Brittney Griner owes the United States of America because she could have been Austin Tice
Trading a person whose crime is possessing a tiny amount of hash for someone who is convicted of dealing military grade firearms, many to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, doesn’t feel fair, or right.
That Russia wanted arms dealer Viktor Bout back says so much about Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his current regime.
That the United States was willing to let Bout out says so much about U.S. President Joe Biden, and his current administration.
If you want to know what makes America great, it’s acts like this.
We gave up a murderous piece of trash for a U.S. citizen who has openly ripped her home country.
It is the best of us, and the worst of us.
We did it because Brittney Griner is famous-enough, and this is the American the Russian authorities let us have.
Griner owes America her life, and she needs to spend the rest of it saying thank you. However valid her previous criticisms of her country are, her country just went to the mat for her in a way few people receive.
Griner, whose father served multiple tours for the U.S. military in Vietnam War and is a former law enforcement officer in the greater Houston area, took a hard stance and was part of the athlete protest movement that featured kneeling during the national anthem.
She could have wasted away some of the best years of her life in a Russian prison. Or died there.
Or, turned into another Austin Tice.
Austin Tice is a freelance journalist and photographer who worked for CBS, the Washington Post, and the McClatchy Company. He was kidnapped on Aug. 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 U.S. Marine was set to enter his final year at Georgetown Law School when he went to Syria to report on the conflict in that region.
Days after celebrating his 31st birthday he was kidnapped. He has spent 10 years of his life a prisoner. Ten years.
Shortly after Griner was sent back to the United States, the family of Austin Tice 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 home from the nightmare she has endured. Every time an American is released from captivity abroad it lifts our hearts in gladness for their family and loved ones.
“This is more evidence that where there is a will there’s a way for the United States to secure the safe release and return of its unjustly held citizens.
“We know the path to Austin’s release starts with serious dialogue between the US and Syrian governments. We are extremely disappointed by the National Security Council’s failure to act on President Biden’s May 2nd directive to ‘meet with the Syrians, listen to them, find out what they want, and work with them (to get Austin Tice safely home).’
“If the US government can work with Russia, there is no excuse for not directly engaging Syria. We renew our call to Jake Sullivan and his national security team to carry out the President’s orders. God willing, Austin will not spend another Christmas alone in captivity.”
The reaction to Griner-for-Bout trade only reveals what we already know about our political climate.
If you are a Republican, you hate the swap.
If you are a Democrat, you celebrate the swap.
These days, no Republican action can mollify, much less satisfy, a Democrat, and vice versa.
A lot of Americans are upset that Griner is coming home in exchange for this trash ahead of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been in a Russian prison since December of 2018 under charges of spying.
Whelan denied the charge, and said he was a victim of a sting operation.
If there was an order, Whelan would be ahead of Griner.
There isn’t an order.
These are complex issues, and negotiations; these aren’t baseball teams exchanging a right-handed pitcher for a left-handed bat.
There is nothing Griner can do about Whelan. What she can do is express gratitude for the rest of her life.
However justified Griner’s frustration is about a variety of issues with her home, she just needs to say thank you.
She is back home when she easily could have been Austin Tice.