Afghanistan

Justice will be served only when President Trump pardons Army SGT Derrick Miller

Sergeant First Class Jason Tinelle put his troops back on 100% alert. Sergeant Derrick Miller had pulled a trigger and an enemy insurgent lay dead within friendly lines. Miller immediately reported the shooting. It was September 26, 2010.

When asked, Tinelle deployed to Afghanistan and was bumped up from Platoon Sergeant to Platoon Leader. (There was a shortage of Lieutenants.) He was 10 months in command of the platoon. It was his fourth combat tour (Miller’s third) and his second tour of Afghanistan after the Gulf War and Bosnia. He had served as his infantry company’s First Sergeant during his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2005. He had been an Infantryman for 20 years.

It would soon be dark and Tinelle believed an enemy attack was imminent. He would soon come to believe Miller’s actions had saved many American lives.

He was correct on both counts.

A battalion of the 1-102nd Infantry Regiment was conducting Operation Iron Locust II in the next valley over. The platoon’s mission was to provide security for the battalion’s 81-millimeter mortars. They were to protect themselves in line with the Rules of Engagement. The mission had begun two days earlier. The MP platoon patrolling the adjacent main supply route (MSR) had linked up with them. A squad of Afghanistan National Army (ANA) was also with them; whose side they were on remains an open question.

Prior to the mission, military intelligence stated the enemy would likely infiltrate their perimeter.

The platoon, mortar team, ANA, and MPs occupied a high point around a large school building during the evening of the 25th. The mortar team advised Tinelle that the two nearby villages to their “10 and 12 o’clock” harbored Taliban.

Less than an hour before the attack, Tinelle was inside his command truck utilizing its equipment to track the battalion’s and supporting unit’s movements.

A subordinate alerted Miller to Atta wandering around inside the platoon’s perimeter and conversing with the ANA – it was their country, he could do that, and those were the rules.

That soldier and another NCO confirmed that Atta was the same guy found driving a truck at their MSR checkpoint the day before. In the back were four likely Taliban, all armed with AK-47s, ammunition, and a laptop. SGT Miller’s civilian job was as an armed Department of Defense Security Guard at Fort Detrick, Maryland. “99% of [the] job” at that highly secured base was checking identifications. Miller thought theirs looked “either homemade or extremely sketchy” and recommended they all be detained. The NCO in charge of the checkpoint decided they had the proper paperwork and released them.

Atta drove off directly towards the valley where the battalion was conducting combat operations. Now – nearing sundown on the 26th – Atta Mohammed was within the platoon’s security perimeter claiming he was there to fix the electricity. But he had no tools.

SGT Miller suspected Atta was an enemy insurgent scouting the platoon’s positions for targets.

He informed the Platoon Sergeant who approved further questioning. Miller took Atta into the latrine, accompanied by one soldier and the interpreter, drew a 9mm Beretta pistol, and again asked what Atta was doing there. Atta replied he was there to fix some plumbing. Caught in a lie, Atta grabbed SGT Miller’s pistol. Miller “pushed through his grip” and shot him in self-defense.

The ensuing commotion outside the command truck caused SFC Tinelle to order a full alert. He knew SGT Miller to be a top soldier. Yet SOP required that the incident be investigated. He asked the MPs to take Miller into custody; he was secured in one of their vehicles.

The squad of outraged and threatening ANA then went and hid behind the latrine. Obviously, Atta was not there as an electrician and plumber just “breaking bread and drinking tea together” with the ANA as the prosecution later contended; he came to warn them.

Just after dark, the Taliban executed a coordinated, horseshoe-shaped attack with RPGs and machineguns. They concentrated their assault-by-fire on the platoon’s two command trucks. The Taliban had scouted their positions. The attack was not in reprisal by villagers for Atta’s “murder.” It would have taken hours to sneak into position undetected during daylight.

They struck back at the enemy with everything they had. An American helicopter gunship fired all its weapons at the attackers and then flew off to re-arm. They fought on. The attack broke. And the platoon was ordered to withdraw.

Backing up, here is why Tinelle believes Miller’s actions saved lives:

“By the 26th, the platoon had conducted continuous operations for two days. The battalion was ex-filtrating. The platoon needed some rest while awaiting further orders. Prior to the shooting, the platoon was only at 50% security of the perimeter. The other men were resting, eating, and were not in the trucks. After the shooting, I ordered 100% security; we mounted and buttoned up our trucks. That is why we did not sustain mass casualties during the attack. If we were still at 50% security, men would have been outside their vehicles and could have been hit by the RPG and machinegun fire.”

SGT Miller was sentenced to life in prison at Fort Leavenworth with the possibility of parole.

SFC Tinelle was not called to testify as an expert in enemy tactics at Miller’s court martial. He did testify as to Miller’s character: He had been meritoriously promoted to Sergeant for his stellar performance as a M240-machine gunner, platoon trainer in new equipment, and as a team leader. In addition, Miller had previously served two tours in Iraq, volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, and spent 24 of the previous 48 months in combat zones.

SGT Miller was no murderer.

While known for his coolness under fire during that deployment – especially during the previous six months of almost daily fights with the Taliban – Miller also handed out candy to kids, kicked soccer balls around with them, and took care of his soldiers. SFC Tinelle believed SGT Miller would someday make Command Sergeant Major, the Army’s highest enlisted rank.

The Afghan National Police (ANP) in the area were called to investigate the shooting against the advisement of the MPs who said they were known to work with the local Taliban. What the ANP did with Atta’s body is anyone’s guess. No photographs of it were provided. No autopsy was conducted. Photographs of the scene taken by the ANP did not include Atta’s body.

U.S. Army CID did not conduct what can be called an investigation.

The soldier witness to the shooting twice made sworn statements confirming SGT Miller’s account of the shooting; he changed his story when threatened with being charged as an accessory to murder and held over past the end of his National Guard service date. The interpreter refused to make a statement at all unless he and his family were flown to the States and granted U.S. citizenship.

SGT Miller’s chain of command and Army prosecutors took it from there.

The interpreter claimed Atta had been shot in the right temple. That conflicted with another U.S. soldier’s testimony (he checked Atta for vitals) that Atta had been shot in the left temple. Miller was right-handed and both he and the soldier witness swore SGT Miller interrogated Atta face-to-face.

Did the interpreter actually witness SGT Miller shoot Atta for no reason? Or did he see Atta grab the gun and just testify he did not grab it in order to keep his Visa from being revoked and him sent packing back to Afghanistan? One of the MPs guarding the interpreter and escorting him around the base before and during the court martial stated he pretty much admitted to her that he’d testify to anything they asked in order to remain here. She offered to testify for the defense but was not allowed to do so. The interpreter was the prosecution’s star witness.

SGT Miller testified in his own defense. Yet without definitive forensic evidence one way or the other, the court martial members (the jury) had only his word against the words of two “eyewitnesses.” They found Miller guilty of premeditated murder.

Dishonored but unbowed, Miller hugged his family, shook hands with former platoon mates, and was taken off in hand and leg-irons to grow old or die in prison.

It took 8 years, yet his wonderful mother Renee Myers never lost faith. She raised a small army of supporters and lobbied every politician in Maryland and the United States Congress who would listen.

Defense counsel LtCol Colby Vokey, USMC (Ret.), took up the case and filed SGT Miller’s request that his conviction be reduced to voluntary manslaughter. The board instead reduced his sentence to 20 years. Vokey immediately filed for a parole hearing. United American Patriots rallied support (www.UAP.org).

In February of this year, at Derrick’s hearing, Renee testified about her son’s character. The CEO of United American Patriots, LtCol David “Bull” Gurfein, USMCR (Ret.), testified on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people who have provided support for Derrick – and who will continue to do so.

Two Congressional offices demonstrated bipartisan support: Congressman Louie Gohmert, a Republican, testified in person and Congressman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, who was called away at the last minute, had his Chief of Staff testify in his stead.

Finally, after 8 years in a prison cell, he was freed on parole on May 20, 2019. Yet justice will be served only when President Trump pardons Army Sergeant Derrick Miller.

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Tim Sumner is a retired U.S. Army Military Policeman, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, and United American Patriots volunteer. This commentary was first published on UAP’s website.

President Trump should immediately free Army LT Clint Lorance unjustly convicted of murdering Taliban attacking his platoon

On July 2, 2012, in broad daylight, in Taliban-controlled territory, three men on a motorcycle were speeding towards Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance’s dismounted infantry platoon subordinates. They had ignored signs on the road saying it was to be used only by ISAF and Afghanistan military and police units. The Taliban had recently conducted several suicide attacks upon U.S. forces using motorcycles, the platoon had been repeatedly attacked during the past month, and they had been sniped at from that same road the day before. Then 27-year old Iraq War veteran Lorance had assumed command of the platoon 3 days earlier after the previous platoon leader and another soldier were badly wounded by an IED nearby. An endangered American soldier asked Lorance for permission to fire.

Lorance gave the order to shoot. Had he not given it, within seconds more American soldiers would most likely be dead or maimed for life.

Two Taliban riders died and the third escaped. (More about them in a moment.) While the motorcycle did not explode, it could not be recovered to check for bombs as an attack from another direction loomed. Villagers dragged off the bike and the dead riders were buried by locals without an autopsy to determine if the bullets that killed them were fired by U.S. troops of by Afghanistan Army troops who also fired at the motorcycle.

Even without knowing the exculpatory evidence – proof positive bio-metric and other evidence that the riders were Taliban bombers – which the prosecution later withheld from his defense lawyers and the jury, Lorance knew enough to make giving the order to shoot his duty.

A year later, Lorance was acquitted of ROE violations. Yet, incredibly, he was convicted of murder and is spending the prime years of his life in Fort Leavenworth’s prison for making the right, split-second decision. After nearly 10 years of honorable and heroic service in the Army, he may spend 19 years in a cell and be nearing 50-years old before he is freed.

President Trump has the authority to disapprove Lorance’s conviction with prejudice, restore him to military duty with back pay, and, by doing so, begin to reverse this travesty of justice.

According to military prosecutors, when the enemy acted as though they were about to attack, our troops were required under the Rules of Engagement (ROE) to delay firing their weapons until determining whether the fast-approaching motorcycle displayed a “hostile intent.” They then were to make a battlefield determination as to whether the fast-moving inbound motorcycle constituted a “hostile act.” But doing so would have increased the risk to themselves and the lives of their fellow troops. In other words, they were to play battlefield lawyer when all they did was sign up to defend our nation.

While Lorance was acquitted of ROE-related charges, his chain of command’s gutless, political and self-serving decision to charge him was all about ROE that should never been formulated or enforced. The chain of command – from the then President down to his company commander – more than failed Clint Lorance; they failed our country. They made an example of him. Yet they also empowered our nation’s sworn enemies with strategic and tactical advantages.

President Trump doing the right thing by Lorance would send two main messages to our military: stop prosecuting your troops for doing their sworn duty; and your mission is to win battles and help prevent further attacks upon our homeland and interests abroad.

An experienced and decorated American combat veteran soldier was convicted and incarcerated for the very thing his superiors gave him the authority and responsibility to do. Moreover, he did what the American people expect our small unit leaders to do. Clint Lorance made a combat decision to protect our side’s troops.

The American people don’t expect our troops to commit suicide to accomplish the missions we send them on. If anyone made that same decision 70 years earlier during WWII while fighting the suicide-for-their-emperor-loving forces of Imperial Japan, they’d have received praise from their superiors.

President Trump should act immediately. Clint Lorance has already spent 6 years in a cell.

Post updated at 12:22 PM, May 16, 2019.

Adam Kokesh ‘runs’ for Congress; is an antiwar activist seeking to return Ben Lujan to the House?

Ben Lujan (D) — Tom Mullins (R) — Adam Kokesh (?)

Incumbent U.S. Congressman Ben Lujan (D-NM, 3) was once considered ‘safe’ to win reelection to Congress. Yet Lujan voted for bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed here for federal trial, the health care bill, Cap and Trade, and the TARP bailout. In the only recent poll, a Democrat pollster now finds Lujan’s lead over main Republican rival Tom Mullins has narrowed to within the margin of error, 40 to 36.

Adam Kokesh running as a Republican in the primary against Mullins and his trailing Lujan only 40 to 32 are both far harder to explain.

Is Kokesh a grass roots fiscal conservative or an antiwar activist masquerading as a conservative-libertarian to deceive the people of New Mexico? Before voters there decide, perhaps they should review his multiple arrests — including for smuggling home a firearm — in addition to his anti-war protests while in uniform, anti-military recruitment actions, and travel to an allied nation to encourage U.S. soldiers stationed there to go AWOL.

According to the Washington Examiner, Kokesh was busted after his tour in Iraq;

He was supposed to go to Iraq a second time, but was demoted from sergeant to corporal and not allowed to return after it was learned that he brought a pistol back after his first tour in 2004. [Hat tip to This Ain’t Hell.]

On September 1, 2007, Kokesh called for help from Veterans For Peace with an upcoming antiwar “die-in” in Washington, D.C. Kokesh was arrested there on September 6, 2007 for defacing public property (here is the video). On September 15, while 10,000 of so A.N.S.W.E.R.-led students “died” on the Capitol’s west lawn, Kokesh was again arrested when he, Code Pink, and perhaps thirty more crossed the police line.

In mid-May 2007, Kokesh traveled to Germany where he and another Inactive Reservist brought an unauthorized civilian onto a U.S. military base. He then entered a crowded dining facility. Kokesh himself recounted the “IVAW German Expeditionary Team … base action” and his reading aloud a letter from “the people of Ansbach” to soldiers there, many of whom who would soon deploy to Iraq:

If any of you should decide to leave the Army while in Germany and throw down your arms, the people of Ansbach will support you and do our best to provide you with aid, comfort, and sanctuary. We wish to build a new relationship between the people of Germany and the people of America on the basis of peace, reconciliation, and understanding. [Unfortunately, someone at IVAW no longer wants New Mexico to see the video they once so proudly posted on YouTube. Kokesh’s Iraq Veterans Against the War post is reprinted here, his original post is here [Note June 2, 2011: The orginal narrative by Adam Kokesh has been changed to unrelated commentary] and I have the screen shots just in case they decide to hide it as well.]

Two weeks later, Kokesh was back in D.C. acting nothing like a new-age founding father:

[T]he Marines have launched investigations of three inactive reservists for wearing their uniforms during antiwar protests and allegedly making statements characterized as “disrespectful” or “disloyal.” Two of them were part of the guerrilla theater squad of 13 Iraq Veterans Against the War who roamed Capitol Hill and downtown Washington in March, clad in camouflage and carrying imaginary weapons, to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war. A Washington Post story about that protest is part of the evidence gathered by Marine lawyers. … Upon learning he was being investigated for wearing his uniform during the mock patrol, Kokesh wrote an e-mail to the investigating officer, Maj. John Whyte. The combat veteran discussed his service and his critique of the war, and asked this officer assigned to look into his “possible violation” of wearing his uniform: “We’re at war. Are you doing all you can?” He concluded with an obscene recommendation about what Whyte should go do. This earned him the count for a “disrespectful statement.” [Kokesh was discharged ‘under general conditions‘.]

Over the Columbus Day weekend 2007, Kokesh and six other students tacked up racist anti-Islamic posters around the campus of George Washington University with “Brought to you by Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness” across the bottom. GWU was “dismayed” at the “satire” to mock the sponsors of Conservative Awareness Week 2007.

Band of Mothers founder and Blue Star mom Bev Perlson has witnessed Kokesh’s anti-recruiting and antiwar efforts:

I remember Kokesh when he brought a whole busload of members of World Can’t Wait, ANSWER, SDS, to disrupt the recruiting station at 14th & I Street in Washington, DC. They ran around in circles out in front of the recruiting station that day yelling silly slogans against our Soldiers and the War. Their antics caused about 7 members of the Metro Police to have to stand guard out in front of the station for hours. How’s that for how he disrupts the recruiters, the city and wastes our tax dollars. I remember Kokesh when he tried to stage a re-enactment of the Winter Soldier testimony of the traitor John Kerry days! We disrupted both of these events and the Winter Soldier nonsense was a debacle. Adam Kokesh is a phony who reinvents himself yearly.

Ron Paul can’t let a denouncement of Kokesh by a Tea Party group go unanswered:

Adam Kokesh under fire on Glenn Beck’s 9/12 site (updated)

Liberty candidates are under fire on all fronts. Even from groups that claim to be for liberty and the Constitution. On the main page of the 9/12 Project’s website, and again in its New Mexico forum are topics named “A Traitor in Sheep’s clothing trying to deceive the Voters” … This is a hit piece on Adam Kokesh and needs to be slapped down. The thread on the New Mexico is worse than the one on the front page, but they both need to be countered. Update: For those that want to see what the attack is before going to the site, here it is.

We are writing to you to express our grave concerns about Adam Kokesh, who is aspiring to become the Republican nominee for US Congress from New Mexico’s 3rd district. Mr. Kokesh has an extensive, and well-documented history of affiliations with radical leftist groups. In concert with these groups he has engaged in numerous anti-America and anti-military demonstrations and protests. Moreover, Mr. Kokesh does not appear to have any personal qualifications that would recommend him for serious consideration as a candidate for the Republican Party. He has a significant history suggestive of poor character and judgment, and he has notable incidents of direct activism against Republican office holders. [READ THE REST yet note The Daily Paul re-posted it from 9/12’s site forum. The original is here.]

Retired U.S. Army senior NCO and combat infantry veteran Jonn Lilyea writes, “I’m not sure that Kokesh doesn’t think he’s a Republican. The Paulians are convinced that they can change the party and I think that’s what his real goal is.” Makes perfect sense to me. Yet even if Kokesh loses the June 1 primary, he can register as an independent candidate, be on the ballot in November, and attempt to bleed support away from Tom Mullins so Ben Lujan returns to Congress.

I don’t know Mullins from Adam yet perhaps voters in New Mexico’s 3rd District will soon sort out the saints from the sinners in that race.

Update, March 10, 2010: Michelle Malkin linked over from her post today, ‘Adam Kokesh: An anti-war smear merchant in “Republican” clothing.’