Jewish World Review April 9, 2002 / 28 Nisan, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
Tied up and Taliban
Now comes the photograph of Marin, Calif., Taliban John Walker Lindh. He's in U.S. custody, bound to a stretcher, naked and blindfolded. Its release -- thanks to the Lindh defense lawyers -- provides ammo for those superior Americans who want to paint the U.S. military as no better than the Taliban or al Qaeda.
It's not a pretty picture -- although it's probably prettier than any photograph of the remains of the Sept. 11 victims. Ditto the corpse of Johnny Michael Spann, the CIA agent who was killed during the Qala-i-Janghi prison camp uprising, at which Lindh seems to have been a hapless and unsuccessful dodger of bullets.
The photo was taken after Lindh had been moved to Camp Rhino in Afghanistan.
U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty argues that "within an hour or two" of the strip search, Lindh "was wrapped in two comforters for warmth. He was given plenty of water. Within two days, he was provided medical 'scrubs' to wear and was immediately released from the stretcher."
As one of the soldiers who guarded Lindh, Marine Lance Cpl. Charles Perkins told the Hayward Daily Review: "Our main concern of guarding him was possibly being attacked so they could rescue him. Meanwhile, we were just making sure he didn't try to escape." There was a clash with hostile forces while Lindh was being held.
Perkins also said that Lindh was treated humanely in accord with the Geneva Convention, fed three meals a day and given a heated blanket and clothing.
"While the Navy physician who was treating him had to sleep on a concrete floor in a sleeping bag in a room with a hole in the wall and a hole in the ceiling," the prosecution wrote, "Lindh slept on a stretcher in a container that protected him from the elements."
His lawyers argue that Lindh's lack of legal representation and his experiences should render what Lindh told authorities inadmissible in court. They note that Lindh was interrogated while he still had a bullet in his leg. (And it's hard to fathom why authorities waited two weeks to remove it.)
They complain that "the government, knowing of Mr. Lindh's dismal condition after having been subjected to 40 U.S. missile strikes, multiple grenade attacks, a fuel-powered fire and flooding by freezing cold water" -- the fire and water coming from a Northern Alliance warlord -- "subjected Mr. Lindh to a week of interrogation without advising him of his rights and despite his requests for counsel."
That's legalese for: Lindh was so freaked out from the foreign war, which he signed up for of his own free will, that the FBI should not have questioned him.
In addition, Lindh's San Francisco lawyers are arguing that Lindh was a foot soldier who never knowingly or willingly attacked Americans. As defense attorney George Harris wrote, Lindh "knows that he never intended nor attempted in any way to harm any civilian or any U.S. national, or to participate in or support any terrorist actions." Understandably, the defense team crows that the prosecution has failed to name one American victim.
Enter the argument that Lindh could work for terrorists without being a terrorist -- just as (in my words, not those of Lindh lawyers) a low-level hood can work for the mob without being responsible for the mob's worst crimes.
It could work.
Or it could backfire.
To bolster the argument that Lindh should not be charged with the events of Sept. 11, the defense cited an affidavit by FBI agent Anne Asbury, which says that around June 2001, Lindh attended an al Qaeda training camp where the Egyptian camp leader "asked Walker, as well as others training at the camp, whether he was interested in traveling outside Afghanistan to conduct operations against the United States and certain Israeli targets. Walker declined the offer and chose instead to go to the front lines to fight."
That's a precarious defense, as it suggests that Lindh was well aware of the bloody agenda of his trainers well before the first passenger plane flew into a New York
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
04/05/02: No justice in reparations
04/01/02: Schools, yes; fat police, no
03/25/02: The government-induced doctor shortage
03/22/02: Conservative hypocrisy on school drug testing?
03/20/02: And now, about Russell Yates . . .
03/18/02: Bush isn't worried about alienating loyalist voters
03/13/02: No exit strategy
03/11/02: Simon hits the big time
03/06/02: He got away
03/01/02: Mary, Luke, Paul, John and Noah
02/25/02: These are good days for veep
02/21/02: Dirty bill for a dirty mess
02/19/02: Score one for Greta
02/15/02: Dose of justice needed here
02/08/02: Sunshine all around
02/04/02: Does citizenship matter?
02/01/02: End the coverup
01/30/02: Try this for "troubling"
01/25/02: Camp X-ray or Club Med?
01/23/02: Let's stop the deluge of porn e-mail
01/21/02: No 'Little Boy Lost'
01/16/02: Son of Supercar
01/12/02: Beware the European view of the death penalty
01/09/02: Other people's children
01/07/02: It doesn't fly
01/03/02: Going from the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Berkeley
12/31/01: In America, punishment should fit the crime
12/28/01: What I'd like to see in 2002
12/24/01: Don't heckle ink monopolists
12/21/01: Mumia finds safety in numbers
12/19/01 The self-help PBS shopping network
12/17/01 Caught on tape
12/14/01 Know when to hold 'em
12/10/01 Old friends
12/06/01 I read the news today, oh boy
12/03/01 It's not cricket
11/28/01 Admissions and omissions
11/26/01 Guns and abayas
11/21/01 Depraved minds think alike
11/19/01 Guilty, a la carte
11/14/01 Interpreting the entrails of Election 2000
11/12/01 Life and liberty
11/09/01 Safety is as safety does
11/07/01 More hot air on global warming
11/05/01 Bumped Pakistani's molehill
11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
09/13/01: ENTER TERROR
09/11/01: You can't clone ethics
09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
08/20/01: Bush should stand up for justice
08/08/01: Don't give Peace (Dept). a chance
08/03/01: Lose a kid, pass a law
08/01/01: Welcome to France, killers
07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
07/26/01: If disabled means expendable
07/23/01: Condit should not resign
07/18/01: Feinstein should learn her limit
07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders
12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?
© 2000, Creators Syndicate