Denigrating America gets Griner a 'Get out of Russia free' card

As news broke Dec. 9 that WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner landed in the U.S. following her Russian ordeal of getting caught with drugs, tried, convicted and sentenced to serve nine years, memories of the 1973 return home of then-Navy Lt. John McCain, a Vietnam War POW, were replayed.

Shot down in October 1967, McCain ejected from his aircraft, shattering his leg and both arms. Less than a year later, his father became commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. The North Vietnamese saw a propaganda opportunity – releasing McCain early to demoralize the other POWs. However, McCain refused to be a party to the ploy unless all POWs captured before him were also released. That did not happen, and his captors, denied their propaganda opportunity, increased his beatings, eventually forcing a broken McCain to sign a war crimes confession. After five and a half years, McCain returned home with all his fellow prisoners – a courageous hero.

It is doubtful Griner gave any thought to other American prisoners held in Russia before her who remained behind, receiving no priority consideration.

Ironically, Griner, prior to her ill-fated Russia trip, played on basketball courts in the U.S. where she dishonored our country, in 2020, following the death of George Floyd during an arrest. She announced the national anthem should not be played before WNBA games and, if played, she would await its final note before taking to the court.

Of course Griner was unwilling to take her dissension to the point of not playing basketball as such would cause her financial hardship. Unlike McCain, whose early-release refusal caused him additional beatings, Griner could not even suffer a paycheck hit. As such, she represents the worst kind of social activist – one unhesitatingly willing to disrespect her country as long as it costs her nothing.

Griner was in Russia to supplement her WNBA income, playing for an elite basketball club team in Ekaterinburg. If the Russian anthem were to be played there, it would be unsurprising to see Griner stand for it. However, she was detained in Moscow en route for having cannabis vape oil in her possession.

Several disturbing issues arise concerning Griner’s release:

1. Griner’s imprisonment was the result of nobody’s actions but her own. Yet, having spent only a few months in prison, she was exchanged for a Russian prisoner in the U.S. whose services Moscow badly needs. Unbelievably, Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, imprisoned since 2011, was the subject of Griner’s one-for-one exchange. It is difficult to believe a prisoner Russia so badly needed was surrendered for one we don’t need – a prisoner disrespectful of the country that negotiated her freedom.

Conservative actor Kevin Sorbo, 64, recognizes Bout is a dangerous man whose return to freedom will put the “Merchant of Death,” as he is known, right back into an arms trade business that will claim an unknown number of lives. Consequently, Sorbo said he does not “want to hear” any more about gun control from Biden after only contributing to the problem.

In an exchange for a major Russian asset like Bout, we should have also negotiated Paul Whelan’s return – imprisoned in a Russian labor camp for four years (out of a 16-year sentence) on trumped-up espionage charges. Whelan, 52, warranted a priority exchange, not only based on time served but also, unlike Griner, he did nothing illegal. Additionally, he had served his country in the Marine Corps, although it ended in a punitive discharge.

Clearly, with Griner’s high WNBA profile, Biden saw a much greater bang for his leftist base buck by negotiating her release. He even took time to assure Griner’s spouse he was committed to her release while dodging requests from Whelan’s wife for meetings. This non-action is particularly disturbing to those of us who, like Whelan, have served in uniform, as it comes from a commander in chief who dodged military service five times during the Vietnam War.

Undoubtedly, had Whelan, who is white, been released before Griner, we would have heard a great deal from the liberal racist chorus. However, giving Griner a priority release left that chorus silent.

Meanwhile, even the Russian media mocks the U.S. for relative values of the heavily one-sided prisoner exchange favoring Moscow as the White House ludicrously claims that Griner is an “inspiration” to women and LGBTQ Americans. Other than working for a living by playing professional basketball, it is difficult to understand the rationale.

2. The timing of Griner’s release is interesting. A lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) for the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi was dismissed by a federal court judge on Dec. 6 at the behest of the Biden administration. MbS became a critical player in the negotiations with Russia on behalf of the U.S. Thus, Biden sacrificed more for Griner’s release than appeared at first blush.

3. The lopsided outrageousness of this exchange, not only Bout’s release but also relinquishing accountability for MbS, sets a very bad precedent for other Americans who, in the future, might find themselves imprisoned, rightfully or wrongfully, in hostile nations.

4. Upon her release, Griner was privately flown from Moscow to Abu Dhabi, where the prisoner swap was effected on the tarmac. From there, she was flown to Kelly AFB in San Antonio, Texas, where she was physically examined at a military hospital. Griner received all the benefits of a hero’s welcome – not bad for an ingrate who denigrated her country. And, in an interesting side note, for a Biden administration so concerned about climate change, such long private flights do nothing to help the environment while costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

It will be interesting to see whether ingrate Griner ever appreciates all that was done, at great national expense financially as well as setting a dangerous foreign policy precedent, to bring her home ahead of others. Griner got a “get out of Russian jail free” card played on her behalf. The honorable thing for her now would be not to let Whelan be forgotten and to stand for our national anthem. Sadly, don’t expect that to happen.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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