US Audacity on Brittney Griner

by | Aug 5, 2022


Only a person who is willfully blind cannot see that the US position on the Brittney Griner case is driven not by some compassionate concern for her welfare but rather by the extreme anti-Russia animus that has afflicted US officials for more than 75 years. 

Yesterday, a Russian judge sentenced Griner to 9 years in jail. This was after she pled guilty to illegally bringing a small amount of cannabis into the country, in violation of Russia’s drug laws. She faced a maximum sentence of 10 years. 

US officials are up in arms over the case. The US State Department has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”

Wrongfully detained? Doesn’t the State Department know that she pled guilty to the offense? Is the State Department claiming that her plea was coerced? If so, then why not just come out and say that, notwithstanding the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever of a coerced plea?

The mainstream media, which has re-adopted the extreme anti-Russia animus that has long afflicted the US national-security establishment, exclaims that Griner’s sentence is just too long. They are saying that the long sentence shows that Griner is just a “political hostage.” 

Really? Well, what about all the long jail sentences for non-violent drug offenses that have been meted out to American citizens by federal judges and state judges? What about the many people who are today rotting away in jail for long periods of their lives for simply possessing or distributing drugs, including marijuana?

I Googled the matter and quickly came up with this website: “Top 10 Non-Violent Life Sentences,” prepared by the Moorhead Law Group. Yes, you read that right: “Life” sentences. It lists:

John Knock, who received a life sentence for a non-violent cannabis conspiracy.

Michael Pelletier — life without parole for cannabis possession.

Ismael Lira — a life sentence for distribution of marijuana.

There are countless more cases similar to those. Where are the State Department statements of outrage and compassion in those cases? Where are the accusations of the mainstream media about holding political hostages in those cases?

Nowhere, that’s where. That’s because these people believe in their drug war. It’s one of their most beloved programs. They could have — and should have — legalized drugs decades ago, especially given drug war’s horror, its deadliness, and its destruction of liberty and privacy. Instead, they have intentionally kept it in existence, because they love it.

Think about it: What’s the point of their drug laws? Isn’t it to punish people who ingest drugs in the hop of stopping them and others from doing bad things to themselves? Given such, why aren’t they thanking the Russian authorities for punishing that drug user Brittney Griner. In fact, if Griner had gotten caught over here with her drugs, she’d almost certainly have received a longer jail sentence than what that Russian judge gave her, especially given that she’s black. And US officials and their acolytes in the mainstream press would have been cheering, just as they have for the past 50 years whenever any drug user has been convicted and sentenced to serve time.

I began my professional life as a civil and criminal trial attorney in South Texas. One of my first cases was a drug case in which a young man and two of his friends were charged by the feds in San Antonio with a one-count heroin conspiracy indictment. All three were all about 21 years old. 

Now, mind you, they weren’t charged with possession of heroin. They never possessed it or, for that matter, distributed it. All they did was talk about getting some heroin and then attempted, unsuccessfully, to get it. So, keep in mind: All they were charged with was agreeing among themselves to get some heroin.

All three were convicted of conspiracy. At sentencing, the federal judge announced: “15 years! 15 years! 15 years!” It was the maximum sentence they could receive for that one-count conspiracy indictment. Each of these three young men were being sentenced to spend the next 15 years of their lives in a federal penitentiary, notwithstanding the fact they had not possessed or distributed the drugs. That’s six years longer than what Brittney Griner has received from that Russian judge.

The federal judge who meted out those sentences was called “Maximum John.” The reason was that his policy was to hand out the maximum sentence in every single drug case that came before him. “Maximum John” was determined to do his part to win the beloved war on drugs. 

For their part, the federal prosecutors almost always would request federal judges to mete out extremely harsh jail sentences in drug cases. The prosecutors were convinced that high jail sentences would deter people from ingesting drugs.

How successful have all those federal judges and federal prosecutors been during the past 50 years? Oh, they have been extremely successful in getting convictions and long jail sentences. In fact, there is no doubt that they would have fit perfectly in Russia enforcing that country’s drug laws. 

But they have been total failures when it comes to getting people to stop taking drugs. Many of them retired on fat government pensions, while a new cast of “Maximum Johns” and federal drug-war prosecutors has taken their place. Those federal judges and federal prosecutors have accomplished nothing but contribute to the destruction of life and liberty, just like their drug-war counterparts in Russia.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.


  • Jacob G. Hornberger

    Jacob George Hornberger is an American attorney, author, and politician who was a Libertarian candidate for president in 2000 and 2020. He is the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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