Lindh was captured in Afghanistan during the infamous battle for Tora Bora -- a fight so fierce and bloody that American forces dropped a series of 500-pound bombs to fortify their embattled positions and protect their troops. CIA agent Johnny Micheal Spann was killed in the battle, marking the first American casualty of the Afghanistan invasion.
When Lindh was captured and promptly nicknamed "Johnny Taliban,'' there was little sympathy for him on American shores.
Hicks, meanwhile, appears to have taken his participation further. After his capture in Afghanistan in December 2001, Hicks admitted that he trained with the Taliban in secret camps, fought against the Northern Alliance, and met with bin Laden.
Lindh, also captured in Afghanistan in December 2001, was charged with conspiring to kill Americans and support terrorists but pleaded guilty to a series of lesser charges, including supplying services to the Taliban.
At Wednesday's press conference, Lindh's mother, Marilyn Walker, said her son never fought against U.S. forces.
She pointed out that, following her son's capture, the president and first lady Laura Bush had expressed "genuine sympathy" for their son, and she asked for more.
"We hope that President Bush will respond today with sympathy and compassion. ... We ask President Bush to please commute John's prison sentence.
"John has been in prison for more than five years, and it is time for him to come home," she said.
Cloonan said he sympathized with Lindh's parents -- but to a point.
"If I was in their shoes, I would do the same thing," Cloonan said. "He can be a sympathetic figure, clearly, but in the end you have to take responsibility for your actions."