Lt Clint Lorance—A Case of Military Injustice
US Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance was court-martialed and sentenced to prison for ordering his platoon to fire at 3 Afghan citizens, killing 2 of them. He was doing his job, nothing more or less, but our nation’s goofy rules-of-engagement and aggressive Army lawyers resulted in him being charged and convicted. His sentencing sparked national debate on patriotism and crimes in today’s wars. “Leavenworth” comes from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, which is a close and balanced look at his case, offering voices from Clint, his family, the platoon soldiers and numerous war experts. Lorance is currently serving 19 years in US Penitentiary, Leavenworth.
Lorance seeks to overturn his conviction, provoking emotional debate between supporters and detractors that rises to the national stage. As determinations on Lorance’s fate unfold, questions probe not only the merits of his conviction, but analyze the system at large and ultimately test the balance of guilt and innocence in the inscrutable circumstances of today’s wars.
“Leavenworth” premiered on Sunday, October 20th at 9:30pm ET/PT on STARZ.
The President and War
On the show we have often discussed the concept of the separation of powers, which James Madison crafted as integral to the Constitution. That concept mandates that Congress writes the laws, the president enforces them, the courts decide what they mean and interpret them, and the three branches of government don’t step on each other’s toes.
The separation of powers also recognizes that the Constitution reposes unique authority in each branch and, at times, in each house of Congress. For example, only the Senate can confirm judges and ambassadors and ratify treaties. Only the House can impeach high-ranking executive branch officials and federal judges. Only Congress can declare war, and only the president can decide how to use the military to fight a declared war.
The war powers are clearly articulated in the plain language of the Constitution itself — Congress declares and the president wages. Madison himself argued that if the president could both declare and wage wars, he’d not be a president but a prince. This distinction between declaring and waging was recognized for nearly 200 years, until Congress muddied the waters in 1973 by enacting the War Powers Resolution.
That law permits the president to wage any war against any foreign enemy without a congressional declaration of war for 90 days. This is clearly unconstitutional; the Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that the branches of the federal government cannot cede away powers that have been firmly fixed by the Constitution.
Leaker or Whistleblower
The Trump “Whistleblower” has raised the question – what is the difference between a leaker and a whistleblower? Harvard has weighed in to answer some of those questions with a journalism / legal perspective to explain the basis in Federal law – 31 U.S.C. 3729. In this author’s perspective, this explanation is a fundamental difference in the Trump case; however, the label Whistleblower appears to be overused.
Understand the differences between whistleblowers and “leakers.”
A few years ago, the Society of Professional Journalists worked with the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, to create a guide to educate journalists about whistleblowers. The 36-page guide outlines the differences between a whistleblower and a so-called “leaker” – two terms that, according to the guide, “are often used interchangeably as a way of discrediting the source of potentially-damning information.”
In the US, whistleblowers generally are protected by law from retaliation, but sometimes risk their careers and safety to share what they know.
“Leakers release information about the inner workings of the government agency or corporation they work for, often for political gain, to curry favor, or to test policies,” the guide explains. “Whistleblowers are workers who release information that shows serious wrongdoing, mismanagement, waste or other abuses of public trust.”
Quote for the Day
This is both a good quote and a warning:
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” – Voltaire
Pulling out of Syria was a Good Move
President Trump’s decision to withdraw our few troops from the Syria-Turkey border area earned him considerable criticism from allies. Senator Lindsey Graham said the decision is “a catastrophe in the making.” Representative Lin Cheney said it’s “a catastrophic mistake.” Former UN Secretary Nikki Haley said, “We must always have the backs of our allies.”
President Trump has answered these critics. The Kurds were engaged in a contractual relationship fighting the Islamic State (ISIS). They were well paid and equipped for their fighting, much like any mercenary group. Further, they were given three years to consolidate eastern Syria to feed their long-held desire to form an independent Kurdistan with other Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. They failed.
The Kurds’ problem, and by association that of the US, is that regional powers like Turkey and to a lesser extent Iran and Syria have long held the Kurds in disdain. In fact, Turkey considers the Syrian Kurds to be allies of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or (PKK), which are Turkish Kurds and terrorists fighting for independence for the last 35 years.
And, it’s clear from their breaking of the peace treaty that Turkey is our enemy; they clearly share none of our values.
Here is a list of the world’s 19 best WWII museums and historical sites.
The Cold War’s Strangest Weapons
The Cold War was one of the most trying times for both Americans and Russians, who constantly lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation. If they only knew about the other weapons the superpowers were coming up with, no one would ever have slept at night.
The struggle against Communism was a field day for weapons manufacturers and government war planners. It seemed the military was open to almost anything that could kill or stymie the Russian menace.
Funny Military Photos
These were obviously funny/silly shots taken by military folks with props circa 1912-1945.
The VA’s Mishandling of Personal Information
The Department of Veterans Affair’s Office of Inspector General found in its latest report that veterans’ sensitive personal information was stored unprotected on two servers, which OIG staff say might expose vets to fraud and identity theft.
In a report, OIG staff investigated a veterans service organization officer’s complaint that medical records linked to veterans’ names, Social Security numbers or date and place of birth were accessible remotely by anyone authorized to access the drives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — a violation of VA security policy.
“The files the OIG team observed contained medical records, correspondence about medical examinations and disability claims decisions, and veterans’ statements in support of their claims,” staff said in the report. “These files dated back as far as 2016 and were available to any network users with permission to access the drives, regardless of their business need to do so.”
The OIG labeled the problem a “national issue” because it found the problems stretched beyond the Milwaukee VA regional office.
Gun, oops, Rifle Control – or Knife Control
When it comes to gun control, proponents of increasing regulation on gun ownership rely on emotionalism and drama to bolster their position.
When it comes to actual data, their arguments quickly fall flat.
According to FBI crimes stats for 2018, over five times as many people were killed with knives and/or other cutting instruments as were killed with rifles.
The data shows a total of 1,515 deaths with knives and/or cutting instruments, which is considerably more than the 297 deaths by rifles in 2018.
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman JCS
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez will be the next senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defense officials said.
“Our brothers and sisters in service are in the best hands possible with our newest Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Chairman,” said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright in a Facebook post. “I’m proud to say that Chief CZ, our SEAC #4, is a friend and an exceptional leader.”
Colon-Lopez, currently the senior enlisted leader for US Africa Command, joined the Air Force in 1990 and served as an air traffic controller before becoming a pararescueman. He will replace Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, who has served as the SEAC since December 2015.
Troxell gained popularity among soldiers and on social media during his term for his straightforward messages. In January 2018 on Twitter, he told the Islamic State group that they needed to surrender or die, even if it meant beating them to death with shovels.
He was temporarily removed last year after an investigation by the Army Inspector General found that he improperly used military personnel to carry out tasks and improperly endorsed commercial fitness and nutrition products on military social media accounts.
Troxell was reinstated in March after Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he had weighed the gravity of the ethics violations against Troxell’s 37 years of military service, which included five combat tours.
Colon-Lopez will be the first airman to serve in the position. His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and two Bronze Star Medals with Valor, according to his biography.
The SEAC position, created in 2005, is the senior noncommissioned officer in the US armed forces. The SEAC is appointed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to serve as an adviser on all matters involving joint and combined total force integration, utilization, health of the force and joint development for enlisted personnel.
The Army’s New Fitness Test
Here is a short article presenting some facts about the failure rates of soldiers who have specifically been training for the new ACFT. Ouch. I always thought one of the beauties of the old test was that it was straight-forward, simple and could be run anywhere at any time.
Civilians Dying in Afghanistan
Afghan civilians are dying in record numbers in the country’s increasingly brutal war, noting that more civilians died in July than in any previous one-month period since the UN began keeping statistics, according to a UN report.
The report also said that, for the first time this year, insurgents were responsible for more casualties than US and pro-government forces.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, said neither side is doing enough to protect civilians.
The report said 2,563 civilians were killed and 5,676 were wounded in the first nine months of this year. Insurgents were responsible for 62 percent. July to September were the deadliest months so far this year.
“Civilian casualties at record-high levels clearly show the need for all parties concerned to pay much more attention to protecting the civilian population, including through a review of conduct during combat operations,” said Yamamoto.
“Civilian casualties are totally unacceptable, especially in the context of the widespread recognition that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan” he added.
The UN report said that pro-government forces caused 2,348 civilian casualties, including 1,149 killed and 1,199 wounded, a 26% increase from the same period in 2018.
China and the NBA and others
The NBA has come under severe criticism for bending over backward to appease the Chinese government after Beijing threatened the league with severe economic consequences over one pro-Hong Kong tweet.
But we must remember, the NBA and its teams are just the latest victims of the Chinese government’s efforts to force US companies to do its political bidding. The US government must help US companies resist becoming complicit in Beijing’s repression.
Read More HERE
Soldiers could get an opportunity to remain longer at duty stations of their choice under a policy pushed by new Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.
The traditional “industrial-age” system that can require moves every three years is out of place in an information-age Army, McConville said.
“I don’t see why people can’t stay four, five, six, seven, eight, nine years,” McConville said to a packed audience of military families at the Association of the US Army’s annual exposition and convention.
“You all helped us by bringing to the attention of the chain of command where there are issues,” McConville told the families, and the burden and hassle of frequent permanent changes of station, or PCS, was one of them.
McConville said he also wanted to limit PCS moves that can occur outside the peak summer moving season.
“People will say, hey, during the summer — that’s when the peak season is — so some people say we’ll move soldiers off-peak. I don’t sign up for that,” McConville said.
McConville noted that he and his wife, Marie, had made 22 moves during their Army career, and the moves were made more difficult when school was in session.
“I sign up for making less moves [and] stabilizing people longer, but we’re not going to have the soldier moving in March and the kids getting pulled out of school,” he said.
The 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China was not a birthday I felt like celebrating.
As Dutch historian Frank Dikotter has shown in his searing three-volume history of the Mao Zedong era, the Communist regime claimed the lives of tens of millions of people: 2 million in the revolution between 1949 and 1951, another 3 million by the end of the 1950s, up to 45 million in the man-made famine known as the “Great Leap Forward,” and yet more in the mayhem of the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s campaign against the intelligentsia, which escalated into a civil war. Yes, China has some real problems—problems they’ve had for some time.
Read More HERE
The Army must invest in STEM education and interactive learning for its JROTC programs to ensure the next generation of recruits have the knowledge and skills to succeed, Brig. Gen. John Evans said at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington, DC.
The AUSA show floor was full of vendors marketing the future of military equipment and software. Evans, however, focused on the future of recruiting and how the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, aimed at high schoolers, should adapt to global changes.
“We have had far superior weapons systems to the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians or the North Koreans,” he said. “But that gap is rapidly closing. So what separates us from them? The answer is people.”
Evans said partners like Vex Robotics have become more involved in the JROTC curriculum over the years. The Vex program is designed to teach students about advanced robotics and includes competitions at the local regional and occasionally the national level.
As a guy who took Junior ROTC in high school in the 1950s, this sounds really cool.
Doomsday Plane vs Bird
A Navy doomsday aircraft that would play a vital communication role in the event of a nuclear war had one of its four engines replaced this month after it struck a bird at a Maryland air station.
An E-6B Mercury, a nuclear command-and-control plane, hit the bird at Naval Air Station Patuxent River on Oct. 2. The aircraft, which belongs to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Twenty, was landing on a runway while conducting a touch-and-go, said Tim Boulay, a spokesman for Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.
Touch-and-go landings are a routine part of aviators’ training in which they land and take off again without stopping.
Boulay said the aircraft landed safely after the bird strike around 3:12 p.m. There were no injuries reported.
“The engine has been replaced, and the aircraft has been returned to service,” he said.
He declined to answer several other questions about the incident, including how many people were on board and what kind of bird the plane struck, citing the ongoing investigation into the mishap.
The Naval Safety Center classified the incident as a Class-A mishap, which means there was at least $2 million in damage to the aircraft.
This is at least the second Class-A mishap for an E-6B Mercury in 2019. In February, one of the planes clipped a hangar as it was being moved at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. That incident also led to millions of dollars in damages.
Read More HERE
When members of our Armed Forces are sworn in, we all take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the US against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The entire document, including all amendments, takes slightly less than 7600 words. We veterans and, indeed, all patriots, should read this document over and over again. It’s not complicated.
Our Declaration of Independence promises us ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Our Constitution is designed to deliver on that promise. Note it’s the free pursuit of happiness that the government promises us—not happiness. We have to get that for ourselves.
There are two national organizations that are focused on making our nation aware of, and practicing, the Constitution—and I’m active in both of them. First is Concerned Veterans for America (cv4a.org). Then, there’s Combat Veterans for Congress (CVC.org).
God Loves Us
Scott McChrystal is a retired Army Colonel, Chaplain. Here are some of his insights that I think you’ll find appropriate.
Retired Navy CAPT Joe John has done many things in his life; I’ve asked him to share a few words of wisdom with us:
Civil War History
Here are some questions on the Civil War; we’ll post the answers in the next newsletter.
Here are the answers to the last issue’s questions:
1.What was the “The Burning?”
Under specific orders from General Grant to destroy anything of military value in the Shenandoah Valley, Union forces destroyed by fire thousands of barns and livestock, mills, and homes. The Burning lasted 13 days and ended on 13 October 1864.
2.What gesture did MG Sheridan make to assist those affected by The Burning?
What gesture did MG Sheridan make to assist those affected by The Burning?
He offered the use of 400 wagons for those affected. These were used but many families chose to remain despite the harsh conditions. The winter weather of 18 64 – 1865 was one of the worst for the Valley.
Here are the new questions:
1. Which southern states had at least one unit fight for the Union?
2. What famous American literary icon served briefly in the Marion County Missouri Confederate Rangers?
3. At the battle of Chancellorsville, along what major thoroughfare was General Jackson’s (CSA) attack made on the Union right flank?
Here are the top ten military bagpipe marching songs. If you didn’t know, I really like bagpipes.
If you’d like to have a Frontlines of Freedom shirt or hat or whatever, we do have it for you. Check our store at http://fof.logoshop.com/
Two quotes to consider.
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.
The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.:
Programming: You’ll want to tune into the show (live or by podcast).
26 Oct -1 Nov: Colonel Allen West will discuss what House of Representatives is not doing—and should be doing—because they’re too busy trying to impeach the President. Then two Navy vets and authors, Jeff Wilson and Brian Andrews will discuss their latest series of combat novels. Next, we’ll review the Movie of the Month with Diane Raver from the Garden State Film Festival. And we’ll review the previous week’s Service Academy Football games.
2-8 Nov: Mike Haynie, the Exec Director and Founder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, located at Syracuse, will discuss how they support our families. Marine vet and VA whistleblower Brando Coleman will bring us up to date on the way the VA is now abusing whistleblowers. And we’ll review the previous week’s Service Academy Football games.
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Humor I got this from a retired Army guy. Yes, from the south.
His name was Bubba, he was from Mississippi … And he needed a loan, So… He walked into a bank in New York City and asked for the loan Officer.
He told the loan officer that he was going to Paris for an International redneck festival for two weeks and needed to borrow $5,000; and that he was not a depositor of the bank.
The bank officer told him that the bank would need some form of security for the loan, so the Redneck handed over the keys to a new Ferrari. The car was parked on the street in front of the bank. The Redneck produced the title and everything checked out. The loan officer agreed to hold the car as collateral for the loan and apologized for having to charge 12% interest.
Later, the bank’s president and its officers all enjoyed a good laugh at the Redneck from the South for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral for a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then drove the Ferrari into the bank’s private underground garage and parked it.
Two weeks later, the Redneck returned, repaid the $5,000 and the interest of $23.07. The loan officer said, “Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled.
While you were away, we checked you out on Dunn & Bradstreet and found that you are a Distinguished Alumni from Ole Miss University, a highly sophisticated investor and Multi-Millionaire with real estate and financial interests all over the world. Your investments include a large number of wind turbines around Sweetwater, Texas.
What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?”The good ‘ole boy replied, “Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $23.07 and expect it to be there when I return?”
His name was BUBBA….
Keep an eye on those southern boys!
A Couple Interesting Photos – and A Funny One Too
Seniors and handicapped people can extend cross time for this 8 lane highway.
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Lt. Col. Denny Gillem (Ret.)