Article first appeared at The Washington Standard.
While Barack Hussein Obama Soetoro Sobarkah commuted the sentence of Bradley Manning, who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013, of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, he left Lt. Clint Lorance languishing in prison for ordering his platoon to open fire on three Islamic jihadists, killing two of them, after they ignored commands to stop.
Lorance, 30, had been trained to make split-second decisions and his training culminated in a real-life scenario in July 2012 when he and his squad were on a foot patrol in southern Afghanistan. He had just been made Platoon Leader after his predecessor had been severely wounded.
At that time, Lorance led his troops into a Taliban-infested territory, where their air support had indicated that there were enemy personnel were in the vicinity.
Jennifer Bucholtz reports what happened next.
While crossing a barricaded road designated only for military and police use, his platoon encountered a dreaded–and possibly deadly–threat: Three men on a motorcycle speeding directly towards them. Not only were the men driving on a prohibited road, but they ignored the platoon’s verbal shouts and hand signals commanding them to stop. They also fit the description of the enemy personnel as described by the overhead surveillance team. Fearing an impending ambush and/or vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, either of which could have resulted in the loss of additional men (his unit had already lost four soldiers), Lorance commanded his gunners to open fire on the motorcycle. The first shots missed the riders. The three Afghan men on the motorcycle roared through the platoon formation, then came to a halt nearby. All three dismounted and began walking aggressively towards Lorance’s troops, still ignoring commands to stop.
Not knowing whether the men might be armed with traditional weapons and/or suicide vests, he again gave permission to his men to open fire, resulting in the death of two of the Afghans. The third ran away but was found and detained later that day. His hands tested positive for homemade bomb-making materials residue, lending to the suspicion that he and his cohorts were preparing for an attack against American soldiers. Another local Afghan quickly retrieved the motorcycle from the scene and rode away on it before it could be collected as evidence or assessed for explosives.
While this kind of scenario has happened many times during both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this particular scenario resulted in Lorance being convicted of murder of the two Afghans. No charges were brought against his men, who not only opened fire against the Afghans, but who also testified against him.
While the Army claimed that the men on the motorcycles were not enemy combatants at Lorance’s court martial, Fox News reports, “new evidence in the case is leading to calls for clemency for Lorance. Anna Lorance said the family has not heard anything from the Army since Nov. 30, when their lawyer submitted papers seeking to have the conviction overturned. Lorance said new evidence obtained by the family’s lawyer indicates the men who were shot may actually have had ties to terrorism.”
According to Lorance’s mother, the Army withheld that information.
This man remains in prison while Bradley Manning will be released in a few weeks.
Jim Kouri reports on the update concerning Lt. Lorance:
The fight to correct the wrong perpetrated by the military justice system in the case of disgraced Lieutenant Clint Lorance — the U.S. Army’s former platoon leader in the war against the jihadists in Afghanistan — who was the victim of a politically-charged, wrongful court-martial. The young officer was declared guilty and imprisoned for doing his duty but now he has received morale boost, according to Col. Jamie Williamson, U.S. Army Special Forces (Ret.).
Col. Williams is the co-founder of OPSEC and a retired US Army Special Forces Colonel with over thirty-three years of service. He has served in the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Special Forces Group, and in a variety of Special Operations assignments.
California Congressman Duncan Hunter has personally written to President Donald Trump on behalf Lorance, requesting the pardon Barack Obama would not give. Hunter is a former U.S. Army Ranger who served as a platoon leader in Vietnam in 1969.
“This is great news, but as long as Lieutenant Lorance languishes in federal prison after the prosecution withheld key evidence of his innocence, we’ve got to keep applying as much pressure as we can,” said Rep. Hunter.
“A grave injustice has been done and we at OPSEC are determined to help Lieutenant Lorance receive the justice he deserves. And with a new Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon and a new President in the White House, we have a great opportunity to see this brave soldier set free,” said Col. Williamson.