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Brittney Griner: Bad call on a tough decision

Brittney Griner: Bad call on a tough decision

There is enormous sympathy for Brittney Griner, the basketball star held hostage by Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Yes, hostage. 

In view of the offense, the trial was a sham and the sentencing outrageous.  If this were a legitimate law enforcement issue, Griner would have been fined – maybe a month in jail, at most – and sent home.

But this was not a law enforcement issue.  This was an international chess game at the highest levels.  Griner was not being held as punishment for a minor infraction, but as a bargaining chip to obtain the release of a notorious terrorist Putin pal, Viktor Bout – who was culpable in the deaths of thousands of people, including a lot of Americans, civilians, and military.

Any patriotic American would want to see Griner brought home – as well as the other hostage, Paul Whelan.  But the issue is much more complex.

Rogue nations and terrorists take hostages to gain concessions – sometimes money and sometimes a prisoner swap.  For many years, the United States had a firm policy to never pay ransom money – and prisoner exchanges would have to have a parity in terms of the relative importance of the prisoners.

It is a tough heart-wrenching policy but not without sound reasoning.  To acquiesce to high demands makes taking hostages a successful strategy.  That means whenever a nation like Russia, Iran, or terrorist groups – such as al Qaeda or ISIS – wants something, they grab American citizens. We have seen this movie before.

The Biden administration got Griner back – which is a good thing if you discount all the negative implications and outcomes.  In return, Putin gets Bout, a major mass murdering terrorist at the highest level.   In this exchange, Putin again trumped Biden because the Madman of Moscow got his prize terrorist protege back.

This is the kind of prisoner exchange that was – for good reasons – against U.S. policy.  We get the release of a wrongfully detained American citizen – a major sports figure – and Putin gets a major figure in the spread of international terrorism, who can now return to killing innocent Americans on behalf of the Russian despot.  (I am personally betting that Bout will turn up somewhere in the shadows of the Ukraine War.)

And what about Whelan?

Whelan is a fellow who has been languishing in a Russian prison for longer than Griner – and with less justification.  For a while, Whelan was paired with Griner in search of a deal that would include both of them.

The fact that Whelan has been left behind is an unmitigated failure on the part of the Biden administration.  Do you mean that a guy like Bout was not worth both hostages?  Putin got off cheap – and he still has Whelan as a future bargaining chip.  

Based on this outcome – and even the Biden response to Putin in the Ukraine War – Putin seems to have figured out that he can snooker Biden at will. 

It is reasonable to wonder if woke politics played any role.  Griner is a gay black female and Whelan is an older straight white man.  If those were not the distinctions in determining who gets brought home and who does not, what were the relevant differences in the cases?  Why did Biden agree to Griner and punt on Whelan?

I would love to see those questions put to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, but I shall not hold my breath.

As can be expected, the left-wing media is in high praise of Biden – but not much talk about Whelan.  For his part, Whelan did express disappointment that Washington had not done more to secure his release.  He has every right to be bitter.  He got sold out at the negotiating table.

There is reason to cheer about the return of Griner, but there are a LOT of elements that mitigate against unbridled joy. She is a big winner in this deal.  The losers are Whelan, Biden, and America’s image of strength. The biggest winner in this exchange is Putin … once again.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Rat Wrangler

    Politicians these days are only concerned about image. Ms. Griner was in the news more often than Mr. Whelan was, so it is likely that far fewer Americans knew who the latter was. Had we negotiated the release of an American White straight male who put his life on the line for his country rather than a Black gay female sports figure, a lot of special interest groups would have vocally taken notice, and votes may have been lost. The best way to prevent something like this from happening in the future would be for every person serving our nation now, and for every veteran to write to their elected representatives in Washington and express their displeasure. Mr. Whelan was imprisoned longer and, for all intents and purposes, less guilty than Ms. Griner. As a veteran who served during the Vietnam Conflict, I plan to inform my elected leaders that, because of this decision, the Party that made it will get no more of my votes until they change their unfair ways.

    • David Dutra


      • Frank stetson

        Got facts? Sources?

        Cuz Biden can’t push anything past House and clearing the House means nothing anyways. You will see a lot of DEAD BILLS clear the House in 2023-2024.

        • Grace Bruno

          The digital currency pilot program started in March 2022. It was Executive Order 14067 (Its from memory but I think thats correct). Digital currency will give the government control of where, when and why you are spending and it will also have an expiration date. That will insure that no one will be able to save which eliminates anyone becoming wealthy. This is not a conspiracy theory.

  2. Antogeny

    FJB is a traitor and should be tried for same. The only things he cares about are skin color and sexual disorientation. He is a disgraqce, not only to his country, but to humanity! I can’t look at him or listen to him. He and everyone who voted for him have blood on their hands.

    • David Dutra

      He doesnt care about skin color ! Those people are nothing but votes to him !
      He’s got that border open and it’s no coincidence that he’s trying to give them Soc.Sec. ! He’s also attempting to make it so noncitizens can vote… That goes with the weirdos that dress up like women as well..When Reagan was president he openly denounced them !!!

  3. Tom

    Not a hard decision for me at all. Bring Whelan home. But then again, I am not looking for votes in 2024.

  4. frank stetson

    Whelan got his fifteen minutes and he wasn’t a basketball star, a once in a lifetime player, either. As it happened, it was in the news for awhile. The Whelan’s seem OK with this deal which was Griner or nothing from the Russian bargaining table. If anything they appreciate Griner for shining a light on their situation. And I agree, write your Congressman, even your State version, and put the pressure on. And thank Griner for energizing you.

    So, on Griner or nothing, many of you would have voted nothing.

    I do not agree.

    I don’t care what she did, I want all Americans freed.

    And I would never dump the deal just because I could not free everyone.

    You’re weighing Griner against Whelan, is that the right comparison? There are about 60 Americans detained by other countries right now, many on bogus charges or what we would feel is OK behavior in America. Do we have to have deals for all before we bring anymore home? Of course not.

    Some of you feel it’s political because she’s Black, she’s gay, and Biden wants to court those constituencies. You are right, imo, and so be it. Whelan is a white marine so even if born in Canada that puts him second in line, again, who wouldn’t want to court that constituency. There’s still 60 more behind him in line and folks here don’t know a single name………

    And then Turnip mouths off and says he would have done better. First, he had his chance for a few years with Whelan, and nothing. On this go round, there is nothing stopping him, and he did nothing. Not to mention freeing 5,000 Taliban for what in return: NOTHING. Let’s just not go there, it’s stupid.

    Just saying

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson …. Paul Whelan expressed deep disappointment with being left behind again. His family respected Biden’s decision because they are in no position to criticize a guy they need to do something in the future. Now Putin is hinting Whelan for an assassin in a German prison. Not sure the German have any reason to agree tot that one. Regardless, Putin has manipulated the situation to get tow very dangerous people back on his terrorist team for two minor players in terms of world conflict. Biden consistently goes for the cheap political advantage. He is the loser in the Griner/Bout exchange. Putin wins. And you whataboutims defense is not apt. Whether Trump made some bad deals or not — and I thing he did — is irrelevant to judging Biden. You constantly flip the argument to Trump when it is not a factor. Stop deflecting and stay on subject.

    • Tom

      Actually Frank, none of your blatherskype is why I would have made the decision to leave Griner there. Fact is, we released a man who is going to cause much death in the near future. Apparently your heart bleeds for Griner more than it bleeds for the many Americans this man has killed and has had killed! Gee, maybe I just feel a little more for the people that lost loved ones because of this man and feel for those that will lose loved one in the near future because of this man. This was a very bad trade, PERIOD!!!

      • frank Stetson

        I can understand your feelings which are along the line of we don’t negotiate with terrorists, especially by trading terrorists but as the thousands of free Taliban by Trump attests to, it happens in almost every Presidency.

        On the “worthiness” scale, I say it’s a push between celebrity Gainer and dishonorably discharged marine Whalen ( and we both are right when you said Whalen disappointed, family says OK, might be posturing, but you were more right).

        On this this or nothing — I understand your opinions, they are valid. I just want to see all Americans detained, come home, and glad she made it. Time will tell if this guy returns to business or retires.

        This guy was given 25 years on a mandatory sentence that the judge is on record as saying it was too hard. I think he served 14 years. During Griner, the judge, now retired from the bench, said: “I think the United States’ interest in punishing him has been satisfied, and it would not be a bad equation to send him back if we get back these people who are important to us.” Although these people included Whalen so no one has asked if the judge would think differently now.

        I still can easily see your point, but still am glad we got one out. And there are over 60 more out there, it’s not just Whalen. I think the only thing that might soften you and make me rejoice is that if this leads to something better. Doubtful, but hope springs eternal. And then we can revisit this trade. Or if this man picks up where he left off which will be a “revisit” horse of another color altogether. I hope you are wrong in “presaging” this.

    • Grace Bruno

      I could care less her color or sexual orientation I don’t like her because she is Anti American, hates the country and the National Anthem. She should have stayed in Russia. A country that compliments her beliefs.

  5. John Furlong

    If you are queer or perverted In some way, you are a demo maggot favorite

  6. frank stetson

    And you know that Whelan is not gay? How do you folks do that; where can we get some of your gaydar…..

    I mean Whelan, booted 52-year old Marine, single, never married, neat, clean, meets with strange Russian away from the crowd that was sticking together like molasses to exchange a memory stick with pictures on it. What screams out straight about that? And he’s Canadian…….

    But John’s gaydar must know all…… or is it something else John?

  7. EMMA


  8. AC

    There is the evil menace who was rightly pursued by our law enforcement authority, apprehended, detained, and deserved incarceration for life with out parol. Was he the only one being held who could have been traded other than Viktor Bout.
    Putin must. be laughing out loud with his Kremlin buddies. He took Biden to the cleaners for the price paid.
    It’s a good day when our people are freed from Russian or other despotic regimes’ prison. But, Bout’s return to Putin’s side in Moscow, if so important for Putin then why not Whellan, too.
    No question why not, considering Putin’s character negotiation with him he views must end with a win-win. Both wins being won by him.
    This trade he won with Grinner’s release as holding her was a thorn in his side. No more would he be made to be reminded of her in his Russia. The second win is the feeling of accomplishment besting Biden and the Americans.
    That he got Villainous Vicktor back is icing, not the whole cake. Our intelligence agencies now have one of their worst enemies back on their radar.
    The news informed the world on Griner, but little mention made about the prisoner we agreed to trade for her freedom, or who else should have been set free. That is until after it was a done deal. We need Whellen released . Negotiations as urgent as Griner’s have to be on going.

  9. bubi200

    Didn’t know that Brittney plays “soccer”……

    • larry Horist

      bubi200. Ooops! Basketball. I guess I got caught up with the soccer games in Qatar. Thanks for the correction.

  10. frank stetson

    Except he got a minimum of 25 years, not life, and he served 14 before release. His life is highlighted in the Cage movie, Lord of War.

    Whalen is a dishonorably discharged Marine who served as an administrative clerk in Iraq before being caught for stealing $10K of his fellow marine’s money. His story is a bit quirky too, although I would really love to see him, and all detained Americans, returned home,

    He was never “on the table” in the Russian’s bargaining.

    Given Griner or nothing……you choose nothing?

  11. Sam

    The democrats will always take up for criminals

  12. 9mm

    Not to hard to realize why this decision was met by the Biden socialist gang in DC as this was thru the dementia ridden brain of jo jo as he is in control of both the Russians puttieboy as well as the CCP.