Homeland Security Tricks Man into Bringing Uranium to JFK AirportAugust 27th, 2013
Since 9/11, US anti-terrorism agents have begun to adopt some questionable War on Drugs style police tactics that border on entrapment. Often, federal officers will make contact with certain individuals with outside-of-the-mainstream political views, then suggest a terror plot and offer material support. If the suspect bites and accepts the materials, an arrest is made and the government pats itself on the back for thwarting another terror attack that it effectively created. Some have even alleged that federal agents have accidentally caused terrorist attacks by encouraging suspects to carry them out and losing contact before an arrest could be made.
Homeland Security recently went on a fishing expedition for individuals who would be willing to provide uranium to Iranian companies by posing as an Iranian buyer and posting a request to buy nuclear materials on the website alibaba.com. A rep from a uranium mining company in Sierra Leone responded, and a lengthy contract negotiation ensued, after which the seller acquired a visa to travel to the US. At the undercover agent’s request, the rep smuggled samples of uranium, hidden in his shoes, into New York’s JFK Airport. Now, the seller, named Patrick Campbell, is facing 20 years in prison for attempting to broker a deal to sell uranium to a non-existent buyer in Iran. It’s also worth noting that Campbell was able to slip through customs with the nuclear material.
Putting Campbell’s Actions into Perspective
Patrick Campbell is from Sierra Leone and, as such, has little reason to concern himself with US politics. He is a rep for a uranium mining company that routinely and legally provides this type of material, which can be used for peaceful purposes like the generation of nuclear power. Iran has a well-known peaceful nuclear power program and has not aggressively attacked another nation in recent history.
Campbell is accused of violating US laws that ban anyone worldwide from attempting to sell any nuclear material to any company in Iran, no matter the purpose. In truth, US sanctions that ban voluntary commercial activity between people in other countries are effectively acts of war, and Campbell is being jailed for attempting to do his job. To be fair, he did knowingly violate US law by successfully smuggling uranium samples through customs, but, on the other hand, why would he believe that he would need to visit the US to broker a deal between companies based in Sierra Leone and Iran in the first place, especially if he were specifically aware of the US-based sanctions? It’s possible that he didn’t fully understand the ramifications of his actions.
Department of Homeland Security Pats Itself on the Back
Campbell’s arrest provides DHS with an example it can cite of how it prevented Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. However, no one in Iran attempted to buy nuclear material from Patrick Campbell. Also, it’s unclear whether or not Campbell might have believed he was selling the uranium for use in a power plant.
Meanwhile, the whole mess provides another grabbing headline to associate Iran with nuclear weapons in the eyes of American mass media consumers. This is a crucial propaganda tool for neoconservatives who want to start a war with Iran. However, the only party that was seeking the nuclear material was an agent at the US Department of Homeland Security, who posted an online ad effectively trying to entrap someone into agreeing to sell uranium to a buyer in Iran.
If a DHS agent hadn’t posted an online ad, no deal would have been brokered in the first place, nobody would be going to jail, and Iran wouldn’t be an inch closer to attaining nuclear weapons.