The Army officer who once taught that the U.S. ought to consider “Hiroshima tactics” for a “total war” on Islam has put America’s top general on notice for a possible lawsuit. Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley is accusing the government of concealing “the truth about Islam” at a time when proponents of his view of an inevitable clash between Islam and the West have succeeded at fanning precisely those flames.
On Thursday, attorneys for Dooley told Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey that Dooley is considering “a potential civil action,” said Marine Col. David Lapan, a spokesman for Dempsey. The written notice does not indicate that they’ve actually filed a lawsuit against Dempsey.
But Dooley’s lawyers, who have defended one of the most prominent anti-Islam voices in the United States, aren’t just flirting with legal action against the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. They’re launching a PR strike as well. A press release announcing that Dooley has retained them accuses Dempsey of compromising “the final bastion of America’s defense against Islamic jihad and sharia, the Pentagon” to “the enemy.” And it’s language that comes as Americans worry about Islamic radicals targeting U.S. embassies in the Middle East.
As Danger Room first reported in April, Dempsey shut down an elective course Dooley taught at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, which is under the auspices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The course instructed senior officers at the lieutenant colonel, commander, colonel and Navy captain level that “there is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam,’” and that wartime protections against civilians of Islamic countries were “no longer relevant.”
Materials distributed by Dooley’s guest lecturers suggested inaccurately that President Obama is a Muslim. Similar material taught to the FBI in 2011 compared Islam to the Death Star in Star Wars. Dooley himself taught, “Your oath as a professional soldier forces you to pick a side here.”
Dooley considered the reduction of Islam to a “cult status” an acceptable outcome of what he considered a civilizational war. Accordingly, his instructional material is reminiscent of The Innocence of Muslims, the anti-Islam video that was used as a pretext in the Middle East over the past week for anti-American protests. Dooley was removed from the college and received an administrative reprimand for teaching material that Dempsey called “totally objectionable, against our values and it wasn’t academically sound.”
The course Dooley taught and its parallels in the FBI has become something of a cause celebre in certain right-wing American precincts. Congresswoman and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann lamented to Glenn Beck in July, “They are purging everything from our military, from our FBI. So we’re not even teaching what the Muslim Brotherhood stands for. We’re not teaching what radical Islam even is.” Bachmann attracted derision this summer when she accused a top aide to Hillary Clinton of nebulous “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood based on the aide’s heritage.
Dooley’s attorneys, at the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, have been sympathetic to such arguments. They’ve defended the Florida Pastor Terry Jones, whose burning of the Koran prompted violent protests in Afghanistan last year. They didn’t return Danger Room’s calls, but they’re portraying Dooley as another free-speech martyr.
“Rather than thinking and acting bravely, PC’er’s [sic] strike at our cherished First Amendment in a vain hope of buying friendship with a force we still do not understand that neither respects us nor appreciates civility,” reads a statement from the Center.
The press release goes on to blast Dempsey for “personally attack[ing] LTC Dooley, a subordinate Army officer who honorably served our Nation.” That “prejudicial public statement” about the content of Dooley’s course determined the contours of a then-ongoing investigation Dempsey had ordered into the class, the Center argues: “[H]ow then could LTC Dooley ever be given a fair and impartial inquiry following the command influence from the nation’s highest members of the military chain of command?”
The Law Center also accuses Dempsey of capitulation to radical Islam. Its press release quotes a former CIA agent named Claire Lopez saying: “The final bastion of America’s defense against Islamic jihad and sharia, the Pentagon, fell to the enemy in April 2012, with the issuance of a letter from General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, re-issuing his earlier order that all Department of Defense (DoD) course content be scrubbed to ensure no lingering remnant of disrespect to Islam.” Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have “acquiesced to a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of U.S. military education,” the press release states.
It’s worth noting that Dempsey recently asked Pastor Terry Jones to rescind his support for The Innocence of Muslims video. That phone call came after the U.S. embassy in Egypt came under attack last week, ostensibly by people angered by the video. At practically the same time, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was assaulted, killing four U.S. nationals, in what the Obama administration is now calling a terrorist attack. Islamic radicals and their anti-Islamic critics are citing one another as justification for their shared belief that the two cultures are irreconcilable.
Dempsey’s comments about Dooley’s course came at a May 10 Pentagon news conference. The general did not mention Dooley by name, referring instead to “the individual” who taught the course. Dempsey also said the focus on the inquiry was to determine how the Joint Forces Staff College or other military educational institutions embraced that class or others similar in content to it.
The Thomas More Law Center contends in its press release that Dooley’s academic freedom was violated, although it does not specifically blame Dempsey for that. It doesn’t say what specific outcome Dooley seeks by hiring attorneys. But the press release accuses the government of “applying Islamic Sharia law to prevent any criticism of Islam” and says, “Officers and instructors see what has happened to LTC Dooley, and will refrain from telling the truth about Islam.”
Lapan, the spokesman for Joint Chiefs Chairman, declined to respond to any of the release’s criticisms, citing the potential of imminent legal action proceeding.