by James S. Soviero
Remember Paul Whelan? For those who don’t, he was the former United States Marine, sentenced to 16 years of hard labor on suspicion of spying, who was left out of a December 2022 prisoner exchange with Russia.
As Joe Biden might say, “Here’s the deal.” Last year Hunter’s Dad sent “The Merchant of Death,” Viktor Bout, back to the former Soviet Union, while Vlad Putin returned “WNBA star Brittney Griner to us.
Mr. Bout was one of the world’s most infamous arms dealers. More specifically, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison in April 2012. Viktor was found guilty of conspiracy to kill Americans and US officials, delivering anti-aircraft missiles, and aiding a terrorist organization.
During his three-week trial, the jury heard Bout had been told weapons would be used to kill US pilots working with Colombian officials. He replied: “We have the same enemy.”
Ms. Griner’s resume’ is dramatically more “low-keyed.” She is a WNBA all-star who was arrested at a Moscow area airport after being found in possession of vaping cartridges containing hashish oil, an illegal substance in Russia. She was sentenced to 9 years in prison. This past February, she signed a one-year, $165,100 contract with the Phoenix Mercury.
This lopsided trade might rival the Obama/Biden exchange, where five Taliban commanders were swapped for admitted Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl. Four of those terrorists have turned up as leaders in Afghanistan’s new hardline government. Makes you wonder what Bout might be up to.
Meanwhile, Brittney will make her return to the court on May 19 when the Mercury kicks off their season against the Sparks in Los Angeles. Phoenix fans will get their first chance to see Griner in person at the home opener on May 21 vs. the Chicago Sky.
She’ll no doubt be getting multiple standing ovations while Paul Whelan remains locked in some Soviet-style Gulag, waiting for Biden to keep his “promise” to bring our Marine home.
Given Joe’s record on bringing our servicemen and women home safely, it’s tough to like Paul’s chances.
With Biden, “Lest we forget.” seems to have been replaced by “Let’s just forget.”