WNBA star Brittney Griner's return to the United States is a good thing, but it took a "bad deal" to get her here with the prisoner exchange for notorious arms dealer Victor Bout, who is now being heralded as a hero back home in Russia, retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent Derek Maltz, who headed the Department of Justice's Special Operations Division for almost 10 years, told Newsmax Saturday.
"I was not happy, of course," Maltz, who was involved in the investigation leading to Bout's arrest, commented on Newsmax's "Saturday Report." "Politics has once again gotten in the way of a very serious national security decision."
Maltz said it was a "very proud moment" for the DEA and its counterparts around the world to put Bout in prison.
"We got him back to America," Maltz said. "We put him before a jury in the southern district of New York. He was convicted in almost record time, in six hours, for terrorism charges."
The government came together under the administrations of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said Maltz, pointing out that Joe Biden was the vice president when Bout was taken into custody.
"[Bout] was an unbelievable terror threat around the world," said Maltz. "He was responsible for fueling wars and these conflicts, killing thousands of people. It was rewarding for everyone involved. That's what we do. We keep people safe and we try to get the bad guys off the playing field, and that's what was done back in these days."
But trading Griner for Bout means travelers around the world will be at a greater risk of being captured to allow corrupt government officials to negotiate deals, said Maltz.
"Let's go back to what Victor Bout told a New Yorker magazine writer before he was put in jail: 'They will try to lock me up. I'm a young guy. I will get back to Russia and your empire will collapse.'"
And now, Bout is a national hero in Russia and hates the United States, said Maltz.
"He said that when he was negotiating with our informants he was going to provide 800 surface-to-air missiles, 10 million rounds of ammunition, five tons of plastic explosives, 30,000 AK-47s, unmanned aircraft and also ultralight planes equipped with grenade launchers to go after U.S. personnel," said Maltz. "He said that he was fighting the U.S. for 10 to 15 years and it's his enemy."
Biden, meanwhile, was well informed about the threat Bout posed to the world, but now, "he's released for a basketball player."
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