washingtonpost.com  > Nation > National Security

General's Speeches Broke Rules

Report Says Boykin Failed to Obtain Clearance

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 19, 2004; Page A23

A Defense Department investigation has determined that Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the Pentagon's senior military intelligence official, violated three internal regulations while delivering controversial speeches that linked the war on terrorism to what he depicted as an enduring battle against Satan, according to a copy of the probe obtained yesterday by The Washington Post.

The 10-month internal investigation, conducted by the department's deputy inspector general for investigations, confirmed news accounts that Boykin said in his speeches that President Bush had been placed in his post by God, that radical Muslims hate America because it "will never abandon Israel" and that the U.S. military is recruiting a spiritual army that will draw strength from a greater power to defeat its enemy.

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin drew criticism for talking about the war on terrorism in religious terms. (U.S. Army)

_____Message Boards_____
Post Your Comments
_____Free E-mail Newsletters_____
• News Headlines
• News Alert

Arab and Muslim groups sharply criticized these remarks when they were initially publicized last year, accusing Boykin of bigotry and saying he was unfit to keep his post. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) and the committee's senior Democrat, Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), demanded an inquiry and called for Boykin to step down while it proceeded.

But Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, speaking at the time, praised Boykin for "an outstanding record" and kept him in his post. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard B. Myers likewise defended Boykin and told reporters that "at first blush, it doesn't look like any rules were broken" because "there is a very wide gray area" of what the rules permit.

The inspector's report, which is dated Aug. 5 but has not been released by the Pentagon, concludes otherwise. It found that Boykin failed to obtain clearance for his remarks, failed to clarify that his remarks were personal and not official, and failed to report reimbursement of travel costs from one of the sponsoring religious groups.

"We recommend that the Acting Secretary of the Army take appropriate corrective action with respect to LTG Boykin," the report says. But it adds that the Army should also take into consideration as a "mitigating factor" that Boykin said he repeatedly asked military lawyers about the propriety of making the speeches and he recalled no one advising him to obtain advance clearance for his remarks.

The report said investigators accepted that Boykin made these legal consultations in "good faith."

A spokesman for Warner said he has a copy of the report and plans to review it this week. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the recommendation is awaiting a decision by acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee and "it would be inappropriate to speculate on what his actions might be."

But a senior Defense official who is familiar with the report's contents, speaking on the condition of anonymity because no decision has been reached, said the report is seen as a "complete exoneration" that ultimately found Boykin responsible for a few "relatively minor offenses" related to technical and bureaucratic issues.

Although it was the substance of Boykin's remarks and not his regard for Pentagon rules that aroused controversy, the report pointedly steered clear of comment on the appropriateness of Boykin's injection of religion into his depiction of the military's counterterrorism efforts, including his claims that a "demonic presence" lay behind the actions of radical Muslims.

The report said only senior officials could assess Boykin's judgment or fitness for his job as deputy undersecretary for intelligence and war-fighting support, in which he coordinates all defense intelligence activities, oversees training and determines the allocation of Pentagon intelligence resources.

The investigation determined that Boykin spoke about his involvement in the war on terrorism at 23 religious-oriented events since January 2002, wearing his uniform at all but two. His audiences -- mostly at Baptist or Pentecostal churches -- ranged from small groups to more than 1,000. Boykin's remarks followed a pattern, the report said, and he showed slides prepared with the help of two military aides. But it concluded that their assistance was legal because it was "insignificant."

Boykin should have obtained clearance for his remarks, the report said, partly because his remarks were drawn from information he acquired on the job, what he said was potentially of wide interest and relevant to national security policy, and his uniform and title could have induced listeners to believe he was acting as an official department spokesman.

The senior Pentagon official said that it is not regular practice for top Defense Department officials to submit speeches of a personal nature for review and clearance.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company