Lt. General William Boykin is again making headlines, but this time not only for his offensive remarks. Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, sparked controversy and investigation last year when he said Muslims worship idols and cast the war on terrorism as a religious conflict. Boykin declared that the real enemy of America -- which he describes as a "Christian nation" -- isn't Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. "The enemy," he said, "is a guy called Satan." Although an investigation was announced by the Pentagon, Boykin was not removed or transferred. Instead, according to news media accounts, he was at the center of an operation to "Gitmoize" the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Maj. General Geoffrey Miller, in charge of Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo -- known in the U.S. as Gitmo -- was summoned to Iraq to extend X-Ray methods to the prison system there.
During testimony to Congress last week, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone said that Boykin, not Miller, briefed him on the results of Miller's report, including the recommendation to use guards to condition prisoners for interrogation. Boykin's involvement increases the damage that the scandal will cause around the world. His appearances in uniform before evangelical Christian groups has been widely reported in the international press. In a speech last January in Daytona, Fla., Boykin recalled his efforts to capture an Islamic militant in Somalia who had said he would be protected by Allah. Said Boykin, "Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol." After the militant was captured, Boykin told him, "Mr. Atto, you underestimated our God." Said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, "I don't think the administration understands how much damage Boykin has done." An investigation is currently snaking its way through the Pentagon bureaucracy.
Earlier last year, Americans United protested strongly when Boykin tried to bring a Baptist pastors' evangelism group to Ft. Bragg for special training and overnight accommodations. After the AU objection, military officials scaled back the visit to the same level given other civilian groups. Boykin's evangelical escapades have been organized by the Southern Baptist "Super FAITH Force Multiplier" evangelism program. Boykin is a former Delta force commando who commanded the failed effort to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran, tracked drug lord Pablo Escobar in Columbia, advised the gas attack on barricaded Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, and lost 18 men in Somalia trying to capture a warlord in the notorious Black Hawk Down fiasco of 1993. He uses his military credentials to evangelize with a military twist.
"You will go with General Boykin and Green Beret instructors to places where no civilians and few soldiers ever go," the Rev. Bobby Welch told pastors in a letter inviting them to attend the two-day Super FAITH Force Multiplier session. "We must find a group of men who are warriors of FAITH, pastors who have the guts to lead this nation to Christ and revival!" Welch, a friend of Boykin, told the invitees they would see Boykin's headquarters, a demonstration of "today's war-fighting weapons" and how "Special Forces attack the enemy inside buildings (live fire/real bullets)," as well as hear a speech and get "informal time" with Boykin.
Although the Pentagon and the White House have let Boykin off the hook before, it is now past time to fire this top-ranking Pentagon official. His statements and actions, combined with his apparent role in the Abu Ghraib scandal, eliminate his credibility with the American people and make him a liability abroad. As the Rev. Barry Lynn, AU's executive director, said last year, "Boykin literally believes that the United States government is engaged in a holy war. That's totally unacceptable for someone in a top government post. "A man who sees the conduct of U.S. foreign policy as some sort of Christian religious crusade should not be making policy. I urge Secretary Rumsfeld to remove Lt. Gen. Boykin from his post and distance the Bush administration from Boykin's extreme views."