Stolen valor is considered a criminal offense in the United States. And whilst just a position to military heroism is not actually stolen valor, it is of a similar tone by its very nature.
Some remarkable recent examples of such fraudulent misstatement of civilian actions can commence with an opinion piece for CNN by ethics professor Joseph Holt. Astoundingly, Holt wrote, “We thank soldiers for their service because they devote themselves to protecting our freedoms, and we should. But we should also thank the media for the same reason — especially when the stakes have never been higher.”
Another example that will leave you flabbergasted is found in comments from Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. during a congressional hearing. Fox News quoted him as saying, “Mr. Strzok, I don’t know where to start. If I could give you a Purple Heart, I would. You deserve one.”
And now we have yet another mind-boggling example, courtesy of former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications under President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes. According to the Daily Wire, Rhodes was urging an attack against President Donald Trump over former CIA director John Brennan’s stripped security clearance:
John Brennan was the point person for the Obama White House on the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. He knows a lot more about defending our nation than someone who uses security clearances to punish his political adversaries.
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) August 15, 2018
However, of all the people who lashed at Rhodes regarding his outrageous comparison, one stands out from the rest. It came from someone who “was part of over 400 combat missions.” Retired Navy SEAL Robert J. O’Neill pulled no punches with his succinct retort:
— Robert J. O'Neill (@mchooyah) August 15, 2018
Even greater slapdown to Rhodes is the information that O’Neill is the SEAL who asserted to be the one accountable for the head-shots that killed reputed terrorist kingpin Osama bin Laden. But actually, O’Neill is far more likely to be labeled as the ’point person’ for that operation than Brennan.
As a matter of fact and also presenting how wrong Rhodes was, ABC News reported that retired Adm. William McRaven “led the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.” McRaven has come into Brennan’s defense as “a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question” and told Trump to revoke his (McRaven’s) security clearance, as well.
Moreover, there are real examples of Brennan being anything but heroic in his role heading up the CIA. The Guardian columnist Trevor Timm summarized a number of them in a biting commentary:
“… an internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general found that the CIA “improperly” spied on US Senate staffers when researching the CIA’s dark history of torture, it was hard to conclude anything but the obvious: John Brennan blatantly lied to the American public. Again.”
And later: “the CIA inspector general’s report completely contradicted Brennan’s statements” and “the nation’s top spy is, in fact, a proficient and skilled liar. As Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor for his entire first term in the White House, Brennan built, oversaw, executed and excused America’s robotic assassination program.”
“During a speech in 2011, the keeper of the kill list said there had not been ‘a single collateral death’ from US drone strikes because of their ‘exceptional proficiency [and] precision.’.
“But as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported: ‘[J]ust three months beforehand, a major US drone strike had killed 42 Pakistanis, most of them civilians.’”
According to most people, the world seems upside-down now, rightly being called wrong, the spineless being extolled as courageous, and the despicable being acclaimed as heroes. It appears that Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany Joseph Goebbels may be right when he famously said that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
As though evidence presented to the contrary, misstatements, especially those spread on social media, appear to be quickly accepted and hold on tightly to as gospel truth. They are then later spat out as weapons against those who will have the courage to speak the truth.