Former 1LT Clint Lorance, serving a long sentence in military prison after being railroaded by the government of the country he served, is putting his time to good use.
Lorance hopes to spur reform in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Towards that end, he is sending a memorandum he created to all members of the US House and Senate. Having been targeted by the system he served, Lorance makes suggestions to create a fairer justice code.
In all the cases I’ve covered, Lorance’s is one of the worst miscarriages of justice I have encountered. Why? He made a choice for his unit to not commit suicide.
In a nutshell, Lorance was convicted of murder after permitting his men to fire on the enemy in a war zone. Stationed in a volatile area in Afghanistan, Lorance made the call when three Taliban types on a motorcycle came at his unit at a high speed. The riders refused commands to stop; they ignored off-limits signs posted in their own language.
Lorance was new to his unit. And his unit was in trouble in a hostile war zone where every soldier was a target of terrorists and their sympathizers in the local villages. The former leader had led the unit into an ambush shortly before Lorance was placed in his leadership role. Devastating injuries resulted.
The former leader had been a casual type—his men called him by his first name. Some of Lorance’s men testified against him, claiming they didn’t feel threatened by the men on the motorcycle.
Lorance couldn’t see the men approaching. He relied on information from a combat veteran and from air assets. Lorance never fired a shot in that engagement.
Some of his own men pointed out negative things Lorance had said about Taliban sympathizers. So? I’d have some negative things to say if people were trying to kill me too. Those soldiers’ choice to assail Lorance made sense—self-interest. Immunity was conferred on some who could have been charged.
But those men who stabbed him in the back weren’t alone. The officers in charge of “justice” wielded the knife as well. Why?
The prosecutor withheld evidence that would have cleared Lorance. In a civilian system, such an action would lead to the loss of a prosecutor’s job and a media bloodbath.
Lorance’s attorney filed a petition for a new trial, and if he isn’t granted one and cleared, it will be unforgivable.
The prosecutor in Lorance’s court martial repeatedly described the motorcycle riders as “men of apparent Afghan descent.” The prosecutor painted them as hapless victims. That same prosecutor knew he was misleading the jury panel. Lorance’s attorney wrote:
“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.”
Get this. The government deleted the names of the alleged “victims” from the record! Nothing like a good political coverup, right?
Lorance has had his career derailed after years of honorable service.
You think he’s alone? He’s not. I know because I have covered cases like this while mass media couldn’t be bothered or if they did cover them, joined the railroad crew.
A US Army captain whose accusers were disgraced Iraqi policemen—in prison themselves.
Navy SEALs who faced lengthy legal battles after a detained terrorist claimed cruelty. The terrorist had a scratch on his lip.
The US Marine Corps just honored one of their own with a “citation for a Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device.” Unfortunately that warrior has left the Marines and he has struggled with what caused him to leave. He was unjustly railroaded—murder allegations. A photographer claimed he saw the Marine shoot an “unarmed insurgent.” Think about that for a minute. You’re in a firefight. Any “insurgent”—we used to call them “terrorists” in saner times—is an enemy.
The Marine Corps Times summed up the plight of then Sgt. Josh Acevedo and comments by his attorney Joseph Low who had also served in the Marines:
“’I wish I could spend time with some Marine Corps officials to help them understand that accusations, true or untrue, are like a bullet out of a gun — you’ll never get it back.’
Acevedo’s case was a perfect example of that, Low said. They were able to punch holes in the claims made by the accuser, a corporal who served as a photographer during 2/1’s deployment. But the legal hiatus was also a career killer for Acevedo.”
In his call for reform, Lorance points out a number of disadvantages for anyone caught up in a military trial. Among them is the fact that the military commander makes the decision to prosecute although he has no legal training. Even more daunting for the accused is the selection of the jury:
“Currently, the jury members are appointed by the same non-lawyer commander who ordered the investigation, hand-picked the investigating officer, charged the servicemember with a crime and ordered a Court Martial be conducted.”
Sound like justice to you? A civilian prosecutor would view that paradigm as the equivalent of being a rabbit thrown into a vat of carrots.
The fact the US government railroaded a soldier whose defense team wasn’t given evidence that would have cleared him is an outrage.
The fact Lorance’s case is not unique is a double outrage.
This administration has declared war on our military. That doesn’t bode well for our troops, or for our country. I hope presidential candidates who appreciate our military are listening.
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
** [Must-See] 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 (Facebook page)
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Nov. 6, 2015)