Clint Lorance, former first lieutenant in the US Army, has asked for a new trial after being convicted of murder and other charges in a process that can be honestly described as a military horror show.
Why was Lorance convicted? It started with a call for fire in a hostile area in Afghanistan, Zhari. Lorance had just a few seconds to decide whether men who had disobeyed orders given in both English and the mens’ own language were hostiles. The men had approached at a high speed on a motorcycle, then stopped and dismounted. Hostilities were common there—Lorance had just taken a leadership position after the former leader and some of his men had sustained horrific injuries.
Lorance decided to err on the side of caution.
By the time he came to trial, some of his own men testified against him. Some of them had received immunity and might have been charged themselves because Lorance had not fired his weapon. After the trial concluded, Lorance’s defense team learned the prosecution had withheld evidence. The trial transcript, replete with spelling and other errors, reflected a poor state of affairs for US troops. The men who were killed in a defensive maneuver by US troops weren’t even properly identified at trial. The prosecution described them as men of “apparent” Afghan descent. As it turned out, after Lorance’s conviction, those men of “apparent” Afghan descent had plenty of ties to the enemy. The jury panel was clueless.
Day on the Day has followed the Lorance case for quite some time. In my opinion, he was railroaded purely as a political gesture to mollify Afghan authorities and to some degree, leftist media in the US. More than 120,000 Americans petitioned the White House for a pardon. The White House responded in political speak. A president can pardon someone directly—President Bill Clinton did that with relish in his final days in office.
Lorance’s defense team has asked for a new trial.
Despite all the nuances and complexities, Lorance’s case boils down to simple concepts. The US military, not for the first time, are used as both resources for defense and pawns in foreign policy.
By the standard set by the military court, a president who uses drones as a weapon of choice (including one strike against a US citizen charged with no crime) to preempt potential strikes on Americans should be in a prison like Leavenworth. That sets a dangerous precedent for the defense of our country.
Day on the Day has covered Lorance’s case extensively, with numerous articles available in our archives.
Lorance’s family maintains the website Free Clint Lorance to keep supporters informed about updates and other relevant matters.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Sept. 10, 2015)