Yesterday, Vinod reported on the convinction of Hemant Lakhani, would be merchant of death. Lakhani is clearly scum:
Lakhani was filmed clapping his hands in glee as he admired the missile he thought he had single-handedly smuggled into the US and was clearly delighted with his achievement. [cite]
However, I don’t feel any safer today. Consider the following:
1. Lakhani was a nobody who got set up in a sting. He wasn’t a big time arms dealer before the FBI came to him, he was a two-time loser in textiles who “had declared bankruptcy, owed taxes on his house, was evicted from the office where he ran his clothing business and owed money on bounced cheques.” From what I can tell, he had no prior involvement with arms dealing, nor any prior association with “terrorists” (it’s in quotes since the FBI guy was a ringer) before the sting.
2. He was completely incompetent as an arms dealer. Lakhani spent 2 years trying to find missiles to sell to the FBI’s fake terrorist buyer but he still couldn’t get his hands on any weapons. He was so clueless that, according to the fake buyer, Lakhani was unfamiliar with terms such as ‘ammo’.” His lawyer characterized him as:
a failed businessman, motivated solely by money who “couldn’t finish a deal if his life depended on it” and would not have done so without a hefty government operation behind him. [cite]
3. To make the arrest, the FBI had to supply the arms for Lakhani to sell to them. The FBI supplied both “the arms buyer, and Russian agents who posed as sellers” They even smuggled the “missile” to New Jersey. Before that point, for almost 2 years, the buyer never received any military hardware from Lakhani.
I am not trying to defend Lakhani’s actions. He did something criminal and has been sent to jail. I am simply not convinced that there are any fewer arms or (real) arms dealers in the world today as a result. The FBI spent 2 years on this; encouraging and then capturing an “arms dealer.” Meanwhile, big fish like Victor Bout remain at large. Bout was even protected by the US and other countries when he got arrested.
People I know have been killed and maimed by terrorists. I take terrorism very seriously, and I want to see the US government actively going after the real bad guys, not just mounting national security theater to lull the folks back home into a false sense of safety.