I used to think that each country had its own laws and those laws affected the people in that country. How naive I was.
I also used to think that to break a law you actually had to, you know, break the law, not just think about breaking the law, or know something about some law that might be broken in the future. And that if you thought you broke the law but really hadn’t, then you hadn’t. (In other words, if I thought I ran a stop sign, but it turns out there wasn’t really a stop sign there, then I didn’t run a stop sign.)
Obviously I was young then, and not experienced in the intricacies of modern U.S. criminal justice.
Still, I found the following bit of braggadocio in an email that the DEA sent me today someone unsettling…
On January 10 the indictment of Franklin William McField-Bent, a/k/a â€œBuda,â€ a Nicaraguan national, and five members of his drug and weapons smuggling organizations was announced. McField-Bent was charged with three narcotics counts and four counts of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Colombian Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), which is a foreign terrorist organization. According to the indictment, McField-Bent and the other five members of his group conspired and attempted to distribute cocaine knowing that it would eventually be imported into the United States. The indictment also alleges they conspired and attempted to provide grenade launchers, grenades, automatic rifles, and other weapons to what they thought were AUC members. To their surprise, they soon found out that these â€œterroristsâ€ were undercover agents.
I like that little bit of humor at the end.
So, to recap (with some additional detail from the press release):
A foreigner, who was in a foreign country, was arrested in that foreign country and indicted in U.S. court for violating a U.S. law while in a foreign country. He was indicted for two things:
- “Conspiring and attempting to distribute cocaine knowing that it would eventually be imported into the United States.” Hmmm… my head just about exploded with that one.
- “Conspired and attempted to provide grenade launchers, grenades, automatic rifles and other weapons to what they thought were members of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (â€œAUCâ€).” Except of course that there were no AUC members, just undercover agents.
I have no doubt that this McField-Bent guy is probably not a nice guy and maybe deserves some criminal justice attention. But when did our laws get so squirrelly? And have we really gone from a nation that supposedly wasn’t allowed to have a national police force, to a nation with a national police force, to a nation with an international police force that enforces U.S. laws on people anywhere in the universe?
If the Russians send another cosmonaut to the moon and his lunar rover has the capability of going 140 kilometers per hour, can we arrest him for conspiring to violate U.S. speed laws?