Pt. 15 in a series on the court martial of 1LT Clint LoranceSean Hannity is leading media coverage on the controversial US Army court martial of former 1LT Clint Lorance. Hannity is one of the only major media figures whose reportage doesn’t read like a summation of the prosecutor’s closing.
Before I wrote the first word about the court martial of 1LT Clint Lorance, I researched the case. Writers often get appeals to advocate for a case in our criminal justice system. An email from Col. Allen West introduced me to the case. By the time I finished reading the trial transcript, I was flabbergasted over the latitude the military judge gave the prosecution. I was in no way prepared for what Lorance’s supporters would eventually learn, however—that the government withheld evidence that would have strengthened the defense.
Lorance acted to preempt a situation in a hostile war zone in Afghanistan that he believed endangered his platoon. He did exactly what the military trained him to do, one reason he was found not guilty on charges related to changing the Rules of Engagement. The trial transcript is long, but a careful read suggests a circumstantial case reliant on testimony from witnesses who might have faced charges but were given immunity, and that fact was not disclosed to the jury panel.
Lorance’s legal team found numerous legal errors and missteps in the trial.
In the research I conducted online, I discovered a page created on social media by a man who served briefly alongside Lorance. This individual vilified Lorance for months, but then stopped posting.
Lorance was brand new to the platoon. The former leader and several of his men had recently been severely injured in the same war zone Lorance came to. I wondered if someone in the platoon expected to take the leadership role conferred on Lorance. You have to read between the lines, but there’s far more to this case than military justice gone awry. Some of the testimony as well as the social media page seemed purely personal, even gossipy.
Lorance is awaiting a response to his appeal for clemency, and his defense team has also submitted a request for a new trial because of all the new evidence discovered, evidence that was not shared with Lorance’s original attorney who is no longer on the case.
I’ve written a series of articles on this case, but Lorance’s key activist is his mother. She is determined to clear her son, and she’s talked to Hannity on his show. Lorance’s attorney has also talked to Hannity, and Hannity is hoping to be able to interview Lorance if the military justice system permits. A summary of the new evidence is included in Part 14 of my series.
Most of the responses to what I have written have been positive. Without exception, the negative responses, including at least one from a media presenter, are based on incorrect information. For example, Lorance never fired a shot—he permitted his men to engage based on information relayed to him. Lorance could not even see the men he believed presented a threat, and at trial, one of the soldiers who did engage admitted he perceived the men as a threat.
Lorance’s case is extremely troubling because it is a case of justice gone awry. But it is doubly troubling because of the message it transmits to those who serve—that if you take action to save lives, you may end up sacrificing your own freedom. What does that say to our volunteer military?
More than 48,000 people have signed a petition on behalf of Lorance. Many more signatures are needed, so if you want to help a man who put his life on the line for all of us, please consider signing and sharing it.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Dec. 19, 2014)
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION at Change.org!
New evidence & clemency information
Facebook page for Clint Lorance
Official website for Clint Lorance
Previous stories in Day on the Day series on Clint Lorance
Explosive new evidence surfaces (Pt. 14)
Lorance a perfect example why…US military demoralized (Pt. 13)
For judgment call similar to president’s, soldier got 20 years in prison (Part 12)
New errors surface in Lorance trial: Evidence withheld (Pt. 11)
Doocy’s SEAL interview addresses issue in Lorance trial (Pt. 10)
Soldier’s mother and brother appeal for clemency (Pt. 9)
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)