It used to be, back in the days of “cowboy justice”, that someone suspected of being a horse thief, or messing with someone’s unwilling teenage daughter, or helping himself to a bag of feed from someone’s cart, was about 90% guilty just from the accusation. What we in the modern age would call a “proper trial” on the charges was far less common. Evidence was often sketchy by today’s standards, and the “defense” lawyer—even if he was sober—was not exactly F. Lee Bailey.
The townspeople might form a lynch mob and demand that this fellow get his just desserts, which he sometimes did, without even the benefit of a trial. We’ve all seen the movie where some nefarious stranger is suspected of being the one who shot old lady Smith and is hung by an angry crowd, then they discover the real killer was someone else they never suspected--after the poor dude they thought was guilty was already dead.
Today, of course, we’ve gone too far the other way, in some cases. It’s getting harder to convict someone because clever lawyers argue ridiculous defenses, from attributing the crime to the defendant’s childhood traumas, to their lack of “intent” to do wrong, to the famous “twinkie defense”, to God knows what else. Getting 12 jurors to agree on even what day it is has become a task in itself. Photo “evidence” can be created with digital technology, videotape of a crime can be thrown out by a judge because of legal theories of privacy rights, and “fruit of the poison tree” arguments (meaning clear evidence of guilt must be discarded because the proper police procedures in obtaining it weren’t followed to the letter) all contribute to a legal system that, in many cases, results in dangerous people being put back on the streets. I’m all for protecting a defendant’s civil rights, but sometimes a jury is instructed by a judge to buy arguments that are ludicrous and to ignore what their own eyes tell them is true.
Anyhow, all that to say this: The big story right now is Russia and their apparent “interference” in the presidential election. What we have been told, so far, is that Russian computer experts (with presumed instructions from the Kremlin) got access to the emails of DNC officials, including Clinton campaign manager John Podesta (whose password to his email system was PASSWORD).
What we don’t yet know is what they did with those emails, if anything. True, many of Podesta’s emails—and those of others--ended up being widely published by Wikileaks, to the great joy of Hillary detractors and the utter horror of her supporters. But just because I have your phone number doesn’t mean that someone who is believed to have purloined it gave it to me.
But even that’s not the real problem with proving this accusation. The issue is whether or not the hacking of the emails, which we know took place, actually had a demonstrable effect on the election’s outcome. Those are dots that have a lot of space between them. No one has yet shown evidence that 1) Russia gave their trove of emails to anyone; 2) that, if they did, it was Wikileaks who received them from Russia; and 3) that the publishing of the material by Wikileaks was the cause—or even a factor—in Hillary’s stunning loss. One must prove A led to B which led to C.
As an interesting contrast, the millions of dollars contributed to the Clinton Foundation by foreign interests are suspected by many to have influenced Secretary Clinton’s willingness to play ball with those parties. It’s called political corruption: you pay, you play. But her defenders claim there’s “no ‘there’ there.” No proof, so no foul. The FBI was—and may still be—looking into it.
We’re not doing “cowboy justice” here. We’ve evolved a bit beyond that today. Suspicion is one thing. But the media is making it sound like Hillary’s defeat was directly orchestrated by Russia. That’s a bridge too far with what we know at this point. As to the FBI’s investigation, stand by for any breaking news. Same with Russia.