Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Some Are Not So Lucky

Credit to D.C. Johnston for referring to Paul Whelan. It is unknown, though, whether Tucker Carlson has been a "useful idiot" or rather strategically shopping a pro-Putin line for fun and profit or perverse ideological preference.

The term probably originated from a 1996 book written by a Yuri Annenkov, who was  commissioned in 1921 to paint a portrait of Vladimir Lenin and who after the dictator's death was given access to the personal papers of the dictator.  He allegedly found that Lenin had written

To speak the truth is a petit-bourgeois habit. To lie, on the contrary, is often justified by the lie's aim. The whole world's capitalists and their governments, as they pant to win the Soviet market, will close their eyes to the above-mentioned reality and will thus transform themselves into men who are deaf, dumb and blind. They will give us credits . . . they will toil to prepare their own suicide.'

Only Tucker Carlson himself knows whether he has willingly become dead, dumb and blind or instead understands what Vladimir Putin is up to and approves. In January, a Russian court ordered that the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich

be extended until 30 March which means the Wall Street Journal reporter will spend over one year behind bars as he awaits trial.

Mr Gershkovich, his newspaper, and the US deny the espionage charges.

US officials have called for his immediate release.

"The grounds for Evan's detention are baseless," the American embassy in Moscow tweeted on Friday. "Journalism is not a crime. We continue to call for Evan's immediate release"...

It is the fourth time his detention has been extended and as a result he will continue to be held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison. Mr Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty...

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the US and Russia were discussing Mr Gershkovich's possible release, and were working to find a "mutually acceptable" outcome.

The US government has designated the reporter as being "wrongfully detained", a status which requires it to work to free him....

Alsu Kurmasheva, who works for US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is accused of failing to register as a foreign agent and is facing a jail term of up to 15 years.

And then there is former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was given a 16-year prison sentence in 2020 after being arrested in Moscow in 2018 for suspicion of spying. When Whelan was not part of a prisoner swap in December of 2022, President Biden claimed that his Administration "will never give up" on securing release of the Michigan native.

However, Whelan's brother termed the failure to get the Michigan native released a "catastrophe for Paul." Last December, the prisoner accused President Biden of a "serious betrayal" by, as the New York Post put it, "abandoning him in a brutal Russian prison on bogus spying charges." Whelan maintained "they've basically abandoned me." 

That contrasted sharply with the case of Britney

Griner, who was arrested at a Moscow airport in February on drug charges and later sentenced to 9 years in prison, was released as part of a prisoner exchange between the US and Russia for notorious convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The swap, which took months to negotiate and has drawn mixed reaction in the US for not also including fellow detainee Paul Whelan, occurred at an airport tarmac in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Shortly after the swap was successfully completed, US officials connected Griner to her family. That call “was as moving as it was unforgettable” to hear Griner speak on the phone with her wife, Cherelle, who was present for an Oval Office meeting, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said.

“Their strength, their resilience, has been nothing but short of inspiring,” Blinken said.

Blinken said nothing of the strength or the resilience of the Whelan family nor of the family of Evan Gershkovich, who had been arrested eight months earlier while reporting on the Russian war on Ukraine. 

Ultimately, the Administration got Britney Griner back because it wanted to get Britney Griner back. It could have been because of her gender, race, sexual preference, or profession. Most likely it was the latter, the clamor from the WNBA to rescue. the women's professional basketball star. "With each case," Paul Whelan maintains, "my case is going to the back of the line." But without Griner's qualifications, every case seems to go to the back of the line.

Something Carlson stated may apply to this situation. "There are risks to conducting an interview like this, obviously,." he says of his attempt to lend credibility to the Soviet dictator. And while there are great risks dealing with Vladimir Putin, the risk in leaving behind anyone but a Britney Griner is very much limited for an American President.

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