Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Bout

How things can change in just a week.  Last week the U.S. won an important court case, that seemed to pave the way to extradite alleged arms dealer Victor Bout to the U.S.  Then, the additional charges that the U.S. requested be filed seemed to hang things up.  Reports are that these charged can't be rushed, and that they will take some time.

Mr. Bout and his supporters are obviously aware that the delay caused by these new charges only buys them time, not an automatic victory.  The Bangkok Post reported today that Bout is alleging to have been visited in prison by a parliament member and close aid of Prime Minister Abhisit, and claims that the aid asked if former PM Thaksin had smuggled weapons into the country, and how they could take down the former PM's plane.

I think this story pushes the limits of credibility. If Mr. Bout is to believed, the PM, or the people around him, were considering shooting down the former PM's plane and had to reach out to an arms dealer who is sitting in prison for help on how to do it.  Its certainly possible that he was asked about Thaksin smuggling in weapons, but if the PM really wanted to take down the plane, I would think that there are many people in the Thai military who would be willing and able to carry out such instructions.  Would they really go to an alleged arms dealer who is causing an international tug of war between Russia and the U.S.?  Could they possibly believe that they could ask Bout something like that without it coming out in the open if things didn't go his way?

This is exactly why the U.S. wanted to move so quickly to extradite Bout once the court ruled in its favor.  While his allegations may lack credibility, the opposition party (red shirts) will seize on these allegations to attack the government.  There will undoubtedly be pressure to keep Bout here until the matter is fully resolved.  Maybe someone will suggest he be given a deal in order to cooperate. 

I still think that he will end up in the states.  Here is my breakdown of the probabilities:

Extradited to U.S.  60%
Escape/Freed        20%
Found Dead          20%

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