General’s Speeches Broke Pentagon Rules
American Muslim groups on Thursday welcomed initial results of an internal Defense Department probe that concluded that Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin violated Pentagon rules when he spoke before Christian groups and cast the war on terrorism as a battle between Judeo-Christian values and Muslim warriors influenced by “a guy named Satan.”
A draft report expected to be released as soon as next week by acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee has concluded that Boykin, who as deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence is in charge of the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, violated three regulations, said senior defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
They said Boykin failed to clear his speeches with the Pentagon, did not give audiences a required disclaimer saying he was not speaking for the military and failed to report a travel reimbursement from a religious group.
Dressed in his Army uniform, Boykin told an Oregon religious group in June 2003 that radical Islamists hate the U.S. “because we’re a Christian nation ... and the enemy is a guy named Satan.” He told an audience in Florida in January 2003 that a Muslim Somali warlord was captured because “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”
The United States’ “spiritual enemy,” Boykin told the Oregon group, “will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.”
Boykin’s comments, made to 23 mostly conservative Christian religious groups after January 2002, angered Muslim groups, who considered them inflammatory and anti-Islam. Some of those same groups on Thursday praised the findings by the Pentagon inspector general’s office, as described in news reports.
“We welcome the Pentagon’s report and urge that any disciplinary action be commensurate with its findings,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington. “Gen. Boykin is free to hold whatever views he wishes, no matter how stereotypical or inaccurate. But he should not use his position of respect in our nation’s military to promote those views.”
Pentagon officials considered the violations minor, a senior Defense official said on condition of anonymity, and noted that Boykin did not violate any regulations by wearing his uniform at the events.
“They substantiated what I think what anyone would consider by any standards three relatively minor allegations,” the official said. “Now, if you’re standing in front of a crowd and you’re talking about how your personal faith has served you in uniform, in different situations in combat, I would find it difficult to believe that somebody in the audience didn’t know he was speaking from his own personal experiences.”
The general wrote an apology in October to those his remarks might have offended. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to comment on the specific findings until the report was released. Another Pentagon spokesman said Boykin would not comment on the findings.
Boykin faces punishment that is unlikely to exceed a written reprimand, a second senior defense official said. The report also is expected to say Boykin should be credited with having repeatedly sought advice on the speeches from Pentagon lawyers.