House Democrats are apparently considering a resolution to castigate Rush Limbaugh for having the nerve to allege that there are 'phony soldiers' bragging about their exploits in Iraq. As long as they're at it, perhaps they'll actually denounce the phony soldiers. Fact is, there are thousands of 'phony soldiers' nationwide; the problem is so great that Congress passed legislation to crack down on the epidemic. Jesse MacBeth is just the tip of the iceberg.
Publications like the Army Times and Navy Times have written about phony veterans many times. A sample:
Justice Department officials in Washington state detailed Porter’s story, along with seven other people accused of — or already convicted of — being military frauds, during a news conference Friday on VA fakers.
“We take it seriously because this money is meant for veterans, not for fakers,” James O’Neill, assistant inspector general for the VA’s office of investigations, told Military Times.
“Every dollar that’s lost to a faker is one more dollar that can’t be spent on a veteran,” said O’Neill, whose office is responsible for rooting out those who defraud VA.
More from the same publication:
It’s not unheard of for Marines to embellish their service after leaving active duty or for civilians who’ve never served to pass themselves off as Marines. It’s happening all over the country this very minute...
Posers, in other words, are getting less ambitious. Among the dozen or so cases that have popped up so far this year — including five recent ones in this week’s issue — some are merely claiming to be a Marine, without all the battlefield exploits and mounds of chest candy. Those who do claim valor among their traits aren’t shooting for the Medal of Honor or service crosses. Fake Silver Star cases seem to be en vogue, as are phony Purple Hearts.
Want more? Here's a whole website devoted to the problem. Here's another website with numerous news stories about it.
How serious is the problem of 'phony soldiers?' Congress last year passed legislation to allow prosecution of people who claimed medals that they had not earned. It passed both the House and Senate unanimously. It was introduced by Congressman John Salazar (D-CO), whose press release on the measure lists several phony heroes -- Michael O'Brien, Lawrence Hammer, and Gilbert Velasquez. The stories above mentioned Larry Porter, Merrick Hersey, Michael Heit, Carlos Valle Rios (a registered sex offender, by the way), Preston Garris, Glenn Marshall, Tim DeBusk... the list goes on and on. According to NPR, there are 50 ongoing investigations by the FBI into violations of Salazar's legislation.
When Limbaugh referenced 'phony soldiers,' he specifically cited the case of Jesse MacBeth. Liberal critics have laughably complained that he cited only one case while using the plural. Fact is, there are dozens and dozens on the public record, and it seems highly likely that there are thousands nationwide.
Here's ABC News' recent report on phony heroes and Operation Stolen Valor:
If Congress intends to criticize Limbaugh for talking about people like Jesse MacBeth, what message does that about how seriously the offenses of MacBeth and others like him? It would directly oppose the message they send last December, when they passed the Stolen Valor Act.