John Walker Lindh was released from prison today. He served 17 years of his 20 year sentence and was released early for good behavior.
On March 22nd, Fox News posted an article reminding us of some of the circumstances of John Walker Lindh’s arrest:
In November 2001, U.S forces learned that an American – Lindh – was among the cluster of Taliban fighters left in limbo after their leader surrendered to the Northern Alliance in the northern Afghanistan province of Mazar-i-Sharif. Spann was first into the compound, serving as a prison, to interview Lindh, peppering him with questions about where he was from and what he was doing. But Lindh refused to respond.
“In those moments, when he chose to stay silent, he sealed his fate as a traitor to the United States,” Spann said. “At any point, he could have warned him that something was being planned.”
…According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Lindh – who is currently behind bars in Terra Haute, Indiana – will be discharged on May 23, several years in advance of his initial 20-year jail sentence. The initial charges leveled against the then 20-year-old Lindh in 2002 included one for murder conspiracy for the part he played in the killing of Americans, including Spann, in the prison rebellion.
However, nine of the ten counts in the indictment were dropped and he ended up pleading guilty to disobeying an executive order outlawing support to the Taliban and for possessing a weapon in Afghanistan.
Evidently the prosecution at his trial feared that Mr. Lindh’s confession would be tossed out as evidence because it was obtained under questionable circumstances, so Mr. Lindh was charged with with only one crime–he was never charged with fighting with the Taliban. He should have been shipped to Guantanamo as an enemy combatant and left there, but as an American citizen, he had other options.
Now he has been released from jail with a lot of restrictions–the software on his internet devices will be monitored, he will be required to conduct his online communications in English, he will be required to undergo mental health counseling. He will also be forbidden from possessing or viewing extremist material, holding a passport, or leaving the United States.
I have very mixed emotions about his release. He served his time and exhibited good behavior, so I believe that he has to be released. However, I wonder what his future actions will be. Hopefully he will decide to live peacefully along with his fellow Americans. I am grateful that he will be carefully watched.