FACT CHECK:   Did Sen. Dianne Feinstein say that if “individuals are having nightmares and panic attacks about the atrocities they have committed overseas while following orders from a war criminal like former President George Bush, then quite honestly they deserve it”?

Claim:   Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she is unsympathetic to veterans who experience symptoms of PTSD because they “deserve” it.

   FALSE

Example:    [Collected via email, July 2015]

I am looking to find out if Dianne Feinstein actually said the following. It was supposedly on “Morning California”.

Feinstein openly objects to treating PTSD in combat veterans

“If individuals are having nightmares and panic attacks about the atrocities they have committed overseas while following orders from a war criminal like former President George Bush, then quite honestly they deserve it.”

Origins:   On 30 June 2015, an article widely circulated via social media reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein had appeared on a PBS program called Morning California to discuss a range of issues including marijuana legalization and veterans’ health, which she purportedly commented on as follows:

The last thing this country needs is to make a dangerous and addicting drug easily and readily available. What kind of message would that be if we federally allowed people to choose for themselves what they can and can’t put into their body? We have those regulations for a reason. It’s bad enough that the American public can just chow down willy-nilly on fattening foods with little restraint, why should we give them a substance that would make them want to eat even more?

Now we are hearing all this nonsense about how medical marijuana could alleviate the symptoms of PTSD in soldiers coming back from the Middle East. If individuals are having nightmares and panic attacks about the atrocities they have committed overseas while following orders from a war criminal like former President George Bush, then quite honestly they deserve it. We shouldn’t free them from their guilt any more then we should free a murderer or rapist from their prison cells.

The second portion of the above-quoted excerpt came to be widely circulated on social media sites as a genuine statement uttered by the California senator. However, it is a purely fictitious quote that originated with a clickbait fake news site known for spreading malware.

A similar fictitious quote from Feinstein about veterans and PTSD has been widely circulated online. It was not invented by a fake news site, but rather was a wildly inaccurate paraphrase of something she said during a Senate debate.

Last updated:    7 July 2015

First published:    7 July 2015