Coastal Post Online

 

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

**** COASTALPOST'S LOGO ****

 

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

September, 2004

John Walker Lindh Update:
Could Abu Ghraib Have Been Avoided?
By Jim Scanlon


 

   It is a cliche that all history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. In the strange case of John Walker Lindh, the "Fairfax Taliban" who converted to Islam and traveled to Afghanistan to fight in a civil war, the farce came first, the tragedy later. After being pulled, more dead than alive, from a medieval fortress dungeon, he was held incommunicado for months while he was convicted in the media of murder and treason by the president of the United States, his father, a former president of the US, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, US Attorney General and hundreds, if not thousands of Cable TV commentators, experts, and radio talk show blowhards.
   His show trial, on numerous counts of conspiracy to murder US citizens, fizzled out and in the end, nine counts were dismissed When Walker pled guilty in Federal District Court in Alexandria Virginia to one count of supplying services to the Taliban. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
   After sentencing, Walker's attorney, James Brosnahan, told a National Public Radio interviewer " ... one of the things that bothers me about our mood in America is we don't need the facts anymore. It used to be that you had to have evidence against somebody before you could make an accusation. But I am a little concerned that we are not quite as free as we were before September 11.
   What was tragic about this case was that Walker's court documents presented by his defense team clearly alluded to his being subjected to abusive degrading threatening military detention practices including souvenir video and digital images taken by army and navy spectators. Had Walker gone to trail the abusive interrogation practices of US military intelligence  might have been exposed to the public and the foreign policy disaster of Abu Ghraib might have been avoided.
   Documents obtained by the Coastal Post from Walker's enormous file of 14 thick tomes indicate that he was willfully and needlessly abused while in US custody and paradoxically, as bad as it was, he would most likely not have survived much longer if he had remained with our Afghan allies.
   Walker's defense team made, what would normally be a routine "discovery" requests of the justice department for information that might show that he was innocent of the charges. These included statements made by Walker under interrogation, who interrogated him, where, when and for how long? Who held him in custody and for how long? Information on the treatment of his wounds on board two US Navy ships in the Arabian Sea including the bullet taken out of his thigh. The bullet wound occurred during the massacre following the uprising of Taliban who surrendered. The Attorney General's Office refused the request for discovery.
   The defense team requested photographs and videos taken of Walker while he was in custody particularly those taken before and after he was stripped and placed in a metal shipping container, i.e. from December 7 to 14, 2001 and while he was in the brig of US ships at sea. Photos, videos and documents relating to his medical treatment between December 1, and January 24, 2002 were requested. Also requested were souvenir photos taken by US navy, marine and other military personnel.
   The government resisted these requests and. in a sense overwhelmed and sapped Walker, his family and his defense team with a smothering blanket of prejudicial publicity. Had the reasonable requests of Walker's defense team been honored the disaster of Abu Ghraib might not have happened, or, at least, not happened the way it did.
   Now, Walker's defense team has asked the US Justice Department to review his case since in view of the fact that  the government now plans to release Yasser Esam Hamdi to his family in Saudi Arabia. Hamdi is technically a US citizen having been born here. Walker, who was born in Washington DC and grew up there before moving with his mother to San Anselmo, is being treated more harshly than  Hamdi who is, functionally, a Saudi Arabian citizen.
   Hamdi's attorney claimed on the Pacifica Radio program "Democracy Now" that Walker, a California Muslim, received more favorable treatment than Hamdi who is an Arab Muslim.

This Just In
"John Walker, the Musical" is one of the 200 theatricals being presented at the New York International Fringe Festival through August 29, 2004.

In the presentation, an evil Texas president sings, "If It Ain't In America", a mother sings of her unconditional love, "I Support You" and a "Justice Department do-gooder", according to the NY Times, " sings with anarchist punk energy".


 

 

Coastal Post Home Page