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Law Doctor
Law Doctor, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 41
Experience:  Represented clients in excess of 30,000 cases over 15 years.
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Do you agree or disagree that when someone accuses someone

Customer Question

Negative Proof Question:

I said on USENET once that I helped to interrogate prisoners when I served in Vietnam (I spent 15 months in Vietnam, including periods that involved the 1968 and 1969 Tet offensive and counter offensive months).

In response to my general statement above, a person with the initials (NB) that had previously stated he had “appointed himself a Judge over me” and claimed to be a former Custom Worker (he also said he was a Federal Agent) implied, yet clearly indicated that since my MOS was 71H40 (Personnel Staff NCO) that I was lying. He further implied that my records did not reflect that I helped to interrogate any prisoners, and he further claimed since my DA fm 20 does not show any Vietnamese language school I could not have helped to interrogate prisoners. (Mr. NB also lied about my MOS, it was 71H40L - he removed the “L” designation which of course reflects that I had a Linguist rating added to my primary MOS identification code).

I believe that such claims by NB represents the classic tactics of smear merchant attempting to use the “Logical Fallacy” of negative evidence to smear and defame someone.

I say NB is deceiving the readers by implying that each time any NCO serving during the Vietnam war (especially in an Infantry combat unit or assigned to a base that contained a large POW camp) would help to interrogate prisoners, or take a Chu Hoi in the field, or in any way help to process that prisoner, such events would be entered in a serviceman’s personnel records. NB also is claiming that all interrogation transcripts of prisoners were NEVER transcribed into English. That preposterous claim by this NB person (who was formally a SP4 draftee with only two years of service and never any NCO rank) represents, I believe one of his most fundamental, basic, and first hand outrageous false accusations.

Experts on the US Army have already expressed in writing that MOS and DA Fm 20 or even a 201 file military records do not include every single duty an NCO might have performed in a war zone. In fact, any claim to the contrary such as NB is publishing, is inherently false and ridiculous to begin with. ALL NCO’s perform *extensive* duties outside of their MOS job description on a regular basis in a hazardous fire zone, and in fact, as the following tiny URL proves, it is the written policy of the US Army that all soldiers perform their share of combat duties in a hazardous fire (combat) zone:

>From 1. Rod Powers,

Your Guide to U.S. Military.

"It is Army policy that assignment to combat or duty in a hostile-fire or areas must be shared equitably by all similarly qualified Soldiers."

Nevertheless, from a legal point of view, my question is, in your expert legal opinion, is the NB person attempting to use “Negative Proof” to claim his false accusations are true because there is no proof they are not true?

Negative Proof, such as what Mr. NB regularly uses in his posts attacking others, has been deemed by our courts as a “Logical Fallacy”   Such as:
"X is true because there is no proof that X is false."

Do you agree or disagree that when someone accuses someone of something, and claims because there is no proof his accusations are false then they must be considered true, is an honest investigator, and a former Federal Agent that learned such evidence tactics as a Federal Investigator? Please elaborate and explain your answer.

Douglas Reiman
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Doctor replied 9 years ago.


I think your question involves issues of defamation of character and 1st Amendment liberties. First, any person has the right to state his/her opinion about any subject. Remember, the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that all persons have the right of freedom of speech with certain limitations. For example, a person cannot lawfully shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire. Those words are deemed fighting words and could cause severe harm to people trying to exit to escape a hazardous condition that does not exist. However, if a person is making false claims and conveying these false statements to other parties, that person is committing an act of defamation of character and can be sued in a civil court. You may even seek an injunction stopping the person from spreading these false statements. Be advised that the "truth" is an absolute defense to defamation and the burden is on the defendant to show that his/her statements are true.

I hope my reply has helped you on your complex issue. Please remember to click on the ACCEPT button. Any positive feedback you can file about me would be much appreciated. I wish you the best of luck.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Thank you for your input but I believe you have missed my question. My question was whether NB was using "Negative Proof" or not in respect to his defamation.

Negative Proof, such as what Mr. NB regularly uses in his posts attacking others, has been deemed by our courts as a “Logical Fallacy”   Such as:
"X is true because there is no proof that X is false."

When Mr. NB says that "since there is no proof that what I am claiming is not true, therefore it is true" I believe that statement is a clear "Logical Fallacy" of an attempt to use "negative proof" to support his defamation. (see above for the specifics in respect to his claims).

Do you agree Mr. NB is using "Negative Proof" or not? And please explain why either way.

In respect to filing in Federal Court (the smear gang is disbursed over several states and none are located in my state) to obtain a restraining order, I am interested in retaining a lawyer for that purpose.

Thanks XXXXX
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I am still waiting for an answer to my reply.