- George W. Bush’s administration touted “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh’s plea deal as a victory for America.
- The administration dropped the toughest charges against Lindh, while insisting they could have proven them.
- 17 years later, Lindh is free as a result of that plea deal and experts are concerned he may still pose a threat.
Former President George W. Bush’s administration sold the 2002 plea deal with John Walker Lindh, an American who joined the Taliban, as a victory in the war on terror that would make the American people safer.
But 17 years later, Lindh is out of prison, and his praise for terrorists while in prison has experts concerned that he may still pose a threat.
Lindh originally faced up to life in prison under the original 10 charges brought by the Bush administration, which included conspiring to kill Americans.
Lindh was present at a 2001 Taliban prisoner uprising that killed CIA officer Johnny Micheal Spann. Spann was killed shortly after interrogating Lindh, though Lindh maintained he had nothing to do with Spann’s death.
The U.S. government dropped the charges against Lindh relating to Spann’s death as part of the plea deal, even as it maintained that it could have proven his guilt.
Under the terms of the deal, Lindh pleaded guilty to just two charges: assisting the Taliban and carrying a rifle and two grenades while doing so. Lindh also agreed to drop accusations of mistreatment by the U.S. military as part of the deal.
Paul McNulty, then the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a July 15, 2002, press conference that the government could have proven that Lindh was guilty of conspiring to kill Americans, but touted the plea deal as an “important victory.”
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