by Anne Bremner,
with contributions by Bob Sims
John Henry Browne is defending accused killer Robert Bales. Bales is the Pacific Northwest-based soldier who allegedly gunned down 17 civilians in Afghanistan.
Before the world knew any of the specific details of this case or who the victims were, it knew all about the accused — and the defenses. And it knew why.
Nature abhors a vacuum. And what a vacuum of information from the military there was. John stepped up and immediately filled it. He spoke of the four stressful deployments, post-traumatic stress disorder, a head injury, financial woes, and the personal strife Bales has experienced. Sentiment prevailed. “I am not putting the war on trial, but the war is on trial,” John said. Many agreed. Suddenly, public conversation was elevated beyond this case to the prosecution of the war itself.
John Henry Browne was a hippie in the 1960s. When we were married I remember him talking fondly of those halcyon days, describing San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, a mecca for the Hippie movement. He knew every nook and cranny in that neighborhood from his travels. He brought memories of Buena Vista Park during the Summer of Love 1967 come to life when he told me his stories. (I recently found an old picture of him with hair streaming past his shoulders and a drooping hippie moustache, one I used for a birthday invitation for him once.) John walked the walk as a hippie. He protested against the Vietnam War. He never served.
Many people talk of the 1960s as a time of protest, casual sex and civil unrest, a time in which some people think very little was accomplished for bettering American society. I disagree. Positive changes did come. In time. Women’s rights and civil liberties improved by leaps and bounds. We steadily climbed out of the chasm of racism. The Vietnam War was ended. And from that time of momentous social change came John Henry Browne.
He has waited all his life for this case. He is made for this case. He will put the war on trial and he will win. It’s ironic that decades after his period of discontent in the 60s, and on the eve of his expected retirement, John is handling the most important case of his career — and one of the most important in this country’s history.
Rules in dealing with the media in such a highly publicized case? Be brief and be quiet. Deliver a message that resonates. Tell the truth. Humanize your client. Use your case as a platform for public conversations about the greater good. Be accessible. Be relentless. Never, never, never ever quit.
I have learned all of this — and more — from my ex-husband John Henry Browne.
[Reposted from Women in Crime Ink blog]
And that’s why I know he will win.