I recently said in an email to the mother of former 1LT Clint Lorance that every time I go through information related to his case, I get so angry my blood pressure rises. Lorance is seeking a new trial. He should not have to do that. He should not be in prison at all.
I spent time watching a video Lorance’s defense team prepared. The video shows in great detail the positions of US troops that day and the positions of the enemy moving around the area where Lorance and his men were on patrol.
If you care about justice, if you have even a shred of concern and gratitude for the service our military performs for all of us in this country, please watch the video. You will come away understanding an enormous wrong has been committed against a young man who placed his life on the line for our country. There can be absolutely no justification for how the government has treated former 1 LT Lorance.
It is bad enough that a military prosecutor second-guessed the lieutenant’s judgment on July 2, 2012 in an area of Afghanistan where the Taliban was born. It is bad enough that the government devalued the lives of US soldiers that day, one reason troop deaths increased significantly under the current administration.
What is truly unforgivable, however, is that the prosecutor withheld evidence that would have caused rational jurors to exonerate Lorance.
The whole case boils down to one of two options for a young lieutenant who took over a platoon that had just experienced a horrific attack resulting in loss of limbs and paralysis for some of the soldiers. Lorance made a judgment call based on information from a soldier who was a veteran of combat, and also from intel transmitted by air assets.
The three men approaching Lorance and his men were in a zone marked off limits by signs in both English and Arabic. Lorance told his men to engage. His other option was to risk suicide for his men and for himself.
Lorance never fired a weapon that day in an area in Zhari Province surrounded by Taliban. The men who did shoot—they had every right to—were not prosecuted, however.
The most egregious part of the whole story is the negligence of the prosecution to share evidence about those who were shot that day. The prosecutor repeatedly described the dead men as “civilians,” and as “males of apparent Afghan descent.” In the petition for a new trial, Lorance’s attorneys dropped a bombshell:
“What the members [of the jury panel] did not have before them, however, is the evidence the prosecution withheld: that the three military-aged males were associated with one another, terror networks, IED emplacements, IED explosions, and linked to U.S. casualties from those IEDs.”
If that’s not bad enough—it is tempting for me to type this in all caps—the names of those killed were deleted from the record!
The petition says:
“The prosecution surely considered the question of the victims’ identities, as shown by comparing the original charge sheet with the “lined-out” amended specifications deleting the victim’s names. Doubt as to their identities would seem to be properly resolved in favor of 1LT Lorance based on the prosecution’s obligations to the truth-seeking process and principles of fairness; or such doubts at least should have led to further investigation. Put differently, the instant the prosecution obliterated the names of the three male riders, a grievous injustice against 1LT Lorance took place, an injustice this Court can and should redress.”
As Lorance’s attorneys wrote [emphasis added]:
“In a larger sense, when the prosecution deleted the names of the three riders from the Charge Sheet in this court-martial, and then defined the men as innocent civilians when in fact the new evidence ties them to numerous deadly attacks against U.S. personnel, a manifest injustice occurred.”
The video prepared by the defense team featured findings by an investigator whose expertise is beyond question. The video also provides photographs of many other soldiers who were killed by Taliban and their associates related to the men Lorance gave orders to engage on that miserably hot day in July, 2012.
How can this happen in America? How can a soldier be railroaded, apparently purely for political purposes, and sent to prison for many years simply because he used his best judgment in a war zone, doing the job he took an oath to do?
Our president just apologized for bombing a hospital in Afghanistan. The president called it a “mistake.” He will be charged with nothing and I do not believe he should be. We are still at war in a country that harbored the terrorists who attacked America on September, 11, 2001. Afghanistan was a righteous war as politicos on both sides of the aisle like to say.
In the few seconds he had available, and based on information from others, Lorance made a logical judgment call and his men made it home alive. Yet he is doing time in a military prison for murder.
Those who actually did the shooting testified against Lorance. They received immunity. They should be thanking him for seeing to it they returned to base that day with all their limbs and body parts intact.
This trial and conviction are a shameful moment in military justice. It is obvious Congress should launch an investigation and if necessary, reform a justice system that sends a soldier to prison because a prosecutor withheld evidence that might have exonerated him.
While we’re at it, we should explore the politics behind the decision to even prosecute.
I plan to advocate for military justice reform, not just because of this outrage, but because of others who have thankfully been cleared largely due to pressure from alternative media and Congress.
No commander-in-chief should permit this type of injustice and no member of Congress should be a party to it. If you expect to win a war by elevating politics over common sense, your expectation is utterly without merit.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Oct. 8, 2015)
Previous stories on former 1LT Clint Lorance
Military horror show: Former 1LT Lorance asks for new trial
Archived articles at Day on the Day related to former 1LT Lorance
Newly released video reconstructing events of July 2, 2012; includes data about insurgents killed
Petition for new trial for former 1LT Clint Lorance
Free Clint Lorance
Website with documents and more information on Lorance case