Stevenson: Lies weaken American

Brian Williams of NBC tells us that he was aboard a helicopter in Iraq that took ground fire and was forced to land.

Commentary by Jack Stevenson

Commentary by
Jack Stevenson

FALSE:  His helicopter arrived at the scene one hour after the helicopter that took ground fire.

Hillary Clinton, a presidential candidate in 2008, said that she landed under sniper fire during a March 1996 trip to Bosnia when she was first lady.

FALSE:  It didn’t happen.

Richard Blumenthal, when campaigning for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut in 2010, said that he had served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam.

FALSE:  Blumenthal received five military draft deferments during the Vietnam era.  When it appeared that he might not get another deferment, he joined the USMC Reserve.  He never left the United States.

Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of U.S. Veterans Administration, claimed he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces.

FALSE:  He did not.  McDonald said that his claim that he had served in the U.S. Army Special Forces “was inaccurate, and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”

Blumenthal said that he “misspoke.”  McDonald said that he made a “misstatement.”  So, both lied about lying.

Mitt Romney, while campaigning for president in 2012, recounted being with his father, former Michigan governor George Romney, as Governor Romney presided in Detroit over a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the automobile.

FALSE:  The event occurred before Mitt Romney was born.

John O. Brennan, Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, offered the following statement.  “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth, . . .We wouldn’t do that.  I mean, that’s just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we do.”

FALSE:  The CIA did surreptitiously hack into U.S. Senate computers.

The U.S. Government’s justifications for the military invasions of Vietnam and Iraq were based on falsifications.

Over the years, some people have falsely claimed to have been awarded military decorations.  To protect service personnel who served with exceptional valor, the U.S. Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act.

Xavier Alvarez claimed to have served 25 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, have been wounded, and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  All of that was false.  He was charged and his lawyers appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and from there, the issue was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The United States Supreme Court held that Alvarez did have a constitutional right to lie about the decorations for heroism because the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.

Yet that constitutional right to lie isn’t universal.  It doesn’t include the right to lie under oath (perjury).  It doesn’t include the right to lie on your income tax returns.  Both of these acts bear criminal penalties.

We know that government officials lie to each other and to the public.

The problem that the Supreme Court failed to consider is that a democracy can work only if people trust their government and their government officials.

Approval rating for the U.S. Congress stands below 10 percent.  Forty-two percent of Americans age 30 or younger consider themselves political independents; they want nothing to do with either major political party.

Our government exercises an enormous range of powers.  Our government can spy on all of us all of the time, and our government will spend three and a half trillion dollars this year.  It would be reassuring to have trustworthy people in charge.

Jack Stevenson, now retired, served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer. He retired from military service and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. Mr. Stevenson also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). He currently reads history, follows issues important to Americans and writes commentary from his Florida home.

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