New York Times:  “Courts to decide whether First Amendment protects lies about being a war hero.  The federal courts are wrestling with a question of liberty and patriotism: Does the First Amendment right to free speech protect people who lie about being war heroes?  At issue is the Stolen Valor Act, a three-year-old federal law that makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to lie about receiving a U.S. military medal. It is a crime even if the liar makes no effort to profit from his stolen glory. . . . One of the men challenging the law is Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Calif.  He had just been elected to a water district board in 2007 when he said at a public meeting that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.”

The audacity of a dope!  The scuzz-ball’s defense is “I should be able to lie about winning the highest medal for valor given by the United States because the First Amendment protects my right to lie.”  The guy claimed he was in the Marines, but never served.  Another case involves a man named Rick Strandlof who claimed he was a Captain in the Marines who was got a Purple Heart and a Silver Star for action in Iraq.  This guy didn’t stop at just telling the lies.  He used the lies to help create the Colorado Veterans Alliance and get donors to give money to the organization.  Do we really want to let people lie about earning military medals that our military heroes earn with the blood and lives?

The reason Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act was to try to stem the growing tide of people who lie about military service and earning medals.  I am particularly sensitive about this problem because I spent six years in the United States Air Force, including five years flying the F-4 Phantom supersonic fighter-bomber and combat missions in Vietnam in 1972.  A great book that details hundreds of these types of cases is “Stolen Valor” by B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley, which I recommend.  The book jacket says:

B.G. Burkett, in over ten years of research in the National Archives, filing hundreds of requests for military documents under the Freedom of Information Act, uncovered a massive distortion of history, a distortion that has cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.  Mr. Burkett’s work has toppled national political leaders and put criminals in jail.  The authors show killers who have fooled the most astute prosecutors and gotten away with murder, phony heroes who have become the object of award-winning documentaries on national network television, and liars and fabricators who have flooded major publishing houses with false tales of heroism which have become best-selling biographies.  Not only do Burkett and Whitley show the price of the myth has been enormous for society, but they spotlight how it has severely denigrated the service, patriotism and gallantry of the best warriors America ever produced.

Virginia Senator and former Secretary of the Navy James Webb said, “Stolen Valor is a tough, courageous book . . . . Its central thesis should make American mainstream media cringe in the shame from their decades of negligence and collusion in this defamation of those who served with honor.”

Joseph L. Galloway, Co-author of “We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young” said, “Stolen Valor exposes more fraud than the Justice Department.  Every veteran who served honorably owes Burkett a debt of gratitude.”

Guenter Lewy, author of America in Vietnam and Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts/Amherst, said “Stolen Valor is required reading for everyone interested in historical truth rather than lie and myth.  I recommend it highly.

Malcolm McConnell, author of Inside Hanoi’s Secret Archives” said, “Stolen Valor, compelling and authoritative . . . Every American searching for the true history of that long war and its continuing aftermath will find it a compelling work.”