back to article Plague of US preachers falsely claim to be Navy SEALs

Yet another curious effect of the modern internet media world became apparent this week: the syndrome – particularly common among American clergymen – of falsely claiming to be a former US Navy SEAL has risen to prominence, as the risk of being exposed as such a liar has risen severely. The chest badge worn by qualified US …


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    1. SuperTim


      I like the delicious irony that a preacher can claim he was a gummint-killer-for-hire and that somehow gives him kudos. Peace be with you my child........Bracka Bracka Bracka

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Well obviously

      Religion is a cheap and easy way for someone unqualified in other regards to get a step up and command authority over others. It doesn't mean for a second they're a better person, indeed you'd think people would run a mile from someone who says voices in his head are telling him to do things.

      It does not surprise me at all that so many get exposed as hypocrites, wife beaters, frauds, embezzlers, liars, crooks, paedophiles, panderers or homosexuals while railing against those things from the pulpit.

    3. Sam Liddicott

      and the rest

      Don't forget all the non-religion freaks who like to put whole nations to fire and the sword, we've had more deaths from those in recent history than the religious freaks.

      The bigger mistake is artificial constraint on the meaning of "religion" - which doesn't have to be theisticly based and often isn't.

      "thinking I'm right regardless" is a common religion, and one sometimes draped with ideas of god.

    4. ArmanX


      I would amend that statement just a bit... "You just can't trust folk." It's not the religion that does it. People are crummy, end of story. Being a pastor just gives you a bit of limelight, so that when you screw up, it goes on the national news instead of just being town gossip.

      Not saying that religious people don't do all kinds of rotten things, just that they don't do much more than your average human.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Prejudice template

      @Sarah Davis: "you just can't trust <insert hated group>, they're always starting wars, or stoning rape victims, or fiddling with children, or being part of the hitler youth, making wild claims, or lying about something or other - warn your kids, never except a lift from <insert hated group>, and never believe anything they say"

      Very nasty - although I've heard this kind of hate speech many times, it still always shocks me. The irony of seeming to oppose Hitler's philosophies whilst repeating many of the accusations he made against the Jews is a colourful touch.

      Not a single one of these statements about *any* people group can be justified. Fomenting hatred and prejudice like this is nothing short of shameful.

      [To the moderator - shouldn't hate speech postings be rejected?]

      1. copsewood
        Dead Vulture

        hate speech

        No harm using the report button, I think that one qualifies.

      2. The Beer Monster

        I think

        that Sarah wasn't being serious, that you missed the "I'll get my coat" icon and if you want to get offended, there's the thread about the nudist for you.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          I second the beer monster

          I think some people have seriously broken reading machines here.

          That wasnt offensive, it was posted with an appropriate icon to indicate its tone *and* was presented as nothing more than an opinion.

          Not really surprising that some people found themselves to be victimised by it....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Paedophilia isn't funny

          @The Beer Monster: "I think that Sarah wasn't being serious"

          Sarah's statement was simply offensive - there wasn't a hint of humour in it. And some things simply shouldn't be said flippantly, particularly allegations of sexual offences against children. If we pass over this kind of talk as 'humorous', we give free rein to ugly prejudice, oppression, and intimidation. Perhaps it seems funnier if you've never experienced it.

          1. Steve X
            Thumb Down


            Sarah's statement wasn't offensive. It was satirical.

            You chose to be offended by it.

            Not the same thing, and no reason to censor it. Shame on El Reg.

          2. The Beer Monster

            Never experienced what?

            Prejudice, oppression, intimidation or paedophilia? Three out of four.

            Everything Sarah mentioned has been committed by the clergy and that's a fact. The Daily Heil type comment with the "oh, they're all like that, trust none of them" slant was blatantly tongue in cheek.

            It obviously offended you, but didn't offend me or others. Different strokes and all that. Still doesn't make either of us the moral arbiter for everyone.

          3. Shakje

            Well I guess that all comes back to what is in the purview of humour?

            I can understand if you've been a victim, but I don't know if it's a fair condescension. Do you watch violent TV or films which minimise the human impact and get entertained by them? How do you think the people in Palestine would feel about that? You like Tom and Jerry? How do you think the people who got beaten as kids feel about that?

            Look, I'm probably not the sort of person you like because I'm ardently for free speech. I'd far rather that arguments were out in the open rather than shut up in little local communities where they fester into something twice as ugly. I think that the German laws against Nazi symbolism are silly at best. I even disagree with laws about holocaust denial, although the people who ascribe to it are singularly disgusting. You know what? Flippant comments are what makes things bearable. Put it this way, do you think that words have more power if they're laughed off or if they're criticised, or (special option number three) pushed to the bottom of the pile and treated like the pox?

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            pot, kettle, black

            "particularly allegations of sexual offences against children"

            If you are going to be so pedantic over the use of language, please do not downgrade real, documented examples of sexual offences to "allegations"

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hate speech ?

        While "they are always" is an exaggeration, it can't be denied that these things did and do happen and often with the support or the encouragement of the organization they represented.

        "The irony of seeming to oppose Hitler's philosophies whilst repeating many of the accusations he made against the Jews is a colourful touch."

        The irony of you conflating lies told by Hitler compared to documented examples of the things mentioned above is a colourful touch.

        It didn't foment hatred. Merely mockery. Better than being stoned, abused or just lied to.

  2. Kevin7

    Title needed

    Don't they reckon that if that all the blokes who claimed they've served in the SAS stood on each other's shoulders, the man on top could piss on the moon?

    1. Trygve Henriksen
      Thumb Up

      and if he really was SAS...

      He probably would do it, too...

      Unless it's Bear Grylles, as he would probably be too busy trying to make a bonfire or finding a totally unnecessary peril to navigate.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          spotted a mole

          Wish he'd drive past my garden occasionally, I've got lots of little furry candidates for that treatment. Especially since the farmer across the way retired & doesn't go huntin' varmint with a pickaxe any more...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          but you've grown up now ?

          "my mate's dad was Paras and SAS. And a boxer. I forget what else"

          Bulshitter is the word your looking for.

          The ability to kill blind defenceless creatures is not a pre-requisite for being an action man.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        Bear Grylls wasn't in the real SAS. He was in the TA equivalent. He just doesn't like drawing attention to that bit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: Except

          .....Bear Grylls wasn't in the real SAS. He was in the TA equivalent. He just doesn't like drawing attention to that bit.

          Nor does he draw attention to the fact that he goes and sleeps in a nice comfy hotel with his film crew while pretending to be sleeping inside a dead camel or something (as I recall he's a Jesus freak as well? looks like a pattern forming)

          1. Trygve Henriksen


            Teaching Assistant?

            I figured out a long time ago that his SAS credentials were 'less than perfect'.

            for one, he can't do cross-country skiing or much at all that has to do with arctic climate.

            And the REAL SAS trains with the Norwegian special forces every winter.

            (Most SEAL teams also train in Norway now and then. )

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Real SAS

              "And the REAL SAS trains with the Norwegian special forces every winter."

              What, all of them? Even boat troop? Why would they do that?

              1. Trygve Henriksen

                Boat troops?

                That would be the SBS, not the SAS...

                And they show up occasionally, too.

                (But they're more interested in RIBs than skies, though)

              2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          TA SAS

          They arent quite like the rest of the TA.... Nothing too shameful in being 21/ 23 SAS.

          1. Anonymous Coward


            "TA SAS - They arent quite like the rest of the TA.... Nothing too shameful in being 21/ 23 SAS"

            Except it's people like Bear Grylls who get in. Says it all.

            1. david wilson


              >>"Except it's people like Bear Grylls who get in. Says it all."

              A guy I know was also in 21/23, and ended up becoming a (very down-to-earth) clergyman in later life, but doesn't talk about his history.

              If it wasn't for people asking why he did tours as an army padre, I'm not sure how many people who didn't know him at the time would know he'd ever been anything other than a vicar.

              Judging a whole group on the basis of a few people who bang their own drum a bit loudly after they leave may be a little severe.

              1. Anonymous Coward


                "A guy I know was also in 21/23, and ended up becoming a (very down-to-earth) clergyman in later life, but doesn't talk about his history."

                I do wonder about people who train to kill other people (because lets face it, that's kind of the point of an armed force) who then go on to be religious types.

                Being able to reconcile those two entirely opposing world views is, i'm afraid, good enough reason to distrust them.

                1. david wilson


                  >>"I do wonder about people who train to kill other people (because lets face it, that's kind of the point of an armed force) who then go on to be religious types."

                  Surely, having the ability to kill is ideally a means to an end, with the end hopefully being significantly one of defence - whether killing to prevent someone else killing innocent people, or even having armed forces as deterrents?

                  >>"Being able to reconcile those two entirely opposing world views is, i'm afraid, good enough reason to distrust them."

                  I do get where you're coming from, and someone who went from one extreme to another would make me wonder a bit as well, though the guy I'm thinking of couldn't really be called an extreme believer - from what I can tell, probably rather less so then most of his CofE congregation. I don't know what his attitude was earlier in life since I didn't know him then.

                  Also, it's not necessarily a case of reconciling two views as much as someone doing something at one point in their life and then at some point (possibly partly as a result, possibly some time later) deciding that they'd rather be doing something else.

                  Personally, I don't have any kind of belief, and I doubt I ever will.

                  I'm not really in a position to judge whether it's meaningfully less rational to be a believer and a part or full-time solider (whether at the same time, or at different times) than to simply be a believer.

                  It does seem that belief is often somewhat compartmentalised - many people seem to manage to combine beliefs with all kinds of professions where I could easily imagine the possibility of some kind of conflict.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    George W Bush,

    "well known for previously being photographed on the deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier clad in full naval aviator's equipment"

    To be fair, he had just been flown to the carrier in a two-seater. It's sort of required to wear that stuff when you're in a military jet, even if you're in the training seat on a publicity romp.

    1. Naughtyhorse


      If you want to bring 'fair' into it he should have been rendered down for more useful raw materials at birth.

      1. It wasnt me
        Thumb Up


        Genius. New keyboard please.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. hamcheeseandonion

    What if..........

    ...the preacher had covered himself in black boot polish and balanced a bright red beachball on his nose?

    <i thank you>

    Mine's the one with the fish in the pocket

    1. Anonymous Coward

      They may get away with it in Pakistan

      but they better not stick their noses into Canada!

      Mine's the one with the club in the pocket.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    I'm a Navy Seal and so is my wife.

    1. Stubar
      Thumb Up

      @ Lob

      Thanks for posting under "AC" as I now can't send the bill for my new keyboard!

  6. CraPo


    See ARRSE

    1. The Beer Monster


      Not tolerant of Walts. I seem to recall a big Walt outing a few years ago.

      1. neb


        ...can't bloody move there sometimes for someone finding another bloody walt!

        that balcony must have been friggin mahoosive, seeing as they all seem to have been second man on it!

  7. Anonymous Coward


    You just cant trust anything they say... When will people learn that they lie for a living?

  8. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    stolen valor

    That was an odd bill, lobbied for by folks who had harried Jeremy Boorda, then U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, into suicide over an inappropriate "Combat V" on a decoration. No, you shouldn't claim honors that you did not receive. Neither should you fart in elevators, but so far Congress hasn't passed a "Stolen Air" bill.

    I have been acquainted with at least a couple of fake veterans of the Vietnam War, though as far as I know the one fellow I knew who claimed to have served in the SEALs; told the truth.

    The combat-to-clergy transition is not unheard of, to be sure. To name one example off hand, Philip Berrigan served in the WW II before his conversion to pacifism and stint in the Josephites. For that matter, one can find on Connecticut Ave. in Washington, DC, a statue of Peter Muhlenberg, who took time out from the pulpit to command a regiment in the American Revolution.

    1. laird cummings

      Iron Mike & Irony

      The instructions around wearing the 'V' were entirely vague and obtuse at the time Boorda was awarded the medal in the first place, and it appears he wore it in good-faith understanding that it was appropriate. Instantally as it was questioned, he stopped wearing it.

      Ironically, one of his chief accusers, the late Col. Hackworth, was busted in a *indisputable* case of 'decoration inflation' - Not just a debatable add-on to a legitimately-awarded medal, but entire awards and qualifications* never issued to him, which he claimed on his proffesional CV and formed part of the basis of his self-promotional pitch as 'the most decorated soldier in America.'

      Misunderstanding instructions around a real event is one thing, but claiming credit for events and qualifications that never happened is something rather different.

      *Two false DFCs and the Ranger Tab. Hackworth hastily edited his bio to reflect correct awards after being called on it by CBS.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh god, I'm about to defend Dubya!!!

    " ........ comparatively lowly National Guard pilot "?

    Even though I'm not American, I think that is an unfair slur on the dedication and professionalism of the ANG pilots, who have proven over the years to be every bit as good as their full time colleagues. Bush himself was complimented on his high skill levels, and was reputed to be a "very fine interceptor pilot".

    Nowadays ANG pilots can, and do, fly in active duty theatres of war; that was not the case during the Vietnam War, and it was known that volunteering for ANG duty could help you avoid a call up to an active duty squadron. It is this that is the controversial element of Dubya's service, not his piloting skills.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: Oh god, I'm about to defend Dubya!!!

      Here in the UK we don't expect our leaders to have done any form of national service, in fact we hardly expect them to have done anything of real worth at all prior to entering politics. Apart from Paddy Ashdown, I can't think of a UK politician that has real and extensive military experience. But in the States it can kill your political career to be dubbed either a draft-dodger or to have lied about your service. After Bush Snr used his military career as a WW2 naval bomber pilot to great affect during his campaigns, the anti-Bush crowd set out early to try and discredit Dubyha's service record, leading to the infamous Rathergate forgeries. The Bush followers got their revenge in kind when they slated John Kerry's dubious claim for a Purple Heart from Vietnam, and much was made of the fact that the closest the Obumbler has ever got to active duty was "mixing with bomb-makers like Bill Ayers".

      Obambi's recent actions are interesting - his Whitehouse team are claiming he doubled the number of SEALs on the Bin Laden raid to avoid them possibly getting cornered by Pakistani forces. The driver may have been that criticism of the failed Op Eagle Claw was a big nail in Jimmy Carter's presidential career. Looks like even non-military types want to look like assertive men-of-war going into an election cycle.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Military service

        Er, PMs with combat experience since WW II- Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Wilson, Heath and Callaghan. Douglas-Home was too young for WW I and too ill for WW II.

        It has been said of Heath's Cabinet that only Thatcher had not served in WW II, and this was why she had little concept of service, community and society...

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          RE: Military service

          ".....Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Wilson, Heath and Callaghan...." I was thinking more of our current crop of politicians, rather than those from a period where two World Wars meant it was compulsory to have done some form of service. In fact, IIRC, lawyers and juh-nah-lists are more likely to become politicians than any other profession here in the UK. The lawyers bit explains why politics seems to be 50% pointless blather, and the journalists bit explains why that 50% seems to entail nothing but hot air and hype.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        But how do you *really* feel about Obama?

        Bush: 8 years, biggest attack on US soil in history, invaded wrong country, bin Laden "not a priority."

        Obama: 2 years. Got bin Laden.

        You're right that the one thing they have in common is that neither served in combat. However, one styled himself the "war president" to get re-elected, by virtue of, you know, starting a huge unnecessary war, which to me is kind of like killing your parents and calling for clemency since you're now an orphan.

        The other got rid of one of the US' major antagonists about as neatly and cleanly as one can in this line of work, and snagged a wealth of intel in the process.

        If it was all about "the election cycle," this would have happened a lot closer to the election, don't you think?

        FAIL. Because.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          RE: But how do you *really* feel about Obama?

          "Obama: 2 years. Got bin Laden."

          Umm... you seem to think that the man started from scratch and worked in a vacuum. I always find it funny how people credit or blame the president, regardless of the actual person, with all sorts of things that are far beyond their control. The poor bastard gets dumped upon when he walks into a shit storm and everyone thinks he can fix it in 3 months or less. As a result it more or less forces some herky jerky action to "do something" with the end result being that about 95% actually makes the situation worse. On the upside they get accolades when the stock market jumps 5% on a sunny day and unemployment goes down a few basis points. Honest folks, the shit these guys do short of declaring war against someone or a "non-entity" takes about a half dozen years to actually make a dimes worth of difference.

          Truth be told, Jimmy Carter probably created more jobs than any other president since. Just ask yourself, how many people are employed at all the breweries that have sprung up since the late '70s? Hell, the fact we finally have decent beer should be reason enough to canonize the man.

          That said, sure, maybe this one pulled the trigger but that particular shot had been a long time in aiming. Now if we could just line up on all the pedophile ex-non-seal priests and squeeze.

          Hands off! The beer's for Jimmy.

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          RE: But how do you *really* feel about Obama?

          "....Obama: 2 years. Got bin Laden...." All the work was set in place under Bush's term, all that happened was Obama inherited the results. As with most things Obumbler, he's quick to blame Bush for anything he can, but anything good that came out of the Bush years is "all Obama". Hilariously, the raid is the result of work done by the CIA prior to Obama's election, an agency Obama spent plenty of time kicking the minute he got elected.

          "....If it was all about "the election cycle," this would have happened a lot closer to the election, don't you think?...." It seems that, in the US, the new election cycle starts the minute the results of the current one are announced. If you look at American sites a week before the raid, there's lots of chatter about the possible Republican nominees and how they might do against Obama, but that got swamped in the raid news. The frenzy to link Obama with the success has been immediate and obvious. Does Obama routinely sit in on drone strikes? I doubt it. But only the day after the raid the World is swamped with shots of Obama, Biden and Hilary watching the raid in progress. Obama's team have certainly milked it for all their worth, following it up with Obama's trip out to Ground Zero. Why did he have to go to Ground Zero when the ten-year anniversary is only months away? All part of the milking process, kiddies. Obama had zero involvement in the intelligence work, wasn't even elected to senate when the process was kicked off by Bush, but his followers are happilly giving him all the credit. "....Obama: 2 years. Got bin Laden...." - I think not.

          For me, the interesting bit of the current US political dance is that Obama thinks he needs to make such a show of the Bin Laden raid. His traditional base don't like this kind of thing, there's already grumbles from the handwringers about the killing being "illegal", an "assassination", so I have to assume Obama's dairy work is trying to appeal to middle-ground voters, or those slightly to the right that think the Republicans are going too far to the right. Or maybe Obama's team are just hoping they can make a "man-of-action" image for Obama in case he has to face non-military opponents like Newt Gingrich. "So, Mr Gingrich, you have no military experience, but Obama got Bin Laden...."

      3. Alan Johnson

        DIsgraceful Kerry slur campaign.

        "John Kerry's dubious claim "

        There is no credible evidence that any of John Kerry's many decorations were anything but deserved. The success of this smear shows how ruthless politicans can be and the incredibly right wing bias of the US media. It may well have made the difference in a very close election.

        It makes me angry whenever I hear about it and I am not even american and do not support any US political party.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          RE: DIsgraceful Kerry slur campaign

          "There is no credible evidence that any of John Kerry's many decorations were anything but deserved...." Erm, yes there is! The commanding officer on the night in question, Lt Schachte, says he thought the wound was inflicted by Kerry firing a grenade launcher at too short range and taking his own shrapnel. Either way, the pushing of the Swift Boat attacks on Kerry, and the subsequent number of websites that sprang up to defend Kerry, are perfect examples of what I'm talking about - both sides saw Kerry's military career as vital to his election chances, and both (alledgedly) threw plenty of money and press time into attacking or defending him.

          "....the incredibly right wing bias of the US media...." Strange, but during Obama's campaign we had the Republicans complaining about the easy ride Obama got from the press, about media left-wing bias. So it seems you can't please all of the people all of the time!

          ".....I am not even american and do not support any US political party." But your leap to bash the press for right-wing bias does speak volumes for your political sympathies.

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. laird cummings

      "They also serve...

      ...Who stand and wait."

      Bush-the-Younger was an interceptor pilot with patrol duties aimed at intercepting feared Soviet bomber attacks from Cuban bases. Now, say what you want about the plausibility of such an attack, the military and government beleived that they were possible, and if such a raid were to occur, well, the results would've been devestating. I don't call guarding against such a threat to be controversial - SOMEONE had to do it - shall we call ALL those who did that duty to be draft dodgers..? 'Cause if one is, they all are.

    3. Marina

      ANG wasn't the problem

      I don't think anybody in the US has a problem with Bush being just a National Guard pilot. What some people see as a problem is that he got that position to avoid going to war, and was able to do so because his father had the power and money to pretty much buy it for him, and that he later has pretended he was some kind of military hero, which he most definitely wasn't.

      In short, people have a problem with him because he's full of sh*t.

    4. Chris 244
      Thumb Down

      ANG Professionalism

      A professional doesn't disobey a direct order and drop a bomb on 12 Canadian friendlies below.

  10. Jamie Kitson

    "America is actually a crime"

    ^ it

  11. Dan Beshear

    There is a reason ...

    ... that Jesus referred to his followers as "his sheep" (John 10:27). Too many Christians will believe anything they're told if the "preacher" says so.

    @Naughtyhorse: Complete agreement.

    1. ArmanX

      I'll broaden that definition... most of humanity. Just about anyone will believe just about anything, as long as it doesn't mess with their preconceived ideas too much. Even the most hardened cynic will believe a lie, as long as it goes along with what he (or she, obviously) already believes.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        I was going to agree with that...

        but now I think I was biased by my pre-conceived ideas.

        Yep, the one with the logical paradox in the pocket.

    2. Denarius Silver badge

      @Dan :Ignorance is bliss, not

      shows you have never been a farmer. Most obstinate animal of the lot are sheep. Try reading Banjo Pattersons article on why Australian folklore is full of despair and doom. Sheep, particularly the merino.

      When it comes to describing humans, especially in their acquiescing in evil, sheep is a bloody (in real terms) description.

  12. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    "Neptune Spear" might refer to

    where Osama bin Laden ended up. But that would kind of imply that they didn't want to capture or question him, and planned the boat trip all along.

    Also, would you use your best name for the mission if there was a possibility that he'd be out and you'd have to leave one of those cards. Spear fishers sometimes miss. Apparently this makes it a sport, although the Olympics said no (you don't them putting on live pigeon shooting any more either: nor poetry).

    And then again, how sure are we that he really isn't in some secret CIA jail in a country you never heard of, having pieces snipped off him with rusty pliers.

  13. NoneSuch

    As the Stolen Valor Act was ruled unconstituional...

    Take anyone who claims to be a SEAL, dress them up in full cammo, give them a fully loaded automatic weapon and then boot them out of a C-130 at 35,000 feet for a HALO jump into the highlands of central Afghanistan.

    The real ones will make it back.

  14. Dr. Heinrich Backhausen

    Is being a Navy seal a honour?

    Well, in the US it maybe, but in the civilized world they only can be seen as payed killers (the US administration pays them, doesn't it?), like mercenaries or the good ole boys from Palermo. And in the later world - which, when I look at the track of your article, isn't yours, Lewis - there is only one instance, which decides guilty or not: the court, its judges and juries. And civilized people won't accept the penalty of death as anything but barbaric.

    Having said that and being a antireligious fundamentalist, I wonder why especially christian priests are so inclined to pose as killers.

    1. neb

      re: in the civilized world they only can be seen as payed killers...

      to paraphrase a favourite of mine

      "good men do bad things to bad men", so twats like your good self can sleep easy in your bed at night! How is The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society going for you THEN?

      take your head for a shite you muppet.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Not "good men"

        Rough men, uncivilised men... it's hung on George Orwell, and may be based on something he actually wrote or said in one or another place.

        From here

        - Did George Orwell ever say: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf?" Or: "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us?"

        - Not exactly. But he did make comments that were along similar lines. In his essay on Rudyard Kipling (1942), Orwell wrote: "[Kipling] sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilised, are there to guard and feed them." (Thanks to Keith Ammann for this). And in his 'Notes on Nationalism' (1945) he wrote: "Those who "abjure" violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."

        And at

        somebody "found this quote attributed to a speech on a BBC broadcast, April 4, 1942." I wonder if that could have been basically the same as the Kipling mention.

        Likewise it seems to be not actually true that the Duke of Wellington had a look at his army and said, "I don't know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me."

        Soldiers, effective ones, are not necessarily moral people at all, as the incidence of looting and rape committed by any occupying force should tell you.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          RE: Not "good men"

          "Rough men, uncivilised men....." Whilst in general agreement with your post, I have to take odds with your implication that soldiers can be any less well-read or educated than the average Joe, and in some cases are very well educated.

          As an example, when a Marines friend was being posted to Saudi as part of Desert Shield, he quickly predicted that he was going to be spending a lot of time sitting around whilst the politicians gabbed and forces were built up in the theatre. Some friends and I made some flippant suggestions for reading material. Turns out he had read "War & Peace" at school, all the Spike Milligan war memoirs, and Jeremy Wilson's autobiography of Lawrence of Arabia. Quite miffed that our Septic buddy was probably better read than the rest of us, we signed him up for a subscription to "Cosmopolitan" with his Saudi mailstop, much to the amusement of his colleagues!

    2. Ru

      Re: Is being a Navy seal a honour

      In order for the judiciary to do its job, the state must be able to apply force to those who have broken its laws. Without the SEAL teams, how might the US executive apply force to people like Osama bin Laden?

      Its a nasty job, but someone has to do it. Its also an exceedingly difficult one, and traditionally it seems that most societies treat their most accomplished members with some degree of respect.

    3. laird cummings

      I see...

      And *your* country has none such, I presume?

      Just another ivory-tower fantasist, living in cloud-cuckoo-wonderland.

    4. Steve Gill



  15. fishman


    When Bush arrived on that aircraft carrier, he had landed in a conventional carrier plane - one that uses a tailhook to land, and not in a helocopter. He even took the plane controls for a bit before they landed - he had been a pilot in the Air National Guard. So it's not surprising that he was wearing a flight suit.

  16. Code Monkey

    "Just needs his ass spanked"

    How refreshing to hear of an American capable of resolving something without getting the lawyers involved.

    1. laird cummings

      Fairly typical

      I've had the honor of knowing a couple (real) SEALs, and this is about what I'd expect. They don't monkey about with unnecessary gestures, just fix the problem and move on - They've nothing to prove to anyone.

  17. Marvin the Martian

    "I brought shame on Christ and my family"

    Nope, mate; just on yourself and possibly on your starry-eyed flock.

    I anyways don't see how it's a plus to have been a hardened state-ordered killer, except possibly if you claim some Damascene conversion.

    And on the stolen valor act: I was looking forward to see a bunch of actors imprisoned (especially the cast of Pearl Harbor; as I cannot get my money+time back from that atrocity); natch, it's stuck in the Supremes and will be struck out.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The combat-to-clergy transition

    .. is not really that strange: what was that famous comment about there being no atheists in a dugout? Lots of soldiers are religious: I know a guy who combined being 3rd in command of the Barbados army and being a part-time CoE vicar.

    He also claimed to have been in the SAS when he was in the British army ..

    1. David Lester

      The combat-to-clergy transition

      The most famous example in the UK would be the late Robert Runcie MC: a tank platoon commander in 1944/5; latterly ABofC.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      In the Army ...

      Our Padre is an ex-infantry officer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      famouse and wrong

      Yes, it is a famous comment but in 22 years in the military I met a lot more atheists in combat than religious people - at least on "our" side. On the other side of the battle most of the people gunning down passing by women and children were quite religious - especially in the Balkans.

      On the whole, I'd say most foxholes / dugouts / trenches are full of atheists because they are hiding from the homicidal maniac theists.

  19. Paul Johnston

    Orde Wingate

    Was one of our most famous soldiers of the Second World War and he had a bit of a religion issue.

    Put it down to the Plymouth Brethren upbringing (bit more Old Testament than New)

    1. Luther Blissett

      Laying on understatement with a trowel

      A different way of putting it is that Wingate was a complete nutter. The authorities tolerated him on the principle that he was "one of our nutters", and better to have him in the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.

      1. Paul Johnston
        Thumb Up


        Couldn't agree more!

        As to if he was an effective nutter is another discussion!

    2. Havelock

      Priests & Soldiers

      Can go back even further - General Gordon (of Khartoum fame...) was decribed as being "a mystic masquerading as a soldier"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >The Stolen Valor Act has subsequently been ruled unconstitutional by US judges.

    I suppose this means that judges are also wont to claim to have had rather more exciting past lives than reality would otherwise show.

  21. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Perhaps I'm old-fashioned...

    ...but if you claim an honour for yourself then you are obviously lying because an honourable person would not brag about such matters.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe he just wanted to get out of a game of hide and seek

    I hear all SEAL's have been banned for taking things a little bit to seriously when they found the previous world Champion.....

  23. NogginTheNog

    "I also cook"

    Sorry but whenever I hear of "Seal Team Six" I think of Steven Siegal Under Siege...

  24. Marketing Hack Silver badge


    No wonder the Muslims hate us!! In numerous languages that probably means "Your mother begat you during sex with a diseased donkey"!!

  25. unitron

    Plague of US preachers falsely claim to be Navy SEALs

    Well, at least it's not the other way 'round.

    1. laird cummings

      The Orders Militant...

      ...are an European creation, not an American one.

      That said, an Order Militant composed of SEALs would be a terrifying thought, indeed.

  26. Stuart Duel

    Nutters, the lot of them

    "Plague of US preachers falsely claim to be Navy SEALs

    Well, at least it's not the other way 'round."

    I'm pretty sure you'd find a plague of current and former Navy SEALs, and other military types, proudly proclaiming at the very least their religious nuttiness, since a disturbingly high proportion of Yanks can be defined as religious nutters. Which is a large part of the reason much of the west + world views the U.S. with a high degree of suspicion, concern and distain. The other part of the reason is the obscene mixture of capricious, fundamentalist capitalism with absolutist Christianity to form the U.S. state religion which the U.S. insists on imposing on others at every opportunity.

    1. laird cummings


      ...the vast majority of Americans view Stuart with a high degree of distain for his ignorant, unfounded, and inaccurate but colorfully biased views on America.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Check out 'Boxtop' ....

    during the G W Bush administration.

  28. camnai

    George I

    George H. W. Bush may have been an 'elite carrier pilot', but as far as I've ever heard his combat experience was limited to being shot down while out joy-riding with an old family friend. He only became a war hero when he inveigled Michael Dukakis into calling him one after Bush had insinuated Dukakis wasn't a patriot because he'd never been in the military. This was just after the Willie Horton ad.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Total horse-piss

      In fact George H. W. Bush flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific Theatre, as well as many more search-and-rescue and reconnaissance missions, and was awarded multiple decorations for valour. In one mission he was shot down by flak off the Bonin Islands (the outermost Japanese islands), and later rescued by a submarine, but the rest of his crew were lost. He also did a stint as a combat aviation instructor -- a sign of significantly above-average skill.

      None of this says very much about whether or not you should have voted for him as President. What really peeves me is when you get people who have never even put their hand in the air to offer to serve, sit back and nitpick about whether this fellow's military career is more glorious than that one. So far as I'm concerned, if he volunteered to be in harm's way when the chips were down, whether as a jet jock, a cook -- or , yes, even a stinkin' red cap -- then that shows some basic streak of decency whose presence cannot be guaranteed in every man.

      That's all it shows; you still get some right DHs in the services, too. But slightly fewer than you find on the net.

  29. Winkypop Silver badge

    How amazing

    A member of a religious group pretending to be something they are not...


  30. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Supreme Court Descision

    I understand why the USSC found the Stolen Valor Act to be unconstitutional. Its the threat of the government control of speech and suppression of dissent by labeling it as lies.

    On the other hand, there is no restriction on civil suits being brought for anything from fraud (misrepresenting ones credentials for the purpose of personal gain) to trademark violation. I can't stick a Rolex logo on a cheap watch or sell knock off products as name brands. I'd hope that the Navy (and other military branches) have groups dedicated to pursuing and bringing such abuses to court. I'd be happy to see such activities funded by us taxpayers.

    Sadly, our military forces have a number of people who sympathize with religious nut cases and are more than willing to look the other way to support their fellow travelers' riding their coattails.

  31. Carol Orlowski

    Some small inacuracies,

    1. Yes, GWB signed the Stolen Valor Act (SVA) into law -- but that's what he has to do, as President, to all Acts passed by Congress (unless he vetoes them, which of course is done infrequently.) The sponsoring and passage of the Bill had nothing to do with GWB. Its sponsors in fact were both Democrats (but it wasn't Democrat policy and had a rought time getting passed.)

    2. Many forms of military impersonation were already illegal under US law, and had been for a century or so. The main new feature of the SVA was restriction on wearing of *decorations* (and trafficking in them, which pissed off the medal collectors.) IANAL but SVA may have little to do with this case, as Moats was falsely claiming to be a SEAL veteran, not falsely claiming to have been awarded a decoration for valor.

    3. Yes, SVA has recently been ruled unconstitutional, twice, but this was done by inferior courts. Again, IANAL but the prevailing legal opinion seems to be that these rulings are wrong in law, that they are harmful rulings that must be appealed (because they dangerously over-broaden First Amendment protections); and the rulings will certainly be overturned if they are appealed.

  32. Apocalypse Later

    Seems to me...

    ...that the most effective punishment for posing as a hero of any kind when not entitled to do so is to be exposed as a fraud.

    In the movie The Boston Strangler, there is a character who poses as an army officer to impress women (very successfully too) who gets swept up in the dragnet. He says he isn't doing anything illegal, and a detective says it is an offence to impersonate an officer. He replies, "not if you don't wear the uniform". Maybe that has changed.

    I was supposed to go to Vietnam, but I blew it off.

  33. alien anthropologist

    Reminds me..

    ..of being back in town on a long weekend pass a very long time ago. Was a CO (candidate officer) about to become a 2nd Lt.

    Ran into a girl I knew from our high school matric class. We started chatting about our old school friends. She mentioned one that is now an officer... the very same guy was doing a NCO course at the same base that I was.

    And before I could tell her that he lied, she told me that this guy told her that I was in the special forces.

    Hehe.. kind of funny that he tried to cover himself that way.

    I told her it was bullshit. Got too much respect for the guys in special forces to claim to be one of them. Served with them (even had one as a company commander). Have family that were in special forces. Takes something special to wear that title and badge - something that most of us do not have.

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