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Hot Tub Terrorism, Redux

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John Walker Lindh, the hot tub terrorist from Marin County who decided in high school to turn his back on bourgeois America and travel to Afghanistan to take up arms with various human rights groups the Taliban, is back in the news.

Lihdh was originally captured after he participated in a failed prison break for Taliban inmates.  During the break, a CIA officer, Johnny "Mike" Spann, was killed, but the government was unable to prove Lindh's involvement, so he was not charged.

Lindh agreed to a plea bargain in which he pled guilty to  to supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during commission of a felony.  He also agreed to a 20 year sentence, which was imposed on him in my old stomping grounds, the Eastern District of Virginia, in October 2002.  In exchange, the government dropped charges that could have sent Lindh to prison for life.

That was then.  Now, in the pages of the Onion New York Times, Lindh's father writes that, with Osama now sleeping with the fishes, we can take a pass on the agreement, let his kid out (no doubt to collect fat fees on the lecture circuit) and, you know, give peace a chance.

Papa Lindh's letter forms, from the Times' point of view, a nice bookend to its publication of the letter from Osama's kids demanding an international investigation of the legal basis for killing him, available through Kent's post here.

The NYT is headed for bankruptcy, but I'll miss it when it goes.  You can't get its degree of hatred for the United States just anywhere.

(Hat tip to federalist for alerting me to this story).

 

6 Comments

Attorney/father Frank Lindh's judgement in this op-ed is as outrageous as when he allowed his son to travel alone to Yemen to "embark on an unusual odyssey of learning and adventure" at the tender age of 17.

Attorney/father Frank Lindh's judgement in this op-ed is as outrageous as when he allowed his son to travel alone to Yemen to "embark on an unusual odyssey of learning and adventure" at the tender age of 17.

Lindh could have told Spann he was an American and gotten out of there--he chose to stay and fight with his al-Qaeda buddies. He's a traitor.

I have sympathy for Mr. Lindh who has watched his son spend the better part of his life in prison. I would want my son out too.

Unfortunately, the death of Osama has nothing to do with the 20 year sentence he negotiated. I think 20 years is fair because it recognizes the serious nature of his crime, but acknowledges his youth.

I hope that 20 years in prison will demonstrate to him the mercy that Americans have compared to those he threw his lot in with.

Saying that the NYT hates America is vastly overblown. While the NYT has a viewpoint, I don't remember its hard hitting investigations post 9/11 attempting to debunk the Bush administrations path to war. Not saying the NYT should have done such a thing, but while it may have a different perspective on what America could and should be, I can't imagine the NYT hates America.

"I have sympathy for Mr. Lindh who has watched his son spend the better part of his life in prison. I would want my son out too."

I wonder if it ever occurred to the elder Mr. Lindh to teach his son about what a benevolent and decent country this is, rather than pave the way for him to become attracted to the murderous inclinations of jihad.

"Unfortunately, the death of Osama has nothing to do with the 20 year sentence he negotiated."

Absolutely right.

"I think 20 years is fair because it recognizes the serious nature of his crime, but acknowledges his youth."

A fellow 20 years of age is easily old enough to know that you don't travel half way around the world to support a ghastly, brutal and primitive regime like the Taliban, and still less do you do it in opposition to your own country.

"I hope that 20 years in prison will demonstrate to him the mercy that Americans have compared to those he threw his lot in with."

It's a forlorn hope. Jihadism views mercy as merely another bourgeois Western value -- a sign of weakness, fecklessness and irresolution.

"Saying that the NYT hates America is vastly overblown."

The problem is that, whenever there is a choice to be made between a policy that will advance American interests and one that won't, the NYT every single time chooses the latter. Look anywhere you want: the death penalty, civilian vs. military trials, interrogation practices, Mirandizing terror suspects, rendition, electronic surveillance, use of drones, you name it.

When they get it wrong once or twice (a la' the Washington Post), that's one thing. When they line up with the criminal/war criminal without fail, that's another.

Maybe it's not hate, exactly -- more like contempt. One way or the other, it wouldn't hurt the Times just once to take the side of serious, unapologetic treatment of killers. I doubt it will happen in my lifetime, but I would be delighted to be proven wrong.


Bill,

Regarding the appropriateness of a 20 year sentence, I stand by my view that it is appropriate. It was negotiated by experienced attorneys with the approval of President Bush. I am assuming if he did not follow through with his required cooperation with military intelligence the government would have sough to rescind his plea agreement.

I do share your fear that his time is prison will radicalize him, but I hope that he will come out a good citizen.

Perhaps his father taught him well and perhaps he didn't. I suppose the evidence points to the fact he did not. Some of his writing suggests an undue sympathy towards those who radicalized his son. I would still probably never stop hoping that my son had changed and would be a free man.

I think the NYT has the view that the side they take actually does advance American interests. They just view those interests differently.

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