Thursday, July 18, 2013

They Forgot About Bout

In almost every briefing about Edward Snowden's stay in the transit lounge of the Moscow airport Obama administration spokespeople have mentioned all the Russian suspects/criminals returned by the US over the last decade (emphasis added):
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, pointedly noted that the United States had returned “numerous high level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government,” then added: “We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged.”
But one of the most famous Russian high level criminals of the last few decades was NOT returned or even mentioned by the administration.  Mara Liasson of PBS asked Baghdad Carney about him today:
Q Can you describe the difference of what the administration sees between Snowden and Viktor Bout, who was not returned, although the Russian's wanted him returned?
BAGHDAD CARNEY: I can just tell you that our view on Mr. Snowden is clear. And we are working with the Russians to hopefully return him to the United States, where he will be afforded all of the rights and privileges of defendants in this country. And we believe that there's ample legal justification for his return. 
Most people have probably never heard of Viktor Bout, one of the most famous arms traders in history, now doing time at Marion prison.  I had forgotten him myself despite doing a post on him awhile ago. CBS News remembered him and asked openly a few weeks ago whether Russia might be angling to swap Snowden for Bout, which could explain the diplomatic holdup (which is surprising with all the flexibility the president has now). Not surprisingly Carney quickly moved on to the next questioner.

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