I’ve written many stories about former 1LT Clint Lorance who is serving 20 years in Leavenworth for permitting his soldiers to fire on men Lorance perceived as the enemy in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan in 2012. Now Lorance’s parents, after years of advocating for him, have created a video appealing directly to President Barack Obama to do what he did for more than 900 others—issue a pardon.
Lorance’s case is a study in military injustice.
The US government withheld evidence that to any fair, rational mind would have cleared the lieutenant. The men who approached Lorance’s platoon in an area ranked among the highest for casualties were described by the prosecutor as men of “apparent Afghan descent.” Sidenote: “descent” was consistently misspelled throughout the transcript; I have corrected it here. The men were not named; the government actually deleted their names from the record.
Why would the government do that?
Consider excerpts from the petition Lorance’s second attorney filed asking for a new trial:
“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.”
“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.”
The government gave immunity to men who testified against Lorance. Those men, who would have faced charges themselves had it not been for the offer of immunity, did not know the identities and associates of the men on the motorcycle who approached the platoon on the day in question.
In December, 2015, shortly before Christmas, six US soldiers were killed when a bomber drove his motorcycle into a patrol near Bargram Airfield. No rounds were fired at that bomber.
Although Obama has pardoned or commuted sentences for felons for crimes such as illegal possession of weapons, armed robbery, and methamphetamine distribution, this president hasn’t been eager to look at military justice convictions. The Lorances successfully filed a petition containing more than 100,000 signatures seeking redress for their son. They received a canned answer and nothing happened.
I believe President Elect Donald Trump would see this case in a totally different light than the current president does. Lorance had seconds to decide if a lethal threat existed as men approached on a motorcycle after ignoring signs posted in what amounted to a no-go zone. These men had also ignored initial verbal commands to stop.
I wrote an article comparing presidents’ actions in war time to the actions Lorance took that day. He permitted his men to fire; he did not fire his weapon. Lorance did that because he had to make an on the spot assessment to protect his men. In war time, our government’s actions have taken the lives of civilians, including at least one US citizen against whom charges had not even been filed—the government suspected him of terrorist collusion. What, exactly, is the difference between those presidents’ actions and Lorance’s? Absolutely none.
As I said, I wrote many articles about Lorance; they are archived here. I came to realize the current administration would likely not act on this soldier’s behalf.
I plan to appeal to President Elect Trump after his inauguration. I believe his policy will put US soldiers first instead of the policy the current administration has in place leading to a higher total of casualties in Afghanistan than the number tallied during the administration of George W. Bush.
Lorance’s parents’ video is posted at Sean Hannity’s website. Hannity is one of the only media powers who has called attention to Lorance’s case by giving all the facts instead of relying on secondhand tales given by people who got immunity to testify against the man they should be thanking for seeing to it they came home with body parts intact.
A new petition is in progress asking for a pardon. You can sign up for it here.
You can learn more about Lorance by visiting the Facebook page his parents established. https://www.facebook.com/freeclintlorance/?fref=ts
Disclosure: My advocacy for Lorance is not based on benefits received or anticipated. I do not intend to write a book about him. I have successfully advocated for Navy SEALs, contractors, and soldiers I perceived as having been railroaded for political purposes by this administration. My advocacy is based on appreciation for the sacrifices our troops and their families, including those in my own family, make on our country’s behalf.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Dec. 16, 2016)