Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin
A reported threat by a senior Army officer to “Taser” another officer on trial for challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president could be a serious “command influence” issue that could taint the case, according to an expert.
Vincent Averna, a former Navy captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps, has dispatched a letter to Maj. Gen. Carla Hawley-Bowland, who has command of the superior officer to Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin who allegedly was involved in the threat incident.
Averna suggested that unless the major general addresses the behavior, it could be “tantamount to command influence, since it can legitimately be said your inaction gives consent to this prosecutor’s misconduct.”
The comments from Averna were reported by the Greeley, Colo., Gazette, which has been following the case closely as Greeley is Lakin’s hometown.
WND reported just days ago when the claim was brought forward by the American Patriot Foundation, which is generating support for Lakin.
Lakin was appearing at an Army hearing to be arraigned on charges, and, according to the foundation, “The afternoon before the hearing, LTC Steven Brodsky told LTC Lakin’s counsel that Lakin must report hours before the hearing to his duty post at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in order for him to be ‘transported under escort’ to make sure he showed up at the arraignment ‘to avoid embarrassing his unit.’”
The report explained Brodsky is a judge advocate and his job is prosecution.
“He has no role – or at least should have no role – in deciding the manner in which Lakin relates to his commanders, or vice versa,” the foundation report said.
However, it continued, “Outside the courtroom, Brodsky went far beyond interference with Lakin’s commanders. While Lakin was waiting near the courtroom, Brodsky and Col. Melanie Craig (Lakin’s ‘escort’) stood around the corner in the main hallway and in voices easily audible to LTC Lakin, spoke about the need to prevent Lakin after the hearing from speaking to the media, ‘signing autographs or kissing babies.’ Brodsky then said to Craig ‘just Taser him and throw him in the van.”
WND contacted Brodsky, who refused to say anything, instead referring the inquiry to a public information officer. The officer declined at that point to respond to WND’s calls and e-mails asking for comment on the threat allegations.
In the foundation report, Lakin said, “LTC Brodsky meant for me to hear those words, no question. When COL Craig returned to where I was, she said to me ‘you probably heard all that, didn’t you?’ I replied it would have been hard not to. After the hearing, my lawyers asked COL Craig for permission for me to speak to the press, since both CNN and NBC had sent camera crews, but she rudely refused, and she ordered me back into her vehicle to be transported back to Walter Reed.”
In the Gazette report, Averna said, “[Brodsky's] threat to have LTC Lakin Tasered to insure his silence is also a blatant violation of the American principle of innocent until proven guilty. This prosecutor is not following normal procedures in LTC Lakin’s court martial. He is violating LTC’s constitutional rights by prohibiting his freedom of speech, equal protection under the law and constitutional procedural due process by failure to follow the UCMJ procedures.”
“Command influence” in the military is a death knell for cases, since defense counsel can argue that the outcome of such a case was the result of fear on the part of prosecutors, judges or jurors of subsequent actions by the officers who control their lives and careers.
In Averna’s letter to those handling Lakin’s case, he warned Hawley-Bowland that “once you have been apprised of this prosecutor’s abuse amounting to misconduct, you are under an obligation to make a determination of the factual nature of the allegations and a failure to do so is tantamount to command influence.”
“The military judge does not control the prosecutor’s conduct outside of the courtroom, but you can,” he continued.
He also addressed the issue of evidence in the case, since Lakin’s defense counsel has asked for a “discovery” process to include the documentation from the state of Hawaii that likely would reveal whether Obama was born in the state or not.
“The judge’s rulings on admissibility of evidence and conduct of the actual trial can be reviewed by [a military tribunal] and their ruling can be brought directly to the Supreme Court without any other federal court review. Sooner or later everyone’s actions (or lack thereof) will come under an objective review at the highest level, which not even the president of the U.S. can stop,” he explained.
A public affairs officer, Chuck Dasey, later commented to WND via e-mail on the alleged threat by denying that there was any intent to “use violence” against Lakin.
“LTC Terry Lakin is receiving fair treatment and due process under the law,” Dasey wrote. “He is accused of failing to obey a lawful order to report for military duty, and will be tried in a court martial in October. A statement has been reported as a threat by the military prosecutor to use a taser on LTC Lakin. There was never an intention to use violence against LTC Lakin, and none of his escorts were carrying tasers or weapons of any kind. The Command regrets any misinterpretation of comments that were made and will continue to ensure LTC Lakin’s rights are protected.”
Lakin, who has almost 18 years of unblemished service to the Army, including six tours of Bosnia, Afghanistan and other overseas locations, has earned the Bronze Star.
The foundation says the Army’s opinion of Lakin was made clear in an evaluation just before Lakin raised the issue of eligibility.
From Col. Dale Block: “Dr. Lakin is an extremely talented, highly knowledgeable senior Army clinician … he can always be counted on to provide me with expert advice. … LTC Lakin is clearly one of the top clinicians in the Northern Regional Medical Command. He has superb clinical skills, rapport with patients and staff. … Terry is the best choice for tough assignments. … Already on the promotion list to colonel, he should be groomed for positions of greater responsibility.”
But Lakin, the foundation says, has been compelled to act because Lakin swore an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. Obama’s eligibility to be president has been questioned, he argues, and Obama has refused all efforts to obtain documents that could determine his eligibility.
The controversy stems from the Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, which states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
A number of challenges and lawsuits have been based on the constitutional requirement, some alleging Obama does not qualify because he was not born in Hawaii in 1961 as he claims. Others say he fails to qualify because he was a dual citizen of the U.S. and the United Kingdom when he was born, and the framers of the Constitution specifically excluded dual citizens from eligibility.
Complicating the issue is the fact that besides Obama’s actual birth documentation, he has kept from the public documentation including his kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, passport, medical records, files from his years as an Illinois state senator, Illinois State Bar Association records, baptism records and his adoption records.
Lakin declined to follow deployment orders after he tried through military channels to affirm the validity of orders under Obama’s command and was rebuffed. He had been scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan again.
In at least one of the earlier disputes, the Army simply canceled the orders rather than allow the argument to come to a head.
Lakin’s attorneys have said they now are demanding “discovery” of Obama’s records, and that in such a dispute that information is critical. The multitude of civil cases that have been brought over the Obama eligibility dispute all have failed to reach that process because of federal judges who have ruled on issues generally involving “standing.” The judges have concluded that damages from an ineligible president suffered by the plaintiffs would not be more for them than any other member of the public, so there is not a specific damage or danger.
Lakin’s counsel, Paul Rolf Jensen, has explained that the Lakin case is different, since his client is being processed on criminal charges over the issue – a status that puts him in imminent danger of specific and personal “damages.”
The courts already have shown a weakness on the subject of Obama’s records. The discovery-of-evidence issue previously was raised in court by attorney John Hemenway, who was threatened by a federal judge with sanctions for bringing a court challenge to Obama’s presidency.
Hemenway is serving in emeritus status with the SafeguardOurConstitution website, which is generating support for Lakin. Hemenway brought a previous court challenge, now on appeal, on behalf of a retired military officer, Gregory S. Hollister, who questioned Obama’s eligibility.
The Hollister case ultimately was dismissed by Judge James Robertson, who notably ruled during the 2008 election campaign that the federal legal dispute had been “twittered” and, therefore, resolved.
Robertson sarcastically wrote: “The plaintiff says that he is a retired Air Force colonel who continues to owe fealty to his commander in chief (because he might possibly be recalled to duty) and who is tortured by uncertainty as to whether he would have to obey orders from Barack Obama because it has not been proven – to the colonel’s satisfaction – that Mr. Obama is a native-born American citizen, qualified under the Constitution to be president.
“The issue of the president’s citizenship was raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered and otherwise massaged by America’s vigilant citizenry during Mr. Obama’s two-year campaign for the presidency, but this plaintiff wants it resolved by a court,” Robertson wrote.
Then the judge suggested sanctions against Hemenway for bringing the case. Hemenway responded that the process then would provide him with a right to a discovery hearing to see documentation regarding the judge’s statements – not supported by any evidence introduced into the case – that Obama was properly “vetted.”
Hemenway warned at the time, “If the court persists in pressing Rule 11 procedures against Hemenway, then Hemenway should be allowed all of the discovery pertinent to the procedures as court precedents have permitted in the past.
“The court has referred to a number of facts outside of the record of this particular case and, therefore, the undersigned is particularly entitled to a hearing to get the truth of those matters into the record. This may require the court to authorize some discovery,” Hemenway said.
The court ultimately backed off its threat of sanctions.
In a separate case, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threatened sanctions against attorney Mario Apuzzo. The court quickly backed off, however, when Apuzzo noted that under the rules of court procedure, being subjected to sanctions and penalties would give him the right to discovery in the case, possibly including Obama’s birth certificate.
The Constitution requires a president to be a “natural born citizen,” and, while the term is not defined in the Constitution, many legal analysts believe at the time it was written it meant a person born in the U.S. of two U.S. citizen parents. Critics say Obama clearly does not qualify under that definition, since he has admitted in his book his father never was a U.S. citizen. Some legal challenges have argued he wasn’t even born in Hawaii.
Tim Adams, a former senior elections clerk for Honolulu, has said there “definitely” are problems with Obama’s Hawaii birth story.
“As of the time I was in Hawaii working in the elections office we had many people who were asking about the eligibility of Senator Obama to be president. I was told at the time there is no long-form birth record, which would have been the case if President Obama was born in [a] hospital in Honolulu. There is no such form in Hawaii,” he said.
Lakin had posted a YouTube video challenging the Army to charge him over the issue.
As WND reported, Lakin posted the video of his challenge to Obama to document his eligibility March 30.
In his latest video, Lakin said the issue of evidence is important:
Note: A legal-defense fund has been set up for Lt. Col. Terry Lakin.