Finally, someone was willing to say that the king wasn’t wearing any clothes. President Joe Biden announced that the United States was planning to release a Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” in exchange for WNBA player Brittney Griner.
What? This guy is one of the world’s worst criminals, responsible for deaths in the tens of thousands across the globe. He was dubbed the “Merchant of Death” because of his notoriety for running a fleet of aging Soviet-era cargo planes to conflict-ridden hotspots in Africa. His dealings inspired the Nicolas Cage film “Lord of War.”
If you want to see just how ludicrous this decision was, take a look at the exchange that took place at the last White House Briefing. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had to conform to the reporters that Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” is a national security threat to the United States after being released from a U.S. prison in exchange for Griner.
One reporter said to KJP, “You said the United States would stay vigilant. It sounds like the administration still sees [Viktor Bout] as a security threat, no?”
She replied that America was always going to stay vigilant.
The reporter followed with, “So you still have security concerns?”
KJP said, “I’m not the intelligence committee here.”
Are you kidding me?
Someone within Biden’s administration, along with a couple of notable Democrats lashed out at this decision as a very lopsided trade.
Viktor Bout was serving a 25-year prison sentence for conspiring to kill Americans, trafficking anti-aircraft missiles, and providing material support to terrorists. He was convicted in 2011 for conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the FARC, a U.S.-designated terrorist group in Colombia, to be used to kill Americans according to the Justice Department.
It is not likely that he has been reformed in his time behind bars. The man who oversaw his capture wrote in Foreign Policy that if Biden traded Bout, the decision “wouldn’t just be a slap in the face of the law enforcement officers and operatives who labored to bring Bout down, many of them risking their lives in the process” but “would also pose a grave threat to the national security of the United States and its allies.”
The unnamed senior Defense Department official also said, “there is a concern that [Bout] would return to doing the same kind of work that he’s done in the past.”
Now, this one man who was willing to call out the “Naked King” is not alone, there are named Democrats who are joining in with criticism.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, did not hold back. He said Biden’s decision to free the “Merchant of Death” was a “deeply disturbing decision.”
Others in Washington are noting that something needs to be done about the serious problem of Americans being taken as hostages. We can’t continue with such lopsided exchanges, there is just no equivalence between Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout.
Some Pentagon officials are concerned that the convicted Russian arms dealer could return to illegally trafficking weapons, potentially fueling conflicts across the world.
In Thursday’s White House press briefing, Karine Jean-Pierre had another exchange with Peter Doocy from Fox News. He simply asked why Russia got such a better deal.
Instead of answering the question, Jean Pierre just stormed out of the briefing room after losing patience with Doocy.
Well, after all, she’s not on the intelligence committee.