Retired Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely is a former military analyst for Fox News and the founder of Stand up America, a right-wing inititaive that "involves publishing, radio, television, speaking engagements, web site, writing articles for publication as well as books." Known for his neoconservative and often conspiritorial views, Vallely is a member of the Center for Security Policy's military committee and a board member at the American Center for Democracy.
Conspiracy Theories and Coup Claims
Vallely is a vociferous critic of the Obama administration and often resorts to gross hyperbole and conspiracies in making his deninciations. In September 2015, he spoke at a rally against the then-recently finalized Iran nuclear deal in New York City organized by a coaltion of hardline "pro-Israel" groups, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Zionist Organization of America, the Clarion Project, Christians United for Israel, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, the Middle East Forum and the Center for Security Policy. Speaking alongside figures like Steve Emerson, Frank Gaffney, Caroline Glick, Clare Lopez, and James Woolsey, Vallely wildly argued that the Iran deal was "treacherous" and also stated that "aiding and abetting" Iran is a "treasonous offense." He falsly claimed that the United States would give Iran $150 billion of "U.S. taxperpayers money" as part of them deal. In reality, the deal permitted Iran to receive between $50 - $100 billion of its own money which was frozen in accounts abroad due to sanctions.
In August 2015, Vallely claimed that the Iran nuclear deal was a "moot point" because Iran already had nuclear weapons. He told the conservative Newsmax: "They have the launch systems. They have the guidance-control system. They have the detonation system. They have the warhead. And guess what? Russia and North Korea's tested everything for them."
Vallely has also promoted the conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the United States, saying in 2011 that he had "retired CIA agents and other investigators go over [Obama's] birth certificate that was produced and by far ten out of ten have said its a forgery."
In November 2013, Vallely accused President Obama of "intentionally weakening and gutting our military." Later, in December 2013, he called for a "citizens' arrest" of the president, saying: "I would say if we can make citizens' arrest, I challenge our government that if we have people that are conducting treason against the United States and the best interests of our country, violating the Constitution, violating our laws, just as they are doing with these excessive executive orders that are coming out of the White House where you have a President and his team that doesn't care about the Constitution."
Vallely has also outrageously claimed that the Obama White House and the major network TV channels have colluded to cover up information about the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. "What we have now basically is an invitation to seriously defraud the voting public, which in my opinion is just another indication that we need to impeach President Obama and we need the resignation of [Vice President Joe] Biden and others who were involved in this," he said of the supposed cover up of the Benghazi attack in an April 2014 interview with Newsmax. "[T]here is collusion with ABC, CBS, NBC. They all need to be taken to task for collusion with the cover-up. How can you lie to the American people, put politics before the truth?"
In January 2014, Vallely stated that he would personally be willing to lead a coup against the U.S. government, telling a Tea Party group, "I had a call this afternoon from Idaho, the gentleman said, 'If I give you 250,000 Marines to go to Washington, will you lead them?' I said, 'Yes, I will, I'll surround the White House and I'll surround the Capitol building, but it's going to take physical presence to do things."
He added: "I don't want to be criticized for starting a revolution, but I'd certainly head it if we had to. We all love a good fight if it's worth it, right?"
One commentator said in response to Vallely's remarks: "Obviously a man willing to lead the military in a sort of coup d'état against a duly elected president cannot be reasoned with, about any matter."
Iraq War Propaganda
During the Iraq War, Vallely was one of several retired military figues who was invovled in a controversial Pentagon program aimed at disseminating favorable views of U.S. actions and policies in the media. According to the New York Times, the Pentagon program, which ran from 2002 until 2008, was initially aimed at generating public support for the Iraq War. The program focused specifically on retired military men because they "often got more airtime than network reporters, and they were not merely explaining the capabilities of Apache helicopters. They were framing how viewers ought to interpret events." The Times added: "What is more, while the analysts were in the news media, they were not of the news media. They were military men, many of them ideologically in sync with the administration's neoconservative brain trust, many of them important players in a military industry anticipating large budget increases to pay for an Iraq war."
The Times story added that as the U.S. occupation of Iraq began deteriorating into a counterinsurgency conflict in mid-2003, Vallely and other analysts in the Pentagon program where flown to Iraq to get a look at "the real situation on the ground." Although Vallely would later tell the Times that he "saw things were going south," his message on Fox News shortly after the trip was altogether different. He told Fox's Alan Colmes, "You can't believe the progress," and predicted that within months the insurgency would be "down to a few numbers."
In early 2006, after several retired generals issued scathing critiques of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's performance and demanded his resignation, the Pentagon hurriedly planned a damage-control meeting between its invited analysts and Rumsfeld. On April 17, 2006, just a few days before the scheduled meeting, Vallely and three other retired military officers penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled "In Defense of Donald Rumsfeld." Its text and talking points came at least in part from the Pentagon. According to the Times, after Vallely sent a note to the Pentagon saying that any help with his draft "will be much appreciated," Rumsfeld's office "quickly forwarded talking points and statistics to rebut the notion of a spreading revolt. 'Vallely is going to use the numbers,' a Pentagon official reported that afternoon."
In their Wall Street Journal op-ed, Vallely and his coauthors argued: "In the end [Rumsfeld's] the man in charge and the buck stops with him. As long as he retains the confidence of the commander in chief he will make the important calls at the top of the department of defense. That's the way America works. So let's all breathe into a bag and get on with winning the global war against radical Islam."
"Stand Up America"
In 2005, Vallely founded "Stand Up America," a "multi-media" organization which as of 2015 consists mostly of links to far-right and Islamophobic news stories from conservative news outlets. One featured story on the website's front page in October 2015 was titled, "Massive Influx of Muslims Already Here as More Refugees Come."
Previously, Vallely also hosted a radio program on Stand Up America, in which he regularly invited as guests neoconservatives and hardline policy wonks, including Michael Ledeen (then of the American Enterprise Institute), Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Brigitte Gabriel, Mike Evans, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Mark Steyn, Kenneth Timmerman, Ann Coulter, Brad Blakeman of Freedom's Watch, and Clifford May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
In a November 2006 show, Valley argued: "People want to see victory, they want to see victory in this war on terror … It's like a football game. We've got to cross the goal line, we have to win, because this radical Islam that is spreading and wants to destroy America, destroy us, is very real … The course of radical Islam to destroy democracy, the Western world as it is—America being the primary target—is real, and also Europe being the target."
Vallely has worked with or served on the boards of several hardline advocacy groups and public relations outifts, many of which have been associated with efforts to promote a rigihtwing "pro-Israel" line on Middle East peace, including Benador Associates, Family Security Matters, Rachel Ehrenfeld's American Center for Democracy, the Jerusalem Summit, the International Intelligence Summit, and Brigitte Gabriel's American Congress for Truth (ACT), which is "dedicated to educating millions of uninformed Americans about the threat of radical Islam to world peace and national security." Vallely was also formerly the co-chair of the Military Committee of Raymond Tanter's Iran Policy Committee and the chair of the Military Committee of Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy.
In August 2005, Vallely coauthored with Ehrenfeld an article for David Horowitz's online news site FrontPageMagazine.com. In it, they conflated Islamic extremist groups and argued that peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians could threaten global security, writing: "Even now, as law enforcement agencies are busy tracking and exposing Islamist terrorist cells and world leaders are condemning terrorism, Israel is conspicuously absent from everybody's list as a country victimized by terrorism. This 'oversight' is consistent with the fact that Israel is being pushed to surrender to Islamist terrorism and reward Palestinian Jihadists who are committed to the destruction of the Jewish state."
They added: "Giving Palestinian Islamist terrorists a territory in and from which they can operate freely would only contribute directly to the escalation of terrorist attacks, suicidal or otherwise, around the world. With this in mind, the United States should reconsider its pressure on Israel to appease terrorism."
Questions on Credibility
In 2005 Vallely made a startling claim regarding the Valerie Plame case (in which Plame was revealed as a CIA operative to members of the press). Vallely declared that Plame's husband, Amb. Joseph Wilson, had revealed his wife's role to Vallely in 2002 as they were chatting in the greenroom at Fox's studios, well before Plame's identity was apparently leaked to reporters by administration officials in July 2003. (Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis Libby was charged with five felony counts related to this case and convicted in March 2007 of lying to government investigators before having his sentence commuted by President George W. Bush.) "[Wilson] was rather open about his wife working at the CIA," Vallely asserted. Immediately after Vallely's claims were published online, Wilson demanded a retraction from both Vallely and the website that ran the story, the conservative WorldNetDaily.com.
The media watchdog site Media Matters questioned Vallely's credibility on the matter, noting that he changed his story about his encounters with Wilson and reporting that, "Vallely's allegations have come nearly two years after the beginning of [U.S. Attorney Patrick] Fitzgerald's high-profile investigation. Despite widespread reporting about the seriousness of Fitzgerald's investigation, Vallely apparently did not feel compelled to share his story until more than a week after Libby's indictment."
Vallely has made other somewhat unusual or dubious statements. In a 2005 interview he gave to the Executive Intelligence Review—the publication founded by the notorious conspiracy-monger Lyndon LaRouche—Vallely claimed to have intelligence on the Middle East that was superior to what the CIA had collected. "I've got better intelligence coming out of the Middle East," he told the interviewer. "I've got a guy from the Department of Defense that is assigned to me now, an intelligence guy, to process all the information that I'm getting directly out of the Middle East, including the sighting of bin Laden back in November, last year." It was not clear how Vallely, a private citizen outside of government, could have a Defense analyst assigned to him.
Vallely has championed taking military action against Iran, citing wildly speculative claims as a rationale. According to Executive Intelligence Review, Vallely said that "he knew that Osama bin Laden was in Iran, and that Ken Timmerman (author of Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran), had learned from Iranian dissidents in Europe that Iran already had nuclear weapons. 'All roads lead to Tehran,' Vallely said."