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Ellis Henican Defends Lowering Prison Sentence for John Walker Lindh

Reported by Marie Therese - August 9, 2007 -

Oh, my. Oh, my. Ellis Henican is sure to feel the wrath of the right wing over he opinion on this one. This morning on FOX & Friends, he argued that there are mitigating circumstances and stated that he agrees with an editorial in the July 29th edition of the Los Angeles Times that it's time to revisit the 20-year-sentence imposed on the so-called "American Taliban," John Walker Lindh. F&F host Brian Kilmeade would have none of it. With video.

According to the Times editorial:

The issue, then, is not Lindh's guilt but his sentence. He was ordered to spend 20 years in prison, far longer than comparably situated defendants. Maher Mofeid Hawash pleaded guilty to violating the same law, and, after he agreed to cooperate, the government recommended that he serve seven to 10 years in prison. Yaser Esam Hamdi, who fought with Lindh in the Taliban military, was released back to Saudi Arabia in 2004, having spent less than four years in custody. David Hicks, an Australian, pleaded guilty to terror charges before a military commission and was sentenced to nine months. Of all the suspects rounded up across the world in the administration's war on terror, only shoe bomber Richard Reid, who actively attempted to destroy a plane in flight, is serving a longer sentence than Lindh. And to deepen the inequity, Lindh's sentence also gags him, preventing him from protesting his confinement or discussing his interrogation and treatment.

Post-9-11, Americans were angry and hurt and needed a scapegoat. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the rest of the Bush administration knew this and effectively turned America's rage away from themselves and onto John Walker Lindh. The vicious, hate-dripping right wing machine went into action, demonizing a hapless, lost young man, who as a prisoner was seriously injured and also abused by Northern Alliance troops.

In a speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, Lindh's father, Frank Lindh, outlined the series of events leading up to his son's arrest. It presents a picture at odds with that we all saw on our TV screens. It is well worth taking the time to read, if only because it introduces information that most of us have never heard before.

Ellis Henican and the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times are correct. This young man's sentence was far too punitive for the one "crime" he was sentenced for, i.e. "violating economic sanctions by supporting the Taliban government." His sentence, at the very least, should be commuted.