March 6, 2000
How Americans are Subsidizing Organized Crime in Russia
Next We Will Be Sending the FBI Abroad to Fight that Crime
Organized crime in Russia is a well-known problem. One of the arguments used for not sending IMF funds to Russia was the pervasive corruption throughout their government. As quickly as the funds were appropriated, they were laundered through New York banks and off to a numbered Swiss account - probably with very little actually ever passing through to Moscow. But the proponents of aid won't give up; our tax dollars, they argue, are vital for the successful transition from totalitarianism to democracy. What is generally forgotten is that the process of taking funds from someone who earned them is every bit as morally reprehensible as the corruption that results when sent hither and yon around the world.
Unfortunately, the moral, constitutional, and practical arguments against foreign aid in general, and assistance to Russia in particular, have almost no adherents in Washington. For this reason the problem goes from bad to worse.
The FBI, having been well trained at Waco and Ruby Ridge, has expressed deep concern about Russian organized crime. Our FBI agents have traversed the globe in recent years looking for dragons to slay, but up until now they worked out of hotel rooms and US Embassies trying not to stumble over host countries' police and our CIA agents.
This is now going to change. The FBI is opening its first overseas office. The plan is to open an office in Budapest, Hungary, since it's believed this is a haven to Russian mob leaders stealing our foreign aid money. Chief of the FBI's Organized Crime Division, Thomas Fuentes, brags that this office "will develop and operate criminal informants," to gather intelligence, something he says the FBI has never done before in this manner.
If our government and political leaders had any "intelligence" this plan would be squelched. It can lead to no good and in all probability will backfire. What do we do if the FBI office is bombed and Americans are killed? We have no business there, and this is a dangerous precedent to set.
Even if the current Hungarian government has given our justice department the go-ahead to open this office, we can be certain some Hungarian citizens will strongly resent it. Those who believe in Hungarian sovereignty will respond with hatred toward Americans just as is happening on a daily basis in Iraq over our routine bombing of that country and the stoning of our troops stationed in Kosovo.
Our FBI agents will carry guns and be permitted to make arrests. The Hungarian government will have no say about the employees who work in the office. Can one imagine what the reaction would be in the United States if a foreign country wanted to do the same thing here? The FBI is anxious to make this mission a success because they want to set up similar offices in the Baltic States, Nigeria, and South Africa. This is a foolhardy adventure and a recipe for disaster. The procedures for sharing information and coordinating police activities in dealing with international criminals has been used for a long time, but this bold move is sure to offend many. And when some accident occurs it will lead to an unnecessary international crisis.
We don't need to police the world in the military sense, and surely we should not invade other countries with active FBI offices usurping other countries' sovereignty. If we're worried about how US taxpayers' dollars are misused in foreign aid, there is a much simpler solution - stop sending the money overseas.
Unfortunately, this bold move of an overseas FBI office will go unnoticed in Washington DC, and the politicians will not address the subject until a major crisis erupts. A constitutional approach to government would preclude this type of international adventurism. The president should have never ordered this project. And Congress, if it cared and assumed its responsibilities, would quickly de-fund it. The quicker the better.