The video does not show what happened to Mike. Harris said Lindh, hands still cuffed, was shot in the leg. Dozens of prisoners were killed, but about 80, including the wounded Lindh, returned to the Pink House for cover until they were routed by Dostum's troops three days later. Lindh was turned over to U. Although the tape does not implicate Lindh in Mike's death, it appears to counter recent allegations by Taliban soldiers now held at the U. So Johnny Spann continues his quest. He is working behind the scenes to quash an effort by the imprisoned Lindh for a presidential commutation of his sentence and says he is thinking of talking to Yaser Hamdi, another American citizen captured at the Pink House with Lindh.
Hamdi has since been returned to his family in Saudi Arabia, and Spann says he is looking into another trip to that part of the world. There is no greater objective for the grieving father these days than gathering the facts behind the prison uprising in Afghanistan where his son became the first American casualty of the Afghan war Johnny Spann stood in gently falling snow and wistfully recalled the day his son, CIA officer Johnny Micheal "Mike" Spann, lingered among the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery, studying each inscription and testing his sister Tanya's patience.
There is no greater objective for the grieving father these days than gathering the facts behind the uprising on Nov.
Spann, a year-old real estate company owner from Winfield, Alabama, visited Mike Spann's grave last month for the third time in as many days. The elder Spann placed flowers and contemplated the chain of events that put his son in a national cemetery.
Upon returning to his rental car at the roadside, he wiped tears from his eyes. Articulate and folksy, with combed-back hair that is two shades of gray, Spann thumbs through a sheaf of documents and explains his son's last living moments with methodical calm. It is the same trait he displayed daily at the trial of John Walker Lindh, the American fighting alongside the Taliban. Spann is conducting his own investigation into the origins of the riot at the prison in Mazar-e-Sharif where suspected Taliban supporters were held.
By investigating for himself, "No lies get told and nothing gets covered up," he said in an interview. I want to know. Spann contends the last two minutes of footage prove the uprising began with a planned grenade attack inside the prison building rather than a spontaneous scuttle outside where his son was interviewing prisoners, including Lindh. The distinction could be critical in Lindh's quest to get clemency for his year prison term. One of the most serious charges against Lindh was that the uprising was planned the night before, yet he did not warn Spann. At one point, the younger Spann is seen with Lindh a short distance away from the other prisoners - a moment at which his father says Lindh had a chance to disclose the riot plot.
At trial, Lindh claimed no knowledge of the riot plot. The judge seemed to agree. If there were evidence that Lindh was responsible for the younger Spann's death, the judge said, then a plea bargain would not have been accepted that spared Lindh more serious charges, such as murder or treason. Spann's father is convinced that such evidence exists. He refers to Lindh as "hard core al-Qaida" and says if Lindh really wanted to help a fellow American, he would have spoken up that morning. Because he did not, Spann contends, Lindh was complicit in the younger Spann's death.
Some day, the father is hoping to prove this legally, in an attempt to get Lindh's plea bargain thrown out. The official said some prisoners burst out of the building firing weapons while Spann and a colleague were interviewing prisoners outside. In the videotape, which Johnny Spann says he obtained from a Frenchman after the U. The next several seconds show a Taliban suspect being interviewed with his back to the building.
There is a muffled noise and a series of screams. The suspect appears to twist his head to look over his left shoulder, toward the noise. At that moment, the film cuts off.
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The videographer dropped the camera and ran, according to Spann. In , Spann went to Afghanistan to speak with some witnesses to the uprising. He talked to a Northern Alliance leader and two Afghan doctors who were treating Taliban soldiers. Spann said the doctors told him that his son charged toward the prison building - right into a trap - when the grenade went off. Later, Spann said, he reviewed autopsy reports that showed his son had two bullet wounds to the head.
That indicates a method of death consistent with an execution-style slaying, Spann said. They are now being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One inmate acknowledged the explosion in the prison building but went on to suggest that a skirmish outside between Spann and a prisoner may have started the uprising. Spann "was jumped by an Arab or Pakistani male, but the armed man Spann shot the prisoner. People began running and chaos ensued," according to the testimony, released by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of its investigation into alleged abuse of prisoners by American soldiers.
Spann does not dispute that his son probably killed some Taliban prisoners during a gunfight.
But the father insists it was in self-defense and came after the grenade blast. He also insists that the video proves there was no abuse of prisoners that day. The testimony from Guantanamo does not seem to imply there was, although one prisoner claimed he was threatened with a beating if he didn't stay quiet. But the CIA agent, who was killed in Afghanistan and will be honored at this year's Spirit of America Festival, had to admit that the day he first celebrated America's independence with Shannon stood above all others.
Spann said, recalling the time that she and her then-future husband truly began their relationship. Mike and I wound up at the same party on the Fourth of July. I don't think he knew I was going to be there and I didn't know he was going to be there. But the CIA agent was killed Nov. Because the Fourth was Spann's favorite holiday, Mrs. Spann, 32, said it will be difficult to celebrate without him, but getting to come to Decatur will ease the pain.
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Mike used to always say he didn't think people did enough to take and mark days like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July," she said. The Freedom Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of Alabamians. Spann was a Winfield native and graduate of Auburn University before joining the Marines.
In he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, where he met Shannon. Both were training to become agents. She became a counter-terrorism officer. He served in the agency's Special Activities Division, known as its paramilitary wing. Part intelligence operative, part combat trooper, he was among the first Americans to cross the border into Afghanistan after the Sept.
Spann was trained to supply and support local dissident groups and friendly governments. Officers like Spann can operate almost any kind of vehicle. They can infiltrate hostile countries and rescue U.
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On the day he died, Spann was interrogating prisoners near Mazar-i-Sharif. The prisoners revolted and were able to seize rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. He was Spann said. Shannon Spann spoke at the service in section 34 of the cemetery where her husband's grave will be marked by a simple white headstone similar to the rows around it. She said her husband had always spoken from the heart and she would try to do the same, although hers had broken.
Spann, 32, a former Marine, received a full honors burial including a horse-drawn caisson that carried the flag-draped casket, three volleys of rifle shots by seven Marines, and a procession led by a Marine band and honor guard. The covert CIA operative was a member of the paramilitary ''Special Activities Division,'' the spy agency's version of the military's special forces units, and was involved in the interrogation of prisoners at the 19th century Qala-i-Jangi fortress near Mazar-i-Sharif when he died. Spann, in Afghanistan for about six weeks, was captured on videotape hours before he died at the fortress interviewing John Walker, an American fighting with the Taliban.
The videotape, first reported by Newsweek, showed Spann wearing blue jeans and a black sweater with a Kalashnikov rifle strapped across his back trying to get Walker to talk, but the prisoner stayed unresponsive. Not everyone is skilled or has the desire to go to faraway places to fight in wars but all of us have the skills and should have the desire to serve our country by being good,'' Shannon Spann said. The United States has waged a war on terrorism since the September 11 attacks that killed thousands of people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
It has bombed Afghanistan since October 7 in retaliation to destroy Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, who the United States blames for the attacks. Shannon Spann told mourners about separate journals the couple had been writing while Spann was in Afghanistan and read an entry she made in October telling him he was her "favorite person'' and she missed him. At the end of her remarks, she blew a kiss to her husband's casket. The Marines ceremonially folded the flag that covered Spann's casket and handed it to her.
After most of the gathering had left, the family stayed for a private moment.