Left Behind: The Marine Got The Worst of Biden’s Brittney Griner Deal

By John Kass

December 9, 2022

The American media love happy endings, especially when the politicians they support are on the receiving end of the happiness.

And in the prison release of celebrity basketball player Brittney Griner, there was much joy for President Joe Biden, and joy, too, for the murderous Viktor Bout, the “Merchant of Death” made famous in the Hollywood film starring Nicholas Cage called “Lord of War.”

Griner, the American professional athlete convicted in Russia on drug smuggling charges, was traded for Bout, the Russian arms dealer and murderer, and once one of the most wanted men in the world. He was arrested in Thailand by U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents. In 2011 Bout was found guilty of conspiring to kill American officials and other Americans. Until most recently, he was being held at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Ill.

Bout was convicted of trying to sell 20,000 AK-47 rifles to terrorists, along with hundreds of surface-to-air-missile systems capable of shooting passenger jets out of the sky.

And now Bout is out. Midnight Express meet the Moscow Bullet Train.

I’m glad Griner is no longer in a Russian prison, but this was a terrible trade. For securing the release of a minor celebrity basketball player who walks free on narcotics charges, Biden gets big political hugs from black political activists and from LGBTQ Democrats. And Russian boss Vladimir Putin gets what he wanted. His “Merchant of Death” sent back to him.

But this awful deal to serve Biden’s politics puts Americans and all who serve this country at risk.

And Biden leaves a U.S. Marine behind. The president wasn’t seeking the U.S. Marine vote. He lost that some time ago, after his botched, deadly and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. And he lost it completely after the purging of the officer corps over politically correct racial dogma, rather than working to sharpen the spear to make American warriors ready for what’s to come from China.

Asked about this on Thursday, Biden completely incompetent Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sighed deeply. But she was asked the question on American minds:

Why did Biden get the worst of the deal?

“Look, I’ve talked about this, and I’ll say this again,” Jean-Pierre said.  “Here were our choices. Our choices [sic] was Britany or no one at all. Bring home one American or no Americans at all.”

No, you had other choices. You chose not to take them.

I’m suspicious of state-sponsored happiness and state sponsored media mouthpieces, whether they come from Moscow or Washington, D.C. And I have a few questions:

When Griner arrives in the U.S. will she fall to her knees and kiss American soil? Will she apologize to Americans for not wanting the National Anthem played at her basketball games?  And does she have regrets for the American who was left behind?

 Griner walks. The “Merchant of Death walks. Putin is satisfied. And Biden gets a bump from LGBT pressure groups. So, who did Biden leave behind?

A U.S. Marine.

Retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is a veteran of the war in Iraq. Phelan is imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges that he and the U.S. government say are false.

U.S. Marine Corps portrait of American detainee in Russia Paul Whelan, provided to the press by his family

Biden took the celebrity basketball player and brought her home. But he left the Marine in a Russian prion.

Would it be impolite to wonder if, when Griner is safe, back on American soil, will she mention the name of Paul Whelan?

 If I had a few minutes with Griner, I’d ask her about the most frightening short story of my childhood: A Man Without a Country. In his excellent piece on this site on Griner in July, the Chicago writer Cory Franklin referenced that story, a staple of American classrooms when Franklin and I were boys, back when anti-war protesters burned their draft cards and the American flag.

Once the draft was ended, and poor whites and urban minorities filled the ranks, the protests faded away.

“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” Biden said of Griner at the White House Thursday morning. The president was with Cherelle Griner, Britney Griner’s wife.

“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Britney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along,” Biden said. But, he mentioned Whelan’s family and said they had “mixed emotions today.”

Mixed emotions? Mr. President, that’s an  understatement. It’s on the verge of being idiotic.

Every family member of every American who has served overseas has mixed emotions about this Biden Putin swap of Griner for the Russian master of war. Every American who loves someone that is working overseas, in dangerous places, with dangerous people, is sick about it.

Because this Griner Bout swap will just make it easier for bad actors to seize Americans for trade. The last thing the families of Americans overseas need, or want is happy political bla-blah-blah, with TV anchors nodding resolutely after the political sound bite is given. Fade to commercial.

Americans are encouraged to forget everything, but some just can’t. Some of us remember when America had a border. Some remember another celebrity prisoner exchange involving the American deserter Bowe Bergdahl. The Obama-Biden White House in 2014 engineered a prisoner exchange with the Taliban of Afghanistan.

Bergdahl was traded by for Taliban terrorists held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay. Once they were released into Asia, they rejoined the Taliban and assumed their leadership roles in Afghanistan where they worked to kill more Americans.

 In the Griner/Bout swap that left the Marine behind, Biden was on the defensive.

“This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” Biden said. “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.”

You’re not giving up? Putin gave you a choice Mr. Biden. You made that choice. You chose Britney. Not the Marine. Because the politics broke her way, and yours.

You had wanted it done before the November elections, but even now you can bask in the glow. Again, I’m glad she’s out of Russian prison. But just because we’re pleased at her good fortune, as we’re repulsed by Putin’s game, must we shut our minds off like the news “personalities” on pro-Biden MSNBC, or the elite party members of “1984?”

When she was put in prison on the drug smuggling charges, attention was properly directed to her comments of years ago  to the Arizona Republic that she did not want the American National Anthem played at her games. If you mentioned this on social media, chances were that you’d be smeared by the trolls of the left. But it doesn’t change the facts of what happened.

“I honestly feel we should not play the National Anthem during our season,” Griner, one of the top players in the WNBA, in support of Black Lives Matter and other protest groups. “I think we should take that much of a stand.”

“I don’t mean that in any disrespect to our country. My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years,” Griner told the Arizona news outlet. “I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country.”

“I’m going to protest regardless,” she said. “I’m not going to be out there for the National Anthem. If the league continues to want to play it, that’s fine. It will be all season long, I’ll not be out there. I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing. I can only speak for myself.”

We can only speak for ourselves.

But Victor Bout doesn’t have to speak. The only one he has to speak to is Putin. Bout is the Merchant of Death, one of those certified Masters of War. Bob Dylan knew them.

“Let me ask you one questionIs your money that good?Will it buy you forgivenessDo you think that it could?I think you will findWhen your death takes its tollAll the money you madeWill never buy back your soul”

Media will love the Britney Griner homecoming. Reporters will applaud, make those ‘awww’ faces during the happy talk before the weather and sports.

Biden? He took care of his own identity politics needs. And he’s a hero to his voters for springing Griner.

They’re not worried about the Marine. If Biden had chosen the Marine to be traded in exchange for Viktor Bout, the American political left would have crucified the president.

 And Whelan? American identity politics broke bad on him.

He’s the Marine who was left behind.

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(Copyright 2022 John Kass)

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