An Army officer, years on, still a lightning rod

It’s been nearly eight years since then-Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin was reprimanded after giving speeches that cast the war on terror as a crusade against Islam, even while serving as a senior official at the Defense Department.

Boykin has moved on from his long career in special operations and intelligence, but the controversial speeches continue, prompting new complaints from Islamic groups.


Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin spoke at a fundraiser at Colorado Christian University last spring. (Ed Andrieski — Associated Press)

The story also quotes the organizer of the mayoral event, Bruce Spangler, as saying that Boykin is not only a “soldier’s soldier,” but also “an expert on Islamic history.”

That’s not exactly how some Muslims see Boykin, to say the least.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement urging Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan to disinvite Boykin because of his “long, shameful history of extreme and bigoted views.”

Neither Spangler nor the mayor responded to requests for comment.

A Pentagon investigation in 2004 concluded that Boykin had violated “internal regulations” by giving speeches marked by fiery religious rhetoric while in his U.S. Army uniform. The controversy surfaced after videos of his speeches were picked up in the nation’s press.

In one instance, Boykin mocked a Muslim adversary in Mogadishu for believing he would be protected by Allah. “I knew that my God was bigger than his,” Boykin said. “I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

Boykin described the war on terror as a battle against satan, and said that then-President George W. Bush had been installed in his position by God. Despite the controversy, Boykin remained deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence under Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, and retired in 2007.

Now that he no longer wears his uniform, Boykin’s speeches haven’t captured as much attention, though their theme is the same. In remarks cited by CAIR that appear on YouTube, Boykin says, “We should not view Islam as a religion that is to be protected under the First Amendment…It’s a totalitarian way of life.”

Greg Miller covers the intelligence beat for The Washington Post.

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