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.
But what Kerry did was actually much worse. He essentially dictated the outcome of an inquiry that risks pushing the world into a new and dangerous Cold War. With his didactic — all-tell-no-show — presentation of the “evidence,” Kerry made any objective assessment of the actual evidence nearly impossible, certainly for U.S. government investigators and even for many international officials whose jobs often depend on the goodwill of the United States.
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.