Mikey Weinstein Still After Chaplain Costin’s Head

costin3Apparently believing US Air Force Chief of Chaplains Gen Dondi Costin’s head needs to go on a pole, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has continued to demand the US military punish the men and women who appeared in uniform at a chaplains’ event in July.

Weinstein recently received a statement (PDF) from the DoD Inspector General in response to his initial complaint [emphasis added]:

The Air Force IG found no prima facie evidence that Maj Gen Costin endorsed CARL [the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty] by appearing in uniform and performing the benediction, thereby implying Air Force sponsorship of CARL or sanction of a particular cause, or discrediting the Armed Forces…

We [the DoD IG] also concluded Maj Gen Costin’s attendance and benediction did not violate Department of Defense or Air Force standards on endorsement of or participation with a non-federal entity, uniform wear, public speaking, or free exercise of religion.

That covered all the bases, DoD and Air Force, uniform wear to religion — even the US Constitution. Pretty thorough, right?

Since Chaplain Costin wasn’t punished, it still wasn’t good enough for Weinstein, of course, whose new lawyer Donald Rehkopf (who most recently tried to help Weinstein on the Sterling case) fired off a response (PDF) demanding to know why the military didn’t evaluate Chaplain Costin’s conduct with regard to 5 CFR 2635.101(b).

If you’ve never heard of 5 CFR, you could be forgiven. Weinstein’s new lawyers seem to be expanding upon the “throw mud against the wall and see what sticks” technique in their effort to find “new” things for which military members could be found in contempt.

In point of fact, however, there isn’t anything “new” in 5 CFR because it is already covered by Air Force and DoD instructions, potentially more restrictively. The way Mikey Weinstein would interpret the CFR, though, is for it to prohibit Christian chaplains from adhering to Christianity or Muslim chaplains from adhering to Islam. Weinstein’s lawyer complained that 5 CFR was relevant because

[The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty] does not employ “equal opportunity” for many American servicemembers based upon their religious (or non-religious) beliefs…

Well, no kidding, Sherlock. It’s an organization of Christian chaplains. In a lunatic effort to attack a chaplain, Mikey Weinstein’s lawyer is saying chaplains cannot be associated with groups made up of members of their faith if those groups actually adhere to that faith. Apparently, a Muslim chaplains group would have to allow wiccans and Jews to pass Weinstein’s acceptability test.

Again, Mikey Weinstein is attacking the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty because of the content of their religious beliefs, as well as the ability of members of the military to associate with those groups because of their religious beliefs. Where’s his self-professed defense of military religious freedom?

Remember, too, there’s an important piece of context previously discussed here:  Mikey Weinstein is not complaining about another chaplain, also a General Officer, who attended a similar event, also in uniform, that advocated the type of religious beliefs Weinstein likes.  Because the religious views represented at the other event weren’t traditional, mainstream Christian views, Weinstein is ignoring them.  Yet the situation is otherwise almost identical, if not more “egregious” — since the other chaplain was actually a keynote speaker, not just giving the benediction as Chaplain Costin did.

The Air Force, however, cannot ignore the other event.  If it chooses to punish Chaplain Costin, it must punish Chaplain Erikson (and a whole host of other officers) to avoid the perception of unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of religion.

Rehkopf cited the 5 CFR in an email exchange with DoD Deputy IG and SES civilian Marguerite Garrison, who responded a few minutes later by saying

Thank you for your response. I acknowledge receipt of your email below and will provide a response when my review of the matter is complete.

That’s a fairly benign and administrative response. Mikey Weinstein predictably turned it into a dramatic victory [formatting original]:

DUE TO MRFF’s DEMAND LETTER, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE INSPECTOR GENERAL REOPENS INVESTIGATION OF BLATANT CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION BY MAJ. GEN. COSTIN

Contrary to Mikey Weinstein’s ALL CAPS characterization, Ms Garrison didn’t say she was re-opening anything. In fact, Weinstein’s statement was bold enough the DoD IG actually issued a statement essentially calling Mikey Weinstein a liar [emphasis added]:

The Defense Department’s Inspector General’s Office has not opened a formal investigation, according to spokeswoman Kathie Scarrah.

“The DoD OIG is currently evaluating additional information received on behalf of the MRFF,” she said in an email to Military.com on Friday. “A determination on re-opening an investigation has not been made at this time.”

That Ms Garrison said she would “review” something at all was an act of kindness. Once again, Mikey Weinstein demonstrates how he majors in undefined terms — or at least terms others won’t have the time or motivation to verify — and how corresponding with him at all is a risky endeavor for members of the military.  Ms Garrison’s response was sent at 1800 Wednesday night.  Just a few hours later, Weinstein’s sensationalized version of the story was on the Air Force Times — forcing the DoD IG to respond just a few hours later.

Ms Garrison could, of course, take the latest email as yet another investigation, if she so chose.

But the DoD IG has already done more than required: As a third party complainant, Mikey Weinstein wasn’t entitled to a response to his complaint in the first place. That the IG provided him one was gracious, but by now failing to disengage from Weinstein they risk being drug into a never-ending email campaign that does nothing but harass the DoD with varying degrees of similar complaints. In truth, that may be all Ms Garrison meant — she’ll review the latest information to confirm it was already covered by the last complaint, and then tell Mikey Weinstein to have a nice day.

In fact, should the DoD IG continue to be so responsive to him, it risks becoming complicit in Mikey Weinstein’s harassment of members of the military. Weinstein would have the military waste the time of senior officers to perform these investigations, and he would have them create a hostile work environment for the members of the military being “investigated” — all in a vain effort to satiate Mikey Weinstein’s demands for religious discrimination.

There’s plenty of evidence to show Mikey Weinstein will never stop complaining — including his own declaration his method of operation is “litigation and agitation”. The technique is Mikey Weinstein’s method of harassment, nothing more. The DoD IG needs to take a lesson from the Air Force:

Mr. Weinstein,

Thank you for your interest in National Defense.

Have a nice day.

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