WASHINGTON (ABP) — The Pentagon's chief intelligence official violated military procedures while giving controversial religious speeches, an internal investigation has reportedly found.
News organizations reported Aug. 19 that the Pentagon inspector general's office had given lawmakers a long-anticipated report on Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin. Boykin angered Muslim-Americans and many supporters of church-state separation in October, after news reports revealed comments he had made in a series of speeches to Christian groups.
Among the most controversial of Boykin's statements were comments casting the war on terrorism in spiritual terms, referring to the United States as “a Christian nation,” saying Muslims worshiped an “idol” and asserting that God had put President Bush in the White House.
But Boykin's most publicized remarks came during a January 2003 speech to a pastors' meeting at First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, Fla. There, he spoke about his involvement fighting warlords during the United States' ill-fated intervention in the Muslim nation of Somalia. One top lieutenant to a Somali warlord had been quoted on CNN as saying he would not be captured because Allah would spare him.
“Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his,” Boykin said, according to a tape of the speech. “I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol. But I prayed, 'Lord, let us get that man.'”
He also reportedly showed his audience photographs of Mogadishu taken at the time, and pointed to a black streak above the city that he described as the presence of evil.
After the reports, many called for Boykin's resignation, saying such controversial statements by the U.S. military's top-ranking intelligence officer would hurt America's image in majority-Muslim countries. The top Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Armed Services Committee also called for Boykin's resignation, and ordered the Pentagon to investigate his comments.
Although Bush did offer a mild public rebuke of Boykin's comments, the general did not step down, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld defended what he termed Boykin's “outstanding record.”
The inspector general's investigation reportedly concludes that Boykin violated Pentagon regulations by failing to clear the content of his speeches with officials and by failing to offer a disclaimer that the views he was espousing — he often spoke in uniform — were his own and not those of the Department of Defense.
It also found he violated other procedural regulations, and recommended that he be disciplined by his superior, Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee.
The investigation reportedly did not deal with the controversy engendered by the content of Boykin's speeches.
The Pentagon has not released the report to the public, though news reports say it is dated Aug. 5. Pentagon officials had not returned a phone message from Associated Baptist Press by deadline for this story.
One of the nation's largest Muslim civil-rights groups said it “welcomed” the report, but warned that America's image would be hurt unless Boykin was removed from his position. “General 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,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in an Aug. 19 press release.