Regrets? The Birther Soldier Has A Few.

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 16 2010 10:12 AM

Regrets? The Birther Soldier Has A Few.

The ultra-conservative site WorldNetDaily has been flooding the zone on two stories -- outrage at the American Conservative Union for allowing the gay Republican group GOProud to participate in CPAC, and the court martial of Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, who has refused to deploy because he doubts that Barack Obama is an American citizen.

The Lakin story isn't going as well. He was convicted yesterday on three counts of disobeying orders, which could put him behind bars for up to 42 months. Thus begins the next stage of his career as an extremely high-profile activist looking to prove or disprove Barack Obama's citizenship: Apologizing for screwing it up.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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"I am extremely sorry for everything that has come of this," Lakin said in unsworn testimony during the sentencing phase of his trial. "As a military member, I was wrong."... "I didn't want it to end this way," said the 17-year veteran flight surgeon. "I want to continue to serve the military."

Jack Minor talks to Lakin's attorney, Col. Neil Puckett (ret.), about how things went pear-shaped. The military court, it turns out, was the wrong venue to do this in.

"It is not capable of handling this. It exists solely to promote good order and discipline in the Armed forces. When orders are violated by soldiers, they are subject to disciplinary actions by the UCMJ. Beyond that, it’s not really a remedy for anything."

Regarding Lakin’s actions he said, "Everything he did up to this point was within the regulations and they were supposed to address serious questions people have. No one answered his questions; they just rebuffed him."

Well, this didn't stop the American Patriot Foundation from fundraising for Lakin's defense, or stop anyone from discouraging Lakin from making YouTube videos about his case as recently as a month ago. The exploitation on display here was incredible. Lakin never had a chance. He was a martyr-in-waiting, the second member of the military ( after Connie Rhodes ) who launched into a hopeless, career-ending crusade and got back-up from the ever-expanding birther community.

I pay less attention to the birthers than I used to, because they've been stuck in a feedback loop for around a year. It would be a surprise if they attempt the "patriot soldier" play again as a way of attacking this issue. Instead, expect the larger Republican majorities in some state legislatures -- Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma -- to be lobbied to pass legislation that would demand birth certificates from 2012 presidential candidates.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.