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U.S. Will Seek Life in Prison for John Walker:
January 15, 2002 2:00 PM   Subscribe

U.S. Will Seek Life in Prison for John Walker: The Bush administration will charge American Taliban John Walker Lindh with conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens in Afghanistan and will ask for life imprisonment rather than the death penalty, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday . . .
posted by ryanshepard (22 comments total)

 
Well, from Yahoo--American Taliban Made Mideast Faux Pas, From Newsweek/MSNBC. Walker’s Brush With bin Laden, from the Washington Post,
John Walker's Restless Quest Is Strange Odyssey and by way of contrast, also from the New York Times, the case od David Hicks--Australians Debate Fate of Fighter Held by U.S.. This caught my eye:

He fought willingly alongside the Taliban and voiced approval of the September 11 attacks; but if Walker is to be believed, he avoided training that could have sent him to kill Americans. That has complicated the government’s attempts to find the right charge to fit his alleged crimes.
posted by y2karl at 2:21 PM on January 15, 2002


How about we leave him in Afganistan? Drop him off in the middle of nowhere and see what happens?

I wonder if Walker is still looking to unload his copy of the "breakin' 2 - Electric Boogaloo" soundtrack on vinyl?
posted by DragonBoy at 2:52 PM on January 15, 2002


How about not charge him? He didn't violate any US laws. He was fighting in a foreign war as a foreign national that only had something to do with the US when the US came over there after 9/11. Sure, the kid is an idiot, but he didn't violate any US laws. If it can be proved that he fired a gun at a US soldier, then there is something there. But just to charge him for the sake of it, and to appease national fervor, is riduculous.
posted by adampsyche at 4:03 PM on January 15, 2002


I cannot see him being treated any different than any other soldier captured over there. He has as good as renounced his citizenship, and the only reason to bring him back here is to show him off and box him up. What good does this do anyone?
posted by thirteen at 4:21 PM on January 15, 2002


He wasn't found fighting. Maybe the prosecuters know something I don't but I haven't seen anyone establish that he's fought or killed anything let alone being a dyed-in-the-whool Taliban soldier.

Maybe they'll name his TV movie, "Tried by TV!"
posted by skallas at 4:40 PM on January 15, 2002


Not to mention that he's crazy as a loon. The way the US regularly persecutes the mentally ill is really shameful.
posted by jpoulos at 4:52 PM on January 15, 2002


He's an overgrown toddler. One more year and he can legally begin throwing his life away on alcohol as many confused and mentally imbalanced do. Which is why he should be treated as such--confused and mentally ill--not as an enemy of the USA or a criminal.
posted by crasspastor at 5:18 PM on January 15, 2002


adampsyche: If he heard, as the charges state, that bin Laden was sending men to America on suicide missions, then of course he broke the law. It's called conspiracy to commit murder, which is more or less what he's charged with here (it just sounds fancier and closer to treason, but not quite). I'm not saying this is true, or trying him outside of court - the only thing anyone has to examine here is the Justice Dept.'s complaint. In any case, if he's mentally ill, then his attorneys should and most likely will have every opportunity to argue such in an open trial.
posted by raysmj at 7:25 PM on January 15, 2002


Who said he was mentally ill? I haven't heard that anywhere.
posted by sudama at 7:32 PM on January 15, 2002


If he heard, as the charges state, that bin Laden was sending men to America on suicide missions

Yeah, I'm sure he was real high up in the ranks of Al Qaeda.

In any case, if he's mentally ill, then his attorneys should and most likely will have every opportunity to argue such in an open trial.

Being mentally ill counts for jack shit in court. The "Insanity" defense is a joke, a token put in place for PR purposes. In this country, you can be absolutely incapacitated with mental illness, and still end up in prison--instead of somewhere that might actually help you. Look at someone like Jeffrey Dahmer. Committed horrendous, unspeakable crimes, but he was clearly insane. Raped to death with a broomstick in a penitentiary.
posted by jpoulos at 8:32 PM on January 15, 2002


jpoulos: Dhamer was also tried by a state court. State laws and procedures vary, and I have no idea what to say about the particular case cited. People have, however, and still do get acquittals for mental illness - it's just under 1 percent, last time I heard, but it happens. Think: John Hinckley, Jr. He shot the freakin' president, and he's in a mental institution as a result of sentencing. May even be, or is being, let out on day trips now. Do you need a better example? And you really think someone's going to be raped to death with a broomstick in a maximum security federal pen - much less someone like Walker?
posted by raysmj at 10:23 PM on January 15, 2002


Also, why on Earth would it matter how high up he was or was not in Al Qaeda? It's not even close to relevant. If you hear of plans for a murder or mass murder, as Walker is alleged to have heard, and say nothing to authorities (in this case, U.S. authorities) about it, you're guilty of conspiracy - no matter how loosely connected to the people responsible for the actual deed. Still not saying I believe this to be true, but . . .
posted by raysmj at 10:31 PM on January 15, 2002


Raysmj: Less than one percent of those who plead insanity are acquitted. I'm certain that a much greater percentage of those are actually insane. My point is only that many, many mentally ill people are still convicted and sent to prison, despite the "insanity defense".

While I agree that if Walker heard about plans for a mass murder it's a crime, I just seriously doubt that word of the attack could possibly have made it to him. According to the Bin Laden videotape of a few weeks ago, the guys on the planes didn't even know about it until the 11th hour. It's another piece of disinformation ("The planes were headed for Air Force One!") to keep public opinion in the government's favor.
posted by jpoulos at 7:07 AM on January 16, 2002


jpoulos: I don't know what to think, y'know? I could hardly believe a guy his age made it to Afganistan in the first place, that he had a weapon and was living and traveling with the Taliban. From freakin' Marin County, already. The CIA has had trouble for years getting people to go over there, and it's generally not been believed that anyone could infiltrate the culture. But this guy pulled it off. Now you're telling me it's not rational to even suspect that he could've heard anything at all about Sept. 11, even the vaguest hint? I'm not quite so sure - which is not, again, saying that he knew anything, but I wouldn't rule it out.
posted by raysmj at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2002


Why is it that if you're a middle-class white boy from the US and you join an extremist group you're "confused and mentally ill" or "misguided" or even "an idiot", but if you're an Arab you're a terrorist to whom no mercy shall be shown? That's crap. And whoever said Walker was "fighting as a foreign national" must be privy to info I don't have -- I thought the guy was still a US citizen. I have ZERO sympathy for Walker. Ugly stuff happens in wars, and Walker is neck-deep in ugly. The only thing he's got going for him is Mommy and Daddy can afford a good attorney.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:12 AM on January 16, 2002


It's probably unlikely that Walker had anything to do with the Sept. 11 attacks. However, he was involved in some capacity with a group that was fighting with the U.S. Army.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:34 AM on January 16, 2002


If he heard, as the charges state, that bin Laden was sending men to America on suicide missions

I didn't even know that until a few minutes ago. Slap me with a quarter roll for not reading the whole article.
posted by adampsyche at 11:28 AM on January 16, 2002


whoever said Walker was "fighting as a foreign national"

I can't find anyone who said what is quoted. I said "He has as good as renounced his citizenship". Is that what you are thinking of?
posted by thirteen at 11:34 AM on January 16, 2002


I can't find anyone who said what is quoted. I said "He has as good as renounced his citizenship". Is that what you are thinking of?

It's in the third comment, posted by adampsyche at 4:03 PM PST on Jan. 15
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:02 PM on January 16, 2002


Ahh, no need for me to expand my position then.
posted by thirteen at 12:08 PM on January 16, 2002


Less than one percent of those who plead insanity are acquitted.

I think some confusion comes from the term "Insanity Defense." Simply claiming, or even being, insane is not grounds for an aquittal. The M'Naughton rule states that "a defendant is not insane in the eyes of the law if at the time of the crime he knew what he was doing and that it was wrong." You can be batshit insane, but if you are batshit insane AND able to discern the difference between right and wrong, you're going to be locked up.

Not that I'm a lawyer. "That's why you're the judge and I'm the law talkin' guy."
posted by yerfatma at 1:27 PM on January 16, 2002


Whether Walker Knew of Counsel Is Issue

(NYT: metafilter/metafilter)
posted by y2karl at 5:58 AM on January 17, 2002


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