During an interview with President Donald Trump, Sean Hannity breached a subject drawing scant sympathy from the majority of media. Hannity asked the president about a potential pardon for Kristian Saucier, a sailor sentenced to military prison for taking photos inside a submarine. The photos were classified at the lowest level.
Hannity went one further, bringing up another case that has outraged many Americans, the long prison sentence given a young lieutenant who permitted his men to fire at the enemy in a hostile zone in Afghanistan. The court martial of former 1LT Clint Lorance led a military panel to decide he committed murder.
Lorance supporters believe he made the right decision, given he had a matter of seconds to do so in an area where US troops had experienced attacks resulting in injuries and deaths.
I’ve covered the case for a long time. I knew President Barack Obama would not be sympathetic to Lorance. Obama turned down a request for pardon and a petition signed by more than 100,000 people had no impact.
Making the case even more outrageous, Lorance’s attorney, John Maher, discovered the US government had deliberately withheld evidence that would have cleared Lorance.
Trump told Hannity he is looking at the Saucier case and others like the Lorance case.
In my opinion, Lorance is a political prisoner doing time for serving the country he loved.
In a letter to supporters, Clint’s mother Anna provided a synopsis of the case:
“Clint was sent to a “hot zone” on a dangerous mission to replace a lieutenant who had been injured when the Taliban attacked his platoon just days earlier.
He was warned to look for multiple riders on red motorcycles – known as “spotters” who alert the Taliban when they see U.S. troops. And every soldier was on edge. They all knew about the earlier ambush – and that just days before a U.S. soldier had been shot in the neck in this very village.
Suddenly a U.S. helicopter radioed in to Clint that a group of motorcycle riders was sitting outside of the village near a road that was used only by the Taliban.
As Clint confirmed a clear description of the enemy, a motorcycle charged toward the platoon so one of the soldiers asked permission to fire a warning shot. Clint said, “yes.”
But the riders did not stop. Instead, they continued riding and broke through the troop’s formation, jumped off the motorcycle, and headed right toward our troops. With only a split-second to make a decision, Clint ordered his marksman to fire. Two of the riders were killed. The other was captured in the village.
Meanwhile, two other Taliban members were killed by Clint’s platoon and a second man captured trying to leave the village.
When Clint and his men arrived back at base, Clint ordered both of the prisoners to be tested for explosives residue. BOTH tested positive for residue on their hands, confirming Clint’s suspicions that the motorcycle riders posed a threat.
Yet instead of imprisoning and interrogating these men, military intelligence at Brigade Headquarters released the men back into the wild.
Then they fired Clint as platoon leader.
And one year later, Clint was sitting in a military courtroom on trial for murder.
Five other members of Clint’s platoon were also charged, including the marksman who had actually shot and killed the terrorists.
But all five were promised immunity if they would agree to testify against Clint.
Every one of the statements from these five soldiers changed from their initial statements. That’s right, not one of their stories was the same as the account they gave on the day of the attack.
But Clint’s account did not change.
And when asked for his only statement during the trial, he looked into the eyes of the jury and said, “I totally take all responsibility for my actions. I gave the order because I was the leader on the ground and perceived a hostile intent.”
Because only weeks after the ambush on Clint’s platoon, a motorcycle with two riders rode into a village where U.S. soldiers were patrolling and detonated explosives strapped to their cycle. That leader did not react as my son did – and American soldiers died.
But none of this mattered to the military court. Even though Clint never fired his weapon, he was found “guilty” and sentenced to 20 years in Fort Leavenworth Prison.”
If the standard applied to Lorance had been applied to President Obama, the president would have been judged guilty. Politicizing military justice places our country at risk in times of war.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Jan. 27, 2017)