American Talban's father says 10 years is enough

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American Talban's father says 10 years is enough

[Apologies for the lack of posts last week, had some quality time laying in bed wondering if I had the Ebola virus...]

A few weeks ago I caught this OPED from Frank Lindh in the New York Times that fired me up pretty good.  You will recall Frank as the father of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh.  In some leap of logic I can’t even begin to comprehend, Lindh argues that now that Osama Bin Ladin is dead, his son should be released.

Anyway, as soon as I read it, I did what I normally do and started researching.  I started by reading Frank Lindh’s long piece about his son from AlterNet.  You can read that here.   It’s a Dad trying to justify the actions of his son.  It’s also prone to abject hyperbole and sweeping generalizations like:

[T]he rights we enjoy as citizens under the Constitution at times of war and national crisis, and they can be undermined by politicians and the media. Recall that every one of the government officials who I quoted took an oath of loyalty to the Constitution when they were sworn into office. And yet look how quick they were to disregard the Constitution in order to make rhetorical points about John Lindh.

Next I read Horse Soldiers, by Doug Stanton.   I’d actually read it before, so I just reread the section dealing with the uprising at the prison where Lindh was captured.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  Just an outstanding book all around.   Not entirely useful for debunking Mr. Lindh (which I will do in a minute) but still an excellent read.

Next up was reading John Walker Lindh: AMERICAN TALIBAN.  Honestly, it was so bad I only made it a few chapters before I tossed it.  When I ordered it, I thought it would actually be about John Walker, alas, the “psychological study” of Lindh is just dreadful.  Unless you want to read 40 pages of “John Walker didn’t like girls” which it said about 4 times each page, and another odd section talking about how the American Psychiatric Association (“riddled with homosexual pedophiles”) then skip this book.  Honestly, rather ashamed I bought it in the first place.

Luckily, I finished up with “My Heart Became Attached” by Mark Kukis.  If you do want to read about Lindh, and his “strange odyssey” this is the one to read.   Most of what I write in the following comes from that book.

Anyway, back to Mr. Lindh’s “Free my son” screed.

It begins:

ON the evening of May 1, we learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed. The following dawn, I left my house in the Bay Area to catch a bus to Oakland International Airport. I flew to Indianapolis for a scheduled visit with my son, John Walker Lindh, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

I love my son. I enjoy our periodic visits and our weekly telephone calls, but this visit felt different. “If Bin Laden is dead,” I kept thinking, “why can’t John come home?”

A convert to Islam, John was found, unarmed and wounded, in a warlord’s fortress in northern Afghanistan in December 2001. He was subjected to physical and psychological abuse — a precursor to the mistreatment of many prisoners, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, by the American military during the George W. Bush era. Marines took a photograph of John, blindfolded, bound and naked. It was published and broadcast worldwide.

In post-9/11 America, John became a symbol of “the other.” He was called the American Taliban. A traitor. Detainee No. 1 in the war on terrorism.


Now look, I don’t have any special insight into naming conventions, but I’m not sure how any of those sobriquets are incorrect.  He is American, was with the Taliban, and was the first American detained in the War on Terror.  The “Traitor” part I guess is debatable, but since he was never tried for Treason, I will give you that one.

The reason he was stripped naked is fairly clear though in the context of what had just happened.  You remember why the uprising occurred?  Because no one bothered to check the detainees for guns and hand grenades when the Northern Alliance captured John and his comrades.  Let’s not forget that a young American, CIA agent Mike Spann was killed by weapons secreted in Afghan robes. 

The rest of how he starts this is all VERY debatable.  Nonetheless, he continues….

President George W. Bush called John a “Qaeda fighter.” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said, inaccurately, that he had been captured “with an AK-47.” Attorney General John Ashcroft said John had “turned his back on our country and our values.” Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani suggested that John be put to death for treason; polls showed that many Americans agreed.

This was heartbreaking to me and John’s mother. The son we know is intelligent, spiritual and good-natured. He has a wry sense of humor. He is fluent in Arabic, and curious about the history of the world’s languages and cultures.

John was not running away from anything when he first went overseas. He had a passionate desire to embrace all aspects of Islam, including the Arabic language. He embarked on an unusual odyssey of learning and adventure with full support from his parents. He selected Yemen, where he traveled in 1998, at age 17, because it was one of the best places to learn classical Arabic.

John was in a place he could learn Arabic, the Yemen Language Center, and he left it (despite a plea from his teacher there) because they weren’t Wahabi enough for him.  Curiosity about the “history of the world’s languages and cultures” is all good and fine, but it seems he was more curious about militancy.  Again, he joined the Taliban, a group that was so antithetical to other cultures that while John was with them, they dynamited 1400 year old statues of Buddha.   

In November 2000, John left Yemen for Pakistan, and the next April, he wrote to me and his mother to say he was going into the mountains of Pakistan for the summer. That was the last we heard from him. Throughout the summer, and especially after 9/11, our family became increasingly worried about John’s whereabouts and his welfare. In December 2001 we were shocked to learn from the news that John had been found among a group of Taliban prisoners who had survived an uprising and massacre at an old fortress near Mazar-i-Sharif.


I don’t know why they were shocked at all, considering that they had received emails from John’s friends in Pakistan that he was headed out.  Now, it doesn’t specifically state that he was headed into Afghanistan to fight, but the leap of logic from “son heads into wild areas of Pakistan to find stricter Islamic militants” to “showed up fighting for Taliban” isn’t that big a leap. 

This is where Frank completely jumps the shark….

Like Ernest Hemingway during the Spanish Civil War, John had volunteered for the army of a foreign government battling an insurgency. He thought he could help protect Afghan civilians against brutal attacks by the Northern Alliance warlords seeking to overthrow the Taliban government. His decision was rash and blindly idealistic, but not sinister or traitorous. He was 20 years old.

The comparison to Hemmingway is completely absurd.  First off, Hemmingway was reporting on the Spanish Civil War, and advocating for the Popular Front Government.   He wasn’t a front-line shock troop, he was a reporter and advocate.  Lindh wasn’t reporting on the Taliban v. Northern Alliance fights, he wouldn’t even call his mother collect even though she was begging for him to do so. 

The noting his age rather angers me, as many of the troops I had were 20 years old.  What does that have to do with anything?  Seemingly the father is engaging in the old “silly kids do dumb things” sort of argument.  But 20 years old is a man, and men make decisions and suffer the consequences of those choices.  Being “rash and blindly idealistic” doesn’t obviate you from suffering consequences of your actions. 

When John’s compatriots started fighting the Americans, his actions (or more precisely, lack of leaving the group) are what made his continued presence on the battlefield sinister and possibly traitorous.

I was stunned when I learned that John had gone to Afghanistan. It wasn’t our fight; he put himself in harm’s way without his parents’ approval. He did not go into Afghanistan alone; he took his family with him, and we all have suffered for his impulsive choice….

During the prison raid in which John was captured, another young American, a C.I.A. officer named Johnny Micheal Spann, was fatally shot. Mr. Spann’s father has pushed for harsh punishment. I respect his grief, and his son’s heroism. But his belief that John somehow was responsible for, or could have prevented, the death of his son is mistaken.

He was 20, he didn’t need his parents approval to go there.  When Mike Spann went into Afghanistan, your son’s friends took away his life, and the love and companionship away from his wife and child.   Could John Lindh have stopped Mike Spann’s death?  We’ll never know I guess, but one way he could have started would have been to say, “Hey, you know those guys I am with?  Some have guns and grenades right over there….”

Mr. Lindh ends…

John was a scapegoat, wrongly accused of terrorism at a moment when our grieving country needed someone to blame because the real terrorist had gotten away. Now that Bin Laden is dead, I hope President Obama, and the American people, can find it in their hearts to release John, and let him come home. Ten years is enough.

Why exactly Bin Ladin’s death should impact a guilty plea and sentencing voluntarily made pursuant to John Lindh’s express wishes is beyond me.  There are legitimate ways to appeal an erroneous legal proceeding, but of course, that didn’t happen here.  He pled guilty and was sentenced. 

Instead of issuing impassioned pleas from the pages of the NYT, Frank Lindh should be acknowledging that his son exercised free will, and is now bound by the repercussions of those choices.  As a lawyer, Mr. Lindh knows how the Judicial System works, even if he doesn’t agree with it.

Meanwhile, Spann’s wife and three children have been without their husband/father for ten years.  I think that that is more than enough as well, don’t you?


For a video version of the Lindh's assertions, go wach this from CBS News.

Posted in the burner | 47 comments
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...we should just hang him and be done with it.

Screw your son. He tried to kill Americans. Let him rot in prison till he dies.

let him rot

NO, 10 yrs is not former RM we were trusted with info that did not be passed around..I took an oath not to disclose info and haven't to this day...shame, shame.....Don't feel sorry for him..........


I don't have any sympathy for Lindh, only for the wife and children of Mr Spann. He was the first casualty of the war after 9/11. At least his STAR on the wall at CIA HQ has his name on it. I agree with the others, let him rot with his thoughts and actions in Federal Prison.

I do think we should consider some sort of amnesty for the people like him. although I find it wrong, amensty seemed to have worked for american's that turned on our nation like the confederates. People like to General Lee were allowed to live in peace despite raising an army which killeds thousands American citizens and even came close to destroying our great nation.

he's right. Stop paying for his incarceration,. and execute him as a traitor.

how can you people find him in comtet proyer to investigation ,you have no idea what this man or boy haS BEEN THROUGH k.l. fortney adjt. squt.15 s.a.l. regards,search yourselves before you condemm others,k.l. fortney.

What part of terrorist does not his father understand? I have family and friends that are in the military, as far as I am concerned, he lost his right to freedom when he tried to fight against our troops. Perhaps his parents should have taught him more self restraint and understanding the price of being a traitor. Forgiveness I have for the boy, but I do not forget easily. As I see it, he has no place in our society, let him make his place behind bars. Taking responsibility for one's actions is a big part of our society and our laws. I am sorry but this guy was caught red handed fighting for the wrong side. So jail is where he belongs and should stay

They should have sentenced him to DEATH by FIRING SQUAD, then ELECTROCED his a** just to make sure!

Mr. Lindh,
Your laments fall on loyal Americans’ deaf ears. What is most tragic is that you son was not executed for his treasonable acts, but now exists solely at the mercy and expense of the American tax payer. Have you ever spoken with the widow or the family of CIA agent Mike Spann? I doubt seriously that they would support your logic or you laments.
You are a pathetic example of an American, or a good parent.

His father is absolutely right. 10 years in prison is enough. Let's get him out, take him to Guantanamo, Put him on display in front of the other enemys of the USA, let them see him, and then hang him by the neck until he is dead. He is a traitor to his own country, he has sworn allegiance to a foreign terrorist group, and he does not deserve to live. PERIOD. There is no reason for the citizens of this great country to bear the expense of housing, feeding, guarding, medicating, and all the other affiliated expenses of this rotten. lousy, no-good traitor! Hang him. Hang him now. Get it overwith.

If your son wanted to learn bad enough he could have went to college in the U.S. and taken trips overseas.
Bottom Line: he was found with the Taliban fighting against American Troops, he is a Benedict Arnold and should be tried for treason, tossed out of America and put on a deserted island for the rest of his life. He is a traitor, he is not a American true at heart he is getting what he deserved, no sympathy from me or from others should be given to him!

This man was captured with a militant (not military) force bearing arms against the United States and it's allies. He should be serving life inprison; but not an American prison!!! He should be doing life in an Afganistan prison for crimes against it's people, and if he had anything to do with the wrongful executions of Afganistan civilians/political/religious prisoners, then he should be executed himself! "Like Father - Like Son!" One of the biggest problems with this country is blameing "society" for children going wrong, when it's 99.99 percent the parents fault!

John never should have been convicted, and never would have been convicted, except for the anger of the moment. He acted on his personal beliefs, and got caught up in something he could never have anticipated. I blame an ultra liberal upbringing, and a lack of proper parental guidance for his presence in a Taliban community in the first place. But being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, is not a good reason to ruin a young man's life forever.

He is a traiter and should have already been put to DEATH!!!

I raised five children the problem with the liberal Mr Lindh he let his kid raise himself .he never told him once how wonderful the American ideal is the freedoms we enjoy.oR THE COST OF THOSE FREEDOMS,So here John goes with no road map or compass on America,ends up being brainwashed into the other side.Good job Mr Lindh,happy fathers day you do deserve,but your son would have never been in the position he is in now had you instilled any thing other than your liberal left wing values on him.This is your fault sir,no one else 's take the responsibility .jOHN HOWEVER HAD BETTER realize that he needs to become contrite to escape a long life in prison sentence,My advice tell him to throw away those beliefs and plant his feet firmly back on American ground,then he might get free.Yet will he be brave enough to do so? Or Will he still be our enemy inside?

He is lucky he is not dead..... he should spend the rest of his life in prison for his acts, It would be nice if he had some company of other anti Americans that commit treason every day ie: obama, pelosi , reid, hell almost anyone that says they are a democrat....

Unfortunately, Mr. Lindh, your son did wrong to his country in general, and to others individually, including Mr. Spann. Part of this was you and his mother's fault, for raising him with little or no sense of morality or of gratefulness to this country. Look at the lives you and she have led, and look at your son - his behavior is partially a result of your laissez-faire parenting style and partially because he did not have any notion of thinking through things and what the consequences would be. You both did a terrible job and you should be ashamed of yourselves and this son you want freed. He should stay in that jail until he dies of old age, and I hope at some point he thinks about the people he allowed to be killed and their families and realizes HE is the one who did wrong. You and his mother and your son all strike me as the kind of people who never accept responsibility for doing wrong. I would suggest that the best way for you to show real love for your son is to urge him to accept responsibility for what he did, and accept his punishment. I do not think you are capable of this yourself, and because of your deliberate actions in how you raised your son, he is also incapable of accepting responsibility. So I think he should stay in prison - because he is just the kind of shiftless person who cannot tell right from wrong, so why let him out to do it again?

He should never be free. If he still has his beliefs in the Taliban, send him and other Taliban sympathetic idiots to West Virginia. We know how to deal with them. Send his left wing goofball father with him also

Although I feel for you, your son was old enough to make the decision for himself. Just as young men and women are able to make the decision to fight and die for America, he had a choice. My question would be this. Why did he do it? Was his home life full of radical ideas that turned him against his country? Was it his teachers? Did they teach him this way of life? You see, I grew up with a different set of values. My father and uncles all served in WW2. They saw action, risked their lives and made it home. My cousins served in Vietnam and almost didn't make it back.I listened to the stories that the local grocer told us of the liberation of the concentration camps in Germany. My father told me of the troops ships that sailed from the South Pacific filled with the wounded and dying who had served on the beaches. These were the stories that guided my young life. Patriotism, love of country and freedom. I joined the military early in my life, but yet volunteered to serve in combat at the age of 48. I served in both Afghanistan and Iraq as an Army pilot, fighting the enemy of my country and trying to do good for a group of battered and disheveled foreigeners who wanted freedom from tyranny. Many people I have known died in this struggle. Many came back without limbs and scarred mentally. I feel more for them than your son. You see, we all have to live with our decisions. I live with the choice of freedom and owe my life to the Constitution that I swore to protect and die for if need be, more now than ever before.

I agree with David M. - hang him.

Sorry Mr. Lindh but your son is just getting started. He is a traitor but no one forced him to betray his country. He is very lucky to be alive.

There are a number of misguided young people that are still in prison for deeds committed long ago. Should we set free the Soviet spies Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee because the Soviet Union no longer exists? The crime they committed was to attempt to harm the United States of America- regardless of the receiving entity. Lindh is NO different. He sided with and joined a group dedicated to the destruction of the United States of America and took up arms against the country. His youth and idealistic frame of mind does not change the fact that he committed a crime against this country. While he might not have been tried as a traitor, an approach with which I disagree simply because it was chosen due to Political Correctness (we should not condemn "Islam" because of the misguided "few" radicals, etc.). Frank Lindh may be an attorney, but he shows a truly poor understanding of the responsibilities of US citizenship to preserve, protect and defend our nation. Some may view this as a radical idea, but personally I believe this is the direct result of growing up without the draft to teach our youth the meaning of our collective responsibility as citizens. Unfortunately, we are a nation of laws and though I do not agree with the court's verdict in this case, we cannot violate the sanctity of the system by lynching the American Taliban. But, as well, we cannot let him out of jail like he was a three year old we release from "time-out".

Execute. execute. execute.

Of course I am sorry for anyone who makes a decision that ends with consequences such as John's.
And yes, I do personally forgive his actions. That does not mean that I could justify what he has done or reccommend that he be released. It does seem that his mother and father are more than a bit liberal in their thinking and they seem to make excuses for any of their son's actions. This is not a child that I would hope would be friendly with my own children. He has already been dangerous; I see no reason to suspect that he would become less dangerous.

I am a semi-retired Federal Criminal Defense attorney, who served as an officer in the US Naval reserve on active duty. I have represented hundreds accused of crimes. I have assisted many to plead guilty, which they did, because they believed they would be convicted and get a tougher sentence. If he believes now that his plea was a legal mistake let him do a post conviction claim. His father is a type I have run into many many times. They dominate their children and by doing so enable their criminal behavior by never holding them to account. Perhaps by doing what he did John Lindh was attempting to grow up in a distorted fashion to get out from under his dominating father.

20 years of service, my son, 4yrs in the marine corp, & I have to lisen to some CA lawyer cry over a piece of crap that he helped raise, I'll never spend a penny to a book from this so called lawyer...what are you going to say to the parents of the dead heros who help to give you the freedom to speak out against us, would the muslims let you live if it were different and they were in about protesting them and see how far you get, but its easy the be against some one who won't fight against you, but wants freedom for all, been around the world 2 times and the USA is the best, open your eyes or just live in that limited world you live in...let him rot and throw that lawyer in, too!!!!!!!!

10 years is along time ( but your alive ) how long is coming home in a flag drapped box ? Like used to say don't mean nothing . So do every one a favor suck it up and pay pay for what you did my brothers did and came home in a box . No appealing that sentance .Just can not wring in pity for john .

You're right! Ten years is enough. Why are taxpayers continuing to pay to house and feed this traitor and how long will this go on? The penalty for treason is specific. Execute and quit wasting taxpayer dollars.

He needs a tall platform and a short rope.

Why is he still alive?

I agree w/ everyone except those who can't spell or form a sentence. His parents didn't raise him with values or allegiance to our great country. If he really wanted an adventure and to learn, he should have joined the USMC and gotten some discipline and self respect. He's fortunate he's still alive and his
parents are still able to talk to him. Mike Spann (who I believe was previously a military man) was a true
American Patriot. I watched the attack on CNN. We need to teach our children, the greatness of our country and what we stand for.

This war is over, history, once I read the Rolling Stone interviews, I realized, that the same guys who conjured up Vietnam, are now running this Oil + Opium Operation. We got our payback for 911,
This is a 10 year war, that is totally political and fruitless. The USSR also went bankrupt while in Afghanistan, and still did not come out it with anything. We would be better off if we dropped IPODS and cell phones rather than bombs. We are sacrificing our children on a political war. Ten Years of this, while urban blight overtakes the nation and the economy begins to rust. I pray, that we do not push Pakistan and India into a nuclear war over this mixed up middle east agenda. I believe operation Paperclip took place after WWII, whereby Nazi Scientists were brought to America, and an ex German officer was in charge of the US moon missions. I think the US needs to find a way out of the middle east, before our economy implodes. There's hardly any other nation standing with us in the middle east, and when we leave, a new regional Persian Power and Turkey will become the dominant forces. This war should have ended yesterday, in fact I think it did, but the media refuses to print the headlines. So I just watch the IPOD footage on the net from the kids in country. It's really long over due.

If the solders who captured him had shot him and the others we would not be paying tax dollars to keep them locked up. Let this be a lesson. Kill the taliban by drowning in pig blood, of course after a final meal of, lets say, a ham sandwich.

Yeah his father is an expert on what is enough time and how to raise your children...A lot of our military families would like to have their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters home and with them after 10 years. Lets not forget to mention how many military people would like to have their limbs back and live normal lives. But, thanks to people like John Walker Lindh, they never will. Unlike some others, I don't want him executed. I want him to suffer every day for the rest of his life, like many of our Vets will have to suffer. His father should be greatful every day that it was better men than his son could ever hope to be, who captured him on the battle field and took him a live.

This captive is a man without country, let him remain just that. He took up arms against his homeland.
If he did or didn't kill Americans he spoke of actions or the Taliban would have killed him themselves.
Would his father rather be visiting his grave? If He could find it. When you play with fire it burns.

Having proudly served in the USMC for six years and watching my brothers brutally torched, killed and even starved to death, I fell that this traitor shoud be taken out tied up by his ankles, slit his throat and let him bleed out and yelp like the stinking pig that he is!

No way this guy sould ever get out. Rot in prison.

Let em stay in jail forever and while we are at it deport Jane Fonda!

Why on earth should he be released? If he was so ignorant and gullible to follow bin laden, no question he wuld be gullible enough to follow Al Zaqari or whoever is next! Throw away the key....

I understand where the father of John Lindl is coming from since no matter what your children do, you as their father will still loves them. Look what our Heavenly Father saw us do to his only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, but you know what our Heavenly Father still loves us and has forgiven me a sinner just like you. Frank Lindl, I am sure, has forgiven his son, but society has not. Did he do wrong, you bet he did, should we forgive him? The answer to that question is a strong YES, but at the same time even though our Heavenly Father has forgiven us we still must pay for our sins. And I can say that my punishment for my sins has been very strong and will continue such. Have I asked forgiveness and the answer is YES, but that does not mean that I will not stand before the LORD JESUS CHRIST some time in the near future for my actions. John Lindl has been found guilty of fighting against our GREAT country and he too must pay for his actions. I pray that John Lindl turns to a nd accept JESUS CHRIST as his true friend and Savior and turns his back on Islam.

The name, "American Taliban", is contradictory in and of itself. John Walker Lindh is lucky he was not hanged as a traitor! The United States is involved in a "War on Terror", just as we were involved in a "War against the Axis Powers" from 1941 through 1945 (WW2). The "Taliban" in this "War on Terror" equate to the "Nazis" in "WW2". I see NO reason, whatsoever, to release this traitor, except to release him to the hangman's noose!

John Walker Lindh gave up his right to be treated as an American citizen when at 20 years old he made a conscious decision to join and fight for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Perhaps he could have saved Mike Spann. If so, then I count that as accomplice to murder on top of his terrorist treachery. At 20 years old, he knew what he was doing. I joined the military at that age. And if he had wanted to learn Arabic, he could have become SigInt in any branch of the service. The DLIFLC in Monterey, CA (as well as MIIS, which is just down the hill from the Presidio) has a 63 week Arabic course taught by Foreign Nationals. I took it. He could have been with Muslims there. My whole teaching team was Muslim. And they NEVER supported the crap that went down on 9/11. Lindh gave up his citizenship and is a traitor to this country. He should be serving time at Gitmo, not in Terra Haute. And as I recall, the US would be within its rights to seek the death penalty of a traitor during a time of war. His father should be grateful that piece of human garbage is still alive.

what an insult - his daddy wants him out of jail. My friend would like to have HIS SON back - see he is KIA in 2003 or all the others who gave their lives for Freedom. daddy go where your baby boy went and complain - they would just kill you.

FREE HIM! Sure, why not? Let this man walk free. Then he can commit a terrorist attack on our own soil! Wouldn’t that make Daddy proud? This terrorist is hard wired to kill all Americans, and all non Muslims. Ten years in prison has not taught this guy morals, nor has it changed his mind of being a radical Muslim. Should we execute him? No let him spend the rest of his life behind bars like an animal. Let Mommy and Daddy come up with the money to feed, clothed, and pay the wages of the correction officers that baby sit his sorry butt. Enough said-

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.