Should LTC Lakin expect justice from DoD or has the Pentagon fallen prey to pervasive political correctness? - By Margaret Hemenway
But Army prosecutors have already argued that LTC Lakin, defending himself against criminal charges, has no right to evidence he needs at trial- i.e. evidence related to Obama’s original 1961 birth record. They claim the issue is political, in Army legal jargon, “nonjudiciable.” Why then do officers take an oath to support and defend the Constitution? And what about the chain of command- is there a break somewhere between servicemembers in uniform and their elected civilian leadership? Why did Obama address the subject of civilian control when General McChrystal was forced to resign? How can Army brass say, with a straight face, that the Commander in Chief’s legality (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with soldiers deploying to Afghanistan?
There have been other courts-martial in recent history which reflected poorly on the DoD and its civilian leadership. During World War II, the Japanese sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis constituted the greatest naval disaster during the war. The Navy had denied destroyer escort to the ship; the government had denied the Ultra intelligence to the commander that an enemy submarine was in the ship’s path-- and the enormous loss of life from the Japanese torpedo was largely attributable not to the enemy attack, but to the Navy’s failure to track ships coming into port; therefore the missing warship went un-noticed—a pilot who spotted the oil slick was the only reason that survivors were rescued after 4 grueling days at sea.
What did the Pentagon do in response to this catastrophe?- it court-martialed the USS Indianapolis' decorated commander, Captain Charles McVay—who had been trusted to deliver atomic bomb components to Tinian Island. The Captain was court-martialed for exercising the discretion the Navy gave him as a commander to zig-zag his ship (a submarine evasion maneuver)- he was accused of hazharding his ship by failing to zigzag. To add insult to injury, the Navy flew to the states the Japanese submarine commander to testify against Captain McVay. In 2002, the Congress belatedly exonerated this war hero- who had committed suicide later in his life, wearing his naval uniform with a memento from his crew.
In April, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, addressing an Air Force Academy audience at Colorado Springs about leadership and character, referenced two officers who faced courts-martial- Billy Mitchell, and Hap Arnold, both advocates for air power, but despite their visionary views, were subject to ridicule and contempt. SecDef Gates mentioned that Mitchell and Arnold "pressed ahead in the face of incredibly fierce institutional resistance" and noted that, "One of the reasons they were successful at championing their ideas is that they were always willing to speak truth to power."
Many in uniform regularly demonstrate courage in combat--as one Marine fighter pilot described it, the kind of bravery that comes with the DNA- but moral courage is a different variety- it’s deciding to put yourself at risk when not confronting imminent danger or defending oneself—it is making a proactive, conscious decision to put yourself in harm’s way. This is the type of decision LTC Lakin made- one which could mean a sentence of four or more years at hard labor at Fort Leavenworth prison- and separation from family and loved ones- a duration of time longer than any American soldier would expect to serve overseas, even during wartime.
Today, LTC Lakin follows in that great tradition of which SecDef Gates spoke- of speaking truth to power. Military officers are all required to take an oath—not to the President and Commander in Chief- but to the U.S. Constitution. It is loyalty to the rule of law that is required of the officer- and officers are trained to learn the difference between a lawful v. an illegal order. LTC Lakin’s conscience dictated that he go public with his request to see President Obama’s original birth certificate after attempts to seek answers from within his chains of command and also through his Congressional delegation, failed to unearth the truth. He realized that no one wanted to confront the disturbing reality- that there is no evidence that the President/CINC, with responsibility over all the U.S. Armed Forces and the codes to the fearsome U.S. nuclear arsenal, is legally serving. Obama's lawyers, at his directive, continue to conceal all records which would shed light on his citizenship and "natural born" status.
The media continues to downplay or ignore developments in the President's Constitutional eligibility dispute-- including acknowledgement by Hawaii elections official Tim Adams (his position as chief elections clerk during the 2008 election was confirmed by a State of Hawaii official) that Obama may not have been born in the Aloha State, as major print media and liberal pundits have insisted—and as claimed by Hawaii’s State Health Director. Mr. Adams publicly declared that everyone in his office knew Obama had no “long form” birth certificate- the type that candidate McCain produced- and which contains a doctor’s signature and hospital name. Yet a CNN poll in mid-July revealed that 6 out of 10 Americans aren't certain where the President was born, a credit to the relentless probing and blogging by the "eligibility" movement-- and networking through the internet. Similarly, the establishment media largely ignored a Missouri Senate candidate and veteran- Hector Maldonado- who was required to present his citizenship paperwork to the Secretary of State (or be withdrawn from the ballot). Maldonado learned that Obama, when he filed to run for another federal office (the Presidency) in Missouri, apparently was not required to meet the same standard of proof.
The birth certificate controversy clearly weighs on Obama's mind- he continually raises it- at the national prayer breakfast earlier this year where he entwined it with the subject of his faith (perhaps hoping Americans may not remember that he can be any religion but must be "natural born" per the Constitution to be President) and again during an interview on August 29th with NBC's Brian Williams, where he quipped (in a non sequitur since the question was largely about his faith): “I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead."
Will LTC Lakin's court-martial become a watershed moment? So far, the Congress, with a few notable exceptions, has shrunk from confronting this explosive issue. There would be a lot of blame to go around and a lot of scalps at risk- for letting a candidate accede to the's nation's highest office without proper vetting. But respected, high-ranking military officers are stepping up in defense of LTC Lakin- MG Paul Vallely, MG Jerry Curry and Lt GEN McInerney. These men recognize that facing court-martial for demanding proof that orders are lawful was an act of bravery and consistent with LTC Lakin’s oath to support and defend the Constitution. Soldiers trained and armed with weapons were given the enormous responsibility of being guardians not just of the nation, but of the Constitution. The Navy was reprimanded by Congress far too late to save the honor and reputation of Captain McVay; other heroes like Billy Mitchell never won the credit they deserved during their service years- but today, the Army needs to be warned against perpetrating a similar injustice against LTC Lakin. It would nice for a change to recognize heroic achievements when they happen- not years or decades later. With this court-martial, the Constitution and the rule of law hang in the balance.
Mrs. Hemenway is a retired federal employee who served extensively in the U.S. House and Senate and the Pentagon.
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Previous reports on LTC Terry Lakin can be found here. Visit the Birther Vault for the long list of people questioning Obama's eligibility; [http://obamareleaseyourrecords.blogspot.com/2010/08/video-ltc-terry-lakins-attorney-on-cnn.html].
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