‘Switchblade’? Cut it out
I just read with disbelief the Oct. 20 article “Army: New drone proven ‘effective’ ” about the flying shotgun, the “Switchblade.” To say that I was shocked that the Army made the decision to purchase this system would be an understatement. When I was with a unit that employed these in theater (the system was under a different name then), we were initially hopeful and positive about the program. After seeing it “not in action” — and the disappointing results — we declined to write an endorsement recommending purchase or further testing of this system. It was disappointing and did not deliver, not one time.
I hope no unit seriously relies on this to help troops in harm’s way. From my experience, it is not a viable option; it is a costly novelty.
Switchblade is a perfect name for this system, as a switchblade looks intimidating but, in a real fight, it’s not the weapon you really want or need.
To make it worse, in the same issue, you tell us that we decide to spend millions on this novelty while our Congress looks for ways to gut our health care and retirement system all in the name of efficiency in Department of Defense budgeting (“VFW issues a ‘call to action’: 2 million veterans are being urged to fight congressional changes to benefits,” article). These cuts in retirement and health care will do more to hurt our war-weary but supremely professional, all-volunteer force than Switchblade could ever do to enhance it.
Maj. Mark S. Leslie
Stolen valor easy to determine
Regarding the Oct. 21 column “Undo the Stolen Valor Act to protect free speech”: The First Amendment does not protect all speech; libel and slander are not protected because and only if they are lies. The defense against accusations of either is the proof that the statements, verbally or in writing, are true.
The problem with making it a crime to tell lies is the determination of what is a lie. A lie is not simply saying something is untrue, but rather saying and knowing it is untrue. Believing that someone lied is insufficient to say they lied, but that doesn’t prevent the accusation. It’s difficult in many cases to prove the defendant knew he lied.
A primary principle in the administration of law is whether harm was done. Thus, when one sues another for slander, the plaintiff must prove that the alleged slander was a false statement and that the plaintiff suffered harm.
In the matter of the Stolen Valor Act, it deals with actions that are easily proved to be false, but it would be exceedingly difficult to demonstrate harm to any particular individual. About all that could be claimed is that it degraded the honor of everyone who truthfully served and/or received the honors claimed by the defendant.
Some conservatives have accused some progressives of arguing by changing the meaning of words. But the knife cuts both ways. Consider the “lies” told by George W. Bush and other Republicans about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction versus the “lie” told by Eric Holder to Congress about when he knew about “Fast and Furious.” Should those “lies” be actionable?
Many people, regardless of political considerations, will state the two cases are not comparable — even though they may disagree on which ones are actionable based on ideology.
In his column, law professor Jonathan Turley uses the “slippery slope” argument against the Stolen Valor Act, which I hardly think is valid but I must profess a lot of ignorance about the law. I just think that argument would not carry much weight with the U.S. Supreme Court. I would expect the matter of damage and how to measure it would be more telling.
War funds come from patriots
I have been serving in the Army for right at four years now. In this time I have watched our economy go downhill, the American taxpayer straining to keep his heads above water.
During my time in the service of our country I have had the privilege of serving in South Korea, Iraq and now Afghanistan. I have had the best equipment, training, food and amenities I could ever have asked for. All of which have came directly out of our working, taxpaying, struggling American citizens. Almost without fail, in every airport, grocery store, anywhere people recognize me as a soldier, I am wished well and thanked for my service. Even though these fine Americans are struggling to pay the bills at home, they still have the class and patriotism in their hearts to thank me as this expensive effort drags on.
To the American taxpayer, I would like to thank you for your service. Thank you for allowing me to confront the current threat. Thank you for your benevolence ensuring I can fight and expect to be able to live through it because you’ve given me all I need to do so.
You civilian patriots have my respect and gratitude.
Sgt. Robert R. Evans
Camp Clark, Afghanistan