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The 'American Talib' Is Taken to Court

January 27, 2002

Jonathan Turley's Jan. 23 commentary ("Sever Lindh's Ties to His Homeland") suggested that John Walker Lindh may not be a citizen through his taking up arms for the then-Taliban-led Afghan government. Lindh's defense counsel would be absolutely delighted to have Turley's suggestion adopted. Most of the crimes of which Lindh is accused require one to be either in the U.S. or a U.S. citizen. If Lindh had given up his citizenship, then the accusations fall by the wayside. Is this what Turley wants?

Gary M. Greenbaum

Fairfax, Va.


Professor Turley argues that Lindh should be stripped of his U.S. citizenship under the "current standard" on loss of nationality. He fails to mention, however, that the statute also requires that the citizen intend to relinquish his citizenship. Lindh has never said he wishes to renounce his U.S. citizenship. Unless and until his intent to relinquish it is proved, Turley should refrain from making such a serious allegation.

Marjorie Cohn

Associate Professor

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

San Diego


Re Pat Oliphant's Jan. 23 cartoon: As happy as it makes me to see a young man of 20 accorded the full responsibility for his actions, I have to remember that by our U.S. standards, he isn't even responsible enough to drink a beer. Maybe he went overseas looking for a drink?

Peter Kaye

Santa Monica


With the debate raging about the youthful "American Talib" Lindh and what to do with him, it's worth noting that American patriot Nathan Hale was all of 21 years old when he gave "but one life" for his country. It would seem that the patriotic courage marked by Hale's tender years provides a striking counterpoint to the utter folly of Lindh's. Hale, like Lindh, was captured behind enemy lines. The similarities end there, however: Young Nathan Hale was hanged from the neck. And 20-year-old Lindh has some serious explaining to do.

Jim Mallon

San Luis Obispo


Who has caused more harm to their fellow Americans--a young, misguided idealist or the middle-aged capitalists from Enron and Andersen? If our citizens are going to be stripped of their citizenship for their wrongdoings, perhaps the line should begin in Houston.

Mary Robertson

Santa Barbara

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