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Torture, rendition, and other abuses against captives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere

 
  

Project: Prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

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Summer 2001

       John Walker Lindh, a young American citizen converted to Islam, enlists in the Taliban army. His intention, he later explains, is to aid the Taliban against the forces of the Northern Alliance, which he perceives as a brutal power guilty of “numerous atrocities ... against civilians ...: massacres, child rape, torture, and castration.” [Sources: Prepared Statement of John Walker Lindh to the Court, 10/4/2002]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Rashid Dostum, John Walker Lindh
          

September 6, 2001

       Five days before the 9/11 attacks, John Walker Lindh arrives on the front line of Taliban forces in the region of Takhar in the north of Afghanistan in order to engage in battle against the Northern Alliance. [Sources: Prepared Statement of John Walker Lindh to the Court, 10/4/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

Early November 2001

       The Northern Alliance, under the direction of Gen. Dostum and with US support, manage to break through the Taliban line in Kunduz, eventually leading to the surrender of Taliban forces. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Rashid Dostum, John Walker Lindh
          

November 24, 2001

       The foreign Taliban fighters, who surrendered in Kunduz the day before (see November 23, 2001), are taken into custody by General Dostum who wants to send them to a Soviet-built airfield in Mazar-i-Sharif. But American Special Forces say the runway might be needed for military operations. A last minute decision is then made to transport the prisoners to Dostum's 19th Century Qala-i-Janghi fortress. Prior to leaving for the compound, all of the Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters are supposed to be disarmed, but for some reason fighters in only three of the five transport vehicles are actually checked. [Guardian, 12/1/2001; Guardian 11/27/2001] The foreign Taliban fighters arrive at the Qala-i-Janghi fort early in the morning. When some of Dostum's men attempt to frisk the group of fighters who have not yet been disarmed, one of the Chechen prisoners detonates a hand grenade, killing himself, several other prisoners, and two Northern Alliance commanders. As a result, the weapons search is abandoned and the prisoners are herded into a stable area north of the fort. Between two and eight of the prisoners in the stable area blow themselves up that night. As a result, the Northern Alliance decides to relocate them into the basement of the fortress. [Newsweek, 12/1/2001; Guardian, 12/1/2001; Times of London, 11/28/2001]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Rashid Dostum
          

Earyl Morning November 25, 2001

       After a sleepless night in the overcrowded basement in Dostum's fortress, the Taliban prisoners, including John Walker Lindh, are led out, one-by-one by the guards. They are searched, tied up and later seated in rows on an open lawn. [Guardian, 12/1/2001; Newsweek, 12/1/2001] Simon Brooks, head of the International Committee for the Red Cross in northern Afghanistan, arrives at the Qala-i-Janghi compound seeking an assurance from Said Kamal, Dostum's security chief, that the prisoners will be treated in accordance with international law. He also wants to write the prisoners' names down and get messages for their families. [Guardian, 12/1/2001] Another official from the Red Cross, Olivier Martin, is also inside Qala-i-Janghi making sure that the prisoners are being cared for in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. [Independent, 11/29/2001] Meanwhile, Northern Alliance fighters are tying up prisoners at the south end of the fortress. [Times of London, 11/28/2001; Guardian, 12/1/2001; Guardian 11/29/01] The prisoners are scared and think the Northern Alliance is preparing to execute them. They believe that the two television crews—from Reuters and the German station ARD—present intend to film their deaths. One of the prisoners recalls, “Our hands were tied, and they were beating and kicking some of us. Some of the Mujahedin [Taliban] were scared, crying. They thought we were all going to be killed.” [Newsweek, 12/1/2001; Guardian, 12/1/2001; New York Times, 11/28/2001] One guard hits Johnny Walker Lindh in the back of his head, so hard, he “nearly [loses] consciousness. ” [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh, Simon Brooks, Olivier Martin
          

Late morning, November 25, 2001

       Two CIA agents, “Dave” and Johnny Michael Spann, are singling out prisoners for interrogation in an effort to determine their affiliations and backgrounds and screen them for possible links to al-Qaeda. Two television crews—from Reuters and the German station ARD—are present. Lindh has been pointed out to Spann as a Westerner, or at least someone who speaks English. Spann approaches Lindh and begins asking him questions: [Times of London, 11/28/2001; Guardian, 12/1/2001; Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “[Speaking to Lindh] Hey you. Right here with your head down. Look at me. I know you speak English. Look at me. Where did you get the British military sweater?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Lindh does not respond and Spann walks away. A few moments later, Northern Alliance soldiers approach Lindh and tighten the ropes around his elbows. A Northern Alliance officer kicks him lightly in the stomach. Later, Lindh is brought over to a blanket covering bare earth and pushed down so he sits cross-legged on the blanket. Spann then squats down on the edge of the blanket, and faces Lindh: [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “[Speaking to Lindh] Where are you from? Where are you from? You believe in what you're doing here that much, you're willing to be killed here? How were you recruited to come here? Who brought you here? Hey! [He snaps his fingers in front of Lindh's face. Lindh is unresponsive] Who brought you here? Wake up! Who brought you here to Afghanistan How did you get here? [Long pause] What, are you puzzled?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann kneels on the blanket and attempts to photograph Lindh with a digital camera. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “Put your head up. Don't make me have to get them to hold your head up. Push your hair back. Push your hair back so I can see your face.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
An Afghan soldier pulls Walker's hair back, holding his head up for the picture. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “You got to talk to me. All I want to do is talk to you and find out what your story is. I know you speak English.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Dave then walks up and speaks with Spann. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Dave - “Mike!” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Spann - “[to Dave] Yeah, he won't talk to me.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Dave - “OK, all right. We explained what the deal is to him.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Spann - “I was explaining to the guy we just want to talk to him, find out what his story is.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Dave - “The problem is, he's got to decide if he wants to live or die and die here. We're just going to leave him, and he's going to f_cking sit in prison the rest of his f_cking short life. It's his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Spann - “[to Lindh] Do you know the people here you're working with are terrorists and killed other Muslims? There were several hundred Muslims killed in the bombing in New York City. Is that what the Koran teaches? I don't think so. Are you going to talk to us?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Walker does not respond [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Dave - “ [to Spann] That's all right man. Gotta give him a chance, he got his chance.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann and Dave stand and keep talking to each other. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “[to Dave] Did you get a chance to look at any of the passports?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Dave - “There's a couple of Saudis and I didn't see the others.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Spann - “I wonder what this guy's got?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Walker is then taken back to the group of prisoners by an Afghan guard. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh, Mike Spann, "Dave"
          

11:25 a.m. November 25, 2001

       One of the prisoners who is being interrogated by the two CIA agents tells Mike Spann that he has come to Afghanistan “to kill” him. With that, the prisoner lunges towards him. At this point accounts differ over what happens. According to an early account, Mike Spann immediately shoots the prisoner and three others dead with his pistol before the nearby Taliban prisoners join the sckirmish and “beat, kick, and bite” Spann agent to death. [Times of London, 11/28/2001] In the other account, the prisoner who lunged towards Spann, used a grenade to blow him and Spann up, killing both of them immediately. [Guardian, 12/1/2001] Dave then shoots at least one of the foreign Taliban fighters dead and flees the vicinity. He goes to General Dostum's headquarters in the north side of the fort where he contacts the American embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan using a satellite phone borrowed from the German TV crew. He tells the embassy, “We have lost control of the situation. Send in helicopters and troops.” [Guardian, 12/1/2001] One witness later recalls, “David asked his superiors for choppers to be brought in, as well as ground troops to get everyone out. They sent about 40 American soldiers, but the choppers were too far away in Uzbekistan. David's people offered to bring in gunships and bomb the Taliban. They would flatten the whole castle and kill us all. David told them twice they shouldn't do that. They were really pressing for airstrikes and after three hours they started.” [Times of London, 11/28/2001] Meanwhile, Dostum's soldiers began to shoot indiscriminately at the rows of bound prisoners. Some are killed and as prisoners stand up and run for cover, more are shot in their flight. John Walker Lindh too tries to run but after two or three paces a bullet hits him in his right thigh and he falls to the ground. Unable to walk, with chaos all around him, Lindh pretends to be dead. He remains on the ground for the next twelve hours. The Taliban soldiers soon overpower their Northern Alliance captors, take their weapons and break into the arms depot located towards the center for the compound where they help themselves to Dostum's mortars and rocket launchers. [Guardian, 12/1/2001; Times of London, 11/28/2001 Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh, Mike Spann, "Dave"
          

(3:30 p.m.) November 25, 2001

       American jets arrive over the Qala-i-Janghi fortress, and over the next two days, drop nine or 10 bombs directly into the compound. The aerial attacks are coordinated by Special Forces and CIA operatives on the ground. [BBC, 12/01/2001; Times of London, 11/28/2001; Guardian 11/27/2001] The air strikes drive surviving detainees into the basement for cover. As night falls, John Walker Lindh is helped by his comrades into the basement as well. They will remain there for seven hellish days. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] Describing how the scene appears the following day, the Times of London reports: “The nighttime raids left many bodies half-buried in the ground. Limbs and torsos rose out of the disturbed ground like tree trunks after a forest fire.” [Times of London, 11/28/2001]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

November 27, 2001

       In the morning, CIA agent Dave, US Special Forces, SAS soldiers, and an additional 200 Northern Alliance troops arrive at the Qala-i-Janghi fortress to fight the remaining 10 or so Taliban fighters who are still resisting. One of the US soldiers warns journalists not to be inside the compound at night. [CCN Presents, n.d.; Times of London, 11/28/2001; BBC, 12/01/2001] “To clear the last pockets of Taliban resistance in the afternoon, Alliance soldiers approached the houses in the middle of the compound and fired at random into basement windows,” the Times of London later reports. “Some 20-liter petrol canisters were thrown in, then grenades.” [Times of London, 11/28/2001] Alliance soldiers roaming the complex shoot at the bodies to make sure there are no survivors. They also loot corpses, stealing rifles, boots, clothing, and even gold fillings from their teeth. [Independent, 11/29/2001] According to an escaped prisoner, a Northern Alliance tank runs over the bodies of injured survivors. [Paknews, 12/3/2001] A tank attacks the western half of the compound and reportedly kills the last two remaining holdouts who are still fighting. By noon, “the ground was littered with countless mangled bodies,” the Times of London reports. [Times of London, 11/28/2001; BBC, 12/01/2001] Foreign reporters are allowed in the compound. One Associated Press photographer sees Northern Alliance soldiers removing the bindings from the hands of the dead Taliban fighters. [Independent, 11/29/2001] In the afternoon, it is discovered that there are about 100 survivors in the basement of a one-story building at the center of the compound. US Special Forces order Northern Alliance soldiers to pour diesel fuel into the basement and ignite it. [Newsweek, 12/1/2001] Dostum's men pour fuel down several air ducts, two of which lead into a room where Lindh is sitting, drenching him. Unable to walk, he has to crawl away from the air ducts. Some minutes later, the fuel is lit and fire spreads quickly throughout the basement. “People were being burned alive,” an eyewitness will recall. Lindh loses consciousness in the smoke-filled air, while Dostum's soldiers fire rockets amidst the surviving Taliban. The report by Lindh's defense will say, “Human remains litter the entire basement floor.” [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] At dusk, US soldiers recover Spann's (see September 10, 2001) booby trapped body. [CCN Presents, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

November 30, 2001

       After a number of survivors are discovered in the basement of the Qala-i-Janghi fortress, Northern Alliance soldiers drop artillery rockets into the basement and detonate them by fuses. [CCN Presents, n.d.; Newsweek, 12/1/2001] Northern Alliance soldiers then redirect an irrigation stream into the basement of a one-story building in the Qala-i-Janghi fortress where surviving Taliban soldiers are, flooding it with freezing cold water. John Walker Lindh almost drowns and suffers from hypothermia. Most of the remaining prisoners die because of the water, and throughout the basement “the stench from decaying human remains becomes particularly acute.” [Newsweek, 12/1/2001 Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Donald Rumsfeld
          

Morning, December 1, 2001

       Taliban survivors who have been holding out in the basement of a one-story building in the Qala-i-Janghi fortress surrender. [Newsweek, 12/1/2001] John Walker Lindh is found “with approximately 15 dead or dying persons on the floor.” [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] Of the more than 300 prisoners who arrived with Lindh a week before, only 86 survive. “Everyone was in poor health, and most of them were traumatized, with absent looks on their faces,” Oliver Martin, chief of the ICRC delegation at Mazar-i-Sharif, later recalls. “It must have been hell and horror for them.” [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] For around six hours, Lindh and many other wounded and dying prisoners are locked in an overcrowded dark container. He is then moved to the back of an open-air truck, from where he notices ICRC officials and members of the media. It then appears that Dostum intended to suffocate the prisoners inside the container, but that the presence of the ICRC and journalists has prevented that. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] Lindh and the other surviving but wounded Taliban are taken to the town of Sheberghan. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Donald Rumsfeld
          

December 2, 2001

       Author Robert Pelton, working as a freelance CNN contributor, learns that one of the survivors is an American and is being treated at a hospital in Sheberghan. He goes to the hospital with video cameras and a few members of the US Special Forces. John Walker Lindh allegedly refuses, at least twice, permission to film him and be interviewed, but the CNN cameramen start filming anyway. Pelton asks him if he wants to deliver a message to his family through CNN, but Lindh declines saying he prefers to send a message through the ICRC. [CNN, 7/4/2002 Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] Pelton offers him some food; then offers to have a Special Forces medic treat his wounds. Fearing torture and death if he remains in the custody of the Northern Alliance, Lindh finally accepts Pelton's offer and agrees to be interviewed. Lindh is then moved to another room, with Special Forces personnel present, and receives medical treatment, with CNN cameras rolling. At this point, as US government papers confirm, “John Walker Lindh comes into the custody of the United States military forces.” [New Yorker, 3/3/2003; CNN, 12/20/2001] According to the US medic, Lindh is “malnourished and in extremely poor overall condition.” He does not remove the bullet in Lindh's leg, deciding to leave it in “for later removal as evidence.” [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] Another Special Forces officer says Lindh is acting “delirious.” While Lindh is administered morphine through an IV, Pelton starts to interview him. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] Following the CNN interview, a Special Forces officer interrogates him, even though Lindh is “delirious,” under the influence of morphine and seriously wounded. Lindh is not read his Miranda rights. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] The “Miranda” rights are what a police officer is required to inform an arrested person before questioning. It follows from the Fifth Amendment which provides civil protection against being “compelled in a criminal case to be a witness against himself.” The standard warning reads: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” If this warning is not given before the interrogation takes place, statements made by the accused are considered involuntary and become inadmissible in a trial. The name “Miranda” stems from the case of Miranda v. Arizona, which was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1966.
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 2, 2001

       John Walker Lindh appears on CNN television, making the deplorable impression of an American siding with the enemy. He speaks with respect for the Taliban. “I lived in a region in the north-western province,” he says. “The people there in general have a great love for the Taliban, so I started to read some of the literature of the scholars and the history of the movement. And my heart became attached to them. I wanted to help them one way or another.” Lindh says he belonged to a separate branch of the Taliban consisting only of non-Afghans, called Ansar. Only the Arab part of Ansar was funded by Bin Laden, he says. [CNN, 7/4/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 2-5, 2001

       The Special Forces officer who questioned him the day before ties Lindh's hands with rope and puts a hood over his head. Lindh is then driven back to Mazar-i-Sharif, where he is taken into a school building. For the next two to three days, Lindh will be kept blindfolded and bound in custody of the US military. He asks for the time of day, explaining that he needs to know for religious reasons. But he is told to shut up. US soldiers frequently call him “sh_tbag,” or “sh_thead.” He is fed military rations twice a day, which he feels is insufficient given his state of malnourishment. Requests for more food and more medical attention are refused. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] Throughout the week at the school, Lindh expresses concern about his bullet wound, which appears to be festering. On the first two days, he is visited twice by a Red Cross worker, who on December 3 gives him the opportunity to dictate a letter to his parents. It is faxed eight days later. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] For the rest of his incarceration at Mazar-i-Sharif, the Red Cross workers are prevented from seeing Lindh. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 3-5, 2001

       As soon as he hears the news, Lindh's father immediately hires James Brosnahan, a well-respected lawyer, on behalf of his son. On December 3, Brosnahan faxes a letter to Powell, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet. He introduces himself as Lindh's lawyer, expressing his wish to see him, and stating: “Because he is wounded and, based upon press reports, went for three days without food, I would ask that any further interrogation be stopped, especially if there is any intent to use it in any subsequent legal proceedings.” When Brosnahan receives no reply, he writes again, “I would ask that no further interrogation of my client occur until I have the opportunity to speak with him. As an American citizen, he has the right to counsel and, under all applicable legal authorities, I ask for the right to speak with my client as soon as possible.” On December 5, still having received no reply, he urges that “we have a conversation today.” Again, no reply comes. [World Socialist Web Site, 3/27/2002; New Yorker, 3/3/2003; Los Angeles Times, 3/23/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, George Tenet, James Brosnahan, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld
          

(December 5, 2001)

       Around the third day at the school (see December 2-5, 2001), probably on December 5, Lindh, unaware of the fact that a lawyer has been hired for him, is interrogated by two military officers. The questioning goes on for two or three days in sessions lasting several hours at a time. Again no Miranda warnings are given (see December 2, 2001). [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] There is some discussion, however, among military personnel about whether Lindh should be advised of his right against self-incrimination. An Army intelligence officer is advised that instructions have come from “higher headquarters” for interrogators to coordinate Lindh's interrogation with military lawyers. The intelligence officer asks to be faxed a Miranda form, but, according to the documents, “he never [gets] it.” The officer, however, also says, he is “in the business of collecting [intelligence] information, not in the business of Mirandizing.” After the first hour of interrogation, according to the documents, the interrogator provides the admiral in charge of Mazar-i-Sharif with a summary of what the interrogators have so far collected. The admiral tells him that the secretary of Defense's counsel has authorized him to “take the gloves off” and ask whatever he wants. The unnamed counsel in question may well have been Williams Haynes. The initial responses Lindh gives to his interrogators are, according to the documents, cabled to Washington every hour. [The Los Angeles Times, 6/9/2004] After the interrogations are ended, Lindh is told his conditions will improve. From then on, he is given a third meal a day and no longer held at gunpoint 24 hours a day. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh, William J. Haynes
          

December 7-8, 2001

       US soldiers enter the school, blindfold Lindh, and take photographs of Lindh and themselves posing next to him. One soldier scrawls “sh_thead” across Lindh's blindfold and poses with him. Another soldier makes fun of his Islamic religion. Someone says Lindh is “going to hang” and another one that he wants to shoot him on the spot. They then put Lindh in a van and tie his hands with plastic handcuffs so tight they severely cut off the blood circulation. The scars and numbness that result from this treatment are still present months later. He is then put on a plane and flown to the US marine base Camp Rhino, seventy miles south of Kandahar. During the flight, Lindh screams because the pain in his hands have become unbearable. But his American guards refuse to loosen the cuffs. Immediately upon arrival at Camp Rhino, when the winter night has already fallen, US soldiers cut off all of Lindh's clothing. Wearing only his blindfold and shaking violently from the cold, Lindh is bound to a stretcher with heavy duct tape wrapped tightly around his chest, upper arms and ankles. In this position military personnel again take photographs of him. One photograph is later released by his attorneys and corroborates the described treatment. He is then placed, stretcher and all, in a metal shipping container. Twenty minutes later, a US marine begins to question him. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 7, 2001

       At the Department of Justice, an attorney-advisor in the Professional Responsibility Advisory Office (PRAO) named Jesselyn Radack provides a federal prosecutor in the terrorism and violent crimes section of the Criminal Division with advice on John Walker Lindh's case. She informs him that, “The FBI wants to interview American Taliban member John Walker some time next week ... about taking up arms against the US.” She also writes, “I consulted with a Senior Legal Advisor here at PRAO and we don't think you can have the FBI agent question Walker. It would be a pre-indictment, custodial overt interview, which is not authorized by law.” She also advises him to have the FBI agent inform Lindh that his parents hired attorneys for him and ask him whether he wants to be represented by them. [Sources: Email From Jesselyn A. Radack to John De Pue, 12/7/2001] None of her advice is followed. Radack will become a strong critic of the government's handling of Lindh's case and those of others related to the war on terrorism.
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh, Jesselyn Radack
          

December 8-9, 2001

       According to government papers, later quoted by John Walker Lindh's defense, “A Navy physician present at Camp Rhino recounted that the lead military interrogator in charge of Mr. Lindh's initial questioning told the physician ‘that sleep deprivation, cold, and hunger might be employed’ during Mr. Lindh's interrogations.” This interrogator later says, “he was initially told to get whatever information he could get from the detainee. However, ... once it was determined from their initial questioning of Lindh that he was an American, which was done within an hour or so, [the military interrogator] informed a superior and was told they were done questioning him.” [US v. John Phillip Walker Lindh, 6/13/2002] Lindh nevertheless does receive the treatment of “sleep deprivation, cold, and hunger.” The container Lindh is kept in has no light or heat source. Only two small holes in the sides of the container allow some light and air to enter, through which military guards frequently shout swearwords at Lindh and discuss spitting in his food. According to his defense attorneys, “Mr. Lindh's hands and feet remained restrained such that his forearms were forced together and fully extended, pointing straight down towards his feet. The pain from the wrist restraints was intense. Initially, Mr. Lindh remained fully exposed within the metal container, lying on his back; after some time had passed, one blanket was placed over him and one beneath him. While in the container the first two days, Mr. Lindh was provided minimal food and little medical attention. He suffered from constant pain from the plastic cuffs on his wrists and the bullet wound in his thigh. Because the metal container was placed next to a generator, the loud noise it generated echoed within the container. According to government disclosures, Mr. Lindh repeatedly said he was cold and asked for more protection from the weather. When Mr. Lindh needed to urinate, his guards did not release him from the restraints binding him to his stretcher, but instead propped up the stretcher into a vertical position. Due to hunger, the cold temperature, the noise, and the incessant pain caused by his wounds and the position in which he was restrained, Mr. Lindh was unable to sleep. Mr. Lindh was held under these conditions continuously for two days.” [US v. John Phillip Walker Lindh, 6/13/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 9, 2001

       After two days naked, hungry, in pain and sleepless in the cold container, John Walker Lindh is dressed in hospital garb and carried, still blindfolded and handcuffed, to a nearby room or tent. As his blindfold is removed, Lindh finds himself in the presence of an FBI agent. From an “advice of rights” form, the agent begins to read Lindh his Miranda rights. Where the form refers to the right to an attorney, the FBI agent adds, “Of course, there are no lawyers here.” Lindh, nevertheless, asks if he can see an attorney, but the FBI agent repeats his statement that there are no attorneys present. Lindh then signs a Miranda waiver of his constitutional Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and to consult an attorney, believing he would otherwise return to the conditions to which he was previously subjected, or that a worse fate may await him. The subsequent interrogation by the FBI agent lasts at least three hours. [US v. John Phillip Walker Lindh, 6/13/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 10, 2001

       John Walker Lindh is again questioned by the FBI agent who had interrogated him the previous day (see December 9, 2001). Lindh again asks for a lawyer, and again he is told no lawyers are available. Lindh is returned to the container, but now his treatment begins to improve. His leg and handcuffs are loosened and he is blindfolded less often. The duct tape is removed. He receives more food, an additional blanket and he is allowed to continue to wear the hospital garb. [US v. John Phillip Walker Lindh, 6/13/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 14, 2001

       John Walker Lindh is moved to a Navy ship, the USS Peleliu. When he arrives, he is still unable to walk and is suffering from dehydration, frostbite on his toes and mild hypothermia. Navy physicians treat Lindh with IV fluids, and on the same day, Haynes' deputy, Paul W. Cobb Jr., tells Lindh's lawyers: “I can inform you that John Walker is currently in the control of United States armed forces and is being held aboard USS Peleliu in the theater of operations. Our forces have provided him with appropriate medical attention and will continue to treat him humanely, consistent with the Geneva Convention protections for prisoners of war.” [Business Wire, 12/17/2001; ABC News, 12/19/2001] It is the first response James Brosnahan, head of Lindh's defense team, receives to his letters, the first of which he sent on December 3 (see December 3-5, 2001).
People and organizations involved: James Brosnahan, John Walker Lindh, Paul W. Cobb
          

December 15, 2001

       Finally, John Walker Lindh has the bullet in his leg (see Earyl Morning November 25, 2001) surgically removed. Lindh's government prosecutors later claim the military “provided him the very same medical treatment provided to wounded United States military personnel.” As one commentator observed, however: “It is difficult to believe that the United States military would delay for more than two weeks surgery to remove a bullet from a leg from one of its own soldiers or sailors.” [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/15/2001; World Socialist Web Site, 4/1/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 21, 2001

       President Bush says he has not ruled out bringing treason charges against Lindh. While he at first called him a “poor boy” who was “misled,” Bush now says Lindh is a member of al-Qaeda. “Walker's unique,” Bush says, “in that he's the first American al-Qaeda fighter that we have captured.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 12/22/2001]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, John Walker Lindh
          

December 22, 2001

       After a week on the USS Peleliu, Bush calls Lindh an al-Qaeda fighter, who “is being well treated on a ship of ours.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 12/22/2001] Around the same time, it is reported that at least four other detainees are being held aboard the USS Peleliu [San Francisco Chronicle, 12/22/2001] and about 7,000 on the Afghan mainland. [The Guardian, 12/21/2001]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, John Walker Lindh
          

December 31, 2001

       According to government papers, Lindh is transferred to the USS Bataan. [US v. John Phillip Walker Lindh, 6/13/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

January 6, 2002

       John Walker Lindh, held on the USS Bataan, is allowed for the first time to receive letters from his parents and the lawyers they hired on his behalf. [submitted June 13th, 2002, in the case of US v. John Phillip Walker Lindh]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

January 22-23, 2002

       John Walker Lindh is flown off the USS Bataan to the United States, arriving just three days before his first court hearing. [Associated Press, 1/22/2002; Fox News, 1/22/2002] Lindh's attorneys will call this a deliberate attempt to hinder his defense. One of his lawyers, George C. Harris, says: “For 55 days [since he was taken in US custody] Lindh was essentially held incommunicado. Despite our requests and efforts we were unable to meet with him until he was brought back [to the US] on January 23. We were finally able to meet with him for a half an hour just before his first court hearing.” [World Socialist Web Site, 10/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: George C. Harris, John Walker Lindh
          

January 25, 2002

       The first court hearing concerning John Walker Lindh, takes place in Alexandria, Virginia. Lindh is allowed to meet with his lawyers for the first time. [CNN, 1/26/2002; Associated Press, 1/25/2002] The location is, as one commentator later remarks, “a few miles from the Pentagon, where prosecutors could be assured of a pro-prosecution judge and jurors drawn from communities dominated by families of military and intelligence officials—some of whom suffered direct injuries on September 11th—and where controversial rulings would be reviewed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most right-wing federal appellate court in the United States.” [World Socialist Web Site, 7/18/2002] In addition, it is close to the home of the Spann family, related to CIA officer Johnny Spann, responsibility for whose death, according to some, is attributed to Lindh. [San Francisco Chronicle, 12/22/2001]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

January 30, 2002-February 2, 2002

       At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held between January 30 and February 2, author Ann Coulter says, “When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty.” She adds, “We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors.” [Washington Monthly, 4/2002] The CPAC is held in Arlington, Virginia, close to where Lindh's trial is taking place.
People and organizations involved: Ann Coulter
          

July 15, 2002

       John Walker Lindh's trial comes to a sudden and unexpected end when prosecutors and defense attorneys strike a plea agreement. Lindh agrees to plead guilty to serving the Taliban. He also admits that while serving under the Taliban he carried a gun and grenades. This adds ten years imprisonment for the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. [CBS News, 7/15/2002; Guardian, 7/15/2002; Associated Press, 7/15/2002 Sources: US v. John Walker Lindh, 7/15/2002] The nine other counts, including the charges of conspiracy to murder Americans and providing material support to terrorists, are dismissed. In return, his defense withdraws the claim that Lindh has been abused or tortured at American hands. According to the agreement, Lindh “puts to rest his claims of mistreatment by the United States military, and all claims of mistreatment are withdrawn.” [Amnesty International, 10/20/2003] Brosnahan tells Hersh, that “the Department of Defense insists that we state that there was ‘no deliberate’ mistreatment of John.” [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004] And thus, in a formal statement, Lindh says, “that he was not intentionally mistreated by the US military.” [Mercury News, 5/20/2004] Lindh's attorney, Harris, later tells the World Socialist Web Site, “I think that one thing that motivated the government to resolve the case was certainly their reluctance to have the evidence presented about how John Lindh was treated while he was in US military custody.” Another motive for the prosecutors to agree to a plea bargain, Harris suggests, is the expected disclosure during a public trial of the government's own ties to the Taliban. [World Socialist Web Site, 10/7/2002] Harris explains that there was good reason to assume that if the trial would go in favor of Lindh, the government would declare him an “enemy combatant” and detain him indefinitely, perhaps in solitary incommunicado confinement, without charges, access to lawyers or relatives, like it had done only recently, on June 9 (see June 9, 2002), to another US citizen Jose Padilla. “It was the government's position,” Harris says, “that even if John Lindh had been acquitted, or had been convicted and served his time, that it still would have been within the government's power to declare him an enemy combatant and continue to detain him.” [World Socialist Web Site, 10/7/2002] Lindh was therefore in a no-win-situation. Even after release following his twenty-year sentence, he will not be certain of his freedom. The plea agreement says that “for the rest of the defendant's natural life, should the Government determine that the defendant has engaged in [proscribed] conduct [...] the United States may immediately invoke any right it has at that time to capture and detain the defendant as an unlawful enemy combatant.” [Sources: US v. John Walker Lindh, 7/15/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

October 4, 2002

       Judge Thomas S. Ellis III sentences John Walker Lindh, as expected, to 20 years in a federal penitentiary. With a 15 percent credit for good behavior and time served, he should be released in 16 years and two months. [CBS News, 10/4/2002; CBS News, 10/4/2002]
People and organizations involved: Thomas S. Ellis, John Walker Lindh
          


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