Deception on Phony Soldiers
By Mary Mostert
October 8, 2007
On September 28th, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote a letter to the CEO of Clear Channel Communications, Inc., in an effort to get Rush Limbaugh off the air by falsely stating that "Rush Limbaugh's recent characterization of troops who oppose the war as 'phony soldiers' is an outrage."
On October 1, Senator Tom Harkin on the floor of the Senate, said, "The very thought of Rush Limbaugh sitting in his air-conditioned broadcast studio and ranting about 'phony soldiers' in Iraq who dare to speak their mind is just shameful. Perhaps in Mr. Limbaugh's case the correct word is `shameless.'''
Rush Limbaugh did mention "phony soldiers." But why would that be an "outrage" or "shameful?" Phony soldiers do exist. And, in fact, many "anti-war activists" who have been given considerable publicity by claiming to be soldiers who witnessed atrocities were never actually soldiers and were never on the battlefield. Others were at some point soldiers, but never were where they claimed to be nor could they have seen what they claimed to have seen.
During Rush Limbaugh's broadcast that Sen. Reid referenced, he was talking about a man named Jesse MacBeth, who was a phony soldier and who had just been the subject of an ABC broadcast on September 21st which stated, in part that "Jesse Adam Macbeth, 23, pleaded guilty to charges he faked his war record." In other words, Macbeth pleaded guilty of being a "phony soldier" when he pleaded guilty, just a week ago! He claimed to be a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq who killed men and women as they left a Baghdad mosque and had receiving the Purple Heart for injuries he falsely claimed he suffered in combat.
His deceptive interview was translated into Arabic and distributed throughout the Middle East where it was read by millions, and created hostility towards U.S. servicemen both in Iraq and at home. In May 2007, ABC ran another story about a "phony war hero" named David McClanahan, of Fort Worth, Texas, who claimed he had been wounded in combat three times in Iraq, awarded three Silver Stars and even nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was all lies. Douglas Carver, a special agent in charge of the Veterans Administration Inspector General operation, noted in the McClanahan case: "The phony war hero phenomenon plagues the American landscape and tarnishes the service of thousands of veterans who have served honorably."
In fact, "phony soldiers" have been such a serious problem that last year the U.S. Congress passed a bill called "Stolen Valor" which was introduced by Rep. John Salazar (Democrat-Colorado) making it a felony to be a phony soldier. During the Congressional debate on the Stolen Valor bill, Rep. Salazar said: "In addition to diminishing the meaning, on several occasions phonies have used their stature as a decorated war hero to gain credibility that allows them to commit more serious frauds.
"B.G. Burkett's award winning book, `Stolen Valor', first exposed the problems of these medals frauds. The authors show that killers have fooled the most astute prosecutors and gotten away with murder. They show phony heroes who have become the object of national award-winning documentaries on national network television. They show liars and fabricators who have flooded major publishing houses with false tales of heroism which have become best-selling biographies."
President Bush signed the Stolen Valor bill into law in December of 2006 and a number of arrests have taken place as a result. Now we have Democrat leaders in Congress telling us that enforcing a law introduced by a Democrat and which they voted for is "shameful" or "an outrage?"
Other "phony soldiers" have been caught officiating at the weddings and funerals of Marines, participating in opening ceremonies for a State Senate, getting treatment from VA hospitals and being quoted in testimony given by John Kerry 36 years ago to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry stated in that testimony that he was "representing all those veterans" as a member of an organization called Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) who had told him "their experiences" some months before in a Detroit meeting: "We had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....
"They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."
Who exactly were those "honorably discharged and highly decorated veterans" who claimed they had committed those crimes? It has taken years and some research into actual military records, but we now know that in the course of trying to raise money for a Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial, B.G. Burkett, author of Stolen Valor - How the Vietnam Generation was Robbed of Its Heroes and History, most of those "soldiers" John Kerry claims told those stories were phony soldiers!
Burkett did something that any reporter could have done: he used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to check the actual records of the "image makers" used by reporters to flesh out their stories. What he found was astounding. More often than not, the showcase "veteran" who cried on camera about his dead buddies, about committing or witnessing atrocities, or about some heroic action in combat that led him to the current dead end in his life, was an impostor - in other words - a "phony soldier."
Indeed, Burkett discovered that 1,700 individuals, including some of the most prominent examples of the Vietnam veteran as dysfunctional loser, had fabricated their war stories. Many had never even been in the service. Others had been the services, but had never been in Vietnam. Burkett's book, which was published in 1998, made it clear why and how John Kerry's testimony in 1971 slandered an entire generation of soldiers. Now, the Stolen Valor law is allowing honest people to actually do something about phony soldiers who tell lies about real soldiers and real heroes. Only, now honest people who do something about phony soldiers are being attacked! It appears that Rush Limbaugh or any other talk show host or reporter looking for the facts about the phonies will be attacked. Obviously, the truth about phony soldiers could change the way people vote in 2008.
What we are dealing with here is massive deception that has been going on and has been very successful in confusing a lot of people for many years. And, of course, other people in the anti-war movement, politics and the media now have a vested interest in keeping that deception going in order to preserve their reputations - and their incomes.