The Democrats kept shrieking that President Trump was a Russian spy when in reality he had been tough on Russia, in start contrast to Hillary’s ‘Reset Button’ pandering and Obama’s hot mic moment with Medvedev. Biden promised to get tough on Russia. What does that entail? Trading for hostages. Obviously.
Russia and the United States are in talks on a possible prisoner swap that could secure the release of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine jailed for spying, within two to three months, his lawyer told Reuters on Monday.
Whelan may be a somewhat dubious character, but his arrest was a fairly obvious scam meant to add a hostage to the negotiating table.
“I was getting ready and this person turned up, unexpected,” Mr Whelan recalls his arrest in a Moscow hotel room two years ago.
The “person” was one of many friends he had made in Russia since his first visit in 2006. He knew this man’s family, he’d stayed at their house – even introduced him to his own parents.
This friend enjoyed “running around with a foreigner”, Mr Whelan remembers, showing him the sights.
But he worked for Russia’s FSB security service and, moments after he showed up at the hotel that day, his colleagues burst in and bundled the American to the floor.
“They grabbed me and pinned me down,” Whelan tells me in one call. “I thought at first it was some sort of joke or trick but it became real quite quickly.”
Paul Whelan says the entire “ludicrous” case against him was based on the testimony of this same friend.
“The story was that the DIA [US military intelligence] sent me to Moscow to pick up a flash drive with the names and photos of students from the border guard school,” Mr Whelan says, arguing that such a low-tech mission was “illogical” in the internet age.
Not that it really matters because the Russians want to trade Whelan for Viktor Bout.
Whelan’s Russian lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said that talks on an exchange were now taking place between Russian and U.S. security services.
“I speak with the siloviks (Russia’s security services). They say that negotiations are under way. The question with an exchange will be resolved,” he said.
That quote suggests that Whelan’s defense team ought to be treated as suspect in what was probably always intended as a push to free some really bad guys.
“As far as I understand some kind of initiative has appeared, I think the American side has begun initiating talks…specifically under Biden,” he said.
Zherebenkov has said in the past that he believed Moscow wanted an exchange deal that could include Whelan. It has not been previously reported that talks with U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration were happening.
“According to my information, negotiations are underway and the question of a handover will be resolved in the coming two to three months,” he added.
Biden can always be counted on to sell out America. And whom does Russia want in exchange for Whelan? Viktor Bout.
Zherebenkov said there were various views in Moscow as to which Russians held in custody by the United States could be exchanged for Whelan.
He named arms dealer Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine. Russia has long sought their release. He also suggested unnamed Russian entrepreneurs and people he described as computer programmers.
You may remember Bout’s name from the post-9/11 era.
Mr. Bout, nicknamed the “merchant of death,” was taken into custody in 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand, in a US Drug Enforcement Agency sting in which agents pretended to be members of Colombia’s rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It took 2-1/2 years to extradite him to the US to stand trial, a process Russia considered to be a violation of international law.
The former Soviet officer was convicted last fall of conspiring to kill American citizens, officers, and employees by agreeing to sell weapons to FARC, which he believed was “intent on killing Americans,” The New York Times reports. The deal included “tens of thousands of AK-47 rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, hundreds of missiles, ultra-lightweight airplanes and other military equipment.”
FARC is a Marxist narcoterrorist group backed by Venezuela and Cuba. And then there were the Taliban.
“He was working for us,” said Abdul Latif, Bout’s main arms contact in the alliance. “And then he was working for the Taliban.”
Five of the planes sold to the Taliban–all Antonov 12s–became important tools in the covert arming of the movement’s forces.
“It was special aircraft,” said an Afghan air force brigadier who recalled watching the planes in action. And their purpose “was secret,” he added.
The Antonov-12s had been registered as civilian planes but were in reality the property of the Taliban air force. As they took custody of the Antonov-12s, Taliban officials ordered some of the planes camouflaged in the colors of Ariana Airlines.
The Taliban’s new acquisitions flew in tons of heavy artillery and assault rifles, said the brigadier, a senior military intelligence official who served with the Taliban until he was dismissed in a purge in 2000.
“They directly brought the military equipment to Kabul and Kandahar,” he said.
Not to mention, allegedly other Jihadist groups.
According to California Rep. Ed Royce, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Bout has funneled weapons to wars on three continents — but it was the discovery of one of his planes delivering weapons to Al-Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked terror group in Somalia, that makes his capture and prosecution critically important. Al-Shabab is seen as one the most dangerous terror groups in the world.
“His operation is still running, and if we can learn its details and shut it down it will eliminate an important source of weapons for terrorists,” Royce said.
Would Biden free Bout in exchange for hostages? Probably. And the media will spin it the way that it spun Obama’s dirty hostage deals.