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Special Forces May Haved Staged Photos With American Taleban - 2002-04-12

Pentagon officials are looking into news reports that elite U.S. Special Forces posed for souvenir photographs with John Walker Lindh while the so-called American Taleban was a blindfolded and shackled prisoner in Afghanistan.

News reports say one of the newly-discovered photos shows U.S. soldiers posing with John Walker Lindh with an obscenity written across his blindfold.

The photographs could prove embarrassing to the elite Special Forces and might bolster charges by lawyers for the so-called American Taleban that he was mistreated while in military captivity.

Nevertheless, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is downplaying the seriousness of the situation. "If you ask me when I got up in the morning and we've got people being killed in the Middle East and we've got a war going on in Afghanistan if I am going to change my schedule and go chasing after rumors on things like that, it's unlikely," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

Mr. Rumsfeld was asked about the photographs in an impromptu exchange with reporters at the Pentagon.

CNN said the images were found on a computer during a court-ordered Defense Department search for documents and photos related to John Walker Lindh.

He is facing terrorism-related charges in U.S. Federal Court in connection with his activities in Afghanistan with the Taleban.

He was captured last year and held by U.S. military authorities for nearly two months before being brought back to the United States and handed over to justice officials for trial.