Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appointed the members of the Independent Panel to investigate the causes for the infamous prisoner abuse scandals and provide advice for what actions the Department of Defense can take to help prevent such incidents in the future.
Rumsfeld can start by firing Lt. Gen. William Boykin.
Boykin was the subject of another recently released report which faulted the evangelical general for failing to preface his church speeches with a disclaimer stating that his views, spoken while in uniform and after being introduced by his rank and position, were not necessarily those of the Department of Defense. The Boykin report also faulted the crusading commander for failing to clear the content of his church speeches, which was the central concern of this scandal.
However, the authors of the Boykin report disavowed themselves from the responsibility of judging the inappropriateness of his bigoted tirades in front of thousands of impressionable churchgoers, leaving such judgments at the feet of his superiors. When asked about content preached from Boykin's pulpits, Rumsfeld the superior simply shot back: 'We're a free people.'
Like the 9/11 Commission and Boykin reports, the prisoner abuse report fails to scratch the surface under which the core causes reside. The American government establishes investigative bodies for the purposes of pointing the public away from the roots of scandals, thus maintaining the appearance of blamelessness.
Public outrage over the Enron, Halliburton, 9/11 intelligence, Iraqi WMD mis-intelligence, USA Patriot Act, civil liberties violations, massive racial and religious profiling and detentions, Guantanamo human rights violations, military tribunals, enemy combatant declarations, Boykin church speeches, and Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandals somehow failed to prompt these pseudo-investigators to connect the dots between these scandals. Such connections made public would be a blow to the basic beliefs of our society and would cause us to question the motivations of our government.
The Boykin affair is a perfect example.
The authors of the Boykin report steered clear of the fact that the general traveled the country telling churches that George W. Bush was appointed by God to defend America, that he was raising a spiritual army of Christians to destroy the Muslim terrorists whose commander is Satan, that Muslims hate America because it is a Christian nation and so many other comments that crossed well understood lines of acceptable speech while wearing a military uniform. Instead, they focused their energies towards determining if Boykin committed administrative violations in the pursuit of defaming Islam and Muslims before twenty-three congregations.
Muslims feeling the brunt of Boykin's two-year anti-Islam rampage are surely sleeping soundly tonight knowing this menace managed to properly fill out his paperwork while using his official government position to spread hatred of Muslims in the minds of religious communities across America.
Another recently released report from the California Senate Office of Research detailing hate crimes issues facing the state provide alarming statistics. During the time Boykin was running amuck with his Muslim-bashing sermons, hate crimes against Muslims in California alone increased by 2333.3 percent. This number does not include six murders of Muslims in California. Of course, we are to rest comfortably in the mis-realization that Boykin-like behavior and rising hate crime statistics are not related.
Boykin is in charge of military intelligence, under whose command the Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo concentration camp scandals arose. Perhaps he is escaping liability due to the fact, as we learn from the misdirecting Boykin report, that President Bush personally nominated Boykin to receive his third star. A fact not lost on the observant, especially considering the evangelical ideology both share and how these views are used to paint America as the Christian good and all others as the Muslim evil.
Boykin was previously in charge of the 'training, educating, and developing doctrine' for the Army. This explains much in how easy it was for soldiers under his command to commit such atrocities. After all, it is really not abuse if the enemy is reduced to a subhuman classification, such as 'evil'. Under this ideology, supported by Rumsfeld and Bush, soldiers are not committing human rights violations. Evil is not human, and therein lies the crux of the problem when placing conflicts in religious terms and determining the enemy as the antithesis of our self-declared goodness.
Perhaps there should be a citizen-run commission established to investigate the connection of all these issues, their impact on the world and ways to release the people from the tyranny of fear and hatred being thrust upon us.
John Janney is a Washington, DC area writer, speaker and activist. http://www.johnjanney.net