"If we catch anyone lying or attempting to lie about their service, military achievements and combat experience at, or in preparations leading up to, Winter Soldier, we will be notifying federal authorities in the interest of having offenders prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act..."This is pure nonsense and a smokescreen!
After the Jesse MacBeth debacle, IVAW has, at the least, learned to actually check if their members really served where they say they did, and they will most certainly have been checking those testifying at Winter Soldier.
There are critics and skeptics of Winter Soldier who have indeed gone on about "phony soldiers", meaning that IVAW may have bunch of folks who have not served. That is not the problem nor the likely point of IVAW's weakness, which is why that kind of overplayed concern plays into IVAW's hands.
During the first WSI in 1971, there were some testifiers who could not be tracked down, just as there were folks who were tracked down by name and unit who claimed to have never been there and that others had used their identity. That is, overall, a fairly minor issue in the whole 1971 WSI history and effect.
The large and even overwhelming number of testifiers at the first WSI were indeed Vietnam Veterans. Fake veterans wasn't the real or even a really significant problem. The problem was: were the stories they told of widespread and commonplace atrocities and war crimes true or not, and would they assist investigations to determine the facts! As Scott Swett showed in "Newly Discovered Army Reports Discredit “Winter Soldier” Claims", it was the false claims by real veterans that were the problem and the smear.
There was a Mayor of Chicago, William Hale Thompson, who would threaten to punch British King George V in the nose if the monarch ever came to that city. That appealed to a goodly number of Irish American voters in the area. However, Thompson knew full well there was virtually no likelihood of the King of England coming to Chicago, so it was false bravado and a cheap political trick.
IVAW plays the same game. The serious questions about Winter Soldier have always been whether the testifiers to atrocities, war crimes and repugnant behavior by the troops will actually give the details necessary for the claims to be investigated and cooperate with legally required investigations, so as to determine guilt or innocense, truth or falsehood! That was the first WSI problem, and is likely to be this one's also.
The Stolen Valor Act is not applicable in these matters, which is why IVAW suddenly has the courage and moral wherewithal to invoke it. If a testifier falsely claims to have been awarded a Purple Heart for a wound received in Afghanistan, and he didn't, or wasn't ever deployed to that theater, the SVA can be applied with consequences. However, IVAW's Jason Washburn can claim as he did in the Times OnLine, that Haditha was not an isolated incident, but:
“It’s the one that just happened to be uncovered.”If he cannot substantiate that charge, and is not under oath or made the claim in a legally binding report, affidavit or deposition, there is zero penalty under the Stolen Valor Act or any other law if he gave false "testimony"! IVAW credibilty on the cheap, by invoking an act passed to protect the valor of those who served, so IVAW can smear others who served and serve. See Question and Answer Number 4, for more of the same. Or IVAW member Mike Blake's:
"The killing of innocent civilians is policy…It's unit policy and it's Army policy. It's not official policy, but it's what's happens on the ground everyday. It's what unit commanders individually encourage."Can Blake back that up, with details, like date, unit, place, event and a signature? Whether he can or not, the Stolen Valor Act is not applicable.
Cheap, shoddy trick to buy false credibilty. Anyone else wondering if IVAW has sought to have Jesse MacBeth charged under the SVA? Did they care about - the stolen valor of soldiers, Marines and airmen who showed that valor, or their own reputation when Jesse was blown? With MacBeth, the SVA does apply, since he falsely claimed to have been awarded medals he never qualified for - while incidentally representing IVAW!
Put up or shut up, IVAW. It's not too late for you folks to seek to have your former speaker and activist charged. That'll likely get Jesse back in the news, though. But since you now recognize the value and justice inherent in the Stolen Valor Act - we'll all just stand by and watch you act on your new found principles.
And piercing through the smokescreen (as usual!), Robin at Chickenhawk Express wonders whether IVAW's new found respect for laws extends to the reporting requirements of the UCMJ! I mean, IVAW wouldn't be hypocritically self-serving about respect for the rule of law, would it?