US Army Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin with brother Greg Lakin outside a military court at Ft. Meade, Md. yesterday.
Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin didn't rush into a foreign battleground yesterday; he walked into a Ft Meade, Md. military courtroom. He didn't fire a weapon and vanquish the enemy; he pled guilty to disobeying three orders related to deployment, and not guilty to the most serious charge of "missing movement." But Terry Lakin put his life, in the sense of his distinguished 23-year career as an Army surgeon, his income, his pension, and his freedom, on the line from his devotion to his sworn duty to the US Constitution.
All members of the US military take the following oath:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same ....
To Terry Lakin, "true faith and allegiance" were more than words; they were calls to action. And so he took action in his belief -- given that President Obama has never authorized the release of the paperwork necessary to answer the fundamental question pertaining to his legitimacy as a "natural-born" American -- that military orders are of questionable legitimacy as well. Specifically, Lt. Col. Lakin questioned his redeployment orders, believing that as a senior officer under orders to return to war zone -- and, not incidentally, under orders to bring along his own birth certificate -- he had every right to ask his commander-in-chief to prove his bona fides. When he received no such assurance, even as he was ordered to provide his own in order to be approved to go back to war, he stopped following orders, hoping to force the issue in military court.
The military justice system, however, is limited in its scope, its powers, and its application. The military legal question here turns more narrowly on the relatively simple matter of whether LTC Lakin followed orders.
The rest of the military oath is as follows:
... and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
As I understand it, the Uniform Code of Military Justice isn't empowered to consider the question of whether the President of the United States, having been elected and certified by the Electoral College, Inaugurated and sworn in by the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, is anything other than what the civilian leadership says he is. What this means is that Terry Lakin's beau geste may originate within the military order but it falls into the category of civil disobedience -- breaking the law to uphold higher principle. It is a higher principle no one else is upholding. Indeed, Lakin's disobedience highlights the existence of a vacuum of "true faith and allegiance" in the land. A gross abdication of civilian responsibility to ensure the lawful transfer of presidential powers took place long before LTC Lakin received his 2010 orders to return to Afghanistan.
By sacrificing the service career he loves, Terry Lakin serves the Constitution he loves more. He also does the rest of us a incalculably valuable favor. By taking peaceful action as he saw fit, Terry Lakin has directed our attention to the moral corruption of our most trusted public servants who, rather than expose themselves to political inconvenience, permitted an unseemly secrecy on the part of Barack Obama to fester in the first place.
As a presidential candidate born in the Panama Canal Zone, Sen. John McCain was himself challenged during the 2008 presidential campaign to prove his bona fides. He, of course, complied -- who wouldn't? But then he shirked the plain call of political duty. As candidate, as GOP party leader, as scion of a military family, as US senator, John McCain failed at this crucial point simply, logically, correctly, to invite his opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, to do exactly the same.
Like a house of cards that was never built, the rest of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the White House, the nation's political parties, the judiciary, the Electoral College, and, of course, the Obama-enthralled media all followed suit. And the rest is history.
Or would be, if it weren't for the heroic Lt. Col. Lakin.
This week's court martial verdict will settle nothing. On the contrary it will leave the question in boldface: What could possibly prevent the president from showing the American people his original, 1961 birth certificate? What remains to be seen is whether there exists any authority, any leader will the courage of a Terry Lakin to ask it.