Smith Calls For Prosecution In Military Hoax
March 1, 2005
Washington, DC - A recently exposed hoax in which an individual delivered a false death notice to the wife of a Ft. Stewart soldier serving in Iraq has prompted Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) to call for the use of a new federal law he designed to prosecute the responsible person.
In the following letter sent to the Judge Advocate General of the Army today, Smith made known that under his "Stop Terrorist and Military Hoaxes Act of 2004," criminal penalties now exist for individuals who provide false and misleading information about the death of a member of the Armed Forces during a time of war. Smith was joined by Reps. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) on the letter.
Major General Thomas J. Romig
Judge Advocate General
Department of the Army
2200 Army Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20310
Dear Major General Romig,
Last week various media organizations reported that an individual at Fort Stewart perpetrated a cruel hoax in which he delivered a false death notice to the wife of a solider serving in Iraq. Obviously, these actions are outrageous and deserve serious consequences. That is why we worked to pass of the "Stop Terrorist and Military Hoaxes Act of 2004," which was signed into law last year as part of Public Law 108-458.
Tragically, some have used the shadow of fear cast by the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq to further terrorize others with hoaxes. These hoaxes continue to grow in number and variety. As we saw this week, some have terrorized the families of our military men and women by falsely claiming their loved ones have been killed in action. Such conduct is reprehensible, and that is why the new law provides additional criminal penalties for individuals who prey on our military families. The law specifically includes a provision to penalize individuals who make a false statement, with the intent to provide false and misleading information, about the death of a member of the Armed Forces during a time of war.
While we certainly hope that hoaxes will end, the Stop Terrorist and Military Hoaxes Act should be a useful tool for you in situations like the recent hoax in Fort Stewart. We hope you succeed in bringing the person responsible to justice and that you can use this new statute to full advantage as you do so.
Member of Congress