I owe Sherri Nichols of our very own commentariat for pointing out, months ago, some things about Brittney Griner’s arrest that I’ve not read anywhere else. The short version: The idea that BG would be carrying her own bags in Moscow, even coming off the plane, is unlikely; the WNBA player was a rock star in Russia — one reason she plays, or played, there. The team would have handlers greet her flight and she wouldn’t need to lift a finger.
I don’t know at what point in the entry process her bags were searched, but the point is: There would have been ample opportunity to plant a vape cartridge in there before she reached that checkpoint. And given the timing of her arrest, almost on the literal eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (and during the troop buildup on the border) suggests this was a diversion dreamed up in the Kremlin.
You can really gauge the level of Putin love on the American right at how she’s being portrayed in that wing of the media: As a “lesbian pothead” (Rod Dreher) too stoned or dumb to know you can’t bring that shit into the country. First, we’re taking Russia’s word that her vape cartridge was cannabis? Maybe it was CBD. Maybe it didn’t exist at all. If Griner truly was a user, does anybody think those team handlers mentioned above couldn’t have gotten her a little weed once she was through customs/security? As to her guilty plea, it was explained at the time that it was a strategic move on her part, essentially throwing herself at the mercy of the court, avoiding a trial in hopes of a lenient, face-saving sentence of time served. It didn’t work. Big surprise.
As for Paul Whelan, whose glow-up on the right has been profound: We’ve been reading about this guy for a couple years here, as he’s a Metro Detroiter and his parents live near Ann Arbor. Mr. Clean Marine was dishonorably discharged from the Corps in 2008 for…let this excellent Detroit News 2019 explainer fill in the details:
He received a bad-conduct discharge in 2008 for attempted larceny and dereliction of duty. As a Marine clerk in Iraq, he had tried to steal $10,000 from the U.S. government, according to military court records.
He also used another person’s Social Security number to enter a military computer system and grade his own examinations, thereby advancing his rank and pay.
The court martial, along with the possibility Whelan was a spy, made lawmakers leery of getting involved in his Russian arrest, said his family.
Now. I want to say right here that it’s entirely possible, even likely, that Whelan was framed, too. From the same story:
Whelan was director of global security for BorgWarner until the auto parts supplier laid him off earlier this month in a corporate restructuring. He is an avid traveler who has visited Russia seven times in 12 years, his family said. He is interested in its history and culture.
In December 2018, he was in Moscow for a wedding when a friend, Ilya Yatsenko, gave him a flash drive, said his family.
Whelan thought it contained photos of a trip the men had taken to Yatsenko’s hometown a year earlier. Actually, it listed names of members of a unit of the Russian Federal Security Service, which replaced part of the KGB.
Given Whelan’s bad-conduct discharge and other marks on his record, it’s unlikely he was actually an American spy; I mean, what agency would want the guy?
His family has been working hard to make the case that, whatever his flaws, Whelan is not guilty and should be released. But he still stands convicted of espionage in a hostile country. It’s not the same as possession of hash oil.
The prisoner swap with Victor Bout was uneven, I’ll grant you. But he’s been out of the game 20 years; I doubt he’s returning to arms dealing like some Mafia soldier sprung from prison whining “I gotta earn.” Maybe he will, I don’t know. But he’s internationally notorious now. If he returns to his old job, we can put the Navy SEALS on his ass, I suppose.
It was just to release Griner, however. The repulsive temper tantrums among the Fox News crowd only show you the sort of people they are.