THE NEW YORK TIMES
John Walker Lindh’s Buyer’s RemorseBy ADAM LIPTAK
Serving a 20-year sentence in a federal prison after agreeing to a plea deal, John Walker Lindh has a powerful case of buyer’s remorse.
At the time, a year after the Sept. 11 attacks, it looked like John Walker Lindh had made a pretty good deal.
Mr. Lindh, a 21-year-old from Marin County, Calif., who had served as a Taliban soldier in Afghanistan, faced charges that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life. In a plea deal, though, the government dropped its most serious accusations, including charges that Mr. Lindh had engaged in terrorism and conspired to kill Americans.
Mr. Lindh instead acknowledged only that he had aided the Taliban and carried weapons. He was sentenced to 20 years, and people congratulated his lawyers for their triumph.
Times change. Passions cool. Other cases offer telling contrasts. And Mr. Lindh now has a powerful and understandable case of buyer’s remorse.
“He was a victim of a hysterical atmosphere post-9/11,” Frank R. Lindh said about his son. “Much like the country has reassessed the premises for the Iraq war, it should re-examine the premises for this sentence.”
To hear Frank Lindh tell it, his son was an earnest and confused student of Islam who took up arms in a civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. “A very substantial number of people in America believe John fought Americans or committed terrorism or supported terrorism,” Frank Lindh said. “That’s just not true.”
But John Walker Lindh is not serving time for terrorism or treason.