Defamation Suit Against Special Operations Community Forum And Its Members

Courtesy of a horde of tipsters, this weekend I heard about a wide-ranging defamation suit filed in state court in Colorado by John Giduck against SocNet — a forum discussing the Special Operations Community — and individuals posting on it.

Multiple real-world court appearances prevent a lengthy discussion today — I will revisit the case later this week. (Why didn't I just blog it thoroughly last night? Well I had a gigantic margarita and I was tired and what am I, your internet towel boy?)

Here, however, are some very preliminary thoughts:

1. You can read a bit about the lawsuit, and the circumstances that brought it about, at This Ain't Hell, among other places you could find if you Google John Giduck. There are multiple copies of the lawsuit available on the internet; I've made one available here. The page numbers are jumbled on that one — sorry.

2. In the complaint, Giduck claims that people on SocNet have falsely accused him of posing as things he is not — including a former member of Special Forces. Giduck's position seems to be that he's never said he was in the Special Forces; he just markets himself as someone very knowledgeable about Special Forces, someone you should hire to lecture and consult about them. He also asserts there is a conspiracy to ruin him and his lecturing/consulting business, that SocNet commenters called for him to be ruined, and that SocNet commenters called for attacks on him and his wife, resulting in his tires being slashed.

3. The complaint asserts that some defendants made specific false statements of fact. If true, that could actually make out a case for defamation for which legal redress is warranted. However, taken as a whole, the complaint appears to be a very disturbing attempt to retaliate against critics and chill any new critics. Here's why:

a. The complaint mixes allegations about false statements of fact that could plausibly be defamation (like asserting that the defendants accused Giduck of making false claims of being a Special Forces soldier) with allegations directed at statements of opinion that are obviously protected by the First Amendment (like calling Giduck a "creepy-ass dummy" or "moron."

b. The complaint lists a long series of statements about Giduck, and mixes allegedly false statements of fact with statements of clear opinion. It names SocNet and a dozen individuals who allegedly posted about Giduck. But in the complaint Giduck and his attorneys utterly fail to attribute any particular statement to any particular defendant. Instead, they assert broadly (and quite implausibly) that people writing about Giduck are engaged in a conspiracy to ruin him and his business. This is problematical on many levels. First, the failure to attribute particular statements to particular defendants seems like a clumsy attempt to evade Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, under which SocNet and its owners cannot be liable for comments left there by community members. Second, deliberately refusing to plead what each defendant allegedly posted appears to be an attempt to head off any First Amendment arguments at the pleading stages of the case — in other words, to prevent any particular defendant from saying "the statement the complaint attributes to me is clearly a protected statement of opinion not susceptible to defamation analysis." This looks like a ploy to make litigation more expensive and burdensome. Third, this appears to be a blatant attempt to chill and punish anyone who writes about John Giduck. Under the complaint, as drafted, it appears that you might be sued as a co-defendant under Giduck's conspiracy theory if you so much as call him a "cheesedick" (one of the allegations) in a thread about him. In short, even though I do not know anything about John Giduck beyond what I've read in this complaint and in the linked post, Giduck's complaint is framed in a way to make me very suspicious of him, of his legal team, and of the validity of his case. This complaint appears calculated to chill and retaliate, not to vindicate righteous claims.

4. The complaint names defendants from multiple states and even other countries. This will raise some interesting issues of where and how online comments confer personal jurisdiction, an area of law that is in flux. That's a lengthy discussion. Suffice it to say that the complaint appears calculated to state a case that the "conspirators" made deliberate efforts to destroy John Giduck's business in Colorado. That assertion, in turn, seems calculated to take advantage of an emerging doctrine that blog posts and comments about a person in a particular state do not create personal jurisdiction in that state unless they are calculated to cause harm in that state and do so.

5. Though the complaint has some elements of a classic chilling assault on criticism, it also describes some behavior which, if true, is creepy and deplorable. If some of Giduck's critics called for people to slash his tires and otherwise harass them, they ought to be identified and pursued criminally or civilly. If some commenters did pursue Giduck's wife and daughter, and write to his wife's employer in an effort to interfere with her employment, I sincerely hope that they are named, shamed, and cockroach-stomped.

More to follow.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Matt says

    Tire slashing? Seems like something special ops would do. I'm pretty sure real special ops personnel prefer TPing embassies though.

  2. says

    If I use Giduck's definition of "assault" on the bar exam tomorrow, I should be sure to type it in Wingdings so that the grader doesn't die of laughter.

  3. Orville says

    I am struck by the irony inherent to this lawsuit. From what I know of special forces they are used for precise, surgical strikes against specific targets. This looks like the legal equivalent of carpet bombing.

  4. Dave says

    "Cheesedick?" Really? In the good old days, you actually had to do something cool and edgy to become a co-conspirator, like procure a get-away car (and walking up hill both ways to get it) or even rent an apartment for a revolutionary group. (Who would have had to bring the tyrant to power first, so they had something to revolt against, not like revolutionaries today who have already standing tyrants to revolt against.) Now all you have to do is call someone a "cheesedick?" Its not even worth being a co-conspirator any more. Sheesh!

  5. Malc says


    At this site there is an apparent copy of a report from an investigating officer of the Sheriff's Department concerning the alleged "tire slashing". Let's just say that the evidence doesn't overwhelm me.

  6. says

    There's a pretty impressive paper trail showing the number of times OTHER people have claimed Mr. Giduck was a special forces soldier and/or trainer.

    Maybe he's going to claim that the writers of all those author and speaker biographies made up that particular fact on their own, and therefore it's defamatory to suggest that Mr. Giduck ever made the claim himself.

  7. Allen says

    Article 92, the last sentence, "…including posting that they would kill her three year old's pony." The bastards.

    Seriously, it does appear that his wife may have real cause for action. It seems to me that she has been drawn into this by virtue of being his spouse. As for Giduck, well my first thought would be hire an attorney that at a bare minimum can properly collate pages.

  8. Nate says

    Yup, slashed tyres definitely sounds like a SF MO to me *rolls eyes* Of course, the fact they did it without leaving prints…that's totally plausible (we've all seen mission impossible, right, those fuckers were probably dangling from a helicopter at the time – I may have been reading too much of Tara Carreon's ravings). In all seriousness though, even if there was evidence of property damage, they'd never get a conviction on it due to the shitty chain of evidence anyway. How do you go from not being able to see anything wrong with tyres to then seeing slits once it's inflated? You don't, is how. If it's there, you see it, if it's not…you don't!

    This guy seems the lowest of the low, form of douchenozzle. Not only does he appear to have fraudulently claimed to be a Ranger and SF, but when called on it he claims he never said that. He then manipulates a situation where classified information on an individual is given to him when he had no right to it and it appears it's even info of someone who has never said anything against him? And suing people who genuinely lay their lives on the line day-in day-out, who have far more important things they need to be thinking about rather than fighting an asshole like that in court.

    Wow, this guy might be about to knock Carreon off the King-Douche throne. That'd be impressive if it wasn't so damn sickening.

    And from what I read CO don't have Anti-SLAPP legislature. That really sucks.

    Also, as an aside, @Adam Steinbaugh good luck with the bar exam.

  9. Kelly says

    Oh dear, CC may have a contender to take over his title… I am pondering the validity of needing to get the popcorn going.

  10. Nate says

    Just been reading some of the threads at SocNet. The only group I'd like to piss off less than a bunch of lawyers…that would be a bunch of SF personnel! Those guys have certainly organised themselves against the threat. I'd be seriously crapping my pants if I was Johnny.

  11. says

    For every suit like this, you have to wonder how many sensible world-savvy attorneys are talking otherwise litigious clients back from the ledge of internet hurt feelings.

    My main takeaway from this article is that I should probably buy internettowelboy dot com before another Popehat reader does.

  12. Gal says

    The most disturbing thing about this business is that it appears that the SOA and SFA are corrupt as fuck.

  13. says

    I've concluded that a lot of people not only don't know what defamation is, but also don't know what a dictionary is.

  14. desconhecido says

    This is truly bizarre stuff.

    So, this guy is making some pretty big bucks playing the anti-terrorism expert game based on a resume which he disavows. Apparently, it's his position that he never claimed to have all those experiences and credentials which earned him all those speaking and training gigs. Now he's suing a bunch of people for pointing out that he's an unqualified hack because this harms his ability to earn a living as an unqualified hack.

    Perhaps the true conspiracy here is among all those who hired him over the years. Perhaps all these ravenous consumers of security training made up all the experiences and credentials and assigned them to the unwitting plaintiff to conceal the fact that they were hiring an unqualified hack.

  15. says

    So John Giduck may be a "Mall Ninja" (google it, some of it is hilarious) who decided to get involved with the actual community he aped and got caught as Mall Ninja always are…

  16. says

    A true special ops guy would never slit tires. Proper procedure is to remove the valve cores. That way you can inflate the tires and then they just deflate again when you remove the hose. Super easy to do and peculiarly expensive to fix since you have to get the car, or the tires anyway, to the shop, have the tires unmounted, and then have the valves replaced (free) and the tires remounted and rebalanced.

    If you cannot remove the cores (it takes a special tool) then cut the valve stems. It's safer and easier, just as funny, and you are "destroying" something with no describable value (they are given away for free by tire shops).

  17. says

    Since truth is the ultimate defense, will some internet poster now have to get a urologist to examine JG to prove in court that he is, in fact, a cheesedick? Will JD have to offer testimony from a competing witness in order to enter in as alleged fact that his dick is, to within professional standards, clean and free of cheese?

  18. Grifter says

    @Robert White:

    The special tool is on some valvecaps these days! (it's really just a little notch that can fit in to unscrew)

  19. desconhecido says

    Geez Loise.

    To replace a valve stem requires that the tire be dismounted — or at least that the bead be broken — but replacing a valve core is super easy. Just screw in another. And, the "special tool" required is present on many valve caps. If you're missing a valve core, you can probably find a replacement on your kid's bicycle and you can insert it with a small screwdriver, if you aren't feeling "special." If you don't have kids, or if you can't con them out of a valve core, you can buy replacement cores and the tool to install them, probably for less than $5 total. No dismounting or re-balancing is necessary.

    As for the best way to deflate tires, removing the valve core is good in that no permanent damage results and fixing it is easy, once you know what it's all about. Unfortunately, in order to deflate in this way requires a bit of time to remove the cap and then the core, using a "special tool," of course. So, if you are under time constraints, this is not the way to do it.

    Cutting or pulling the entire stem out can be done pretty quickly and does require that at least the bead be broken for repair. New stems are probably $1 to $3 each but the cost to the repair person is much less so they might not itemize the cost.

    If you do find that somebody has cut your valve stems, remove the cores and put them in your glove box so you will have them if you ever piss off Robert White.

  20. BoxersOrCaseBriefs says

    Does Colorado have some funky defamation laws or does this guy just not know the difference between libel and slander?

  21. Malc says

    Ah… Re: your point 5.

    While at first blush, the writing to the wife's employer sounds categorically inappropriate, the fact that (at least some of) the alleged communication was related to the wife's security clearance introduces the possibility of justification. As the signs in (at least some of) the wife's employer's restrooms say, security is everybody's business.
    If members of a cleared individual's family have close and continuing relationships with foreign nationals, those need to be reported. Even more significant is that relationships and business dealings with foreign governments (including, especially, intelligence agencies), then that REALLY has to be reported.
    Now, if another person with a clearance has a reasonable suspicion that an individual's clearance may have been compromised, they are obligated to report that fact. The good news is that IF the subject has been properly disclosing foreign contacts, then the security officer isn't going to make a big deal out of it. On the other hand, if the report reveals undisclosed contacts, then action may be taken. That action may be a slap on the wrist for (e.g.) forgetting to mention a long-lost cousin from the old country who contacted you out of the blue, to losing your clearance for (e.g.) failing to mention that you're in the employ of Mossad[1].
    This leads to the observation that it is neither illegal nor inappropriate to bring the attention of a security office to potential issues with a cleared individual; the Aldrich Ames espionage may have been detected sooner had people raised yellow flags. People with clearances voluntarily agree to extraordinary checks and intrusion into their private lives, and for good reason.


    [1] despite losing your clearance, in that case you'd not have to worry about where your next meal would be coming from, as the government would provide you with both food and lodging for a while…

  22. John Bezosky Jr. says

    Judging by the complaint there is going to be a lot to see as this case unfolds–if it isn't dropped. To my untrained eyes the imprecision and lack of specifics seem a little sloppy and I wonder if it wasn't filed simply to carry out the threat of legal action and to simply be dropped at a future date. But, I am not the attorney here. However this plays out, I really didn't expect to see something quite this crazy so soon after the Carreon suit.

  23. rocketgeek says

    In my misspent youth, I found that it was far easier to pull the valve stems out with a pair of Channel Locks than it was to cut through the sidewalls.

    The statute of limitations is long expired, why do you ask?

  24. D says

    You are all under arrest and I know who and where you are!! The lawsuit is in the mail and will be delivered very soon……waaaahhhhhh ;( Stop calling me names!!

  25. Jim says

    First, I believe that the "wife" is actually his cohabitant girlfriend. Her adult daughter is not his. Apparently both the girlfriend and her daughter hold security clearances. Since Mr. Giduck claims close ties to a foreign intelligence service and the clearance holding girlfriend is 'bound to him by bonds of affection', there is actually a legal obligation for this relationship to be reported so that it can be investigated by the Defense Security Service. The girlfriend and her daughter both went through an extensive security clearance process in which they were obligated to report such relationships, and they received a formal security indoctrination. It's a pretty big deal and anyone with a security clearance should know that.

  26. Wile E. says

    Actually if one were to become aware of a relationship between a clearance holder (even a Public Trust) and an individual who boasts of being personal friends with former KGB and current FSD/GRU high level operatives, the individual becoming aware of it is obligated to notify the clearance holder's superiors.

    This isn't an option- this is a national security issue. Anyone holding the highest level of certification in Homeland Security and a former member of the Executive Advisory Board of the American College of Homeland Security can tell you that.

    Just sayin……

  27. George William Herbert says

    I think that there's a lot of premature concluding going on here.

    Re the Tire Slashing, if you actually read the report, the tires were deflated, they were removed after the car was towed for repair, and the next day after the tow they test inflated with the officer present and found slashes in all four. There's a possible chain-of-custody question but that's different than "they weren't slashed". Someone poked holes in them. Whether that was before the report and why they were deflated, or after to make the incident look worse, is an open question.

    Ultimately I think this is going to depend on some critical questions that remain unanswered:
    1) Did he ever publicly or privately claim either service or connections which are provably false, in his own words?
    2) Did he say things that made people believe that he had service or connections which are false, but were merely misleading but not actually lies on his part?
    3) Did he allow people who misunderstood his actual service to publish speaker biographies and the like which misstated his service (knowingly ahead of time aware of the mistaken bio, etc)?

    There seems voluminous evidence that the underlying issue in 3 happened, the question is whether he knew it was happening and allowed it to. There seems some evidence of 2 but it's not entirely clear. It's not clear if 1 actually happened.

    I both love freedom of speech and have previously seen internet based mob justice go wrong (both in targeting someone who was not guilty of the perceived or any other serious wrong, and in going overboard and doing unconscionable things to the targets). What this really is? I don't know.

    A relatively lousy lawsuit filing does not serve as a discriminator of the underlying facts.

  28. Tyler Durden says

    Using ones Googlefu, it is easy enough to see where multiple customers tout him as being Special Forces or Ranger. Now, how did they get that impression? Was it made up by these many customers who knew not one another yet said the same thing, or could it possibly be that he or someone who he authorized to speak for him made the inflated claims. Either way, he was a basic training washout and wouldn't have been allowed to dumpster dive on a Ranger compound. I closing I would like to say that I have recently acquired an avatar once used by someone who may have been a Navy SEAL which in turn makes me a Navy SEAL. Thank you for visiting, you are now a Green Beret.

  29. Steelbreeze says


    Independent of the issue of whether or not there was actually any vandalism on Johnny's property, there has been absolutely no evidence whatsoever produced that suggests any Socnet members had anything to do with it. The claimed felony solicitation was an obvious attempt at humor that I believe was deleted within a few minutes of being posted- can't say for sure because I never saw it on Socnet.

    As for the rest of the lawsuit- it is clearly an attempt to chill free expression. Even a layman such as myself noticed the lack of attribution for the remarks. I have to say that my favorite was the attempt to twist a comment to the effect of : "I often wear a green beret on my head, but I've never shoved one up my ass or tried to swallow one" into something libelous. You may note that there isn't even a reference to anyone else- just a mockery of one of Johnny's books: The Green Beret in You. I haven't read that one, but if it is as poorly written and overwrought as his magnum opus "Terror at Beslan," I'm not missing anything besides an apparently failed romance writer trying to channel his sexual frustration into turgid, vaguely homoerotic prose.

    I'm still not entirely certain that the lawsuit actually exists- someone stated elsewhere that it read like it was written by a lawschool dropout- I think that is being overly generous. By at least 7 years. It would not surprise me at all to learn that this is another attempt at dezinformatsiya by our erstwhile Russophile.

    I've been saying from the start- if you're curious, read the original source posts. Johnny's spin attempts are on a site called socnetlies- use caution there though. They have apparently used some questionable code before. Then ask yourself how well the source posts line up with the interpretation of Johnny's minion (sic). I'd ask you to pay particular attention to his mouthpiece site's treatment of a Silver Star decorated Special Forces Soldier. Then read the original posts that got baby girl's panties in such a wad and ask yourself if they even remotely line up with baby girl's allegations. There is a lot of smoke coming from Johnny's camp-but it is extremely transparent if you look at the original sources. You may also note that the only tactic in Johnny's minion's (sic, again) toolbox is attacking the messenger. I stated a long time ago that I would stand down if Johnny could just come up with a staffing proposal for his asinine plan given in Terror at Beslan to put 3 Specops Soldiers in every school (TAB pp 286-287). I've repeatedly asked the minion this in various online forums but have yet to even have it addressed. It certainly does take a special kind of person to come up with the kind of crap Johnny appears to continually generate.

    Incidentally- regarding #2 above- there was a blurb on his own website that identified him as Special Forces thusly: "John Giduck has the credentials to write this book – he is not only a former Special forces soldier and expert on Russian history and culture, but he was on the ground in Beslan within hours of the assault." The quote is still there-though now there is a note after it explaining that it is wrong and blaming it on an oversight with their development team. Also, the About the Author section of TAB identifies him as having been a Soldier. This is an odd detail to include when your military career spanned under two months and never left basic training. Oh yeah- Archangel published that.

    Anyway- read both sides. There is no way that you will conclude Johnny has been wronged in any way beyond being ridiculed for marketing himself as something he doesn't appear to be. Note the copious ad-hominem attacks by minion. Note the attempt to twist a clearly satirical post into a case of stolen valor (Something about Jedi Knights twisted into a claim of Delta Force service….. No, seriously-you'll know it when you find it). Note the attempt to try to equate any criticism of Johnny with an attempt to portray oneself as a hero (when you clearly aren't and all "us real war heroes" will be behind Johnny…. Probably in a DADT way)

    …… Yeah… I guess that strays a bit afield from strictly legal arguments. If nothing else- view his shoveljitsu 101 video on youtube. The laughs you get from that alone will be worth the time you spent reading my ramblings to this point.

  30. Chlamydia Jones says

    Dr. Giduck was just evicted from the Special Operations Association (SOA).

    The SOA rescinded his "honorary" membership.

    Dr. Giduck purchased his honorary membership in exchange for a $10,000 donation and free legal services. For quite some time, John Giduck was also the registered agent for the Special Operations Association in Colorado.

    Apparently the love affair is over. The SOA issued a statement claiming that Dr. Giduck accused them of participating in what Dr. Giduck describes as a "conspiracy to ruin his business."

    Wonder if the SOA will refund Dr. Giduck's tainted donation? The appearance that he purchased something cannot be shrugged off.

  31. steelbreeze says

    Oh…. one more thing; his "lawsuit" is as interesting for the things he did not include as the things he did……….

  32. desconhecido says

    Looks like John Giduck has stuck his member in a blender. Ouch. He might consider changing his name to Carlos Carreon or something, just to regain a little respect.

  33. Mike Hunt says

    The Special Forces Association just released a very strongly worded condemnation of Giduck in support of MSG Clouse.

    The wording seems to back the SOCNET members in their claims as well. Text as follows:


    The Special Forces Association has a long established, fraternally inspired, policy of helping distressed members. This policy frequently takes the form of monetary support for specific, identified and confirmed need.

    In furtherance of this policy the NBO has considered and voted to recognize Decade and Life Member MSG Jonathan Clouse, a serving member of the Regiment, as a Distressed Member. The NBO has verified that MSG Clouse has suffered and continues to suffer acute financial hardship as a direct result of his efforts in questioning the claims of a non-member who, among other statements and actions, inferred a relationship with our Association.

    In this regard, the Board further finds that one John Giduck has had no relationship with the Special Forces Association; furthermore, he has neither any membership status, nor has he ever been extended any other rights or privileges by the Association.

    In implementing our decision the Board has agreed to the following initial steps, as conditions warrant, the NBO may consider such other actions as it deems necessary and appropriate:

    1. The immediate issuance of a check from our General Account in the amount of $2,000 to MSG Clouse for his legal defense.

    2. Encouragement to each Association Chapter to assist in this effort, forwarding any monies directly to MSG Clouse.

    3. The immediate outreach to both the Green Beret Foundation and the Special Forces Charitable Trust that they each match, on a dollar for dollar basis, the collective donations of our membership.”

    For the Regiment
    Anything, Anytime, Anywhere

    Jack Tobin
    Special Forces Association