Clint Lorance Receives Clemency From President Trump

Clint Lorance Receives Clemency From President Trump

Clint Lorance Receives Clemency From President Trump

Late Friday, President Donald Trump issued clemency for three members of the American military. The three are: Major Mathew Golsteyn, 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance, and Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher. This post will focus on Lieutenant Lorance.

In July, 2012, Clint Lorance was the new Platoon Leader for 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. The previous platoon leader had been wounded and evacuated. Lorance was already in country and working in the FOB when he got tapped for PL. The New York Times reported what happened next:

Mr. Lorance was a rookie Army lieutenant who had been in command of a platoon in Afghanistan for two days in July 2012 when he ordered his troops to fire on unarmed villagers who posed no threat, killing two men. He then called in false reports over the radio to cover up what had happened. He was immediately turned in by his own men.

Mr. Lorance, whose story is the subject of a new documentary series, was convicted of second-degree murder by a court-martial in 2013, and he has been in prison since then, serving his sentence at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

I have been watching the Leavenworth documentary. The fifth and final episode will air this Sunday night. Up until I watched the documentary, I was convinced that Mr. Lorance’s conviction was an abomination. As the mother of an Army Captain, I have been concerned about the confused and unfair Rules of Engagement in the Global War on Terror. After watching the documentary and listening to the stories of his soldiers, I am convinced that Clint Lorance is guilty and should have completed his sentence.

Here is the trailer from the Leavenworth documentary:

Here is how the Army Times reported the aftermath:

“All these petitioners need to be shown what kind of man [Lorance] really is,” said a soldier who served as a team leader in Lorance’s platoon, who asked to speak on background because he is still on active duty. “This isn’t a soldier that went to war and gone done wrong. This is a soldier that had a taste for blood and wanted to have that fulfilled. And he did, but in the wrong way.”

Todd Fitzgerald, a former specialist and infantryman in Lorance’s platoon, said he felt betrayed by the lieutenant.

“I don’t believe that he really understood what he was getting into,” he said.

Fitzgerald testified during Lorance’s court-martial.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Of course, his family believes that Clint Lorance is a hero. Lt. Colonel Alan West is a strong supporter. He is not the only one. If you go to the Support Lt. Clint Lorance website, it reads like a who’s who of Conservatives.

I will never be in the situation in which Lt. Lorance found himself. I have no idea how I would react. President Trump may have evidence that we don’t. I have more faith in the experienced soldiers on the ground with Lorance. They turned in him.

It is unclear whether President Trump issued a full pardon or commuted the sentence of Lt. Lorance. Lorance was released from Leavenworth and is with his family.

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  • Kevin says:

    “Up until I watched the documentary, I was convinced that Mr. Lorance’s conviction was an abomination.”

    I’m curious to know if you know why it took this documentary for you to reconsider your initial impression of his guilt? What was (or wasn’t) disclosed in this case that initially lead you to believe he was wrongly indicted/convicted and what was disclosed in the documentary that changed your mind?

    • Toni Williams says:

      Great question, Kevin. When I first heard about this case, my son was a 1st lt. preparing for his first D to Afghanistan. My mother instinct said how dare they.

      I didn’t think about it again until I heard about the documentary. The first episode was very ambiguous. But, it raised questions.. So I started reading the details as outlined by the soldiers with Lorance that day. The more I read, the more I became convinced that his soldiers were right to report Lorance and that he did, indeed, give an illegal order and commit a war crime.


      • Kevin says:

        Thank you for replying. It’s so hard when you’re a part of something (like your military family experience) to think that someone who commits to upholding the constitution and the honorable values of our military and the nation to intentionally do something that goes against every fiber of those values. You don’t want to believe it because that’s not why people go into military service.

        I also agree with you that Mr. Trump should have never overturned these convictions. I don’t have the knowledge base you do about the specifics of the incident but on the surface when the fellow soldiers of the accused, the military leadership, and a military court convicts them, I have to believe there was ample evidence to do so and the decision wasn’t make cavalierly.

        Thank you.

      • There is a question left unanswered, however – and it does not involve the guilt or innocence of Lt. Lorance.

        WHY is the entire platoon NOT also serving time in Leavenworth? If this was a clearly illegal order, they have the duty to NOT follow it. Yet they did. “Just following orders” is not a defense for a “war crime.”

        The one giving the illegal order is, justly, subject to harsher punishment, but those carrying it out are not therefore absolved. Yet they were.

        There are reasonable exceptions made for those who have not experienced combat, are through no fault of their own unfamiliar with the environment they are in – but those who carried out the order are apparently not in that category, either, from the descriptions of them.

        Then – just one more question – what happened to the career of the superior officer who dropped a completely inexperienced officer into the command of an independently operating platoon? Anything? Demotion? Even a derogatory note in their evaluation?

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