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April 6, 2007

Another public plea for a (very unlikely?) clemency

As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, the "parents of 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh, who is serving a 20-year sentence in the country's toughest federal prison, stepped up their request for his release Wednesday by noting that the first U.S. war crimes tribunal in Guantanamo Bay recently resulted in a sentence of nine months for an Australian detainee held in U.S. custody since late 2001." Here are more excerpts from the article:

"John has been in prison for more than five years," said his mother, Marilyn Walker. "It's time for him to come home." Lindh's lead lawyer, James J. Brosnahan of San Francisco, called the effort "a simple cry for justice."...  Lindh, now 26, is in the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colo.  His family and lawyers think that with the passage of time, there is a new opportunity to persuade President Bush to reduce the 20-year sentence.

In addition, they said, the ruling last week that Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks of Australia will be freed after serving another nine months has moved them to seek what they consider equal justice. Hicks was captured about the same time as Lindh in Afghanistan; unlike Lindh, Hicks was convicted of providing material support to terrorists.  "The Hicks result is again evidence that John's sentence should be commuted," Brosnahan said.

Lindh's family began asking Bush for clemency in 2004, when Yaser Esam Hamdi — a U.S. citizen who was captured in Afghanistan at the same time — was deported to Saudi Arabia, where his family lives. Brosnahan said the family and his legal team thought a reduction in Lindh's sentence was appropriate because of the leniency that others were receiving. "It's a matter of fundamental justice," he said.

Margaret Love, who served as the U.S. pardon attorney from 1990 to 1997, noted that clemency petitions that cited other cases did not always prevail. She added that Bush, as governor of Texas and as president, has not been one to show mercy for criminal offenders. "This president has shown very little interest in pardoning," she said. "And that's peculiar because that's the one power that's really unlimited.  He has stretched the other powers of the presidency beyond the breaking point. But this one power that really is all his, with no checks except the popular will, he's shown very little interest in it."  She said that under Bush, about 900 pardon requests remained pending, along with thousands of commutation petitions.

NPR also had this strong segment yesterday discussing the contrast between the treatment of David Hicks, who received a nine-month sentence for nearly the same offenses that resulting in Lindh serving a 20-year sentence.  (Hat tip to How Appealing.)

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April 6, 2007 at 07:54 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Lindh should have been hanged. He is a traitor, and should be treated as such. Just ask Spann's widow.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 6, 2007 9:34:20 AM

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