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Frank Lindh, father of 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh, explains why his son is an innocent victim of America's 'war on terror'
July 10, 2011 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Frank Lindh, father of 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh, explains why his son is an innocent victim of America's 'war on terror'
posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty (117 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Innocent? Perhaps of some of thing accusations leveled against him by our government. But...the man volunteered to be a soldier in the army enforcing the Taliban's barbarically violent theocracy. I'm having a hard time mustering up any sympathy for him knowing how the Taliban violently oppressed women and outright murdered homosexuals.
posted by MikeMc at 11:39 AM on July 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


That's how a lot of people feel about US troops. It's a complicated world we live in, ain't it?
posted by verb at 11:44 AM on July 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


> But...the man volunteered to be a soldier in the army enforcing the Taliban's barbarically violent theocracy.

He was fighting alongside the same people who the US funded to kill Russians. Besides, even if what you say is true, why does that make it ok for the horrible treatment, conviction by media, kangaroo court, and harsh sentence?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:45 AM on July 10, 2011 [26 favorites]


I'm having a hard time mustering up any sympathy for him knowing how the Taliban violently oppressed women and outright murdered homosexuals.

I think the article made it abundantly clear that the line between the NA and the Taliban was incredibly blurry and the only reason we attacked the Taliban was a knee-jerk reaction to their funding by Osama bin Laden.

More shocking was that US agents were present during these war crimes. There's no justification for the torture the POWs suffered.
posted by geoff. at 11:49 AM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


He was fighting alongside the same people who the US funded to kill Russians. Besides, even if what you say is true, why does that make it ok for the horrible treatment, conviction by media, kangaroo court, and harsh sentence?

Because the 9/11. This argument can successfully be used to abuse anyone or any freedom, for any reason, forever. We were given a situation that challenged us to hold on to our principles, and we have failed miserably.
posted by notion at 11:51 AM on July 10, 2011 [32 favorites]


I seriously have to wonder whether you read the article in full, MikeMc. In any case, thank you MighstAllCruckingFighty, this was a very interesting read. There was a lot in there that I hadn't heard before and it's certainly thought-provoking.
posted by nuala at 11:53 AM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not every saddening situation is created by actions which were "innocent."
posted by Ironmouth at 11:55 AM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


He was fighting alongside the same people who the US funded to kill Russians.

Yeah, his father stresses that point over and over again as well, but I'm still not seeing what the relevance is.

We fought the Germans in WWII as well. That doesn't make it OK to go and join the Red Army Faction.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:56 AM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm having a hard time mustering up any sympathy for him knowing how the Taliban violently oppressed women and outright murdered homosexuals.

I am torn between wanting to violently disagreeing with you and completely agreeing with you. I've come to the conclusion that every party involved in all sides are assholes.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:57 AM on July 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


We fought the Germans in WWII as well. That doesn't make it OK to go and join the Red Army Faction.

His point is, if Lindh gets 20 years for naively fighting with the Taliban for one year, then a good bit of the Reagan Administration should still be in jail.
posted by notion at 12:00 PM on July 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


"Besides, even if what you say is true, why does that make it ok for the horrible treatment, conviction by media, kangaroo court, and harsh sentence?"

As to the horrible treatment, consider the alternative. He could have been left with the NA to be castrated and executed. All in all JWL came out of this much better than he could have.


That's how a lot of people feel about US troops. It's a complicated world we live in, ain't it?

Second post, I expected that to take a little longer.

I seriously have to wonder whether you read the article in full, MikeMc.

Yes, I did.

I'm not saying the local warlords were any better, it's like choosing a sides between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army. My enemy's enemy is my friend and all that, just like when we supported the Taliban (but called the the Mujaheddin).

His point is, if Lindh gets 20 years for naively fighting with the Taliban for one year,

What do you think the naive Hitlerjugend got for fight aginst the Red Army for a week or two? Sent home with a stern lecture? (not a Godwin)
posted by MikeMc at 12:05 PM on July 10, 2011


What do you think the naive Hitlerjugend got for fight aginst the Red Army for a week or two? Sent home with a stern lecture? (not a Godwin)

You know, calling it doesn't mean you haven't triggered Godwin's law. You can say Godwin's law is stupid, or that the comparison is valid, but Godwin's law was pretty much written to describe your post.

The fact that you shout, "Not it!" after comparing someone to the Nazis doesn't mean you're being constructive.
posted by verb at 12:08 PM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


What do you think the naive Hitlerjugend got for fight aginst the Red Army for a week or two? Sent home with a stern lecture? (not a Godwin)

America's new slogan: "We're marginally better than the Red Army."
posted by notion at 12:09 PM on July 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


If by "new" you mean "since 1945" then sure.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:13 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


For an critical look at the US War on Terror, The Guardian is where it's at. US newspapers wouldn't dare run something like this. I saw this story yesterday and I'm glad you made this post.
posted by vincele at 12:14 PM on July 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


So the fact that he might have treated worse by the NA makes our mistreatment of him okay.

what
posted by rtha at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


A decade after 9/11, with the U.S. broke, Bin Laden dead and the Taliban finally in peace talks - I'd wager that any official steps toward acknowledging any wrongdoing on the part of the U.S. is still about 40 years off.
posted by HLD at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


As to the horrible treatment, consider the alternative. He could have been left with the NA to be castrated and executed. All in all JWL came out of this much better than he could have.

This kind of relativity is absolutely sickening and only serves to encourage us to be not quite as evil as the other guy. Our goals for treatment of suspects, whether they be prisoners of war, POWs, "enemy combatants," etc., should be loftier than a race to the bottom.
posted by gatorae at 12:18 PM on July 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I always thought "American Taliban" referred to the bits they specifically paid for.
posted by fullerine at 12:20 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's a couple related links I found interesting:

Innocent - Esquire article from 2006

The Real Story of John Walker Lindh - MeFi discussion about an Alternet article written by Frank Lindh.
posted by timelord at 12:24 PM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


What do you think the naive Hitlerjugend got for fight aginst the Red Army for a week or two? Sent home with a stern lecture?

I'm honestly not clear what you are trying to imply here. Are you suggesting that all 2+ million members of the Hitler Youth were, in fact, tried and/or imprisoned for war crimes?
posted by scody at 12:29 PM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jesus, MikeMc. The point of the article is that he was tortured and railroaded into 20 years in prison, not just by an overzealous prosecutor or a corrupt back-woods judge, but by the most powerful people in our government. It's wrong, corrupt and evil and whether or not you sympathize with Lindh's motivations is completely beside the fucking point.
posted by Ickster at 12:33 PM on July 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


"but Godwin's law was pretty much written to describe your post."

Bullshit. It was a good example of the consequences of naive youth engaging in combat operations. JWL wasn't even some child indoctrinated since toddlerhood and sent to fight a last ditch battle. He is a grown man who chose to join combat operations and got captured. Actions have consequences.

This kind of relativity is absolutely sickening and only serves to encourage us to be not quite as evil as the other guy

Also bullshit, the way American troops treat prisoners is significantly better than the Taliban or the Afghan warlords. Could things be improved? Sure, but "not quite as evil" is worthless clap-trap. It's not even close.
posted by MikeMc at 12:33 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I'm honestly not clear what you are trying to imply here. Are you suggesting that all 2+ million members of the Hitler Youth were, in fact, tried and/or imprisoned for war crimes?"

I'm saying many were outright killed, no lawyers, no trial, either shot or died in Soviet camps. Naivety is not a shield.

It's wrong, corrupt and evil and whether or not you sympathize with Lindh's motivations is completely beside the fucking point.

What should they done with him? Left him with the Northern Alliance? Returned him to the Taliban with whom U.S. forces were engaged in combat operations against? Sent him back to his parents after a stern lecture about the illegality of joining foreign armies? What is the "correct" outcome here?
posted by MikeMc at 12:38 PM on July 10, 2011


Also bullshit, the way American troops treat prisoners is significantly better than the Taliban or the Afghan warlords. Could things be improved? Sure, but "not quite as evil" is worthless clap-trap. It's not even close.

You're saying torture is better than execution? I'm sure the Justice Department would beg to differ.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:39 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actions have consequences.

Indeed. So I'm sure you'd support Attorney-General Ashcroft et al. facing charges for their parts in violating Mr. Lindh's constitutionally-guaranteed rights.
posted by docgonzo at 12:40 PM on July 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


On second thought, the fact that you don't give a damn and figure he had it coming might be the entire point.
posted by Ickster at 12:41 PM on July 10, 2011


What is the "correct" outcome here?

I am not entirely sure but I'd bet it has something to do with due process and the Eighth Amendment.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:42 PM on July 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


What do you think the naive Hitlerjugend got for fight aginst the Red Army for a week or two?

Among other things, the papacy.
posted by dersins at 12:42 PM on July 10, 2011 [34 favorites]


What should they done with him? Left him with the Northern Alliance? Returned him to the Taliban with whom U.S. forces were engaged in combat operations against? Sent him back to his parents after a stern lecture about the illegality of joining foreign armies? What is the "correct" outcome here?

Oh, I don't know. They probably could have skipped torturing him, advised him of his right to counsel, and simply charged him with whatever he'd done wrong, rather than torturing him and railroading him into 20 years in the name of fighting the terrah. In other words, they could've acted according to our laws and principles. Too hard to understand?
posted by Ickster at 12:44 PM on July 10, 2011 [21 favorites]


System justification, saving MikeMc the trouble of being a rational actor.
posted by mek at 12:45 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm saying many were outright killed, no lawyers, no trial, either shot or died in Soviet camps. Naivety is not a shield.

You are making a very garbled argument. Because German soldiers were killed at the front or in POW camps, it does not therefore follow that the U.S. government is legally entitled to torture its own citizens, nor morally superior for doing so.
posted by scody at 12:47 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact remains that the US government recognized the Taliban as the legitimate governing entity. I won't pretend to understand what it takes to remain a relevant political and military force in the region that is so splintered, where alliances drift constantly, and where the US and former Soviet Union funneled economic and military support to differing degrees for decades.

I do know for sure that I thought the Taliban were utterly despicable, especially in the urban areas of Afghanistan, and that their regime was a wound to intelligent societies everywhere. How closely did the armed groups connected to the Taliban, like the one Lindh belonged to, relate to the social issues that I found (and find) so disgusting, especially in their persecution of women and homosexuals, in the cities? I don't know. Did Lindh ever visit those areas? It doesn't sound like it. He was in a region where groups have been at war as long as the region has been settled, where there are no universities or hospitals or the other signs of entrenched society we take for granted.

So I can't judge how bad this particular group was, in my relative viewpoint. If he looked at the broader picture, or my viewpoint in middle america, he may not have gone to the region. But he'd lived in Pakistan for some time, he'd seen things I hope I never have to see, and he chose to support a group that was relatively devoted to a regional territory conflict, not an international one.

While bin Laden visited this group, and he may have believed it was another front of the same conflict he was addressing, I believe Lindh's father's article and sympathize. I think John Lindh was a casualty of circumstance, by lieu of the fact the group he supported took support from bin Laden.
posted by mikeh at 12:47 PM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess I simultaneously think Lindh's father is right and have a really hard time mustering much sympathy for someone whose version of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was to join the Taliban. And I suppose that's how plenty of American Catholics saw people who joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, now that I think of it.

I guess that I recognize that I'm obligated to defend the human rights of people I find despicable, and that means that I'll defend John Lindh's rights, which were clearly violated. But I'm not sure I'm on board with depicting him as just a nice, scholarly guy who happened to overlook some of the Taliban's faults.
posted by craichead at 12:48 PM on July 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


"What should they done with him?"

I dunno, maybe tried him without the entire fucking executive branch telling all of america that he was a murderer and al quaida collaborator and prejudicing the entire country against him? Maybe obeying the Geneva convention and not torturing him? Maybe giving him emergency medical care to his gunshot wound instead of waiting two weeks? Maybe it's warranted that he received a year or two for "being naive" and possibly making some not great decisions. But it's inexcusable that he be made the scapegoat for angry americans and their delicious, delicious hate. There's more options than "slap on the wrist" and "thrown to the wolves".
posted by kingv at 12:50 PM on July 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


Bullshit. It was a good example of the consequences of naive youth engaging in combat operations. JWL wasn't even some child indoctrinated since toddlerhood and sent to fight a last ditch battle. He is a grown man who chose to join combat operations and got captured. Actions have consequences.

Which one is he? According to our laws, he wasn't old enough to handle alcohol, but he should have known things that eluded our entire intelligence community? And instead of a few years of punishment, he gets tortured and sentenced to twenty years in prison after they violate virtually all of his rights as an American citizen? This is a pretty poor argument.

And to excuse this behavior because it's better than the Red Army or the Taliban is the perfect example of missing the elementary point of morality. I hope you're not the type of person who is just happy that they are better than Jeffrey Dahmer.
posted by notion at 12:52 PM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


And, of course, this thread wouldn't be complete without this link.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:57 PM on July 10, 2011


Because German soldiers were killed at the front or in POW camps, it does not therefore follow that the U.S. government is legally entitled to torture its own citizens, nor morally superior for doing so.

There was mention of JWL being a naive youth, my only point was that historically speaking that doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

railroading him into 20 years in the name of fighting the terrah. In other words, they could've acted according to our laws and principles. Too hard to understand?

He was returned to the U.S., indicted by a federal grand jury and accepted a plea bargain. Is that too hard to understand? He could have gone to trial but chose not to. Now, you can say it would have turned out worse for him, and you'd probably be right, but that's purely speculation.

Being a father I very much sympathize with Frank Lindh and I would want my son freed as well, maybe after some peace settlement is made in Afghanistan he'll be released. That would be the right thing to do.

The worst part is that after all of this is wrapped up the Taliban will regain control of the country within six months and all of this pain and suffering will have been for naught.
posted by MikeMc at 1:00 PM on July 10, 2011




Bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan in 1996 and became friendly with them. In February of 1998, he declared war against the West and Israel. That same year, criminal charges were filed against him.

From the article:
In late April 2001, John wrote to me and his mother, saying he planned to go into the mountains to escape the oppressive summer heat. We had no further contact from him for seven months. Unbeknown to us, he crossed the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan, with the intent of volunteering for service in the Afghan army under the control of the Taliban government.
...
The training camp in Afghanistan where the Ansar received their infantry training was funded by Osama bin Laden, who also visited the camp on a regular basis. He was regarded by the volunteer soldiers as a hero in the struggle against the Soviet Union. These soldiers did not suspect Bin Laden's involvement in planning the 9/11 attacks, which were carried out in secret. John himself sat through speeches by Bin Laden in the camp on two occasions, and actually met Bin Laden on the second such occasion. John has said he found him unimpressive.
John should have been more careful about who he chose to hang out with. That doesn't mean he deserves to be treated in the way he was, but there are legitimate questions about his choices and judgement.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:02 PM on July 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I noticed you skipped the torture part there. Any reason?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:03 PM on July 10, 2011


In response to MikeMc's comment.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:03 PM on July 10, 2011


I hope you're not the type of person who is just happy that they are better than Jeffrey Dahmer."

Nice.

"I noticed you skipped the torture part there. Any reason?"

Me? I will stipulate to his harsh treatment, I was addressing his indictment and subsequent plea bargain.
posted by MikeMc at 1:05 PM on July 10, 2011


And his subsequent plea bargain wouldn't have in any way been influenced by his harsh treatment right?
posted by Ickster at 1:09 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Me? I will stipulate to his harsh treatment, I was addressing his indictment and subsequent plea bargain.

Mmm. Too bad he can't just ignore it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:14 PM on July 10, 2011


And his subsequent plea bargain wouldn't have in any way been influenced by his harsh treatment right?

I think it was influenced more by the prospect of facing an angry jury that probably would have convicted him of anything and everything the government would have charged him with, even if his confession was thrown out. It was probably the best move he had.
posted by MikeMc at 1:18 PM on July 10, 2011


Why is it that those on the left must constantly argue that ALL things are govt does is
terrible and therefore whatever is being discussed is unfair because of our own govt. And then those on the Right consistently argue that what we do needs to be done and can be justified, no matter what.

In this specific post:
1. what was he charged with. Was the sentence overly harsh, if he was found guilty?
2. did he get entrapped etc because torture etc were used to find him guilty?
3. yes. we helped the Taliban at one time. We also approved of slavery at one time and altered our views.
4. is the piece moving because written not by a lawyer but by a son's dad?
5. if you had the ability, the right, would you free him now or let things stay as they are. On what basis would you make your decision.
posted by Postroad at 1:25 PM on July 10, 2011


> is the piece moving because written not by a lawyer but by a son's dad?

Here's a former DoJ attorney weighing in on the matter (among other things).
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:29 PM on July 10, 2011


Also bullshit, the way American troops treat prisoners is significantly better than the Taliban or the Afghan warlords.

I guess being detained forever without any chance of ever going to trial, like many prisoners of Guantanamo, is marginally better.

Also, at least one reported prisoner died under interrogation, lord knows how many others. Significantly better seems like a very odd distinction.
posted by Omon Ra at 1:31 PM on July 10, 2011


From Horselover Phattie's link:
JESSELYN RADACK: Basically, the Justice Department disregarded the advice of the Ethics unit not to interrogate him without a lawyer, went ahead, interrogated him and, by the pictures we’ve seen worldwide, tortured him, and then went ahead to prosecute him.

Basically, Judge Ellis, who was overseeing the prosecution, ordered that all Justice Department correspondence related to the Lindh interrogation be turned over to the court. That order was concealed from me. I found out about it inadvertently from the prosecutor. And when I went to comply with the order, my emails with the advice not to interrogate him without counsel and the fact that the FBI had committed an ethics violation in doing so were missing from the file. I resurrected those emails from my computer archives and tried to get them to the prosecutor, and when that failed, I turned them over to the media.

As punishment — again, this was all under Michael Chertoff, who at that time was the assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division — under Chertoff, I was placed under criminal investigation. For what, I was never told. I was forced out of the Justice Department, fired from my next job at the government’s behest, referred to the state bars in which I’m licensed as an attorney, based on a secret report to which I did not have access, and put on the no-fly list. And all of that occurred on Michael Chertoff’s watch. So, to the extent that President Bush seeks to rehabilitate the beleaguered Justice Department, I think Chertoff is a very odd choice for that.

Yeah, Lindh got a fair trial. Sure. He belongs in prison.

Anyone arguing that that kid should be in jail right now is an apologist for evil.
posted by Malor at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm finding a lot to agree with in this thread: It's weird that some of these statements function as arguments with others.
posted by moss at 1:49 PM on July 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


For an critical look at the US War on Terror, The Guardian is where it's at. US newspapers wouldn't dare run something like this. I saw this story yesterday and I'm glad you made this post.

Actually, NPR (KQED) ran an hour-long interview with Lindh's father a month go covering all the same ground.
posted by benzenedream at 1:50 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I guess being detained forever without any chance of ever going to trial, like many prisoners of Guantanamo, is marginally better."

I never argued that everything we were/are doing is right. I don't think we should ever have been in Iraq and I think we should have exited Afghanistan in 2003 (at the latest). What I'm saying is JWL is not, and was not, "innocent" and that on the whole because he is an American citizen things turned out a lot better for him than his compatriots. And it's because he's an American citizen that he gets so much attention. If you want to expose and prosecute abuses by the American government over the last 10 years John Walker Lindh is not your poster boy.
posted by MikeMc at 1:51 PM on July 10, 2011


I think it was influenced more by the prospect of facing an angry jury

Upon what do you base your opinion that the prospect of facing an angry jury influenced his decision to plead out more than his stipulated-to harsh treatment?
posted by rhizome at 1:52 PM on July 10, 2011


1. what was he charged with. Was the sentence overly harsh, if he was found guilty?

Martin James Monti defected to Germany during WWII, stole an airplane, and joined the propaganda arm of the SS in 1944. He had a 15 year sentence reduced to one year "on the condition that he join the army."

2. did he get entrapped etc because torture etc were used to find him guilty?

He was tortured according to everyone, including the US Army Field Manual, which states that you treat all prisoners according to the Geneva conventions until it can be discovered what sort of combatant that they are. That's supposed to be done by at least a small tribunal, which happened after Lindh was tortured.

3. yes. we helped the Taliban at one time. We also approved of slavery at one time and altered our views.

That's fine. Let's charge everyone who aided the mujahideen with the same crimes as Lindh. He's basically a victim of ex post facto prosecution, one of the more reprehensible things you can do if you believe in any system of law. In America we have a habit of making basically everything illegal and then selectively charging people we don't like, but that doesn't make it right.

5. if you had the ability, the right, would you free him now or let things stay as they are. On what basis would you make your decision.

I would free him on the basis that he was tortured, illegally rendered, and denied due process. I do have a hard time believing that this is a difficult or exotic idea in a modern Western democracy.
posted by notion at 1:56 PM on July 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Let's charge everyone who aided the mujahideen with the same crimes as Lindh.

That makes no sense to me. At one point the mujahideen were allies. Now they're not, because they decided killing us was an excellent idea. That's bound to break up friendship.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:03 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Upon what do you base your opinion that the prospect of facing an angry jury influenced his decision to plead out more than his stipulated-to harsh treatment?"

This is purely speculation but...I would think his legal advisers would have been acutely aware of the prevailing national mood regarding the Taliban, terrorists and Muslims in general and advised him accordingly. I think it would have have been damn near impossible to find anything close to an impartial jury.
posted by MikeMc at 2:04 PM on July 10, 2011


What I'm saying is JWL is not, and was not, "innocent".

I suspect he's not innocent as well, but why should you or I get to decide that? That's one of the worst things that came out of the war, this diminishing of American Law. If he's guilty, don't you think that regular, old fashioned, American Law would have been strong enough to charge and convict him?
posted by Omon Ra at 2:06 PM on July 10, 2011


That makes no sense to me. At one point the mujahideen were allies. Now they're not, because they decided killing us was an excellent idea. That's bound to break up friendship.

No one who participated materially in 9/11 was part of the Taliban. They were foreign nationals from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE. If they had launched the attack from Pakistan (which in all likelihood happened to some extent, since that's where we found bin Laden) then we wouldn't be having this discussion.
posted by notion at 2:08 PM on July 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


"If he's guilty, don't you think that regular, old fashioned, American Law would have been strong enough to charge and convict him?"

He was charged and I have no doubt he would have been convicted at trial had he not accepted the government's plea deal. See my post directly above yours.
posted by MikeMc at 2:10 PM on July 10, 2011


This is the thing about human rights. You don't need to love someone to support it. You don't need to agree with someone to allow it. You don't need any emotional sentiment about someone deserving them or not. Everyone has them, or nobody does. For example, I could care less about this self-righteous moron, but this is not about him. His case should not embarrass our system of law just because we might be insecure about his pious rejection of our values. These things always test us as to whether or not we can live with just the right amount of justice, no more or less, despite the temptations.
posted by Brian B. at 2:11 PM on July 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


> Specific charges aside, describing John Walker Lindh as 'innocent' is a bit rich

He was nominally guilty of the charge they convicted him on, but the sentence was way, way out of bounds. You don't have the right to say someone is guilty because they might have been associated with people who we don't like. He's not a terrorist and should be released with time served. That's not going to happen, however, and no POTUS of any stripe will touch his case with a ten foot pole at any rate.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:12 PM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"If they had launched the attack from Pakistan (which in all likelihood happened to some extent, since that's where we found bin Laden) then we wouldn't be having this discussion."

Ahh, don't get me started on Pakistan and the blind eye we turned, and continue to turn, the ISI's involvement in terrorist activities. It's like the Mujaheddin all over again, with nukes.
posted by MikeMc at 2:15 PM on July 10, 2011


> Ahh, don't get me started on Pakistan and the blind eye we turned

Please don't, because this thread is about how Lindh was made a scapegoat and had 20 years taken from his freedom unjustly.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:17 PM on July 10, 2011


What exactly is he really "not innocent" of? If he's not innocent of fighting for the Taliban and supporting them economically (which is the only thing that really 'stuck' even after such a poor excuse for a judicial process), then what about the hundreds of other American citizens that fought for the Taliban in the late 90s? The article says there are hundreds. What is the difference for JWL? Oh, that's right. He joined up a few months before 9/11. Given the remoteness of the area, it's not like he could have known (or done anything if he did know) that the US was coming after OBL and the Taliban and gotten out of dodge. So he basically had bad luck in deciding to fight a "good fight" (what he thought was one anyway) at that time, then was treated immorally (and illegally) by my government after being captured.

Our justice system doesn't require that everyone who commits the same crime has to be convicted in order for the system to be considered "just". But as I don't think most of those hundreds of other Taliban freedom fighters from the US were ever charged (and certainly few if any before 9/11), this particular conviction looks pretty absurdly unjust to me. His crime only *really* became a crime when the US government found it would be really convenient if they could demonize the "terrorist from your backyard".

The quote from the article claiming there are many others who should theoretically be treated the way JWL was treated if how he was treated were just: "The FBI has estimated that during the 90s as many as 2,000 American citizens travelled to Muslim lands to take up arms voluntarily, and that as many as 400 American Muslims received training in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. None of these American citizens was indicted, or labelled as traitor and terrorist."
posted by R343L at 2:20 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


He was charged and I have no doubt he would have been convicted at trial had he not accepted the government's plea deal.

This is kind of the crux of the argument where I think I disagree with you. If I understand correctly, your point Is that he got the sentence he got because he accepted the plea bargain. My point is that he was tortured and was later made to sign the plea bargain. Given that choice who wouldn't sign? Frankly, this is the reason why contracts are void when signed under duress.
posted by Omon Ra at 2:22 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Omon Ra: I think it's telling that part of the plea agreement was that he had to relinquish any claim that he was tortured.
posted by R343L at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Please don't, because this thread is about how Lindh was made a scapegoat and had 20 years taken from his freedom unjustly.
posted by Horselover Phattie

Please don't decide what this thread is about, the article in question is by the prisoners father. His words can hardly be in indictment that he is a "scapegoat". Scapegoats do not plea. (for the most)
posted by clavdivs at 2:30 PM on July 10, 2011


" My point is that he was tortured and was later made to sign the plea bargain. Given that choice who wouldn't sign?"


I may be mistaken but I believe he was back in the U.S. with full access to legal counsel when accepted the plea deal. So I don't know that he was "made to sign" could be an accurate statement. I think he was caught between a rock and hard place and the plea deal was the better of his options at the time.

"what about the hundreds of other American citizens that fought for the Taliban in the late 90s? The article says there are hundreds."

Excellent question, does anyone know how many, if any, have fallen into the hands of U.S. forces in Afghanistan?
posted by MikeMc at 2:31 PM on July 10, 2011


There were not hundreds, the Reeves source i have mentions less then a half dozen though I need to confirm that.
posted by clavdivs at 2:32 PM on July 10, 2011


sorry, less then a dozen. No doubt some came to help but not as combatants,
posted by clavdivs at 2:33 PM on July 10, 2011


If he's not innocent of fighting for the Taliban and supporting them economically (which is the only thing that really 'stuck' even after such a poor excuse for a judicial process),

There was also using explosives in the commission of a felony. There would have been more charges at trial but those were dismissed as part of the plea. This is the kind of legal maneuvering you get when there is no formal declaration of war.
posted by MikeMc at 2:36 PM on July 10, 2011


But as I don't think most of those hundreds of other Taliban freedom fighters from the US were ever charged

why? because it is not illegal what they did, only if they were fighting after 9/11.
posted by clavdivs at 2:51 PM on July 10, 2011


And how was he supposed to know it was all of a sudden illegal? I'm sure his superiors in whatever unit he was working with against the NA carefully told him the US had declared war on the Taliban. Like all Americans, he surely knew the legal implications that fighting against the NA would be equivalent to fighting against the US and thus illegal.
posted by R343L at 3:01 PM on July 10, 2011


(I realize that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but a competent prosecutor and court takes circumstances into account and don't create insane sentences like 20 years for a crime they only committed through ignorance and poor timing. If JWL had done his tour in Afganistan earlier and left before 9/11 he would likely have never gotten in trouble.)
posted by R343L at 3:06 PM on July 10, 2011


"I'm sure his superiors in whatever unit he was working with against the NA carefully told him the US had declared war on the Taliban."

And therein lies the reason for "odd" nature of the charges. Had the U.S. formally declared war the Taliban would have morphed from "enemy combatants" into plain old soldiers and JWL would have been hard up against a charge of treason which, I believe, is still a capital offense.
posted by MikeMc at 3:08 PM on July 10, 2011


Yessir, that boy is definitely guilty of stealing more chain than he could swim across the river with.

Legal realism: make everything illegal and then enforce what you want.
posted by warbaby at 3:48 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The fact is Lindh went to fight the NA which was is not illegal before 9-11. (not sure about afte) Also, Bin Laden had the the leader of the NA killed the day before 9-11. So, why would this innocent young man want to join a organization that has a record of abuses wereas the NA did not.

"Human Rights Watch cites no human rights crimes or abuses for Massoud's troops in the period from October 1996 until the assassination of Massoud in September 2001. Massoud created democratic institutions which were structured into several committees: political, health, education and economic."

It is like defending a Klansman.
posted by clavdivs at 4:34 PM on July 10, 2011


John Walker's Blues by Steve Earle
posted by BinGregory at 4:48 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm definitely feeling a mixture of "what was he thinking?" along with "what was the government thinking?" in this case.

On the one hand, the guy has colossally bad decision-making skills. On the other hand, I'd like to think that the U.S. government, with all the resources at their disposal, can at least realize when they've got a "nobody" on their hands.

Lindh was certainly no saint. He told his parents the bombing of the U.S. Cole was "justified," failed to identify himself as a U.S. national to interrogators (at first) and withheld information about a prisoner uprising while in custody. After being wounded, he intentionally escaped custody. He was a knowing (even if not entirely willing) participant in a "war" against the U.S. (took up arms for the Taliban even after he knew the U.S. was gunning for them)

Plenty of bad stuff, but enough for a 20 year sentence? I dunno.

I think the closest analogy I can come up with would be a journalist doing a week-long piece inside a prison. They interview the prisoners, get to know them, develop a rapport. Then, towards the end of the week, a prison riot breaks out, during which a guard gets killed. It turns out the journalist knew of the riot plans beforehand, but did not divulge this to prison officials. Then during the riot, the journalist dressed as a prisoner and blended in with them. After being taken into custody as a suspected rioter, the journalist escaped and rejoined the rioting prisoners.

While it's clear that the journalist is not guilty of any of the original crimes the the prisoners are, it's also clear that he's broken some major laws, and needs some kind of punishment.

John Walker Lindh shouldn't have been tortured, and 20 years is probably too stiff a stentence, now that we can see things more clearly. Seems to me that "time served" and some kind of supervised release (i.e. don't go to Yemen, please) would be more appropriate.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:50 PM on July 10, 2011


a competent prosecutor and court takes circumstances into account and don't create insane sentences like 20 years for a crime they only committed through ignorance and poor timing

Perhaps not, but they're certainly not averse to announcing a buttload of charges in exchange for an easy plea bargain.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:14 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


He plead guilty to serving in the Taliban and "carrying an explosive device during commission of a felony." Since he plead guilty, I won't dispute his word. I have no issue with a person who, as an American, carried arms against American soldiers overseas, receiving a 20 year sentence.
posted by knoyers at 6:19 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like all Americans, he surely knew the legal implications that fighting against the NA would be equivalent to fighting against the US and thus illegal.

Ask 10 coworkers tomorrow who the Northern Alliance is, and if they're on our side or not. If you get 4 out of 10 correct answers I'll be impressed.

Now imagine that it's the year 2000. Tell me, honestly, if you think anyone would have known anything about who the Northern Alliance was, and what they were doing.
posted by notion at 6:27 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This situation is delicious.

Here is a man who fights, like hundreds before him, on foreign soil for his beliefs and for the country he thinks espouses those beliefs. In the midst of fighting one enemy, he fails/is unable to recognize that he is committing treason by fighting against his own troops in a war that was not a war with soldiers who were not soldiers.

After capture, and an incredible tale of survival, he is told that he is a traitor because he should have known, in a country without reliable information distribution and as a common footslogger, that he was fighting his own people (who never exactly brandish a flag at you with all the camouflage they wear).

This, after several dozen (if not several hundred) people are allowed to walk free having committed crimes and atrocities far grander than his with the excuse that they were operating under 'the fog of war'.

This twisted skein of justice is making me simply giddy, so many conflicting emotions and responses!
posted by Slackermagee at 6:51 PM on July 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


failed to identify himself as a U.S. national to interrogators

Huh? He wasn't crossing a border, so this wasn't required of him.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:12 PM on July 10, 2011


His point is, if Lindh gets 20 years for naively fighting with the Taliban for one year, then a good bit of the Reagan Administration should still be in jail.

naively fighting? up is down. The guy just had no idea he was in with international terrorists? Puh-leeze.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:15 PM on July 10, 2011


After capture, and an incredible tale of survival, he is told that he is a traitor because he should have known, in a country without reliable information distribution and as a common footslogger, that he was fighting his own people (who never exactly brandish a flag at you with all the camouflage they wear).


Your hero joined two organizations on the US's terrorist list, when joining such organizations was a crime and for good fucking reason. Up is down, as usual here.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:18 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa, fact check that, Ironmouth. The Taliban was on no terrorist list when Lindh joined. Rather they were being flown to Texas for pipeline talks in 1997, while the US Government and UN was paying them millions for opium suppression in 2000/2001, and their diplomats were still touring the US in 2001. JWL is no Adam Gadahn.
posted by BinGregory at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Your hero joined two organizations on the US's terrorist list, when joining such organizations was a crime and for good fucking reason.

This is one of the most insanely wrong things I've ever read. First off, what's the second organization (since he only ever joined the Taliban)? Secondly, at the time he joined, what he did was legally only slightly sketchier than joining the French Foreign Legion. We weren't exactly happy with the Taliban pre-9/11, but we were also recognizing that they were the de facto government of Afghanistan and dealing with them as such.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:56 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


By the time Walker met with bin Laden (June 2011), he should have had some inkling that all was not righteous with his crusade. OBL was already wanted for many terrorist attacks by that time and the average CNN watcher would have known his name and that he was a murderer of civilians many times over.

There are lots of wrongs on all sides here, but Lindh was no ignorant saint.
posted by benzenedream at 11:48 PM on July 10, 2011


Who is suggesting the guy's a saint?
posted by pompomtom at 11:59 PM on July 10, 2011


His father, from the linked article:
John described his motivation in similar terms. "I felt," he later explained to the court, "that I had an obligation to assist what I perceived to be an Islamic liberation movement against the warlords who were occupying several provinces in northern Afghanistan. I had learned from books, articles and individuals with first-hand experience of numerous atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance against civilians. I had heard reports of massacres, child rape, torture and castration."

To the western world, and to me as John's father after I learned where he had been, this was misplaced idealism. John's decision to volunteer for the army of Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban was rash, and failed to take into account the Taliban's mistreatment of its own citizens. But his assessment of the Northern Alliance warlords was neither exaggerated nor inaccurate. The brutal human rights violations committed by the Northern Alliance were thoroughly documented in the US department of state's annual human rights reports throughout the 90s. They did indeed include massacres, rape (of both women and children), torture and castration.

John's impulse was to help. In doing so, he was responding not only to his own conscience, but to a central tenet of the Islamic faith, which calls upon able-bodied young men to defend innocent Muslim civilians from attack, through military service if necessary. This is not "terrorism" at all, but precisely its opposite.
Note his evasion of the whole OBL connection:
The training camp in Afghanistan where the Ansar received their infantry training was funded by Osama bin Laden, who also visited the camp on a regular basis. He was regarded by the volunteer soldiers as a hero in the struggle against the Soviet Union. These soldiers did not suspect Bin Laden's involvement in planning the 9/11 attacks, which were carried out in secret. John himself sat through speeches by Bin Laden in the camp on two occasions, and actually met Bin Laden on the second such occasion. John has said he found him unimpressive.

After 9/11, America's intelligence agencies came under intense scrutiny for their failure to anticipate and prevent the attacks, and their apparent inability to track down Osama bin Laden. It is a curious fact of history that John Lindh, an idealistic 20-year-old Californian, suspecting nothing of bin Laden's connections to terrorism, was able without difficulty to meet this notorious figure in the summer of 2001. Why American intelligence agents were unable to do so remains unexplained. John himself did not believe he was encountering a terrorist. John knew only that bin Laden had been generous in funding the military camp, and he was able to discern that Bin Laden was not a legitimate scholar or leader in the traditions of Islam.
I actually agree with a lot of what Lindh's father has to say, but he's incredibly evasive and self-serving here. Anybody with an iota of interest in the middle East at the time knew OBL was a guy who killed civilians and supported killing more. JWL didn't know about 9/11, but by that time OBL was already notorious for other crimes.
posted by benzenedream at 12:50 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sanctity has really been devalued since I last looked.
posted by pompomtom at 3:09 AM on July 11, 2011


It is appalling that the US tortured, and that it did not provide its prisoners with due process. This is true of Lindh's case, and of the cases of the hundreds of prisoners detained at Guantanamo, and the individuals shipped to black sites around the globe.

That said, it's possible to detest the wartime practices of the US government in the wake of 911, and also think that Lindh's actions were less than innocent. The word to describe his lack of awareness isn't "naive." It's "ignorant." If you're going to take up arms in someone else's country, you have something of a duty to educate yourself about exactly who you're fighting with, what you hope to accomplish, and what you're fighting against, first.

(And really, if your concern is protecting Muslims from human rights abuses, signing on with the Taliban and trotting around with grenades and a gun might not be the best way to make a difference.)

You can say "he was mistreated" without repeatedly trying to excuse the fact that he fucked up.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:02 AM on July 11, 2011


"Since he plead guilty, I won't dispute his word."

Cool! We found a legal strategy that not only allows the accused to "settle up", but makes his apparent guilt absolutely clear to the US media. I wonder if this would work with Omar Khadr?
posted by sneebler at 7:43 AM on July 11, 2011


Pleading guilty to a lesser crime in the face of a threatened barrage of prosecutions isn't exactly a sure sign of someone being guilty. Plea bargaining has some serious flaws, and one of them is that the government can use it to punish someone who chooses to go all the way to jury trial. Fewer than 10 percent of the criminal cases brought by the federal government each year are actually tried before juries, a problematic development in the US judicial system. By being promised "only" 20 years, Lindh could have seen this as his best bet to actually salvage some of his remaining life, thus pleading guilty.
posted by Harald74 at 10:28 AM on July 11, 2011


> By being promised "only" 20 years, Lindh could have seen this as his best bet to actually salvage some of his remaining life, thus pleading guilty.

That's exactly what happened, and I'm surprised that anyone would think differently once looking at the case.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:41 AM on July 11, 2011


conjecture mixed with unsupported facts. hence the word "could" as in 'could have.' It does not equate with
That's exactly what happened
posted by clavdivs at 10:44 AM on July 11, 2011


And yet, there it was.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:48 AM on July 11, 2011


So does martyrdom for Allah only count towards the 40 virgins if you actually die? Wouldn't serving the best 20 years of your life in prison also rack up some brownie points with Allah and Mohammed?

And has Lindh been able to provide an account of his actions and his experiences in his own words -- other than what was said in support of his plea bargain at the trial?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:54 AM on July 11, 2011


> So does martyrdom for Allah only count towards the 40 virgins if you actually die? Wouldn't serving the best 20 years of your life in prison also rack up some brownie points with Allah and Mohammed?

That's totally stupid.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:57 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's weird that some of these statements function as arguments with others.

Well, they are employed as such, but to say they function as arguments is a stretch.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:18 AM on July 11, 2011


Your hero joined two organizations on the US's terrorist list, when joining such organizations was a crime and for good fucking reason. Up is down, as usual here.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:18 PM on July 10 [1 favorite +] [!]


Whoa, fact check that, Ironmouth. The Taliban was on no terrorist list when Lindh joined. Rather they were being flown to Texas for pipeline talks in 1997, while the US Government and UN was paying them millions for opium suppression in 2000/2001, and their diplomats were still touring the US in 2001. JWL is no Adam Gadahn.
posted by BinGregory at 8:51 PM on July 10 [5 favorites +] [!]


Ironmouth? Ironmouth? Are you up or down right now?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2011


clavdivs: "conjecture mixed with unsupported facts. hence the word "could" as in 'could have.' It does not equate with
That's exactly what happened
"

No, but I would argue it's not beyond reasonable doubt, which is the standard I think a judicial system should be aiming for.
posted by Harald74 at 11:33 AM on July 11, 2011


I'm sure this piece by his father is completely objective and accurate.

I would free him on the basis that he was tortured, illegally rendered, and denied due process. I do have a hard time believing that this is a difficult or exotic idea in a modern Western democracy.

I agree with the core idea here. I've got the same sentiments when it comes to José Padilla (who was hosed far worse). But it's a difficult process.
Prove it in a court of law. You have to charge the torturers. You have to show the rendering process was illegal (good luck with that one). You have to show how he was denied due process. Then you can free him.

One of the big problems is that abuses by the DOJ (et.al) do completely screw up and/or call into question all cases, including those where the evidence against the accused is pretty damning.


No one who participated materially in 9/11 was part of the Taliban. They were foreign nationals from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE.


I don't know why this idea continues to propagate. Their country of origin is less a factor than their ideology and participation in a terrorist organization that purposefully transcends borders to spread its agenda.

McVeigh and Nichols's motivation to attack the Murrah building wasn't because they were U.S. nationals. The goal was not the advancement of a national policy, but an ideological one.
There might be some false flagging, reciprocal responses, the Saudi government (et.al) might have extreme elements that support certain factions, but that doesn't make the terrorists themselves state actors.
(Hell, a year and change ago someone from AQ tried to blowd up prince Mohammed bin Nayef (house of Saud) so they're not really all that chummy)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:06 PM on July 11, 2011


New York Magazine has an article about Communication Management Units, the kind of prison where Lindh is held:

'Little Gitmo': When an upstate imam named Yassin Aref was convicted on a suspect terrorism charge, he was sent to a secretive prison denounced by civil libertarians as a Muslim quarantine.
posted by homunculus at 4:50 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


And has Lindh been able to provide an account of his actions and his experiences in his own words -- other than what was said in support of his plea bargain at the trial?

No, Peter, he has not. Because it is a condition of his sentence that he is forbidden to communicate with anyone except his immediate family, and they are forbidden to relate a word he says. That's why poor Frank has to keep recycling the same ancient quotes from the trial in his efforts on JWL's behalf. Not only is JWL utterly silenced publicly, it is also a condition of his sentence that he is forbidden from communicating in Arabic, or even uttering liturgical Arabic in his own cell. The Tom Junod piece - Innocent, linked above - relates him being thrown into solitary confinement for responding "wa alaykum salam" to a fellow prisoner's salams. Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
posted by BinGregory at 4:53 PM on July 11, 2011


By being promised "only" 20 years, Lindh could have seen this as his best bet to actually salvage some of his remaining life, thus pleading guilty.
posted by Harald74 at 10:28 AM on July 11 [+] [!]


If you falsely swear that you are guilty of a crime, you are relinquishing any reasonable expectation that your subsequent claims of innocence should be taken seriously.

If you plead guilty, you have proven yourself guilty.
posted by knoyers at 4:55 PM on July 11, 2011


You really don't understand the US justice system at all, do you knoyers?
posted by dersins at 10:48 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


knoyers: "If you falsely swear that you are guilty of a crime, you are relinquishing any reasonable expectation that your subsequent claims of innocence should be taken seriously.

If you plead guilty, you have proven yourself guilty
"

What? Do you hold that to be true even if defendant is under extreme pressure to confess, ie a defendant in a drug trial looking at a sentence of time served for pleading guilty to possession, vs. a very real risk of losing years of his life by insisting of a jury trial on dealing charges?

And even if you think that is fair, what about the torture cases? Torture is often successfull in getting people to confess to something. About the only thing it's useful for, in fact.
posted by Harald74 at 11:46 PM on July 11, 2011


Taliban assassinates Brother of Afghan President Karzai

"Taliban say assassination in one of their biggest achievment in a decade-long war"
T
hat Taliban, bunch of really progressive men. "One of the biggest achievments"

the sooner they are dealt with the better. Fuck the Taliban and whoever supports them.

You really don't understand the US justice system at all, do you knoyers?

knoyers can speak for himself, but the better question is do you?
posted by clavdivs at 3:55 AM on July 12, 2011


And even if you think that is fair, what about the torture cases? Torture is often successfull in getting people to confess to something. About the only thing it's useful for, in fact.

It is called an APPEAL if one thinks coersion was used, the defendant will have his say to prove the allegations.
posted by clavdivs at 3:58 AM on July 12, 2011


wait, he really can't- as he pled guilty...still, the system provides redress for these situations.
posted by clavdivs at 4:00 AM on July 12, 2011


JWL is no Adam Gadahn.
posted by BinGregory

of course, they are two seperate people but I know what you mean. So you want to compare the two, i'm game. JWL was a misguided idiot who was most likly kept close to the bib of bin laden because they thought he might be a spy or maybe he would have other uses being any american, IWO, he was a tool, no better then a hammer to the taliban. Now gadahn knew exactly what he was doing and made himself available to the cause as a spokeman what have you.

Lindh joined up when it was legal to join the taliban. Gadahn joined a terrorist organization.

Gadahn will most likly be snatched or killed. Lindh has a chance at life.
posted by clavdivs at 4:10 AM on July 12, 2011


From the Wikipedia article on plea bargaining in the US:
In the 1991 book Presumed Guilty: When Innocent People Are Wrongly Convicted, author Martin Yant discusses the use of coercion in plea bargaining.[20]
Even when the charges are more serious, prosecutors often can still bluff defense attorneys and their clients into pleading guilty to a lesser offense. As a result, people who might have been acquitted because of lack of evidence, but also who are in fact truly innocent, will often plead guilty to the charge. Why? In a word, fear. And the more numerous and serious the charges, studies have shown, the greater the fear. That explains why prosecutors sometimes seem to file every charge imaginable against defendants.
The intentions behind plea bargaining are, as always, good, but the practice has drawn a lot of criticism for it's side effects, and is not widespread elsewhere in the world, AFAIK.
posted by Harald74 at 5:11 AM on July 12, 2011


"wait, he really can't- as he pled guilty...still, the system provides redress for these situations."

The Larry Craig dilemma. The court quite clearly instructed Craig that if he believed himself innocent he was not to plead "guilty". That's why he was unable to go back later and withdraw his plea.
posted by MikeMc at 6:39 AM on July 12, 2011


So pleading what you believe is a personal choice, and pleading the outcome of a plea bargain carries the weight of the justice system, and in this case the public statements of government officials. That seems fair.
posted by sneebler at 7:40 AM on July 12, 2011


interesting how we are supposed to believe this young man, who converted from one delusional regime of behaviour (Catholicism) to another (Islam) and then decided to join a foreign army as a result, is a gentle and intellectual person.
posted by jmegawarne at 1:49 AM on July 14, 2011


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