'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Empire Strikes Back 

Well, Salon just ran a piece by Eric Boehlert covering the persecution of Al Lorentz for his crime of ..um.. exercising his right to free speech. The story is that a career military man stationed in Iraq wrote an article making the case that the Iraq war is unwinnable, posted the article to a conservative website, and is now the target of a legal attack by the Pentagon. I believe this is the biggest news source that has touched this one so far. For those of you without Salon subscriptions here's a meaty excerpt:

The essay that sparked the military investigation is titled "Why We Cannot Win" and was posted Sept. 20 on the conservative antiwar Web site LewRockwell.com. Written by Al Lorentz, a non-commissioned officer from Texas with nearly 20 years in the Army who is serving in Iraq, the essay offers a bleak assessment of America's chances for success in Iraq.

"I have come to the conclusion that we cannot win here for a number of reasons. Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality," wrote Lorentz, who gives four key reasons for the likely failure: a refusal to deal with reality, not understanding what motivates the enemy, an overabundance of guerrilla fighters, and the enemy's shorter line of supplies and communication.

[ ... ]

The essay prompted a swift response from Lorentz's commanders. In an e-mail this week to Salon, Lorentz, declining to comment further on his piece, noted, "Because of my article, I am under investigation at this time for very serious charges which carry up to a 20-year prison sentence." According to Lorentz, the investigation is looking into whether his writing constituted a disloyalty crime under both federal statute (Title 18, Section 2388, of the U.S. Code) and Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

According to the UCMJ, examples of punishable statements by military personnel "include praising the enemy, attacking the war aims of the United States, or denouncing our form of government with the intent to promote disloyalty or disaffection among members of the armed services. A declaration of personal belief can amount to a disloyal statement if it disavows allegiance owed to the United States by the declarant. The disloyalty involved for this offense must be to the United States as a political entity and not merely to a department or other agency that is a part of its administration."

I really can't get over this story ... what makes it really interesting is that Al Lorentz is deeply conservative; he's a member of the Constitution Party, the party that wanted to run Judge Roy Moore of ten commandment monument fame for president; they're like religious libertarians, I believe. Anyway, this guy is obviously the type of conservative-minded independent that Fat Karl wants to attract with his preaching to the base campaign. One wonders how Karl Rove feels about the Pentagon going after Lorentz. I think if this story gets any serious press it could be a big black eye for the Bushies, and I wouldn't be surprised if these charges are very quietly dropped. But we'll see ...

Update: Commondreams posted the whole article and the Christian Science Monitor mentioned the Salon piece.

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