Re "American Taliban Took Odd Route," Dec. 4: John Walker, the American who was captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban, should be treated like any other prisoner of war. His father said that his son is a sweet and devout person--what a laugh that is. This devout and sweet bird of youth was willing to die and kill many U.S. soldiers and innocent people for his newfound country and fiends, oops, I mean friends.
The discussion over whether to place 20-year-old Walker on trial for treason is distracting people from what's significant about this story. If this idealistic American could leave his home in Northern California and infiltrate the deepest levels of Islamic extremism in just a few months, why is it that the CIA with all of its vast resources and super-spying technologies couldn't figure out how to accomplish the same mission?
Had Walker been a U.S. operative, he might have had the opportunity to take out Bin Laden with just a few rounds from his AK-47. Instead of considering putting Walker on trial for treason, the country would be far better served if he were used to help train U.S. covert operatives.
I suppose parents can raise their kids however they want, but when young Walker's parents approvingly allowed him to abandon his faith, wander along a countercultural path and travel far from home at age 17 to embrace a foreign culture quite hostile to the values of a liberal democracy, they should not be terribly surprised when their son ends up joining the Taliban and bearing arms against the homeland he abandoned. Nor should they be surprised to find him facing federal prosecution for treason and losing the rights and privileges of American citizenship which he sought to destroy.
The appearance of Walker (who identified himself to reporters as Abdul Hamid) among the Taliban fighters brings to mind my final days in the Paris headquarters of U.S. Army Civil Affairs [at the end of WWII]. The Army turned over to us a motley crew of young American teenagers who were picked up in Germany and who had volunteered and been trained to become gauleiters to be sent to the United States to bring the glories of the "new order" to our shores following the Nazi victory.
This miserable collection was turned over for our gentle care, in a small hotel on the Left Bank we had taken over, to see that they would stay out of trouble waiting for their final transport back to the U.S. Those of us still on duty there had been together since the Normandy landings; they received our gentle and tender attention. Our responsibility was to guarantee that they were returned home undamaged. It wasn't easy and required great restraint on our part, but we did it.
No College Monitors
of Student Visas
Re "College Officials Back Visa Reform," Dec. 4: Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) proposed legislation strikes me as yet another attempt to protect this country from terrorism--well intentioned, admittedly--but unfair and impractical. It smacks of Prop. 187, when school staff and officials were to cooperate with the INS in identifying undocumented students. This is the same kind of profiling, to support government efforts to pursue those whose visas have expired or to identify potential threats to U.S. security simply because of one's country of origin.
Why ask college educators to participate in monitoring compliance with new visa regulations? Our role as educators is to teach, not to assist the government to implement immigration policies.
It is sad that in the interest of protecting our freedoms, which foreign students learn to value, our legislators are beginning to create policies that will erode them.
Lenore Navarro Dowling