Friday, January 11, 2008

The year is 1942. The place, the Pentagon. A Berlin-born aide to the U.S. deputy secretary of defense has learned that a military intelligence officer has not only read Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but is lecturing senior officers about Hitler’s heretofore unexamined goals of world domination.

This schweinhunt must go. At least, that’s what the German-born staffer thinks. Did I mention he’s fluent in German? That’s partly why the Deputy SecDef relies so heavily on his aide’s judgment on all things German, particularly when it comes to the War on Nazism’s German outreach program. This program brings Nazi apologists into the inner sanctum of the American war machine…

Sound crazy?

Travel forward to 1973. The Deputy SecDef’s Soviet-born, Russian-speaking aide is gunning for the one intelligence officer who has boned up on Marx, Engels and Soviet military doctrine. Why? Because the officer refuses to “soften” his brief on communist ideology, and is presenting it to the military leadership — now hearing it for the first time since the Cold War began. If communist plans for global domination become common knowledge, the aide realizes, gazing thoughtfully at a poster-size photo of Soviet mouthpiece Vladimir Posner on his office wall, the Pentagon will change strategy and halt the U.S.S.R. outreach program, which gives commie symps Pentagon access…

Totally outlandish, right?

Once upon a time, yes. But this month, this newspaper’s Bill Gertz reported on a not entirely dissimilar real-life version of such fictions, the termination of Maj. Stephen Coughlin (USAR). Mr. Coughlin, a lawyer and reserve military intelligence officer, has been the Pentagon’s sole specialist on Islamic law charged with lecturing senior officers on jihad doctrine — military leaders who have been fighting the so-called war on terror for years without an inkling of Islamic ideology. His contract with the Joint Staff will end in March, Mr. Gertz wrote, because Mr. Coughlin “had run afoul of a key aide” to the Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England.

That “key aide” is Cmdr. Hesham Islam (USN ret.), an Egyptian-born, Arabic-speaking Muslim whom Gordon England describes as “my interlocutor” and “personal, close confidante.” According to Mr. Gertz, Mr. England’s interlocutor and confidante confronted Stephen Coughlin seeking “to have Mr. Coughlin soften his views of Islamist extremism.” Note the irony in this choice of words. “Islamist” and “extremism” — like “Islamofascism” and other euphemisms —are words that draw a PC curtain over mainstream Islam. They effectively shield the religion and its tenets from the scrutiny necessary to assess the ideology driving our jihadist enemies. Of course, lifting that PC curtain on Islam and its jihadist tenets is precisely the effect of Stephen Coughlin’s Pentagon brief. It goes against what political correctness tells us; it also goes against what Islamic advocacy groups tell us.

For example, Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), is someone who advocates decoupling the word “Islamic” from the word “terrorism” for discussions of, well, Islamic terrorism. Why mention this? ISNA is a group that has been strenuously “outreached” by Mr. England’s Pentagon even as the Justice Department has officially labeled it a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Wonder if Mr. England ever thought much about the large picture of Miss.Mattson — head of ISNA, an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal terrorism trial last year — hanging amid the photos on Hesham Islam’s office wall

What Hesham Islam wanted from Stephen Coughlin was a softer interpretation of Islamic law and jihad, and, as Mr. Gertz reported, in the process he slurred Mr. Coughlin as “a Christian zealot or extremist ‘with a pen.’ ” Now Mr. Coughlin is out.

This high-level effort to, in effect, deny the connection between Islamic law and what the military calls the “enemy threat doctrine” should ring bells, not just in the military, but in Congress, which obviously has Pentagon oversight responsibilities. And what about the FBI? When a citizen is denounced as a “Christian zealot or extremist” shortly before his government contract is dropped, has a civil rights violation occurred?

More questions. Why is the deputy secretary of defense engaged in Muslim “outreach”? And how good (safe) is his “outreach” advice if, for example, it brings ISNA into a bizarro relationship with the Pentagon, and sends a longtime apologist for assorted terrorists, Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Salam Al-Marayati, on a Pentagon-sponsored trip to Guantanamo Bay? When such advice brings the military’s woefully belated education on jihad to a halt, it becomes shockingly clear that the Pentagon is more concerned with political correctness than protecting the nation.

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