Saturday, April 25, 2009

John Walker Lindh: Scapegoat and Victim of Torture

Given the new evidence, it’s time for an appeal…

By Jacqueline Marcus

When this photo appeared of John Walker Lindh, the country shamefully cheered. Now we need to categorically admit, that this young man was being tortured. He was in horrific pain from a wound and left strapped to a stretcher, mocked by soldiers, and by Americans who were not told the facts or circumstances regarding John Walker's situation. Look closely, make no mistake about it: this is torture.
Some important important facts have emerged since 2001. The corporate press, for example, failed to question the suicide hijackers who were mostly from Saudi Arabia. Instead, the focus was concentrated on Osama bin Laden. While the Bush administration targeted Afghanistan to apprehend bin Laden, “top White House officials personally approved the evacuation of dozens of influential Saudis, including relatives to Osama bin Laden, from the United States in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, when most flights were still grounded,” according to a report in the New York Times two years later.

The U.S. Middle-East policies are relative at best. In a March 3, 2003, New Yorker interview, “Measuring Betrayal,” conducted by Jane Mayer with Amy Tubk-Davidson: “America’s shifting and sometimes secret alliances in the Near East truly do form the backdrop to the Lindh story.”

In the past, under the Reagan-Bush Sr. administrations, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden were supported by the U.S. military when the Taliban was fighting the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. “The Taliban were being supported financially — and, indirectly, militarily — by the United States. The U.S. bears some responsibility for arming and training a generation of young Muslims to be warriors.”

Now fast-forward to the 9/11 attacks, 2001. The masses demanded immediate revenge. Given that the Bush administration failed to capture Osama bin Laden, John Walker Lindh made for a terrific scapegoat. The right wing and corporate media had their “enemy of the state” and nearly the whole nation fell in lock-step with accusing fingers pointed to Lindh: A twenty-year-old kid caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Why was John W. Lindh in Afghanistan at the worst possible time? What exactly were the charges against Lindh? Before attempting to answer these questions, it’s best to examine John Lindh’s interests during his teenage years.Of particular interest is John Walker Lindh’s philosophical quest for truth. His parents encouraged him as a young boy to read and think independently, virtues that run counter to a corporate-commercial society. Lindh was discontented with corporate ideas of happiness, which are linked to materialism and superficial status.

In search of absolute moral truths, Lindh became a student of Islam at a school in Pakistan. He learned Arabic, a difficult language to master, quite quickly in Yemen. As a teenager, he was profoundly moved by Spike Lee’s movie, “Malcom X.” The complete surrender and ritual of prayer, the discipline and religious laws allowed him to practice a life of purity. Islam appealed to him at a time when he was certainly vulnerable to such teachings and to whatever religious indoctrination came his way during his Middle-East travels. It’s just too bad that he didn’t choose a non-violent path because he was led to believe that a good Muslim must struggle (jihad) for justice, and if that means military defense and training, so be it. In this sense, John Walker Lindh is no innocent. He saw himself as a soldier. Most Christians also adopt a military stance as well.

This is a significant distinction, given the evidence, which is that Lindh should be regarded a “prisoner of war” instead of a criminal felon. He wasn’t a member of the CIA nor was he a U.S. military soldier who deliberately betrayed the U.S.Unfortunately, the Bush Justice Department ordered special administrative measures that prevent Lindh from speaking to journalists. With the exception of his brief statement to the court, Lindh’s side of the story has been censored — thanks to the Patriot Act, which undermines Constitutional guarantees for a right to a fair trial, and due process.

Why the secrecy? Why can’t reporters conduct a live interview with John Walker Lindh? Such totalitarian measures echo Saddam’s regime instead of ensuring the civil rights of American citizens.We learn from John Lindh’s Statement to the Court that he felt obligated to fight with the Taliban against the North Alliance warlords because he witnessed, first hand, the inhumane atrocities they committed against innocent civilians. He said, “The Northern Alliance warlords raped children, tortured and castrated Afghans.”

Ironically, the ruthless Northern Alliance terrorists, the thugs who maintain and support the heroin-Afghanistan-poppy fields, became the Bush administration’s allies.Certainly, communication about 9/11, and the Bush administration’s new policy of joining forces with the Northern Alliance against the ruling Taliban, must have been hard to ascertain in the middle of no-man’s land where Lindh was living at the time. Indeed, his own parents could not communicate with him. It’s not as if he could plug into a rock and go online, nor was there any way of using phones in the isolated desert of Afghanistan. This is a region where men still travel on camels.

So at the time that Lindh was captured, he labored under the presumption that the U.S. was still supporting the Taliban. As Lindh put it:

“I have never understood jihad to mean anti-Americanism or terrorism. I condemn terrorism on every level—unequivocally. My beliefs about jihad are those of mainstream Muslims around the world. I believe that jihad ranges from striving to overcome own personal faults, to speaking out for the truth in adverse circumstances, to military action in the defense of justice.”

No wonder Lindh was surprised to hear Bush’s accusation that the Taliban had supported Osama bin Laden’s attack against America. Lindh explains:

“I have also become aware of the relationship between the leaders of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s organization. Bin Laden’s terrorist attacks are completely against Islam, completely contrary to the conventions of jihad and without any justification whatsoever. His grievances, whatever they may be, cannot be addressed by acts of injustice and violence against innocent people in America. Terrorism is never justified and has proved extremely damaging to Muslims around the world. I have never supported terrorism in any form and never would.”

John Lindh may have been misguided by the Taliban’s authoritarian influence, for history tells us that this country has been a battlefield for centuries, but he was convinced it was a just cause: stopping the Northern warlords from raping Afghani children, looting and killing at random. He, himself, doesn’t fit a “terrorist” profile.

This is a young, intelligent man who took his studies seriously:

“When I began my studies in Islam, I had the ambition of one day teaching, writing, and translating Arabic texts into English. I still have these ambitions and hope to pursue my studies in Islam, the Arabic language, world history, linguistics, sociology and English literature. I hope to use this knowledge to serve Islam and the interests of Muslims in America and around the world to the full extent of my capability.”

From the get-go, the right-wing media-mob thoroughly lynched John Walker Lindh for simply growing up in Marin County, California. In this sense, Lindh is a political prisoner. It’s as if the right wing decided, “Well, Bush failed at capturing Osama bin Laden, but hey! We’ve captured one of those evil liberals from San Francisco instead!”

Returning to the government’s charges against Lindh, I’ll restate the summary from the New Yorker’s “Measured Betrayal”:

“The government charged Lindh with 10 felony counts relating to terrorist activities, the most serious of which was having conspired to kill U.S. nationals. Attorney General John Ashcroft reportedly wanted to ‘make an example’ of Lindh, as the first American prosecuted by the Justice Department in the post-September 11th war on terror. But, rather than going forward with a trial, in the end both sides agreed to a deal in which Lindh pleaded guilty to only two counts: violating an executive order prohibiting U.S. citizens from giving their services to the Taliban, and committing a felony while carrying firearms.”

If the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda terrorists, then the U.S. is partly to blame for aiding and abiding the Taliban during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration could care less about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Instead, Dick Cheney was in the Halliburton-business of plundering Iraq, which sits on a sea of oil. The Bush White House ordered torture practices, and military force against Iraqis who stood in their way, including children.

Once again, we are confronted with a blatant hypocrisy. We condemned Al Qaeda for terrorist attacks against innocent civilians and at the same time the Bush Administration launched a pre-emptive terrorist attack against defenseless sovereign countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s been 9/11 every single day for the last three years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We all remember seeing John Walker Lindh, blindfolded and strapped naked to a stretcher. We know now that he was one more victim of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld torture program. Strapped naked to a stretcher, Lindh looked like he was being literally crucified. As shown by the photos of tortured Iraqis that finally surfaced from the dark cells of Abu Ghraib into public viewing, we can conclude from this that the Bush policy makers are sadistic and that they drew pleasure from the inhumane practice of torturing prisoners.

Indeed, the general public knew about the Bush’s torture program for over four years. As reported in a July 23rd, 2005, issue of the Washington Post, the Bush White House endorsed the practice of torture:

The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual. (Saturday, July 23, 2005; Page A01)

There are many questions about this case that have not been answered, but the iron door is sealed on John Walker Lindh for twenty years with no access to reporters.

Amy Tubk-Davidson noted that one of the dynamic aspects of the Lindh story is that “almost everyone who worked with Lindh on the case, from the expert witnesses to the detectives and lawyers, came away unexpectedly taken with him. If these paid helpers are any indication, Lindh might have been very likable and persuasive on the witness stand.”

Perhaps that explains why Bush and Ashcroft locked Lindh up and threw away the key with a smirk and a wink.

Jacqueline Marcus’ editorials and letters have appeared in the Washington Post, Salon, Slate,, New Times, (San Luis Obispo, CA Cover story: “The Politics of Restraint”). Her poems have appeared in national university journals, The Kenyon Review, The Ohio Review, The Antioch Review and many more periodicals. Her book of poems, Close to the Shore, was published by Michigan State University Press. She taught philosophy at Cuesta College and is promoting solar energy on the island of Maui:

Monday, January 5, 2009

What the U.S. Offers...

The only things the U.S. can offer are weapons, violence and destruction.

And those weapons will be used for the industrial criminals that have owned this country’s government for over a century. They will do everything in their power to deny global warming and they will use the media, which they own, to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence and the terrifying and life-threatening disasters right in front of our own eyes, such as the earth’s rapidly melting glacial ice. They pay corporate media whores up to twenty five million dollars to spread their lies. Unfortunately, millions of uninformed Americans believe drug addicts, like Rush Limbaugh and others like him, instead of the scientists. Why? As Richard Hofstadter wrote in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, “…there is a sweeping hostility to intellectuals expressed on the far-right wing, a categorical folkish dislike of the educated classes.”

Sunday, August 31, 2008

How to Steal an Election Successfully

Lessons from the 2004 Election

By Jacqueline Marcus

Corporate media networks play the largest role in stealing an election by

• Promoting skewed and inexplicable corporate polls that claim that Obama and McCain are “dead even”.

• Diminish percentage of millions of Black, Latino, Youth and Gay votes.

Corporate pundits must continue to repeat the following lies for talking point excuses once cheating is accomplished:

• Obama is the underdog – has a long way to catch up with McCain
• Obama is black; use race card by raising doubts
• Obama lacks experience
• Obama can’t win over Hillary voters

2) Make sure to repeat all the same cheating programming used in the 2004 Election

• Use only one voting machine in Democratic Southern State Black voting sectors for thousands of voters so that they’ll become discouraged and leave.

• Eliminate the millions and millions of Absent-T ballots (international and national).

• And most importantly, switch as many votes as possible in so-called battle-ground states to McCain via Diebold Electronic cheating machines

3) Lastly, light up the Media Networks’ Election Maps on Election Night to Red and call it a day

McCain Visits Three Mile Island and Valdez!

The Two Worst Nuclear and Oil Disasters in the U.S.

By Jacqueline Marcus

…It was a dry wind
And it swept across the desert
And it curled into the circle of birth
And the dead sand
Falling on the children
The mothers and the fathers
And the automatic earth…

The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in the corner of the sky…

—Paul Simon, “The Boy in the Bubble”

Senator McCain looks rather pathetic, campaigning for the oil and nuclear industries at a time when Americans have made the shift to Green Technologies for energy solutions. But if John insists on making such a tragic mistake, then he should visit the memorable Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant and afterwards, make his pitch for drilling on the coast of Alaska where the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred, the two worst nuclear and oil disasters in the United States.

On March 28, 1979, America’s worst nuclear accident occurred at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Half the fuel melted in one of two nuclear reactors. The community was exposed to dangerous amounts of radioactivity leaked from the reactor.

“The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant suffered a partial meltdown. Within weeks attorneys filed a class action suit against Metropolitan Edison Company (a subsidiary of General Public Utilities) on behalf of all businesses and residents within 25 miles of the plant.

Over 2,000 personal injury claims were filed, with plaintiffs claiming a variety of health injuries caused by gamma radiation exposure. The Pennsylvania district court quickly consolidated the claims into ten test cases.” (1)

Next stop: the coast of Alaska…

Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Eight of the eleven tanks on board were damaged. The oil spill impacted over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill to date in U.S. waters.

Exxon/Mobile earns on the average 12 million dollars an hour in profits. (2) Nevertheless, Exxon/Mobile resisted paying for extensive, long-term damage from the massive oil sludge that ruined Alaska’s pristine coastal shores and fishing industry. The Bush Supreme Court ruled in Exxon/Mobile’s favor, reducing punitive damages to five hundred million dollars, pocket change for this polluting industry.

At the same time, Exxon/Mobile spared no expense on their “Deny Global Warming” media campaign; Exxon/Mobile paid millions of dollars to media networks for the sole purpose of confusing the public on the facts of global warming because, after all, global warming is an “inconvenient truth” to the oil industry. (3)

These are the sort of ruthless Bush policy investors that are running McCain’s campaign.

When McCain claims that there were “no oil spills from Katrina,” when the evidence of major oil spills in the Gulf have become common knowledge, it makes the seventy-one-year old McCain look like an old, doddering liar. In any event, such claims seriously harm his credibility. In the Bush-FOXTV tradition, McCain assumes that no one is informed – so he can make up lies as he goes and no one will notice. He’s right that the media will cover for him by either not informing the public about the inconvenient oil and nuclear facts or by editing McCain’s fabrications with sound-bites as seen on Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News Broadcast. (4)

The public generally scoffs at the network news with the awareness that they are heavily funded by the same industrial polluters running McCain’s campaign such as Exxon/Mobile.

However, Americans have had eight long, nightmarish years to learn the truth about the corrupt media organizations. Recall Tom Brokaw, for example, dazzled by Rumfeld’s “Shock and Awe” campaign as though it were a Fourth of July celebration. In short, if the network reporters were “watchdogs for the public welfare,” if they had been as critical about the Bush administration’s war policies as they were about Clinton’s silly sex affair, a “White House in Crisis” 24/7 impeach Bill Clinton circus show for an entire year, the Iraq invasion would have been stopped in its tracks. The contrast between the coverage of Clinton’s affair and Bush’s invasion of Iraq, torture practices, elimination of habeas corpus, to name only a few high crimes from a long list of crimes – is absolutely mind-boggling. The public is now exceedingly aware of the double standard, which explains why the public ratings of the national network news broadcasts are lower than the ratings for Bush. And that’s low!

It also explains why smear campaigns against Senator Obama are not working so well. In Colorado, Obama's campaign sold 80,000 seats to the public for the Democratic National Convention. Every seat – sold in a single afternoon.
As for those "dead even" polls...corporate polls can be easily skewed. We need to demand how these polls are taken i.e. from where, from whom and how many people are solicited? We also need to remember the Primary voting numbers: Democratic voters outnumbered Republican voters 2 to 1 and often 3 to 1 according to the individual vote counts. The public and journalists ought to be far more skeptical about the latest corporate polls.

McCain usually can’t attract more than one hundred people, if that, at his speeches. Obviously, McCain’s energy and war policies are the same as Bush’s. Poll after poll demonstrates that the majority of Americans want to protect our environment and they’re angry about billions of tax dollars going to a dozen or so war contractors instead of investing in our own country’s needs. Unless you’re a stockholder investing in the late century’s oil, nuclear and oil industries, the rest of the world has moved on to Green Technologies. Senator Obama represents the majority of Americans who want new jobs and investments in hybrid, electric, solar and wind energy.

By contrast, McCain represents an industry that is on the decline, antiquated, and no longer acceptable for several life-threatening reasons: We are now experiencing the dire consequences of global warming (glaciers rapidly melting, reefs dying, forests burning, record-breaking heat waves, recurring hurricanes, droughts and floods, to name a few factual events in recent years).

As for nuclear power, it’s just too dangerous. The Diablo Nuclear Power Plant on the central coast of California, for instance, sits right on the San Andreas Fault. Geologists predict that a major earthquake is not a matter of “if” but “when” in California. Earthquakes and nuclear power plants are a deadly mix, if you get the picture. Russia’s tragic nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl and Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island should be enough of a warning for us all.

So when McCain campaigns for oil and nuclear energy, he is speaking for the Dow Jones Industrial stockholders who are desperately clinging to an Industrial Age that is neither economically viable nor environmentally safe.

Nuclear power and oil are a Three Mile Island / Valdez / global warming disaster waiting to happen. That’s not a fear tactic, that’s not paranoia: that’s based on hard evidence, practical scientific knowledge and a moral concern for the safety of the public’s welfare. The truth is American voters are demanding hybrid, electric, solar and wind for new energy sources. And Green Companies are champing at the bit, ready to accommodate them. Sorry, John, but no one can stop progress.



2. “Exxon posts record $11.68 billion profit : World's largest publicly traded oil firm makes $1,485.55 a second in the quarter, but misses forecasts” (

3. “Global Warming Denial Exposed” (

4. “Did CBS and Katie Couric Conspire to Make McCain Look Better?”