Trading someone whose crime is possession of a trace amount of hash for someone who is convicted of selling military-grade firearms, many of them to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, doesn’t seem fair. or just.
That Russia wants arms dealer Viktor Bout back says a lot about Russian President Vladimir Putin and his current regime.
The fact that the United States was willing to let Bout out speaks volumes about US President Joe Biden and his current administration.
If you want to know what makes America great, this is it.
We gave up a killer trash can for an American citizen who openly tore up her home country.
It’s the best of us, and the worst of us.
We did it because Brittney Griner is pretty famous, and she’s the American that the Russian authorities let us have.
Griner owes America her life, and she must spend the rest saying thank you. As valid as her previous criticisms of her country are, her country just went all in for her in a way few people get.
Griner, whose father toured several times for the U.S. military during the Vietnam War and is a former law enforcement officer in the greater Houston area, took a tough stance and was part of the protest movement athletes who knelt during the national anthem.
She could have wasted some of the best years of her life in a Russian prison. Or died there.
Or, transformed into another Austin Tice.
Austin Tice is a freelance journalist and photographer who has worked for CBS, the Washington Post and the McClatchy Company. He was kidnapped on August 13, 2012 in Damascus, Syria.
(The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is operated by the McClatchy Company, which is owned by Chatham Asset Management.)
The former US Marine was entering his final year at Georgetown Law School when he traveled to Syria to report on the conflict there.
A few days after celebrating his 31st birthday, he was kidnapped. He spent 10 years of his life as a prisoner. Ten years.
Shortly after Griner’s removal to the United States, Austin Tice’s family released a statement:
“We were happy to hear the good news that Brittney Griner has been released by the Russian government and is on her way back from the nightmare she endured. Every time an American is released from captivity abroad, it lifts our hearts of joy for his family and loved ones.
“This is further proof that where there is a will, there is a way for the United States to secure the release and safe return of its unjustly detained citizens.
“We know that the road to Austin’s release begins with serious dialogue between the US and Syrian governments. We are extremely disappointed with the National Security Council’s failure to follow through on President Biden’s May 2 directive to “meet the Syrians, listen to them, find out what they want, and work with them (to bring Austin Tice home him safely).
“If the US government can work with Russia, there is no excuse for not engaging Syria directly. We renew our call for Jake Sullivan and his National Security Team to carry out the President’s orders. God willing, Austin won’t spend another Christmas alone in captivity.
The reaction to the Griner-for-Bout trade only reveals what we already know about our political climate.
If you’re a Republican, you hate swapping.
If you are a Democrat, you celebrate the exchange.
No Republican action these days can appease, let alone satisfy, a Democrat, and vice versa.
Many Americans are upset that Griner is going home in exchange for that trash in front of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been in a Russian prison since December 2018 on charges of espionage.
Whelan denied the charge and said he was the victim of an undercover operation.
If there was an order, Whelan would preempt Griner.
There is no command.
These are complex issues and negotiations; it’s not baseball teams trading a right-handed pitcher for a left-handed bat.
Griner can’t do anything against Whelan. What she can do is express her gratitude for the rest of her life.
As justified as Griner’s frustration over various issues with her home is, she just needs to say thank you.
She’s back home when she could easily have been Austin Tice.