“We’ve got a challenge to make sure that people in countries like Indonesia understand the nature of the American people,” he said. “It’s going to be an important part of good diplomacy in the long run. We’ve got to fight off the imagery of a society which condemns entire swaths of people because of the acts of a few. It’s just not the way we are.”
Gen. Boykin, a highly decorated Special Forces combat veteran now serving as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and special operations, has been quoted as saying the war against terrorists, such as those who killed and mutilated U.S. soldiers in Somalia in the name of religion, is a battle between good and evil with terrorists representing “Satan.”
He was criticized after NBC News, on Oct. 15, broadcast segments of speeches Gen. Boykin, an evangelical Christian, made at churches in Oklahoma, Oregon and Florida.
The Los Angeles Times, on Oct. 16, carried a commentary piece by William A. Arkin, accusing the general of taking to the pulpit at the Good Shepherd Community Church in Sandy, Ore., and telling churchgoers that “the battle that we’re in is a spiritual battle.”
“Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army,” Mr. Arkin quoted Gen. Boykin as saying. The Washington Times was unable to locate Mr. Arkin yesterday.
Pentagon officials yesterday said Gen. Boykin continues to do his job during the inspector general review, which the general requested himself.
Martha Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Times said the newspaper has not been called by the Pentagon inspector general. NBC News spokeswoman Allison Gollust said she had “checked with a number of people here and no one is aware of any request from the [inspector general].”
Mr. Bush first distanced himself from Gen. Boykin last week when reporters traveling with the president asked whether Muslim clerics with whom he had met in Indonesia were upset about the general’s comments.
At that time, Mr. Bush said he had told the clerics that Gen. Boykin’s comments “didn’t reflect my opinion” and the Muslim clerics “were pleased to hear that.”