Associated Press reporter Allen Breed sent this e-mail to Iraq war vet and activist Luis Carlos Montalván—detailing holes in Montalván's story about his experiences in Iraq—last month.
From: Breed, Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Fri 1/22/10 7:32 AM
Dear Mr. Montalvan,
You hung up on me before I had a chance to fully explain myself. But I thought I would send you a brief outline of what I have heard and give you another chance to respond.
As I said, I have spoken with David Page, the man who, by all accounts, finished off your attacker of Dec. 21, 2003. I have also spoken with Col. Chris Hickey and CSM John Kurak, and have obtained a contemporaneous journal entry about the attack, written by a member of the quick reaction force leader who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. Each of these people gives a markedly different version than you of the events and aftermath of that night.
All agree that you injured your back in the incident, but that you returned to full duty within days, with little apparent difficulty. In fact, your Facebook page contains a photo, dated 2004, of you holding a young Iraqi child in your outstretched arms _ a feat that would be difficult or impossible for someone who had recently fractured three vertebrae.
None of these former comrades recalls multiple attackers or hand grenades. And contrary to your statements about this being an "assassination" attempt for your anti-corruption work on the border, the investigation of the event seems to have concluded that this was a simple truck driver who, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, attacked when rousted from his vehicle. None of these people remembers you being "stabbed multiple times," as alleged in your lawsuit against McDonald's. Page does recall a single cut in your uniform, however.
A FOIA tells me that you are collecting $1,523 a month in disability benefits from the VA. I heard an interview in which you criticized the agency for "having the audacity" to question your accounts, and complaining that they are not paying you enough. You said essentially the same thing to me last night. Is it not reasonable to check out someone's story before granting them a lifetime of taxpayer-funded benefits?
Without a doubt, PTSD is a subjective thing. Two people standing side by side can be affected in vastly different ways by the same event. But I am also told that it is one of the easiest psychological disorders to feign. I am trying to reconcile your changing versions of what happened that night with what others have told me. Other concerns have arisen, such as your ability to travel to a foreign country without Tuesday by your side. Surely you don't expect McDonald's, one of the world's largest corporations, to pay you without first doing a thorough background check - and with legal discovery authority far greater than a journalist's.
Please believe me when I tell you that I take no pleasure in questioning the story of a decorated war veteran. But as a fellow journalist, you must realize that it is my job. I honor your service to the country. I hope you will honor the "Fourth Estate's" sacred trust to get at the truth.