Pt. 9 in a seriesThe family of former 1LT Clint Lorance is asking for justice for the soldier whose alleged “crimes” rested largely on a judgment call. On Veterans Day, Lorance’s mother penned a heartfelt tribute to him on a Facebook page dedicated to his cause, and his brother spoke via a video in an effort to tell people who the soldier really is.
Lorance is awaiting word on his appeal for clemency.
While leading a patrol in a war zone in Afghanistan in 2012, Lorance gave permission for his men to engage three males of “apparent Afghan” descent believed to be enemy. To this day, we don’t know if these males were from Afghanistan. The government didn’t bother to find out.
Because the political climate at the time was super charged ahead of a presidential election, the US government placed soldiers in a potentially lethal position. Defend yourself when you perceive danger and risk prison time. Or hold off on self-defense and maybe come home in a body bag.
After spending months on a delayed investigation, the US government chose to levy an assortment of charges against Lorance, including murder. Other charges alleged he used “harsh language towards Afghans.”
Having studied the trial transcript and various materials related to Lorance’s case, I came to the conclusion he is a political prisoner in the US. Lorance acted within existing rules of engagement. Of course he had no idea the strained relationship between the US and Afghan presidents would impact him personally. In some ways, Lorance was a sacrificial lamb offered up in the wake of the controversy arising from another soldier who had experienced a breakdown and killed Afghan civilians.
Lorance never fired a shot. He based his decision to engage on information he received from the men he was leading—Lorance didn’t have a visual on the men perceived as enemy. The men who did fire the shots and who reported the intel received immunity; they testified for the prosecution.
For Lorance’s mother, this Veterans Day sparked memories and sadness about what happened. Because of Lorance’s conviction, he lost everything he had worked so hard for. Explaining how she learned so much as her son progressed through training and military endeavors, she wrote:
“[E]ven with the injustice that has been handed to you. I am so proud to say that I am a Military Mom. I am so Proud of all that your life has taught me. I have an outstanding respect for you because you earned that respect without saying a word. Watching your character all through your life is an amazing journey. Today you amaze me with your courage and strength.”
Lorance’s brother said in the video, “It’s impossible to understand how something like this could happen.”
Many media have ignored Lorance’s case, but Sean Hannity has consistently reported on it in an effort to make Americans aware of a case where justice went so horribly awry.
Via his website Col. Allen West has also spoken out on Lorance’s behalf by featuring Lorance’s story and updates.
The military has said little. Obviously, a case like Lorance’s might dampen enthusiasm for those interested in volunteering to serve.
Lorance’s mother’s letter illustrates the pain her family is going through as a result of injustice.
Hannity summed up the bizarre nature of the government’s actions:
“U.S. intelligence and defense officials have recently estimated that 20 to 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have returned to the battlefields to fight alongside ISIS in Syria. While these monsters are free to terrorize minorities, rape and sexually enslave young girls, behead Western journalists, and plot to commit terror attacks on U.S. soil, an American soldier is serving 20 years at Fort Leavenworth for trying to protect his men while fighting in Afghanistan.”
Lorance’s supporters created a petition at Change.org [link below] in an effort to garner public support for a soldier treated dishonorably by a government he served to the best of his abilities.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Nov. 12, 2014)
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION at Change.org!
Facebook page for Clint Lorance
Official website for Clint Lorance
Previous stories in series on Clint Lorance
On Veterans Day, Lorance waits for justice… (Pt. 8)
After error-plagued court martial, soldier needs support (Pt. 7)
Criminal justice advocacy needed for veterans (Pt. 6)
After controversial trial, soldier’s fate rests… (Pt. 5)
Confusion at heart of Lorance case… (Pt. 4)
Government secret: Witnesses had immunity (Pt. 3)
Political prisoner Clint Lorance… (Pt. 2)
Dilemma facing boots on the ground (Pt. 1)