Cross-posted from Consortium News
Secretary of State John Kerry boasts that as a former prosecutor he knows he has a strong case against the eastern Ukrainian rebels and their backers in Russia in pinning last Thursday's shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on them, even without the benefit of a formal investigation.
During his five rounds of appearances on Sunday talk shows, Kerry did what a judge might condemn as "prejudicing the case" or "poisoning the jury pool." In effect, Kerry made a fair "trial" almost impossible, what a bar association might cite in beginning debarment proceedings against prosecutor Kerry.
If you were, say, a U.S. intelligence analyst sifting through the evidence and finding that some leads went off in a different direction, toward the Ukrainian army, for instance, you might hold back on your conclusions knowing that crossing senior officials who had already pronounced the verdict could be devastating to your career. It would make a lot more sense to just deep-six any contrary evidence.
Indeed, one of the lessons from the disastrous Iraq War was the danger of enforced "group think" inside Official Washington. Once senior officials have made clear how they want an assessment to come out, mid-level officials scramble to make the bosses happy.
If Kerry had cared about finding the truth about this tragedy that claimed the lives of 298 people, he would have simply noted that the investigation was just beginning and that it would be wrong to speculate based on the few scraps of information available. Instead he couldn't resist establishing a narrative that has -- in the eyes of the world -- made Russian President Vladimir Putin the guilty party.
Kerry's TV performance recalled his rush to judgment in blaming the Syrian government for a still-mysterious sarin gas attack last Aug. 21. In both instances, the Secretary of State stitched together circumstantial evidence around the repeated refrain, "we know."
However, in the Syrian case, much of what Kerry claimed to "know" later turned out to be false. Yet, relying on this unreliable "evidence," Kerry pushed the United States to the edge of a major bombing campaign before President Barack Obama pulled back and -- with the aid of President Putin -- reached a compromise that avoided another U.S. war and got Syria to surrender its entire stockpile of chemical weapons. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's "John Kerry's Sad Circle to Deceit."]
But Kerry apparently learned no lesson from the Syrian fiasco, nor from getting snookered by President George W. Bush in 2002 about Iraq's non-existent WMDs, nor from the pattern of U.S. government deceptions that dispatched him and millions of other young Americans into the jungles of Vietnam in the 1960s. [For more on that, see Consortiumnews.com's "What's the Matter with John Kerry?"]
Back on the High Horse
On Sunday, Kerry was off again on his high horse, charging beyond the bounds of any serious evidence or investigation to leave little doubt who should be found guilty regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 which was shot down by a missile over war-torn eastern Ukraine. Though one of the natural suspects would be the Ukrainian military, Kerry only focused on the ethnic Russian rebels and Moscow.
During his appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory, Kerry said...
"Let me tell you what we know at this point, David, because it tells you a lot about what is going on. In the last month, we have observed major supplies moving in.
"Several weeks ago, about 150-vehicle convoy, including armored personnel carriers, tanks, rocket launches, artillery all going in and being transferred to the separatists. We know that they had an SA-11 system in the vicinity literally hours before the shoot-down took place. There are social media records of that. They were talking, and we have the intercepts of their conversations talking about the transfer and movement and repositioning of the SA-11 system.
"The social media showed them with this system moving through the very area where we believe the shoot-down took place hours before it took place. Social media -- which is an extraordinary tool, obviously, in all of this -- has posted recordings of a separatist bragging about the shoot-down of a plane at the time, right after it took place.
"The defense minister, so-called self-appointed of the People's Republic of Donetsk, Mr. Igor Strelkov, actually posted a bragging statement on the social media about having shot down a transport. And then when it became apparent it was civilian, they quickly removed that particular posting. We --"
David Gregory: "Are you bottom-lining here that Russia provided the weapon?"