Military poseurs cause a lot of damage

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I have not read anything in the local papers or on television about the latest attempt of the American Civil Liberties Union to bend how the majority thinks to its point of view. It also is surprising, as this is an area that traditionally shows strong support for the military.

The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime to steal the reputation won by others by falsely claiming service, awards, decorations and rank that were not earned.

There are three cases going through the judicial system to test the law's constitutionality. One in California deals with a man who claimed to be a 25-year Marine with the Medal of Honor. One man in Colorado claimed to be a Naval Academy graduate, in the Pentagon on 9-11 and commander of a Marine battalion in Iraq. And a man in Texas wore a general's uniform with a chest full of medals to a political function.

None of them could prove anything by way of providing discharge papers or other documentation. The ACLU's position is that these falsehoods do not do any real harm to those who legitimately earned their military honors, and these types of falsehoods are protected speech under the First Amendment. The government says harm is caused by these lies.

Those who do this do so for a reason. They seek to deceive others for personal gain and/or try to manipulate people's behavior through these falsehoods.

I would think the ACLU would have real issues to spend their time and our tax dollars on. What do you say, Augusta Chronicle?

(The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.)

Comments (13) Add comment
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gaspringwater
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gaspringwater 03/28/10 - 10:44 pm
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The ACLU is correct to

The ACLU is correct to challenge the Stolen Valor Act. The Act of 2005 signed by G W Bush makes it a federal misdemeanor for unauthorized wear, manufacture, sale or claim to any military decoration or medals. It's absurd that people can claim to be the President, the Pope, judge, graduate of whatever university, movie star or even Napoleon and that's not a misdemeanor . But they're guilty of a federal misdemeanor if they have a bogus medal or falsely claim to be a recipient. Neither the nation's flag nor any military medals should become a Holy Cow.

TheFederalist
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TheFederalist 03/29/10 - 01:01 am
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Gaspringwater, once again you

Gaspringwater, once again you have come down on the wrong side, but that is typical for you. Mr. Opfermann, your letter is right on target, despite what some may say. It is an absolute outrage that someone can pretend to be a war hero, use that fantasy for personal gain, and then it's merely a misdemeanor? Horsefeathers! What bilge. This is a slap in the face to those who wore the uniform proudly and laid their life on the line in defense of our country. Sadly, many did not live to come home, and now these fallen heros are being betrayed by those who would mock their service, and steal their honor and respect, and for nothing more than money or prestige. Anyone who would do this is beneath contempt, and the worst form of low life scum, that imho, should absolutely be sent to prison. Contrary to what some people may think, our nation's flag, and the military insignia, uniforms, and medals, that are earned and worn proudly by our men and women in all branches of the military should be respected, protected, and it should be a crime to try and steal what they sacrificed their lives to attain. Anyone who thinks otherwise, either never served, or is sadly mistaken, or both.

Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 03/29/10 - 03:29 am
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I suppose impersonating a cop

I suppose impersonating a cop should be legal too, gaspringwater?

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 03/29/10 - 04:38 am
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I guess you have to be a

I guess you have to be a leftie to understand the perspective of a leftie. Or are most of them just anti-right because their tv tells them to? The power of the press is great.

overburdened_taxpayer
117
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overburdened_taxpayer 03/29/10 - 04:43 am
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TheFederalist says "Anyone

TheFederalist says "Anyone who thinks otherwise, either never served, or is sadly mistaken, or both." I agree but lets add that if those who served think otherwise, then they have no pride in their service.

carcraft
27886
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carcraft 03/29/10 - 04:52 am
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People that think the ACLU is

People that think the ACLU is correct don't realize that many of those medal that were earned in combat represent the ultimate scarifice of many and the survival of the few who wear the award..I have talked to many people who have recieved awards for valor in combat and they ALL say that the real heroes are the ones that didn't come home!!! Shame on devalueing the honor and sacrifice of our combat arms military men and women !!!!

sdrwtcn
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sdrwtcn 03/29/10 - 04:53 am
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If you have not served, you

If you have not served, you have no idea. If you have served and don't care, you probably didn't earn them. The military does give out some bolo badges occasionally!

justus4
111
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justus4 03/29/10 - 06:02 am
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C'om on now. The Ltc must
Unpublished

C'om on now. The Ltc must know that the ACLU is a vital part of our democracy. Because they attempt to defend such individuals, that does not mean the ACLU agrees with the crimes - They MUST mount some kind of defense! And to take what everyone knows is a defense that's hopeless, and say, "see, the ACLU believe in the criminal" is being dishonest.

NoCatchyName
51
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NoCatchyName 03/29/10 - 07:12 am
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C'om on now justus. You know

C'om on now justus. You know that the ACLU is not required to mount a defense in any case. They pick and choose the cases they wish to become involved with and generally those cases have a liberal slant. They are just playing to their base.

tom2001
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tom2001 03/29/10 - 05:01 pm
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The question before the court

The question before the court in these cases is not whether it is morally repugnant to claim to have received medals you didn't earn, but at what point does a lie become a criminal act. We all know we can't "shout FIRE in a crowded movie theater", or impersonate law enforcement personnel, but why does the mere claiming that you earned a medal you didn't become criminal? Lying with no attempt to commit fraud (or endangering the public, etc.) is what is legally called "protected speech" in the Constitution. I can lie and claim I'm a famous brain surgeon at a pick up bar without any legal consequence, why not claim that I'm a medal recipient? That's the questions the courts will decide in the cases cited in the article.

Sargebaby
4693
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Sargebaby 03/29/10 - 05:13 pm
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Tom2001 says; "The question

Tom2001 says; "The question before the court in these cases is not whether it is morally repugnant to claim to have received medals you didn't earn, but at what point does a lie become a criminal act."
__________________________

Please allow me; the point where it becomes a criminal act, is when a benefit is claimed and/or paid. It becomes a criminal act when the claimant uses facilities such as the hospital, PX, or commisary. It becomes a criminal act when they register a vehicle on a Military post. The list only goes on from here. Do you get the picture now?

Edited to add, certain awards (medals) carry certain benefits. It becomes a criminal act to wear that award, and/or claim that benefit.

Tess Teckles
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Tess Teckles 03/30/10 - 08:17 am
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This is Obama's fault!

This is Obama's fault!

tom2001
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tom2001 03/30/10 - 09:50 am
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Sargebaby: "Please allow me;

Sargebaby: "Please allow me; the point where it becomes a criminal act, is when a benefit is claimed and/or paid."

We agree 100%. Many of these poseurs use their false claims of awards for financial gain/benefit. That's fraud (in the legal sense) and has been illegal long before the enactment of the Stolen Valor Act.

In two out of the three cases cited above, these poseurs simply claimed to have been awarded certain decorations, and received no benefit in doing so. The third cases involves an obviously disturbed individual (IMHO) with a criminal history of posing as an airline pilot.

NoCatchyName
51
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NoCatchyName 03/30/10 - 05:38 pm
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Tom and Sarge: Please allow

Tom and Sarge: Please allow me, the point where it becomes a criminal act is instantaneous now that the legislature has made that act a criminal offense.

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