Why Clint Lorance Deserves Clemency

Karen Vaughn Senior Military Families Advisor, Concerned Veterans for America
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Clint Lorance is the epitome of all that’s right in this world. The son of a welder, he grew up in a humble, middle-class household. A respectful, gentle, and tenderhearted man, Clint was always quick to open doors for ladies and offer a helping hand to the elderly or weak.

By twelve, he was mowing lawns to stow away money for college. When it came time to drive, he paid for his own truck and the insurance.

Clint frequently sent his mom flowers and gifts. He even paid her truck off a few years ago, just because he could.

Not long after his grandfather’s death in 1999, Clint began secretly depositing money into his grandmother’s bank account, doing his best to never take credit for it. These $250.00/month deposits continued for nearly eleven years.

Until Clint was incarcerated.

After serving 10 years with a spotless record in the U.S. Army — accolades at every evaluation — Clint found himself in the middle of a nightmare. With one split-second decision, this hero’s life was destroyed by the very military he gave himself to.

The account of that fateful day is best captured by Allen West in his October 14, 2013, op-ed, “Obama’s Military Contempt – The Outrageous Treatment of Clint Lorance”:

In July 2012, Lorance was ordered to take command of a platoon in the southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar … The platoon Lorance now commanded had lost its previous leader to enemy attack.

During a patrol … Lorance ordered a marksman to engage two unarmed Taliban fighters on a motorcycle operating as scout spotters.

In Afghanistan and Iraq, a common enemy tactic is for unarmed fighters on motorcycles with cell phones to track unit movements. In fact, enemy combatants had previously used the tactics against this same platoon.

Lorance … saw the scout spotters and assessed them as a threat to his platoon. Aerial surveillance later backed up Lorance’s on-the-ground assessment.

It seems obvious that enemy scouts reporting a unit position and movements in order to facilitate an ambush would define ‘hostile intent.’ But not according to the watered-down Rules of Engagement with which our warriors must contend.

Clint Lorance — the all-American boy who chose to sacrificially serve his nation — watched helplessly as his brilliant career and noble life of valor ended. On August 1, 2013, he was convicted of murder. And sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The travesty of justice doesn’t end there.

According to Clint’s attorney, the men who actually fired the shots received immunity in exchange for testifying against Clint. The judge, the prosecution, and the defense all agreed not to share this fact with the jury.

In addition, the identities, nationalities, and affiliations of the deceased military-aged males were not proven. The U.S. government twice intentionally refused to identify these men and a lieutenant colonel forbade the Criminal Investigation Division to interview villagers in the area where the incident occurred.

Shocking — to say the least.

I’m asking you to reject those who recklessly abandoned Clint and see him as he is — a casualty of war.

Our nation has spiraled out of control in an ever-growing desire to not only appease, but kiss the back side of our enemies. Clint’s incarceration is a haunting example.

The stark reality of the choices presented to Clint on that fateful day are mirrored in Marcus Luttrell’s best-selling book, “Lone Survivor”:

The truth is, in this kind of terrorist/insurgent warfare, no one can tell who’s a civilian and who’s not. … Half the time no one knows who the (expletive) enemy is, and by the time you find out, it might be too late to save your own life. … we have an extra element of fear and danger when we go into combat against the Taliban or al Qaeda — the fear of our own, the fear of what our own navy judge advocate general might rule against us, the fear of the American media and their unfortunate effect on American politicians.

On June 28, 2005, 19 Americans lost their lives by choosing caution over safety.

Should Clint have done the same?

America, we have a chance to redeem ourselves. If we can do nothing else, we can — at least — right this one wrong.

A clemency package — asking for the dismissal of all charges — now sits on the desk of Brigadier General Richard Clarke.

I’m placing my trust in the goodness of the American people. Make this message viral, as if Clint were your son. Contact General Clarke and respectfully ask him to grant Clint’s clemency. To end this nightmare.

Again, please offer the general the respect he’s due. He has done nothing wrong. We simply want to encourage him to do something very right.

As Clint’s mother so poignantly stated through tears of disbelief, “Clint would have never seen the inside of a prison cell had he not chosen to serve his country.”

We — the American public — brought Andrew Tahmooressi home through our persistent demands that Mexico release our innocent soldier.

It’s time to bring Clint home. He doesn’t deserve this.

Karen Vaughn is the Gold Star Mother of SOC, Navy SEAL, Aaron Vaughn – who was killed on August 6th, 2011, while serving in Afghanistan. After her son’s death, Karen and her husband Billy (Author of Betrayed) have dedicated themselves to defending America’s defenders. She is the founder of “For Our Son” and is an active voice for Concerned Veterans for America.

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Karen Vaughn