Government officials are concerned about President Biden’s trade of an athlete for a psychotic arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death.”
Some officials think it was a mistake to exchange basketball player Brittney Griner for renowned Russian criminal Viktor Bout.
Griner received a nine-year prison term after being caught in Moscow in February with marijuana vaping accessories.
In 2011, Bout, one of the most vicious arms dealers in the world, was found guilty of planning to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to a foreign terrorist organization so they could kill Americans.
Given the extreme disparity in the severity of the offenses, The Washington Post reported that many DOJ officials see the swap as an error.
“If she were my relative, I would want to do the swap,” one official told The Post.
But exchanging a basketball player for a notorious international arms dealer is insane.
Robert Zachariasiewicz, a former DEA agent, suggested that Putin is motivated to detain more Americans.
Because you never know when you might need an American to trade, Zachariasiewicz said, “We just proved that it is beneficial to have an American in your back pocket.”
Some Pentagon officials worry that Bout would resume illegally smuggling weapons, possibly igniting global wars.
One senior official added, “I think there is a worry that [he] will go back to performing the same kind of work he’s done in the past.
Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of NJ, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there’s no comparison between Griner and Bout.
“We cannot ignore that releasing Bout back into the world is a disconcerting decision,” he said.
We must try harder to discourage Americans from visiting countries like Russia, where they are the primary targets for this type of illegal activity, and we must stop inviting dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans as bargaining chips abroad.