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

| July 3, 2012 | 35 Comments

Normally I wouldn’t cross-post this in toto, but since Wittgenfeld’s stuff started here, I thought y’all should get a chance to weigh in as well.  If anyone finds any errors of fact, or something that deserves clarification, please let me know.

 

[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.

UPDATE: Lest anyone think it will end here, I just received this from Wittgenfeld:

Airborne…..! Bedford Boy,

This is the very real deal LRRP 41…. over….!

You know what “a LRRP” is right…? Trail Assassin….

Sooooo, I sent your American Legion Headquarters top echelon my concerns and considerations about you and asked for their responses . I was amazed to find out you deleted all my messages about you, at your own will and they never got to the top. You know that is against the Federal Law to exclude me from anything, right..? Especially if you are a not-for-profit Veterans service organization.

http://truthaboutharassment.blogspot.com/2012/07/american-legion-employs-harassers-of.html

And when I posted on the American Legion Headquarters FaceBook pages about you, I was deleted and banned, again.

http://truthaboutharassment.blogspot.com/2012/07/pownetworks-shantag-ugly-work.html

Then when I posted my concerns and considerations about you on the American Legion Burn Pit to explain my concerns and considerations, I was deleted by you and banned again. Three Strikes… you are out…. Get ready for the burn in your pit.

http://truthaboutharassment.blogspot.com/2012/06/stolen-valor-hunters-crying-blues.html

Category: Politics

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  1. Joe Williams says:

    If Dallas does dare to try crash The Gala. I will be waiting outside to call his lying, bragging self. I do not need any weapons for a coward like him. Verbal abuse of his lack of Honor should be enough. Joe

  2. SkySoldier says:

    Well written piece, my head kind of hurts from all the Dally Boy stuff. Sometimes I like to think people get a clue and come to their senses about lying, cheating, stealing, etc….but this dude…this dude sets the bar high enough that I hope no one ever reaches it. He is a veteran, he served, was wounded and made it back home. Why is that not enough? By all accounts (minus the lying) he has a legit combat service record that anyone would be proud to honor. What is the point in lying about it? It appears there is more mental issues with Dallas than anything, hell I would have been happy to buy him a beer at a local VFW or listen to him talk with just what he accomplished without embelishing his record. Now he is one of if not the most hated Veteran in the internet and he will never get the respect he earned fighting for our Country in Vietnam. It’s a sad story but I do not feel sorry for him. If he outright earned that CIB why can’t he just show it? Or remember the dates of his first ground combat? Hell I recieved mine almost 7 years ago but I still remember the exact date and exactly what went through my mind when I heard the first rounds crack over head. I remember most firefights not all of them (you know the phrase, if you go through a whole magazine in the first volley it’s going to be a good one, most of mine were hit and runs against us) but I will never forget the fear, excitement, and adrenaline I felt that day.

  3. Just A Grunt says:

    This shit would get real to these phonies if all of sudden some jihadists decided to take out their revenge on some of these phonies. Wouldn’t be long until they were asking to go into the Witness Protection program.

  4. Old Trooper says:

    Dallas: You’re like a used condom; you served a valiant purpose, at one time, but now that time has expired.

    I honor your service in Vietnam, but you have tarnished that honor in what you have been doing since then.

  5. Nicki says:

    While a lot of these people are just pieces of crap, this Dallas character sounds seriously sick. I’m normally pretty snarky and doubtful about these freaks, but my non-professional opinion is that he really is in serious need of medical attention. I think he’s just crazy enough to show up at the Gala, and he will seriously get his ass kicked in a very real and violent way. It’s kind of sad, actually.

    Glad you wrote this, Mark.

  6. Isnala says:

    Very well writen post TSO, keep up the good work!

    – Ish

  7. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    TSO – Good to Go!

  8. Old Tanker says:

    Good grief….I hope he gets some help….

  9. Jeff says:

    You weren’t kidding; that was long. I really don’t know what to say. Like sky soldier, I remember very well the night I earned my CIB (the excitement, adrenaline, fear, etc.) a little over 4 years ago. I’m proud of my service but, because of people like this and the fact that people are starting to become a little more savvy about posers, I don’t want to tell people I was a veteran because I don’t want to have to defend that statement.

    All I can say is this…I also live in Indy, I have a handgun carry license from the state of Indiana and, I have an ample supply of weapons and ammunition, and I’m willing (day or night) to come to the aid of a fellow veteran should he/she need it…or people that stick up for veterans like Mary.

    We’re behind you

  10. Hondo says:

    Good article, Mark. But I have to take issue with one minor point.

    What folks like Wittgenfeld and Sharkey are doing are not unique to Stolen Valor cases. Use of the courts and/or police to harass and intimidate enemies goes far beyond that topic – as the recent practice of “SWATting” shows. Ditto for the problem of unhinged loons who may threaten or attempt violence.

    The solution for the former is for judges to collectively grow a pair and start identifying – and throwing in jail for criminal contempt – serial abusers of the legal system, plus attaching their assets to pay for damages caused by such abuse. A few such high-profile cases would do wonders. Ditto for anyone found to engage in SWATting an enemy – trial on charges of attempted manslaughter (or at a minimum, reckless endangerment) seem about right.

    As to the former, the 2nd Amendment and CC are IMO the proper solutions. Unless of course you live in DC, Illinois, or a select number of other jurisdictions. In that case, perhaps a big dog and a baseball bat (or a shotgun) nearby is in order.

  11. Chuck says:

    Well written and very persuasive. Like you I can understand Scotus’ decision but I soundly disagree with it. If I worship anything it is the 1st amendment and all it stands for but those that claim military honors they did not earn or military service they did not perform it is not about free speech. It is about, in my opinion, a dangerous narcissistic complex and very frequently fraud. Far too often these phonies are taking hard earned dollars from people who honestly wish to support veterans and their causes.

    The Stolen Valor Act was not just about putting away some liars. It was about punishing those that use fraudulent military claims for personal gain. Whether it is financial or intangible, the end result is the same. A distrust of veterans that was never earned but handed to them by people who did not have the fortitude to serve themselves.

  12. Hank Holzer says:

    Henry Mark Holzer

    ——————————————————————————–
    FAKE WARRIOR ACT OF 2012

    Posted: 02 Jul 2012 10:57 AM PDT

    Recently, I’ve mentioned the Holzers’ forthcoming second edition of Fake Warriors: Identifying, Exposing, and Punishing Those Who Falsify Their Military Service.

    Even though the book will be available in about a month, in today’s blog I am taking the unusual step of publishing Chapter 9 in its entirety.

    Why?

    Because as soon as possible, we want to kill the “Stolen Valor Act of 2011″ bill now pending in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1775) and Senate (S. 1778).

    If you’re shocked, you shouldn’t be after reading our Chapter 9.

    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, our Fake 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 in writing, 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.

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  13. JohnLindley says:

    Good post TSO….you and all the guys here are doing great work for all of us who served….because they are stealing from us

  14. DR_BRETT says:

    No. 12 Hank Holzer !!
    I was just about, right now, to present Mr. Holzer’s No. 12 (or at least, the Computer Address for it) and he beat me to it !!
    Thank you, Henry Mark Holzer, JD .

  15. Goober says:

    The correct prescription for people who walk around claiming to be war heroes when they are not is to do exactly what you guys do here – subject them to analysis, scorn, ridicule, and the light of day.

    The improper prescription is to prosecute them for their actions.

    I know it is tough to see guys claiming credit for things that they didn’t do, but in a free country that values free speech, you sometimes have to watch douchebags say and do douchey things in return for those freedoms.

    Fred Phelps and his band of closet homos over at Westboro are a perfect example. yeah, I’d like for them to shut the hell up. I think that they are the ultimate in ass-bags for doing what they do, and the best thing to do when ass-bags show up is to expose them for the ass-bags that they are. But you can’t fight for this country and stand for all of the freedoms that it espouses, and also fight for the Stolen Valor law at the same time without being in stark contradiction of all of the values that so many fought and died for.

    It sucks. I know it does. I’m sure it sucks even worse to those of you that actually earned your bragging rights by defending this country. I would suggest that you are fighting and dying (in far too great of numbers) to protect the very things that you are now decrying, however.

  16. ret7 says:

    Interesting read, on Arthur W. South a few other things pop up me being a preacher an all …
    this link:
    http://www.pownetwork.org/horv/horv_870.htm
    leads to, among others, this one:
    http://business.intuit.com/directory/info-devtek-devotional-education-through-eternal-knowledgechurch-apple-valley-ca

    From which we see that his professional association (religiously) is with the Universal Church of Christ. Being curious I googled them and learned that you can get your ordination free & online.
    Further the #2 site on the search list, http://www.loveallpeople.org/universalchurchofchrist.html , has this to say, “The Universal Church Of Christ is the all-inclusive body of Christian believers, regardless of the details of their doctrine or the degree of their saintliness.”

    For the Christians who may read this, if you come on this crowd run, run far and run fast.
    Tim

  17. Hondo says:

    ret7: Hmmm. So South is an ordained on-line minister for “The Church of Anything Goes”, eh? With apologies to Lennon and McCartney, sounds like ” A splendid time time is guaranteed for all!”

  18. Old Trooper says:

    @16: Hey!! I was going to get my ordination through them! I want to be called “the right reverend Old Trooper”!!

    Kinda has a macho/sexy ring to it, eh?

  19. DR_BRETT says:

    No. 18 Old Trooper:
    Unless one remembers “reverend” j. jackson, et al.
    When I see “HON.” on the placards in Congress Hearings, I often cringe — taking the name in vain !!
    How about “The Right Young And Eternally Valorous Old Trooper” ??
    I like to think, I’ve caused no embarrassment .

  20. Brian says:

    Goober IMO fighting for free speech has nothing to do with fighting for the right for people to tell lies. It’s one thing to tell a white lie, like when you tell your wife those jeans don’t make her look fat. But when people are using lies to gain public office, public trust, get hiring preferences, or anything else that actually infringes on actual veterans these liars must be held accountable for their actions. It’s no different than wanting anyone else held accountable for their actions.

  21. SGTKane says:

    Sounds like you should let your local law enforcement know about the growing practice of “SWATTING”. These guys are seriously unhinged enough to try it.

  22. Currahee John says:

    You know, a thought occurred to me (yes, rare and painful as it may be!) about several things here; some of the terminology these loons used, like “a Facebook cyber-bully group..”, their use of sockpuppted “concerned unrelated parties” like “Arthur South” to contact employers and other authorities, as well as the whole range of pleading and threats ranging from mere insults to threats of physical violence and mayhem, all remind me of a brew-up around a University of Arizona (I think) professor a few years ago, who started harassing and threatening some conservative bloggers. Her name was (or I guess, still is) Deb Frisch, and while she was eventually fired from her job and shut up through multiple trials and court sentences, these tactics and even phrases used are nearly exactly the same ones she used.

    I’m not suggesting that Batshit Frisch has anything to do with any of these guys, it’s just that it is startling to see the same stuff showing up again. (full disclosure: Frisch contacted who she thought was my employer at one point and tried to get me fired, too; she was so dense that she actually thought I worked in a teddy bear factory, based on a joke I made at the time) It is clear to me that Vlad and Wittgenfeld have some serious mental illnesses, I wonder if there is some sort of identifiable syndrome that they all have succumbed to. Besides being outstanding a-holes, that is.

  23. TSO says:

    Curahee, you know, I hadn’t even read your comment but I caught “Frisch” and it all popped into place. Yup, I was thinking this followed a format and that was it.

    Was it Ace that went after her eventually? I remember it went on for quite a while.

  24. TSO says:

    Check that, Protein Wisdom, I just looked it up. I actually stopped reading that blog a while later when they had some weird civil war, but I remember the Affair de Dame Frisch fairly well.

  25. TSO says:

    Ironically, Frisch started her nonsense 6 years ago tomorrow.

  26. Currahee John says:

    TSO – Both Ace and Goldberg (Goldblum?) went after her, after she made explicit (and really obscene) death threats towards Jeff’s three year old son. Someone set up a website devoted to spreading the word far and wide about her, which worked admirably (just looked it up: http://tehdailysqueak.blogspot.com/ ), pretty close to what Jonn & the rest of y’all are doing here. I didn’t remember that this is the anniversary of Frisch, seems longer ago than that, for some reason.

    God bless you all for confronting these SV loons, I quit wearing my vet’s hat and association T-shirt years ago, because I was too embarrassed at the thought of being viewed as lumped together with these Medals of America Rangers. To be honest, I doubt I’ll ever pull them out again, leaving them in the same box as the rest of my service stuff; after the Alvarez decision and the other SCOTUS disaster of the same day, I am starting to wonder what happened to the country that I volunteered to serve.

  27. jonp says:

    “Who would have thought a few decades ago, with the toxic haze of the 1960s still so heavy in the air, Americans soon would be testing the limits of the First Amendment by pretending to be military heroes rather than burning the flag?” WSJ

  28. 1stCavRVN11B says:

    Excellent post TSO! I’ve been wondering what happend to our country for many years. Very good comments also. I am so thankful for TAH, The Burn Pit, POW Network, The Holzers, and so many others. Please keep up the great work and have a great 4th of July.

  29. BDFB says:

    Names Kevin TSO, new to your site and would like to say” I’m No Hero. Honored To Have Served W/Same. Speach may be Free. FREEDOM ISN’T ! USAF Sept 69 – Oct 79 Dicharged for Disability! I went where I was told to go, did what I was told to do. Aircraft Loadmaster, Heavey Equipment Operator Trainer. Time to Stand Up For Ours. God Bless America Our Troops and Yes Our Leaders.
    Your site BLACKFIVE is a Breath of CLEAN AIR in a Country that seems to be strangling on the LIES AND DECEPTIONS OF MORE THAN JUST POSERS.
    BDFB

  30. BDFB says:

    TSO BDFB BROKEN DOWN FLY BOY

  31. crazy says:

    The easiest remedy is for Congress to make these offenses punishable under the UCMJ and extend jurisdiction of civilian offenders to the offended military service. Let ‘em peel potatoes, break rocks, pick up trash on the golf course, swab the deck or whatever. It wouldn’t take too many prosecutions to make a dent in the phony hero for fame or profit business.

  32. Ted N says:

    Those guys are some special kinda crazy. Just plain wow. Thanks for putting up with it and outing them despite their wacko threats and bullshit. Hope stuff gets rewritten and resubmitted so we have some teeth to go after these crazies.

  33. Joe Williams says:

    Think about what the Brig Rats would do to Posers& Bloaters.

  34. Debi says:

    I’m still working on reading the whole piece, I thought about your advice to print it out, but seriously, I can’t afford that much paper. Dallas Wittgenfeld may actually believe all of what he says. His reactions and comments sound like they could have come from an acquaintance who is bipolar. I think he may be genuinely delusional. There are medications for that. The other man, Jonathan the Impaler Sharkey….. he IS special. You aren’t the only person he has problems with. Somewhere it was written that his baby daughter Hecate Sharkey was murdered. So I googled her trying to find news of it, wondering what happened. Instead I found an article about the American Pagans disassociating themselves from Jonathan Sharkey…. I think also “the Vampire community” have done so as well, and Sharkey’s reaction? He told them “you are all just domestic terrorists anywya, and he requested a meeting with Janet Nepolitano to discuss it. I cannot explain this properly, here is the link http://heathen-hub.com/blog.php?b=364 Be sure and read the comments. “This guy seems like a nut job” “seems?”, that about sums it up.

  35. TSO says:

    Sharkey’s email the other day said he was renoucning his citizenship and moving to Russia or somesuch nonsense.

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