“My loyalty is to my country Mr. President. I will become a different type of soldier now; one who fights to heal the division in this wonderful country. That is my new place in society. As my Commander-in-Chief, I make this promise to you today; I will spend every day of my life dedicated to peace and unity in America, and I will always fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.”
The heartbreaking last paragraph of this plea is signed, “With Respect and Admiration, Clint Lorance.”
His name was in the papers in 2013 as 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance was portrayed as a murderer and traitor to his country. The then-28 year old soldier was sentenced to 19 years in prison for his “crimes.” But now, new evidence in his case demonstrates that he was wrongly convicted.
The incident he was tried for took place July 2, 2012. Lorance and his platoon were on patrol in Afghanistan when they spotted a motorcycle carrying three Afghan men. One of Lorance’s men, Private first class(Pfc.) James Skelton reported, “He (Lorance) told me to engage.”
In his testimony, Pfc. Skelton continued his description of that fateful day. Skelton fired two shots. He missed. The motorcycle came to a stop; the men climbed off and began walking towards the Afghan National Army soldiers who were at the front of the U.S.-Afghan patrol.
“The ANA started telling them to go back, waving to them to return towards the motorcycle, to stay away. They turned around and went back towards the motorcycle.” Within seconds, two of them were dead. The third man ran away. A gun truck that was accompanying the soldiers on foot had opened fire with its M240B machine gun. “He was told to engage by Lieutenant Lorance when they had a visual,” Skelton testified.
“Did he ask the vehicle what the men were doing?” the prosecutor asked. “No,” Skelton said. “He just told them to engage?” the prosecutor asked. “Yes,” Skelton said.
Besides Skelton, other soldiers were called on to testify about Lorance’s conduct that day. Six soldiers received testimonial immunity but only four of them testified, according to trial transcripts. Former specialist and infantryman Todd Fitzgerald, was one of the six.
“I don’t believe that he really understood what he was getting into.” Fitzgerald said. “Us testifying against him, it wasn’t a matter of not liking him, it wasn’t a matter of any type of grudge or coercion.”It was simply we knew that his actions, based on our experience, having operated in that area for months, were going to breed further insurgency. If you kill local citizens, they’re no longer willing to help you.”
The testimony helped the court decide to convict Lorance of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. It turns out that while the allegations against the Lieutenant were numerous, they may have been based on what the story the Army was selling.
Which was a lie. Were they covering something else up? Maybe following Obama’s restrictions of rules of engagement?
At Lorance’s court martial at Fort Bragg, the Army said the men were not enemy combatants and he was charged with violating the rules of engagement.” However, it has now been discovered that the Army actively hid evidence that would have aided Lorance’s defense.
It has been revealed that the two men killed as a result of Lorance’s orders both were biometrically linked to terrorism and IED attacks that killed U.S. troops. Specifically, the executive summary released by Lorance’s attorney states, “the Army withheld biometric evidence that the military aged males were biometrically enrolled, that is, had a biometric number assigned to them, linked to IED events at common grid coordinates, linked to other IED makers, and linked with American paratroopers having been killed in action.”
The government has also admitted that they did not even try to obtain the information that could have given Lieutenant Lorance a not guilty verdict. “The government admitted it did not search for the evidence, which resides on servers located throughout Afghanistan and used daily.”
These new disclosures make it difficult for the Army to claim that they didn’t know the evidence existed. So was Clint Lorance a scapegoat for something bigger?
Regardless of why the injustice occurred in the first place, the evidence is now public knowledge and is easily sufficient for a new trial. The government does not seem to be in a hurry to remedy their mistake.
Lorance’s attorney has filed for clemency for his client on November 30 2014. Clint Lorance is still sitting in jail. The decision to release him rests with Brigadier General Richard D. Clarke, the 82nd Airborne Division commander but nothing has been done to this date.
Lieutenant Lorance’s family, friends, and supporters are asking President Obama for a pardon. On his way out of office, Obama has been issuing pardons and sentence commutations to thousands. Among the people he has released early:
- Christopher Michael Calloway – Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime
- William Henry Dudley – Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing cocaine base; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
- Ward Everette Mohler – Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine; distribution of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (three counts); carry firearm during drug trafficking (two counts); possession of firearm by a convicted felon (two counts); distribution of methamphetamine (nine counts)
- Jason Hernandez – Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances (one count); possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (two counts); possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (erroneously listed in the judgment as possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine/cocaine hydrochloride) (one count); possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine/cocaine hydrochloride (one count); distribution of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school (three counts); establishment of a place for manufacture and distribution of a controlled substance (two counts)
As he turns these felons and violent criminals free, Obama has seen it appropriate to leave a wrongly convicted Army Lieutenant in jail. We have seen his contempt for military before but this goes beyond. Lieutenant Clint Lorance deserves to be set free so he can continue on with a life that was stolen from him by our government.