By Debbie Gregory.
Ex-Army officer Clint Lorance is serving a 19-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for his role in the slayings of two unarmed Afghans.
In July 2012, Lorance found himself newly installed as the leader of a combat platoon in Afghanistan. Just three days into his tenure, three Afghan men on a single motorcycle approached his platoon’s position. A rifleman called out the threat and fired, but missed. Based on the rifleman’s threat assessment, Lorance radioed troops stationed in a nearby watch position to open fire. Two of the Afghan men were killed, while the third escaped.
In 2013, a court-martial jury found the 32-year-old Oklahoma native guilty of two counts of second-degree murder after nine members of the platoon he’d led in Afghanistan testified against him at his trial.
A campaign to free Lorance includes retired Army lieutenant colonel and former congressman Allen West, Marine veteran and Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, and talk show host Sean Hannity. They contend that Lorance is the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Was Lorance a hero who did what he believed was necessary to bring his men home alive or an
overzealous leader who was eager to get his hands?
One point that Lorance’s critics and supporters can agree on is that he was deeply suspicious of the local population. Whether Lorance was justified in addressing that perceived threat with violence is the question at the heart of his case.
No weapons were found on the two dead Afghans.
Lorance remains publicly optimistic, and he and his supporters have made it clear that the fight for his exoneration will continue.
Functioning in a combat zone requires rapid decision-making in situations with low or poor information. Making the wrong call can be dangerous, even deadly, for an officer and his men.
Did Lorance make the right call? What do you think?