Detainee 001 (2021) Movie Script

"It's hard to imagine now"
after everything that's happened
in the brutal decades since,
but the events of September 11, 2001,
were all but unimaginable in mid-2000,
when an earnest,
bookish California teenager
named John Walker Lindh, age 19,
decided to travel to the
Middle East to study the Quran.
The consequences of that decision
are a matter of public record.
Two months after
the Twin Towers had fallen,
six weeks after the United States
dropped its first bomb on Afghanistan,
a few hundred Taliban soldiers,
held as prisoners of war
in an ancient mud-and-brick fortress
near Mazar-i-Sharif, staged an uprising.
All but 86 of those prisoners would die,
as well as a man named
Johnny Micheal Spann,
who was serving as a CIA adviser
to America's allies on the ground.
It was discovered that one of
the few surviving prisoners
was an American... Mr. Lindh.
"A media frenzy ensued."
You know, as a fiction writer,
you don't necessarily think
that what you write
is going to immediately
have real-world consequences.
I was probably a little bit naive.
I'd written some op-eds before,
but none of them had ever
pissed people off to the degree
that this one did.
"The fact that Mr. Lindh
had enlisted as a simple foot soldier
in a strictly regional conflict
between the Taliban
and a group of rival warlords
availed him next to nothing,
especially once his filthy,
bearded, wild-eyed face
"was broadcast around the world."
Man: John Walker Lindh
is leaving prison much like
he went in nearly two decades
ago, under a cloud...
"He found himself branded
the 'American Taliban.'"
Why in the world
would you take this man in?
"America had captured a clear villain
in the otherwise bewildering,
morally muddy war on terror
and understandably, perhaps,
we didn't want to let him go."
...captured him
and put him in prison.
"We still don't."
The case of a criminal
as universally reviled
as Mr. Lindh
is an opportunity for a display
of righteous indignation
to which virtually
no potential voter will object.
For precisely that reason, however,
great caution is called for.
His release, and the controversy
surrounding it,
may prove a valuable test of our ability
to keep our worst impulses in check.
If John Walker Lindh
becomes the terrorist
we've always accused him of being,
the fault will lie with us...
With our ignorance,
and our intolerance...
"As much as with Mr. Lindh
So my straightener
that I've ha... Oh, wait.
She's not in here... died.
I've had it for, like, six years.
Yeah, so that's gonna be
a major...
My dad had curly hair,
my aunt had curly hair,
and my mom's mother has curly hair,
so I got it from all sides of my family
and I don't want to lose it or damage it.
Um... so two things...
Actually, I would say three.
My dad always wanted me to be aware
of current events.
So, you know, when 9/11 happened,
our school didn't show us the video.
But when I got home, I sat with
my dad in front of the TV
and watched that all night.
Now, some people would say,
"Oh, you shouldn't let your kids
see that kind of stuff.
You know, it's...
Shelter them from that."
But my dad never did.
Like, when we would have reading,
like, we had to read something
for the night,
my dad would pull, like,
newspaper clippings.
I remember one time I read this article
in the newspaper called
"The Pacifist Claptrap,"
and that was my reading for the night.
And he was like, "Don't...
Don't write that down
as what you read, but this is
what you're reading."
So it was always important
as a kid to be informed
on current events.
And the second thing is
when I went to Afghanistan,
we stayed in General Dostum's houses.
And every time we went
to see him, you know,
for a dinner or something like that,
the news... Fox News was always on.
So at that point, you know, at 9,
I realized the reach
that being in the news
and informing people goes, like,
even in Afghanistan,
where all I see are mud huts
around me, the news is still,
you know, at least reaching
some households.
Of course, not everyone lives
like Gen. Dostum over there,
but you just realize the reach that has.
And then the third reason
is one of the worst days
that I can remember after my parents died
was the day that we were
doing a show for Oprah.
And we were filming at a park,
and I was like,
"I don't... I don't want this,
like, I want to go home."
And then the film crew asks these kids
to, like, get off the toys
and let us play
so they could film us playing.
And I was beyond mortified.
It was one of the worst days
I can remember,
and so I always felt like if I
could tell compassionate stories
without overstepping my bounds,
that I needed to
because I know there
are so many out there who don't.
Looking back now, it's weird
because when we would go
to Arlington National Cemetery,
my dad was very particular about
how we walked to the cemetery.
You always have to walk
behind the graves,
and you never, like, step
on somebody's grave.
And he sort of taught us
how the respectful way
to navigate through that cemetery,
not knowing that a year later,
he himself would be buried there.
Oh... Hi.
I was like,
"Is this car running?"
What are you covering?
Here. Do you want
your real key back?
Did you watch the 10:00?
Probably not. It was a disaster.
No, I did, actually.
I watched the...
What happened at the start?
So the show wasn't loading
in the new automated system.
So it started, like,
after the open and...
Do I want to know?
Had John Walker Lindh
not been there that day,
the prison uprising
would have still happened.
My dad would have still been killed.
But when you add John Walker Lindh,
that's the point where
the story could have changed.
It could have been this American kid
on a spiritual journey gets lost.
He finds an American...
who comes to his rescue, essentially,
if he had told my dad and Dave,
"Hey, this prison uprising
is gonna happen."
Maybe no one, no Americans
would have had to die that day.
But that's not what happened.
So I think it just makes it
all the worse for our family,
knowing that there was
an element in that prison
that could have prevented my dad's death.
And he didn't.
He chose to stay silent.
So the story would have been the same.
I just think it could have
played out a lot differently
if John Walker Lindh
had made different choices.
When I was writing my novel,
I had to sort of imagine myself
in this town
that I grew up in and how
desperately I wanted to escape.
I grew up wanting to write
fiction and write novels,
and I thought that this was an episode,
a footnote, if you will,
in America's war on terror
that almost contained
everything else in microcosm.
So I had done a little bit of homework
to sort of reverse-engineer
this sequence of choices
all the way back to Marin County
and putting in a VHS tape
of "Malcolm X."
But as far as I understand it,
that's really how it happened.
You know, and I can imagine
that very clearly.
Boettcher: Walker Lindh told
his questioners
that he began his journey to Islam
after seeing the movie "Malcolm X"
when he was 12 years old.
Plymouth Rock landed on us.
That launched an odyssey
that took him from being
a teenage Muslim convert
in northern California
to an Arabic school in Yemen to Pakistan.
Wray: What could be more
American than that?
Pop culture is what brought
John Walker Lindh
to a tiny madrassa
near the border of Afghanistan,
the most far-removed spot
you could imagine
from where he began,
which was just watching
a Spike Lee movie.
Reporter: John Walker Lindh
stands accused of trying
to kill his own countrymen,
and many wonder what drove him
into the arms and service of the Taliban.
We found clues here at
the madrassa or religious school
where he studied for almost six months
using his Muslim name, Sulayman.
He abruptly left and left
behind his Arabic workbooks,
his suitcase full of Western
clothes, even his toothpaste.
It was as if he turned his back
forever on John Walker Lindh,
the American.
Wray: If someone spends a minute
or two trying to figure out
how this could have happened,
they're not gonna get anywhere
and then essentially, in exasperation,
they'll just fall back on
the most knee-jerk explanation
of "This kid was just a bad apple.
He was just a born traitor."
He's expected to move
to Northern Virginia,
just outside of D.C.
We'll see if they can police that okay.
Reporter #2: The American
Taliban, John Walker Lindh,
released from federal prison
today after serving...
Bernsten: John Walker Lindh,
38 years old.
He's gonna be out and living
in your neighborhood in America.
Personally, I wanted to see him hung.
Mike Spann, a dedicated family man
who was doing the right thing
for his country,
winds up losing his life.
I'm outraged by the whole thing.
Radack: But even the history
of 9/11...
My kids are in high school.
9/11 is not mentioned
in their history books,
which is amazing to me.
I don't know if it's just not
enough time has gone by
for it to be considered "history"
or it just does not look good
for America because we were,
I feel like, improvising
a lot of the response to 9/11
because it was uncharted territory.
And improvising your response to 9/11...
...looks like this.
This guy takes a CIA officer's life,
joins the Taliban, is a traitor,
doesn't want to...
You know, Death to Am...
Joins this group that's Death
to America, and he gets 20 years
and gets out for good behavior earlier.
It's a sad part of American
policy and a judicial system
that they didn't let him go
in front of a jury,
let them sentence him, take the chance.
You know, the Justice Department
and politicians frequently,
you know, are, you know,
want to... want to do a layup.
They want the easy thing.
Cut a deal.
No, take them to trial so people
can see and understand.
It would educate the population
to see these trials,
and I think society benefits by
having an airing of these crimes
against us and a fuller exercise
of the justice system.
Try them.
Man: Move to
the other side, please!
Reporter #3:
On the anthrax story today,
four more post offices
tested positive for anthrax.
Reporter #5:
The last several days,
intelligence and law-enforcement agencies
have seen an increased volume
involving threats of terrorist attacks.
Reporter #6: This is the third
terrorism alert
since September 11th.
Reporter #5: Federal
investigators now have approval
to eavesdrop on phone calls
between terrorist suspects
and their lawyers
under the rule inmates and lawyers
must be told they're being monitored...
I think that any parent
can understand the desire
that these two good parents
have to see their son.
No matter what anyone
thinks about anything.
It's part of the Geneva Convention.
It's part of civilized protocol.
It's part of nations agreements
that parents will be allowed
to see their children
under certain circumstances.
And as of this moment, they've
not been allowed to do that.
We're a little disappointed,
but the guards did tell us
that John was in good health.
We're very glad to hear that.
Thank you.
Today, I am announcing
the filing of criminal charges
against John Walker Lindh,
an American citizen
who was captured in Afghanistan
fighting for the Taliban.
As terrorists made
their final preparations
for the September 11th attacks,
Walker Lindh met with Usama bin Laden.
He chose to go to the front
lines to fight with the Taliban.
The United States is
charging Walker with conspiracy
to kill nationals of the United
States of America overseas,
providing material support and resources
to designated
foreign terrorist organizations,
including Al-Qaeda,
engaging in prohibited
transactions with the Taliban.
He chose to embrace fanatics,
and his allegiance to those fanatics
and terrorists never faltered,
not even with the knowledge
that they had murdered
thousands of his countrymen,
not with the knowledge that
they were engaged in a war
with the United States,
and not finally in the prison uprising
that took the life of CIA agent
Johnny Spann.
Clerk: All rise.
United States of America versus
John Phillip Walker Lindh,
case number 02-51-M.
Bring the defendant
to the podium, please.
Mr. John Walker Lindh?
Walker: Yes.
You are before
the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Virginia.
You are charged with alleged violations
of United States law.
You understand generally the charges?
Yes, I understand, generally.
Do you understand generally the
penalties that can be imposed?
Yes, I understand generally.
Brosnahan: May I just say one
thing briefly, Your Honor?
Yes, sir, Mr. Brosnahan.
The attorney general of the United States
announced charges
against Mr. Lindh last Tuesday.
This is the first arraignment
that he has had.
So he was not arraigned within 48 hours
and until yesterday was never told
what the charges were against him.
I just wanted to inform the court.
Well, I appreciate the comment.
I'm not sure of the date
when he was actually arrested
by federal agents.
The initial warrant was issued
on January 15.
He was arrested approximately
on December 1st.
He was kept in custody for 54 days
without a lawyer.
He asked for a lawyer
somewhere in the first
or second or third day.
And this is the first time
that the government
has brought him before a court.
Mr. Lindh,
have you any questions
about what the court
has explained thus far?
No, I don't have any questions.
Man: Order!
Clerk: All rise.
Judge: Good morning,
Mr. Walker.
Walker Lindh:
Good morning, sir.
Alright, let me ask you,
how do you now plead
to all of the charges
against you... guilty or not guilty?
Not guilty.
Alright, you may be seated.
The matter is before the court
on the government's motion
for detention.
Mr. Brosnahan.
Brosnahan: Thank you.
John Walker Lindh was
transported to the front lines
to fight the Northern Alliance
on the 6th of September
of last year, 2001.
He was there in the front lines
until they broke in early November.
Your Honor,
he never fought with al-Qaeda.
He never had anything to do
with terrorist activity.
As to the Taliban who he was with,
United States government itself
had prior dealings with the Taliban.
In fact, as of the 10th of September,
there was not a single person
in the United States government
that had any idea
that we would be engaged
in military operations in Afghanistan.
John Walker Lindh
has never been in trouble.
He doesn't drink.
He doesn't take drugs.
He is a religious person
who follows the teaching of
the church that he has adopted.
He has parents who are here
in the courtroom.
Thank you.
Judge: Alright.
The defendant has no social
or economic stability.
His record of gainful employment
is limited
to a 3-week stint at a warehouse
some two years ago.
The defendant has lived
outside of the United States
from May of 1998 to February of 1999,
while in Yemen.
And in Pakistan and then Afghanistan
from February of 2000 until
brought in to this district
on January 23rd of this year.
I conclude, based on clear
and convincing evidence,
that if released, he poses
a danger to the community.
And accordingly,
I grant the government's motion
that the defendant be detained for trial.
Ashcroft: It is extraordinary
for the United States
to have to charge one of its own citizens
with aiding and conspiring with
international terrorist groups
whose agenda is to kill Americans.
Today, a grand jury examined
the government's case
and saw fit to charge John Walker Lindh
with 10 serious crimes, based in part
on voluntary statements
made by Lindh himself.
I think the American people probably want
the attorney general
to focus on those people
who really did the harm to this nation.
I think the American people
probably want the attorney general
and we know our people are doing the best
that we can to find Osama bin Laden,
to find Omar and to find someone
who sent the anthrax.
We understand they're doing
the best they can
and we're with them on that.
We hope all of that is successful.
But meanwhile, I'd ask
the attorney general
to not take it out on John Lindh,
because in my view and I'm not
gonna take any questions,
in my view, they have brought up
the cannon to shoot the mouse.
Thank you very much
for being here. Thank you.
Radack: He was our first
terrorism prosecution
after 9/11.
President George W. Bush:
Make no mistake,
the United States will hunt
down and punish
those responsible.
The people who knocked
these buildings down
will hear all of us soon.
Pelton: One thing that's changed
dramatically was before 9/11,
I can visit
or be with any group on Earth.
The FBI wouldn't knock on my door.
People wouldn't call me
a communist or a terrorist
or whatever.
After 9/11, it just, "Vshoo."
It just polarized.
And there was no trying
to explain to people.
Like, "Okay, but these guys
call themselves jihadis",
but they're not really jihadis.
And the guys that we're
paying money to are jihadis,
but they don't say that
because the CIA doesn't want
them to sa... ".
In other words,
it didn't change the world.
It just changed
our perception of the world.
Interviewer: How did you
come to do that?
I was filming in all these
different insurgencies,
so Afghanistan, Philippines, Chechnya,
and always on the wrong side,
always on the rebel side
where they would say,
"Come, we're winning,
we're winning."
And I'd get there and they'd say,
"Oh, we're losing.
How did you get in here?"
And I feel like, "Aw, shit."
These are just
one tiny bit of my archives.
I spent a lot of time
with what we call jihadis.
I mean, the John Walker Lindh thing...
He's just one
of the many jihadis I've met.
I'm the guy that made them famous,
but my main interest was
going back to Afghanistan,
being with General Dostum,
watching how Dostum fought the Taliban,
and it had a lot of historical importance
because this was after 9/11.
And don't forget,
people didn't care about
Afghanistan until that point.
Pres. George W. Bush:
This war on terrorism
is gonna take a while.
Anybody who's been associated
will be brought to justice.
Those who harbor terrorists
will be brought to justice.
It is time for us to win
the first war
of the 21st century decisively.
Man: In this first wave,
U.S. Special Forces hunt down
and root out.
Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda
terrorist network.
Man: ...breakthrough today,
opposition forces in Afghanistan
captured the northern city
of Mazar-i-Sharif.
500 Taliban fighters were taken prisoner.
Reporter #10: The bloody revolt
by Taliban prisoners
in Mazar-i-Sharif,
a town where the war
was supposed to be over,
is grisly testament
to the dangers that still lie ahead.
Rumsfeld: Anyone who thinks it's
over in those towns is wrong.
It just isn't.
They are dangerous places.
Pelton: Tell him I have
a gift for him.
I know he's been working hard,
and he wants to relax.
Pelton: So what I did was
basically hang out with Dostum.
This is special medicine.
And he had these
Special Forces guys with him.
They lived in a house.
And Dostum has a cameraman.
He just films everything 24/7.
And he showed me this video.
He says, "American, American."
And so I go to Bill, who's the medic,
I said, "Bill, get your shit.
There's a guy at the hospital.
He's an American."
He said, "Holy shit."
So there's about four of us
that went down
to Sheberghan hospital.
It's very cold outside.
And there was a little receiving area,
which had a little stove
with a little wood fire in it.
And as soon as I opened the door,
it was like, poof, it's just the stink,
just the smell of all these humans.
And it's everything you can imagine.
And I'm like, "Whoa."
And I mean, it's gangrene
and it's fecal matter.
It's sweat. It's B.O.
It's just like, "Oh."
it looked like somebody had made
people up for a horror show.
I mean, you know, because
they had black on their faces
and their hair was like this
and their clothes were all raggedy.
It looked like some zombie movie.
I mean, and I've seen lots of war.
And I just like, "This is weird"
because they're not wounded per se.
Man: What is your name?
American's name.
The father's name?
Where you from?
Washington, D.C.?
Which part
of Washington, D.C.?
Which part
of Washington, D.C.?
Open your eyes, huh?
Northwest Washington, D.C.
No, no.
How many months ago
you come in Afghanistan?
Pelton: Can I... Can I ask him
the questions?
Hey, John, this is Robert Pelton
from CNN News.
Where... where were you born?
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.?
Can you tell us
if you have family in America?
And what is your mother
and father's name?
What is your mother's and father's name?
I'm sorry?
We want to contact them to
let you know you're still alive.
Oh, we want to contact your parents
to let you... let them know
you're still alive.
You want... Okay. You want
to talk to the Red Cross?
So you want to speak to the Red Cross?
Would you like an American-trained medic
to look at you?
Yes, they're here right now.
What injuries do you have?
Okay, so they have your permission
to take care of your wounds.
So when I'm talking to Lindh,
the first thing I'm thinking is,
"Okay, there's two things
are gonna happen.
One is I've got to get him a phone
so he can talk to his parents
and tell him where he is."
I was very concerned
about his disappearance,
that he just, "Whoosh."
Whether it be the Afghans
that did it or the Americans.
And the second thing is, I got
to get him medical attention
because they were just leaving
these guys on the floor
and he was hypothermic, passing
in and out of consciousness.
They want to put him in another room.
Okay, great, excellent.
We're at the hospital in Sheberghan,
where they keep the wounded.
And an American has been found
in the basement
of Qala-i-Jangi prison and brought here.
When you ask yourself why,
what is it that differentiates this story
from any of many other narratives
that have come out
of these years and years
and years of conflict?
It really comes down to the fact
that this was one of ours.
It comes down to the idea of treason.
Why is treason worse
than any other crime?
What is it about treason
that makes it something
that we all feel such loathing towards?
I mean, I can feel...
the reasons for it,
but I can't necessarily
intellectually grasp
the reasons for it.
I mean, in some ways, maybe
it comes down to this idea of.
"We expected this of you
and instead you did this.
We were relying on you for this,
but instead you did
this other thing."
But who was relying on John
Walker Lindh, on this kid...
This teenage kid
from Northern California,
who played no role of any
significance in society
or even as far as I can tell,
in his circle of friends,
insofar as he had any?
What on earth did we expect
of John Walker Lindh
that he didn't give us?
Pelton: And there was this
moment of shock
where one of the Afghan doctors...
You could see this round impression
of something in his pocket,
and we all sort of involuntarily
all went back
because it's about the size of a grenade
that they were blowing
themselves up with.
And I suddenly went
from being like, you know,
guy trying to help somebody to thinking,
"Oh, Jesus, how stupid you are."
What is this?
I think that John Lindh
very desperately
wanted medical attention.
I think he knew he was in trouble.
And in spite of the desperate
nature of his situation,
and in spite of how easy it
would have been to simply say,
"I'm an American, please get me
out of here, please.
I'd like to be airlifted
out of here now,"
he did no such thing.
Pelton: John,
is there some way
we can contact your parents for you?
You have a number?
News organization.
Okay, that's not a concern right now.
Our concern is your welfare.
Pelton: And he says, "No.
I don't care, though."
I mean...
If you're gonna be a war photographer
and ask everybody, "Hey, excuse, guys,
can I take a shot here?
Not yet.
Don't bayonet that guy.
Can I just... can
I get the new lens...?"
No, it doesn't work that way.
Shit happens, you roll.
And whether he wants to be filmed or not,
we're all in the war together,
I'm rollin',
you don't have to talk.
Blow yourself up for all I care.
I'll still keep rolling.
John, where does it hurt?
Okay, Abdul.
Abdul Hamid.
Okay, Abdul Hamid.
My name is Bill.
You ever had
an I.V. before?
Since you have been fighting,
you've had many I.V.s?
How old are you, Abdul Hamid?
You're 20 years old?
Pelton: Abdul, can I ask
how you ended up here?
I'd love to hear it.
The I.V. I'm giving you,
it has calories.
It'll give you some energy.
It'll also replace some of the blood
that you may have lost.
Let's see the rest of your wounds.
You said that you have
a bullet wound in your leg?
The bullet is probably
still inside there.
How long ago was this?
A week in the past?
You have a slight accent.
How did you get to Afghanistan?
Do you have any military skills
or you just were...?
Pelton: This one singular guy
after 9/11
was the face of everything evil.
And, you know,
Qala-i-Jangi was part of that
because the setting was so brutal,
it almost seemed like
it was 9/11 redux, you know?
After this is all done, how do you feel?
You feel like you were sort of...
you did the right thing or...
Well, do you feel now
after there's been a number of losses
on the Taliban side...
Mm-hmm. Could you explain
that to me
because I'm very interested in that?
Were you with the Taliban all the time
or were you doing something else?
Where you from?
Where you from?
Bill: I'm giving you
morphine now, okay?
It's gonna take away a lot of the pain.
Happy juice. as soon
as we arrived...
Pelton: Keep in mind that
there's two kinds of people
in that basement...
-"- Okay, I lost, game's over.
-Time to go home."
And there were people who wanted
to kill Americans.
Man #2: Why do you come
to Afghanistan?
I come from jihad
against the terrorism of USA.
We are not surrender.
We are not surrender.
No, you're prisoners.
Yeah, it's no problem.
All is fair in love and war.
Pelton: So they pushed all 460
guys down into this basement
and down in the basement
are five rooms, basically.
There's an entry way,
you come down the stairs
and then there's like, room,
room, room, room,
and there's a big room in the back
with a couple of alcoves.
And what I learned later
from interviewing
the people that were in the basement
was that basically the Arabs
and the Arab speaking
went to the back room
because there were more of them.
There were Russians, there was
Sudanese, whatever.
And these guys are al-Qaeda.
They were all Arab-speaking
volunteers who had met
many other places all around the world.
And I thought, "Wow,
this is the hard core.
These are the guys
that came here to die."
And then the Pakistanis sort of
stayed in the side rooms
and that the conversation
was basically the Pakistanis
wanted to go home.
"Hey, guys,
don't cause any problems."
And the Saudis and the foreigners
who were speaking Arabic
were trying to figure out
what to do, and they had weapons.
They had these grenades
they brought down with them,
which they... which
they used shoelaces to tie
and then dangle right around their crotch
because they knew
that they wouldn't be patted
in the crotch.
So they spent the night down there.
And then the next morning
is when most people think
of the uprising.
I mean, um,
the war seemed more or less over.
All of us, we had the feeling
we missed the war.
Where you from?
Where you from?
May we ask you a question?
No cameras.
Can we ask...
No questions?
Man #3: For the safety of us
and our family back home.
For the safety of us
and our family back home.
Just for the safety
of your families back home,
you don't want to talk?
Stauth: I remember Dostum
appearing there
and then telling everyone,
"And now let's go to Kunduz,"
because the story then was
10,000 remaining Taliban to surrender.
So the main force of his warriors,
they followed him to Kunduz.
And they left the 500 Taliban
back in Qala-i-Jangi
near Mazar-i-Sharif,
without a lot of guards.
They thought this is settled.
Stauth: An Uzbek general
of the Northern Alliance,
he had provided us with a bodyguard,
he said,
"Do you still love your wife?"
And I said, "Yes."
"Then better don't go
to Kunduz."
With my cameraman and producer,
we went back to the small hotel
where most of the journalists
at the time stayed.
I mean, we went to bed
the 24th with a feeling, okay,
everyone's gonna have
a story, we won't have one.
We had a long sleep and then
we sat together on the floor
having tea and bread
and we thought, "Okay,
what are we going
to do with this day?"
"Why not go to Qala-i-Jangi
and meet the prisoners again?"
No other journalists would be there,
but I'll be on the safe side.
As a journalist,
you're used to speed up things
and that morning,
very, very fortunately, we took it easy
because we thought
we wouldn't have a story
and we wasted a lot of time.
And this wasted time in the end
probably saved our lives.
There was another issue,
problem, which caused some of this.
U.S. forces seize control
of Mazar-i-Sharif
with General Dostum.
And our team leader up in the north,
the CIA guy,
he goes with Dostum to Kunduz.
Dostum now has an eight-man CIA team.
There's another commander there,
Commander Atta.
So they make the decision
to take that CIA team
and cut it in half.
Half of it goes with Dostum
and the other half goes with Atta.
So now you don't have
the same level of leadership
and decision-making and even capability.
So Mike Spann and Dave Tyson
were the guys that are off there
kind of on their own.
And they drive from Kunduz
across northern Afghanistan
to Qala-i-Jangi,
which is this giant fortress prison.
Stauth: So about 11:00,
we left for Qala-i-Jangi.
Bernsten: Qala-i-Jangi is
an 1894 Vauban fort.
Qala-i-Jangi is out of time.
Qala-i-Jangi is a citadel made of mud.
Bernsten: It's not like real
Vauban fort with stone.
It's made out of a cow poop
and mud, whatever.
It was quite impressive.
The walls are so thick.
Everything is a little
bit... unreal.
Stauth: As we were not under
any pressure time-wise,
my cameraman and the Uzbek producer,
they wanted to smoke a cigarette.
So we were waiting there,
the sun was shining,
the birds were singing...
A very peaceful setting.
And 10 minutes later,
we would have been in that courtyard
to interview the prisoners.
Let me just say this,
there were no procedures for that.
I don't think anybody had been
trained on what do you do
on an open battlefield where people...
They had to assess
the situation on the ground
and make a decision.
So Spann and Dave Tyson
are not as experienced;
they're brave men.
Spann had been a Marine officer.
The decision they made
put themselves in grave risk.
Mike Spann and Dave Tyson...
Their goal was to find people
that could provide them with intel.
And they were looking for bin Laden.
They were looking for bin Laden's group.
So once again, we're back in
that whole who's who, you know?
You've got Taliban, you've got Uzbeks,
you've got good guys, bad guys, whatever.
And somebody... and nobody
knows who that is...
Was actually filming.
He's a terrorist.
These men are terrorists.
These men are terrorists.
All these men are terrorists.
I think you're a terrorist.
You come here to Afghanistan
to kill people.
I don't... I...
You want to talk to him?
Okay. I'm with you.
Okay. Thank you.
I'm with you and...
Wait. Wait.
Pelton: When Spann was
asking the prisoners,
"Does anybody speak English?"
which sounds like a comedy routine.
He said, "Yeah, there's an Irishman."
So then that's how Lindh
got picked out of the lineup.
The fact that Mike and Dave
had this blanket spread out
in full view, like, 400
terrified or angry people was...
It just meant there wasn't somebody there
providing security.
The Afghans didn't care.
It was a major breach
of what you're supposed to do
when you question prisoners,
I mean, that's obvious.
You normally select a prisoner,
take him away to another facility.
You have security there.
You do whatever you have to do.
You don't show your face.
He's just sitting there
with his hair flopped.
He's not saying a word
and Spann is talking to him.
Maybe not the most diplomatic way,
but he's clearly communicating
that he's with the American government
and that he can help them or whatever.
And he's just mute.
He's mute, silent.
Keep in mind, he had just been
in that basement.
And I'm not gonna accuse him
of being part of the plot,
but that basement was way
too small and he spoke Arabic.
And there is no way that he didn't know
what was about to happen.
Alison: He sealed his fate
in those moments
when he chose to stay silent
and not say a word.
He sealed his fate as a traitor
and he sealed his fate
as someone who was responsible
for the death of Mike Spann in my eyes.
That's all the evidence I need.
That's accessory...
at bare minimum.
You will never make me believe
that he didn't know
what was going to happen that day,
and you will never make me believe
that he didn't have a part
in my dad's death.
-It's gonna hurt.
-They, uh...
And, uh...
There was a... a bang, some yelling,
and then the tape goes to blue.
I've never figured out...
I was told two stories.
One is that the tape keeps rolling
and that somebody erased it
or that, no, the tape just goes to blue
because the camera fell or whatever.
But that tape was being shopped around.
My cameraman, for some strange reason,
told the guy to bugger off.
He didn't want to buy a tape.
And I was tasked by Dostum
to go find that tape
because that was his intelligence tape
and that might show
who did whatever happened.
Well, in that event,
that bang, that scuffle was
Mike Spann being killed.
Pelton: So how did you...
You were there.
Did you run... did you stay
in the basement?
I grabbed my sat phone
and ran into the main building
for shelter.
I set up my sat phone on the ground
to make some phone calls to Germany.
And so he called using my satellite phone
and our camera was running
while he was talking.
Bernsten: He called the U.S.
embassy in Uzbekistan.
It was actually a pretty smart move.
That's how we all learned so quickly.
He got on the phone
and made that call out.
Tyson: Okay.
Stauth: I learned
through Dave Tyson
that the Northern Alliance forces,
they were taken by surprise,
that they were not prepared,
and there were only around 100 of them.
And the Taliban,
we knew they were about 500.
Then we learned that the weapon
storage of Qala-i-Jangi
was in the courtyard
where the Taliban were.
And then I really... I started thinking,
"Oh, shit, we are in trouble.
We're in bad trouble."
At the time,
I didn't know the name of Spann.
I mean, there were obviously
dozens killed,
Afghans, Taliban,
and in addition, an American.
I thought, "My God, why did they do it?
Why did they have to die?"
Bernsten: Many of my guys
want to get on a helicopter
and fly up there.
I tell them, "No, you cannot go.
The military is closer.
The military is gonna help."
A lot of my guys were very, very close
to Mike Spann and Dave Tyson,
and they're upset with me.
We were hoping for choppers
to land on the roof
to happily climb the chopper
and get out of the chopper.
Instead, we saw high in the sky,
the white traces of fighter jets.
Tyson: Hey, guys.
Time to go, huh?
-It's time to go.
-Wait. Wait.
My headquarters called my wife
to tell her, "Arnim is
in some kind of trouble."
We just tried to get away
from this fortress
as far as possible
and as quickly as possible.
And then about 500 meters away
under a tree,
there was a minibus
and the guy standing there
turned out to be the press speaker
of General Dostum.
And he finally took us,
including Dave Tyson,
took us back to Mazar-i-Sharif.
Pelton: It was only during
that night
when they had night vision,
they realized that there was
like a central gathering point.
There was a mosque and there was
this pink building,
and then there were all these
little cubbyholes on the sides.
They were running in there
to grab all these weapons
and firing them at people, whatever.
And it was that night
that people realized,
"Okay, this is a real mess."
This inverted siege begins
because not only did they break out,
they overtake the army.
Now they got RPGs and heavy guns
and they're fighting from the inside.
Dostum's people are fighting
from the outside.
Airstrikes were called in.
I mean, this is a bloody knife fight
at close range for several days.
Reporter #11: By Monday,
the firefight so fierce,
U.S. Special Forces on the scene
had to call in airstrikes.
But one U.S. bomb
missed its target.
Man: Turn the cameras off!
Man #5: Are you okay?
You know, as journalists,
we're running around
like headless chickens.
We have no idea what's going on.
Reporter #12: The bloody battle
may now be coming to an end.
Perry: It took forever...
From Sunday until Friday.
It was, you know, Groundhog Day,
every day.
Dan Rather: Some images of war
savagery have the power
to haunt and burn themselves
into the world's collective memory.
Perry: It's my first experience
of combat.
I was totally adrenalized.
You suddenly get this kind of
tunnel vision of where you are.
Pelton: There are a lot
of things going on,
and there are a lot of media
rumors flying around.
"Let's get that Pulitzer
with that mass-murder story."
And don't forget, there's
an electric feeling in there
because of all those dead bodies.
Man: ...bloody,
week-long uprising.
Reporter #14:
Dozens of Taliban forces
were seen today with their hands
tied behind their backs,
suggesting an execution.
Pelton: And that communicated to
some of the media
that somebody was massacring prisoners.
And they were.
They were shooting...
I mean, they were running around
trying to untie each other
with their teeth or whatever,
and there were people shooting at them.
Billingsley: Bodies everywhere.
You know, I don't know, 100, 200 bodies,
and you knew out there
somewhere was also Mike Spann.
Jennings: The CIA did something
unusual today.
It confirmed in a very public way
that one of its agents
had been killed in Afghanistan.
The unusual step not only
of acknowledging
that one of its operatives
have been killed,
but naming him
and issuing a press release.
Reporter #15: He was killed,
they say, on Sunday.
It wasn't safe or possible
to get his body out until today.
Pelton: The basement...
This is very famous now...
Of what they call the pink house.
The pink house is actually
a bomb shelter.
The guys we were next to,
they were shooting down the basement,
you know, their AKs through the windows.
We had no idea there's
a whole bunch in the basement.
It suddenly became apparent
that they were down
in the dungeon.
There was a little window.
There were lots of guys down there.
They had guns, and they were gonna fight.
So then we sprinted out of there,
just running across this field
of bodies, jumping them.
It was really grim, really, really grim.
Man #6:1, 2...
Fire in the hole.
What the fuck is that?
Billingsley: They were dumping
55-gallon drums of oil
and then they put incendiary grenades in
and threw the grenades down,
but nobody came out.
I talked to one of the Afghans
through the translator.
I said, "So how many of these
guys do you think there are?"
"One and a half."
Like, "One and a half"?
"Yeah, no one could survive this.
So probably one and a half
or two."
I know it's an unbreakable vow
and all that,
and I can see a soldier's honor in it,
but... all this
to get one body?
It was a slaughter.
I remember thinking, "Where
are the special forces guys?
Or where's...?"
And then, while we were
on that northern parapet
above the main gate across,
you could see their heads
poking up once in a while,
just kind of surveying the situation.
But they were staying out of it.
Some point in time, the...
The U.S. personnel had taken
Spann's body off the field
and there was this idea that
the U.S. story of this was over.
But instead of one and a half
or two prisoners coming out,
86 come out.
And one of them is the same guy
that was revealed later
to be on that blanket
that the two CIA agents
had been interrogating
that was, you know,
the American Taliban, Lindh.
It was like, "The story's moved on.
Now it's about this guy,
the American Taliban."
And that became... at least
for the the U.S. audience...
That became the story.
It wasn't about everybody else.
It wasn't about the 70 dead
Northern Alliance
or the 200 or 300 dead.
I never did get an accurate count
of how many people were killed.
It was about this American Taliban
because he wasn't an Arab-American.
He wasn't a person of color.
He was a white, middle-class American.
From Marin County, California.
Reporter #16:
Today, Taliban fighters
captured after a bloody prison rebellion
near Mazar-i-Sharif, one of them
seen here on the right,
a 20-year-old American,
who told Newsweek magazine
he joined the Taliban
to build a true Islamic state.
Defense officials say he is now
in the custody
of the U.S. military.
It was a tabloid revenge story,
and he played his part perfectly.
He was unrepentant.
And what he really needed was someone
to kind of ask him why,
you know, and try and understand.
But no one was gonna give him
any understanding.
And he wasn't asking for it.
Walker Lindh: Really...
Bill: Let's let the morphine
take effect and you can relax.
Pelton: Thank you
for talking to us.
Perry: I remember proposing
that story,
that exact story, to "Times" editors,
saying, "We need to do a story
on what this group of people,
who in some ways represent quite
a large part of the planet,
don't like America.
We need to explain that."
And my editors are saying,
"We're not doing that story."
John Walker Lindh
was not the only American.
There was another American
that we didn't realize
until he was at Gitmo
and he was debriefed, you know,
and then they wound up
stripping him of his citizenship
and sending him back
to Saudi Arabia... Hamdi.
So there were two Americans
actually in that prison.
Lindh was the only Caucasian.
The other was an ethnic Saudi.
Pelton: I'm not gonna tell
anybody you're here, so,
hopefully you can get
some peace and quiet.
But I will communicate anything you want
to anybody you want.
This is Sheberghan.
Right now.
Pelton: My main goal was to get
him on that phone,
'cause once you're on the phone,
then the parents can call a lawyer,
they can call the media, whatever.
But he didn't want to do that, so fine.
I'm not gonna push him.
And then I said to Bill, "Okay,
we've got to get him out of here
because if he stays here...
he could disappear."
And I wasn't exaggerating the threat.
And what I predicted was true,
that he would disappear
and you wouldn't see him again.
-We have ambulance.
And what happened after that,
I don't know,
except for one minor incident
in which I was asked
by the Marines over here
to brief them on Afghanistan.
And I thought that was kind of weird,
like, why do the Marines want me
to tell about Afghanistan?
It turned out it was the guys
at Camp Rhino
that looked after John Walker Lindh.
Radack: We had been told by our
boss that the Justice Department
we'd be taking
a more conservative position
after 9/11,
but that was not defined for us
what that meant.
And to most of us
it certainly didn't mean
throwing the ethics rules out the window
and behaving like a bunch of cowboys.
Pizzey: Any prisoners will be
held in a temporary facility
being built at Camp Rhino.
The only one here at the moment
is John Walker Lindh,
the young American caught
fighting with the Taliban.
He's reported to be in good
health but has no friends here.
Mama always told me,
"If you don't have nothing good to say,
just keep your mouth closed."
And that about sums up their opinion.
They really think that
he's lower than a snake's belly,
as you might say, around here.
Pelton: And the Marines came
to me and they said,
"Oh, God, it's such a mess
because the guys would sneak in
and write things on his head
and take pictures all the time."
Reporter #18:
John Walker Lindh,
Abdul Hamid to his Taliban associates,
is being held at Camp Rhino
awaiting return to this country
and under ferocious criticism.
I don't know all the details,
but he certainly appears to be a traitor.
Reporter #19:
What is the President's view
of an American fighting for the Taliban?
The President has set
a war against the Taliban
and a war against al-Qaeda,
regardless of who it composes.
Reporter #19:
And waiting back home for him
are his nervous parents
and the attorney they've hired
to argue he was just a young man...
It was December 7, 2001.
We had been informed unambiguously
that John Walker Lindh
was represented by counsel.
I advised on a Friday
not to interrogate him
without his lawyer.
Bread and butter, basic advice.
It was not something radical.
Then I get a call back on a Monday
and the Justice Department attorney,
my counterpart in terrorism,
the violent crime,
said, "Well,
the FBI interrogated him anyway.
So what do we do now?"
So I advised that the interview
would have to be sealed
and only used for national security
and intelligence-gathering purposes,
but not for criminal prosecution.
Reimann: I wasn't aware
and I'm sure he wasn't aware
of the family having retained somebody.
I've been, you know,
asked by my headquarters
to interview him,
and that was my...
And I did it with the Miranda
warnings that are appropriate.
I told him that, you know,
there's no lawyer present
and, you know, you have the right
to not talk to me at all.
Or you don't have to answer
every question I ask you.
Those are your options,
and he said, "No, no, I want to talk."
Candiotti: Legal experts
call Walker's statement
to the FBI crucial
to the government's case.
In it, he allegedly admits
training in al-Qaeda camps
and being told about planned
suicide attacks in the U.S.
When he told me that he was at the camp,
that was an al-Qaeda camp, that he knew
he was in an al-Qaeda camp.
He knew that up front.
And he said... You know,
I asked him about that.
He knew that al-Qaeda was...
That bin Laden,
who was the leader of al-Qaeda,
was wanted by the United States,
and that al-Qaeda was,
if you will, enemy of the state.
He knew all that.
And he's still... He knew
that going into the camp.
He knew that during the camp.
And on several occasions,
bin Laden himself spoke
to specifically the foreigners.
The Westerners were set aside
and he spoke to them.
And on one occasion at least,
he spoke directly with John Walker Lindh
and he said he just wanted to fight
the Northern Alliance.
That was his intentions.
I mean, that's, again,
him describing himself,
that he thought he was doing something...
A worthy cause or something.
And just as I said,
I thought that was a smart kid.
He seemed intelligent,
and he learned the language
of a difficult language.
Yet he just did something pretty stupid.
Tom Brokaw: It appears
an American member
of bin Laden's fighting force
will escape the death penalty.
So this whole narrative
started to develop rather quickly.
Wray: We had very few bad guys
in our possession.
And suddenly we had this guy,
who not only was supposedly a bad guy,
but was one of our own.
And he was ripe for caricatures.
I don't have to go through
all the rigmarole
of a courtroom,
and I can judge just by what I know
that he's guilty
and that he should be punished.
I certainly don't approve of what he did,
but then I don't know
what he did exactly.
Reporter #20: But is he
a latter-day Patty Hearst,
allegedly brainwashed
into becoming a warrior
or an accessory
to the murder of a CIA agent
who tried to question him?
Reporter #21: For now,
Walker is in military custody
on a Navy ship.
Brokaw: The American Taliban,
John Walker Lindh,
is coming back
to the United States today.
Mr. President, the country seems
to be divided
along several lines
when it comes to his case.
He's a traitor. Others say
he's a misunderstood kid.
Where do you come down on all that?
I come down that he volunteered
to join al-Qaeda,
was trained by al-Qaeda.
I also am pleased that he's
gonna be afforded a chance
to make his case in a court of law.
Radack: It was just a complete
way to vilify someone,
which normally Justice Department
has regulations against
because you don't want to give
unfair pretrial publicity
on someone that you actually
want to try in court
because it can make a criminal
prosecution more difficult.
Reporter #22: His defense argues
that his statements
to the FBI are unreliable
because he made them
after being held for two
or three days in this metal container,
an improvised jail cell,
blindfolded, his hands
and feet painfully bound to a stretcher.
They say Lindh believed the only way
to escape the torture of his confinement
was to do whatever the FBI wanted.
There was no credible story
that was coming out about what this was.
There were too many questions around it.
And it's not just about
John Walker Lindh.
It's about the larger context
of what it meant to take the gloves off
and do what we needed to do
to keep the country safe.
The problem is that it shows weakness.
That pushing aside laws
and protections shows
that you don't really trust your system.
And among the things that 9/11
did was to cause Americans
at all levels of society and government
to say, "Our systems
can't protect us."
The systems and the law were in
the way for keeping us safe.
And to this day, we haven't
really come to terms
with the impact on that.
So to your question, you know,
"What happened
with terrorism trials?"
That's not the question I would ask.
I would ask the question, "What happened
with the relationship
between security and the law?"
which is... which is still something
we're struggling with as a country.
He chose to waive his right
to an attorney,
both orally and in writing
before his statement to the FBI.
Mr. Walker will be
held responsible
in the courtroom for his choices.
After that press conference,
I get this performance
evaluation that's unsigned.
And my boss is just like,
"You don't seem happy here.
I think you should probably
find another job."
And she didn't say, "Because
of John Walker Lindh
and the fact that our office
took a position
that now contradicts
what the attorney general was saying,"
but clearly, the ethics office
wanted me out.
And these trophy photos, like why?
Why would they even...
I'm sorry.
It's just...
The smear campaigns,
they were directed at anyone
who was remotely seen
as having helped him.
And that's just tyrannical.
Reporter #23: The question is
whether actions
taken around the battlefield,
where there are a few rules,
can withstand the test
of the legal system,
where rules are everything.
Greenberg: The purpose
of a trial is to heal
and to bring a sense of justice
both to the victim
and to the alleged perpetrator,
and in so many terrorism cases,
we don't see that.
It was a very big surprise
in the Virginia courtroom
where John Lindh faced charges
that he engaged in terrorism.
And in this case,
it might have made for
a more settling story
and for a greater sense of closure.
Franken: The deal had been
struck just some nine hours
before John Walker Lindh
came back to court,
so secret that
Judge T.S. Ellis only found out
shortly before he took the bench.
It wasn't just the plea deal,
it was the charges,
the fact that they decided
to drop 8 of 10 charges.
It wasn't that there was a jury
and he was acquitted.
It was the charges were actually dropped.
And so that is very unsettling.
It was like, "Wait, what happened?
Was there evidence?
Wasn't there evidence?
What's... what's
the actual story?"
It is true that fighting
for something you believe in is a virtue,
but only if the belief
is itself virtuous.
...and the Constitution
that led your council
to exert their every effort for you
and that you will have
as much fervor for those
for all this country stands for
as you had for some causes
lacking virtue in the past.
The court concludes
that you should be committed
to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons
for a period of 10 years as to count 9
and 10 years as to one count
of criminal information,
those counts to run consecutively.
This court stands in recess.
Alison: One of the things
that my dad said to me
was the exact same thing
that he said to John Walker Lindh.
There were Muslims
in the Twin Towers that day,
and the people
who did this were radicals.
And that's not what's written
in the Quran.
That is something that really rang true
when I went over there.
The people there...
have been through a lot,
but they have a lot to offer when you go.
I went there scared
and not sure what to expect,
but I met people there
who were friends with my dad,
who loved my dad,
who fought beside him and who were Muslim
and were fighting the same fight he was.
That will always stick with me.
Perry: It seemed like America
was gonna win quite quickly
and I would ask people,
"What do you feel about that
prospect of peace finally?"
I remember this guy saying,
"Look, at the moment,"
I'm 23 years old.
I've got a pick-up,
I've got a couple of guys
in the back with RPGs.
We scream into town.
We get out, we get free cups of tea
"and get looks
from the girls."
What do you want me to do?
Hoe the desert? God.
And I'll tell you, when he said that,
I don't want to go hoe the desert either.
But, you know, there's a reason
why the foot soldiers in these wars,
they're all under 30.
You know, these are young men.
They're having this wonderful adventure
and egging each other on,
mates, you know,
until one day comes along
and they all get killed.
If you reach a certain level
of maturity, you don't do it.
You know, you grow up.
Man #7: I'm in the basement
of the pink house.
You can see some of the writing
here, some of the drawings.
Here's another one.
An interesting drawing.
I can't imagine seven days
in this basement.
It was like he was teaching
Arabic to somebody.
He said Johnny Walker was in the
room across from us here.
Let's go there.
Johnny Walker injure.
-Injured in here?
-Johnny Walker.
That's a rocket right there.
Oh, look at that.
This room is completely
blackened from the fire.
Pelton: What made you decide
to leave the basement?
Was your goal to be Shaheed or murdered?
Was it your goal?
Was it your goal at that time?
I have known very few Americans
to fight jihad,
and I'm just wondering, just personally,
because I've been on jihad in Chechnya
and southern Philippines,
I'm just curious,
was this what you thought it would be?
Was this the right cause
or the right place?