Colonel’s class on radical Islam leaves career in limbo

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When ArmyLt. Col. Matthew Dooley last year began teaching a class to fellow officers on the dangers of radical Islam, he seemed to have landed in a perfect spot.

A highly rated armor officer who saw combat in Iraq, Col. Dooley planned to instruct for several years at the Joint Forces Staff College within the National Defense University, then seek command of a combat battalion — a ticket to better postings and higher rank.

Today, Col. Dooley finds himself at a dead end while being targeted for criticism by American Islamic groups, at least two of which are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates universal Islamic law.

More important, Col. Dooley’s critics include ArmyGen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In a news conference with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in May, Gen. Dempsey, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, publicly excoriated Col. Dooley’s training materials as being unfair to Islam and “academically irresponsible.”

A month after Gen. Dempsey’s rebuke, a general on his Pentagon staff ordered Col. Dooley to be removed as an instructor “for cause.”

As a result, regulations called for Marine Lt. Gen. George Flynn to order the National Defense University to produce a negative officer evaluation report on Col. Dooley — a career ender.

Richard Thompson, president of the nonprofit Thomas More Law Center, is representing Col. Dooley in an appeal against the negative report. He said the Pentagon is trying to appease the Muslim Brotherhood.

“What happened here was this whole idea of political correctness deterred the ability of our military to speak frankly about the identity of the enemy,” Mr. Thompson said in an interview. “Once you allow political correctness to overwhelm our military, then we are really going to have an impact on our national security.”

Congressional letter

Mr. Thompson said the university simply could have informally counseled Col. Dooley to change some of the material, which the officer would have done. Instead, Gen. Dempsey and others chose to “throw him under the bus in public” and “damage his reputation,” the lawyer said.

Col. Dooley’s evaluation report last year, while he was teaching the course, lauded him as a superb officer.

In addition, the course and the materials in it had been approved by the National Defense University, whose guidance to instructors says that “no subject or issue is considered taboo.”

On Aug. 29, two raters at the university issued a negative officer evaluation report, as ordered, ruining any chance for Col. Dooley to make full colonel and effectively cutting short his professional upward path.

That action prompted two Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee last week to send a letter to Gen. Dempsey asking why such harsh action was taken. The Washington Times obtained a copy of the letter.

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