Leaving former Marine Paul Whelan behind in Russia is probably doing American society a favor

There’s a lot that’s been written and said about the situtation with Brittney Griner’s negotiated release from Russia and the fact that left behind was former Marine Paul Whelan, whom Fox New and the right-wing echo chamber are describing as “an Iraqi war veteran.”

And that is true as far as it goes.

But what Fox News, Elon Musk and others in the right-wing commentariat are failing to note up front is Whelan’s full history, as Wikipedia says:

He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1994. He took military leave from Kelly Services to serve with the Marine Corps Reserve from 2003 to 2008, including service in Iraq. He held the rank of staff sergeant with Marine Air Control Group 38 working as an administrative clerk and administrative chief, and he was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After a court-martial conviction in January 2008 on multiple counts “related to larceny”, he was sentenced to 60 days restriction, reduction to pay grade E-4, and a bad conduct discharge. The specific charges against him included “attempted larceny, three specifications of dereliction of duty, making a false official statement, wrongfully using another’s social security number, and ten specifications of making and uttering checks without having sufficient funds in his account for payment.”

Whelan was a terrible Marine who received a Bad Conduct Discharge. He’s not a hero. He’s no longer recognized by the federal government as a veteran. At the very least, the idea that he somehow deserves to be treated better than Griner is totally bogus.

Not only that, but Trump, Musk and all the others weren’t even interested in Whelan being in prison until a black lesbian basketball player was released before him, making me suspicious that it’s less about the Whelan/U.S. Marine part, and more about the black lesbian part.

Or, as attorney Ron Filipkowski noted on Twitter:

This hand wringing about Paul Whelan by right-wingers is really just a combination of trying to score points on Biden, and the fact that the right-wingers all hate the idea that a black lesbian WNBA player deserved to be freed as much as anyone else.

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