What a Bunch of Hooey about Viktor Bout

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It would be difficult to find a bigger pile of hooey in the mainstream press than what they are saying about Viktor Bout. It’s almost as bad as their monumental hooey about Russian citizen Maria Butina. The hooey surrounding Bout and Butina only goes to show what happens to people’s minds when the government inculcates them with an extreme, obsessive anti-Russia hostility. 

I’ve written repeatedly about the federal government’s ludicrous prosecution of Butina, and so I won’t repeat my analysis of her case. Let’s instead focus on Bout. 

Bout is the Russia arms dealer who was just traded for Brittney Griner, the American basketball star who pled guilty to violating Russia’s drug laws and got sentenced to serve nine years in jail. Bout is the international arms dealer who got convicted of conspiring to sell arms to FARC, the rebel group in Columbia that U.S. officials labeled a terrorist group. He was also convicted of conspiring to kill DEA officials operating in Columbia. He was given a 25-year jail sentence and had served 10 years of it when he was traded for Griner.

The mainstream press is decrying the trade. They’re saying it’s just not fair. An arms dealer for a drug-war violator? Oh my gosh, how could President Biden permit himself to be taken in by the evil Russkies?

Unsaid in all this is that the U.S. government, like the Russian government, makes it a criminal offense to possess and distribute marijuana. Defenders of the U.S. drug war can say that the federal penalty for marijuana possession is lower in the U.S. than in Russia, but isn’t that a distinction without a difference? Moreover, let’s not forget that in the long, sordid history of America’s drug war, countless Americans have been forced to served much longer jail sentences for marijuana possession than Griner.

Viktor Bout

The important question — one that the mainstream press dares not ask — is why the U.S. government (and the state governments) have drug laws at all. Given that Russia has drug laws, isn’t that a fairly good sign that drug laws are not consistent with he principles of a genuinely free society? Perhaps it’s also worth mentioning that former President Trump is promising to execute drug-war violators if he is put back into the White House. Don’t they do that in China and North Korea too?

The mainstream press continues to emphasize that Bout is an “international arms dealer,” which apparently makes him an extremely evil person. Well, if that’s true, then how about we focus on the world’s biggest international arms dealer. That would be the U.S. government! Yes, the pious, innocent U.S. government, the same government that prosecuted Bout and sentenced him to 25 years in jail.

Take a look at this web page entitled “U.S. Arms Exports in 2021, by Country.” It lists 65 countries to whom the U.S. government sells arms. 

Is it possible — just possible — that U.S. officials went after Bout because he was in competition against them in the sale of arms? What better way to get rid of a competitor than by locking him up in jail for 25 years?

The mainstream press says that Bout was selling arms to terrorist groups. Well, notice on that list that the U.S. government knowingly sells arms to Saudi Arabia, a regime that most everyone in the world, including the family and former fiancé of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi and even the CIA, knows is one of the most murderous regimes in the world. Is there really any difference in principle between selling arms to a terrorist group and selling arms to a murderous regime?

Let’s now go to to the offenses for which Bout was convicted — conspiring to sell arms to FARC in Colombia and conspiring to kill American drug-war officials operating in Colombia. 

There is one big problem with those offenses, however. That problem is that FARC had nothing to do with any of this. Instead, what happened was that DEA agents who were playing like they were FARC representatives approached Bout and said that they wanted to buy arms from him. Bout agreed to sell arms to those DEA agents who he thought were FARC agents. That’s what they busted him for — for conspiring to sell arms to DEA agents who he thought were FARC agents. 

In other words, if the DEA had not created the crime, it would not have been committed. 

What about the conspiracy to kill American officials who were operating in Colombia. During the fake negotiations for the sale of arms to FARC, one of the DEA agents said that the weapons would be used to kill U.S. officials who were enforcing the drug war in Colombia. Bout allegedly responded indifferently, supposedly saying that they were his enemy too. That’s what got him convicted of conspiring to kill U.S. officials as part of fake negotiations for the sale of arms to DEA agents who were falsely posing as representatives of FARC.

The mainstream press continually claims that Bout was accused of selling arms to al Qaeda. But U.S. officials never charged him with that. Lacking the evidence to convict him of that offense, U.S. officials simply decided to make up a crime and convict him of the made-up crime instead. That’s what goes for “justice” in the federal criminal-justice system. 

I’ve had personal experience with this type of federal drug-war “justice.” After I got my law license in Texas back in 1975, I returned to my hometown of Laredo, Texas, to practice law. Almost immediately, our local federal judge appointed me to represent an indigent defendant charged with a cocaine conspiracy. 

My client told me that he was innocent. Hoping that I would encourage my client to plead guilty, the assistant U.S. attorney in the case turned over all of the very detailed investigative reports that the DEA had turned over to him. Every day I would pore over those reports and carefully chart them out. I finally realized that my client was, in fact, innocent. The DEA had put together a very sophisticated sting operation to get him convicted, just as they did with Bout.

Why would the DEA do that? Simple. They were convinced he was involved in the drug trade but they couldn’t catch him. So, they did the next-best thing. They made up a crime so that they could get him convicted and punished for the made-up crime.

Fortunately, I was able to make the jury see what the DEA had done and to recognize the manifest injustice of convicting a person of a made-up crime. The jury returned with a not-guilty verdict. 

Unfortunately for Bout, the jury in his case was not so inclined. They obviously felt that a made-up crime was just as good as a real crime. However, the federal judge who sentenced Bout apparently didn’t feel totally comfortable with what the DEA had done. The judge sentenced Bout to the minimum amount of time possible, which was nonetheless 25 years. 

There is something else worth noting about the Bout conviction. Bout never committed any offense within the United States. The fake negotiations took place entirely outside the United States. In fact, Bout was arrested while engaging in the fake negotiations in Thailand and then was extradited to the United States to stand trial on a fake made-up crime that never took place anywhere in the United States.

It is also worth asking: What business does the DEA have in setting up an international arms dealer on a fake weapons charge?  I thought DEA stood for Drug Enforcement Administration, not Weapons Enforcement Administration. 

Of course, don’t look to the mainstream press to address any of these discomforting matters. That would entail challenging the U.S. government on such things as its evil drug war, its arms sales to evil regimes, and its evil made-up crimes. As far as the U.S. mainstream press is concerned, it’s only permissible to criticize and condemn those evil Russkies, such as Maria Butina and Viktor Bout. 

The post What a Bunch of Hooey about Viktor Bout appeared first on The Future of Freedom Foundation.

* This article was originally published here


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