A look at the claims, predictions and behavior of a media "psychic".

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An Open Letter to Lt. Commander Montel Williams

A fellow retired military officer asks Montel Williams a very serious question.

Montel Williams

Montel Williams

Background

A question that often comes up when discussing Sylvia Browne is: Why does Montel Williams keep having her on his television show? Is it just for the ratings?

I was recently discussing this very question with Lt. Colonel Hal Bidlack (Ret), a man I am proud to call my friend.

Like Montel Williams, Lt. Colonel Bidlack is a retired military officer. As such, he has a very strong point of view on the question of Williams' association with Browne.

I felt that his point of view was an important one, and so I have invited him to share it with readers of this site, via an open letter to Williams.

What follows is that letter.

The Letter

An Open Letter to Lt. Commander Montel Williams, USN, (Ret)

From Lt Colonel Hal Bidlack, Ph.D., USAF (Ret)

Commander Williams,

I write you today as one military man to another. Like you, I spent over 20 years in the armed forces. I retired in September of 2006 with over 25 years of active duty military service. My postings included service as an ICBM launch officer and instructor, State Department military advisor, as well as temporary postings at the White House and the Pentagon. For much of my career I was a professor of political science at the United States Air Force Academy, specializing in American national government and constitutional theory.

Over the years, I have taken pleasure in much of your work. I am intensely proud of my military service, and I took satisfaction in your regular references to your own. I believe that your bravery in confronting multiple sclerosis is exemplary, and your service in both the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy should stand as an example for others to follow.

Thus, it is with great concern that I must ask you a question that may seem trivial to civilians, but as military men we know this is the gravest question I may ask: have you lost your honor?

It saddens me to conclude that perhaps you have, as this is the most vile, most corrupt charge that can be made against a military man. I speak, Sir, of your involvement with Sylvia Browne, and your apparent willingness to be at best a stooge and at worst a co-conspirator in her dishonest and cruel violation of so many families while chasing so many dollars. The recent fiasco involving her disingenuous, cruel, and heartless "reading" on your program involving Shawn Hornbeck is only the latest in a long line of her sad attempts to use the magician’s technique of "cold reading" for her own profit at the cost of simple decency. You most certainly know of the many other examples I could cite of her behavior and your apparent complicity, such as the Sago Mines, the 9/11 firefighter, and others. As one who was in the Pentagon during the attack, I find the last example particularly egregious.

Surely, a man of your intelligence and insight cannot be unaware of her checkered past and her willingness to say almost anything to those most grieving, most pained, most suffering. Having lost my own dear wife to cancer when she was only 44, I am exceptionally sensitive to those who prey upon others during such horrible times.

For a number of years now, it is been my pleasure to be associated with Mr. James Randi, and to be the master of ceremonies for the annual meeting of his organization, the James Randi Educational Foundation. It was at the second of our annual meetings that I heard Penn Jillette say it best, when he said that people like Ms. Browne "rape the memories of the survivors" by inserting invented memories in the place of real ones. As I myself know how deeply pain is felt at such times, and how desperate one is for any consolation whatsoever, I find vultures distasteful, and those who enable them, puzzling.

Given Ms. Browne's regular appearances on your program, and given your clear intelligence and common sense, it seems impossible to me that you are unaware of what is truly happening on your own program. In many other instances, you have demonstrated yourself to be a man of compassion and decency, and so I find myself at a loss to explain how a brother officer, sworn to a code of honor, could stand idly by while profit is made from pain.

And so Sir, I must ask this question. If you are too smart to be fooled, as I believe you are, can you have been placed in the position where you have no control over the content of the show that carries your own name? Is it possible that you simply cannot speak from your heart on those dreadful days when Ms. Browne is your guest?

If the answer to the above is no, and you are in fact fully aware and fully complicit in this dishonest and distasteful affair, I am left with only a final question to ask, and it pains me greatly to do so. As a military man, you understand why this is so difficult for me to ask:

Commander Williams, have you lost your honor?

Conclusion

I, for one, would like to see Williams' response.

To my knowledge, as of this writing (Feb 6, 2007), Williams has yet to make any public comment on Browne since the controversy surrounding Browne's 2003 "reading" of Shawn Hornbeck's parents was widely reported in the media.

I would encourage readers of this article to contact Mr. Williams and urge him to respond to Lt. Colonel Bidlack's letter (a copy of which was sent via USPS to Mr. Williams in New York City today, February 6th.

Interested parties can use the "Mail Montel" link in the Related Links section below. Registration is required, but is free.

My thanks to my good friend Hal for writing this letter, and for allowing me to publish it here.

Related Links

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