You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me

LAT Editorial Board:

John Walker Lindh broke the law. But ‘the American Taliban’ wasn’t a terrorist, and he deserves clemency.

The president’s power to grant clemency — in the form of either a pardon or a commutation — is much maligned and occasionally abused, as was the case when President Bush used it to keep his colleague, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, from facing even a day in prison for lying and obstructing justice. But the power has its appropriate uses as well, and the case of John Walker Lindh calls out for it.

Known unfortunately as “the American Taliban,” Lindh became a symbol for fanaticism, even treason, in the early months of the nation’s response to Sept. 11. He was apprehended in late 2001 in the mountains of Afghanistan, where, at the age of 20, he was serving in the army of a nation that harbored terrorists, including Osama bin Laden. Weak and wounded, he was blindfolded and duct-taped naked to a stretcher, kept incommunicado in an uninsulated shipping container and interrogated by intelligence and FBI agents. Once home, he was charged with terrorism in a 10-count indictment, deliberately sought by the government in the Eastern District of Virginia, then still reeling from the attack on the Pentagon.

Can someone explain this to me? Use small words, I’m obviously not smart enough to understand the deep thinking behind it.

73 thoughts on “You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me”

  1. Well, by thier own account, they are not asking for the pardon on account of a miscarraige of justice, but in the belief that clemency is warranted in dispite of the manifest guilt. In my opinion, the act of mercy requires insight into the current mental state of the person recieving the mercy so that you may know whether such an act will have a positive effect. I have no such insight, and as far as I can tell, neither do the editors since they do not quote Mr. Lindh so as to present evidence of his contrition and maturation.

    The LAT bases thier opinion on two separate points.

    First they claim that the sentense is disproportionate to the crime. This is plausible, but I always got the impression that the crime he was actually charged with was chosen out of prosecutorial and political conveinence. If this ‘lesser charge’ is a stand in for greater crimes that are more difficult to prove, commuting the sentence of what is in effect an already commuted sentence makes no sense to me. But, the LAT asserts that JWL not only was JWL not found guilty of any greater crime, but that he is not in fact guilty of any greater crime. Assuming that you believe that, then the LAT stance make sense. But, for me personally, I don’t know what exactly to believe and wouldn’t without making a close study of all the available evidence. It’s certainly not clear to me that he didn’t or wouldn’t have taken up arms against his countryman had it been in his power. He might not be guilty of doing so in the eyes of the law, but if you ask me to cast aside the judgement of the law, its not just a question of what the law has determined that must be considered.

    So, while the LAT stance makes sense if you believe that JWL is guilty of no greater crime, is repentent, and shows matured judgement, they have not showed any of these things to my satisfaction. They apparantly did not feel the need.

    Second, they claim that the sentense ought to be commutted because it would make a good political gesture. I don’t think I even need to dignify that, but I do want to point out the irony of suggesting Bush play politics with his power to grant pardons while chastising him for doing that very thing.

  2. PS: This just goes to show how out of touch the LAT editorial staff is with the average American. Rush is going to have a field day with this. You can be sure he’ll be mentioning it for years.

    Surely there are greater miscarriages of justice to champion than this case? What is it about your consciousness that compells you to single out this particular case for special consideration?

  3. The title of this editorial is “Free our Talib”. Our Talib? Is that a new LA gang word for Home Boy?

    I think if they were interested in appealing to a broad sensibility on Lindh’s behalf, they would have chosen a title that sounded a little more sane and a little less Symbionese Liberation Army.

    It may be their Taliban, but it sure as hell isn’t mine.

  4. Administration of president will reduce freedom for all citizens of the USA under the guise of providing of safety constantly . As now evidently and not only for them but also in all world.

  5. Armed Liberal:

    “Can someone explain this to me? Use small words, I’m obviously not smart enough to understand the deep thinking behind it.”

    For the time being, I have no answer.

    Maybe you can help me with another problem.

    What is the benefit – in excess of costs – to have taken John Walker Lindh (and for that matter David Hicks) alive in the first place?

    With access to layers and the supportive mainstream media, these jihadists make fools of us, constantly.

    How can the benefits of these games possibly exceed the benefits of just shooting them?

  6. Bush has been extremely sparing in his use of his pardon and commutation power. Even if one accepts each of the LAT assertions (as Celebrim noted, that is hard to justify on the available information), there are many prisoners more deserving of such benevolence. I cannot see Bush even considering this request, and the LAT knows it, so it means nothing except as posturing for its market – which does indicate just who it believes is its market.

  7. It’s not that difficult to explain.
    Explanation 1:
    a. Bush pardoned Libby.
    b. Whatever Lindh did, or may have done, or may have been prevented from doing, what Libby did was a quadrillion times worse (Why, one might ask? Answer: It’s so obvious it needs no explanation.)
    c. Ergo, Bush ought to pardon Lindh.

    Explanation 2:
    It’s the LAT, QED.

  8. I think a more rational request would be to ask to have him moved back to medium security prison again (perhaps under protective custody), rather than having him “using up a cell at Supermax”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Walker_Lindh#Imprisonment . Lindh was never a jihadi leader, and as such its exceedingly unlikely any group is going to try to bust him out (as opposed to, say, “Omar Abdel-Rahman”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omar_Abdel-Rahman .

    I suspect someone with ties to Lindh’s family got the ear of someone on the LAT editorial staff. Otherwise, why bother bringing up what is a dead story to the media?

  9. #6 from Glenmore:

    “I cannot see Bush even considering this request, and the LAT knows it, so it means nothing except as posturing for its market – which does indicate just who it believes is its market.”

    Its market is, or its editors think that its market is, people who would think it was an abuse of the American President’s powers of clemency to commute the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, but the jihadi John Walker Lindh is a pitiable, much-abused figure who “deserves” clemency?

  10. They’re right. He’s not really guilty of terrorism. He’s guilty of treason, and should be tried for treason. He wasn’t responsible for car-bombs and the like. Rather, he bore arms against his own country.

    Kalroy

  11. I don’t particularly care about Lindh but I could make the case for him, by ignoring part of the evidence.

    He read about Malcolm X and the black muslims and got interested. He took up islam. So far there’s nothing wrong with this, people can choose whatever religion they want. He learned arabic to read the koran, as lots of muslims do. He went to afghanistan to study religion. Again no problem. That was in April 2001. While he was there he trained infantry in an afghan training camp. It appears he didn’t accept any particular obligation to get the training, not like joining the Foreign Legion. They just trained lots of people in case they’d need infantry later, kind of like the National Guard but much less organised. At the camp he met bin Ladin and shook hands with him. The Taliban infantry training camp had some sort of connection with al qaeda. That sounds bad. Not so terrible in itself, though.

    Then 9/11 came, and he stayed in afghanistan. That sounds bad. But remember, lots of paks and afghans don’t believe AQ did 9/11 to this day. We all know that bin ladin bragged about it to journalists — I guess the paks and afghans haven’t gotten the word. Walker might not have believed it, and anyway the afghan government was negotiating with us about giving bin Ladin to us. So it’s not so terrible he’d stay.

    Then the negotiations broke down and we said we were going to attack, and Walker stayed in afghanistan. That’s bad. In all fairness, if we attack iran probably 2 million iranians will stay here rather than leave the USA and try to make their way home. But Walker joined the afghan infantry when we were on the other side. Bad.

    The afghans we supported captured him and handed him over to us. When we got him, he’d been wounded and had lain in a basement for a week or so. Our guys tortured him into a confession. They did not treat his gunshot wound and told him they wouldn’t, unless he confessed, and he went a second week with it untreated. They got ten crimes out of it, enough to give him about 4 life sentences. He was of course not allowed a lawyer during his interrogation. heh heh.

    Pretty much all the evidence against him came from his forced confession. And if it came to trial he would testify about the torture. So they offered a plea bargain — plead guilty to two counts — joining the afghan army and carrying weapons for them — and they’d reduce the sentence to 20 years. Also he’d be forbidden to talk about any of it for 20 years, and if he did later write a book or anything the government would get the money. They went to some lengths to keep his side of it from being heard.

    In a way he got a pretty good deal. If he hadn’t been a US citizen he’d probably still be in a secret prison somewhere, nobody would have heard of him. Assuming he looked valuable enough to bother.

    Suppose he’d done the same thing 21 years earlier. He’d have stayed in afghanistan when the russians invaded. If they caught him they’d have tortured him for a CIA spy. If anything he’d be a hero. Instead he went at the wrong time and he wound up a traitor. Remember while he was in afghanistan he got all his news from the afghans, seeing things from their point of view. He’d have all the same excuses as Patty Hearst except he wasn’t kidnapped. Patty Hearst didn’t get 20 years but she could have.

    I could certainly see giving him a shorter sentence. He wasn’t important. But I don’t know what he thinks now — he’s mostly forbidden to tell us. If he’s still a dedicated jihadist and we let him out in 10 years, he’ll be 36 — young enough to go back to afghanistan and fight us there. And if he sneaks out of the country to someplace we can’t get him, he can publish his story in the foreign press and we can’t stop him. It would probably make us look bad. In a way he’s important now, we made him important by the way we treated him.

    Given that the US goernment tortured an american citizen, interrogated him without a lawyer, (violated habeas corpus for awhile? I don’t remember,) and then covered up the details as best they could, he might deserve some sort of clemency based on that. But I’m not sure it’s practical.

    It probably isn’t practical to move him to medium-security. He was in medium-security before and another inmate punched him out. Likely a patriotic criminal, we have a lot of those.

    To justify clemency you’d have to discount his joining the afghan army against the northern alliance insurgents. Then give a lot of weight to the bad treatment we gave him. It would be easier if you thought he wouldn’t do it again. Also if you didn’t care about his story getting out, if you aren’t too concerned about covering up US government crimes. For the LA Times it might also matter that he’s a california boy.

    Just to try it out, try putting the shoe on the other foot. Imagine that a 20-year-old afghan man comes here. He thinks about joining the US army and getting citizenship. He gets some sort of minimal training at a training site run by Halliburton. He does join the army. Later Halliburton is accused of war crimes. If the afghans catch him, how much punishment does he deserve? Does he deserve special punishment for being a Halliburton agent?

    Of course nobody would imagine that Bush might offer any mercy whatsoever. Bush doesn’t give the impression of having any mercy in him.

    Anyway, I hope I’ve showed that clemency isn’t completely crazy. It takes emphasis on different parts of the story. If I had to argue it in a high-school debate club I’d consider it the weaker side. But I think I’d prefer that side. There are advantages to arguing for good instead of evil, for mercy from the strong toward the weak. It’s some ways easier to argue against torture than argue for it. In reality it may not be practical to reduce that sentence. In a debate where people get to try to sway emotions, I’d rather lose while appealing to people’s better natures, than win on stirring up their hate.

  12. I don’t think the paper has its facts correct:

    _the charges against Lindh originally included conspiring to commit terrorism. Those charges were dropped,_

    Eight charges were dropped as part of the plea. You confess to two, we’ll drop eight. A federal grand jury indicted him on ten counts. That means that there was some evidence that Lindh violated ten laws.

    _and Lindh today is serving time not for any act committed against the United States, but for violating a Clinton-era presidential order that prohibits providing “services” to the Taliban._

    Lindh confessed to providing armed services to the Taliban, which were prohibited under said Presidential order because:

    bq. _*The actions and policies of the Taliban in Afghanistan, in allowing territory under its control in Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven and base of operations for Usama bin Ladin and the Al-Qaida organization who have committed and threaten to continue to commit acts of violence against the United States and its nationals, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.*_

    Here is the crucial point. We can’t stop terrorism, particularly the suicidal variety, by simply targetting the terrorists. We have to destroy their supporting networks. Lindh joined that supporting network.

    _He never engaged in terrorism; indeed, his commitment to Islam leads him to oppose the targeting of civilians._

    And support a group that practiced a particularly violent form of Islam.

  13. J Thomas you missed the story on Lindh’s capture and so aren’t arguing with all the facts (I’ll restrain myself, really I will…).

    Wikipedia provides a good summary:

    Walker was captured on November 25, 2001, by Afghan Northern Alliance forces, and questioned by CIA officer Mike Spann and another officer at General Dostum’s military garrison named Qali Jangi near Mazari Sharif. Later that day, the makeshift prison was the scene of a violent uprising, in which Spann was killed along with hundreds of foreign fighters. Walker found refuge in a basement bunker after taking a bullet in the upper-right thigh, hiding with Saudi, Uzbek and Pakistani jihadis. He was found seven days later on December 2, 2001, when Northern Alliance forces diverted an irrigation stream, drowning many, and eventually flushing out Walker and about 80 survivors from the original 300. Walker initially gave his name as “Abd-al-Hamid” but later gave his real name when interviewed by Robert Young Pelton for CNN. Pelton brought a medic and food for the American and interviewed Lindh about how he got there. Walker said that the prison uprising was sparked by some of the prisoners smuggling grenades into the basement, “This is against what we had agreed upon [with the Northern Alliance], and this is against Islam. It is a major sin to break a contract, especially in military situations,”. [10]

    Upon capture, Walker signed confession documents while he was held by the United States Marine Corps on USS Peleliu and informed his interrogators that he was not merely Taliban but al-Qaeda, though his father later asserted he was not involved in, and unaware of, al-Qaeda. Attorney General John Ashcroft, on January 16, 2002, announced that Lindh would be tried in the United States.

    A.L.

  14. in a debate where people get to try to sway emotions, I’d rather lose while appealing to people’s better natures, than win on stirring up their hate.

    Barry Meislin explained the point of this article best when he said:

    a. Bush pardoned Libby.
    b. Whatever Lindh did, or may have done, or may have been prevented from doing, what Libby did was a quadrillion times worse (Why, one might ask? Answer: It’s so obvious it needs no explanation.)
    c. Ergo, Bush ought to pardon Lindh.

    As far as I can see, Lindh’s case is being used as a Swiftian debating point. If the LAT didn’t have Lindh, they could have used another egregious case, like Charles Manson, ie: “The president’s power to grant clemency — in the form of either a pardon or a commutation — is much maligned and occasionally abused, as was the case when President Bush used it to keep his colleague, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, from facing even a day in prison for lying and obstructing justice. But the power has its appropriate uses as well, and the case of Charles Manson calls out for it.”

    Bush’s pardon of Libby, like the ‘stolen election’ and the ‘lies of war’ automatically pushes the Left’s hate buttons. The intended audience knows exactly what the point of this article is. It’s an attempt to stir up hate against Bush, Libby and the pardon. It’s as far from an appeal to people’s ‘better natures’ as it can get.

  15. Question for the Presidential debates:

    Will you as President commute the sentence of John Walker Lindh?

    Prediction: when at least one Republican candidate is asked about commuting the sentence of Libby, he will do a partial pivot and object to the call from the left to commute the sentence of John Walker Lindh.

  16. I think there’s another snippet from the LA Times editorial that needs to be quoted:

    Some will object that Lindh pleaded guilty knowing he could receive this sentence. His plea was entered, however, under what one can only call extreme duress.

    That is a lie. He was not under duress, extreme or otherwise. “Duress” has a specific meaning and this isn’t it.

    Lindh pleaded guilty in self-interest. That’s not duress and claiming it was is, at the very best, a distortion.

    Absent that feeble claim, the Times editorial is self-refuting: Mr. Lindh pleaded guilty knowing what sentence he would receive. The sentence should stand.

  17. PD Shaw,

    “Eight charges were dropped as part of the plea. You confess to two, we’ll drop eight. A federal grand jury indicted him on ten counts. That means that there was some evidence that Lindh violated ten laws”

    Somewhat off-topic here, but I sense quite a double standard at work in the above. My sense is that had anyone dropped a comment like that during the Libby trial debates here, you would have quickly–and rightly–been all over it, explaning that an indictment isn’t evidence, or even an indication of evidence or quality of evidence, that an indictment is easily gotten, especially for certain types of crimes, against certain types of people, in certain districts.

  18. I think to some extent, punishing people for committing a crime is supposed to be a disincentive for committing that crime. In fact, I’d argue that’s the primary purpose of criminal punishment.

    So, I guess the question is, is his behaviour something you want to encourage or discourage? If the answer is “discourage”, then setting the example for others that you can do this and get away without punishment is the wrong signal altogether.

    I think this is exactly the reason that soldiers in armies get much better treatment as prisoners and after the war than guerillas do. If we have to fight someone, guerilla wars tend to be “messier”, and we don’t want that, so we de-legitimize that type of conduct, and don’t give people who fight that way the same protections as regular military. Do we really want to remove that distinction? Would that have positive consequences in future? I’m not so sure. The future is shaping up to be pretty ugly. I fear we treat traitors and illegal combatants too leniently, not too strictly. He should count himself lucky to be alive.

  19. Having said that, tagryn and Kalroy have points.

    I’m willing to listen to an argument that his sentence is excessive. I’m also willing to listen to an argument that he was convicted of the wrong crime. But it seems nonsensical to me that if he is indeed of the behaviour that has been mentioned here, he should go unpunished or get away lightly. This is serious stuff.

    I’m pretty annoyed that pretty soon our own David Hicks will be running around free. Frankly I don’t really want to be in the same country as scum like him who would take up arms against us and fight for the repressive and oppressive Taliban. That just isn’t the sort of people I feel comfortable having as a peer.

  20. _J Thomas you missed the story on Lindh’s capture and so aren’t arguing with all the facts_

    AL, I reviewed the wikipedia summary before I commented. What is it that I left out that you think changes things?

    Lindh got shot. After a week untreated he was turned over to the USA. He got interrogated and he claimed he was tortured. He was told that his wound would not be treated unless he confessed. After a second week he confessed and the bullet was then removed from his thigh.

    It sure sounds to me like that first confession was under duress. And the grand jury indictment on 10 charges came from that confession. Then he pled not guilty to all 10 charges.

    If it went to court and his confession wasn’t allowed because he was tortured into it without access to a lawyer, then all they’d have on him was working for Taliban and carrying a gun for Taliban — what the Northern Alliance guys saw. So they let him plea-bargain guilty for just those two.

  21. It should be noted that in federal cases, sentencing can consider charged that were dropped or found not guilty on. Quirk of the federal system.

    Regardless, toting a gun for an entity at war with your nation is quite enough to land you deservedly in prison. I dont particularly give a damn if he believed the AQ/Taliban propaganda. You don’t shoot at your own nations flag, under any cirumstances short of rebellion. If believing anti-American propoganda is enough to excuse your actions, that opens the floodgates to just about anything. Do we really want some clown blowing up the the local mall because they caught Al Jazeera on their satellite, and then we should release them? There are plenty of people in prison for far worse reasons the Lindh.

  22. “in a debate where people get to try to sway emotions, I’d rather lose while appealing to people’s better natures, than win on stirring up their hate.”

    _Bush’s pardon of Libby, like the ‘stolen election’ and the ‘lies of war’ automatically pushes the Left’s hate buttons. The intended audience knows exactly what the point of this article is. It’s an attempt to stir up hate against Bush, Libby and the pardon. It’s as far from an appeal to people’s ‘better natures’ as it can get._

    I don’t want to speculate about what the Left really deep down wants.

    I say that if it was me debating, I’d rather argue by appealing to good than argue for hate. I am not the Left.

  23. What did you expect, this is the same paper that argues that the Libby commutation was inappropriate and that 30 months in prison for lying about a non-crime is warranted, yet a guy who takes up arms against his nation needs to be let out of prison instead because we need to “feel his pain”

  24. Mark: _Somewhat off-topic here, but I sense quite a double standard at work in the above._

    I was simply trying to point out the LATimes’ double-standard. There were 10 indictments from the Grand Jury, and they are at least implying that the 8 indictments were dropped did not have any basis. The opposite assumption could be made. Lindh confessed to two charges because he knew he was guilty of more.

    My assumption is that the prosecution and the defense knew the strengths and weaknesses of their case and settled on 2. It may not even be the two that had the most evidentiary support. We may also have to consider that additional convictions often don’t mean additional time served.

  25. _I dont particularly give a damn if he believed the AQ/Taliban propaganda._

    That’s understandable. I note that people cared considerably more about that for Patty Hearst. She didn’t get anywhere near 20 years, though she carried a gun in america for a terrorist organization. She got a 7 year sentence, she served 2 years before it was commuted.

    If it was wrong to do it for her that doesn’t mean it’s right to reduce someone else’s sentence. And there’s the argument that she didn’t choose to be brainwashed. And most important, her family was rich.

    Anyway, I think there’s a pretty strong case for not reducing Lindh’s sentence. I only want to point out that the case for reducing it isn’t completely insane. There’s a rational case for it, though I think it’s somewhat weaker than the case for not doing it.

  26. Well, a couple of things; Patty Hearst was forcibly kidnapped, abused, and it was (plausibly) argued that she was brainwashed. Lindh wasn’t an archeology student who was captured by the Taliban; he was an anomic, feckless young man who decided that jihad would give his life meaning.

    And his wounds were untreated because the Talibs were trying to break out of a prison and were holding off the Northern Alliance and US forces – after killing Johnny Spahn and some others in the original prison takeover. Lindh was wounded in the battle; it’s not clear if or to what extent he participated. He was coralled with the other prisoners when a CNN correspondent realized he was American and brought it to the attention of the US troops there.

    So let’s not paint a picture of US troops callously standing over him while his wounds fester.

    A.L.

  27. PD Shaw, so we can assume then, for the purposes of future discussions, that it is your belief that if indictments are brought against someone it should be assumed that there is a basis for the those indictments? That a prosecutor would never load the plate, e.g., as a means of leveraging a plea.

    you mentioned the LAT double standard. I do see the one standard they are using from AL’s excerpt above, but not being a reader of that paper’s, I’d be curious to know what their other standard is.

  28. _So let’s not paint a picture of US troops callously standing over him while his wounds fester._

    AL, did I read the wikipedia article wrong? The way I read it, that’s precisely what the US interrogators did.

    After his wound festered for a week before he was recaptured, it then festered for another 8 days while americans interrogated him. They told him that he would not get treatment until he confessed. He did confess and after 8 days in US custody the bullet was removed from his thigh.

    Did you read it differently?

  29. JT –

    You’re right – I missed that. That’s really, really bad and stupid. The Wikipedia quote isn’t quite as dramatic as yours, but is dramatic enough:

    Lindh was held for over a week in U.S. custody for his wound to be treated and the bullet removed.[14]” WTF were they thinking?

    A.L.

  30. I’ve got to stop being so quick to apologize. I clicked through and read the appended document – a timeline prepared by Lindh’s attorney – and it states clearly that Lindh received medical attention from US medics, including antibiotics and painkillers, as soon as he was identified as American. It was decided to leave the bullet in place – the lawyer claims for evidentiary reasons, although I’d be interested in knowing what the medic on the spot felt – they often leave bullets in because taking them out causes more problems.

    So back to my original claim, and sorry about the premature apology.

    A.L.

  31. _PD Shaw, so we can assume then, for the purposes of future discussions, that it is your belief that if indictments are brought against someone it should be assumed that there is a basis for the those indictments?_

    I believe that if a Grand Jury indicts there was evidence that the crime was committed. It may not be sufficient evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The Grand Jury may not (and probably did not) have extenuating evidence.

    I’m not saying Lindh was guilty or innocent of these dropped charges. I am saying the LATimes is wrong to assume he was innocent.

    _That a prosecutor would never load the plate, e.g., as a means of leveraging a plea._

    A prosecutor would certainly do that. Just as a defendant has every interest to claim that his confession was coerced.

  32. One thing is for sure- all this lawyering over prisoners is giving the military less and less incentive to take prisoners on the battlefield if there is any excuse not to. Instead of flooding those guys out, next time JDAMs may be the solution. Law of unintended consequences im afraid.

  33. PD, “I am saying the LATimes is wrong to assume he was innocent.” I think it needs to be pointed out, in fairness, that the LATimes is not assuming he is innocent, but that, not having been found guilty of certain crimes, he shouldn’t be punished for them. This is what the LATimes editorial actually says:

    “John Walker Lindh broke the law. He pleaded guilty to the one crime of which he was guilty — aiding the Taliban — and to carrying a gun and hand grenades in the service of that regime’s war against the Northern Alliance. For that, he deserved to go to prison, and he should not receive a pardon. He is a felon, and his record should never be cleared.

    …The issue, then, is not Lindh’s guilt but his sentence…..The concept of mercy spans testaments and faiths.’

    It sounds to me as if the LATimes is arguing for mercy toward, not innocence of JWL. I still don’t see the double standard.

    one last thought, even if the LAT did, as you state, “assume he was innocent” of dropped charges, isn’t that something we all should do? isn’t he innocent until proven guilty of any charge, dropped or otherwise? Do you really want to say that a US news medium is “wrong to assume he was innocent of … dropped charges?” Does that hold true in general or just in this particular case?

  34. “I’ve got to stop being so quick to apologize. I clicked through and read the appended document – a timeline prepared by Lindh’s attorney…”

    Isn’t it always amazing how the actual documents don’t say what they are claimed that they say? Reading the actual sources turns out to be informative than reading people writing about the sources. Who would have thunk it?

  35. Mark,

    the LATimes is essentially saying the eight dropped charges don’t count and the remaining two were the result of extreme duress.

    The eight dropped charges do count because they were part of the deal in which Lindh would serve the two remaining charges. If this isn’t fair, the whole package must be reopened.

  36. mark #33: You are way behind in this discussion. Why don’t you start over and catch up.

    “It sounds to me as if the LATimes is arguing for mercy toward, not innocence of JWL.”

    I think I mentioned that in post #1, and so far as I know, no one has disagreed with the claim.

    “..one last thought, even if the LAT did, as you state, “assume he was innocent” of dropped charges, isn’t that something we all should do? isn’t he innocent until proven guilty of any charge, dropped or otherwise?”

    And, I addressed this specifically back in point #1 because I knew someone would bring it up at some point. Once again, when asking someone to overrule the judgment of the law merely what is decidable under the law is clearly not what at stake. When asking someone to overturn the judgement of the law, then clearly considerations not made by the law come into play.

    As is typical of throwing around maxims, the sort of thinking behind using “isn’t he innocent until proven guilty” takes this maxim to literally and out of its proper context. Clearly people are not actually innocent until proven guilty. They are either guilty or they are not, and whether the law finds them guilty doesn’t actually change thier guilt. It’s possible for the law to find guilt in an innocent man, and its possible that a guilty man stands before the court even though the court sees them as innocent. What the phrase means is merely that there is a presumption of innocence in the eyes of the law, not that the person is or is not actually innocent based on what the law thinks of him. When you ask someone to overturn the judgmement of the law, you are stating, “consider those things that the law was blind too”. Unfortunately for the LAT’s position, logically this includes the possibility that the individual was more guilty than the law found as well as the possibility that he was less.

  37. _”I think it needs to be pointed out, in fairness, that the LATimes is not assuming he is innocent, but that, not having been found guilty of certain crimes, he shouldn’t be punished for them. “_

    Perhaps in principle, but thats not how Federal law reads. And once you start talking about principle instead of points of law, the spirit of the law certainly indicates that the guy who took up arms against his nation should serve some time for it.

    If all the charges were bogus and coerced, he never should have taken _any_ deal. Pleading guilty to something you claim to be innocent of has legal ramifications in itself. He’s either lying about being innocent, or lying when he pled guilty. Either way he’s a proven liar.

  38. celebrim, my comment were directed specifically toward PD’s. I think if you will read the brief exchange between me and him, they will make more sense to you.

    There is a standard journalistic practice in the US to assume innocence in print and on the air, partly out of fairness and partly to avoid lawsuits and grounds for mistrial. The consensus seems to be this is a reasonable practice. Asking the LAT to depart from that practice and assume guilt in the matter of dropped charges,as PD did, seems to me to be of questionable value. That was the context in which I threw around the maxim.

    I don’t think the LAT is asking to overule the judgement of the law, but asking the president to excerise mercy.

  39. Mark B,

    “Perhaps in principle, but thats not how Federal law reads. And once you start talking about principle instead of points of law, the spirit of the law certainly indicates that the guy who took up arms against his nation should serve some time for it.”

    In fairness to myself, I would like to point out that my statement was specifically in response to this by PD:

    “I am saying the LATimes is wrong to assume he was innocent.”

    and not meant to be taken as a general belief or rule. I believe the LAT was mischarcterized. The editorial asks for mercy for crimes committed and takes into account time served. There’s no belief that he was innocent.

  40. mark: _assume guilt in the matter of dropped charges,as PD did_

    PD: _I’m not saying Lindh was guilty or innocent of these dropped charges._

    The charges didn’t go to trial because Lindh took the plea.

  41. PD, yes, I know. The charges were dropped. Why on earth do you think that the the LAT or any person or any institution should assume that someone is guilty of charges that are dropped. Of course, someone might very well be guilty of dropped charges, but to expect that to be an assumption, seems to me to advocate for a very dangerous precedent.

    I disagree with you that the LAT was wrong to assume he was innocent of the charges.

    In addition, I don’t think the LAT DID assume he was innocent. They only mentioned that the charges were droped in a different context and that of those that weren’t droped, he was indeed guilty.

  42. mark:

    One more time slowly. Lindh was indicted on 10 counts. He was presumed innocent until proven guilty. But Lindh did not go to trial; he negotiated the outcome.

    The LATimes is saying that Lindh was “under what one can only call extreme duress.” Let’s assume that is true. This was not the voluntary act of a free agent, but that of one under improper compulsion. If that were indeed true, we would be back at square one. Ten charges to be proven at trial. Innocent until proven guilty.

    That is not how the LATimes describes it. All it says is “[t]hose charges were dropped.” This leaves the impression that this was done solely by the prosecution or that there was never any merit to those charges. This is a bit of salami-slicing. The L.A. Times doesn’t want us to be thinking about the 10 charges brought against Lindh, but the two he confessed. Lindh gets the benefit of 8 dropped charges, without the detriment of the risk of conviction they posed.

    The double-standard is that if the plea was unfair, then Lindh should be considered innocent of all 10 charges, but subject to the risk of criminal prosecution on all ten. That’s what innocent until proven guilty means. The L.A. Times is not calling for that; it wants the 8 charges to be ignored and leniency given to the 2.

  43. PD, “One more time slowly.” There’s no need to be obnoxious.

    “Lindh was indicted on 10 counts. He was presumed innocent until proven guilty. But Lindh did not go to trial; he negotiated the outcome.”

    If he did not go to to trial on 8 of the charges because they were droped during the course of plea negotiating, then the presumption of innocence stands. One alternative, that droped charges presume guilt, is dreadful. The other alternative that droped charges presume neither guilt nor innocence is meaningless in this context. If we should presume neither guilt nor innocence, then the dropped charges should be discarded from the equations involved in assessing punishment.

    “The L.A. Times doesn’t want us to be thinking about the 10 charges brought against Lindh, but the two he confessed.” In thinking about mercy, why should we think about charges that remain unproven? The LAT is arguing for mercy for crimes known to have been committed. How can it argue for mercy for crimes that are unknown to have been committed? You are saying the LAT should not argue for mercy for crimes committed because it remains possible that other crimes may have been committed, even though there is no possiblity that those charges will ever be brought and cannot be disproven? This is to subect someone to punishment for mere accusation.

    I think the LAT is correct to stick to what has been demonstrated in court in determining whether or not mercy is an alternative.

    As I recall, you didn’t want information unproven in court—was Plame covert or not–to be included in the discussion of penalty.

  44. “As I recall, you didn’t want information unproven in court—was Plame covert or not–to be included in the discussion of penalty.”

    Oh good grief. You keep trying to turn this around backwards.

    No, we want information that was not considered by the court to be included in the discussion of mercy.

    We aren’t trying to defend applying an additional penalty based on dropped charges. The man had his day in court, and he’s not going to phase double jeapordy from charges which were not proven. This process of review can’t make things worse for the supplicant. We are considering the merit of lifting a judicially applied penalty, and we must when considering the merit of that look at everything that may bear on the judgement including the possibility that the supplicant may be guilty of those crimes for which charges were dropped.

    If you ask for the extra-judicial process of executive pardon, you should expect extra-judicial research and information to apply. How hard is that to understand?

  45. As a larger observation, I would not that there have been comments in previous threads endorsing the government’s treatment of Lindh. Here was a guy taken from the battlefield and he still got the protection of our criminal justice system (compared with Padilla and al-Marri).

    Implicit in the LATimes concerns is the notion that Lindh couldn’t get a fair jury trial. The paper seems to limit the concern to time and place, but I wonder if Lindh could have gotten a fair trial when “he said”:http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/12/20/ret.walker.transcript/index.html things like this to CNN:

    bq. PELTON: And did you enjoy the jihad? I mean, was it a good cause for you?

    bq. WALKER: Definitely.

    Lindh is a self-confessed jihadist and not of the “inner struggle” sort if you read the rest of the interview. I don’t think a violent jihadist is equivalent to a terrorist, but would the average juror?

    The benefit of our juries is that they bring common, everyday experiences to issues like credibility. But there is little about Lindh’s story that the average juror can relate to.

    During the Civil War, some guerrillas made dubious claims that they were acting on the orders of Jefferson Davis when they stole their neighbors cattle or blew things up. They did this to avoid trial by jury in preference for the military commissions. Substantial justice might be done here if Lindh, Padilla, al-Marri and friends are placed in a legal system in which the government’s confidential sources are protected and the case is decided by someone familiar with the different strains of though in Islam.

  46. Odd that the same people who are now defending Lindh, automatically presumed the guilt of the Haditha Marines. Why do I never see any great defenses of our Soldiers by the same people who want to defend our traitors?

  47. celebrim, I’m not trying to turn anything around. I’m saying the LAT can reasonable argue for mercy without taking into account charges that were made but which were never brought to court. That they were not “wrong” to do so. It’s a perfectly reasonable and legitimate way to go about making the argument.

    I don’t see the LAT using a double standard.

    Of coure, the president can use any reason, information or lack of same that he choses to pardon. This is not a legal argument or legal situation. I think the LAT is making its case based upon a commonsense notion of fairness.

    The LAT beleives Walker guilty of the crimes he was convicted and thinks the sentence for those crimes should be commuted to time served. That’s not an unreasonable position. You, on the other hand, seem to believe that such a commutation should not be considered because he may be guilty crimes other than those he was convicted of. To me, that’s unreasonable, because unfair.

    I can see not advocating mercy on the basis of the nature of the crime, lack of contrition, likliehood of further harm, wanting to teach a lesson, belief that the sentence is appropriate to the crime, and any number of other reasons. But the unproven belief that his crimes may have been more extensive than those he was convicted of is not among the legimate reasons for denying mercy. It is blantantly unfair and in opposition to the very notion of justice.

  48. Gabriel,
    “Odd that the same people who are now defending Lindh, automatically presumed the guilt of the Haditha Marines. Why do I never see any great defenses of our Soldiers by the same people who want to defend our traitors?”

    I’m sorry, who’s defending Lindh? Not the LAT, which wrote:

    “John Walker Lindh broke the law. He pleaded guilty to the one crime of which he was guilty — aiding the Taliban — and to carrying a gun and hand grenades in the service of that regime’s war against the Northern Alliance. For that, he deserved to go to prison, and he should not receive a pardon. He is a felon, and his record should never be cleared.”

  49. J Thomas —

    1. Lindh was part of Bin Laden’s plan for follow-on terror attacks against America and willingly particpated.

    2. Upon being captured by Northern Alliance forces, Lindh participated in a plan to smuggle weapons in a “fake surrender” with the weapons (including hand grenades) concealed around their waists by strings.

    3. Upon being taken to the prison (which the Taliban/AQ knew well as a former base of operations filled with weapons in a room nearby), Lindh was questioned by the late CIA officer Spahn and concealed his knowledge of the prison-breakout plan of which he was part of. Lindh concealed his identity as an American to further the conspiracy to kill the CIA and Northern Alliance men.

    4. Officer Spanh was executed by the Taliban/AQ during the prison breakout, Lindh bears legal responsibility for this act.

    All evidence points Lindh to a hard-core traitor who again and again conspired to actively kill Americans on behalf of the enemy and accomplished that goal.

    He was given a plea bargain because his wealthy, Liberal Marin County parents had lots of money and influence in Democratic Politics: see Clinton pardons for Marc Rich, etc.

    The LAT wants him pardoned because the LAT is on the side of AQ. Both the LAT and AQ hate/loathe/fear America and the idea that ordinary Americans can live their lives free of minute and absolute controls over every aspect of personal thought and conduct. The LAT like all Liberals wants a Volk Marxist control over the average American, which is broadly consistent with Sharia (as long as elites are exempt of course).

    Lindh helped AQ and helped kill Americans in service to bin Laden and that by itself is enough for the LAT to know who’s side they are on. Whether it’s enforcing Sharia blasphemy laws in Pace University (dunking a koran in the toilet is a hate crime, Piss Christ and Cow Dung Madonna great art), or defining US Soldiers as knuckle dragging moronic kill-crazed psychopaths, the Press/Left has aligned itself on the side of privileged elites against the idea of America and Patriotism (what Frank Miller called the mutual defense pact of America).

  50. mark: _There’s no need to be obnoxious._

    My apologies. I should just say that I’ve communicated my opinions to the best of my ability and that is that.

    As to Libby, I merely argued that if he is going to be sentenced for the crime of disclosing a covert operative, he should have access to the CIA information to mount a defense.

  51. mark:

    Sorry if I’m not as easily deluded by the Times snake oil passage. “Lindh is a bad man, but…”

    Free our Talib
    John Walker Lindh broke the law. But ‘the American Taliban’ wasn’t a terrorist, and he deserves clemency.

    “our Talib” is not my Talib. How the Times can with a straight face claim that Lindh didn’t intend to harm America is beyond my comprehension.

    Mabye his “commitment to Islam” doesn’t allow him to harm civilians, it most certainly hasn’t rang true for the vast majority who approve/carry out that form of terrorism.

  52. And one more thing, what brand of Islam was the Taliban practicing? The one where women were executed in Soccer Stadiums?

    Evidence of the Talibans abuses were well known prior to 9/11 yet Lindh felt the need to go to Afghanistan to participate in “peaceful islam”

    (I really wish we could edit comments)

  53. An American citizen caught out of uniform, fighting against the armed forces of the USA on foreign territory and helping enemy belligerents. He is amazingly lucky to be alive; he is guilty of two capital crimes, and the correct response on finding that he was American was a bullet through the head. Which would have been in accordance both with American law (as I understand it) and the Geneva Convention.

    Instead of which, he is free to eventually restart spreading jihadist BS.

    If we don’t acknowledge that we are in a war, we are going to lose. I have no kids, but i would prefer that my sister’s kids don’t become dhimmi slaves. If the majority of America doesn’t wake up, they will.

  54. JimRockford’s post pretty much matches what I’d have said. Lindh is lucky he was not executed essentially ‘on the spot’ and within days as either an unlawful combatant or a traitor. If he convinces a parole board he is truly remorseful and meaningfully admits he wronged his country, then I would consider some form of clemency. Otherwise, no.

  55. The moral of this story,
    The moral of this song,
    Is simply that one should never be,
    Where one does not belong.

    Unfortunately, for Lindh, no one ever introduced him to Bob Dylan. Sympathy is not merited here.

  56. _1. Lindh was part of Bin Laden’s plan for follow-on terror attacks against America and willingly particpated._

    Evidence?

    _2. … 5._

    Evidence?

    _He was given a plea bargain because his wealthy, Liberal Marin County parents had lots of money and influence in Democratic Politics:_

    Evidence?

    _The LAT wants him pardoned because the LAT is on the side of AQ._

    Evidence?

    Oh Wait, this is Jim Rockford. Never mind.

  57. mark: “I’m saying the LAT can reasonable argue for mercy without taking into account charges that were made but which were never brought to court.”

    You say this, but I think you contridict yourself.

    “I don’t see the LAT using a double standard.”

    I don’t think I’ve mentioned a double standard, except implicitly when I talked about them promoting the political value of the act. Frankly, the fact that there argument may or may not have a double standard is nearly irrelevant to me. I don’t consider hypocracy to be among the worst of vices.

    “I think the LAT is making its case based upon a commonsense notion of fairness.”

    The problem with that is that if JWL is guilty of the crime, then your only remaining appeal to mercy on the basis of ‘fairness’ is the claim that the law is unjust. The LAT does not explicitly make that case, and I’m not sure it would hold up. If the JWL is guilty, and if the law is just, then the sentence is fair and appeals to mercy cannot depend on fairness. Fairness implies giving someone what they deserve, and if you admit the previous two points then JWL deserves his sentence. Mercy implies giving someone better than what they deserve, so no appeal to ‘fairness’ common sense or otherwise works here.

    “The LAT beleives Walker guilty of the crimes he was convicted and thinks the sentence for those crimes should be commuted to time served. That’s not an unreasonable position.”

    The reasonableness of it is what is being argued. I hope you note that I simply didn’t dismiss the argument as unworthy of even consideration.

    “You, on the other hand, seem to believe that such a commutation should not be considered because he may be guilty crimes other than those he was convicted of. To me, that’s unreasonable, because unfair.”

    But, yet, when you do apply the standard of what you think is fair, it implicitly includes the same consideration I’m making when I suggest that one must consider whether he may be guilty of crimes other than those he was convicted of. You say:

    “I can see not advocating mercy on the basis of the nature of the crime, lack of contrition, *likliehood of further harm*, wanting to teach a lesson, *belief that the sentence is appropriate to the crime*, and any number of other reasons.”

    When I suggest that a would be pardoner must ask whether JWL is possibly guilty of crimes for which he was not tried, it is precisely the question of the likelihood of further harm that is foremost in my mind. If there is evidence that JWL is guilty of crimes for which he was charged, even if we was not tried for these crimes, we must consider whether this is evidence of the likelihood of further harm. Note that JWL’s situation is very different from one where he was tried and exonerated of those crimes. In that case, there would exist evidence of his innocence. But in this case, the mere fact that charges were dropped is not proof that he was or was not guilty. We only have the evidence that there was sufficient evidence to warrant the charge.

    Additionally, I’m inclined to believe that the reason for the relatively harsh sentencing was that the judge felt the evidence in the dropped charges was sufficiently strong to warrant a considerable punishment. This would be similar to a judge accepting a plea of ‘guilty’ to a charge of 2nd degree murder, knowing that there had been considerable evidence of 1st degree murder but perhaps not enough to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. In such a case, caution would suggest you would issue a sentence near the maximum allowable for 2nd degree murder for thier is evidence that the criminal in question is indeed a general menace.

    Now you would advocate I abandon the same line of reasoning that led to the sentence in the first place, while at the same time suggesting that belief that the sentence is appropriate to the crime is sufficient cause for withholding mercy.

    “It is blantantly unfair and in opposition to the very notion of justice.”

    Mercy is unfair and in opposition to the very notion of justice. Consider for example the pardoning of Scooter Libby. Merciful? Maybe. Just? That’s questionable. It is very difficult to serve both justice and mercy. They are always in tension with one another. In this case, I see neither evidence of injustice nor a compelling reason for mercy, and so far no one seems to have considered it necessary to provide either.

  58. _Odd that the same people who are now defending Lindh, automatically presumed the guilt of the Haditha Marines._

    I didn’t look at that one closely. What I saw looked pretty bad. What tended to persuade me was the guys who said they knew it was the iraqis who killed their own women and children so they could blame it on the marines, because they were such dedicated al qaeda members that they’d do anything to make us look bad.

    I figured, if it gets down to that level of defense, the evidence against them must be *overwhelming*.

    But it’s wrong to judge people by their stupidest defenders.

  59. _I clicked through and read the appended document – a timeline prepared by Lindh’s attorney – and it states clearly that Lindh received medical attention from US medics, including antibiotics and painkillers, as soon as he was identified as American._

    Look at the timing.

    One thing, this report doesn’t say they told him he couldn’t see a doctor until after they finished interrogating him. When he asked when he could see a doctor they said they didn’t know.

    So, the americans got him Dec. 1st and gave him some medical treatment then.

    And he was seen by an army medic on December 5 who reported that his wound smelled bad and was releasing a gray mucus, who appraently did not provide any treatment

    When he got to the ship on Dec. 14 he got an intravenous drip, and the bullet was removed on Dec. 15.

    That’s probably a stretch of 14 days in american hands with no treatment, after a week with the northern alliance.

    So, you read it. This was Lindh’s own account, extended in some parts by military records and photos. If it was true, would you say he was tortured or not? Was his confession legal by US law?

  60. That’s a bad link, I tried taking things out of the link until the filter didn’t block it.

    What made the difference was “info” in the link.

  61. _”And he was seen by an army medic on December 5 who reported that his wound smelled bad and was releasing a gray mucus, who appraently did not provide any treatment”_

    Why is that apparent? You are accepting Lindh version as a given and dismissing the governments out of hand.

  62. AL, if this guy was saying things you disagreed with I think your antennae would be out to discredit him.

    “The truth is I have made no additional money from Lindh’s story (other than my standard day rate for CNN) and never will. Now that Lindh’s father is now blaming me for his son’s “exculpatory” interview and has restarted his negative spin, the gloves are off. The truth will prevail.”

    Peyton says he didn’t tell the truth until now because he “didn’t want to influence the case”. But now that he’s had a falling=out with Lindh’s father, he changes his story.

    I would tend to trust Lindh’s own story except in the details that help him. It makes sense for him to keep as close to the truth as he can and change it only where he needs to, for obvious reasons. Of course the parts that help or hurt him are unfortunately the ones we’re most interested in.

    I would tend not to trust Peyton at all. He admits he changes his story according to who his friends are at the moment. I don’t know what he thinks helps him or hurts him, so I can’t guess when he’ll lie. But he says he will.

  63. JT – no, I don’t think your cite means anything; he said he wasn’t going to say anything while the trial was going on. The trail went on and finished. Then he said something.

    To be honest, I’d have probably done exactly the same thing.

    A.L.

  64. _You are accepting Lindh version as a given and dismissing the governments out of hand._

    This is the link that AL looked at, to debunk the Wikipedia account. I don’t think this link debunks it much. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

    bq. When details of the conditions of his captivity began to emerge, it was discovered that he had initially been wounded and hidden for a week with limited food, water, and minimal sleep before being captured. After being captured and taken to a room with a single, sealed-off window, Lindh reportedly had his clothes cut off him and was duct-taped to a stretcher and placed in a metal shipping container for transportation. Lindh was reportedly not allowed release from the stretcher when he needed to urinate. While being interrogated, Lindh was allegedly denied access to a lawyer, despite several alleged requests, and was threatened with denial of medical aid if he did not cooperate. Lindh was held for over a week in U.S. custody for his wound to be treated and the bullet removed.

    Lindh’s own report, the link that’s supposed to support this, is different in some details. After being captured he was given limited medical care once, and then medical care wa refused for 2 days. Then he was interrogated for 3 days , and when he asked when he could have a doctor they said “I don’t know”. He didn’t go into the metal shipping container until day 7, at camp Rhino. He stayed in the shipping container most of the time from day 7 to day 14. During that time he was interrogated by an FBI agent. His previous interrogations were perhaps to get military intelligence, not for trial. This was for his trial. He was not allowed a lawyer and was not told that his previous testimony (under torture) would not be allowed in court. When he stopped talking they strapped him back in the shipping container. Lindh claims the FBI man made no recordings, and did not show lindh a statement to check for accuracy.

    So Lindh’s own statement does *not* say that he was threatened with denial of medical treatment. Usually they simply did not provide treatment, and they didn’t tell him he would get treatment if he cooperated or that he wouldn’t get treatment if he didn’t cooperate.

    The wikipedia account telescopes 15 days to “over a week” and says he was threatened with denial of medical treatment. But the link itself says it was two weeks and it doesn’t say they threatened him with denial of medical treatment. They simply denied him medical treatment. He was intentionally kept hypothermic and sleepless, stress positions, long-term enforced immobility,malnutrition, and sensory deprivation, Plus his untreated wounds, primarily the gunshot in his thigh but also various shrapnel etc.

    If you find a link for the government’s version of his medical records, I’d be interested.

  65. _JT – no, I don’t think your cite means anything; he said he wasn’t going to say anything while the trial was going on. The trail went on and finished. Then he said something._

    “I only did interviews in which I spoke positively about Lindh in a deliberate effort not to influence his pending case.”

    When you assume that Peyton is an honorable man, what he said here makes no sense and it makes more sense to read it the way you read it and not the way he wrote it.

    But if you accept that he’s the kind of person who would say in print that he’s ready to do a hatchet job on Lindh now because he isn’t getting along with Lindh’s father, when he wasn’t ready to do it before, then that sentence makes perfect sense almost the way he said it. Except he *did* intend to influence the case positively, then, and he no longer wants to admit it.

  66. Everything you are citing off wiki is Lindhs version, proferred by his defense lawyers for the trial. Its cited directly under footnote 12 labeled: _Walker’s Transcript of the his time in US custody_

    GOVERNMENT’S OPPOSITION TO
    DEFENDANT’S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF RELEASE
    AND G0VFRNMENT’S PROFFER IN SUPP0RT OF DETENTION

    “source”:http://news.lp.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/lindh/uswlindh020502gvop.html

    _” Defense counsel would have this Court believe that the defendant was essentially deprived of food and medicine prior to his FBI interview. That is not true. We proffer to this Court that after the uprising was suppressed and Lindh was recognized as an American and taken into the custody of the United States military, he was given medical treatment, food and water. He was examined and treated regularly by a United States military physician, his wounds were dressed and changed repeatedly, he was administered antibiotics as well as pain killers, and he was even given a tetanus shot. Moreover, contrary to the defendant’s claim that he was given minimal food, military records for December 5, 2001 indicate that “[p]atient has been eating three MREs [Meals Ready to Eat] per day with plenty of water” and that his “[s]trength continues to improve.”_

    I’d read the whole brief for the governments side of the story. Its significantly different from whats on wiki- particularly the characterization of Lindhs role in Afghanistan.

  67. Mark, I have read the two accounts and they are compatible. Lindh says he was given 3 MRE bars on December 5, while before he’d gotten two. Later it was cut to 2 again and up to 3 after the FBI agent finished his interrogation. So they don’t conflict about that.

    _after the uprising was suppressed […] he was given medical treatment, food and water._

    He said that too. He was given all that one time.

    _He was examined and treated regularly by a United States military physician, his wounds were dressed and changed repeatedly, he was administered antibiotics as well as pain killers, and he was even given a tetanus shot._

    The only conflicts here are the words “regularly” and “repeatedly”. Only two words are in conflict. If perhaps by “regularly” the army meant “weekly”, then we’d have December 1, and December 5, and December 12 (which he didn’t mention but which would come right after the last FBI interrogation and would go along with the increased MREs). And that would be 3 times changing his bandages, which is enough to call it “repeatedly”.

    So really all we’re missing from Lindh’s report is one doctor’s visit and the two reports are squared away.

    How many antibiotics did Lindh need, anyway? one day’s worth is plenty, he survived didn’t he? And one day’s worth of narcotics is plenty. His wound had gotten washed in dirty water with dead bodies floating in it, so it was good they changed the dressings several times. Who knows, maybe they changed them every other day.

    Your link didn’t cover the torture issue, the argument was that it was irrelevant for what they were doing just then. And with the plea bargain they wound up never needing to cover that at all. Similarly the miranda rights etc. He did a plea bargain so none of that mattered any more.

  68. Given JWL’s beliefs, I have a hard time taking his account of the events at face value. It’s to his benefit to twist or distort what occurred. Others contradict his statements.

    Furthermore, someone who has had an untreated GSW for a week, little food/water, and has been through the kind of trauma he witnessed, I for one would question their ability to recall memories.

  69. JT, and if by “regularly” the army meant “on the half-hour” they’d have changed his bandages 12 days * 48 changes/day or 576 times. We used to call that kind of grasping after certainty “precision by division” back in high school.

    You (and I) have no meaningful data except two admittedly self-serving legal documents and one personal account by an arguable disinterested observer.

    To base your presumption on that – to presume to state with some degree of certainty how often he was treated or what the dosage of antibiotic he received was – is pretty silly, don’t you think?

    I’d suggest broader strokes; he was treated cruelly; or he was treated harshly; or he was treated kindly. I’d say somewhere between harsh and kind is likely; there’s very little evidence for cruelty.

    A.L.

  70. AL, I’m not saying with any certainty what happened. I’m pointing out that the two documents don’t disagree as much as they might appear to. Lindh’s report could be almost completely correct and still agree with the contrasting report which sounds so much better. It’s in the way the self-serving reports twist the words.

    The disinterested observer said he’s anything but disinterested, and he provided essentially no facts — mostly his opinions about Lindh’s attitudes.

    _I’d suggest broader strokes; he was treated cruelly; or he was treated harshly; or he was treated kindly. I’d say somewhere between harsh and kind is likely; there’s very little evidence for cruelty._

    bq. One soldier made derogatory statements about Mr. Lindh’s Islamic faith and religious practices. Another told Mr. Lindh he was “going to hang” for his actions and that after he was dead, the soldier would sell the photographs and give the money to a Christian organization. Another told Mr. Lindh that he wanted to shoot him then and there. The soldiers then put Mr. Lindh in a van and applied plastic handcuffs so tight they cut off the circulation in Mr. Lindh’s hands and left visible wrist scars and hand numbness still present months later.

    That’s a short example. The time in the shipping container looks to me rather cruel, particularly since they started out applying sleep deprivation, cold, and hunger as an interrogation method, but then they mostly didn’t question him.

    This is all understandable. They were soldiers, and they were faced with a US citizen who’d been on the other side. They followed orders and took minimal care of him, but he surely seemed more disgusting than the men who’d simply been enemies. He chickened out and claimed american citizenship. That got him home. Out of 300+ prisoners captured with him, he’s likely the only survivor. Because he’s an american traitor. Not only an american traitor, an american traitor who wimped out and used his US citizenship to survive. It’s completely understandable that US soldiers would be a bit cruel to him.

    Not only an enemy fighter, but a traitor. Not only a traitor but a wimp.

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