Congressman Zinke Continues to Defend Soldier Convicted of Murder

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Given his desire to maintain his fundraising perch at Fox News, Montana’s Congressman Ryan Zinke is making some odd choices in order to appease the factually challenged hosts of the network’s shows. One of those choices is to take up the case of former Lieutenant Clint Lorance, who was convicted of two counts of murder for a shooting incident under in Afghanistan. Despite a full military court martial and subsequent review of the case, Zinke and two other conservative members of Congress are pushing for a review of the case outside of the normal military process—and demanding to see the evidence gathered if Lorance does not receive an appeal.

Lorance’s case has become a another talking point among conservatives on Fox and the right wing media who believe that pesky concepts like rules of engagement should not apply to American soldiers in combat zones. As Zinke and the other Congressman wrote in their letter, “the warfighter doesn’t always have the benefit of time, given lives are always at risk in a war zone,” suggesting that Lorance’s actions could be explained away by the circumstances he faced.

But a story in the New York Times demonstrates that it’s only politicians and conservative media who are defending Lorance, not the men who served under him. They report that his men not only didn’t support him, but testified against their lieutenant:

That chorus of supporters, however, is notable for what it lacks: members of the platoon itself. Though many members of the platoon have never publicly expressed their views of the case, nine came forward to testify against Mr. Lorance at his trial, and in interviews several have contradicted Mr. Lorance’s account of a split-second decision to protect his troops.

The Army Times quotes a current active duty solider who served with Lorance:

“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.”

The ongoing tragedy of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq doesn’t lend itself to easy analysis and just as we should take no pleasure in the loss of innocent lives in Afghanistan, no one should be happy that Mr. Lorance seems to have destroyed his own life in the conflict. That being said, Congressman Zinke should be far more selective about the conservative fringe causes he endorses so freely. Whether it’s calling for the impeachment of the President, advocating an invasion of Mexico, endorsing torture or defending a soldier who gunned down two unarmed men, threatened a village, and issued a false report about his actions, Zinke should realize that his office comes with the obligation to act in the interest of his constituents, not to appease the reactionary wing of the Republican Party.

And he probably should realize, given his time in the military, that he owes something to the kind of soldiers who served under Lorance, who did the right thing and represented the best traditions of American military service by refusing to fire on children and those who posed no threat to the unit. He ought to realize he owes something to Specialist Todd Fitzgerald who has to bear the psychological costs every time someone defends his former lieutenant:

“We gave a lot, sacrificed a lot. To see it destroyed, that was bad enough,” he said. “Every time a new story calling him a hero happens, I don’t sleep. I lay down in my bed and close my eyes and lay there all night until the sun comes up.”

Surely that matters more than appealing to Sean Hannity or raising a few dollars for his future campaigns.

 

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

4 Comments

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  • It seems that Lorance was a nutjob, just like Dinky the Barking Seal! And this is what happens when you go with an all professional Army! It becomes a haven and refuge for psychopaths looking for a home! (and kids who just need a job because of a poor economy) And what the hell, it’s a damn good way to cull the REAL psychos for your police forces when they get out! You see, one of the hardest things for a fascist government to do is to find men willing to fire on their own people! For a normal person, it’s damn near impossible to kill your own countrymen, as China found out in the Tianmen Square riots. They had to bring in outside forces from the outer provinces that had no ties to the city to do the actual killing. Our nation’s military is doing a great job of recruiting and training psychos who enjoy killing, and to what end will this all play out? I don’t want to speculate. I mean, look at the liar and psychopath american sniper dude. He claimed to have ENJOYED murdering innocent people! THAT’S NOT NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIOR! And now, he’s held up as some kind of patriotic hero! Makes me sick! He would have made a perfect cop!
    Sad that Montana elected this idiot Dinky the Barking Seal. He has NO real ties to Montana other than having been born here. He’s a sole product of the military industrial complex of murder! Maybe Dinky can get the Lege to pass a bill honoring Lt. Wm. Calley! Why not?! If you’re going to honor murders, lets go all the way! USA! USA! USA!
    (can we stop teaching history classes in high school altogether now? let’s just replace it with fascism and be done with it!) Here’s more on this dude. Problem is, even a war situation, murder is still murder!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/us/jailed-ex-army-officer-has-support-but-not-from-his-platoon.html?_r=0

    • Come ON, Dinky! How ’bout a day honoring this OTHER hero?! But thanks for looking out for every idiot OUT there in the military! That’s what we sent you there for, dufus! Yes, you’re an idiot, but we STILL expect you to NOT act like an idiot when you’re representing us! You’re still in bed with baldy, the dude with his own “cia”, aren’t you? It shows!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre

    • Here’s Newty being penetrated by the evil Jihadi Mooslim raghead dudes! PuhhLEEZE don’t let this happen to Newty again! Do NOT vote for Billary! Keep Murca and Newty Getrich SAFE for inbreds everwhere!

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