American Taliban creates strange issue

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

John Walker, aka the American Taliban, remains a sticky situation for U.S. authorities. “What should we do with him?” they ask. Some people have called for Walker’s head on a platter. After all, he was fighting for the enemy, right?

Others say he’s just a misunderstood youth. The issue isn’t a black and white one, which makes its resolution all the more difficult.

The fact is, America doesn’t know what to do with Walker.

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Images of Walker make it is difficult to imagine he is an American.

He looks much more like an Afghan than a U.S. citizen.

But make no doubt about it, he is an American. And as such he is accountable to all of our laws and regulations.

The disgust and outrage felt by many Americans at the story of John Walker is genuine. By choosing to take up arms against the United States, Walker probably is, by definition, guilty of treason.

Will he be tried for treason? Probably not. The legalities of a treason charge are too difficult to prove.

Walker should be tried on charges relating to his involvement in the prison uprising in which CIA agent Mike Spann was killed.

The fact that Walker will beat the treason wrap will anger some people. But what he did wasn’t all that different than what actress Jane Fonda did in the early 1970s.

At the height of the Vietnam War, Fonda posed for propaganda photos around North Vietnamese anti-aircraft weapons.

The main difference between the two cases: America’s resolve was split during the Vietnam War; today we are firmly together against terrorism. But we still don’t know what to do when one of them is one of us.