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The American Taliban Fighter
The capture and discovery of a 20 year old American citizen named John Walker, also identified in some news reports as John Walker Lindh,  among Taliban fighters seems to be causing quite a fuss among U.S. politicians, pundits, and media wonks. Or more correctly, what to do with him is causing quite a fuss.

There is much talk about the severity of punishment which needs to be administered to Mr. Walker, right up to and including death. This is all based on the notion of his being guilty of
treason, and tied to the death of at least the CIA employee who was killed in the prison uprising where Walker was held. He reportedly surrendered with Taliban forces with a weapon (before being in the prison), had been living in Pakistan prior to hostilities, is a devout Muslim convert, and identified himself as a "jihadi".

I personally find the notion that Walker should be singled out and made a public spectacle  un-American, un-civil, and way beyond understanding. If it looks like a war, is conducted like a war, and we are told it's a war...then it's a war.

The chief feature of war is the absence of law. Typically, prisoners of war aren't all thrown in jail and charged with criminal offenses.

Walker is a microscopically small statistical aberration. From what information that has been released, it seems he took up arms for his chosen religion and fought like a soldier. I have seen nothing linking him to terrorism and have heard nothing to the effect that he supports terrorism. It has been well documented that news of the World Trade Center attacks was not well known in that region of the world, and especially so among devout Taliban-quality Muslims. While Taliban leaders seem to have enjoyed electricity and SUVs, they pretty much wanted their followers to be cavemen.

Applying American criminal codes when convenient to battlefield actions in a war a world away is not right. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out; it's common sense. The U.S. military has a Code of Conduct and their own military law.If his fellow Taliban fighters are treated as prisoners of war, then so should Walker.  The Third Geneva Conventions should govern how this situation is handled.

The decisions have not yet been made as of this writing. Here is hoping the United States is truly governed by rational, free-thinking men and women and not jingoistic cartoon "citizen leaders" of the barnyard variety.

Nels Norene
December 10, 2001

It's funny, it's inspired, but let's not forget that reality is a lot different than sitting at a computer entertaining ourselves.

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