The New York Times Published a Defense of the "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh and It's Absolute Garbage

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The New York Times has a long history of publishing anti-American tripe and this latest piece is no exception.

Someone named John Wray decided to do an entire spread defending John Walker Lindh, aptly known as the “American Taliban” for his role in fighting against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The subheading on the article says this.


“If he becomes the terrorist we’ve always accused him of being, the fault will lie as much with us as with him.”

You don’t even have to get into the body of the article to know it’s going to be a doozy.

In the piece, Wray re-writes history by painting Lindh as an innocent man, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time while simply trying to fight in a regional conflict.

There was no evidence that this young American had taken an active part in the violence — in fact, it was later determined that he had been hiding in the basement for the bulk of the conflict — but his citizenship was damning enough. The Taliban had sheltered Osama bin Laden, after all, and therefore every abettor of its regime, no matter how inconsequential, was a terrorist as well.

The fact that Mr. Lindh had enlisted as a simple foot soldier in a strictly regional conflict between the Taliban and a group of rival warlords, almost a year before the Taliban was recast by George W. Bush’s administration as our supreme enemy, availed him next to nothing — especially once his filthy, bearded, wild-eyed face was broadcast around the world. He found himself branded the “American Taliban,” a label that still sounds ominous today.

By Wray’s telling, Lindh had no connection to Osama bin Laden and was just a meaningless pre-invasion Taliban foot soldier with no animus toward America. He describes Lindh as “inconsequential” in an attempt to downplay his role in the violence and the eventual death of an American CIA advisor.


Wray then tries to use the fact that Lindh wasn’t ultimately convicted of treason as proof that the government had created a false narrative about him.

Then things veered off-script, at least from the point of view of those who expected Mr. Lindh to be hanged. Every attempt was made to try him for terrorism when he was brought home for trial, and when that failed, for treason. But even the full weight of our government’s influence — to say nothing of public opinion — couldn’t make those charges stick. Unsavory as it might have seemed to most Americans, the fact remained that Mr. Lindh had served in a foreign army, no more and no less. In the end, he was convicted of providing support to the Taliban and of carrying a firearm and an explosive during the commission of a felony.

The sentence Mr. Lindh received for these relatively innocuous offenses, however, went some way toward correcting any perceived miscarriage of justice. In October 2002 Mr. Lindh was given 20 years in a high-security federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., much of it in extreme isolation.

This is simply nonsense. In reality, Lindh only skipped far worse charges and a life sentence because he gave up intelligence in exchange for a plea deal. The writer of this NYTs article doesn’t even bother to mention that.

Wray ends with this garbage take, essentially blaming the U.S. for any future terrorist acts committed by Lindh.

But such concerns are no grounds, from either a legal or an ethical standpoint, to incarcerate someone indefinitely, out of all proportion to his crime. If John Walker Lindh becomes the terrorist we’ve always accused him of being, the fault will lie with us — with our ignorance, and our intolerance — as much as with Mr. Lindh himself.


So what’s the truth about Lindh and who he actually is?

Jason Buttrill, a former intel analyst and U.S. Marine who personally dealt with Lindh, took to Twitter to set the record straight.

Lindh was not just a foot soldier who stumbled into the wrong war. He was an Al Qaeda member who personally sought them out. He knew Osama bin Laden and served in his personal protection unit. The attack at the prison was carried out by his associates and he absolutely knew about it and participated in it. The idea that Lindh was never actually a terrorist is simply false.


What the Times chose to publish wasn’t just garbage because it chose to take the side of a terrorist over Americans. Sure, that’s uncomfortable, but you could perhaps imagine a scenario where real world facts showed some kind of misconduct. In this case though, almost everything written about Lindh in Wray’s article is objectively untrue. He completely whitewashed history, made things up about Lindh’s past, and tried to frame a vicious, anti-American terrorist as an innocent bystander.

Just when I thought The New York Times couldn’t sink any lower, they prove me wrong.


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