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John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What?

John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban" sentenced to 20 years is doing his time at Victorville Prison under the most severe restrictions.

In the new issue of Esquire, Tom Junod pens a very long portrait of Lindh, from his conversion to Islam through his capture, court case and now, his jail sentence.

I have never understood what crime Lindh committed against the United States. He was fighting against the Northern Alliance, not America. An American citizen, he was captured in Afghanistan. He is a devout, religious Muslim, not a terrorist.

The government ultimately dropped its charges of terrorism, conspiring with al-Qaeda and attempting to kill Americans. Lindh pleaded guilty to providing services to the Taliban and carrying explosives. His plea agreement contained no reference to involvement in a plot to kill CIA agent Johnny Spann.

John Walker Lindh, now called Hamza Lindh, has been silenced by his plea agreement. Only members of his family may visit him and they can't discuss what he tells them.

John Walker Lindh was a trophy to the Ashcroft Justice Department. Hopefully, his sentence will be revisited once the Bush Administration is gone.

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  • Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 04:59:52 PM EST
    why the hell is he going to jail? I don't agree with what he did but I think he should have the right to do it. I mean if he feels so strong about Islam that he's going to go on a jihad, let him. Not my problem.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#2)
    by roy on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 05:12:57 PM EST
    Oi vey. I get that there are important legal questions here, but the article is pure puff. C'mon, how does a serious journalist use the phrase "He is a better person than you or I"? Is this dude the next Che Guevara?

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#3)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 06:22:04 PM EST
    John Lindh copped a plea bargin. That means he knew that he was going to be convicted. No one can rewrite history and change, or hide, that central definitive fact.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Sailor on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 06:34:28 PM EST
    I see your point Roy, but I always wondered why his lawyer didn't try to delay proceedings until the hysteria died down.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Andreas on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 06:47:16 PM EST
    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#6)
    by jimcee on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 06:48:04 PM EST
    It could have been much worse for him. He could have died in the prison insurrection that he was involved with, he probably should have, but instead he copped a plea and will get his five nods to Mecca and culturally appropriate meals for the next few years. Just another child of Marin County living his parents dreams. They must be proud.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Sailor on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 07:12:18 PM EST
    John Lindh copped a plea bargin. That means he knew that he was going to be convicted.
    or he was just tired of being tortured.
    He could have died in the prison insurrection that he was involved with
    What a stretch, not even the gov't alleged that. and why would they, he arrived at the gulag on the same day the insurrection broke out.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 07:54:14 PM EST
    To bad Lindh didn't become a martyr for the cause. He has every right to die for his religion. Pity he didn't get more help. Nothing wrong with jihad? This from a so called liberal? The slighest wiff of patriarchy in America gets roundly condemned. Yet, let the Islamics practice the most brutal forms of patriarchy and it gets a pass. Funny thing is I'm a old style liberal. My policy is: if patriarchy is not good enough for Americans it is not good enough for any one. End it - by any means necessary.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#9)
    by farmergiles on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 07:54:32 PM EST
    This is editorializing and the author makes that plain in about 10 words. Journalists can't do that? I thought is was pretty good. Made me wonder about some things. Don't know about y'all...

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 07:58:42 PM EST
    What bothers me most is that his sentence includes the provision that he is not allowed to speak arabic. WTF? I assume that it was part of the plea agreement and so he can't contest the fact that it violates two parts of the First Amendment. But why would the prosecutors even request this?

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Avedon on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 08:00:02 PM EST
    As near as I can tell, John Walker Lindh become Public Enemy #2 because he converted to Islam and was in Afghanistan at at the time. That fact alone was enough for people to be calling for his head. I suspect he copped a plea because the alternative was that they would have given him the death penalty even though they didn't have anything on him.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 08:01:27 PM EST
    Funny thing is I'm a old style liberal. My policy is: if patriarchy is not good enough for Americans it is not good enough for any one. End it - by any means necessary.
    Lindh was fighting with the same guys that Dana Rohrbacher was fighting alongside back in 1988. And yes they hated the U.S. just as much back then as they do now. Hey weren't you the one who digs a "muscular" foreign policy?

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 10:01:42 PM EST
    deleted for multiple falsehoods. Commenter is also banned for using this site to spread misinformation.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 10:23:52 PM EST
    Lindh's "crime" was that he got to Afghanistan 15 years too late.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#15)
    by Lww on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 10:40:44 PM EST
    Didn't Lindh keep his mouth shut while his compatriot Talibanists plotted against and killed Americans in that prison break? That's why he got 20 yrs.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#16)
    by Che's Lounge on Sun Jun 18, 2006 at 11:25:31 PM EST
    Why was Lindh able to cop a plea at all if he was an enemy combatant? Not that he should even be in prison, but it smacks of racism. Again.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 07:03:31 AM EST
    "Didn't Lindh keep his mouth shut while his compatriot Talibanists plotted against and killed Americans in that prison break?" Aside from the fact that he got there the day of the prison break, hardly giving him time to plot against, if I thought 'Merican troops were participating in illegal activities, I might plot against them also. It comes down to your own conscience, are you willing to do evil in the name of your country? I believe that in his mind, he was fighting against pedophilic warlords. The fact that the US hooked up with such scum seems to escape most people.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 07:43:01 AM EST
    Lindh is part of the guilt and oppression of the 911 Conspiracy.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#19)
    by cpinva on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 08:22:56 AM EST
    i have a sneaking suspicion his conviction and sentence will be vacated, upon the change of administrations in 2008. it struck me that the DOJ just kind of made laws up as they went along. anything was fair game, in a desperate attempt to get a conviction, any conviction, for anything, in the wake of 9/11. he pled out, to avoid a probably death sentence, not, i suspect, because he actually sees himself as guilty of any crime. where, exactly, was the court supposed to come up with an unbiased jury?

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#20)
    by ltgesq on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 08:45:15 AM EST
    He pleaded guilty because he was convincedf that he would have been convicted at trial in the district he was in. As a note, a friend of mine and an excellent criminal lawyer took a job in that district as a federal public defender. He was let go within several weeks after his supervisor told him that he was too confrontational and didn't get along well enough with the us attorneys. It is a done deal for conviction in that circuit. Three arabs were convicted for conspiring to commit terrorism. The overt act that made them terrorists? Playing paintball.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 09:21:39 AM EST
    "John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What?" For being a traitor! If this was 40 years ago...he would have been shot. Count your blessings & move on Johhny!

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 10:23:50 AM EST
    Furillo:
    Lindh is part of the guilt and oppression of the 911 Conspiracy
    I agree. But your comment is so ambiguous that posters like PPJ and BB might also agree. It all depends on who you believe the 911 conspirators were.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 12:00:29 PM EST
    Remember that almost EVERYONE supports the Afgan war, particularly when we kicked the crap out of the Taliban.
    Yes, and they loved the fireworks show at the beginning of the Iraq fiasco. It was just like the Super Bowl. Hey were you a male cheerleader in school just like Dumbya?

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#26)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 12:33:08 PM EST
    narius my point was that Lindh was hyped to be a bad guy by the same people that supported and even fought alongside the Taliban 15 years ago. They can justify anything based on the political whims of the moment. On a happier note, we do seem to be in agreement on the cuplpability of the sports-minded violence-loving public in the worst excesses of our foreign policy.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 12:42:43 PM EST
    We can get you even if you are a US citizen.
    They can get you for any reason at any time, with or without evidence, and detain you forever without trial. It's called tyranny. I must say I'm surprised by the number of fans tyranny has.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#29)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 01:01:30 PM EST
    I agree. But your comment is so ambiguous that posters like PPJ and BB might also agree. It all depends on who you believe the 911 conspirators were.
    Thanks for pointing that out. The conspirators start right here in the USA. Bush Jr.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#30)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 03:25:56 PM EST
    A fluff piece with softball questions is hardly a reasonable basis for deciding the guilt or innocence of anybody, is it? Johnny was a Taliban terrorist. He was fighting against our allies, and there for against us. His refusal to cooperate after being captured faiclitated the prisoner revolt that led to the death of young CIA officer. In WWII this discussion would be based on a review of his short, ended life, because he would have rightly gotten the death penalty and been executed.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#31)
    by squeaky on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 03:39:15 PM EST
    kdog-
    It's called tyranny. I must say I'm surprised by the number of fans tyranny has.
    Me too. These dupes must think that they have permanent membership to the hanging side of the lynch mob. Little do they know that after they sign away their rights they are no longer needed. It is like the Wallmart syndrome. First they lower the price enough to put their competition out of business and then are free to charge whatever they want. Fools.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#32)
    by Sailor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 04:18:37 PM EST
    In fact, the terrorists are now so preoccupied in Iraq (notice all the FOREIGN fighters going into Iraq)
    please provide links for your blatherings.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#33)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 05:41:01 PM EST
    jimcee:
    Either way his parents must be so proud.
    I don't know them, but I imagine that their pride stands in stark contrast to the shame they would be feeling if instead he held opinions like the ones you espouse here.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#34)
    by Sailor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 05:46:27 PM EST
    Whether Lindh was part of the prison uprising is pure conjecture on my part but no less believable than he was in a war-zone in Afghanistan by accident.
    Uhh, can you say reasonable doubt?

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#35)
    by jimcee on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 06:57:31 PM EST
    Sailor, Sure, I can say 'reasonable doubt' but honestly he was captured on the battlefield of a very remote area where you could not travel without Taliban approval. People very rarely wander into an active warzone because of naivety. More likely he was there because he chose to be there. People make bad choices all the time and Mr Lindh made his and he is now paying for that choice. His parents, I'm sure, feel that thier son was wrongly accused and will defend thier son to the inth degree because it is thier son, as well they should. It also allows them to blame someone else for the consquences of the way they raised thier son.

    Re: John Walker Lindh: 20 Years for What? (none / 0) (#37)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Jun 20, 2006 at 07:31:14 AM EST
    Narius.... The only reason why the iraq war is not popular is that we are not winning You watch waaay too much liberal biased news! You 'obviously' haven't heard about the documents recently acquired when Zarqawi was killed? (no surprise there...and I'm also not surprised there is no mention of that anywhere on TL) Or, if you have heard, you most likely passed it off as GW propaganda? Just to recap for you.... The documents from Zarqawi to his gang said they are "losing" the war and need to get America involved somewhere else (Iran?) to take the pressure off them in Iraq? So much for the liberal news & the liberal lefts 'spin' on the war huh?