National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby made rounds on the television shows on Sunday. He was primarily in defense of the president's unbalanced agreement with Russia to trade basketball star Brittney Griner in exchange for “Merchant of Death,” Viktor Bout.
The release has been receiving lots of criticism, including from Democrats such as Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) who basically stated that Vladimir Putin got what he wanted from Joe Biden, and all Americans are at risk due to the release.
“To be crystal clear, the truth is that Ms. Griner ought to have been released instantly and without condition a long time in the past. Putin knows this since the beginning. It is a time of reflection in order for government officials of the United States government to recognize there is an issue with hostage taking of Americans. The Russians as well as other regimes which are taking American citizens hostage should not pretend they are comparing those who are the Brittney Griners from the rest of the world and those such as Viktor Bout, the so-called “Merchant of Death. It is more far from the truth and we should not overlook the fact that the release of Bout to the world is an alarming decision. We should stop allowing undemocratic and insidious regimes to employ Americans in foreign countries as bargaining chips. We should do our best in encouraging American citizens to stay away from countries such as Russia where they are the main target for this type of illegal detention. [“]
However, when Kirby made his debut on ABC, things didn't go as planned. ABC's Martha Raddatz hit him with the Menendez criticism and said that many Americans believed that they “just weren't tough enough” to make the deal.
Kirby claimed that other people weren't talking to him. He's right. If we were there, we'd likely know more about the way they bungled it and what other deals might have been being discussed. What we do know now is the outcome, which although it does get Griner out, it leaves us in a shaky situation, and could endanger anyone who isn't sure in the near future. There was always a way to make her go — provided you would be willing to bow totally to Vladimir Putin, give him the things he wanted, and break the fundamental rule of not trading hostages or detainees. When interviewed about the concept by Fox's Martha MacCallum, Kirby said, “that ship has sailed.” That is to say that they're not talking about the issue any more.
What was shocking was that Kirby attempted to justify the move by saying, “oh well, Bout was likely to be released regardless.” Raddatz said that Bout wouldn't be out for “a long time” -an additional six years. Why should we lock up anyone or any terrorist up? It's likely that they’ll escape regardless. It's a ridiculous idea and it's amazing to see him take this approach. You'd like to see individuals like this held indefinitely. “We're going to protect our national security,” Kirby declared — following an act that was contrary to security.
Kirby also said the same thing on Fox. He stated that they did a “national security risk assessment” and concluded that any risk there was could be “manageable.”
What percentage of dead people in the near future are considered “manageable,” in the Biden team's evaluation? Based on the many decisions they've made thus far, there isn't any confidence in their abilities to evaluate any issue.
Fox's Shannon Bream then asked why American teacher Marc Fogel wasn't part of the discussion. He's been detained for a period of time, longer than Griner, and received more time, which was 14 years because he carried medicinal marijuana inside his bag. Kirby could not answer the situation, stating that the court had “some constraints on what we can say.”
Yes it is true that the “constraints” are that he was not considered a “celebrity” who checked off the boxes that made him a top priority, like Griner. Even if you are able to make the argument that taking Whelan off the table was another issue, what was the reason why Fogel wasn’t involved in the negotiations even though it was so lopsided-if it was going to violate the principle of not negotiating with terrorists?