Virginia Kruta, Columnist at The Daily Wire
President Joe Biden made it clear on Thursday that he was not only a graduate but a star pupil at Barack Obama’s school for an international hostage negotiation.
Biden announced on Thursday morning that his administration had secured the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian prison in a one-for-one swap for a convicted international arms dealer and all-around bad guy Viktor “Merchant of Death” Bout.
And while most people agreed that Griner’s conviction and nine-year sentence were more political than criminal — however unwise it might be to travel with contraband *in Russia* — it is perfectly reasonable to be glad she was released and still understand that the deal Biden made with the devil was a bad one for a number of reasons.
First, the negotiation left behind Marine veteran Paul Whelan — who has been in Russian custody since 2018, falsely charged with espionage, and sentenced to 16 years in a penal colony. The Biden administration has claimed that Russia would not have made the same trade for Whelan alone — saying that the deal was to release Griner or no one at all.
Second, Bout was not just an arms dealer. He was an arms dealer who sought to provide weapons and ammunition to foreign actors actively engaged in targeting the United States. His history is such that the Pentagon is concerned he will return to that work now that he has been released. And the fear that he might do exactly that is what then National Security Advisor John Bolton said was the reason former President Donald Trump turned down a deal to trade Bout for Whelan.
And third (assuming that Bolton was telling the truth), by making this deal Biden signaled to adversaries that he was willing to trade known enemies for American citizens. Putin now knows that he can demand a much higher price for Whelan, should it come to that.
Biden’s former boss Barack Obama — who traded five Taliban terrorists for one Army deserter and traitor — would be proud.