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Scrubbing the Crime Scene While Obama Blathers

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Four days ago, Russian-backed separatists using a Russian-supplied surface to air missile shot down a commercial passenger jet, killing the 298 people on board, all civilians. Since then, those same Russian-backed separatists have taken control of the crash scene, seized the "black box" (and reportedly sent it to Moscow), stuffed the bodies in a bunch of bags like they were picking up trash, stonewalled the mourning relatives, and generally behaved as you would expect from people who murder about 300 of their fellow creatures because, ya know, these rocket launchers are really cool and fun to set off.
This is mass murder, pure and simple.  At best, it's negligent mass murder, because the separatists, while thugs, are amateur thugs, and can't tell the difference between a passenger jet and a fighter plane.  At worst, it's a gruesomely sadistic warning that you don't mess with Russian-backed rebels.

For a President who is much concerned with "humanitarian crises" both in Africa and at our southern border, you might expect more than just blather about how the crime scene at this (as it's most charitably described) humanitarian disaster is being scrubbed of evidence by the killers and their sponsors, and the bodies of the victims are being defiled. But you would expect wrong.

Today, having given the Russian proxies four days to wipe the evidence, President Obama hilariously lectured Vladimir Putin that "time is of the essence" for Mr. Putin to assist in investigating himself and his tentacles.  Then, according to the WSJ:  

Mr. Obama said respectfully removing the remains of those killed in the crash and returning them to their grieving loved ones is "the least we can do." He added Mr. Putin has the direct ability to make that happen quickly.

Actually, the "least we can do" is pretend that we're interested in holding to account those who committed this atrocity, but holding criminals to account just isn't this Administration's thing.  Maybe, instead, Obama can preemptively refer them to the expanded DOJ Pardon Office so they can get in line with considerably nicer folk like heroin dealers.

14 Comments

I used to really enjoy this website for the news it offered about criminal justice matters. Can we get back to that please?

There's plenty of crap to give Obama on the issue of pardons, but posts such as this are popping up with regularity and are nothing more than a screen to gripe about political issues beyond the scope of this blog.

You do not determine the scope of this blog, and even if you did, mass murder, including (reportedly) the murder of at least one American citizen aboard the plane, is very much within the scope of a criminal law blog -- as is Executive Branch bloviating while the killers and those in league with them wipe clean the crime scene.

Agree with most - though the US Navy accidentally shot down a civilian plane in 1987, See Iran Air 655. Despite it being pretty obviously negligent, we weaseled out of it just like any other tortfeasor by damages. I do not think anyone on the ship was prosecuted criminally, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

That being said, it is put up or shut up time for NATO - there isn't going to be a more appropriate causus belli than this - move some men into Ukraine and forcibly remove the Russian rebels. I'm sure the Netherlands will lead the way (I'm serious). Otherwise, if this slides, then Russia has a carte blanche to do whatever it pleases, and that is a very bad thing.

I want to say one more word in response to our first commenter.

There is not nearly the line you seem to think between "politics" and "criminal law issues." For one thing, the prosecution is a component of one of the political branches, and politics therefore necessarily becomes part of prosecution decisions. Those decisions are, as I doubt you would question, fair game on a blog like this.

Executive branch decisions would include, for example, the very pardons you mention, the decision to support reduced sentencing, the priorities on civil rights and environmental crime rather than (so much) drug offenses, and judicial selection.

The blog has also covered, and will continue to cover, issues that may not be directly related to the latest murder, but are legitimately a part of the discussion about crime and consequences. Among these things are the grievance/dependency culture; racism and race huckstering; academia and its biases; family structure; the legal profession generally and legal ethics in particular; polling; the media; the success vel non of rehabilitation; and a whole bunch more.

Some of these have very little to do with "politics" as conventionally understood, and some have a lot. Judgments about how related is related enough are left to CJLF and the authors here. Readers are welcome to their opinions, but "politics" and its underbelly (interest groups and ideology, to name but two) are often and properly bound up in the discussion.

Matt --

Your unfortunately correct observation that the Netherlands will lead the way says a good deal about the loss of confidence and resolve that, in my view, is eating away at the standards of law enforcement that exist in the federal executive branch.

I fully understand I don't control the scope of the blog. I do control by blog reader and favorites bar. I'll vote with my mouse. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Everyone who blogs understands that readers come and readers go. For every reader who dislikes a given subject matter or emphasis found here, another will find it appealing. That's a welcome expression of freedom.

Good luck in you future selections.

If you were president, how would you propose "holding to account those who committed this atrocity"? Assuming that the US has some responsibility to punish Russians for shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, what would you do? Send troops into Russia or Ukraine to capture the Russians who fired the missile? What do you imagine Russia's response would be?

I would do at least three things to start with: Arm the Ukrainian government, station more troops in Poland (a NATO member), and start seizing Russian assets in the USA.

And what would you do, specifically? Demand a UN meeting to yack about it?

Do you think killing 298 civilians should go without a strong response?

As to your last question, let me ask in return: What do you imagine the German response would be if the England and the USA gave a forceful response to the seizure of the Sudetenland? I mean, we should tremble before aggressors and barbarians, because a quiescent response is the only one that will insure "peace in our time," right? And peace is what we got, right?

Newsflash: If you give no effective answer to thugs and bullies, what you get is more bullying. I don't believe for one minute that you don't know this.

What effect do you think it would have if the US "armed the Ukrainian government" (whatever that means) and started seizing Russian assets? What specifically would that do to hold to account those who committed this atrocity? Do you imagine that would make Russia turn over the shooters?

I don't know what I'd do, but I'm not the one accusing Obama of incompetence. I don't presume to be well-versed in international diplomacy like you are.

"Do you think killing 298 civilians should go without a strong response?"

No, I think a strong response is appropriate. Starting a war is not the proper response. I still don't understand how your proposed response will do anything to remedy any wrong.

"What do you imagine the German response would be if the England and the USA gave a forceful response to the seizure of the Sudetenland?"

I'm not great at counterfactuals, but I imagine the response would be the same as what eventually happened: World War II.

You're great at puffing your chest out and demanding an answer to thugs and bullies, but I doubt many Americans have the stomach for a war against Russia right now. If that's what it came to, would you advocate the US going to war with Russia as a way of dispensing justice for the Malaysian airliner being shot down?

"What effect do you think it would have if the US 'armed the Ukrainian government' (whatever that means)..."

You actually don't know what it means?

"What specifically would that do to hold to account those who committed this atrocity?"

It would exact a price on their sponsor -- which is more than you propose to do.

"I don't know what I'd do, but I'm not the one accusing Obama of incompetence."

You're one of the few who isn't. Nor does his incompetence stop (or start) with his jabbering-only response. How are things in the Middle East these days? Do you like the formation of the Caliphate in what used to be large chunks of Iraq and Syrian? A Caliphate that's going to be the next Afghanistan-like base for terror sponsorship?

Oh, and how's our relationship with Germany doing? Another Obama triumph?

While we're at it, Iran has quit working toward building the Big One, right?

"I don't presume to be well-versed in international diplomacy like you are."

I'm well enough versed to know that weakness begets aggression. So are you.

"I think a strong response is appropriate."

Then specify one rather than ducking.

"Starting a war is not the proper response."

Russia already started a war when it invaded the Ukraine. You missed that? Beyond that, it's just dodging to say what is "not the proper response" while refusing to say what IS the proper response.

Of course, only slightly below the surface, you make it quite clear what you view as the "proper response": Nothing.

"I'm not great at counterfactuals, but I imagine the response would be the same as what eventually happened: World War II."

Translation: You have no intention of dealing seriously with the fact that weakness begets bullying, and instead substitute what you "imagine."

"You're great at puffing your chest..."

If you want to get insulting, that is your prerogative, but it will not be on this blog. Do you understand?

Kent has set forth the standards required of commenters here, and you will follow them or vacate.

I see. The "insulting" only can come from the moderators. Your blog, your rules.

Wrong again. It is not my blog or my rules. It is CJLF's blog and rules.

Back to substance.

What response, specifically, do you recommend to this mass murder other than useless talking?

Do you understand, or not, that weakness begets aggression?

Do you understand that it is Russia that started a war when it invaded the Ukraine, not the United States that is starting a war?

Do you seriously think that the events I noted display Obama's competence?

I agree but our NATO allies need to do mire heavy lifting regarding men on the hround - if it is 90% US troops then I think that plays into Putins hands that NATO is just a American front. And we need to remember Russia is far more of Europe problem than American one. Also I would skip the Poland part and place the men in the Ukraine.

I think our blog moderators here are very open and inclusive of all ideas - try posting pro Seahawks stuff on a 49ers blog and see where that gets you

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