Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Notable Commentary on the Lindh Plea

Here are some of today's op-ed pieces we like discussing the plea deal of John Walker Lindh (we'll add to this as the day progresses):

"Prosecuting the War and its Terrorists" by Juliette Kayyem , a former member of the National Commission on Terrorism, now a counterterrorism expert at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, in the New York Times. Her theme: This is hardly a victory for the Justice Department. The Government's claim that the 20 year sentence is proof of the strength of its evidence against Lindh defies logic.

"Plea Suggests U.S. Prefers to Avoid Court" by Adam Liptak in the New York Times: He and legal analysts he has interviewed express concerns that the Government may try to avoid federal court prosecutions in favor of detentions and miltiary tribunals in the future.

"A Legal War Without Victory" by David Lindorff in Salon Magazine (paid subscription only). Quote: "The plea agreement appeared to be a tacit acknowledgement by the federal government that its case was at best uncertain against the 21-year-old Islamic convert. Dropped were all charges of terrorism, consorting with al-Qaida and attempting to kill Americans. Nor did the agreement mention the government's earlier claim that Walker had been guilty of participation in a plot to murder CIA agent Johnny Spann."

A Collapesed Terror Case, Boston Globe Editorial: "Even less convincing was the triumphalist crowing of Attorney General John Ashcroft, who said the plea agreement with Lindh's defense counsel was an ''important victory in America's war on terrorism. However, the two charges to which Lindh pleaded guilty were providing services to the Taliban and carrying explosives - in this case two grenades - during the course of that felony. If Lindh's conviction on those charges represents an important victory in the war on terrorism, as Ashcroft claims, then that war must not be going very well."

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