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The new millenium brought out the worst in parenting, and no parenting methods were criticized more harshly than those of captured American Taliban, John Lindh Walker. When Lindh Walker was 10, the family from Washington State moved to socially liberal Marin County, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. John’s father, Frank Lindh, is a lawyer and his mother, Mary Walker, is a home health care worker who dabbled in Buddhism.

John never quite adjusted to the environment. He moved painfully from private school to private school, from private schools to public schools, from pubic schools to home school, and then back to high school for graduation. The developments at home were furious. Frank announced that he was gay in 1998, and the parents divorced in 1999. John dropped his father’s surname and use his mother’s maiden name, Walker.

At about that time, John converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul Hamid, and at 17, he traveled alone to Yemen to immerse himself in his new religion. Frank and Marilyn were roundly criticized for poor parenting and for letting their boy set off for a hostile place overseas without knowing what he was in for. Lindh came home in the spring of 1999, but eight months later, he returned to Yemen, then went to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he was found. In his e-mails to his mother, Lindh repeatedly expressed contempt for the United States and President Bush and urged her to move to London. Nobody, including his parents, had heard from John Phillip Walker Lindh the 6 months leading to September 11, 2001.

The 21-year old Lindh had now closed a chapter in his life. As part of his plea agreement, he would receive a maximum 20-year prison term if officials are satisfied with his cooperation and the judge approves the deal at an Oct. 4 sentencing.

A USA TODAY/CNN/ Gallup Poll before the agreement found that 60% of respondents disagree with the Justice Department’s decision not to charge...

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