Thursday, April 5, 2007

Gov't Should Commute John Lindh Sentence

Earlier today, Jesselyn Radack asked, in a recommended diary, that Daily Kos readers "keep the heat up concerning the [John Walker] Lindh case, especially now that so many more people know (and can get the specifics from her book) and can start pushing the media on this."

Lindh's parents' hometown paper tells the story of their petition to George W. Bush to commute their son's sentence, in the wake of the David Hicks verdict.

Lindh, now 26, joined the Taliban in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001 after converting to Islam and was captured there and turned over to the U.S. military in late 2001.

He was the first person to be charged in a U.S. court in the post-Sept. 11 war on terrorism.

Lindh, who grew up in Marin, was initially charged with 10 counts but in a plea bargain pleaded guilty in federal court in Virginia in 2002 to two lesser counts of serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons while doing so. Under the agreement, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

What the Marin Independent Journal story doesn't mention is that Lindh, who never fought any American troops and was never convicted of a terrorism charge, was tortured by his U.S. captors.
From Radack's book:

Lindh was found barely alive, shot in the leg, and suffering from dehydration, hypothermia and frostbite. Although Lindh was seriously wounded, starving, freezing, and exhausted, U.S. soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed him naked, scrawled “shithead” across the blindfold, duct-taped him to a stretcher for days in an unheated and unlit shipping container, threatened him with death, and posed with him for pictures. Parts of his ordeal were captured on videotape. Sound familiar?

At issue in the petition for commutation of the sentence is the issue of proportionality. Two other individuals were convicted on essentially the same charges -- and also treated with methods of torture and coercive interrogation -- David Hicks and Yaser Hamdi. Hicks received nine months in prison (on a 70-year suspended sentence). Hamdi renounced U.S. citizenship and was allowed to leave the country; he moved to Saudi Arabia.
From the Marin IJ article:

Brosnahan said the new petition has "updated information," but said he could not reveal the details.

Lindh is now being held in a maximum security prison in Florence, Colo., and is not allowed to communicate with the media. Brosnahan said Lindh is a "model prisoner" but said he could give no further information.

Lindh's mother, Marilyn Walker, said, "John has been in prison more than five years and it's time for him to come home."

The Justice Department, thus far, is said to have no comment.
President Bush should commute the sentence of John Walker Lindh.

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