Kerry’s Latest Reckless Rush to Judgment

Exclusive: Though the investigation of the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has barely begun, the Obama administration and the U.S. media have sold the world on the narrative blaming Russia’s President Putin, with Secretary of State Kerry sealing the deal, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

 

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.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]

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.

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?”

Kerry: “There’s a story today confirming that, but we have not within the Administration made a determination. But it’s pretty clear when – there’s a build-up of extraordinary circumstantial evidence. I’m a former prosecutor. I’ve tried cases on circumstantial evidence; it’s powerful here.

“But even more importantly, we picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing, and it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar. We also know from voice identification that the separatists were bragging about shooting it down afterwards.”

Gregory: “Right.”

Kerry: “So there’s a stacking-up of evidence here which Russia needs to help account for. We are not drawing the final conclusion here, but there is a lot that points at the need for Russia to be responsible. And what President Obama believes and we, the international community, join in believing, all, everybody is convinced we must have unfettered access. And the lack of access – the lack of access, David, makes its own statement about culpability and responsibility.”

Yet, like the case with Syria, Kerry presented no verifiable proof from the U.S. government, no images of the 150-vehicle convoy, no support for the claims about the rebels possessing the SA-11 Buk system (beyond references to “social media”), no countervailing information about the Buk systems possessed by the Ukrainian military, no effort to allow for contrary explanations for comments made during the confusion that followed the crash within a disorganized rebel organization that has poor command and control, no demands for cooperation from the Kiev regime.

Also, there was no explanation for why Kerry’s statements were at variance with public remarks by senior U.S. military personnel. For instance, the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reported on Saturday that Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe, said last month that “We have not seen any of the [Russian] air-defense vehicles across the border yet.”

Whitlock also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.”

Of course, the only skepticism expressed by NBC’s Gregory was over why the Obama administration hadn’t jumped to the conclusion of Russian guilt even faster. Instead of citing the contradictory information in Whitlock’s article, Gregory cited a belligerent Post editorial.

Gregory: “The Washington Post has editorialized this weekend what was missing from the President’s comments when he spoke out on Friday was a clear moral conclusion about the regime of Vladimir Putin or an articulation of how the United States will respond. What about it? … Call Vladimir Putin what he is. What is the threat that he and Russia present to the United States and to the West?”

When Kerry’s response wasn’t bellicose enough, Gregory egged him on:

“But I detect in your words, Mr. Secretary, some reluctance to make this a one-on-one battle. You want to give Russia a little bit more room here. But the question is still about consequences.”

One-Sided Reporting

There also was nothing in the interview about the shared responsibility for the nasty civil war gripping Ukraine; nothing about the reckless U.S. support for the neo-Nazi spearheaded overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, just a day after he had signed an agreement with three European nations to reduce his powers and hold early elections. Instead of supporting that deal, Kerry’s State Department immediately embraced the coup regime as “legitimate.”

Though the Ukraine reality is complex and murky – with blame on both sides – Official Washington’s narrative has been black-and-white: the western Ukrainians, including a significant number of neo-Nazis who trace their ideology back to Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, are the good guys and the ethnic Russians from eastern Ukrainians are the bad guys, with Vladimir Putin the baddest of the bad guys.

A less biased journalist than David Gregory might have asked Kerry if he thought that Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko was wise in terminating a partial cease-fire in late June and launching a brutal offensive against the towns and cities of rebellious eastern Ukraine. That fighting was the context for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines plane.

But the immediate pressing issue should be to determine who fired the missile that brought down the plane. If indeed Russia recklessly provided the rebels this high-powered anti-aircraft weapon, whoever approved that transfer should be held accountable along with the rebels who fired it, even if the Boeing 777 was mistakenly identified as a military aircraft.

Similarly, if elements of the Ukrainian military fired the missile – possibly thinking the plane was a Russian reconnaissance flight on its way back to Russia – then a thorough investigation should determine who in that chain of command was responsible.

I was told by one source who had been briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that some satellite images suggest that the missile battery was under the control of Ukrainian government troops but that their conclusion was not definitive.

Which is why Kerry’s outbursts on Sunday could be so harmful to any pursuit of the truth. By clearly pointing the finger of guilt away from the Kiev regime and toward Moscow, Kerry has made it much harder for any intelligence analyst to assess the evidence without fear of some painful consequences.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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20 comments on “Kerry’s Latest Reckless Rush to Judgment

  1. 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 …
    I have to disagree. He had nothing to learn, because he already knew — as did his predecessors for decades — that if you are the first to give an explanation and you repeat it often enough, a majority of the public will believe it. Having it repeated in the media and then quoting the media to reinforce your opinion is another great trick. By the time someone gets around to discovering the facts or prints a retraction, the damage is done.

    When I was in journalism school in the 80s, our professor arranged a talk by Hodding Carter, flak to Jimmy Carter (no relation). What he said has stuck in my mind for years: “Governments are not in the business of telling the truth; they are in the business of implementing policy.”

    Thus all the lies. They are “implementing policy.” We are “starting to get indications” of what that policy is.

    • Robert on said:

      Exactly right Pat. When I read Kerry’s comments yesterday I couldn’t even believe it. This is so irresponsible… Kerry should lose his job over this. Of course he won’t because he’s just doing what the neocons are telling him to do… I don’t know how any country could possibly take this clown seriously. IMHO

  2. Susan on said:

    A Congressional “Blueprint for US Intentions”: “Legislating the Way” to World War III?
    By Eric Draitser
    Global Research, July 21, 2014
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/a-congressional-blueprint-for-us-intentions-legislating-the-way-to-world-war-iii/5392415

    Ukraine needs $800 million in defense spending by yearend — finance minister
    July 21, 13:30 UTC+4
    http://en.itar-tass.com/world/741591

  3. hillary on said:

    The rush to judgement is the first step as with the assassination of JFK and September 11th.
    BTW -Anyone remember the Lockerbie Air Disaster ?
    http://thesecrettruth.co.uk/wordpress/?p=1214#.U81wK0Cg61s

  4. rosemerry on said:

    Kerry is much worse than Hillary Clinton and even Condoleezza Rice. His words and actions have every time exacerbated the situations-in Syria, Libya, Israel/Palestine “peace talks”, Iran, Ukraine, Russia, President Putin. He is determined to ensure that conflict is deliberately stoked, that lies proliferate and that the idea of diplomacy, already very weak in US policy, is completely obliterated from any discourse.

  5. F. G. Sanford on said:

    Another wonderful article by Robert Parry. I would only take issue with one thing. Kerry claims to be a prosecutor here, but his tact is that of a high priced mob defense attorney. I recall one of them being interviewed and the question was, “Would you rather defend a guilty guy or an innocent guy?” The lawyer responded in the guttural Brooklyn accent of a typical New York shyster: “Hell, I’d rather defend the guilty guy any day. He knows what really happened. When you know what really happened, it’s easy to discredit the evidence”.

    This saga will play out based on emotionalism, not rational interpretation of the facts. If there were a “smoking gun”, it would have been drawn by now. We know that the Ukrainian fascists already confiscated the voice recordings from the Kiev control tower. It’s difficult to know if the evidentiary ‘chain of custody’ for the physical evidence and “black boxes” can be trusted. Both sides will be reluctant to release electronic or satellite data for fear of revealing intelligence capabilities.

    Only about 40% of Americans are functionally literate, and of those, only a small percentage resort to responsible alternative media. Kerry has gotten the jump on the story. The media’s trained seals are barking in unison. The “Applause-O-Meter” seems to be registering a victory for the Ukrainian Nazis. But the real question ought to be, “What is the existential threat that justifies a dance with the devil?” We’re toying with a nuclear confrontation here. So far, an agenda sufficient to warrant that remains elusive. If we assume our ‘leaders’ are rational, then we must also assume they are hiding something really, really bad. So far, my verdict would be guilty under Nuremberg Principle VI, “Crimes Against Peace”. Kerry would probably use the insanity defense. So far, he’s building a pretty good case.

    • Kim Dixon on said:

      Another one out of the park. Thanks, Mr. Parry.

      Watching the “news” cover this fiasco is fascinating – and chilling. From MSN to CNN, from Fox to Al Jazeera (!), all I’ve seen is stenography for the Neocons, and retired military, piling on in the effort to demomize Russia. Even though only the Ukranians have anything to gain from this shootdown, no one in the MSM asks about that possibility. No one.

      So the question becomes… why? What’s the US endgame here? I assume that the point is to gin up Cold War II, because Al Qaeda is no longer a sufficient monster with which to frighten us. CWII would make the MIC and its contractors very much richer, and who will even attempt to speak up for the poor and the unemployed, once we’re back fearing the (ex)USSR? Priorities, you know.

      This also dovetails nicely with the Wolfowitz Doctorine of encirclement, so it pleases the Neocons that way, plus it makes US war against Syria and Iran much more likely. What a great deal, from the warmongering pigs’ perspective,

      But… this feels worse than all that. When I watch the monster Samantha Powers testify in front of the UN, and hear the meatpuppet in the White House and his lapdog Kerry say the same things, it all seems… off somehow. Too much, too soon. Almost like the US is planning to attack Russia, which makes no sense. Both because it would be suicidal, and because, after WWIII, no one will care who was “right”. But, that’s what this feels like. Which makes me worry about a darker, even more insane agenda behind this all.

      • KHawk on said:

        All of those are on point but keep in mind the underlying goal in the game for world hegemony…..control of monetary, energy, and food resources. Russia is our competitor for the supply of natural gas to Europe. With all the fracking, we have a lot to sell. Also, we’re concerned about the BRICS and the impact of their financial union on the role of the all mighty dollar as the Reserve Currency. Ukraine is the bread-basket of that region and is full of natural gas reserves as well. It is a bonus land. Ag industry giants are already at work closing deals. Suppressing the ascendent Putin, keeping the clamps on Russia by encouraging the border states to join NATO, eliminating Russia as a regional competitor for the supply of energy resources to Europe, suppressing the BRICS and world domination by Western interests in the financial, energy, and agriculture sectors, are all motivators for the behavior of our government, the media, and the multi-national shadow government that controls them both.

  6. dltravers on said:

    Riding on his high horse to say the least. One wonders how Kerry felt laying in the coffin as Skull and Bones HQ. Clearly he was taught much about how other peoples deaths do not matter in furtherance of the order.

    With death, hell follows and hell is not hot enough for these guys. It reminds me of an old bible study…”And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

  7. Tjoe on said:

    Typical ! He said his Kol Nidre prayer so lying is okay.

  8. Brodersdorf on said:

    Joseph Goebbels once said to Adolph Hitler … a good lie told many times becomes the truth. John Kerry has shown me he has studied Joseph Goebbels in depth.

  9. Manoj Ahuja on said:

    I fail to understand how a buffoon like Kerry could become a Secretary of State. What is more tragic is that anchors never ask him tough questions but apparently believe every word he says. Or maybe they do disagree in private but are too coward to question their TV channel’s policy. Disgusting.

  10. “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 –“

    Suppose that this is true. What conclusion are we supposed to draw? That Putin is evil?

    • It’s not. When did social media become a concrete evidence of guilt for anyone?

      The post Kerry refers to was made in the fan-group of like-minded supporters – Igor Strelkov’s resistance ( http://vk.com/strelkov_info ) that collects info on the conflict from all over the web. The post said, that according to the locals (!) – the militia has shot down an AN-26 (ukraine recon airplane that is somewhat similar in size), because locals didn’t know better. The militia has been shooting down Ukraine bombers for 3 months now, what else could the people think?

      Recently the Russian Ministry of Defence has provided evidence, both satellite and computer data from the day of crash. According to the provided evidence, a Ukranian jet was flying near the Boeing seconds before crash, which leaves us with the official version of Russian Ministry of Defence – the plane was shot down by a Ukranian jet. Supposedly, it was originally intended to fall on the russian territory in order to frame the troops that are currently massed near the border, but because it got torn to pieces in mid-air – it crashed on the Ukrainian soil close to the border. Full briefing can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKCaEmvhr6w

      I think we all know why CNN, NBC, Times and etc., decided not to cover this kind of crucial information. USA wants to isolate Russia and frame it as an unsafe partner for EU, so that they would cut there energetic ties with Russia and start to depend completely on the US gas and oil instead. Economy saved, nation is happy, Russia is an aggressor in the eyes of the World. What more could they wish for?

  11. Joe Tedesky on said:

    Imagine, how once Kerry ran against Bush. Recall, when Obama ran against McCain. Now, see how it doesn’t matter!

  12. dennis on said:

    There has been no rush to judgement. It’s all been premeditated. It’s classic disinformation campaign, that has been employed time and time again, so why do people still fall for it?

  13. Christopher Harrison on said:

    Yesterday a Russian friend of mine shared this YouTube video that uses you as the main source of information:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR5HtzbMy-E&feature=share

    To me, it seems like the narrator in the clip really took your quote about your source in the article above and drew his own conclusions. His video kind of reminds me of the 9/11 conspiracy theory videos claiming the government brought down the twin towers after the plane hit. Is there more to the comment than I’m seeing in the article?

    • Rough McHewn on said:

      What Paul Joseph Watson is reporting in the clip is exactly what I understood from an article that was reportedly by – and I have no reason to suspect differently – Robert Parry: Obviously not this article, so search and you will find.

      I find this, and all that Robert Parry’s reports to be on the money, and since 911 I have been a lot harder “sell” when it comes to the MSM especially when they are “selling” an incident before the towers explode or the plane hits the ground. It smacks of pre-knowledge: False Flag written all over it.

  14. Lois Madison on said:

    If you google mh-17, the result seems to confirm that the mainstream media again control global opinion. If, however, you google mh-17 su-25, then not only the first page, but the following one or two show that the rt presentation of the Russian general’s account of the Ukraine military plane rising close to mh-17 was picked up around the globe: in Asia,in Syria, by a Spanish website, in the Netherlands, in France, by India, in Malaysia, etc. This quick reception suggests that Russia has friends around the globe, and possibly it suggests that alongside the mainstream media of the western press-monopol there is a second global stream.
    Your articles are refreshingly informative, and the networking you achieve is clearly important.

  15. Faina Spigel on said:

    Do not expect that once taking advantage of Russia’s weakness, you will receive dividends forever. Russian has always come for their money. And when they come – do not rely on an agreement signed by you, you are supposed to justify. They are not worth the paper it is written. Therefore, with the Russian is to play fair, or do not play.
    - Otto von Bismarck