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Karen Kwiatkowski
Sep. 27, 2004

Al Lorentz is a reserve Non-Commissioned Officer currently serving in Iraq. His blazingly clear, succinct article on Iraq has raged over the wires since it was published on

Al, in his civilian life, was an active member of the Constitution Party in the great state of Texas. He worked on a ranch, served in the reserves, and when activated, deployed to Iraq.

He has something in common with our own President George W. Bush, who was also active in a political party in Texas, worked on a ranch, and did some time in the National Guard. Of course, President Bush hasnít served in Iraq.

Al and George might have a lot to talk about.

Al penned a factual personal assessment of what is happening in Iraq. He revealed no classified information. Far more detail on Iraq challenges has long been provided by respected retired military officers like Marine General Tony Zinni and former Director of the National Security Agency William Odom. Al wrote nothing more damning than what has already been published and released in part by the Central Intelligence Agency regarding conditions and future possibilities in Iraq.

So what is the problem?

The problem is that Al Lorentz, "Big Al" to his friends, has something that the Bush administration needs badly.

The Holy Grail in Washington is credibility. Bush and the Pentagon brass want it. The administrationís credibility deficit is its Achillesí heel. Lack of credibility is the primary reason Bush will lose in November. George W. Bushís own troubled past, a presidential lack of interest in terrorism until 9/11, criminal mendacity on the way to war in Iraq, flagrantly abused tax dollars at home and abroad, Patriot Act absurdities, artificial dummy governments amidst social and economic disaster in Kabul and Baghdad, the odd Iranian agent provocateur (Chalabi) and the more familiar Israeli-linked ones (Chalabiís former allies in the Pentagon), the list goes on and on. It is as if Bush and Company signed up for a credibility destroyer of the month club at a special four-year subscription rate.

Credibility. Big Al has it. The electorally nervous White House and edgy Pentagon executives are frightened as they witness an example of genuine courage and find they are on the wrong side of it.

Naturally, there are consequences. Alís military chain of command is considering charging him with violation of 18 USC 2388, willfully causing or attempting to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military forces of the US.

Read his article for yourself, again, seriously. It has a thought-provoking title "Why We Cannot Win in Iraq." But in fact it contains a recipe for success, if the Bush administration was truly interested in not wasting more American lives and dollars in the interminable strategic disaster of occupying Iraq to base the military and buttress the petrodollar debt scheme. The brass ought to have read Lew Rockwell, hauled Lorentz up to the J-5, and incorporated his ideas into the OPLAN. USC 2388 simply does not apply.

The military chain of command is considering charging Al with violation of Article 134 for making a statement with the intent to promote disloyalty or disaffection toward the U.S. by any member of the Armed forces.

If the charge is promoting disloyalty and disaffection toward the United States, it needs to be applied just a wee bit higher than good old Sergeant Lorentz. Tragically, we canít find many neoconservative academics that are subject to the UCMJ. However, doesnít it apply to Secretary Rumsfeld and his Deputy Paul Wolfowitz? And isnít their boss George somewhere in the chain of command? Yeah, I know, not for Abu Ghraib torture sessions, but somewhere?

The military chain of command is also considering charging Al with violation of 1344.10, the conduct of partisan political activity, and violation of Standards of Conduct for unauthorized use of Government assets to create and email stories.

This one is laughable, as active duty members apparently constituted 3% of the delegation at the Republican National Convention only a few weeks ago. Do you think those military members will be accused of violating 1344.10?

We are reminded of the eternal words from the mouths of talking pigs in Orwellís Animal Farm, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

1344.10 also refers to "writing stories." If Al Lorentz had written a story, he would be in no trouble at all, and we might be reading his serialized novellas on the CENTCOM website. But, as so many in the military past and present know, the truth can be a mean bitch. Big Al wrote the truth, and in doing so he both embarrassed and frightened the chain of command.

The good thing about these charges is that they provide the rest of America with a roadmap for the prosecution of many in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the current administration.

Charges of inciting insubordination, disloyalty and mutiny, promoting disaffection towards members of the United States military, and conduct of partisan political activity will come in handy for the key appointees at the Under Secretary for Defense Policy and the Vice Presidentís office. In pleading to these charges, which can carry a maximum of 20 years in federal military prison, perhaps the more serious charges of gross dereliction of duty, national and international war crimes, espionage and treason can be mitigated.

The Non-Commissioned Officer has always been the backbone of the American military. This has never been more true than today, in an era where so many of the officers in key leadership positions are more politicized and less courageous than ever before. God Bless Sergeant Lorentz, and keep him.

Copyright © 2004

Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for She's voting for Badnarik in November, as a matter of principle.

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