Army: No Discrimination Against Hijab Wearing Soldier
Update: SPC Valdovinos has apparently now asked Fort Carson for a copy of the report, and, as is glaringly obvious and noted below, was told to file a FOIA. She’s complained no one told her she’d need to do that. You know who should have told her? Her supposed legal representation, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein. His incompetence is staggering.
Remember US Army SGT Cesilia Valdovinos? Back in April she was Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s golden ticket, with her story of Islamophobic persecution at the hands of the US Army garnering him international attention. Multiple headlines portended an upcoming lawsuit against the US military for its treatment of the Muslim Soldier.
SGT Valdovinos was promptly forgotten, including, it seems, by Mikey Weinstein.
The Colorado Springs Gazette, on the other hand, stayed on the story and obtained a copy of the local investigation directed by the Brigade Commander, Col David Zinn. The investigator, Capt Jeremey Kinder, included
more than a dozen interviews in assembling a 67-page report. It cleared the Army of the discrimination claims but also showed the service has plenty of learning to do.
“I find that better communication with all parties involved would have de-escalated the situation and recommend that future inspections of a personal nature be conducted in complete privacy…”
The report also noted that SGT — now SPC, following an unrelated demotion — Valdovinos complained about “improper comments” regarding her faith, but she declined to identify who said them. That left her command unable to do anything about them.
And to her other complaint — that she was removed from the kitchen (she was a cook) after complaining about exposure to pork — the report said
leaders did their best to accommodate Valdovinos’ beliefs on the job…
Valdovinos contended in a complaint that her reassignment to a supply room was an anti-Muslim attack.
Kinder found that leaders “acted appropriately” and that Valdovinos had willingly accepted the new job.
In other words, the report came to the same conclusions reached here months ago. The entire “scandal” could have been handled better, but it was ultimately much ado about nothing.
For his part, Mikey Weinstein bristled at the report and continued to claim a lawsuit — to “aggressively sue” — was in the works, as reported by his pal Pam Zubeck:
“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is hard at work preparing to assist our client to aggressively sue the United States Army in Federal District Court for the blatant violations of her civil rights by Fort Carson leadership,” Weinstein says.
“Hard at work preparing to assist…?” Sounds like a complex way of saying…nothing.
Even so, Weinstein seemed more livid that the Gazette even had the report — and the Gazette not only hadn’t sought him out for comment, they’d also mocked his grandstanding, saying he had
launched a media offensive, with the Muslim sergeant as the star of the show
Weinstein was miffed, claiming he was
“quite literally outraged” to learn the Army gave a report to the daily newspaper while not providing one to Valdovinos herself.
(Chris Rodda needs to “quite literally” explain to Mikey the use of that word.)
To be fair, outside of “organized” investigations (EO and IG, primarily) the US military does have a tendency to not tell the subjects of its other directed-investigations anything about them. That said, the purpose of the investigation was to meet a need of the Army, not act as an investigator for SPC Valdovinos. The work of the Army wasn’t for her benefit, so she wasn’t actually entitled to a copy of the report.
But then, how did the press get one?
Simple. They asked.
The paper drew its conclusion from [emphasis added]
documents released to The Gazette under the Freedom of Information Act…
The Gazette did its due diligence and filed a FOIA. Mikey Weinstein, “aggressively” and “literally” representing his “client,” apparently sat on his hands for months — and when the report didn’t magically show up on his desk, he threw a tantrum.
Weinstein pays himself a cool quarter-mil a year from all the “charitable donations” he receives — yet he couldn’t find 10 minutes to file a FOIA, or order one of his unpaid minions to do it for him. Maybe he thinks lawsuits file themselves, too, which is why Weinstein constantly threatens to file lawsuits and almost never does. (His first in about a decade was finally filed earlier this year, sort of.)
To Mikey Weinstein, SPC Valdovinos is nothing more than a pawn — a tool he can use to try to raise money for his “charity,” something from which his paycheck is the largest single beneficiary. Once Valdovinos outlives her usefulness — which appeared to have already happened, until the report hit the Gazette — she’ll fade back into obscurity.
SPC Valdovinos will then join Jeremy Hall, Dustin Chalker, Patrick Kucera, Ariel Kayne, Zachary Klawonn, and more, as names of US troops you don’t remember. They hit the press long enough for Weinstein to make a few bucks, and then faded from public view just as quickly — despite Mikey Weinstein’s claims he would “aggressively” advocate for them.
In the case of SPC Valdovinos, it seems Mikey Weinstein was too lazy or too incompetent to act in the best interests of his “client” — maybe both, but the outcome was the same: a tantrum of Weinsteinian proportions.
And then the world moved on.
Also at the Stars and Stripes.