Search This Blog

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military

By Tony Perkins President

September 2013 Edition
Introduction
Military Religious Freedom
The Armed Forces of theUnited Stateshave defended this nation for well over two and a quarter centuries. The soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and Coast Guardsmen who have been injured, wounded, and killed in defense of our country often have been very committed to their faith in God. Should it be surprising that those who face serious injury and death so regularly might focus more consciously on matters of eternity? It seems only natural that the gravity of military life should lead to serious consideration of spiritual matters.
Military life is hard and dangerous. It requires a level of focus and endurance - physical, mental, and spiritual - that simply is not required of many other occupations. Consequently, one would expect that those who pursue a military life must attain to a higher level of self-discipline than their civilian counterparts.
In this, as in many areas of life, George Washington is a towering example of what it means to be a great soldier in a republic.Washingtonwas extremely disciplined and deeply religious. These traits were not merely coincidental. Rather, they were self-reinforcing. So it is with members of the modern Armed Forces. Religious conviction is not merely an add-on belief, it is like a strand in a rope that complements the others while greatly increasing strength.
Military life in theUnited Stateshas always had a strong religious component for the reasons given above but also, as Alexis de Tocqueville noted, because Americans have been and continue to be a genuinely religious people. Rather than being divisive, the strong religious presence in theUnited Statesmilitary has had a unifying effect. In the times of greatest peril to life and limb, it is a great comfort to know that many of those with whom your life is entrusted share a commitment to each other, to theUnited States, and to God. Simply put, devotion to moral principles derived from a Higher Power allows for a greater level of trust to exist among members of the military.
Therefore, it is with great unease that we at the Family Research Council (FRC) have noted a growing hostility to religion within the armed services in the last decade. Unfortunately, pressures to impose a secular, anti-religious culture on our nation's military services have intensified tremendously during the Obama Administration. This pressure exists across the armed services, but it has become extremely acute in the United States Air Force (USAF). The Air Force has had the great misfortune to be targeted by anti-Christian activists. Regrettably, some of the highest-level officers within the Air Force appear to be cooperating with this effort, and those in the other military branches are feeling its effects as well.
What follows is a list of discrete events presenting a larger picture of the threat to religious liberty that now exists inAmerica's armed forces. The examples provided represent only a portion of the concerted efforts to scrub the military of religious expression, through which the chilling effect of punishment and potential career destruction lie at the back of everyone's mind.
Casey Weinstein - 2004
USAFAcademygrad (1977) and attorney, Michael "Mikey" Weinstein's son, Casey, was a USAFAcademycadet at this time. Casey complained that flyers that were placed on all cadets' breakfast plates advertising Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." Distribution of the flyers stopped after that. (In 2005, Mikey Weinstein founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), headquartered in Albuquerque, NM).[1]
Weinstein emerges as a major critic of the USAF Academy - February 19, 2005
Mikey Weinstein emerged as a critic of the Air Force Academy and appeared on Good Morning America. Weinstein warned: "What you've got is a lusty and thriving religious intolerance that is objectively manifesting itself in prejudice and discrimination and is obliterating the First Amendment, civil rights and the US Constitution." According to Weinstein one group in particular posed a risk at the Academy: "There are senior people that view evangelical Christianity at the Air Force Academy the way that you and I would view gravity. Pick up a pen and drop it and it falls on the desk. Well, it just exists, it's gravity."[2]
Air Force Superintendent General John Rosa responds - February 19, 2005
After apologetically telling the Good Morning America audience that misdeeds had taken place at the Academy, the Superintendent, General John Rosa, presciently warned of an overreaction that could threaten religious liberty.[3]
Weinstein complains about USAF Academy course on religious sensitivity - May 2005
In response to critiques from Weinstein and others, the Air Force created a task force to review the religious climate at the Academy. The Air Force sent a warning about "religious respect" to all installations worldwide, and the Academy started a course, "Respecting the Spiritual Values of All People" (RSVP) that, as described by the Washington Post, made a good-faith effort to correct problems at the school. Weinstein called this effort "putting lipstick on a pig" and blamed the religious climate on "a leadership that encourages the evangelicals and tolerates bias."[4]
USAF Academy Task Force reviews Academy's religious policies - June 22, 2005
The Task Force found no widespread religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy.[5] However, some cadets and staff were deemed insensitive to various religious beliefs.[6] Weinstein responded by saying the Academy's religious climate is "Inquisition 2.0," and charged that evangelical Christians have "weaponized the gospel of Jesus Christ."[7]
Weinstein sues the Air Force - October 2005
Weinstein sues the USAF alleging "severe, systemic and pervasive" religious discrimination in that service.[8] In particular he objected to a statement by Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson in the July 12th New York Times saying, "We will not proselytize, but we reserve the right to evangelize the unchurched."[9]
Weinstein dismissed - October 26, 2006
Weinstein's suit is dismissed by U.S. Judge James A. Parker in Albuquerque, New Mexico, because "it contained only vague allegations that the academy is biased in favor of evangelical Christians and improperly allowed evangelizing. Parker also ruled the group of graduates making the allegations lacked legal standing to bring the claims."[10]
Christian Embassy targeted by anti-Christian group - December 2006
Weinstein asked for-and received-a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation of seven officers who appeared in a video for Christian Embassy ministry. The Inspector General concluded in August 2007[11] that the video was inappropriate, but Weinstein was not satisfied. After seeing the IG's report, Weinstein told Beliefnet that even though the Air Force suggested corrective actions MRFF "wanted to see courts martial."[12] In its press release MRFF also stated, "MRFF intends to file expeditiously a comprehensive Federal lawsuit that will rapaciously pursue legal remedies to the multitude of horrific Constitutional violations this DoD/IG report reveals."[13],[14]
Anti-Christian leader finds an ally in the USAF: Chief of Staff - February 2009
Early in President Obama's first term, in a major turning point for Weinstein's relationship with military leaders, he met with Air Force Chief of Staff Norton A. Schwartz. Weinstein said that Schwartz "acknowledged that there [was] a problem" regarding religious freedom in the military.[15]
Anti-Christian Group Praises USAF Leadership - December 2009
In a sharp turnaround from the previous four years, by the end of 2009 Weinstein was praising Air Force leadership. The Academy Superintendent complimented Weinstein as well.[16]
Calling Commissioner Gordon - February 2010
As a measure of how cozy the relationship between Weinstein and the Air Force Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, had become, Weinstein and Gould devised a secret code word to ensure that Weinstein could have instant access to Gould. "We have our own bat-signal," Weinstein boasted.[17]
Conservative Religious Leader Disinvited to Air Force Base - February 25, 2010
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a Marine Veteran and ordained minister was disinvited to address the National Prayer Luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.after he spoke publicly in opposition to the Obama Administration's effort to repeal the ban on open homosexuality in the military. The invitation was revoked even though Mr. Perkins had made clear he had planned to give a devotional, non-political message.[18],[19]
International Ministry Leader Disinvited to Pentagon - May 6, 2010
Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, and President of the international relief ministry, Samaritan's Purse, was disinvited to the Pentagon's National Day of Prayer service by the Army because of his comments about Islam. His invitation was revoked because Graham referred to Islam as an evil religion and "horrid" for its treatment of women. Graham expressed regret for the decision, but still has strong support for the military.[20]
Christian prayer is banned at military funerals - July 26, 2011
After going undercover, U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) confirmed that the HoustonNationalCemeterywas preventing Christian prayers from being said at military funerals. According to Todd Starnes' report, "[Culberson] witnessed volunteer members of the honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars being prohibited from using any references to God." In October 2011 the Veterans Administration settled a lawsuit filed by the Liberty Institute regarding religious freedom and free speech at the cemetery. The V.A. agreed to numerous terms that helped to restore prior policies there and paid $215,000 in legal fees.[21],[22]
Air Force pulls ethics course from curriculum at air base - July 27, 2011
For 20 years, an ethics training course for nuclear missile officers was conducted by a chaplain at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.It included texts from the Bible and materials related to just war theory by Saint Augustine. This course was pulled for "thorough review" by the Air Force primarily due to its use of Christian reading materials.[23]
Air Force Chief of Staff chills religious speech in service-wide memo - September 1, 2011
Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz issued a service-wide memo entitled, "Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion." Schwartz wrote: "Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individual's free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion." For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates. "Commanders ... who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit's morale, good order and discipline." In the 9/1/11memo, Schwartz also warned commanders against open support of chaplain-run events stating that they "must refrain from appearing to officially endorse religion generally or any particular religion." He adds, "Therefore, I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs." Finally, Schwartz advises anyone who has concerns "involving the preservation of government neutrality regarding religious beliefs" to contact a military attorney.[24],[25],[26]
Walter Reed Medical Center bans Bibles and religious material - September 14, 2011
WalterReedNationalMilitaryMedicalCenter, the leading medical institution for the U.S.armed forces, issued an official patient and visitor policy banning Bibles. It stated, "No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit."[27] The policy was revoked after a political firestorm erupted in the House of Representatives.[28],[29]
Air Force Academy apologizes for its promotion of Christmas charity - November 3, 2011
AirForceAcademyCommandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, called Mikey Weinstein to apologize for a Cadet Wing email that promoted Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a charity that sends toys and toiletries to millions of needy children around the world at Christmas. OCC is affiliated with Rev. Franklin Graham's, Samaritan Purse. Clarkreleased a statement explaining the Academy's retraction of its support stating that "[u]nder orders from Air Force headquarters ... only the Chaplain Corps is responsible for advertising faith-based programs." (This incident followed the Schwartz memo by two months, see above.)[30]
Anti-Christian Group threatens suit over nativity and menorah on Travis Air Force Base - December 18, 2011
The MRFF threatened to sue Travis Air Force Base (Solano County, California) for including a nativity scene and menorah in their holiday display. The MRFF claimed the display violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Air Force Base refused to remove the display, finding it did not violate the Constitution.[31]
Army censors Catholic chaplains in worship services - January 29, 2012
The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Military Services issued a letter to Catholic chaplains to be read to their military parishioners across the armed services. The clergy asked them to resist implementation of the HHScontraceptive and sterilization mandate in Obamacare. A similar request was made across Americato civilian parishioners that Sunday. However, this request did not reach the ears of those in the Army. As a statement issued by the Archdiocese explained, the Army letter was distributed but not read publicly, after collaboration between the Archdiocese and the Secretary of the Army led to the deletion of a sentence from its text.[32] 31 Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online observed, "So not only were chaplains told not to read the letter, but an Obama administration official edited a pastoral letter."[33]
Air Force removes "God" from unit's logo - February 7, 2012
The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers complained to the Air Force about a logo from the Rapid Capabilities Office. It used to read in Latin "Doing God's Work with Other People's Money" and was changed to "Doing Miracles with Other People's Money." Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) and 35 other lawmakers sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz demanding an explanation for the removal of a non-religious reference to God. The Air Force said they would investigate. "It is most egregious," as Rep. Forbes told Fox News, "The Air Force is taking the tone that you can't even use the word 'God.'"[34]
Army General withdraws from speaking at West Point after protest for anti-Christian groups- February 8, 2012
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) launched a campaign to bar Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (USA-ret.), a founding member of the Army's Delta Force and former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, from speaking at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. CAIRand MRFF said their opposition was based upon Gen. Boykin's "Islamophobic" comments.[35] 34 Gen. Boykin voluntarily withdrew from speaking at the event, stating in an interview with OneNewsNow that the pressure on the Academy, which the Obama Administration did not resist, was overpowering.[36]
Pennsylvania Army Reserve training document labels Evangelical Christians and Catholics Extremists - March 2012
As part of a presentation on extremism at a Pennsylvania Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism the instructor included "Evangelical Christianity" and "Catholicism," as examples of religious extremism. The list also included Al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamophobia and the KKK. When asked where she obtained her information, she referred to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-Christian political organization. Upon learning of this incident, the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services stated it was "astounded that Catholics were listed alongside groups that are, by their very mission and nature, violent and extremist."[37],[38]
Weinstein claims credit for cessation of Bible sales - June 12, 2012
Weinstein took credit for the Pentagon putting an end to the sale of military-themed Bibles. For example, The Marine's Bible used the Holman Christian Standard Bible as its translation and contained a "Special Prayer and Devotional Section for Marine Personnel." The cover contained a picture of the Marine Corps Seal, part of a flag blowing in the wind, and scenes of combat with a red transparent overlay. The Pentagon claimed trademark problems were to blame, but Weinstein took credit for the revocation and called the Bibles a "national security threat." Sales of such Bibles had begun during the presidential administration of George W. Bush.[39]
West Point study links pro-life groups to terrorism - November 2012
Dr. Arie Perliger of the United StatesMilitaryAcademy, while analyzing "right-wing extremism," compared pro-life groups to the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups. The study, titled "Challengers from the 4 Sidelines: Understanding America's Violent Far-Right,"[40] claimed that radical right-wing ideology is grounded, in part, on the principle that "since every human being is created in the image of God, it is by definition a sin to end their lives before they have been able to 'enjoy love and life of this planet,'"(p. 38). With respect to anti-abortion attacks, Perliger observes that "pro-life violence is driven by several ideological building blocks that are enhanced by religious-based convictions, i.e., fetuses are human beings created in God's image, and as such should be accorded the rights of humans from the moment of conception; any violent acts to end their lives are immoral and should be prevented," (p. 38).[41],[42]
President Obama issues negative signing statement on religious freedom amendment to defense bill - January 3, 2013
President Obama signed H.R. 4310 ("National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013" (NDAA)) into law and issued a signing statement. He commented on an amendment to the NDAA, Section 533, which was passed to increase religious liberty protections for service members and chaplains. The president offered up these churlish remarks that revealed a defiant homosexuals-trump-believers mindset:
Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct. My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.[43]
Army removes cross and steeple from chapel - January 24, 2013 (date of news story)
The U.S.military ordered soldiers to take down a steeple and board-up the cross-shaped windows of a chapel at remote Forward Operating Base Orgun-E in Afghanistan. The soldiers were required to keep the chapel religiously neutral. In 2011, a similar situation occurred where soldiers were forced to remove a cross at a chapel at Camp Marmal, Afghanistan.[44],[45]
Utah airmen is reprimanded and his reenlistment contract terminated for objecting to a gay marriage in the West Point Chapel - February 10, 2013
A 27-year veteran of the Utah Air National Guard, TSgt. Layne Wilson, was reprimanded after sending an e-mail on December 2, 2012, to what he believed was the chaplain's office at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Wilsonexpressed disagreement with the performance of a same-sex marriage in the Cadet Chapel. At the time, the Defense of Marriage Act was still federal law. Instead of responding privately to Wilson, the Commandant of Cadets notified the Utah Air National Guard. Wilsonwas told via email from Lt. Col. Kevin Tobias, "You are herby reprimanded. As a noncommissioned officer you are expected to maintain a standard of professional and personal behavior that is above reproach. You have failed!" The Air National Guard also terminated his signed, six-year reenlistment contract; instead, Layne received only a one-year extension. However, after his attorney objected, his six-year contract was reinstated, but a June 19 memo left the reprimand in place. [46], [47]
Anti-Christian indoctrination via email at Fort Campbell, KY - April 10, 2013
Todd Starnes of Fox News revealed an internal e-mail from an Army Lt. Colonel at Fort Campbell, KY (home of 101st Airborne Div.), advising three dozen subordinates to be on the lookout for soldiers who might be members of "domestic hate groups." Family Research Council was listed as an "Anti-Gay" group along with American Family Association. While commenting about the groups that were singled out, the e-mail warned that they, "do not share our Army Values."[48]
Weinstein meets with top Air Force officials at the Pentagon - April 23, 2013
Three representatives of MRFF (Mikey Weinstein, Larry Wilkerson [former chief of staff to Colin Powell], and Ambassador Joe Wilson [husband of Valerie Plame]) met with several high-ranking Air Force officials along with USAF staff members to hear various complaints about military life and religious observance. Weinstein told Sally Quinn (Washington Post) in an interview after the Pentagon meeting that Christian "proselytizing" is a "national security threat." He added, "What is happening [aside from sexual assault] is a spiritual rape.... it is sedition and treason. It should be punished." Quinn noted that the three men were speaking of proselytizing by "'dominionist' or fundamentalist evangelical Christians."[49]
Sally Quinn's column in the Washington Post discusses the Weinstein-USAF meeting - April 26, 2013
Sally Quinn, long-time columnist, reported that the "Air Force published, but has yet to distribute, a 27-page document, which includes a cover sheet that states: 'COMPLIANCE WITH THIS PUBLICATION IS MANDATORY.'" Quinn was referring to manual AFI 1-1 (see below, May 2013) that made a number of potentially troubling statements regarding the free exercise of religion. For example, it condemned not just the "actual" but also the "apparent" use of one's position to promote one's religious beliefs. It also indicated noncompliance could result in court martial." Weinstein observed to Quinn: "You need a half a dozen court-martials real quick."[50]
After meeting with Weinstein, Pentagon confirms policy - April 30, 2013
The Pentagon confirmed to Fox News that Christian evangelism is against regulations. In a written statement to Fox News, Lt. Commander Nate Christensen said, "Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense." He declined to say if anyone had been prosecuted due to this policy.[51]
Air Force officer told to remove Bible from desk- May 2, 2013
Air Force personnel had been told that they might express their beliefs as long as they do not "make others uncomfortable." This rule led to an officer being asked to remove a copy of the Bible from his desk. According to the Fox News report the "officer was told he could no longer keep a Bible on his desk because it '[might]' appear that he was condoning a particular religion."[52]
Air Force statemen t - May 2, 2013
"When on duty or in an official capacity, Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable.... Proselytizing (inducing someone to convert to one's faith) goes over that line." - Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley, in a statement to Fox News[53]
Department of Defense statement - May 2, 2013
"The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution.... Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one's beliefs (proselytization)."[54]
Coast Guard Rear Admiral speaks at National Day of Prayer event - May 2, 2013
Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Lee spoke at a National Day of Prayer event as "a man of deep abiding faith who happens to wear a uniform." Lee addressed the issue of religious freedom in the military describing an occasion on which he gave a Bible to a Coast Guardsman who tried to commit suicide. "The lawyers tell me that if I do that, I'm crossing the line," Lee said. "I'm so glad I've crossed that line so many times."[55]
Air Force releases AFI 1-1 - May 2013
The Air Force manual "Air Force Instruction 1-1" (AFI 1-1) was internally released in August 2012 but distribution to all airmen as a paper pocket copy started in May 2013. Section 2.11, "Government Neutrality Regarding Religion," contains language consonant with Mikey Weinstein's comments after his April 23rd meeting at the Pentagon with high-ranking USAF officials.[56],[57]
A painting including a Bible verse is removed - May 31, 2013
Weinstein complained to the Pentagon about an inspirational painting in the dining hall of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. It focused on a depiction of a policeman and included a Scripture citation and the image of a cross. The painting is reportedly removed 56 minutes later.[58]
A soldier is punished for serving Chick-fil-A - June 5, 2013
Army Master Sergeant, Nathan Sommers, was punished for serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his own promotion party in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Sommers was investigated, reprimanded, threatened with judicial action, and given a bad efficiency report. The invitation said, "In honor of my promotion and in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act, I'm serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at my promotion party." Sommers was told that "he [was] no longer a team player and was not performing up to standards." Chick-fil-A and DOMA were frowned upon.[59]
Fleming Amendment is adopted - June 5, 2013
The House Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Fleming Amendment protects the rights of armed services members to hold, act upon, and practice freely their religious beliefs as long as they do not interfere with any Constitutional liberties of others.[60],[61]
Air Force removes video that mentions God - June 7, 2013
The Pentagon directed the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in Trenton, New Jersey, to take down a video that mentioned "God" because it might be offensive. It read: "On the eighth day, God looked down on His creation and said, 'I need someone who will take care of the Airmen.' So God created a First Sergeant." The video was modeled after a Super Bowl commercial and clearly was made to honor First Sergeants. "Proliferation [sic] of religion is not allowed in the Air Force or military." The chief of the Air Force News Service Division questioned how "an Agnostic, Atheist or Muslim serving in the military [would] take this video," and recommended not using it at all.[62]
Obama "strongly objects" to Fleming Amendment - June 11, 2013
On June 11th, after the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the NDAA (H.R.1960) with Rep. Fleming's language, a White House Statement of Administration Policy was issued indicating that the President's senior advisers would recommend a veto because they strongly object "to section 530, which would require the Armed Forces to accommodate, except in cases of military necessity, 'actions and speech' reflecting the 'conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member,'...[and which] would have a significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment."[63],[64],[65]
Senate Armed Services approves similar rights of conscience language - June 13, 2013
FRChas been told by Senate Republicans that the Senate Armed Services Committee included language similar to the H.R. 1960 protections in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill was passed out of Committee on June 13, 2013.[66]
Chaplain's is ordered to remove a religion-themed essay from USAF base website - July 24, 2013
Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes, a chaplain at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Alaska, was told to remove a religious essay that he posted on the base website. The essay was entitled, "No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave all in World War II" referring to a comment made by Father William Cummings, a Catholic priest, who observed that there "[t]here is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole." President Eisenhower repeated the phrase during a speech to the American Legion in 1954. Mikey Weinstein's MRFF sent a demand letter to JBER's commander, Col. Brian P. Duffy, claiming to represent 42 anonymous service members assigned there who were offended by the post. MRFF claimed, "through redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, 'no atheists in foxholes,' he defiles the dignity of service members." The essay was taken down within five hours of receipt of the complaint. MRFF wanted the chaplain to be reprimanded. However, Col. Reyes' article was restored to the base website in mid-August with a disclaimer placed on the site.[67],[68],[69],[70]
An Army assistant chaplain is threatened for sharing her Biblical beliefs on homosexuality via Facebook - August 6, 2013
An Army chaplain's assistant, stationed near Colorado Springs, Coloradowas ordered to remove a Facebook post or face disciplinary action including, possibly, a reduction in rank and pay. One Sunday evening, the airman was listening to a pastor endorse homosexuality. Afterward, she posted on her Facebook page her frustrations with pastors endorsing homosexuality and denying it to be a sin. Her commander called her into his office on Monday and ask that she remove the post because it created a "hostile and antagonistic" environment. Intense pressure was placed upon her after her pastor, Todd Hudnall (RadiantChurch) made the Army's actions know to the public. She soon removed this posting to her personal Facebook page. [71],[72]
Drag Queen group performs at Air Force Base LGBT Diversity Day - August 8, 2013
A "Diversity Day" celebration at the Los Angeles Air Force Base featured eight cultural presentations including a well-known drag queen group ("Jules and the Brunchettes"). USAF spokesperson, Peggy Hodge, stated, "Drag acts to this day represent the struggle for freedom and equality of the LGBT community, while at the same time providing a deep-rooted historical form of entertainment for the LGBT culture." She added that such performers hearken back to the Stonewall Riots, the beginning of the gay rights movement. They are a "symbol of gay pride and unity." Starnes wrote, "In addition to the drag queens, there were performances by an Irish dance troupe, a Polynesian entertainment group, Japanese drummers, Native American dancers, Hispanic folk music, and cloggers."[73]
DoD training materials suggest conservative viewpoints are "extremist" - August 22, 2013
A Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request produced Department of Defense (DOD) anti-discrimination training materials implying that some conservative organizations are "hate groups." Students were told to be aware that "many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states' rights, and how to make the world a better place." The documents repeatedly cited the leftwing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a resource for identifying "hate groups." One document suggested that the American colonists who rebelled against British rule were members of an "extremist movement."[74]
Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk is relieved of duties over gay marriage - June 25, 2013; files complaint - August 20, 2013; is given a Miranda warning by Air Force investigator - August 27, 2013
A 19-year veteran of the Air Force, Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, was relieved of his duties after he disagreed with his openly gay commander, Maj. Elisa Valenzuela, when she wanted to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. Valenzuela incorrectly told Monk that opposition to same-sex marriage constituted discrimination. Monk disagreed. Valenzuela relieved Monk of his duties as First Sergeant for the unit. Monk was also placed on restricted liberty and was no longer permitted to be physically present in the unit's buildings or facilities located at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX. News of these events broke around mid-August 2013, and Monk filed a formal complaint against Valenzuela on August 20, 2013. In an August 27, 2013 meeting with an Air Force investigator, Sgt. Monk and his attorney, Michael Berry (Liberty Institute), were told that Monk is under investigation criminally for violating Article 107 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) - making a false official statement. Monk was read his Miranda rights at that time. This step was puzzling because Monk had made no official comments on this matter - an essential element of an Article 107 violation. The Air Force action appeared to be retaliation for Monk's discrimination filing against Major Valenzuela.[75],[76],[77],[78], [79]
In closing:
James Madison once described religious freedom as the "lustre of our country." The examples presented above should give us great concern that we have entered a period in which members of the armed services are being subjected to speech codes and restrictions on the free exercise of religion. We recognize that there must be a healthy respect for the beliefs of members of all faiths and those who are not believers, yet concurrently affirm that religious expression is a right foundational to our Constitution, which those being penalized have sworn with their lives to uphold.
Endnotes


[1] Steve Rabey, "Christian Emphasis on Evangelism at Heart ofAirForceAcademy Scandal," Religion News Service.Jun. 2, 2005; Reprinted at: http://amarillo.com/stories/060405/fai_2071018.shtml.
[2] "Air Force Academy Under Fire: Religious Intolerance," Good Morning America (ABC News Transcripts),Feb. 19, 2005. (8:00AM ET).
[3] "Air Force Academy Under Fire: Religious Intolerance," Good Morning America (ABC News Transcripts),Feb. 19, 2005. (8:00AM ET).
[4] T.R. Reid, "Religious Differences Part of Cadet Training; Air Force Academy's Program Urges Respect,"
Washington Post.Jun. 1, 2005, p. A3; online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/31/AR2005053101301.html.
[5] Pam Zubeck, "Academy to get new religion guidelines; 'Lack of awareness' found by study, but no discrimination," The Gazette (Colorado Springs,Colorado).Jun. 23, 2005, p. A1.
[6] Bill Vogrin, "Christianity case against Air Force Academy dismissed," The Gazette (Colorado Springs,Colorado),October 27, 2006; online at: http://gazette.com/article/10840.
[7] Paula Amann, "Blunting bias in the Air Force; D.C. rabbi named to address religious intolerance,"
The Washington Jewish Week, Vol. 41 No.26 (June 30, 2005), p. 1; online at: http://washingtonjewishweek.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=3733.
[8] Alan Cooperman, "Air Force Withdraws Paper for Chaplains; Document Permitted Proselytizing,"
Washington Post,October 11, 2005, p. A3; online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/10/AR2005101001582_pf.html.
[9] Laurie Goodstein. "Evangelicals Are a Growing Force in the Military Chaplain Corps."
The New York Times.July 12, 2005; online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/12/national/12chaplains.html?pagewanted=all.
[10] Bill Vogrin, "Christianity case against Air Force Academy dismissed," The Gazette (Colorado Springs,Colorado),October 27, 2006; online at: http://gazette.com/article/10840.
[11] Inspector General. "Alleged Misconduct by DOD Officials Concerning Christian Embassy."
United States Department of Defense. Report No. H06L102270308.July 20, 2007.
http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/press-releases/christian_embassy_report.pdf.
[12] Koons, Jennifer. "Report Says Pentagon Erred in Allowing Christian Video."
Beliefnet.Aug. 6, 2007. http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2007/08/report-says-pentagon-erred-in.php.
[13] Press Release. "DoD Inspector General Finds Misconduct by Pentagon Generals Participating in "Christian Embassy" Promo Video: Military Religious Freedom Foundation's Expose Vindicated." Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Aug. 2, 2007. http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/press-releases/christian_embassy.html.
[14] Alan Cooperman, "Inquiry Sought Over Evangelical Video; Defense Department Asked to Examine Officers' Acts Supporting Christian Group," The Washington Post.Dec. 11, 2006, p. A3; online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/10/AR2006121000883.html.
[15] Eric Lichtblau, "Questions Raised Anew About Religion in Military," The New York Times,Mar. 1, 2009, p. 14; online at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/washington/01church.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
[16] Dan Elliott, "AirForceAcademy says religious climate improving," The Associated Press,Dec. 16, 2009; online at:
http://www.denverpost. com/ci_14009436.
[17] Lance Benzel, "Secret code will alert AFA leader of religious intolerance," The Gazette (Colorado Springs,CO).Feb. 19, 2010; online at: http://gazette.com/article/94451.
[18] Jennifer Wishon. "Tony Perkins 'Disinvited' to National Prayer Luncheon."CBN News.Feb. 25, 2010; online at:
http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/politics/2010/February/Tony-Perkins-Uninvited-to-National-Prayer-Luncheon/.
[19] "Air Force Disinvited Conservative to Luncheon Because of Anti-Obama Stance, Documents Show." FoxNews.com.Oct. 28, 2010; online at: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/10/28/air-force-disinvited-conservative-luncheon-anti-obama-stance-documents/.
[20] Mike Emanuel. "Franklin Graham Regrets Army's Decision to Rescind Invite to Pentagon Prayer Service." FoxNews.com.Apr. 22, 2010; .online at: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/21/army-weighs-rescinding-invitation-evangelist/.
[21] Todd Starnes. "Texas Lawmaker Calls for Congressional Probe Into Ban of Christian Prayers at Military Funerals." Fox News Radio.Jul. 26, 2011; online at: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/26/texas-lawmaker-calls-for-congressional-probe-into-ban-christian-prayers-at/.
[22] Karla Dial, "VeteransAffairsSettlesHoustonCemetery Case," Citizenlink. Oct.20, 2011; online at: http://www.citizenlink.com/2011/10/20/veterans-affairs-settles-houston-cemetery-case/.
[23] Markeshia Ricks. "Air Force yanks nuclear ethics course." Air Force Times.Aug. 4, 2011; online at:
http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20110804/NEWS/108040311/Air-Force-yanks-nuclear-ethics-course.
[24] Norton A. Schwartz. "Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion." Memo published onSept. 1, 2011; online at: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/z_Personal/Huus/gen_schwartz_letter_religion_neutralilty%5B1%5D.pdf.
[25] Markeshia Ricks. "Schwartz: Don't endorse religious programs." Air Force Times.Sept. 16, 2011; online at:
http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20110916/NEWS/109160334/Schwartz-Don-t-endorse-religious-programs.
[26] Kari Huus. "Air Force rules limit size of tattoos, role of gospel." NBC News.Aug. 22, 2012; online at:
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/22/13397843-air-force-rules-limit-size-of-tattoos-role-of-gospel?lite.
[27] Chief of Staff C. W. Callahan, Commander,WalterReedNationalMilitaryMedicalCenter. "Subject: Wounded,Ill, and Injured Partners in Care Guidelines." Policy Memo 10-015, pg. 4.Sept. 14, 2011.
[28] "Whoops! Walter Reed Temporarily Bans Bibles." NBCWashington News.Dec. 19, 2011; online at:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Whoops-Walter-Reed-Temporarily-Bans-Bibles-135853463.html.
[29] Liz Farmer. "Walter Reed Accidentally Bans Bibles." Washington Examiner.Dec. 18, 2011; online at: http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/151247.
[30] Todd Starnes. "AirForceAcademy Backs Away from Christmas Charity." Fox News Radio.Nov. 4, 2011; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/air-force-academy-backs-away-from-christmas-charity.html.
[31] Todd Starnes. "Air Force Will Not RemoveHoliday Display." Fox News Radio.Dec. 18, 2011; online at: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/air-force-will-not-remove-holiday-display.html.
[32] Statement from Archdiocese for Military Services. ReleasedFeb. 3, 2012.
[33] Kathryn Jean Lopez. "Army Silenced Chaplains Last Sunday." National Review Online.Feb. 3, 2012; online at:
http://www.nationalreview.com/content/army-silenced-chaplains-last-Sunday.
[34] Todd Starnes. "Air Force Removes 'God' From Logo." Fox News Radio.Feb. 7, 2012; online at: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top- stories/air-force-removes-god-from-logo.html.
[35] Eric Eckholm. "General Withdraws from West Point Talk." The New York Times.Jan. 30, 2012; online at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/31/us/lt-gen-william-boykin-known-for-anti-muslim-remarks-cancels-west-point-talk.html?_r=0.
[36] Chad Groening. "Boykin Relieves Pressure on West Point." OneNewsNow.Jan. 31, 2012; online at:
http://onenewsnow.com/culture/2012/01/31/boykin-relieves-pressure-on-west-point#.UcH7bNiE6IB.
[37] Starnes. "Army Labeled Evangelicals as Religious Extremists." Fox News Radio.Apr. 5, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/army-labeled-evangelicals-as-religious-extremism.html.
[38] Joseph Austin. "Army begins investigation of training briefing that had labeled "Catholicism" an extremist group." Catholic News Service.Apr. 22, 2013; online at: http://catholicphilly.com/2013/04/us-world-news/national-catholic-news/army-begins-investigation-of-training- briefing-that-had-labeled-catholicism-an-extremist-group/.
[39] Todd Starnes, "Group Calls Military Bibles a National Security Threat," Fox News Radio.June 12, 2012; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/group-calls-military-bibles-threat-to-national-security.html.
[40] Arlie Perliger. "Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America's Violent Far-Right." The CombatingTerrorismCenter atWest Point. Nov. 2012; online at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/images/pdfs/ChallengersFromtheSidelines.pdf.
[41] RowanScarborough. "West Point center cites dangers of 'far right' inU.S." TheWashington Times.Jan. 17, 2013; online at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/17/west-point-center-cites-dangers-far-right-us/.
[42] Ben Johnson. "'Pro-life paradigm' motivates domestic terrorism:West Point report." LifeSiteNews.com.Feb. 4, 2013; online at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pro-life-paradigm-motivates-domestic-terrorism-west-point-report/.
[43] White House. "Statement by the President on H.R. 4310."Jan. 3, 2013 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/03/statement-president-hr-4310).
[44] "Army Regulation 165-1." Army Chaplain Corps Activities. Headquarters of the Department of the Army.Washington,D.C.Dec. 3, 2009; online at: http://www.chapnet.army.mil/pdf/165-1.pdf.
[45] Todd Starnes. "Army Removes Crosses, Steeple from Chapel." Fox News Radio.Jan. 24, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/army-removes-crosses-steeple-from-chapel.html.
[46] Todd Starnes, "Airman Punished for Objecting to Gay Marriage in Military Chapel," Fox News Radio,Jul. 11, 2013; online at: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/airman-punished-for-objecting-to-gay-marriage-in-military-chapel.html
[47] Todd Starnes, "Military Will Not Rescind Reprimand for Airman Opposed to Gay Marriage," Fox News Radio,July 19, 2013; online at: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/military-will-not-rescind-reprimand-for-airman-opposed-to-gay-marriage.html
[48] Todd Starnes. "ArmyEmailLabelsChristianMinistries as 'Domestic Hate Groups.'" Fox News Radio.Apr. 9, 2013; online at: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/army-email-labels-christian-ministries-as-domestic-hate-groups.html.
[49] Sally Quinn, "Hagel should make it clear: Religion, military don't mix," Washington Post.Apr. 27, 2013, p. B2; published onlineApril 26, 2013 under headline, "U.S. military should put religious freedom at the front," online at: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-26/national/38838247_1_sexual-assault-pentagon-budget-chaplain.
[50] Sally Quinn, "Hagel should make it clear: Religion, military don't mix," Washington Post.Apr. 27, 2013, p. B2; published onlineApril 26, 2013 under headline, "U.S. military should put religious freedom at the front," online at:
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-26/national/38838247_1_sexual-assault-pentagon-budget-chaplain.
[51] Todd Starnes, "Pentagon: Religious Proselytizing is Not Permitted." Fox News Radio.Apr. 30, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/pentagon-religious-proselytizing-is-not-permitted.html.
[52] Todd Starnes, "Air Force Officer Told to Remove Bible from Desk." Fox News Radio.May 2, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/air-force-proselytizing-crosses-the-line.html.
[53] Todd Starnes, "Air Force Officer Told to Remove Bible from Desk." Fox News Radio.May 2, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/air-force-proselytizing-crosses-the-line.html.
[54] Todd Starnes, "Pentagon: Religious Proselytizing is Not Permitted." Fox News Radio.Apr. 30, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/pentagon-religious-proselytizing-is-not-permitted.html.
[55] Todd Starnes. "Rear Admiral Says Religious Liberty Under Threat in Military." Fox News Radio. May 3, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/rear-admiral-says-religious-liberty-under-threat-in-military.html.
[56] Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards. Certified by General Norton A. Schwartz. PublishedAug. 7, 2012. online at: http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af/publication/afi1-1/afi1-1.pdf.
[57] Markeshia Ricks, "New booklet outlines Air Force standards." Air Force Times. May 5, 2013; online at:
http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20130505/NEWS/305050007/New-booklet-outlines-Air-Force-standards.
[58] Todd Starnes, "Air Force Removes "Inspirational" Painting." Fox News Radio. May 31, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/air-force-removes-inspirational-painting.html.
[59] Todd Starnes, "Army Punishes Soldier who Served Chick-fil-A." Fox News Radio.Jun. 5, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/soldier-punished-for-serving-chick-fil-a.html.
[60] Ken Klukowski, "Amendments Protecting Soldiers' Religious Rights Approved by Committee." Breitbart.Jun. 7, 2013; online at: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/06/07/Congressional-Committee-Protects-Religious-Rights-of-Military-Members.
[61] Rep. John Fleming and Senator Mike Lee Press Release. "Fleming Applauds Passage of Religious Liberty Amendment in Senate Committee."Jun. 17, 2013; online at: http://fleming.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=339355.
[62] Todd Starnes, "Air Force Removes Video that Mentions God." Fox News Radio.Jun. 7, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/air-force-removes-video-that-mentions-god.html.
[63] Ken Klukowski, "Breaking: Obama Threatens Veto of Religious Protection for Military." Breitbart.Jun. 12, 2013; online at: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/12/Breaking-Obama-Threatens-Veto-of-Religious-Protection-for-Military.
[64] Todd Starnes. "Obama 'Strongly Objects' to Religious Liberty Amendment." Fox News Radio.Jun. 12, 2013; online at:
http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/obama-strongly-objects-to-religious-liberty-amendment.html.
[65] Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President. "Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 1960 - National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014."Jun. 11, 2013; online at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/113/saphr1960r_20130611.pdf.
[66]U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Chairman Carl Levin. "Senate Committee on Armed Services Complete Markup of The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014."Jun. 14, 2013; online at:
http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/press/releases/upload/ SASC_NDAA_061413.pdf.
[67] Todd Starnes, "Chaplain Ordered to Remove Religious Essay from Military Website," Fox News Radio.Jul 24, 2013; online at: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/chaplain-ordered-to-remove-religious-essay-from-military-website.html.
[68] Ken Klukowski, "Military Censors Christian Chaplain, Atheists Call for Punishment," Breitbart.Jul 24, 2013; online at: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/07/24/Military-Censors-Christian-Chaplain-Atheists-Call-for-Punishment.
[69] Alex Murashko, "Air Force Republishes Chaplain's 'No Atheists in Foxholes' Article to Base Website," Christian Post.Aug 24, 2013; online at: http://m.christianpost.com/news/air-force-republishes-chaplains-no-atheists-in-foxholes-article-to-base-website-102226/.
[70] Letter, Blake Page, MRFF to Col. Brian P. Duffy, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.July 24, 2013. http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/2013/07/blake-page-demand-letter-re-joint-base-elmendorf-richardson-jber/
[71] Todd Starnes, "Airman Facing Punishment for Religious Beliefs," Fox News Radio.Aug 6, 2013; online at http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/airman-facing-punishment-for-religious-beliefs.html.
[72] Todd Starnes (Fox News Channel) interview, "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,"Aug. 7, 2013; online at: http://www.frc.org/wwlivewithtonyperkins/todd-starnes-ken-blackwell-janet-porter.
[73] Todd Starnes, "Air Force Says Drag Acts Symbolize Gay Pride," Fox News Radio.Aug 10, 2013; online at : http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/air-force-says-drag-acts-symbolize-gay-pride.html.
[74] Press Release, Judicial Watch. "Defense Department Teaching Documents Suggest Mainstream Conservative Views 'Extremist.'"Aug. 22, 2013 http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-defense-department-teaching-documents-suggest-mainstream-conservative-views-extremist/.
[75] Todd Starnes, "Airman Punished for Objecting to Gay Marriage," Fox News Radio,Aug 14, 2013; online at: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/airmen-punished-for-objecting-to-gay-marriage.html
[76] Michael Berry, Liberty Institute, "Request for Redress of Grievances under Article 138, UCMJ," to Elisa Valenzuela (Major, USAF),Aug. 20, 2013.
[77] Todd Starnes, "Airman Punished for Opposing Gay Marriage Files Complaint," Townhall.com. Aug. 20, 2013. http://townhall.com/columnists/toddstarnes/2013/08/20/airman-punished-for-opposing-gay-marriage-files-complaint-n1668889
[78] Ken Klukowski. Breitbart News. "Christian Airman Punished by Lesbian Commander Now Being Investigated for Talking to Media."Sep. 6, 2013 (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/09/06/Christian-Airman-Punished-by-Lesbian-Commander-Now-Charged-with-Crime-for-Talking-to-Media-Court-Martial-Possible).
[79] Tony Perkins Interview of Michael Berry (attorney, Liberty Institute), Washington Watch Radio. Sept. 6, 2013 (http://www.frc.org/wwlivewithtonyperkins/frank-gaffney-jack-hibbs-mike-berry-steve-scalise)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

HILLARY’S BENGHAZI INVESTIGATOR CONFIRMS EGYPT LINK. Apparently reveals classified information in congressional hearing

By Aaron Klein
In a development unreported by news media, the State Department’s lead Benghazi investigator, Thomas Pickering, apparently leaked important classified information at a House hearing last week on the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack.
Pickering revealed there is evidence that an Egyptian organization was behind the attack on the U.S. mission that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
He further refused to deny there was a plan to kidnap Stevens.
Pickering was the author of the State Department’s 39-page Accountability Review Board report, or ARB, which largely absolved then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top State officials of wrongdoing regarding the Benghazi attack.
At a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing on Benghazi last week, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wy., asked Pickering whether Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood may have been behind the attack.
“Is it true that there’s documentation that the Muslim Brotherhood and operatives from Egypt were involved in the attack?” she asked.
Pickering replied: “Our report indicates that one Egyptian organization which is named in the report was possibly involved. And I am not sure, I think that that’s in the unclassified. I hope it is.”
The unclassified ARB report – reviewed in full by KleinOnline – does not name any Egyptian organization as possibly being behind the attack.
The only mention of an Egyptian group in the unclassified ARB is in relation to a May 18, 2012, RPG attack on the Benghazi International Committee of the Red Cross as well as a May 28, 2012, threat issued by the group on social media against the U.S.
The organization named in the ARB is the “Omar Abduurrahman group,” which was demanding the release of the so-called “blind sheik,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, held in the U.S. over the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The unclassified ARB names the Egyptian group in a section on previous attacks in Benghazi in the run up to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. The unclassified ARB does not name the organization as possibly being behind the Benghazi attack.
Stevens kidnapped?
Pickering may have further stumbled when Lummis asked, “Is it true that they were planning to kidnap the ambassador and it went wrong?”
“I can’t comment on that,” Pickering replied, followed by a long pause.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa stepped in and changed the subject.
Later in the hearing, Pickering further commented on the kidnap issue.
He stated: “Kidnapping seemed to me to be far-fetched. Because in effect in the testimony that was given and the public report, they did not make a serious attempt to go into the closed area of the villa. It is not even sure in my view that they knew the ambassador was there. So I would say, while I said I didn’t want to touch that, I would say in retrospect it doesn’t seem highly likely. It could be. but I don’t think so.”
An exchange between Issa and Pickering hinted that Pickering may have revealed classified information in his testimony.
Issa told Pickering, “It was clear that you didn’t understand that she (Lummis) was asking about the public report.”
Pickering interjected, “Because I know of, put it this way, unpublic information.”
“We do not want unpublic information here today,” Issa lectured.
Egypt’s Morsi behind murder of U.S. ambassador?
Circumstantial evidence possibly links the attack to former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi’s campaign to free Abdel-Rahman.
The blind sheik’s release has been one of the Morsi’s main foreign policy issues.
In July, several major Arabic newspapers ran with a story, first reported by the Kuwaiti paper Al Rai, quoting a Libyan intelligence report on the Benghazi attack that mentions an alleged connection to Morsi and other prominent Egyptian figures.
The report, prepared by Mahmoud Ibrahim Sharif, director of national security for Libya, is based on purported confessions of some of the jihadists arrested at the scene.
The report states that “among the more prominent figures whose names were mentioned by cell members during confessions were: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi; preacher Safwat Hegazi; Saudi businessman Mansour Kadasa, owner of the satellite station Al-Nas; Egyptian Sheik Muhammad Hassan; former presidential candidate, Hazim Salih Abu Ismail.”
Unsubstantiated Arabic-language reports from the Middle East also claimed passport belonging to the alleged killer of Stevens had been recovered at the home of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood deputy leader Khairat Al-Shater.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reportedly visited al-Shater in prison, spending over an hour talking to the Brotherhood leader.
‘Dr. Morsi sent us’
There is other information pointing to Morsi’s possible involvement in the Benghazi attack.
YouTube videos of the attack find some of the jihadists speaking an Egyptian dialect of Arabic, as previously reported by FrongPageMag.
One of the videos shows a jihadist carrying out the attack while stating in an Egyptian dialect, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, Dr. Morsi sent us.”
There were also unconfirmed reports Egypt would not allow the U.S. to interrogate suspects in the attack.
Originally, the Obama administration claimed there were popular protests outside the U.S. Benghazi mission over an obscure anti-Muhammad film. It would later be determined no such demonstrations took place; instead the attacks were a coordinated jihadist assault.
The White House sought at first to connect the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack to protests that same day in Cairo, Egypt, in which rioters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy and tore down the American flag.
The Cairo protests were widely reported as acts of defiance against the anti-Muhammad movie. However, the protests were announced days in advance as part of a movement to free Rahman.
In July 2012, Rahman’s son, Abdallah Abdel Rahman, threatened to organize a protest at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and detain the employees inside.
On the day of the Sept. 11, 2012, protests in Cairo, CNN’s Nic Robertson interviewed the son of Rahman, who described the protest as being about freeing his father. No Muhammad film was mentioned. A big banner calling for Rahman’s release can be seen as Robertson walked to the embassy protests.
Targeting ‘Christian overseers’
The release of Rahman has been a key issue for Morsi. One week before the attack in Benghazi, Morsi once again called for the U.S. to free Rahman.
A jihadist group seeking the release of the blind sheik and calling itself the Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades reportedly was previously responsible for a June 6, 2012, bomb attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi. The bomb exploded at the perimeter to the facility, wounding one.
There is information murdered U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens or another U.S. employee was the target of the attack. The SITE monitoring group documented the Rahman Brigades said they were “targeting a group of ‘Christian overseers’ who were preparing to receive one of the ‘heads of instigation’ from the State Department.”
The group was calling for Rahman’s release as well as vengeance for the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, one of the most senior al-Qaida operatives. Al-Libi, of Libyan descent, was killed by a U.S. drone in Pakistan in June 2012.
CNN previously cited a report that the Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades was also responsible for a rocket attack against the convoy of the British ambassador in Benghazi on June 11 and an attack against the Red Cross in Misrata on June 12, 2012.
Further, the deadly January 2013 assault on an Algerian natural-gas plant was reportedly carried out as part of an attempt to trade hostages for the release of Rahman. Thirty-eight people were killed in a three-day siege that ended the hostage crisis.
KleinOnline previously reported on the ties of the Algerian assault crisis to the attack in Benghazi. The ties run through al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.
CNN quoted sources disclosing several Yemeni men belonging to AQAP took part in the Benghazi attack.
CNN further quoted one source revealing counter-terrorism officials learned the identity of the three men and later traced them to northern Mali, where they are believed to have connected with the jihad organization led by Moktar Belmoktar.
Belmoktar, an Algerian, is a senior leader of the Islamic Maghreb. He claimed responsibility for the Algeria gas facility attack.
Another intelligence source told CNN that Belmoktar had received a call in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack from someone in or close to the city.
The person on the other end of the call stated, “Mabruk, Mabruk!” meaning “congratulations” in Arabic, according to the source.
With additional research by Joshua Klein.
- See more at: http://kleinonline.wnd.com/2013/09/25/hillarys-benghazi-investigator-confirms-egypt-link-apparently-reveals-classified-information-in-congressional-hearing/#sthash.6ePhhzuQ.dpuf

BENGHAZI INVESTIGATOR WON’T DENY STEVENS KIDNAP PLOT. Questions mount regarding murder of U.S. ambassador

image
By Aaron Klein
Is the Obama administration suppressing evidence of a kidnapping or attempted kidnapping of murdered U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens?
As KleinOnline reported, the State Department’s lead Benghazi investigator, Thomas Pickering, refused to deny there was a plan to kidnap Stevens.
Pickering’s response is just the latest in a series of developments raising questions about the story behind Stevens’ murder.
Pickering was the author of the 39-page report by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, or ARB, which largely absolved then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top State officials of wrongdoing regarding the Benghazi attack.
At a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing on Benghazi last week, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wy., asked Pickering about a potential kidnap plot.
She asked, “Is it true that they were planning to kidnap the ambassador and it went wrong?”
“I can’t comment on that,” Pickering replied, followed by a long pause.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa stepped in and changed the subject.
Later in the hearing, Pickering further commented on the kidnap issue.
He stated: “Kidnapping seemed to me to be far-fetched. Because in effect in the testimony that was given and the public report, they did not make a serious attempt to go into the closed area of the villa. It is not even sure in my view that they knew the ambassador was there. So I would say, while I said I didn’t want to touch that, I would say in retrospect it doesn’t seem highly likely. It could be. but I don’t think so.”
Botched kidnapping morphed into slaughter?
In June, Abdallah Dhu-al-Bajadin, who was identified by U.S. officials speaking to the Washington Free Beacon as a known weapons experts for al-Qaida, wrote on a jihadi website that Stevens was killed by lethal injection after plans to kidnap him during the Benghazi assault went awry.
A detail provided in testimony by Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of the U.S. mission in Libya, may require further investigation in light on the claim.
Hicks, a Benghazi whistleblower, said the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, was told Stevens was taken to a hospital controlled by Ansar Al-Sharia, the group originally believed to have been behind the Benghazi attack.
Stated Hicks: “We began to hear also that the ambassador has been taken to a hospital. We don’t know initially which hospital it is, but we – through David’s reports we learned that it is in a hospital which is controlled by Ansar Sharia, the group that Twitter feeds had identified as leading the attack on the consulate.”
Hicks was referring to David McFarland, the U.S. Tripoli embassy’s political section chief.
Hicks said he received a call from the Libyan prime minister informing him of Stevens’ death. Prior to the phone call, he said, the embassy received several other calls from a cell phone that had been with the ambassador, claiming to have Stevens’ body.
Hicks repeated the assertion that Stevens was being held in a hospital controlled by Ansar al-Sharia.
“Before I got the call from the prime minister, we’d received several phone calls on the phone that had been with the ambassador saying that we know where the ambassador is, please, you can come get him,” stated Hicks.
“And our local staff engaged on those phone calls admirably, asking very, very good, outstanding, even open-ended questions about where was he, trying to discern whether he was alive, whether they even had the ambassador, whether that person was with the ambassador, send a picture, could we talk to the ambassador?”
He continued: “Because we knew separately from David that the ambassador was in a hospital that we believe was under Ansar Sharia’s call, we – we suspected that we were being baited into a trap, and so we did not want to go send our people into an ambush. And we didn’t.”
Stevens reportedly was pronounced dead in the Benghazi Medical Center. The center fell into the hands of the rebels during the U.S. and NATO-supported revolution that overthrew the regime of Muammar Gadhafi.
The jihadist rebels reportedly routinely received treatment at the hospital.
The Free Beacon reported today that al-Bajadin’s claim was not immediately being rejected by U.S. law enforcement officials probing the death of Stevens.
In the March 14 posting on the Ansar al-Mujahideen Network, an al Qaida-linked jihadi website, al-Bajadin claimed Stevens was given a lethal injection that was overlooked during the medical autopsy on his body.
Al-Bajadin wrote “the plan was based on abduction and exchange of high-level prisoners.”
“However, the operation took another turn, for a reason God only knows, when one of the members of the jihadist cell improvised and followed Plan B,” he wrote.
Al-Bajadin explained that a lethal injection is given in “more than one place in the human body that autopsy doctors ignore when they see that the symptoms are similar to another specific and common illness.”
“Anyone who studied the art of silent assassination that spies applied during the Cold War would easily identify these parts of the body,” he said.
The terrorist wrote that he waited until now to reveal the botched kidnapping and lethal injection because “the cell” behind “the infiltrative and secret operation is now completely safe from intelligence bureaus.”
With additional reporting by Joshua Klein.
- See more at: http://kleinonline.wnd.com/2013/09/29/benghazi-investigator-wont-deny-stevens-kidnap-plot-questions-mount-regarding-murder-of-u-s-ambassador/#sthash.c3IVTVLi.dpuf

Bomber Bill Ayers’ College Tour

Posted By Mary Grabar

Bill Ayers has a new book coming out and is doing the lecture circuit on college campuses. He was invited to speak on “Democracy and Education: Teaching for Liberation” at Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois, on September 26, and on Tuesday, October 1, he will be speaking at Gettysburg College on “Queering Education.”
Some people remember Ayers’s real past and are objecting. ECC alumni Robert and Barbara Haase, in a letter to the editor, wrote: “William Ayers’ viewpoint should not be included in the ‘variety of viewpoints’ in the marketplace of ideas you propose to expose. . . .”
They said that he deserved jail time for setting bombs at a time when their “friends and relatives in Vietnam [were] defending Ayers’ right to express his views without fear. Some of them never made it home. They were not there to defend anyone’s right to commit acts of terrorism.”
They are quoting an administrator who used the old saw of “variety of viewpoints” to justify inviting Ayers.
But college students, immersed in romanticized versions of 1960s history, will have little against which to challenge Ayers’s revised history. His new book, Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident, appears to be an attempt to wipe away charges against him in 2008 with a series of lies, lies that are evident from his own blog promoting the book: “In the heat of the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama’s opponents were spinning a chilling narrative that cast him as an enigmatic figure with a group of shadowy associates, including a Black Nationalist preacher, a Palestinian professor, and an ‘unrepentant domestic terrorist.’ That imagined terrorist was Bill Ayers, a one-time leader of the Weather Underground. . . .”
He claims that he is “a dedicated teacher, father, and social justice advocate.” His “‘shady past’” is actually “the story of an ardent antiwar activist.”
Is he really just an “ardent antiwar activist” demonized by the McCain campaign, as he claims?
Ayers himself in several passages in his earlier memoir Fugitive Days admits to participating in bombings. He posed for the book’s publicity photo by standing on an American flag.
The Weather Underground’s 1974 manifesto Prairie Fire, stated, “We are a guerilla organization. We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years,” and “Our intention is to disrupt the empire . . . to incapacitate it, to put pressure on the cracks, to make it hard to carry out its bloody functioning against the people of the world, to join the world struggle, to attack from the inside.”
In Fugitive Days, Ayers also describes hopes of a world communist revolution:
The world is in flames, we thought, the people of the world rising against the octopus of imperialism and cutting off its tentacles one by one. It was a compelling image, apocalyptic: Cuba, one, Korea, two, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Algeria, Ghana, and Viet Nam, of course, number eight, where the monster had overextended itself once and for all. National liberation movements active in Chile, Panama, Argentina, Guatemala, the Philippines, Jamaica, South Africa, Mexico—dos, tres, muchos Viet Nams—had heated up and the world’s aggressive policemen were pinned down in Southeast Asia. A pitiful, helpless giant.
The U.S. is the “pitiful, helpless giant” in the face of a communist world revolution.
None of that is mentioned in his blog, nor was it mentioned last February when he spoke at the Association of Teacher Educators conference. Instead, he repeated lines from his nonsensical writings about education, like “We are finite beings plunging through infinite space,” and we are “world changers, one person at a time.” He advised fellow educators and graduate students on “how to survive till the revolution” by doing “anarchist calisthenics.” He had nothing to say about improving the performance of students in the “urban schools” for which he has trained teachers.
Colleges now are simply giving Ayers a forum to promote his upcoming book and his revisionist, self-glorifying history that was promoted to his college students, even on his syllabi. Consider this quotation from “Social Conflicts of the 1960s, Honors 201” for Spring semester 2006:
In 1965, just as the American catastrophe in Viet Nam was reaching full ignition, I was arrested along with 38 others for disrupting the normal operations of the Ann Arbor draft board, part of the bureaucratic machinery for sorting soldiers from civilians, the living from the dead, issuing we thought, warrants to kill and to die.
U.S. political leaders on this syllabus are described as having been “blind and arrogant and cocksure as they took over the failed French colonial mission.” The U.S. enemy was “a poor peasant nation” that “refused their assigned role in Washington’s script . . . the National Liberation Front wouldn’t quit—they retreated when necessary, holed up underground as required, and reemerged suddenly to beat back the invaders.”
In a 19-page essay on the syllabus for a seminar called Conceptions of Teaching and Schooling (CIE 576), Ayers claimed that teachers are “cogs,” and students are “prisoners,” “compelled by the state to attend, handed a schedule, a uniform, and a rule book, sent to specific designated space of cell blocks, monitored constantly….”
The idea of schools as prisons was promoted by American communists in the 1930s.
The Weather Underground’s document “Bring the War Home” similarly stated, “Young people all over the country go to prisons that are called schools,” and “No longer will we tolerate ‘law and order’ backed up by soldiers in Vietnam and pigs [police] in the communities and schools.”
Now Bill Ayers’s own words, are being used in a K-12 curriculum put out by a non-profit called, ironically, “Americans Who Tell the Truth.” These supposed truth-tellers are mostly radicals, like Ayers, Medea Benjamin, and Howard Zinn. Gettysburg College even used the original oil portrait of Ayers produced by the non-profit in its poster for their event. Students in some schools today are reading such self-serving, heart-tugging prose by the bomb-setter, Bill Ayers: “I held tight to the romance that ordinary people have the capacity to eliminate the agony of exploitation and the intolerable suffering of the poor and the despised—to achieve justice in the public square and establish a beloved community.”
Has Bill Ayers changed his stripes? Is he simply someone who was an antiwar activist, but then became a respectable professor, as he would like naïve students to believe?
Bill Ayers failed in bringing about a revolution with the terrorist organization Weatherman he co-founded, so he tried to do it through education and by lying to the most vulnerable.
This is not about free speech, as Ayers’s allies, like the administrators at Elgin Community College, would like to make it.
Bill Ayers has not changed a whit.
He is still as arrogant as Weatherman informant Larry Grathwohl described him and as anti-intellectual as David Horowitz described him.
He’s not even smart enough to disguise the ideas expressed from his days in the Weather Underground. But given what they’re taught, students wouldn’t know this.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Liberty Delivers a Better World While Utopians Promise a Perfect One

by

Editor’s Note: September 26, 2013 is the 115th anniversary of the birth of Leonard E. Read
Why are unattainable utopian visions attractive and inspirational to so many while the promises of liberty, under which a vastly-improved society can actually be attained, are so often disregarded? Leonard Read, among America’s most prolific defenders of liberty in the 20th century, considered that question.
In Let Freedom Reign, Read argued that liberty’s failure to gain more adherents than utopian statism derived in substantial measure from the fact that the ends envisioned, rather than the means involved, often motivate people. Unlike the utopian visions, the freedom philosophy recognizes that a system of free markets is an “amoral servant” that does not claim to generate no objectionable results to anyone. For this reason, liberty faces an inspirational disadvantage.
A good illustration of utopianism’s “advantage” over freedom is the utopian’s assertion that he can deliver equality of results (implicitly assumed to be equality at a high level of prosperity). This in turn leads to rationalizations for cutting freedom off at the knees. Yet some forms of inequality are inseparable from astounding social benefits, particularly the massive gains from specialization among people with differing abilities and circumstances, coordinated through voluntary market arrangements.
As Read noted in Having My Way, rather than bemoaning any inequality of results, it would be more accurate to say, “inequality exists, fortunately!” as long as it is combined with freedom, which he called our“working handmaiden.”
[F]reedom and equality are ... mutually antagonistic. The equality idea…rests on the antithesis of freedom: raw coercion. It is ... impossible to be free when equality is politically manipulated ...
Not our likenesses, but our differences, give rise to the division of labor and the complex market processes of production and trade ... it is to our advantage to specialize and to trade with other specialists. ... By thus serving others — and becoming ever more skilled and outstanding (unequal) in the process — he best serves his own interest.
Read recognized that inequality among individuals was a fact and that the “working handmaiden” of voluntary arrangements allowed the members of society to better achieve what they desired. As a result, Read also saw that attributing disliked results, such as deviations from an idealized equality, to voluntary arrangements, misplaced the blame. Those deviations are rooted in an underlying reality utopians simply assume away. Therefore, restricting voluntary arrangements, beyond preventing force and fraud, cannot solve the real problems that arise from scarcity. However, the attempt to do so hobbles the market’s ability to coordinate the productive plans of people with vastly different skills and circumstances, causing harm in the misguided attempt to accomplish good.
Read saw that liberty’s defenders must face the fact that markets are amoral servants which enable people to do whatever they want better. They cannot be relied upon with certainty to only do good and inspirational things. But whenever they enable doing ill, they only reflect the desires individuals have. If we reformed ourselves, markets could do no harm. In contrast, coercively “reforming” ourselves by law does not eliminate the cause of such harm and so does little to actually stop it. Moreover, the restrictions on markets adopted in the process throw out the amoral servant that allows us to accomplish greater good than achievable via any other known means.
This brought Read to focus on the crucial distinction between “inspirational” utopian ends and the means such ends necessarily entail. The collectivist means, backed by force, that utopias require are immoral, so such systems cannot be moral.
Examine carefully the means employed ... in terms of right and wrong, and the end will take care of itself.
However lofty the goals, if the means be depraved, the result must reflect that depravity.
[M]eans implicit in the individualistic goal ... serve as a powerful thrust toward the individual’s material, intellectual, moral, and spiritual emergence ... those who comprise society ... are the secondary beneficiaries. ... If we would help others, let us first help ourselves by those means which qualify as righteous.
Visionary or utopian ends inspire some to pursue statist failures, sacrificing liberty for innumerable “good causes.” Read argued powerfully for instead focusing on the means (voluntary versus coercive) rather than stated ends that can be achieved only in someone’s imagination. Because the means utilized by statist “solutions” are immoral, such systems are morally inferior to voluntary arrangements.
Leonard Read recognized that liberty, which produces voluntary arrangements that evolve once one’s rights to one’s self and production are protected, provides the means of achieving the best that is actually achievable in advancing society. As we develop ourselves, we each have more to offer others, without requiring immoral acts. And what freedom has historically accomplished, beyond anyone’s ability to envision it, extended to further as-yet-unknowable possibilities, provides ample reason to trust it over coercive alternatives.
Defending liberty requires developing our ability to “see” the unseen (and often unimagined) good that can only be accomplished by freeing people’s ability to peacefully create and innovate. We must also be able to “see” and articulate the inherent failings of the coercive and immoral means employed toward utopian goals, which are unachievable despite such means. With such vision, liberty can be recognized as far more inspirational than any statist alternative.