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.