Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, an 18-year-Army veteran, who publically declared that he was aligned with the “birther” movement, refused to deploy to Afghanistan. The birther movement is the group of people who question whether President Obama is a natural-born citizen as the U.S. Constitution requires for presidents.
On Tuesday Lt. Col. Lakin pleaded guilty to failing to follow an order to meet with a superior and failure to report for duty at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He did not plead guilty to the second count which charged that the Lt. Col had purposely missed a flight to take him to the military base. He was convicted of this charge by the military “jury” (a panel of military officers of equal or higher rank then the defendant). The court-martial took place in Ft. Meade, Md.
Lt. Col. Lakin has asked that the jury allow him to remain in the military. He dramatically changed his stance this Wednesday from “gladly deploy[ing]” if President Obama’s original birth certificate were released and proven to be authentic, to stating he would deploy even if his request went unanswered. On the Tuesday in court, his “birther” supporters even audibly scoffed when one potential juror said he believed evidence that President Obama was eligible to be president. In fact, the Baltimore Sun, quotes Cpt. Phillip O’Beirne, the government prosecutors, as saying that “Lakin created ‘a spectacle that has embarrassed the army’ with his website and YouTube video.”
Now, the jury has started deliberations for his punishment. Should policy concerns take into account that this birther movement is a dangerous situation, and that Lt. Col. Lakin has still publicly aligned himself with such a group without remorse for his country’s President, or should the policy concerns that he’s an 18-year veteran give him the benefit of the doubt?
Either way, it is an interesting decision that could viably give legitimacy to the “birther” group by giving the Lt. Col. no punishment (even if it is just under the assumption that the jury would give an 18-year veteran the benefit of the doubt) or publicly discourage and oppose the group by punishing Lakin and ending his military career.
If the decision comes down to the though process of what the public will see or believe – it would most benefit the country to eject him from the military and publicly disavow any illegitimate argument of disobeying an order of the natural-born President of the United States of America: President Obama. In reality, by using this illegitimate argument, Mr. Lakin himself has caused the end to his career.
Lakin’s received 6 months confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dismissal – the equivalent of a bad-conduct discharge. A military JD colleague stated Lakin received “what he deserved.” I couldn’t agree more.
Apparently due to Lakin’s refusal to deploy, a Maj. flew in his place on very short notice and was at court, with his wife, testifying about their experience of such short-notice-deployment due to Lakin’s actions. Also in court was Lakin’s commanding officer Col. Robert, a Medal of Honor recipient (for disarming machine gun bunkers in Vietnam by himself) was present at trial. Until a few weeks ago, Col. Robert was the only Medal of Honor recipient on active duty. During the sentencing phase, he flew from from Kuwait for four days to testify.
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