Release Scapegoat 'American Taliban,' Says Dad

John Walker Lindh was a 'scapegoat,' not a traitor
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2011 7:25 AM CDT
Release Scapegoat 'American Taliban,' Says Dad
Frank Lindh, father of John Walker Lindh, poses for a photograph after speaking to law students at the University of San Francisco, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

With Osama bin Laden dead, it's time to release John Walker Lindh—the notorious "American Taliban" captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan just months after 9/11—says father Frank Lindh in the New York Times. "Like Ernest Hemingway during the Spanish Civil War, John had volunteered for the army of a foreign government battling an insurgency," says Frank Landh, adding that John wanted to help Afghan civilians from attacks by northern warlords, not fight the United States. "His decision was rash and blindly idealistic, but not sinister or traitorous. He was 20 years old."

John was captured unarmed, his father points out, and the Bush administration had not been hostile to the Taliban government prior to the World Trade Tower attacks. "But John’s case was never about evidence," writes Frank Lindh. "John was a scapegoat, wrongly accused of terrorism at a moment when our grieving country needed someone to blame because the real terrorist had gotten away." The younger Lindh turned 30 in a federal prison in Indiana. "Now that bin Laden is dead, I hope President Obama, and the American people, can find it in their hearts to release John, and let him come home. Ten years is enough." (Read more John Walker Lindh stories.)

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