02-20-2012, 07:11 PM #1
High court examines lying about military exploits
WASHINGTON (AP) - Xavier Alvarez was in good company when he stood up at a public meeting and called himself a wounded war veteran who had received the top military award, the Medal of Honor.
Alvarez was lying about his medal, his wounds and his military service, but he wasn't the first man to invent war exploits.
He was, however, one of the first people prosecuted under a 2006 federal law aimed at curbing false claims of military valor.
Concerns that the law improperly limits speech and turns people into criminals for things they say, rather than do, are at the heart of the Supreme Court's review of his case and the Stolen Valor Act.
Veterans groups have come to the aid of the Obama administration, which calls the law a narrowly crafted effort to protect the system of military awards that was established during the Revolutionary war by Gen. George Washington. The high court will hear the case Wednesday, which is Washington's 280th birthday.
When he established military decorations in 1782, seven years before he was elected as the nation's first president, Washington himself also prescribed severe military punishment for soldiers who purported to be medal winners but weren't. Since then, many men have embellished their war records, and some have won special recognition.
It long has been a federal crime to wear unearned medals, but mere claims of being decorated were beyond the reach of law enforcement.
The veteran, Myron Brown of Utah, said his Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star were awarded belatedly, and he asked Chaffetz to present them to him publicly.
After the ceremony took place, Sterner and others raised questions about the medals and the Pentagon confirmed to Chaffetz in December that they were not authentic.
"Others have been burned by this. I have too, but I want to solve the problem," Chaffetz told the Salt Lake Tribune. He is planning a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee he leads to explore creating a government-run awards database.
More at link....
I remember when that one general (?) killed himself because he was wearing a medal he had not really won and it was coming out....can't recall his name now...
02-20-2012, 07:49 PM #2Former Member
- Join Date
- Jan 2012
Lying ain't a good thing.
02-20-2012, 11:01 PM #3
Here's an article about the man that committed suicide in 1996 when it was found he had not gotten the medal he wore:
His sin was venial, but the consequences were mortal. By his own hand last Thursday, the Navy's most senior officer put a .38-caliber bullet into his chest, ending his life. Adm. Jeremy M. Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations, killed himself when faced with disclosure by a magazine article that he had claimed two Vietnam War decorations to which he was not entitled.
The admiral had not masqueraded as a Medal of Honor and Silver Star winner. He had embellished a pair of minor achievement ribbons he had been awarded in the Vietnam conflict with small V's that signified that the awards were for combat action. As it turned out, Admiral Boorda was never authorized to wear the combat V's.
The admiral knew that the degree of his offense was minor. But it was not the degree that drove him to suicide. Mistakenly or not, he had violated one of the most sacred trusts of the armed forces: the integrity of military awards. The shame and dishonor were too much for him. Perhaps as exculpation he put a bullet through the very place where he wore the counterfeit awards.
For a soldier, sailor, airman or marine a decoration is the symbol of status within the military fraternity. It has ever been so in the military. Virgil in "Aeneid," in the first century B.C., extols the soldier with "Let all be present and expect the palm, the price of victory".
02-20-2012, 11:22 PM #4Registered User
- Join Date
- Aug 2003
- Palm Springs
You know, I'm opposed to all but the most dangerous infringements on our freedom of speech, but this law doesn't really bother me.
Would somebody like to tell me why I am wrong?
02-21-2012, 06:40 AM #5Inactive
- Join Date
- Aug 2008
- Fairfield, Ohio
I was much more offended when the Republican Party, at its 2004 national convention, distributed BandAids decorated with cute little purple hearts, openly mocking wounded and decorated American soldiers.
A whole party full of "let someone else fight my war" types like Rush Limbaugh- openly mocking war heroes. If my father had been at that convention, I bet someone would have gotten a broken nose.
Though I agree that insulting maimed veterans should be legal and tolerated, I will never forgive the Republican Party for pulling that stunt at their highest visibility event. A liar declaring himself a hero is nothing in comparison.
Besides, didn't Reagan falsely claim to have fought in WW2? Or was that John Wayne?
02-22-2012, 08:36 PM #6
Interesting discussion in the SC on this issue:
High court torn over law banning lies about medals
WASHINGTON (AP) — Free speech cases before the Supreme Court often lead justices to consider far-fetched scenarios, and Wednesday's argument over a law making it a crime to lie about having received top military honors was no exception.
One after another, the justices wanted to know whether a decision upholding the Stolen Valor Act could lead down a slippery slope to new laws against such things as lying about the Holocaust, an extramarital affair, a high school diploma, college degrees or to impress a date.
"Where do you stop?" Chief Justice John Roberts asked at one point.
But the justices also suggested that it might be possible in this case to uphold the 2006 law anyway by reasoning that Congress has an interest in protecting medals it created to honor war heroes.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the earlier cases made clear that merely offending others by itself is not enough to justify limiting speech.
"So outside of the emotional reaction, where's the harm? And I'm not minimizing it. I, too, take offense when people make these kinds of claims, but I take offense when someone I'm dating makes a claim that's not true," said Sotomayor, who is divorced.
On the other side from Sotomayor was Justice Antonin Scalia. "When Congress passed this legislation, I assume it did so because it thought that the value of the awards that these courageous members of the armed forces were receiving was being demeaned and diminished by charlatans. That's what Congress thought," Scalia said.
The effort to limit the reach of a ruling in favor of the law appeared to be the court's most pressing concern.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wondered whether Congress could use the same rationale put forth by Verrilli to justify laws against denying the existence of the Holocaust or lying merely about having served in the military.
Justice Elena Kagan asked whether the government's concern about the stability of the family could lead to a law "to prevent everybody from telling lies about their extramarital affairs."
Several justices expressed concern that a ruling striking down the law might also call into question a separate provision that makes it a crime to actually wear an unearned medal.
More at link...
02-23-2012, 02:07 AM #7Staffies They're Softer Than You Think
"From where you're kneeling, it must seem like an 18-carat string of bad luck. But the truth is... the game was rigged from the start." – Benny Fallout: New Vegas
"What is the most admirable creature on God's green Earth? Why, it's the bee! Have you ever seen a bee on vacation? Have you ever seen a bee take a sick day? Well, my friends, the answer is no! So I say, be... the bee! Be the bee!" - Jeremiah Fink Bioshock Infinite
By tybee204 in forum Up to the MinuteReplies: 1Last Post: 10-05-2005, 02:21 PM