On October 1, former Navy Lieutenant Commander and 22-year veteran Montel Williams addressed a congressional committee on the subject of Afghan war veteran and US marine, Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi. Tahmooressi was imprisoned by Mexican authorities in March 2014 after mistakenly veering into Mexican territory while driving along a poorly lit section of the border and was found to be in possession of firearms, illegal under Mexican law, but permitted under US law. In an impassioned plea punctuated by heartfelt emotion, Williams drew the logical conclusion concerning the Obama administration’s handling of the matter – that the government is unconcerned about the fate of its soldiers.
For six months, the administration has allowed a marine, diagnosed with PTSD, to languish in a Mexican jail when one phone call from the Commander-in-Chief could liberate him. Instead, the administration has allowed Tahmooressi’s case to wind its way through the notoriously corrupt and bureaucratic Mexican justice system. While the administration’s handling – or rather mishandling – of the Tahmooressi case can at best be described as neglectful, its handling of the case involving another US soldier is downright Kafkaesque and malevolent.
In July 2012 First Lieutenant and platoon commander Clint Lorance was leading his platoon on a patrol in Kandahar in an area known to be a hotbed of insurgent activity. Lt. Lorance was informed by pilots who reconnoitered the area that motorcycle-mounted Taliban terrorists were active in the vicinity. The Taliban routinely employ motorcycles to track US patrols. Moments later, Lorance spotted Afghans riding motorcycles near his patrol. With the information that he already had at his disposal and with the safety of his platoon being paramount, Lorance immediately made a command decision during the fog of war and ordered one of his snipers to neutralize what he considered to be a threat to the well-being of his men. Two Afghans, later found to be unarmed, were killed.
What happened next could have been taken out of a chapter from Orwell’s 1984. Shortly following the incident, Lorance was stripped of his weapon and assigned a desk job. In January 2013, he was charged with murder in connection with the incident and in August 2013, a military court found him guilty of murder and violating the army’s Rules of Engagement and handed down a 20-year sentence.
Lorance is a hero who volunteered to put his life on the line for the cause of freedom and to serve his nation. His lengthy army service has shown him to be nothing but an exemplary soldier whose service record is peppered with commendations and citations. But instead of being treated like a hero, he is treated like a criminal by the very government he swore to protect.
Nothing saps the morale of an army more than knowing that its government doesn’t have its back. This case, as well as the Tahmooressi case, demonstrates with utmost clarity that the Obama administration at best, doesn’t give a damn about its soldiers. A more cynical approach would suggest that the administration is actually working to undermine the morale of its troops.
Some might find these truths too hard to swallow. After all, why would the president keep the United States embroiled in the longest war of its history and then work to actively undermine the ability of the United States servicemen and women to perform their mission? A logical question, indeed. But when one takes a closer look at Obama’s foreign policy, where enemies are coddled and friends are distanced, nothing this administration does seems logical.
Consider also the case of Bowe Bergdahl, a confirmed deserter and possible collaborator, who placed members of his own unit in jeopardy after they launched a frantic search for him. The Obama administration, without informing Congress, released five hardened Taliban terrorists, who will likely return to terror and place additional US personnel in danger, to gain Bergdahl’s release. Heroes are prosecuted and allowed to languish in foreign prisons while Obama places his priorities on releasing deserters for hardened criminals.
During his impassioned address to the committee, Montel informed the members that his 21-year-old son had asked him if he should join the military, to which he responded, “No, because our government doesn’t respect you enough.” Sadly, Montel’s assessment hits the proverbial nail squarely on its head.
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