April 2, 2006

REFORMED? REFORMER? (via Rick Davis):

An exclusive look at Lindh's life behind bars (ADAM LISBERG, 4/02/06, NY DAILY NEWS)

In some ways, he's like a lot of 25-year-olds: After years of running from his upbringing and trying to blaze his own trail, he has become studious, stable and settled.

But there's really no other 25-year-old like John Walker Lindh.

He will be forever tagged as the American Taliban, a California kid who converted to Islam and left home to find himself - and joined the radical Taliban to fight in Afghanistan.

Now Lindh is serving a 20-year prison sentence, and is under a court-imposed silence.

But Lindh's family and supporters say he deserves a break, and America needs to take another look at what he really did.

"His story is indeed a story that needs to come out, and needs to be shared with the world," said Shakeel Syed, who served as a religious adviser to Lindh in prison.

In his first-ever account of Lindh's life in a medium-security federal prison in Victorville, Calif., Syed said Lindh is a model inmate who lives as normal a life as possible behind bars - but also is a spiritual beacon to other Muslims there.

"Prison has helped him become a better Muslim," Syed said. "He is a Malcolm X with a softer tone."

If he is reformed--and he's seemed mostly like a confused kid all along--the president should pardon him and let him work to reform Islam from outside prison. However, before that can happen he needs to explain to the Spann family exactly what happened to Michael and seek their forgiveness. If there's any question about his personal reformation or about the veracity of his account of what happened to Michael Spann, then he can redeem himself by continuing to do good work in prison.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 2, 2006 12:51 PM

He's a dangerous fruitcake thanks to his idiot parents. Let him rot or maybe trade him to the Taliban for some person of worth that they plan to murder. He should have been executed in the field in the first place.

Posted by: NC3 at April 2, 2006 1:20 PM

The treason of this folk-enemy and culture-traitor is not mitigated by his "idealism."

On the contrary, like the Irish Catholic traitors who deserted from the American Army to fight for Mexico, he deserves their fate.

To hold otherwise would be to impugn the loyalty of Catholics then and Muslims now.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 2, 2006 1:47 PM

Probably a tookie williams-style conversion.

I've been in prison ministry, and know a real conversion when I see one. "By their fruits ye shall know them."

Posted by: Ptah at April 2, 2006 2:20 PM

He serves his country by serving as an example for other young men and to remind them that the choices they make sometimes have unintended consequences. I would suppose he never read The Man Without a Country in middle school: http://www.bartleby.com/310/6/1.html

Perhaps someday he may be pardoned by a President, but not until bin Laden and al Qaeda are long gone.

Posted by: Genecis at April 2, 2006 3:06 PM

I agree with all the above comments, and it should be noted that his parents and lawyers have no doubt created a PR campaign on his behalf. Perhaps I'm being cynical, but I'd bet that this "model inmate" stuff is largely hype.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 2, 2006 3:16 PM

Since lots of convicts convert to Islam in prison, he'd do far more good there, if he's so inclined, than on the outside.

Posted by: erp at April 2, 2006 3:29 PM

muslim prisoners should be put in muslim prisons and given muslim sentences for their crimes.

lindh can serve his 20 years and then have his citizenship stripped and be expelled from the country.

Posted by: toe at April 2, 2006 4:17 PM

Malcolm X did much good outside.

Posted by: oj at April 2, 2006 4:18 PM

Talking to the Spann family out of sight of reporters notebooks or TV camera would be a good start. Turning it into a media circus, or even worse, enlisting the usual supects on the left to argue his case while denegrating Spann (the only CIA agent they really like is Valerie Plame) would make Lindh no more than the white Mumia.

Posted by: John at April 2, 2006 4:35 PM


Not if you know anything about the Mummia case.

Posted by: oj at April 2, 2006 4:40 PM

Bush should pardon him..especially if he returns to the Catholic Church. Never should have been given 20 years anyway.

He was just a confused kid, who went whacko when he found out about his father. A father who had probably already had poisoned his mind about christianity, in an effort to justify his "lifestyle".

Posted by: h-man at April 2, 2006 7:56 PM

OJ --

I was referring more to the predictable media hype from supporters who wouldn't care about the crime, as opposed to the severety of the crime itself. Given the left's current desire to make a hero out of any WOT opponent, from Cindy Sheehan to anyone who claims they were tortured in Abu Ghirab, any concerted effort to cite Lindh youth and naievity as reasons for freeing him would draw significant support from people who wouldn't care a whit if he explained and apologized to Michael Spann's family.

Posted by: John at April 3, 2006 9:29 AM

Yes, but it's not about them.

Posted by: oj at April 3, 2006 9:33 AM

I wrote this little ditty about Johnny Taliban back in '01:

The Ballad of John Walker
(or, Tali-Banned in Boston!)

Let me tell you the story
Of young Johnny Walker
Of a misguided and foolish young man
He left his home in Frisco,
Said goodbye to his Mamma
Went to join up with the Taliban

Johnny went to Yemen
Where he studied his Koran
And then he made some further plans
He e-mailed Daddy,
“Send me twelve hundred dollars
‘Cause I’m goin’ to Afghanistan.”

But will he ever return?
Will he ever return?
Now his lesson is still unlearn'd
He should be shot for treason
On the streets of Kabul
He's the man who may never return.

Now Johnny joined al-Queda
And learned to blow up buildings
And his own homeland to curse
Then came September Eleventh
And then came the airstrikes
And things went from bad to worse

When his troop surrendered
John was filthy and ragged
And defeat had him feelin’ blue
Then he saw a reporter
From the AP or Newsweek
And said “Hey, I’m an American too!”


Johnny’s Mommy and Daddy
Met up with some reporters
And they talked like a couple’a flakes:
“Sure, our son’s a ter’rist
But you can’t be judgmental;
Hell, everybody makes mistakes!”

“He’s a good boy, really”
Johnny’s Daddy added,
“If you knew him well, you’d see.
So I’ve found some lawyers
Who’ll defend him pro bono,
Gonna beat the rap and set him free!”


Now the tale of Johnny
Is an object lesson
In what the wages of sin can be
But you might also conclude
The only good Johnny Walker
Is the whiskey from Tennessee!

Final chorus:
But should he ever return?
No, he shouldn’t return
‘Till his lesson he has learned
He's gonna spend a long time
Down in old Camp X-Ray
He's the man who should never return.

(Apologies to the Kingston Trio and 1948 Boston mayoral candidate Walter O’Brien.)

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 3, 2006 4:00 PM