As the Senate Democrats grandstand, using confirmation hearings to score cheap political points, those who are actually responsible for our security continue to confront one threat after another. The latest is a group of Nicaraguans, apparently including members of the Nicaraguan military, who offered shoulder-fired missiles capable of bringing down aircraft on the open market. Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times reports:
Nicaraguan police, with U.S. assistance in a sting operation, thwarted black marketeers trying to sell SA-7 shoulder-fired missiles capable of downing commercial aircraft earlier this month, raising fears that some missiles already have been sold to terrorists, The Washington Times has learned.
U.S. officials think the missiles are being provided by elements of the Nicaraguan military. One official said intelligence reports suggest Nicaraguan army elements are keeping a secret stash of SA-7s not inventoried by international inspectors.
This is a very, very serious threat,” said the U.S. official. “This is what makes me stay up at night. Civilian aviation is at stake.”
The official said one Soviet-made SA-7 was confiscated at an air conditioning repair shop, the site of the sting in Managua, Nicaragua, where three Nicaraguans tried to sell the missile and offered more to undercover Nicaraguan police.
The sting has sounded alarm bells through the Bush administration for a number of reasons. The arrested men thought they were selling missiles to terrorists in Colombia and were willing to sell to Islamic terrorists, the official said. Also, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in November had won what he believed was a firm agreement from Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos to destroy about 1,000 remaining SA-7s. Some in the Bush administration now suspect the military is double-crossing Mr. Bolanos.
There seems to be no doubt that the Nicaraguan army is involved:
On the day of the sting, the army dispatched a senior officer to the scene who tried to take possession of the seized SA-7, said the U.S. official. But the police refused.
Apparently the rogue elements within the Nicaraguan army are Sandinistas, who recently have made a comeback within the Nicaraguan government, although they are still a minority. When the Sandinistas were fighting to keep control over the government of Nicaragua, John Kerry (along with quite a few other Democrats) openly supported them, notwithstanding their Communist leanings. Now they are selling highly dangerous weapons to terrorists. Just another reason why the American people were right when they didn’t trust John Kerry with our national security.