Brittney Griner swap: Let’s set it straight

By Lee Cleveland - December 11, 2022

Earlier this week, WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner was released by Russia in a prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was convicted of conspiring to kill Americans and had served 10 years of a 25-year sentence.

In February 2022, Griner was detained by Russian customs officials after hashish oil was found in her luggage and served 10 months of a nine-year sentence.

But instead of applauding her return, a lot of Trumper/MAGA types are crying ‘Foul’ because she was released before Paul Whelan, a former Marine who was detained in 2018 on espionage charges.

How quickly they’ve forgotten about Trevor Reed, the then-30-year-old American prisoner who was released by Russia in exchange for jailed pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko in April, two months after Griner’s detainment.

Trevor Reed

Some of those Trumper/MAGA types act as if they’d prefer Griner to be detained for as long as possible. Why are they so hateful?

Is it because a lesbian Black woman was released instead of a straight White male this time? Is it because they are devoid of the facts?

Or is it because Trump did NOTHING to help Whelan during the former’s first and only term as president?

Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville told CNN:

Does anyone in their right mind think that if Brittney was a blond Chi Omega from SMU that the reaction would have been the same? Of course not!

Veteran political consultant James Carville

“But a lot of this, like a lot of things in America, are driven by the fact that this young person is not white and is not straight, and if you don’t believe that, you’re not in tune with American politics. I’m sorry. This is something that just has to be said.”

FACT: Griner was detainment on hash oil charges while Whelan was imprisoned on espionage charges. Hence, Russia thinks the latter has security secrets.

FACT: Russia previously told Whelan he’s on a different level than other prisoners – Even other prisoners accused of espionage. And Whelan has acknowledged as such.

Paul Whelan: “They’ve always considered me to be at a higher level than other criminals of my sort and for whatever reason, I’m treated differently than another individual here from a Western country that’s also on a charge of espionage. So even though we’re both here for espionage, I’m treated much differently than he is, and my treatment is also much different than others held for espionage at other prisons,” Whelan said.

President Biden: “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.”

FACT: David Whelan, the prisoner’s brother, called out President Trump for his “disappointing” perspective on the deal since his administration was unable to free Paul.

David Whelan: “My brother pleaded from his prison for President Trump to tweet about him during President Trump’s term in office, and President Trump didn’t,” Whelan said on  “Cavuto Live Saturday. “And now to talk about Paul at all, it’s really offensive.” (FOX News)

David Whelan: “I think that what President Biden did was to take care of an American who was in peril and bring home the American that he could bring home. So it’s disappointing that a former president would have that sort of perspective,” Whelan said. (FOX News)

David Whelan: “I don’t suggest he [Trump] cares now any more than he did then (zero),” he said. (TheHill)

So, who is Paul Whelan?
Per Wikipedia, Whelan enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1994 and took military leave to serve with the Marine Corps Reserve from 2003 to 2008, including a stint in Iraq. After a court-martial conviction in January 2008 on multiple counts “related to larceny”, he was apparently discharged on bad conduct.

When arrested in Russia on December 28, 2018, Whelan, per Wikipedia, was director of global security and investigations for BorgWarner, an international automotive parts manufacturer based in Michigan.

Via Wikipedia, according to the Russian news agency Rosbalt [ru], Whelan was apprehended in his hotel room at the Metropol while concluding a long outing with a Russian citizen, who handed him a USB drive containing “a list of all the employees at a classified security agency”.

Moreover, the BBC cited family members of Whelan, who said he previously bragged about knowing a Russian security officer and was privy to special information. (Wikipedia)

What Russia says should be taken with a grain of salt because Russia is Russia and doesn’t operate on democratic principles. Nevertheless and for some reason, THEY aren’t ready to give up Whelan, who might be an innocent man. But if you’re a Russian citizen and believe the charges against Whelan, his continued detainment makes sense.

After all, who’s the bigger threat?  A lesbian basketball player with cannabis oil or a former soldier you believe might have attempted to breach your national security?

I celebrated when Brittney Griner was released and will do it again when Paul Whelan is released.

I’m a patriotic American, unlike some other so-called patriots.


Tags: Brittney Griner, Donald Trump