Friday, August 20, 2004

The Pentagon’s top investigator has cleared a general of the most serious accusations concerning his addresses to church groups in which he invoked Christianity in the war against Islamist terrorists, but did find the officer committed minor infractions of military regulations.

The Pentagon inspector general did not substantiate complaints that Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin misused his Army uniform, violated travel regulations or used improper speech when he addressed 23 church groups on his views on faith and warfare. Investigators also found Gen. Boykin did not improperly accept speaking fees.

But the IG report did find that Gen. Boykin violated three rules: He should have gotten clearance from public affairs on the content of his speech; he should have told audiences that his remarks were his own views, and not the Pentagon’s; and he should have filled out a form showing that one group reimbursed him $260 for travel.

In that case, there was no finding that Gen. Boykin in any way violated expense-account rules. In fact, the Pentagon encourages private groups to reimburse military personnel for speaking-engagement expenses.

Gen. Boykin, a legendary figure in the special operations community, is now the Pentagon’s deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. The former Delta Force commander’s hard-charging style in the war on terror has made him a favorite among Pentagon policy-makers, who came to his defense yesterday.

One official, who asked not to be named, said the disclaimer violation was nit-picking because the topic of his speeches was his faith, not Pentagon policy. And, the rule on getting after-hours speeches approved beforehand by public affairs is so obscure that officials could not remember the last time such a case arose.

The source said military regulations are not clear on the issue of when personnel may, or may not, wear their uniforms when talking to public groups after hours.

The report also does not directly criticize Gen. Boykin for the remarks he made. A second defense source said free-speech guarantees permit military personnel to give their opinions.

It is now up to Army acting Secretary Les Brownlee to determine if Gen. Boykin should be punished. In such minor cases, an officer can simply be counseled against repeating the infraction.

In one of 23 speeches looked at by the inspector general’s office, Gen. Boykin talked about battle warlords in Somalia in 1993. “I knew my God was bigger than this,” said Gen. Boykin, an evangelical Christian. “I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

In another speech, he said, “We in the Army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this.”

The Washington Post in yesterday’s edition first disclosed the IG’s report, which has not been made public.

Gen. Boykin issued an apology to anyone offended by his remarks. The IG report calls for Mr. Brownlee to take corrective action, but also notes that Gen. Boykin was not prevented from giving the speeches when he sought legal advice beforehand.

Gen. Boykin is working at the Pentagon on meeting one of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s top priorities: improving the intelligence take so troops can move at a moment’s notice to kill or capture terrorists.

When news of his speeches broke last fall, Mr. Rumsfeld, and Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs chairman, quickly came to the defense of the three-star general.

So did many conservatives. “Lt. Gen. William G. ‘Jerry’ Boykin, the former Delta Force commander, seems to be exactly the kind of warrior America needs to lead us in battle against the kind of fanatics we face,” Pat Buchanan, one-time Republican presidential candidate, said in an October 2003 column.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide