorate the victims of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 at Schiphol Airport on July 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Robin Utrecht Photography/Getty Images)
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By KEN DILANIAN

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - A series of unanswered questions about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shows the limits of U.S. intelligence gathering even when it is intensely focused, as it has been in Ukraine since Russia seized Crimea in March.

Citing satellite imagery, intercepted conversations and social media postings, U.S. intelligence officials have been able to present what they call a solid circumstantial case that the plane was brought down by a Russian-made SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

But they have not offered proof of what they say is their strong belief that the separatists obtained the sophisticated missile system from the Russian government. And they say they have not determined what, if any, involvement Russian operatives may have had in directing or encouraging the attack, which they believe was a mistaken attempt to hit a Ukrainian military aircraft

Moscow angrily denies any involvement in the attack; on Saturday the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of waging "an unrelenting campaign of slander against Russia, ever more relying on open lies."

U.S. officials said they still don't know who fired the missile or whether Russian military officers were present when it happened. Determining that will take time, they said, if it's possible at all. As one put it, "this isn't '24,'" referring to the TV series that often exaggerates the speed and capabilities of the American spying machine.

On Friday, a U.S. intelligence official noted that intelligence agencies had been "heavily involved" in tracking the flow of weapons from Russian to Ukrainian separatists, and that "available intelligence points to Russia as the source of the SA-11 that downed" the jetliner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

Intelligence rarely meets the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard required to convict in a U.S. court, said Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency.

"We know what happened," he said in an interview while attending the Aspen Security Forum. "Russia is responsible for the shootdown of the jet, regardless of a few of the finer details we have yet to determine."

The Malaysian airline investigation illustrates the challenges facing the $80 billion-a-year U.S. intelligence apparatus, which is spread thin as it grapples with an increasingly unpredictable world.

In the weeks after Russian troops took over the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March, U.S. intelligence agencies ramped up collection in the area, adding satellite and eavesdropping capability, said current and former U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss classified information.

But spy satellites orbit the Earth and therefore don't offer persistent, hovering surveillance the way drones do. The U.S. does not appear to have captured an image of the missile being fired, officials say, although sensors detected the launch and analysts were able to determine the trajectory.

Had an imagery sensor on a low orbiting satellite captured the launch, it could have produced intelligence-rich photos of plumes of smoke and the launch vehicle, said David Deptula, a retired Air Force general and expert on intelligence systems. A company called Skybox Imaging has been able to shoot short bursts of full motion video from its satellites, so presumably the military also has that capability.

But weapons can be hidden from satellites. Although U.S. analysts said they knew that tanks and other heavy weaponry were flowing from Russia to the separatists, officials said they were unaware that the separatists possessed working SA-11 missiles, which can hit aircraft flying at high altitudes, until after the passenger jet was shot down.

Credible human sources are the holy grail of intelligence gathering, but the CIA, which has a medium-sized station in Kiev, was not in a position to recruit informants quickly among the separatists in what is essentially a war zone, officials said.

What the CIA did instead was to step up its cooperation with Ukrainian intelligence, despite concerns that the Ukrainian service is penetrated by the Russians. Key portions of the intelligence cited by U.S. officials as showing that separatists were responsible for bringing down the plane were provided by the Ukrainians, including intercepts of conversations that were verified by U.S. analysts.

Officials said social media postings available to analysts in the U.S. have also helped. The Russian ministry slammed that line of evidence gathering, contending "the Washington regime is basing its contentions on anti-Russian speculation gathered from the Internet that does not correspond to reality."

In recent days, journalists have been able to interview separatist fighters in Eastern Ukraine, some of whom acknowledged responsibility for the downing. In a report Thursday, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted a separatist who would not give his name as saying that he was told his unit had shot down a Ukrainian military plane, only to discover the bodies of civilians.

The CIA is gathering its own first-hand reports, officials said, but they have not shared them.

U.S. officials are loathe to discuss the fruits of the National Security Agency's formidable eavesdropping capabilities, so it's not known whether the NSA picked up any conversations among Russian officials suggesting Russian complicity. Even if the agency had such evidence, officials would be unlikely to alert the Russians by revealing it publicly, one senior U.S. official said.

However, officials say, the Russian military and intelligence agencies are extremely disciplined and well aware of U.S. electronic monitoring, which makes them a tough target.

U.S. officials have not expanded in public on the case they made in a briefing to reporters Tuesday about the passenger jet.

But on Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. has "new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine," and that "Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions."

U.S. officials said the information came from satellites and other technical means, not human sources.

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