Why the Supreme Court’s prescription for Stolen Valor won’t work.

 
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Why the Supreme Court’s prescription for Stolen Valor won’t work.

[EDITORS NOTE: This is the longest blog posting in history, so you might want to print it out and read it when you have the time.  I apologize for the length, but I think it is necessary to make the point I wanted to make; to wit, that the Supreme Court’s answer to the Stolen Valor Problem is not only unworkable, but unnecessarily puts folks in jeopardy of legal or physical disputes.  Also, thanks to Ranger Up for the appropriate graphic.]

As you know, I disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alvarez in many aspects.  Fair enough, I disagree with a lot of legal decisions.  Most folks seem pleased with the decision, thinking that the Stolen Valor Law somehow chilled free speech.  That was something even the defense in the case didn’t argue, but whatever. 

Nonetheless, despite the ruling, I wanted to focus on what their answer was to stolen valor phonies, and how the “free market of ideas” could be used to counter them.  Specifically, the plurality decision’s author Justice Kennedy stated that:

The Government has not shown, and cannot show, why counter speech would not suffice to achieve its interest. The facts of this case indicate that the dynamics of free speech, of counter speech, of refuta­tion, can overcome the lie.…

The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society. The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the unin­formed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simple truth…

It is a fair assumption that any true holders of the Medal who had heard of Alvarez’s false claims would have been fully vindicated by the community’s expression of outrage, showing as it did the Nation’s high regard for the Medal. The same can be said for the Government’s inter­est. The American people do not need the assistance of a government prosecution to express their high regard for the special place that military heroes hold in our tradi­tion. Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication.

It might not need handcuffs or a badge, but as I will show later, it better have at least a concealed carry permit, because these phonies seldom respond to you outing them with some sort of cheery aplomb.

But this answer fails on two separate levels, the first eloquently stated in the dissent written by Justice Alito:

Because a sufficiently comprehensive database is not practicable, lies about military awards cannot be remedied by what the plurality calls “counterspeech.” Ante, at 15. Without the requisite database, many efforts to refute false claims may be thwarted, and some legitimate award recipients may be erroneously attacked. In addition, a steady stream of stories in the media about the exposure of imposters would tend to increase skepticism among members of the public about the entire awards system. This would only exacerbate the harm that the Stolen Valor Act is meant to prevent….

….the proliferation of false claims about military awards blurs the signal given out by the actual awards by making them seem more common than they really are, and this diluting effect harms the military by hampering its efforts to foster morale and esprit de corps. Surely it was reasonable for Congress to conclude that the goal of preserving the integrity of our country’s top military honors is at least as worthy as that of protecting the prestige associated with fancy watches and designer handbags.

Now, I disagree with Justice Alito that a database such as that suggested is not possible, in the sense that one couldn’t be made.  But even more vigrorously do I dispute the majoritys notion that such a database would serve to counter these liars, since most people won’t even know enough to look these things up, and if they do and the guy is in fact a liar, than we run into the problem that the Justice cited about exacerbating the problem.

But even so, what the decision gives as a whole is a sort of remedy which is to give a sort of credence to a vigilante group of veterans and others who counter the lies with truthful speech.  As my friend Jonn Lilyea aptly noted the other day:

The USSC decided that the public sector is doing a fine job of policing the ranks. There may be some illiterate [idiots], like Sharkey who think that the USSC’s overturning of the Stolen Valor Act means that we can’t do here what the government won’t do – but that’s not it at all. Like I told the ABC crew, it probably means that decision was good for our business. More idiots, like Sharkey, think they can get away with their thievery.

But This Ain’t Hell and all of our partners are the stocks and dunking chairs in the village square of the internet – a place where folks can come and throw rotten tomatoes at the valor thieves. The Supreme Court gave us a warrant to be the internet’s vigilantes and bounty hunters.

As Jonn notes, from a strictly business sense, this is good for military bloggers who will likely enjoy some increased traffic.  But from the standpoint of acknowledging real heroism etc, it would have been better if the Supremes had gone the other way.

Even within the realm of military bloggers doing the job, there are two problems.  The first is that some folks are virtually immune to shaming.  Take for instance one of the few people who had an actual sentence looming before this decision: Rick Strandlof.  For those who don’t recall Rick, he first scammed a bunch of people in Reno, Nevada where he was doing some sort of fraudulent scheme to bring racing to the area.  He later turned up in Colorado as an openly gay,  former Marine Battalion Commander, wounded in the Battle of Fallujah, who was doing campaign commercials for US Rep candidates and raising funds for his veterans group.  Subsequent research would show he never served.  When busted as “Duncan” he went underground again, emerging as “Rick Gold”, a Denver Attorney and Israel supporter who was living with the Occupy Movement.  Every time he gets busted and ridiculed, he simply re-invents himself.

 The second problem is that these guys who are busted don’t appreciate being busted, and start threatening everyone under the sun with legal and physical threats.   The first threat I received was from an anti-war activist who had been inventing a past for himself who is named Evan Knappenberger, who among other things threatened to blow up a Gathering of Eagles event.

 We will fix the broken world… save it from all the chickenhawk armchair warrior gathering of idiots.  But I still want to blow up their [expletive] gathering

 Later on I would get a phone call at work, from someone who later claimed to be Knappenberg:

“KEEP MY NAME OFF YOUR BLOG OR WE SETTLE UP IN PERSON.”

And apparently threatening bloggers wasn’t his only foray into using threats to counter things, as this “Peace Activist” was subsequently arrested and convicted of harassing his then-wife

In response to our pieces on Knappenberger and to invitations to attend an anti-war rally, a friend of his in Iraq Veterans Against the War, Jonathan DeWald starting issuing similar threats.  It was quickly found that DeWald’s tales of heroism were equally based on pure fiction.  Which led to this threat (he included the crossed out portion, and then realized it was a threat, so the crossed out portions were his original statement):

I don’t know what [expletive] idiot lobbied for these shithead right-wingers to be allowed at Winter Soldier but I fear for their safety on the campus. Me, I’m not doing [expletive] to them. Not at Winter Soldier, anyway. But I’m far from being the only IVAW member who’s quick with his fists. Also: after putting up with weeks of crude, sexual insults from conservative bloggers [Me, The Sniper and Lilyea] and all those other cockroaches, I’ve decided I’m probably going to waste most of them on sight dry-hump them all if I see them in DC away from Winter Soldier. I’ll give them a clear, verbal ten-second exit opportunity to clear out of my [expletive] field of vision in some pub, restaurant or subway stop. If they don’t get the [expletive] out of my sight… oh, well. Sorry.

Then last year it was Jonathan “the Impaler” Sharkey.  When not busy being a professional wrestler, running for President or other political office (repeatedly losing) and getting 16 year old girls to run away with him, Sharkey enjoys Vampirism and threatening bloggers who point out his fictional military bio is fictional.  Sharkey’s threats run the gamut from legal action (“Look up the word Libel Per Se. My high price New York City attorneys are very good at filing lawsuits for it.) to threats of beheading.

As I told Jonn, Florida has a long arm when it comes to justice. I don’t have to time deal with You or your associates. I don’t associate with drug dealers, unlike you.

Contact me again or your buddies, especially since you are in IRAQIANA (interstate harassment) , and I promse you, I wont wait to see what the Feds do. I’ll contact FL DA Mark Ober (R) and file harassment charges. You are not mainstream media. Nor are you like by mainstream media. I owe you no answers or anything.

Further, he makes clear that even though he knows his legal filings are without merit, he doesn’t care as long as he exhausts any funds of the defendant:

I hope the owners and sponsors of this site, as well as yourself, are likely to have pockets worth reaching into. Even if I don't win, I will enjoy watching you finance the new homes and cars for your defense lawyers.

As for physical threats, it seems to revolve around his vampirism beliefs, he started by reminding us that the Secret Service had already investigated him for threats, and he had been cleared, and then noting:

Being from a descent of the greatest ruler ever - Prince Vlad Tepes aka The Impaler, I challenge you and those who work for you to a battle to the death in 2 months at Ft. Dix, NJ. In Jersey, the weak are killed and eaten. we are the greatest best, and most bad ass state in the UNION!

No firearms though. Medieval weapons. I will have U.S. Secret Service Agents I know from jersey be monitors of the battle, because, I don't trust you domestic terrorists.

Like Vlad, I will beat you, torture you, IMPALE you, then dismember you and when all is said and done, I will decapitate you all, and your heads will be used that night for a Satanic Ritual. My God will be praised the day.

From threats of lawsuits to impaling and dismemberment, all for pointing out that this candidate for our highest elective office was lying about his military background.

 

Which brings us to Dallas Wittgenfeld and his friends.  Sometimes there is not unanimity amongst the Stolen Valor group on who we should go after and who we should just let go.  Last week I talked to Jonn about two guys he was tracking, Wittgenfeld and a guy running for Congress named Ken Aden.  The claim against Aden I thought was difficult.  Aden claimed to be a “Green Beret” but there was no Special Forces School listed on his DD214.  What there was was an odd statement that he had been an “18B” MOS that is Special Forces.  Jonn was convinced that Aden was never officially Special Forces, and had been pressuring various Arkansas newspapers to research it (without any apparent success) for nearly two months.  And then as soon as I brought up my concern about Aden, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette finally published a story on what Jonn had been working on for months:

 Third Congressional District candidate Ken Aden has claimed he’s a Green Beret, but his military records indicate he washed out of Special Forces training, not once but three times.

Aden, a Democrat from Russellville, has said throughout his campaign that he is qualified as a Special Forces soldier. Documents obtained Wednesday by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette through a federal Freedom of Information Act request indicate that Aden never completed the qualification course to become a Special Forces soldier.

The discrepancies have also brought into question Aden’s academic claims. Aden claims to have an associate degree from Arkansas State University, but the registrar’s office said he never took a class there.

So I was wrong and Lilyea was right on that one.  But I still felt Dallas Wittgenfeld should be left alone, largely because the discrepancies between his records and some things written about him weren’t that horrible.  From information that had been compiled by the POW Network, Doug Sterner, the website “Stolen Valor Offenders Exposed”,  Lilyea at This Ain’t Hell and the guys who run the Stolen Valor Page on Facebook, we already knew that Wittgenfeld had served in Viet Nam, first as a LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) and then as a Ranger.  He had been wounded twice, and had served as an RTO (Radio Telephone Operator, the guys with the radios that run with the infantry.)  And his DD214 discharge papers reflected that he had earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.  In short, he had an outstanding military record that should be honored.

 But there were a few small discrepancies.  First, he was photographed wearing a Green Beret, and had even been inducted into the Special Forces Association, but nothing in his record showed service or schooling as a Green Beret.  Further, he was reported in several news sources that he had been awarded a Bronze Star with “V” device, and yet there was nothing noted. 

You can look at the Stolen Valor Offenders Exposed which lists all of the claims, and points to the various media sources which contained the claims that he had been a Green Beret with a Bronze Star.  Now, I thought that perhaps there was an innocent explanation for all of this, since the sources on this were various media reports, and the media often gets things wrong. In fact, on two occasions I had to contact the media to ensure they corrected something that said I was an Iraq veteran, when I have never been in that country.

But I was getting a lot of emails from others wanting me to look into Mr Wittgenfeld’s record.  I thought I would do the right thing and email him first, to see if my theory of a screw up by the media was to blame.  My email to him:

I am the New Media Manager for The American Legion, and am tasked with finding and publicizing violations of the Stolen Valor Act.  I am also an attorney and member of the Bar Association of Indiana.  In the wake of having “outted” the phony story of the America’s Got Talent Contestant Tim Poe several weeks ago, I have received emails from numerous individuals asking me to investigate some of your claims, specifically having worn the Green Beret in an unauthorized fashion and having claimed to be a recipient of the Bronze Star.  As you no doubt know, the second claim comes from several newspaper accounts regarding your jumping.  It was noted by one emailer that you claim to be 100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and yet are apparently healthy enough to engage in parachute jumps.* 

As with all such endeavors, I send an email to the person as soon as I get the info, and allow them the opportunity to clear the air before I bother researching it, since many of the issues are miscommunications.  Can you explain to me the wearing of the Green Beret (are you authorized to do so) and the claims of earning the bronze star. 

If you chose not to answer my questions, I will certainly understand, but I did want to give you the opportunity to respond.

 [*Mr Wittgenfeld has subsequently clarified that the 100% is for service connected PTSD.  According to the VA, 100% for PTSD is issued in cases where the individual shows

 Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought process or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personnal    hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation occupation, or own name.

This may explain some of the errors, but nonetheless bears mentioning.  It was also partially the reason I didn't want to write anything about him, however, his 20+ attempts to malign me on various websites neccessitated a response.]

I gave Mr Wittgenfeld my phone number as well in a subsequent email thinking perhaps he could call and explain it to me.  It did rather stretch my credulity to imagine that 8 independent reporters all made the same innocent error, but I was willing to give him the chance to apologize, explain or offer some enlightenment.  It was an error I would soon regret.

In less than a week I have now received 26 emails from Mr Wittgenfeld alternately claiming that I am harassing him, that the Alvarez decision exonerates him, that it is against the law to impugn 100 percent service connected veterans (it is not), that he will come to Indy to set me straight and a host of other things.  In one of his more disturbing dispatches, he threatened to sic the “Indiana Airborne Rangers” on me:

I want everyone possible to see the Indiana Airborne Rangers eating your ass out in downtown Indy.  I am bringing the network cameras, too.

I don’t really understand the nature of that threat, but I know it would have to be done against my will.  Mr. Wittgenfeld at varied times threatened to come out here himself (“Shame on you, Legg.  I am coming to Indianapolis now...”), to have the Rangers pay me a visit, or to have the “Green Beret Network” handle it.

This is where things got even more bizarre.  As near as I can tell from the website, the “Green Beret Network” is just one guy, named Bob Golden.  In researching Mr Golden and Mr Wittgenfeld, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the two shared an address at one point in Florida.  (“Name Associated with Address:  DALLAS WITTGENFELD   Current Residents at Address: BOB GOLDEN.”  One of my readers is a Private Investigator.)  What also did not surprise me is that Mr Golden has his own problems with Stolen Valor, according to Major John Hauck who disputes that Golden was part of "Mike Force" like he claims, and questions many of Golden's resume items:

I do not accept his explanations of the discrepancies I found. His military records do not agree with his responses. In other words, Golden is lying about each and every item. His wannabee status started upon completion of Artillery OCS, 10 months after enlistment in the US Army, and has continued until today. My observations of this man from the time he came on the Special Forces List, shortly after I arrived in February 1998, until present, indicate he consistently inflates and sensationalizes any situation that will make himself look like the key figure and inflate his ego, true or not. I have always been suspect of his claims, since day one.

Further, I started receiving email complaints at work about me, which were forwarded to other divisions not my immediate bosses.  What was odd was that they were coming from a third person:

You have a Mark C.Seavey Esq. that is openly harassing a Vietnam Veteran 100% disabled PTSD certified Ranger, with emails that are related to the stolen valor act. Your representative accused this veteran of inappropriate attire and wearing unearned medals. The attorney is tied with a blog called the burn pit (not very nice content aimed at veterans)and is associated with a Facebook cyber-bully group called "this ain't hell". Your attorney is openly harassing Mr Dallas Wittgenfield a decorated veteran who has served his country with honor. This is unacceptable behavior especially from a representative of the LEGION. We find this behavior distasteful and totally disrespectful. We demand a redress of this attorney and his actions. It is beneath the operations of the legion to harass veterans in such a way. I am an uncompensated advocate for harassed veterans online and will make issue with this if not addressed immediately. Thank You

Arthur South
 (760) 646-9680

 11743 Mohawk Rd
Apple Valley, CA 92308

I had never heard of an “uncompensated advocate for harassed veterans online” so I started looking up Mr South.  It turns out that Mr South is himself a Stolen Valor guy, having claimed without reason on numerous occasions to be a Navy SEAL.  (He also apparently runs some sort of church, and apparently likes to use profanity, so slight language warning on that link.)

And right after receiving those emails, this blog posting popped up:

There were many complaints issued yesterday to the American Legion concerning Sealy's association with hate-mongering groups and blogs of which he is one of many administrators and a sole owner of one blog in particular…

Now Sealy is crying the blues because he was taken to the carpet by his superiors at the Legion for his open harassment.

Note that while Mr. Wittgenfeld et al write erroneous comments about me on my blog, at Military.com, at Stars and Stripes etc, his own comment section is oddly closed to comments.

You’d think they would get my name right, but alas no.  And I didn’t get “taken to the carpet” by my “superiors.”  My Executive Director asked me about what this guy was talking about and I showed him the emails.  Then he just nodded and I went back to work.  It might have been an inconvenience for the three minutes I was upstairs, but it wasn’t exactly a waterboarding.  I have the most supportive bosses ever, and they know I would never cross into harassment or any other legal issue. 

 So, I now have Mr South trying to have me fired, Mr Wittgenfeld sending random emails, and Mr Golden who is apparently doing a background search into me.  The latter came up with this farcical looking “Dossier” on me that Wittgenfeld emailed me:

To answer your unasked question, I do not know what appears on pages 2-4, but I suspect it is some real incriminating things like my having failed typing in High School and my crappy art made with macaroni from the third grade.  What appears on this is just stuff stolen from my Facebook page, which I leave readable to anyone that wants to read how I am watching “Revenge of the Nerds” (Saturday) or how I am being honored by my friend The Sniper with a special home brew he is making and calling “The Litigator.” 

In addition to the earlier noted threats against me, Mr Wittgenfeld isn’t afraid to hurl around threats and racial epithets whenever he feels cornered.  (Apologize for the words here, but I can’t figure out how to properly edit and show that it was him, SOURCE IS HERE.)

Even the POW Network’s Mary Schantag is being hounded by this guy, who keeps making fun of how Mary was widowed earlier this year. Mary hosts a gala each year to honor local veterans, and which serves as a meager source of fund raising for her excellent work at the POW Network registry of phonies, and Wittgenfeld is threatening to crash the event.

Well, Well, Ms. Mary the Black Widow Schantag,

Seems the Supreme Court just killed your "Stolen Valor Act" financial crutch for your non-profit educational mission. Reality is NOW I can wear a medal of honor to your big military gala this Veterans Day 2012 and you better NOT say shit. That's how dead your mission is today.

 And he is now also talking about how he bought a gun and a knife especially for the event. (His IP address for this comment matches that known to come from Wittgenfeld.)

So, in short, Dallas Wittgenfeld has threatened me with physical harm and some sort of ill defined legal threat for harassment.  The legal threat is without factual basis, as I have merely responded to each of his emails, and the first one I sent contains no threats or harassment and I even told him that he could refuse to respond. 

Meanwhile he has communicated a threat through the internet, asserted the existence of some sort of idiot/phony cabal of people out to get me, taken photos from my Facebook account without attribution, used the logo of The American Legion with no Fair Use justification, and engaged in tortious interference with my work.  (Which had it come to fruition and I had been fired would have opened him up to all sorts of legal problems.)  And to this day he continues to defame me with farcical accusations on the blog that he and Arthur South post at.

He truly does have an excellent record from Viet Nam, and is clearly troubled by his PTSD, but that doesn't give him a free pass to just threaten people and scare them.  A recently widowed woman who only does her best to perserve the honor and integrity of actual medal recipients is not a legitamite target by any stretch.

 

_______________________________________

Normally I would agree with the Supreme Court in the answer to false speech being true speech.  I think in the normal marketplace of ideas that is the way things like this should be handled.  However, I think the Stolen Valor Act is special in two regards.  One, unlike some of the hyperbolic comments about this case, it was never about just lies, it was about very specific lies that are verifiable.  Whether one is a recipient of an award for valor is not subject to the vagaries of interpretation that a comment about Global Warming or some other political issue might be.  Secondly, when people start threatening those who seek to counter false speech with true speech and make themselves susceptible to threats of litigation or physical harm, I think there needs to be a different remedy.

But overall, I would close again with the words of Justice Alito:

a steady stream of stories in the media about the exposure of imposters would tend to increase skepticism among members of the public about the entire awards system.

Yes it will, unless we get too scared to even post, then these guys get a free pass.  Let's hope that doesn't happen.

 

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American Legion Headquarters Hires "Orwellian Minister of Truth"

If you lie about your age or weight, or height, or hair color, or religion, or political party, or the size of your bra cup, is that the same as lying about earning a Purple Heart or two, Airborne Ranger Infantry Air Medal, Combat Infantry Badge with Infantry braid, and a Vietnam War 75th Infantry Airborne Ranger Beret.? The nation's highest court said this week, "it's the same", and protected as free speech. The 6 to 3 decision essentially says that: "a lie is protected speech, whether it's about war credentials or personal features."

Meanwhile in the wake of the new vacuum caused, the cyber-bully Iraq & Afghan War Veterans have found high places to continue their harassment and dishonoring of older Vietnam War Veterans across America. These young cyber-savvy Vets are operating on Face Book and private "slayer dens" on the WWW.

Unbelievably, the American Legion National Headquarters, in Indianapolis, hired a young Attorney Afghan War Veteran "valor vulture" assigned to harassing combat disabled Vietnam War Veterans, and even including an elite 151st Infantry Airborne Rangers a.k.a. "Indiana's Finest" who is 100% combat disabled. What is that all about from an Esquire Mark C. Seavey of the Virginia National Guard?

http://burnpit.us/http://www.legion.org/http://thisainthell.us/

The disrespectful Vets and current duty military "cyber-stalkers" are always asking about and threatening the removal of the combat disabled Veterans pension monies. Obviously this is a new sinister punishment for Vietnam War Veterans everywhere.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, overturning the "Stolen Valor Act," and finding to do otherwise would have a chilling effect on public speech.

EXCERPS FROM A STARS & STRIPES INTERVIEW:
http://www.stripes.com/news/supreme-court-strikes-down-stolen-valor-act-...

"An American Legion representative who investigates Stolen Valor cases said the replacement law should be able to move easily through Congress and give prosecutors the ability to target the worst offenders — “dirtbags,” he said, "who brazenly seek to use lies about medals for nefarious gain."
"The Heck bill adds the fraud elements, saying essentially if a person benefitted materially from these lies, that would be punishable,” said Mark Seavey, an attorney and new media director for the American Legion. The only difference is we don’t have the legal mechanism to punish these guys now."

QUOTE: "This Ain’t Hell (blog) and all of our partners are the stocks and dunking chairs in the village square of the internet – a place where folks can come and throw rotten tomatoes at the valor thieves. The Supreme Court gave us a warrant to be the internet’s vigilantes and bounty hunters." (sounding neo-nazi)

To prevent the now self confessed cyber-vigilantes from that very same neo-nazi mentality, Justice Anthony Kennedy, wrote the majority opinion, “Permitting the government to decree this speech to be a criminal offense, whether shouted from the rooftops or made in a barely audible whisper, would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable.” "Comparing the Stolen Valor Act to George Orwell's novel '1984' about a futuristic totalitarian state," Kennedy wrote, “Our constitutional tradition stands against the idea that we need Oceania’s Ministry of Truth.”

Instead of cutting and pasting, you might consider trying a rational response.

 

A rational response requires a rational mind Mo. Too much to ask for I'm afraid.

I could say the graphic used in the story may just as well have said, "You were in the Army? Let me guess: You were a (insert one) Ranger, Green Beret, member of Delta."

That was kind of what I was looking for, but my Ranger Up buds made this one the other day, and it fit well enough.  It didn't have profanity in it, which is somewhat rare with those guys.  (Best Facebook site in the business, and those guys are seriously philanthropic towards their fellow vets.)

So basically Long Range Patrol 41 is stating that because SCOTUS said it is legal that he should be able to use that as a justification for being a liar. Well at least he is being honest and up front about that. LOL :)

All this and many other issues could come to a quick conclusion if our government representatives decided to take a steadfast stand and do their jobs. pzswe

Uh... Hey Dallas... You're missing the point. You see, the SAME freedom you're abusing to lie about your service is also the one that protects our right to call you out on your Bovine Scatology. I feel sorry for a man who had obviously served his Country with honor, but wasn't satisfied to settle for his actual achievements. The fact that you aren't arguing that the accusations are untrue, but that lying is protected speech says volumes about your actions. You've no one but yourself to blame for your problems and blaming Seavey isn't going to make your BS stories true, or restore the honor that you, yourself have sullied.

Let's take this up a notch. Consider a man who has forged credentials, birth certificate and social security documents to obtain an office in violation of the constitution of the United States of America. Yet an Arizona Sheriff, a billionaire and a select few, have virtually been ignored by the mainstream media, and courts, who could uphold their validity. Is this not stolen valor in the highest order? Far beyond claiming to be a Green Beret, a Navy Seal or whatever. And yet the courts have ruled, "It's Ok for them to do it!?" We have members of congress who have claimed military honors they wished they had. We have one member of congress who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Hanoi Hillton. Yet this one man said, "Heroes don't have to brag!" If your basement was backed up with sewage what would you do? I say pump them all out.

I'd like to know why this issue is not treated and looked upon as simple fraud. We prosecute embezzlers and thieves all the time. Petty Theft and Grand Theft is a crime. To me, there is no distinguishing difference between a person who runs a pyramid Scheme defrauding 100’s of people and someone who misrepresents themselves to gain undeserved notoriety, or obtain benefits they would otherwise be ineligible to receive. Constitutionality should not even be an issue! You have no Constitutional Right through direct action or verbally to defraud the public. People go to jail for that all the time. I do not hear any of them sounding off that it is their Constitutional Right to defraud and steal. For god sake, we might as well open the prisons and release all those convicted of Fraud and larceny if this is the case. I do not think these justices are being fair in their application of passing or striking down parts of the Stolen Valor Act.

Who cares about these nutless wonders? Lies have a way of catching up with you, one way or another.

"A Rose by any other name is still a Rose" I don't think our forefathers intened the "freedom of speech" clause to include lies; unless the USSC intened this more for politicians then for the common man!

Federal Appeals court agreed that Fox news had a right to knowingly present false information as news under their first amendment rights. I agree that both are wrong, but you can't have it both ways.

Deceiving someone for the purpose of material gain is fraud. Why aren't these phonies charged with fraud??

Mention must also be made here about the mysterious absence of young George W. Bush from the performance of his duties for the Air National Guard, Dan Rather's loss of his job for pursuing the subject, and the so-called Swift Boat Veterans For Truth campaign against Senator John Kerry in the presidential campaign. This business of heroism, slander and fraud is a mixed bag.

As far as I'm concerned, if it's not on your DD214 or in your military record, a person is up a creek without a paddle. What happened to personal morals? Did the Supreme Court take those away as well and told nobody? Shame, shame, shame! I sleep very good at night knowing I didn't have to lie about my awards.

It isn't up to the Supreme Court to tell the Congress how to write the law correctly. The lying about a military record can only be a crime in certain specific situations. Delineate them, for example, false official statements to a government agency, etc.

SCOTUS is republican packed and they serve for life, or should i say appointed.
John Kerry as far as I'm concerned got screwd.
Hell, I'm a Marine not a squid and the dept of the navy I seved in was the mens dept.

Must have drink some Bad Kool Aid.

I am extremely disappointed in some of the Supreme Court's decisions. In the early to mid 1970's they decided that burning the American Flag was protected under "Free Speech", which I fail to understand in any way whatsoever. Now, they have decided that making false claims concerning military service and/or awards is protected under "Free Speech". So many harmful things seem to be protected under that cloak yet expressing a less than flattering opinion of the President or Federal Government entities can land you in some serious trouble, NOT protected under "Free Speech". I fail to understand the thinking.

The law needs to be carefully rewritten, avoiding the grounds of rejection by SCOTUS.
Monetary advantage or other rewards gained by fraud should be the focus of the new law.
When I was in during '53-54, any ribbons, battle stars, decorations fraudulent rank on the uniform put you in deep doo-doo with the Army.
Also at that time, it was illegal for non service personnel to wear a Class A uniform or part; although fatigue pants or shirts were worn by some underclass poor.

Here is two things that are not covered in your lengthy blog.
1. Being retired disabled military has caused me to be broke, and told every day that the military ruined my life forever. So, consequently, I never show any of my medals or even to the fact I am a nerve agent casualty of Dugway Proving Grounds United StatesTest and Evaluation Command. Anything I did there you do not want to know because there might be riots.
2. Governor Chaffe of Rhode Island has declared the Narraganset tribe as non citizens with no right to vote. Their record of military service has been shredded by order of the State.

Let's get real. I guess we all need to vent and always have something to say. Are you all serious about this matter, who cares. While you all gab about some stolen valor the Nation is being torn into multiple pieces by the wolves who are in your back yards stealing your goods. We need to refocus our saliva and focus on the fact that their are crooks at the Nations highest levels ripping us off and keeping us in the poor house. WAKE UP AMERICA!

Hi Mothax! (BTW, are you the "Moth" on "The Quest" pages? Phredd here.)

Like you, I graduated from Law School. I even got an "A" in Constitutional Law. I understood that Stolen Valor would be subject to "strict scrutiny" review, but I really thought it should pass the test. As you noted, it is about lies that are very specific and subject to definitive verification. There is also NOTHING about such lies that can possibly be valid political debate. They are also very different in character from claiming to be, e.g. an Olympian althlete or Nobel laureate.

Specifically, Stolen Valor was meant to serve what is certainly a "compelling government interest", the first prong of the test. So the test is then whether it was "narrowly crafted". I STILL maintain that it was. The plurality opinion's "truth will out" approach is not a narrowly crafted response to stolen valor, it is a non-response.

Okay, so a new bill is in the works to add fraud elements. By all means, such a project should be pursued, but I suggest another project to be pursued in parallel. How about a federal law that makes Stolen Valor a crime, but with NO PENALTIES, i.e. no jail time, fines, or even probation? Narrow enough for you, SCOTUS? What a conviction under such a law would have is a VERDICT from a court of law that "valor has been stolen". In other words, it would be simply a mechanism for "outing the truth", which seems to be exactly the plurality opinion's remedy!

Of course, if you apply for admission to the Bar, or for any number of other posts, you generally must disclose all convictions, and thus, with such a conviction, admit the truth of your service, but how is this in any way "chilling" of political speech"?

Finally, after SCOTUS' poorly reasoned fiasco in the Arizona immigration case, our new law should also specifically authorize the states to enact and enforce such a Stolen Valor law.

(My problem with the immigration case is this. The Harrison Act makes the sale, possession, use, etc. of many drugs a federal crime. Many states, of course, also have such laws, so why isn't THAT prohibited by the reasoning in the immigration case? The quick answer, of course, will be that Immigration is exclusively a federal matter. That looks good on the surface, but Constitutional theory going back to the Slaughterhouse cases is that a citizen is a citizen of the United States AND a citizen of the state of residence. Persons lawfully within the U.S. are also lawfully within a state, and a person unlawfully within the U.S. is also ineligible for any kind of lawful residence within a state. So although I agree that no state has the authority to deport a person from the U.S., I believe that any state has the authority to order an unlawful resident to leave the state!)

I thought that when you lied to make money it was called fraud. Can't these phonies be prosecuted for fraud if they advanced their business from their false claims?

Can and should the Gov't be prosecuted for actions against it's citizens for conduct unbecoming of the Constitution of the United States. Drop the Stolen Valor crap when we should be focused on bigger issues pertaining to our freedoms and our way of life here in America as a whole. While the Gov't has us entertained with petty issues they have their hands in our wallets and our Constitution is being shred as we speak.

Can and should the Gov't be prosecuted for actions against it's citizens for conduct unbecoming of the Constitution of the United States. Drop the Stolen Valor crap when we should be focused on bigger issues pertaining to our freedoms and our way of life here in America as a whole. While the Gov't has us entertained with petty issues they have their hands in our wallets and our Constitution is being shred as we speak.

Now (3 years, as of 290712), with a "RADICAL PROSTECOTOMY" added to my list of Uncle Sam's gifts, to Vietnam Veterans ( comp, discontinued = "DON"T NEED IT", per VA, though I still, leak), I "STILL" strive to acuire my CMB (of course there is a BS [in more ways than one ?] & stipend, that is "LONNNNG OVERDUE + only "42" years,now. I also have other medals ("TRUE AWARDS"), that I have never received, but were earned,and sooooooo....BUT, I did get sent, from you know who, my SM w/ "4" little BS &, my Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. I know I didn't do much, as a BN Aidman (1st Inf Div), and a Combat Medic (4th Inf Div), so maybe that is why I am not just totally refused my just awards, BUT, to also have complete, misidentified units & locations .... "DAMN= IF I"M LUCKY (and my "3" premie,birth defect, daughters), befoe my years ("63" now) are done & finished, I'll "FINALLY" might have it all together, for them."DAMN = THE TRUTH IS SOOOO, & REALLLY DIFFICULT(compared to " FREEDOM of SPEECH LIES")!!!!"

When I went through Basic, I learned that if someone is tried and convicted in the civilian world, the soldier, whether Active or Veteran, can also be tried by the Military's UCMJ. If this is the case, in instances where the Stolen Valor is with someone who served, then let the Military deal with it under their own auspices. I'm sure at least a good portion of these liars are former soldiers making themeslves out to be more than they were. The UCMJ can punish those who are caught lying about awards they did not earn or receive as conduct unbecoming a soldier. Let the Stolen Valor Act be used in the civilian world and let the military take care of the rest.

It looks like the fairy dust is still circulating the brains... You guys are all on acid tripping on this Stolen Valor issue... You morons as citizens of this Nation better wake up and focus on the bigger more important issues like why the Gov't is working on stripping us Americans of our Constitutional rights such as gun control. OH! the most of you are Vets I assume... Lets talk about the crappy Veterans Administration Service veterans get such as medical care and how about other vet services that are below standard. OH! I forgot you guys all got tunnel vision so I presume you all will continue to yack about stolen valor while the Gov't slowly rapes you until your eyes pop out of your thick skulls.

Chapter 9

What is the Fake Warrior Act of 2012, and why is it needed?

The Stolen Valor Act [2006] infringes upon
speech protected by the First Amendment.
—Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, U.S. v. Alvarez

In the Introduction to the First Edition of Fake Warriors: Identifying, Exposing, and Punishing Those Who Falsify Their Military Service, in 2003, we wrote that:

Unknown to most Americans, there is a virtual epidemic of imposters in this country—countless thousands of men who, since the Vietnam War, have been either inventing a non-existent military service, or inflating their war records. Veterans’ benefits amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars are being stolen. Military decorations are being falsely claimed, and often worn, by men never authorized to receive them—the kind of medals earned the hard way by genuine war heroes.
The next year, presidential candidate John Kerry’s campaign website claimed that he had been awarded not only three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star (all undeserved), but the Silver Star was adorned with a “Combat ‘V’.” That combination (Silver Star and “Combat ‘V’”) has never in all history been issued by the United States Navy because the “V” (for valor) is redundant to the Silver Star (for valor).

During the 2010 election it was revealed that the successful Democratic Party candidate for a Connecticut seat in the United States Senate, Richard Blumenthal—former United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut and State Attorney General—lied for years about serving in Vietnam. (If every veteran, their families and friends had voted against the Fake Warrior, perhaps the election’s outcome would have been different.)

In the first edition of Fake Warriors, we wrote that “[u]nless something is done about . . . Fake Warriors, their shameless, self-aggrandizing, and costly conduct will not only continue unabated, it will grow.”

Whatever the influence—Burkett and Whitley’s Stolen Valor, ourFake Warriors I, or something else—several years before the Blumenthal fiasco a dedicated group of patriots formulated an anti-Fake Warrior federal statute, lobbied fiercely for it, and succeeded in having it enacted by Congress and signed into law on December 20, 2006 by President George W. Bush. It was called the “Stolen Valor Act of 2006” (SVA).

The Act amended 18 U.S.C 704 (a), which for years had criminalized the wearing, manufacture, or sale of unauthorized military decorations, medals, and awards. Note the italicized words. They all constitute acts, not “pure speech.”

In support of the SVA, Congress made a finding that Section 704(a) had previously inadequately protected “the reputation and meaning of military decorations and medals.” (Put aside the question of whether “military decorations and medals” can themselves, rather than individuals, have a “reputation”).

Accordingly, the SVA amended, and broadened, Section 704, to read as follows:

(b) Whoever falsely represents himself or herself, verbally or inwriting, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States, any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal, or any colorable imitation of such item shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Note the two words I have italicized, which describe not acts—such as wearing, manufacturing or selling—but pure speech.

Under this amendment, if the Fake Warrior claims to have been awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, or Purple Heart, punishment for the crime is enhanced to not more than one year in prison, or both.

Throughout the drafting of the SVA and the legislative process leading to its enactment—and, for that matter, later while the Act was in force and prosecutions were occurring—Professor Holzer repeatedly told the Act’s partisans and others that as admirable as the law’s intention was, because it punished pure speech it violated the First Amendment and was thus unconstitutional.

As an Army veteran who served in Korea in the mid-1950s, and co-author of this book who considers “Fake Warrior-ism” reprehensible, Professor Holzer much preferred to have reached the opposite conclusion.

But as a constitutional lawyer for over fifty years, it was clear to him that Section 704(b) of the SVA was a content-based suppression of pure speech that could not be justified by the kind of requisite narrowly tailored, “compelling” federal interest the Court has found in a very few other Free Speech cases—such as punishing defamation, “fighting words,” and hard-core pornography, and protecting the psychological and physical well-being of children. Indeed, the Supreme Court has more than once said that a “compelling government interest is an ‘interest of the highest order’.”

Professor Holzer’s legal conclusion was vindicated on June 28, 2012, by the 6-3 decision of the Supreme Court in the Alvarez case, holding Section 704(b) unconstitutional.
We have corrected the problem of unconstitutionally punishing pure speech in our FAKE WARRIOR ACT OF 2012.
An Act
To punish false and fraudulent claims to having received military decorations, medals and other awards authorized by the Congress and Armed Forces of the United States.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the “Fake Warrior Act of 2012.”

SECTION 2. FINDINGS. Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Citizens of the United States are justifiably grateful to members who currently serve, and have served, in the Armed Forces of the United States, and hold them in high esteem.

(2) Members of the Armed Forces of the United States who have been recipients of military decorations, medals and other awards are held in even higher esteem by citizens of the United States.

(3) Gratitude to members of the Armed Forces of the United States generally, and to those who have received military decorations, medals and other awards in particular, makes citizens of the United States susceptible to fraudulent claims by persons falsely purporting to have received such decorations, medals and awards.

(4) That susceptibility can and does result in citizens of the United States being fraudulently induced by persons who falsify their receipt of military decorations, medals and other awards to part with something of tangible or other actual value to which the fraudsters are not entitled and with which the victims would not otherwise have parted.

(5) Fraudulent claims of the receipt of military decorations, medals and awards results in serious harm to the citizens of the United States, including but not limited to unauthorized access to classified and other sensitive information and installations, undeserved receipt of veteran and related benefits, unwarranted leniency at sentencing for crimes, and by the unfair treatment of abuse victims by those claiming to have suffered trauma in military service.

(6) Legislative action by Congress is necessary to punish the false and fraudulent claims by persons purporting to have received military decorations, medals and awards.
SECTION 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF CRIMINAL OFFENSE RELATING TO FALSE AND FRAUDULENT CLAIMS ABOUT RECEIPT OF MILITARY MEDALS AND AWARDS.

(1) FALSE AND FRAUDULENT CLAIMS ABOUT RECEIPT OF MILITARY DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND AWARDS.
Whoever knowingly and falsely, with the intent to obtain something of tangible or other actual value to which he or she is not entitled, represents himself or herself, verbally or in writing, under circumstances where such representation may reasonably be expected to be believed, to have been awarded any military decoration, medal or award authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States, any of the service medals or badges awarded to the member of such forces, the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration, medal, award, or any colorable imitation of such item, and who as a result of such representation obtains something of tangible or other actual value to which he or she is not entitled, shall be fined $5,000, imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
(2) ENHANCED PENALTY FOR OFFENSES INVOLVING CERTAIN OTHER MEDALS.

If a military decoration, medal or award involved in an offense described in Section 3 (1) is a Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, POW Medal or Purple Heart, in lieu of the punishment provided in such section the offender shall be fined $10,000, imprisoned not less than nine months nor more than twelve months, or both.

You will note that the FAKE WARRIOR ACT OF 2012 differs from the 2006 Act in at least two significant ways.

First, we have grounded the government’s interest not in punishing pure speech because, as the Alvarez Court demonstrated, in the Fake Warrior context there is no narrowly tailored compelling government interest that will justify doing so. Instead, we have rested that interest on criminalizing a traditional type of fraud, one that has been a common law and statutory crime for centuries.

And we have supported the government’s interest with “Findings” that emphasize the statute’s anti-fraud intention, instead of resting it on the suppression of pure speech (as Section 704(b) of the SVA regrettably and unconstitutionally did). These Findings will provide a reviewing court with an unambiguous understanding of the legislation’s sole anti-fraud purpose.

A word of warning, however.
On May 5, 2011, while litigation was occurring in the federal courts over Section 704(b) of the Stolen Valor Act of 2006, and its constitutional infirmity was becoming more apparent, Representative Joe Heck (R-NV-3) introduced the Stolen Valor Act of 2011 (H.R. 1775). On October 18, 2011, Senator Scott Brown introduced the identical bill in the Senate (S. 1728). Heck’s bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, and Brown’s to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
While we respect and applaud their desire to rectify the constitutional problem of the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 with their new bills, regrettably the proposed legislation is woefully inadequate to deal with Fake Warrior claims and, like the SVA of 2006, on shaky ground constitutionally.
The core of the Heck-Brown bills is this: “Whoever, with intent to obtain anything of value, knowingly makes a misrepresentation regarding his or her military service. . . .”
The proposed law then limits the “misrepresentations” to individuals who “served in a combat zone, served in a special operations force, or was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
There are many problems with these bills, among them that:
• Our Fake Warrior Act’s requirement of “falsity,” has been replaced with mere “misrepresentation”—a milder word which has a different legal meaning.
• The word “value” in the proposed SVA of 2011 is too vague, compared to our Fake Warrior Act’s use of “tangible or other actual value.”
• Since one could intentionally misrepresent to obtain something of value to which he was entitled, our Fake Warrior Act’s requirement of “not entitled” is crucial.
• The Heck-Brown bills do not specify whether the misrepresentation must or can be written or oral. Our Fake Warrior Act does.
• The proposed SVA of 2011 imposes no reliance by the recipient of the misrepresentation, compared to our Fake Warrior Act of 2012 which requires that the claimant have a reasonable expectation that he will be believed.
• Under our Fake Warrior Act the false statement must succeed, and the claimant actually receive something of “tangible or other actual value.” Not so under the Heck-Brown bills.
• In the Heck-Brown bills, the misrepresentation must be about “military service,” which is defined, among other ways, as “receipt of any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” Presumably, this includes the Good Conduct Medal, a trivial award in the company of those our Fake Warrior Act criminalizes: “Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, POW Medal or Purple Heart….”
• For “misrepresentations” about these seven, our Fake Warrior Act has a penalty enhancement. The Heck-Brown bills do not.
We stress these differences not to nit-pick either the laudable intention of the Heck-Brown bills, but rather because, as the Congressman and Senator themselves realize, the Fake Warrior scandal must be dealt with through Congressional legislation that will successfully get the job done. And for that to happen, a statute must be comprehensive and constitutional. Unfortunately, the Heck-Brown bills are neither. (They should be either withdrawn or buried in committee.)
In their place, our FAKE WARRIOR ACT OF 2012 should promptly be introduced, enacted, and become law.
Then, and only then, will federal prosecutors have the weapon they need to identify, expose, and punish those who falsify their military service.

The SAGA! continues... Let's right a book about the Gov't treating our veterans sub-standardly. Hey Holzer you need more room to write your thesis, holy crap lets write about the real issues. Like why the Gov't fell asleep at the wheel during the HOUSING crash and millions of hard working citizens are either homeless or on welfare. Or why do veterans with legitimate claims get denied? Or how come veterans that come back from a combat tour have to prove to the VA that they are having medical issues and their claims are denied, these are by far more serious issues than some guy bragging about his false service record. Wake up Vets! Wake up America!

DGW is not dealing with a full deck. Lights are flickering...but not constant. He is loosing ground...slowly running out of "Drop Zones" to land his load of SHIT on. The more people read about "It's All about ME" message that Dallas is promoting,The sooner they will learn and expose the truth , that DGW is actually fooling the public into believing his Life's work and message is "All about the Veteran" . He is a self promoting Asshole, who really could care less about anyone but himself. He did a fine Job reinventing his persona after Vietnam...but something went "Wrong"....and.... like "COL Kurtz"...he is now out there (flapping) acting on his own, without any guidance, or common sense from Higher. He is running out of time...as "PBR street Gang" is slowly making it's way up River..... to fix, find and finish DGW's career and put a stop to his ill gotten gains at the expense of Veterans causes.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.