Pentagon Report on Christian Embassy Completed

As noted recently in Time magazine (and the Washington Post, as of 6 Aug), the Inspector General completed its investigation (on July 20th) into the participation of military officers in a Christian Embassy promotional video.

No “official” release of the “Official Use Only” report could be found, though a few sites have scanned copies–most notably, Michael Weinstein’s MRFF, which claims credit for instigating the investigation. [Edit:  The IG has released a public version on their website.  It is now available here.]

Notable quotes from the report:

Military officers who appeared in a promotional video for Christian Embassy improperly endorsed and participated with a non-federal entity while in uniform.  (Violates JER Sections 2635.702b and 3-300a, and DoD and Service Regulations on uniform wear.)

Two participants were found not to have violated any rules, because though they personally endorsed Christian Embassy 

they did so without verbal or visual references to position, title, or the DoD.  Their participation was consistent with the JER as they acted in their personal capacities without expressing or implying DoD sanction.

Some of the participants, while accepting responsibilty for their actions, noted that they participated in good faith with the Pentagon Chaplain’s statements that the video had been approved–including their appearances in it.

One officer noted, without elaboration in the report, that “other faiths had filmed videos…”  He also said he had no way to know the video was for a promotional purpose when the Chaplain’s office asked him to do it; he claimed he participated in good faith as a part of the Chaplain’s program.  The IG concluded that it was the ethical duty of the officers to determine the purpose of the video.  It also said they were ultimately responsible for the final video, even though they had no editorial or approval authority, and in some cases had never even seen it.

A couple of officers disagreed with the authority of the IG to investigate a claim by a non-federal employee.  While their argument holds water academically, it is poor form at this point to try to make such a claim.  (If a civilian complains, the IG can investigate on their own, even without an “approved” complainant.)

In a relative blow to Weinstein’s original assertions (as written about here previously),

“…the matter did not involve religious observance or practice…We also found no evidence that the DoD personnel participated in the video for the purpose of proselytizing…”

Interestingly, one officer related that he had seen pictures of himself in a Turkish newspaper, and had foreigners question his participation in a “radical fundamentalist sect.”  The IG used this as proof that the video was not as localized as the officers claimed it was meant to be.  It is worth noting, though, that neither the video itself nor the group that produced it ever claimed to be anything but generically Christian.  It was Weinstein’s flamboyant and unfounded accusations, repeated again in Time, that called Christian Embassy, among other things, a part of the “Christian Taliban” trying to take over the military and the government.  Thus, it was Weinstein’s mischaracterization of a religious group that was the source of the international report, not the original video itself.

Weinstein is now “demanding” Congressional hearings on the matter.  He repeated his ongoing assertion that at any moment he will “expeditiously” file a federal lawsuit as a result of these “horrific Constitutional violations.”

Update: See the FRC and ACLJ responses.