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-- US Supreme Court will step Indian rule on a decision that has many veterans and even civilians in this country upset.
We're talking about the case of this -- a California guy named Xavier Alvarez he claimed in public.
But he was the recipient of a congressional medal of honor for heroics as a marine during the Iraq War.
But his story was completely bogus not only was -- not a medal of honor recipient he was never in the Marine Corps.
He was the first person indicted under the stolen valor act of 2006 law that makes it a crime to falsely claim to have received military medals.
Alvarez pleaded guilty was convicted and sentenced to three years probation and a 5000 dollar fine but guess what.
California's ninth Circuit Court generally considered the most liberal appeals court in the country overturned his conviction.
Ruling that Alvarez was within his rights under the First Amendment to free speech.
Well now as I said the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case let's get into it with retired air force colonel Leo fortunate.
-- -- -- source and as he himself is a recipient of the medal of honor of former president of the congressional medal of honor society a group that.
Includes the medal of honor recipients.
Leo just in broad strokes what do you and the other living medal of honor recipients think of this guy Alvarez.
Well to -- my language up by -- low life.
The it's a total disrespect everybody -- in my home -- -- Usually go to the schools as you know John and Maru and there's a bunch of us together and we're given credibility and we talk about values and what we thought -- where countries -- that means and is that character development program we've developed.
And then you have these people come along and so it it diminishes our value people who say well this guy -- as a scam fake.
And it's is she is distilling them somewhat of a reputation as -- -- the -- I asked I think -- gruesome twosome with a virus.
You hear everyone was saying we -- for those who -- and and every veteran that.
It takes away from the -- -- that can community.
You're -- your story is contained in in your own book that you wrote about your experience you were shot down.
In Vietnam trying to rescue a couple of other pilots who -- already been down.
You flew 93 combat missions there you -- imprisoned in the notorious Hanoi Hilton for six years.
I mean you really went to hell and back and I believe that's that's the title of your book essentially.
But to have a guy who never even served never even wore the uniform claiming to be claiming to be -- a congressional medal of honor recipient.
I mean Leo you fought for freedom in this country there -- ninth circuit says it's his free speech.
That allows him to claim to be that even if it's a lot what do you say to the court.
Well what I say is endorsing -- have those three judges who did that -- taken back to Hanoi Hilton.
Not structured but put -- -- to people are being tortured -- we called the and I know heartbreak hotel little solitary cells and I've been with people who -- died from torture I was close to that end.
They they don't understand what America's about -- -- -- so hung up on.
Right of free speech there are certain things are are are free but it certainly is directed to diminish the value of all of veterans.
You know awards for metal -- -- -- battle for anybody gets a military decoration or award from the president.
That's sort of like in the civilian sector of bonus people get bonuses the end of the year we don't get bonuses but we work hard.
And -- reputation is so important to assist to receive that when you Wear proudly.
And it's I think -- emotional not.
The things that I -- on president things assigned combat and people died for freedom and rights and truth and justice all those things that the amount of water is it that embedded in it.
They just it people like Mike Alvarez they just that they just diminish what we -- what we fought for.
There is a a book called the medal of honor it's it's put out by the congressional medal of honor society foundation.
You are in this book as are many of the other living recipients some of -- of have already died since this thing.
What is published I would encourage people to.
To buy the book and take a look read your stories and find out what this medal.
Really means and and what it takes.
To earn it to receive it.
You know it it says in the Boca in the forward to the book written by a former President Bush bush show -- 41.
But -- none of you guys who won this thing received this thing set out.
To do so.
Yeah I think -- get your question just yet.
There there -- -- his Miller winners that when it's coming true and that's a good run or -- ownership is but no one goes out to win a medal -- right.
Well Leo source -- it's it's been a pleasure talking to you today.
Thanks for coming in and sharing your thoughts with us.
Well thank you John they had dinner with the you're one of the good guys thanks for -- this.
For a look at the legal ramifications.
Let's talk -- John -- is a former federal prosecutor served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
John -- the ninth circuit ruled that the government essentially cannot act as the truth police.
And punish lies that caused no direct harm.
But you just heard Leo say.
You know for those who actually receive the medal of honor there's a lot of harm to them in in their reputations when a guy like Alvarez.
-- it makes these completely made up.
Well I don't think medal of honor winners of the suffer at all because I don't think anybody questions what valor they demonstrated.
An almost instantly this Fella.
Was revealed because the names of real.
Medal winners are listed and as a result -- was prosecuted for fraud on the local government there and if you want to blame anyone.
It shouldn't be the judges it -- -- congress that wrote a really terrible statute.
You don't have to know what you say is false you don't have to intend what you say is false you don't have to cause harm in fact col -- Jon Stewart could be prosecuted they just pretend to.
To be a medal of honor winner is part of satire.
This is a statute that a first year criminal law student wouldn't have written.
And not all fall speech is protected and the proof of the putting here is that we the public know this guy lied.
And -- properly being excoriated for.
For falsely representing service that he never gave himself.
All right let's get the a response from.
And helps prepare one of the briefs for the Supreme Court in answer.
To what the ninth circuit has done Jerry.
Well hi John the congressional -- foundation was not about to leave their fight in the dressing room on this one -- and Kevin -- -- -- this brief he -- neither.
False statements of facts have no constitutional value whatsoever this was not political speech that this.
That the were spoken by Alvarez his claim to be a medal of honor recipient.
Had absolutely no constitutional value.
And our constitution does not protect this type of speech it's akin to fighting words.
And so four for someone to claim also as mr.
Flannery was just saying that this doesn't cause harm.
Perhaps you should review colonel forces his previous segment because there is.
Palpable harm it diminishes the metal is diminishing diminishes the medal of honor system that our military -- And it also diminishes what the medal of honor recipients are trying to do.
By perpetuating the legacy of the metal in all the values -- endow the metal bar.
Well isn't it a fact that right now we're showing this -- to be a liar and no one in this country thinks that a medal of honor winner one who actually got one is anymore -- for the service and sacrifice they made to this country.
So I just don't think that your position is is correct.
And you don't see for example said he was a medal of honor winner to get a disability.
He -- then made -- material representations somebody would have relied on it and an actual specific harm.
Would've occurred not some sort of general harm that's why when we talk about defamation there's both intent to harm and there is an actual specific harm that occurs.
Inciting to riot you -- -- criminals you know there's a crime.
Jane if I really want to read the stolen valor act if you read the stolen valor act congress specifically declared -- congress wrote a bad.
Only claiming to be a medal of honor recipient not only reclaim it does not say flush -- -- does not say a lot of (%expletive) does not -- fraudulent it says you falsely make a statement.
A comic could make a statement.
We have a society it's filled with false speech on the outlawed there will be no free speech.
-- quick enough.
Well in congress' findings when it -- -- stolen valor act they specifically said that -- fraudulent claims of being a metal aren't going to be sorry we're got to leave it there.
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