Former 1LT Clint Lorance (US Army) has been denied clemency from Brig. Gen. Richard D. Clarke, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg. Lorance was convicted of murder and other lesser charges after he approved engagement with individuals he believed to be enemy in a volatile war zone in Afghanistan.
The clemency denial may produce pitfalls for presidents past, present, and future.
The government has not produced evidence proving the individuals were not enemy, and according to Lorance’s supporters, the prosecution withheld evidence that might have led to a different verdict in the court martial. The military prosecutor allegedly withheld or did not develop information about two of the men killed after Lorance permitted engagement. One man escaped; he allegedly had ties to terrorists. The jury panel was not even told some witnesses who testified against Lorance had received immunity from any charges that could have been filed against them had they not obliged the prosecution. Lorance did not fire a weapon; he permitted his men to fire. Lorance’s defense team cited numerous legal errors in trial proceedings.
Day on the Day has done a 15-part series on the case, and links to all past articles can be found here. Talk show hosts like Sean Hannity as well as former military have advocated for relief for Lorance.
Although government officials and most media don’t realize it, the court martial and the denial of clemency set a volatile precedent for President Barack Obama (D) and former presidents George W. Bush (R), and Bill Clinton (D). All three presidents have taken preemptive action in the global War on Terror. Obama has even ordered the drone-kill of a US citizen who had neither been charged nor convicted of a crime. Most Americans have supported these actions by all three commanders-in-chief.
If a US military court can prosecute a soldier for taking steps in good faith to protect his men against individuals perceived to be (and likely to have been) enemy, how long will it be before an international court decides to do the same to a president?
Acting within the Rules of Engagement, Lorance applied the same tactic all three presidents employed—taking the enemy out before he could do harm. Anti-war activists on the left routinely advocated for Bush 43 to be charged with war crimes, and human rights activists have criticized Clinton for his rendition policy. Obama’s actions have drawn some criticism as well.
Ironically the former lead prosecutor for the 82nd Airborne will face his own court martial soon, though it isn’t related to Lorance’s case.
Now Lorance’s supporters are in hopes President Obama will pardon the soldier whose case is among the worst miscarriages of justice I have come across. Whether Obama will grant the pardon is unknown, but 100,000 signatures are needed by Feb. 1 for the petition at whitehouse.gov. At present there are approximately 41,000 signatures.
Clint’s mother Anna has been one of his most tireless advocates, and despite the injustice, she has managed to refrain from bitterness. In a post on the Facebook page Free Clint Lorance, she wrote, “As Clint’s Parents we truly understand how frustrating this injustice is and we too deal with hurt and anger. However, we are going to fight this until Clint is free with the truth and not anger.”
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Jan. 5, 2015)
Related pages on the Web
New Petition at The White House
New evidence & clemency information
Facebook page for Clint Lorance
Official website for Clint Lorance